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Title: Hyacinth
Author: Birmingham, George A., 1865-1950
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Hyacinth" ***

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HYACINTH

By George A. Birmingham

1906



CHAPTER I

In the year 1850 or thereabouts religious and charitable society in
England was seized with a desire to convert Irish Roman Catholics to
the Protestant faith. It is clear to everyone with any experience of
missionary societies that, the more remote the field of actual work, the
easier it is to keep alive the interest of subscribers. The mission to
Roman Catholics, therefore, commenced in that western portion of Galway
which the modern tourist knows as Connemara, and the enthusiasm was
immense. Elderly ladies, often with titles, were energetic in the cause
of the new reformation. Young ladies, some of them very attractive,
collected money from their brothers and admirers. States-men and Bishops
headed the subscription-lists, and influential committees earnestly
debated plans for spending the money which poured in. Faith in the
efficacy of money handled by influential committees is one of the
characteristics of the English people, and in this particular case
it seemed as if their faith were to be justified by results. Most
encouraging reports were sent to headquarters from Gonnemara. It
appeared that converts were flocking in, and that the schools of the
missionaries were filled to overflowing. In the matter of education
circumstances favoured the new reformation. The leonine John McHale, the
Papal Archbishop of Tuam, pursued a policy which drove the children of
his flock into the mission schools. The only other kind of education
available was that which some humorous English statesman had called
'national,' and it did not seem to the Archbishop desirable that an
Irish boy should be beaten for speaking his own language, or rewarded
for calling himself 'a happy English child.' He refused to allow the
building of national schools in his diocese, and thus left the cleverer
boys to drift into the mission schools, where they learnt carefully
selected texts of Scripture along with the multiplication-table. The
best of them were pushed on through Dublin University, and crowned the
hopes of their teachers by taking Holy Orders in the Church of England.
There are still to be met with in Galway and Mayo ancient peasants and
broken-down inhabitants of workhouses who speak with a certain pride
of 'my brother the minister.' There are also here and there in English
rectories elderly gentlemen who have almost forgotten the thatched
cottages where they ate their earliest potatoes.

Among these cleverer boys was one Æneas Conneally, who was something
more than clever. He was also religious in an intense and enthusiastic
manner, which puzzled his teachers while it pleased them. His ancestors
had lived for generations on a seaboard farm, watered by salt rain,
swept by misty storms. The famine and the fever that followed it left
him fatherless and brotherless. The emigration schemes robbed him and
his mother of their surviving relations. The mission school and the
missionary's charity effected the half conversion of the mother and a
whole-hearted acceptance of the new faith on the part of Æneas. Unlike
most of his fellows in the college classrooms, he refused to regard an
English curacy as the goal of his ambition. It seemed to him that his
conversion ought not to end in his parading the streets of Liverpool in
a black coat and a white tie. He wanted to return to his people and tell
them in their own tongue the Gospel which he had found so beautiful.

The London committee meditated on his request, and before they arrived
at a conclusion his mother died, having at the last moment made a
tardy submission to the Church she had denied. Her apostasy--so the
missionaries called it--confirmed the resolution of her son, and the
committee at length agreed to allow him to return to his native village
as the first Rector of the newly-created parish of Carrowkeel. He was
provided with all that seemed necessary to insure the success of
his work. They built him a gray house, low and strong, for it had to
withstand the gales which swept in from the Atlantic. They bought him
a field where a cow could graze, and an acre of bog to cut turf from. A
church was built for him, gray and strong, like his house. It was fitted
with comfortable pews, a pulpit, a reading-desk, and a movable table of
wood decently covered with a crimson cloth. Beyond the church stood the
school he had attended as a boy, whitewashed without and draped inside
with maps and illuminated texts. A salary, not princely but sufficient,
was voted to Mr. Conneally, and he was given authority over a
Scripture-reader and a schoolmaster. The whole group of mission
buildings--the rectory, the church, and the school--stood, like types
of the uncompromising spirit of Protestantism, upon the bare hillside,
swept by every storm, battered by the Atlantic spray. Below them
Carrowkeel, the village, cowered in such shelter as the sandhills
afforded. Eastward lonely cottages, faintly smoking dots in the
landscape, straggled away to the rugged bases of the mountains. The
Rev. Æneas Conneally entered upon his mission enthusiastically, and
the London committee awaited results. There were scarcely any results,
certainly none that could be considered satisfactory. The day for making
conversions was past, and the tide had set decisively against the new
reformation. A national school, started by a clearsighted priest, in
spite of his Archbishop, left the mission school almost without pupils.
The Scripture-reader lost heart, and took to seeking encouragement
in the public-house. He found it, and once when exalted--he said,
spiritually--paraded the streets cursing the Virgin Mary. Worse
followed, and the committee in London dismissed the man. A diminishing
income forced on them the necessity of economy, and no successor was
appointed. For a few years Mr. Conneally laboured on. Then a sharp-eyed
inspector from London discovered that the schoolmaster took very little
trouble about teaching, but displayed great talent in prompting his
children at examinations. He, too, was dismissed, and the committee,
still bent on economy, appointed a mistress in his place. She was a
pretty girl, and after she had shivered through the stormy nights of
two winters in the lonely school-house, Mr. Conneally married her.
Afterwards the office of school-teacher was also left vacant. The
whitewashed school fell gradually into decay, and the committee effected
a further saving.

After his marriage Mr. Conneally's missionary enthusiasm began to flag.
His contact with womanhood humanized him. The sternness of the reformer
died in him, and his neighbours, who never could comprehend his
religion, came to understand the man. They learned to look upon him as a
friend, to seek his sympathy and help. In time they learnt to love him.

Two years passed, and a son was born. The village people crowded upon
him with congratulations, and mothers of wide experience praised the boy
till Mrs. Conneally's heart swelled in her with pride. He was christened
Hyacinth, after a great pioneer and leader of the mission work. The
naming was Mr. Conneally's act of contrition for the forsaking of
his enthusiasm, his recognition of the value of a zeal which had not
flagged. Failing the attainment of greatness, the next best thing is to
dedicate a new life to a patron saint who has won the reward of those
who endure to the end. For two years more life in the glebe house was
rapturously happy. Such bliss has in it, no doubt, an element of sin,
and it is not good that it should endure. This was to be seen afterwards
in calmer times, though hardly at the moment when the break came. There
was a hope of a second child, a delightful time of expectation; then an
accident, the blighting of the hope, and in a few days the death of Mrs.
Conneally. Her husband buried her, digging the first grave in the rocky
ground that lay around the little church.

For a time Mr. Conneally was stunned by his sorrow. He stopped working
altogether, ceased to think, even to feel. Men avoided him with
instinctive reverence at first, and afterwards with fear, as he
wandered, muttering to himself, among the sandhills and along the beach.
After a while the power of thought and a sense of the outward things of
life returned to him. He found that an aged crone from the village had
established herself in his house, and was caring for Hyacinth. He let
her stay, and according to her abilities she cooked and washed for him
and the boy, neither asking wages nor taking orders from him, until she
died.

Hyacinth grew and throve amazingly. From morning till evening he was in
the village, among the boats beside the little pier, or in the fields,
when the men worked there. Everyone petted and loved him, from Father
Moran, the priest who had started the national school, down to old
Shamus, the crippled singer of interminable Irish songs and teller of
heroic legends of the past. It was when he heard the boy repeat a story
of Finn MacCool to the old crone in the kitchen that Mr. Conneally awoke
to the idea that he must educate his son. He began, naturally enough,
with Irish, for it was Irish, and not English, that Hyacinth spoke
fluently.

Afterwards the English alphabet followed, though not for the sake of
reading books, for except the Bible and the Prayer-Book Hyacinth was
taught to read no English books. He learned Latin after a fashion, not
with nice attention to complexities of syntax, but as a language meant
to be used, read, and even spoken now and then to Father Moran.

Meanwhile the passage of the years brought changes to Carrowkeel.
The Admiralty established a coastguard station near the village, and
arranged, for the greater security of the Empire, that men in blue-serge
clothes should take it in turns to look at the Atlantic through a
telescope. Then the unquiet spirit of the Congested Districts Board
possessed the place for a while. A young engineer designed a new pier to
shelter fishing-boats. He galvanized the people into unwonted activity,
and, though sceptical of good results, they earned a weekly wage by
building it. Boats came, great able boats, which fought the Atlantic,
and the old curraghs were left to blister in the sun far up on the
beach. Instructors from the Isle of Man taught new ways of catching
mackerel. Green patches between the cottages and the sea, once the
playground of pigs and children, or the marine parade of solemn lines
of geese, were spread with brown nets. On May mornings, if the take was
good, long lines of carts rattled down the road carrying the fish to
the railway at Clifden, and the place bore for a while the appearance
of vitality. A vagrant Englishman discovered that lobsters could be had
almost for the asking in Carrowkeel. The commercial instincts of his
race were aroused in him.

He established a trade between the villagers and the fishmongers of
Manchester. The price of lobsters rose to the unprecedented figure of
four shillings a dozen, and it was supposed that even so the promoter of
the scheme secured a profit.

To Æneas Conneally, growing quietly old, the changes meant very little.
The coastguards, being bound by one of the articles of the British
Constitution, came to church on Sunday mornings with exemplary
regularity, and each man at fixed intervals brought a baby to be
christened and a woman to be churched. Otherwise they hardly affected
Mr. Conneally's life. The great officials who visited Carrowkeel to
survey the benignant activities of the Congested Districts Board
were men whose magnificent intellectual powers raised them above any
recognised form of Christianity. Neither Father Moran's ministrations
nor Mr. Conneally's appealed to them.

The London committee of the mission to Roman Catholics made no inquiry
about what was going on at Carrowkeel. They asked for no statistics,
expected no results, but signed quarterly cheques for Mr. Conneally,
presuming, one may suppose, that if he had ceased to exist they would
somehow have heard of it.

By far the most important event for Hyacinth and his father was the
death of their old housekeeper. In the changed state of society in
Carrowkeel it was found impossible to secure the services of another.
Hyacinth, at this time about fifteen years old, took to the housework
without feeling that he was doing anything strange or unmanly. He was
familiar with the position of 'bachelor boys' who, having grown elderly
under the care of a mother, preferred afterwards the toil of their own
kitchens to the uncertain issue of marrying a girl to 'do for them.'
Life under their altered circumstances was simplified. It seemed
unnecessary to carry a meal from the room it was cooked in to another
for the purpose of eating it, so the front rooms of the house, with
their tattered furniture, were left to moulder quietly in the persistent
damp. One door was felt to be sufficient for the ingress and egress
of two people from a house. The kitchen door, being at the back of the
house, was oftenest the sheltered one, so the front door was bolted, and
the grass grew up to it. One by one, as Hyacinth's education required,
the Latin and Greek books were removed from the forsaken study, and
took their places among the diminishing array of plates and cups on the
kitchen dresser. The spreading and removal of a tablecloth for every
meal came to be regarded as foolish toil. When room was required on the
table for plates, the books and papers were swept on one side. A pile of
potatoes, and the pan, with bacon or a fish perhaps still frizzling in
it, was set in the place left vacant.

Morning and evening Æneas Conneally expected his son to join with him in
prayer. The two knelt together on the earthen floor facing the window,
while the old man meditated aloud on Divine things. There were breaks in
his speech and long silences, so that sometimes it was hard to tell
when his prayer had really ended. These devotions formed a part of
his father's life into which Hyacinth never really entered at all. He
neither rebelled nor mocked. He simply remained outside. So when his
father wandered off to solitary places on the seashore, and sat gazing
into the sunset or a gathering storm, Hyacinth neither followed nor
questioned him. Sometimes on winter nights when the wind howled more
fiercely than usual round the house, the old man would close the book
they read together, and repeat aloud long passages from the Apocalypse.
His voice, weak and wavering at first, would gather strength as he
proceeded, and the young man listened, stirred to vague emotion over the
fall of Babylon the Great.

For the most part Hyacinth's time was his own. Even the hours of study
were uncertain. He read when he liked, and his father seemed content
with long days of idleness followed by others of application. It was,
indeed, only owing to his love of what he read that the boy learned at
all. Often while he tramped from his home to the village at midday his
heart was hot within him with some great thought which had sprung to him
from a hastily construed chorus of Euripides. Sometimes he startled the
fishermen when he went with them at night by chanting Homer's rolling
hexameters through the darkness while the boat lay waiting, borne
gunwale down to the black water with the drag of the net that had been
shot.

There was a tacit understanding that Hyacinth, like his father, was
to take Holy Orders. He matriculated in Trinity College when he was
eighteen, and, as is often done by poorer students, remained at home,
merely passing the required examinations, until he took his degree,
and the time came for his entering the divinity school. Then it became
necessary for him to reside in Dublin, and the first great change in his
life took place.

The night before he left home he and his father sat together in the
kitchen after they had finished their evening meal. For a long time
neither of them spoke. Hyacinth held a book in his hand, but scarcely
attempted to read it. His thoughts wandered from hopeful expectation of
what the future was to bring him and the new life was to mean, to vague
regrets, weighted with misgivings, which would take no certain shape.
There crowded upon him recollections of busy autumn days when the grain
harvest overtook the belated hay-making, and men toiled till late in
the fields; of long nights in the springtime when he tugged at the
fishing-nets, and felt the mackerel slipping and flapping past his
feet in the darkness; of the longer winter nights when he joined the
gatherings of the boys and girls to dance jigs and reels on the earthen
floor of some kitchen. It seemed now that all this was past and over for
him. Holiday time would bring him back to Carrowkeel, but would it be
the same? Would he be the same?

He looked at his father, half hoping for sympathy; but the old man sat
gazing--it seemed to Hyacinth stupidly--into the fire. He wondered if
his father had forgotten that this was their last evening together. Then
suddenly, without raising his eyes, the old man began to speak, and it
appeared that he, too, was thinking of the change.

'I do not know, my son, what they will teach you in their school of
divinity. I have long ago forgotten all I learned there, and I have not
missed the knowledge. It does not seem to me now that what they taught
me has been of any help in getting to know Him.'

He paused for a long time. Hyacinth was familiar enough with his
father's ways of speech to know that the emphatic 'Him' meant the God
whom he worshipped.

'There is, I am sure, only one way in which we can become His friends.
_These are they which have come out of great tribulation!_ You remember
that, Hyacinth? That is the only way. You may be taught truths about
Him, but they matter very little. You have already great thoughts,
burning thoughts, but they will not of themselves bring you to Him. The
other way is the only way. Shall I wish it for you, my son? Shall I give
it to you for my blessing? May great tribulation come upon you in your
life! _Great tribulation!_ See how weak my faith is even now at the very
end. I cannot give you this blessing, although I know very well that it
is the only way. I know this, because I have been along this way myself,
and it has led me to Him.'

Again he paused. It did not seem to Hyacinth to be possible to say
anything. He was not sure in his heart that the friendship of the Man of
Sorrows was so well worth having that he would be content to pay for it
by accepting such a benediction from his father.

'I shall do this for you, Hyacinth: I shall pray that when the choice is
given you, the great choice between what is easy and what is hard, the
right decision may be made for you. I do not know in what form it will
come. Perhaps it will be as it was with me. He made the choice for me,
for indeed I could not have chosen for myself. He set my feet upon the
narrow way, forced me along it for a while, and now at the end I see His
face.'

Hyacinth had heard enough of the brief bliss of his father's married
life to understand. He caught for the first time a glimpse of the
meaning of the solitary life, the long prayers, and the meditations. He
was profoundly moved, but it did not even then seem to him desirable to
choose such a way, or to have such attainment thrust on him.

Next morning the autumn sunlight chased the recollection of his emotion
from his mind. The fishermen stopped his car as he drove through the
street to shake hands with him. Their wives shouted familiar blessings
from the cabin doors. Father Moran came bare-headed to the gate of his
presbytery garden and waved a farewell.



CHAPTER II

There is that about the material fabric, the actual stone and mortar, of
Trinity College, Dublin, which makes a vivid appeal to the imagination
of the common man. The cultured sentimentalist will not indeed be
able to lave his soul in tepid emotion while he walks through these
quadrangles, as he may among the cloisters and chapels of the Oxford
colleges. The amateur of the past cannot here stand at gaze before any
single building as he does before the weather-beaten front of Oriel,
tracing in imagination the footsteps of Newman or Arnold. Yet to the
average man, and far more to the newly emancipated schoolboy, Trinity
College, Dublin, makes an appeal which can hardly be ignored. In Oxford
and Cambridge town and University are mixed together; shops jostle and
elbow colleges in the streets. In Dublin a man leaves the city behind
him when he enters the college, passes completely out of the atmosphere
of the University when he steps on to the pavement. The physical
contrast is striking enough, appealing to the ear and the eye. The
rattle of the traffic, the jangling of cart bells, the inarticulate
babel of voices, suddenly cease when the archway of the great
entrance-gate is passed.

An immense silence takes their place. There is no longer any need for
watchfulness, nor risk of being hustled by the hurrying crowds.
Instead of footway and street crossing there are broad walks, untrodden
stretches of smooth grass. The heavy campanile is in front, and heights
of gray building frown down on each side. It needs no education, not
even any imagination, to appreciate the change. It is not necessary to
know that great scholars inhabited the place, to recall any name or
any man's career. The appeal is not to a recollected impression of the
Middle Ages, or indeed of any past, remote or near. It is the spirit of
scholarship itself, abstract, intangible, which creates this atmosphere.
Knowledge, a severe goddess, awes while she beckons.

Hyacinth Conneally had submitted himself to such emotions time after
time when, fresh from the wilds of Connemara, he made his way to the
examination-hall, an outside student in a borrowed cap and gown. Now,
when for the first time he entered into the actual life of the college,
could look up at windows of rooms that were his own, and reckon on his
privilege of fingering tomes from the shelves of the huge library, the
spirit of the place awed him anew. He neither analyzed nor attempted
an expression of what he felt, but his first night within the walls was
restless because of the inspiration which filled him.

Yet this college does not fail to make an appeal also to the thinking
mind, only it is a strange appeal, tending to sadness. The sudden
silence after the tumult of the streets has come for some minds to
be the symbol of a divorce between the knowledge within and the life
without. And this is not the separation which must always exist between
thought and action, the gulf fixed between the student and the merchant.
It is a real divorce between the nation and the University, between
the two kinds of life which ought, like man and woman, to complete each
other through their very diversity, but here have gone hopelessly apart.
Never once through all the centuries of Ireland's struggle to express
herself has the University felt the throb of her life. It is true
that Ireland's greatest patriots, from Swift to Davis, have been her
children; but she has never understood their spirit, never looked on
them as anything but strangers to her family. They have been to her
stray robber wasps, to be driven from the hive; while to the others they
have seemed cygnets among her duckling brood. It is very wonderful that
the University alone has been able to resist the glamour of Ireland's
past, and has failed to admire the persistency of her nationality.
There has surely been enough in every century that has passed since the
college was founded to win it over from alien thought and the ideals of
the foreigner.

All this Hyacinth came to feel afterwards, and learnt in bitterness of
spirit to be angry at the University's isolation from Irish life. At
first quite other thoughts crowded upon his mind. He felt a rebellion
against his father's estimate of what he was to learn. It seemed to him
that he had come into vital touch with the greatest life of all. He was
to join the ranks of those who besieged the ears of God for knowledge,
and left behind them to successors yet unborn great traditions of the
enigmas they had guessed. In entering upon the study of theology he
seemed to become a soldier in the sacred band, the élite of the army
which won and guarded truth. Already he was convinced that there could
be no greater science than the Divine one, no more inspiring moment in
life than this one when he took his first step towards the knowledge of
God.

He crossed the quadrangle with his mind full of such thoughts,
and joined a group of students round the door of one of the
examination-halls. It did not shock his sense of fitness that some of
his fellow-students in the great science wore shabby clothes, or that
others scorned the use of a razor. Bred as he had been at home, he felt
no incongruity between dirty collars and the study of divinity. It
was not until he caught scraps of conversation that he experienced an
awakening from his dream. One eager group surrounded a foreseeing youth
who had written the dates of the first four General Councils of the
Church upon his shirt-cuff.

'Read them out, like a good man,' said one.

'Hold on a minute,' said another, 'till I see if I have got them right.
I ground them up specially this morning. Nicæa, 318--no, hang it! that's
the number of Bishops who were present; 325 was the date, wasn't it?'

'What was the row about at Chalcedon?' asked a tall, pale youth. 'Didn't
some monk or other go for Cyril of Alexandria?'

'You'll be stuck anyhow, Tommy,' said a neat, dapper little man with a
very ragged gown.

Hyacinth slipped past the group, and approached two better dressed
students who stood apart from the others.

'Is this,' he asked, 'where the entrance examination to the divinity
school is to be held?'

For answer he received a curt 'Yes' and a stare. Apparently his suit of
brown Connemara homespun did not commend him to these aristocrats. They
turned their backs on him, and resumed their conversation.

'She was walking up and down the pier listening to the band with two
of the rankest outsiders you ever set eyes on--medicals out of Paddy
Dunn's. Of course I could do nothing else but break it off.'

'Oh, you were engaged to her, then? I didn't know.'

'Well, I was and I wasn't. Anyhow, I thought it better to have a clear
understanding. She came up to me outside the door of Patrick's on Sunday
afternoon just as if nothing had happened. "Hullo, Bob," says she;
"I haven't seen you for ages." "My name," said I, "is Mr. Banks"--just
like that, as cool as you please. I could see she felt it. "I've called
you Bob," says she, very red in the face, "and you've called me Maimie
ever since we went to Sunday-school together, and I'm not going to begin
calling you Mr. Banks now, my boy-o! so don't you think it!"'

It was a relief to Hyacinth when he was tapped on the arm by a boy with
a very pimply face, who thrust a paper into his hand, and distracted
his attention from the final discomfiture of Maimie, which Mr. Banks was
recounting in a clear, high-pitched voice, as if he wished everyone in
the neighbourhood to hear it.

'I hope you'll come,' said the boy.

'Where?'

'It's all in the paper. The students' prayer-meeting, held every
Wednesday morning at nine o'clock sharp. Special meeting to-morrow.'

Hyacinth was bewildered. There was something quite unfamiliar in this
prompt and business-like advertisement of prayer. The student with the
papers began to be doubtful of him.

'You're not High Church, are you?' he asked. 'We're not. We don't have
printed offices, with verses and responds, and that sort of thing. We
have extempore prayer by members of the union.'

'No; I'm not High Church,' said Hyacinth--'at least, I think not. I
don't really know much about these things. I'll be very glad to go to
your meeting.'

'That's right,' said the other. 'All are welcome. There will be special
prayer to-morrow for the success of the British arms. I suppose you
heard that old Kruger has sent an ultimatum. There will be war at once.'

There was a sudden movement among the students; gowns were pulled
straight and caps adjusted.

'Here he comes,' said someone.

Dr. Henry, the divinity professor, crossed the square rapidly. He was a
middle-aged man, stout, almost ponderous, in figure; but he held himself
rigidly upright, and walked fast across the square. The extreme neatness
of his clothes contrasted with the prevailing shabbiness of the students
and the assistant lecturers who followed him. Yet he did not seem to be
a man who gave to externals more than their due share of consideration.
His broad forehead gave promise of great intellectual power, a promise
half belied by the narrow gray eyes beneath it. These were eyes which
might see keenly, and would certainly see things just as they are,
though they were not likely to catch any glimpse of that greater
world where objects cannot be focussed sharply. Yet in them, an odd
contradiction, there lurked a possibility of humorous twinkling. The
man was capable perhaps of the broad tolerance of the great humorist,
certainly of very acute perception of life's minor incongruities. His
thin lips were habitually pressed together, giving a suggestion of
strength to the set of his mouth. A man with such a mouth can think and
act, but not feel either passionately or enduringly. He will direct men
because he knows his own mind, but is not likely to sway them because
he will always be master of himself, and will not become enslaved to
any great enthusiasm. The students trooped into the hall, and the
examination began. The assistant lecturers helped in the work. Each
student was called up in turn, asked a few questions, and given a
portion of the Greek Testament to translate. For the most part their
capacities were known beforehand. There were some who had won honours
in their University course before entering the divinity school. For
them the examiners were all smiles, and the business of the day was
understood to be perfunctory. Others were recognised as mere pass men,
whom it was necessary to spur to some exertion. A few, like Hyacinth,
were unknown. These were the poorer students who had not been able to
afford to reside at the University sooner than was absolutely necessary.
Their knowledge, generally scanty, was received by the examiners with
undisguised contempt. It fell to Hyacinth's lot to present himself to
Dr. Henry. He did so tremulously.

The professor inquired his name, and looked him over coldly.

'Read for me,' he said, handing him a Greek Testament. The passage
marked was St. Paul's great description of charity. It was very familiar
to Hyacinth, and he read it with a serious feeling for the words. Dr.
Henry, who at first had occupied himself with some figures on a sheet of
paper, looked up and listened attentively.

'Where were you at school,' he asked. 'Who taught you Greek?'

'My father taught me, sir.'

'Ah! You have got a very peculiar pronunciation, and you've made an
extraordinary number of mistakes in accentuation and quantity, but
you've read as if St. Paul meant something. Now translate.'

'You have given me,' he said, when Hyacinth had finished, 'the
Authorized Version word for word. Can you do no better than that?'

'I can do it differently,' said Hyacinth, 'not better.'

'Do you know any Greek outside of the New Testament?'

Hyacinth repeated a few lines from Homer.

'That book of the "Odyssey" is not in the college course,' said Dr.
Henry. 'How did you come to read it?'

Hyacinth had no explanation to give. He had read the book, it seemed,
without being forced, and without hope of getting a prize. He recited it
as if he liked it. The remainder of the examination disclosed the fact
that he was lamentably deficient in the rudiments of Greek grammar, and
had the very vaguest ideas of the history of the Church.

Afterwards Professor Henry discussed the new class with his assistants
as they crossed the square together.

'The usual lot,' said Dr. Spenser--'half a dozen scholars, perhaps one
man among them with real brains. The rest are either idlers or, what is
worse, duffers.'

'I hit on one man with brains,' said Dr. Henry.

'Oh! Thompson, I suppose. I saw that you took him. He did well in his
degree exam.'

'No,' said Dr. Henry; 'the man I mean has more brains than Thompson.
He's a man I never heard of before. His name is Conneally. He looks
as if he came up from the wilds somewhere. He has hands like an
agricultural labourer, and a brogue that I fancy comes from Galway.
But he's a man to keep an eye on. He may do something by-and-by if he
doesn't go off the lines. We must try and lick him into shape a bit.'

Hyacinth Conneally knew extremely little about the politics, foreign or
domestic, of the English nation. His father neither read newspapers nor
cared to discuss such rumours of the doings of Governments as happened
to reach Carrowkeel. On the other hand, he knew a good deal about
the history of Ireland, and the English were still for him the 'new
foreigners' whom Keating describes. His intercourse with the fishermen
and peasants of the Galway seaboard had intensified his vague dislike
of the series of oscillations between bullying and bribery which make up
the story of England's latest attempts to govern Ireland. Without in the
least understanding the reasons for the war in South Africa, he felt
a strong sympathy with the Boers. To him they seemed a small people
doomed, if they failed to defend themselves, to something like the
treatment which Ireland had received.

It was therefore with surprise, almost with horror, that he listened for
the first time to the superlative Imperialism of the Protestant Unionist
party when he attended the prayer-meeting to which he had been invited.
The room was well filled with students, who joined heartily in the
singing of 'Onward, Christian soldiers,' a hymn selected as appropriate
for the occasion. An address by the chairman, a Dublin clergyman,
followed. According to this gentleman the Boers were a psalm-singing
but hypocritical nation addicted to slave-driving. England, on the
other hand, was the pioneer of civilization, and the nursing-mother of
missionary enterprise. It was therefore clear that all good Christians
ought to pray for the success of the British arms. The speech bewildered
rather than irritated Hyacinth. The mind gasps for a time when immersed
suddenly in an entirely new view of things, and requires time to adjust
itself for pleasure or revolt, just as the body does when plunged into
cold water. It had never previously occurred to him that an Irishman
could regard England as anything but a pirate. Anger rapidly succeeded
his surprise while he listened to the prayers which followed. It was
apparently open to any student present to give utterance, as occasion
offered, to his desires, and a large number of young men availed
themselves of the opportunity. Some spoke briefly and haltingly, some
laboriously attempted to adapt the phraseology of the Prayer-Book to the
sentiment of the moment, a few had the gift of rapid and even eloquent
supplication. These last were the hardest to endure. They prefaced their
requests with fantastic eulogies of England's righteousness, designed
apparently for the edification of the audience present in the flesh, for
they invariably began by assuring the Almighty that He was well aware
of the facts, and generally apologized to Him for recapitulating
them. Hyacinth's anger increased as he heard the fervent groans which
expressed the unanimous conviction of the justice of the petitions. No
one seemed to think it possible that the right could be on the other
side.

When the meeting was over, the secretary, whose name, it appeared, was
Mackenzie, greeted Hyacinth warmly.

'Glad to have you with us,' he said. 'I hope you'll always come. I shall
be delighted to propose you as a member of the union. Subscription
one shilling, to defray necessary expenses. In any case, whether you
subscribe or not, we shall be glad to have you with us.'

'I shall never come again,' said Hyacinth.

Mackenzie drew back, astonished.

'Why not? Didn't you like the meeting? I thought it was capital--so
informal and hearty. Didn't you think it was hearty? But perhaps you are
High Church. Are you?'

Hyacinth remembered that this identical question had been put to him the
day before by the pimply-faced boy who distributed leaflets. He wondered
vaguely at the importance which attached to the nickname.

'I am not sure,' he said, 'that I quite know what you mean. You see, I
have only just entered the divinity school, and I hardly know anything
about theology. What is a High Churchman?'

'Oh, it doesn't require any theology to know that. It's the simplest
thing in the world. A High Churchman is--well, of course, a High
Churchman sings Gregorian chants, you know, and puts flowers on
the altar. There's more than that, of course. In fact, a High
Churchman------' He paused and then added with an air of victorious
conviction: 'But anyhow if you were High Church you would be sure to
know it.'

'Ah, well,' said Hyacinth, turning to leave the room, 'I don't know
anything about it, so I suppose I'm not High Church.'

Mackenzie, however, was not going to allow him to escape so easily.

'Hold on a minute. If you're not High Church why won't you come to our
meetings?'

'Because I can't join in your prayers when I am not at all sure that
England ought to win.'

'Good Lord!' said Mackenzie. It is possible to startle even the
secretary of a prayer union into mild profanity. 'You don't mean to tell
me you are a Pro-Boer, and you a divinity student?'

It had not hitherto struck Hyacinth that it was impossible to combine a
sufficient orthodoxy with a doubt about the invariable righteousness of
England's quarrels. Afterwards he came to understand the matter better.



CHAPTER III

Mackenzie was not at heart an ill-natured man, and he would have
repudiated with indignation the charge of being a mischief-maker. He
felt after his conversation with Hyacinth much as most men would if they
discovered an unsuspected case of small-pox among their acquaintances.
His first duty was to warn the society in which he moved of the
existence of a dangerous man, a violent and wicked rebel. He repeated
a slightly exaggerated version of what Hyacinth had said to everyone
he met. The pleasurable sense of personal importance which comes with
having a story to tell grew upon him, and he spent the greater part
of the day in seeking out fresh confidants to swell the chorus of his
commination.

In England at the time public opinion was roused to a fever heat of
patriotic enthusiasm, and the Irish Protestant Unionists were eager to
outdo even the music-halls in Imperialist sentiment, the students of
Trinity College being then, as ever, the 'death or glory' boys of
Irish loyalty. It is easy to imagine how Hyacinth's name was whispered
shudderingly in the reading-room of the library, how his sentiments were
anathematized in the dining-hall at commons, how plots were hatched for
the chastisement of his iniquity over the fire in the evenings, when
pipes were lit and tea was brewed.

At the end of the week Hyacinth was in an exceedingly uncomfortable
position. Outside the lecture-rooms nobody would speak to him. Inside he
found himself the solitary occupant of the bench he sat on--a position
of comparative physical comfort, for the other seats were crowded, but
not otherwise desirable. A great English poet had just composed a poem,
which a musician, no doubt equally eminent, had set to a noble tune.
It embodied an appeal for funds for purposes not clearly specified, and
hazarded the experiment of rhyming 'cook's son' with 'Duke's son,' which
in less fervent times might have provoked the criticism of the captious.
It became the fashion in college to chant this martial ode whenever
Hyacinth was seen approaching. It was thundered out by a choir who
marched in step up and down his staircase. Bars of it were softly
hummed in his ear while he tried to note the important truths which
the lecturers impressed upon their classes. One night five musicians
relieved each other at the task of playing the tune on a concertina
outside his door. They commenced briskly at eight o'clock in the
evening, and the final sleepy version only died away at six the next
morning.

Dr. Henry, who either did not know or chose to ignore the state of
the students' feelings, advised Hyacinth to become a member of the
Theological Debating Society. The election to membership, he said, was
a mere form, and nobody was ever excluded. Hyacinth sent his name to
the secretary, and was blackbeaned by an overwhelming majority of the
members. Shortly afterwards the Lord-lieutenant paid a visit to the
college, and the students seized the chance of displaying their loyalty
to the Throne and Constitution. They assembled outside the library,
which the representative of Queen Victoria was inspecting under the
guidance of the Provost and two of the senior Fellows. It is the nature
of the students of Trinity College to shout while they wait for the
development of interesting events, and on this occasion even the library
walls were insufficient to exclude the noise. The excellent nobleman
inside found himself obliged to cast round for original remarks about
the manuscript of the 'Book of Kells,' while the air was heavy with the
verses which commemorate the departure of 'fifty thousand fighting men'
to Table Bay. When at length he emerged on the library steps the tune
changed, as was right and proper, to 'God save the Queen.' Strangely
enough, Hyacinth had never before heard the national anthem. It is not
played or sung often by the natives of Connemara, and although the ocean
certainly forms part of the British Empire, the Atlantic waves have
not yet learned to beat out this particular melody. So it happened
that Hyacinth, without meaning to be offensive, omitted the ceremony of
removing his hat. A neighbour, joyful at the opportunity, snatched the
offending garment, and skimmed it far over the heads of the crowd. A few
hard kicks awakened Hyacinth more effectually to a sense of his crime,
and it was with a torn coat and many bruises that he escaped in the end
to the shelter of his rooms, less inclined to be loyal than when he left
them.

After a few weeks it became clear that the British armies in South
Africa were not going to reap that rich and unvarying crop of victories
which the valour of the soldiers and the ability of the generals
deserved. The indomitable spirit of the great nation rose to the
occasion, and the position of those who entertained doubts about the
justice of the original quarrel became more than ever unbearable.
Hyacinth took to wandering by himself through parts of the city in which
he was unlikely to meet any of his fellow-students. His soul grew bitter
within him. The course of petty persecution to which he was subjected
hardened his original sentimental sympathy with the Boer cause into a
clearly defined hatred of everything English. When he got clear of the
college and the hateful sound of the 'cook's son, Duke's son' tune, he
tramped along, gloating quietly over the news of the latest 'regrettable
incident.'

He was very lonely and friendless, for not even the discomfiture of his
enemies can make up to a young man for the want of a friend to speak to.
An inexpressible longing for home came over him. There was a shop in a
by-street which exposed photographs of Galway scenery in its windows for
a time. Hyacinth used to go day by day to gaze at them. The modest front
of the Gaelic League Hyce was another haunt of his. He used to stand
Debating his eyes on the Irish titles of the books in the window, and
repeating the words he read aloud to himself until the passers-by turned
to look at him. Once he entered a low-browed, dingy shop merely because
the owner's name was posted over the door in Gaelic characters. It was
one of those shops to be found in the back streets of most large towns
which devote themselves to a composite business, displaying newspapers,
apples, tobacco, and sweets for sale. The afternoon light, already
growing feeble in the open air, had almost deserted the interior of
the shop. At first Hyacinth saw nothing but an untidy red-haired
girl reading in a corner by the Ught of a candle. Ho asked her for
cigarettes. She rose, and laid her book and the candle on the counter.
It was one of O'Growney's Irish primers, dirty and pencilled. Hyacinth's
heart warmed to her at once. Was she not trying to learn the dear Irish
which the barefooted girls far away at home shouted to each other as
they dragged the seaweed up from the shore? Then from the far end of the
shop he heard a man's voice speaking Irish. It was not the soft liquid
tongue of the Connaught peasants, but a language more regular and
formal. The man spoke it as if it were a language he had learned,
comparatively slowly and with effort. Yet the sound of it seemed to
Hyacinth one of the sweetest things he had ever heard. Not even the
shrinking self-distrust which he had been taught by repeated snubbings
and protracted ostracism could prevent him from making himself known to
this stranger.

'The blessing of God upon Ireland!' he said.

There was not a moment's hesitation on the part of the stranger. The
sound of the Gaelic was enough for him. He stretched out both hands to
Hyacinth.

'Is it that you also are one of us--one of the Gaels?' he asked.
Hyacinth seized the outstretched hands and held them tight. The feeling
of offered friendship and companionship warmed him with a sudden glow.
He felt that his eyes were filling with tears, and that his voice would
break if he tried to speak, but he did not care at all. He poured out a
long Gaelic greeting, scarcely knowing what he said. Perhaps neither
the man whose hands he held nor the owner of the shop behind the counter
fully understood him, but they guessed at his feelings.

'Is it that you are a stranger here and lonely? Where is your home? What
name is there on you?'

'Maiseadh, I am a stranger indeed and lonely too,' said Hyacinth.

'You are a stranger no longer, then. We are all of us friends with each
other. You speak our own dear tongue, and that is enough to make us
friends.'

The tobacconist, it appeared, also spoke Irish of a kind. He cast
occasional remarks into the conversation which followed, less, it seemed
to Hyacinth, with a view of giving expression to any thought than for
the sake of airing some phrases which he had somewhat inadequately
learned. Indeed, it struck Hyacinth very soon that his new friend was
getting rather out of his depth in his 'own dear tongue.' At last the
tobacconist said with a smile:

'I'm afraid we must ask Mr. Conneally--didn't you say that Conneally was
your name?--to speak the Beurla. I'm clean beaten with the Gaelic, and
you can't go much further yourself, Cahal. Isn't that the truth, now.'

'And small blame to me,' said Cahal--in English, Charles--Maguire.
'After all, what am I but a learner? And it's clear that Mr. Conneally
has spoken it since ever he spoke at all.'

Hyacinth smiled and nodded. Maguire went on:

'What are you doing this afternoon? What do you say to coming round with
me to see Mary O'Dwyer? It's her "at home" day, and I'm just on my way
there.'

'But,' said Hyacinth, 'I don't know her. I can hardly go to her house,
can I?'

'Oh, I'll introduce you,' said Maguire cheerfully. 'She allows me to
bring anyone I like to see her. She likes to know anyone who loves
Ireland and speaks Gaelic. Perhaps we'll meet Finola too; she's often
there.'

'Meet who?'

'Finola. That's what we call Miss Goold--Augusta Goold, you know. We
call her Finola because she shelters the rest of us under her wings when
the Moyle gets tempestuous. You remember the story?'

'Of course I do,' said Hyacinth, who had learnt the tale of Lir's
daughter as other children do Jack the Giant-Killer. 'And who is Miss
O'Dwyer?'

'Oh, she writes verses. Surely you know them?'

Hyacinth shook his head.

'What a pity! We all admire them immensely. She has something nearly
every week in the _Croppy_. She has just brought out a volume of lyrics.
Her brother worked the publishing of it in New York. He is mixed up with
literary people there. You must have heard of him at all events. He's
Patrick O'Dwyer, one of the few who stood by O'Neill when he fought the
priests. He gave up the Parliamentary people after that. No honest man
could do anything else.'

He conducted Hyacinth to one of the old squares on the north side of the
city. When the tide of fashion set southwards, spreading terraces and
villas from Leeson Street to Killiney, it left behind some of the finest
houses in Dublin. Nowadays for a comparatively low rent it is possible
to live in a splendid house if you do not aspire to the glory of a smart
address. Miss O'Dwyer's house, for instance, boasted a spacious hall and
lofty sitting-rooms, with impressive ceilings and handsome fireplaces;
yet she paid for it little more than half the rent which a cramped villa
in Clyde Road would have cost her. Even so, it was somewhat of a mystery
to her friends how Miss O'Dwyer managed to live there. A solicitor who
had his offices on the ground-floor probably paid the rent of the whole
house; but the profits of verse-making are small, and a poetess, like
meaner women, requires food, clothes, and fire. Indeed, Miss O'Dwyer,
no longer 'M. O'D.,' whose verses adorned the _Croppy_, but 'Miranda,'
served an English paper as Irish correspondent. It was a pity that a
pen certainly capable of better things should have been employed
in describing the newest costume of the Lord Lieutenant's wife at
Punchestown, or the confection of pale-blue tulle which, draped round
Mrs. Chesney, adorned a Castle ball. Miss O'Dwyer herself was heartily
ashamed of the work, but it was, or appeared to her to be, necessary to
live, and even with the aid of occasional remittances from Patrick in
New York, she could scarcely have afforded her friends a cup of tea
without the guineas earned by torturing the English language in a
weekly chronicle of Irish society's clothes. Even with the help of such
earnings, poverty was for ever tapping her on the shoulder, and no one
except Mary herself and her one maid-servant knew how carefully fire
and light had to be economized in the splendid rooms where an extinct
aristocracy had held revels a century before.

Hyacinth and his friend advanced past the solicitor's doors, and up
the broad staircase as far as the drawing-room. For a time they got no
further than the threshold. The opening of the door was greeted with a
long-drawn and emphatic 'Hush!' from the company within. Maguire laid
his hand on Hyacinth's arm, and the two stood still looking into the
room. What was left of the feeble autumn twilight was almost excluded by
half-drawn curtains. No lamp was lit, and the fire cast only fitful rays
here and there through the room. It was with difficulty that Hyacinth
discerned figures in a semicircle, and a slim woman in a white dress
standing apart from the others near the fire. Then he heard a voice,
a singularly sweet voice, as it seemed to him, reciting with steady
emphasis on the syllables which marked the rhythm of the poem:

     'Out there in the West, where the heavy gray clouds are
     insistent,
     Where the sky stoops to gather the earth into mournful
     embraces,
     Where the country lies saturate, sodden, round saturate
     hamlets--

     'Out there in the sunset where rages and surges Atlantic,
     And the salt is commingled with rain over desolate beaches,
     Thy heart, O beloved, is still beating--fitfully, feebly.

     'Is beating--ah! not as it beat in the squadrons of Sarafield,
     Exultantly, joyously, gladly, expectant of battle,
     With throbs like the notes of the drums when men gather for
     fighting.

     'Beats still; but, ah! not as it beat in the latest Fitzgerald,
     Nobly devote to his race's most noble tradition;
     Or in Emmet or Davis, or, last on their list, in O'Brien.

     'Beats fitfully, feebly. O desolate mother! O Erin!
     When shall the pulse of thy life, which but flutters  in
     Connaucht,
     Throb through thy meadows and boglands, and mountains and
     cities?'

A subdued murmur of applause greeted the close of the recitation, and
praise more sincere than that with which politeness generally greets the
drawing-room performances of minor poets. Hyacinth joined in neither.
It seemed to him that the verses were too beautiful to speak about, so
sacred that praise was a kind of sacrilege. Perhaps some excuse may be
found for his emotion in the fact that for weeks he had heard no poetry
except the ode about 'wiping something off a slate.' The violence of the
contrast benumbed his critical faculty. So a man who was obliged to gaze
for a long time at the new churches erected in Belfast might afterwards
catch himself in the act of admiring the houses which the Congested
Districts Board builds in Connaught.

'I am afraid I must have bored you.' It was Miss O'Dwyer who greeted
him. 'I didn't see you and Mr. Maguire come in until I had commenced my
poor little poem. I ought to have given you some tea before I inflicted
it on you.'

'Oh,' said Hyacinth, 'it was beautiful. Is it really your own? Did you
write it?'

Miss O'Dwyer flushed. The vehement sincerity of his tone embarrassed
her, though she was accustomed to praise.

'You are very kind,' she said. 'All my friends here are far too kind to
me. But come now, I must give you some tea.'

The tea was nearly stone cold and weak with frequent waterings. The
saucer and spoon, possibly even the cup, had been used by someone else
before. Mr. Maguire secured for himself the last remaining morsel of
cake, leaving Hyacinth the choice between a gingerbread biscuit and
a torn slice of bread and butter. None of these things appeared to
embarrass Miss O'Dwyer. They did not matter in the least to Hyacinth.

'Do you know the West well?' he asked.

'Indeed, I do not. I've always longed to go and spend a whole long
summer there, but I've never had the chance.'

'Then how did you know it was like that? I mean, how did you catch the
spirit of it in your poem?'

'Did I?' she said. 'I am so glad. But I don't deserve any credit for
it. I wrote those verses after I had been looking at one of Jim Tynan's
pictures. You know them, of course? No? Oh, but you must go and see them
at once if you love the West. And you do, don't you?'

'It is my home,' said Hyacinth.

When he had finished his tea she introduced him to some of the people
who were in the room. Afterwards he came to know them, but the memories
which Miss O'Dwyer's verses called up in him made him absent and
preoccupied. He scarcely heard the names she spoke. Soon the party broke
up, and Hyacinth turned to look for Maguire.

'I'm afraid Mr. Maguire has gone,' said Miss O'Dwyer. 'He has a lecture
to attend this afternoon. You must come here again, Mr. Conneally. Come
next Wednesday--every Wednesday, if you like. We can have a talk about
the West. I shall want you to tell me all sorts of things. Perhaps
Finola will be here next week. She very often comes. I shall look
forward to introducing you to her. You are sure to admire her immensely.
We all do.'

'Yes, I've heard of her,' said Hyacinth. 'Mr. Maguire told me who she
was.'

'Oh, but he couldn't have told you half. She is magnificent. All the
rest of us are only little children compared to her. Now be sure you
come and meet her.'



CHAPTER IV

Ever since Pitt and Castlerea perpetrated their Act of Union two
political parties have struggled together in Ireland. Both of them have
been steadily prominent, so prominent that they have sometimes attracted
the attention of the English public, and drawn to their contest a little
quite unintelligent interest. The simplest and most discernible line
of division between them is a religious one. The Protestant party has
hitherto been guided and led by the gentry. It has been steadily loyal
to England and to the English Government. It has not been greatly
concerned about Ireland or Ireland's welfare, but has been consistently
anxious to preserve its own privileges, powers, and property. It has not
come well out of the struggle of the nineteenth century. Its Church has
been disestablished, its privileges and powers abolished, and the last
remnants of its property are being filched from it. It is a curious
piece of irony that this party should have hastened its own defeat
by the very policy adopted to secure victory. No doubt the Irish
aristocracy would have suffered less if they had been seditious instead
of loyal. The Roman Catholic party has been led by ecclesiastics, and
has always included the bulk of the people. Its leaders have not cared
for the welfare of Ireland any more than the Protestant party, but they
have always pretended that they did, being in this respect much wiser
than their opponents. They have pulled the strings of a whole series of
political movements, and made puppets dance on and off the stage as they
chose. Also they have understood how to deal with England. Unlike the
Protestant party, they have never been loyal, because they knew from the
first that England gives most to those who bully or worry her. They have
kept one object steadily in view, an object quite as selfish in reality
as that of the aristocracy--the aggrandisement of their Church. For
this they have been prepared at any time to sacrifice the interests
of Ireland, and are content at the present moment to watch the country
bleeding to death with entire complacency. The leaders of this party
enter upon the twentieth century in sight of their promised land. They
possess all the power and nearly all the wealth of Ireland. If the
Bishops can secure the continuance of English government for the next
half-century Ireland will have become the Church's property. Her
money will go to propagating the faith. Her children will supply the
English-speaking world with a superfluity of priests and nuns.

