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Title: Davenport Dunn, Volume 1 (of 2) - A Man Of Our Day
Author: Lever, Charles James, 1806-1872
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 "Davenport Dunn, Volume 1 (of 2) - A Man Of Our Day" ***

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DAVENPORT DUNN

A MAN OF OUR DAY

By Charles Lever,

With Illustrations By "Phiz."

Volume One of Two

London: Chapman And Hall

1862.



DAVENPORT DUNN, A MAN OF THE DAY.



CHAPTER I. HYDROPATHIC ACQUAINTANCES.

We are at Como, on the lake--that spot so beloved of opera dancers--the
day-dream of prima donnas--the Elysium of retired barytones! And with
what reason should this be the Paradise of all who have lived and
sighed, and warbled and pirouetted, within the charmed circle of the
footlights? The crystal waters mirroring every cliff and crag with
intense distinctness; the vegetation variegated to the very verge of
extravagance; orange-trees overloaded with fruit; arbutus only too
much bespangled with red berries; villas, more coquettish than ever
scene-painter conceived, with vistas of rooms within, all redolent of
luxury; terraces, and statues, and vases, and fountains, and marble
balconies, steeped in a thousand balmy odours, make up a picture
which well may fascinate those whose ideal of beauty is formed of such
gorgeous groupings. There is something of unreality in the brilliant
colouring and variety of the scene suggesting the notion, that at any
moment the tenor may emerge, velvet mantle and all, from the copse
before you; or a prima donna, in all the dishevelment of her back hair,
rush madly to your feet. There is not a portal from which an angry
father may not issue; not a shady walk that might not be trod by an
incensed basso!

The rustic bridges seem made for the tiny feet of short-petticoated
damsels, daintily tripping, with white-napkin covered baskets, to soft
music; and every bench appears but waiting for that wearied old peasant,
in blue stockings, a staff, and a leather belt, that has vented his
tiresomeness in the same spot for the last half century. Who wonders, if
the distracted Princess of "the scene" should love a picture that
recalls the most enthusiastic triumphs of her success? Why should not the
retired "Feri" like to wander at will through a more enchanting garden
than ever she pirouetted in?

Conspicuous amongst the places where these stage-like elements abound
is the Villa d'Este; situated in a little bay, with two jutting
promontories to guard it, the ground offers every possible variety of
surface and elevation. From the very edge of the calm lake, terrace
rises above terrace, clad with all that is rich and beautiful in
vegetation; rocks, and waterfalls, and ruins, and statues abound.
Everything that money could buy, and bad taste suggest, are there heaped
with a profusion that is actually confounding. Every stone stair leads
to some new surprise; every table-land opens some fresh and astonishing
prospect. Incongruous, inharmonious, tea-gardenish as it is, there is
still a charm in the spot which no efforts of the vilest taste seem
able to eradicate. The vines _will_ cluster in graceful groupings; the
oranges _will_ glow in gorgeous contrast to their dark mantle of leaves;
water _will_ leap with its own spontaneous gladness, and fall in diamond
showers over a grassy carpet no emerald ever rivalled; and, more than
all, the beautiful lake itself _will_ reflect the picture, with such
softened effects of light and shadow, that all the perversions of human
ingenuity are totally lost in the transmission.

This same Villa d'Este was once the scene of a sad drama; but it is
not to this era in its history we desire now to direct our reader's
attention, but to a period much later, when no longer the home of
an exiled Princess, or the retreat where shame and sorrow abandoned
themselves to every excess, its changed fortune had converted it into an
establishment for the water cure!

The prevailing zeal of our day is to simplify everything, even to things
which will not admit of simplicity. What with our local athenæums, our
mechanics' institutes, our lecturing lords and discoursing baronets, we
have done a great deal. Science has been popularised, remote geographies
made familiar, complex machinery explained, mysterious inscriptions
rendered intelligible. How could it be expected that in the general
enthusiasm for useful knowledge medicine should escape, or that its
secrets should be exempt from a scrutiny that has spared nothing? Hence
have sprung up those various sects in the curative art which, professing
to treat rationally and openly what hitherto has been shrouded in
mysticism and deception, have multiplied themselves into grape cures,
milk cures, and water cures, and Heaven knows how many other strange
devices "to cheat the ills that flesh is heir to."

We are not going to quarrel with any of these new religions; we forgive
them much for the simple service they have done, in withdrawing their
followers from the confined air, the laborious life, the dreary toil,
or the drearier dissipation of cities, to the fresh and invigorating
breezes, the cheerful quietude, and the simple pleasures of a country
existence.

We care little for the regimen or the ritual, be it lentils or asses'
milk, Tyrol grapes, or pure water, so that it be administered on the
breezy mountain side, or in the healthful air of some lofty "Plateau"
away from the cares, the ambitions, the strife, and the jar-rings of the
active world, with no seductions of dissipation, neither the prolonged
stimulants, nor the late hours of fashion.

It was a good thought, too, to press the picturesque into the service
of health, and show the world what benefits may flow, even to nerves
and muscles, from elevated thoughts and refined pleasures. All this
is, however, purely digressionary, since we are more concerned with the
social than the medical aspects of Hydropathy, and so we come back at
once to Como. The sun has just risen, on a fresh morning in autumn,
over the tall mountain east of the lake, making the whole western shore,
where the Villa d'Este stands, all a-glitter with his rays. Every rock,
and crag, and promontory are picked out with a sharp distinctness, every
window is a-blaze, and streams of light shoot into many a grove and
copse, as though glad to pierce their way into cool spots where the
noonday sun himself can never enter. On the opposite shore, a dim and
mysterious shadow wraps every object, faint outlines of tower and palace
loom through the darkness, and a strange hazy depth encloses the whole
scene. Such is the stillness, however, that the opening of a casement,
or the plash of a stone in the water, is heard across the lake,
and voices come from the mysterious gloom with an effect almost
preternaturally striking.

On a terrace high up above the lake, sheltered with leafy fig-trees and
prickly pears, there walks a gentleman, sniffing the morning air, and
evidently bent on inhaling health at every pore.

Nothing in his appearance indicates the invalid; every gesture, as he
moves, rather displays a conscious sense of health and vigour. Somewhat
above the middle size, compactly but not heavily built, it is very
difficult to guess his years; for though his hair and the large whiskers
which meet beneath his chin are perfectly white, his clear blue eyes and
regular teeth show no signs of age. Singularly enough, it is his dress
that gives the clue to this mystery. His tightly-fitting frock, his
bell-shaped hat, and his shapely trousers, all tell of a fashion
antecedent to our loosely-hanging vestments and uncared-for garments;
for the Viscount Lackington was a lord in waiting to the "First
Gentleman" in Europe at a time when Paletots were unknown, and Jim Crows
had not been imagined.

Early as was the hour, his dress was perfect in all its details, and the
accurate folds of his immaculate cravat, and the spotless brilliancy
of his boots, would have done credit to Bond-street in days when
Bond-street cherished such glories. Let our modern critics sneer as they
will at the dandyism of that day, the gentleman of the time was a very
distinctive individual, and, in the subdued colour of his habiliments,
their studious simplicity, and, above all, their unvarying uniformity,
utterly defied all the attempts of spurious imitators.

Our story opens only a few years back, and Lord Lackington was then
one of the very few who perpetuated the traditions in costume of that
celebrated period; but he did so with such unerring accuracy, that men
actually wondered where those marvellously shaped hats were made, or how
those creaseless coats were ever fashioned. Even to the perfume of
his handkerchief, the faintest and most evanescent of odours, all were
mysteries that none could penetrate.

As he surveyed the landscape through his double eye-glass, he smiled
graciously and blandly, and gently inclined his head, as though to say,
"Very prettily done, water and mountains. I'm quite satisfied with you,
trees; you please me very much indeed! Trickle away little fountain--the
picture is the better for it." His Lordship had soon, however, other
objects to engage his attention than the inanimate constituents of the
scene. The spot which he had selected for his point of view was usually
traversed, in their morning walks, by the other residents of the "Cure,"
and this circumstance permitted him to receive the homage of such
early risers as were fain to couple with their pursuit of health the
recognition of a great man.

Like poverty, hydropathy makes us acquainted with strange associates.
The present establishment was too recently formed to have acquired any
very distinctive celebrity, but it was sufficiently crowded. There was a
great number of third-rate Italians from the Lombard towns and cities,
a sprinkling of inferior French, a few English, a stray American or so,
and an Irish family, on their way to Italy, sojourning here rather for
economy than health, and fancying that they were acquiring habits and
manners that would serve them through their winter's campaign.

The first figure which emerged upon the plateau was that of a man
swathed in great-coat, cap, and worsted wrappers, that it was difficult
to guess what he could be. He came forward at a shambling trot, and was
about to pass on without looking aside, when Lord Lackington called out,
"Ah! Spicer, have you got off that eleven pounds yet?" "No, my Lord,
but very near it. I'm seven stone ten, and at seven eight I'm all
right."

"Push along, then, and don't lose your training,'' said his Lordship,
dismissing him with a bland wave of the hand. And the other made an
attempt at a salutation, and passed on.

"Madame la Marquise, your servant. You ascend these mountain steeps like
a chamois!"

This compliment was addressed to a little, very fat old lady, who came
snorting along like a grampus.

"Benedetto Dottore!" cried she. "He will have it that I must go up to
the stone cross yonder every morning before breakfast, and I know I
shall burst a blood-vessel yet in the attempt."

A chair, with a mass of horse-clothing and furs, surmounted by a little
yellow wizened face, was next borne by, to which Lord Lackington bowed
courteously, saying, "Your Excellency improves at every hour."

His Excellency gave a brief nod and a little faint smile, swallowed a
mouthful from a silver flask presented by his servant, and disappeared.

"Ah! the fair syren sisters! what a charming vision!" said his Lordship,
as two bright-cheeked, laughing-eyed girls bounced upon the terrace in
all the high-hearted enjoyment of good health and good spirits.

"Molly, for shame!" cried what seemed the elder, a damsel of about
nineteen, as the younger, holding out her dress with both hands,
performed a kind of minuet curtsey to the Viscount, to which he
responded with a bow that might have done credit to Versailles.

"Perfectly done--grace and elegance itself. The foot a little--a very
little more in advance."

"Just because you want to look at it," cried she, laughing. "Molly,
Molly!" exclaimed the other, rebukingly. "Let him deny it if he can,
Lucy," retorted she. "But here's papa."

And as she spoke, a square-built, short, florid man, fanning his bald
head with a straw hat, puffed his way forward.

"My Lord, I'm your most obaydient!" said he, with a very unmistakably
Irish enunciation. "O'Reilly, I'm delighted to see you. These charming
girls of yours have just put me in good humour with the whole creation.
What a lovely spot this is; how beautiful!"

Though his Lordship's arm and outstretched hand directed attention to
the scenery, his eyes never wandered from the pretty features of the
laughing girl beside him.

[Illustration:  028]

"It's like Banthry!" said Mr. O'Reilly--"it's the very ditto of
Banthry."

"Indeed!" exclaimed my Lord, still pursuing his scrutiny.

"Only Banthry's bigger and wider. Indeed, I may say finer."

"Nothing, in _my_ estimation, can exceed this!" said his Lordship, with
a distinctive smile, addressed to the young lady.

"I'm glad you think so," said she, with a merry laugh. And then, with a
pirouette, she sprang up the steep steps on the rocky path before her,
and disappeared, her sister as quickly following, leaving Mr. O'Reilly
alone with his Lordship.

"What heaps of money she laid out here," exclaimed O'Reilly, as he
looked at the labyrinth of mad ruins, and rustic bridges, and hanging
gardens on every side of him.

"Large sums--very large indeed!" said my Lord, whose thoughts were
evidently on some other track.

"Pure waste--nothing else; the place never could pay. Vines and
fig-trees, indeed--I'd rather see a crop of oats.".

"I have a weakness for the picturesque, I must own," said my Lord, as
his eye still followed the retreating figures of the girls.

"Well, I like a waterfall; and, indeed, I like a summer-house myself,"
said O'Reilly, as though confessing to a similar trait on his own part.

"This is the first time you have been abroad, O'Reilly?" said his
Lordship, to turn the subject of the conversation.

"Yes, my Lord, my first, and, with God's blessing, my last, too! When
I lost Mrs. O'Reilly, two years ago, of a complaint that beat all the
doctors--"

"Ah, yes, you mentioned that to me; very singular indeed!"

"For it wasn't in the heart itself, my Lord, but in the bag that houlds
it."

"Oh yes, I remember the explanation perfectly; so you thought you'd just
come abroad for a little distraction."

"Distraction indeed! 'tis the very word for it," broke in Mr. O'Reilly,
eagerly. "My head is bewildered between the lingo and the money, and
they keep telling me, 'You'll get used to it, papa, darling--you'll be
quite at home yet.' But how is that ever possible?"

"Still, for your charming girls' sake," said my Lord, caressing
his whiskers and adjusting his neckcloth, as if for immediate
captivation--"or their sake, O'Reilly, you've done perfectly right!"

"Well, I'm glad your Lordship says so. 'Tis nobody ought to know
better!" said he, with a heavy sigh.

"They really deserve every cultivation. All the advantages
that--that--that sort of thing can bestow!"

And his Lordship smiled benignly, as though offering his own aid to the
educational system.

"What they said to me was this," said O'Reilly, dropping his voice to a
tone of the most confiding secrecy: "'Don't be keeping them down here
in Mary's Abbey, but take them where they'll see life. You can give
them forty thousand pounds between them, Tim O'Reilly, and with that and
their own good looks---'"

"Beauty, O'Reilly---downright loveliness," broke in my Lord.

"Well, indeed, they are handsome," said O'Reilly, with an honest
satisfaction, "and that's exactly why I thought the advice was good.
'Take them abroad,' they said; 'take them into Germany and Italy--but
more especially Italy'--for they say there's nothing like Italy for
finishing young ladies."

"That is certainly the general impression!" said his Lordship with the
barest imaginable motion of his nether lip.

"And here we are, but where we're going afterwards, and what well
do when we're there, that thief of a Courier we have may know, but I
don't."

"So that you gave up business, O'Reilly, and resigned yourself freely to
a life of ease," said my Lord, with a smile that seemed to approve the
project.

"Yes, indeed, my Lord; but whether it's to be a life of pleasure, I
don't know. I was in the provision trade thirty-eight years, and do you
know I miss the pigs greatly."

"Every man has a hankering of that sort. Old cosmopolite as I am, I have
every now and then my longing for that window at Brookes's, and that
snug dinner-room at Boodle's."

"Yes, my Lord," said O'Reilly, who hadn't the faintest conception
whether these localities were not situated in China.

"Ah, Twining, never thought to see you here," called out his Lordship to
a singularly tall man, who came forward with such awkward contortions of
legs and arms, as actually to suggest the notion that he was struggling
against somebody. Mr. O'Reilly modestly stole away while the friends
were shaking hands, and we take the same opportunity to, present the new
arrival to our reader.

Mr. Adderley Twining was a gentleman of good family and very large
fortune, whose especial pleasure it was to pass off to the world for a
gay, light-hearted, careless creature, of small means, and most lavish
liberality. To be, in fact, perpetually struggling between a most
generous temperament and a narrow purse. His cordiality was extreme, his
politeness unbounded; and as he was most profuse in his pledges for
the present and his promises for the future, he attained to a degree of
popularity which to his own estimation was immense. This was, in fact,
the one sole self-deception of his very crafty nature, and the belief
that he was a universal favourite was the solitary mistake of this
shrewd intelligence. Although a married man, there was so constantly
some "difficulty" or other--these were his own words--about Lady Grace,
that they seldom were seen together; but he spoke of her when absent in
terms of the most fervent affection, but whose health, or spirits, or
tastes, or engagements unhappily denied her the happiness of travelling
along with him. Whenever it chanced that they were together, he scarcely
mentioned her.

"And what breeze of fortune has wafted you here, Twining?" said his
Lordship, delighted to chance upon a native of his own world.

"Health, my Lord,--health," said he, with one of his ready laughs, as
though everything he said or thought had some comic side in it that
amused him, "and a touch of economy too, my Lord."

"What humbug all that is, Twining. Who the deuce is so well off as
yourself?" said Lord Lackington, with all that peculiar bitterness with
which an embarrassed man listens to the grumblings of a wealthy one.

"Only too happy, my Lord--rejoiced if you were right. Capital news for
me, eh?--excellent news!" And he slapped his lean legs with his long
thin fingers, and laughed immoderately.

"Come, come, we all know that--besides a devilish good thing of your
own--you got the Wrexley estate, and old Poole's Dorsetshire property.
Hang me if I ever open a newspaper without reading that you are
somebody's residuary legatee."

"I assure you, solemnly, my Lord, I am actually hard up, pressed for
money, downright inconvenienced." And he laughed again, as though it
were uncommonly droll.

"Stuff--nonsense!" said my Lord, angrily, for he really was losing
temper; and to change the topic he curtly asked, "And where do you mean
to pass the winter?"

"In Florence, my Lord, or Naples. We have a little den in both places."

The "den" in Florence was a sumptuous palace on the Arno. Its brother at
Naples was a royal villa near Posilippo.

"Why not Rome? Lady Lackington and myself mean to try Rome."

"Ah, all very well for you, my Lord, but for people of small fortune--"

There was that in the expression of his Lordship's face that told
Twining this vein might be followed too far, and so he stopped in time,
and laughed away pleasantly.

"Spicer tells me," resumed Lord Lackington, "that Florence is quite
deserted; nothing but a kind of second and third rate set of people go
there. Is that so?"

"Excellent people, capital society, great fun!" said Twining, in a burst
of merriment.

"Spicer calls them 'Snobs,' and he ought to know."

"So he ought indeed, my Lord--no one better. Admirably observed, and
very just."

"He's in training again for that race that never comes off," said his
Lordship. "The first time I ever saw him--it was at Leamington--and he
was performing the same farce, with hot baths and blankets, and jotting
down imaginary bets in a small note-book."

"How good--capital! Your Lordship has him perfectly--you know him
thoroughly--great fun! Spicer, excellent creature!"

"How those fellows live is a great mystery to me. You chance upon them
everywhere, in Baden or Aix in summer, in Paris or Vienna during the
winter. Now, if they were amusing rogues, like that fellow I met at your
house in Hampshire--"

"Oh, Stockley, my Lord; rare fellow, quite a genius!" laughed Twining.

"Just so--Stockley; one would have them just to help over the boredom of
a country house; but this creature Spicer is as devoid of amusing gifts,
as tiresome, and as worn out, as if he owned ten thousand a year."

"How good, by Jove!" cried Twining, in ecstasy. And he slapped his gaunt
limbs and threw his long arms wildly about in a transport of delight.

"And who are here, Twining--any of our set?" "Not a soul, my Lord; the
place isn't known yet, that's the reason I came here--so quiet and so
cheap, make your own terms with them.

"Good fun--excellent!"

"_I_ came to meet a man of business," said his Lordship, with a strong
emphasis on the pronoun. "He couldn't prolong his journey farther south,
and so we agreed to rendezvous here."

"I have a little affair also to transact--a mere trifle, a nothing,
in fact--with a lawyer, who promises to meet me here by the end of the
month, so that we have just time to take our baths, drink the waters,
and all that sort of thing, while we are waiting."

And he rubbed his hands, and laughed away again.

"What a boon for my wife to learn that Lady Grace is here! She was
getting so hipped with the place--not so much the place as the odious
people--that I suspect she'd have left me to wait for Dunn all alone."

"Dunn! Dunn! not Davenport Dunn?" exclaimed Twining.

"The very man--do you know him?"

"To be sure, he's the fellow I'm waiting for. Capital fun, isn't it?"

And he slapped his legs again, while he repeated the name of Dunn over
and over again.

"I want to know something about this same Mr. Dunn," said Lord
Lackington, confidentially.

"So do I; like it of all things," cried Twining. "Clever
fellow-wonderful fellow--up to everything--acquainted with everybody.
Great fun!"

"He occupies a very distinguished position in Ireland, I fancy," said
his Lordship, with such a marked stress on the locality as to show that
such did not constitute an imperial reputation.

"Yes, yes, man of the day there; do what he likes; very
popular--immensely popular!" said Twining, as he laughed on.

"So that you know no more of him than his public repute---no more than I
know myself," said his Lordship.

"Not so much as your Lordship, I'm certain," said Twining, as though
it would have been unbecoming in him to do so; "in fact, my business
transactions are such mere nothings, that it's quite a kindness on his
part to undertake them--trifles, no more!"

And Twining almost hugged himself in the ecstasy which his last words
suggested.

"_Mine_," said Lord Lackington, haughtily, "are of consequence enough
to fetch him hither--a good thousand miles away from England; but he is
pretty certain of its being well worth his while, to come."

"Quite convinced of that--could swear it," said Twining, eagerly.

"Here are a mob of insufferable bores," said his Lordship, testily, as a
number of people were heard approaching, for somehow--it is not easy
to say exactly why--he had got into a train of thought that scorned to
worry him, and was not disposed to meet strangers; and so, with a brief
gesture of good-by to Twining, he turned into a path and disappeared.

Twining looked after him for a second or two, and then slapping his
legs, he muttered, pleasantly, "What fun!" and took the road towards the
house.



CHAPTER II. HOW TWO "FINE LADIES" PASS THE MORNING.

In a room of moderate size, whose furniture was partly composed of
bygone finery and some articles of modern comfort--a kind of compromise
between a Royal residence and a Hydropathic establishment--sat two
ladies at an open window, which looked out upon a small terrace above
the lake. The view before them could scarcely have been surpassed in
Europe. Enclosed, as in a frame, between the snow-clad Alps and the
wooded mountains of the Brianca, lay the lake, its shores one succession
of beautiful villas, whose gardens descended to the very water. Although
the sun was high, the great mountains threw the shadows half way across
the lake; and in the dim depth of shade, tower and crag, battlement and
precipice, were strangely intermixed, giving to the picture a mysterious
grandeur that contrasted strongly with the bright reality of the
opposite shore, where fruit and flowers, gay tapestries from casements,
and floating banners, added colour to the scene.

Large white-sailed boats stole peacefully along, loaded, half-mast high,
with water-melons and garden stores; the golden produce glittering in
the sun, and glowing in the scarcely rippled water beneath them, while
the low chant of the boatmen floated softly and lazily through the
air--meet sounds in a scene where all seemed steeped in a voluptuous
repose.

The two ladies whom we have mentioned were not impassioned spectators of
the scene. Whenever their eyes ranged over it, no new brilliancy awoke
in them, no higher colour tinged their cheek. One was somewhat advanced
in life, but with many traces of beauty, and an air which denoted a
lifelong habit of homage and deference.

There was that in her easy, lounging attitude, and the splendour of
her dress, which seemed to intimate that Lady Lackington would still
be graceful, and even extravagant, though there were none to admire the
grace or be dazzled by the costliness. Her companion, though several
years younger, looked, from the effects of delicate health and a
suffering disposition, almost of her own age. She, too, was handsome;
but it was a beauty which so much depended on tint and colour, that her
days of indisposition left her almost bereft of good looks. All about
her, her low, soft voice, her heavily raised eyelids, her fair and
blue-veined hands, the very carriage of her head, pensively thrown
forwards, were so many protestations of one who asked for sympathy and
compassion; and who, whether with reason or without, firmly believed
herself the most unhappy creature in existence.

If there was no great similarity of disposition to unite them, there was
a bond fully as strong. They were both English of the same order, both
born and bred up in a ritual that dictates its own notions of good or
bad, of right and wrong, of well-bred and vulgar, of riches and poverty.
Given any person in society, or any one event of their lives, and these
two ladies' opinion upon either would have been certain to harmonise
and agree. The world for them had but one aspect; for the simple reason,
that they had always seen it from the one same point of view. They had
not often met; they had seen very little of each other for years; but
the freemasonry of class supplied all the place of affection, and they
were as fond and as confiding as though they were sisters.

"I must say," said the Viscountess, in a tone full of reprobation, "that
is shocking--actually shameful; and, in _your_ place, I'd not endure
it!"

"I have become so habituated to sorrow," sighed Lady Grace

"That you will sink under it at last, my dear, if this man's cruelties
be not put an end to. You really must allow me to speak to Lackington."

"It wouldn't be of the slightest service, I assure you. In the first
place, he is so plausible, he'd persuade any one that there was nothing
to complain of, that he lived up to his fortune, that his means were
actually crippled; and secondly, he'd give such pledges for the future,
such promises, that it would be downright rudeness to throw a doubt on
their sincerity."

"Why did you marry him, my dear?" said Lady Lackington, with a little
sigh.

"I married him to vex Ridout; we had a quarrel at that _fête_ at
Chiswick, you remember, Tollertin's _fête_. Ridout was poor, and felt
his poverty. I don't believe I treated his scruples quite fairly. I
know I owned to him that I had no contempt for riches--that I thought
Belgrave-square, and the Opera, and Diamonds, and a smart Equipage, all
very commendable things: and Jack said, 'Then, there's your man.
Twining has twenty thousand a year.' 'But, he has not asked me,' said
I, laughing. Ridout turned away without a word. Half an hour later, Mr.
Adderley Twining formally proposed for my hand, and was accepted."

"And Jack Ridout is now the Marquis of Allerton," said Lady Lackington.

"I know it!" said the other, bitterly.

"With nigh forty thousand a year."

"I know it!" cried she, again.

"And the handsomest house and the finest park in England."

The other burst into tears, and hid her face between her hands.

"There's a fate in these things, my dear," said Lady Lackington, with
a slight paleness creeping over her cheek. "That's all we can say about
them."

"What have you done with that sweet place in Hampshire?"

"Dingley? It is let to Lord Mauley."

"And you had a house in St. James's-square."

"It is Burridge's Hotel, now."

Lady Lackington fanned her swarthy face for some seconds, and then said,
"And how did you come here?"

"We saw--that is, Twining saw--an advertisement of this new
establishment in the _Galignani_. We had just arrived at Liége, when
he discovered a vetturino returning to Milan with an empty carriage;
he accordingly bargained with him to take us on here--I forget for
what sum--so that we left our own carriage, and half my luggage, at the
Pavilion Hotel, and set off on our three weeks' journey. We have been
three weeks all but two days on the road! My maid of course refused to
travel in this fashion, and went back to Paris. Courcel, his own man,
rebelled too, which Twining, I must say, seemed overjoyed at, and gave
him such a character for honesty in consequence, as he never could have
hoped for; and so we came on, with George the footman, and a Belgian
creature I picked up at the hotel, who, except to tear out my hair when
she brushes it, and bruise me whenever she hooks a dress, has really no
other gift under heaven."

"And you actually came all this way by vetturino?"

Lady Grace nodded a sad assent, and sighed deeply.

"What does he mean by it, my dear? The man must have some deep,
insidious design in all this;--don't you think so?"

"I think to myself, sometimes," replied she, sorrowfully. And now their
eyes met, and they remained looking steadily at each other for some
seconds. Whatever Lady Grace's secret thoughts, or whatever the dark
piercing orbs of her companion served to intimate, true is it that she
blushed till her cheek became crimson; and as she arose, and walked out
upon the terrace, her neck was a-flame with the emotion.

"He never married?" said Lady Lackington.

"No!" said Lady Grace, without turning her head. And there was a silence
on both sides.

Oh dear! how much of the real story of our lives passes without
expression--how much of the secret mechanism of our hearts moves without
a sound in the machinery!

"Poor fellow!" said Lady Lackington, at last, "his lot is just as sad as
your own. I mean," added she, "that he feels it so."

There was no answer, and she resumed. "Not but men generally treat
these things lightly enough. They have their clubs, and their Houses
of Parliament, and their shooting. Are you ill, dearest?" cried she, as
Lady Grace tottered feebly back and sauk into a chair.

"No," said she, in a faint voice, "I'm only tired!" And there was an
inexpressible melancholy in the tone as she spoke it.

"And I'm tired too!" said Lady Lackington, drearily. "There is a tyranny
in the routine of these places quite insupportable--the hours, the
discipline, the diet, and, worse than all, the dreadful people one meets
with." Though Lady Grace did not seem very attentive, this was a theme
the speaker loved to improve, and so she proceeded to discuss the house
and its inhabitants in all freedom. French, Russians, and Italians--all
were passed in review, and very smartly criticised, till she arrived at
"those atrocious O'Reillys, that my Lord will persist in threatening to
present to me. Now one knows horrid people when they are very rich, or
very well versed in some speculation or other--mines, or railroads,
or the like--and when their advice is so much actual money in your
pocket--just, for instance, as my Lord knows that Mr. Davenport Dunn--"

"Oh! he's a great ally of Mr. Twining; at least, I have heard his name a
hundred times in connexion with business matters."

"You never saw him?"

"No."

"Nor I, but once; but I confess to have some curiosity to know him. They
tell me he can do anything he pleases with each House of Parliament,
and has no inconsiderable influence in a sphere yet higher. It is quite
certain that the old Duke of Wycombe's affairs were all set to rights by
his agency, and Lady Muddleton's divorce bill was passed by his means."

The word "divorce" seemed to rally Lady Grace from her fit of musing,
and she said, "Is that certain?"

"Julia herself says so, that's all. He got a bill, or an act, or clause,
or whatever you call it, inserted, by which she succeeded in her suit,
and she is now as free--as free----"

"As I am not!" broke in Lady Grace, with a sad effort at a smile.

"To be sure, there is a little scandal in the matter, too. They say that
old Lord Brookdale was very 'soft' himself in that quarter."

"The Chancellor!" exclaimed Lady Grace.

"And why not, dear? You remember the old refrain, 'No age, no
station'--what is it?--and the next line goes--'To sovereign beauty
mankind bends the knee.' Julia is rather proud of the triumph herself;
she says it is like a victory in China, where the danger is very little
and the spoils considerable!"

"Mr. Spicer, my Lady," said a servant, entering, "wishes to know if your
Ladyship will receive him."

"Not this morning; say I'm engaged at present Tell him--But perhaps you
have no objection--shall we have him in?"

"Just as you please. I don't know him."

Lady Lackington whispered a word or two, and then added aloud, "And one
always finds them 'useful,' my dear!"

Mr. Spicer, when denuded of top-coat, cap, and woollen wrapper, as we
saw him last, was a slightly made man, middle-sized, and middle-aged,
with an air sufficiently gentlemanlike to pass muster in any ordinary
assemblage. To borrow an illustration from the pursuits he was versed
in, he bore the same relation to a man of fashion that a "weed" does
to a "winner of the Derby"--that is to say, to an uneducated eye, there
would have seemed some resemblance; and just as the "weed" counterfeits
the racer in a certain loose awkwardness of stride and an ungainly show
of power, so did he appear to have certain characteristics of a class
that he merely mixed with on sufferance, and imitated in some easy
"externals." The language of any profession is, however, a great
leveller; and whether the cant be of the "House," Westminster Hall, the
College of Physicians, the Mess Table, or the "Turf," it is exceedingly
difficult at first blush to distinguish the real practitioner from the
mere pretender. Now, Spicer was what is called a Gentleman Rider, and he
had all the slang of his craft, which is, more or less, the slang of men
who move in a very different sphere.

As great landed proprietors of ambitious tendencies will bestow a
qualification to sit in Parliament upon some man of towering abilities
and small fortune, so did certain celebrities of the Turf confer
a similar social qualification on Spicer; and by enabling him to
"associate with the world," empower themselves to utilise his talents
and make use of his capabilities. In this great Parliament of the Field,
therefore, Spicer sat; and though for a very small and obscure borough,
yet he had his place, and was "ready when wanted."

"How d'ye do, Spicer?" said Lady Lackington, arranging the folds of her
dress as he came forward, and intimating by the action that he was not
to delude himself into any expectation of touching her hand. "My Lord
told me you were here."

Spicer bowed, and muttered, and looked, as though he were waiting to be
formally presented to the other lady in company; but Lady Lackington
had not the most remote intention of bestowing on him such a mark of
recognition, and merely answered the mute appeal of his features by a
dry "Won't you sit down?"

And Mr. Spicer did sit down, and of a verity his position denoted no
excess of ease or enjoyment. It was not that he did not attempt to
appear perfectly at home, that he did not assume an attitude of the very
calmest self-possession, maybe he even passed somewhat the frontier of
the lackadaisical territory he assumed, for he slapped his boot with his
whip in a jaunty affectation of indifference.

"Pray, don't do that!" said Lady Lackington; "it worries one!"

He desisted, and a very awkward silence of some seconds ensued; at
length she said, "There was something or other I wanted to ask you
about; you can't help me to it, can you?"

"I'm afraid not, my Lady. Was it anything about sporting matters?"

"No, no; but now that you remind me, all that information you gave me
about Glaucus was wrong, he came in 'a bad third.' My Lord laughed at me
for losing my money on him, and said he was the worst horse of the lot."

"Very sorry to differ with his Lordship," said Spicer, deferentially,
"but he was the favourite up to Tuesday evening, when Scott declared
that he'd win with Big the Market. I then tried to get four to one on
Flycatcher, to square your book, but the stable was nobbled."

"Did you ever hear such jargon, my dear?" said Lady Lackington. "You
don't understand one syllable of it, I'm certain."

Spicer smirked and made a slight approach to a bow, as though even this
reference to him would serve for an introduction; but Lady Grace met the
advance with a haughty stare and a look, that said, as plainly as any
words, "At your peril, Sir!"

[Illustration:  044]

"Well, one thing is certain!" said Lady Lackington, "nothing that you
predicted turned out afterwards. Glaucus was beaten, and I lost my three
hundred pounds--only fancy, dearest, three hundred pounds, with which
one could do so many things! I wanted it in fifty ways, and I never
contemplated leaving it with the legs at Newmarket."

"Not the legs, I assure you, my Lady--not the legs. I made your book
with Colonel Stamford and Gore Middleton--"

"As if I cared who won it!" said she, haughtily.

"I never knew that you tempted fortune in this fashion!" said Lady
Grace, languidly.

"I do so very rarely, my dear. I think Mining Shares are better, or
Guatemala State Bonds. I realised very handsomely indeed upon them two
years ago. To be sure it was Dunn that gave me the hint: he dined with
us at the Hôtel de Windsor, and I asked him to pay a small sum for me
to Hore's people, and when I counted the money out to him, he said, 'Why
not buy in some of those Guanaxualo shares; they'll be up to--' I forget
what he said--'before a month. Let Storr wait, and you'll pay him in
full.' And he was quite right, aas I told you. I realised about eight
hundred pounds on my venture."

"If Glaucus had won, my Lady--"

"Don't tell me what I should have gained," broke she in. "It only
provokes one the more, and above all, Spicer, no more information, I
detest 'information.' And now, what was it I had to say to you; really
_your_ memory would seem to be failing you completely. What could it
be?"

"It couldn't be that roan filly----"

"Of course it couldn't. I really must endeavour to persuade you that
my thoughts occasionally stray beyond the stable. By the way, you sold
those grey carriage-horses for nothing. You always told me they were the
handsomest pair in London, and yet you say I'm exceedingly lucky to get
one hundred and eighty pounds for them."

"You forget, my Lady, that Bloomfield was a roarer----"

"Well, you really are in a tormenting mood this morning, Spicer. Just
bethink you, now, if there's anything more you have to say, disagreeable
and unpleasant, and say it at once; you have made lady Grace quite
ill----"

"No, only tired!" sighed her friend, with a melancholy smile.

"Now I remember," cried Lady Lackington, "it was about that house at
Florence. I don't think we shall pass any time there, but in case we
should, I should like that Zapponi palace, with the large terrace on the
Arno, and there must be no one on the ground-floor, mind that; and I'll
not give more than I gave formerly--perhaps not so much. But, above all,
remember, that if we decide to go on to Rome, that I'm not bound to it
in the least, and he must new-carpet that large drawing-room, and I must
have the little boudoir hung in blue, with muslin over it, not pink.
Pink is odious, except in a dressing-room. You will yourself look to
the stables; they require considerable alteration, and there's something
about the dining-room--what was it?--Lord Lackington will remember it.
But perhaps I have given you as many directions as your head will bear."

"I almost think so too, my Lady," muttered he, with a half-dogged look.

"And be sure, Spicer, that we have that cook--Antoine--if we should want
him. Don't let him take a place till we decide where we shall stop."

"You are aware that he insists on a hundred and fifty francs a month,
and his wine."

"I should like to know what good you are, if I am to negotiate with
these creatures myself!" said she, haughtily. "I must say, Lady Grace
will suspect that I have rather overrated your little talents, Spicer."
And Lady Grace gave a smile that might mean any amount of approval or
depreciation required. "I shall not want that saddle now, and you must
make that man take it back again."

"But I fear, my Lady----"

"There, don't be tiresome! What is that odious bell? Oh, it's the dinner
of these creatures. You dine at the table d'hôte, I think, so pray don't
let us keep you. You can drop in to-morrow. Let me see, about two, or
half-past. Good-by--good-by."

And so Mr. Spicer retired. The bow Lady Grace vouchsafed being in
reality addressed rather to one of the figures on her fan than to
himself.

"One gets a habit of these kind of people," said Lady Lackington, as the
door closed after him; "but really it is a bad habit."