Outside both parties there have always been a few men united by no ties
of policy or religion, unless, as perhaps we may, we call patriotism
a kind of religion. Other lands have been loved sincerely, devotedly,
passionately, as mothers, wives, and mistresses are loved. Ireland alone
has been loved religiously, as men are taught to love God or the
saints. Her lovers have called themselves Catholic or Protestant: such
distinctions have not mattered to these men. They have scarcely ever
been able to form themselves into a party, never into a strong or a wise
party. They have been violent, desperate, frequently ridiculous, but
always sincere and unselfish. Their great weakness has lain in the fact
that they have had no consistent aim. Some of their leaders have looked
for a return to Ireland's Constitution, and built upon the watchword of
the volunteers, 'The King, the Lords, and the Commons of Ireland.' Some
have dreamed of a complete independence, of an Irish republic shaping
its own world policy. Some have wholly distrusted politics, and given
their strength to the intellectual, spiritual, or material regeneration
of the people. Among these men have been found the sanest practical
reformers and the wildest revolutionary dreamers. On the outskirts of
their company have hung all sorts of people. Parliamentary politicians
have leaned towards them, and been driven straightway out of public
life. Criminals have claimed fellowship with them, and brought
discredit upon honourable men. Poets and men of letters have drawn
their inspiration from their strivings, and in return have decked their
patriotism with imperishable splendour. In the future, no doubt,
the struggle will lie between this party and the hitherto victorious
hierarchy, with England for ally, and the fight seems a wholly unequal
one. It was into an advanced and vehement group of patriots that Mary
O'Dwyer introduced Hyacinth. He became a regular reader of the _Croppy_,
and made the acquaintance of most of the contributors to its pages. He
found them clever, enthusiastic, and agreeable men and women, but, as
he was forced to admit to himself, occasionally reckless. One evening a
discussion took place in Mary O'Dwyer's room which startled and shocked
him. Excitement ran high over the events of the war. The sympathies
of the 'Independent Irelanders,' as they called themselves, fiercely
assertive even in their name, were of course entirely with the Boers,
and they received every report of an English reverse with unmixed
satisfaction.

When Hyacinth entered the room he found four people there. Mary
O'Dwyer herself was making tea at a little table near the fire. Augusta
Goold--the famous Finola--was stretched in a deep chair smoking
a cigarette. She was a remarkable woman both physically and
intellectually. It was her delight to emphasize her splendid figure
by draping it in brilliant reds and yellows. To anyone who cared to
speculate on such a subject it seemed a mystery why her clothes remained
on her when she walked. The laws of gravity seemed to demand that they
should loosen with her movements, become detached, and finally drop
down. Nothing of the sort had ever happened, so it must be presumed that
she had secret and unconventional ways of fastening them. Similarly it
was not easy to see why her hair stayed upon her head. It was arranged
upon no recognised system, and suggested that she had perfected the art,
known generally only to heroines of romances, of twisting her tresses
with a single movement into a loose knot. That she affected white frills
of immense complexity was frequently evident, owing to the difficulty
she experienced in confining her long legs to feminine attitudes.
Her complexion put it in the power of her enemies to accuse her of
familiarity with cosmetics--a slander, for she had been observed to turn
green during an attack of sea-sickness. She had great brilliant eyes,
which were capable of expressing intensity of enthusiasm or hatred,
but no one had ever seen them soften with any emotion like love. Her
attitude towards social conventions was symbolized by her clothes. In
the old days, when the houses of 'society' had still been open to her,
she was accustomed to challenge criticism by fondling a pet monkey
at tea-parties. Since she had lost caste by taking up the cause of
'Independent Ireland' the ape had been discarded, and the same result
achieved by occasional bickerings with the police. She was an able
public speaker, and could convince her audiences for a time of the
reasonableness of opinions which next morning appeared to be the outcome
of delirium. She wrote, not, like Mary O'Dwyer, verse in which any
sentiment may be excused, but incisive and vigorous prose. Occasionally
even the Castle officials got glimmerings of the meaning of one of her
articles, and suppressed the whole issue of the _Croppy_ in which it
appeared.

Near her sat a much less remarkable person--Thomas Grealy, historian
and archaeologist. He had been engaged for many years on a history of
Ireland, but no volume of it had as yet appeared. His friends suspected
that he had got permanently stuck somewhere about the period of the
introduction of Christianity into the island. His essays, published in
the _Croppy_, dwelt with passionate regret on the departed glories
of Tara. He held strong views about the historical reality of the
Tuath-de-Danaan, and got irritated at the most casual mention of Dr.
Petrie's theory of the round towers. He had proved that King Arthur
was an Irishman, with whose reputation Malory and Tennyson had taken
unwarrantable liberties. The name of Dante brought a smile of contempt
to his lips, for he knew that the 'Purgatorio' was stolen shamelessly
from the works of a monk of Cong. He nourished a secret passion for
Finola. He never ventured to declare it, but his imagination endowed
every heroine, from Queen Maev down to the foster daughter of the
Leinster farmer who married King Cormac, with Miss Goold's figure, eyes
and hair. It was perhaps the burning of this passion which rendered him
so cadaverous that his clothes--in other respects also they looked as
if they had been bought in far-off happier days--hung round him like the
covering of a broken-ribbed umbrella.

The fourth person present was Timothy Halloran, who hovered about Mary
O'Dwyer's tea-table. He was what the country people call a 'spoilt
priest.' Destined by simple and pious parents to take Holy Orders, he
got as far as the inside of Maynooth College. While there he had kicked
a fellow-student down the whole length of a long corridor for telling
tales to the authorities. A committee of ecclesiastics considered the
case, and having come to the conclusion that he lacked vocation for
the priesthood, sent him home. Timothy was accustomed to say that his
violence might have been passed over, but that his failure to appreciate
the devotion to duty which inspired the tale-bearer marked him
decisively as unfit for ordination. He never regretted his expulsion,
although he complained bitterly that he had been nearly choked before
they cast him out. He meant, it is to be supposed, that the effort to
instil a proper reverence for dogma had almost destroyed his capacity
for thought, not that the fingers of the reverend professors had
actually closed around his windpipe. His subsequent experiences had
included a period of teaching in an English Board School, a brief, but
not wholly unsatisfactory, career as a political organizer in New
York, and a return to Ireland, where he earned a precarious living as a
journalist.

All four greeted Hyacinth warmly as he entered the room.

'We were just discussing,' said Mary O'Dwyer, 'the failure of our
attempt to organize a field hospital and a staff of nurses for the
Boers. It is a shame to have to admit that the English garrison in
Ireland can raise thousands of pounds for their war funds, and the Irish
can't be got to subscribe a few hundreds.'

'The wealth of the country,' said Grealy, 'is in the hands of a
minority--the so-called Loyalists.'

'Nonsense,' said Finola sharply. 'If you ever gave a thought to anything
more recent than the High-King's Court at Tara you would know that the
landlords are not the wealthy part of the community any longer. There's
many a provincial publican calling himself a Nationalist who could buy
up the nearest landlord and every Protestant in the parish along with
him. I'm a Protestant myself, born and bred among the class you speak
of, and I know.'

'You're quite right, Miss Goold,' said Tim. 'The people could have given
the money if they liked. I attribute the failure of the fund to the
apathy or treachery of the priests, call it which you like. There isn't
a Protestant church in the country where the parsons don't preach "Give
give, give" to their people Sunday after Sunday. And what's the result?
Why, they have raised thousands of pounds.'

'After the poem you published in last week's _Croppy_,' said Hyacinth
to Mary O'Dwyer, 'I made sure the subscriptions would have come in. Your
appeal was one of the most beautiful things I ever read. It would have
touched the heart of a stone.'

'Poetry is all well enough,' said Tim. 'I admire your verses, Mary,
as much as anyone, but we want a collection at every church door after
Mass. That's what we ought to have, but it's exactly what we won't get,
because the priests are West Britons at heart. They would pray for the
Queen and the army to-morrow, like Cardinal Vaughan, if they weren't
afraid.'

'I believe,' said Finola, 'that we went the wrong way about the thing
altogether. We asked for a hospital, and we appealed to the people's
pity for the wounded Boers. Nobody in Ireland cares a pin about
the Boers. Why on earth should we? From all I can hear they are a
narrow-minded, intolerant set of hypocrites. I'd just as soon read the
stuff some fool of an English newspaper man wrote about "our brother the
Boer" as listen to the maudlin sentiment our people talk. We don't want
to help the Boers. We want to hurt the English.'

'And you think----' said Grealy.

'I think,' went on Finola, 'that we ought to have asked for volunteers
to go out and fight, instead of nurses to cocker up the men who are
fools enough to get themselves shot. We'd have got them.'

'You would not,' said Tim. 'The clergy would have been dead against you.
They would have nipped the whole project in the bud without so much as
making a noise in doing it.'

'That's true,' said Grealy. 'Remember, Miss Goold, it was the priests
who cursed Tara, and the monks who broke the power of the Irish Kings. I
haven't worked the thing out yet, but I mean to show----'

Finola interrupted the poor man ruthlessly:

'Let's try it, anyway. Let's preach a crusade.'

'Not the least bit of good,' said Tim. 'Every blackguard in the country
is enlisted already in the Connaught Bangers or the Dublin Fusiliers,
or some confounded Militia regiment. There's nobody left but the nice,
respectable, goody-goody boys who wouldn't leave their mothers or miss
going to confession if you went down on your knees to them.'

'Well, then, the Irish troops ought to shoot their officers, and walk
over to the Boer camp,' said Finola savagely.

Hyacinth half smiled at what seemed to him a monstrous jest. Then, when
he perceived that she was actually in earnest, the smile froze into a
kind of grin. His hands trembled with the violence of his indignation.

'It would be devilish treachery,' he blurted out. 'The name of Irishman
will never be disgraced by such an act.'

Augusta Goold flung her cigarette into the grate, and rose from her
chair. She stood over Hyacinth, her hands clenched and her bosom heaving
rapidly. Her eyes blazed down into his until their scorn cowed him.

'There is no treachery possible for an Irishman,' she said, 'except
the one of fighting for England. Any deed against England--yes, _any_
deed--is glorious, and not shameful.'

Hyacinth was utterly quelled. He ventured upon no reply. Indeed, not
only did her violence render argument undesirable--and it seemed for
the moment that he would find himself in actual grips with a furious
Amazon--but her words carried with them a certain conviction. It
actually seemed to him while she spoke as if a good defence might be
made for Irish soldiers who murdered their officers and deserted to an
enemy in the field. It was not until hours afterwards, when the vivid
impression of Finola's face had faded from his recollection, when he had
begun to forget the flash of her eyes, the poise of her figure, and the
glow of her draperies, that his moral sense was able to reassert itself.
Then he knew that she had spoken wickedly. It might be right for an
Irishman to fight against England when he could. It might be justifiable
to seize the opportunity of England's embarrassment to make a bid for
freedom by striking a blow at the Empire. So far his conscience went
willingly, but that treachery and murder could ever be anything but
horrible he refused altogether to believe.

Another conversation in which he took part about this time helped
Hyacinth still further to understand the position of his new friends.
Tim Halloran and he were smoking and chatting together over the fire
when Maguire joined them.

'What's the matter with you?' asked Halloran. 'You look as if you'd been
at your mother's funeral.'

'You're not so far out in your guess,' said Maguire grimly. 'I spent the
morning at my sister's wedding. Would you like a bit of the cake?' He
produced from his pocket a paper containing crushed fragments of white
sugar and a shapeless mass of citron and currants. 'With the compliments
of the Reverend Mother,' he said. 'Try a bit.'

'What on earth do you mean?' said Hyacinth.

'Oh, I assure you the Sisters of Pity do these things in style,' said
Maguire. 'It's a pretty fancy, that of the wedding-cake, isn't it?
But you're a Protestant, Conneally; you don't understand this delicate
playfulness. I was present to-day at the reception of my only sister
into the Institute of the Catholic Sisters of Pity, founded by Honoria
Kavanagh. I've lost Birdie Maguire, that's all, the little girl that
used to climb on to my knee and kiss me, and instead of her there's a
Sister Monica Mary, who will no doubt pray for my soul when she's let.'

'What was the figure in her case?' asked Tim in a perfectly
matter-of-fact tone.

'Six hundred pounds,' said Maguire. 'It must have put the old man to the
pin of his collar to pay it. The only time he ever talked to me about
his affairs he told me he had got four hundred pounds put by for
Birdie's fortune, and that I was to have my medical course and whatever
the old shop would fetch when he was gone. They must have put the screw
on pretty tight to make him spring the extra two hundred. I dare say I
shall suffer for it in the end. He must have borrowed the money.'

Hyacinth felt intensely curious about this young nun. Like most
Protestants he had grown up to regard monasticism in all its forms as
something remote, partly horrible, wholly unintelligible.

'Why did she do it?' he asked. 'What sort of a girl was she? Do you mind
telling me?'

'Not in the least,' said Maguire. 'Only I'm not sure that I know. Three
years ago--that is, when I left home--she was the last sort of girl you
could imagine going into a convent. She was pretty, fond of nice clothes
and admiration, as keen as every girl ought to be on a dance. I never
supposed she had a thought of religion in her head--I mean, beyond the
usual confessions and attendances at Mass.'

'I suppose,' said Hyacinth, 'your people wanted it.'

'I don't think so,' said Maguire. 'Perhaps my mother did. I don't know.'

'You see, Conneally,' said Tim Halloran, 'it is a sort of hall-mark
of respectability among people like Maguire's to have a girl in a good
convent. A little lower down in the social scale, in the class I come
from, the boys are made priests. A doctor is a more expensive article to
manufacture, so Maguire's father selected that line of life for him. Not
that they could have made a priest of you, Maguire, in any case. You'd
have disgraced Maynooth, as I did.'

'I don't understand,' said Hyacinth. 'I thought a vocation for the life
was necessary.'

'Oh, so it is,' said Tim Halloran, 'but, you see, there's the period of
the novitiate. Given a girl at an impressionable age, the proper convent
atmosphere, and a prize of six hundred pounds for the Order, and it
will go hard with the Reverend Mother if she can't work the girl up to
a vocation. It takes a man a lifetime to make six hundred pounds in
a country shop, but there's many a one who does it by hard work and
self-denial; then down come the nuns and sweep it away, and it's
wasted. It ought to be invested in a local factory or in waterworks, or
gas-works, or fifty other things that would benefit the town it's made
in. It ought to be fructifying and bearing interest; instead of which
off it goes to Munich for stained glass, or to Italy for a marble altar.
Is it any wonder Ireland is crying out with poverty?'

'Yes,' said Maguire, 'and that's not the worst of it. I'd be content to
let them take the damned money and deck their churches with it, but the
girls--there are hundreds of them caught every year for nuns, and swept
out of life. It isn't the Irish convents alone that get them. American
nuns come over and Australian nuns, and they go round and round the
country picking up girls here and there, and carry them off. There,
I don't want to talk too much about it. The money is nothing, but the
girls and boys----'

'It seems strange to me,' said Hyacinth, 'that when you think that way
you should go on belonging to your Church.'

'Desert the Church!' said Maguire. 'We'll never do that. How could we
live without religion? And what other religion is there? I grant you
that your priests wouldn't rob us, but--but think of the cold of it.
You can't realize it, Conneally, but think what it would mean to
a Catholic--a religion without saints, without absolution, without
sacrifice. Besides, what we complain of is not Catholicism. It's a
parasitic growth destroying the true faith, defiling the Church.'

'Yes,' said Tim Halloran, 'and even from my point of view how should we
be the better of a change? Your Church is ruled by old women who think
the name of Englishman the most glorious in the world. You preach
loyalty, and I believe you pray for the Queen in your services. A nice
fool I would feel praying that the Queen should have victory over her
enemies.'

For a long time afterwards this conversation dwelt in Hyacinth's mind.
Tim Halloran he knew to be practically a freethinker, but Maguire
regularly heard Mass on Sundays, and often went to confession. It was a
puzzle how he could do so, feeling as he did about the religious Orders.
So insistent did the problem become to his mind that he found himself
continually leading the conversation round to it from one side or
another. Mary O'Dwyer told him that she also had a sister in a nunnery.

'She teaches girls to make lace, and wonderful work they do. She is
perfectly happy. I think her face is the sweetest and most beautiful
thing I have ever seen. There is not a line on it of care or of
fretfulness. It seems to me as if her whole life might be described as
a quiet smile. I always feel better by the mere recollection of her face
for a long time after I have visited her. Oh, I know it wouldn't do
for me. I couldn't stand it for a week. I should go mad with the quiet
restraint of it all. But my sister is happy. I can't forget that. I
suppose she has a vocation.'

'Vocation,' said Hyacinth thoughtfully. 'Yes, I can understand how that
would make all the difference. But how many of them have the vocation?'

'Don't you think vocation might be learnt? I mean mightn't one grow into
it, if one wished to very much, and if the life was constantly before
one's eyes, beautiful and calm?'

It was almost the same thought which Timothy Halloran had suggested.
Mary O'Dwyer spoke of growing into vocation, Tim of the working of it
up. Was there any difference except a verbal one?

On another occasion he spoke to Dr. Henry about the position of the
Church of Ireland in the country.

'We have proved,' said the professor, 'that the Roman claims have no
support in Scripture, history, or reason. Our books remain unanswered,
because they are unanswerable. We can do no more.'

'We might offer the Irish people a Church which they could join,' said
Hyacinth.

'We do. We offer them the Church of St. Patrick, the ancient, historic
Church of Ireland. We offer them the two Sacraments of the Gospel,
administered by priests duly ordained at the hands of an Episcopate
which goes back in an unbroken line to the Apostles. We present them the
three great creeds for their assent. We use a liturgy that is at once
ancient and pure. The Church of Ireland has all this, is beyond dispute
a branch of the great Catholic Church of Christ.'

'It may be all you say,' said Hyacinth, 'but it is not national. In
sentiment and sympathy it is English and not Irish.'

'I know what you mean,' said Dr. Henry. 'I think I understand how you
feel, but I cannot consent to the conclusion you want to draw. There
is no real meaning in the cry for nationality. It is a sentiment, a
fashion, and will pass. Even if it were genuine and enduring, I hold it
to be better for Ireland to be an integral part of a great Empire than a
contemptible and helpless item among the nations of the world, a prey to
the intrigues of ambitious foreign statesmen.'

Hyacinth sighed and turned to go, but Dr. Henry laid a hand upon his
shoulder and detained him.

'Conneally,' he said kindly, 'let me give you a word of advice. Don't
mix yourself up with your new friends too much. You will ruin your own
prospects in life if you do. There is nothing more fatal to a man among
the people with whom you and I are to live and work than the suspicion
of being tainted with Nationalist ideas. You can't be both a rebel and
a clergyman. You see,' he added with a smile, 'I take enough interest in
you to know who your friends are, and what you are thinking about.'



CHAPTER V

Augusta Goold's scheme for enrolling Irish volunteers to help the Boers
was duly set forth in the next issue of the _Croppy_. It included two
appeals--one for money and one for men. The details were worked out
with the frank contempt for possibility which characterizes some of the
famous suggestions of Dean Swift. She had the same faculty that he had
for bringing absurdities within the range of the commonplace; but there
was this difference between them--Miss Goold quite believed in her own
plans, while the great Dean no doubt grinned over the proof-sheets of
his 'Modest Proposal.'

It happened, most unfortunately, that the appeal synchronized with
another, also for funds, which was issued by Mr. O'Rourke, the leader
of the Parliamentary party. Since the death of John O'Neill the purse
of the party had been getting lean. The old tactics which used to draw
plaudits and dollars from the United States, as well as a tribute from
every parish in Ireland, had lately been unsuccessful. There were still
violent scenes in the House of Commons, but they no longer produced
anything except contemptuous smiles. Members of Parliament still
succeeded occasionally in getting the Chief Secretary to imprison them,
but the glory of martyrdom was harder to win than in the old days.
Latterly things had come to such a pass that even the reduced stipends
offered to the members fell into arrear. The attendance at Westminster
dropped away. The Government could afford to smile at Mr. O'Rourke's
efforts to make himself disagreeable, and the Opposition were frankly
contemptuous of a people who could not profit them by more than a dozen
votes in a critical division. It became impossible to wring even a
modest Land Bill from the Prime Minister, and Mr. Chesney, now much at
ease in the Secretary's office in the Castle, scarcely felt it necessary
to be civil to deputations which wanted railways. It was clear that
something must be done, or Mr. O'Rourke's business would disappear.
He decided to appeal for funds _orbi et urbi_. The world--in this case
North America--was to be visited, exhorted, and, it was hoped, taxed by
some of his most eloquent lieutenants. Even Canada, with its leaven
of Orangemen, was to be honoured with the speeches of an orator of
second-rate powers. The city--Dublin, of course--was the chosen scene of
the leader's personal exertions. Since his revolt against John O'Neill,
O'Rourke had been a little shy of Dublin audiences, but the pressing
nature of the present crisis almost forced him to pay his court to the
capital. He found some comfort in the recollection that during the five
years that had elapsed since O'Neill's death he had missed no public
opportunity of shedding tears beside his tomb. He remembered, too, that
he had put his name down for a large subscription towards the erection
of a statue to the dead leader, a work of art which the existing
generation seemed unlikely to have the pleasure of seeing.

Thus it happened that on the very day of the publication of Miss Goold's
scheme Mr. O'Rourke announced his intention of addressing an appeal for
funds to a public meeting in the Rotunda. Miss Goold was disconcerted
and irritated. She was well aware that Mr. O'Rourke's appeal would give
the respectable Nationalists an excellent excuse for ignoring hers, and
unfortunately the respectable people are just the ones who have most
money. She was confident that she could rely on the extreme section of
the Nationalists, and on that element in the city population which loves
and makes a row, but she could not count on the moneyed classes. They
were, so far as their words went, very enthusiastic for the Boer
cause; but when it came to writing cheques, it was likely that the
counter-attractions of the Parliamentary fund would prove too strong.

Since it seemed that Mr. O'Rourke would certainly spoil her collection,
the obvious thing to do was to try to spoil his. If he afforded people
an excuse for not paying the travelling expenses of her volunteers to
Lorenzo Marques, she would, if possible, suggest a way of escape from
paying for his men's journeys to London. After all, no one really wanted
to subscribe to either fund, and it might be supposed that the public
would very gladly keep their purses shut altogether.

For an Irishman it is quite possible to be genuinely enthusiastic and at
the same time able to see the humorous side of his own enthusiasm. This
is a reason why an Irishman is never a bore unless, to gain his private
ends, he wants to be. Even an Irish advocate of total abstinence, or an
Irish antivaccinationist, if such a thing exists, is not a bore,
because he will always trot out his conscientious objections with a
half-humorous, half-deprecating smile. This same capacity for avoiding
the slavery of serious fanaticism enables an Irishman to cease quite
joyfully from the pursuit of his own particular fad in order to corner
an obnoxious opponent. Thus Augusta Goold and her friends were genuinely
desirous of striking a blow at England, and really believed that their
volunteers might do it; but this did not prevent them from finding
infinite relish in the prospect of watching Mr. O'Rourke squirming on
the horns of a dilemma. They took counsel together, and the result of
their deliberations was peculiar. They proposed to invite Mr. O'Rourke
to join his appeal to theirs, to pool the money which came in, and to
divide it evenly between the volunteers and the members of Parliament.
It was Tim Halloran who hit upon the brilliant idea. Augusta Goold
chuckled over it as she grasped its consequences. Mr. O'Rourke, Tim
argued, would be unwilling to accept the proposal because he wanted all
the money he could get, more than was at all likely to be collected.
He would be equally unwilling to reject it, because he could then be
represented as indifferent to the heroic struggle of the Boers. In
the existing state of Irish and American opinion a suspicion of such
indifference would be quite sufficient to wreck his chances of getting
any money at all.

Of course, the obvious way of making such a proposal would have been by
letter to Mr. O'Rourke. Afterwards the correspondence--he must make a
reply of some sort--could be sent to the press, and sufficient publicity
would be given to the matter. This was what Tim Halloran wanted to do,
but such a course did not commend itself to Augusta Goold. It lacked
dramatic possibilities, and there was always the chance that the leading
papers might refuse to take any notice of the matter, or relegate
the letters to a back page and small print. Besides, a mere newspaper
controversy would not make a strong appeal to the section of the Dublin
populace on whose support she chiefly relied. A much more attractive
plan suggested itself. Augusta Goold, with a few friends to act as
aides-de-camp, would present herself to Mr. O'Rourke at his Rotunda
meeting, and put the proposal to him then and there in the presence of
the audience.

In the meantime the few days before the meeting were occupied in
scattering suggestive seed over the hoardings and blank walls of the
city. One morning people were startled by the sight of an immense
placard which asked in violent red letters, 'What is Ireland going
to do?' Public opinion was divided about the ultimate purpose of the
poster. The majority expected the announcement of a new play or novel;
a few held that a pill or a cocoa would be recommended. Next morning the
question became more explicit, and the hypothesis of the play and the
pill were excluded. 'What,' the new poster ran, 'is Ireland going to do
for the Boers?' The public were not intensely anxious to find an answer
to the conundrum thrust thus forcibly on their attention, but they
became curious to know who the advertisers were who hungered for the
information. Men blessed by Providence with sagacious-looking faces made
the most of their opportunity, and informed their friends that the thing
was a new dodge of O'Rourke's to get money. Their reputation suffered
when the next placard appeared. The advertisers had apparently changed
their minds, for what they now wanted to know was, 'What are the Irish
M.P.'s going to do for the Boers?' Clearly Mr. O'Rourke could have
nothing to gain by insisting on an answer to such a question. The public
were puzzled but pleased. The bill-stickers of the city foresaw
the possibility of realizing a competence, for the next morning the
satisfied inquirers published the result of their investigations. 'The
Em Pees '(it was thus that they now referred to the honourable members
of Parliament) 'are supporting the infamies of England.' It was at
this point that the eye of a Castle official was caught by one of the
placards as he made his way to the Kildare Street Club for luncheon.
He discussed the matter with a colleague, and it occurred to them that
since they were paid for governing Ireland, they ought to give the
public some value for their money, and seize the opportunity of doing
something. They sent a series of telegrams to Mr. Chesney's London
house, which were forwarded by his private secretary to the Riviera.
The replies which followed kept the Castle officials in a state of
pleasurable excitement until quite late in the evening. At about eight
o'clock large numbers of Metropolitan police sallied out of their
barracks and tore down the last batch of placards. Next morning fresh
ones were posted up, each of which bore the single word, 'Why?' The
bill-stickers were highly pleased, and many of them were arrested for
drunkenness. Mr. O'Rourke was much less pleased, for he began to guess
what the answer was likely to be, and how it would affect his chances of
securing a satisfactory collection. The officials were perplexed. They
suspected the 'Why?' of containing within its three letters some hideous
sedition, but it was not possible to deal vigorously with what might,
after all, be only the cunning novelty of some advertising manufacturer.
More telegrams harried Mr. Chesney, but before any definite course of
action had been decided on the morning of the Rotunda meeting arrived,
and with it an answer to the multifarious 'Whys': Because O'Rourke wants
all the money to spend in the London restaurants.' There was a great
deal of laughter, and many people, quite uninterested in politics,
determined to go to the meeting in hopes of more amusement.

When Mr. O'Rourke took the chair the hall was crowded to its utmost
capacity. Under ordinary circumstances this would have augured well for
the success of his appeal, for it showed that the public were at all
events not apathetic. On this particular occasion, however, Mr. O'Rourke
would have been better pleased with a smaller audience. The placards
had shown him that something unpleasant was likely to occur, though they
afforded no hint of the form which the unpleasantness would take. When
he rose to his feet he was greeted with the usual volley of cheers, and
although some rude remarks about the Boers were made in the corners of
the hall, they did not amount to anything like an organized attempt at
interruption. He began his speech cautiously, feeling the pulse of
his audience, and plying them with the well-worn platitudes of the
Nationalist platform. When these evoked the usual enthusiasm he waxed
bolder, and shot out some almost original epigrams directed against the
Government, working up to a really new gibe about officials who sat
like spiders spinning murderous webs in Dublin Castle. The audience
were delighted with this, but their joy reached its height when someone
shouted: 'You might speak better of the men who tore down the placard
on Wednesday.' Mr. O'Rourke ignored the suggestion, and passed on to
sharpen his wit upon the landlords. He described them as 'ill-omened
tax-gatherers who suck the life-blood of the country, and refuse to
disgorge a penny of it for any useful purpose.' Mr. O'Rourke was not a
man who shrank from a mixed metaphor, or paused to consider such trifles
as the unpleasantness which would ensue if anyone who had been sucking
blood were to repent and disgorge it. 'Where,' he went on to ask, 'do
they spend their immense revenues? Is it in Ireland?' Here he made one
of those dramatic pauses for which his oratory was famous. The audience
waited breathlessly for the denunciation which was to follow. They were
treated, unexpectedly, to a well-conceived anticlimax. A voice spoke
softly, but quite clearly, from the back of the hall:

'Bedad, and I shouldn't wonder if it was in the London restaurants.'

A roar of laughter followed. The orator might no doubt have made an
effective reply, but every time he opened his mouth minor wits, rending
like wolves the carcase of the original joke, yelled 'turtle-soup'
at him, or 'champagne and oysters.' He got angry, and consequently
flurried. He tried to quell the tumult by thundering out the
denunciation which he had prepared. But the delight which the audience
took in shrieking the items of their imaginary bill of fare was too much
for him. He forgot what he had meant to say, floundered, attempted to
pull himself together, and brought out the stale jest about providing
each landlord with a single ticket to Holyhead.

'And that same,' said his original tormentor, 'would be cheaper than
giving you a return ticket to London.'

The audience was immensely tickled. So far the entertainment, if not
precisely novel, was better than anything they had hoped for, and
everyone had an agreeable conviction that there was still something
in the way of a sensation in store. Perhaps it was eagerness for the
expected climax which induced them to keep tolerably quiet during the
remainder of Mr. O'Rourke's speech. He set forth at some length the
glorious achievements of his party in the past, and explained the
opportunities of future usefulness which lay to be grasped if only the
necessary funds were provided. He sat down to make way, as he assured
the audience, for certain tried and trusty soldiers of the cause who
were waiting to propose important resolutions. So far as these
warriors were concerned, he might as well have remained standing. Their
resolutions are to this day unproposed and uncommended--a secret joy,
no doubt, to those who framed them, but not endorsed by any popular
approval.

Hyacinth Conneally was not admitted to the secret councils of Augusta
Goold and her friends. He knew no more than the general public what kind
of a coup was meditated, but he gathered from Miss O'Dwyer's nervous
excitement and Tim Halloran's air of immense and mysterious importance
that something quite out of the common was likely to occur. By arriving
an hour and a half before the opening of the meeting he secured a seat
near the platform. He enjoyed the discomfiture of O'Rourke, whom he had
learnt from the pages of the _Croppy_ to despise as a mere windbag, and
to hate as the betrayer of O'Neill. A sudden thrill of excitement went
through him when O'Rourke sat down. The whole audience turned their
faces from the platform towards the door at the far end of the hall, and
Hyacinth, without knowing exactly what he expected, turned too.
There was a swaying visible among the crowd near the door, and almost
immediately it became clear that someone was trying to force a way
through the densely-packed people. Curses were to be heard, and even
cries from those who were being trodden on. At last a way was made.
Augusta Goold, followed by Grealy, Halloran, and Mary O'Dwyer, came
slowly up the hall towards the platform. Those of the audience whose
limbs had not been crushed or their feet mangled in preparation for her
progress cheered her wildly. Indeed, she made a regal appeal to them.
Even amidst a crowd of men her height made her conspicuous, and she had
arrayed herself for the occasion in a magnificent violet robe. It flowed
from her shoulders in spacious folds, and swept behind her, splendidly
contemptuous of the part it played as scavenger amid the accumulated
filth of the floor. Her bare arms shone out of the wide sleeves which
hung around them. Her neck rose strong and stately over the silver clasp
of a cloak which she had thrown back from her shoulders. She wore a hat
which seemed to hold her hair captive from falling loose around her. One
great tress alone escaped from it, and by some cunning manipulation was
made to stand straight out, as if blown by the wind from its fastenings.
In comparison her suite looked commonplace and mean. Poor Miss O'Dwyer
was arrayed--'gowned,' she would have said herself in reporting the
scene--in vesture not wanting in splendour, but which beside Miss
Goold's could not catch the eye. Thomas Grealy, awkward and stooped,
peered through his glasses at the crowd. Tim Halloran walked jauntily,
but his eyes glanced nervously from side to side. He was certainly ill
at ease, possibly frightened, at the position in which he found himself.

A hurried consultation took place among the gentlemen on the platform,
which ended in Mr. O'Rourke stepping forward with a smile and an
outstretched hand to welcome Augusta Goold as she ascended the steps.
The expression of his face belied the smile which he had impressed upon
his lips. His eyes had the same look of furtive malice as a dog's
which wants to bite but fears the stick. Augusta Goold waved aside the
proffered hand, and stepped unaided on to the platform. Mr. O'Rourke
placed a chair for her, but she ignored it and stood, with her followers
behind her, facing the audience. O'Rourke and two of his tried and
trusty members of Parliament approached her. They stood between her
and the audience, and talked to her for some time, apparently very
earnestly. Augusta Goold looked past them, over them, sometimes it
seemed through them, while they spoke, but made them no answer whatever.
At last Mr. O'Rourke shrugged his shoulders, and withdrew to his chair
with a sulky scowl.

'I wish,' said Augusta Goold, 'to ask a simple question of your
chairman.'

Mr. O'Rourke rose.

'This meeting,' he said, 'is convened for the purpose of raising funds
for the carrying on of the national business in the House of Commons. If
Miss Goold's question relates to the business in hand, I shall be most
happy to answer it. If not, I am afraid I cannot allow it to be asked
here. At another time and in another place I shall be prepared to listen
to what Miss Goold has to say, and in the meantime if she will take her
seat on the platform she will be heartily welcome.'

'My question,' said Augusta Goold, 'is intimately connected with the
business of the meeting. It is simply this: Are you, Mr. O'Rourke,
prepared to give any portion of the money entrusted to you by the Irish
people to assist the Boers in their struggle for freedom?'

It was manifestly absurd to ask such a question at all. Mr. O'Rourke
had no intention of collecting money for the Boers, who seemed to have
plenty of their own, and he could not without breach of trust have
applied funds subscribed to feed and clothe members of Parliament to
arming volunteers. Nevertheless, it was an awkward question to answer
in the presence of an audience excited by Augusta Goold's beauty and
splendid audacity. A really strong man, like, for instance, O'Rourke's
predecessor, John O'Neill, might have faced the situation, and won, if
not the immediate cheers, at least the respect of the Irish people. But
Mr. O'Rourke was not a strong man, and besides he was out of temper and
had lost his nerve. He took perhaps the worst course open to him: he
made a speech. He appealed to his past record as a Nationalist, and to
his publicly reiterated expressions of sympathy with the Boer cause.
He asked the audience to trust him to do what was right, but he neither
said Yes nor No to the question he was asked.

Augusta Goold stood calm and impassive while he spoke. A sneer gathered
on her lips and indrawn nostrils as he made his appeal for the people's
confidence. When he had finished she said, very slowly, and with that
extreme distinctness of articulation which women speakers seem to learn
so much more easily than men:

'Are you prepared to give any portion of the money entrusted to you by
the Irish people to assist the Boers in their struggle for freedom?'

Mr. O'Rourke was goaded into attempting another speech, but the audience
was in no mood to listen to him. He was interrupted again and again with
shouts of 'Yes or no!' 'Answer the question!' The bantering tone with
which they had plied him earlier in the evening with suggestions for a
menu had changed now into angry insistence. He passed his hand over his
forehead with a gesture of despair, and sat down. At once the tumult
ceased, and the people waited breathless for Augusta Goold to speak
again.

'Are you prepared'--she seemed to have learnt her question off by
heart--'to give any portion of the money entrusted to you by the Irish
people to assist the Boers in their struggle for freedom?'

Mr. Shea, a red-headed member of Parliament from Co. Limerick, being
himself one of those most deeply interested in the contents of the
party's purse, sprang to his feet. It was clear that he was in a
condition of almost dangerous excitement, for he stammered, as he
shouted to the chairman:

'Sir, is this--this--this woman to be allowed to interrupt the meeting?
I demand her immediate removal.'

Augusta Goold smiled at him. It was really a very gracious, almost a
tender, smile. One might imagine the divine Theodora in her earlier days
smiling with just such an expression on a plebeian lover whose passion
she regarded as creditable to him but hopeless.

'I assure you, Mr. Shea, that I shall not interrupt the business for
more than a minute. Mr. O'Rourke has only got to say one word--either
Yes or No. Are you prepared to give any portion of the funds entrusted
to you by the Irish people to assist the Boers in their struggle for
freedom?'

Mr. Shea was not at all mollified either by the smile or the politeness
of her tone.

'We shall not permit the meeting to be interrupted any more,' he
shouted. 'Either you will withdraw at once, or we shall have you removed
by force.'

She smiled at him again--a pitying smile, as if she regretted the
petulance of his manner, and turned to the chairman.

'Are you prepared to give----'

Then Mr. Shea's feelings became too strong for his self-control. He
sprang forward, apparently with the intention of laying violent hands
upon Augusta Groold. Hyacinth Conneally started up to protect her, and
the same impulse moved a large part of the audience. There was a rush
for the platform, and a fierce, threatening yell. Mr. Shea hung back,
frightened. Augusta Goold held up her hand, and immediately the rush
stopped and the people were silent. She went on with her question,
taking it up at the exact word which Mr. Shea had interrupted, in the
same level and exquisitely irritating tone.

'--Any of the money entrusted to you by the Irish people to assist the
Boers in their struggle for freedom?'

Mr. O'Rourke had sat scowling silently since the failure of his last
attempt to explain himself. This final disjointed repetition of the
galling question roused him to the necessity of doing something. He
was a pitiful sight as he rose and confronted Augusta Goold. There
were blotches of purple red and spaces of pallor on his face; his hands
twisted together; a sweat had broken out from his neck, and made his
collar limp. His words were a stammering mixture of bluster and appeal.

'You mustn't--mustn't--mustn't interrupt the meeting,' So far he tried
to assert himself, then, with a glance at the contemptuous face of the
woman before him, he relapsed into the tone of a schoolboy who begs off
the last strokes of a caning. 'Is this nice conduct? Is it ladylike to
come here and attack us like this? Miss Goold, I'm ashamed of you.'

'I am glad to hear,' said Augusta Goold, departing for the first time
from her question, 'that there is anything left in the world that Mr.
O'Rourke is ashamed of. I didn't think there was.'

It was Mr. Shea and not his leader who resented this last insult. His
lips drew apart, leaving his teeth bare in a ghastly grin. He clenched
his fists, and stood for a moment trembling from head to foot. Then he
leaped forward towards Augusta Goold. The man who stood next Hyacinth
lurched suddenly forward, wrenched his right hand free of the crowd
round him, and flung it back behind his head. Hyacinth saw that he held
a large stone in it.

'You are a cowardly blackguard, Shea,' he yelled--'a damned, cowardly
blackguard! Would you strike a woman?'

Shea turned on the instant, saw the hand stretched back to fling the
stone. He seized the chair behind him--the very chair which, while an
appearance of politeness was still possible, Mr. O'Rourke had offered
to Augusta Goold--and flung it with all his force at the man with the
stone. One of the legs grazed Hyacinth's cheek, scraping the skin
off. The corner of the seat struck the man beside him full across the
forehead just above his eyes. The blood poured out, blinding, and then,
as he gasped, choking him. He reeled and huddled together helplessly.
He could not fall, for the pressure of the crowd round him held him up.
Hyacinth felt his hands groping wildly as if for support, and reached
out his own to grasp him. But the man wanted no help for himself. As
soon as he felt another hand touch his he pressed the stone into it.

'I can't see,' he whispered hoarsely. 'Take it, you, and kill him, kill
him, kill him! smash his skull!'

Hyacinth took the stone. The feel of the man's blood warm on it and the
fierce yelling and stamping of the crowd filled him with a mad lust of
hate against Shea, who stood as if suddenly paralyzed within a few feet
of him. He wrenched his hand free, and with a mighty effort flung the
stone. He saw it strike Shea fair on the forehead. In spite of the
tumult around him, he fancied he heard the dull thud of its impact.
He saw Shea fling up his hands and pitch forward. He saw Augusta Goold
gather her skirts in her hand, and sweep them swiftly aside lest the man
should fall on them. Then the crowd pressing towards the platform swept
him off his feet, and he was tossed helplessly forward. A giddy
sickness seized him. The pressure slackened for an instant, and he fell.
Someone's boot struck him on the head. He felt without any keen regret
that he was likely to be trampled to death. Then he lost consciousness.



CHAPTER VI

Next morning the Dublin daily papers laid themselves out to make the
most of the sensational fight at the Rotunda. Even the habitually
cautious _Irish Times_ felt that the occasion justified the expression
of an opinion, and that there would be no serious risk of alienating the
sympathies of subscribers and advertisers by condemning the bloodshed.
It published an exceedingly dignified and stodgy leading article,
drawing the largest and finest words from the dictionary, and weaving
them with extraordinary art into sentences which would have been
creditable to anyone bent upon imitating the style of Dr. Samuel
Johnson. The British Empire and the whole of civilized Europe were
called upon to witness the unspeakably deplorable consequences which
invariably followed the habitual neglect of the cultivation of the
elementary decencies of public life. The paper disclaimed any sympathy
with either of the belligerent parties, and pointed out with sorrowful
solemnity that if the principles sedulously inculcated upon its readers
in its own columns were persistently flouted and contemned by those who
claimed the position of national representatives, little else except a
repetition at frequent intervals of the painful and humiliating
scenes of the night before could possibly be anticipated by reasonable
observers of the general trend of democratic institutions. The _Daily
Express_ openly exulted over the rioters. Its leading article--the
staff may have danced in a ring round the office table while composing
it--declared that now at length the Irish had proved to the world
that they were all, without a solitary exception, irredeemably
vicious corner-boys. Miss Augusta Goold was warmly praised for having
demonstrated once for all that 'patriotism' ought to be written 'Pat
riotism.' Deep regret was expressed that those who attended the meeting
had not been armed with revolvers instead of stones, and that the
platform had not been defended with Maxim guns instead of comparatively
innocuous wooden chairs. Had modern weapons of precision been used the
_Daily Express_ would have been able to congratulate mankind on getting
rid of quite a considerable number of Irishmen.

The _Freeman's Journal_ and the _Daily Independent_ were awkwardly
situated. Their sympathies were entirely with Mr. O'Rourke, and
they were exceedingly angry with Miss Goold for interfering with the
collection of funds for the Parliamentary party. At the same time,
they felt a difficulty in denouncing her, not for want of suitable
language--the Irish Nationalist press has a superb command of words
which a self-respecting dictionary would hesitate to recognise--but
because they felt that push of the horns of the dilemma on which
O'Roun'y-had been impaled, and they were obliged to sand their
denunciations between layers of stoutest pro-Boer sentiment.

All four papers contained reports of the proceedings which were
practically identical up to a certain point. It was about the
commencement of the actual bloodshed that they differed. The _Irish
Times_ reporter believed that Mr. Shea had begun the fray by striking
Augusta Goold behind the ear with his clenched fist. The _Daily Express_
man claimed to have overheard Mr. O'Rourke urging his friends to brain
a member of the audience with a chair. The _Freeman's Journal_ held that
Augusta Goold's supporters had come into the hall supplied with huge
stones, which, at a given signal, they had flung at the inoffensive
members of Parliament who occupied the platform, adding, as a
corroborative detail, that the lady who accompanied Augusta Goold
had twice kicked the prostrate Mr. Shea in the stomach. The _Daily
Independent_ advanced the ingenious theory that the contest had been
precipitated by a malevolent student of Trinity College, who had flung
an apple of discord--on this occasion a jagged paving-stone of unusual
size--into the midst of a group of ladies and gentlemen who were
peacefully discussing a slight difference of opinion among themselves.
Beyond this point none of the papers gave any account of the
proceedings, all four reporters having recognised that, not being
retained as war correspondents, they were not called upon to risk their
lives on the battlefield. The accounts all closed with the information
that the wounded had been carried to Jervis Street Hospital, and were
under treatment suitable to their injuries. Hyacinth had suffered a
slight concussion of the brain and a flesh wound. Other sufferers were
in the same ward, Mr. Shea himself occupying a bed, so that Hyacinth had
the satisfaction of seeing him stretched out, a melancholy figure,
with a bandage concealing most of his red hair. After the surgeon
had finished his rounds for the morning a police official visited the
sufferers, and made a careful note of their names and addresses. He
inquired in a perfunctory manner whether any of them wished to swear an
information. No one, except Mr. Shea, was sufficiently satisfied with
his own share of the meeting to wish for more fame than was unavoidable.
As no further use was ever made of Mr. Shea's narrative, it may be
presumed that the authorities regarded it as wanting in accuracy.
No blame, however, ought to be attached to the author for any petty
deviation from the truth of which he may have been guilty. No man's mind
is perfectly clear on the morning after he has been struck on the head
with a stone, and perhaps afterwards kicked twice in the stomach by a
lady journalist. Besides, all members of Parliament are, in virtue of
their office, 'honourable gentlemen.'

An excited and sympathetic nurse provided Hyacinth with copies of the
four morning papers, which he read with interest and a good deal of
amusement. Only the account in the _Daily Independent_ caused him any
uneasiness. No doubt, as he fully recognised, the suggestion about
the Trinity student was nothing but a wild guess on the part of the
reporter. It was highly unlikely that anyone would seriously consider a
theory so intrinsically improbable. Still, if the faintest suspicion of
the part he had played reached the ears of the college authorities, he
felt that his career as a divinity student was likely to be an extremely
brief one. His chief fear was that a prolonged absence from college
would give rise to inquiry, and that his bandages would excite suspicion
when he reappeared. Fortunately, the house surgeon decided that he was
sufficiently recovered to be allowed to leave the hospital early in the
afternoon. The boot which had put an end to his share in the riot had
raised its bruise under his hair, so he was able to remove the bandages
from his head as soon as he got into the street. There still remained a
long strip of plaster meant to keep a dressing of iodoform in its place
over the cut on his cheek which Mr. Shea's chair-leg had inflicted.
This he could not get off, and thinking it wiser to make his entry into
college after nightfall, he sought a refuge in Mary O'Dwyer's rooms.

He found the poetess laid on a sofa and clad in a blue dressing-gown.
She stretched a hand of welcome to Hyacinth, and then, before he had
time to take it, began to laugh immoderately. The laughing fit ended in
sobs, and then tears flowed from her eyes, which she mopped convulsively
with an already damp pocket-handkerchief. Before she had recovered
sufficient self-possession to speak, she signed to Hyacinth to fetch a
bottle of smelling-salts from the chimney-piece. He hastened to obey,
and found himself kneeling beside the sofa, holding the bottle to her
nose. After a while she recovered sufficiently to tell him that she had
not slept at all during the night, and felt extremely unwell and quite
unstrung in consequence. Another fit of immoderate and tearful laughter
followed, and Hyacinth, embarrassed and alarmed, fetched a tumbler of
soda-water from the syphon on the sideboard. The lady refused to
swallow any, and, just as he had made up his mind to risk an external
application, recovered again. During the lucid interval which followed
she informed him that his own conduct had been superb and heroic. What
seemed to be an effort to celebrate his achievements in extemporary
verse brought on another fit. Hyacinth determined to risk an appearance
in the college square in broad daylight rather than continue his
ministrations. While he was searching for his hat Miss O'Dwyer became
suddenly quite calm, and began to explain to him how immensely the cause
of Ireland's independence had benefited by the demonstration in the
Rotunda. Hyacinth listened anxiously, waiting for the next explosion,
and experienced very great relief when the door opened and Augusta Goold
walked in.

Unlike Mary O'Dwyer, she was entirely mistress of herself. Her cheeks
were not a shade paler than usual, nor her hand at all less cool and
firm. She stretched herself, after her usual fashion, in the largest
available chair and lit a cigarette.

'You look excited, my dear Mary,' she said--'a little overexcited,
perhaps. Have you had tea? No? Perhaps you will be so kind as to ring
the bell, Mr. Conneally.'