"I think so too," said Lady Grace, languidly.

"To be sure, there are now and then occasions when you can't employ
exactly a servant. There are petty negotiations which require a certain
delicacy of treatment, and there, they are useful. Besides," said
she, with a half-sneering laugh, "there's a fashion in them, and, like
Blenheim spaniels, every one must have one, and the smaller the better!"

"Monsignore Clifford my Lady, to know if you receive," said a servant,
entering.

"Oh, certainly. I'm charmed, my dear Grace, to present to you the most
agreeable man of all Rome. He is English, but 'went over,' as they call
it, and is now high in the Pope's favour."

These words, hurriedly uttered as they were, had been scarcely spoken
when the visitor entered the room. He was a tall, handsome man, of about
five-and-thirty, dressed in deep black, and wearing a light blue ribbon
across his white neckcloth. He advanced with all the ease of good
breeding, and taking Lady Lackington's hand, he kissed the tips of her
fingers with the polished grace of a courtier.

After a formal presentation to Lady Grace, he took a seat between the
two ladies.

"I am come on, for _me_, a sad errand, my Lady," said he, in a voice
of peculiar depth and sweetness, in which the very slightest trace of a
foreign accent was detectable--"it is to say good-by!"

"You quite shock me, Monsignore. I always hoped you were here for our
own time."

"I believed and wished it also, my Lady; but I have received a
peremptory order to return to Rome. His Holiness desires to see me at
once. There is some intention, I understand, of naming me as the Nuncio
at Florence. Of course this is a secret as yet." And he turned to each
of the ladies in succession.

"Oh, that would be charming--at least for any one happy enough to
fix their residence there, and my friend Lady Grace is one of the
fortunate."

Monsignore bowed in gratitude to the compliment, but contrived, as he
bent his head, to throw a covert glance at his future neighbour, with
the result of which he did not seem displeased.

"I must of course, then, send you back those interesting books, which I
have only in part read?"

"By no means, my Lady; they are yours, if you will honour me by
accepting them. If the subject did not forbid the epithet, I should call
them trifles."

"Monsignore insists on my reading the 'Controversy,' dear Lady Grace;
but how I am to continue my studies without his guidance------"

"We can correspond, my Lady," quickly broke in the other. "You can
state to me whatever doubts--difficulties, perhaps, were, the better
word--occur to you; I shall be but too happy and too proud to offer you
the solution; and if my Lady Grace Twining would condescend to accept me
in the same capacity--."

She bowed blandly, and he went on.

"There is a little tract here, by the Cardinal Balbi--'Flowers of St.
Joseph' is the title. The style is simple but touching--'the invitation'
scarcely to be resisted."

"I think you told me I should like the Cardinal personally," broke in
Lady Lackington.

"His Eminence is charming, my Lady--such goodness, such gentleness, and
so much of the very highest order of conversational agreeability."

"Monsignore is so polite as to promise us introductions at Rome,"
continued she, addressing Lady Grace, "and amongst those, too, who are
never approached by our countrymen."

"The Alterini, the Fornisari, the Balbetti," proudly repeated
Monsignore.

"All ultra-exclusives, you understand," whispered Lady Lacking-ton to
her friend, "who wouldn't tolerate the English."

"How charming!" ejaculated Lady Grace, with a languid enthusiasm.

"The Roman nobility," continued Lady Lackington, "stands proudly
forward, as the only society in Europe to which the travelling English
cannot obtain access."

"They have other prejudices, my Lady--if I may so dare to call
sentiments inspired by higher influences--than those which usually
sway society. These prejudices are all in favour of such as regard our
Church, if not with the devotion of true followers, at least with the
respect and veneration that rightfully attach to the first-born of
Christianity."

"Yes," said Lady Lackington, as, though not knowing very well to
what, she gave her assent, and then added, "I own to you I have always
experienced a sort of awe--a sense of--what shall I call it?"

"Devotion, my Lady," blandly murmured Monsignore, while his eyes were
turned on her with a paraphrase of the sentiment.

"Just so. I have always felt it on entering one of your churches--the
solemn stillness, the gloomy indistinctness, the softened tints, the
swelling notes of the organ--you know what I mean."

"And when such emotions are etherialised, when, rising above material
influences, they are associated with thoughts of what is alone
thought-worthy, with hopes of what alone dignifies hope, imagine, then,
the blessed beatitude, the heavenly ecstasy they inspire."

Monsignore had now warmed to his work, and very ingeniously sketched
out the advantages of a creed that accommodated itself so beautifully
to every temperament--that gave so much and yet exacted so little--that
poisoned no pleasures--discouraged no indulgences--but left every
enjoyment open with its price attached to it, just as objects are
ticketed in a bazaar. He had much to say, too, of its soothing
consolations--its devices to alleviate sorrow and cheat
affliction--while such was its sympathy for poor suffering humanity,
that even the very caprices of temper--the mere whims of fancied
depression--were not deemed unworthy of its pious care.

It is doubtful whether these ladies would have accorded to a divine of
their own persuasion the same degree of favour and attention that they
now bestowed on Monsignore Clifford. Perhaps his manner in discussing
certain belongings of his Church was more entertaining; perhaps, too--we
hint it with deference--that there was something like a forbidden
pleasure in thus trespassing into the domain of Rome. His light and
playful style was, however, a fascination amply sufficient to account
for the interest he excited. If he dwelt but passingly on the dogmas of
his Church, he was eloquently diffuse on its millinery. Copes, stoles,
and vestments he revelled in; and there was a picturesque splendour in
his description of ceremonial that left the best-"effects" of the opera
far behind. How gloriously, too, did he expatiate on the beauty of the
Madonna, the costliness of her gems, and the brilliancy of her diadem!
How incidentally did he display a rapturous veneration for loveliness,
and a very pretty taste in dress! In a word, as they both confessed, "he
was charming.'' There was a downy softness in his enthusiasm, a sense
of repose even in his very insistence, peculiarly pleasant to those who
like to have their sensations, like their perfumes, as weak and as faint
as possible.

"There is a tact and delicacy about these men from which our people
might take a lesson," said Lady Lackington, as the door closed after
him.

"Very true," sighed Lady Grace; "ours are really dreadful."



CHAPTER III. A FATHER AND A DAUGHTER.

A DREARY evening late in October, a cold thin rain falling, and a
low wailing wind sighing through the headless branches of the trees in
Merrion Square, made Dublin seem as sad-looking and deserted as need be.
The principal inhabitants had not yet returned to their homes for
the winter, and the houses wore that melancholy look of vacancy and
desertion so strikingly depressing. One sound alone woke the echoes
in that silence; it was a loud knocking at the door of a large and
pretentious mansion in the middle of the north side of the square. Two
persons had been standing at the door for a considerable time, and by
every effort of knocker and bell endeavoring to obtain admittance. One
of these was a tall, erect man of about fifty, whose appearance but too
plainly indicated that most painful of all struggles between poverty and
a certain pretension. White-seamed and threadbare as was his coat,
he wore it buttoned to the top with a sort of military smartness, his
shabby hat was set on with a kind of jaunty air, and his bushy whiskers,
combed and frizzed out with care, seemed a species of protest against
being thought as humble as certain details of dress might bespeak
him. At his side stood a young girl, so like him that a mere glance
proclaimed her to be his daughter; and although in her appearance, also,
narrow means stood confessed, there was an unmistakable something in her
calm, quiet features and her patient expression that declared she bore
her lot with a noble and high-hearted courage.

"One trial more, Bella, and I 'll give it up," cried he, angrily, as,
seizing the knocker, he shook the strong door with the rapping, while
he jingled the bell with equal violence. "If they don't come now, it is
because they 've seen who it is, or, maybe----"

"There, see, papa, there's a window opening above," said the girl,
stepping out into the rain as she spoke.

"What d' ye mean,--do ye want to break in the door?" cried a harsh
voice, as the wizened, hag-like face of a very dirty old woman appeared
from the third story.

"I want to know if Mr. Davenport Dunn is at home," cried the man.

"He is not; he 's abroad,--in France."

"When is he expected back?" asked he again.

"Maybe in a week, maybe in three weeks."

"Have any letters come for Mr. Kellett--Captain Kel-lett?" said he,
quickly correcting himself.

"No!"

And a bang of the window, as the head was withdrawn, finished the
colloquy.

"That's pretty conclusive, any way, Bella," said he, with an attempt to
laugh. "I suppose there's no use in staying here longer. Poor child,"
added he, as he watched her preparations against the storm, "you 'll be
wet to the skin! I think we must take a car,--eh, Bella? I _will_ take
a car." And he put an emphasis on the word that sounded like a firm
resolve.

"No, no, papa; neither of us ever feared rain."

"And, by George! it can't spoil our clothes, Bella," said he, laughing
with a degree of jocularity that sounded astonishing, even to himself;
for he quickly added, "But I _will_ have a car; wait a moment here,
under the porch, and I 'll get one."

And before she could interpose a word, he was off and away, at a speed
that showed the vigor of a younger man.

"It won't do, Bella," he said, as he came back again; "there's only one
fellow on the stand, and he 'll not go under half a crown. I pushed
him hard for one-and-sixpence, but he 'd not hear of it, and so I
thought--that was, I knew well--you would be angry with me."

"Of course, papa; it would be mere waste of money," said she, hastily.
"An hour's walk,--at most, an hour and a half,--and there's an end of it
And now let us set out, for it is growing late."

There were few in the street as they passed along; a stray creature or
so, houseless and ragged, shuffled onward; an odd loiterer stood for
shelter in an archway, or a chance passer-by, with ample coat and
umbrella, seemed to defy the pelting storm, while cold and dripping they
plodded along in silence.

"That's old Barrington's house, Bella," said he, as they passed a large
and dreary-looking mansion at the corner of the square; "many's the
pleasant evening I spent in it."

She muttered something, but inaudibly, and they went on as before.

"I wonder what 's going on here to-day. It was Sir Dyke Morris used to
live here when I knew it" And he stopped at an open door, where a flood
of light poured forth into the street "That's the Bishop of Derry,
Bella, that's just gone in. There's a dinner-party there to-day,"
whispered he, as, half reluctant to go, he still peered into the hall.

She drew him gently forward, and he seemed to have fallen into a revery,
as he muttered at intervals,--

"Great times--fine times--plenty of money--and fellows that knew how to
spend it!"

Drearily plashing onward through wind and rain, their frail clothes
soaked through, they seldom interchanged a word.

"Lord Drogheda lived there, Bella," said he, stopping short at the door
of a splendidly illuminated hotel; "and I remember the time I was as
free and welcome in it as in my own house. My head used to be full of
the strange things that happened there once. Brown, and Barry Fox, and
Tisdall, and the rest of us, were wild chaps! Faith, my darling, it
was n't for Mr. Davenport Dunn I cared in those times, or the like of
him. Davenport Dunn, indeed!"

"It is strange that he has not written to us," said the girl, in a low
voice.

"Not a bit strange; it's small trouble he takes about us. I'll bet a
five-pound note--I mean, I'll lay sixpence," said he, correcting himself
with some confusion,--"that since he left this he never as much as
bestowed a thought on us. When he got me that beggarly place in the
Custom House, he thought he 'd done with me out and out. Sixty pounds a
year! God be with the time I gave Peter Harris, the butler, just double
the money!"

As they talked thus, they gained the outskirts of the city, and
gradually left the lamps and the well-lighted shops behind. Their
way now led along a dreary road by the sea-side, towards the little
bathing-village of Clontarf, beyond which, in a sequestered spot called
the Green Lanes, their humble home stood. It was a long and melancholy
walk; the sorrowful sounds of the sea beating on the shingly strand
mingling with the dreary plashing of the rain; while farther out, a
continuous roar as the waves rolled over the "North Bull," added all the
terrors of storm to the miseries of the night.

"The winter is setting in early," said Kellett "I think I never saw a
severer night."

"A sad time for poor fellows out at sea!" said the girl, as she turned
her head towards the dreary waste of cloud and water now commingled into
one.

"'T is exactly like our own life, out there," cried he: "a little
glimpse of light glimmering every now and then through the gloom,
but yet not enough to cheer the heart and give courage; but all black
darkness on every side."

"There will come a daybreak at last," said the girl, assuredly.

"Faith! I sometimes despair about it in our own case," said he, sighing
drearily. "To think of what I was once, and what I am now! buffeted
about and ill used by a set of scoundrels that I 'd not have suffered to
sit down in my kitchen. Keep that rag of a shawl across your chest; you
'll be destroyed entirely, Bella."

"We'll soon be within shelter now, and nothing the worse for this
weather, either of us," replied she, almost gayly. "Over and over
again have you told me what severe seasons you have braved in the
hunting-field; and, after all, papa, one can surely endure as much for
duty as in pursuit of pleasure,--not to say that our little cottage
never looks more homelike than after a night like this."

"It's snug enough for a thing of the kind," murmured he, half
reluctantly.

"And Betty will have such a nice fire for us, and we shall be as
comfortable and as happy as though it were a fine house, and we
ourselves fine folk to live in it."

"The Kelletts of Kellett's Court, and no better blood in Ireland," said
he, sternly. "It was in the same house my grandfather, Morgan Kellett,
entertained the Duke of Portland, the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland; and
this day, as I stand here, there isn't a chap in the Castle-yard would
touch his hat to me!"

"And what need have we of them, papa? Will not our pride of good blood
teach us other lessons than repining? Can't we show the world that a
gentleman born bears his altered fortunes with dignity?"

"Ye're right, Bella; that's the very thing they must acknowledge. There
is n't a day passes that I don't make the clerks in the 'Long Room' feel
the difference between us. 'No liberties, no familiarities, my lads,' I
say,--'keep your distance; for, though my coat is threadbare, and my
hat none of the best, the man inside there is Paul Kellett of
Kellett's Court.' And if they ask where that is, I say, 'Look at the
Gazetteer,'--it's mighty few of them has their names there: 'Kellett's
Court, the ancient seat of the Kellett family, was originally built by
Strongbow, Earl of Pembroke.'"

"Well, here we are, papa, in a more humble home; but you'll see how
cheery it will be."

And so saying, she pushed open a little wicket, and, passing through a
small garden, gained the door of a little one-storied cottage, almost
buried in honeysuckle.

"Yes, Betty, wet through!" said she, laughing, as the old woman held
up her hands in horror; "but get papa his slippers and that warm
dressing-gown, and I 'll be back in a minute."

"Arrah! why didn't you take a car for her?" said the old woman, with
that familiarity which old and tried service warrants. "Sure the child
will get her death from this!"

"She wouldn't let me; she insisted on walking on her feet."

"Ayeh, ayeh!" mattered the crone, as she placed his slippers on the
fender, "sure ye oughtn't to mind her. She'd get a fever rather than
cost you a shilling. Look at the shoes she's wearin'."

"By the good day! you'll drive me mad, clean mad!" cried he, savagely.
"Don't you know in your heart that we have n't got it? Devil a rap
farthing; that we're as poor as a church mouse; that if it wasn't for
this beggarly place----"

"Now, Betty," cried the girl, entering,--"now for our tea, and that
delicious potato-cake that I see browning there before the fire."

Poorly, even meanly dressed as she was, there was in her that gentle
look, and graceful, quiet bearing that relieved the sombre aspect of a
room which spoke but too plainly of narrow fortune; and as her father
looked at her, the traces of recent displeasure passed from his face,
and her eyes brightened up, while he said,--

"You bring a blessing with the very sound of your voice, darling." And
he kissed her twice as he spoke.

"It is so comfortable to be here, and so snug," said she, seating
herself at his side, "and to know that to-morrow is Sunday, and that we
have our holiday, each of us. Come, papa, confess this little room and
its bright fire are very cheery! And I have got a newspaper for you. I
told Mrs. Hawksey there was nothing such a treat to you as a newspaper,
and she gave me one."

"Ah! the 'Trumpet of Liberty,'" said he, opening it. "We'll have it
after tea, Bella. Is there anything about our own county in it,--Cork, I
mean?"

"I have not looked in it yet; but we 'll go through it honestly, papa,
for I know how conscientious you are not to lose a paragraph."

"'T is that same makes a man agreeable in society. You know everything
if you read the papers,--accidents and marriages, the rate of the
money-market, the state of the crops, who is dining with the Queen, and
who is skating on the Serpentine, who is ruined at Newmarket, and who
drowned at sea, and then all about the play-houses and the wonderful
panoramas; so that, let conversation turn how it will, you 're ready for
it, and that 's the reason, Bella, you must go through every bit of it.
It's like hunting, and the very field perhaps you don't try is just the
one you 'd find a fox in!"

"Well, you 'll see. I 'll beat every cover for you!" said she, laughing;
"and Mrs. Hawksey desires to have it back, for there is something about
the Alderman having said or done--I don't know what or where."

"How I hate the very name of an Alderman!" said Kellett, peevishly;
"regular vagabonds, with gilt coaches and red cloaks, running about
prating of taxes and the pipe-water! The devil a thing I feel harder to
bear in my poverty than to think you 're a visiting governess in an
Alderman's family. Paul Kellett's daughter a visiting governess!"

"And very proud am I to be thought equal to the charge," said she,
resolutely; "not to say how grateful to you for having enabled me to
undertake it."

"Myself in the Customs is nothing; that I'd put up with. Many a reduced
gentleman did the same. Sam Crozier was a marker at a billiard-table in
Tralee, and Ennis Magrath was an overseer on the very road he used
to drive his four-in-hand. 'Many a time,' says he, 'I cursed that
fresh-broken stone, but I never thought I 'd be measuring it!' 'T is the
Encumbered Court has brought us all down, Bella, and there's no disgrace
in being ruined with thousands of others. Just begin with the sales of
estates, and tell us who is next for sentence. God forgive me, but I
feel a kind of pleasure in hearing that we 're all swamped together."

The girl smiled as though the remark were merely uttered in levity and
deserved no more serious notice; but a faint sigh, which she could not
repress, betrayed the sorrow with which she had heard it.

She opened the paper and glanced at its contents. They were as varied
and multifarious as are usually to be found in weekly "channels of
information." What struck her, however, most was the fact that, turn
where she would, the name of Davenport Dunn was ever conspicuous. Sales
of property displayed him as the chief creditor or petitioner; charities
paraded him as the first among the benevolent; Joint-stock companies
exhibited him as their managing director; mines, and railroads, and
telegraph companies, harbor committees, and boards of all kinds, gave
him the honors of large type; while in the fashionable intelligence from
abroad, his arrivals and departures were duly chronicled, and a letter
of our own correspondent from Venice communicated the details of a
farewell dinner given him, with a "Lord" in the chair, by a number of
those who had so frequently partaken of his splendid hospitalities while
he resided in that city.

"Well--well--well!" said Kellett, with a pause between each
exclamation, "this is more than I can bear. Old Jerry Dunn's son,--the
brat of a boy I remember in the Charter' School! He used to be sent at
Christmas time up to Ely Place, when my father was in town, to get five
shillings for a Christmas-box; and I mind well the day he was asked to
stay and dine with my sister Matty and myself, and he taught us a new
game with six little bits of sticks; how we were to do something, I
forget what,--but I know how it ended,--he won every sixpence we had.
Matty had half a guinea in gold and some tenpenny pieces, and I had, I
think, about fifteen shillings, and sorrow a rap he left us; and, worse
still, I mortgaged my school maps, and got a severe thrashing for having
lost them from Old White in Jervas Street; and poor Matty's doll
was confiscated in the same way, and carried off with a debt of
three-and-fourpence on her head. God forgive him, but he gave us a
sorrowful night, for we cried till daybreak."

"And did you like him as a playfellow?" asked she.

"Now, that's the strangest thing of all," said Kellett, smiling.
"Neither Matty nor myself liked him; but he got a kind of influence over
us that was downright fascination. No matter what we thought of doing
before he came, when he once set foot in the room everything followed
his dictation. It was n't that he was overbearing or tyrannical in
the least; just as little could you say that he was insinuating or
nattering; but somehow, by a kind of instinct, we fell into his ways,
and worked out all his suggestions just as if we were mere agents of his
will. Resistance or opposition we never dreamed of while he was present;
but after he was gone away, once or twice there came the thought that
there was something very like slavery in all this submission, and we
began to concert how we might throw off the yoke.

"'I won't play toll-bar any more,' said I, resolutely; 'all my
pocket-money is sure to go before it is over.'

"'And I,' said Matty, 'won't have poor "Mopsy" tried for a murder again;
every time she's hanged, some of the wax comes off her neck.'"

"We encouraged each other vigorously in these resolves; but before he
was half an hour in the house 'Mopsy' had undergone the last sentence
of the law, and I was insolvent."

"What a clever rogue he must have been!" said Bella, laughing.

"Was n't he clever!" exclaimed Kellett. "You could not say how,--nobody
could say how,--but he saw everything the moment he came into a new
place, and marked every one's face, and knew, besides, the impression he
made on them, just as if he was familiar with them for years."

"Did you continue to associate with him as you grew up?" asked she.

"No; we only knew each other as children. There was a distressing
thing--a very distressing thing--occurred one day; I'm sure to this very
hour I think of it with sorrow and shame, for I can't believe he had
any blame in it. We were playing in a room next my father's study,
and running every now and then into the study; and there was an
old-fashioned penknife--a family relic, with a long bloodstone
handle--lying on the table; and when the play was over, and Davy, as we
called him, had gone home, this was missing. There was a search made
for it high and low, for my father set great value on it. It was his
great-great-grandmother's, I believe; at all events, no one ever set
eyes on it afterwards, and nothing would persuade my father but that
Davy stole it! Of course he never told us that he thought so, but the
servant did, and Matty and myself cried two nights and a day over it,
and got really sick.

"I remember well; I was working by myself in the garden, Matty was
ill and in bed, when I saw a tall old man, dressed like a country
shopkeeper, shown into the back parlor, where my father was sitting.
There was a bit of the window open, and I could hear that high words
were passing between them, and, as I thought, my father getting the
worst of it; for the old fellow kept repeating, 'You 'll rue it, Mister
Kellett,--you 'll rue it yet!' And then my father said, 'Give him a good
horsewhipping, Dunn; take my advice, and you 'll spare yourself some
sorrow, and save him from even worse hereafter.' I 'll never forget the
old fellow's face as he turned to leave the room. 'Davy will live to pay
you off for this,' said he; 'and if _you 're_ not to the fore, it will
be your children, or your children's children, will have to 'quit the
debt!'

"We never saw Davy from that hour; indeed, we were strictly forbidden
ever to utter his name; and it was only when alone together, that Matty
and I would venture to talk of him, and cry over--and many a time we
did--the happy days when we had him for our playfellow. There was a
species of martyrdom now, too, in his fate, that endeared him the more
to our memories; every play he had invented, every spot he was fond of,
every toy he liked, were hallowed to our minds like relics. At last poor
Matty and I could bear it no longer, and we sat down and wrote a long
letter to Davy, assuring him of our fullest confidence in his honor,
and our broken-heartedness at separation from him. We inveighed
stoutly against parental tyranny, and declared ourselves ready for open
rebellion, if he, that was never deficient in a device, could only point
out the road. We bribed a stable-boy, with all our conjoined resources
of pocket-money, to convey the epistle, and it came back next morning
to my father, enclosed in one from Davy himself, stating that he could
never countenance acts of disobedience, or be any party to a system
by which children should deceive their parents. I was sent off to a
boarding-school the same week, and poor Matty committed to the charge of
Miss Morse, a vinegar-faced old maid, that poisoned the eight best years
of her life!"

"And when did you next hear of him?"

"Of Davy? Let me see; the next time I heard of him was when he attempted
to enter college as a sizar, and failed. Somebody or other mentioned
it at Kellett's Court, and said that old Dunn was half out of his mind,
insisting that some injustice was dealt out to his son, and vowing he 'd
get the member for somewhere to bring the matter before Parliament.
Davy was wiser, however; he persuaded his father that, by agitating the
question, they would only give notoriety to what, if left alone, would
speedily be forgotten; and Davy was right I don't think there's three
men now in the kingdom that remember one word about the sizarship, or,
if they do, that would be influenced by it in any dealings they might
have with Mr. Davenport Dunn."

"What career did he adopt after that?"

"He became a tutor, I think, in Lord Glengariff's family. There was
some scandal about him there,--I forget it now,--and then he went off
to America, and spent some years there, and in Jamaica, where he was
employed as an overseer, I think; but I can't remember it all. My own
knowledge of him next was seeing the name 'D. Dunn, solicitor,' on a
neat brass-plate in Tralee, and hearing that he was a very acute fellow
in election contests, and well up to dealing with the priests."

"And now he has made a large fortune?"

"I believe you well; he's the richest man in Ireland. There's scarce a
county he has n't got property in. There's not a town, nor a borough,
where he has n't some influence, and in every class, too,--gentry,
clergy, shopkeepers, people: he has them all with him, and nobody seems
to know how he does it."

"Pretty much, I suppose, as he used to manage Aunt Matty and yourself
long ago," said she, laughingly.

"Well, indeed, I suppose so," said he, with a half sigh; "and if it be,
all I can say is, they 'll be puzzled to find out his secret. He's the
deepest fellow I ever heard or read of; for there he stands to-day,
without name, family, blood, or station, higher than those that had them
all,--able to do more than them; and, what's stranger still, thought
more about in England than the best man amongst us."

"You have given me quite an interest about him, papa; tell me, what is
he like?"

"He's as tall as myself, but not so strongly built; indeed, he's
slightly round-shouldered; he is dark in the complexion, and has the
blackest hair and whiskers I ever saw, and rather good-looking than
otherwise,--a calm, cold, patient-looking face you'd call it; he speaks
very little, but his voice is soft and low and deliberate, just like one
that would n't throw away a word; and he never moves his hands or arms,
but lets them hang down heavily at either side."

"And his eyes? Tell me of his eyes?"

"They 're big, black, sleepy-looking eyes, seldom looking up, and never
growing a bit brighter by anything that he says or hears about him.
Indeed, any one seeing him for the first time would say, 'There's a man
whose thoughts are many a mile away; he is n't minding what's going on
about him here.' But that is not the case; there is n't a look, a stir,
nor a gesture that he does n't remark. There 's not a chair drawn closer
to another, not a glance interchanged, that he has n't noticed; and I
've heard it said, 'Many would n't open a letter before him, he's so
sure to guess the contents from just reading the countenance.'"

"The world is always prone to exaggerate such gifts," said she, calmly.

"So it may be, dear, but I don't fancy it could do so here. He's one of
those men that, if he had been born to high station, would be a great
politician or a great general. You see that, somehow, without any effort
on his part, things come up just as he wished them. I believe, after
all," said he, with a heavy sigh, "it's just luck! Whatever one man puts
his hand to in this world goes on right and smoothly, and another has
every mishap and misfortune that can befall him. He may strive, and
toil, and fret his brains over it, but devil a good it is. If he is born
to ill luck, it will stick to him."

"It's not a very cheery philosophy!" said she, gently.

"I suppose not, dear; but what is very cheery in this life, when you
come to find it out? Is n't it nothing but disappointment and vexation?"

Partly to rally him out of this vein of depression, and partly from
motives of curiosity, she once more adverted to Dunn, and asked how it
happened that they crossed each other again in life.

"He's what they call 'carrying the sale' of Kellett's Court, my dear.
You know we 're in the Encumbered Estates now; and Dunn represents Lord
Lackington and others that hold the mortgages over us. The property was
up for sale in November, then in May last, and was taken down by Dunn's
order. I never knew why. It was then, however, he got me this thing in
the Revenue,--this beggarly place of sixty-five pounds a year; and told
me, through his man Hanks,--for I never met himself about it,--that
he 'd take care my interests were not overlooked. After that the Courts
closed, and he went abroad; and that's all there's between us, or,
indeed, likely to be between us; for he never wrote me as much as one
line since he went away, nor noticed any one of my letters, though I
sent him four, or, indeed, I believe, five."

"What a strange man this must be!" said she, musingly. "Is it supposed
that he has formed any close attachments? Are his friends devoted to
him?"

"Attachments,--friendships! faith, I'm inclined to think it's little
time he'd waste on one or the other. Why, child, if what we hear be
true, he goes through the work of ten men every day of his life."

"Is he married?" asked she, after a pause.

"No; there was some story about a disappointment he met early in life.
When he was at Lord Glengariff's, I think, he fell in love with one of
the daughters, or she with him,--I never knew it rightly,--but it ended
in his being sent away; and they say he never got over it. Just as if
Davenport Dunn was a likely man either to fall in love or cherish
the memory of a first passion! I wish you saw him, Bella," said he,
laughing, "and the notion would certainly amuse you."

"But still men of his stamp have felt--ay, and inspired--the strongest
passions. I remember reading once--" "Reading, my darling,--reading is
one thing, seeing or knowing is another. The fellows that write these
things must invent what is n't likely,--what is nigh impossible,--or
nobody would read it What we see of a man or woman in a book is just the
exact reverse of what we 'll ever find in real life."

The girl could easily have replied to this assertion; indeed, the answer
was almost on her lips, when she restrained herself, and, hanging down
her head, fell into a musing fit.



CHAPTER IV. ONE WHO WOULD BE A "SHARP FELLOW."

One of the chief, perhaps the greatest, pleasures which Kellett's humble
lot still secured him, was a long country walk of a Sunday in company
with one who had been his friend in more prosperous times. A reduced
gentleman like himself, Annesley Beecher could only go abroad on this
one day in the week, and thus by the pressure of adverse fortune were
they thrown more closely together.

Although by no means a favorite with Bella, she was far too considerate
for her father, and too mindful of the few enjoyments that remained to
him, ever to interpose her real opinion. She therefore limited herself
to silence, as old Kellett would pronounce some glowing eulogy of
his friend, calling him "good" and "amiable" and "kind-hearted,"
and extolling, as little short of miraculous, "the spirits he had,
considering all he went through." But he would add, "He was always the
same, and that's the reason everybody liked him,--everybody, that is,
almost everybody!" And he would steal a sly glance at his daughter, half
imploringly, as though to say, "How long are you to sit in that small
minority?"

Whether the weather would permit of Beecher's coming out to see them,
whether he 'd be able to "stay and take his bit of dinner with them,"
were subjects of as great anxiety to poor Kellett each succeeding
Sunday morning as though there ever had been a solitary exception to
the wished-for occurrence; and Bella would never destroy the pleasure
of anticipation by the slightest hint that might impair the value he
attached to the event.

"There's so many trying to get him," he would say; "they pester his life
out with invitations,--the Chancellor and Lord Killybegs and the Bishop
of Drumsna always asking him to name his day; but he 'd rather come out
and take his bit of roast mutton with ourselves, and his glass of punch
after it, than he 'd eat venison and drink claret with the best of them.
There's not a table in Dublin, from the Castle down, that would n't
be proud of his company; and why not?" He would pause after uttering a
challenge of this sort; and then, as his daughter would show no signs of
acceptance, he would mutter on, "A real gentleman born and bred, and how
anybody can _mislike_ him is more than I am really able to comprehend!"

These little grumblings, which never produced more than a smile from
Bella, were a kind of weekly homily which poor Kellett liked to deliver,
and he felt, when he had uttered it, as one who had paid a just tribute
to worth and virtue.

[Illustration: 066]

"There's Beecher already, by Jove!" cried Kellett, as he sprang up
from the breakfast-table to open the little wicket which the other was
vainly endeavoring to unhasp. "How early he is!"

Let us take the opportunity to present him to our readers,--a duty the
more imperative, since, to all outward semblance at least, he would
appear little to warrant the flattering estimate his friend so lately
bestowed upon him. About four or five-and-thirty, somewhat above the
middle size, and with all the air and bearing of a man of fashion,
Beecher had the gay, easy, light-hearted look of one with whom the world
went habitually well; and when it did not, more was the shame of the
said world! since a better, nobler, more generous fellow than himself
never existed; and this _he_ knew, however others might ungraciously
hold an opposite opinion. There was not the slightest detail in his
dress that could warrant the supposition of narrow fortune: his coat
and his waistcoat, of one color and stuff, were faultless in make; the
massive watch-chain that festooned across his chest in the last mode;
his thick walking-boots the perfection of that compromise between
strength and elegance so popular in our day; even to his cane, whose
head was of massive gold, with his arms embossed,--all bespoke a
certain affluence and abundance, the more assured from the absence of
ostentation.

His hat was slightly, very slightly, set on one side,--a piece of
"tigerism" pardonable, perhaps, as it displayed the rich brown curls of
very silky hair, which he had disposed with consummate skill before
his glass ere he issued forth. His large, full blue eyes, his handsome
mouth, and a certain gentleness in his look generally, were what he
himself would have called the "odds in his favor;" and very hard it
would indeed have been at first sight to form an estimate in any way
unfavorable to him. Bean Beecher, as he was called once, had been deemed
the best-looking fellow about town, and when he entered the Life
Guards, almost twenty years before the time we now present him, had been
reckoned the handsomest man and best rider in the regiment. Brother of
Lord Lackington, but not by the same mother, he had inaugurated that new
school of dandyism which succeeded to the Brummell period, and sought
fame and notoriety by splendor and extravagance rather than by the
fastidious and personal elegance that characterized the former era. In
this way Lord Lackington and his brother were constantly contrasted; and
although each had their followers, it was generally admitted that they
were both regarded as admirable types of style and fashion. Boodle's
would have preferred the Peer, the Guards' Club and all Tattersall's
have voted for the Honorable Annesley Beecher.

Beecher started in life with all the advantages and disadvantages which
attach to the position of a younger son of a noble family. On the
one side he had good connections, a sure status in society, and easy
admission into club life; on the other, lay the counterbalancing fact of
the very slender fortune which usually falls to the lot of the younger
born. The sum, in his case, barely sufficed to carry him through his
minority, so that the day he came of age he had not a shilling in the
world. Most men open their career in life with some one ambition or
other in their hearts. Some aspire to military glory and the fame of
a great general, some yearn after political eminence, and fashion to
themselves the triumphs of successful statesmanship. There are lesser
goals in the walks of the learned professions which have each their
votaries; and sanguine spirits there are who found, in imagination,
distant colonies beyond the sea, or lead lives of adventure in exploring
unvisited and unknown regions. Annesley Beecher had no sympathy with
any of these. The one great and absorbing wish of his heart was to be a
"sharp fellow;" one who in all the dealings and traffic of life was sure
to get the upper hand of his adversary, who in every trial where craft
was the master, and in whatever situation wherein cunning performed a
part, was certain to come out with the creditable reputation of being,
"for a gentleman, the downiest cove to be met with anywhere."

This unhappy bent was owing to the circumstance of his being early
thrown amongst men who, having nothing but their wits to depend upon,
had turned these same wits to very discreditable purposes. He became,
it is needless to say, their easy dupe; and when utterly bereft of
the small patrimony which he once possessed, was admitted as an humble
brother of the honorable guild who had despoiled him.

Men select their walk in life either from the consciousness of certain
qualities likely to obtain success, or by some overweening admiration of
those already eminent in it. It was this latter decided Beecher's taste.
Never was there one who cherished such profound respect for a crafty
fellow, for all other intellectual superiorities he could limit his
esteem: for a rogue, his veneration was unbounded. From the man
that invented a bubble company, to him who could turn the king at
_écarté_--from the gifted individual who could puff up shares to an
exorbitant value, to the no less fine intelligence that could "make
everything safe on the Derby," he venerated them all. His early
experiences had been unhappy ones, and so constantly had he found
himself duped and "done" on every hand, that he ended by believing that
honesty was a pure myth; the nearest approach to the quality being a
certain kind of fidelity to one's "pall," as he would have called it,
and an unwillingness to put "your own friend in the hole," while there
were so many others available for that pleasant destiny. This little
flickering flame of principle, this farthing candle of good feeling, was
the solitary light that illuminated the gloom of his character.

He had joined the regiment Kellett formerly belonged to at Malta, a
few weeks before the other had sold out, and having met accidentally in
Ireland, they had renewed the acquaintance, stimulated by that strange
sympathy which attracts to each other those whose narrow circumstances
would seem, in some shape or other, the effects of a cruelty practised
on them by the world. Kellett was rather flattered by the recognition of
him who recalled the brighter hours of his life, while he entertained
a kind of admiration for the worldly wit and cleverness of one who, in
talk at least, was a match for the "shrewdest fellow going." Beecher
liked the society of a man who thus looked up to him, and who could
listen unweariedly to his innumerable plans for amassing wealth and
fortune, all of which only needed some little preliminary aid--some
miserable thousand or two to start with--to make them as "rich as
Rothschild."

Never was there such a Tantalus view of life as he could
picture,--stores of gold, mines of unbounded wealth,--immense stakes
to be won here, _rouge et noir_ banks to be broke there,--all actually
craving to be appropriated, if one only had a little of that shining
metal which, like the water thrown down in a pump, is the needful
preliminary to securing a supply of the fluid afterwards.

The imaginative faculty plays a great part in the existence of the
reduced gentleman! Kellett actually revelled in the gorgeous visions
this friend could conjure up. There was that amount of plausibility in
his reasonings that satisfied scruple as to practicability, and made him
regard Beecher as the most extraordinary instance of a grand financial
genius lost to the world,--a great Chancellor of the Exchequer born to
devise budgets in obscurity!