Mary O'Dwyer repeated the information she had given Hyacinth about her
sleepless night, and complimented Augusta Goold on her nerve.

'As for poor little me,' she went on, 'I'm like a--like a--you remember
the kind of thing, don't you?--like a--I'm not sure if I know the name
of the thing myself.'

She relapsed into a weak giggle, and Hyacinth stooped for the bottle of
smelling-salts, which had rolled under the sofa. Augusta Goold was much
less sympathetic. She fixed her with a strong stare of amazement and
disgust. Apparently this treatment was the right one, for the giggling
stopped almost immediately.

'I see you have got some sticking-plaster on your face, Mr. Conneally,'
she said, when Mary O'Dwyer had quieted down.

'Yes,' said Hyacinth, 'and a good-sized bump behind my ear.'

'I suppose this business will be very awkward for you in college. Will
they turn you out?'

'I'm sure they will if they find out that I threw that stone at Shea.'

'You made a very good shot,' said Augusta, smiling at the recollection.
'But how on earth did you come to have a stone that size in the hall
with you?'

Hyacinth told the story of the man who had been felled by the chair and
his murderous bequest.

'That's the proper spirit,' said Augusta. 'I admire that man, and he
couldn't have passed his stone on to better hands than yours. Shea went
down as if he had been shot. I was afraid of my life he would clutch at
my skirts as he fell or squirm up against me after he was down. But he
lay quite still. By the way, Mary, I suppose your dress was ruined?'

Mary O'Dwyer was quite subdued.

'It was torn,' she said meekly enough.

'Have you another one?'

'Of course I have. I've three others, besides some old ones.'

'Well, then, you'd better go and put on one of them. An old one will do.
It's disgusting to see a woman slopping about in a dressing-gown at this
time of day. I'll have tea ready when you come back.'

Miss O'Dwyer obeyed sulkily. She wished very much that Augusta Goold had
stopped at home. It would have been a great deal pleasanter to have gone
on practising hysterics with Hyacinth as a sympathetic spectator. When
the door was shut Augusta Goold turned to Hyacinth again.

'That's the worst of women'--apparently she did not consider herself as
one of the sex--'they are all right at the time (nothing could have
been better than Mary's behaviour at the meeting), but they collapse
afterwards in such idiotic ways. But I want to talk to you about
yourself. I owe you a good turn for what you did last night. Only for
you, I think Shea would have dared to touch me, and then very likely I
should have killed him, and there might have been trouble afterwards.'
She spoke quite calmly, but Hyacinth had very little doubt that she
meant exactly what she said. 'Grealy of course, was useless. One might
have expected him to give utterance to an ancient tribal war-cry, but he
didn't even do that. Tim Halloran got frightened when the row began. I
noticed him dodging about behind Mary and me, and I mean to let him know
what I think about him. It's you I have to thank, and I won't forget it.
If you get into trouble over this business in college, come to me, and
I will see you straight. In fact, if you like to give up the divinity
student business at once, I dare say I can put you in the way of earning
an honester livelihood.'

Hyacinth was gratified at the way Augusta Goold spoke to him. Since
the evening on which he had given his opinion about the morality of
desertion and murder he had been conscious of a coolness in her manner.
Now he had apparently reinstated himself in her good graces. Praise,
even for an act he was secretly ashamed of, and gratitude, though he
by no means recognised that he deserved it, were pleasant to him. He
promised to remember the offer of help, but declined for the present to
commit his future to the keeping of so bloodthirsty a patroness.

Curiously enough, Hyacinth's reception in college was a great deal more
cordial after the Rotunda meeting than it had ever been before. For a
while the battle which had been fought at their doors superseded the
remoter South African warfare as a topic of conversation among the
students. Their sympathies were with Augusta Goold. Even members of the
divinity classes suffered themselves to be lured from their habitual
worship of respectability so far as to express admiration for the
dramatic picturesqueness of the part she played. It is true that the
lady herself was called by names universally resented by women, and that
the broadest slanders were circulated about her character. Still, a halo
of glory hung round her. It was felt that she had done a surprisingly
courageous thing when she faced Mr. O'Rourke on his own platform. Also,
she had behaved with a certain dignity, neither throwing chairs nor
stones at her opponents. Then, she was an undeniably beautiful woman,
a fact which made its inevitable appeal to the young men. The mere
expression of sympathy with this flamboyant and scandal-smeared heroine
brought with it a delightful flavour of gay and worldly vice. It was
pretty well known that Hyacinth was a friend of Miss Goold's, and it
was rumoured that he had earned his piece of sticking-plaster in
her defence. No one knew exactly what he had done or how much he had
suffered, but a great many men were anxious to know. Very much to his
own surprise, he received a number of visitors in his rooms. Men who had
been the foremost of his tormentors came, ostensibly to inquire for his
health, in reality to glean details of the fight at the Rotunda. Certain
medical students of the kind which glory in any kind of row openly
congratulated him on his luck in being present on such an occasion. Men
who claimed to be fast, and tried to impress their acquaintances with
the belief that they indulged habitually in wild scenes of revelry,
courted Hyacinth, and boasted afterwards of their second-hand
acquaintance with Miss Goold. It became the fashion to be seen
arm-in-arm with him in the quadrangle, and to inquire from him in public
for 'Finola.'

This new popularity by no means pleased Hyacinth. He was not at all
proud of his share in the Rotunda meeting, and lived in daily dread of
being recognised as the assailant of Mr. Shea. He knew, too, that he was
making no way with the better class of students. The men whose faces
he liked were more than ever shy of making his acquaintance. The
sub-lecturers and minor professors in the divinity school were coldly
contemptuous in their manner, and it seemed to him that even Dr.
Henry was less friendly. He became desperately anxious to get out of a
position which he found more intolerable than the original isolation. He
applied himself with extreme diligence to his studies, even affecting
an interest, unnatural for the most pious, in the expositions given
by learned doctors of the Thirty-nine Articles. At lectures on Church
history he made notes about the vagaries of heretics so assiduously that
the professor began to hope that there existed one student at least
who took an interest in the Christological controversies of the sixth
century. He never ventured back again to the Wednesday prayer-meeting,
but he performed many attendances beyond the required minimum at the
college chapel. Morning after morning he dragged himself from his
bed and hurried across the dusky quadrangle to take his part in the
mutilated matins with which the college authorities see fit to usher
in the day. He even went to hear the sermons delivered on Friday
afternoons, homilies so painful that the preachers themselves recognise
an extraordinary merit in enduring them, and allow that submission of
the ears to one of them is to be reckoned as equal to two ordinary acts
of devotion.

It is to be hoped that Hyacinth derived some remote benefit from the
discipline to which he subjected himself, for the immediate results were
not satisfactory. He seemed no nearer winning the respect of the more
serious students, and Dr. Henry's manner showed no signs of softening
into friendliness. His surfeit of theology bred in him a dislike of the
subject. The solemn platitudes which were posed as expositions of the
creeds affected his mind much as the expurgated life histories of maiden
aunts do the newly-emancipated school-girl. The relentless closing in of
argument upon a single previously settled doctrine woke in him a desire
to break through at some point and breathe again in the open. He
began to fear that he was becoming hopelessly irreligious. His morning
devotions in the foggy atmosphere of the chapel did not touch the
capacity for enthusiasm within him. The vague splendour of his father's
meditations had left him outside, indeed, but sure that within there
lay a great reality. But now religion had come to seem an altogether
narrower thing, a fenced off, well-ordered garden in which useful
vegetables might be cultivated, but very little inspiring to the soul.

The unwelcome attention of the students whose friendship he did not
desire, and his increasing dislike for the work he was expected to do,
led him to spend more and more of his time with Augusta Goold and her
friends. He found in their society that note of enthusiasm which he
missed in the religion of the college. He responded warmly to their
passionate devotion to the dream of an independent Irish Republic. He
felt less conscious of his want of religion in their company. With the
exception of Augusta Goold herself, the members of the coterie were
professedly Roman Catholics; but this made little or no difference
in their intercourse with him. What he found in their ideals was a
substitute for religion, a space where his enthusiasm might extend
itself. He became, as he realized his own position clearly, very
doubtful whether he ought to continue his college course. It did not
seem likely that he would in the end be able to take Holy Orders, and
to remain in the divinity school without that intention was clearly
foolish. On the other hand, he shrank from inflicting what he knew would
be a painful disappointment on his father. It happened that before the
term ended his connection with the divinity school was cut in a way that
saved him from the responsibility of forming a decision.

He was a regular attendant at the lectures of Dr. Spenser, who had never
from the first disguised his dislike and contempt for Hyacinth. This
gentleman was one day explaining to his class the difference between
evidence which leads to a high degree of probability and a demonstration
which produces absolute certainty. The subject was a dry one, and quite
unsuited to Dr. Spenser, whose heart was set on maintaining a reputation
for caustic wit. He cast about for an illustration which would at once
make clear the distinction and enliven his lecture. His eye lit upon
Hyacinth, upon whose cheek there still burned a long red scar. Dr.
Spenser's face brightened.

'For instance, gentlemen,' he said, 'if I should reason from the fact
that our friend Mr. Conneally affects the society of certain charming
ladies of doubtful reputation, like Miss Goold, to the conclusion that
Mr. Conneally is himself a Nationalist, I should only have arrived at
a probable conclusion. The degree of probability might be very high;
still, I should have no right to regard my conclusion as absolutely
certain.'

The class tittered delightedly. Dr. Spenser proceeded without heeding a
deep flush on Hyacinth's face, which might have warned a wiser man that
an explosion was coming.

'If I should then proceed to reason thus: All Nationalists are rebels
and potential murderers--Mr. Conneally is a Nationalist; therefore Mr.
Conneally is a rebel and potential murderer--I should, assuming the
truth of my minor premise, have arrived at a certainty.'

The syllogism was greeted with loud applause. Hyacinth started to his
feet. For a time he could only gasp for breath to utter a reply, and
Dr. Spenser, secure in the conviction of his own intellectual and social
superiority to the son of a parson from Connemara, determined to pursue
his prey.

'Does Mr. Conneally,' he asked with a simper, 'propose to impugn the
accuracy of my induction or the logic of my deduction?'

The simper and the number of beautiful long words which Dr. Spenser had
succeeded in collecting together into one sentence provoked a sustained
clapping of hands and stamping of feet from the class. Hyacinth rapidly
regained his self-possession, and was surprised at his own coolness when
he replied:

'I should say, sir, that a man who makes an induction holding up a lady
to ridicule is probably a cad, and that the cad who makes a deduction
confusing patriotism with murder is certainly a fool.'

A report of Hyacinth's speech was handed to Dr. Henry, with a
suggestion that expulsion from the divinity school was the only suitable
punishment. Hyacinth did not look forward with any pleasure to the
interview to which he was summoned. He was agreeably surprised when he
entered the professor's room. Dr. Henry offered him a chair.

'I hear,' he said--his tone was severe, but a barely perceptible gleam
of humorous appreciation flashed across his eyes as he spoke--'that you
have been exceedingly insolent to Dr. Spenser.'

'I don't know, sir, whether you heard the whole story, but if you did
you will surely recognise that Dr. Spenser was gratuitously insulting to
me.'

'Quite so,' said Dr. Henry. 'I recognise that, but the question is, What
am I to do with you now? What would you do if you were in my place? I
should like to know your views of the best way out of the situation.'

Hyacinth was silent.

'You see,' Dr. Henry went on, 'we can't have our divinity lecturers
called fools and cads before their classes. I should be afraid myself
to deliver a lecture in your presence if I thought I was liable to that
kind of interruption.'

'I think, sir,' said Hyacinth, 'that the best thing will be for me to
leave the divinity school.'

'I think so, too. But leaving our divinity school need not mean that you
give up the idea of taking Holy Orders. I have a very high opinion of
your abilities, Conneally--so high that I should not like the Church to
lose your services. At the same time, you are not at present the kind
of man whom I could possibly recommend to any Irish Bishop. Your
Nationalist principles are an absolute bar to your working in the Church
of Ireland.'

'I wonder, sir, how you can call our Church the Church of Ireland, and
in the same breath say that there is no room for a Nationalist in her.
Don't the two things contradict each other.'

Dr. Henry's eyes twinkled again. There spread over his mouth a smile of
tolerant amusement.

'My dear boy, I'm not going to let you trap me into a discussion of that
question. Theoretically, I have no doubt you would make out an excellent
case. National Church, National spirit, National politics--Irish Church,
Irish nation, Irish ideas. They all go excellently together, don't they?
And yet the facts are as I state them. A Nationalist clergyman in
the Church of Ireland would be just as impossible as an English
Nonconformist in the Court of Louis Quatorze. After all, in this life
one has got to steer one's course among facts, and they're sharp things
which knock holes in the man who disregards them. Now, what I propose
to you is this: Put off your ordination for three years or so. Take
up schoolmastaring. I will undertake to get you a post in an English
school. Your politics won't matter over there, because no one will in
the least understand what you mean. Work hard, think hard, read hard.
Mix with the bigger world across the Channel. See England and realize
what England is and what her Empire means. Don't be angry with me for
saying that, long before the three years are over, you'll have come to
see that what you call patriotism is nothing else than parochialism of
a particularly narrow and uninstructed kind. Then come back here to me,
and I'll arrange for your ordination. You'll do the best of good work
when you've grown up a bit, and I'll see you a Bishop before I die.'

'I shall always be grateful to you,' said Hyacinth. 'I shall never
forget your kindness, and the way you've treated me; but I can't do what
you ask.'

'Oh, I'm not going to take no for an answer,' said Dr. Henry. 'Go home
to the West and think it over. Talk to your father about your future.
Write to me if you like about your plans, and remember my offer is open
six months or a year hence. You'll be the same man then that you are
now--I mean, in character. I'm not afraid of your turning out badly. You
may think wrong-headedly, but I'm sure you'll not act disgracefully.'



CHAPTER VII

The December afternoon was growing dark when the weary car-horse
surmounted the last hill on the road from Clifden and broke into a
shambling trot down the long straight stretch into Carrowkeel. Soon, as
the distance dwindled, the lights which twinkled here and there in the
village became distinguishable. This--Hyacinth recognised it--was the
great hanging lamp in the window of Rafferty's shop. That, a softer
glow, came from the forge of Killeen, the smith. That, and that, fainter
and more uncertain lights, were from fires seen through the open upper
section of cottage doors. He could almost tell whose the cabins were
where they shone. The scene inside rose to the imagination. A man with
ragged clothes and a half-empty pipe is squeezed into the stone nook
beside the blazing turf. The kettle, hanging from its hook, swings
steaming beside him. The woman of the house, barefooted, sluttish, in
torn crimson petticoat and gray bodice pinned across her breast, moves
the red cinders from the lid of the pot-oven and peers at the browning
cake within. Babies toddle or crawl over the greasy floor. The car
rattled into the village street. Men whom he knew stopped it to speak to
him. Children playing the last of their games in the fading light paused
to stare at him. Father Moran, returning to his presbytery, waved his
hand and shouted a greeting. He passed the last house of the village,
and could see the fishing-boats, dim and naked-looking, riding at their
anchors in the bay. Out beyond them, grim and terrible in the twilight,
lay the hulk where the ice for fish-packing was stored. The thick stump
of her one remaining mast made a blacker bar against the black sky. The
pier was deserted, but he could see the bulky stacks of fish-boxes piled
on it, and hear the water lapping against it. Along its utmost edge lay
a belt of gray white, where the waves broke as they surged round it. He
passed the pier, and there lay before him the long hill that led home.
The church and the ruined school stood out clearly on the skyline. Below
them, less clearly seen, was the rectory, and Hyacinth noted that the
lamp in the kitchen was lit. Then the door was opened, and he saw, plain
against the light, a man's figure, his father's. No doubt the old man
was watching and listening. Perhaps the sound of the wheels reached him
through the evening air, for in a few minutes he came out and walked
down the drive. Hyacinth saw him fumble with the fastening of the
rickety gate, and at last open it slowly and with difficulty. The car
reached a gap in the loose stone wall, a familiar gap, for across it lay
a short cut up a steeper part of the hill, which the road went round.
Hyacinth jumped down and ran up the path. In another minute the
greeting of father and son was accomplished, and the two were walking
hand-in-hand towards the house. Hyacinth noticed that his father
trembled, and that his feet stumbled uncertainly among the loose stones
and stiff weeds.

When they entered the lighted room he saw that his father seemed
older--many years older--than when he had said good-bye to him two
months before. His skin was very transparent, his lips were tremulous,
his eyes, after the first long look at his son, shifted feebly to the
fire, the table, and the floor.

'My dear son,' he said, 'I thank God that I have got you safe home
again. Indeed, it is good to see you again, Hyacinth, for it has been
very lonely while you were away. I have not been able to do very much
lately or to go out to the seashore, as I used to. Perhaps it is only
that I have not cared to. But I have tried hard to get everything ready
for your coming.'

He looked round the room with evident pride as he spoke. Hyacinth
followed his gaze, and it was with a sense of deep shame that he found
himself noticing the squalor of his home. The table was stained, and the
books which littered half of it were thick with dust and grease-spotted.
The earthen floor was damp and pitted here and there, so that the chairs
stood perilously among its inequalities. The fine white powder of turf
ashes lay thick upon the dresser. The whitewash above the fireplace was
blackened by the track of the smoke that had blown out of the chimney
and climbed up to the still blacker rafters of the roof. Hyacinth
remembered how he, and not his father, had been accustomed to clean the
room and wash the cups and plates. He wondered how such matters had been
managed in his absence, and a great sense of compassion filled his eyes
with tears as he thought of the painful struggle which the details
of life must have brought upon his father. He noted the evident
preparations for his coming. There were two eggs lying in a saucer ready
to be boiled, a fresh loaf--and this was not the day they got their
bread--and a small tin of cocoa beside his cup. The hearth was piled
with glowing turf, and the iron tripod with a saucepan on it stood
surrounded with red coals. Some sense of what Hyacinth was feeling
passed into his father's mind.

'Isn't it all right, my son? I tried to make it very nice for you. I
wanted to get Maggie Cassidy up from the village for the day, but her
baby had the chin-cough, and she couldn't come.'

He took Hyacinth's hand and held it while he spoke.

'Perhaps it looks poor to you,' he went on, 'after your college rooms
and the houses your friends live in; but it's your own home, son, isn't
it?'

Hyacinth made a gulp at the emotion which had brought him near to tears.

'It's splendid, father--simply splendid. And now I'm going to boil those
two eggs and make the cocoa, and we'll have a feast. Hallo! you've got
some jam--jam and butter and eggs, and this is the month of December,
when there's hardly a hen laying or a cow milking in the whole parish!'

He held up the jam-pot as he spoke. It was wrapped in dingy red paper,
and had a mouldy damp stain on one side. Hyacinth recognised the mark,
and remembered that he had seen the identical pot on the upper shelf of
Rafferty's shop for years. Its label bore an inscription only vaguely
prophetic of the contents--'Irish Household Jam.'

'That's right, father, you are supporting home manufacture. I declare
I wouldn't have tasted it if it had come from England. You see, I'm a
greater patriot than ever.'

Old Mr. Gonneally smiled in a feeble, wavering way. He seemed scarcely
to understand what was being said to him, but he found a quiet pleasure
in the sound of his son's voice. He settled himself in a chair by the
fireside and watched contentedly while Hyacinth put the eggs into the
saucepan, hung the kettle on its hook, and cut slices of bread. Then the
meal was eaten, Hyacinth after his long drive finding a relish even in
the household jam. He plied his father with questions, and heard what
the old man knew of the gossip of the village--how Thady Durkan had
broken his arm, and talked of giving up the fishing; how the police from
Letter-frack had found, or said they found, a whisky-still behind the
old castle; how a Gaelic League organizer had come round persuading the
people to sing and dance at the Galway Féis.

After supper Hyacinth nerved himself to tell the story of his term in
college, and his determination to leave the divinity school. More than
once he made an effort to begin, but the old man, who brightened a
little during their meal, relapsed again into dreaminess, and did not
seem to be listening to him. They pulled their chairs near to the fire,
and Mr. Conneally sat holding his son's hand fast. Sometimes he stroked
or patted it gently, but otherwise he seemed scarcely to recognise
that he was not alone. His eyes were fixed on the fire, but they stared
strangely, as if they saw something afar off, something not in the
room at all. There was no response in them when Hyacinth spoke, and no
intelligence. From time to time his lips moved slightly as if they were
forming words, but he said nothing. After awhile Hyacinth gave up the
attempt to tell his story, and sat silent for so long that in the end he
was startled when his father spoke.

'Hyacinth, my son, I have somewhat to say unto you.' Before Hyacinth
could reply to him he continued: 'And the young man answered and said
unto him, "Say on." And the old man lifted up his voice and said unto
his son, "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear."'

He spoke as if he were reading out of a book some narrative from the
Bible. Hyacinth realized suddenly that the communication which was to
be made to him had been rehearsed by his father alone, again and again,
that statement, question and reply, would follow each other in
due sequence from the same lips. He felt that his father was still
rehearsing, and had forgotten the real presence of his son. He grasped
the hand that held him and shook it, saying sharply:

'Father, father, I am here. Don't you know me?'

'Yes, yes, my son. Surely I know you. There is something I want to tell
you. I have wanted to tell it to you for many days. I am glad that you
are here now to listen to it.'

He paused, and Hyacinth feared that he would relapse again into dreamy
insensibility; but he did not.

'I think,' he said, 'that I should like to pray before I speak to you.'

He knelt down as Hyacinth had seen him kneel a thousand times before,
facing the eastward-looking window, now a black, uncurtained square in
the whitewashed wall. What he said was almost unintelligible. There was
no petition nor even any sequence of ideas which could be traced.
He poured forth a series of ejaculations expressive of intense and
rapturous delight, very strange to listen to in such a place and from
an old man's lips. Then the language he spoke changed from English
into Gaelic, and there came a kind of hymn of adoration. His sentences
followed each other in metrical balance like the Latin of the old
liturgies, and suited themselves naturally to a subdued melody, half
chant, half cry, like the mourning of the keeners round a grave. At
last, rising from his knees, he spoke, and his voice became wholly
unemotional, devoid of fervour or excitement. He told his story as a man
might relate some quite commonplace incident of daily life.

'One evening I was sitting here by the fire, just as I always sit. I
remember that the lamp was not lit, and that the fire was low, so that
there was not much light in the room. It came into my mind that it was
just out of such gloom that the Lord called "Samuel, Samuel," and I
wished that I was like Samuel, so innocent that I could hear the voice
of the Lord. I do not remember what I thought of after that. Perhaps for
a time I did not think at all. Then I felt that there were arms about my
neck; but not like your arms, Hyacinth, when you were a child and clung
to me. These were arms which held me lovingly, strongly, protectingly,
like--do you remember, Hyacinth?--"His right hand is under my head; His
left hand doth embrace me." I sat quite still, and did not move or speak
or even breathe, lest He should go away from me. Then, after a long
time--I knew afterwards that the time was long, though then it seemed
only a minute for the joy that I had in it--He told me--I do not mean
that I heard a voice or any words; I did not hear, I _felt_ Him tell
me--the things that are to be. The last great fight, the Armageddon,
draweth very near. All that is good is on one side in the fight, and the
Captain over all. What is bad is on the other side--all kinds of tyranny
and greed and lust. I did not hear these words, but I felt the things,
only without any fear, for round me were the everlasting arms. And
the battlefield is Ireland, our dear Ireland which we love. All these
centuries since the great saints died He has kept Ireland to be His
battlefield. I understood then how our people have been saved from
riches and from power and from the opportunities of lust, that our soil
out of all the world might be fit for the feet of the great Captain, for
the marching of His horsemen and His chariots. Not even when I knew all
this did I desire to share in the conflict. I am old and feeble, but
that is not the reason why there was no desire on me, for strength is in
His power to give to whom He wills. I did not desire it, because I was
quite happy, being safe with Him.'

For a long time after he ceased speaking there was silence, for Hyacinth
had no comment to offer. At last the old man spoke again.

'That is all. I have no other word of revelation. But I have wondered
since how men are to be disentangled from their parties and their
churches and their nations, and gathered simply into good and bad. Will
all men who are good just know the Captain when they see Him and range
themselves with Him? But why should we think about such things as these?
Doubtless He can order them. But you, Hyacinth--will you be sure to know
the good side from the bad, the Captain from the enemy?'

For a long time after he had gone to bed Hyacinth lay awake haunted by
his father's prophecy of an Armageddon. There was that in his nature
which responded eagerly to such a call to battle. In the presence of
enthusiasm like his father's or like Augusta Goold's, Hyacinth
caught fire. His mind flamed with the idea of an Independent Ireland
resplendent with her ancient glories. He embraced no less eagerly the
thought of his father's battle and his own part in it. Groping for
points of contact between the two enthusiasms, he caught at the
conception of the Roman Church as the Antichrist and her power in
Ireland as the point round which the fight must rage. Then with a sudden
flash he saw, not Rome, but the British Empire, as the embodiment of
the power of darkness. He had learned to think of it as a force, greedy,
materialistic, tyrannous, grossly hypocritical. What more was required
to satisfy the conception of evil that he sought for? He remembered
all that he had ever heard from Augusta Goold and her friends about the
shameless trickery of English statesmen, about the insatiable greed of
the merchants, about the degraded sensuality of the workers. He recalled
the blatant boastfulness with which English demagogues claimed to be
the sole possessors of enlightened consciences, and the tales of
native races exploited, gin-poisoned, and annihilated by pioneers of
civilization advancing with Bibles in their hands.

But with all his capacity for enthusiasm there was a strain of weakness
in Hyacinth. More than once after the glories of an Independent Ireland
had been preached to him he had found himself growing suddenly cold and
dejected, smitten by an east wind of common-sense. At the time when he
first recognised the loftiness of his father's religion he had revolted
against being called upon to adopt so fantastic a creed. So now, when
his mind grew weary with the endeavour to set an Armageddon in array, he
began to wish for a life of peaceful monotony, a place to be quiet in,
where no high calls or imperious demands would come to threaten him.
He ceased to toss to and fro, and gradually sank into a half-conscious
sleep. It seemed to him at the time that he was still awake, held back
from slumber by the great stillness of the country, that silence which
disturbs ears long accustomed to the continuous roar of towns. Suddenly
he started into perfect wakefulness, and felt that he was in possession
of all his faculties. The room where he lay was quite dark, but he
strained his eyes to see something in it. He listened intently, although
no sound whatever met his ears. A great overmastering fear laid hold on
him. He tried to reason with himself, insisting that there was nothing,
and could be nothing, to be afraid of. Still the fear remained. His
lips grew stiff and painfully hot, and when he tried to moisten them his
tongue was dry and moved across them raspingly. He struggled with the
terror that paralyzed him, and by a great effort raised his hand to his
forehead. It was damp and cold, and the hair above it was damp. He had
no way of knowing how much of the night had passed, or even how long he
lay rigid, unable to breathe without a kind of pain; but suddenly as it
had come the terror left him, left him without any effort on his part or
any reason that he recognised. Then the window of his room shook, and he
heard outside the low moan of the rising wind. Some heavy drops of rain
struck audibly on the roof, and the first gust of the storm carried to
his ears the sound of waves beating on the rocks. His senses strained no
more. His eyes closed, and he sank quietly into a long dreamless sleep.

It was late when he woke, so late that the winter sky was fully lit. The
wind, whose first gusts had lulled him to sleep, had risen to a gale,
and the rain, mixed with salt spray, beat fiercely against his window
and on the roof. He listened, expecting to hear his father moving in the
room below, but within the house there was no sound. He rose, vaguely
anxious, and without waiting to dress went into the kitchen. Everything
lay untouched, just as he had left it the night before. The lamp and
the remnants of the meal were on the table. The two chairs stood side
by side before the hearth, where the fire which he had covered up
smouldered feebly. He turned and went to his father's room. He could
not have explained how it was, but when he opened the door he was not
surprised to see the old man lying quite still, dead, upon the bed. His
face was turned upwards, and on it was that strange look of emotionless
peace which rests very often on the faces of the dead. It seemed
to Hyacinth quite natural that the soul as it departed into unknown
beatitude should have printed this for the last expression on the
earthly habitation which it left behind. He neither wondered nor, at
first, sorrowed very much to see his father dead. His sight was undimmed
and his hands steady when he closed the eyes and composed the limbs of
the body on the bed. Afterwards it seemed strange to him that he should
have dressed quietly, arranged the furniture in the kitchen, and blown
the fire into a blaze before he went down into the village to tell his
news and seek for help.

They buried Æneas Conneally beside his wife in the wind-swept
churchyard. The fishermen carried his coffin into the church and out
again to the grave. Father Moran himself stood by bareheaded while the
clergyman from Clifden read the prayers and sprinkled the coffin-lid
with the clay which symbolized the return of earth to earth and dust to
dust. In the presence of death, and, with the recollection of the simple
goodness of the man who was gone, priest and people alike forgot for an
hour the endless strife between his creed and theirs.



CHAPTER VIII

In Connaught the upper middle classes, clergy, doctors, lawyers, police
officers, bank officials, and so forth, are all strangers in the land.
Each of them looks forward to a promotion which will enable him to move
to some more congenial part of Ireland. A Dublin suburb is the ideal
residence; failing that, the next best thing is a country town within
easy reach of the metropolis. Most of them sooner or later achieve a
promotion, but some of them are so unfortunate as to die in their exile.
In either case their furniture and effects are auctioned. No one ever
removes his goods from Con-naught, because the cost of getting things
to any other part of Ireland is exorbitant, and also because tables
and chairs fetch very high prices at auctions. Thus it happens that a
certain historic interest attaches to the furniture of most middle-class
houses west of the Shannon. The dispensary doctor dines off a table
which once graced the parlour of a parish priest. The inspector
of police boasts of the price he paid for his easy-chair, recently
upholstered, at the auction of a departing bank manager, the same
mahogany frame having once supported the portly person of an old-time
Protestant Archdeacon. It is to be supposed that the furniture
originally imported--no one knows how--into Connaught must have been of
superlative quality. Articles whose pedigree, so to speak, can be traced
for nearly a hundred years are still in daily use, unimpaired by changes
of scene and ownership.

An auction of any importance is a public holiday. Clergy, doctors,
lawyers, and police officers gather to the scene, not unlike those
beasts of prey of whom we read that they readily devour the remains of
a fallen member of their own pack. The natives also collect
together--publicans and shopkeepers in search of bargains in china,
glass, and house-linen; farmers bent on purchasing such outdoor property
as wheelbarrows, scythes, or harness.

When Hyacinth, to use the local expression, 'called an auction' shortly
after his father's death, he was favoured with quite the usual crowd of
would-be buyers. Almost everyone with either money or credit within
a radius of twenty miles came into Carrowkeel for the occasion. The
presiding auctioneer had done his duty beforehand by advertising old Mr.
Conneally's mouldy furniture as 'magnificently upholstered suites,'
and his battered editions of the classics as 'a valuable library
of handsomely bound books.' It is not likely that anyone was really
deceived by these announcements, or expected to find in the little
rectory anything sumptuous or splendid. The people assembled mainly
because they were exceedingly curious to see the inside of a house whose
doors had never been open to them during the lifetime of the owner. It
was always possible, besides, that though the 'magnificently upholstered
suites 'existed only in the auctioneer's imagination, treasures of
silver spoons or candlesticks plated upon copper might be discovered
among the effects of a man who lived as queer a life as Mr. Conneally.
When men and women put themselves to a great deal of inconvenience to
attend an auction, they do not like to return empty-handed. A day is
more obviously wasted if one goes home with nothing to show than if one
brings a table or a bedstead purchased at twice its proper value. Thus
the bidding at Hyacinth's auction was brisk, and the prices such as gave
sincere satisfaction to the auctioneer. Everything was sold except 'the
valuable library.' It was in vain that the auctioneer made personal
appeals to Father Moran and the Rector of Clifden, as presumably the
two most learned gentlemen present. Neither of them wanted the venerable
classics. In fact, neither of them could have read a line of the crooked
Greek type or construed a page of the Latin authors. Even the Irish
books, in spite of the Gaelic revival, found no purchasers. When all was
over, Hyacinth wheeled them away in barrowfuls, wondering greatly what
he was to do with them.

Indeed, the disposal of his library was not the chief of his
perplexities. He wondered also what he was to do with himself. When the
auctioneer sent in his cheque, and the London Committee of the Mission
had paid over certain arrears of salary, Hyacinth found himself the
possessor of nearly two hundred pounds. It seemed to him quite a large
fortune, amply sufficient to start life with, if only some suitable way
of employing brains, energy, and money would suggest itself. In order to
consider the important topic at his leisure, he hired the only lodging
in Carrowkeel--the apartment (it was both bed and sitting room) over Mr.
Rafferty's public-house. The furniture had suffered during the tenancy
of a series of Congested Districts Board officials. An engineer, who
went to sleep in the evenings over the fire, had burnt a round hole in
the hearthrug. An instructor in fish-curing, a hilarious young man,
had cracked the mirror over the mantelpiece, and broken many ornaments,
including the fellow of the large china dog which now mourned its mate
on the sideboard. Other gentlemen had been responsible for dislocating
the legs of two chairs and a disorganization of the handle, which made
it impossible to shut the door from the inside. The chief glory of the
apartment, however, still remained--a handsomely-framed document,
signed by Earl Spencer, then Lord Lieutenant, ordering the arrest of the
present Mr. Rafferty's father as a person dangerous to the Commonwealth.

The first thing which brought Hyacinth's meditations to a definite point
was a letter he received from Dr. Henry.

'I do not know,' the professor wrote, 'and of course I do not wish
to inquire, how you are situated financially; but if, as I suppose is
likely, you are obliged in the near future to earn your living, I may
perhaps be of some help to you..You have taken your B.A. degree, and are
so far qualified either to accept a post as a schoolmaster in an English
preparatory school or to seek ordination from some Bishop. As you are
probably aware, none of our Irish Bishops will accept a man who has
not completed his divinity course. Several English Bishops, however,
especially in the northern province, are willing to ordain men who have
nothing more than a University degree, always supposing that they pass
the required examination. I shall be quite willing to give you a letter
of recommendation to one of these Bishops, and I have no doubt that
a curacy could be found for you in one of the northern manufacturing
towns, where you would have an ample sphere for useful work.'

The letter went on to urge the advisability of Hyacinth's suppressing,
disguising, or modifying his political opinions, which, stated nakedly,
were likely to beget a certain prejudice in the well-balanced episcopal
mind, and in any case would be quite out of place among the operatives
of Yorkshire or Lancashire.

Hyacinth recognised and appreciated Dr. Henry's kindness. He even tried
to bring himself to consider the offer seriously and carefully, but it
was no use. He could not conceive himself as likely to be either useful
or happy amid the hustling commercialism of the Manchester streets or
the staid proprieties of an Anglican vicarage.

After he had spent about a week in his new lodging, Father Moran called
on him. The priest sat beside the fire for more than an hour chatting
in a desultory manner. He drank tea and smoked, and it was not until he
rose to go that the real object of his visit appeared.

'I don't know what you're thinking of doing, Mr. Conneally, and maybe
I've no right to ask.'

'I wouldn't have the least objection to telling you,' said Hyacinth, 'if
I knew myself; but I haven't my mind made up.'

The priest put down his hat again, and settled himself with his back to
the fire and his hands in his pockets. Hyacinth sat down, and during the
pause which followed contemplated the wonderful number and variety of
the stains on the black waistcoat in front of him.

'Then you've given up the idea of finishing your divinity course?' said
the priest. 'I'm not blaming you in the least. There's men that studying
suits, and there's men that it doesn't. I never was much of a one for
books myself.'

He sighed heavily, perhaps at the recollection of his own struggles with
the mysteries of theology in his Maynooth student days. Then he walked
over and closed the door, returned, drew a chair close to Hyacinth, and
spoke in the tone of a man who imparts an important secret.

'Did you hear that Thady Durkan's giving up the fishing? Since he broke
his arm he declares he'll never step aboard the boat again. You know the
St. Bridget. She's not one of the biggest boats, but she's a very lucky
one. She made over five hundred pounds last year, besides the share the
Board took. She was built at Baltimore, and the Board spent over two
hundred pounds on her, nets and gear and all. There's only one year more
of instalments to pay off the price of her, and Thady has the rest of
the men bought out. There's nobody owns a stick or a net or a sail of
her except himself, barring, of course, what's due to the Board.'

Hyacinth was sufficiently acquainted with the system on which the
Congested Districts Board provides the Connaught fishermen with boats
and nets to understand Father Moran's rather involved statement
of Durkan's financial position. He did not yet grasp why all this
information should have been conveyed to him in such a solemn and
mysterious tone.

'You might have the _St. Bridget_,' said the priest, 'for one hundred
and fifty pounds down.'

He paused to let the full glory of the situation lay hold upon Hyacinth.
Perhaps he expected an outburst of delight and surprise, but none came.

'Mind you,' he said, 'there's others looking for her. The men that
worked with Thady are thinking of making him an offer, and I dare say
the Board would be glad enough to have the boat owned among them; but I
can put in a word myself both with Thady and the inspector. Faith, the
times is changed since I was a young man. I can remember when a priest
was no more thought of than a barefooted gossure out of a bog, and now
there isn't a spalpeen of a Government inspector but lifts his hat to me
in the street. Oh, a note from me will go a good way with the Board,
and you'll not miss the chance for want of my good word--I promise you
that.'

'Thank you,' said Hyacinth.

'Mind you, there's a good thing to be made out of her. But sure you know
that as well as I do myself, and maybe better. What do you say now?'

'I'll think it over,' said Hyacinth, 'and whatever comes of it I'll be
greatly obliged to you.'

'Well, don't be delaying too long. And look you here'--his voice sank
almost to a whisper--'don't be talking about what I've said to you.
People are queer, and if Father Joyce down in Clifden came to hear
that I was working for a Protestant he'd be sure to go talking to the
Archbishop, and I'd never get to the end of the fuss that would be
made.'

'Indeed, it's very good of you, especially considering who I am--I mean,
my father being a convert, and----'

'Say no more,' said the priest--'say no more. Your father was a good
man, Catholic or Protestant. I'm not one of these bitter kind of
priests, Mr. Con-neally. I can be a good Catholic without hating my
neighbours. I don't hold with all this bullyragging in newspapers about
"sourfaces" and "saved." Maybe that's the reason that I'm stuck down
here at the other end of nowhere all my life, and never got promotion
or praise. But what do I care as long as they let me alone to do my work
for the people? I'm not afraid to say it to you, Mr. Conneally, for you
won't want to get me into trouble, but it's my belief that there's many
of our priests would rather have grand churches than contented people.
They're fonder of Rome than they are of Ireland.'

'Really, Father Moran,' said Hyacinth, smiling, 'if you go on like this,
I shall expect to hear of your turning Protestant.'

'God forbid, Mr. Conneally! I wish you well. I wish you to be here among
us, and to be prosperous; but the dearest wish of my heart for you is
that I might see you back in the Catholic Church, believing the creed of
your forefathers.'

The priest's suggestion attracted Hyacinth a great deal more than Dr.
Henry's. He liked the sea and the fishing, and he loved the simple
people among whom he had been brought up. His experiences in Dublin had
not encouraged him to be ambitious. Life in the great world--it was thus
that he thought of the bickerings of the Dublin Nationalists and the
schoolboy enthusiasms of college students--was not a very simple
thing. There was a complexity and a confusion in affairs which made
it difficult to hold to any cause devotedly. It seemed to him, looking
back, that Miss Goold's ideals--and she had ideals, as he knew--were
somehow vulgarized in their contact with the actual. He had seen
something of the joy she found in her conflict with O'Rourke, and it did
not seem to him to be pure or ennobling. At one time he was on the verge
of deciding to do what the priest wished. Walking day by day along the
shore or through the fields, he came to think that life might very
well be spent without ambitious or extended hopes in quiet toil and
unexciting pleasures. What held him back was the recollection, which
never ceased to haunt him, of his father's prophecy. The thought of
the great fight, declared to be imminent, stirred in him an emotion so
strong that the peace and monotony he half desired became impossible.
He never made it clear to himself that he either believed or disbelieved
the prediction. He certainly did not expect to see an actual gathering
of armed men, or that Ireland was to be the scene of a battle like those
in South Africa. But there was in him a conviction that Ireland was
awakening out of a long sleep, was stretching her limbs in preparation
for activity. He felt the quiver of a national strenuousness which was
already shaking loose the knots of the old binding-ropes of prejudice
and cowardice. It seemed to him that bone was coming to dry bone, and
that sooner or later--very soon, it was likely--one would breathe on
these, and they would live. That contest should come out of such a
renaissance was inevitable. But what contest? Against whom was the new
Ireland to fight, and who was truly on her side? Here was the puzzle,
insoluble but insistent. It would not let him rest, recurring to his
mind with each fresh recollection of his father's prophecy.

It was while he was wearying himself with this perplexity that he got
a letter from Augusta Goold. It was characteristic of her that she had
written no word of sympathy when she heard of his father's death, and
now, when a letter did come, it contained no allusion to Hyacinth's
affairs. She told him with evident delight that she had enlisted no less
than ten recruits for the Boer army. She had collected sufficient money
to equip them and pay their travelling expenses. It was arranged that
they were to proceed to Paris, and there join a body of volunteers
organized by a French officer, a certain Pierre de Villeneuve, about
whom Miss Goold was enthusiastic. She was in communication with an
Irishman who seemed likely to be a suitable captain for her little band,
and she wanted Hyacinth back in Dublin to help her.

'You know,' she wrote, 'the people I have round me here. Poor old Grealy
is quite impracticable, though he means well. He talks about nothing
but the Fianna and Finn McCool, and can't see that my fellows must have
riding lessons, and must be got somehow to understand the mechanism of
a rifle. Tim Halloran has been in a sulk ever since I told him what I
thought of his conduct at the Rotunda. He never comes near me, and Mary
O'Dwyer told me the other day that he called my volunteers a "pack of
blackguards." I dare say it's perfectly true, but they're a finer kind
of blackguard than the sodden loafers the English recruit for their
miserable army.'

She went on to describe the series of Boer victories which had come one
after another just at Christmas-time. She was confident that the cause
of freedom and nationality would ultimately triumph, and she foresaw the
intervention of some Continental Power. A great blow would be struck at
the already tottering British Empire, and then--the freedom of Ireland.

Hyacinth felt strangely excited as he read her news. The letter seemed
the first clear note of the trumpet summoning him to his father's
Armageddon. Politics and squabbling at home might be inglorious and
degrading, but the actual war which was being waged in South Africa,
the struggle of a people for existence and liberty, could be nothing but
noble. He saw quite clearly what his own next step was to be, and there
was no temptation to hesitate about it. He would place his money at Miss
Goold's disposal, and go himself with her ten volunteers to join the
brigade of the heroic de Villeneuve.



CHAPTER IX

The prospect of joining Augusta Goold's band of volunteers and going to
South Africa to fight afforded Hyacinth great satisfaction. For two days
he lived in an atmosphere of day-dreams and delightful anticipations. He
had no knowledge whatever of the actual conditions of modern warfare.
He understood vaguely that he would be called upon to endure great
hardships. He liked to think of these, picturing himself bravely
cheerful through long periods of hunger, heat, or cold. He had visions
of night watches, of sudden alarms, of heart-stirring skirmishes, of
scouting work, and stealthy approaches to the enemy's lines. He thought
out the details of critical interviews with commanding officers in
which he with some chosen comrade volunteered for incredibly dangerous
enterprises. He conceived of himself as wounded, though not fatally, and
carried to the rear out of some bullet-swept firing-line. He was just
twenty-three years of age. Adventure had its fascination, and the world
was still a place full of splendid possibilities.

At the end of his two days of dreaming he returned, flushed with his
great purposes, to the realities of life. He went to Father Moran to
tell him that he would not buy Durkan's boat. He laughed to himself
at the thought of doing such a thing. Was he to spend his life fishing
mackerel round the rocky islands of Connemara, when he might be fighting
like one of the ancient heroes, giving his strength, perhaps his life,
for a great cause? The priest met him at the presbytery door.

'Come in, Mr. Conneally--come in and sit down. I was expecting you these
two days. What were you doing at all, walking away there along the rocks
by yourself? The people were beginning to say that you were getting to
be like your poor father, and that nobody'd ever get any good out of
you. But I knew you'd come back to me here. I hope now it's to tell me
that you'll buy the boat you've come.'

They entered the house, and the priest opened the door of the little
sitting-room. Hyacinth knew it well. There was the dark mahogany table
with the marks burnt into it where hot dishes were set down, the shabby
arm-chair, the worn cocoanut-matting on the floor, the dozen or so books
in the hanging shelf, the tawdry sacred pictures round the wall. He had
known it all, and it all seemed unchanged since he was a child.

'Sit you down--sit you down,' said the priest. 'And now about the boat.'

'I'm not going in for her,' said Hyacinth. 'I'm as thankful to you for
suggesting it as if I did buy her. I hope you'll understand that, but
I'm not going to buy her.'

He found it difficult to speak of his new plan to Father Moran.

'Do you tell me that, now? I'm sorry for it. And why wouldn't you buy
her? What's there to hinder you?'

Hyacinth hesitated.

'Well, now,' said the priest, 'I can guess. I thought the auction turned
out well for you, but I never heard for certain, and maybe you haven't
got the money for the boat. Whisht now, my son, and let me speak. I'm
thinking the thing might be managed.'

'But, Father Moran------'

'Ah now, will you be quiet when I bid you? I haven't the money myself.
Never a penny have I been able to save all my life, with the calls there
are on me in a parish like this. Sure, you know yourself how it is.
There's one will have a cow that has died on him, and another will be
wanting a lock of potatoes for seed in the springtime; and if it isn't
that, it'll be something else. And who would the creatures go to in
their trouble but the old priest that christened and married the most
of them? But, indeed, thanks be to God, things is improving. The fishing
brings in a lot of money to the men, and there's a better breed of
cattle in the country now, and the pigs fetch a good price since we had
the railway to Clifden, and maybe the last few years I might have saved
a little, but I didn't. Indeed, I don't know where it is the money goes
at all, but someway it's never at rest in my breeches pockets till it's
up and off somewhere. God forgive us! it's more careful we ought to be.'

'But, Father Moran, I don't----'

'Arrah then, will you cease your talking for one minute, and let me get
a word in edgeways for your own good? What was I saying? Oh, I was just
after telling you I hadn't got the money to help you. But maybe I might
manage to get it. The man in the bank in Clifden knows me. I borrowed a
few pounds off him two years ago when the Cassidys' house and three more
beside it got blown away in the big wind. Father Joyce put his name on
the back of the bill along with my own, and trouble enough I had to get
him to do it, for he said I ought to put an appeal in the newspapers,
and I'd get the money given to me. But I never was one to go begging
round the country. I said I'd rather borrow the money and pay it back
like a decent man. And so I did, every penny of it. And I think the bank
will trust me now, with just your name and mine, more especially as
it's to buy a boat we want the money. What do you say to that, now?' He
looked at Hyacinth triumphantly.

'Father Moran, you're too good to me--you're too good altogether. What
did ever I do to deserve such kindness from you? But you're all wrong.
I've got plenty of money.'

'And why in the name of all that's holy didn't you tell me so at once,
and not keep me standing here twisting my brains into hard knots with
thinking out ways of getting what you don't want? If you've got the
money you'll buy the boat. What better could you do with it?'

'But I don't want to buy the boat. I don't want to live here always. I'm
going away out into the world. I want to see things and do things.'

'Out into the world! Will you listen to the boy? Is it America you're
thinking of? Ah, now, there's enough gone out and left us lonely here.
Isn't the best of all the boys and girls going to work for the strangers
in the strange land? and why would you be going after them?'

'I'm not going to America. I'm going to South Africa. I'm going to join
some young Irishmen to fight for the Boers and for freedom.'

'You're going out to fight--to fight for the Boers! What is it that's in
your head at all, Hyacinth Con-neally? Tell me now.'