Bella took a very different measure of him: she read him with all a
woman's nicest appreciation, and knew him thoroughly; she saw, however,
how much his society pleased her father, how their Sunday strolls
together rallied him from the dreary depression the week was sure to
leave behind it, and how these harmless visions of imaginary prosperity
served to cheer the gloom of actual poverty. She, therefore, concealed
so much as she could of her own opinion, and received Beecher as
cordially as she was able.

"Ah, Paul, my boy, how goes it? Miss Kellett, how d'ye do?" said
Beecher, with that easy air and pleasant smile that well became him. "I
thought by starting early I should just catch you at breakfast, while I
also took another hour out of my Sunday,--the one day the law mercifully
bestows on such poor devils as myself,--ha, ha, ba!" And he laughed
heartily, as though insolvency was as droll a thing as could be.

"You bear up well, anyhow, Beecher," said Kellett, admiringly.

"What's the odds so long as you're happy!" cried the other, gayly.
"Never say die. They take it out in fifty per cent, but they can't work
the oracle against our good spirits, eh, Kellett? The _mens sana in
corpore_,--what d'ye call him, my lad?--that's the real thing."

"Indeed, I suppose it is!" said Kellett, not very clear as to what he
concurred in.

"There are few fellows, let me tell you, would be as light-hearted as I
am, with four writs and a judge's warrant hanging over them,--eh, Miss
Bella, what do you say to that?" said Beecher.

She smiled half sadly and said nothing.

"Ask John Scott,--ask Bicknell Morris, or any of the 'Legs' you
like,--if there's a man of them all ever bore up like me. 'Beecher's
a bar of iron,' they 'll tell you; 'that fellow can bear any amount of
hammering.' and maybe I have n't had it! And all Lackington's fault!"

"That's the worst of all!" said Kellett, who had listened to the same
accusation in the self-same words at least a hundred times before.

"Lackington is the greatest fool going! He does n't see the advantage of
pushing his family influence. He might have had me in for 'Mallow.'
Grog Davis said to him one day, 'Look now, my Lord, Annesley is the best
horse in your stable, if you 'd only stand to win on him, he is!' But
Lackington would not hear of it. He thinks me a flat! You won't believe
it, but he does!"

"Faith! he's wrong there," said Kellett, with all the emphasis of
sincerity.

"I rather suspect he is, Master Kellett. I was trained in another
school,--brought up amongst fellows would skin a cat, by Jove! What I
say is, let A. B. have a chance,--just let him in once, and see if he
won't do the thing!"

"Do you wish to be in Parliament, Mr. Beecher?" asked Bella, with a
smile of half-repressed drollery.

"Of course I do. First, there's the protection,--no bad thing as times
go; then it would be uncommon strange if I could n't 'tool the coach
into the yard' safely. They 'd have to give me a devilish good thing.
You 'd see what a thorn I 'd be in their sides. Ask Grog Davis what kind
of fellow I am; he 'll tell you if I 'm easily put down. But Lackington
is a fool; he can't see the road before him!"

"You reckon, then, on being a debater!" said she, quietly.

"A little of everything, Miss Bella," said he, laughing; "like the
modern painters, not particular for a shade or two. I 'd not go wasting
my time with that old Tory lot,--they're all worked ont, aged and
weighted, as John Scott would call them--I'd go in with the young
uns,--the Manchester two-year-olds, universal--what d'ye call it?--and
vote by ballot. They 're the fellows have 'the tin,' by Jove! they
have."

"Then I scarcely see how Lord Lackington would advance his family
influence by promoting your views," said she, again.

"To be sure he would. It would be the safest hedge in the world for him.
He 'd square his book by it, and stand to win, no matter what horse
came in. Besides, why should they buy me, if I was n't against them? You
don't nobble the horse in your own stable,--eh, Kellett, old boy?"

"You're a wonderful fellow, Beecher!" said Kellett, in a most honest
admiration of his friend.

"If they'd only give me a chance, Paul,--just one chance!"

It was not very easy to see what blot in the game of life he purposed to
himself to "hit" when he used this expression, "if they only give me a
chance;" vague and indistinct as it was, still for many a year had it
served him as a beacon of hope. A shadow vision of creditors "done,"
horses "nobbled," awkward testimonies "squared," a millenary period
of bills easily discounted, with an indulgent Angel presiding over the
Bankrupt Court,--these and like blessings doubtless all flitted before
him as the fruits of that same "chance" which destiny held yet in store
for him.

Hope is a generous fairy; she deigns to sit beside the humblest
firesides,--she will linger even in the damp cell of the prison, or
rest her wings on the wave-tossed raft of the shipwrecked, and in such
mission is she thrice blessed! But by what strange caprice does she
visit the hearts of men like this? Perhaps it is that the very spirit of
her ministering is to despair of nothing.

We are by no means sure that our reader will take the same pleasure that
Kellett did in Beecher's society, and therefore we shall spare him
the narrative of their walk. They strolled along for hours, now by the
shingly shore, on which the waves swept smoothly, now inland, through
leafy lanes and narrow roads, freckled with patchy sunlight. The day was
calm and still,--one of those solemn autumnal days which lend to scenery
a something of sadness in their unvarying quiet. Although so near a
great city, the roads were little travelled, and they sauntered for
hours scarcely meeting any one.

Wherever the smoke rose above the tall beech-trees, wherever the
ornamented porch of some lone cottage peeped through the copse, or the
handsome entrance-gate proclaimed the well-to-do owner of some luxurious
abode, Kellett would stop to tell who it was lived there,--the wealthy
merchant, the affluent banker, the alderman or city dignitary, who had
amassed his fortune by this or that pursuit. Through all his stories
there ran the vein of depreciation, which the once landed proprietor
cherished towards the men who were the "first of their name." He was
sure to remember some trait of their humble beginnings in life,--how
this one had come up barefooted to Dublin fifty years before; how that
had held horses in the street for hire. It was strange, but scarcely
one escaped some commentary of this kind; not that there was a spark
of ill-nature in the man, but that he experienced a species of
self-consolation in thinking that in all his narrow fortune he had
claims of kindred and connection which none of them could compete with.
Beecher's thoughts took, meanwhile, a different course; whenever not
awakened to interest by some trait of their sharpness or cunning, to
which he listened with avidity, he revelled in the idea of their wealth,
as a thing of which they might be despoiled: "Wouldn't that fellow take
shares in some impossible speculation?--Couldn't the other be induced
to buy some thousand pounds' worth of valueless scrip?--Would this one
kindly permit himself to 'be cleared out' at hazard?--Might that one be
persuaded to lose a round sum at _écarté_?"

And thus did they view life, with widely different sympathies, it is
true, but yet in a spirit that made them companionable to each other.
One "grew his facts," like raw material which the other manufactured
into those curious wares by which he amused his fancy. Poverty is a
stronger bond than many believe it; when men begin to confess it to each
other, they take something very like an oath of fidelity.

"By the way," said Beecher, as he bade his friend good night, "you told
me you knew Dunn--Davenport Dunn?"

"To be sure I do,--know him well."

"Couldn't you introduce me to him? That's a fellow might be able to
assist me. I 'm certain he could give me a chance; eh, Kellett?"

"Well; I expect him back in Ireland every day. I was asking after him no
later than yesterday; but he's still away."

"When he comes back, however, you can mention me, of course; he'll know
who I am."

"I'll do it with pleasure. Good-night, Beecher,--goodnight; and I
hope"--this was soliloquy as he turned back towards the door,--"I hope
Dunn will do more for you than he ever has for _me!_ or, faith, it's not
worth while to make the acquaintance."

Bella retired to her room early, and Kellett sat moodily alone by his
fire. Like a great many other "embarrassed gentlemen," he was dragging
on life amidst all the expedients of loans, bonds, and mortgages, when
the bill for sale of the encumbered estates became the law of the land.
What with the legal difficulties of dispossessing him, what with the
changeful fortunes of a good harvest, or money a little more plentiful
in the market, he might have gone on to the last in this fashion, and
ended his days where he began them, in the old house of his fathers,
when suddenly this new and unexpected stroke of legislation cut short
all his resources at once, and left him actually a beggar on the world.

The panic created at the first moment by a law that seemed little short
of confiscation, the large amount of landed property thus suddenly
thrown into the market, the prejudice against Irish investment so
strongly entertained by the moneyed classes in England, all tended
vastly to depreciate the value of those estates which came first for
sale; and many were sold at prices scarcely exceeding four or five years
of their rental. An accidental disturbance in the neighborhood, some
petty outrage in the locality, was enough to depreciate the value;
and purchasers actually fancied themselves engaged in speculations
so hazardous that nothing short of the most tempting advantages would
requite them for their risk.

One of the very first estates for sale was Kellett's Court. The charges
on the property were immense, the accumulated debts of three generations
of spendthrifts; the first charge, however, was but comparatively small,
and yet even this was not covered by the proceeds of the sale. A house
that had cost nearly forty thousand pounds, standing on its own demesne,
surrounded by an estate yielding upwards of three thousand a year, was
knocked down for fifteen thousand four hundred pounds.

Kellett was advised to appeal against this sale on various grounds: he
was in possession of an offer of more than double for the same property
in times less prosperous; he could show a variety of grounds--surprise
and others--to invalidate the ruinous contract; and it was then that he
once again, after a whole life, found himself in contact with Davenport
Dunn, the attorney for many parties whose interests were compromised in
the sale. By no possible accident could the property be sold at such a
price as would leave any surplus to himself; but he hoped, indeed he was
told, that he would be favorably considered by those whose interest he
was defending; and this last throw for fortune was now the subject of
his dreary thoughts.

There was, too, another anxiety, and a nearer one, pressing on his
heart. Kellett had a son,--a fine, frank, open-hearted young fellow, who
had grown up to manhood, little dreaming that he would ever be called on
to labor for his own support. The idle lounging habits of a country
life had indisposed him to all study, so that even his effort to
enter college was met by a failure, and he was turned back on the
very threshold of the University. Jack Kellett went home, vowing he 'd
nevermore trouble his head about Homer and Lucian, and he kept his word;
he took to his gun and his pointers with renewed vigor, waiting until
such time as he might obtain his gazette to a regiment on service. His
father had succeeded in securing a promise of such an appointment, but,
unhappily, the reply only arrived on the very week that Kellett's Court
was sold, and an order from the Horse Guards to lodge the purchase-money
of his commission came at the very hour when they were irretrievably
ruined.

Jack disappeared the next morning, and the day following brought a
letter, stating that he had enlisted in the "Rifles," and was off to the
Crimea. Old Kellett concealed the sorrow that smote him for the loss of
his boy, by affecting indignation at being thus deserted. So artfully
did he dress up this self-deception that Bella was left in doubt as to
whether or not some terrible scene had not occurred between the father
and son before he left the house. In a tone that she never ventured to
dispute, he forbade her to allude to Jack before him; and thus did
he treasure up this grief for himself alone and his own lonely hours,
cheating his sorrow by the ingenious devices of that constraint he was
thus obliged to practise on himself. Like a vast number of men with whom
the world has gone hardly, he liked to brood over his misfortunes,
and magnify them to himself. In this way he opened a little bank of
compassion that answered every draft he drew on it. Over and over to
himself--like a miser revelling over his hoarded wealth--did he count
all the hardships of his destiny. He loved thus to hug his misery in
solitude, while he whispered to his heart, "You are a courageous fellow,
Paul Kellett; there are not many who could carry your cheerful face, or
walk with a head as high as you do to-day. The man that owned Kellett's
Court, and was one of the first in his county, living in a poor cottage,
with sixty pounds a year!--that's the test of what stuff a man's made
of. Show me another man in Ireland could do it! Show me one that could
meet the world as uncomplainingly, and all the while never cease to be
what he was born,--a gentleman." This was the philosophy he practised;
this the lesson he taught; this the paean he chanted in his own heart
The various extremities to which he might--being anything other than
what he was--have been tempted, the excesses he might have fallen into,
the low associates he might have kept, the base habits he might have
contracted, all the possible and impossible contingencies that might
have befallen him, and all his difficulties therein, formed a little
fiction world that he gloried to lose himself in contemplating.

It is not often that selfishness can take a form so blameless; nor is it
always that self-deception can be so harmless. In this indulgence we now
leave him.



CHAPTER V. THE WORLD'S CHANGES.

While Mr. Davenport Dunn's residence was in Merrion Square, his house
of business was in Henrietta Street,--one of those roomy old mansions
which, before the days of the Union, lodged the aristocracy of Ireland,
but which have now fallen into utter neglect and decay. Far more
spacious in extent, and more ornate in decoration, than anything modern
Dublin can boast, they remain, in their massive doors of dark
mahogany, their richly stuccoed ceilings, and their handsome marble
chimney-pieces, the last witnesses of a period when Dublin was a real
metropolis.

From the spacious dinner-room below to the attics above, all this vast
edifice was now converted into offices, and members of Mr. Dunn's staff
were located even in the building at the rear, where the stables once
had stood. Nothing can so briefly convey the varied occupations of his
life as a glance at some of the inscriptions which figured on the
different doors: "Inland Navigation Office," "Grand Munster Junction
Drainage," "Compressed Fuel Company," "Reclaimed Lands," "Encumbered
Estates," "Coast Fishery," "Copper and Cobalt Mining Association,"
"Refuge Harbor Company," "Slate and Marble Quarries," "Tyrawley and
Erris Bank of Deposit," "Silver and Lead Mines." These were but a few of
the innumerable "associations," "companies," and "industrial
speculations" which denoted the cares and employments of that busy head.
Indeed, the altered fortunes of that great mansion itself presented no
bad type of the changed destinies of the land. Here, once, was the abode
of only too splendid hospitality, of all that refined courtesy and
polished manners could contribute to make society as fascinating as it
was brilliant Here were wit and beauty, and a high, chivalrous tone of
manners, blended, it is true, with wildest extravagance and a general
levity of thought, that imparted to intercourse the glowing tints of an
orgy; and in their stead were now the active signs of industry, all the
means by which wealth is amassed and great fortunes acquired, every
resource of the country explored, every natural advantage consulted and
developed,--the mountains, the valleys, the rivers, the sea-coasts, the
vast tracts of bog and moss, the various mines and quarries, the
products once deemed valueless, the districts formerly abandoned as
irreclaimable, all brought out into strong light, and all investigated
in a spirit which hitherto had been unknown to Ireland. What a change
was here, and what necessities must have been the fate of those who had
so altered all their habits and modes of thought as to conform to a
system so widely different from all they had hitherto followed! It was
like re-colonizing an empire, so subversive were all the innovations of
what had preceded them.

"Eh, Barton, we used to trip up these stairs more flippantly once on a
time," said a very handsome old man, whose well-powdered hair and queue
were rather novelties in modern appearance, to a feeble figure who,
assisted by his servant, was slowly toiling his way upwards.

"How d' ye do, Glengariff?" said the other, with a weak smile. "So we
used; and they were better days in every sense of the word."

"Not a doubt of it," said the other. "Is that your destination?" And he
pointed to a door inscribed with the title "Encumbered Estates."

"Ay!" said Barton, sighing.

"It 's mine, too, I 'm sorry to say," cried Lord Glengariff; "as I
suppose, erelong, it will be that of every country gentleman in the
land!"

"We might have known it must come to this!" muttered the other, in a
weak voice.

"I don't think so," broke in his Lordship, quickly. "I see no occasion
at all for what amounts to an act of confiscation; why not give us
time to settle with our creditors? Why not leave us to deal with our
encumbrances in our own way? The whole thing is a regular political
swindle, Barton; they wanted a new gentry that could be more easily
managed than the old fellows, who had no station, no rank, but right
ready to buy both one and the other by supporting--"

"Can I be of any service to your Lordship?" interrupted a very
over-dressed and much-gold-chained man, of about forty, with a great
development of chest, set off to advantage by a very pretentious
waistcoat.

"Ah, Hankes! is Dunn come back yet?" asked Lord Glengariff.

"No, my Lord; we expect him on Saturday. The telegraph is dated St.
Cloud, where he is stopping with the Emperor."

Glengariff gave Barton a slight pinch in the arm, and a look of intense
meaning at the words.

"Nothing has been done in that matter of mine?" said Barton, feebly.
"Jonas Barton is the name," added he, coloring at the necessity of
announcing himself.

"Jonas Barton, of Curryglass House?"

"Yes, that's it."

"Sold yesterday, under the Court, sir--for, let me see--" And he opened
a small memorandum-book. "Griffith's valuation," muttered he between his
teeth, "was rather better than the Commissioner's,--yes, sir, they got
a bargain of that property yesterday; it went for twenty-two thousand
six hundred--"

"Great God, sir; the whole estate?"

"The whole estate; there is a tithe-rent charge--"

"There, there, don't you see he does not hear you?" said Lord
Glengariff, angrily. "Have you no room where he can sit down for half
an hour or so?" And so saying, he assisted the servant to carry the now
lifeless form into a small chamber beside them. The sick man rallied
soon, and as quickly remembered where he was.

"This is bad news, Glengariff," said he, with a sickly effort at a
smile. "Have you heard who was the buyer?"

"No, no; what does it matter? Take my arm and get out of this place.
Where are you stopping in town? Can I set you down?" said the other, in
hurry and confusion.

"I'm with my son-in-law at Ely Place; he is to call for me here, so you
can leave me, my dear friend, for I see you are impatient to get away."

Lord Glengariff pressed his hand cordially, and descended the stairs far
more rapidly than he had mounted them.

"Lord Glengariff,--one word, my Lord," cried Mr. Hankes, hastening after
him, and just catching him at the door.

"Not now, sir,--not now," said Lord Glengariff.

"I beg a thousand pardons, my Lord, but Mr. Dunn writes me peremptorily
to say that it cannot be effected--"

"Not raise the money, did you say?" asked he, growing suddenly pale.

"Not in the manner he proposed, my Lord. If you will allow me to
explain--"

"Come over to my hotel. I am at Bilton's," said Lord Glengariff. "Call
on me there in an hour." And so saying, he got into his carriage and
drove off.

In the large drawing-room of the hotel sat a lady working, and
occasionally reading a book which lay open before her. She was tall and
thin, finely featured, and though now entered upon that period of life
when every line and every tint confess the ravage of time, was still
handsome. This was Lady Augusta Arden, Lord Glengariff's only unmarried
daughter, the very type of her father in temperament as well as
appearance.

"By George! it is confiscation. It is the inauguration of that Communism
the French speak of," cried Lord Glengariff, as he entered the room.
"There 's poor Barton of Curryglass, one of the oldest names in his
county, sold out, and for nothing,--absolutely nothing. No man shall
persuade me that this is just or equitable; no man shall tell me that
the Legislature shall step in and decide at any moment how I am to deal
with my creditors."

"I never heard of that Burton."

"I said Barton,--not Burton; a man whose estate used to be called five
thousand a year," said he, angrily. "There he is now, turned out on the
world. I verily believe he has n't a guinea left! And what is all this
for? To raise up in the country a set of spurious gentry,--fellows that
were never heard of, whose names are only known over shop-boards,--as
if the people should be better treated or more kindly dealt with by them
than by us, their natural protectors! By George! if Ireland should swarm
with Davenport Dunns, I 'd call it a sorry exchange for the good blood
she had lost in exterminating her old gentry."

"Has he come back?" asked Lady Augusta, as she bent her head more deeply
over her work, and her cheeks grew a shade more red.

"No; he's dining with royalties, and driving about in princely carriages
on the Continent Seeing what the pleasures of his intimacy have cost us
here at home, I'd say that these great personages ought to look sharp,
or, by George! he'll sell them out, as he has done us." He laughed a
bitter laugh at his jest, but his daughter did not join in the emotion.

"I scarcely think it fair," said she, at length, "to connect Mr. Dunn
with a legislation which he is only called upon to execute."

"With all my heart. Acquit him as much as you will; but, for my part,
I feel very little tenderness for the hand that accomplishes the last
functions of the law against me. These fellows have displayed a zeal and
an alacrity in their work that shows how they relish the sport. After
all," said he, after a pause, "this Dunn is neither better nor worse
than the rest of them, and in one respect he has the advantage over
them,--he has not forgotten himself quite so much as the others. To be
sure, we knew him in his very humblest fortunes, Augusta; he was meek
enough then."

She stooped to pick up her work, which had fallen, and her neck and face
were crimson as she resumed it.

"Wonderful little anticipation had he then of the man he was to become
one of these days. Do you know, Augusta, that they say he is actually
worth two millions?--two millions!"

She never spoke; and after an interval Lord Glengariff burst out into a
strange laugh.

"You 'd scarcely guess what I was laughing at, Augusta. I was just
remembering the wretched hole he used to sleep in. It was a downright
shame to put him there over the stable, but the cottage was under repair
at the time, and there was no help for it. 'I can accommodate myself
anywhere, my Lord,' he said. Egad, he has contrived to fulfil the
prediction in a very different sense. Just fancy--two millions
sterling!"

It was precisely what Lady Augusta was doing at the moment, though,
perhaps, not quite in the spirit his Lordship suspected.

"Suppose even one half of it be true, with a million of money at
command, what can't a man have nowadays?"

And so they both fell a-thinking of all that same great amount of riches
could buy,--what of power, respect, rank, flattery, political influence,
fine acquaintance, fine diamonds, and fine dinners.

"If he play his cards well, he might be a peer," thought my Lord.

"If he be as ambitious as he ought to be, he might aspire to a peer's
daughter," was the lady's reflection.

"He has failed in my negotiation, however," said Lord Glengariff,
peevishly; "at least, Hankes just told me that it can't be done. I
detest that fellow Hankes. It shows great want of tact in Dunn having
such a man in his employment,--a vulgar, self-sufficient, over-dressed
fellow, who can't help being familiar out of his own self-satisfaction.
Now, Dunn himself knows his place. Don't you think so?"

She muttered something not very intelligible, but which sounded like
concurrence.

"Yes," he resumed, "Dunn does not forget himself,--at least, with me."
And to judge from the carriage of his head as he spoke, and the air with
which he earned the pinch of snuff to his nose, he had not yet despaired
of seeing the world come back to the traditions which once had made it
worth living in.

"I am willing to give him every credit for his propriety of conduct,
Augusta," added he, in a still more lofty tone; "for we live in times
when really wealth and worldly prosperity have more than their rightful
supremacy, and such men as Dunn are made the marks of an adulation that
is actually an outrage,--an outrage upon _us!_"

And the last little monosyllable was uttered with an emphasis of intense
significance.

Just as his Lordship had rounded his peroration, the servant presented
him with a small three-cornered note. He opened it and read,--

"My Lord,--I think the bearer of this, T. Driscoll, might possibly
do what you wish for; and I send him, since I am sure that a personal
interview with your Lordship would be more efficacious than any
negotiation.

"By your Lordship's most obedient to command,

"Simpson Hankes."

"Is the person who brought this below?" asked Lord Glengariff.

"Yes, my Lord; he is waiting for the answer."

"Show him into my dressing-room."

Mr. Terence Driscoll was accordingly introduced into that sanctum;
and while he employs his few spare moments in curious and critical
examination of the various gold and silver objects which contribute to
his Lordship's toilet, and wonderingly snuffs at essences and odors of
whose existence he had never dreamed, let us take the opportunity of a
little examination of himself. He was a short, fat old man, with a
very round red face, whose jovial expression was rather heightened than
marred by a tremendous squint; for the eyes kept in incessant play and
movement, which intimated a restless drollery that his full, capacious
mouth well responded to. In dress and general appearance he belonged to
the class of the comfortable farmer, and his massive silver watch-chain
and huge seal displayed a consciousness of his well-to-do condition in
life.

"Are you Mr. Driscoll?" said Lord Glengariff, as he looked at the letter
to prompt him to the name. "Pray take a seat!"

"Yes, my Lord, I 'm that poor creature Terry Driscoll; the neighbors
call me Tearin' Terry, but that 's all past and gone, Heaven be praised!
It was a fever I had, my Lord, and my rayson wandered, and I did many
a thing that desthroyed me entirely; I tore up the lease of my house,
I tore up Peter Driscoll's, my uncle's, will; ay, and worse than all, I
tore up all my front teeth!"

And, in evidence of this feat of dentistry, Mr. Driscoll gave a grin
that exposed his bare gums to view.

"Good heavens, how shocking!" exclaimed Lord Glen-gariff, though, not
impossibly, the expression was extorted by the sight rather than the
history of the calamity.

"Shocking indeed, my Lord,--that's the name for it!" said Terry,
sighing; "but ye see I was n't compos when I did it. I thought they were
a set of blackguards that I could n't root out of the land,--squatters
that would n't pay sixpence, nor do a day's work. That was the delusion
that was upon me!"

"I hold here a letter from Mr. Hankes," said his Lordship, pompously,
and in a tone that was meant to recall Mr. Driscoll from the personal
narrative he had entered upon with such evident self-satisfaction. "He
mentions you as one likely--that is to say--one in a position--a person,
in fact--"

"Yes, my Lord, yes," interrupted Terry, with a grin of unbounded
acquiescence.

"And adds," continued his Lordship, "your desire to communicate
personally with myself." The words were very few and not very
remarkable, and yet Lord Glengariff contrived to throw into them an
amount of significance really great. They seemed to say, "Bethink thee
well, Terry Driscoll, of the good fortune that this day has befallen
thee. Thy boldness has been crowned with success, and there thou sittest
now, being the poor worm that thou art, in converse with one who wears a
coronet."

And so, indeed, in all abject humility, did Mr. Driscoll appear to feel
the situation. He drew his feet closer together, and stole his hands up
the wide sleeves of his coat, as though endeavoring to diminish, as far
as might be, his corporeal presence.

His Lordship saw that enough had been done for subjection, and blandly
added, "And I could have no objection to the interview; none whatever."

"It's too good you are, my Lord; too good and too gracious to the like
of me," said Terry, barely raising his eyes to throw a glance of mingled
shame and drollery on his Lordship; "but I come by rayson of what Mr.
Hankes tould me, that it was a trifle of a loan,--a small matter of
money your Lordship was wantin' just at this moment."

"I prefer doing these kind of things through my solicitors. I know
nothing of business, sir, absolutely nothing," said his Lordship,
haughtily. "The present case, however, might form an exception. The sum
I require is, as you justly remark, a mere trifle, and the occasion is
not worthy of legal interference."

"Yes, my Lord," chimed in Driscoll, who had a most provoking habit of
employing the affirmative in all situations.

"I suppose he mentioned to you the amount?" asked his Lordship, quickly.

"No, indeed, my Lord; all he said was, 'Terry,' says he, 'go over to
Bilton's Hotel with this note, and ask for Lord Glengariff. He wants a
little ready cash,' says he, 'and I tould him you 're a likely man to
get it for him. It's too small a matter for us here,' says he, 'to be
bothered about.'"

"He had n't the insolence to make use of these words towards _me!_"
said Lord Glengariff, growing almost purple with passion.

"Faix, I 'm afeard he had, my Lord," said Terry, looking down; "but I
'm sure he never meant any harm in it; 't was only as much as to say,
'There, Terry, there 's something for _you_; you 're a poor strugglin'
man, and are well plazed to turn a penny in a small way. If you can
accommodate my Lord there,' says he, 'he 'll not forget it to you.'"

The conclusion of this speech was far more satisfactory to his Lordship
than its commencement seemed to promise; and Lord Glengariff smiled half
graciously as he said, "I 'm not in the habit of neglecting those who
serve me."

"Yes, my Lord," said Driscoll, again.

"I may safely say that any influence I possess has always been exercised
in favor of those who have been, so to say, supporters of my family."

Had his Lordship uttered a sentiment of the most exalted and
self-denying import, he could not have assumed a prouder air than when
he had finished these words. "And now, Mr. Driscoll, to business. I want
five thousand pounds--"

A long, low whistle from Terry, as he threw up both his hands in the
air, abruptly stopped his Lordship.

"What do you mean? Does the sum appear so tremendous, sir?"

"Five thousand! Where would I get it? Five thousand pounds? By the
mortial man! your Lordship might as well ax me for five millions. I
thought it was a hundred; or, maybe, a hundred and fifty; or, at the
outside, two hundred pounds, just to take you over to London for what
they call the sayson, or to cut a figure at Paris; but, five thousand!
By my conscience, that's the price of an estate nowadays!"

"It is upon estated property I intend to raise this loan, sir," said his
Lordship, angrily.

"Not Cushnacreena, my Lord?" asked Terry, eagerly.

"No, sir; that is secured by settlement."

"Nor Ballyrennin?"

"No; the townland of Ballyrennin is, in a manner, tied up."

"Tory's Mill, maybe?" inquired Terry, with more eagerness.

"Well, sir," said his Lordship, drawing himself up, "I must really
make you my compliments upon the very accurate knowledge you appear to
possess about my estate. Since what period, may I venture to ask, have
you conceived this warm interest in my behalf?"

"The way of it was this, my Lord," said Driscoll, drawing his chair
closer, and dropping his voice to a low, confidential tone. "After I had
the fever,--the fever and ague I told you about,--I got up out of bed
the poor crayture you see me, not able to think of anything, or do a
hand's turn for myself, but just a burden on my friends or anybody that
would keep me. Well, I tried all manner of ways to make myself useful,
and I used to go errands here and there over the country for any one
that wanted to know what land was to be sold, where there was a lot
of good sheep, who had a drove of bullocks or a fancy bull; and, just
getting into the habit of it, I larned a trifle of what was doing in the
three counties, so that the people call me 'Terry's Almanack,'--that's
the name they gave me, better than Tearin' Terry, anyhow! At all events,
I got a taste for finding out the secrets of all the great families;
and, to be sure, if I only had the memory, I'd know a great deal, but my
head is like a cullender, and everything runs out as fast as you put it
in. That's how it is, my Lord, and no lie in it." And Terry wiped his
forehead and heaved a heavy sigh, like a man who had just accomplished a
very arduous task.

"So, then, I begin to understand how Hankes sent you over here to me,"
said his Lordship.

"Yes, my Lord," muttered Terry, with a bow.

"I had been under the impression--the erroneous impression--that you
were yourself prepared to advance this small sum."

"Me! Terry Driscoll lend five thousand pounds! Arrah, look at me, my
Lord,--just take a glance at me, and you 'll see how likely it is I 'd
have as many shillings! 'T was only by rayson of being always about--on
the tramp, as they call it--that Mr. Hankes thought I could be of use to
your Lordship. 'Go over,' says he, 'and just tell him who and what you
are.' There it is now!"

Lord Glengariff made no reply, but slowly walked the room in deep
meditation; a passing feeling of pity for the poor fellow before him had
overcome any irritation his own disappointment had occasioned, and for
the moment the bent of his mind was compassionate.

"Well, Driscoll," said he, at length, "I don't exactly see how you can
serve me in this matter."

"Yes, my Lord," said Terry, with a pleasant leer of his restless eyes.

"I say I don't perceive that you can contribute in any way to the
object I have in view," said his Lordship, half peevish at being, as he
thought, misapprehended. "Hankes ought to have known as much himself."

"Yes, my Lord," chimed in Terry.

"And you may tell him so from _me_. He is totally unfitted for his
situation, and I am only surprised that Dunn, shrewd fellow that he is,
should have ever placed a man of this stamp in a position of such trust.
The first requisite in such a man is to understand the deference he owes
to _us_."

There was an emphasis on the last monosyllable that pretty clearly
announced how little share Terry Driscoll enjoyed in this co-partnery.

"That because I have a momentary occasion for a small sum of ready
money, he should send over to confer with me a half-witted--I mean a man
only half recovered from a fever--a poor fellow still suffering from--"

"Yes, my Lord," interposed Terry, as he laid his hand on his forehead in
token of the seat of his calamity.

"It is too gross,--it is outrageous,--but Dunn shall hear of it,--Dunn
shall deal with this fellow when he comes back. I 'm sorry for you,
Driscoll,--very sorry indeed; it is a sad bereavement, and though you
are not exactly a case for an asylum,--perhaps, indeed, you might have
objections to an asylum--"

"Yes, my Lord."

"Well, in that case private friends are, I opine--private friends--and
the kind sympathies of those who have known you--eh, don't you think
so?"

"Yes, my Lord."

"That is the sensible view to take of it. I am glad you see it in this
way. It shows that you really exercise a correct judgment,--a very
wise discretion in your case,--and for a man in _your_ situation--your
_painful_ situation--you see things in their true light."

"Yes, my Lord." And this time the eyes rolled with a most peculiar
expression.

"If you should relapse, however,--if, say, former symptoms were to
threaten again,--remember that I am on the committee, or a governor, or
something or other, of one of these institutions, and I might be of
use to you. Remember that, Driscoll." And with a wave of his hand his
Lordship dismissed Terry, who, after a series of respectful obeisances,
gained the door and disappeared.



CHAPTER VI. SYBELLA KELLETT.

When change of fortune had reduced the Kelletts so low that Sybella was
driven to become a daily governess, her hard fate had exacted from her
about the very heaviest of all sacrifices. It was not, indeed, the life
of unceasing toil,--dreary and monotonous as such toil is,--it was not
the humility of a station for which the world affords not one solitary
protection,--these were not what she dreaded; as little was it the
jarring sense of dependence daily and hourly imposed. No, she had
courage and a high determination to confront each and all of these. The
great source of her suffering was in the loss of that calm and unbroken
quiet to which the retired habits of a remote country-house had so long
accustomed her. With scarcely anything which could be called a society
near them, so reduced in means as to be unable to receive visitors at
home, Kellett's Court had been for many years a lonely house. The days
succeeded each other with such similarity that time was unfelt, seasons
came and went, and years rolled on unconsciously. No sights nor sounds
of the great world without invaded these retired precincts. Of the
mighty events which convulsed the politics of states,--of the great
issues that engaged men's minds throughout Europe,--they heard
absolutely nothing. The passing story of some little incident of cottier
life represented to them all that they had of news; and thus time glided
noiselessly along, till they came to feel a sense of happiness in that
same unbroken round of life.

They who have experienced the measured tread of a conventual
existence--where the same incidents daily recur at the same periods,
where no events from without obtrude, where the passions and the
ambitions and cares of mankind have so little of reality to the mind
that they fail to impress with any meaning--are well aware that in the
peaceful calm of spirit thus acquired there is a sense of happiness,
which is not the less real that it wears the semblance of seriousness,
almost of sadness.

In all that pertained to a sombre monotony, Kellett's Court was a
convent. The tall mountains to the back, the deep woods to the front,
seemed barriers against the world without; and there was a silence and
a stillness about the spot as though it were some lone island in a vast
sea, where no voyagers ever touched, no traveller ever landed. This same
isolation, strong in its own sense of security, was the charm of the
place, investing it with a kind of romance, and imparting to Sybella's
own life a something of storied interest. The very few books the house
contained she had read and re-read till she knew them almost by heart.
They were lives of voyagers,--hardy men of enterprise and daring, who
had pushed their fortunes in far-away lands,--or else sketches of life
and adventure in distant countries.

The annals of these sea-rovers were full of all the fascination of which
gorgeous scenery and stirring incident form the charm. There were lands
such as no painter's genius ever fancied, verdure and flowers of more
than fairy brilliancy, gold and gems of splendor that rivalled Aladdin's
cave, strange customs, and curious observances mingled with deeds of
wildest daring, making up a succession of pictures wherein the mind
alternated between the voluptuous repose of tropical enjoyment and the
hair-breadth 'scapes of buccaneering existence. The great men whose
genius planned, and whose courage achieved, these enterprises, formed
for her a sort of hero-worship. Their rough virtues, their splendid
hospitality, their lion-hearted defiance of danger, were strong appeals
to her sympathy, while in their devoted loyalty she found a species of
chivalry that elevated them in her esteem. Woman-like, too, she inclined
to make success the true test of greatness, and glorified to herself
those bold spirits who never halted nor turned aside when on their
road to victory. The splendid self-dependence of such men as Drake and
Dampier struck her as the noblest attribute of mankind; that resolute
trust in their own stout hearts imparted to them a degree of interest
almost devotional; and over and over did she bethink her what a glorious
destiny it would have been to have had a life associated and bound up
with some such man as one of these. The very contest and controversy his
actions would have evoked, heightened the illusion, and there savored
of heroism in sharing a fame that flung down its proud defiance to the
world.

Estrangement from the world often imparts to the stories of the past, or
even to the characters of fiction, a degree of interest which, by those
engaged in the actual work of life, is only accorded to their friends or
relatives; and thus, to this young girl in her isolation, such names as
Raleigh and Cavendish--such characters as Cromwell, Lorenzo de' Medici,
and Napoleon--stood forth before her in all the attributes of well-known
individuals. To have so far soared above the ordinary accidents of life
as to live in an atmosphere above all other men,--to have seen the world
and its ways from an eminence that gave wider scope to vision and more
play to speculation,--to have meditated over the destinies of
mankind from the height of a station that gave control over their
actions,--seemed so glorious a privilege that the blemishes and even the
crimes of men so gifted were merged in the greatness of the mighty task
they had imposed upon themselves; and thus was it that she claimed
for these an exemption from the judgments that had visited less
distinguished wrong-doers most heavily. "How can I, or such as I am,
pronounce upon one like this man? What knowledge have I of the conflict
waged within his deep intelligence? How can I fathom the ocean of his
thoughts, or even guess at the difficulties that have opposed, the
doubts that have beset him? I can but vaguely fashion to myself the
end and object of his journey; how, then, shall I criticise the road by
which he travels, the halts he makes, the devious turnings and windings
he seems to fall into?" In such plausibilities she merged every scruple
as to those she had deified to her own mind. "Their ways are not our
ways," said she; "their natures are as little our natures."

From all the dreamland of these speculations was she suddenly and rudely
brought to face the battle of life itself, an humble soldier in the
ranks. No longer to dwell in secret converse with the mighty spirits
who had swayed their fellow-men, she was now to enter upon that path
of daily drudgery whose direst infliction was the contact with that
work-o'-day world wherewith she had few sympathies.

Mrs. Hawkshaw had read her advertisement in a morning paper, and sent
for her to call upon her. Now Mrs. Hawkshaw was an alderman's lady, who
lived in a fine house, and had fine clothes and fine servants and fine
plate, and everything, in short, fine about her but a fine husband, for
he was a rough, homespun, good-natured sort of man, who cared little for
anything save a stocking-factory he owned at Balbriggan, and the stormy
incidents that usually shook the "livery" he belonged to.

There were six little Hawkshaws to be governed and geographied and
catechised, and civilized in all the various forms by which untaught
humanity is prepared for the future work of life; there were rudiments
of variously colored knowledge to be imparted, habits instilled, and
tempers controlled, by one who, though she brought to her task the
most sincere desire to succeed, was yet deep in a world of her own
thoughts,--far lost in the mazy intricacies of her own fancies. That
poor Miss Kellett, therefore, should pass for a very simple-minded, good
creature, quite unfit for her occupation, was natural enough; and that
Mrs. Hawkshaw should "take her into training" was almost an equally
natural consequence.

"She seems to be always like one in a dream, my dear," said Mrs.
Hawkshaw to her husband. "The children do exactly as they please; they
play all false, and she never corrects them; they draw landscapes in
their copy-books, and she says, 'Very nicely done, darlings.'"

"Her misfortunes are preying upon her, perhaps."

"Misfortunes! why, they have been in poverty this many a year. My
brother Terry tells me that the Kelletts had n't above two hundred a
year, and that latterly they lost even this."

"Well, it is a come-down in the world, anyhow," said Hawkshaw, sighing,
"and I must say she bears it well."

"If she only feels it as little as she appears to do everything else,
the sacrifice doesn't cost her much," said the lady, tartly. "I told her
she was to come here last Sunday and take charge of the children; she
never came; and when I questioned her as to the reason, she only smiled
and said, 'She never thought of it; in fact, she was too happy to be
alone on that day to think of anything.' And here she comes now, nearly
an hour late." And, as she spoke, a weary step ascended the steps to the
door, and an uncertain, faltering hand raised the knocker.

"It is nigh eleven o'clock, Miss Kellett," said Mrs. Hawkshaw, as she
met her on the stairs.

"Indeed--I am so sorry--I must have forgotten--I don't think I knew the
hour," said the other, stammeringly.

"Your hour is ten, Miss Kellett."

"I think so."

"How is your father, Miss Kellett?" asked the alderman, abruptly, and
not sorry to interpose at the juncture.

"He is well, sir, and seems very happy," said she, gratefully, while her
eyes lighted up with pleasure.

"Give him my regards," said Hawkshaw, good-naturedly, and passed down
the stairs; while his wife coldly added,--

"The children are waiting for you," and disappeared.

With what determined energy did she address herself now to her
task,--how resolutely devote her whole mind to her duty. She read and
heard and corrected and amended with all the intense anxiety of one
eager to discharge her trust honestly and well. She did her very utmost
to bring her faculties to bear upon every detail of her task; and it
was only when one of the girls asked who was he whose name she had
been writing over and over again in her copy-book, that she forgot her
self-imposed restraint, and in a fervor of delight at the question,
replied, "I 'll tell you, Mary, who Savonarola was."

In all the vigor of true narrative power, the especial gift of those
minds where the play of fancy is only the adornment of the reasoning
faculty, she gave a rapid sketch of the prophet priest, his zeal, his
courage, and his martyrdom; with that captivating fascination which is
the firstborn of true enthusiasm, she awakened their interest so deeply
that they listened to all she said as to a romance whose hero had won
their sympathies, and even dimly followed her as she told them that
such men as this stood out from time to time in the world's history
like great beacons blazing on a rocky eminence, to guide and warn their
fellow-men. That in their own age characters of this stamp were either
undervalued or actually depreciated and condemned, was but the common
lot of humanity; their own great destinies raised them very often above
the sympathies of ordinary life, and men caught eagerly at the blemishes
of those so vastly greater than themselves,--hence all the disesteem
they met with from contemporaries.

"And are there none like this now, Miss Bella?" asked one of the girls;
"or is it that in our country such are not to be met with?"

"They are of every land and of every age; ay, and of every station!
Country, time, birth have no prerogative. At one moment the great light
of the earth has been the noblest born in his nation, at another a
peasant,--miles apart in all the accidents of fortune, brothers by the
stamp which makes genius a tie of family. To-morrow you shall hear of
one, the noblest-hearted man in all England, and yet whose daily toil
was the vulgar life of an exciseman. This great man's nature is known to
us, teaching men a higher lesson than all that his genius has bequeathed
us."

In the willingness with which they listened to her, Bella found fresh
support for her enthusiasm. If, therefore, there was this solace to the
irksome nature of her task, it rendered that task itself more and more
wearisome and distasteful. Her round of duty led her amongst many who
did not care for these things; some heard them with apathy, others with
even mockery. How often does it happen in life that feelings which if
freely expanded had spread themselves broadly over the objects of the
world, become by repression compressed into principles!

This was the case with her; the more opposition thwarted, the more
resolutely was she bent on carrying out her notions. All her reading
tended to this direction, all her speculation, all her thought.

"There must be men amongst us even now," said she, "to whom this great
prerogative of guidance is given; superior minds who feel the greatness
of their mission, and, perhaps, know how necessary it is to veil their
very ascendancy, that they may exercise it more safely and more widely.
What concession may they not be making to vulgar prejudice, what
submission to this or that ordinance of society? How many a devious
path must they tread to reach that goal that the world will not let them
strive for more directly; and, worse than all, through what a sea of
misrepresentation, and even calumny, must they wade? How must
they endure the odious imputations of selfishness, of pride, of
hard-heartedness, nay, perhaps, of even crime? And all this without the
recognition of as much as one who knows their purpose and acknowledges
their desert."



CHAPTER VII. AN ARRIVAL AT MIDNIGHT.

Night had just closed in over the Lake of Como; and if the character
of the scene in daylight had been such as to suggest ideas of dramatic
effect, still more was this the case as darkness wrapped the whole
landscape, leaving the great Alps barely traceable against the starry
sky, while faintly glimmering lights dotted the dark shores from villa
and palace, and soft sounds of music floated lazily on the night air,
only broken by the plashing stroke of some gondolier as he stole across
the lake.

The Villa d'Este was a-glitter with light. The great saloon which opened
on the water blazed with lamps; the terraces were illuminated with
many-colored lanterns; solitary candles glimmered from the windows
of many a lonely chamber; and even through the dark copses and leafy
parterres some lamp twinkled, to show the path to those who preferred
the scented night air to the crowded and brilliant assemblage within
doors. The votaries of hydropathy are rarely victims of grave
malady. They are generally either the exhausted sons and daughters of
fashionable dissipation, the worn-out denizens of great cities, or
the tired slaves of exciting professions,--the men of politics, of
literature, or of law. To such as these, a life of easy indolence, the
absence of all constraint, the freedom which comes of mixing with a
society where not one face is known to them, are the chief charms; and,
with that, the privilege of condescending to amusements and intimacies
of which, in their more regular course of life, they had not even
stooped to partake. To English people this latter element was no
inconsiderable feature of pleasure. Strictly defined as all the ranks of
society are in their own country,--marshalled in classes so rigidly that
none may move out of the place to which birth has assigned him,--they
feel a certain expansion in this novel liberty, perhaps the one sole
new sensation of which their natures are susceptible. It was in the
enjoyment of this freedom that a considerable party were now assembled
in the great saloons of the villa. There were Russians and Austrians
of high rank, conspicuous for their quiet and stately courtesy; a noisy
Frenchman or two; a few pale, thoughtful-looking Italians, men whose
noble foreheads seem to promise so much, but whose actual lives appear
to evidence so little; a crowd of Americans, as distinctive and as
marked as though theirs had been a nationality stamped with centuries of
transmission; and, lastly, there were the English, already presented
to our reader in an early chapter,--Lady Lackington and her friend Lady
Grace,--having, in a caprice of a moment, descended to see "what the
whole thing was like."

[Illustration: 98]

"No presentations, my Lord, none whatever," said Lady Lackington, as
she arranged the folds of her dress, on assuming a very distinguished
position in the room. "We have only come for a few minutes, and don't
mean to make acquaintances."

"Who is the little pale woman with the turquoise ornaments?" asked Lady
Grace.

"The Princess Labanoff," said his Lordship, blandly bowing.

"Not she who was suspected of having poisoned--"

"The same."

"I should like to know her. And the man,--who is that tall, dark man,
with the high forehead?"

"Glumthal, the great Frankfort millionnaire."

"Oh, present him, by all means. Let us have him here," said Lady
Lackington, eagerly. "What does that little man mean by smirking in that
fashion,--who is he?" asked she, as Mr. O'Reilly passed and repassed
before her, making some horrible grimaces that he intended to have
represented as fascinations.

"On no account, my Lord," said Lady Lackington, as though replying to a
look of entreaty from his Lordship.

"But you 'd really be amused," said he, smiling. "It is about the best
bit of low comedy--"

"I detest low comedy."

"The father of your fair friends, is it not?" asked Lady Grace,
languidly.

"Yes. Twining admires them vastly," said his Lordship, half maliciously.
"If I might venture--"

"Oh dear, no; not to me," said Lady Grace, shuddering. "I have little
tolerance for what are called characters. You may present your Hebrew
friend, if you like."

"He's going to dance with the Princess; and there goes Twining, with one
of my beauties, I declare," said Lord Lackington. "I say, Spicer, what
is that dark lot, near the door?"

"American trotters, my Lord; just come over."

"You know them, don't you?"

"I met them yesterday at dinner, and shall be delighted to introduce
your Lordship. Indeed, they asked me if you were not the Lord that was
so intimate with the Prince of Wales."

"How stupid! They might have known, even without the aid of a Peerage,
that I was a schoolboy when the Prince was a grown man. The tall girl is
good-looking; what's her name?"

"She's the daughter of the Honorable Leonidas Shinbone, that's all I
know,--rather a belle at Saratoga, I fancy."

"Very dreadful!" sighed Lady Grace, fanning herself; "they do make such
a mess of what might be very pretty toilette. You could n't tell her,
perhaps, that her front hair is dressed for the back of the head."

"No, sir; I never play at cards," said Lord Lackington, stiffly, as an
American gentleman offered him a pack to draw from.

"Only a little bluff or a small party of poker," said the stranger, "for
quarter dollars, or milder, if you like it."

A cold bow of refusal was the reply.

"I told you he was the Lord," said a friend, in a drawling accent "He
looks as if he 'd 'mow us all down like grass.'"

Dr. Lanfranchi, the director of the establishment, here interposed, and,
by a few words, induced the Americans to retire and leave the others
unmolested.

"Thank you, doctor," said Lady Lackington, in acknowledgment; "your tact
is always considerate,--always prompt."

"These things never happen in the season, my Lady," said he, with a very
slight foreign accentuation of the words. "It is only at times like this
that people--very excellent and amiable people, doubtless--"

"Oh, to be sure they are," interrupted she, impatiently; "but let us
speak of something else. Is that your clairvoyant Princess yonder?"

"Yes, my Lady; she has just revealed to us what was doing at the Crimea.
She says that two of the English advanced batteries have slackened their
fire for want of ammunition, and that a deserter was telling Todleben of
the reason at the moment She is _en rapport_ with her sister, who is now
at Sebastopol."

"And are we to be supposed to credit this?" asked my Lord.

"I can only aver that I believe it, my Lord," said Lanfranchi,
whose massive head and intensely acute features denoted very little
intellectual weakness.

"I wish you 'd ask her why are we lingering so long in this dreary
place?" sighed Lady Lackington, peevishly.

"She answered that question yesterday, my Lady," replied he, quietly.

"How was that? Who asked her? What did she say?"

"It was the Baron von Glum that asked; and her answer was, 'Expecting a
disappointment.'"

"Very gratifying intelligence, I must say. Did you hear that, my Lord?"

"Yes, I heard it, and I have placed it in my mind in the same category
as her Crimean news."

"Can she inform us when we are to get away?" asked her Ladyship.

"She mentioned to-morrow evening as the time, my Lady," said the doctor,
calmly.

A faint laugh of derisive meaning was Lady Lackington's only reply; and
the doctor gravely remarked: "There is more in these things than we like
to credit; perhaps our very sense of inferiority in presence of such
prediction is a bar to our belief. We do not willingly lend ourselves to
a theory which at once excludes us from the elect of prophecy."

"Could she tell us who'll win the Derby?" said Spicer, joining the
colloquy. But a glance from her Ladyship at once recalled him from the
indiscreet familiarity.

"Do you think she could pronounce whose is the arrival that makes such
a clatter outside?" said Lord Lackington, as a tremendous chorus of
whip-cracking announced the advent of something very important; and
the doctor hurried off to receive the visitor. Already a large
travelling-carriage, drawn by eight horses, and followed by a "fourgon"
with four, had drawn up before the great entrance, and a courier,
gold-banded and whiskered, and carrying a most imposingly swollen
money-bag, was ringing stoutly for admittance. When Dr. Lanfranchi had
exchanged a few words with the courier, he approached the window of the
carriage, and, bowing courteously, proceeded to welcome the traveller.

"Your apartments have been ready since the sixteenth, sir; and we hoped
each day to have seen you arrive."

"Have your visitors all gone?" asked the stranger, in a low quiet tone.

"No, sir; the fine weather has induced many to prolong their stay. We
have the Princess Labanoff, Lord Lackington, the Countess Grembinski,
the Duke of Terra di Monte, the Lady Grace--"

The traveller, however, paid little attention to the Catalogue, but with
the aid of the courier on one side and his-valet on the other, slowly
descended from the carriage. If he availed himself of their assistance,
there was little in his appearance that seemed to warrant its necessity.
He was a large, powerfully built man, something beyond the prime of
life, but whose build announced considerable vigor. Slightly stooped in
the shoulders, the defect seemed to add to the fixity of his look,
for the head was thus thrown more forward, and the expression of the
deep-set eyes, overshadowed by shaggy gray eyebrows, rendered more
piercing and direct His features were massive and regular, their
character that of solemnity and gravity; and as he removed his cap,
he displayed a high, bold forehead with what phrenologists would have
called an extravagant development of the organs of locality. Indeed,
these overhanging masses almost imparted an air of retreating to a head
that was singularly straight.

"A number of letters have arrived for you, and you will find them in
your room, sir," continued Lanfranchi, as he escorted him towards the
stairs. A quiet bow acknowledged this speech, and the doctor went on: "I
was charged with a message from Lord Lackington, too, who desired me to
say that he hoped to see you as soon as possible after your arrival. May
I inform him when you could receive him?"

"Not to-night; some time to-morrow, about twelve o'clock, or half-past,
if that will suit him," said the stranger, coldly. "Is Baron Glumthal
here? Well, tell him to come up to me, and let them send me some tea."

"May I mention your arrival to his Lordship, for I know his great
anxiety?"

"Just as you please," said the other, in the same quiet tone; while he
bowed in a fashion to dismiss his visitor.

Having glanced casually at the addresses of a number of letters, he only
opened one or two, and looked cursorily over their contents; and then
opening a window which looked over the lake, he placed a chair on the
balcony and sat down, as if to rest and reflect in the fresh and still
night air. It was a calm and quiet atmosphere,--not a leaf stirred, not
a ripple moved the glassy surface of the lake; so that, as he sat, he
could overhear Dr. Lanfranchi's voice beneath announcing his arrival to
Lord Lackington.

"If he can receive Glumthal, why can't he see _me?_" asked the Viscount,
testily. "You must go back and tell him that I desire particularly to
meet him this evening."

"If you wish, my Lord--"

"I do, sir," repeated he, more peremptorily. "Lady Lackington and myself
have been sojourning here the last three weeks, awaiting this arrival,
and I am at a loss to see why our patience is to be pushed further. Pray
take him my message, therefore."

The doctor, without speaking, left the room at once.

Lanfranchi was some minutes in the apartment before he discovered
where the stranger was sitting, and then approaching him softly he
communicated his Lordship's request.

"I am afraid you must allow me to take my own way. I have contracted
an unfortunate habit in that respect," said the stranger, with a quiet
smile. "Give my compliments to his Lordship, and say that at twelve
to-morrow I am at his orders; and tell Baron Glumthal that I expect him
now."

Lanfranchi withdrew; and having whispered the message to the Baron,
proceeded to make his communication to the Viscount.

"Very well, sir," said Lord Lackington, haughtily interrupting;
"something like an apology. Men of this sort have a business-like
standard even for their politeness, and there is no necessity for me to
teach them something better;" and then, turning to Twining, he added,
"That was Dunn's arrival we heard awhile ago."

"Oh, indeed! Very glad,--quite rejoiced on your account more than my
own. Dunn--Dunn; remarkable man--very," said Twining, hurriedly.

"Thank Heaven! we may be able to get away from this place to-morrow or
next day," said Lord Lackington, sighing drearily.

"Yes, of course; very slow for your Lordship--no society--nothing to
do."

"And the weather beginning to break?" said Lord Lackington, peevishly.

"Just so, as your Lordship most justly observes,--the weather beginning
to break."

"Look at that troop of horses," said the Viscount, as the postilions
passed beneath the window in a long file with the cattle just released
from the travelling-carriages. "There goes ten--no, but twelve posters.
He travels right royally, doesn't he?"

"Very handsomely, indeed; quite a pleasure to see it," said Twining,
gleefully.

"These fellows have little tact, with all their worldly shrewdness, or
they 'd not make such ostentatious display of their wealth."

"Quite true, my Lord. It _is_ indiscreet of them."

"It is so like saying, 'This is _our_ day! '" said the Viscount.

"So it is, my Lord; and a very pleasant day they have of it, I must say;
clever men--shrewd men--know the world thoroughly."

"I 'm not so very sure of that, Twining," said his Lordship, smiling
half superciliously. "If they really had all the worldly knowledge you
attribute to them, they 'd scarcely venture to shock the feelings of
society by assumptions of this sort They would have more patience,
Twining,--more patience."

"So they would, my Lord. Capital thing,--excellent thing, patience;
always rewarded in the end; great fun." And he rubbed his hands and
laughed away pleasantly.

"And they'll defeat themselves, that's what will come of it, sir," said
Lord Lackington, not heeding the other's remark.

"I quite agree with your Lordship," chimed in Twining.

"And shall I tell you why they 'll defeat themselves, sir?"

"Like it of all things; take it as a great favor on your Lordship's
part."

"For this reason, Twining, that they have no 'prestige,'--no, Twining,
they have no prestige. Now, sir, wealth unassociated with prestige
is just like--what shall I say?--it is, as it were, a sort of local
rank,--a kind of thing like being brigadier in the Bombay Army, but only
a lieutenant when you 're at home; so long, therefore, as these fellows
are rich, they have their influence. Let them suffer a reverse of
fortune, however, and where will they be, sir?"

"Can't possibly say; but quite certain your Lordship knows,--perfectly
sure of it," rattled out Twining.

"I do, sir. It is a subject on which I have bestowed considerable
thought. I may go further, and say, one which I have reduced to a sort
of theory. These men are signs of the times,--emblems of our era;
just like the cholera, the electric telegraph, or the gold-fields of
Australia. We must not accept them as normal, do you perceive? They are
the abnormal incidents of our age."

"Quite true, most just, very like the electric telegraph!" muttered
Twining.

"And by that very condition only exercising a passing influence on our
society, sir," said his Lordship, pursuing his own train of thought.

"Perfectly correct, rapid as lightning."

"And when they do pass away, sir," continued the Viscount, "they leave
no trace of their existence behind them. The bubble buret, the surface
of the stream remains without a ripple. I myself may live to see; you,
in all probability, will live to see."

"Your Lordship far more likely,--sincerely trust as much," said Twining,
bowing.

"Well, sir, it matters little which of us is to witness the extinction
of this Plutocracy." And as his Lordship enunciated this last word, he
walked off like one who had totally exhausted his subject.



CHAPTER VIII. MR. DUNN.

MR. Davenport Dunn sat at breakfast in his spacious chamber overlooking
the Lake of Como. In addition to the material appliances of that meal,
the table was covered with newly arrived letters, and newspapers, maps,
surveys, railroad sections, and Parliamentary blue-books littered about,
along with chalk drawings, oil miniatures, some carvings in box and
ivory, and a few bronzes of rare beauty and design. Occasionally
skimming over the newspapers, now sipping his tea, or now examining some
object of art through a magnifier, he dallied over his meal like one who
felt the time thus passed a respite from the task of the day. At last
he walked out, and, leaning over the balcony, gazed at the glorious
landscape at his feet. It was early morning, and the great masses of
misty clouds were slowly beginning to move up the Alps, disclosing
as they went spots of bright green verdure, dark-sided ravines and
cataracts, amid patches of pine forest, or dreary tracts of snow still
lying deep in the mountain clefts. Beautiful as was the picture of the
lake itself, and the wooded promontories along it, his eyes never turned
from the rugged grandeur of the Alpine range, which he continued to gaze
at for a long time. So absorbed was he in his contemplation, that he
never noticed the approach of another, and Baron Glumthal was already
leaning over the balustrade beside him ere he had perceived him.

"Well, is it more assuring now that you have looked at it?" asked the
German, in English, of which there was the very slightest trace of a
foreign accent.

"I see nothing to deter one from the project," said Dunn, slowly. "These
questions resolve themselves purely into two conditions,--time and
money. The grand army was only a corporal's guard, multiplied by
hundreds of thousands."

"But the difficulties--"

"Difficulties!" broke in Dunn; "thank Heaven for them, Baron, or you and
I would be no better off in this world than the herd about us. Strong
heads and stout hearts are the breaching artillery of mankind,--you can
find rank and file any day."

"When I said difficulties, I might have used a stronger word."

"And yet," said Dunn, smiling, "I'd rather contract to turn the Alps
yonder, than to drive a new idea into the heads of a people. See here,
now," said he, entering the room, and returning with a large plan in his
hand, "this is Chiavenna. Well, the levels show that a line drawn
from this spot comes out below Andeer, at a place called Mühlen,--the
distance something less than twenty-two miles. By Brumall's contract,
you will perceive that if he don't meet with water--"

"But in that lies the whole question," broke in the other.

"I know it, and I am not going to blink it. I mean to take the
alternatives in turn."

"Shall I spare you a deal of trouble, Dunn?" said the German, laying his
hand on his arm. "Our house has decided against the enterprise. I have
no need to explain the reasons."

"And can you be swayed by such counsels?" cried Dunn, eagerly. "Is
it possible that you will suffer yourselves to be made the dupes of a
Russian intrigue?"

"Say, rather, the agents of a great policy," said Glumthal, "and you
will be nearer the mark. My dear friend," added he, in a lower and more
confidential tone, "have I to tell _you_ that _your_ whole late
policy in England is a mistake, your Crimean war a mistake, your French
alliance a mistake, and your present attempt at a reconciliation with
Austria the greatest mistake of all?"

"You would find it a hard task to make the nation believe this," said
Dunn, smiling.

"So I might; but not to convince your statesmen of it. They see it
already. They perceive even now some of the perils of the coarse they
have adopted."

"The old story. I have heard it at least a hundred times," broke in
Dunn. "We have been overturning the breakwaters that the ocean may
swamp us. But I tell _you_, Baron, that the more democratic we grow in
England, the safer we become. We don't want these alliances we fancied
ourselves once in need of. That family compact redounded but little to
our advantage."

"So it might. But there is another compact now forming, which bodes even
less favorably to you. The Church, by her Concordat, is replacing the
old Holy Alliance. You 'll need the aid of the only power that cannot be
drawn into this league,--I mean the only great power,--Russia."

"If you will wait till we are so minded, Baron," said Dunn, laughing,
"you have plenty of time to help me with my tunnel here." And he pointed
to his plans.

"And where will the world be,--I mean your world and mine,--before the
pick of the workman reaches so far?" and he placed his finger on
the Splugen Alps,--"answer me that. What will be the Government of
France,--I don't ask who? Where will Naples be? What king will be
convoking the Hungarian Diet? Who will be the Russian viceroy on the
Danube?"

"Far more to the purpose were it if I could tell you how would the Three
per Cents stand," broke in Dunn.

"I 'm coming to that," said the other, dryly. "No, no," said he, after
a pause; "let us see this unhappy war finished,--let us wait till we
know who are to be partners in the-great game of European politics.
Lanfranchi tells me that the French and Russians who meet here come
together on the best of terms; that intimacies, and even friendships.
spring up rapidly between them. This fact, if repeated in Downing
Street, might be heard with some misgiving."

Though Dunn affected indifference to this remark, he winced, and walked
to the window to hide his irritation.

Immediately beneath where he stood, a trellised vine-walk led down to
the lake, where the boats were usually in waiting; and from this alley
now a number of voices could be heard, although the speakers were
entirely hidden by the foliage. The gay and laughing tones indicated
a pleasure-party; and such it was, bent on a picnic to Bellaggio. Some
were loud in praises of the morning, and the splendid promise of the
day; others discussed how many boats they should want, and how the party
was to be divided.

"The Americans with the Russians," said Twining, slapping his legs and
laughing; "great friends--capital allies--what fun! Ourselves and the
O'Reillys.--Spicer, look out, and see if they are coming."

"And do you mean to say you'll not come?" whispered a very soft voice,
after the crowd had passed on.

"Charmante Molly!" said Lord Lackington, in his most dulcet of accents,
"I am quite heart-broken at the disappointment; but when I tell you
that this man has come some hundreds of miles to meet me here,--that the
matter is one of deepest importance--"

"And who is he? Could you make him come too?"

"Impossible, _ma belle_. He is quite unsuited to this kind of thing,--a
mere creature of parchments. The very sight of him would only suggest
thoughts of foreclosing mortgages and renewal fines."

"How I hate him!"

"Do, dearest,--hate him to your heart's content,--and for nothing more
than the happiness of which he robs me."

"Well, I 'm sure, I did think--" And she stopped, and seemed confused.

"And what, pray, was it that you did think?" said his Lordship, most
winningly.

"I thought two things, then, if you must know," said she, archly:
"first, that a great personage like your Lordship would make a very
small one like this Mr. Dunn understand it was his duty to await your
convenience; and my second thought was--But perhaps you don't care to
hear it?"

"Of all things. Pray go on."

"Well, then, my second was that if I asked you to come, you'd not refuse
me."

"What an inexorable charmer it is!" cried he, in stage fashion. "Do you
fancy you could ever forgive yourself if, yielding to this temptation, I
were really to miss this man?"

"You told me yourself, only yesterday," said she, "_ce que femme
veut_--Besides, you'll have him all day tomorrow, and the next, and--"

"Well, so be it. See how I hug my chains!" said he, drawing her arm
within his, and moving on towards the boat.

"Were you to be of that party, Baron?" asked Dunn, pointing to the crowd
beside the lake.

"So I was. The Princess engaged me last night; they are going to the
Plinniana and Bellaggio. Why not join us?"

"Oh, I have a score of letters to write, and double as many to read. In
fact, I have kept all my work for a quiet day in this nice tranquil spot
I wish I could take a week here."

"And why not do it? Have n't you yet learned that it is the world's duty
to wait on _us?_ For my own part, I have always found that one emerges
from these secluded places with renewed energy and awakened vigor. I
heard Stadeon once say that when anything puzzled him, he went to pass
a day at Maria Zell, and he never came away without hitting on the
solution. They are beckoning to me; so good-bye!"

"Anything puzzled him!" muttered Dunn, repeating the words of the
other's story. "If he but knew that what puzzles _me_ at this moment is
myself!"

The very nature of the correspondence that then littered his table might
well warrant what he felt. Who, and what was he, to whom great ministers
wrote confidentially, and secretaries of state began, "My dear Dunn"?
How had he risen to this eminence? What were the gifts by which he held,
and was to maintain it? Most men who have attained to high station from
small beginnings, have so conformed to the exigencies of each new
change in life as to carry but little of what they started with to their
position of eminence; gradually assimilating to the circumstances around
them as they went, they flung the past behind them, only occupied with
those qualities which should fit them for the future. Not so Davenport
Dunn: he was ever present to his own eyes as the son of the very
humblest parentage; as the poor boy educated by charity, struggling
drearily through years of poverty,--the youth discouraged and slighted,
the man repulsed and rejected. Certain incidents of his life never left
him; there they were, as if photographed on his heart; and at will he
could behold himself as he was turned away ignominiously from Kellett's
house; or a morning scarce less sad, as he learned his rejection for the
sizarship; or the day still more bitter that Lord Glengariff put him out
of doors, with words of insult and shame. Like avenging spirits, these
memories travelled with him wherever he journeyed. They sat beside him
as he dined at great men's tables; they loitered with him in his lonely
walks, and whispered into his ear in the dark hours of the night. No
high-hearted hope, no elevating self-reliance, had sustained him through
these youthful reverses; each new failure, on the contrary, seemed to
have impressed him more and more strongly with the conviction that the
gifts which win success in life had not been vouchsafed him; that his
abilities were of that humble order which never elevate their possessor
above mere mediocrity; that if he meant to strive for the great prizes
of life, it must be less by addressing himself to great intellectual
efforts than by a patient study of men themselves,--of their frailties,
their weaknesses, and their follies. Whatever he had seen of the world
had shown him how invariably the greatest minds were alloyed with
some deteriorating influence, and that passions of one kind or other,
ambitions more or less worthy, even the subtlety of flattery, swayed
those whose intellects soared loftily among their fellows. "I cannot
share in the tilt with these," said he. "Mine are no gifts of eloquence
or imaginative power; I am not versed in the mysteries of science, nor
deep-read in the intricacies of law. Let me, however, see if I cannot,
by dexterity, accomplish what is denied to my strength. Every man,
whatever his station, covets wealth. The noblest and the meanest, the
man dignified by exalted aspirations, the true creature of selfish
enjoyments, are all alike enlisted in the pursuit. Let me consider how
this common tendency may be best turned to account. To enrich others,
it is not necessary that I should be wealthy myself. The geographer may
safely dictate the route by which the explorer is to journey through a
desert he has never travelled himself. The great problems of finance
can be worked by suggestions in a garret, though their application may
demand millions." Starting thus from an humble attorney in a country
town, he gradually grew to be known as a most capable adviser in all
monetary matters. Rich men consulted him about profitable investments
and safe employment of their capital; embarrassed men confided to him
their difficulties, and sought his aid to meet them; speculators asked
his advice as to this or that venture; and even those who gambled on
the eventful fortunes of a ministry were fain to be guided by his wise
predictions. "Dunn has got me the money on reasonable terms;" "Dunn
has managed to let me have five per cent;" "Dunn assures me I may risk
this;" "Dunn tells me that they 'll carry the bill next session,"--such
and such things were the phrases one heard at every turn, till his
opinion became a power in the land, and he grew to feel it so.

This first step led to another and higher one. Through the moneyed
circumstances of men he came to learn their moral natures: against what
temptations this one was proof; to what that other would yield; what
were the goals for which each was striving; what the secret doubts and
misgivings that beset them. What the doctor was to the world of sickness
and infirmity did he become to the world of human passion and desire.
Men came to him with the same unreserve; they stripped before him and
laid bare the foul spots of their heart's disease, as though it were
but repeating the story to themselves. Terrible and harrowing as are the
tales which reach the physician's ears, the stories revealed to his were
more terrible and harrowing still. They came to him with narratives of
reckless waste and ruin; with histories of debt that dated a century
back; with worse, far worse,--with tales of forgery and fraud. Crimes
for which the law would have exacted its last expiation were whispered
to him in that dreary confessional, his private office, and the
evidences of guilt placed in his hands that he might read and reflect
over them. And as the doctor moves through life with the sad knowledge
of all the secret suffering around him,--how little that "flush"
indicates of health, how faintly beats the heart that seems to swell
with happiness,--so did this man walk a world that was a mere hospital
ward of moral rottenness. Why should the priest and the physician be the
only men to trade upon the infirmities of human nature? Why should they
be the sole depositaries of those mysteries by which men's actions can
be swayed and moulded? By what temptations are men so assailable as
those that touch their material fortunes, and why not make this moral
country an especial study? Such were his theory and his practice.

There is often a remarkable fitness--may we call it a "pre-established
harmony"?--between men and the circumstances of their age, and this has
led to the opinion that it is by the events themselves the agents are
developed; we incline to think differently, as the appearance of both
together is rather in obedience to some over-ruling edict of Providence
which has alike provided the work and the workmen. It would be a shallow
reading of history to imagine Cromwell the child of the Revolution, or
Napoleon as the accident of the battle of the sections.

Davenport Dunn sprang into eminence when, by the action of the
Encumbered Estates Court, a great change was operated in the condition
of Ireland. To grasp at once the immense consequences of a tremendous
social revolution--to foresee even some of the results of this sweeping
confiscation--required no common knowledge of the country, and no small
insight into its habits. The old feudalism that had linked the fate of
a starving people with the fortunes of a ruined gentry was to be
extinguished at once, and a great experiment tried. Was Ireland to be
more governable in prosperity than in adversity? This was a problem
which really might not seem to challenge much doubt, and yet was it by
no means devoid of difficulty to those minds who had long based their
ideas of ruling that land on the principles of fomenting its dissensions
and separating its people. Davenport Dunn saw the hesitation of the
moment, and offered himself at once to solve the difficulty. The
transfer of property might be conducted in such a way as to favor the
views of a particular party in the state; the new proprietary might be
selected, and the aim of a government consulted in the establishment
of this new squirearchy. He thought so, at least, and, what is more, he
persuaded a chief secretary to believe him.

Nothing reads more simply than the sale of an encumbered estate: "In the
matter of Sir Roger O'Moore, Bart, Brian O'Moore, and Margaret Halliday,
owners, and Paul May-bey, petitioner, the Commissioners will, on Friday
next, at the hour of noon,"--and so on; and then come the descriptive
particulars of Carrickross, Dummaymagan, and Lantygoree, with
Griffith's valuation and the ordnance survey, concluding with a recital
of all the penalties, reservations, covenants, clauses, &c., with the
modest mention of twenty-odd pounds some shillings tithe-rent charge,
for a finish. To dispossess of this a man that never really owned it for
the last forty years, and invest it in another, who never saw it,
was the easy operation of the auctioneer's hammer; and with a chief
commissioner to ratify the sale, few things seemed easier than the
whole process. Still, there are certain aspects in the transaction which
suggest reflection. What were the ties, what the relations, between the
original owner and the tenantry who held under him? What kind of social
system had bound them,--what were the mutual services they rendered each
other? For the reverence and respect tendered on one side, and for the
thousand little charities and kindnesses bestowed on the other, what
was to be the compensation? How was that guidance and direction, more
or less inherent in those who are the heads of a neighborhood, to be
replaced? Was it quite certain that the incoming proprietor would care
to study the habits, the tastes, and the tempers of the peasantry on his
estate, learn their ways, or understand their difficulties? And, lastly,
what new political complexion would the country wear? Would it become
more Conservative or more Whig, more Democratic or more Saxon?

Davenport Dunn's opinion was that the case was precisely that of a
new colony, where the first settlers, too busy about their material
interests to care for mere speculative questions, would attach
themselves heartily to any existing government, giving their adhesion
to whatever afforded protection to their property and safety to their
lives. "Take this new colony," said he, "into your especial care, and
their sons and grandsons will be yours after-wards. A new regiment is
being raised; write your own legends on their colors, and they are your
own." He sketched out a system by which this new squirearchy was to be
dealt with,--how courted, flattered, and rewarded. He showed how, in
attaching them to the State, the government of the country might
be rendered more easy, and the dreaded influence of the priest be
antagonized most effectually; and, finally, demonstrated that Ireland,
which had been the stereotyped difficulty of every administration, might
now be turned into a stronghold against opposition.

To replace the great proprietary whose estates were now in the market
by a new constituency in accordance with his views was, therefore,
his general scheme, and he addressed himself to this task with all his
peculiar energy. He organized the registry of all the encumbered
estates of Ireland, with every detail which could illustrate the various
advantages; he established an immense correspondence with English
capitalists eager for new investments; he possessed himself of intimate
knowledge of all the variations and fluctuations which attend the money
market at certain periods, so that he knew the most favorable moments
to suggest speculation; and, lastly, he had craft enough to carry his
system into operation without any suspicion being attached to it; and
was able to say to a Viceroy, "Look and judge for yourself, my Lord,
whose influence is now paramount in Ireland."