Again Hyacinth hesitated. Was it possible to give utterance to the
thoughts and hopes which filled his mind? Could he tell anyone about
the furious fancies of the last few days, or of that weird vision of
his father's which lay at the back of what he felt and dreamed? Could
he even speak of the enthusiasm which moved him to devote himself to the
cause of freedom and a threatened nationality? In the presence of a man
of the world the very effort to express himself would have acted as some
corrosive acid, and stained with patches of absurdity the whole fabric
of his dreams. He looked at Father Moran, and saw the priest's eyes lit
with sympathy. He knew that he had a listener who would not scoff, who
might, perhaps, even understand. He began to speak, slowly and haltingly
at first, then more rapidly. At last he poured out with breathless,
incoherent speed the strange story of the Armageddon vision, the hopes
that were in him, the fierce enthusiasm, the passionate love for
Ireland which burnt in his soul. He was not conscious of the gaping
inconsequences of his train of emotion. He did not recognise how
ridiculous it was to connect the Boer War with the Apocalyptic battle
of the saints, or the utter impossibility of getting either one or the
other into any sort of relation with the existing condition of Ireland.

A casual observer might have supposed that Hyacinth had made a mistake
in telling his story to Father Moran. A smile, threatening actual
laughter, hovered visibly round the priest's mouth. His eyes had a
shrewd, searching expression, difficult to interpret. Still, he listened
to the rhapsody without interrupting it, till Hyacinth stopped abruptly,
smitten with sudden self-consciousness, terrified of imminent ridicule.
Nor were the priest's first words reassuring.

'I wouldn't say now, Hyacinth Conneally, but there might be the makings
of a fine man in you yet.'

'I might have known,' said Hyacinth angrily, 'that you'd laugh at me. I
was a fool to tell you at all. But I'm in earnest about what I'm going
to do. Whatever you may think about the rest, there's no laughing at
that.'

'Well, you're just wrong then, for I wasn't laughing nor meaning to
laugh at all. God forbid that I should laugh at you, and I meant it when
I said that there was the makings of a fine man in you. Laugh at you!
It's little you know me. Listen now, till I tell you something; but
don't you be repeating it. This must be between you and me, and go no
further. I was very much of your way of thinking myself once.'

Hyacinth gazed at him in astonishment. The thought of Father Moran,
elderly, rotund, kindly; of Father Moran with sugar-stick in his pocket
for the school-children and a quaint jest on his lips for their mothers;
of Father Moran in his ruffled silk hat and shabby black coat and baggy
trousers--of this Father Moran mounted and armed, facing the British
infantry in South Africa, was wholly grotesque. He laughed aloud.

'It's yourself that has the bad manners to be laughing now,' said
the priest. 'But small blame to you if it was out to the Boers I was
thinking of going. The gray goose out there on the road might laugh--and
she's the solemnest mortal I know--at the notion of me charging along
with maybe a pike in my hand, and the few gray hairs that's left on the
sides of my head blowing about in the breeze I'd make as I went prancing
to and fro. But that's not what I meant when I said that once upon a
time I was something of your way of thinking. And sure enough I was, but
it's a long time ago now.'

He sighed, and for a minute or two he said no more. Hyacinth began
to wonder what he meant, and whether the promised confidence would be
forthcoming at all. Then the priest went on:

'When I was a young man--and it's hard for you to think it, but I was a
fine young man; never a better lad at the hurling than I was, me that's
a doddering old soggarth now--when I was a boy, as I'm telling you,
there was a deal of going to and fro in the country and meetings at
night, and drillings too, and plenty of talk of a rising--no less.
Little good came of it that ever I saw, but I'm not blaming the men that
was in it. They were good men, Hyacinth Conneally--men that would have
given the souls out of their bodies for the sake of Ireland. They would,
sure, for they loved Ireland well. But I had my own share in the doings.
Of course, it was before ever there was a word of my being a priest.
That came after. Thanks be to God for His mercies'--the old man crossed
himself reverently--'He kept me from harm and the sin that might have
been laid on me. But in those days there were great thoughts in me, just
as there are in you to-day. Faith! I'm of opinion that my thoughts were
greater than yours, for I was all for fighting here in Ireland, for the
Poor Old Woman herself, and it's out to some foreign war you'd be
going to fight for people that's not friends of yours by so much as one
heart's drop. Still, the feeling in you is the same as the feeling that
was in me, not a doubt of it. But, indeed, so far as I'm concerned, it's
over and gone. I haven't spoken to a mortal soul about such things these
thirty years, and I wouldn't be doing it now only just to show you that
I'm the last man in Ireland that would laugh at you for what you've told
me.'

'I'm glad I told you what's in my heart,' said Hyacinth; 'I'd like to
think I had your blessing with me when I go.'

'Well, you won't get it,' said Father Moran, 'so I tell you straight.
I'll give you no blessing when you're going away out of the country,
just when there's need of every man in it. I tell you this--and you'll
remember that I know what I'm talking about--it's not men that 'll fight
who will help Ireland to-day, but men that will work.'

'Work!' said Hyacinth--'work! What work is there for a man like me to do
in Ireland?'

'Don't I offer you the chance of buying Thady Durkan's boat? Isn't there
work enough for any man in her?'

'But that's not the sort of work I ought to be doing. What good would
it be to anyone but myself? What good would it be to Ireland if I caught
boatloads of mackerel?'

'Don't be making light of the mackerel, now. He's a good fish if you get
him fresh, and split him down and fry him with a lump of butter in the
pan. There's worse fish than the mackerel, as you'll discover if you go
to South Africa, and find yourself living on a bit of some ancient tough
beast of an ostrich, or whatever it may happen to be that they eat out
there.'

In his exalted mood Hyacinth felt insulted at the praise of the mackerel
and the laughter in the priest's eyes when he suggested a dinner off
ostrich. He held out his hand, and said good-bye.

'Wait, now--wait,' said the priest; 'don't be in such a tearing hurry.
I'll talk as serious as you like, and not hurt your feelings, if you'll
stay for a minute or two. Listen, now. Isn't the language dying on the
people's lips? They're talking the English, more and more of them every
day; and don't you know as well as I do that when they lose their Irish
they'll lose half the good that's in them? What sort will the next
generation of our people be, with their own language gone from them, and
their Irish ways forgotten, and all the old tales and songs and tunes
perished away like the froth of the waves that the storm blew up across
the fields the night your father died? I'll tell you what they'll
be--just sham Englishmen. And the Lord knows the real thing is not the
best kind of man in the world, but the copy of an Englishman! sure,
that's the poorest creature to be found anywhere on the face of God's
good earth. And that's what we'll be, when the Irish is gone from us.
Wouldn't there be work enough for you to do, now, if you were to buy
Thady Durkan's boat, and stay here and help to keep the people to the
old tongue and the old ways?'

Hyacinth shook his head. His mood was altogether too heroic to allow
him to think highly of what the priest said to him. He loved the Irish
language as his native speech--loved it, too, as a symbol, and something
more, perhaps--as an expression of the nationality of Ireland. But it
did not seem to him to be a very essential thing, and to spend his life
talking it and persuading other people to talk it was an obscure kind of
patriotism which made no strong appeal to him--which, indeed, could not
stand compared to the glory of drawing the sword.

'You've listened to what I've told you, Father Moran, and you say that
you understand what I feel, but I don't think you really do, or else you
wouldn't fancy that I could be satisfied to stay here. What is it you
ask of me? To spend my time fishing and talking Irish and dancing jigs.
Ah! it's well enough I'd like to do it. Don't think that such a life
wouldn't be pleasant to me. It would be too pleasant. That's what's the
matter with it. It's a temptation, and not a duty, that you're setting
before me.'

'Maybe it is now--maybe it is. And if it's that way you think of it,
you're right enough to say no to me. But for all that I understand you
well enough. Who's this now coming up to the house to see me?' He went
over to the window and looked out. 'Isn't it a queer life a priest lives
in a place like this, with never a minute of quiet peace from morning to
night but somebody will be coming interrupting and destroying it? First
it's you, Hyacinth Conneally--not that I grudge the time to you when
you're going off so soon--and now it's Michael Kavanagh. Indeed, he's
a decent man too, like yourself. Come in, Michael--come in. Don't be
standing there pulling at the old door-bell. You know as well as myself
it's broken these two years. It's heartbroken the thing is ever since
that congested engineer put up the electric bell for me, and little
use that was, seeing that Biddy O'Halloran--that's my housekeeper, Mr.
Conneally; you remember her--poured a jug of hot water into its inside
the way it wouldn't annoy her with ringing so loud. And why the noise
of it vexed her I couldn't say, for she's as deaf as a post every time
I speak to her. Ah, you're there, Michael, are you? Now, what do you
want?'

A young farmer, black-haired, tall and straight, stood in the doorway
with his hat in his hand. He had brought a paper for Father Moran's
signature. It related to a bull which the Congested Districts Board
proposed to lend to the parish, and of which Kavanagh had been chosen
to be custodian. A long conversation followed, conducted in Irish. The
newly-erected habitation for the animal was discussed; then the best
method of bringing him home from Clifden Station; then the kind of
beast he was likely to turn out to be, and the suitability of particular
breeds of cattle to the coarse, brine-soaked land of Carrowkeel.
Kavanagh related a fearful tale of a lot of 'foreign 'fowls which had
been planted in the neighbourhood by the Board. They were particularly
nice to look at, and settings of their eggs were eagerly booked long
beforehand. Then one by one they sickened and died. Some people thought
they died out of spite, being angered at the way they had been treated
in the train. Kavanagh himself did not think so badly of them. He was of
opinion that their spirits were desolated in them with the way the rain
came through the roof of their house, and that their feet got sore with
walking on the unaccustomed sea-sand. However their death was to be
explained, he hoped that the bull would turn out to be hardier. Father
Moran, on his part, hoped that the roof of the bull's house would
turn out to be sounder. In the end the paper was signed, and Kavanagh
departed.

'Now, there,' said the priest, 'is a fine young man. Only for him, I
don't know how I'd get on in the parish at all. He's got a head on his
shoulders, and a notion of improving himself and his neighbours, and it
would do you good to see him dance a jig. But why need I tell you that
when you've seen him yourself? He is to be the secretary of the Gaelic
League when we get a branch of it started in Carrowkeel. And a good
secretary he'll make, for his heart will be in the work. I dare say,
now, you've heard of the League when you were up in Dublin. Well, you'll
hear more of it. By the time you're back here again---- Now, don't be
saying that you'll not come back. I'll give you a year to get sick of
fighting for the Boers, and then there'll be a hunger on you for the old
place that will bring you back to it in spite of yourself.'

'Good-bye, Father Moran. Whatever happens to me, I'll not forget
Carrowkeel nor you either. You've been good to me, and if I don't take
your advice and stay where I am, it's not through want of gratitude.'

The priest wrung his hand.

'You'll come back. It may be after I'm dead and gone, but back you'll
come. Here or somewhere else in the old country you'll spend your days
working for Ireland, because you'll have learnt that working is better
than fighting.'



CHAPTER X

When Hyacinth got back to Dublin about the middle of February, the
streets were gay with amateur warriors. The fever for volunteering,
which laid hold on the middle classes after the series of regrettable
incidents of the winter, raged violently among the Irish Loyalists.
Nowhere were the recruiting officers more fervently besieged than in
Dublin. Youthful squireens who boasted of being admirable snipe shots,
and possessed a knowledge of all that pertained to horses, struggled
with prim youths out of banks for the privilege of serving as troopers.
The sons of plump graziers in the West made up parties with footmen
out of their landlords' mansions, and arrived in Dublin hopeful of
enlistment. Light-hearted undergraduates of Trinity, drapers' assistants
of dubious character, and the crowd of nondescripts whose time is spent
in preparing for examinations which they fail to pass, leaped at the
opportunity of winning glory and perhaps wealth in South Africa. Those
who were fortunate enough to be selected were sent to the Curragh to
be broken in to their new profession. They were clothed, to their own
intense delight, in that peculiar shade of yellow which is supposed to
be a help to the soldier in his efforts not to be shot. Their legs were
screwed into putties and breeches incredibly tight round the knees,
which expanded rapidly higher up, and hung round their hips in
voluminous folds. Their jackets were covered with a multiplicity of
quaint little pockets, sewed on in unexpected places, and each provided
with a flap which buttoned over it. The name of the artist who designed
this costume has perished, nor does there remain any written record
of the use which these tightly-secured pocket-covers were supposed to
serve. Augusta Goold suggested that perhaps they were meant to prevent
the troopers' money from falling out in the event of any commanding
officer ordering his men to receive the enemy standing on their heads.'
In the light of the intelligence displayed by the English Generals up
to the present,' she said, 'the War Office is quite right to be prepared
for such a thing happening.'

It seemed possible to procure almost any amount of leave from the
Curragh, and the yeomen delighted to spend it in promenading the
fashionable streets of the metropolis. The tea-shops reaped a rich
harvest from the regal way in which they treated their female relatives
and friends. Indeed, their presence must have seriously disorganized the
occupations by which young women earn their living. It was difficult to
imagine that the sick in the hospitals could have been properly looked
after, or the letters of solicitors typewritten, so great was the number
of damsels who attached themselves to these attractive heroes. The
philosophic observer found another curious subject for speculation in
the fact that this parade of military splendour took place in a city
whose population sympathized intensely with the Boer cause, and was
accustomed to receive the news of a British defeat with delight. The
Dublin artisan viewed the yeomen much as the French in Paris must have
looked upon the allied troops who entered their city after Waterloo.
The very name by which they were called had an anti-national sound, and
suggested the performance of other amateur horse-soldiers in Wexford a
century earlier.

The little band whose writings filled the pages of the _Croppy_ were
more than anyone else enraged at the flaunting of Imperialism in their
streets. They had rejoiced quite openly after Christmas, and called
attention every week in prose and poetry to the moribund condition of
the British Empire, even boasting as if they themselves had borne a part
in its humiliation. They were still in a position to assert that the
Boers were victorious, and that the volunteers were likely to do no more
than exhaust the prison accommodation at Pretoria. They could and did
compose biting jests, but their very bitterness witnessed to a deep
disappointment. It was not possible to deny that the despised English
garrison in Ireland was displaying a wholly unlooked-for spirit. No one
could have expected that West Britons and 'Seonini' would have wanted to
fight. Very likely, when the time came, they would run away; but in
the meanwhile here they were, swaggering through the streets of Dublin,
outward and visible signs of a force in the country hostile to the hopes
of the _Croppy_, a force that some day Republican Ireland would have to
reckon with.

Augusta Goold herself was more tolerant and more philosophic than her
friends. She looked at the yeomen with a certain admiration. Their
exuberant youthfulness, their strutting, and their obvious belief in
themselves, made a strong appeal to her imagination.

'Look at that young man,' she said to Hyacinth, pointing out a volunteer
who passed them in the street. 'I happen to know who he is. In fact, I
knew his people very well indeed at one time, and spent a fortnight with
them once when that young man was a toddler, and sometimes sat on my
knee--at least, he may have sat on my knee. There were a good many
children, and at this distance of time I can't be certain which of them
it was that used to worry me most during the hour before dinner. The
father is a landlord in the North, and comes of a fine old family. He's
a strong Protestant, and English, of course, in all his sympathies.
Well, a hundred years or so ago that boy's great-grandfather was
swaggering about these same streets in a uniform, just as his descendant
is doing now. He helped to drag a cannon into the Phoenix Park one day
with a large placard tied over its muzzle--"Our rights or----" Who do
you think he was threatening? Just the same England that this boy is so
keen to fight for to-day!'

'Ah,' said Hyacinth, 'you are thinking of the volunteer movement of
1780.'

'Afterwards,' she went on, 'he was one of the incorruptibles. You'll
see his name on Jonah Barrington's red list. He stood out to the
last against the Union, wouldn't be bribed, and fought two duels with
Castlereagh's bravoes. The curious thing is that the present man is
quite proud of that ancestor in a queer, inconsistent sort of way. Says
the only mark of distinction his family can boast of is that they didn't
get a Union peerage. Strange, isn't it?'

'It is strange,' said Hyacinth. 'The Irish gentry of 1782 were men to be
proud of; yet look at their descendants to-day.'

'It is very sad. Do you know, I sometimes think that Ireland will never
get her freedom till those men take it for her. Almost every struggle
that Ireland ever made was captained by her aristocracy. Think of the
Geraldines and the O'Neills. Think of Sarsfield and the Wild Geese.
Think of the men who wrenched a measure of independence from England in
1782. Think of Lord Edward and Smith O'Brien. No, we may talk and write
and agitate, but we'll _do_ nothing till we get the old families with
us.'

Hyacinth laughed. It seemed to him that Miss Goold was deliberately
talking nonsense, rejoicing in a paradox.

'We are likely to wait, if we wait for them. Look at those.' He waved
his hand towards a group of yeomen who were chatting at the street
corner. 'They are going to stamp out a nation in South Africa. Is it
likely that they will create one here?'

'It is not likely'--she sighed as she spoke--'yet stranger things than
that have happened. Have you ever considered what the present English
policy in Ireland really is? Do you understand that they are trying to
keep us quiet by bribing the priests? They think that the Protestants
are powerless, or that they will be loyal no matter what happens. But
think: These Protestants have been accustomed for generations to regard
themselves as a superior race. They conceive themselves to have a
natural right to govern. Now they are being snubbed and insulted. There
isn't an English official from their Lord Lieutenant down but thinks he
is quite safe in ignoring the Protestants, and is only anxious to
make himself agreeable to the priests. That's the beginning. Very soon
they'll be bullied as well as snubbed. They will stand a good deal of
it, because, like most strong people, they are very stupid and slow at
understanding; but do you suppose they will always stand it?'

'They're English, and not Irish,' said Hyacinth. 'I suppose they like
what their own people do.'

'It's a lie. They are not English, though they say it themselves. In the
end they will find out that they are Irish. Some day a last insult, a
particularly barefaced robbery, or an intolerable oppression, will awake
them. Then they'll turn on the people that betrayed them. They will
discover that Ireland--their Ireland--isn't meant to be a cabbage-garden
for Manchester, nor yet a _crêche_ for sucking priests. Ah! it will be
good to be alive when they find themselves. We shall be within reach of
the freedom of Ireland then.'

Hyacinth was amazed at her vehement admiration for the class she was
accustomed to anathematize. He turned her words over and over in his
mind. They recalled, as so many different things seemed to do, his
father's vision of an Armageddon. Amid the confusion of Irish politics
this thought of a Protestant and aristocratic revolt was strangely
attractive; only it seemed to be wholly impossible. He bewildered
himself in the effort to arrange the pieces of the game into some
reasonable order. What was to be thought of a priesthood who, contrary
to all the traditions of their Church, had nursed a revolution against
the rights of property? or of a people, amazingly quick of apprehension,
idealistic of temperament, who time after time submitted themselves
blindfold to the tyranny of a single leader, worshipped a man, and asked
no questions about his policy? How was he to place an aristocracy who
refused to lead, and persisted in whining about their wrongs to the
inattentive shopkeepers of English towns, gentlemen not wanting in
honour and spirit courting a contemptuous bourgeoisie with ridiculous
flatteries? In what reasonable scheme of things was it possible to
place Protestants, blatant in their boasts about liberty, who hugged
subjection to a power which deliberately fostered the growth of
an ecclesiastical tyranny? Where amid this crazy dance of
self-contradictory fanatics and fools was a sane man to find a place on
which to stand? How, above all, was Ireland, a nation, to evolve itself?

He turned with relief from these perplexities to the work that lay
before him. However a man might worry and befog himself over the
confused issues of politics, it was at all events a straightforward
and simple matter to fight, and Hyacinth was going to the front as the
eleventh Irish volunteer.

To do Miss Goold justice, she had been extremely unwilling to enrol him,
and had refused to take a penny of his money. Her conscience, such as
it was after years of patriotic endeavour, rebelled against committing a
young man whom she really liked to the companionship of the men she had
enlisted and the care of their commander, Captain Albert Quinn.

This gentleman, whom she daily expected in Dublin, belonged to County
Mayo. He represented himself as a member of an ancient but impoverished
family, boasted of his military experience, and professed to be
profoundly skilled in all matters relating to horses. Miss Goold's
inquiries elicited the fact that he held an undefined position under
his brother, a respectable manufacturer of woollen goods. His military
experience had been gathered during the few months he held a commission
in the militia battalion of the Connaught Rangers, an honourable
position which he had resigned because his brother officers persistently
misunderstood his methods of winning money at cards. No one, however,
was found to deny that he really did possess a wonderful knowledge of
horses. The worst that Miss Goold's correspondents could suggest with
regard to this third qualification was that he knew too much. None
of these drawbacks to the Captain--he had assumed the title when he
accepted the command of the volunteers--weighed with Miss Goold. Indeed,
she admitted to Mary O'Dwyer, in a moment of frankness, that if her men
weren't more or less blackguards she couldn't expect them to go out
to South Africa. She did not speak equally plainly to Hyacinth. She
recollected that he had displayed a very inconvenient kind of morality
when she first knew him, and she believed him quite capable of breaking
away from her influence altogether if he discovered the kind of men she
was willing to work with.

She did her best to persuade him to give up the idea of joining the
force, by pointing out to him that he was quite unfitted for the work
that would have to be done.

'You know nothing about horses,' she said. 'I don't suppose you've ever
been on the back of one.'

Hyacinth admitted that this was true. The inhabitants of Carrowkeel
rarely ride their shaggy ponies, and when they do it is sitting sideways
just above the creatures' tails, with two creels for turf or seaweed in
the place where the saddle ought to be.

'And I don't suppose you know much about shooting?'

Hyacinth was depressed, for he had never pulled a trigger in his life.
In the West of Ireland a man is not allowed to possess a gun unless
a resident magistrate will certify to his loyalty and harmless-ness.
Therefore, the inhabitants of villages like Carrowkeel are debarred from
shooting either snipe or seals, and the British Empire stands secure.

The difficulty about his horsemanship Hyacinth endeavoured to get over.
He arranged with a car-driver of his acquaintance to teach him to groom
and harness his horses. The man possessed two quadrupeds, which he
described as 'the yellow pony' and 'the little mare.' Hyacinth began
with the yellow pony, the oldest and staidest of the two. The little
mare, who had a temper of her own, gave him more trouble. She disliked
his way of putting the crupper under her tail, and one day, to her
owner's great delight, 'rose the divil on them' when her new groom got
the shaft of the car stuck through her collar.

The want of experience in shooting was more difficult to get over.
Grealy owned an antiquated army rifle, which he lent to Hyacinth.
It was, of course, entirely different from the Mauser, and it was
impossible to get an opportunity for firing it off. However, there was
some comfort to be found in handling the thing, and taking long and
careful aim at a distant church spire through a window.

In the face of such enthusiasm, Miss Goold could not refuse her recruit.
She talked to him freely about her plans, and was eloquent about the
spirit and abilities of M. de Villeneuve, who was to take charge of her
soldiers after they joined him in Paris. On the subject of Captain Quinn
she was much more reticent, and she refused altogether to introduce
Hyacinth to his ten fellow troopers.

'There's not the least necessity,' she said, 'for you to meet them until
the time for starting comes. In fact, I may say it is safer for none of
you to know each other.'

Hyacinth experienced a thrill of agreeable excitement. He felt that he
was engaged in a real conspiracy.

'For fear of informers?' he asked.

'Yes. One never can be quite sure of anyone. Of course, they can every
one of them give information against me. You can yourself, if you like.
But no one can betray anyone else, and as long as the men are safe, it
doesn't matter what happens to me.'

It was one of Miss Goold's weaknesses that she imagined herself to be an
object of hatred and dread to the Government, and nothing irritated her
more than a suspicion that she was not being taken seriously.

The first glimpse that Hyacinth got of the character of the men among
whom he was to serve came to him through Tim Halloran. Tim was still
sore from the scolding he had been given for his conduct at the
Rotunda meeting, and missed no opportunity of scoffing--not, of course,
publicly, but among his friends--at Miss Goold and her volunteers.
Hyacinth avoided him as much as possible, but one evening he walked up
against him on the narrow footway at the corner of George's Street.
Halloran was delighted, and seized him by the arm.

'You're the very man I wanted to see,' he said. 'Have you heard about
Doherty?'

Hyacinth knew no one called Doherty. He said so, and tried to escape,
but Halloran held him fast.

'Not know Doherty! How's that? I thought you were in all dear Finola's
secrets. Faith! I heard you were going out to fight for the Boers
yourself. I didn't believe it, of course. You wouldn't be such a
fool. But I thought you'd know that Doherty is one of the ten precious
recruits, or, rather, _was_ one of them.' He laughed loudly. 'He'll
fight on the other side now, if he fights at all.'

'What do you mean>' asked Hyacinth uneasily.

He was not at all sure what view the authorities in Dublin Castle might
take of recruiting for the Boer service, and Miss Goold's hints about
informers recurred to his mind alarmingly. Perhaps this Doherty was an
informer.

'Well,' said Halloran, 'I was in one of the police-courts this morning
doing my work for the _Evening Star_. You know I report the police news
for that rag, don't you? Well, I do. My column is called "The Doom of
the Disorderly." Rather a good title that for a column of the kind!
There didn't appear to be anything particular on, just a few ordinary
drunks, until this fellow Doherty was brought in. I thought I recognised
him, and when I heard his name I was certain of my man. He hadn't done
anything very bad--assaulted a tram-conductor, or some such trifle--and
would have got off with a fine. However, a military man turned up and
claimed him as a deserter. His real name, it appears, is Johnston. He
deserted six weeks ago from the Dublin Fusiliers.'

'How on earth did he impose on Miss Goold?' asked Hyacinth.

Halloran looked at him curiously.

'Oh, I shouldn't say he exactly imposed upon Finola. She's not precisely
a fool, you know, and she has pretty accurate information about most of
the people she deals with.'

'But surely------'

Halloran shrugged his shoulders.

'My dear fellow, I don't want to shatter your ideal, but the beautiful
Finola wants to work a revolution, and you can't do that sort of thing
without soiling your hands. However, whether he imposed on her or not,
there's no doubt about it that he was a deserter. Why, it appeared that
the fool was tattooed all over the arms and chest, and the military
people had a list of the designs. They had a perfectly plain case, and,
indeed, Doherty made no defence.'

'What will they do with him?' said Hyacinth, still uneasy about the
possibility of Doherty's volunteering information.

'I don't know,' said Halloran. 'I should think the best punishment would
be to send him out to Ladysmith. I dare say the Boers would pass him
in if the circumstances were explained to them. By the way, it would be
rather funny if he met the other nine out there on a kopje, wouldn't it?
He might take them prisoners, or they might capture him. Either way the
situation would have its comic possibilities.'



CHAPTER XI

Miss Goold lived that part of her life which was not spent at political
meetings or in the office of the _Croppy_ in a villa at Killiney. A
house agent would have described it as a most desirable residence,
standing in its own grounds, overlooking the sea. Its windows opened
upon one of the best of the many beautiful views of Dublin Bay. Its
half-acre of pleasure ground--attended to by a jobbing gardener once a
week--was trim and flowery. Its brown gate shone with frequently renewed
paint, and the drive up to the door was neatly raked. Inside
Miss Goold's wants were ministered to by an eminently respectable
man-servant, his wife who cooked, and a maid. The married couple were
fixtures, and had been with Miss Goold since she started housekeeping.
The maids varied. They never quarrelled with their mistress, but they
found it impossible to live with their fellow-servants. Mr. and Mrs.
Ginty were North of Ireland Protestants of the severest type. Ginty
himself was a strong Orangeman, and his wife professed and enforced a
strict code of morals. It did not in the least vex Miss Goold to
know that her servants' quarters were decorated with portraits of the
reigning family in gilt frames, or that King William III. pranced on a
white charger above the kitchen range. Nor had she any objection to her
butler invoking a nightly malediction on the Pope over his tumbler of
whisky-and-water. Unfortunately, her maids--the first three were Roman
Catholics--found that their religious convictions were outraged, and
left, after stormy scenes. The red-haired Protestant from the North who
followed them was indifferent to the eternal destiny of Leo XIII., but
declined to be dictated to by Mrs. Ginty about the conduct of her love
affairs. Miss Goold, to whom the quarrel was referred, pleaded the
damsel's cause, and suggested privately that not even a policeman--she
had a low opinion of the force--could be swept away from the path of
respectability by a passion for so ugly a girl. Mrs. Ginty pointed out
in reply that red hair and freckles were no safeguard when a flirtation
is carried on after dark. There seemed no answer to this, and the maid
returned indignantly to Ballymena. She was succeeded by an anaemic and
wholly incompetent niece of Mrs. Ginty's, who lived in such terror of
her aunt that peace settled upon the household. Miss Goold suspected
that this girl did little or no work--was, in fact, wholly unfit for her
position; but so long as she herself was made comfortable, it did not
seem to matter who tidied away her clothes or dusted her bedroom.

Miss Goold, in fact, had so far mastered the philosophy of life as to
understand that the only real use of money is to purchase comfort and
freedom from minor worries. She had deliberately cut herself adrift from
the social set to which she belonged by birth and education, and so had
little temptation to spend her substance either in giving parties
or enjoying them. The ladies who flutter round the Lord Lieutenant's
hospitable court would as soon have thought of calling on a music-hall
danseuse as on Miss Goold. Their husbands, brothers, and sons took
liberties with her reputation in the smoking-rooms of the Kildare Street
Club, and professed to be in possession of private information about
her life which placed her outside the charity of even their tolerant
morality. The little circle of revolutionary politicians who gathered
round the _Croppy_ were not the sort of people who gave dinner-parties;
and there is, in spite of the Gospel precept, a certain awkwardness
nowadays in continually asking people to dinner who cannot afford a
retributive invitation. Occasionally, however, Miss Goold did entertain
a few of her friends, and it was generally admitted among them that she
not only provided food and drink of great excellence, but arranged the
appointments of her feasts luxuriously.

On the very day after his interview with Tim Halloran Hyacinth received
an invitation to dinner at the Killiney villa. Captain Quinn, the
note informed him, had arrived in Dublin, and was anxious to make the
acquaintance of his future comrade-in-arms. It seemed to Hyacinth,
thinking over the story of Doherty, unlikely that the whole corps would
be asked to meet their Captain round a dinner-table, but he hoped that
some of them would be there. Their presence would reconcile him to the
awkwardness of not possessing a dress-suit. Grealy, who had occasionally
dined at the villa, warned him that a white shirt-front and black
trousers would certainly be expected of him, and Hyacinth made an
unsuccessful effort to hire garments for the night which would fit him.
In the end, since it seemed absurd to purchase even a second-hand suit
for a single evening, he brushed his Sunday clothes and bought a pair of
patent-leather shoes.

He arrived at the platform of Westland Row Station in good time for
the train he meant to catch. He was soon joined by Miss O'Dwyer, who
appeared with her head and neck swathed in a fluffy shawl and the train
of a silk skirt gathered in her hand. The view of several flounces of
nebulous white petticoat confirmed Hyacinth in his conjecture that she
was bound for Miss Goold's party. No one who could be supposed to be a
member of Captain Quinn's corps appeared on the platform, and Hyacinth
became painfully conscious of the shortcomings of his costume. He
thought that even Miss O'Dwyer glanced at it with some contempt. He
wished that, failing a dress-suit, he could have imitated the Imperial
Yeomen who paraded the streets, and donned some kind of uniform. His
discomfort reached a climax when Ginty received them at the door, passed
Miss O'Dwyer on to the incompetent niece, and solemnly extracted the new
shoes from their brown-paper parcel.

Miss Goold stood chatting to Captain Quinn when Hyacinth entered the
drawing-room. She moved forward to meet him, radiant and splendid, he
thought, beyond imagination. The rustle of her draperies, the faint
scent that hung around her, and the glitter of the stones on her throat,
bewildered him.

It was not till after he had been presented to his commander that he was
able to take his eyes off her. Then, in spite of his embarrassment, he
experienced surprise and disappointment. He had formed no clear idea
of what he expected Captain Quinn to be like, but he had a vague mental
picture of a furiously-moustachioed swashbuckler, a man of immense power
and hirsute hands. Instead, there stood before him a slim, small man,
clean shaved, with shiny black hair smoothly brushed. His clothes were
so well cut and his linen so glossy that he seemed fittingly placed even
beside the magnificent Finola. His hand, when Hyacinth shook it, seemed
absurdly small, and his feet, in their neat pumps, were more like a
woman's than a man's. Then, when he turned to resume his conversation
with his hostess, Hyacinth was able to watch his face. He noticed
the man's eyes. They were small and quick, like a bird's, and shifted
rapidly, never resting long on any object. His mouth was seldom closed,
and the lips, like the eyes, moved incessantly, though very slightly.
There were strange lines about the cheeks and jaws, which somehow
suggested that the man had seen a good deal of the evil of the world,
and not altogether unwillingly. His voice was wonderfully soft and
clear, and he spoke without a trace of any provincial accent.

During dinner Captain Quinn took the largest share in the conversation.
It appeared that he was a man of considerable knowledge of the world. He
had been a sailor in his time, and had made two voyages to Melbourne
as apprentice in a large sailing-ship. His stories were interesting and
humorously told; though they all dealt with experiences of his own, he
never allowed himself to figure as anything of a hero. He recounted,
for instance, how one night in Melbourne Docks he had run from a
half-drunken Swede, armed with a knife, and had spent hours dodging
round the deck of a ship and calling for help before he could get his
assailant arrested. His career as an officer in the mercantile navy was
cut short by a period of imprisonment in a small town in Madagascar.
He did not specify his offence, but gave a vivid account of life in the
gaol.

'There were twenty of us altogether,' he said--'nineteen niggers and
myself. There was no nonsense about discipline or work. We just sat
about all day in an open courtyard, with nothing but a big iron gate
between us and liberty. All the same, there was very little chance
of escape. There were always four black soldiers on guard, truculent
scoundrels with curly swords. A sort of missionary man got wind of my
being there, and used to come and visit me. One day he gave me a tract
called "Gideon." I read the thing because I had absolutely nothing else
to read. In the end it turned out an extremely useful tract, for it
occurred to me that the old plan for defeating the Midianites might
work with the four black soldiers. I organized the other prisoners, and
divided them into three bands. We raked up a pretty fair substitute
for pitchers and lamps. Then one night we played off the stratagem, and
flurried the sentries to such an extent that I got clear away. I rather
fancy one or two others got off, too, but I don't know. I got into a
rather disagreeable tramp steamer, and volunteered as stoker. It's so
difficult to get stokers in the tropics that the captain took his risks
and kept me. I must say I was sorry afterwards that I hadn't stayed in
the gaol.'

The story was properly appreciated by the audience, and Hyacinth began
to feel a liking for the Captain.

'Do you know,' said Miss Goold, when their laughter had subsided, 'I
believe I know that identical tract. I once had an evangelical aunt, a
dear old lady who went about her house with a bunch of keys in a small
basket. She used to give me religious literature. I never was reduced to
reading it, but I distinctly remember a picture of Gideon with his mouth
open waving a torch on the front page. Could it have been the same?'

'It must have been,' said the Captain. 'Mine had that picture, too.
Gideon had nothing on but a sort of nightshirt with a belt to it, and
only one sleeve. By the way, if you are up in tracts, perhaps you know
one called "The Rock of Horeb "?'

Miss Goold shook her head.

'Ah, well,' said the Captain, after appealing to Mary O'Dwyer and
Hyacinth, 'it can't be helped, but I must say I should like to meet
someone who had read "The Rock of Horeb." I once sailed from Peru in
an exceedingly ill-found little barque loaded with guano. We had a very
dull time going through the tropics, and absolutely the only thing to
read on board was the first half of "The Rook of Horeb." There were at
least two pages missing. I read it until I nearly knew it off by heart,
and ever since I've been trying to get a complete copy to see how it
ended.'

Some of his stories dealt with more civilized life. He delighted Miss
Goold with an account, not at all unfriendly, of the humours of
the third battalion of the Connaught Rangers. He quoted one of Mary
O'Dwyer's poems to her, and pleased Hyacinth by his enthusiastic
admiration of the Connemara scenery. Good food, good wine, and a
companion like Captain Quinn, gladden the heart, and the little party
was very merry when Ginty deposited coffee and cigarettes and finally
departed.

In Miss Goold's house it was not the custom for the ladies to desert
the dinner-table by themselves. Very often the hostess was the only lady
present, and she had the greatest dislike to leaving a conversation just
when it was likely to become really interesting. Moreover, Miss Goold
smoked, not because it was a smart or emancipated thing to do, but
because she liked it, and--a curious note of femininity about her--she
objected to her drawing-room smelling of tobacco.

When Ginty had disappeared, and the serious business of enjoying the
food was completed, the talk of the party turned on the South African
campaign and the prospects of the Irish volunteers. Captain Quinn
displayed a considerable knowledge of the operations both of the Boers
and the British Generals. For the latter he expressed what appeared to
Hyacinth to be an exaggerated contempt, but the two ladies listened
to it with evident enjoyment. He delighted Miss Goold by his extreme
eagerness to be off.

'I don't see,' he said, 'why we shouldn't start to-morrow.'

'I'm afraid that's out of the question,' said Augusta Goold. 'M. de
Villeneuve arranged to send me a wire when he was ready for our men, and
I can't well send them sooner.'

'Ah,' said the Captain, 'but it seems to me the Frenchman is inclined
to dawdle. Don't you think that if we went over it might hurry him up a
bit?'

She agreed that this was possible, but represented the difficulty of
keeping the men suitably employed in Paris for perhaps three weeks or a
month.

'You see,' she said, 'they are all right here in Dublin, where I can
keep an eye on them. Besides, they have all got some sort of employment
here, and I don't have to pay them. I haven't got money enough to keep
them in Paris, and they won't get anything from Dr. Leyds until you have
them on board the steamer.'

Captain Quinn seemed satisfied, but later on in the evening he returned
to the subject.

'I can't help feeling that it would be better for me, at all events, to
go over to Paris at once. I shouldn't ask to draw any pay at present. I
have enough by me to keep me going for a few weeks.'

'But what about the men? Will you come back for them?'

'No, I think that would be foolish and unnecessary. There is no use in
attracting attention to our movements. We can't have a public send-off,
with cheers and that sort of thing, in any case, or march through the
streets like those ridiculous yeomen. Our fellows have got to slip
away quietly in twos and threes. We can't tell whether we're not being
watched this minute.'

There was a note of sincerity in the Captain's voice which convinced
Hyacinth that he was genuinely frightened at the thought of having a
policeman on his track. Miss Goold, too, looked appropriately solemn at
the suggestion. As a matter of fact, the authorities in Dublin Castle
did occasionally send a detective in plain clothes to walk after her.
It is not conceivable that they suspected her of wanting to blow up
Nelson's pillar or assassinate a judge. Probably they merely wished to
exercise the members of the force, and, in the absence of any actual
crime in the country, felt that no harm could come to anyone through the
'shadowing' of Miss Goold. The plan, though the authorities probably did
not consider this, had the incidental advantage of gratifying the lady
herself. She was perfectly acquainted with most of the officers who were
put on her track, and was always in good spirits when she recognised one
of them waiting for her in Westland Row Station. Captain Quinn kept a
watch on her face with his sharp shifting eyes while he spoke, and he
was quick to realize that he had hit on a way of flattering her.

'You are a person, Miss Goold, of whose actions the Government is bound
to take cognisance. I dare say they have their suspicions of me, and if
you and I are seen together in Dublin during the next week or two there
will certainly be inquiries; whereas, if I go over to Paris at once,
there will be no reason to watch you or anybody else.'

Augusta Goold hesitated.

'What do you say, Mr. Conneally?' she asked.

Hyacinth was puzzled at this extreme eagerness to be off. A suspicion
crossed his mind that the Captain meditated some kind of treachery. He
made what appeared to him to be a brilliant suggestion.

'Let me go with Captain Quinn. I can start to-morrow if necessary. I
should like to see something of Paris; and you know, Miss Goold, I've
plenty of money.'

He thought it likely that the Captain would object to this plan. If
he meditated any kind of crooked dealing when he got to Paris, though
Hyacinth failed to see any motive for treachery, he would not want to be
saddled with a companion. The answer he received surprised him.

'Delightful! I shall be glad to have a friend with me. In the intervals
of military preparation we can have a gay time--not too gay, of course,
Miss Goold. I shall keep Mr. Conneally out of serious mischief. When we
have a little spare cash we may as well enjoy ourselves. We shan't want
to carry money about with us in the Transvaal. We mean to live at the
expense of the English out there.'

Augusta Goold smiled almost maternally at Hyacinth.

'My dear boy,' she said, 'what seems plenty of money to you won't go
very far in Paris. What is it? Let me see, you said two hundred pounds,
and you want to buy your outfit out of that. Keep a little by you in
case of accident.'

'Well,' said the Captain, 'that's settled. And if we are really to start
to-morrow, we ought to get home to-night. Mr. Conneally may be ready
to start at a moment's notice, but he must at least pack up his
tooth-brush. May we see you safe back to town, Miss O'Dwyer? Remember,
we shall expect a valedictory ode in the next number of the _Croppy_.
Write us something that will go to a tune, something with a swing in it,
and we'll sing it beside the camp fires on the veldt. Miss Goold'--he
held out his hand as he spoke--'I'm a plain fellow'--he did not look in
the least as if he thought so--'I've led too rough a life to be any good
at making pretty speeches, but I'm glad I've seen you and talked to you.
If I'm knocked on the head out there I shall go under satisfied, for
I've met a woman fit to be a queen--a woman who is a queen, the queen of
the heart of Ireland.'

It is likely that Augusta Goold, though she was certainly not a fool,
was a little excited by the homage, for she refused to say good-bye,
declaring that she would see the boat off next morning. It was a promise
which would cost her something to keep, for the mail steamer leaves at 8
a.m., and Miss Goold was a lady who appreciated the warmth of her bed in
the mornings, especially during the early days of March, when the wind
is likely to be in the east.



CHAPTER XII

Captain Quinn made himself very agreeable to Mary O'Dwyer during the
short journey back to Dublin. At Westland Row he saw her into a cab,
which he paid for. His last words were a reminder that he would expect
to have her war-song, music and all, sent after him to Paris. Then he
turned to Hyacinth.

'That's all right. We've done with her. It was better to pay the cab for
her, else she might have scrupled about taking one, and we should have
been obliged to go home with her in a beastly tram. Come along. I'm
staying at the Gresham. It's always as well to go to a decent place
if you have any money. You come with me, and we'll have a drink and a
talk.'

There were two priests and a Bishop in earnest conference round the
fire in the hall of the hotel when they entered. When he discovered that
their talk was of the iniquities of the National Board of Education, and
therefore likely to last beyond midnight, Captain Quinn led the way into
the smoking-room, which was unoccupied. A sufficient supply of whisky
and a syphon of soda-water were set before them. The Captain stretched
himself in a comfortable chair, and lit his pipe.

'A fine woman, Miss Goold,' he said meditatively. Hyacinth murmured an
assent.

'A very fine woman, and apparently pretty comfortably off. I wonder why
on earth she does it.'

He looked at Hyacinth as if he expected some sort of explanation to be
forthcoming.

'Does what?' asked Hyacinth at length.

'Oh, all this revolutionary business: the _Croppy_, seditious speeches,
and now this rot about helping the Boers. What does she stand to gain by
it? I don't suppose there's any money in the business, and a woman
like that might get all the notoriety she wants in her own proper set,
without stumping the country and talking rot.'

This way of looking at Augusta Goold's patriotism was new to Hyacinth,
and he resented it.

'I suppose she believes in the principles she professes,' he said.

The Captain looked at him curiously, and then took a drink of his
whisky-and-soda.

'Well,' he said, 'let's suppose she does. After all, her motives are
nothing to us, and she's a damned fine woman, whatever she does it for.'

He drank again.

'It would have been very pleasant, now, if she would have spent the next
few weeks with me in Paris. You won't mind my saying that I'd rather
have had her than you, Conneally, as a companion in a little burst.
However, I saw at once that it wouldn't do. Anyone with an eye in his
head could tell at a glance that she wasn't that sort.'

He sighed. Hyacinth was not quite sure that he understood. The
suggestion was so calmly made and reasoned on that it seemed impossible
that it could be as iniquitous as it appeared.

'There's no one such an utter fool about women,' went on the Captain,
'as your respectable married man, who never does anything wrong himself.
I'd heard of Miss Goold, as everybody has, and listened to discussions
about her character. You know just as well as I do the sort of things
they say about her.'

Hyacinth did know very well, and flared up in defence of his patroness.

'They are vile lies.'

'That's just what I'm saying. Those respectable people who tell the lies
are such fools. They think that every woman who doesn't mew about
at afternoon parties must be a bad one. Now, anyone with a little
experience would know at once that Miss Goold--what's this the other
one called her? Oh yes, Finola--that Finola may be a fool, but she's not
_that_.'

He pulled himself together as he spoke. Evidently he plumed himself, on
his experience and the faculty for judging it had brought him.

'Now, I'd just as soon have asked my sister-in-law to come to Paris with
me for a fortnight as Finola. You don't know Mrs. James Quinn, I think.
That's a pity. She's the most domesticated and virtuous _haus-frau_ in
the world.'

He paused, and then asked Hyacinth, 'Why are you doing it?'

Again Hyacinth was reduced by sheer surprise to a futility.

'Doing what?'

'Oh, going out to fight for the Boers. Now, don't, like a good fellow,
say you're acting on principle. It's all well enough to give Finola
credit for that kind of thing. She is, as we agreed, a splendid woman.
But you mustn't ask me to believe in the whole corps in the same way.'

Hyacinth meditated a reply. It was clearly impossible to assert that
he wanted to fight for liberty, to give his life to the cause of an
oppressed nationality. It would be utterly absurd to tell the story of
his father's vision, and say that he looked on the South African War
as a skirmish preliminary to the Armageddon. Sitting opposite to this
cynical man of the world and listening to his talk, Hyacinth came
himself to disbelieve in principle. He felt that there must be some
baser motive at the bottom of his desire to fight, only, for the life of
him, he could not remember what it was. He could not even imagine a good
reason--good in the estimation of his companion--why anyone should do so
foolish a thing as go out to the Transvaal. The Captain was not at all
impatient. He sat smoking quietly, until there seemed no prospect of
Hyacinth answering; then he said:

'Well, if you don't want to tell me, I don't mind. Only I think you're
foolish. You see, little accidents happen in these affairs. There are
such things as bullets, and one of them might hit you somewhere that
would matter. Then it would be my duty to send home your last words to
your sorrowing relatives, and it would be easier to do that if I knew
exactly what you had done. The death-bed repentance of the prodigal
is always most consoling to the elder brother--much more consoling, in
fact, than the prodigal's return. Now, how the deuce am I to make up a
plausible repentance for you, if I don't know what you've done?'

'But I've not done anything,' said Hyacinth ineffectively.

The Captain ignored him.

'Come, now, it can't be anything very bad at your age. Have you got
into a mess with a girl? Or'--he brightened up at the guess--'are
you hopelessly enamoured of the beautiful Finola? That would be most
suitable. The bold, bad woman sends the minstrel boy to his death,
with his wild harp slung behind him. I could draw tears from the
stoniest-hearted elder brother over that.'

If he could have thought of a crime at the moment, Hyacinth would
probably have confessed it; but he was bewildered, and could hit on
nothing better than:

'I have no elder brother--in fact, no relation of any sort.'

'Lucky man! Now, I have a perfect specimen of a brother--James Quinn,
Esquire, of Ballymoy. He's a churchwarden. Think of that! If it should
be your melancholy duty to send the message home to him--in case that
bullet hits me, I mean--tell him------ Oh, there's no false pride about
me. Fill your glass again. I don't in the least mind your knowing that I
wouldn't go a step to fight for Boer or Briton either if it wasn't for a
little affair connected with some horses and a cheque. You see, the War
Office people sent down a perfect idiot to buy remounts for the cavalry
in Galway and Mayo. He was the sort of idiot that would tempt an
Archbishop to swindle him. I rather overdid it, I'm afraid, and now the
matter is likely to come out.'

For all his boasted powers of observation, Captain Quinn failed to
notice the disgust and alarm on Hyacinth's face.