Truly, it was not easy for a government to ignore him; his name turned
up at every moment. From the stirring incident of a great county
election to the small contest for a poor-law guardianship, he figured
everywhere, until every question of policy became coupled with the
inevitable demand, "What does Dunn think of it?"

Like all men of strong ambition, he encouraged few or no intimacies; he
had actually no friendships. He wanted no counsels; nor would he
have stooped to have laid a case for advice before any one. Partly in
consequence of this, he was spoken of generally in terms of depreciation
and discredit. Some called him lucky,--a happy phrase that adapts
itself to any fancy; some said he was a commonplace, vulgar fellow, with
certain business aptitudes, but quite incapable of any wide or extended
views; some, again, went further, and said he was the mere tool of
certain clever heads that did not care to figure in the foreground; and
not a few wondered that "a man of this kind" should have ever attained
to any eminence or station in the land.

"You 'll see how his Excellency will turn him to account; he knows how
to deal with fellows of this stamp," said a private secretary in the
Castle.

"I have no doubt, sir, Mr. Davenport Dunn would agree with you," said
the Attorney-General, with a sneer; "but the opinion would be bad in
law!"

"He 's not very much of a churchman, I suspect," whispered a bishop;
"but we find him occasionally useful."

"He serves _our_ purpose!" pompously spoke a country gentleman, who
really, in the sentiment, represented a class.

Such was the man who now sat alone, communing with himself, in his room
at the Villa d'Este. Let us believe that he had enough to think of.



CHAPTER IX. A DAY ON THE LAKE OF COMO.

We fully sympathize with Lord Lackington, who preferred the picnic
and the society of Miss Molly O'Reilly to the cares of business and an
interview with Davenport Dunn. The Lake of Como, on a fine day of summer
or early autumn, and with a heart moderately free from the anxieties and
sorrows of life, is a very enjoyable locality, and essentially so to
a man of the world like the noble Viscount, who liked to have the more
romantic features of the scene blended with associations of ease
and pleasure, and be able to turn from the contemplation of Alpine
ruggedness to the sight of some terraced garden, glowing in the
luxuriance of its vegetation. Never, perhaps, was there ever a spot so
calculated to appeal successfully to the feelings of men of his stamp.
There was mountain grandeur and desolation, snow-peak and precipice; but
all in the back distance, not near enough to suggest even the fear
of cold, or the disagreeable idea of a sledge journey. There were
innumerable villas of every style and class,--some spacious and splendid
enough for royal residences; others coquettish little chalets, where
lovers might pass the honeymoon. There were tasteful pavilions over the
very lake; snug spots where solitude might love to ponder, a student
read, or an idler enjoy his cigar, in the most enviable of scenes.
Trellised vine-walks zigzagged up the hills to some picturesque shrine
whose modest little spire rose above the olive-trees, or some rude
steps in the rock led down to a little nook, whole white sands glistened
beneath the crystal waters,--such a bath as no Sybarite, in all his most
glowing fancy, ever imagined. And amid all and through all there was
that air of wealth--that assurance of affluence and abundance--which
comes so home to the hearts of men whose sense of enjoyment can only be
gratified where there is to be no sacrifice to their love of ease.
In the noble Viscount's estimation, the place was perfect It was even
associated with the solitary bit of romance of his whole life. It was
here that he passed the first few weeks after his wedding; and though he
had preserved very little of those feelings which imparted happiness
to that period, though her Ladyship did not recall to his mind the
attractions which once had fascinated him,--new glazed and new lacquered
over and over again as was the vase, "the scent of the roses had clung
to it still," The distance that lends enchantment to the material has
also its influence on the moral picture. Memory softens and subdues many
a harsh tint, mellows many an incongruity, and blends into a pleasant
harmony many things which in their proximity were the reverse of
agreeable. Not that we would be understood to say that Lord Lackington's
honeymoon was not like yours, an elysium of happiness and bliss;
we would simply imply that, in recalling it, he only remembered the
rose-tints, and never brought up one of the shadows. He had, in his own
fashion, poetized that little episode of his life, when, dressed in
a fancy and becoming costume, he played gondolier to his young bride,
scaled the mountain to fetch her Alp-roses, and read aloud "Childe
Harold," as he interpolated Harrow recollections of its author. Not one
of these did he now remember; he'd as soon have dreamed of being marker
at a billiard table as of playing the barcarole; and as to mountain
excursions he 'd not have bargained for any success that required the
exertion of a steep staircase.

"There 's a little villa in a bay somewhere hereabouts," said he, as the
boat glided smoothly along; "I should like much to show it to you." This
was addressed to Molly O'Reilly, who sat beside him. "Do you happen to
know La Pace?" asked he of one of the boatmen.

"To be sure I do, Eccellenza. Who doesn't? My own father was barcarole
there to a great Milordo, I can't say how many years back. Ah," added
he, laughing, "what stories he used to have of that same Milordo,
who was always dressing himself up to be as a gondolier or a
chamois-hunter."

"We have n't asked for your father's memoirs, my good fellow; we only
wanted you to show us where La Pace lies," said the Viscount, testily.

"There it is, then, Eccellenza," said the man, as they rounded a little
promontory of rock, and came in full view of a small cove, in the centre
of which stood the villa.

Untenanted and neglected as it was, there was yet about it that glorious
luxuriance of vegetation, that rare growth of vines and olive and
oleander and cactus which seems to more than compensate all the care
and supervision of men. The overloaded orange-trees dipped their weary
branches in the lake, where the golden balls rose and fell as the water
surged about them. The tangled vines sprawled over the ground, staining
the deep grass with their purple blood. Olive berries lay deep around,
and a thousand perfumes loaded the air as the faint breeze stirred it.

"Let me show you a true Italian villa," said the Viscount, as the boat
glided up to the steps cut in the marble rock. "I once passed a few
weeks here; a caprice seized me to know what kind of life it would be
to loiter amidst olive groves, and have no other company than the cicala
and the green lizard."

"Faith, my Lord," said O'Reilly, "if you could live upon figs and
lemons, you 'd have nothing to complain of; but I 'm thinking you found
it lonely."

"I scarcely remember, but my impression is, I liked it," said he, with a
slight hesitation. "I used to lie under the great cedar yonder, and read
Petrarch."

"Capital fun--excellent--live here for two hundred a year, or even
less--plenty of fish in the lake--keep the servants on watermelons,"
said Twining, slapping his legs, as he made this domestic calculation to
himself.

"With people one liked about one," said Miss O'Reilly, "I don't see why
this should n't be a delicious spot."

"There's not a hundred yards of background. You could n't give a
horse walking exercise here if your life was on it," said Spicer,
contemptuously.

"Splendid grapes, wonderful oranges, finest melons I ever saw,--all
going to waste too," said Twining, laughing, as if such utter neglect
was a very droll thing. "Get this place a bargain,--might have it for a
mere nothing."

"So you might, O'Reilly," said the Viscount; "it is one of those
deserted spots that are picked up for a tenth of their value; buy
it, fit it up handsomely, and we'll come and spend the autumn with
you,--won't we, Twining?"

"Upon my life we will, I 'll swear it; be here 1st September to the day,
and stay till--as long as you please. Great fun!"

"Delicious spot to come and repose in from the cares and worries of
life," said Lord Lackington, as he stretched upon a bench and began
peeling an orange.

"I 'd get the blue devils in a week; I 'd be found hanging some fine
morning--"

"For shame, papa," broke in Molly. "My Lord says he 'd come on a visit
to us, and you know we 'd only be here in the autumn."

"Just so--come here for the wine season--get in your olives and look
after your oil--great fun," chimed in Twining, merrily.

"I declare, I 'd like it of all things, would not you?" said the elder
girl to Spicer, who had now begun to reflect that there was a kind of
straw-yard season for men as well as for hunters,--when the great object
was to live cheap and husband your resources; and as he ruminated over
the lazy quietness of an existence that would cost nothing, when even
his "Bell's Life" should be inserted amongst the family extraordinaires,
he vouchsafed to approve the scheme; and in his mumbling tone, in
imitation of Heaven knows what celebrated sporting character, he
grumbled out, "Make the governor go in for it by all means!"

Twining had entered into the project most eagerly. One of the most
marked traits of his singular mind was not merely to enjoy his own
pre-eminence in wealth over so many others, but to chuckle over all the
possible mistakes which _he_ had escaped and _they_ had fallen into. To
know that there was a speculation whose temptation he had resisted and
which had engulfed all who engaged in it; to see the bank fail whose
directorship he had refused, or the railroad smashed whose preference
shares he had rejected,--this was an intense delight to him; and on such
occasions was it that he slapped his lean legs most enthusiastically,
and exclaimed, "What fun!" with the true zest of enjoyment.

To plant a man of O'Reilly's stamp in such a soil seemed, therefore,
about the best practical joke he had ever heard of; and so he walked
him over the villa, discoursing eloquently on all the advantages of the
project,--the great social position it would confer, the place he would
occupy in the country, the soundness of the investment, the certainty of
securing great matches for the girls. What a view that window opened of
the Splugen Alps! What a delicious spot, this little room, to sip one's
claret of an autumn evening! Think of the dessert growing almost into
the very dining-room, and your trout leaping within a yard of the
breakfast-table! Austrians charmed to have you--make you a count--a
Hof something or other, at once--give you a cross--great fun, eh?--Graf
O'Reilly--sound admirably--do it, by all means!

While Twining's attack was being conducted in this fashion, Lord
Lackington was not less industriously pursuing his plan of campaign
elsewhere. He had sauntered with Molly into the garden and a little
pavilion at the end of it, where the lake was seen in one of its most
picturesque aspects. It was a well-known spot to him; he had passed many
an evening on that low window-seat, half dreamingly forgetting himself
in the peaceful scene, half consciously recalling pleasant nights at
Brookes's and gay dinners at Carlton House. Here was it that he first
grew hipped with matrimony, and so sated with its happiness that he
actually began to long for any little disaster that might dash the
smooth monotony of his life; and yet now, by one of those strange tricks
memory plays us, he fancied that the moments he had once passed here had
never been equalled in all his after-life.

"I'm certain, though you won't confess," said she, after one of his most
eloquent bursts of remembered enjoyment,--"I 'm certain you were very
much in love those days."

"An ideal passion, perhaps, a poetized vision of that bright creature
who should, one day or other, sway this poor heart;" and he flattened
the creases of his spotless white waistcoat; "but if you mean that I
knew of any, had ever seen any, until now, this very moment--"

"Stop! remember your promise," said she, laughing.

"But, _charmante_ Molly, I 'm only mortal," said he, with an air of such
superb humility that made her at once remember it was a peer who said
it.

"Mortals must keep their words," said she, pertly. "The condition on
which I consented to accept your companionship was--But I need n't
remind you."

"No, do not, dear Molly, for I shall be delighted to forget it. You are
aware that no law ever obliged a man to do what was impossible; and that
to exact any pledge from him to such an end is in itself an illegality.
You little suspected, therefore, that it was you, not I, was the
delinquent."

"'All I know is, that you assured me you 'd not--you 'd not talk
nonsense," said she, blushing deeply, half angry, half ashamed.

"Oh! never guessed you were here," broke in Twining, as he peeped
through the window. "Sweet spot--so quiet and secluded--capital fun!"

"There is _such_ a view from this, papa," said Molly, in some confusion
at Twining's bantering look; "come round and see it."

"I have just been telling this dear girl of yours, O'Reilly, that you
ought to make this place your own," said Lord Lackington. "Don't fancy
you 'd be out of the world here. Why, there 's the Villa d'Este,
a European celebrity at once; it will be thronged next year to
suffocation. The 'Galignani,' I see, has already mentioned myself and
Lady Lackington as among the visitors. These things have their effect
The press in our day is an estate."

"Indeed, I 'm sure of it. There was a cousin of my wife's drew his two
hundred a year out of the 'Tyrawley Express,'--a daily little paper,
that, maybe, your Lordship never seen."

"When I said an estate, sir, I rather alluded to a recognized condition
of power and influence than to mere wealth. Not, I will add, that I am
one of those who approve of this consummation; nor can I see how men of
my order can ever so regard it."

"Well," said O'Reilly, sighing, as though the confession cost something,
"there 's nothing equal to a newspaper. I 'm reading 'Saunders' this
eight-and-forty years, and I own to you I never found one I liked so
much. For you see, my Lord, it's the same with a paper as with your
house,--you ought to know where to lay your hand on what you want. Now,
you might as well put me in Buckingham Palace, and tell me to find my
bedroom, as give me the 'Times' and bid me discover the Viceregal Court.
If they mention it at all, it 's among the accidents and offences."

"Castle festivities--Patrick's Hall--great fun!" said Twining,
laughing pleasantly, for he cherished some merry recollections of these
hospitalities.

"Have you--But of course you were too young for presentation," said his
Lordship to Molly.

"We were n't out; but, in any case, I 'm sure we 'd not have been
there," said Molly.

"The pleasure of that presentation may perhaps be reserved for me, who
knows?" said the Viscount, graciously. "If our people come in, it is the
post they 'd offer me."

"Lord-Lieutenant!" said Molly, opening her eyes to the fullest.

"Even so, _ma belle_. Shall we rehearse the ceremony of presentation?
Twining, do you perform the Chamberlain. Stand aside, O'Reilly; be
a gentleman at large, or an Ulster King-at-arms. Now for it!" And
so saying, he drew himself proudly up to an attitude of considerable
dignity, while Twining, muttering to himself, "What fun!" announced
aloud, "Miss Molly O'Reilly, your Excellency;" at which, and before she
was aware, his Excellency stepped one step in advance, and sainted her
on either cheek with a cordiality that covered her with blushes.

[Illustration: 124]

"That 's not it, at all, I 'm certain," said she, half angrily.

"On my life, it's the exact ceremony, and no more," said the Viscount.
Then resuming the performance, he added, "Take care, Twining, that she
is put on your list for the balls. O'Reilly, your niece is charming."

"My niece--sure she 's--"

"You forget, my worthy friend, that we are enacting Viceroy, and cannot
charge our memory with the ties of kindred."

Spicer now came up to say that a thunderstorm was threatening, and that
the wisest course would probably be to land the luncheon and remain
where they were till the hurricane should pass over. The proposition was
at once approved of, and the party were soon busily occupying themselves
in the cares for the entertainment; all agreeing that they felt no
regret at being separated from the other boat, which had proceeded up
the lake; in fact, as Mr. O'Reilly said, "they were snugger as they
were, without the Roosians,"--a sentiment in various ways acknowledged
by the rest.

Strange freemasonry is there in conviviality. The little preparations
for this picnic dinner disseminated amidst them all the fellowship of
old acquaintance, and, as they assisted and aided each other, a degree
of kindliness grew up that bound them together like a family. Each vied
with each in displaying his power of usefulness and agreeability; even
the noble Viscount, who actually did nothing what-ever, so simulated
occupation and activity that he was regarded by all as the very life and
soul of the party. And yet we are unjust in saying he did nothing; for
he it was who, by the happy charm of his manner, the ready tact of a
consummate man of the world, imparted to the meeting its great success.
Unused to the agreeable qualities of such men, O'Reilly felt all the
astonishment that great conversational gifts inspire, and sat amazed and
delighted at the stores of pleasant stories, witty remarks, and acute
observations poured out before him.

He knew nothing of the skill by which these abilities were guided, nor
how, like cunning shopkeepers dressing their wares to most advantage,
such men exhibit their qualities with all the artifice of display. He
never suspected the subtle flattery by which he was led to fancy himself
the intimate of men whose names were freely talked of before him, till
at length the atmosphere of the great world was to him like the air he
had breathed from childhood.

"How the Prince would have relished O'Reilly!" said the Viscount to
Twining, in a whisper easily overheard. "That racy humor, that strong
native common-sense, that vigorous disregard of petty obstacles wherever
he is bent on following out a path,--his royal Highness would have
appreciated all these."

"Unquestionably--been charmed with them--thought him most
agreeable--great fun."

"You remind me of O'Kelly,--Colonel O'Kelly,--O'Reilly; strange enough,
too, each of you should be of that same old Celtic blood. But, perhaps,
it is just that very element that gives you the peculiar social
fascination I was alluding to. You are not old enough, Twining, to
remember that small house with the bay-windows opening on the Birdcage
Walk; it was like a country parsonage dropped down in the midst of
London, with honeysuckles over the porch, and peacocks on the lawn
in front of it. O'Kelly and Payne lived there together,--the two
pleasantest bachelors that ever joined in partnership. The Prince dined
with them by agreement every Friday. The charm of the thing was no
state, no parade, whatever. It was just as if O'Reilly here were to take
this villa, and say, 'Now, Lackington, I am rich enough to enjoy myself;
I don't want the worry and fatigue of hunting out the pleasant people
of the world; but you know them all, you understand them,--their ways,
their wants, and their requirements; just tell me, frankly, could n't we
manage to make this their rallying-spot throughout Europe? Settled down
here in the midst of the most lovely scenery in the world, with a
good cook and a good cellar, might not this place become a perfect
Paradise?'"

"If I only knew that your Lordship, just yourself alone, and, of course,
the present company," added O'Reilly, with a bow round the table, "would
vouchsafe me the honor of a visit, I'd be proud to be the owner of this
place to-morrow. Indeed, I don't see why we would n't be as well here
as traipsing over the world in dust and heat. If, then, the girls see no
objection--"

"I should like it of all things, papa," broke in Miss O'Reilly.

"I am charmed with the very thought of it," cried Molly.

"Capital thought--romantic notion--save any amount of money, and no
taxes," muttered Twining.

"There's no approach by land whatever," said Spicer, who foresaw that
all his horse capabilities would receive no development here.

"All the better," broke in Twining; "no interlopers--no fellows
cantering down to luncheon, or driving over to dine--must come by boat,
and be seen an hour beforehand."

"If I know anything of my friend here," said the Viscount, "his taste
will rather lie in the fashion of a warm welcome than a polite denial
to a visitor. You must talk to Lanfranchi about the place to-morrow,
O'Reilly. He 's a shrewd fellow, and knows how to go about these
things."

"Faith, my Lord, I see everything in sunshine so long as I sit in such
company. It's the very genial kind of thing I like. A few friends--if I
'm not taking too great a liberty--"

"No, by no means, O'Reilly. The esteem I feel for you, and that Twining
feels for you "--here his Lordship looked over at Spicer and slightly
nodded, as though to say, "There is another there who requires no formal
mention in the deed "--"are not passing sentiments, and we sincerely
desire they may be accepted as true friendship."

"To be sure--unquestionably--great regard--unbounded admiration--what
fun!" muttered Twining, half aloud.

The evening wore along in pleasant projects for the future. Spicer had
undertaken to provide workmen and artificers of various kinds to repair
and decorate the villa and its grounds. He knew of such a gardener, too;
and he thought, by a little bribery and a trip down to Naples, he
might seduce the Prince of Syracuse's cook,--a Sicilian, worth all the
Frenchmen in the world for an ultramontane "cuisine." In fact, ere the
bright moonlight on the lake reminded them of their journey homeward,
they had arranged a plan of existence for the O'Reillys almost Elysian
in its enjoyments.

Few things develop more imaginative powers than the description of a
mode of life wherein "money is no object," and wishing and having are
convertible terms. Let a number of people--the least gifted though they
be with the graces of fancy--so picture forth such an existence, and
see how, by the mere multiplication of various tastes, they will end by
creating a most voluptuous and splendid tableau. O'Reilly's counsellors
were rather adepts in their way, and certainly they did not forget
one single ingredient of pleasure; till, when the boat glided into the
little bay of the D'Este, such a story of a life was sketched out as
nothing out of fairy-land could rival.

"I 'll have it, my Lord; the place is as good as mine this minute," said
O'Reilly, as he stepped on shore; and as he spoke his heart thrilled
with the concentrated delights of a whole life of happiness.



CHAPTER X. A "SMALL DINNER"

Lady Lackington and Lady Grace Twining passed the morning together.
Their husbands' departure on the picnic excursion offered them a
suitable subject to discuss those gentlemen, and they improved the
occasion to some purpose.

The Viscountess did not, indeed, lean very heavily on her Lord's
failings; they were, as she described them, the harmless follies of
certain middle-aged gentlemen, who, despite time and years, would still
be charming and fascinating. "He likes those little easy conquests he
is so sure of amongst vulgar people," said she. "He affects only to
be amused by them, but he actually likes them; and then, as he never
indulges in this sort of thing except in out-of-the-way places, why,
there 's no great harm in it."

Lady Grace agreed with her, and sighed. She sighed, because she thought
of her own burden, and how far more heavily it pressed. Twining's were
no little foibles, no small weaknesses; none of his faults had their
root in any easy self-deceptions. Everything he did or said or thought
was maturely weighed and considered; his gay, laughing manner, his easy,
light-hearted gesticulation, his ready concurrence in the humor about
him, were small coin that he scattered freely while he pondered over
heavy investments.

From long experience of his crafty, double-dealing nature, coupled with
something very near aversion to him, Lady Grace had grown to believe
that in all he said or did some unseen motive lay, and she brought
herself to believe that even his avaricious and miserly habits were
practised still less for the sake of saving than for some ulterior and
secret end.

Of the wretched life they led she drew a dreary picture: a mock splendor
for the world, a real misery at home; all the outward semblance of
costly living, all the internal consciousness of meanness and privation.
He furnished houses with magnificence, that he might let them; he set
up splendid equipages, that, when seen, they should be sold. "My
very emeralds," said she, "were admired and bought by the Duchess of
Windermere. It is very difficult to say that there is anything out of
which he cannot extract a profit. If my ponies were praised in the park,
I knew it was only the prelude to their being at Tattersall's in
the morning; even the camellia which I wore in my hair was turned to
advantage, for it sold the conservatory that raised it. And yet they
tell me that if--they say that--I mean--I am told that the law would
not construe these as cruelty, but simply a very ordinary exercise of
marital authority, something unpleasant, perhaps, but not enough to
warrant complaint, still less resistance."

"But they _are_ cruelties," broke in Lady Lackington; "men in Mr.
Twining's rank of life do not beat their wives--"

"No, they only break their hearts," sighed Lady Grace; "and this, I
believe, is perfectly legal."

"They were doing, or going to do, something about that t' other day
in the Lords. That dear old man, Lord Cloudeslie, had a bill or an
amendment to somebody's bill, by which--I 'm not sure I 'm quite correct
about it--but I believe it gave the wife power to take her settlement.
No, that is not it; she was to be able, after five years of great
cruelty--I'm afraid I have no clear recollection of its provisions,
but I know the odious Chancellor said it would effectually make women
independent of men."

"Of course it never will become law, then," sighed Lady Grace, again.

"Who knows, dear? They are always passing something or other they 're
sorry for afterwards in either House. Shall I tell you who'd know all
about it?--that Mr. Davenport Dunn. He is just the kind of person to
understand these things."

"Indeed!" exclaimed Lady Grace, with more animation in her manner.

"Let as ask him to dinner," said Lady Lackington; "I know him
sufficiently to do so,--that is, I have met him once. He 'll be charmed,
of course; and if there is anything very good and very safe to be done
on the Bourse, he 'll certainly tell us."

"I don't care for the Bourse. Indeed, I have nothing to speculate with."

"That is the best reason in the world, my dear, to make a venture; at
least, so my brother-in-law, Annesley, says. You are certain to come
out a winner, and in my own brief experiences, I never gave anything,--I
only said, 'Yes, I 'll have the shares.' They were at fifty-eight and
three-quarters, they said, and sure to be at sixty-four or five; and
they actually did rise to seventy, and then we sold--that is, Dunn
did--and remitted me twelve hundred and fifty-three pounds odd."

"I wish he could be equally fortunate with me. I don't mean as regards
money," said Lady Grace; and her cheek became crimson as she spoke.

"I have always said there's a fate in these things; and who knows if his
being here Just at this moment is not a piece of destiny."

"It might be so," said the other, sadly.

"There," said Lady Lackington, as she rapidly wrote a few lines on a
piece of note-paper, "that ought to do:--

     "'Dear Mr. Dunn,--If you will accept of an early dinner,
     with Lady Grace Twining and myself for the company, to-day,
     you will much oblige

     "'Your truly,

     "'Georgina Lackington.'"

"To another kind of man I'd have said something about two _pauvres
femmes délaissées_, but he 'd have been frightened, and probably not
come."

"Probably," said Lady Grace, with a sigh.

"Now, let us try the success of this." And she rang a bell, and
despatched the note.

Lady Lackington had scarcely time to deliver a short essay on the class
and order of men to which Mr. Davenport Dunn pertained, when the
servant returned with the answer. It was a very formal acceptance of the
invitation, "Mr. Davenport Dunn presented his compliments,"--and so on.

"Of course, he comes," said she, throwing the note away. "Do you know,
my dear, I half suspect we have been indiscreet; for now that we have
caught our elephant, what shall we do with him?"

"I cannot give you one solitary suggestion."

"These people are not our people, nor are their gods our gods," said
Lady Lackington.

"If we all offer up worship at the same temple,--the Bourse," said Lady
Grace, something sadly,--"we can scarcely dispute about a creed."

"That is only true in a certain sense," replied the other. "Money is a
necessity to all; the means of obtaining it may, therefore, be common to
many. It is in the employment of wealth, in the tasteful expenditure of
riches, that we distinguish ourselves from these people. You have
only to see the houses they keep, their plate, their liveries, their
equipages, and you perceive at once that whenever they rise above some
grovelling imitation they commit the most absurd blunders against all
taste and propriety. I wish we had Spicer here to see about this dinner,
it is one of the very few things he understands; but I suppose we must
leave it to the cook himself, and we have the comfort of knowing that
the criticism on his efforts will not be of a very high order."

"We dine at four, I believe," said Lady Grace, in her habitual tone of
sorrow, as she swept from the room with that gesture of profound woe
that would have graced a queen in tragedy.

Let us turn for a moment to Mr. Davenport Dunn. Lady Lackington's
invitation had not produced in him either those overwhelming sensations
of astonishment or those excessive emotions of delight which she had so
sanguinely calculated on. There was a time that a Viscountess asking him
thus to dinner had been an event, the very fact being one requiring some
effort on his part to believe; but these days were long past. Mr. Dunn
had not only dined with great people since that, but had himself been
their host and entertainer. Noble lords and baronets had sipped his
claret, right honorables praised his sherry, and high dignitaries
condescended to inquire where he got "that exquisite port."
The tremulous, faint-hearted, doubting spirit, the suspectful,
self-distrusting, humble man, had gone, and in his place there was a
bold, resolute nature, confident and able, daily testing his strength
against some other in the ring, and as often issuing from the contest
satisfied that he had little to fear from any antagonist. He was clever
enough to see that the great objects in life are accomplished less by
dexterity and address than by a strong, undeviating purpose. The failure
of many a gifted man, and the high success of many a commonplace one,
had not been without its lesson for him; and it was in the firm resolve
to rise a winner that he sat down to the game of life.

Lady Lackington's invitation was, therefore, neither a cause of pleasure
nor astonishment. He remembered having met her somewhere, some time, and
he approached the renewed acquaintance without any one of the sentiments
her Ladyship had so confidently predicted. Indeed, so little of that
flurry of anticipation did he experience, that he had to be reminded
her Ladyship was waiting dinner for him, before he could remember the
pleasure that was before him.

It may be a very ungallant confession for this true history to make,
but we cannot blink saying that Lady Lack-ington and Lady Grace both
evidenced by their toilette that they were not indifferent to the
impression they were to produce upon their guest.

The Viscountess was dressed in the perfection of that French taste whose
chief characteristic is freshness and elegance. She was light,
gauzy, and floating,--a sweeping something of Valenciennes and white
muslin,--but yet human withal, and very graceful. Her friend, in deep
black, with a rich lace veil fastened on her head behind, and draped
artistically over one shoulder, was a charming personification of
affliction not beyond consolation. When they met, it was with an
exchange of looks that said, "This ought to do."

Lady Lackington debated with herself what precise manner of reception
she would award to Mr. Dunn,--whether to impose by the haughty
condescension of a fine lady, or fascinate by the graceful charm of an
agreeable one. She was "equal to either fortune," and could calculate
on success, whichever road she adopted. While she thus hesitated, he
entered.

If his approach had little or nothing of the man of fashion about it,
it was still a manner wherein there was little to criticise. It was not
bold nor timid, and, without anything like over-confidence, there was
yet an air of self-reliance that was not without dignity.

At dinner the conversation ranged over the usual topics of foreign
travel, foreign habits, collections, and galleries. Of pictures and
statues he had seen much, and evidently with profit and advantage; of
people and society he knew next to nothing, and her Ladyship quickly
detected this deficiency, and fell back upon it as her stronghold.

"When hard-worked men like myself take a holiday," said Dunn, "they
are but too glad to escape from the realities of life by taking refuge
amongst works of art. The painter and the sculptor suggest as much
poetry as can consist with their stern notions, and are always real
enough to satisfy the demand for fact."

"But would not what you call your holiday be more pleasantly passed in
making acquaintances? You could of course have easy access to the most
distinguished society."

"I'm a bad Frenchman, my Lady, and speak not a word of German or
Italian."

"English is very generally cultivated just now,--the persons best worth
talking to can speak it."

"The restraint of a strange tongue, like the novelty of a court dress,
is a sad detractor from all naturalness. At least, in my own little
experience with strangers, I have failed to read anything of a man's
character when he addressed me in a language not his own."

"And was it essential you should have read it?" asked Lady Grace,
languidly.

"I am always more at my ease when I know the geography of the land I
live in," said Dunn, smiling.

"I should say you have great gifts in that way,--I mean in deciphering
character," said Lady Lackington.

"Your Ladyship flatters me. I have no pretensions of the kind. Once
satisfied of the sincerity of those with whom I come into contact, I
never strive to know more, nor have I the faculties to attempt more."

"But, in your wide-spread intercourse with life, do you not, insensibly
as it were, become an adept in reading men's natures?"

"I don't think so, my Lady. The more one sees of life the simpler does
it seem, not from any study of humanity, but by the easy fact that three
or four motives sway the whole world. An unsupplied want of one kind or
other--wealth, rank, distinction, affection, it may be--gives the entire
impulse to a character, just as a passion imparts the expression to a
face; and all the diversities of temperament, like those of countenance,
are nothing but the impress of a want,--you may call it a wish. Now
it may be," added he, and as he spoke he stole a glance, quick as
lightning, at Lady Grace, "that such experiences are more common to men
like myself,--men, I mean, who are intrusted with the charge of others'
interests; but assuredly I have no clew to character save in that one
feature,--a want."

"But I want fifty thousand things," said Lady Lacking-ton. "I want a
deal of money; I want that beautiful villa near Palermo, the 'Serra
Novena;' I want that Arab pony Kratuloff rides in the park; I want, in
short, everything that pleases me every hour of the day."

"These are not wants that make impulses, no more than a passing shower
makes a climate," said Dunn. "What I speak of is that unceasing,
unwearied desire that is with us in joy or sadness, that journeys with
us and lives with us, mingling in every action, blending with every
thought, and presenting to our minds a constant picture of ourselves
under some wished-for aspect different from all we have ever known,
where we are surrounded with other impulses and swayed by other
passions, and yet still identically ourselves. Lady Grace apprehends
me."

"Perhaps,--at least partly," said she, fanning herself and concealing
her face.

"There are very few exempt from a temptation of this sort, or, if they
be, it is because their minds are dissipated on various objects."

"I hate things to be called temptations, and snares, and the rest of
it," said Lady Lackington; "it is a very tiresome cant. You may tell me
while I am waiting for my fish-sauce at dinner, it is a temptation; but
if you wish me really to understand the word, tell me of some wonderful
speculation, some marvellous scheme for securing millions. Oh, dear Mr.
Dunn, you who really know the way, will you just show me the road to--I
will be moderate--about twenty thousand pounds?"

"Nothing easier, my Lady, if you are disposed to risk forty."

"But I am not, sir. I have not the slightest intention to risk one
hundred. I 'm not a gambler."

"And yet what your Ladyship points at is very like gambling."

"Pray place that word along with temptation, in the forbidden category;
it is quite hateful to me."

"Have _you_ the same dislike to chance, Lady Grace?" said he, stealing a
look at her face with some earnestness.

"No," said she, in a low voice; "it is all I have to look for."

"By the way, Mr. Dunn, what are they doing in Parliament about us? Is
there not something contemplated by which we can insist upon separate
maintenance, or having a suitable settlement, or--"

"Separation--divorce," said Lady Grace, solemnly.

"No, my Lady, the law is only repairing an old road, not making a new
one. The want of the age is cheapness,--cheap literature, cheap postage,
and cheap travelling, and why not cheap divorce? Legislation now
professes as its great aim to extend to the poor all the comforts of the
rich; and as this is supposed to be one of them--"

"Have you any reason to doubt it, sir?" asked Lady Grace.

"Luxuries cease to be luxuries when they become common. Cheap divorce
will be as unfashionable as cheap pine-apple when a coal-heaver can have
it," said Lady Lackington.

"You mistake, it seems to me, what constitutes the luxury," interposed
Lady Grace. "Every day of the year sees men liberated from prison, yet
no one will pretend that the sense of freedom is less dear to every
creature thus delivered."

"Your figure is but too like," said Dunn. "The divorced wife will be to
the world only too much a resemblance of the liberated prisoner. Dark
or fair, guilty or innocent, she will carry with her the opprobrium of
a public trial, a discussion, and a verdict. Now, how few of us would
go through an operation in public for the cure of a malady! Would we not
rather hug our sorrows and our sufferings in secrecy than accept health
on such conditions?"

"Not when the disease was consuming your very vitals,--not when a
perpetual fever racked your brain and boiled in your blood. You'd take
little heed of what is called exposure then. The cry of your heart would
be, 'Save me! save me!'" As she spoke, her voice grew louder and wilder,
till it became almost a shriek, and, as she ended, she lay back, flushed
and panting, in her chair.

"You have made her quite nervous, Mr. Dunn," said Lady Lackington, as
she arose and fanned her.

"Oh, no. It's nothing. Just let me have a little fresh air,--on the
terrace. Will you give me your arm?" said Lady Grace, faintly. And Dunn
assisted her as she arose and walked out. "How very delicious this is!"
said she, as she leaned over the balcony, and gazed down upon the placid
water, streaked with long lines of starlight. "I conclude," said she,
after a little pause, "that scenes like this--moments as peacefully
tranquil--are as dear to you, hard-worked men of the world, as they
are to the wearied hearts of us poor women, all whose ambitions are so
humble in comparison."

"We are all of us striving for the same goal, I believe," said
he,--"this same search after happiness, the source of so much misery!"

"You are not married, I believe?" said she, in an accent whose very
softness had a tone of friendship.

"No; I am as much alone in the world as one well can be," rejoined he,
sorrowfully.

"And have you gone through life without ever meeting one with whom
you would have been content to make partnership,--taking her, as those
solemn words say, 'for better, for worse'?"

"They are solemn words," said he, evading her question; "for they pledge
that for which it is so hard to promise,--the changeful moods which time
and years bring over us. Which of us at twenty can say what he will be
at thirty,--still less at fifty? The world makes us many things we never
meant to be."

[Illustration: 137]

"So, then, you are not happy?" said she, in the same low voice.

"I have not said so much," said he, smiling sadly; "are you?"

"Can you ask me? Is not the very confidence wherewith I treat
you--strangers as we were an hour back to each other--the best evidence
that it is from the very depth of my misery I appeal to you?"

"Make no rash confidences, Lady Grace," said he, seriously. "They who
tell of their heart's sorrows to the world are like those who count
their gold before robbers. I have seen a great deal of life, and the
best philosophy I have learned from it is to 'bear.' Bear everything
that can be borne. You will be surprised what a load you will carry by
mere practice of endurance."

"It is so easy to say to one in pain, 'Have patience,'" said she,
bitterly.

"I have practised what I teach for many a year. Be assured of one
thing,--the Battle of Life is waged by all. The most favored by
fortune--the luckiest, as the world calls them--have their contest and
their struggle. It is not for existence, but it is often for what makes
existence valuable."

She sighed deeply, and, after a pause, he went on,--

"We pity the poor, weary, heart-sick litigant, wearing out life in the
dreary prosecution of a Chancery suit, dreaming at night of that fortune
he is never to see, and waking every day to the same dull round of
pursuit. As hope flickers in his heart, suffering grows a habit; his
whole nature imbibes the conflicting character of his cause; he doubts
and hesitates and hopes and fears and wishes, till his life is one long
fever. But infinitely more painful is the struggle of the heart whose
affections have been misplaced. These are the suits over which no hope
ever throws a ray. It is a long, dreary path, without a halting-place or
a goal."

As he spoke, she covered her face with her handkerchief; but he could
perceive that she was weeping.

"I am speaking of what I know," said he. "I remember once coming
closely into relations with a young nobleman whose station, fortune,
and personal advantages combined to realize all that one could fancy of
worldly blessings. He was just one of those types a novelist would take
to represent the most favored class of the most favored land of Europe.
He had an ancient name, illustrious in various ways, a splendid
fortune, was singularly endowed with abilities, highly accomplished, and
handsome, and, more than all, he was gifted with that mysterious
power of fascination by which some men contrive to make themselves so
appreciated by others that their influence is a sort of magic. Give him
an incident to relate,--let him have a passing event to tell, wherein
some emotion of pity, some sentiment of devotion played a part,--and
without the slightest touch of artifice, without the veriest shade of
ingenuity, he could make you listen breathlessly, and hang in rapture on
his words. Well, this man--of whom, if I suffer myself to speak, I
shall grow wearisome in the praise--this man was heart-broken. Before he
succeeded to his title, he was very poor, a subaltern in the army, with
little beyond his pay. He fell in love with a very beautiful girl--I
never heard her name, but I know that she was a daughter of one of the
first houses in England. She returned his affection, and there was one
of those thousand cases wherein love has to combat all the odds, and
devotion subdue every thought that appeals to worldly pride and vanity.

"She accepted the contest nobly; she was satisfied to brave humble
fortune, obscurity, exile,--everything for him--at least she said so,
and I believe she thought she could keep her word. When the engagement
took place--which was a secret to their families--the London season had
just begun.

"It is not for me to tell you what a period of intoxicating pleasure
and excitement that is, nor how in that wondrous conflict of wealth,
splendor, beauty, and talent, all the fascination of gambling is
imparted to a scene where, of necessity, gain and loss are alternating.
It demands no common power of head and heart to resist these
temptations. Apparently she had not this self-control. The gorgeous
festivities about her, the splendor of wealth, and more than even that,
the esteem in which it was held, struck her forcibly. She saw that the
virtues of humble station met no more recognition than the false lustre
of mock gems,--that ordinary gifts, illustrated by riches, became actual
graces. She could not shut out the contrast between her lover,
poor, unnoticed, and unregarded, and the crowd of fashionable and
distinguished youths whose princely fortunes gave them place and
pre-eminence. In fact, as he himself told me,--for Allington excused
her--Good Heavens! are you ill?" cried be, as with a low, faint cry she
sank to the ground.

"Is she dying? Good God! is she dead?" cried Lady Lackington, as she
lifted the powerless arm, and held the cold hands within her own.

Lanfranchi was speedily sent for, and saw that it was merely a fainting
fit.

"She was quite well previously, was she not?" asked he of Dunn.

"Perfectly so. We were chatting of indifferent matters,--of London, and
the season,--when she was seized," said he. "Is there anything in the
air here that disposes to these attacks?"

Lanfranchi looked at him without reply. Possibly they understood each
other, for they parted without further colloquy.



CHAPTER XI. "A CONSULTATION."

It was late in the night as Lord Lackington and his friends reached the
villa, a good deal wearied, very jaded, and, if the confession may
be made, a little sick of each other; they parted pretty much as the
members of such day-long excursions are wont to do,--not at all sorry to
have reached home again, and brought their trip of pleasure to an end.
Twining, of course, was the same happy-natured, gay, volatile creature
that he set out in the morning. Everything went well with him, the
world had but one aspect, which was a pleasant one, and he laughed and
muttered, "What fun!" as in half-dogged silence the party wended their
way through the garden towards the house.

"I hope these little girls may not have caught cold," said the Viscount,
as he stood with Twining on the terrace, after saying "Good-night!"

"I hope so, with all my heart. Charming girls--most fascinating--father
so amiable."

"Isn't that Dunn's apartment we see the light in?" asked the other, half
impatiently. "I 'll go and make him a visit."

"Overjoyed to see you, greatly flattered by the attention," chimed in
Twining; and while he rubbed his hands over the enchanting prospect,
Lord Lackington walked away.

Not waiting for any announcement, and turning the handle of the door
immediately after he had knocked at it, the Viscount entered. Whether
Dunn had heard him or not, he never stirred from the table where he was
writing, but continued engrossed by his occupation till his Lordship
accosted him.

"I have come to disturb you, I fear, Dunn?"

"Oh! Lord Lackington, your most obedient. Too happy to be honored by
your presence at any time. Just returned, I conclude?"

"Yes, only this moment," said the Viscount, sighing weariedly. "These
picnics are stupid inventions; they fatigue and they exhaust. They give
little pleasure at the time, and none whatever to look back upon."

"Your Lordship's picture is rather a dreary one," said Dunn, smiling.

"Perfectly correct, I assure you; I went simply to oblige some country
folks of yours. The O'Reillys,--nice little girls,--very natural, very
pretty creatures; but the thing is a bore. I never knew any one who
enjoyed it except the gentleman who gets tipsy, and _he_ has an awful
retribution in the next day's headache,--the terrible headache of iced
rum punch."

Dunn laughed, because he saw that his Lordship expected as much; and the
Viscount resumed,--

"I am vexed, besides, at the loss of time; I wanted to have my morning
with _you_ here."

Dunn bowed graciously, but did not speak.

"We have so much to talk over--so many things to arrange--that I am
quite provoked at having thrown away a day; and you, too, are possibly
pressed for time?"

He nodded in assent.

"You can give me to-morrow, however?"

"I can give you to-night, my Lord, which will, perhaps, do as well."

"But to-morrow--"

"Oh, to-morrow, my Lord, I start with Baron Glumthal for Frankfort, to
meet the Elector of Darmstadt,--an appointment that cannot be broken."

"Politically most important, I have no doubt," said the Viscount, with
an undisguised sarcasm in the tone.

"No, my Lord, a mere financial affair," said Dunn, not heeding the
other's manner. "His Highness wants a loan, and we are willing to
accommodate him."

"I wish I could find you in the same liberal spirit. It is the very
thing I stand in need of Just now. In fact, Dunn, you must do it."

The half-coaxing accent of these last words was a strong contrast to the
sneer of a few seconds before, and Dunn smiled as he heard them.

"I fancy, my Lord, that if you are still of the same mind as before, you
will have little occasion to arrange for a loan in any quarter."

"Pooh! pooh! the scheme is absurd. It has not one, but fifty obstacles
against it. In the first place, you know nothing of this fellow, or
whether he can be treated with. As for myself, I do not believe one word
about his claim. Why, sir, there's not a titled house in England has not
at some period or other been assailed with this sort of menace. It
is the stalest piece of knavery going. If you were to poll the peers
to-morrow, you 'd not meet two out of ten have not been served with
notice of action, or ejectment on the title; in fact, sir, these suits
are a profession, and a very lucrative one, too."

Lord Lackington spoke warmly, and ere he had finished had lashed himself
up into a passion. Meanwhile Duun sat patiently, like one who awaited
the storm to pass by ere he advanced upon his road.

"I conclude, from your manner, that you do not agree with me?" said the
Viscount.

"Your Lordship opines truly. I take a very different view of this
transaction. I have had all the documents of Conway's claim before
me. Far more competent judges have seen and pronounced upon them. They
constitute a most formidable mass of evidence, and, save in a very few
and not very important details, present an unbroken chain of testimony."

"So, then, there is a battery preparing to open fire upon us?" said the
Viscount, with a laugh of ill-affected indifference.

"There is a mine whose explosion depends entirely upon your Lordship's
discretion. If I say, my Lord, that I never perused a stronger case,
I will also say that I never heard of one so easy of management The
individual in whose favor these proofs exist has not the slightest
knowledge of them. He has not a suspicion that all his worldly prospects
put together are worth a ten-pound note. It is only within the last
three months that I have succeeded in even discovering where he is."

"And where is he?"

"Serving as a soldier with his regiment in the Crimea. He was in
hospital at Scutari when I first heard, but since that returned to duty
with his regiment."

"What signifies all this? The fellow himself is nothing to us!"

Dunn again waited till this burst of anger had passed, and then
resumed,--

"My Lord, understand me well. You can deal with this case now; six
months hence it may be clear and clean beyond all your power of
interference. If Conway's claim derive, as I have strong ground to
believe it, from the elder branch, the estate and the title are both
his."

"You are a hardy fellow, a very hardy fellow, Mr. Dunn, to make such a
speech as this!"

"I said, 'If,' my Lord--'If' is everything here. The assumption is that
Reginald Conway was summoned by mistake to the House of Peers in Henry
the Seventh's reign,--the true Baron Lackington being then an exile. It
is from him this Conway's descent claims."

"I'm not going to constitute myself a Committee of Privileges, sir, and
listen to all this jargon; nor can I easily conceive that the unshaken
possession of centuries is to be disturbed by the romantic pretensions
of a Crimean soldier. I am also aware how men of your cloth conduct
these affair to their own especial advantage. They assume to be the
arbiters of the destinies of great families, and they expect to be paid
for their labors,--eh, is n't it so?"

"I believe your Lordship has very accurately defined our position,
though, perhaps, we might not quite agree as to the character of the
remuneration."

"How so? What do you mean?"

"I, for instance, my Lord, would furnish no bill of costs to either
party. My relations with your Lordship are such as naturally give me a
very deep interest in what concerns you; of Mr. Conway I know nothing."

"So, then, you are simply moved in this present affair by a principle
of pure benevolence; you are to be a sort of providence to the House of
Lackington,--eh, is that it?"

"Your Lordship's explanation is most gracious," said Dunn, bowing.

"Come, now; let us talk seriously," said the Viscount, in a changed
tone. "What is it you propose?"

"What I would _suggest_, my Lord," said Dunn, with a marked emphasis on
the word, "is this. Submit the documents of this claim--we can obtain
copies of the most important of them--to competent opinion, learn if
they be of the value I attribute to them, see, in fact, if this claim
be prosecuted, whether it is likely to succeed at law, and, if so,
anticipate the issue by a compromise."

"But what compromise?"

"Your Lordship has no heir. Your brother, who stands next in succession,
need not marry. This point at once decided, Conway's claim can take its
course after Mr. Beecher's demise. The estates secured to your Lordship
for life will amply guarantee a loan to the extent you wish."

"But they are mine, sir; they are mine this moment. I can go into the
market to-morrow and raise what amount I please--"

"Take care, my Lord, take care; a single imprudent step might spoil all.
If you were to negotiate a mere ten thousand to-morrow, you might be met
by the announcement that your whole property was about to be litigated,
and your title to it contested. Too late to talk of compromise, then."

"This sounds very like a threat, Mr. Dunn."

"Then have I expressed myself most faultily, my Lord; nor was there
anything less near my thoughts."

"Would you like to see my brother? He shall call on you in Dublin; you
will be there by--when?"

"Wednesday week, my Lord; and it is a visit would give me much
pleasure."

"If I were to tell you my mind frankly, Dunn," said the Viscount, in a
more assured tone, "I 'd say, I would not give a ten-pound note to
buy up this man's whole claim. Annesley, however, has a right to be
consulted; he has an interest only second to my own. See him, talk it
over with him, and write, to me."

"Where shall I address you, my Lord?"

"Florence; I shall leave this at once,--to-night," said Lord
Lackington, impatiently; for, somehow,--we are not going to investigate
wherefore,--he was impatient to be off, and see no more of those he had
been so intimate with.



CHAPTER XII. ANNESLEY BEECHER'S "PAL"

Lord Lackington was not much of a letter-writer; correspondence was not
amongst the habits of his day. The society in which he moved, and of
which, to some extent, he was a type, cared more for conversational than
epistolary graces. They kept their good things for their dinner-parties,
and hoarded their smart remarks on life for occasions where the success
was a personal triumph. Twice or thrice, however, every year, he was
obliged to write. His man of business required to be reminded of this
or that necessity for money, and his brother Annesley should also
be admonished, or reproved, or remonstrated with, in that tone of
superiority and influence so well befitting one who pays an annuity to
him who is the recipient. In fact, around this one circumstance were
grouped all the fraternal feelings and brotherly interest of these
two men. One hundred and twenty-five pounds sterling every half-year
represented the ties of blood that united them; and while it offered to
the donor the proud reflection of a generous self-sacrifice, it gave to
him who received the almost as agreeable occasion for sarcastic allusion
to the other's miserly habits and sordid nature, with a contrast of what
he himself had done were their places in life reversed.

It was strange enough that the one same incident should have begotten
such very opposite emotions; and yet the two phrases, "If you knew all I
have done for him," and the rejoinder, "You 'd not believe the beggarly
pittance he allows me," were correct exponents of their several
feelings.

Not impossible is it that each might have made out a good case against
the other. Indeed, it was a theme whereon, in their several spheres,
they were eloquent; and few admitted to the confidence of either had not
heard of the utter impossibility of doing anything for Annesley,--his
reckless folly, his profligacy, and his waste; and, on the other hand,
"the incredible meanness of Lackington, with at least twelve thousand a
year, and no children to provide for, giving me the salary of an upper
butler." Each said far too much in his own praise not to have felt, at
least, strong misgivings in his conscience. Each knew far too well that
the other had good reason in many things he said; but so long had their
plausibilities been repeated, that each ended by satisfying himself he
was a paragon of fraternal affection, and, stranger still, had obtained
for this opinion a distinct credence in their several sets in society;
so that every peer praised the Viscount, and every hard-up younger son
pitied poor Annesley, and condemned the "infamous conduct of the old
coxcomb his brother."

"That scampish fellow's conduct is killing poor Lackington," would say a
noble lord.

"Annesley can't stand old Lackington's treatment much longer," was the
commentary of half-pay captains of dragoons.

Had you but listened to Lord Lackington, he would have told you of at
least fifty distinct schemes he had contrived for his brother's worldly
success, all marred and spoiled by that confounded recklessness, "that
utter disregard, sir, of the commonest rules of conduct that every man
in life is bound to observe." He might have been, by this time, colonel
of the Fifty-something; he might have been governor of some fortunate
island in the Pacific; consul-general at Sunstroke Town, in Africa,
where, after three years, you retire with a full pension. If he 'd have
gone into the Church,--and there was no reason why he should n't,--there
was the living of St. Cuthbert-in-the-Vale, eight hundred a year, ready
for him. Every Administration for years back had been entreated in his
favor; and from Ordnance clerkships to Commissions in Lunacy he had been
offered places in abundance. Sinecures in India and jobs in Ireland had
been found out in his behalf, and deputy-somethings created in Bermuda
just to provide for him.

The concessions he had made, the proxies he had given, "just for
Annesley's sake," formed a serious charge against the noble Lord's
political consistency; and he quoted them as the most stunning evidences
of fraternal love, and pointed out where he had gone against his
conscience and his party as to a kind of martyrdom that made a man
illustrious forever.

As for Annesley, his indictment had, to the full, as many counts. What
he might have been,--not in a mere worldly sense, not as regards place,
pension, or emolument, but what in integrity, what in fair fame, what
in honorable conduct and unblemished character, if Lackington had only
dealt fairly with him,--"there was really no saying." The noble motives
which might have prompted, the high aspirations that might have
moved him, all the generous impulses of a splendid nature were there,
thwarted, baffled, and destroyed by Lackington's confounded stupidity.
What the Viscount ought to have done, what precise species of culture
he should have devoted to these budding virtues, how he ought to have
trained and trellised these tender shoots of aspiring goodness, he never
exactly detailed. It was only clear that, whatever the road, he had
never taken it; and it was really heart-breaking to hear what the world
had lost in public and private virtues, all for Lackington's indolence
and folly.

"He never gave me a chance, sir,--not one chance," would he say. "Why,
he knows Palmerston just as well as I know you; he can talk to Lord
Derby as freely as I am speaking at this minute; and, would you believe
it? he wouldn't say, 'There's Annesley--my brother Annesley--wants
that commissionership or that secretary's place. Annesley 's a devilish
clever fellow,--up to a thing or two,--ask Grog Davis if he ain't. Just
try to get between him and the ropes, that's all; see if he does n't
sleep with one eye open. 'Do you tell me there's one of them would
refuse him? Grog said to his face, at Epsom Downs, the morning Crocus
was scratched, 'My Lord,' says he, 'take all you can get upon Annesley;
make your book on him; he's the best horse in your lot, and it's Grog
Davis says it.'"

Very true was it that Grog Davis said so. Nay, to enjoy the pleasure
of hearing him so discourse was about the greatest gratification of
Annesley Beecher's present life. He was poor and discredited. The Turf
Club would not have him; he durst not show at Tattersall's. Few would
dine, none discount him; and yet that one man's estimate of his gifts
sustained him through all. "If Grog be right--and he ought to be, seeing
that a more dodgy, crafty fellow never lived--I shall come all round
again. He that never backed the wrong horse could n't be far astray
about men. He thinks I've running in me yet; _he_ sees that I 'll come
out one of these days in top condition, and show my number from the
stand-house." To have had the greatest opinion in Equity favorable to
your cause in Chancery, to have known that Thesiger or Kelly said
your case was safe, to learn that Faraday had pronounced your analysis
correct, or White, of Cowes, had approved of the lines of your new
yacht,--would any of them be very reassuring sensations; and yet were
they as nothing to the unbounded confidence imparted to Beecher's mind
by the encouraging opinion of his friend Grog Davis. It is only justice
to say that Beecher's estimate of Davis was a feeling totally free
of all the base alloy of any self-interest. With all Grog's great
abilities, with talents of the very highest order, he was the reverse
of a successful man. Trainer, auctioneer, sporting character, pugilist,
publican, and hell-keeper, he had been always unlucky. He had his share
of good things,--more than his share. He had been in at some of
the "very best-robberies" ever done at Newmarket. The horses he had
"nobbled," the jockeys "squared," the owners "hocussed," were legion.
All the matches he had "made safe," all the fights he had sold, would
have filled five columns of "Bell's Life." In whatever called itself
"sport" he had dabbled and cheated for years; and yet, there he was,
with all his successes and all his experiences, something more than
fifteen thousand pounds worse than ruined.

Worthy reader, have you stood by while some enthusiastic admirer of
Turner's later works has, in all the fervor of his zeal, encomiumized
one of those strange, incomprehensible creations, where cloud and sea,
atmosphere, shadow and smoke, seem madly commingled with tall masts
piercing the lurid vapor, and storm-clouds drifting across ruined
towers? If at first you gladly welcomed any guidance through the
wondrous labyrinth, and you accepted gratefully the aid of one who could
reconcile seeming incongruities, and explain apparent difficulties, what
was your disappointment, at last, to discover that from some defect of
organization, some absent power of judgment, you could not follow the
elucidation; that you saw no power in this, no poetry in that; that no
light gleamed into _your_ soul out of all that darkness, nor any hope
into _your_ heart, from the mad confusion of that chaos? Pretty much
the same mystification had it been to you to have listened to Annes-ley
Beecher's account of his friend Grog Davis. It was evident that _he_
saw the reason for everything,--he could account for all; but, alas! the
explanatory gift was denied him. The very utmost you could attain to was
a glimmering perception that there were several young men of rank and
station who had only half trusted the distinguished Davis, and in their
sparing confidence had rescued themselves from his knavery; that very
artful combinations occasionally require confederates, and confederates
are not always loyal; that Grog occasionally did things with too high a
hand,--in plain words, reserved for himself more than his share of the
booty; and, in fact, that, with the best intentions and the most decided
determination to put others "into the hole," he fell in himself, and so
completely, too, that he had never been able to show his head out of it
ever since.

If, therefore, as we have said, Annesley Beecher's explanation of these
tangled skeins was none of the clearest, there was nothing daunting to
himself in that difficulty. On the contrary, he deemed his intimacy with
Grog as one of his greatest privileges. Grog had told him things that
he would not tell to another man breathing; he had seen, in Grog's own
hand, what would, if not hang him, give him twenty years at Norfolk
Island; he knew that Grog had done things no man in England but himself
had ever dreamed of; in fact, as Othello's perils had won the fair
Desdemona's love, Grog Davis's rascalities had captivated Beecher's
admiration; and, as the recruit might gaze upon the thickly studded
crosses on the breast of some glorious soldier, so did he venerate the
proofs of the thousand-and-one knaveries of one who for thirty-odd years
had been a "leg" and a swindler.

Let us present Captain Davis--for by that title was he popularly
known--to our reader. He was a short, red-faced--very red-faced--man,
with a profusion of orange-red hair, while he wore beard and whiskers
in that form so common in our Crimean experiences. He was long-armed and
bandy, the legs being singularly short and muscular. He affected dress,
and was remarkable for more ostentation of velvet than consisted with
ordinary taste, and a far greater display of rings, charms, and watch
trinkets than is common even to gentlemen of the "Jewish persuasion."
The expression of the man's face was eminently determination, and his
greenish-gray eyes and thin-lipped, compressed mouth plainly declared,
"Bet with me or not,--if you give me the shadow of a shade of
impertinence I 'll fasten a quarrel upon you of which all your rank and
station won't protect you from the consequences. I can hit a sixpence at
twenty paces, and I 'll make you feel that fact in every word you say to
me. In my brevet rank of the turf you can't disown me, and if you try,
mine the fault if you succeed." He had been out three or four times in
very sanguinary affairs, so that the question as to "meeting" him was a
settled point. He was one of those men to whom the epithet "dangerous"
completely applies; he was dangerous alike to the young fellow entering
life, unsuspectful of its wiles and ignorant of its rascalities;
dangerous in the easy facility with which he would make foolish wagers,
and lend even large sums on the very slightest acquaintance. He seemed
so impressed with his theory that everybody ought to have all the
enjoyment he liked, there was such a careless good-nature about him,
such an uncalculating generosity, an air of such general kindliness,
that very young men felt at once at ease in his company; and if there
were sundry things in his manner that indicated coarseness or bad
breeding, if his address was vulgar and his style "snobbish," there were
sufficient traits of originality about him to form a set-off for these
defects, and "Old Grog" was pronounced an "out-and-out good fellow," and
always ready "to help one at a pinch."

Such was he to the very young men just passing the threshold of life; to
the older hands--fellows versed in all its acts and ways--he showed
no false colors; such, then, he was, the character which no disguise
conceals,--"the leg;" one whose solvency may be counted on more safely
than his honesty, and whose dealings, however based on roguery, are
still guided by that amount of honor which is requisite for transactions
amongst thieves. There was an impression, too,--we have no warranty for
saying how far it was well founded,--that Grog was behind the scenes in
transactions where many high and titled characters figured; that he was
confederate in affairs of more than doubtful integrity; and that, if
he liked, he could make revelations such as all the dark days at
Tattersall's never equalled. "They 'll never push _me_ to the wall,"
he would say, "take my word for it; they 'll not make Grog Davis turn
Queen's evidence," was the boastful exclamation of his after-dinner
hours: and he was right. He could have told of strange doings with
arsenic in the stable, and, stranger still, with hocussed negus in the
back parlor; he had seen the certain favorite for the Oaks carted out
stiff and cold on the morning that was to have witnessed her triumph;
and he had opened the door for the ruined heir as he left his last
thousand on the green baize of the hell table. He was so accustomed to
all the vicissitudes of fortune--that is, he was so habituated to aid
the goddess in the work of destiny--that nothing surprised him; and
his red, carbuncled face and jaundiced eye never betrayed the slightest
evidence of anything like emotion or astonishment

How could Beecher have felt any other than veneration for one so gifted?
He approached him as might some youthful artist the threshold of Michael
Angelo; he felt, when with him, that he was in the presence of one whose
maxims were silver and whose precepts were gold, and that to the man who
could carry away those experiences the secrets of life were no longer
mysteries.

All the delight an old campaigner might have felt had the Great Duke
vouchsafed to tell him of his achievements in the Peninsula--how he had
planned the masterly defences of Torres Vedras, or conceived the bold
advance upon Spain--would have been but a weak representation of the
eager enjoyment Beecher experienced when Grog narrated some of his
personal recollections: how he had squared Sir Toby at Manchester;
the way he had won the York Handicap with a dead horse; and the still
prouder day when, by altering the flags at Bolton, he gained twenty-two
thousand pounds on the Great National Steeplechase. Nor was it without
a certain vaingloriousness that Grog would speak of these, as, cigar
in mouth and his hands deep in his breeches pockets, he grunted out, in
broken sentences, the great triumphs of his life.

We began this chapter by saying that Lord Lackington was not an
impassioned letter-writer; and here we are discoursing about Mr. Davis
and his habits, as if these topics could possibly have any relation
to the noble Viscount's ways; and yet they are connected, for it was
precisely to read one of his Lordship's letters to his friend that
Beecher was now Grog's guest, seated opposite to him at the fire, in a
very humble room of a very humble cottage on the strand of Irish-town.
Grog had sought this retirement after the last settling at Newmarket,
and had been, in popular phrase, "missing" since that event.

"Well, it's a long one, at all events," said Mr. Davis, as he glanced
through his double eyeglass at the letter Beecher handed him,--"so long
that I 'll be sworn it had no enclosure. When a man sends the flimsy, he
spares you the flourish!"

"Right there, Grog. It's all preach and no pay; but read it" And he
lighted his cigar, and puffed away.

"'Lake of Como, Oct 15

"What 's the old cove about up at Como so late in the season?"

"Read it, and you 'll know all," said the other, sententiously.

"'Dear Annesley,--I have been plotting a letter to you these half-dozen
weeks; but what with engagements, the heat, and that insurmountable
desire to defer whatever can by possibility be put off, all my good
intentions have turned out tolerably like some of your own,--pleasant
memories, and nothing more. Georgina, too, said--'

"Who's Georgina?"

"My sister-in-law."

"What's she like,--you never spoke of her?"

"Oh, nothing particular. She was a Ludworth; they 're a proud set, but
have n't a brass farthing among them."

"Why did he marry her?"

"Who knows? He liked her, I believe," said he, after a pause, as though,
failing a good and valid reason, he gave the next best that offered.

"'Georgina, too, said she 'd write, but the chances are her own
commissions would have been the burden of her letter. She has never
forgotten that bargain of Mechlin lace you once procured her, and always
speculates on some future exercise of your skill.'"

Annesley burst into a hearty laugh, and said,--

"It was amongst the trumpery they gave me at Antwerp for a bill of three
hundred and fifty pounds; I got a Rubens,--a real Rubens, of course,--an
ebony cabinet, and twenty yards of coffee-colored 'point de Bruxelles,'
horrid trash; but no matter, I never paid the bill, and Georgina thought
the lace a dead bargain at forty louis."

"So that it squared you both?" said Grog.

"Just so, Master Davis. Read on."

"'You must see the utter impossibility of my making any increase to your
present allowance--'"

"Hang me if I do, then!"

"'--present allowance. The pressure of so many bad years, the charges of
aiding the people to emigrate, and the cost of this confounded war, have
borne very heavily upon us all, and condemned us to economies that we
never dreamed of. For myself, I have withdrawn my subscription from
several charities, and will neither give a cup at the Broome Regatta,
nor my accustomed ten pounds towards the race ball. I wish I could
impress you with the necessity of similar sacrifices: these are times
when every man must take his share of the national burdens, and reduce
his habits of indulgence in conformity with national exigency.'"

"It 's all very fine to talk of cutting your coat, but when you have n't
got any cloth at all, Master Davis--"

"Well, I suppose you must take a little of your neighbor's--if it don't
suit you to go naked. This here noble Lord writes 'like a book;' but
when he says, 'I 'm not a-goin' to stump it,' there 's no more to be
said. You don't want to see the horse take his gallops that you know
is to be scratched on the day of the race,--that's a mere piece of idle
curiosity, ain't it?"

"Quite true, Grog."

"Well, it's clear he won't He says he won't, and that's enough.--'We
have come abroad for no other reason than economy, and are only looking
for a place inexpensive enough for our reduced means.' What's his
income?"

"Better than twelve thousand a year."

"Has he debts?"

"Well, I suppose he may; everybody has."

"Ay," said Grog, dryly, and read on.--"'The Continent, however, is
not the cheap place it once was,--rent, servants, markets, all are
dearer,--and I 'm quite satisfied you find Ireland much less expensive
than any other part of Europe,'--which means, 'Stay there,'--eh?"

"No, I don't take it that way," said Beecher, reddening.

"But I do, and I 'll maintain it," reiterated Grog. "He's a knowing one,
that same noble Viscount; he's not the flat you always thought he was.
He can square his own book, he can.--As to any prospect of places, I
tell you, frankly, there is none. These competitive humbugs they call
examinations do certainly stop a number of importunate people, but the
vigilance of Parliament exercises a most overbearing tyranny on the
ministers; and then the press! Now, we might tide over the House,
Annesley, but the press would surely ruin all. If you were gazetted
to-day Consul to the least-known South American republic,--commissioner
for the sale of estates in the planet Saturn,--those fellows would have
a leader on you to-morrow, showing what you did fifteen years ago at
Ascot,--all your outlawries, all your actions in bankruptcy. They 'd
begin saying, 'Is this the notorious Hon. Annesley Beecher? or are we
mistaken in supposing that the gentleman here referred to is the same
lately mentioned in our columns as the friend and associate of the still
more famous Grog Davis?'"

"He's cool, he is, the noble Lord," said Davis, laying down the letter,
while Beecher laughed till his eyes ran over with tears. "Now, I 'd
trouble his Lordship to tell _me_," continued Grog, "which had the worst
of that same acquaintance, and which was more profitable to the other.
If the famous Grog were to split upon the notorious Annes-ley, who 'd
come last out of the bag?"

"You need n't take it so seriously as all that, Grog," said Beecher, in
a placable tone.

"Why, when I'm told that one of the hardest things to be laid to _your_
charge is the knowing _me_, it's high time to be serious, I think; not
but I might just throw a shell into the enemy's own camp. The noble Lord
ain't so safe as he fancies. I was head-waiter at Smykes's,--the old
Cherry-tree, at Richmond--the night Mat Fortescue was ruined. I could
tell the names of the partners even yet, though it's a matter of I won't
say how many years ago; and when poor Fortescue blew his brains out, I
know the man who drove his phaeton into town and said, 'Fortescue never
had a hand light enough for these chestnuts. I always knew what I could
do with them if they were my own.'"

"Lackington never said that. I 'll take my oath of it he never did!"
cried Beecher, passionately.

"Take your oath of it!" said Davis, with an insulting sneer. "Do you
mind the day old Justice Blanchard--it was at the York assizes--said,
'Have a care, Mr. Beecher, what you are about to swear; if you persist
in affirming that document, the consequences may be more serious than
you apprehend?' And do you remember you did n't swear?"

"I 'll tell you what, Master Grog," said Beecher, over whose face a
sudden paleness now spread, "you may speak of _me_ just as you like. You
and I have been companions and pals for many a day; but Lackington is
the head of my family, he has his seat in the Peers, he can hold up
his head with the best in England, and I 'll not sit here to listen to
anything against him."

"You won't, won't you?" said Grog, placing a hand on either knee, and
fixing his fiery gray eyes on the other's face. "Well, then, I 'll tell
you that you _shall!_ Sit down, sir,--sit down, I say, and don't
budge from that chair till I tell you! Do you see that hand? and that
arm,--grasp it, squeeze it,--does n't feel very like the sinews of a
fellow that feared hard labor. I was the best ten stone seven man in
England the year I fought Black Joe, and I 'm as tough this minute, so
that Norfolk Island needn't frighten me; but the Hon. Annesley Beecher
would n't like it, I 'll promise him. He 'd have precious pains in the
shoulder-blades, and very sore feelings about the small of the back,
after the first day's stone-breaking. Now, don't provoke me, that's all.
When the world has gone so bad with a man as it has with _me_ the last
year or two, it's not safe to provoke him,--it is not."

"I never meant to anger you, old fellow," began Annesley.

"Don't do it, then,--don't, I say," repeated the other, doggedly; and he
resumed the letter, saying: "When you 're a-writing the answer to this
here letter, just ask Grog Davis to give you a paragraph. Just say,
'Grog, old fellow, I 'm writing to my noble brother; mayhap you have a
message of some kind or other for him,' and you 'll see whether he has
or not."

"You 're a rum one, Master Davis," said Beecher, with a laugh that
revealed very little of a heart at ease.

"I'm one that won't stand a fellow that doesn't run straight with
me,--that's what I am. And now for the noble Viscount." And he ran
his eyes over the letter without reading aloud. "All this here is only
saying what sums he has paid for you, what terrible embarrassment your
debts have caused him. Lord love him! it's no new thing to hear of in
this life that paying money is no pleasure. And then it finishes, as
all the stories usually do, by his swearing he won't do it any more. 'I
think,' he says, 'you might come round by a fortunate hit in marriage;
but somehow you blundered in every case that I pointed out to you--'"

"That's too bad!" cried Beecher, angrily. "The only thing he ever 'put
me on' was an iron-master's widow at Barnstable, and I found that the
whole concern was under a contract to furnish rails for a Peruvian line
at two pounds ten a ton under the market price of iron."

"It was _I_ discovered that!" broke in Grog, proudly.

"So it was, old fellow; and you got me off the match without paying
forfeit."

"Well, this here looks better," continued Grog, reading.

"Young and handsome, one of two daughters of an old Irish provision
merchant come abroad for the first time in their life, and consequently
new to everything. The name's O'Reilly, of Mary's Abbey, so that you
can have no difficulty in accurately learning all about him in Dublin.
Knowing that these things are snapped up immediately in the cities, I
have induced O'R. to take a villa on the lake here for the present,
so that if your inquiries turn out satisfactorily, you can come out at
once, and we 'll find the birds where I have landed them.'"

"That's business-like,--that's well and sensibly put," said Davis, in a
voice of no counterfeited admiration.

He read on: "'O'R. talks of forty thousand to each, but, with the
prospect of connecting himself with people of station, might possibly
come down more handsomely in one case, particularly when brought to see
that the other girl's prospects will be proportionately bettered by this
alliance; at all events, no time is to be lost in the matter, and you
can draw on me, at two months, for fifty pounds, which will carry you
out here, and where, if you should not find me, you will have letters
of presentation to the O'R.'s. It is not a case requiring either time
or money,--though it may call for more energy and determination than you
are in the habit of exercising. At the proper moment I shall be ready to
contribute all in my power.'

"What does that mean?" said Davis.

"I can't even guess; but no matter, the thing sounds well. You can
surely learn all about this O'Reilly?"

"That's easy enough."

"I say, I say, old fellow," cried Beecher, as he flung his cigar away
and walked up and down the room briskly, "this would put us all on
our legs again. Wouldn't I 'go a heavy pot' on Rolfs stable! I 'd take
Coulton's three-year-old for the Canterbury to-morrow, I would! and give
them twelve to twenty in hundreds on the double event. We'd serve them
out, Master Grog--we'd give them such a shower-bath, old boy! They say
I'm a flat, but what will they say when A. B.'s number hangs out at the
Stand-house?"

"There's not much to do on the turf just now," said Grog, dryly. "They
've spoiled the turf," said he, as he lighted his cigar,--"clean
spoiled it. Once upon a time the gents was gents, and the legs legs, but
nowadays every one 'legs' it, as he can; so I 'd like to see who's to
make a livin' out of it!"

"There's truth in that!" chimed in Beecher.

"So that," resumed Grog, "if you go in for this girl, don't you be
making a book; there's plenty better things to be had now than the ring.
There's companies, and banks, and speculations on every hand. You buy in
at, say thirty, and sell out at eighty, ninety, or a hundred. I 've been
a meditating over a new one I 'll tell you about another time,--let us
first think about this here marriage,--it ain't impossible."

"Impossible! I should think not, Master Grog. But you will please to
remember that Lackington has no child. I must succeed to the whole
thing,--title and all."

"Good news for the Jews, would n't it be?" cried Davis. "Why, your
outlying paper would n't leave much of a margin to live on. You owe
upwards of a hundred thousand,--that you do."

"I could buy the whole concern to-morrow for five-and twenty thousand
pounds. They can't touch the entail, old fellow!"

"My word on't, they 'd have it out of you, one way or other; but never
mind, there's time enough to think of these things,--just stir yourself
about this marriage."

"I 'll start on Monday. I have one or two trifling matters to look after
here, and then I 'm free."

"What's this in the turn-down of Lackington's letter marked '_Strictly_
confidential'?

     "'I meant to have despatched this yesterday, but fortunately
     deferred doing so--fortunately, I say--as Davenport Dunn has
     just arrived  here, with a very important communication, in
     which your interest is only inferior to my own. The
     explanation would be too long for a letter, and is not
     necessary besides, as D. will be in Dublin a day or two
     after this reaches you. See him at once; his address is
     Merrion Square North, and he will be fully prepared for your
     visit. Be on your guard. In truth, D., who is my own
     solicitor and man of business in Ireland, is somewhat of a
     crafty nature, and may have other interests in his head
     paramount to those of, yours,

     "'Lackington.'"

"Can you guess what this means, Grog? Has it any reference to the
marriage scheme?"

"No; this is another match altogether," said Grog, sententiously;
"and this here Dunn--I know about him, though I never seen him--is the
swellest cove going. _You_ ain't fit to deal with _him_--you ain't!"
added he, contemptuously. "If you go and talk to that fellow alone, I
know how 't will be."

"Come, come, I'm no flat"

Grog's look--one of intense derision--stopped him, and after stammering
and blushing deeply, he was silent.

"You think, because you have a turn of speed among cripples, that you
're fast," said Grog, with one of his least amiable grins, "but I tell
you that except among things of your own breeding, you'd never save
a distance. Lord love ye! it never makes a fellow sharp to be 'done;'
that's one of the greatest mistakes people ever make. It makes him
suspicious,--it keeps him on the look-out, as the sailors say; but
what's the use of being on the look-out if you haven't got good eyes?
It's the go-ahead makes a man nowadays, and the cautious chaps have none
of that. No, no; don't you go rashly and trust yourself alone with Dunn.
You 'll have to consider well over this,--you 'll have to turn it over
carefully in your mind. I 'd not wonder," said he, after a pause, "but
you 'll have to take _me_ with you!"