'I stuck the fool,' he went on, 'with every old screw in the country. I
got broken-winded mares from the ploughs. I collected a regular hospital
of spavined, knock-kneed beasts, and he took them from me without a word
at thirty pounds apiece. It would have been all right if I had gone no
further. But, hang it all! I got to the end of my tether. I declare to
you I don't believe there was another screw left in the whole county of
Mayo, and unless I took to selling him the asses I couldn't go on. Then
I heard of this plan of your friend Finola's, and I determined to make
a little coup and clear. I altered a cheque. The idiot was on his way to
an out-of-the-way corner of Connemara looking for mounted infantry cobs.
I knew he wouldn't see his bank-book for at least a week, so I chanced
it. That's the reason why I am so uncommonly anxious to get clear at
once. If I once get off, it will be next door to impossible to get me
back again. General Joubert will hardly give me up. I'm not the least
afraid of those ridiculous policemen who walk about after Finola. But
I am very much afraid of being tapped on the shoulder for reasons
quite non-political. I can tell you I've been on the jump ever since
yesterday, when I cashed the cheque, and I shan't feel easy till I've
left France behind me. I fancy I'm safe for the present. The idiot is
sure to try fifty ways of getting his accounts straight before he lights
on my little cheque; and when he does, I've covered my tracks pretty
well. My dear brother hasn't the slightest notion what's become of me.
I dare say he'll stop making inquiries as soon as the police begin. Poor
old chap! He'll feel it about the family name, and so on.'

He smiled at his own reflection in the mirror over the chimneypiece. He
was evidently well satisfied with the performance he had narrated. Then
at last Hyacinth found himself able to speak. Again, as when he had
defeated Dr. Spenser in the college lecture-room, his own coolness
surprised him.

'You're an infernal blackguard!' he said.

Captain Quinn looked at him with a surprise that was perfectly genuine.
He doubted if he could have heard correctly.

'What did you say?'

'I said,' repeated Hyacinth, 'you are an infernal blackguard!'

'Did you really suppose that I would be going on this fool of an
expedition if I wasn't?'

'I shall tell Miss Goold the story you have just told me. I shall tell
her to-morrow morning before the boat sails.'

'Very well,' said the Captain; 'but don't suppose for a moment that
you'll shock Finola. She doesn't know this particular story about me,
but I expect she knows another every bit as bad, and I dare say she will
regard the whole thing as a justifiable spoiling of the Egyptians. By
the way '--there was a note of anxiety in his voice--'I hope you won't
find it necessary to repeat anything I've said about the lady herself.
_That_ might irritate her.'

'Is it likely,' said Hyacinth, 'that I would repeat that kind of talk to
any woman?'

'Quite so. I admire your attitude. Such things are entirely unfit for
repetition. But seriously, now, what on earth do you expect to happen
when you tell her? I'm perfectly certain that every single volunteer
she's got is just as great a blackguard--your word, my dear fellow--as I
am, and Finola knows it perfectly well.'

Hyacinth hesitated. The phrase in Miss Goold's letter in which she had
originally described her men as blackguards recurred to his mind. He
remembered the story of Doherty. His anger began to give way to a sick
feeling of disgust.

'Think, now,' said the Captain: 'is it likely that you could enlist a
corps of Sunday-school teachers for this kind of work? I'll give you
credit for the highest motives, though I'm blest if I understand them;
but how can you suppose that there is anyone else in the whole world
that feels the way you feel or wants to act as you are doing?'

'I dare say you are right,' said Hyacinth feebly.

'Of course I'm right--perfectly right.'

Hyacinth tried to lift his glass of whisky-and-water to his lips, but
his hand trembled, and he was obliged to put it down. Captain Quinn
watched him wipe the spilt liquid off his hand, and then settle down in
his chair with his head bowed and his eyes half shut.

'Sit up, man,' he said. 'It's all right. You've done nothing to be
ashamed of, at all events. But look here, you ought not to come with us
at all.

It's no job for a man like you. You back out of it. Don't turn up
to-morrow morning. I'll explain to Finola if she's there, and if not
I'll write her a letter that will set you straight with her. I'm really
sorry for you, Conneally.'

Hyacinth looked up at him.

'I'm sorry I called you a blackguard,' he said. 'You're not any worse
than everyone else in the world.'

'Nonsense,' said Captain Quinn. 'Don't take it like that. From your
point of view you were quite right to call me a blackguard. And, mind
you, there are plenty of people in the world who aren't blackguards.
There's my brother, for instance. He's a bit of a prig--in fact, he's
as priggish as he well can be--but he's never done anything but run
straight. I don't suppose he could go crooked if he tried.'

Hyacinth got up.

'Good-night,' he said, 'and good-bye. I shan't go with you.'

'Wait a minute,' said Captain Quinn. 'I think I've done you one good
turn to-night in stopping you going to South Africa. Now I'll do you
another, and one at the same time to that brother of mine. I left him
in a hurry. I told you that, but I don't think I mentioned that I was in
his employment. He runs a woollen factory down in Mayo. I owned a
share in the business once, but that went long ago, and the whole thing
belongs to James now. I was a sort of clerk and general agent. I wasn't
really the least use, for I never did any work. James was for ever
complaining, but I'm bound to say he stuck to me. I'll give you a letter
to him, and I dare say you may get the job that I've chucked. It's not
much of a thing, but it may suit you for a while. Sit down till I write
my letter.'

Hyacinth obeyed. Since his anger evaporated a sort of numbness had crept
over his mind. He scarcely understood what was said to him. He had a
vague feeling of gratitude towards Captain Quinn, and at the same time
a great desire to get away and be alone. He felt that he required to
adjust his mind to the new thoughts which had been crowded into it. When
he received the letter he put it into his pocket, and rose again to go.
The Captain saw him to the door.

'Good-bye.' Hyacinth heard him, but his voice seemed far off, and his
words meaningless. 'Take my advice and run down to Ballymoy at once.
Don't hang about Finola any more. She's a splendid woman, but she's not
for you. If you married her you'd be perfectly miserable. Not that I
think she'd ever marry you. Still, she might. Women do such odd things.
If by any chance she does, you'll have to be very careful. Give her her
head, and take her easy up to the jumps. Don't try to hustle her, and
for God's sake don't begin sawing at her mouth. I'd very much like to be
here to see you in the character of Mr. Augusta Goold.' He sighed.
'But, of course, I can't. The British Isles will be too hot for me for
a while. However, who can tell what might happen if I win a good medal
from old Kruger, and capture a few British Generals? I might act best
man for you yet, if you'll wait a year or two.'

When Hyacinth got home to his lodgings the first object that met his eye
was Grealy's ancient rifle. He tied a label round its barrel addressed
to the owner. Then he packed his few belongings carefully and strapped
his bag. So far he was sure of himself. He had no doubt whatever that he
must leave Dublin at once. He felt that he could not endure an interview
with Augusta Goold. She might blame him or might pity him. Either would
be intolerable. She might even justify herself to him, might beat him
into submission by sheer force of her beauty and her passion, as she had
done once before. He would run no such risk. He felt that he could not
sacrifice his sense of right and wrong, could not allow himself to be
dragged into the moral chaos in which, it seemed to him now, Miss Goold
lived. He was unconscious of any Divine leading, or even of any direct
reliance on the obligations of honour. He could not himself have told
why he clung with such desperate terror to his plan of escaping from his
surroundings. Simply he could not do certain things or associate as a
friend with people who did them. To get away from Dublin was the first
necessity. For a moment it occurred to him that he might go to Dr.
Henry, tell him the whole story, and ask for advice and help. But that
was impossible. How could he confess the degradation of his ideal?
How could he resist the inevitable reminder that he had been warned
beforehand? Besides, not even now, after all that he had seen, could he
accept Dr. Henry's point of view. He still believed in Ireland, still
hoped to serve her, still looked for the coming of his father's captain
to lead the saints to the final victory. Miss Goold had failed him, but
he was not yet ready to enrol himself a citizen of England.

No, he must leave Dublin. But where to go? His lamp burnt dim and
expired as he sat thinking. His fire had long ago gone out. He shivered
with cold and misery, while the faint light of the dawn stole into his
room. He heard the first twitter of the birds in the convent garden
behind his lodging. Then came the noise of the earliest traffic, the
unnaturally loud rattle of the dust-carts on their rounds. A steamer
hooted far away down the river, and an early bell rang the neighbouring
nuns to prayer. Hyacinth grew desperate. Could he go home, back to the
fishing-boats and simple people of Carrowkeel? A great desire for the
old scenes seized upon him. He fought against it with all his might. He
had rejected the offer of the home life once. Now, no doubt, it would be
closed against him. The boat that might have been his was sold long ago.
He would not go back to confess himself a fool and a failure.

Gradually his mind worked back over the conversation in the hotel with
Captain Quinn. The recollection of the latter part of it, which had
meant nothing at the time, grew clear. He felt for the letter in his
pocket, and drew it out. After all, why should he not offer himself to
James Quinn? Ballymoy was remote enough to be a hiding-place. It was in
County Mayo, the Captain had said. He had never heard of the place, and
it seemed likely that no one else, except its inhabitants, knew of it
either. At least, there was no reason that he could see why he should
not go there. His brain refused to work any longer, either at planning
or remembering. His lips formed the word Ballymoy. He repeated it again
and again. He seemed to go on repeating it in the troubled sleep which
came to him.



CHAPTER XIII

The Irish get credit, even from their enemies, for being a quick-witted,
imaginative, and artistic people, yet they display astonishingly little
taste or originality in their domestic architecture. In Connaught, where
the Celtic genius may be supposed to have the freest opportunity
for expressing itself, the towns are all exactly alike, and their
resemblance consists in the absence of any beauty which can please
the eye. An English country town, although the English bucolic is
notoriously as stupid as an ox, has certain features of its own. So has
a Swiss cottage or a French village. It is possible to represent these
upon Christmas cards or the lids of chocolate-boxes without labelling
them English, Swiss, or French. Any moderately well educated young lady
will recognise them at once, and exclaim without hesitation, 'How truly
English!' or 'How sweetly Swiss!' But no one can depict an Irish town
with any hope of having it recognised unless he idealizes boldly,
introducing a highly-intelligent pig, or a man in knee-breeches kissing
a fancifully-attired colleen. And then, after all, he might as well have
labelled it Irish at once in good plain print, and saved himself the
trouble of drawing the symbolic figures.

To describe Ballymoy, therefore, mountains, rivers, and such like
natural eccentricities being left out of the count, is to describe fifty
other West of Ireland towns. There is a railway-station, bleak, gray,
and windswept, situated, for the benefit of local car-owners, a mile and
a half from the town, and the road which connects the two is execrable.
There is a workhouse, in Ballymoy as everywhere else in this lost land
the most prominent building. There is a convent, immense and wonderfully
white, with rows and rows of staring windows and a far-seen figure of
the Blessed Virgin, poised in a niche above the main door. There is
a Roman Catholic church, gray-walled, gray-roofed, and unspeakably
hideous, but large and, like the workhouse and the convent, obtruding
itself upon the eye. It seems as if the inhabitants of the town must all
of them be forced, and that at no distant date, either into religion
or pauperism, just as small bodies floating in a pond are sucked into
connection with one or other of the logs which lie among them. The shops
in the one tortuous street block the footpaths in front of their doors
with piles of empty packing-cases. The passenger is saluted, here by a
buffet in the face from a waterproof coat suspended outside a draper's,
there by a hot breath of whisky-laden air. Two shops out of every
three are public-houses. These occupy a very beautiful position in the
economic life of the town. Their profits go to build the church, to
pay the priests, and to fill the coffers of the nuns. The making of
the profits fills the workhouse. A little aloof stands the Protestant
church, austere to look upon, expressing in all its lines a grim
reproach of the people's life. Beyond it, among scanty, stooped trees,
is the rectory, gray, as everything else is, wearing, like a decayed
lady, the air of having lived through better days.

Such, save for one feature, is Ballymoy, as the traveller sees it, as
Hyacinth Conneally saw it when he arrived there one gusty afternoon.
The one unusual feature is Mr. James Quinn's woollen mill. It stands,
a gaunt and indeed somewhat dilapidated building, at the bottom of the
street, in the angle where the river turns sharply to flow under the
bridge. The water just above the bridge is swept into a channel and
forced to turn the wheel which works some primitive machinery within.
In the centre of the mill's front is an archway through which carts pass
into the paved square behind. Here is the weighbridge, and here great
bundles of heavy-smelling fleeces are unloaded. Off the square is the
office where Mr. Quinn sits, pays for the wool, and enters the weight
of it in damp ledgers. Here on Saturdays two or three men and a score of
girls receive their wages. The business is a peculiar one. You may bring
your wool to Mr. Quinn in fleeces, just as you sheer it off the sheep's
back. He will pay you for it, more or less, according to the amount
of trouble you have taken with your sheep. This is the way the younger
generation likes to treat its wool. If you are older, and are blessed
with a wife able to card and spin, you deal differently with Mr. Quinn.
For many evenings after the shearing your wife sits by the fireside
with two carding-combs in her hands, and wipes off them wonderfully soft
rolls of wool. Afterwards she fetches the great wheel from its nook, and
you watch her pulling out an endless gray thread while she steps back
and forwards across the floor. The girls watch her, too, but not, as
you do, with sleepy admiration. Their emotion is amused contempt.
Nevertheless, your kitchen wall is gradually decorated with bunches of
great gray balls. When these have accumulated sufficiently, you take
them to Mr. Quinn. A certain number of them become his property. Out of
the rest he will weave what you like--coarse yellow flannel, good for
bawneens, and, when it is dyed crimson, for petticoats; or blankets--not
fluffy like the blankets that are bought in shops, but warm to sleep
under when the winter comes; or perhaps frieze, very thick and rough,
the one fabric that will resist the winter rain.

This portion of his business Mr. Quinn finds to be decreasing year by
year. Fewer and fewer women care to card and spin the wool. The younger
men find it more profitable to sell it at once, and to wear, instead
of the old bawneens, shirts called flannel which are brought over from
cotton-spinning Lancashire, and sold in the shops. The younger women
think that they look prettier in gowns made artfully by the local
dressmaker out of feeble materials got up to catch the eye. If now and
then, for the sake of real warmth, one of them makes a petticoat of the
old crimson flannel, it is kept so short that, save in very heavy rain,
it can be concealed. Unfortunately, while these old-fashioned profits
are vanishing, Mr. Quinn finds it very hard to increase the other branch
of his business. The fabrics which he makes are good, so good that he
finds it difficult to sell them in the teeth of competition. The
country shops are flooded with what he calls 'shoddy.' An army of eager
commercial travellers pushes showy goods on the shopkeepers and the
public at half his price. Even the farmers in remote districts are
beginning to acquire a taste for smartness. Some things in which he used
to do a useful trade are now scarcely worth making. There is hardly
any demand for the checked head-kerchiefs. The women prefer hats and
bonnets, decked with cheap ribbons or artificial flowers; and these
bring no trade to Mr. Quinn's mill. Still, he manages to hold on. The
Lancashire people, though they have invented flannelette, cannot as yet
make a passable imitation of frieze, and there is a Dublin house which
buys annually all the blankets he can turn out. It is true that even
there, and for the best class of customers, prices have to be cut so as
to leave a bare margin of profit. Yet since there is a margin, Mr. Quinn
holds on, though not very hopefully.

Hyacinth left the bulk of his luggage--a packing-case containing the
books which the auctioneer had failed to dispose of in Carrowkeel--at
the station, and walked into Ballymoy carrying his bag. He had little
difficulty in making his way to the mill, and found the owner of it in
his office. It was difficult at first to believe that James Quinn could
be any relation to Captain Albert, the traveller, horse-dealer, soldier,
and thief. This man was tall, though he stooped when he stood to receive
his visitor. His movements were slow. His fair hair lay thin across his
forehead, and was touched above the ears with gray. His blue eyes were
very gentle, and had a way of looking long and steadily at what they
saw. A glance at his face left the impression that life, perhaps by no
very gentle means, had taught him patience.

'This letter will introduce me,' said Hyacinth; 'it is from your
brother, Captain, or Mr. Albert, Quinn.'

James Quinn took the letter, and turned it over slowly. Then, without
opening it, he laid it on the table in front of him. His eyes travelled
from it to Hyacinth's face, and rested there. It was some time before he
spoke, and then it was to correct Hyacinth upon a trivial point.

'My half-brother,' he said. 'My father married twice, and Albert is the
son of his second wife. You may have noticed that he is a great deal
younger than I am.'

'He looks younger, certainly,' said Hyacinth, for the other was waiting
for a reply.

'Nearly twenty years younger. Albert is only just thirty.'

The exact age of the Captain was uninteresting and seemed to be beside
the purpose of the visit. Hyacinth shifted his chair and fidgeted,
uncertain what to do or say next.

'Albert gave you this letter to me. Is he a friend of yours?'

'No.'

James Quinn looked at him again steadily. It seemed--but this may have
been fancy--that there was a kindlier expression in his eyes after the
emphatio repudiation of friendship with Albert. At length he took up the
letter, and read it through slowly.

'Why did my brother give you this letter?'

The question was a puzzling one. Hyacinth had never thought of trying
to understand the Captain's motives. Then the conversation in the hotel
recurred to him.

'He said that he wanted to do a good turn to me and to you also.'

'What had you done for him?'

'Nothing whatever.'

Apparently James Quinn was not in the least vexed at the brevity of
the answers he received, or disturbed because his cross-examination was
obviously disagreeable to Hyacinth.

'In this letter,' he went on, referring to the document as he spoke,
'he describes you as a young man who is "certainly honest, probably
religious, and possibly intelligent." I presume you know my brother, and
if you do, you may be surprised to hear that I am quite prepared to take
his word for all this. I have very seldom known Albert to tell me lies,
and I don't know why he should want to deceive me in this case. Still,
I am a little puzzled to account for his giving you the letter. Can you
add nothing in the way of explanation to what you have said?'

'I don't know that I can,' said Hyacinth.

'Will you tell me how you met my brother, and what he is doing now, or
where he is?'

'I do not think I should be justified in doing so.'

'Ah, well! I can understand that in certain circumstances Albert would
be very grateful to a man who would hold his tongue. He might be quite
willing to do you a good turn if you undertook to answer no questions
about him.'

He smiled as he spoke, a little grimly, but there was laughter lurking
in the corners of his eyes. A Puritan will sometimes smile in such a
way at the thought of a sinful situation, too solemn to be laughed
at openly, but appealing to a not entirely atrophied sense of humour.
Hyacinth felt reassured.

'Indeed,' he said, 'I made no promise of silence. It is only that--well,
I don't think----'

James Quinn waited patiently for the conclusion of the sentence, but
Hyacinth never arrived at it.

'In this letter,' he said at last, 'my brother asks me to give you the
place he lately held in my business. Now, I don't want to press you to
say anything you don't want to, but before we go further I must ask you
this, Were you implicated in the affair yourself?'

'I beg your pardon. I don't quite understand what you mean.'

'Well, I suppose that since my brother is anxious that you should hold
your tongue, he has done something that won't bear talking about. Were
you implicated in--in whatever the trouble was?'

'Certainly not,' said Hyacinth. 'In fact, it was on account of what you
speak of as "trouble" that I declined to have anything more to do with
your brother.'

'That is probably very much to your credit, and, in the light of my
brother's estimate of your character, I may say that I entirely believe
what you say. Am I to understand that you are an applicant for the post
in my business which Albert held, and which this letter tells me I may
consider vacant?'

'That is what brought me down here,' said Hyacinth.

'Have you any other recommendations or testimonials as to character to
show me?'

'No. But there are several people who would answer questions about me if
you wrote to them: Dr. Henry, of Trinity College, would, or Miss Augusta
Goold, or Father Moran, of Carrowkeel, in County Galway.'

'You have given me the most remarkable list of references I ever came
across in my life. I don't suppose anyone ever before was recommended
for a post by a Protestant divinity professor, a notoriously violent
political agitator, a Roman Catholic priest, and a--well, we won't
describe my brother. How do you come to be mixed up with all these
people? Who are you?'

'I am the son of Æneas Conneally, Rector of Carrowkeel, who died last
Christmas.'

'Well,' said James Quinn, 'I suppose if all these people are prepared
to recommend you, your character must be all right. Now, tell me, do you
know what the post is you are applying for?'

'No,' said Hyacinth. 'And I may as well say that I have had no
experience or business training whatever.'

'So I should suppose from the way you have come to me. Well, my brother
was clerk and traveller for my business. He was supposed to help me to
keep accounts and to push the sale of my goods among the shopkeepers
in Connaught. As a matter of fact, he never did either the one or the
other. When he was at home he did nothing. When he was on the road
he bought and sold horses. I paid him eighty pounds a year and his
travelling expenses. I also promised him a percentage on the profits of
the sales he effected. Now, do you think this work would suit you?'

'I might not be able to do it,' said Hyacinth, 'but I should very much
like to be allowed to try. I can understand that I shall be very little
use at first, and I am willing to work without any salary for a time,
perhaps six months, until I have learned something about your business.'

'Come, now, that's a business-like offer. I'll give you a trial, if it
was only for the sake of your list of references. I won't keep you six
months without paying you if you turn out to be any good at all. And I
think there must be something in you, for you've gone about getting this
job in the queerest way I ever heard of. Would you like any time to make
up your mind finally before accepting the post?'

'No,' said Hyacinth; 'I accept at once.'

They walked together through the mill, and looked at the machines and
the workers. The girls smiled when Mr. Quinn stopped to speak to them,
and looked with frank curiosity at Hyacinth. The three or four men who
did the heavier work stopped and chatted for a few minutes when they
came to them. Evidently there was no soreness or distrust here between
the employer and the employed. When they had gone through the rooms
where the work was going on, they climbed a staircase like a ladder, and
came to the loft where the wool was stored. Hyacinth handled it as he
was directed, and endeavoured to appreciate the difference between the
good and the inferior qualities. They passed by an unglazed window at
the back of the mill, and Mr. Quinn pointed out his own house. It stood
among trees and shrubs, now for the most part bare, but giving promise
of shady privacy in summertime. Long windows opened out on to a lawn
stretching down to the watercourse which fed the millwheel. A gravel
path skirted one side of the house leading to a bridge, and thence to
a doorway in a high wall, beyond which lay the road. As they looked
the door opened, and a woman with two little girls came through. They
crossed the bridge, and walked up to the house.

'That is my wife,' said Mr. Quinn, 'and my two little girls.'

He stretched out between the bars of the window, and shouted to them.
All three looked back. Mrs. Quinn waved her hand, and the two children
shouted in reply. Then a light appeared in one of the windows, and
Hyacinth caught a glimpse of a trim maid-servant pulling the curtains
across it.

'We shall be having tea at half-past six,' said Mr. Quinn. 'Will you
come and join us? By the way, where are you staying?'

Hyacinth accepted the invitation, and confessed that he had not as yet
looked for any place to lay his head.

'Ah! Better go to the hotel for to-night. It's not much of a place,
but you will have to learn to put up with that sort of accommodation.
Tomorrow we'll try and find you some decent lodgings.'

The hotel struck even Hyacinth as of inferior quality, though it
boasted great things in the timetable advertisements, and called itself
'Imperial' in large gold letters above its door. A smell of whisky and
tobacco greeted him as he entered, and a waiter with a greasy coat, in
answer to inquiries about a bed, sent him down a dark passage to seek
a lady called Miss Sweeney at the bar. Large leather cases with broad
straps and waterproof-covered baskets blocked the passage, and Hyacinth
stumbled among them for some time before he discovered Miss Sweeney
reading a periodical called _Spicy Bits_ among her whisky-bottles.
She was a young woman of would-be fashionable appearance, and acted
apparently in the double capacity of barmaid and clerk. On hearing that
Hyacinth required, not whisky, but a bedroom, she requested him to go
forward to the office, indicating a glass case at the far end of the bar
counter. Here he repeated his request to her through a small opening in
the glass, and received her assurance, given with great condescension,
that No. 42 was vacant, and, further, that there was a fire in the
commercial room. A boy whom she summoned carried Hyacinth's bag to an
extremely dirty and ill-furnished bedroom, and afterwards conducted
him to the promised fire. Two other guests were seated at it when he
entered, who, after a long stare, made room for him. Apparently there
was no one else stopping in the hotel, and the whole mass of cumbrous
baggage which blocked the passage to the bar must belong to them.
Hyacinth realized, with a feeling of disgust which he could
not account for, that these were two members of his new
profession--fellow-travellers in the voyages of commerce. He
gathered--for they talked loudly, without regarding his presence--that
they represented two Manchester firms which were rivals in the wholesale
drapery business. Very much of what they said was unintelligible to him,
though the words were familiar. He knew that 'lines' could be 'quoted,'
but not apparently in the same sense in which they discussed these
operations, and it puzzled him to hear of muslins being 'done at one and
seven-eighths.' He sat for a time wondering at the waste of money and
energy involved in sending these men to remote corners of Ireland to
search for customers. Then he left them, and made his way down the muddy
street to Mr. Quinn's house.

The room into which he was shown was different from any he had ever
seen. It was lit by a single lamp with a dull glass globe and a turf
fire which burnt brightly. Two straight-backed, leather-covered chairs
stood one on either side of the tiled hearth. Near one stood a little
table covered with neatly-arranged books, and, rising from among them,
a reading-lamp, as yet unlit. Beyond the other was a work-table
strewed with reels and scissors, on which lay a child's frock and some
stockings. The table was laid for tea. On it were plates piled up with
floury scones, delicate beleek saucers full of butter patted thin into
the shapes of shells, and jam in coloured glass dishes cased in silver
filigree. A large home-baked loaf of soda bread on a wooden platter
stood at one end of the table, and near it a sponge-cake. At the other
end was an array of cups and saucers with silver spoons that glittered,
a jug of cream, and one of milk. Two of the cups were larger than the
others, and had those curious bars across them which are designed to
save men from wetting their moustaches when they drink. No room and no
preparation for a meal could have offered a more striking contrast to
Augusta Goold's dining-room, her groups of wineglasses, multiplicity of
heavy-handled knives and forks, and her candles shrouded in silk. Nor
was the dainty neatness less remote from the cracked delf and huddled
sordidness of his old home.

Long before Hyacinth had realized an impression of the scene before him
Mrs. Quinn greeted him, and led him to the fire. Her two little girls,
who lay on the hearthrug with a picture-book between them, were bidden
to make room for him. When her husband appeared she bustled off, and in
a minute or two she and the maid came in bringing toast and tea and hot
water hissing in a silver urn.

As the evening passed Hyacinth began to realize that he had entered into
a home of peace. He felt that these people were neither greatly anxious
to be rich nor much afraid of being poor. They seemed in no way fretted
that there were others higher in the social scale, cleverer or more
brilliant than they were. He understood that they were both of them
religious in a way quite different from any he had known. They neither
spoke of mysteries, like his father, nor were eager about disputings,
like the men who had been his fellow-students. They were living a very
simple life, of which faith and a wide charity formed a part as natural
as eating or sleeping. When the children's bedtime came it seemed to
him a very wonderful thing that they should kneel in turns beside their
father's knee and say their prayers aloud, when he, a stranger, was in
the room. It seemed to him less strange, because then he had been two
hours longer in the company of the Quinns, that before leaving he,
too, should kneel beside his hostess and listen while his new employer
repeated the familiar words of some of the old collects he had heard his
father read in church.



CHAPTER XIV

On Sunday, the third day after his arrival in Ballymoy, Hyacinth went to
church. He could hardly have avoided doing so, even if he had wanted to,
for Mrs. Quinn invited him to share her pew. There was no real necessity
for such hospitality, for the church was never, even under the most
favourable circumstances, more than half full. The four front seats were
reserved for a Mr. Stack, on whose property the town of Ballymoy stood.
But this gentleman preferred to live in Surrey, and even when he came
over to Ireland for the shooting rarely honoured the church with his
presence. A stone tablet, bearing the name of this magnate's father, a
Cork pawnbroker, who had purchased the property for a small sum under
the Encumbered Estates Court Act, adorned the wall beside the pulpit.
The management of the property was in the hands of a Dublin firm, so
the parish was deprived of the privilege of a resident land agent. The
doctor, recently appointed to the district, was a Roman Catholic of
plebeian antecedents, which reduced the resident gentry of Ballymoy
to the Quinns, a bank manager, and the Rector, Canon Beecher. A few
farmers, Mr. Stack's gamekeeper, and the landlady of the Imperial Hotel,
made up the rest of the congregation.

The service was not of a very attractive or inspiriting kind. Canon
Beecher--his title was a purely honorary one, not even involving the
duty of preaching in the unpretending building which, in virtue of
some forgotten history, was dignified with the name of Killinacoff
Cathedral--read slowly with somewhat ponderous emphasis. His thirty
years in Holy Orders had slightly hardened an originally luscious Dublin
brogue, but there remained a certain gentle aspiration of the _d's_ and
_t's_, and a tendency to omit the labial consonants altogether. He read
an immense number of prayers, gathering, as it seemed to Hyacinth, the
longest ones from the four corners of the Prayer-Book. At intervals he
allowed himself to be interrupted with a hymn, but resumed afterwards
the steady flow of supplication. The eldest Miss Beecher--the Canon had
altogether two daughters and three sons--played a harmonium. The other
girl and the three boys, with the assistance of an uncertain bass from
Mr. Quinn, gave utterance to the congregation's praise. Hyacinth tried
to join in the first hymn, which happened to be familiar to him, but
quavered into silence towards the end of the second verse, discovering
that the eyes of Mrs. Beecher from her pew, of the Canon from the
reading-desk, of the vocal Miss Beecher and her brothers, were fixed
upon him. The sermon proved to be long and uninteresting. It was about
Melchizedek, and was so far appropriate to the Priest and King that it
had no recognisable beginning and need not apparently have ever had an
end. Perhaps no one, unless he were specially trained for the purpose,
could have followed right through the quiet meander-ings of the Canon's
thought. This kind of sermon, however, has the one advantage that
the listener can take it up and drop it again at any point without
inconvenience, and Hyacinth was able to give his attention to some
sections of it. There was no attempt at eloquence or any kind of
learning displayed, but he understood, as he listened, where the Quinns
got their religion, or at least how their religion was kept alive.
Certain very simple things were reiterated with a quiet earnestness
which left no doubt that the preacher believed exactly what he said, and
lived by the light of his faith.

One evening shortly afterwards Canon Beecher called upon Hyacinth. The
conversation during the visit resolved itself into a kind of catechism,
which, curiously enough, was quite inoffensive. The Canon learnt by
degrees something of Hyacinth's past life, and his career in Trinity
College. He shook his head gravely over the friendship with Augusta
Goold, whom he evidently regarded as almost beyond the reach of the
grace of God. Hyacinth was forced to admit, with an increasing sense of
shame, that he had never signed a temperance pledge, did not read the
organ of the Church Missionary Society, was not a member of a Young
Men's Christian Association, or even of a Gleaners' Union. He felt, as
he made each confession sorrowfully, that he was losing all hope of the
Canon's friendship, and was most agreeably surprised when the interview
closed with a warm invitation to a mid-day dinner at the Rectory on the
following Sunday. Mrs. Quinn, who took a sort of elder sister's interest
in his goings out and comings in, was delighted when she heard that he
was going to the Rectory, and assured him that he would like both Mrs.
Beecher and the girls. She confided afterwards to her husband that the
influence of a Christian home was likely to be most beneficial to the
'poor boy.'

The Rectory displayed none of the signs of easy comfort which had
charmed Hyacinth in the Quinns' house. The floor of the square hall was
covered with a cheap, well-worn oilcloth. Its walls were damp-stained,
and the only furniture consisted of a wooden chair and a somewhat
rickety table. In the middle of the wall hung a large olive-green card
with silver lettering. 'Christ is the unseen Guest in this house,'
Hyacinth read, 'the Sharer in every pleasure, the Listener to every
conversation.' A fortnight before, he would have turned with disgust
from such an advertisement, but now, since he had known the Quinns
and listened to the Canon's wandering sermons, he looked at it with
different eyes. He felt that the words might actually express a fact,
and that a family might live together as if they believed them to be
true.

'Yes,' said the Canon, who had come in with him, and saw him gaze at it,
'these motto-cards are very nice. I bought several of them last time I
was in Dublin, and I think I have a spare one left which I can give
you if you like. It has silver letters like that one, but printed on a
crimson ground.'

Evidently the design and the colouring were what struck him as
noticeable. The motto itself was a commonplace of Christian living, the
expression of a basal fact, quite naturally hung where it would catch
the eye of chance visitors.

In the drawing-room Mrs. Beecher and her two daughters, still in their
hats and gloves, stood round a turf fire. They made a place at once for
Hyacinth, and one of the girls drew forward a rickety basket-work chair,
covered with faded cretonne. He was formally introduced to them. Miss
Beecher and Miss Elsie Beecher had both, the latter very recently,
reached the dignity of young womanhood, and wore long dresses. The three
boys, who were younger, were made known afterwards.

When they went into the dining-room the Canon selected the soundest of
a miscellaneous collection of chairs for Hyacinth, and seated him beside
Mrs. Beecher. Then the elder girl--Miss Beecher's name, he learnt, was
Marion--entered in a long apron carrying a boiled leg of mutton followed
by her sister with dishes of potatoes and mashed parsnips.

'You see,' said Mrs. Beecher, and there was no note of apology in her
voice as she made the explanation, 'my girls are accustomed to do a good
deal of the house-work. We have only one servant, and she is not very
presentable when she has just cooked the dinner.'

Hyacinth glanced at Marion Beecher, who smiled at him with frank
friendliness, as she took her seat beside her father. He saw suddenly
that the girl was beautiful. He had not noticed this in church. There he
had no opportunity of observing the subtle grace with which she
moved, and the half-light left unrevealed the lustrous purity of her
complexion, the radiant red and white which only the warm damp of the
western seaboard can give or preserve. Her eyes he had seen even in the
church, but now first he realized what unfathomable gentleness and what
a wonder of frank innocence were in them. The Canon looked round the
table at his children, and there was a humorous twinkle in his eye when
he turned to Hyacinth and quoted:

'"Your sons shall grow up as young plants, and your daughters shall be
as the polished corners of the temple."'

Perhaps nine-tenths of civilized mankind would regard five children as
five misfortunes under any circumstances, as quite overwhelming when
they have been showered on a man with a very small income, who is
obliged to live in a remote corner of Ireland. Apparently the Canon
did not look upon himself as an afflicted man at all. There was
an unmistakable sincerity about the way in which he completed his
quotation:

'"Lo! thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the Lord."'

It dawned on Hyacinth that quite possibly the Canon's view of the
situation might be the right one. It was certainly wonderfully pleasant
to see the girls move through the room, and it seemed to him that they
actually realized the almost forgotten ideal of serviceable womanhood.
The talk at dinner turned first on the ailments of an old woman who was
accustomed to clean the church, but was now suspected of being past
her work; then, by an abrupt transition, on the new hat which the
bank-manager's wife had brought home from Dublin; and, finally, the
connection of thought being again far from obvious, on the hymns which
had been sung that morning. It was at this point that Hyacinth was
included in the conversation. Marion Beecher announced that one of the
hymns was a special favourite of hers, because she remembered her mother
singing the younger children to sleep with it when they were babies. She
caught Hyacinth looking at her while she spoke, and said to him:

'Do you sing, Mr. Conneally?'

'I do a little.'

'Oh, then you must come and help us in the choir.' 'Choir' seemed a
grandiose name for the four Beechers and Mr. Quinn, but Marion, who had
little experience of anything better, had no misgivings. 'I hope you
sing tenor. I always long to have a tenor in my choir. Why, we might
have one of Barnby's anthems at Easter, and we haven't been able to sing
one since Mr. Nash left the bank.'

Hyacinth had never sung a part in his life, and could not read music,
but he grew bold, and, professing to have an excellent ear, said he
was willing to learn. The prospect of a long series of choir practices
conducted by Marion Beecher seemed to him just then an extremely
pleasant one.

After dinner, while the two girls cleared away the plates and dishes,
Canon Beecher invited Hyacinth to smoke.

'I never learnt the habit myself,' he said. 'It wasn't so much the
fashion in my young days as it is now, but I have no objection whatever
to the smell.'

Hyacinth lit a cigarette apologetically. It seemed to him almost a
wicked thing to do, but his host evidently wished him to be comfortable.
Their talk after the girls had left the room turned on politics.
Hyacinth's confession of his friendship with Augusta Goold had impressed
the Canon, and he delivered himself of a very kindly little lecture on
the duty of loyalty and the sinfulness of contention with the powers
that be. His way of putting the matter neither irritated Hyacinth, like
the flamboyant Imperialism of the Trinity students, nor drove him into
self-assertion, like Dr. Henry's contemptuous reasonableness. Still, he
felt bound to make some sort of defence of the opinions which were still
his own.

'Surely,' he said, 'there must be some limit to the duty of loyalty. If
a Government has no constitutional right to rule, is a man bound to be
loyal toit?'

'I think,' said the Canon, 'that the question is decided for us. Is it
not, Mr. Conneally? "Render unto Caesar"--you remember the verse. Even if
the Government were as unconstitutional as you appear to think, it would
not be more so than the Roman Government of Judaea when these words were
spoken.'

Hyacinth pondered this answer. It opened up to him an entirely new way
of looking at the subject, and he could see that it might be necessary
for a Christian to acquiesce without an attempt at resistance in any
Government which happened to exist.

He remembered other verses in the New Testament which could be quoted
even more conclusively in favour of this passive obedience. Yet he felt
that there must be a fallacy lurking somewhere. It was, on the face of
it, an obvious absurdity to think that a man, because he happened to
be a Christian, was therefore bound to submit to any form of tyranny or
oppression.

'Suppose,' he said--'I only say suppose--that a Government did immoral
things, that it robbed or allowed evil-disposed people to rob, would it
still be right to be loyal?'

'I think so,' said the Canon quietly.

Hyacinth looked at him in astonishment.

'Do you mean to say that you yourself would be loyal under such
circumstances?'

'I prefer not to discuss the question in that personal way, but the
Church to which you and I belong is loyal still, although the Government
has robbed us of our property and our position, and although it is now
allowing our people to be robbed still further.'

'You mean by the Disestablishment and the Land Acts?'

'Yes. I think it is our great glory that our loyalty is imperishable,
that it survives even such treatment as we have received and are
receiving.'

'That is very beautiful,' said Hyacinth slowly. 'I see that there is a
great nobility in such loyalty, although I do not even wish to share it
myself. You see, I am an Irishman, and I want to see my country great
and free.'

'I suppose,' said the Canon, 'that it is very natural that we should
love the spot on earth in which we live. I think that I love Ireland
too. But we must remember that our citizenship is in heaven, and it
seems to me that any departure from the laws of the King of that country
dishonours us, and even dishonours the earthly country which we call our
own.'

Hyacinth said nothing. There flashed across him a recollection of
Augusta Goold's hope that some final insult would one day goad the
Irish Protestants into disloyalty. Clearly, if Canon Beecher was to be
regarded as a type, she had no conception of the religious spirit of the
Church of Ireland. But was there anyone else like this clergyman? He did
not know, but he guessed that his friends the Quinns would think of the
matter in somewhat the same way. It seemed to him quite possible that in
scattered and remote parishes this strangely unreasonable conception of
Christianity might survive. After a pause the Canon went on:

'You must not think that I do not love Ireland too. I look forward to
seeing her free some day, but with the freedom of the Gospel. It will
not be in my time, I know, but surely it will come to pass. Our people
have still the simple faith of the early ages, and they have many very
beautiful virtues. They only want the dawn of the Dayspring from on
high to shine on them, and then Ireland will be once more the Island of
Saints--_insula sanctorum_.' He dwelt tenderly on the two words. 'I do
not think it will matter much then what earthly Government bears rule
over us. But come, I see that you have finished your smoke, and I must
go to my study to think over my sermon.'

When Hyacinth entered the drawing-room the girls surrounded him, asking
him for answers to a printed list of questions. It appeared that the
committee of a bazaar for some charity in which it was right to be
interested had issued a sort of examination-paper, and promised a prize
to the best answerer. The questions were all of one kind: 'What is the
Modern Athens--the Eternal City--the City of the Tribes? Who was the
Wizard of the North--the Bulwark of the Protestant Faith? The earlier
names on the list presented little difficulty to Hyacinth. Marion
took down his answers, whilst Elsie murmured a pleasant chorus of
astonishment at his cleverness. Suddenly he came to a dead stop. 'Who
was the Martyr of Melanesia?'

'I have never heard of him,' said Hyacinth.

'Never heard of the Martyr of Melanesia!' said Elsie. 'Why, we knew that
at once.'

'Yes,' said Marion, 'there was an article on him in last month's
_Gleaner_. Surely you read the _Gleaner_, Mr. Conneally?'

Hyacinth felt Marion's eyes fixed on him with something of a reproach
in them. He wrestled with a vague recollection of having somewhere
heard the name of the periodical. For a moment he thought of risking
cross-questioning, and saying that he had only missed the last number.
Then he suddenly remembered the card with silver lettering which
hung above his coat in the hall, and told the truth with even a quite
unnecessary aggravation.

'No, I never remember seeing a copy of it in my life. I don't even know
what it is about.'

'Oh!' said the girls, round-eyed with horror. 'Just think! And we all
have collecting-boxes.'

'It is a missionary periodical,' said Marion. 'It has news in it
from every corner of the mission-field, and every month a list of the
stations that specially need our prayers.'

Hyacinth left the Rectory that night with three well-read numbers of the
_Gleaner_ in his pocket.

Afterwards he had many talks with Canon Beecher and the Quinns about
the work of the missionary societies. He learnt, to his surprise, that
really immense sums of money were subscribed every year by members of
the Church of Ireland for the conversion of the heathen in very remote
parts of the world. It could not be denied that these contributions
represented genuine self-denial. Young men went without a sufficiency
of tobacco, and refrained from buying sorely-needed new tennis-racquets.
Ladies, with the smallest means at their command, reared marketable
chickens, and sold their own marmalade and cakes. In such ways, and not
from the superfluity of the rich, many thousands of pounds were gathered
annually. It was still more wonderful to him to discover that large
numbers of young men and women, and these the most able and energetic,
devoted themselves to this foreign service, and that their brothers and
sisters at home were banded together in unions to watch their doings
and to pray for them. He found himself entirely untouched by this
enthusiasm, in spite of the beautiful expression it found in the lives
of his new friends.

But it astonished him greatly that there should be this potent energy
in the Irish Church. The utter helplessness of its Bishops and clergy in
Irish affairs, the total indifference of its people to every effort at
national regeneration, had led him to believe that the Church itself was
moribund. Now he discovered that there was in it an amazing vitality,
a capacity of giving birth to enthusiastic souls. The knowledge brought
with it first of all a feeling of intense irritation. It seemed to him
that all religions were in league against Ireland. The Roman Church
seized the scanty savings of one section of the people, and squandered
them in buying German glass and Italian marble. Were the Protestants
any better, when they spent £20,000 a year on Chinamen and negroes? The
Roman Catholics took the best of their boys and girls to make priests
and nuns of them. The Protestants were doing the same thing when they
shipped off their young men and young women to spend their strength
among savages. Both were robbing Ireland of what Ireland needed
most--money and vitality. He would not say, even to himself, that all
this religious enthusiasm was so much ardour wasted. No doubt the Roman
priest did good work in Chicago, as the Protestant missionary did in
Uganda; only it seemed to him that of all lands Ireland needed most the
service and the prayers of those of her children who had the capacity of
self-forgetfulness. Afterwards, when he thought more deeply, he found a
great hope in the very existence of all this altruistic enthusiasm. He
had a vision of all that might be done for Ireland if only the splendid
energy of her own children could be used in her service. He tried more
than once to explain his point of view. Mr. Quinn met him with blank
disbelief in any possible future for Ireland.

'The country is doomed,' he said. 'The people are lazy, thriftless, and
priest-ridden. The best of them are flying to America, and those that
remain are dying away, drifting into lunatic asylums, hospitals, and
workhouses. There is a curse upon us. In another twenty years there
will be no Irish people--at least, none in Ireland. Then the English and
Scotch will come and make something of the country.'

From Canon Beecher he met with scarcely more sympathy or understanding.

'Yes,' he admitted, 'no doubt we ought to make more efforts than we do
to convert our fellow-countrymen. But it is very difficult to see how we
are to go to work. There is one society which exists for this purpose.
Its friends are full of the very kind of enthusiasm which you describe.
I could point you out plenty of its agents whose whole souls are
in their work, but you know as well as I do how completely they are
failing.'

'But,' said Hyacinth, 'I do not in the least mean that we should start
more missions to Roman Catholics. It does not seem to me to matter much
what kind of religion a man professes, and I should be most unwilling to
uproot anyone's belief. What we ought to do is throw our whole force and
energy into the work of regenerating Ireland. It is possible for us to
do this, and we ought to try.'

'Well, well,' said the Canon, 'I must not let you make me argue with
you, Conneally; but I hope you won't preach these doctrines of yours to
my daughters. I think it is better for them to drop their pennies into
missionary collecting-boxes, and leave the tangled problems of Irish
politics to those better able to understand them than we are.'



CHAPTER XV

There are certain professions, in themselves honest, useful, and even
estimable, for which society has agreed to entertain a feeling of
contempt. It is, for instance, very difficult to think of a curate
as anything except a butt for satirists, or to be respectful to the
profession of tailoring, although many a man for private pecuniary
reasons is meek before the particular individual who makes his clothes.
Yet the novelist and the playwright, who hold the mirror up to modern
humanity, are occasionally kind even to curates and tailors. There is a
youthful athlete in Holy Orders who thrashes, to our immense admiration,
the village bully, bewildering his victim and his admirers with his
mastery of what is described a little vaguely as the 'old Oxford
science.' Once, at least, a glamour of romance has been shed over the
son of a tailor, and it becomes imaginable that even the chalker of
unfinished coats may in the future be posed as heroic. There is still,
however, a profession which no eccentric novelist has ever ventured to
represent as other than entirely contemptible. The commercial traveller
is beneath satire, and outside the region of sympathy. If he appears at
all in fiction or on the stage, he is irredeemably vulgar. He is
never heroic, never even a villain, rarely comic, always, poor man,
objectionable. This is a peculiar thing in the literature of a people
like the English, who are not ashamed to glory in their commercial
success, and are always ready to cheer a politician who professes to
have the interests of trade at heart. Amid the current eulogies of
the working man and the apotheosis of the beings called 'Captains
of Industry,' the bagman surely ought to find at least an apologist.
Without him it seems likely that many articles would fail to find a
place in the windows of the provincial shopkeepers. Without him large
sections of the public would probably remain ignorant for years of new
brands of cigarettes, and dyspeptic people might never come across the
foods which Americans prepare for their use.

Also the individual bagman is often not without his charm. He knows, if
not courts and princes, at least hotels and railway companies. He is on
terms of easy familiarity with every 'boots' in several counties. He can
calculate to a nicety how long a train is likely to be delayed by a fair
'somewhere along the line.' He is also full of information about local
politics. In Connaught, for instance, an experienced member of the
profession will gauge for you the exact strength of the existing League
in any district. He knows what publicans may be regarded as 'priest's
men,' and who have leanings towards independence. His knowledge is
frequently minute, and he can prophesy the result of a District Council
election by reckoning up the number of leading men who read the _United
Irishman_, and weighing them against those who delight in the pages of
the _Leader_. The men who can do these things are themselves local. They
reside in their district, and, as a rule, push the sales and collect the
debts of local brewers and flour-merchants. The representatives of the
larger English firms only make their rounds twice or three times a year,
and are less interesting. They pay the penalty of being cosmopolitan,
and tend to become superficial in their judgment of men and things.