CHAPTER XIII. A MESSAGE FROM JACK

"He's come at last, Bella," said Kellett, as, tired and weary, he
entered the little cottage one night after dark. "I waited till I saw
him come out of the station at West-land Row, and drive off to his
house."

"Did he see you, papa?--did he speak to you?" asked she, eagerly.

"See _me_--speak to _me!_ It's little he was thinking of me, darling!
with Lord Glengariff shaking one of his hands, and Sir Samuel Downie
squeezing the other, and a dozen more crying out, 'Welcome home, Mr.
Bunn! it is happy we are to see you looking so well; we were afraid you
were forgetting poor Ireland and not coming back to us!' And by that
time the carmen took up the chorus, and began cheering and hurrahing,
'Long life and more power to Davenport Dunn!' I give you my word, you 'd
have thought it was Daniel O'Connell, or at least a new Lord-Lieutenant,
if you saw the uproar and excitement there was about him."

"And he--how did he take it?" asked she.

"Just as cool as if he had a born right to it all. 'Thank you very
much,--most kind of you,' he muttered, with a little smile and a wave of
his hand, as much as to say, 'There now, that'll do. Don't you see that
I'm travelling _incog._, and don't want any more homage?'"

"Oh, no, papa,--not that,--it was rather like humility--"

"Humility!" said he, bursting into a bitter laugh,--"you know the man
well! Humility! there are not ten noblemen in Ireland this minute has
the pride and impudence of that man. If you saw the way he walked down
the steps to his carriage, giving a little nod here, and a little
smile there,--maybe offering two fingers to some one of rank in the
crowd--you'd say, 'There's a Prince coming home to his own country,--see
how, in all their joy, he won't let them be too familiar with him!'"

"Are you quite just--quite fair in all this, dearest papa?"

"Well, I suppose I'm not," said he, testily. "It's more likely the
fault lies in myself,--a poor, broken-down country gentleman, looking
at everything on the dark side, thinking of the time when his own family
were something in the land, and Mr. Davenport Dunn very lucky if he got
leave to sit down in the servants'-hall. Nothing more likely than that!"
added he, bitterly, as he walked up and down the little room in moody
displeasure.

"No, no, papa, you mistake me," said she, looking affectionately at
him. "What I meant was this, that to a man so burdened with weighty
cares--one whose brain carries so many great schemes and enterprises--a
sense of humility, proud enough in its way, might naturally mingle with
all the pleasures of the moment, whispering as it were to his heart,
'Be not carried away by this flattery, be not carried away by your own
esteem; it is less you than the work you are destined for that men are
honoring. While they seem to cheer the pilot, it is rather the glorious
ocean to which he is guiding them that they address their salutations.'
Might not some such consciousness as this have moved him at such a
time?"

"Indeed, I don't know, and I don't much care," said Kellett, sulkily. "I
suppose people don't feel, nowadays, the way they used when I was young.
There's new inventions in everything."

"Human nature is the same in all ages!" said she, faintly.

"Faith, and so much the worse for it, Bella. There's more bad than good
in life,--more cruelty and avarice and falsehood than there's kindness,
benevolence, and honesty. For one good-natured act I 've met with,
have n't I met twenty, thirty, no, but fifty, specimens of roguery and
double-dealing. If you want to praise the world, don't call Paul Kellett
into court, that's all!"

"So far from agreeing with you," cried she, springing up and drawing
her arm within his, "you are exactly the very testimony I'd adduce. From
your own lips have I heard more stories of generosity--more instances
of self-devotion, trustfulness, and true kindness--than I have ever
listened to in life."

"Ay, amongst the poor, Bella,--amongst the poor!" said Kellett, half
ashamed of his recantation.

"Be assured, then, that these traits are not peculiar to any class. The
virtues of the poor, like their sufferings, are more in evidence than in
any other condition,--their lives are laid bare by poverty; but I feel
assured people are better than we think them,--better than they know
themselves."

"I 'm waiting to hear you tell me that I 'm richer too," said Kellett,
with a half-melancholy laugh,--"that I have an elegant credit in a bank
somewhere, if I only knew where to draw upon it!"

"There is this wealth in the heart of man, if he but knew how to profit
by it: it is to teach us this lesson that great men have arisen from
time to time. The poets, the warriors, the explorers, the great in
science, set us all the same task, to see the world fair as it really
is, to recognize the good around us, to subdue the erroneous thoughts
that, like poisonous weeds, stifle the wholesome vegetation of our
hearts, and to feel that the cause of humanity is our cause, its
triumphs our triumphs, its losses our losses!"

"It may be all as you say, Bella darling, but it's not the kind of world
ever _I_ saw. I never knew men do anything but cheat each other and tell
lies; and the hardest of it all," added he, with a bitter sigh, "that,
maybe, it is your own flesh and blood treats you worst!"

This reflection announced the approach of gloomy thoughts. This was
about the extent of any allusion he would ever make to his son, and
Bella was careful not to confirm him in the feeling by discussing or
opposing it. She understood his nature well. She saw that some fortunate
incident or other, even time, might dissipate what had never been more
than a mere prejudice, while, if reasoned with, he was certain to argue
himself into the conviction that of all the rubs he had met in life his
son Jack's conduct was the hardest and the worst.

The long and painful silence that now ensued was at length broken by
a loud knocking at the door of the cottage, a sound so unusual as to
startle them both.

"That's at _our_ door, Bella," said he. "I wonder who it can be? Beecher
couldn't come out this time of the night."

"There it is again," said Bella, taking a light. "I 'll go and see who's
there."

"No, let me go," cried Kellett, taking the candle from her hand, and
leaving the room with the firm step of a man about to confront a danger.

"Captain Kellett lives here, does n't he?" said a tall young fellow, in
the dress of a soldier in the Rifles.

Kellett's heart sank heavily within him as he muttered a faint "Yes."

"I'm the bearer of a letter for him," said the soldier, "from his son."

"From Jack!" burst out Kellett, unable to restrain himself. "How is he?
Is he well?"

"He's all right now; he was invalided after that explosion in the
trenches, but he's all right again. We all suffered more or less on that
night;" and his eyes turned half inadvertently towards one side, where
Kellett now saw that an empty coat-sleeve was hanging.

"It was there you left your arm, then, poor fellow," said Kellett,
taking him kindly by the hand. "Come in and sit down; I'm Captain
Kellett. A fellow-soldier of Jack's, Bella," said Kellett, as he
introduced him to his daughter; and the young man bowed with all the
ease of perfect good-breeding.

"You left my brother well, I hope?" said Bella, whose womanly tact saw
at once that she was addressing her equal.

"So well that he must be back to his duty ere this. This letter is from
him; but as he had not many minutes to write, he made me promise to come
and tell you myself all about him. Not that I needed his telling me, for
I owe my life to your son, Captain Kellett; he carried me in on his back
under the sweeping fire of a Russian battery; two rifle bullets pierced
his chako as he was doing it; he must have been riddled with shot if the
Russians had not stopped their fire."

"Stopped their fire!"

"That they did, and cheered him heartily. How could they help it! he was
the only man on that rude glacis, torn and gullied with shot and shell."

[Illustration: 166]

"Oh, the noble fellow!" burst out the girl, as her eyes ran over.

"Is n't he a noble fellow?" said the soldier. "We don't want for brave
fellows in that army; but show me one will do what he did. It was a shot
carried off this," said he, touching the empty sleeve of his jacket;
"and I said something--I must have been wandering in my mind--about a
ring my mother had given me, and it was on the finger of that poor
hand. Well, what does Jack Kellett do, while the surgeon was dressing
my wound, but set off to the place where I was shot down, and, under all
that hailstorm of Minié-balls, brought in the limb. That's the ring,--he
rescued it at the risk of his life. There's more than courage in that;
there's a goodness and kindness of heart worth more than all the bravery
that ever stormed a battery."

"And yet he left me,--deserted his poor father!" cried old Kellett,
sobbing.

"If he did so, it was to make a name for you that the first man in
England might be proud of."

"To go off and list as a common soldier!" said Kellett; and then,
suddenly shocked at his own rudeness, and shamed by the deep blush on
Sybella's face, he stammered out, "Not but I've known many a man with
good blood in his veins,--many a born gentleman,--serving in the ranks."

"Well, I hope so," said the other, laughing with a hearty good-nature.
"It's not exactly so common a thing with us as with our worthy allies
the French; but every now and then you'll find a firelock in the hands
that once held a double-barrelled Manton, and maybe knocked over the
pheasants in his own father's preserves."

"Indeed, I have heard of such things," said Kellett, with a sigh; but
he was evidently lending his assent on small security, because he cared
little for the venture.

"How poor Jack loves you!" cried Bella, who, deep in her brother's
letter, had paid no attention to what was passing; "he calls you
Charley,--nothing but Charley."

"My name is Charles Conway," said the young man, smiling pleasantly.

"'Charley,'" read she, aloud, "'my banker when I have n't a shilling, my
nurse in hospital, my friend always,--he 'll hand you this, and tell
you all about me. How the dear old dad will love to hear his stories of
campaigning life, so like his own Peninsular tales! He'll see that the
long peace has not tamed the native pluck of the race, but that the
fellows are just as daring, just as steady, just as invincible as ever
they were; and he'll say, too, that to have won the friendship of such a
comrade I must have good stuff in me also.'"

"Oh, if he hadn't gone away and left his old father!" broke in Kellett,
lamentingly; "sure it was n't the time to leave me."

"Wasn't it, though?" broke in the soldier; "I differ with you there. It
was the very moment that every fellow with a dash of spirit about him
should have offered his services. We can't all have commissions,--we
can't all of us draw handsome allowances from our friends; but we can
surely take our turn in the trenches, and man a battery; and it's not a
bad lesson to teach the common fellow, that for pluck, energy, and even
holding out, the gentleman is at least his equal."

"I think it's the first of the name ever served in the ranks," said the
old man, who, with a perverse obstinacy, would never wander from this
one idea.

"How joyously he writes!" continued Bella, as she bent over the letter:
"'I see by the papers, dearest Bella, that we are all disgusted and
dispirited out here,--that we have nothing but grievances about green
coffee and raw pork, and the rest of it; don't believe a word of it.
We do curse the Commissariat now and then. It smacks like epicurism to
abuse the rations; but ask Charley if these things are ever thought of
after we rise from dinner and take a peep at those grim old earthworks,
that somehow seem growing every day, or if we grumble about fresh
vegetables as we are told off for a covering party. There's plenty of
fighting; and if any man has n't enough in the regular way, he can steal
out of a clear night and have a pop at the Russians from a rifle-pit.
I 'm twice as quick a shot as I was when I left home, and I confess the
sport has double the excitement of my rambles after grouse over Mahers
Mountain. It puts us on our mettle, too, to see our old enemies the
French taking the work with us; not but they have given us the lion's
share of it, and left our small army to do the same duties as their
large one. One of the regiments in our brigade, rather than flinch from
their share, returned themselves twelve hundred strong, while they had
close upon three hundred sick,--ay, and did the work too. Ask dad if
his Peninsulars beat that? Plenty of hardships, plenty of roughing,
and plenty of hard knocks there are, but it's the jolliest life ever a
fellow led, for all that. Every day has its own story of some dashing
bit of bravery, that sets us all wild with excitement, while we wonder
to ourselves what do you all think of us in England. Here comes an order
to summon all to close their letters, and so I shut up, with my fondest
affection to the dear old dad and yourself.

"'Ever yours,

"'Jack Kellett.

"'As I don't suppose you'll see it in the "Gazette," I may as well say
that I 'm to be made a corporal on my return to duty. It's a long way
yet to major-general, but at least I 'm on the road, Bella.'"

"A corporal! a corporal!" exclaimed Kellett; "may I never, if I know
whether it's not a dream. Paul Kellett's eldest son--Kellett of
Kellett's Court--a corporal!"

"My father's prejudices all attach to the habits of his own day," said
Bella, in a low voice, to the soldier,--"to a time totally unlike the
present in everything."

"Not in everything, Miss Kellett," said the youth, with a quiet smile.
"Jack has just told you that all the old ardor, all the old spirit,
is amongst the troops. They are the sons and grandsons of the gallant
fellows that beat the French out of Spain."

"And are _you_ going back?" asked Kellett, half moodily, and scarcely
knowing what he said.

"They won't have me," said the soldier, blushing as he looked at his
empty sleeve; "they want fellows who can handle a Minié rifle."

"Oh, to be sure--I ought to have known--I was forgetting," stammered he
out, confusedly; "but you have your pension, anyhow."

"I've a kind old mother, which is better," said the youth, blushing
deeper again. "She only gave me a short leave to run over and see Jack
Kellett's family; for she knows Jack, by name at least, as if he were
her own."

To Bella's questions he replied that his mother had a small cottage near
Bettws, at the foot of Snowdon; it was one of the most picturesque spots
of all Wales, and in one of those sunny nooks where the climate almost
counterfeits the South of Europe.

"And now you'll go back, and live tranquilly there," said the girl, half
dreamily, for her thoughts were wandering away Heaven knows where.

The youth saw the preoccupation, and arose to take his leave. "I shall
be writing to Jack to-morrow, Captain Kellett," said he. "I may say I
have seen you well and hearty, and I may tell the poor fellow--I 'm
sure you 'll let me tell him--that you have heartily forgiven him?" Old
Kellett shook his head mournfully; and the other went on: "It's a hard
thing of a dark night in the trenches, or while you lie on the wet
ground in front of them, thinking of home and far away, to have any
one thought but love and affection in your heart It does n't do to be
mourning over faults and follies, and grieving over things one is sorry
for. One likes to think, too, that they who are at home, happy at their
firesides, are thinking kindly of us. A man's heart is never so stout
before the enemy as when he knows how dear he is to some one far away."

As the youth spoke these words half falteringly, for he was naturally
bashful and timid, Bella turned her eyes fully upon his, with an
interest she had not felt before, and he reddened as he returned her
gaze.

"I 'm sure you forgive me, sir," said he, addressing Kellett. "It was a
great liberty I took to speak to you in this fashion; but I was Jack's
comrade,--he told me every secret he had in the world, and I know how
the poor fellow would march up to a Russian battery to-morrow with an
easier heart than he'd hear one hard word from you."

"Ask Bella there if I ever said a word, ever as much as mentioned his
name," said Kellett, with all the self-satisfaction of egotism.

Bella's eyes quickly turned towards the soldier, with an expression
so full of significance that he only gave a very faint sigh, and
muttered,--

"Well, I can do no more; when I next hear from Jack, sir, you shall know
it." And with this he moved towards the door.

Bella hastily whispered a few words in her father's ear, to which, as he
seemed to demur, she repeated still more eagerly.

"How could we, since it's Sunday, and there will be Beecher coming out?"
muttered he.

"But this is a gentleman, papa; his soldier jacket is surely no
disgrace--"

"I couldn't, I couldn't," muttered he, doggedly.

Again she whispered, and at last he said,--

"Maybe you 'd take your bit of dinner with us tomorrow, Conway,--quite
alone, you know."

The young fellow drew himself up, and there was, for an instant, a
look of haughty, almost insolent, meaning in his face. There was that,
however, in Bella's which as speedily overcame whatever irritation had
crossed his mind, and he politely said,--

"If you will admit me in this dress,--I have no other with me."

"To be sure,--of course," broke in Kellett. "When my son is wearing the
same, what could I say against it?"

The youth smiled good-naturedly at this not very gracious speech; mayhap
the hand he was then holding in his own compensated for its rudeness,
and his "Good-bye!" was uttered in all frankness and cordiality.



CHAPTER XIV. A DINNER AT PAUL KELLETT'S

To all you gentlemen who live at home at ease there are few things less
troublesome than the arrangement of what is called a dinner-party.
Some difficulty may possibly exist as to the guests. Lady Mary may be
indisposed. It might not be quite right to ask Sir Harry to meet the
Headleys. A stray embarrassment or two will arise to require a little
thought or a little management The material details, however, give no
care. There is a stereotyped mode of feeding one's friends, out of which
it is not necessary, were it even possible, to issue. Your mock-turtle
may have a little more or less the flavor of Madeira; your salmon be
somewhat thicker in the shoulder; your sirloin be a shade more or less
underdone; your side dishes a little more or less uneatable than your
neighbor's; but, after all, from the caviare to the cheese, the
whole thing follows an easy routine, and the dinner of No. 12 is the
fac-simile of the dinner at No. 13; and the same silky voice that
whispers "Sherry, sir?" has its echo along the whole street The same
toned-down uniformity pervades the intellectual elements of the feast;
all is quiet, jogtrot, and habitual; a gentle atmosphere of murmuring
dulness is diffused around, very favorable to digestion, and rather
disposing to sleep.

How different are all these things in the case of the poor man,
especially when he happens to be a reduced gentleman, whose memories of
the past are struggling and warring with exigencies of the present and
the very commonest necessities are matters of grave difficulty.

Kellett was very anxious to impress his son's friend with a sense of his
social standing and importance, and he told Bella "not to mind spending
the whole week's allowance, just to show the soldier what Jack's family
was." A leg of mutton and a little of Kinnahan's port constituted, in
his mind, a very high order of entertainment; and these were at once
voted. Bella hoped that after the first outburst of this ostentatious
fit he would fall back in perfect indifference about the whole matter;
but far from it,--his waking thought in the morning was the dinner; and
when she remarked to him at breakfast on the threatening aspect of the
clouds, his reply was, "No matter, dear, if we have plenty of capers."
Even the unhappy possibility of Beecher's "dropping in" was subordinate
to his wish to cut a figure on the occasion; and he pottered about from
the dining-room to the kitchen, peeped into saucepans, and scrutinized
covered dishes with a most persistent activity. Nor was Bella herself
quite averse to all this. She saw in the distance--remotely it might
be--the glimmering of a renewed interest about poor Jack. "The pleasure
this little incident imparts," thought she, "will spread its influence
wider. He 'll talk of him too; he 'll be led on to let him mingle with
our daily themes. Jack will be one of us once more after this;" and so
she encouraged him to make of the occasion a little festival.

What skill did she not practise, what devices of taste not display,
to cover over the hard features of their stern poverty! The few little
articles of plate which remained after the wreck of their fortune were
placed on the sideboard, conspicuous amongst which was a cup "presented
by his brother officers to Captain Paul Kellett, on his retirement
from the regiment, with which he had served thirty-eight years,"--a
testimonial only exhibited on the very most solemn occasions. His sword
and sash--the same he wore at Waterloo--were arrayed over the fireplace,
and his Talavera chako--grievously damaged by a French sabre--hung above
them. "If he begins about 'that expedition,'"--it was thus he always
designated the war in the Crimea,--"Bella, I 'll just give him a touch
of the real thing, as we had it in the Peninsula! Faith, it wasn't
digging holes in the ground we were then;" and he laughed to himself at
the absurdity of the conceit.

The few flowers which the garden owned at this late season, humble and
common as they were, figured on the chimney-piece, and not a resource
of ingenuity was neglected to make that little dinner-room look pleasant
and cheery. Fully a dozen times had Kellett gone in and out of the room,
never weary of admiring it, and as constantly muttering to himself some
praise of Bella, to whose taste it was all owing. "I 'd put the cup in
the middle of the table, Bella. The wallflowers would do well enough
at the sideboard. Well, maybe you 're right, darling; it is less
pretentious, to be sure. And be careful, dear, that old Betty has
a clean apron. May I never, but she's wearing the same one since
Candlemas! And don't leave her any corks to draw; she's the devil for
breaking them into the bottle. I 'll sit here, where I can have the
screw at my hand. There 's a great convenience in a small room, after
all. By the good day, here 's Beecher!" exclaimed he, as that worthy
individual approached the door.

"What's all this for, Kellett, old boy? Are you expecting the Viceroy,
or celebrating a family festival, eh? What does it mean?"

"'T is a mutton chop I was going to give a friend of Jack's,--a young
fellow that brought me a letter from him yesterday."

"Oh! your son Jack. By the way, what's his regiment,--Light Dragoons, is
n't it?"

"No; the Rifles," said Kellett, with a short cough.

"He's pretty high up for his lieutenancy by this, ain't he?" said
Beecher, rattling on. "He Joined before Alma, didn't he?"

"Yes; he was at the battle," said Kellett, dryly; for though he had once
or twice told his honorable friend that Jack was in the service, he had
not mentioned that he was in the ranks. Not that Annesley Beecher
would have, in the least, minded the information. The fact could not by
possibility have touched himself; it never could have compelled _him_
to mount guard, do duty in the trenches, eat Commissariat biscuit, or
submit to any of the hardships soldiery inflicts; and he 'd have heard
of Jack's fate with all that sublime philosophy which teaches us to bear
tranquilly the calamities of others.

"Why don't you stir yourself to get him a step? There's nothing to
be had without asking! ay, worse than asking,--begging, worrying,
importuning. Get some fellow in one of the offices to tell you when
there's a vacancy, and then up and at them. If they say, 'We are only
waiting for an opportunity, Captain Kellett,' you reply, 'Now's your
time then, Groves of the Forty-sixth is gone "toes up;" Simpson,
of the Bays, has cut his lucky this morning.' That's the way to go to
work."

"You are wonderful!" exclaimed Kellett, who really did all but worship
the worldly wisdom of his friend.

"I 'd ask Lackington, but he 's no use to any one. Just look at my own
case." And now he launched forth into the theme he really loved and
never found wearisome. His capacity for anything--everything, his exact
fitness for fifty opposite duties, his readiness to be a sinecurist, and
his actual necessity for a salary, were subjects he could be eloquent
on; devoting occasional passing remarks to Lackington's intense
stupidity, who never exerted himself for him, and actually "thought him
a flat." "I know you won't believe--but he does, I assure you--he thinks
me a flat!"

Before Kellett could fully rally from the astounding force of such an
unjustifiable opinion, his guest, Conway, knocked at the door.

"I say, Kellett, there comes an apology from your friend."

"How so?" asked Kellett, eagerly.

"I just saw a soldier come up to the door, and the chances are it 's an
officer's servant with a note of excuse."

The door opened as he spoke, and Conway entered the room. Kellett met
him with an honest cordiality, and then, turning to Beecher, said,--

"My son's friend and comrade,--Mr. Annesley Beecher;" and the two men
bowed to each other, and exchanged glances that scarcely indicated much
pleasure at the acquaintance.

"Why, he 's in the ranks, Kellett," whispered Beecher, as he drew him
into the window.

"So is my son," said Kellett, with a gulp that half choked him.

"The deuce he is; you never told me that. And is this our dinner
company?"

"I was just going to explain--Oh, here's Bella!" and Miss Kellett
entered, giving such a cordial greeting to the soldier that made Beecher
actually astounded.

"What's his name, Kellett?" said Beecher, half languidly.

"A good name, for the matter of that; he's called Conway."

"Conway--Conway?" repeated Beecher, aloud; "we have fortieth cousins,
Conways. There was a fellow called Conway in the Twelfth Lancers that
went a tremendous pace; they nicknamed him the 'Smasher,' I don't know
why. Do you?" said he, addressing the soldier.

"I 've heard it was from an awkward habit he had of putting his heel on
snobs."

"Oh! you know him, perhaps?" said Beecher, affectedly.

"Why, as I was the man myself, I ought, according to the old adage, to
say I knew but little of him."

"You Conway of the Twelfth! the same that owned Brushwood and Lady
Killer, that won the Riddlesworth?"

"You're calling up old memories to me," said the youth, smiling, "which,
after all, I 'd just as soon forget."

"And you were an officer in the Lancers!" exclaimed Kellett, eagerly.

"Yes; I should have had my troop by this if I hadn't owned those
fortunate three-year-olds Mr. Beecher has just reminded me of. Like
many others, whom success on the turf has misled, I went on madly, quite
convinced I had fortune with me."

"Ah!" said Beecher, moralizing, "there's no doing a good stroke of work
without the legs. Cranley tried it, Hawchcome tried it, Ludborough tried
it, but it won't do. As Grog Davis says, 'you must not ignore existing
interests.'"

"There's another name I have n't heard for many a year. What a scoundrel
that fellow was! I 've good ground for believing that this Davis it was
poisoned Sir Aubrey, the best horse I ever owned. Three men of his stamp
would make racing a sport unfit for gentlemen."

"Miss Kellett, will you allow me?" said Beecher, offering his arm,
and right well pleased that the announcement of dinner cut short the
conversation.

"A nice fellow that friend of your brother's," muttered he, as he led
her along; "but what a stupid thing to go and serve in the ranks! It's
about the last step I 'd ever have thought of taking."

"I'm certain of it," said Bella, with an assent so ready as to sound
like flattery.

As the dinner proceeded, old Kellett's astonishment continued to
increase at the deference paid by Beecher to every remark that fell from
Conway. The man who had twice won "the Bexley," and all but won "the
Elms;" he who owned Sir Aubrey, and actually took the odds against all
"Holt's stable," was no common celebrity. In vain was it Conway tried to
lead the conversation to his friend Jack,--what they had seen, and where
they had been together,--Beecher would bring them back to the Turf and
the "Racing Calendar." There were so many dark things he wanted to know,
so much of secret history he hoped to be enlightened in; and whenever,
as was often the case, Conway did not and could not give him the desired
information, Beecher slyly intimated by a look towards Kellett that he
was a deep fellow; while he muttered to himself, "Grog Davis would have
it out of him, notwithstanding all his cunning."

Bella alone wished to hear about the war. It was not alone that her
interest was excited for her brother, but in the great events of
that great struggle her enthusiastic spirit found ample material for
admiration. Conway related many heroic achievements, not alone of
British soldiers, but of French and even Russians. Gallantry, as
he said, was of no nation in particular,--there were brave fellows
everywhere; and he told, with all the warmth of honest admiration, how
daringly the enemy dashed into the lines at night and confronted certain
death, just for the sake of causing an interruption to the siege, and
delaying, even for a brief space, the advance of the works. Told, as
these stories were, with all the freshness which actual observation
confers, and in a spirit of unexaggerated simplicity, still old Kellett
heard them with the peevish jealousy of one who felt that they were
destined to eclipse in their interest the old scenes of Spain and
Portugal. That any soldiers lived nowadays like the old Light Division,
that there were such fellows as the fighting Fifth, or Crawfurd's
Brigade, no man should persuade him; and when he triumphantly asked if
they had n't as good a general as Sir Arthur Welles-ley, he fell back,
laughing contemptuously at the idea of such being deemed war at all, or
the expedition, as he would term it, being styled a campaign.

"Remember, Captain Kellett, we had a fair share of your old Peninsular
friends amongst us,--gallant veterans, who had seen everything from the
Douro to Bayonne."

"Well, and did n't they laugh at all this? did n't they tell you fairly
it was not fighting?"

"I 'm not so sure they did," said Conway, laughing good-naturedly.
"Gordon told an officer in my hearing, that the charge up the heights
at the Alma reminded him strongly of Harding's ascent of the hills at
Albuera."

"No, no, don't say that; I can't stand it!" cried Kellett, peevishly;
"sure if it was only that one thinks they were Frenchmen--Frenchmen,
with old Soult at their head--at Albuera--"

"There's nothing braver than a Russian, sir, depend on 't," said the
youth, with a slight warmth in his tone.

"Brave if you like; but, you see, he isn't a soldier by nature, like the
Frenchman; and yet we beat the French, thrashed him from the sea to the
Pyrenees, and over the Pyrenees into France."

"What's the odds? You'd not do it again; or, if you did, not get Nap to
abdicate. I 'd like to have two thousand to fifty on the double event,"
said Beecher, chuckling over an imaginary betting-book.

"And why not do it again?" broke in Bella. "Is it after listening
to what we have heard this evening that we have cause for any
faint-heartedness about the spirit of our soldiery? Were Cressy or
Agincourt won by braver fellows than now stand entrenched around
Sebastopol?"

"I don't like it; as Grog says, 'never make a heavy book on a waiting
race!'"

"I conclude, then," said Conway, "you are one of those who augur ill of
our success in the present war?"

"I 'd not stake an even fifty, on either side," said Beecher, who had
shrewd suspicions that it was what he 'd have called a "cross," and that
Todleben and Lord Raglan could make "things comfortable" at any moment.
"I see Miss Bella's of my mind," added he, as he perceived a very
peculiar smile just parting her lips.

"I suspect not, Mr. Beecher," said she,'slyly.

"Why did you laugh, then?"

"Shall I tell you? It was just this, then, passing in my mind. I was
wondering within myself whether the habit of reducing all men's motives
to the standard of morality observable in the 'ring' more often lead to
mistakes, or the contrary."

"I sincerely trust that it rarely comes right," broke in Conway. "I was
close upon four years on the turf, as they call it; and if I had n't
been ruined in time, I 'd have ended by believing that an honest man was
as great a myth as anything we read of amongst the heathen gods."

"That all depends upon what you call honest," said Beecher.

"To be sure it does; you 're right there," chimed in Kellett; and
Beecher, thus seconded, went on,--

"Now, I call a fellow honest when he won't put his pal into a hole; when
he 'll tell him whenever he has got a good thing, and let him have his
share; when he'll warn him against a dark lot, and not let him 'in' to
oblige any one,--that's honesty."

"Well, perhaps it is," said Conway, laughing. "The Russians said it was
mercy t' other day, when they went about shooting the wounded. There's
no accounting for the way men are pleased to see things."

"I 'd like to have _your_ definition of honesty," said Beecher, slightly
piqued by the last remark.

"How can you expect me to give you one? Have I not just told you I was
for more than three years on the turf, had a racing stable, and dealt
with trainers and jocks?" He paused for a second or two, and then, in
a stronger voice, went on: "I cannot believe that the society of common
soldiers is a very high standard by which to measure either manners or
motives; and yet I pledge my word to it, that my comrades, in comparison
with my old companions of the turf, were unexceptionable gentlemen. I
mean that, in all that regards truthfulness, fair dealing, and honorable
intercourse, it would be insult to compare them."

"Ah, you see," said Beecher, "you got it 'all hot,' as they say. You
're not an unprejudiced juryman. They gave you a bucketing,--I heard all
about it. If Corporal Trim had n't been doctored, you 'd have won twelve
thousand at Lancaster."

Conway smiled good-humoredly at the explanation thus suggested, but said
nothing.

"Bother it for racing," said Kellett "I never knew any real taste for
horses or riding where there was races. Instead of caring for a fine,
showy beast, a little thick in the shoulder, square in the joints, and
strong in the haunch, they run upon things like greyhounds, all drawn up
behind and low before; it's a downright misery to mount one of them."

"But it's a real pleasure to see him come in first, when your book
tells you seven to one in your favor. Talk of sensations," said he,
enthusiastically; "where is there the equal of that you feel when the
orange and blue you have backed with a heavy pot comes pelting round the
corner, followed by two,--then three,--all punishing, your own fellow
holding on beautifully, with one eye a little thrown backward to see
what's coming, and that quiet, calm look about the mouth that says,
'I have it.' Every note of the wild cheer that greets the winner is
applause to your own heart; that deafening yell is your own song of
triumph."

"Listen to him!--that 's his hobby," cried Kellett, whose eyes glistened
with excitement at the description, and who really felt an honest
admiration for the describer. "Ah, Beecher, my boy!--you 're at home
there."

"If they 'd only give me a chance, Paul,--one chance!"

Whether it was that the expression was new and strange to him, or that
the energy of the speaker astonished him, but Conway certainly turned
his eyes towards him in some surprise; a sentiment which Beecher at once
interpreting as interest, went on,--

"_You_," said he,--"_you_ had many a chance; _I_ never had one. You
might have let them all in, you might have landed them all--so they tell
me, at least--if you'd have withdrawn Eyetooth. He was own brother to
Aurelius, and sure to win. Well, if you 'd have withdrawn him for the
Bexley, you'd have netted fifty thousand. Grog--I mean a fellow 'well
up' among the legs--told me so."

"Your informant never added what every gentleman in England would have
said of me next day," said Conway. "It would have been neither more
nor less than a swindle. The horse was in perfect health and top
condition,--why should I not have run him?"

"For no other reason that I know, except that you 'd have been richer by
fifty thousand for not doing it."

"Well," said Conway, quietly, "it's not a very pleasant thing to be
crippled in this fashion; but I 'd rather lose the other arm than do
what you speak of. And if I did n't know that many gentlemen get a loose
way of talking of fifty things they 'd never seriously think of doing, I
'd rather feel disposed to be offended at what you have just said."

"Offended! of course not,--I never dreamed of anything offensive. I only
meant to say that they call _me_ a flat; but hang me if I'd have let
them off as cheaply as you did."

"Then they're at perfect liberty to call me a flat also," said Conway,
laughing. "Indeed, I suspect I have given them ample reason to think me
one."

The look of compassionate pity Beecher bestowed on him as he uttered
these words was as honest as anything in his nature could be.

It was in vain Bella tried to get back the conversation to the events
of the campaign, to the scenes wherein poor Jack was an actor. Beecher's
perverse activity held them chained to incidents which, to him, embraced
all that was worth living for. "You must have had some capital things in
your time, though. You had some race-horses, and were well in with Tom
Nolan's set," said he to Conway.

"Shall I tell you the best match I ever had,--at least, the one gave me
most pleasure?"

"Do, by all means," said Beecher, eagerly, "though I guess it already.
It was against Vickersley, even for ten thousand, at York."

"No," said the other, smiling.

"Well, then, it was the Cotswold,--four miles in two heats. You won it
with a sister to Ladybird."

"Nor that, either; though by these reminiscences you show me how
accurately you have followed my humble fortunes."

"There 's not a man has done anything on the turf for fifty years
I can't give you his history; not a horse I won't tell you all his
performances, just as if you were reading it out of the 'Racing
Calendar.' As 'Bell's Life' said t' other day, 'If Annesley Beecher
can't answer that question,'--and it was about Running Rein,--'no man
in England can.' I'm 'The Fellow round the corner' that you always see
alluded to in 'Bell.'"

"Indeed!" exclaimed Conway, with assumed deference.

"That I am,--Kellett knows it. Ask old Paul there,--ask Grog,--ask
any one you like, whether A. B. is up to a thing or two. But we 're
forgetting this match,--the best thing you said you ever had."

"I 'm not so sure you 'll be of my mind when you hear it," said
Conway, smiling. "It was a race we had t' other day in the Crimea,--a
steeplechase, over rather a stiff course, with Spanish ponies; and I
rode against Lord Broodale, Sir Harry Curtis, and Captain Marsden, and
won five pounds and a dozen of champagne. My comrades betted something
like fifty shillings on the match, and there would have been a general
bankruptcy in the company if I had lost. Poor Jack mortgaged his watch
and a pilot coat that he was excessively proud of,--it was the only
bit of mufti in the battalion, I think; but he came off all right, and
treated us all to a supper with his winnings, which, if I don't mistake,
did n't pay more than half the bill."

"Good luck to him, and here's his health," cried Kellett, whose heart,
though proof against all ordinary appeals to affection, could not
withstand this assault of utter recklessness and improvidence. "He's my
own flesh and blood, there's no denying it."

If Conway was astounded at this singular burst of paternal affection, he
did not the less try to profit by it, and at once began to recount the
achievements of his comrade, Jack Kellett. The old man listened half
doggedly at first, but gradually, as the affection of others for his
son was spoken of, he relaxed, and heard, with an emotion he could not
easily repress, how Jack was beloved by the whole regiment,--that to be
his companion in outpost duty, to be stationed with him in a battery,
was a matter of envy. "I won't say," said Conway, "that every corps and
every company has not fellows brave as he; but show me one who 'll carry
a lighter spirit into danger, and as soft a heart amid scenes of
cruelty and bloodshed. So that if you asked who in our battalion is the
pluckiest, who the most tenderhearted, who the most generous, and who
the least given to envy, you'd have the one answer, 'Jack Kellett,'
without a doubt."

"And what will it all do for him?" broke in the old man, resorting once
more to his discontent.

"What will it do for him? What has it done for him? Is it nothing that
in a struggle history will make famous a man's name is a household word;
that in a war where deeds of daring are so rife, his outnumbers those of
any other? It's but a few weeks back a Sardinian staff-officer, coming
to our head-quarters on business, asked if the celebrated 'Bersagliere'
was there,--so they call riflemen,--and desired to see him; and, better
than that, though he didn't know Jack's name, none doubted who was
meant, but Jack Kellett was sent for on the instant. Now, that I call
fame."

"Will it get him his commission?" said Beecher, knowingly, as though by
one shrewd stroke of intelligence he had embraced the entire question.

"A commission can be had for four hundred and fifty pounds, and some man
in Parliament to ask for it. But what Jack has done cannot be bought
by mere money. Do you go out there, Mr. Beecher, just go and see for
yourself--it's well worth the while--what stuff fellows are made of that
face danger every day and night, without one thought above duty, never
expecting, never dreaming that anything they do is to have its personal
benefit, and would far rather have their health drunk by their comrades
than be quoted in the 'Times.' You'll find your old regiment there,--you
were in the Fusilier Guards, weren't you?"