Hyacinth, like most members of the public, was ignorant of the greatness
and interest of his new profession. He entered upon it with some
misgiving, and viewed his trunk of sample blankets and shawls with
disgust. Even a new overcoat, though warm and weatherproof, afforded
him little joy, being itself a sample of Mr. Quinn's frieze. One thought
alone cheered him, and even generated a little enthusiasm for his work.
It occurred to him that in selling the produce of the Ballymoy Mill
he was advancing the industrial revival of Ireland. He knew that
other people, quite heroic figures, were working for the same end. A
Government Board found joyous scope for the energies of its officials in
giving advice to people who wanted to cure fish or make lace. It earned
the blessing which is to rest upon those who are reviled and evil spoken
of, for no one, except literary people, who write for English magazines,
ever had a good word for it. There were also those--their activity
took the form of letters to the newspapers--who desired to utilize the
artistic capacity of the Celt, and to enrich the world with beautiful
fabrics and carpentry. They, too, were workers in the cause of the
revival. Then there were great ladies, the very cream of the Anglo-Irish
aristocracy, who petted tweeds and stockings, and offered magnificent
prizes to industrious cottagers. They earned quite large sums of
money for their protégés by holding sales in places like Belfast and
Manchester, where titles can be judiciously cheapened to a wealthy
bourgeoisie, and the wives of ship-builders and cotton-spinners will
spend cheerfully in return for the privilege of shaking hands with
a Countess. A crowd of minor enthusiasts fostered such industries as
sprigging, and there was one man who believed that the future prosperity
of Ireland might be secured by teaching people to make dolls. It was
altogether a noble army, and even a commercial traveller might hold
his head high in the world if he counted himself one of its soldiers.
Hitherto results have not been at all commensurate with the amount of
printer's ink expended in magazine articles and advertisements. Yet
something has been accomplished. Nunneries here and there have been
induced to accept presents of knitting-machines, and people have
begun to regard as somehow sacred the words 'technical education.'
The National Board of Education has also spent a large sum of money in
reviving among its teachers the almost forgotten art of making paper
boats.

Hyacinth very soon discovered that his patriotic view of this work did
not commend itself to his brother travellers. He found that they had no
feeling but one of contempt for people whom they regarded as meddling
amateurs. Occasionally, when some convent, under a bustling Mother
Superior, advanced from the region of half-charitable sales at
exhibitions into the competition of the open market, contempt became
dislike, and wishes were expressed in quite unsuitable language that the
good ladies would mind their own proper business. Until Hyacinth learnt
to conceal his hopes of Ireland's future as a manufacturing country he
was regarded with suspicion. No one, of course, objected to his making
what use he could of patriotism as an advertisement, but he was given to
understand that, like other advertisements, it could not be quoted
among the initiated without a serious breach of good manners. Even as an
advertisement it was not rated highly.

There was an elderly gentleman, stout and somewhat bibulous, who
superintended the consumption of certain brands of American cigarettes
in the province of Connaught. Hyacinth met him in the exceedingly
dirty Railway Hotel at Knock. Since there were no other guests, and the
evening was wet, the two were thrown upon each other's society in the
commercial-room.

'I don't think,' said Mr. Hollywell, in reply to a remark of Hyacinth's,
'that there's the least use trying to drag patriotic sentiment into
business. Of course, since you represent an Irish house--woollen goods,
I think you said--you're quite right to run the fact for all it's worth.
I don't in the least blame you. Only I don't think you'll find it pays.'

He sipped his whisky-and-water--it was still early, and he had only
arrived at his third glass--and then proceeded to give his personal
experience.

'Now, I work for an American firm. If there was any force in the
patriotic idea I shouldn't sell a single cigarette. My people are in
the big tobacco combine. You must have read the sort of things the
newspapers wrote about us when we started. From any point of view,
British Imperial or Irish National, we should have been boycotted long
ago if patriotism had anything to do with trade. But look at the facts.
Our chief rivals in this district are two Irish firms. They advertise
in Gaelic, which is a mistake to start with, because nobody can read it.
They get the newspaper people to write articles recommending a "great
home industry" to public support. They get local branches of all the
different leagues to pass resolutions pledging their members to smoke
only Irish tobacco. But until quite lately they simply didn't have a
look in.'

'Why?' asked Hyacinth. 'Were your things cheaper or better?'

'No,' said the other, 'I don't think they were either. You see, prices
are bound to come out pretty even in the long run, and I should say
that, if anything, they sold a slightly better article. It's hard to
say exactly why we beat them. When competition is really keen a lot of
little things that you would hardly notice make all the difference.
For one thing, I get a free hand in the matter of subscribing to local
bazaars and race-meetings. I've often taken as much as a pound's worth
of tickets for a five-pound note that some priest was raffling in aid of
a new chapel. It's wonderful the orders you can get from shopkeepers in
that kind of way. Then, we get our things up better. Look at that.'

He handed Hyacinth a highly-glazed packet with a picture of a handsome
brown dog on it.

'Keep it,' said Mr. Hollywell. 'I give away twenty or thirty of
those packets every week. Now look inside. What have you? Oh, H.M.S.
_Majestic_. That's one of a series of photos of "Britain's first line
of defence." Lots of people go on buying those cigarettes just to get
a complete collection of the photos. We supply an album to keep them in
for one and sixpence. There's another of our makes which has pictures
of actresses and pretty women. They are extraordinarily popular. They're
perfectly all right, of course, from the moral point of view, but one in
every ten is in tights or sitting with her legs very much crossed, just
to keep up the expectation. It's very queer the people who go for those
photos. You'd expect it to be young men, but it isn't.'

The subject was not particularly interesting to Hyacinth, but since his
companion was evidently anxious to go on talking, he asked the expected
question.

'Young women,' said Mr. Hollywell. 'I found it out quite by accident. I
got a lot of complaints from one particular town that our cigarettes had
no photos with them. I discovered after a while that a girl in one
of the principal shops had hit on a dodge for getting out the photos
without apparently injuring the packets. The funny thing was that
she never touched the ironclads or the "Types of the soldiers of all
nations," which you might have thought would interest her, but she
collared every single actress, and had duplicates of most of them. And
she wasn't an exception. Most girls goad their young men to buy these
cigarettes and make collections of the photos. Queer, isn't it? I can't
imagine why they do it.'

'You said just now,' said Hyacinth, 'that latterly you hadn't done quite
so well. Did you run out of actresses and battleships?'

'No; but one of the Irish firms took to offering prizes and enclosing
coupons. You collected twenty coupons, and you got a silver-backed
looking-glass--girls again, you see--or two thousand coupons, and you
got a new bicycle. It's an old dodge, of course, but somehow it always
seems to pay. However, all this doesn't matter to you. All I wanted was
to show you that there is no use relying on patriotism. The thing to go
in for in any business is attractive novelties, cheap lines, and, in the
country shops, long credit.'

It was not very long before Hyacinth began to realize the soundness of
Mr. Hollywell's contempt for patriotism. In the town of Clogher he
found the walls placarded with the advertisements of an ultra-patriotic
draper. 'Féach Annseo,' he read, 'The Irish House. Support Home
Manufactures.' Another placard was even more vehement in its appeal.
'Why curse England,' it asked, 'and support her manufactures?' Try
O'Reilly, the one-price man.' The sentiments were so admirable that
Hyacinth followed the advice and tried O'Reilly.

The shop was crowded when he entered, for it was market day in Clogher.
The Irish country-people, whose manners otherwise are the best in
the world, have one really objectionable habit. In the street or in a
crowded building they push their way to the spot they want to reach,
without the smallest regard for the feelings of anyone who happens to
be in the way. Sturdy country-women, carrying baskets which doubled the
passage room they required, hustled Hyacinth into a corner, and for a
time defeated his efforts to emerge. Getting his case of samples safely
between his legs, he amused himself watching the patriot shopkeeper and
his assistants conducting their business. It was perfectly obvious that
in one respect the announcements of the attractive placard departed
from the truth: O'Reilly was not a 'one-price man,' He charged for every
article what he thought his customers were likely to pay. The result was
that every sale involved prolonged bargaining and heated argument. In
most cases no harm was done. The country-women were keenly alive to the
value of their money, and evidently enjoyed the process of beating
down the price by halfpennies until the real value of the article was
reached. Then Mr. O'Reilly and his assistants were accustomed to close
the haggle with a beautiful formula:

'To _you_,' they said, with confidential smiles and flattering emphasis
on the pronoun--'to _you_ the price will be one and a penny; but,
really, there will be no profit on the sale.'

Occasionally with timid and inexperienced customers O'Reilly's method
proved its value. Hyacinth saw him sell a dress-length of serge to a
young woman with a baby in her arms for a penny a yard more than he
had charged a moment before for the same material. Another thing which
struck him as he watched was the small amount of actual cash which was
paid across the counter. Most of the women, even those who seemed quite
poor, had accounts in the shop, and did not shrink from increasing
them. Once or twice a stranger presented some sort of a letter of
introduction, and was at once accommodated with apparently unlimited
credit.

At length there was a lull in the business, and Hyacinth succeeded in
spreading his goods on a vacant counter, and attracting the attention of
Mr. O'Reilly. He began with shawls.

'I hope,' he said, 'that you will give me a good order for these
shawls.'

Mr. O'Reilly fingered them knowingly.

'Price?' he said.

Hyacinth mentioned a sum which left a fair margin of profit for Mr.
Quinn. O'Reilly shook his head and laughed.

'Can't do it.'

Hyacinth reduced his price at once as far as possible.

'No use,' said Mr. O'Reilly.

Compared with the suave oratory to which he treated his customers, this
extreme economy of words was striking.

'See here,' he said, producing a bundle of shawls from a shelf beside
him. 'I get these for twenty-five shillings a dozen less from Thompson
and Taylor of Manchester.'

Hyacinth looked at them curiously. Each bore a prominent label setting
forth a name for the garment in large letters surrounded with wreaths
of shamrocks. 'The Colleen Bawn,' he read, 'Erin's Own,' 'The Kathleen
Mavourneen,' 'The Cruiskeen Lawn.' The appropriateness of this last
title was not obvious to the mere Irishman, but the colour of the
garment was green, so perhaps there was a connection of thought in the
maker's mind between that and 'Lawn.' 'Cruiskeen' he may have taken for
the name of a place.

'Are these,' asked Hyacinth, 'what you advertise as Irish goods?'

Mr. O'Reilly cleared his throat twice before he replied.

'They are got up specially for the Irish market.' In the interests of
his employer Hyacinth kept his temper, but the effort was a severe one.

'These,' he said, 'are half cotton. Mine are pure wool. They are really
far better value even if they were double the price.'

Mr. O'Reilly shrugged his shoulders.

'I don't say they're not, but I should not sell one of yours for every
dozen of the others.'

'Try,' said Hyacinth; 'give them a fair chance. Tell the people that
they will last twice as long. Tell them that they are made in Ireland.'

'That would not be the slightest use. They would simply laugh in my
face. My customers don't care a pin where the goods are made. I have
never in my life been asked for Irish manufacture.'

'Then, why on earth do you stick up those advertisements?' said
Hyacinth, pointing to the 'Féach Annseo' which appeared on a hoarding
across the street.

Mr. O'Reilly was perfectly frank and unashamed.

'The other drapery house in the town is owned by a Scotchman, and of
course it pays more or less to keep on saying that I am Irish. Besides,
I mean to stand for the Urban Council in March, and those sort of ads.
are useful at an election, even if they are no good for business.'

'I'll tell you what I'll do,' said Hyacinth, shirking a discussion on
the morality of advertising: 'I'll let you have a dozen shawls at cost
price, and take back what you can't sell, if you give me your word to do
your best for them.'

Similar discussions followed the display of serges and blankets. It
appeared that nice-looking goods could be sent over from England at
lower prices. It was vain for Hyacinth to press the fact that his things
were better. Mr. O'Reilly admitted as much.

'But what am I to do? The people don't want what is good. They want a
cheap article which looks well, and they don't care a pin whether the
thing is made in England, Ireland, or America. Take my advice,' he added
as Hyacinth left the shop: 'get your boss to do inferior lines--cheap,
cheap and showy.'

So far Mr. Hollywell's opinions were entirely justified. The appeal of
the patriotic press to the public and the shopkeepers on behalf of the
industrial revival of Ireland had certainly not affected the town of
Clogher. Hyacinth was bitterly disappointed; but hope, when it is born
of enthusiasm, dies hard, and he was greatly interested in a speech
which he read one day in the 'Mayo Telegraph'. It had been made at a
meeting of the League by an Ardnaree shopkeeper called Dowling. A trade
rival--the fact of the rivalry was not emphasized--had advertised in
a Scotch paper for a milliner. Dowling was exceedingly indignant. He
quoted emigration statistics showing the number of girls who left Mayo
every year for the United States. He pointed out that all of them might
be employed at home, as milliners or otherwise, if only the public would
boycott shops which sold English goods or employed Scotch milliners.
He more than suspected that the obnoxious advertisement was part of an
organized attempt to effect a new plantation of Connaught--'worse than
Cromwell's was.' The fact that Connaught was the only part of Ireland
which Cromwell did not propose to plant escaped the notice of both
Mr. Dowling and his audience. The speech concluded with a passionate
peroration and a verse, no doubt declaimed soundingly, of 'The West's
Awake.'

Hyacinth made an expedition to Ardnaree, and called hopefully on the
orator. His reception was depressing in the extreme. The shop, which was
large and imposing, was stocked with goods which were obviously English,
and Mr. Dowling curtly refused even to look at the samples of Mr.
Quinn's manufactures. Hyacinth quoted his own speech to the man, and was
amazed at the cynical indifference with which he ignored the dilemma.

'Business is one thing,' he said, 'and politics is something entirely
different.'

Hyacinth lost his temper completely.

'I shall write to the papers,' he said, Vand expose you. I shall have
your speech reprinted, and along with it an account of the way you
conduct your business.'

A mean, hard smile crossed Mr. Dowling's mouth before he answered:

'Perhaps you don't know that my wife is the Archbishop's niece?'

Hyacinth stared at him. For a minute or two he entirely failed to
understand what Mrs. Dowling's relationship to a great ecclesiastic had
to do with the question. At last a light broke on him.

'You mean that an editor wouldn't print my letter because he would be
afraid of offending a Roman Catholic Archbishop?'

The expression 'Roman Catholic' caught Mr. Dowling's attention.

'Are you a Protestant?' he asked. 'You are--a dirty Protestant--and you
dare to come here into my own house, and insult me and trample on my
religious convictions. I'm a Catholic and a member of the League. What
do you mean, you Souper, you Sour-face, by talking to me about Irish
manufactures? Get out of this house, and go to the hell that's waiting
for you!'

As Hyacinth turned to go, there flashed across his mind the recollection
of Miss Goold and her friends who wrote for the _Croppy_.

'There's one paper in Ireland, anyhow,' he said, 'which is not afraid
of your wife nor your Archbishop. I'll write to the _Croppy_, and you'll
see if they won't publish the facts.'

Mr. Dowling grinned.

'I don't care if they do,' he said. 'The priests are dead against the
_Croppy_, and there's hardly a man in the town reads it. Go up there
now to Hely's and try if you can buy a copy. I tell you it isn't on sale
here at all, and whatever they publish will do me no harm.'

When Hyacinth returned to the hotel he found Mr. Holywell seated, with
the inevitable whisky-and-water beside him, in the commercial-room.

'Well, Mr. Conneally,' he said, 'and how is patriotism paying you? Find
people ready to buy what's Irish?'

Hyacinth, boiling over with indignation, related his experience with Mr.
Dowling.

'What did I tell you?' said Mr. Hollywell. 'But anyhow you're just as
well out of a deal with that fellow. I wouldn't care to do business with
him myself. I happen to know, and you may take my word for it '--his
voice sunk to a confidential whisper--'that he's very deep in the books
of two English firms, and that he daren't--simply daren't--place
an order with anyone else. They'd have him in the Bankruptcy Court
to-morrow if he did. I shouldn't feel easy with Mr. Dowling's cheque for
an account until I saw how the clerk took it across the bank counter.
You mark my words, there'll be a fire in that establishment before the
year's out.'

The prophecy was fulfilled, as Hyacinth learnt from the _Mayo
Telegraphy_ and Mr. Dowling's whole stock of goods was consumed. There
were rumours that a sceptical insurance company made difficulties about
paying the compensation demanded; but the inhabitants of Ardnaree marked
their confidence in the husband of an Archbishop's niece by presenting
him with an address of sympathy and a purse containing ten sovereigns.

Most of Hyacinth's business was done with small shopkeepers in remote
districts. The country-people who lived out of reach of such centres
of fashion as Ardnaree and Clogher were sufficiently unsophisticated to
prefer things which were really good. Hats and bonnets were not quite
universal among the women in the mountain districts far back where they
spoke Irish, and Mr. Quinn's head-kerchiefs were still in request. Even
the younger women wanted garments which would keep them warm and dry,
and Hyacinth often returned well satisfied from a tour of the country
shops. Sometimes he doubted whether he ought to trust the people with
more than a few pounds' worth of goods, but he gradually learnt that,
unlike the patriotic Mr. Dowling, they were universally honest. He
discovered, too, that these people, with their imperfect English and
little knowledge of the world, were exceedingly shrewd. They had very
little real confidence in oratorical politicians, and their interest
in public affairs went no further than voting consistently for the
man their priest recommended. But they quickly understood Hyacinth's
arguments when he told them that the support of Irish manufactures would
help to save their sons and daughters from the curse of emigration.

'Faith, sir,' said a shopkeeper who kept a few blankets and tweeds among
his flour-sacks and porter-barrels, 'since you were talking to the boys
last month, I couldn't induce one of them to take the foreign stuff if I
was to offer him a shilling along with it.'



CHAPTER XVI

When he returned to Ballymoy after his interview with Mr. Dowling,
Hyacinth set himself to fulfil his threat of writing to the _Croppy_.
He spent Saturday afternoon and evening in his lodgings with the paper
containing the blatant speech spread out before him. He blew his anger
to a white heat by going over the evidence of the man's grotesque
hypocrisy. He wrote and rewrote his article. It was his first attempt
at expressing thought on paper since the days when he sought to satisfy
examiners with disquisitions on Dryden's dramatic talent and other
topics suited to the undergraduate mind. This was a different business.
It was no longer a question of filling a sheet of foolscap with
grammatical sentences, discovering synonyms for words hard to spell. Now
thoughts were hot in him, and the art lay in finding words which would
blister and scorch. Time after time he tore up a page of bombast or
erased ridiculous flamboyancies. Late at night, with a burning head and
ice-cold feet, he made his last copy, folded it up, and, distrusting the
cooler criticism of the morning, went out and posted it to the _Croppy_.

A letter from Miss Goold overtook him the following Thursday in the
hotel at Clogher.

'I was delighted to hear from you again,' she wrote. 'I was afraid
you had cut me altogether, gone over to the respectable people, and
forgotten poor Ireland. Captain Quinn told me that you and he had
quarrelled, and I gathered that you rather disapproved of him. Well, he
was a bit of a blackguard; but, after all, one doesn't expect a man
who takes on a job of that kind to be anything else. I never thought
it would suit you, and you will do me the justice of remembering that I
never wanted you to volunteer. Now about your article. It was admirable.
These "Cheap Patriots"'--it was thus the article was headed--'are just
the creatures we want to scarify. Dowling and his kind are the worst
enemies Ireland has to-day. We'll publish anything of that kind you send
us, and remember we're not the least afraid of anybody. It's a grand
thing for a paper to be as impecunious as the _Croppy_. No man but
a fool would take a libel action against us with any hope of getting
damages. A jury might value Dowling's character at any fantastic sum
they chose, but it would be a poor penny the _Croppy_ would pay. Still,
we're not so hard up that we can't give our contributors something,
and next week you'll get a small cheque from the office. I hope it may
encourage you to send us more. Don't be afraid to speak out. If anything
peculiarly seditious occurs to you, write it in Irish. I know it's all
the same to you which language you write in. Do us half a column every
fortnight or so on Western life and politics.'

Hyacinth was absurdly elated by Miss Goold's praise. He made up his
mind to contribute regularly to the _Croppy_, and had visions of a great
future as a journalist, or perhaps a literary exponent of the ideas of
Independent Ireland.

Meanwhile, he became very intimate both with the Quinns and with Canon
Beecher's family. Mrs. Quinn was an enthusiastic gardener, and early in
the spring Hyacinth helped her with her flowerbeds. He learnt to plait
the foliage of faded crocuses, and pin them tidily to the ground with
little wooden forks. He gathered suitable earth for the boxes in which
begonias made their earliest sprout-ings, and learned to know the
daffodils and tulips by their names. Later on he helped Mr. Quinn to mow
the grass and mix a potent weed-killer for the gravel walks. There came
to be an understanding that, whenever he was not absent on a journey, he
spent the latter part of the afternoon and the evening with the Quinns.
As the days lengthened the family tea was pushed back to later and later
hours to give more time out of doors.

There is something about the very occupation of gardening which is
deadening to enthusiasm. Perhaps a man learns patience by familiarity
with growing plants. Nature is never in a hurry in a garden, and there
is no use in trying to hustle a flower, whereas a great impatience is
the very life-spirit of enthusiastic patriotism. There has probably
never been a revolutionary gardener, or even a strong Radical who worked
with open-air flowers. Of course, in greenhouses things can be forced,
and the spirit of the ardent reformer may find expression in the nurture
of premature blooms. Perhaps also the constant stooping which gardening
necessitates, especially in the early spring, when the weeds grow
plentifully, tends to destroy the stiff mental independence which must
be the attitude of the militant patriot. It is very difficult for a man
who has stooped long enough to have conquered his early cramps and aches
to face the problems of politics with uncompromising rigidity. Hyacinth
recognised with a curious qualm of disgust that his thoughts turned less
and less to Ireland's wrongs and Ireland's future as he learnt to care
for the flowers and the grass.

No doubt, too, the atmosphere of the Quinns' family life was not
congenial to the spirit of the Irish politician. Mrs. Quinn was totally
uninterested in politics, and except a prejudice in favour of what she
called loyalty, had absolutely no views on any question which did
not directly affect her home and her children. Mr. Quinn had a
coldly-reasonable political and economic creed, which acted on the
luxuriant fancies of Hyacinth's enthusiasm as his weed-killer did on
the tender green of the paths. He declined altogether to see any good in
supporting Irish manufactures simply because they were Irish. The story
of O'Reilly's attitude towards his shawls moved him to no indignation.

'I think he's perfectly right,' he said. 'If a man can buy cheap shawls
in England he would be a fool to pay more for Irish ones. Business can't
be run on those lines. I'm not an object of charity, and if I can't
meet fair competition I must go under, and it's right that I should go
under.'

Hyacinth had no answer to give. He shirked the point at issue, and
attacked Mr. Quinn along another line in the hope of arousing his
indignation.

'But it is not fair competition that you are called upon to face. Do
you call it fair competition when the Government subsidizes a woollen
factory in a convent?'

'Ah!' said Mr. Quinn, 'you are thinking of the four thousand pounds
the Congested Districts Board gave to the convent at Bobeen. But it is
hardly fair to hold the Government responsible for the way that body
wastes eighty thousand pounds a year.'

'The Government is ultimately responsible, and you must admit that,
after such a gift, and in view of the others which will certainly
follow, you are called upon to meet most unfair competition.'

'Yes, I admit that. But isn't that exactly what you want to make
general? There doesn't seem to me any difference between giving a bounty
to one industry and imposing a protective tariff in favour of another;
and if your preference for Irish manufactures means anything, it means
a sort of voluntary protection for every business in the country. If you
object to the Robeen business being subsidized you can't logically try
to insist on mine being protected.'

It was puzzling to have the tables turned on him so adroitly. Hyacinth
was reduced to feeble threat.

'Just wait a while till the nuns get another four thousand pounds, and
perhaps four thousand pounds more after that, and see how it will affect
you.'

Mr. Quinn smiled.

'I'm not much afraid of nuns as trade competitors, or, for the matter of
that, of the Congested Districts Board either. If the Yorkshire people
would only import a few Mother Superiors to manage their factories,
and take the advice of members of our Board in their affairs, I would
cheerfully make them a present of any reasonable subsidy, and beat them
out of the market afterwards.'

There was another influence at work on Hyacinth's mind which had as much
to do with the decay of his patriotism as either the gardening or Mr.
Quinn's logic. Marion Beecher and her sister were very frequently at the
Mill House during the spring and summer. There was one long afternoon
which was spent in the marking out of the tennis-ground. Mr. Quinn had
theories involving calculations with a pencil and pieces of paper about
the surest method of securing right angles at the corners and parallel
lines down the sides of the court. Hyacinth and Marion worked obediently
with a tape measure and the garden line. One of the boys messed
cheerfully with a pail of liquid whitening. Afterwards the gardening was
somewhat deserted, and Hyacinth was instructed in the game. It took
him a long time to learn, and for many afternoons he and Marion were
regularly beaten, but she would not give up hope of him. Often the
excuse of her coming to the Quinns was the necessity of practising some
new hymn or chant for Sunday. Hyacinth worked as hard at the music as at
the tennis under her tuition, and there came a time when he could sing
an easy tenor part with fair accuracy. Then in the early summer, when
the evenings were warm, hymns were sung on the lawn in front of the
house. There seemed no incongruity in Marion Beecher's company in
passing without a break from lawn-tennis to hymn-singing, and Mr. Quinn
was always ready to do his best at the bass with a serious simplicity,
as if it were a perfectly natural and usual thing to close an
afternoon's amusement with 'Rock of Ages.' Hyacinth was not conscious of
any definite change in his attitude towards religion. He still believed
himself to be somehow outside the inner shrine of the life which the
Beechers and the Quinns lived, just as he had been outside his father's
prayers. But he found it increasingly difficult after an hour or two of
companionship with Marion Beecher to get back to the emotions which had
swayed him during the weeks of his intimacy with Miss Goold. To write
for the _Croppy_ after sitting beside Marion in church on Sunday
evenings was like passing suddenly from a quiet wood into a heated
saloon where people wrangled. A wave of the old passionate feeling, when
it returned, affected him as raw spirit would the palate of a boy.

One day early in summer--the short summer of Connaught, which is
glorious in June, and dissolves into windy mist and warm rain in the
middle of July--Hyacinth was invited by Canon Beecher to join a boating
party on the lake. The river, whose one useful function was the turning
of Mr. Quinn's millwheel, wound away afterwards through marshy fields
and groves of willow-trees into the great lake. At its mouth the
Beechers kept their boat, a cumbrous craft, very heavy to row, but safe
and suited to carry a family in comfort. The party started early--Canon
Beecher, Hyacinth, and one of the boys very early, for they had to
walk the two miles which separated Ballymoy from the lake shore. Mrs.
Beecher, the girls, the two other boys, and the baskets of provisions
followed a little later on the Rectory car, packed beyond all
possibility of comfort. The Canon himself pulled an oar untiringly, but
without the faintest semblance of style, and the party rippled with joy
when they discovered that Hyacinth also could row.

'Now,' said Elsie, 'we can go anywhere. We can go on rowing and rowing
all day, and see places we've never seen before.'

'My dear girl,' said her mother, 'remember that Mr. Conneally and your
father aren't machines. You mustn't expect them to go too far.'

'Oh, but,' said Elsie, 'father says he never gets tired if he has only
one oar to pull.'

The Canon was preparing for his toil. The old coat, in colour now almost
olive green, was folded and used as a cushion by Marion in the bow. His
white cuffs, stowed inside his hat, were committed to the care of Mrs.
Beecher. He rolled his gray shirtsleeves up to the elbow, and unbuttoned
his waistcoat.

'Now,' he said, 'I'm ready. If I'm not hurried, I'll pull along all day.
But what about you, Conneally? You're not accustomed to this sort of
thing?'

But Hyacinth for once was self-confident. He might be a poor singer and
a contemptible tennis player, but he knew that nothing which had to do
with boats could come amiss to him. He looked across the sparkling water
of the lake.

'I'll go on as long as you like. You won't tire me when there's no tide
and no waves. This is a very different business from getting out the
sweeps to pull a nobby five miles against the strength of the ebb, with
a heavy ground swell running.'

About eleven o'clock they landed on an island and ate biscuits. The
Canon told Hyacinth the story of the ruin under whose walls they sat.

'It belonged to the Lynotts, the Welshmen of Tyrawley. They were at feud
with the Burkes, and one night in winter----'

The girls wandered away, carrying their biscuits with them. It is
likely that they had heard the story every summer as long as they could
remember. Mrs. Beecher alone still maintained an attitude of admiration
for her husband's antiquarian knowledge, the more creditable because she
must have been familiar with the onset of the MacWilliam Burkes before
even Marion was old enough to listen. To Hyacinth the story was both
new and interesting. It stirred him to think of the Lynotts fighting
hopelessly, or begging mercy in the darkness and the cold just where he
sat now saturate with sunlight and with life. He gazed across the mile
of shining water which separated the castle from the land, and tried to
realize how the Irish servant-girl swam from the island with an infant
Lynott on her back, and saved the name from perishing. How the snow must
have beaten in her face and the lake-waves choked her breath! It was a
great story, but the girls, shouting from the water's edge, reminded him
that he was out to pull an oar, and not to sentimentalize. He and the
Canon rose, half smiling, half sighing, and took their places in the
boat.

They penetrated before luncheon time to a bay hitherto unknown to the
Beechers. A chorus of delight greeted its discovery. The water shone
bright green and very clear above the slabs of white limestone. The
shore far inland was almost verdure-less. Broad flat rocks lay baking
in the sunshine, and only the scantiest grass struggled up between their
edges. Sometimes they overlapped each other, and rose Uke an immense
staircase. Fifty yards or so from the land was a tiny island entirely
overgrown with stunted bushes. The boat was pushed up to it and a
landing-place sought, but the shrubs were too thick, and it was decided
to picnic among the rocks on the land. Then Marion in the bow made a
discovery. A causeway about a foot under water led from the island to
the shore. The whole party leaned over to examine it. Every stone was
visible in the clear water, and it was obvious that it had been planned
and built, and was no merely accidental formation of the rocks. The
Canon had heard of a similar device resorted to by an island hermit
to insure the privacy of his cell. Hyacinth spoke vaguely of the
settlements of primitive communities of lake-dwellers. The three boys
planned an expedition across the causeway after luncheon.

'We'll carry our shoes and stockings with us,' they said, 'and then
explore the island. Perhaps there is a hermit there still, or
a primitive lake-dweller. What is a primitive lake-dweller, Mr.
Conneally?'

Hyacinth was uncertain, but hazarded a suggestion that the lake-dwellers
were the people who buried each other in raths. The Canon, whose
archaeology did not go back beyond St. Patrick, offered no correction.

Tea was made later on in yet another bay, this time on the eastern shore
of the lake. An oak wood grew down almost to the water's edge, and the
branches overhung a sandy beach, more golden than any sea-strand. The
whole party collected dead wood and broken twigs for the fire. Then,
while the girls unpacked the baskets and secured the kettle amidst the
smoke, Hyacinth lay back luxuriously and watched the sun set behind the
round-shouldered mountain opposite. The long, steep slope shone
bright green while the sun still rested in view above the summit; then
suddenly, when the topmost rim of it had dipped out of sight, the whole
mountainside turned purple, and a glory of gold and crimson hung above
it on the motionless streaks of cloud. Slowly the splendour faded, the
purple turned gray, and a faint breeze fluttered across the lake.

The day was the first of many which Hyacinth gave to such expeditions.
The work of Mr. Quinn's office was not so pressing as to necessitate
his spending every day there when he was in Ballymoy, and a holiday
was always obtainable. The lake scenery remained vivid in his memory in
after-years, and had its influence upon him even while he enjoyed it,
unconscious of anything except the present pleasure. There was something
besides the innocent gaiety of the girls and the simple sincerity of the
Canon's platitudes, something about the lake itself, which removed him
to a spiritual region utterly remote from the fiery atmosphere of Miss
Goold's patriotism. Many things which once loomed very large before him
sank to insignificance as he drank to the full of the desolation around
him. The past, in which no doubt men strove and hoped, hated and loved
and feared, had left the just recognisable ruins of some castles and the
causeway built by an unknown hermit or the prehistoric lake-dwellers.
A few thatched cabins, faintly smoking, and here and there a cairn of
stones gathered laboriously off the wretched fields, were the evidences
of present activity. Now and then a man hooted to his dog as it barked
at the sheep on the hillside, or a girl drove a turf-laden donkey inland
from the boggy shore. Otherwise there were no signs of human life. A
deep sense of monotony and inevitableness settled down upon Hyacinth. He
came for the first time under the great enchantment which paralyzes
the spirit and energy of the Celt. He knew himself to be, as his people
were, capable of spasms of enthusiasm, the victim of transitory burnings
of soul. But the curse was upon him--the inevitable curse of feeling too
keenly and seeing too clearly to be strenuous and constant. The flame
would die down, the enthusiasm would vanish--it was vanishing from him,
as he knew well--and leave him, not indeed content with common life, but
patient of it, and to the very end sad with the sense of possibilities
unrealized.

Yet it was not without many struggles and periods of return to the older
emotions that Hyacinth surrendered his enthusiasm. There still recurred
to him memories of his father's vision of an Armageddon and the
conception of his own part in it. Sometimes, waking very early in the
morning, he became vividly conscious of his own feebleness of will and
his falling away from great purposes. The conviction that he was called
to struggle for Ireland's welfare, to sacrifice, if necessary, his life
and happiness for Ireland, was strong in him still. He felt himself
affected profoundly by the influences which surrounded him, but he had
not ceased to believe that the idea of self-sacrificing labour was for
him a high vocation. He writhed, his limbs twisting involuntarily, when
these thoughts beset him, and often he was surprised to discover that he
was actually uttering aloud words of self-reproach.

Then he would write fiercely, brutally, catch at the excuse of some
hypocrisy or corruption, or else denounce selfishness and easy-going
patriotic sentiment, finding subject for his satire in himself. His
articles brought him letters of praise from Miss Goold. 'You have it,'
she wrote once, 'the thing we all seek for, the power of beating red-hot
thought into sword-blades. Write more like the last.' But the praise
always came late. The violent mood, the self-reproach, the bitterness,
were past. His life was wrapt round again with softer influences, and he
read his own words with shame when they reached him in print. Afterwards
for a while, if he wrote at all, it was of the peasant life, of quaint
customs, half-forgotten legends and folklore. These articles appeared
too, but brought no praise from Miss Goold. Once she reproached him when
he lapsed into gentleness for many consecutive weeks.

'You oughtn't to waste yourself. There are fifty men and women can do
the sort of thing you're doing now; we don't want you to take it up.
It's fighting men we need, not maundering sentimentalists.'



CHAPTER XVII

It was during the second year of Hyacinth's residence in Ballymoy that
the station-master at Clogher died. The poor man caught a cold one
February night while waiting for a train which had broken down three
miles outside his station. From the cold came first pneumonia, and then
the end. Now, far to the east of Clogher, on a different branch of the
railway-line, is a town with which the people of Mayo have no connection
whatever. In it is a very flourishing Masonic lodge. Almost every male
Protestant in the town and the neighbourhood belongs to it, and the
Rector of the parish is its chaplain. Among its members at that time was
an intelligent young man who occupied the position of goods clerk on the
railway. The Masonic brethren, as in duty bound, used their influence to
secure his promotion, and brought considerable pressure to bear on the
directors of the company to have him made station-master at Clogher.

It is said with some appearance of truth that no appointment in Ireland
is ever made on account of the fitness of the candidate for the post
to be filled. Whether the Lord Lieutenant has to nominate a Local
Government Board Inspector, or an Urban Council has to select a street
scavenger, the principle acted on is the same. No investigation is made
about the ability or character of a candidate. Questions may be asked
about his political opinions, his religious creed, and sometimes about
the social position of his wife, but no one cares in the least about his
ability. The matter really turns upon the amount of influence which
he can bring to bear. So it happened that John Crawford, Freemason and
Protestant, was appointed station-master at Clogher. Of course, nobody
really cared who got the post except a few seniors of John Crawford's,
who wanted it for themselves. Probably even they would have stopped
grumbling after a month or two if it had not happened that a leading
weekly newspaper, then at the height of its popularity and influence,
was just inaugurating a crusade against Protestants and Freemasons.
The case of John Crawford became the subject of a series of bitter and
vehement articles. It was pointed out that although Roman Catholics were
beyond all question more intelligent, better educated, and more upright
than Protestants, they were condemned by the intolerance of highly-paid
officials to remain hewers of wood and drawers of water. It was shown by
figures which admitted of no controversy that Irish railways, banks, and
trading companies were, without exception, on the verge of bankruptcy,
entirely owing to the apathy of shareholders who allowed their interests
to be sacrificed to the bigotry of directors. It was urged that a
public meeting should be held at Clogher to protest against the new
appointment.

The meeting was convened, and Father Fahey consented to occupy the
chair. He was supported by a dispensary doctor, anxious to propitiate
the Board of Guardians with a view to obtaining a summer holiday; a
leading publican, who had a son at Maynooth; a grazier, who dreaded the
possible partition of his ranch by the Congested Districts Board; and
Mr. O'Reilly, who saw a hope of drawing custom from the counter of his
rival draper, the Scotchman.

Father Fahey opened the proceedings with a speech. He assured his
audience that he was not actuated by any spirit of religious bigotry
or intolerance. He wished well to his Protestant fellow-countrymen,
and hoped that in the bright future which lay before Ireland men of all
creeds would be united in working for the common good of their country.
These sentiments were not received with vociferous applause. The
audience was perfectly well aware that something much more to the point
was coming, and reserved their cheers. Father Fahey did not
disappoint them. He proceeded to show that the appointment of the new
station-master was a deliberate insult to the faith of the inhabitants
of Clogher.

'Are we,' he asked, 'to submit tamely to having the worst evils of the
old ascendancy revived in our midst?'

He was followed by the dispensary doctor, who also began by declaring
his freedom from bigotry. He confused the issue slightly by complaining
that the new station-master was entirely ignorant of the Irish language.
It was perfectly well known that in private life the doctor was in the
habit of expressing the greatest contempt for the Gaelic League, and
that he could not, if his life depended on it, have translated even Mr.
O'Reilly's advertisements; but his speech was greeted with tumultuous
cheers. He proceeded to harrow the feelings of his audience by
describing what he had heard at the railway-station one evening while
waiting for the train. As he paced the platform his attention was
attracted by the sound of a piano in the station-master's house. He
listened, and, to his amazement and disgust, heard the tune of a popular
song, 'a song'--he brought down his fist on the table as he uttered the
awful indictment--'imported from England.'

'I ask,' he went on--'I ask our venerated and beloved parish priest;
I ask you, fathers of innocent families; I ask every right-thinking
patriot in this room, are our ears to be insulted, our morals corrupted,
our intellects depraved, by sounds like these?'

He closed his speech by proposing a resolution requiring the railway
company to withdraw the obnoxious official from their midst.

The oratory of the grazier, who seconded the resolution, was not
inferior. It filled his heart with a sense of shame, so he said, to
think of his cattle, poor, innocent beasts of the field, being
handled by a Protestant. They had been bred, these bullocks of his,
by Catholics, fed by Catholics, were owned by a Catholic, bought with
Catholic money at the fairs, and yet they were told that in all Ireland
no Catholic could be discovered fit to put them into a train.

Neither the resolution itself nor the heart-rending appeal of the
grazier produced the slightest effect on the railway company. John
Crawford continued to sell tickets, even to Father Fahey himself, and
appeared entirely unconcerned by the fuss.

About a fortnight after the meeting Hyacinth spent a night in Clogher.
Mr. Holywell, the cigarette man, happened to be in the hotel, and, as
usual, got through a good deal of desultory conversation while he drank
his whisky-and-water. Quite unexpectedly, and apropos of nothing that
had been said, he plumped out the question:

'What religion are you, Conneally?'

The inquiry was such an unusual one, and came so strangely from Mr.
Holywell, who had always seemed a Gallio in matters spiritual, that
Hyacinth hesitated.

'I'm a Baptist myself,' he went on, apparently with a view to palliating
his inquisitiveness by a show of candour. 'I find it a very convenient
sort of religion in Connaught. There isn't a single place of worship
belonging to my denomination in the whole province, so I'm always able
to get my Sundays to myself. I don't want to convert you to anything or
to argue with you, but I have a fancy that you are a Church of Ireland
Protestant.'

Hyacinth admitted the correctness of the guess, and wondered what was
coming next.

'Ever spend a Sunday here?'

'Never,' said Hyacinth; 'I always get back home for the end of the week
if I can.'

'Ah! Well, do you know, if I were you, I should spend next Sunday here,
and go to Mass.'

'I shall not do anything of the sort.'

'Well, it's your own affair, of course; only I just think I should do it
if I were you. Good-night.'

'Wait a minute,' said Hyacinth. 'I want to know what you mean.'

Mr. Holywell sat down again heavily.

'Been round your customers here lately?'

'No. I only arrived this evening, and have done nothing yet. I mean to
go round them to-morrow.'

'You may just as well go home by the early train for all the good you'll
do.'

Hyacinth restrained himself with an effort. He reflected that he was
more likely to get at the meaning of these mysterious warnings if he
refrained from direct questioning. After a minute of two of silence Mr.
Hollywell went on:

'They had a meeting here a little while ago about the appointment of
a Protestant station-master. They didn't take much by it so far as the
railway company is concerned, but I happen to know that word has gone
round that every shopkeeper in the town is to order his goods as far as
possible from Catholics. Now, everybody knows your boss is a Protestant,
but the people are a little uncertain about you. They've never seen you
at Mass, which is suspicious, but, on the other hand, the way you gas on
about Irish manufactures makes them think you can't be a Protestant.
The proper thing for you to do is to lie low till you've put in an
appearance at Mass, and then go round and try for orders.'

'That's the kind of thing,' said Hyacinth, 'that I couldn't do if I had
no religion at all; but it happens that I have convictions of a sort,
and I don't mean to go against them.'

'Oh, well, as I said before, it's your own affair; only better
Protestants than you have done as much. Why, I do it myself constantly,
and everyone knows that a Baptist is the strongest kind of Protestant
there is.'

This reasoning, curiously enough, proved unconvincing.

'I can't believe,' said Hyacinth, 'that a religious boycott of the kind
is possible. People won't be such fools as to act clean against their
own interests. Considering that nine-tenths of the drapery goods in the
country come from England and are sold by Protestant travellers, I don't
see how the shopkeepers could act as you say.'

'Oh, of course they won't act against their own interests. I've never
come across a religion yet that made men do that. They won't attempt to
boycott the English firms, because, as you say, they couldn't; but they
can boycott you. Everything your boss makes is turned out just as well
and just as cheap, or cheaper, by the nuns at Robeen. Perhaps you didn't
know that these holy ladies have hired a traveller. Well, they have, and
he's a middling smart man, too--quite smart enough to play the trumps
that are put into his hand; and he's got a fine flush of them now. What
with the way that wretched rag of a paper, which started all the fuss,
goes on rampaging, and the amount of feeling that's got up over the
station-master, the peaceablest people in the place would be afraid to
deal with a Protestant at the present moment. The Robeen man has the
game in his own hands, and I'm bound to say he'd be a fool if he didn't
play it for all it's worth. I'd do it myself if I was in his shoes.'

Hyacinth discovered next day that Mr. Holywell had summed up the
situation very accurately. No point-blank questions were asked about his
religion, but he could by no means persuade his customers to give him
even a small order. Every shop-window was filled with goods placarded
ostentatiously as 'made in Robeen.' Every counter had tweeds, blankets,
and flannels from the same factory. No one was in the least uncivil to
him, and no one assigned any plausible reason for refusing to deal with
him. He was simply bowed out as quickly as possible from every shop he
entered.

He returned home disgusted and irritated, and told his tale to his
employer. Mr. Quinn recognised the danger that threatened him. For the
first time, he admitted that his business was being seriously injured
by the competition of Robeen. He took Hyacinth into his confidence more
fully than he had ever done before, and explained what seemed to be a
hopeful plan.

'I may tell you, Conneally, that I have very little capital to fall back
upon in my business. Years ago when things were better than they are
now, I had a few thousands put by, but most of it went on buying my
brother Albert's share of the mill. Lately I have not been able to save,
and at the present moment I can lay hands on very little money. Still, I
have something, and what I mean to do is this: I shall give up all idea
of making a profit for the present. I shall even sell my goods at a
slight loss, and try to beat the nunnery out of the market. I think
this religious animosity will weaken after a while, and if we offer the
cheapest goods we must in the end get back our customers.'

Hyacinth was not so sanguine.

'You forget,' he said, 'that these people have Government money at their
backs, and are likely to get more of it. If you sell at a loss they will
do so, too, and ask for a new grant from the Congested Districts Board
to make good their deficiency.'

Mr. Quinn sighed.

'That is quite possible,' he said. 'But what can I do? I must make a
fight for my business.'

Hyacinth hesitated.

'Perhaps I have no right to make the suggestion, but it seems to me that
you are bound to be beaten. Would it not be better to give in at once?
Don't risk the money you have safe. Keep it, and try to sell the mill
and the business.'

'I shall hold on,' said Mr. Quinn.

'Ought you not to think of your wife? Remember what it will mean to
her if you are beaten in the end, when your savings are gone and your
business unsaleable.'

For a moment there were signs of wavering in Mr. Quinn's face. The
fingers of his hands twisted in and out of each other, and a pitiable
look of great distress came into his eyes. Then he unclasped his hands
and placed them flat on the table before him.

'I shall hold on,' he said. 'I shall not close my mill while I have a
shilling left to pay my workers with.'

'Well,' said Hyacinth, 'it is for you to decide. At least, you can count
on my doing my best, my very best.'



CHAPTER XVIII

Mr. Quinn carried on his struggle for nearly a year, although from the
very first he might have recognised its hopelessness. Time after time
Hyacinth made his tour, and visited the shopkeepers who had once been
his customers. Occasionally he succeeded in obtaining orders, and a
faint gleam of hope encouraged him, but he had no steady success. Mr.
Quinn's original estimate of the situation was so far justified that
after a while the religious animosity died out. Shopkeepers even
explained apologetically that they gave their orders to the Robeen
convent for purely commercial reasons.

'Their goods are cheaper than yours, and that's the truth, Mr.
Conneally.'

Hyacinth recognised that Mr. Quinn was being beaten at his own game. He
had attempted to drive the nuns out of the market by underselling them,
and now it appeared that they, too, were prepared to face a loss. It was
obvious that their losses must be great, much greater than Mr. Quinn's.
Rumours were rife of large loans raised by the Mother Superior, of
mortgages on the factory buildings and the machinery. These stories
brought very little consolation, for, as Hyacinth knew, Mr. Quinn was
very nearly at the end of his resources. He refused to borrow.

'When I am forced to close up,' he said, 'I shall do so with a clear
balance-sheet. I have no wish for bankruptcy.'

'I should like,' said Hyacinth vindictively, 'to see the Reverend Mother
reduced to paying a shilling in the pound.'

'I am afraid,' said Mr. Quinn, 'you won't see that. The convent is a
branch of an immense organization. No doubt, if it comes to a pinch,
funds will be forthcoming.'

'Yes, and they won't draw on their own purse till they have got all
they can out of the Congested Districts Board. I have no doubt they are
counting on another four thousand pounds to start them clear when they
have beaten you.'

One day, quite accidentally, Hyacinth came by a piece of information
about the working of the Robeen factory which startled him. He was
travelling home by rail. It happened to be Friday, and, as usual in
the early summer, the train was crowded with emigrants on their way to
Queenstown. The familiar melancholy crowd waited on every platform.
Old women weeping openly and men with faces ridiculously screwed and
puckered in the effort to restrain the rising tears clung to their sons
and daughters. Pitiful little boxes and carpet bags were piled on
the platform. Friends clung to hands outstretched through the
carriage-windows while the train moved slowly out. Then came the long
mournful wail from those left behind, and the last wavings of farewell.
At the Robeen station the crowd was no less than elsewhere. The
carriages set apart for the emigrants were full, and at the last minute
two girls were hustled into the compartment where Hyacinth sat. A woman,
their mother, mumbled and slobbered over their hands. An old man, too
old to be their father, shouted broken benedictions to them. Two
young men--lovers, perhaps, or brothers--stood red-eyed, desolate and
helpless, without speaking. After the train had started Hyacinth looked
at the girls. One of them, a pretty creature of perhaps eighteen years
old, wept quietly in the corner of the carriage. Beside her lay her
carpet bag and a brown shawl. On her lap was an orange, and she held a
crumpled paper bag of biscuits in her hand. There was nothing unusual
about her. She was just one instance of heartbreak, the heart-break of a
whole nation which loves home as no other people have ever loved it, and
yet are doomed, as it seems inevitably, to leave it. She was just one
more waif thrown into the whirlpool of the great world to toil and
struggle, succeed barrenly or pitifully fail; but through it all,
through even the possible loss of faith and ultimate degradation, fated
to cling to a love for the gray desolate fatherland. The other girl
was different. Hyacinth looked at her with intense interest. She was the
older of the two, and not so pretty as her sister. Her face was thin and
pale, and a broad scar under one ear showed where a surgeon's knife had
cut. She sat with her hands folded on her lap, gazing dry-eyed out of
the window beside her. There was no sign of sorrow on her face, nothing
but a kind of sulky defiance.

After a while she took the paper bag out of her sister's hand, opened
it, and began to eat the gingerbread biscuits it contained. Hyacinth
spoke to her, but she turned her head away, and would not answer him.
His voice seemed to rouse the younger sister, who stopped crying and
looked at him curiously. He tried again, and this time he spoke in
Irish.

At once the younger girl brightened and answered him. Apparently she had
no fear that malice could lurk in the heart of a man who spoke her own
language. In a few minutes she was chatting to him as if he were an old
friend.

He learnt that the two girls were on their way to New York. They had
a sister there who had sent them the price of their tickets. Yes, the
sister was in a situation, was getting good wages, and had clothes 'as
grand as a lady's.' She had sent home a photograph at Christmas-time,
which their mother had shown all round the parish. These two were to get
situations also as soon as they arrived. Oh yes, there was no doubt of
it: Bridgy had promised. There were four of them left at home--three
boys and a girl. No doubt in time they would all follow Bridgy to
America--all but Seumas; he was to have the farm. No, the girls
could not get married, because their father was too poor to give them
fortunes. There was nothing for them but to go to America. But their
mother had not wanted them to go. The clergy and the nuns were against
the girls going. Indeed, they nearly had them persuaded to send Bridgy's
money back.

'But Onny was set on going.'

She glanced at her sister in the corner of the carriage. Hyacinth turned
to her.

'Why do you want to leave Ireland?'

But Onny remained silent, sulky, at it seemed. It was the younger girl
who answered him.

'They say it's a fine life they have out there. There's good money to be
earned, and mightn't we be coming home some day with a fortune?'

'But aren't you sorry to leave Ireland?'

Again he looked at the elder girl, and this time was rewarded with a
flash of defiant bitterness from her eyes.

'Sorry, is it? No, but I'm glad!'

'Onny's always saying that there was nothing to be earned in the
factory. And she got more than the rest of us. Wasn't she the first girl
that Sister Mary Aloysius picked out of the school when the young lady
from England came over to teach us? She was the best worker they had.'

'It's true what she says,' said Onny. 'I was the best worker they had. I
worked for them for three years, and all I was getting at the end of it
was six shillings a week. Why would I be working for that when I might
be getting wages like Bridgy's in America? What sense would there be in
it?'

'But why did you work for such wages?'

'Well, now,' said the younger girl, 'how could we be refusing the
Reverend Mother when she came round the town herself, and gave warning
that we'd all be wanted?'

'There's few,' continued Onny, without noticing her sister, 'that earned
as much as I did. Many a girl works there and has no more than one and
ninepence to take home at the end of the week.'

Hyacinth began to understand how it was that Mr. Quinn was being
hopelessly beaten. This was no struggle between two trade rivals, to be
won by the side with the longer purse. Nor was it simply a fight between
an independent manufacturer and a firm fed with Government bounties. Mr.
Quinn's rival could count on an unlimited supply of labour at starvation
wages, while he had to hire men and women at the market value of their
services. He had been sorry for the two girls when they got into the
train. Now he felt almost glad that they were leaving Ireland. It
appeared that they had certainly chosen the wiser part.

He arrived at home dejected, and sat down beside the fire in his room
to give himself up to complete despair. He found no hope anywhere. Irish
patriotism, so he saw it, was a matter of words and fine phrases. No one
really believed in it or would venture anything for it. Politics was a
game at which sharpers cheated each other and the people. The leaders
were bold only in sordid personal quarrels. The mass of the people were
utterly untouched by the idea of nationality, in earnest about nothing
but huckstering and petty gains. Over all was the grip of a foreign
bureaucracy and a selfish Church tightening slowly, squeezing out the
nation's life, grasping and holding fast its wealth. No man any longer
made any demand except to be allowed to earn what would buy whisky
enough to fuddle him into temporary forgetfulness of the present misery
and the imminent tyranny.

The slatternly maid-servant who brought him his meals and made his bed
tapped at the door.

'Please, sir, Jimmy Loughlin's after coming with a letter from Mr.
Quinn, and he's waiting to know if you'll go.'

Hyacinth read the note, which asked him to call on his employer that
afternoon.

'Tell him I'll be there.'

'Will you have your dinner before you go? The chops is in the pan below.
Or will I keep them till you come back?'

'Oh, I've time enough. Bring them as soon as they're cooked, and for
goodness' sake see that the potatoes are properly boiled.'

He took up a great English weekly paper, with copies of which Canon
Beecher supplied him at irregular intervals, and propped it against
the dish-cover while he ate. The article which caught his attention was
headed 'Angels in Connaught.' It contained an idealized account of the
work of the Robeen nuns, from whose shoulders it seemed to the writer
likely that wings would soon sprout. There was a description of the once
miserable cabins now transformed into homesteads so comfortable that
English labourers would not disdain them. The people shared in the
elevation of their surroundings. Men and women, lately half-naked
savages, starved and ignorant, had risen in the scale of civilization
and intelligence to a level which almost equalled that of a Hampshire
villager. The double stream of emigration to the United States and
migration to the English harvest-fields was stopped. An earthly paradise
had been created in a howling wilderness by the self-denying labours of
the holy ladies, aided by the statesmanlike liberality of the Congested
Districts Board. There was another page of the article, but Hyacinth
could stand no more.

He stood up and glanced at his watch. It was already nearly five
o'clock. He pushed his way down the street, where the country-people,
having completed their week's marketing, were loading donkeys on the
footpath or carts pushed backwards against the kerbstone. Women dragged
their heavily-intoxicated husbands from the public-houses, and girls,
damp and bedraggled, stood in groups waiting for their parents. He
turned into the gloomy archway of the mill, unlocked the iron gate, and
crossed the yard into the Quinns' garden. The lamp burned brightly in
the dining-room, and he could see Mrs Quinn in her chair by the fireside
sewing. Her children sat on the rug at her feet. He saw their faces
turned up to hers, gravely intent. No doubt she was telling them some
story. He stood for a minute and watched them, while the peaceful joy
of the scene entered into his heart. This, no doubt, a home full of such
love and peace, was the best thing life had got to give. It was God's
most precious benediction. 'Lo, thus shall a man be blessed who feareth
the Lord.' He turned and passed on to the door. The servant showed him
in, not, as he expected, to the sitting-room he had just gazed at, but
to Mr. Quinn's study.

It was a desolate chamber. A plain wooden desk like a schoolmaster's
stood in one corner, and upon it a feeble lamp. A bookcase surmounted a
row of cupboards along one wall. Its contents--Hyacinth had often looked
over them--were a many-volumed encyclopaedia, Macaulay's 'History of
England,' Foxe's 'Book of Martyrs,' a series entitled 'Heroes of the
Reformation,' and some bound volumes of a trade journal. Above the
chimneypiece hung two trout-rods, a landing-net, and an old gun. The
grate was tireless. It was a room obviously not loved by its owner.
Neither pleasure nor comfort was looked for in it. It was simply a place
of escape from the attractions of quiet ease when business overflowed
the proper office hours. Mr. Quinn rose from his desk when Hyacinth
entered.

'I am very glad to see you,' he said; 'I want to have a talk with you.'

Hyacinth waited while he arranged and rearranged some papers on the desk
in front of him. Mr. Quinn, although he had specially sent for Hyacinth,
seemed in no hurry to get to the subject of the interview. When he did
speak, it was evident from his tone that the important topic was still
postponed.

'How did you get on this week?'

Hyacinth had nothing good to report. He took from his pocket the
note-book in which he entered his orders, and went over it. It contained
an attenuated list. Moreover, the harvest had been bad, and old debts
very difficult to collect. Mr. Quinn listened, apparently not very
attentively, and when the reading was over said:

'What you report this week is simply a repetition of the story of the last
six months. I did not expect it to be different. It makes the decision
I have to make a little more inevitable, that is all. Mr. Conneally, we
have been very good friends, and since you have been in my employment I
have been satisfied with you in every way. Now I am unable to employ you
any longer. I am giving up my business.'

Hyacinth made an effort to speak, but Mr. Quinn held up his hand and
silenced him.

'This week,' he continued, 'I received news which settled the matter
for me. Jameson and Thorpe, the big drapers in Dublin, were my best
customers for certain goods. Last Monday they wrote that they had an
offer of blankets at a figure a long way below mine. I didn't believe
that articles equal in quality to mine could be produced at the price,
and wrote a hint to that effect. I received--nothing could have been
more courteous--a sample of the blankets offered. Well, I admit that it
was at least equal to what I could supply in every way. I wrote again
asking as a favour to be supplied with the name of the competing firm. I
got the answer to-day. Mr. Thorpe wrote himself. The Robeen convent has
undersold me.'

Hyacinth made another attempt to speak.

'Let me finish,' said Mr. Quinn. 'I had foreseen, of course, that this
was coming. I have no more capital to fall back upon. I do not mean to
run into debt. There is nothing for me but to dismiss my employées and
shut up.'

'Yes,' said Hyacinth. 'And then----'

He knew he had no right to ask a question about the future, but the
thought of Mrs. Quinn and her children as he had seen them in the
dining-room almost forced him to inquire what was to happen to them. A
spasm of extreme pain crossed Mr. Quinn's face.

'You are thinking of my wife. It will be hard--yes, very hard. She loved
this place, her friends here, her garden, and all the quiet, peaceful
life we have lived. Well, there is to be an end of it. But don't look so
desperate.' He forced himself to smile as he spoke. 'We shall not starve
or go to the workhouse. I have a knowledge of woollen goods if I have
nothing else, and I dare say I can get an appointment as foreman or
traveller for some big drapery house. But I may not be reduced to that.
There is a secretary wanted just now in the office of one of the Dublin
charitable societies. I mean to apply for the post. Canon Beecher and
our Bishop are both members of the committee, and I am sure will do
their best for me. The salary is not princely--a hundred and twenty
pounds a year, I think. But there, I ought not to be talking all this
time about myself. I must try and do something for you.'

'Never mind me,' said Hyacinth; 'I shall be all right. But I can't bear
to think of you and Mrs. Quinn. Poverty like that in Dublin! Have you
thought what it means? A shabby little house in a crowded street, off at
the back of somewhere; dirt and stuffiness and vulgarity all around you.
She can't be expected to stand it--or you either.'

'My dear boy,' said Mr. Quinn, 'my wife and I have been trying all our
lives to be Christians. Shall we receive good at the Lord's hand and not
evil also? However it may be with me, I know that she will not fail in
the trial.'

His face lit up as he spoke, and the smile on it was no longer forced,
but clear and brave. Hyacinth knew that he was once again in the
presence of that mysterious power which enables men and women to meet
and conquer loss and pain, against which every kind of misfortune beats
in vain. His eyes filled with tears as he took Mr. Quinn's hand and bade
him good-night.



CHAPTER XIX

Hyacinth had three months' work to do before he actually left Mr.
Quinn's employment. He knew that at the end of that time he would be
left absolutely without income, and that it was necessary for him to
look out for some other situation. He reckoned up the remains of his
original capital, and found himself with little more than a hundred
pounds to fall back upon. Yet he did nothing. From time to time he
bestirred himself, pondered the newspaper advertisements of vacant
situations, and mentally resolved to commence his search at once. Always
some excuse offered itself to justify putting the unpleasant business
off, and he allowed himself to slip back into the quiet routine of life
as if no catastrophe threatened him. He was, indeed, far more troubled
about the Quinns' future than his own, and when, at the end of April,
Canon Beecher returned from Dublin with the news that he had secured the
secretaryship of the Church of Ireland Scriptural Schools Society for
Mr. Quinn, Hyacinth felt that his mind was relieved of a great anxiety.
That no such post had been discovered for him did not cost him a
thought. In spite of his spasmodic efforts to goad himself into a
condition of reasonable anxiety for his future, there remained half
consciously present in his mind a conviction that somehow a way of
getting sufficient food and clothes would offer itself in due time.

The conviction was justified by the event. It was on Saturday evening
that the Canon returned with his good news, and on Sunday morning
Hyacinth received a letter from Miss Goold.

'You have no doubt heard,' she wrote, 'that we have got a new editor
for the Croppy--Patrick O'Dwyer, Mary's brother. Of course, you remember
Mary and her unpoetical hysterics the morning after the Rotunda meeting.
The new editor is a splendid man. He has been on the staff of a New
York paper for the last five years, and thoroughly understands the whole
business. But that's not the best of him. He hates England worse than
I do. I'm only a child beside him, bursting out into fits of temper
now and then, and cooling off again. He hates steadily, quietly, and
intensely. But even that is not all that is to be said. He has got
brains--brains enough, my dear Hyacinth, to make fools of you and me
every day and all day long. He has devised a new policy for Ireland. The
plan is simplicity itself, like all really great plans, and it _must_
succeed. I won't go into it now, because I want you to come up to Dublin
and see O'Dwyer. He tells me that he needs somebody else besides himself
on the staff of the _Croppy_, which, by the way, is to be enlarged and
improved. He wants a man who can write a column a week in Irish, as well
as an article now and then in good strong plain English. I suggested
your name to him, and showed him some of the articles you had written.
He was greatly pleased with the one about O'Dowd's cheap patriotism, and
liked one or two of the others. He just asked one question about you:
"Does Mr. Conneally hate England and the Empire, and everything English,
from the Parliament to the police barrack? It is this hatred which must
animate the work." I said I thought you did. I told him how you had
volunteered to fight for the Boers, and about the day you nearly killed
that blackguard Shea. He seemed to think that was good enough, and asked
me to write to you on the subject. We can't offer you a big salary. The
editor himself is only to get a hundred pounds a year for the present,
and I am guaranteeing another hundred for you. I am confident that I
shan't have to pay it for more than six months. The paper is sure to go
as it never went before, and in a few years we shall be able to treble
O'Dwyer's salary and double yours. Nothing like such a chance has ever
offered itself in Irish history before. Everything goes to show that
this is our opportunity. England is weaker than she has been for
centuries, is clinging desperately to the last tatters of her old
prestige. She hasn't a single statesman capable of thinking or acting
vigorously. Her Parliament is the laughingstock of Europe. Her Irish
policy may be summed up in four words--intrigue with the Vatican. In
Ireland the power of the faithful garrison is gone. The Protestants in
the North are sick of being fooled by one English party after another.
The landlords, or what's left of them, are beginning to discover that
they have been bought and sold. The Bishops, England's last line of
defence, are overreaching themselves, and we are within measurable
distance of the day when the Church will be put into her proper place.
There is not so much as a shoneen publican in a country town left who
believes in the ranting of O'Rourke and his litter of blind whelps.
Ireland is simply crying out for light and leading, and the _Croppy_
is going to give both. You always wanted to serve Ireland. Now I am
offering you the chance. I don't say you ought to thank me, though you
will thank me to the day of your death. I don't say that you have an
opportunity of becoming a great man. I know you, and I know a better way
of making sure of you than that. I say to you, Hyacinth Conneally, that
we want you--just _you_ and nobody else. Ireland wants you.'

The letter, especially the last part of it, was sufficiently ridiculous
to have moved Hyacinth to a smile. But it did no such thing. On the
contrary, its rhetoric excited and touched him. The flattery of the
final sentences elated him. The absurdity of the idea that Ireland
needed him, a fifth-rate office clerk, an out-of-work commercial
traveller who had failed to sell blankets and flannels, did not strike
him at all. The figure of Augusta Goold rose to his mind. She flashed
before him, an Apocalyptic angel, splended and terrible, trumpet-calling
him to the last great fight. He forgot in an instant the Quinns and
their trouble. The years of quietness in Ballymoy, the daily intercourse
with gentle people, the atmosphere of the religion in which he had
lived, fell away from him suddenly.

He sat absorbed in an ecstasy of joyful excitement until the jangling of
Canon Beecher's church bell recalled him to common life again. It speaks
for the strength of the habits he had formed in Ballymoy that he rose
without hesitation and went to take his part in the morning service.

He sat down as usual beside Marion Beecher and her harmonium. He
listened to her playing until her father entered. He found himself
gazing at her when she stood up for the opening words of the service.
He felt himself strangely affected by the gentleness of her face and the
slender beauty of her form. When she knelt down he could not take
his eyes off her. There came over him an inexplicable softening, a
relaxation of the tense excitement of the morning. He thought of her
kneeling there in the faded shabby church Sunday after Sunday for years
and years, when he was working at hot pressure far away. He knew just
how her eyes would look calmly, trustfully up to the God she spoke
to; how her soul would grow in gentleness; how love would be the very
atmosphere around her. And all the while he would struggle and fight,
with no inspiration except a bitter hate. Suddenly there came on him a
feeling that he could not leave her. The very thought of separation
was a fierce pain. A desire of her seized on him like uncontrollable
physical hunger. Wherever he might be, whatever life might have in store
for him, he knew that his heart would go back to her restlessly, and
remain unsatisfied without her. He understood that he loved her. Canon
Beecher's voice came to him as if from an immense distance:

'O God, make speed to save us.'

Then he heard very clearly Marion's sweet voice replying:

'O Lord, make haste to help us.'

There was a faint shuffling, and the congregation rose to their feet.
His eyes were still on Marion, and now his whole body quivered with the
force of his newly-found love. She half turned and looked at him. For
one instant their eyes met, and he saw in hers a flash of recognition,
then a strange look of fear, and she turned away from him, flushed and
trembling. He saw that she had read his heart and knew his love.

'Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost,' read
the Canon heavily.

Hyacinth's heart swelled in him. His whole being seemed to throb with
exultation, and he responded in a voice he could not recognise for his.

'As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without
end. Amen.'

Marion stood silent. Her head was bowed down, and her hands clasped
tight together.

Of the remainder of the morning's service Hyacinth could never
afterwards remember anything. No doubt Canon Beecher read the Psalms and
lessons and prayers; no doubt he preached. Probably, also, hymns were
sung, and Marion played them, but he could not imagine how. It seemed
quite impossible that she could have touched the keys with her fingers,
or that she could have uttered any sound; yet no one had remarked the
absence of hymns or even noticed any peculiarity in their performance.
Not till after the service was over did he regain full consciousness
of himself and his surroundings; then he became exceedingly alert. He
watched the Canon disappear into the vestry, heard the congregation
trample down the aisle, listened to Marion playing a final voluntary.
It seemed to him as he sat there waiting for her to stop that she played
much longer than usual. He could hear Mrs. Beecher and Mr. Quinn talking
in the porch, and every moment he expected the Canon to appear. At last
the music ceased, and the lid of the harmonium was closed and locked. He
stepped forward and took Marion's hands in his.

'Marion,' he said, 'I love you. It was only this morning that I found
it out, but I know--oh, I know--that I love you far, far more than I can
tell you.'

The hand which lay in his grew cold, and the girl's head was bowed so
that he could not see her face. He felt her tremble.

'Marion, Marion, I love you, love you, love you!'

Then very slowly she raised her head and looked at him. He stooped to
kiss her lips, and felt her face flush and glow when he touched it. Then
she drew her hands from his and fled down the church to her mother.

Hyacinth stood agape with wonder at the words which he had spoken. The
knowledge of his love had come on him like a sudden gust, and he only
half realized what he had done. He walked back to his lodgings, going
over and over the amazing words, recalling with flushed astonishment the
kiss. Then a chilling doubt beset him suddenly. Did Marion know how poor
he was? Never in his life had the fear of poverty or the desire of
gain determined Hyacinth's plans. He knew very well that no such
considerations would have in any way affected his conduct towards
Marion. Once he realized that he loved her, the confession of his
love was quite inevitable. Yet he felt vaguely that he might be judged
blameworthy. He had read a few novels, and he knew that even the writers
whose chief business it is to glorify the passion of love do not dare to
represent it as independent of money. He knew, too, that many penniless
heroes won admiration--he did not in the least understand why they
should--by silently deserting affectionate women. He knew that kisses
were immoral except for those who possessed a modest competence. These
authorized ethics of marriage engagements were wholly incomprehensible
to him, and it in no way disquieted his conscience that he had bound
Marion to him with his kiss; yet he felt that she had a right to know
what income he hoped to earn, and what kind of home he would have to
offer her. A hundred pounds a year might be deemed insufficient, and
he knew that, not being either a raven or a lily, he could not count on
finding food and clothes ready when he wanted them.

The daughters of the Irish Church clergy, even of the dignitaries, are
not brought up in luxury. Still, they are most of them accustomed to a
daily supply of food--plain, perhaps, but sufficient--and will look for
as much in the homes of their husbands. A girl like Marion Beecher does
not expect to secure a position which will enable her to send her own
clothes to a laundress or hire a cook who can make pastry; but it is not
fair to ask her to wash the family's blankets or to boil potatoes for a
pig. Probably her friends would think her lucky in marrying a curate or
a dispensary doctor with one hundred and fifty pounds a year, and
the prospect of one-third as much again after a while. But Hyacinth
remembered that he was poorer than any curate. He determined to put the
matter plainly before Marion without delay.

The Rectory door was opened for him by Elsie Beecher, and, in spite of
her wondering protests, Hyacinth walked into the dining-room and asked
that Marion should be sent to him. The room was empty, as he expected.
He stood and waited for her, deriving faint comfort and courage from the
threadbare carpet, patched tablecloth, and poor crazy chairs. They were
strange properties for a scene with possibilities of deep romance in it,
but they made his confession of poverty easier.

Marion entered at last and stood beside him. He neither took her hand
nor looked at her.

'When I told you to-day that I loved you,' he said, 'I ought to have
told you that I am very poor.'

'I know it,' she said.

'But I am poorer even than you know. I am not in Mr. Quinn's employment
any more. I have no settled income, and only a prospect of earning a
very small one.' He paused. 'I shall have to go away from Ballymoy. I
must live in Dublin. I do not think it is fair to ask you to marry me. I
shall have no more to live upon than----'

She moved a step nearer to him and laid her hand on his arm.

'Look at me,' she said.

He raised his eyes to her face, and saw again there, as he had seen in
church, the wonderful shining of love, which is stronger than all things
and holds poverty and hardship cheap.

'Keep looking at me still,' she said. 'Now tell me: Do you really think
it matters that you are poor? Do you think I care whether you have much
or little? Tell me.'

He could not answer her, although he knew that there was only one answer
to her question.

'Do you think that I love money? Do you doubt that I love you?'

Her voice sunk almost to a whisper as she spoke, and her eyes fell from
looking into his. Just as when he kissed her in the church, she flushed
suddenly, but this time she did not try to escape from him. Instead she
clung to his arm, and hid her face against his shoulder. He put his arms
round her and held her close.

'I know,' he said. 'I was a fool to come here thinking that my being
poor would matter. I might have known. Indeed, I think I did know even
before I spoke to you.'

She had no answer except a long soft laugh, which was half smothered in
his arms.



CHAPTER XX

On Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons Canon Beecher enjoyed the
privilege of a fire in his study. He was supposed to be engaged at these
seasons in the preparation of his sermons, a serious and exacting work
which demanded solitude and profound quiet. In earlier years he really
had prepared his sermons painfully, but long practice brings to the
preacher a certain fatal facility. Old ideas are not improved by being
clothed in new phrases, and of new ideas--a new idea will occasionally
obtrude itself even on the Christian preacher--the Canon was exceedingly
mistrustful. The study was an unexciting and comparatively comfortable
room. The firelight on winter afternoons played pleasantly on the
dim gold backs of the works of St. Augustine, a fine folio edition
bequeathed to Mrs. Beecher by a scholarly uncle, which reposed
undisturbed along a lower shelf. Adventurous rays occasionally explored
a faded print of the Good Shepherd which hung above the books, and
gleamed upon the handle of the safe where the parish registers and
church plate were stored. The quiet and the process of digesting his
mid-day dinner frequently tempted the Canon to indulge in a series of
pleasant naps on Sunday afternoons.

When Hyacinth tapped at the study door and entered, the room was almost
dark, and the sermon preparation, if proceeding at all, can have got no
further than the preliminary concatenation of ideas. The Canon, however,
was aggressively, perhaps suspiciously, wide awake.

'Who is that?' he asked. 'Oh, Conneally, it is you. I am very glad to
see you. Curiously enough, I thought of going down to call on you this
afternoon. I wanted to have a talk with you. I dare say you have come up
to consult me.'

Hyacinth was astonished. How could anyone have guessed what he came
about? Had Marion told her father already?

'It is a sad business,' the Canon went on--' very distressing and
perplexing indeed. But so far as you personally are concerned,
Conneally, I cannot regard it as an unmixed misfortune. You were meant
for something better, if I may say so, than selling blankets. Now, I
have a plan for your future, which I talked over last week with an old
friend of yours. Now that something has been settled about the Quinns,
we must all give our minds to your affairs.'

Then Hyacinth understood that Canon Beecher expected to be consulted
about his future plans, and even had some scheme of his own in mind.

'Yes,' he replied, 'I shall be very glad of your help and advice,
although I think I have decided about what I am going to do. It was
not on that subject I came to speak to you to-day, but on another, more
important, I think, for you and for me and for Marion.'

'For Marion?'

'I ought to tell you at once that I love your daughter Marion, and I am
sure that she loves me. I want to marry her.'

'My dear boy! I had not the slightest idea of this. It is one of the
most extraordinary things--or perhaps extraordinary is not exactly the
proper word--one of the most surprising things I----'

The Canon stopped abruptly and sat stroking his chin with his forefinger
in the effort to adjust his mind to the new situation presented to it.
It was characteristic of the man that the thought of Hyacinth's poverty
was not the first which presented itself. Indeed, Canon Beecher was one
of those unreasonable Christians who are actually convinced of the truth
of certain paradoxical sayings in the Gospel about wealth and poverty.
He believed that there were things of more importance in life than the
possession of money. Fortunately, such Christians are rare, for their
absurd creed forms a standing menace to the existence of Church and
sect alike. Fortunately also, ecclesiastical authorities have sufficient
wisdom to keep these eccentrics in the background, confining them as far
as possible to remote and obscure places. If ever a few of them escape
into the open and find means of expressing themselves, the whole
machinery of modern religion will become dislocated, and the Church will
very likely relapse into the barbarity of the Apostolic age.

'I believe, Conneally,' said the Canon at last, 'that you are a good
man. I do not merely mean that you are moral and upright, but that you
sincerely desire to follow in the footsteps of the Master.'

He looked as if he wanted some kind of answer, at least a confirmation
of his belief. Fresh from his interview with Marion, and having the
Canon's eyes upon him, it did not seem impossible to Hyacinth to answer
yes. Even the thought of the work he was to engage in with Miss Goold
and Patrick O'Dwyer seemed to offer no ground for hesitation. Was he
not enlisting with them to take part in the great battle? He had
never ceased to believe his father's words: 'And the battlefield is
Ireland--our dear Ireland which we love!' He felt for the moment that
he was altogether prepared to make the confession of faith the Canon
required.

'Yes,' he said, 'I am on His side.'

'And you love Marion? Are you quite sure of that? Are you certain that
this is not a passing fancy?'

This time Hyacinth had no doubt whatever about his answer.

'I am as certain of my love as I am of anything in the world.'

'I am glad. I am very glad that this has happened--for your sake,
because I have always liked you; also for Marion's sake. I shall see you
happy because you love one another, and because you both love the Lord.
I ask no more than those two things. But I must go and tell my wife at
once. She will be glad, too.'

He rose and went to the door. With his hand stretched out to open it he
stopped, struck by a sudden thought.

'By the way, I ought to ask you--if you mean to be married--have you
any--I mean it is necessary--I hope you won't think I am laying undue
stress upon such matters, but I really--I mean we really ought to
consider what you are to live upon.'

It was the prospect of imparting the news to his wife which forced this
speech from him. Mrs. Beecher was, indeed, the least worldly of women.
Did she not marry the Canon, then a mere curate, on the slenderest
income, and bear him successively five babies in defiance of common
prudence? But it had fallen to her lot to order the affairs of the
household, and she had learnt that the people who give you bread and
beef demand, after an interval, more or less money in exchange. It was
likely that, after her first rapture had subsided, she would make some
inquiry about Hyacinth's income and prospects. The Canon felt he ought
to be prepared.

'Of course, I have lost my position with Mr. Quinn. You know that. But I
have an offer of work which I hope will lead on to something better,
and will enable me in a short time to earn enough money to marry on.
You know--or perhaps you don't, for I am afraid I never told you '--he
remembered that he had carefully concealed his connection with the
_Croppy_ from his friends at Ballymoy, and paused--' I have done some
little writing. Oh, nothing very much--not a book, or anything like
that, only a few articles for the press. Well, a friend of mine has got
me the offer of a post in connection with a weekly paper. It is not a
very great thing in itself just now, but it may improve, and there is
always the prospect of picking up other work of the same kind.'

The Canon, who had never seen even an abstract of one of his own sermons
in print, had a proper reverence for the men who guide the world's
thought through the press.

'That is very good, Conneally--very satisfactory indeed. I always knew
you had brains. But why did you never tell me what you were doing? I
should have been deeply interested in anything you wrote.'

Hyacinth's conscience smote him.

'The truth is, that I was sure you wouldn't approve of the paper I
wrote for. It is the _Croppy_, the organ of the extreme left wing of the
Nationalist party. It is Miss Goold--Augusta Goold--who now offers me
work on that paper. She says---- But you had better read what she says
for yourself. Then you will know the worst of it.'

He took the letter from his pocket. The Canon lit a candle and read it
through slowly and attentively. When he had finished he laid it upon the
table and sat down. Hyacinth waited in extreme anxiety for what was to
come.

'I do not like the cause you mean to work for or the people you call
your friends. I would rather see my daughter's husband doing almost
anything else in the world. I would be happier if you proposed to break
stones upon the roadside. You know what my political opinions are.
I regard the _Croppy_ as a disloyal and seditious paper, bent upon
fostering a dangerous spirit.'

Hyacinth listened patiently. He had steeled himself against the hearing
of some such words, and was determined not to be moved to argument or
self-defence except as a last resort.

'I hope,' he said, 'that you will at least give me credit for honestly
acting in accordance with my convictions.'

'I am sure--quite sure--that you are honest, and believe that your cause
is the right one. I recognise, too, though this is a very difficult
thing to do, that you have every right to form and hold your own
political opinions. It seems to me that they are very wrong and very
mischievous, but it is quite possible that I am mistaken and prejudiced.
In any case, I am not called upon to refuse you my affection or to
separate you from my daughter because we differ about politics.'

Hyacinth breathed a great sigh of relief. He looked at the Canon in
wonder and admiration. It had been beyond hope that a man grown gray in
a narrow faith, a faith in which for centuries religion and politics had
been inextricably blended, could have risen in one clear flight above
the mire of prejudice. It seemed, even after he had spoken, impossible
that in Ireland, where political opponents believe each other to be
thieves and murderers, there could be found even one man, and he from
the least emancipated class of all, who could understand and practise
tolerance.

'I say,' went on the Canon, speaking very slowly, and with evident
difficulty, 'that I have no right to put you away from me because of
your political opinions. But there is something here '--he touched Miss
Goold's letter--' from which I must by all means try to save you.
Will you let me speak to you, not as Marion's father, not even as your
friend, but as Christ's ambassador set here to watch for your soul? But
I need not excuse myself for what I am about to say. You will at least
listen to me patiently.'

He took up Miss Goold's letter and searched through it for a short time;
then he read aloud:

'"He just asked one question about you: Does Mr. Conneally hate England
and the Empire and everything English, from the Parliament to the police
barrack? For it is this hatred which must animate our work. I said
I thought you did." Now consider what those words mean. You are to
dedicate your powers, the talents God has given you, to preaching
a gospel of hate. This is not a question of politics. I am ready
to believe that in the contest of which our unhappy country is the
battle-ground a man may be either on your side or mine, and yet be
a follower of Christ. It is impossible to think that anyone can
deliberately, with his eyes open, accept hatred for the inspiration of
his life and still be true to Him.'

Hyacinth was greatly moved by the solemnity with which the Canon spoke.
There was that in him which witnessed to the truth of what he heard. Yet
he refused to be convinced. When he spoke it was clear that he was not
addressing his companion, for his eyes were fixed upon the picture of
the Good Shepherd, faintly illuminated by the candle light. He desired
to order his own thought on the dilemma, to justify, if he could, his
own position to himself. 'It is true that the Gospel of Christ is a
Gospel of love. Yet there are circumstances in which it is wrong to
follow it. Is it possible to rouse our people out of their sordid
apathy, to save Ireland for a place among the nations, except by
preaching a mighty indignation against the tyranny which has crushed us
to the dust?'

He felt that Canon Beecher's eyes never left him for a moment while he
spoke. He looked up, and saw in them an intense pleading. There
stole over him a desire to yield, to submit himself to this appealing
tenderness. He defended himself desperately against his weakness.

'I am not choosing the pleasanter way. It would be easier for me to give
up the fight for Ireland, to desert the beaten side, to forget the lost
cause.' He turned to Canon Beecher, speaking almost fiercely: 'Do you
think it is a small thing for me to surrender your friendship, and
perhaps--perhaps to lose Marion? Is there not _some_ of the nobility of
sacrifice in refusing to listen to you?'

'I cannot argue with you. No doubt you are cleverer than I am. But I
_know_ this--God is love, and only he who dwelleth in love dwelleth in
God.'

'But I do love: I love Ireland.'

'Ah yes; but He says, "Love your enemies."'

'Then,' said Hyacinth, 'I will not have Him for my God.'

Hardly had he spoken than he started and grew suddenly cold. It was no
doubt some trick of memory, but he believed that he heard very faintly
from far off a remembered voice:

'Will you be sure to know the good side from the bad, the Captain from
the enemy.'

They were the last words his father had said to him. They had passed
unregarded when they were spoken, but lingered unthought of in some
recess of his memory. Now they came on him full of meaning, insistent
for an answer.

'You have chosen,' said the Canon.

He had chosen. Could he be sure that he had chosen right, that he knew
the good side from the bad?

'You have chosen, and I have no more to say. Only, before it becomes
impossible for you and me to kneel together, I ask you to let me pray
with you once more. You can do this because you still believe He hears
us, although you have decided to walk no more with Him.'

They knelt together, and Hyacinth, numbly indifferent, felt his hand
grasped and held.

'O Christ,' said Canon Beecher, 'this child of Thine has chosen to live
by hatred rather than by love. Do Thou therefore remove love from him,
lest it prove a hindrance to him on the way on which he goes. Let the
memory of the cross be blotted out from his mind, so that he may do
successfully that which he desires.'

Hyacinth wrenched his hand free from the grasp which held it, and flung
himself forward across the table at which they knelt. Except for his
sobs and his choking efforts to subdue them, there was silence in the
room. Canon Beecher rose from his knees and stood watching him, his lips
moving with unspoken supplication. At last Hyacinth also rose and stood,
calm suddenly.

'You have conquered me,' he said.

'My son, my son, this is joy indeed! All along I knew He could not fail
you. But I have not conquered you. The Lord Jesus has saved you.'

'I do not know,' said Hyacinth slowly, 'whether I have been saved or
lost. I am not sure even now that I know the good side from the bad.
But I do know that I cannot live without the hope of being loved by Him.
Whether it is the better part to which I resign myself I cannot tell.
No doubt He knows. As for me, if I have been forced to make a great
betrayal, if I am to live hereafter very basely--and I think I am--at
least I have not cut myself off from the opportunity of loving Him.'



CHAPTER XXI

Canon Beecher took no notice of Hyacinth's last speech. He had returned
with amazing swiftness and ease from the region of high emotion to the
commonplace. Excursions to the shining peaks of mystical experience are
for most men so rare that the glory leaves them with dazzled eyes, and
they walk stumblingly for a while along the dull roads of the world.
But Canon Beecher, in the course of his pleading with Hyacinth, had been
only in places very well known to him. The presence chamber of the King
was to him also the room of a familiar friend. It was no breathless
descent from the green hill of the cross to the thoroughfare of common
life.

'Now, my dear boy,' he said, 'we really must go and talk to my wife and
Marion. Besides, I must tell you the plan I have made for you--the plan
I was just going to speak about when you put it out of my head with the
news of your love-making.'

For Hyacinth a great effort was necessary before he could get back to
his normal state. His hands were trembling violently. His forehead and
hair were damp with sweat. His whole body was intensely cold. His mind
was confused, and he listened to what was said to him with only the
vaguest apprehension of its meaning. The Canon laid a firm hand upon
his arm, and led him away from the study. In the passage he stopped, and
asked Hyacinth to go back and blow out the candle which still burned on
the study table.

'And just put some turf on the fire,' he added; 'I don't want it to go
out.'

The pause enabled Hyacinth to regain his self-command, and the
performance of the perfectly ordinary acts required of him helped to
bring him back again to common life.

When they entered the drawing-room it was evident that Mrs. Beecher had
already heard the news, and was, in fact, discussing the matter eagerly
with Marion. She sprang up, and hastened across the room to meet them.

'I am so glad,' she said--'so delighted! I am sure you and Marion will
be happy together.'

She took Hyacinth's hands in hers, and held them while she spoke, then
drew nearer to him and looked up in his face expectantly. A fearful
suspicion seized him that on an occasion of the kind she might consider
it right to kiss him. It was with the greatest difficulty that he
suppressed a wholly unreasonable impulse to laugh aloud. Apparently the
need of such affectionate stimulant was strong in Mrs. Beecher. When
Hyacinth hung back, she left him for her husband, put her arms round his
neck, and kissed him heartily on both cheeks.

'Isn't it fortunate,' she said, 'that you saw Dr. Henry last week while
you were in Dublin? You little thought how important that talk with him
was going to turn out--I mean, of course, important for us. It always
was important for Mr.--I mean for Hyacinth.'

The Canon seemed a little embarrassed. He cleared his throat somewhat
unnecessarily, and then said:

'I haven't mentioned that matter yet.'

'Not mentioned Dr. Henry's offer! Then, what have you been talking about
all this time?'

It did not seem necessary to tell Mrs. Beecher all that had been said,
or to repeat the scene in the study for her benefit. The Canon cleared
his throat again.

'I was in Dublin last week attending a meeting of the Scriptural Schools
Society, and I met Dr. Henry. We were talking about the Quinns. I told
you that Mr. Quinn is to be the new secretary of the society, didn't I?
Dr. Henry knows Mr. Quinn slightly, and was greatly interested in him.
Your name naturally was mentioned. Dr. Henry seems to have taken a
warm interest in you when you were in college, and to have a very high
opinion of your abilities. He did not know what had become of you, and
was very pleased to hear that you were a friend of ours.'

Hyacinth knew at once what was coming--knew what Canon Beecher's plan
for his future was, and why he was pleased with it; understood how Mrs.
Beecher came to describe this conversation with Dr. Henry as fortunate.
He waited for the rest of the recital, vaguely surprised at his own want
of feeling.

'I told him,' the Canon went on, eying Hyacinth doubtfully, 'that you
had lost your employment here. I hope you don't object to my
having mentioned that. I am sure you wouldn't if you had heard how
sympathetically he spoke of you. He assured me that he was most anxious
to help you in any way in his power. He just asked one question about
you.' Hyacinth started. Where had he heard those identical words before?
Oh yes, they were in Miss Goold's letter. Patrick O'Dwyer also had just
asked one question about him. He smiled faintly as the Canon went on:
'"Is he fit, spiritually fit, to be ordained? For it is the desire to
serve God which must animate our work." I said I thought you were. I
told him how you sang in our choir here, and how fond you seemed of our
quiet life, and what a good fellow you are. You see, I did not know then
that I was praising the man who is to be my son-in-law. He asked me to
remind you of a promise he had once made, and to say that he was ready
to fufil it. I understood him to mean that he would recommend you to any
Bishop you like for ordination.'

Hyacinth remained silent. He felt that in surrendering his work for the
_Croppy_ he surrendered also his right to make any choice. He was ready
to be shepherded into any position, like a sheep into a pen. And he
had no particular wish to resist. He saw a simple satisfaction in Mrs.
Beecher's face and a beautiful joy in Marion's eyes. It was impossible
for him to disappoint them. He smiled a response to Mrs. Beecher's
kindly triumph.

'Isn't that splendid! Now you and Marion will be able to be married
quite soon, and I do dislike long engagements. Of course, you will be
very poor at first, but no poorer than we were. And Marion is not afraid
of being poor--are you, dear?'

'That is just what I have been saying to him,' said Marion; 'isn't it,
Hyacinth? Of course I am not afraid. I have always said that if I ever
married I should like to marry a clergyman, and if one does that one is
sure to be poor.'

Evidently there was no doubt in either of their minds that Hyacinth
would accept Dr. Henry's offer. Nor had he any doubt himself. The thing
seemed too inevitable to be anything but right. Only on Canon Beecher's
face there lingered a shadow of uncertainty. Hyacinth saw it, and
relieved his mind at once.

'I shall write to Dr. Henry to-night and thank him. I shall ask him to
try and get me a curacy as soon as possible.'

'Thank you,' said the Canon.

'I think,' added Hyacinth, 'that I should prefer getting work in
England.'

'Oh, why,' said Mrs. Beecher. 'Wouldn't it be better to stay in Ireland!
and then we might have Marion somewhere within reach.'

'My dear,' said the Canon, 'we must let Hyacinth decide for himself. I
am sure he knows what is wisest for him to do.'

Hyacinth was not at all sure that he knew what was wisest, and he was
quite certain that he had not decided for himself in any matter of the
slightest importance. He had suggested an English curacy in the vague
hope that it might be easier there to forget his hopes and dreams for
Ireland. It seemed to him, too, that a voluntary exile, of which he
could not think without pain, might be a kind of atonement for the
betrayal of his old enthusiasm.

The Canon followed him to the door when he left.

'My dear boy'--there was a break in his voice as he spoke--' my dear
boy, you have made me very happy. I am sure that you will not enter upon
the work of the ministry from any unworthy motive. The call will become
clearer to you by degrees. I mean the inward call. The outward call, the
leading of circumstance, has already made abundantly plain the way you
ought to walk in. The other will come--the voice which brings assurance
and peace when it speaks.'

Hyacinth looked at him wistfully. There seemed very little possibility
of anything like assurance for him, and only such peace as might be
gained by smothering the cries with which his heart assailed him. The
Canon held his hand and wrung it.

'I can understand why you want to go to England. Your political opinions
will interfere very little with your work there. Here, of course, it
would be different. Yes, your choice is certainly wise, for nothing
must be allowed to hinder your work. "Laying aside every weight," you
remember, "let us run the race." Yes, I understand.'

It was perfectly clear to Hyacinth that the Canon did not understand in
the least. It was not likely that anyone ever would understand.

Gradually his despondency gave way before the crowding in of thoughts of
satisfaction. He was to have Marion, to live with her, to love her, and
be loved by her as long as they both lived. He saw life stretching out
before him, a sunlit, pleasant journey in Marion's company. It did not
seem to him that any trouble could be really bad, any disappointment
intolerable, any toil oppressive with her love for an atmosphere round
him. He believed, too, that the work he was undertaking was a good work,
perhaps the highest and noblest kind of work there is to be done in the
world. From this conviction also came a glow of happiness. Yet there
kept recurring chill shudderings of self-reproach. Something within him
kept whispering that he had bartered his soul for happiness.

'I have chosen the easier and therefore the baser way,' he said. 'I have
shrunk from toil and pain. I have refused to make the sacrifice demanded
of me.'

He went back again to the story of his father's vision. For a moment
it seemed quite clear that he had deliberately refused the call to the
great fight, that he had judged himself unworthy, being cowardly and
selfish in his heart. Then he remembered that the Captain of whom his
father had told him was no one else but Christ, the same Christ of whom
Canon Beecher spoke, the Good Shepherd whose love he had discovered to
be the greatest need of all.

'I must have Him,' he said--'I must have Him--and Marion.'

Again with the renewed decision came a glow of happiness and a sense of
rest, until there rose, as if to smite him, the thought of Ireland--of
Ireland, poor, derided of strangers, deserted by her sons, roped in as
a prize-ring where selfish men struggle ignobly for sordid gains The
children of the land fled from it sick with despair. Its deserted houses
were full of all doleful things. Cormorants and the daughters of the owl
lodged in the lintels of them.

Sullen desolation was on the threshold, while satyrs cried to their
fellows across tracts of brown rush-grown land. Aliens came to hiss and
passed by wagging their hands. Over all was the monotony of the gray
sky, descending and still descending with clouds that came upon the
land, mistily folding it in close embraces of death. Voices sounded far
off and unreal through the gloom. The final convulsive struggles of the
nation's life grew feebler and fewer. Of all causes Ireland's seemed the
most hopelessly lost. Was he, too, going to forsake her? He felt that in
spite of all the good promised him there would always hang over his life
a gloom that oven Marion's love would not disperse, the heavy shadow of
Ireland's Calvary. For Marion there would be no such darkness, nor would
Marion understand it. But surely Christ understood. Words of His crowded
to the memory. 'When He beheld the city He wept over it, saying,
Oh, Jerusalem, Jerusalem!' Most certainly He understood this, as He
understood all human emotion. He, too, had yearned over a nation's fall,
had felt the heartbreak of the patriot.

'I have chosen Him,' he said at last. 'Once having caught a glimpse of
Him, I could not do without Him. He understands it all, and He has given
me Marion.'



CHAPTER XXII

It was a brilliant July day, and the convent at Robeen was decked for a
festival. The occasion was a very great one. Cloth of gold hung in the
chapel, the entrance-hall was splendid with flowers, and the whole
white front of the buildings had put on signs of holiday. Indeed,
this festival was unique, the very greatest day in the history of the
sisterhood. Easter, Christmas, and the saints' days recurred annually
in their proper order, and the emotions they brought with them were no
doubt familiar to holy ladies whose business it was to live in close
touch with the other world. But on this day the great of the earth,
beings much more unapproachable, as a rule, than the saints, were to
visit the convent. Honour was to be paid to ladies whose magnificence
was guaranteed by worldly titles; to the Proconsuls of the far-off
Imperial power, holders of the purse-strings of the richest nation
upon earth; to Judges accustomed to sit in splendid robes and awful
head-dresses, pronouncing the doom of malefactors; to a member of the
Cabinet, a very mighty man, though untitled; and quite possibly--a
glittering hope--to the Lord Lieutenant himself.

It was therefore no wonder that the nuns had decked their convent
with all possible splendour. On each side of the iron gateway was a
flag-post. From the top of one fluttered the green banner of Ireland,
with its gold harp and a great crown over it. From the other hung
the Union Jack, emblem of that marriage of nationalities for whose
consummation eight centuries have not sufficed. It was hoisted upside
down--not with intentional disrespect, but because Sister Gertrude, who
superintended this part of the decorations, had long ago renounced the
world, and did not remember that the tangled crosses had a top or a
bottom to them. Between the posts hung a festoon of signalling flags,
long pointed strips of bunting with red balls or blue on them. The
central streamer just tipped as it fluttered the top of the iron cross
which marked the religious nature of the gateway. The straight gravel
walk inside was covered with red baize, and on each side of it were
planted tapering poles, round which crimson and white muslin circled
in alternate stripes, giving them the appearance of huge old-fashioned
sugar-sticks. These added to the gaiety of the scene, though it cannot
be supposed that they were of any actual use. The most bewildered
visitor was hardly likely to stray off the red baize or miss his way to
the door in front of him. Within the great entrance-hall were palms and
flowering shrubs in pots or tubs. The mosaic flooring, imported from
Italy, and a source of pride to all the Sisters, shone with much washing
and polishing. The Madonna with the blue eyes and the golden crown,
before which even Bishops crossed themselves, was less in evidence than
usual, for the expected guests were mostly heretics. She stood retired
behind the flower-pots, and veiled her benignity with the leaves of
palms.

Right and left of the hall stretched corridors, whose shining parquet
invited the curious to explore the working-rooms and eating-rooms which
lay beyond. The door of the chapel stood open, and offered a vision
of simpering angels crowding the canvas of the altar-piece, a
justly-admired specimen of German religious art. Before it, dimly
seen, two nuns knelt, types of conventual piety, absorbed in spiritual
contemplation amid the tumult of the world's invasion of their
sanctuary. Another door led to the garden. Here a fountain played into a
great stone basin, and neat gravel walks intersected each other at sharp
angles among flower-beds. The grass which lay around the maze of paths
was sacred as a rule, even from the list slippers of the nuns, but
to-day booths stood on it like stalls at a charity bazaar, hung with
tweeds, blankets, and stockings. A tall Calvary lowered incongruously
over one. An inferior Madonna, deposed from her old station in the
entrance-hall, presided in a weather-beaten blue robe over another.

Beyond the garden, blocked off from it by a white wall, lay the factory
itself, the magnet which was drawing the great of the earth to the
nunnery. Here were the workers, all of them bright young women, smiling
pleasantly and well washed for the occasion. They were dressed in neat
violet petticoats and white blouses, with shawls thrown back from their
heads, a glorified presentment of the Mayo woman's working dress. Here
and there, a touch of realism creditable to the Reverend Mother's talent
for stage management, one sat in bare feet--not, of course, dust or mud
stained, as bare feet are apt to be in Connaught, but clean. The careful
observer of detail might have been led to suppose that the Sisters
improved upon the practice of the Holy Father himself, and daily washed
the feet of the poor.

Everywhere fresh-complexioned, gentle-faced nuns flitted silently about.
The brass crosses pendent over their breasts relieved with a single
glitter the sombre folds of their robes. Snowy coifs, which had cost the
industrial schoolgirls of a sister house hours of labour and many tears,
shone, glazed and unwrinkled, round their heads. Even the youngest of
them had acquired the difficult art of walking gracefully with her hands
folded in front of her.

At about two o'clock the visitors began to arrive, although the train
from Dublin which was to bring the very elect was not due for another
half-hour. Lady Geoghegan, grown pleasantly stout and cheerfully
benignant, came by a local train, and rejoiced the eyes of beholders
with a dress made of one of the convent tweeds. Sir Gerald followed
her, awkward and unwilling. He had been dragged with difficulty from his
books and the society of his children, and was doubtful whether a cigar
in a nunnery garden might not be counted sacrilege. With them was
a wonderful person--an English priest: it was thus he described
himself--whom Lady Geoghegan had met in Yorkshire. His charming manners
and good Church principles had won her favour and earned him the holiday
he was enjoying at Clogher House. He was arrayed in a pair of gray
trousers, a white shirt, and a blazer with the arms of Brazenose College
embroidered on the pocket, his sacerdotal character being marked only
by his collar. He leaped gaily from the car which brought them from the
station, and, as he assisted his hostess to alight, amazed the little
crowd around the gate by chaffing the driver in an entirely unknown
tongue. The good man had an ear for music, and plumed himself on his
ability to pick up any dialect he heard--Scotch, Yorkshire, or Irish
brogue. The driver was bewildered, but smiled pleasantly. He realized
that the gentleman was a foreigner, and since the meaning of his speech
was not clear, it was quite likely that he might be hazy about the value
of money and the rates of car hire.

The Duchess of Drummin came in her landau. Like Lady Geoghegan, she
marked the national and industrial nature of the occasion in her attire.
At much personal inconvenience, for the day was warm, she wore a long
cloak of rich brown tweed, adorned with rows of large leather-covered
buttons. Lady Josephine Maguire fluttered after her. She had bidden
her maid disguise a dress, neither Irish nor homespun, with as much
Carrickmacross lace as could be attached to it. Lord Eustace, who
represented his father, appeared in all the glory of a silk hat and a
frock-coat. He eyed Sir Gerald's baggy trousers and shabby wideawake
with contempt, and turned away his eyes from beholding the vanity of
obviously bad form when he came face to face with the English priest in
his blazer.

A smiling nun took charge of each party as it arrived. Lady Geoghegan
plied hers with questions, and received a series of quite uninforming
answers. Her husband followed her, bent principally upon escaping
from the precincts if he could. Already he was bored, and he knew that
speeches from great men were in store for him if he were forced to
linger. The Duchess of Drummin eyed each object presented to her notice
gravely through long-handled glasses, but gave her attendant nun very
little conversational help. Lady Josephine made every effort to be
intelligent, and inquired in a dormitory where the looking-glasses
were. She was amazed to hear that the nuns did, or failed to do, their
hair--the head-dresses concealed the result of their efforts--without
mirrors. Lord Eustace was preoccupied. Amid his unaccustomed
surroundings he walked uncertain whether to keep his hat on his head
or hold it in his hands. The English priest, whose name was Austin, got
detached from Lady Geoghegan, and picked up a stray nun for himself. She
took him, by his own request, straight to the chapel. He crossed himself
with elaborate care on entering, and knelt for a moment before the
altar. The nun was delighted.

'So you, too, are a Catholic?'

'Certainly,' he replied briskly--'an English Catholic.'

'Ah! many of our priests go to England. Perhaps you have met Father
O'Connell. He is on a London mission.'

'No,' said Mr. Austin, 'I do not happen to have met him. My church is in
Yorkshire.'

The nun gazed at him in amazement.

'Your church! Then you are----

'Yes,' he said, 'I am a priest.'

Her eyes slowly travelled over him. They began at the gray trousers,
passed to the blazer, resting a moment on the college arms, which
certainly suggested the ecclesiastical, and remained fixed on his
collar. After all, why should she, a humble nun, doubt his word when he
said he was a priest? Perhaps he might belong to some order of which
she had never heard. Eccentricities of costume might be forced on the
English clergy by Protestant intolerance. She smothered her uncertainty,
and took him at his word. They went together into the garden. Mr. Austin
took off his hat before the tarnished Madonna, and crossed himself
again. The nun's doubts vanished.

'I think,' he said, 'that I should like to buy some of this tweed. Is it
for sale?'

'Oh, certainly. Sister Aloysia will sell it to you. We are so glad, so
very glad, when anyone will buy what our poor workers make. It is all a
help to the good cause.'

'Now this,' said Mr. Austin, fingering a bright-green cloth, 'would make
a nice lady's dress. Don't you think so?'

The nun cast down her eyes.

'I do not know, Father, about dresses. Sister Aloysia, the Reverend
Father wants to buy tweed to make a dress for '--she hesitated; perhaps
it was his niece, but he looked young to have a full-grown niece--'for
his sister.'

Sister Aloysia looked round her, puzzled. She saw no Reverend Father.

'This,' said the other, 'is Father--Father----'

'Austin,' he helped her out.

'Father Austin,' added the nun.

'And you wish,' said Sister Aloysia, 'to buy a dress for your sister?'

'Not for my sister,' said Mr. Austin--'for my wife.'

Both nuns started back as if he had tried to strike them.

'Your wife! Your wife! Then you are a Protestant.'

'Certainly not,' he said. 'I detest all Protestants. I am a Catholic--an
Anglo-Catholic.'

Neither of the nuns had ever heard of an Anglo-Catholic before.
What manner of religion such people might profess was doubtful and
unimportant. One thing was clear--this was not a priest in any sense of
the word which they could recognise. They distrusted him, as a wolf,
not certainly in the clothing, but using the language, of a sheep. The
situation became embarrassing. Mr. Austin prepared to bow himself away.

'I think,' he said, 'I shall ask Lady Geoghegan'--he rolled the title
out emphatically; it formed a salve to his wounded dignity--'I shall ask
Lady Geoghegan to purchase the tweed for me. I must be on the look-out
for a friend who promised to meet me here this afternoon--a young man
whom I contemplate engaging as my curate. I am most particular in the
choice of a curate, and should, of course, prefer a public school
and 'Varsity man. I need scarcely say that I refer only to Oxford and
Cambridge as the Universities. As a rule, I do not care for Irishmen,
but on the recommendation of my friend Dr. Henry, I am willing to
consider this Mr. Conneally.'

It seemed to Mr. Austin that a preference for the English Universities,
the friendship of a distinguished professor, a contempt for the mere
Irishman, and a titled hostess ought to restore the respect he had
forfeited by the mention of his wife. Curiously enough, and this shows
the disadvantage of a monastic seclusion from the world, the nuns
remained unimpressed. The conception of a married priest was too much
for them. As he walked away Mr. Austin heard Sister Aloysia murmur:

'How very indecent!'

Meanwhile, the train from Dublin had arrived, and Mr. Austin, when he
returned after his interview with Hyacinth, found that even the two nuns
he had victimized had forgotten him in the excitement of gazing at
more important visitors. Mr. Justice Saunders, a tall, stout man with a
florid face, made a tour of the factory under the charge of one of the
senior Sisters. He took little notice of what he was shown, being
mainly bent on explaining to his escort how he came to be known in legal
circles as 'Satan Saunders.' Afterwards he added a tale of how he had
once bluffed a crowd in an out-of-the-way country town into giving three
cheers for the Queen.

'You're all loyal here,' he said. 'I saw the Union Jack flying over the
gate as I came in.'

The nun smiled, a slow, enigmatic smile, and the Judge, watching her,
was struck by her innocence and simplicity.'

'Surely,' she said, 'the Church must always be loyal.'

'Well, I'm not so sure of that. I've met a few firebrands of priests in
my time.'

'Oh, those!' she said with a shrug of her shoulders. 'You must not think
of them. It will always be easy to keep them in order when the time
comes. They spring from the cabins. What can you expect of them? But the
Church---- Can the Church fail of respect for the Sovereign?'

Mr. Clifford and Mr. Davis followed Judge Saunders. They were members of
the Congested Districts Board, and it was clear from the manner of
the nun who escorted them that they were guests of very considerable
importance in her estimation. Mr. Clifford was an Englishman who had
been imported to assist in governing Ireland because he was married to
the sister of the Chief Secretary's wife. He was otherwise qualified
for the task by possessing a fair knowledge of the points of a horse. He
believed that he knew Ireland and the Irish people thoroughly.

His colleague, Mr. Davis, was a man of quite a different stamp. The
son of a Presbyterian farmer in County Tyrone, he had joined the Irish
Parliamentary party, and made himself particularly objectionable in
Westminster. He had devoted his talents to discovering and publishing
the principles upon which appointments to lucrative posts are made
by the officials in Dublin Castle. It was found convenient at last to
provide him with a salary and a seat on the Congested Districts Board.
Thus he found himself engaged in ameliorating the lot of the Connaught
peasants. Mr. Clifford used to describe him as 'a bit of a bounder--in
fact, a complete outsider--but no fool.' His estimate of Mr. Clifford
was perhaps less complimentary.

'Every business,' he used to say, 'must have at least one gentleman in
it to do the entertaining and the dining out. We have Mr. Clifford. He's
a first-rate man at one of the Lord Lieutenant's balls.'

A professor from Trinity College was one of the two guests conducted by
the Reverend Mother herself. Nominally this learned gentleman existed
for the purpose of impressing upon the world the beauties of Latin
poetry, but he was best known to fame as an orator on the platforms
of the Primrose League, and a writer of magazine articles on Irish
questions. He was a man who owed his success in life largely to his
faculty for always keeping beside the most important person present. The
Lord Lieutenant, being slightly indisposed, had been unable to make an
early start, so the most honourable stranger was Mr. Chesney, the Chief
Secretary. To him Professor Cairns attached himself, and received a
share of the Reverend Mother's blandishments.

Mr. Chesney himself was dapper and smiling as usual. Even the early
hour at which he had been obliged to leave home had neither ruffled his
temper nor withered the flower in his buttonhole. He spent his money
generously at the various stalls in the garden, addressed friendly
remarks to the women in the factory, and asked the questions with which
Mr. Davis had primed him in the train.

Quite a crowd of minor people followed the great statesman. There were
barristers who hoped to become County Court Judges, and ladies who
enjoyed a novel kind of occasion for displaying their clothes, hoping to
see their names afterwards in the newspaper accounts of the proceedings.
There were a few foremen from leading Dublin shops, who foresaw the
possibility of a fashionable boom in Robeen tweeds and flannels. There
were also reporters from the Dublin papers, and a representative--Miss
O'Dwyer--of a syndicate which supplied ladies' journals with accounts of
the clothes worn at fashionable functions.

The supreme moment of the day arrived when the company assembled to
listen to words of wisdom from the orators selected to address them.
Seats had been provided by carting in forms from the neighbouring
national schools. A handsomely-carved chair of ecclesiastical design
awaited Mr. Chesney.

He opened his speech by assuring his audience that there was no occasion
for him to address them at all, a truth which struck home to the heart
of Sir Gerald, who was trying to arrange himself comfortably at a desk
designed for a class of infants.

'Facts,' Mr. Chesney explained himself, 'are more eloquent than words.
You have seen what I could never have described to you--the contented
workers in this factory and the artistic designs of the fabrics they
weave. Many of you remember what Robeen was a few years ago--a howling
wilderness. We are told on high authority that even the wilderness shall
blossom as a rose.'

He bowed in the direction of the Reverend Mother, possibly with a
feeling that it was suitable to acknowledge her presence when quoting
Holy Writ, possibly with a vague idea that she might consider herself
a spiritual descendant of the Prophet Isaiah. 'You see it now a hive of
happy industry.'

He observed with pleasure that the reporters were busy with their
note-books, and he knew that these editors of public utterance might be
relied on to unravel a tangled metaphor before publishing a speech. He
went on light-heartedly, confident that in the next day's papers his
wilderness would blossom into something else, and that the hive, if
it appeared at all, would be arrived at by some other process than
blossoming. The habit of rolling out agreeable platitudes to audiences
forced to listen is one which grows on public men as dram-drinking does
on the common herd. Mr. Chesney was evidently enjoying himself, and
there seemed no reason why he should ever stop. He could, and perhaps
would, have gone on for hours but for the offensive way in which Judge
Saunders snapped the case of his watch at the end of every period. There
was really no hurry, for the special train which was to bring them back
to Dublin would certainly wait until they were ready for it. Mr. Chesney
felt aggrieved at the repeated interruption, and closed his speech
without giving the audience the benefit of his peroration.

The Judge came next, and began with reminding his hearers that he
was known as 'Satan Saunders.' An account of the origin of the name
followed, and was enjoyed even by those who had listened to the Judge's
oratory before, and therefore knew the story. There was something
piquant, almost _risqué_, in the constant repetition of a really wicked
word like 'Satan' in the halls of a nunnery. The audience laughed
reassuringly, and the Judge went on to supply fresh pabulum for mirth by
suggesting that the Reverend Mother should clothe her nuns in their own
tweeds. He was probably right in supposing that the new costumes would
add a gaiety to the religious life. Other jests followed, and he sat
down amid a flutter of applause after promising that when he next
presided over the Winter Assizes in a draughty court-house he would send
for a Robeen blanket and wrap his legs in it.

Mr. Clifford, who followed the Judge, began by wondering whether anyone
present had ever been in Lancashire. After a pause, during which no one
owned to having crossed the Channel, he said that Lancashire was the
home of the modern factory. There every man and woman earned good wages,
wore excellent clothes, and lived in a house fitted with hot and cold
water taps and a gas-meter. It was his hope to see Mayo turned into
another Lancashire. When ladies of undoubted commercial ability, like
the Lady Abbess who presided over the Robeen convent--Lady Abbess
sounded well, and Mr. Clifford was not strong on ecclesiastical
titles--took the matter up, success was assured. All that was required
for the development of the factory system in Mayo was capital, and that
'we, the Congested Districts Board, are in a position to supply.' With
the help of some prompting from Mr. Davis, he proceeded to lay
before the audience a few figures purporting to explain the Board's
expenditure.

Professor Cairns was evidently anxious to follow Mr. Clifford, if only
in the humble capacity of the proposer of a vote of thanks. But Ids
name was not on the programme, and Mr. Chesney was already engaged in a
whispered conversation with the Reverend Mother. Ignoring the professor,
almost rudely, he announced that the company in general was invited to
tea in the dining-room.

The refreshments provided, if not substantial, were admirable in
quality. There happened just then to be a young lady engaged, at the
expense of the County Council, in teaching cookery in a neighbouring
convent. She was sent over to Robeen for the occasion, and made a number
of delightful cakes at extremely small expense. The workers in the
factory had given the butter she required as a thank-offering, and the
necessary eggs came from another convent where the nuns, with financial
assistance from the Congested Districts Board, kept a poultry-farm.
The Reverend Mother dispensed her hospitality with the same air of
generosity with which Mr. Clifford had spoken of providing capital for
the future ecclesiastical factories.



CHAPTER XXIII

The Reverend Mother bowed out the last of her guests, and retired to
her own room well satisfied. She was assured of further support from
the Congested Districts Board, and certain debts which had grown
uncomfortably during her struggle with Mr. Quinn need trouble her no
longer. Her goods would be extensively advertised next morning in the
daily press. Her house would obtain a celebrity likely to attract
the most eligible novices--those, that is to say, who would bring the
largest sums of money as their dowries. There arose before her mind a
vision of almost unbounded wealth and all that might be done with it.
What statues of saints might not Italy supply! French painters and
German organ-builders would compete for the privilege of furnishing the
chapel of her house. Already she foresaw pavements of gorgeous mosaic,
windows radiant with Munich glass, and store of vestments to make
her sacristy famous. Grandiose plans suggested themselves of founding
daughter houses in Melbourne, in Auckland, in Capetown, in Natal. All
things were possible to a well-filled purse. She saw how her Order
might open schools in English towns, where girls could be taught French,
Italian, Latin, music, all the accomplishments dear to middle-class
parents, at ridiculously low fees, or without fees at all. She stirred
involuntarily at the splendour of her visions. The day's weariness
dropped off from her. She rose from her chair and went into the chapel.
She prostrated herself before the altar, and lay passive in a glow of
warm emotion. For God, for the Mother of God, for the Catholic Church,
she had laboured and suffered and dared. Now she was well within sight
of the end, the golden reward, the fulfilment of hopes that had never
been altogether selfish.

Her thoughts, sanctified now by the Presence on the altar, drifted out
again on to the shining sea of the future. What she, a humble nun,
had done others would do. A countless army of missionary men and women
marching from the Irish shore would conquer the world's conquerors,
regain for the Church the Anglo-Saxon race. Once in the far past Irish
men and women had Christianized Europe, and Ireland had won her glorious
title, 'Island of Saints.' Now the great day was to dawn again, the
great race to be reborn. For this end had Ireland been kept faithful and
pure for centuries, just that she might be at last the witness to
the spiritual in a materialized world. For this end had the Church in
Ireland gone through the storm of persecution, suffered the blight of
the world's contempt, that she might emerge in the end entirely fitted
for the bloodless warfare.

'And I am one of the race, a daughter of Ireland. And I am a
worker--nay, one who has accomplished something--in the vineyard of the
Church. Ah, God!'

She was swept forward on a wave of emotion. Thought ceased, expiring
in the ecstasy of a communion which transcended thought. Then suddenly,
sharp as an unexpected pain, an accusation shot across her soul,
shattering the coloured glory of the trance in an instant.

'Who am I that I should boast?'

The long years of introspection, the discipline of hundreds of
heart-searching confessions, the hardly-learned lesson of self-distrust,
made it possible for her to recognise the vain-glory even with the halo
of devotion shining round it. She abased herself in penitence.

'Give me the work, my Lord; give others the glory and the fruit of it.
Let me toil, but withhold the reward from me. May my eyes not see it,
lest I be lifted up! Nay, give me not even work to do, lest I should be
praised or learn to praise myself. "Nunc dimittis servam tuam, Domine,
secundum verbum tuum in pace."'

There stole over her a sense of peace--numb, silent peace--wholly unlike
the satisfaction which had flooded her in her own room or during the
earlier ecstasy before the altar. She raised her eyes slowly till they
rested on the shrine where the body of the sacrifice reposed.

'Quia viderunt oculi mei salutare tuum.'

At last she rose. The lines of care and age gathered again upon her
face. Her eyes gleamed with keen intelligence. She braced herself with
the thought of all that might still lie before her. The advice of Iago,
strangely sanctified, clamoured in her heart--' Put money in thy purse.'



CHAPTER XXIV

The Reverend Mother was not the only person well satisfied with the
day. The Right Hon. T. J. Chesney leant back in his saloon-carriage,
and puffed contentedly at his cigar. It might be his part
occasionally--indeed, frequently--to talk like a fool, but the man was
shrewd enough. It really seemed that he had hit on the true method of
governing Ireland. Nationalist members of Parliament could be muzzled,
not by the foolish old methods of coercion, but by winning the goodwill
of the Bishops. No Irish member, dared open his mouth when a priest
bid him keep it shut, or give a vote contrary to the wishes of the
hierarchy. And the Bishops were reasonable men. They looked at things
from a point of view intelligible to Englishmen. There was no ridiculous
sentimentality about their demands. For so much money they would silence
the clamour of the Parliamentary party; for so much more they would
preach a modified loyalty, would assert before the world that the Irish
people were faithful servants of the Sovereign; for a good lump sum down
they would undertake to play 'God Save the King' or 'Rule, Britannia'
on the organ at Maynooth. Of course, the money must be paid: Mr. Chesney
was beginning to understand that, and felt the drawback. It would have
been much pleasanter and simpler if the Bishops would have been content
with promises. There was a certain difficulty in obtaining the necessary
funds without announcing precisely what they-were for. But, after all,
a man cannot be called a great statesman without doing something to
deserve the title, and British statesmanship is the art of hoodwinking
the taxpayer. That is all--not too difficult a task for a clever man.
Mr. Chesney reckoned on no power in Ireland likely to be seriously
troublesome. The upper classes were either helpless and sulking, or
helpless and smiling artificially. They might grumble in private or
try to make themselves popular by joining the chorus of the Church's
flatterers. Either way their influence was inconsiderable. Was there
anyone else worth considering? The Orangemen were still a noisy faction,
but their organization appeared to be breaking up. They were more bent
on devouring their own leaders than interfering with him. There were a
number of people anxious to revive the Irish language, who at one time
had caused him some little uneasiness. He had found it quite impossible
to understand the Gaelic League, and, being an Englishman, arrived
gradually at the comfortable conclusion that what he could not
understand must be foolish. Now, he had great hopes that the Bishops
might capture the movement.

If once it was safely under the patronage of the Church, he had
nothing more to fear from it No doubt, resolutions would be passed,
but resolutions------ Mr. Chesney smiled. There were, of course, the
impossible people connected with the _Croppy_. Mr. Chesney did not like
them, and in the bottom of his heart was a little nervous about them.
they seemed to be very little afraid of the authority of the Church,
and he doubted if the authority of the state would frighten them at
all. Still, there were very few of them, and their abominable spirit of
independence was spreading slowly, if at all.

'They won't,' he said to himself, 'be of any importance for some years
to come, at all events, and five years hence----'

In five years Mr. Chesney hoped to be Prime Minister, or perhaps to
have migrated to the House of Lords, At least, he expected to be out
of Ireland, Meanwhile, he lighted a fresh cigar. The condition of the
country was extremely satisfactory, and his policy was working out
better than he had hoped.

The other travellers by the special train were equally well pleased,
Ireland, so they understood Mr. Chesney, was to be made happy and
contented, peaceful and prosperous. It followed that there must be
Boards under the control of Dublin Castle--more and more Boards, an
endless procession of them. There is no way devised by the wit of man
for securing prosperity and contentment except the creation of Boards,
If Boards, then necessarily officials--officials with salaries and
travelling allowances. Nice gentlemanly men, with villas at Dalkey and
Killiney, would perform duties not too arduous in connection with the
Boards, and carry out the benevolent policy of the Government. There
was not a man in the train, except the newspaper reporters, who did not
believe in the regeneration of Ireland by Boards, and everyone hoped to
take a share in the good work, with the prospect of a retiring pension
afterwards.

The local magnates--with the exception of Sir Gerald Geoghegan, whose
temper had been bad from the first--also went home content. The minds of
great ladies work somewhat confusedly, for Providence, no doubt wisely,
has denied to most of them the faculty of reason. It was enough for them
to feel that the nuns were 'sweet women,' and that in some way not very
clear Mr. Chesney was getting the better of 'those wretched agitators.'

Only one of all whom the special train had brought down failed to return
in it. Mary O'Dwyer slipped out of the convent before the speeches
began, and wandered away towards the desolate stony hill where the
stream which turns the factory mill took its rise. It grieved her to
miss the cup of tea which a friendly nun had led her to expect; but even
tea might be too dearly purchased, and Miss O'Dwyer had a strong dislike
to listening to what Augusta Goold described as the 'sugared hypocrisies
of professional liars.' Besides, she had her cigarette-case in her
pocket, and a smoke, unattainable for her in the convent or the train,
was much to be desired. She left the road at the foot of the hill, and
picked her way along the rough bohireen which led upwards along the
course of the stream. After awhile even this track disappeared. The
stream tumbled noisily over rocks and stones, the bog-stained water
glowing auburn-coloured in the sunlight. The ling and heather were
springy under her feet, and the air was sweet with the scent of the
bog-myrtle. She spied round her for a rock which cast a shade upon the
kind of heathery bed she had set her heart to find. Her eyes lit upon
a little party--a young man and two girls--encamped with a kettle, a
spirit-stove, and a store of bread-and-butter. Her renunciation of the
convent tea had not been made without a pang. She looked longingly at
the steam which already spouted from the kettle. The young man said
a few words to the girls, then stood up, raised his hat to her, and
beckoned. She approached him, wondering.

'Surely it can't be--I really believe it is----'

'Yes, Miss O'Dwyer, it really is myself, Hyacinth Conneally.'

'My dear boy, you are the last person I expected to meet, though of
course I knew you were somewhere down in these parts.'

'Come and have some tea,' said Hyacinth. 'And let me introduce you to
Miss Beecher and Miss Elsie Beecher.'

Miss O'Dwyer took stock of the two girls. 'They make their own clothes,'
she thought, 'and apparently only see last year's fashion-plates. The
eldest isn't bad-looking. How is it all West of Ireland girls have such
glorious complexions? Her figure wouldn't be bad if her mother bought
her a decent pair of stays. I wonder who they are, and what they are
doing here with Hyacinth. They can't be his sisters.'

While they drank their tea certain glances and smiles gave her an
inkling of the truth. 'I suppose Hyacinth is engaged to the elder one,'
she concluded. 'That kind of girl wouldn't dare to make eyes at a man
unless she had some kind of right to him.'

After tea she produced her cigarette-case.

'I hope you don't mind,' she said to Marion. 'I know it's very shocking,
but I've had a tiring day and an excellent tea, and oh, this heather is
delicious to lie on!' She stretched herself at full length as she spoke.
'I really must smoke, just to arrive at perfect felicity for once in my
life. How happy you people ought to be who always have in a place like
this!'

'Oh,' said Marion, 'it sometimes rains, you know.'

'Ah! and then these sweet spots get boggy, I suppose, and you have to
wear thick, clumping boots.'

Her own were very neat and small, and she knew that they must obtrude
themselves on the eye while she lay prone. Elsie, whose shoes were
patched as well as thick-soled, made an ineffectual attempt to cover
them with her skirt.

'Now,' said Hyacinth, 'tell us what you are doing down here. They
haven't made you an inspectress of boarded-out workhouse children, have
they? or sent you down to improve the breed of hens?'

'No,' said Miss O'Dwyer; 'I have spent the afternoon helping to govern
Ireland.'

Marion and Elsie gazed at her in wonder. A lady who smoked cigarettes
and bore the cares of State upon her shoulders was a novelty to them.

'I have sat in the seats of the mighty,' she said; 'I have breathed the
same air as Mr. Chesney and two members of the C.D.B. Think of that!
Moreover, I might, if I liked, have drunk tea with a Duchess.'

'Oh,' said Hyacinth, 'you were at the convent function, I suppose. I
wonder I didn't see you.'

'What on earth were _you_ doing there? I thought you hated the nuns and
all their ways.'

'Go on about yourself,' said Hyacinth. 'You are not employed by the
Government to inspect infant industries, are you?'

'Oh no; I was one of the representatives of the press. I have notes here
of all the beautiful clothes worn by the wives and daughters of the West
British aristocracy. Listen to this: "Lady Geoghegan was gowned in an
important creation of saffron tweed, the product of the convent looms.
We are much mistaken if this fabric in just this shade is not destined
to play a part in robing the _élégantes_ who will shed a lustre on our
house-parties during the autumn." And this--you must just listen to
this.'

'I won't,' said Hyacinth; 'you can if you like, Marion. I'll shut my
ears.'

'Very well,' said Miss O'Dwyer; 'I'll talk seriously. When are you
coming up to Dublin? You know my brother has taken over the editorship
of the _Croppy_. We are going to make it a great power in the country.
We are coming out with a policy which will sweep the old set of
political talkers out of existence, and dear the country of Mr. Chesney
and the likes of him.' She waved her hand towards the convent. 'Oh, it
is going to be great. It is great already. Why don't you come and help
us?'

Hyacinth looked at her. She had half risen and leaned upon her elbow.
Her face was flushed and her eyes sparkled. There was no doubt about
the genuineness of her enthusiasm. The words of her poem, long since, he
supposed, blotted from his memory, suddenly returned to him:

           'O, desolate mother, O, Erin,
     When shall the pulse of thy life which but flutters in Connacht
     Throb through thy meadows and boglands and mountains and cities?'

Had it come at last, this revival of the nation's vitality? Had it come
just too late for him to share it?

'I shall not help you,' he said sadly; 'I do not suppose that I ever
could have helped you much, but now I shall not even try.'

She looked at him quickly with a startled expression in her eyes. Then
she turned to Marion.

'Are you preventing him?' she said.

'No,' said Hyacinth; 'it is not Marion. But I am going away--going to
England. I am going to be ordained, to become an English curate. Do you
understand? I came here to-day to see the man who is to be my Rector,
and to make final arrangements with him.'

'Oh, Hyacinth!'

For some minutes she said no more. He saw in her face a wondering
sorrow, a pathetic submissive-ness to an unexpected disappointment, like
the look in the face of a dog struck suddenly by the hand of a friend.
He felt that he could have borne her anger better. No doubt if he had
made his confession to Augusta Goold he would have been overwhelmed with
passionate wrath or withered by a superb contemptuous stare. Then he
could have worked himself to anger in return. But this!

'You will never speak to any of us again,' she went on. You will be
ashamed even to read the _Croppy_. You will wear a long black coat and
gray gloves. You will learn to talk about the "Irish Problem" and the
inestimable advantages of belonging to a world-wide Empire, and about
the great heart of the English people. I see it all--all that will
happen to you. Your hair will get quite smooth and sleek. Then you will
become a Vicar of a parish. You will live in a beautiful house, with
Virginia creeper growing over it and plum-trees in the garden. You will
have a nice clean village for a parish, with old women who drop curtsies
to you, and men--such men! stupid as bullocks! I know it all. And you
will be ashamed to call yourself an Irishman. Oh, Hyacinth!'

Miss O'Dwyer's catalogue of catastrophes was curiously mixed. Perhaps
the comedy in it tended to obscure the utter degradation of the ruin
she described. But the freakish incongruity of the speech did not strike
Hyacinth. He found in it only two notes--pity that such a fate awaited
him, and contempt for the man who submitted to it.

'I cannot help myself. Will you not make an effort to understand? I am
trying to; do what is right.'

She shook her head.

'No,' he said, 'I know it is no use. You could not understand even if I
told you all I felt.'

Her eyes filled suddenly with tears. He heard her sob. Then she turned
without a word and left them. He stood watching her till she reached
the road and started on her walk to the railway-station. Then he took
Marion's two hands in his, and held them fast.

'Will _you_ understand?' he asked her.

She looked up at him. Her face was all tenderness. Love shone on
him--trusting, unquestioning, adoring love, love that would be loyal to
the uttermost; but her eyes were full of a dumb wonder.



CHAPTER XXV

One morning near the end of September the _Irish Times_ published a list
of Irish graduates ordained in England on the previous Sunday. Among
other names appeared:

'Hyacinth Conneally, B.A., T.C.D., deacon, by the Bishop of Ripon, for
the curacy of Kirby-Stowell.'

Shortly afterwards the _Croppy_ printed the following verses, signed
'M.O'D.':

                 'EIRE TO H. C.

     'Bight across the low, flat curragh from the sea,
     Drifting, driving sweeps the rain,
     Where the bogborn, bent, brown rushes grow for me,
     Barren grass instead of grain.

     'Out across the sad, soaked curragh towards the sea,
     Striding, striving go the men,
     With their spades and forks and barrows toil for me
     That my corn may grow again

     'Ah I but safe from blast of wind and bitter sea,
     You who loved me---Tusa féin--
     Live and feel and work for others, not for me,
     Never coming back again.

     'Yes, while all across the curragh from the West
     Drifts the sea-rain off the sea,
     You have chosen.   Have you chosen what is best
     For yourself, O son, and me?'

Hyacinth read the verses, cut them out of the _Croppy_, and locked them
in the box in which he stored the few papers of interest he possessed.
The sorrowful judgment pronounced on his conduct affected him, but only
in a dull way, like an additional blow upon a limb already bruised to
numbness. He accepted his new duties and performed them without any
feeling of enthusiasm, and after a little while without any definite
hope of doing any good. He got no further in understanding the people he
had to deal with, and he was aware that even those of them who came most
frequently into contact with him regarded him as a stranger. A young
doctor whose wife took a fancy to Marion tried to make friends with him.
The result was unsatisfactory, owing to Hyacinth's irresponsiveness. He
could not, without yawning piteously, spend an evening discussing the
performances of the local cricket club; nor did his conduct improve when
the two ladies suspended their talk and sacrificed an hour to playing
four-handed halma with their husbands. An unmarried solicitor, attracted
by Marion's beauty and friendliness, adopted the habit of calling at
Hyacinth's little house about nine or ten o'clock in the evening. He
was a man full of anecdote and simple mirth, and he often stayed, quite
happily, till midnight. Every week he brought an illustrated paper as
an offering to Marion, and recommended the short stories in it; to
her notice. He often asked Hyacinth's advice and help in solving the
conundrums set by the prize editor. He took a mild interest in politics,
and retailed gossip picked up at the Conservative Club. After a while he
gave up coming to the house. Hyacinth blamed himself for being cold and
unfriendly to the man.

Mr. Austin treated Hyacinth with kindness and some consideration, much
as a wise master treats an upper servant. He was anxious that his curate
should perform many and complicated ceremonies in church, was seriously
intent on the wearing of correctly-coloured stoles, and 'ran,' as he
expressed it himself, a very large number of different organizations, of
each of which the objective appeared to be a tea-party in the parochial
hall. Hyacinth accepted his tuition, bowed low at the times when Mr.
Austin liked to bow, watched for the seasons when stoles bloomed white
and gold, changed to green, or faded down to violet. He tried to
make himself agreeable to the 'united mothers' and the rest when they
assembled for tea-drinking. Mr. Austin asserted that these were the
methods by which the English people were being taught the Catholic
faith. Hyacinth did not doubt it, nor did he permit himself to wonder
whether it was worth while teaching them.

To Marion the new life was full of many delights. The surpliced
choir-boys gratified her aesthetic sense, and she entered herself as one
of a band of volunteers who scrubbed the chancel tiles and polished a
brass cross. She smiled, kissed, and petted Hyacinth out of the fits of
depression which came on him, managed his small income with wonderful
skill, and wrote immensely long letters home to Ballymoy.



CHAPTER XXVI

It is very hard for a poor man to travel from one side of England to the
other side of Ireland, because railway companies, even when, to allure
the public, they advertise extraordinary excursions, charge a great
deal for their tickets. The journey becomes still more difficult of
accomplishment when the poor man is married. Then there are two tickets
to be bought, and very likely most of the money which might have bought
them has been spent securing the safe arrival of a baby--a third person
who in due time will also require a railway-ticket. This was Hyacinth's
case. For two summers he had no holiday at all, and it was only by the
most fortunate of chances that he found himself during the third
summer in a position to go to Ballymoy. He sublet his house to a
freshly-arrived supervisor of Inland Revenue, who wanted six weeks
to look about for a suitable residence. With the nine pounds paid in
advance by this gentleman, Hyacinth and Marion, having with them their
baby, a perambulator, and much other luggage, set off for Ballymoy.

The journey is not a very pleasant one, because it is made over the
lines of three English railway companies, whose trains refuse to connect
with each other at junctions, and because St. George's Channel is
generally rough. The discomfort of third-class carriages is more acutely
felt when the Irish shore is reached, but the misery of having to feed
and tend a year-old child lasts the whole journey through. Therefore,
Marion arrived in Dublin dishevelled, weary, and, for all her natural
placidness, inclined to be cross. The steamer came to port at an hour
which left them just the faint hope of catching the earliest train to
Ballymoy. Disappointment followed the nervous strain of a rush across
Dublin. Two long hours intervened before the next train started, and the
people who keep the refreshment-room in Broadstone Station are not early
risers. Marion, without tea or courage, settled herself and the baby in
the draughty waiting-room.

Hyacinth was also dishevelled, dirty, and tired, having borne his full
share of strife with the child's worst moods. But the sight of Ireland
from the steamer's deck filled him with a strange sense of exultation.
He wished to shout with gladness when the gray dome of the Custom House
rose to view, immense above the low blanket of mist. Even the incredibly
hideous iron grating of the railway viaduct set his pulse beating
joyfully. He drew deep breaths, inhaling various abominable smells
delightedly. The voices of the sleepy porters on the quay roused in him
a craving for the gentle slovenliness of Irish speech. He fussed and
hustled Marion beyond the limits of her endurance, pretending eagerness
to catch the early train, caring in reality not at all whether any train
were caught or missed, filled only with a kind of frenzy to keep moving
somehow further into Ireland. In the cab he gave utterance to ridiculous
pleasantries. He seized the child from Marion, and held him, wailing
piteously, half out of the window, that his eyes might rest on the great
gilt characters which adorn the offices of the Gaelic League. It was
with rapture that he read Irish names, written and spelt in Irish, above
the shops, and saw a banner proclaiming the annual festival of Irish
Ireland hanging ovei the door of the Rotunda. The city had grown more
Irish since he left it. There was no possibility now, even in the early
morning, with few people but scavengers and milkmen in the streets, of
mistaking for an English town.

While Marion sat torpid in the waiting-room, he paced the platform
eagerly from end to end. He saw the train pushed slowly into position
beside the platform, watched porters sweep the accumulated débris of
yesterday's traffic from the floors of the carriages, and rub with
filthy rags the brass doorhandles. Little groups of passengers began to
arrive--first a company of cattle-jobbers, four of them, red-faced men
with keen, crafty eyes, bound for some Western fair; then a laughing
party of tourists, women in short skirts and exaggeratedly protective
veils, men with fierce tweed knickerbockers dragging stuffed hold-alls
and yellow bags. These were evidently English. Their clear high-pitched
voices proclaimed contempt for their surroundings, and left no doubt of
their nationality. One of them addressed a bewildered porter in cheerful
song:

     'Are you right there,
     Michael? are you right?
     Have you got the parcel there for Mrs. White?'

He felt, and his companions sympathized, that he was entering into the
spirit of Irish life. Then, heralded by an obsequious guard, came a
great man, proconsular in mien and gait. Bags and rugs were wheeled
beside him. In his hand was a despatch-box bearing the tremendous
initials of the Local Government Board. He took complete possession of
a first-class smoking carriage, scribbled a telegram, perhaps of
international importance, handed it to the guard for instant despatch,
and lit a finely-odorous cigar. Hyacinth, humbled by the mere view of
this incarnation of the Imperial spirit, went meekly to the waiting-room
to fetch Marion and his child. He led them across the now crowded
platform towards a third-class carriage.

'I will not go with you in your first-class carriage, Father Lavelle; so
that's flat. Nor I won't split the difference and go second either, if
that's what you're going to propose to me. Is it spend what would keep
the family of a poor man in bread and tea for a week, for the sake of
easing my back with a cushion? Get away with you. The plain deal board's
good enough for me. And, moreover, I doubt very much if I've the money
to do it, if I were ever so willing. I'm afraid to look into my purse to
count the few coppers that's left in it after paying that murdering bill
in the hotel you took me to. Gresham, indeed! A place where they're
not ashamed to charge a poor old priest three and sixpence for his
breakfast, and me not able to eat the half of what they put before me.'

Hyacinth turned quickly. Two priests stood together near the bookstall.
The one, a young man, handsome and well-dressed, he did not know. The
other he recognised at once. It seemed to be the same familiarly shabby
black coat which he wore, the same many-stained waistcoat, the identical
silk hat, ruffled and rain-spotted. The same pads of flesh hung flaccid
from his jaws; the red, cracked knuckles of his hands, well remembered,
were enormous still. Only the furrows on the face seemed to be ploughed
deeper and wider, and a few more stiff hairs curled over the general
bushiness of the grizzled eyebrows.

'Father Moran!' cried Hyacinth.

'I am Father Moran. You're right there. But who _you_ are or how you
come to know me is more than I can tell. But wait a minute. I've a sort
of recollection of your voice. Will you speak to me again, and maybe
I'll be able to put a name on you.'

Hyacinth said a few words rapidly in Irish.

'I have you now,' said the priest. 'You're Hyacinth Conneally, the boy
that went out to fight for the Boers. Father Lavelle, this is a friend
of mine that I've known ever since he was born, and I haven't laid eyes
on him these six years or more. You're going West, Mr. Conneally? But of
course you are. Where else would you be going? We'll travel together
and talk. If it's second-class you're going, Father Lavelle will have
to lend me the money to pay the extra on my ticket, so as I can go with
you. Seemingly it's a Protestant minister you've grown into. Well
now, who'd have thought it? And you so set on fighting the battle of
Armageddon and all. It's a come-down for you, so it is. But never mind.
You might have got yourself killed in it. There's many a one killed or
maimed for life in smaller fights than it. It's better to be a minister
any day than a corpse or a cripple. And as you are a minister, it's
likely to be third-class you're travelling. Times are changed since
I was young. It was the priests travelled third-class then, if they
travelled at all, and the ministers were cocked up on the cushions,
looking down on the likes of us out of the windows with the little red
curtains half-drawn across them. Now it'll be Father Lavelle there,
with his grand new coat that he says is Irish manufacture--but I
don't believe him--who'll be doing the gentleman. But come along, Mr.
Conneally--come along, and tell me all the battles you fought and the
Generals you made prisoners of, and how it was you took to preaching
afterwards.'

Hyacinth, somewhat shyly, introduced the priest to Marion. Then a
ticket-collector drove them into their carriage and locked the door.

Father Moran began to catechize Hyacinth before the train started, and
drew from him, as they went westwards, the story of his disappointments,
doubts, hopes, veerings, and final despair. Hyacinth spoke unwillingly
at first, giving no more than necessary answers to the questions.
Then, because he found that reticence called down on him fresh and
more detailed inquiries, and also because the priest's evident and
sympathetic interest redeemed a prying curiosity from offensiveness,
he told his tale more freely. Very soon there was no more need of
questioning, and Father Moran's share in the talk took the form of
comments interrupting a narrative.

Of Captain Albert Quinn he said:

'I've heard of him, and a nice kind of a boy he seems to have been. I
suppose he fought when he got there. He's just the sort that would be
splendid at the fighting. Well, God is good, and I suppose it's to
do the fighting for the rest of us that He makes the likes of Captain
Quinn. Did you hear that they wanted to make him a member of Parliament?
Well, they did. Nothing less would please them. But what good would
that be, when he couldn't set foot in the country for fear of being
arrested?'

Later on he was moved to laughter.

'To think of your going on the road with a bag full of blankets and
shawls! I never heard of such a thing, and all the grand notions your
head was full of! Why didn't you come my way? I'd have made Rafferty
give you an order. I'd have bought the makings of a frieze coat from you
myself--I would, indeed.'

Afterwards he became grave again.

'I won't let you say the hard word about the nuns, Mr. Conneally. Don't
do it, now. There's plenty of good convents up and down through the
country--more than ever you'll know of, being the black Protestant you
are. And the ones that ruined your business--supposing they did ruin
it, and I've only your word for that--what right have you to be blaming
them? They were trying to turn an honest penny by an honest trade, and
that's just what you and your friend Mr. Quinn were doing yourselves.'

Hyacinth, conscious of a failure in good taste, shifted his ground, only
to be interrupted again.

'Oh, you may abuse the Congested Districts Board to your heart's
content. I never could see what the Government made all the Boards for
unless it was to keep the people out of mischief. As long as there is
a Board of any kind about the country every blackguard will be so busy
throwing stones at it that he won't have time nor inclination left
to annoy decent people. And I'll say this for the Congested Districts
Board: they mean well. Indeed they do; not a doubt of it. There's one
good thing they did, anyway, if there isn't another, and that's when
they came to Carrowkeel and bought the big Curragh Farm that never
supported a Christian, but two herds and some bullocks ever since the
famine clearances. They fetched the people down off the mountains and
put them on it. Wasn't that a good thing, now? Sure, all Government
Boards do more wrong than right. It's the nature of that sort of
confederation. But it's all the more thankful we ought to be when once
in a while they do something useful.'

Hyacinth came to tell of the choice which Canon Beecher offered him, and
dwelt with tragic emphasis on his own decision. The priest listened, a
smile on his lips, a look of pity which belied the smile in his eyes.

'So you thought Ireland would be lost altogether unless you wrote
articles for Miss Goold in the _Croppy?_ It's no small opinion you have
of yourself, Hyacinth Conneally. And you thought you'd save your soul by
going to preach the Gospel to the English people? Was that it, now?'

'It was not,' said Hyacinth, 'and you know it wasn't.'

'Of course it wasn't. What was I thinking of to forget the young lady
that was in it? A fine wife you've got, any way. God bless her, and make
you a good husband to her! By the looks of her she's better than you
deserve. I suppose it was to get money you went to England, so as to buy
her pretty dresses and a beautiful house to live in? Did you think you'd
grow rich over there?'

'Indeed I did not,' said Hyacinth bitterly. 'I knew we'd never be rich.'

'Well, then, couldn't you as well have been poor in Ireland? And better,
for everybody's poor here. But there, I know well enough it wasn't money
you were after. Don't be getting angry with me, now. It wasn't for the
sake of saving your soul you went, nor to get your nice wife, though a
man might go a long way for the likes of her. I don't know why you went,
and it's my belief you don't know yourself. But you made a mistake,
whatever you did it for, going off on that English mission. Is it a
mission you call it when you're a Protestant? I don't think it is, but
it doesn't matter. You made a mistake. Why don't you come back again?'

'God knows I would if I could. It's hungry I am to get back--just sick
with hunger and the great desire that is on me to be back again in
Ireland.'

'Well, what's to hinder you? Let me tell you this: There's been four
men in your father's place since he died. Never a one of the first three
would stay. They tell me the pay's small, and the place is desolate to
them for the want of Protestants, there being none, you may say, but the
coastguards. After the third of them left it was long enough before they
got the fourth. I hear they went scouring and scraping round the four
coasts of the country with a trawl-net trying to get a man. And now
they've got him he's all for going away. He says there's no work to do,
and no people to preach to. But you'd find work, if you were there. I'd
find you work myself--work for the people you knew since you were born,
that's in the way at last of getting to be the men and women they were
meant to be, and that wants all the help can be got for them. Why don't
you come back?'

'Indeed, Father Moran, I would if I could.' 'If you could! What's the
use of talking? Isn't your wife's father a Canon? And wouldn't that
professor in the college that you used to tell me of do something for
you? What's the good of having fine friends like that if they won't get
you sent to a place like Carrowkeel, that never another minister but
yourself would as much as cat his dinner in twice if he could help it?'

Hyacinth glanced doubtfully at Marion. The child lay quiet in her arms.
She slept uncomfortably. It was clear that she had not cared to listen
to the conversation of the two men.

THE END





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