"Yes, I tried soldiering, but I did n't like it," said Beecher; "and it
was better in my day than _now_, they tell me."

A movement of impatience on Conway's part was suddenly interrupted by
Kellett, saying, "He means that the service is n't what it was; and
indeed he's right there. I remember the time there wasn't a man in the
Eighty-fifth could n't carry away three bottles of Bennett's strong
port, and play as good a rubber, afterwards, as Hoyle himself."

"It's the snobbery I was thinking of," said Beecher; "fellows go into
the army now who ought to be counter-jumping."

"I don't know what they ought to be doing," broke in Conway, angrily,
"but I could tell you something of what they are doing; and where you
are to find men to do it better, I 'm not so clear. I said a few
moments back, you ought to go out to the Crimea; but I beg to correct
myself,--it is exactly what you ought not to do."

"Never fear, old fellow; I never dreamed of it. Give you any odds you
like, you 'll never see my arrival quoted at Balaklava."

"A thousand pardons, Miss Kellett," whispered Conway, as he arose, "but
you see how little habit I have of good company; I'm quite ashamed of
my warmth. May I venture to come and pay you a morning visit before I go
back?"

"Oh, by all means; but why not an evening one? You are more certain to
find us."

"Then an evening one, if you'll allow me;" and shaking Kellett's hand
warmly, and with a cold bow to Beecher, he withdrew.

"Wasn't he a flat!" cried Beecher, as the door closed after him. "The
Smasher--that was the name he went by--went through an estate of six
thousand a year, clean and clear, in less than four years, and there he
is now, a private soldier with one arm!"

"Faith, I like him; he's a fine fellow," said Kellett, heartily.

"Ask Grog Davis if he'd call him a fine fellow," broke in Beecher,
sneeringly; "there's not such a spoon from this to Newmarket. Oh, Paul,
my hearty, if I had but one, just one of the dozen chances he has thrown
away! But, as Grog says, 'a crowbar won't make a cracksman;' nor will
a good stable of horses, and safe jocks 'bring a fellow round,' if he
hasn't it here." And he touched his forehead with his forefinger most
significantly.

Meanwhile Charles Conway sauntered slowly back to town, on the whole
somewhat a sadder man than he had left it in the morning. His friend
Jack had spoken much to him of his father and sister, and why or to
what extent he knew not, but somehow they did not respond to his own
self-drawn picture of them. Was it that he expected old Kellett would
have been a racier version of his son,--the same dashing, energetic
spirit,--seeing all for the best in life, and accepting even its
reverses in a half-jocular humor? Had he hoped to find in him Jack's
careless, easy temper,--a nature so brimful of content as to make all
around sharers in its own blessings; or had he fancied a "fine old Irish
gentleman" of that thoroughbred school he had so often heard of?

Nor was he less disappointed with Bella; he thought she had been
handsomer, or, at least, quite a different kind of beauty. Jack was
blue-eyed and Saxon-looking, and he fancied that she must be a "blonde,"
with the same frank, cheery expression of her brother; and he found her
dark-haired and dark-skinned, almost Spanish in her look,--the cast of
her features grave almost to sadness. She spoke, too, but little, and
never once reminded him, by a tone, a gesture, or a word, of his old
comrade.

Ah! how these self-created portraits do puzzle and disconcert us through
life! How they will obtrude themselves into the foreground, making
the real and the actual but mere shadows in the distance! What seeming
contradiction, too, do they create as often as we come into contact with
the true, and find it all so widely the reverse of what we dreamed of!
How often has the weary emigrant sighed over his own created promised
land in the midst of the silent forest or the desolate prairie! How has
the poor health-seeker sunk heavy-hearted amid scenes which, had he not
misconstrued them to himself, he had deemed a paradise!

These "phrenographs" are very dangerous paintings, and the more so that
we sketch them in unconsciously.

"Jack is the best of them; that's clear," said Conway, as he walked
along; and yet, with all his affection for him, the thought did not
bring the pleasure it ought to have done.



CHAPTER XV. A HOME SCENE

When Paul Kellett described Mr. Davenport Dunn's almost triumphal entry
into Dublin, he doubtless fancied in his mind the splendors that awaited
him at home; the troops of servants in smart liveries, the homage of
his household, and the costly entertainment which most certainly should
celebrate his arrival. Public rumor had given to the hospitalities
of that house a wide extended fame. The fashionable fishmonger of the
capital, his Excellency's "purveyor" of game, the celebrated Italian
warehouse, all proclaimed him their best customer. "Can't let you have
that turbot, sir, till I hear from Mr. Dunn." "Only two pheasants to be
had, sir, and ordered for Mr. Dunn." "The white truffles only taken
by one gentleman in town. None but Mr. Dunn would pay the price." The
culinary traditions of his establishment threw the Castle into the
background, and Kellett revelled in the notion of the great festivity
that now welcomed his return. "Lords and earls--the biggest salmon in
the market--the first men of the land--and lobster sauce--ancient names
and good families--with grouse, and 'Sneyd's Twenty-one'--that 's
what you may call life! It is wonderful, wonderful!" Now, when Paul
enunciated the word "wonderful" in this sense, he meant it to imply that
it was shameful, distressing, and very melancholy for the prospects of
humanity generally. And then he amused himself by speculating whether
Dunn liked it all,--whether the unaccustomed elegance of these great
dinners did not distress and pain him rather than give pleasure, and
whether the very consciousness of his own low origin wasn't a poison
that mingled in every cup he tasted.

"It's no use talking," muttered he to himself; "a man must be bred to
it, like everything else. The very servants behind his chair frighten
him; he's, maybe, eating with his knife, or he's putting salt where he
ought to put sugar, or he does n't take the right kind of wine with his
meat. Beecher says he 'd know any fellow just by that, and then it's
'all up' with him. Wonderful, wonderful!"

How would it have affected these speculations had Kellett known that,
while he was indulging them, Dunn had quietly issued by a back door
from his house, and, having engaged a car, set out towards Clontarf?
A drearier drive of a dreary evening none need wish for. Occasional
showers were borne on the gusty wind, swooping past as though hurrying
to some elemental congress far away, while along the shore the waves
beat with that irregular plash that betokens wild weather at sea. The
fitful moonlight rather heightened than diminished the dismal aspect of
the scenery. For miles the bleak strand stretched away, no headland nor
even a hillock marking the coast; the spectral gable of a ruined church
being the only object visible against the leaden sky. Little garlands of
paper, the poor tributes of the very poor, decorated the graves and
the head-stones, and, as they rustled in the night wind, sounded like
ghostly whisperings. The driver piously crossed himself as they passed
the "un-cannie" spot, but Dunn took no heed of it. To wrap his cloak
tighter about him, to shelter more closely beneath his umbrella, were
all that the dreary scene exacted from him; and except when a vivid
flash of lightning made the horse swerve from the road and dash down
into the rough shingle of the strand, he never adverted to the way or
the weather.

"What's this,--where are we going?" cried he, impatiently.

"'T is the flash that frightened the beast, yer honner," said the man;
"and if it was plazin' to you, I 'd rather tarn back again."

"Turn back--where to?"

"To town, yer honner."

"Nothing of the kind; drive on, and quickly too. We have five miles yet
before us, and it will be midnight ere we get over them at this rate."

Sulkily and unwillingly did he obey; and, turning from the shore, they
entered upon a low, sandy road that traversed a wide and dreary tract,
barely elevated a few feet above the sea. By degrees the little patches
of grass and fern disappeared, and nothing stretched on either side but
low sand hummocks, scantily covered with rushes. Sea-shells crackled
beneath the wheels as they went, and after a while the deep booming of
the sea thundering heavily along a sandy shore, apprised them that they
had crossed the narrow neck of land which divided two bays.

"Are you quite certain you I 've taken the right road, my man?" cried
Dunn, as he observed something like hesitation in the other's manner.

"It ought to be somewhere hereabout we turn off," said the man, getting
down to examine more accurately from beneath. "There was a little cross
put up to show the way, but I don't see it."

"But you have been here before. Ton told me you knew the place."

"I was here onst, and, by the same token, I swore I 'd never come again.
I lamed the best mare I ever put a collar on, dragging through this
deep sand. Wirra, wirra! why the blazes would n't he live where other
Christians do! There it is now; I see a light. Ah! bother them, it's out
again."

Pushing forward as well as he might in the direction he had seen the
light, he floundered heavily on, the wheels sinking nearly to the axles,
and the horse stumbling at every step.

"Your horse is worth nothing, my good fellow; he has n't strength to
keep his legs," said Dunn, angrily.

"Good or bad, I 'll give you lave to broil me on a gridiron if ever ye
catch me coming the same road again. Ould Duun won't have much company
if he waits for me to bring them."

"I 'll take good care not to tempt you!" said Dunn, angrily.

And now they plodded on in moody silence till they issued forth upon a
little flat space, bounded on three sides by the sea, in the midst of
which a small two-storied house stood, defended from the sea by a rough
stone breakwater that rose above the lower windows.

"There it is now, bad luck to it!" said the carman, savagely, for his
horse was so completely exhausted that he was obliged to walk at his
head and lift him at every step.

"You may remain here till I want you," said Dunn, getting down and
plodding his way through the heavy sand. Flakes of frothy seadrift swept
past him as he went, and the wild wind carried the spray far inland
in heavy showers, beating against the walls and windows of the lonely
house, and making the slates rattle. A low wall of large stones across
the door showed that all entrance by that means was denied; and Dunn
turned towards the back of the house, where, sheltered by the low wall,
a small door was detectable. He knocked several times at this before
any answer was returned; when, at last, a harsh voice from within called
out,--

"Don't ye hear who it is? confound ye! Open the door at once!" and Dunn
was admitted into a large kitchen, where in a great straw chair beside
the fire was seated the remains of a once powerful man, and who,
although nearly ninety years of age, still preserved a keen eye, a
searching look, and a quick impatience of manner rarely observable at
his age.

"Well, father, how are you?" said Dunn, taking him affectionately by
both hands, and looking kindly in his face.

"Hearty,--stout and hearty," said the old man. "When did you arrive?"

"A couple of hours ago. I did not wait for anything but a biscuit and a
glass of wine, when I set out here to see you. And you are well?"

"Just as you see: an odd pain or so across the back, and a swimming of
the head,--a kind of giddiness now and then, that's all. Put the light
over there till I have a look at you. You 're thinner, Davy,--a deal
thinner, than when you went away."

"I have nothing the matter with me; a little tired or so, that's all,"
said Dunn, hastily. "And how are things doing here, father, since I
left?"

"There's little to speak of," said the old man. "There never is much
doing at this season of the year. You heard, of course, that Gogarty has
lost his suit; they 're moving for a new trial, but they won't get it.
Lanty Moore can't pay up the rest of the purchase for Slanestown, and
I told Hankes to buy it in. Kelly's murderer was taken on Friday last,
near Kilbride, and offers to tell, God knows what, if they won't hang
him; and Sir Gilbert North is to be the new Secretary, if, as the
'Evening Mail' says, Mr. Davenport Dunn concurs in the appointment"--and
here the old man laughed till his eyes ran over. "That's all the news,
Davy, of the last week; and now tell me yours. The papers say you were
dining with kings and queens, and driving about in royal coaches all
over the Continent,--was it true, Davy?"

"You got my letters, of course, father?"

"Yes; and I could n't make out the names, they were all new and strange
to me. I want to have from yourself what like the people are,--are they
as hard-working, are they as 'cute as our own? There's just two things
now in the world,--coal and industry,--sorra more than that And so you
dined with the King of France?"

"With the Emperor, father. I dined twice; he took me over to
Fontainebleau and made me stay the day."

"You could tell him many a thing he'd never hear from another, Davy; you
could explain to him what's doing here, and how he might imitate it
over there,--rooting out the old vermin and getting new stock in the
land,--eh, Davy?"

"He needs no counsels, at least from such as me," said Dunn.

"Faith, he might have worse, far worse. An Encumbered Estate Court would
do all his work for him well, and the dirty word 'Confiscation' need
never be uttered!"

"He knows the road he wants to go," said Dunn, curtly.

"So he may; but that does n't prove it 's the best way."

"Whichever path he takes he'll tread it firmly, father, and that's more
than half the battle. If you only saw what a city he has made Paris--"

"That's just what I don't like. What's the good of beautifying and
gilding or ornamenting what you 're going to riddle with grape and
smash with round shot? It's like dressing a sweep in a field-marshal's
uniform, And we all know where it will be to-morrow or next day."

"That we don't, sir. You 're not aware that these spacious
thoroughfares, these wide squares, these extended terraces, are so
contrived that columns may march and manoeuvre in them, squadrons
charge, and great artillery act through them. The proudest temples of
that splendid city serve as bastions; the great Louvre itself is less a
palace than a fortress."

"Ay, ay, ay," cackled the old man, to whom these revelations opened a
new vista of thought. "But what's the use of it, after all, Davy? He
must trust somebody; and when it comes to that with anybody in life,
where 's his security, tell me that? But let us talk about home. Is it
true the Ministry is going out?"

"They're safer than ever; take my word for it, father, that these
fellows know the trick of it better than all that went before them.
They 'll just do whatever the nation and the 'Times' dictate to them;
a little slower, mayhap, than they are ordered, but they 'll do it They
have no embarrassments of a policy of any kind; and the only pretence of
a principle they possess is to sit on the Treasury benches."

"And they 're right, Davy,--they 're right," said the old man,
energetically.

"I don't doubt but they are, sir; the duty of the pilot is to take
charge of the ship, but not to decide the port she sails for."

"I wish you were one of them, Davy; they'd suit you, and you 'd suit
_them_."

"So we should, sir; and who knows what may turn up? I'm not impatient"

"That's right, Davy; that's the lesson I always taught you;
wait,--wait!"

"When did you see Driscoll, father?" asked Dunn, after a pause.

"He was here last week; he's up to his ears about that claim to the
Beecher estate, Lord--Lord--What's his--"

"Lackington."

"Yes, Lord Lackington. He says if you were once come home, you 'd get
him leave to search the papers in the Record Tower at the Castle, and
that it would be the making of himself if anything came out of it."

"He's always mare's-nesting, sir," said Dunn, carelessly.

"Faith, he has contrived to feather his own nest, anyhow," said the old
man, laughing. "He lent Lord Glengariff five thousand pounds t' other
day at six per cent, and on as good security as the Bank."

"Does he pretend to have discovered anything new with respect to that
claim?"

"He says there's just enough to frighten them, and that _your_ help--the
two of ye together--could work it well."

"He has not, then, found out the claimant?"

"He has his name, and the regiment he's in, but that's all. He was
talking of writing to him."

"If he's wise, he'll let it alone. What chance would a poor soldier
in the ranks have against a great lord, if he had all the right in the
world on his side?"

"So I told him; but he said we could make a fine thing out of it, for
all that; and, somehow, Davy, he's mighty seldom mistaken."

"If he be, sir, it is because he has hitherto only meddled with what
lay within his power. He can scheme and plot and track out a clew in the
little world he has lived in; but let him be careful how he venture upon
that wider ocean of life where his craft would be only a cock-boat."

"He hasn't _your_ stuff in him, Davy," cried the old man, in ecstasy;
and a very slight flush rose to the other's cheek at the words, but
whether of pride, or shame, or pleasure, it were hard to say. "I 've
nothing to offer you, Davy, except a cut of cold pork; could you eat
it?" said the old man.

"I'm not hungry, father; I'm tired somewhat, but not hungry."

"I'm tired, too," said the old man, sighing; "but, to be sure, it's time
for me,--I 'll be eighty-nine if I live till the fourth of next month.
That's a long life, Davy."

"And it has been an active one, sir."

"I 've seen great changes in my time, Davy," continued he, following out
his own thoughts. "I was in the Volunteers when we bullied the English,
and they 've paid us off for it since, that they have! I was one of the
jury when Jackson died in the dock, and if he was alive now, maybe it's
a lord of the Treasury he 'd be. Everything is changed, and everybody
too. Do you remember Kellett, of Kellett's Court, that used to drive on
the Circular Road with six horses?"

Dunn nodded an assent.

"His liveries were light-blue and silver, and Lord Castletown's was the
same; and Kellett said to him one day, 'My Lord,' says he, 'we're always
mistaken for each other; could n't we hit on a way to prevent it?' 'I'm
willing,' says my Lord, 'if I only knew how.' 'Then I 'll tell you,'
says Kellett; 'make your people follow your own example and turn their
coats,--that'll do it,' says he." And the old man laughed till his eyes
swam. "What's become of them Kelletts?" added he, sharply.

"Ruined,--sold out"

"To be sure, I remember all about it; and the young fellow,--Paul was
his name,--where's he?"

"He's not so very young now," said Dunn, smiling; "he has a clerkship in
the Customs,--a poor place it is."

"I'm glad of it," said he, fiercely; "there was an old score between
us,--that's his father and me,--and I knew I would n't die till it was
settled."

"These are not kindly feelings, father," said Dunn, mildly.

"No; but they 're natural ones, and that's as good," said the old man,
with an energy that seemed to defy his age. "Where would I be now, where
would you, if it was only kindness we thought of? There wasn't a man
in all Ireland I wanted to be quite with so much as old Kellett of
Kellett's Court; and you'd not wonder if you knew why; but I won't
tell."

Davenport Dunn's cheek grew crimson and then deadly pale, but he never
uttered a word.

"And what's more," continued the old man, energetically, "I'd pay the
debt off to his children and his children's children with interest, if I
could."

Still was the other silent; and the old man looked angry that he had
not succeeded in stimulating the curiosity he had declared he would not
gratify.

"Fate has done the work already, sir," said Dunn, gravely. "Look where
_we_ are, and where _they!_"

"That 's true,--that's true; we have a receipt in full for it all; but
I 'd like to show it to him. I 'd like to say to him, 'Mr. Kellett, once
upon a time, when my son there was a child--'"

"Father, father, these memories can neither make us wiser nor happier,"
broke in Dunn, in a voice of deep emotion. "Had I taken upon me to carry
through life the burden of resentments, my back had been broken long
ago; and from your own prudent counsels I learned that this could never
lead to success. The men whom destiny has crushed are like bankrupt
debtors, and to pursue them is but to squander your own resources."

The old man sat moodily, muttering indistinctly to himself, and
evidently little moved by the words he had listened to.

"Are you going away already?" cried he, suddenly, as Dunn rose from his
chair.

"Yes, sir; I have a busy day before me to-morrow, and need some sleep to
prepare for it."

"What will you be doing to-morrow, Davy?" asked the old man, while a
bright gleam of pride lighted up his eyes and illuminated his whole
face.

"I have deputations to receive,--half a dozen, at least. The Drainage
Commission, too, will want me, and I must contrive to have half an hour
for the Inland Navigation people; then the Attorney-General will call
about these prosecutions, and I have not made up my mind about them;
and the Castle folk will need some clew to my intentions about the new
Secretary; there are some twenty provincial editors, besides, waiting
for directions, not to speak of private and personal requests, some of
which I must not refuse to hear. As to letters, three days won't
get through them; so that you see, father, I do need a little rest
beforehand."

"God bless you, my boy,--God bless you, Davy," cried the old man,
tenderly, grasping his hand in both his own. "Keep the head clear, and
trust nobody; that's the secret,--trust nobody; the only mistakes I ever
made in life was when I forgot that rule." And affectionately kissing
him, the father dismissed his son, muttering blessings on him as he
went.



CHAPTER XVI. DAVIS VERSUS DUNN.

Davenport Dunn had not exaggerated when he spoke of a busy day for the
morrow. As early as eight o'clock was he at breakfast, and before nine
the long back parlor, with its deep bay-window, was crowded like
the waiting-room of a fashionable physician. Indeed, in the faces of
anxiety, eagerness, and impatience of those assembled there, there was
a resemblance. With a tact which natural shrewdness and long habit could
alone confer, Mr. Clowes, the butler, knew exactly where each arrival
should be introduced; and while railway directors, bank governors, and
great contractors indiscriminately crowded the large dining-room, peers
and right honorables filled the front drawing-room, the back one being
reserved for law officers of the Crown, and such secret emissaries as
came on special mission from the Castle. From the hall, crammed with
frieze-coated countryfolk, to the little conservatory on the stairs,
where a few ladies were grouped, every space was occupied. Either from
previous acquaintance, or guided by the name of the visitor, Mr. Clowes
had little difficulty in assigning him his fitting place, dropping,
as he accompanied him, some few words, as the rank and station of the
individual might warrant his addressing to him. "I 'll let Mr. Dunn
know your Lordship is here this instant; he is now just engaged with
the Chief Baron."--"He 'll see you, Sir Samuel, next."--"Mr. Wilcox,
you have no chance for two hours; the Foyle deputation is just gone
in."--"You need scarcely wait to-day, Mr. Tobin; there are eighteen
before you."--"Colonel Craddock, you are to come on Saturday, and bring
the plans with you."--"Too late, Mr. Dean; his Grace the Archbishop
waited till a quarter to eleven, the appointment is now for to-morrow at
one."--"No use in staying, my honest fellow, your own landlord could n't
see Mr. Dunn to-day." In the midst of such brief phrases as these, while
he scattered hopes and disappointments about him, he suddenly paused to
read a card, stealing a quick glance at the individual who presented it
"'Mr. Annesley Beecher.' By appointment, sir?"

"Well, I suppose I might say yes," muttered the visitor, while he turned
to a short and very overdressed person at his side for counsel in the
difficulty.

"To be sure--by appointment," said the other, confidently, while he
bestowed on the butler a look of unmistakable defiance.

"And this--gentleman--is with you, sir?" asked the butler, pausing ere
he pronounced the designation. "Might I request to have his name?"

"Captain Davis," said the short man, interposing. "Write it under your
own, Beecher."

While Mr. Annesley Beecher was thus occupied,--and, sooth to say, it
was an office he did not discharge with much despatch,--Clowes had ample
time to scan the appearance and style of the strangers.

"If you 'll step this way, sir," said Clowes, addressing Beecher only,
"I'll send in your card at once." And he ushered them as he spoke into
the thronged dinner-room, whose crowded company sat silent and moody,
each man regarding his neighbor with a kind of reproachful expression,
as though the especial cause of the long delay he was undergoing.

"You ought to 'tip' that flunkey, Beecher," said Davis, as soon as they
were alone in a window.

"Haven't the tin, Master Grog!" said the other, laughing; while
he added, in a lower voice, "Do you know, Grog, I don't feel quite
comfortable here. Rather mixed company, ain't it, for a fellow who only
goes out of a Sunday?"

"All safe," muttered Davis. "These all are bank directors or railway
swells. I wish we had the robbing of them!"

"Good deal of humbug about all this, ain't there?" whispered Beecher, as
he threw his eyes over the crowded room.

"Of course there is," replied the other. "While he's keeping us all
kicking our shins here, he's reading the 'Times,' or gossiping with a
friend, or weighing a double letter for the post. It was the dentists
took up the dodge first, and the nobs followed them."

"I 'm not going to stand it much longer, Grog. I tell you I don't feel
comfortable."

"Stuff and nonsense! You don't fancy any of these chaps has a writ in
his pocket, do you? Why, I can tell you every man in the room. That
little fellow, with the punch-colored shorts, is chairman of the Royal
Canal Company. I know _him_, and he knows _me_. He had me 'up' about a
roulette-table on board of one of the boats, and if it had n't been for
a trifling incident that occurred to his wife at Boulogne, where she
went for the bathing, and which I broke to him in confidence--But stay,
he's coming over to speak to me."

"How d'ye do, Captain Davis?" said the stranger, with the air of a man
resolved to brave a difficulty, while he threw into the manner a tone of
haughty patronage.

"Pretty bobbish, Mr. Hailes; and _you_, the same I hope."

"Well, thank you. You never paid me that little visit you promised at
Leixlip."

"I 've been so busy of late; up to my ears, as they say. Going to start
a new company, and thinking of asking your assistance too."

"What's the nature of it?"

"Well, it's a kind of a mutual self-securing sort of thing against
family accidents. You understand,--a species of universal guarantee to
insure domestic peace and felicity,--a thing that will come home to
us all; and I only want a few good names in the direction, to give the
shares a push."

Beecher looked imploringly, to try and restrain him; but he went on,--

"May I take the liberty to put you down on the committee of management?"

Before any answer could come to this speech, Mr. Clowes called out in a
deep voice,--

"Mr. Annesley Beecher and Captain Davis;" and flung wide the door for
them to pass out.

"Why did you say that to him, Grog?" whispered Beecher, as they moved
along.

"Just because I was watching the way he looked at me. He had a hardy,
bold expression on his face that showed he needed a reminder, and so I
gave him one. Always have the first blow when you see a fellow means to
strike you."

Mr. Davenport Dunn rose as the visitors entered the' room, and having
motioned to them to be seated, took his place with his back to the
fire,--a significant intimation that he did not anticipate a lengthy
review. Whether it was that he had not previously settled in his own
mind how to open the object of his visit, or that something in Dunn's
manner and appearance unlike what he anticipated had changed his
intention; but certain is it that Beecher felt confused and embarrassed,
and when reminded by Dunn's saying, "I am at your service, sir," he
turned a most imploring look towards Davis to come to his rescue. The
captain, however, with more tact, paid no attention to the appeal;
and Beecher, with an immense effort, stammered out, "I have taken the
liberty to call on you. I have come here today in consequence of a
letter--that is, my brother, Lord Lackington--You know my brother?"

"I have that honor, sir."

"Well, in writing to me a few days back, he added a hurried postscript,
saying he had just seen you; that you were then starting for Ireland,
where, on your arrival, it would be well I should wait upon you at
once."

"Did his Lordship mention with what object, sir?"

"I can't exactly say that he did. He said something about your being his
man of business, thoroughly acquainted with all his affairs, and so, of
course, I expected--I believed, at least--that you might be able to lead
the way,--to show me the line of country, as one might call it," added
he, with a desperate attempt to regain his ease by recurring to his
favorite phraseology.

"Really, sir, my engagements are so numerous that I have to throw myself
on the kindness of those who favor me with a call to explain the object
of their visit."

"I haven't got Lackington's letter about me; but if I remember aright,
all he said was, 'See Dunn as soon as you can, and he 'll put you up to
a thing or two,' or words to that effect."

"I regret deeply, sir, that the expressions give me no clew to the
matter in hand."

"If this ain't fencing, my name isn't Davis," said Grog, breaking in.
"You know well, without any going about the bush, what he comes about;
and all this skirmishing is only to see if he's as well 'up' as yourself
in his own business. Now then, no more chaff, but go in at once."

"May I ask who is this gentleman?"

"A friend,--a very particular friend of mine," said Beecher,
quickly,--"Captain Davis."

"Captain Davis," repeated Dunn, in a half voice to himself, as if to
assist his memory to some effort,--"Captain Davis."

"Just so," said Grog, defiantly,--"Captain Davis."

"Does his Lordship's letter mention I should have the honor of a call
from Captain Davis, sir?"

"No; but as he's my own intimate friend,--a gentleman who possesses all
my confidence,--I thought, indeed, I felt, the importance of having his
advice upon any questions that might arise in this interview."

"I 'm afraid, sir, you have subjected your friend to a most unprofitable
inconvenience."

"The match postponed till further notice," whispered Grog.

"I beg pardon, sir," said Dunn, not overhearing the remark.

"I was a saying that no race would come off to-day, in consequence of
the inclemency of the weather," said Grog, as he adjusted his shirt
collar.

"Am I to conclude, then," said Beecher, "that you have not any
communication to make to me?"

"No, you ain't," broke in Grog, quickly. "He don't like me, that's all,
and he has n't the manliness to say it."

"On the contrary, sir, I feel all the advantage of your presence on this
occasion, all the benefit of that straightforward manner of putting the
question which saves us so much valuable time."

Grog bowed an acknowledgment of the compliment, but with a grin on his
face that showed in what spirit he accepted it.

"Lord Lackington did not speak to you about my allowance?" asked
Beecher, losing all patience.

"No, sir, not a word."

"He did not allude to a notion--he did not mention a plan--he did not
discuss people called O'Reilly, did he?" asked he, growing more and more
confused and embarrassed.

"Not a syllable with reference to such a name escaped him, sir."

"Don't you see," said Grog, rising, "that you 'll have to look for the
explanation to the second column of the 'Times,' where 'A. B. will hear
something to his advantage if he calls without C.D.'?"

Davenport Dunn paid no attention to this remark, but stood calmly
impassive before them.

"It comes to this, then, that Lackington has been hoaxing me," said
Beecher, rising, with an expression of ill-temper on his face.

"I should rather suggest another possibility," said Dunn, politely;
"that, knowing how far his Lordship has graciously reposed his own
confidence in me, he has generously extended to me the chance of
obtaining the same position of trust on the part of his brother,--an
honor I am most ambitious to attain. If you are disengaged on Sunday
next," added he, in a low voice, "and would favor me with your company
at dinner, alone,--quite alone--"

Beecher bowed an assent in silence, casting a cautious glance towards
Davis, who was scanning the contents of the morning paper.

"Till then," muttered Dunn, while he added aloud, "A good-morning," and
bowed them both to the door.

"Well, you are a soft un, there's no denying it," said Davis, as they
gained the street.

"What d'ye mean?" cried Beecher, angrily.

"Why, don't you see how you spoiled all? I'd have had the whole story
out of him, but you would n't give me time to 'work the oracle.' He only
wanted to show us how cunning he was,--that he was deep and all
that; and when he saw that we were all wonder and amazement about his
shrewdness, then he 'd have gone to business."

"Not a bit of it, Master Grog; that fellow's wide awake, I tell you."

"So much the worse for you, then, that's all."

"Why so?"

"Because you're a going to dine with him on Sunday next, all alone. I
heard it, though you did n't think I was listening, and I saw the look
that passed, too, as much as to say, 'We 'll not have that fellow;' and
that's the reason I say, 'So much the worse for you.'"

"Why, what can he do, with all his craft? He can't make me put my name
to paper; and if he did, much good would it do him."

"_You_ can't make running against the like of him," said Grog,
contemptuously. "He has an eye in his head like a dog-fox. _You_ 've
no chance with him. He could n't double on me,--he 'd not try it; but he
'll play _you_ like a trout in a fish-pond."

"What if I send him an excuse, then,--shall I do that?"

"No. You must go, if it was only to show that you suspect nothing; but
keep your eyes open, watch the ropes, and come over to me when the 'heat
is run.'"

And with this counsel they parted.



CHAPTER XVII. THE "PENSIONNAT GODARDE."

Let us ask our reader to turn for a brief space from these scenes and
these actors, and accompany us to that rich plain which stretches to
the northwest of Brussels, and where, on the slope of the gentle hill,
beneath the royal palace of Lacken, stands a most picturesque old house,
known as the Château of the Three Fountains. The very type of a château
of the Low Countries, from its gabled fronts, all covered with festooned
rhododendron, to its trim gardens, peopled with leaden deities and
ornamented by the three fountains to which it owes its name, nothing
was wanting. From the plump little figure who blew his trumpet on the
weather-vane, to the gaudily gilded pleasure-boat that peeped from
amidst the tall water-lilies of the fish-pond, all proclaimed the
peculiar taste of a people who loved to make nature artificial, and see
the instincts of their own quaint natures reproduced in every copse and
hedgerow around them.

All the little queer contrivances of Dutch ingenuity were there,--mock
shrubs, which blossomed as you touched a spring; jets, that spurted out
as you trod on a certain spot; wooden figures, worked by mechanisms,
lowered the drawbridge to let you pass; nor was the toll-keeper
forgotten, who touched his cap in salutation. Who were they who had
designed all these pleasant conceits, and what fate had fallen on their
descendants, we know not. At the time we speak of, the château was a
select Pensionnat for ten young ladies, presided over by Madame Godarde,
"of whom all particulars might be learned at Cadel's Library, Old
Bond Street, or by personal application to the Rev. Pierre Faucher,
Evangelical Minister, Adam Street, Strand, London." It was, as we have
said, select,--the most select of Pensionnats. The ten young ladies were
chosen after investigations the most scrutinizing; the conditions of the
admission verged on the impossible. The mistress realized in her person
all the rare attributes of an elevated rank and a rigid Protestantism,
while the educational programme was little short of a fellowship course.
Just as being a guardsman is supposed to confer a certain credit over
a man's outset in life, it was meant that being an _élève_ of Madame
Godarde should enter the world with a due and becoming _prestige_; for
while the range of acquirements included something at least from every
branch of human science, the real superiority and strength of the
establishment lay in the moral culture observed there; and as the female
teachers were selected from amongst the models of the sex, the male
instructors were warranted as having triumphed over temptations
not inferior to St. Anthony's. The ritual of the establishment well
responded to all the difficulties of admission. It was almost conventual
in strictness; and even to the uniform dress worn by the pupils there
was much that recalled the nunnery. The quiet uniformity of an unbroken
existence, the changeless fashion of each day's life, impressed even
young and buoyant hearts, and toned down to seriousness spirits that
nature had formed to be light and joyous. One by one, they who had
entered there underwent this change; a little longer might be the
struggle with some, the end was alike to all; nay, not to all! there was
one whose temperament resisted to the last, and who, after three years
of the durance, was just as unbroken in spirit, just as high in heart,
just as gay, as when she first crossed the threshold. Gifted with one
of those elastic natures which rise against every pressure, she accepted
every hardship as the occasion for fresh resource, and met each new
infliction, whether it were a severe task, or even punishment, with
a high-hearted resolve not to be vanquished. There was nothing in her
appearance that indicated this hardihood: she was a fair, slight girl,
whose features were feminine almost to childishness. The gray-blue
eyes, shaded with deep lashes; the beautifully formed mouth, on which
a half-saucy smile so often played; a half-timid expression conveyed
in the ever-changing color of her cheek,--suggested the expression of
a highly impressionable and undecided nature; yet this frail, delicate
girl, whose birdlike voice reminded one of childhood, swayed and ruled
all her companions. She added to these personal graces abilities of a
high order. Skilled in every accomplishment, she danced and sang and
drew and played better than her fellows; she spoke several modern
languages fluently, and even caught up their local dialects with a
quickness quite marvellous. She could warble the Venetian barcarole with
all the soft accents of an Adriatic tongue, or sing the Bauerlied of the
Tyrol with every cadence of the peasant's fancy. With a memory so
retentive that she could generally repeat what she had once read over
attentively, she had powers of mimicry that enabled her to produce at
will everything noticeable that crossed her. A vivid fancy, too, threw
its glittering light over all these faculties, so that even the
commonplace incidents of daily life grouped themselves dramatically in
her mind, and events the least striking were made the origin of
situation and sentiment, brilliant with wit and poetry.

[Illustration: 206]

Great as all these advantages were, they were aided, and not
inconsiderably, by other and adventitious ones. She was reputed to be a
great heiress. How and when and why this credit attached to her, it were
hard to say; assuredly she had never given it any impulse. She spoke,
indeed, constantly of her father--her only living relation--as of one
who never grudged her any indulgence, and she showed her schoolfellows
the handsome presents which from time to time he sent her; these in
their costliness--so unlike the gifts common to her age--may possibly
have assisted the belief in her great wealth. But however founded, the
impression prevailed that she was to be the possessor of millions,
and in the course of destiny, to be what her companions called her in
jest--a Princess.

Nor did the designation seem ill applied. Of all the traits her nature
exhibited, none seemed so conspicuous as that of "birth." The admixture
of timidity and haughtiness, that blended gentleness with an air of
command, a certain instinctive acceptance of whatever deference was
shown her as a matter of right and due, all spoke of "blood;" and
her walk, her voice, her slightest gesture, were in keeping with this
impression. Even they who liked her least, and were most jealous of
her fascination, never called her Princess in any mockery. No, strange
enough, the title was employed with all the significance of respect, and
as such did she receive it.

If it were not that, in her capricious moods, Nature has moulded
stranger counterfeits than this, we might incur some risk of incredulity
from our reader when we say that the Princess was no other than Grog
Davis's daughter!

Davis had been a man of stratagems from his very beginning in life.
All his gains had been acquired by dexterity and trick. Whatever he had
accomplished was won as at a game where some other paid the loss. His
mind, consequently, fashioned itself to the condition in which he lived,
and sharpness and shrewdness and over-reaching seemed to him not alone
the only elements of success, but the only qualities worth honoring. He
had seen honesty and imbecility so often in company that he thought
them convertible terms; and yet this man--"leg," outcast, knave that
he was--rose above all the realities of a life of roguery in one
aspiration,--to educate his child in purity, to screen her from the
contamination of his own set, to bring her up amongst all the refining
influences of care and culture, and make her, as he said to himself,
"the equal of the best lady in the land!" To place her amongst the
well-born and wealthy, to have her where her origin could not be traced,
where no clew would connect her with himself, had cost him a greater
exercise of ingenuity than the deepest scheme he had ever plotted on
the turf. That exchange of references on which Madame Godarde's
exclusiveness so peremptorily insisted was only to be met at heavy
cost. The distinguished baronet who stood sponsor to Grog Davis's
respectability received cash for the least promising of promissory notes
in return, and the lady who waited on Madame Godarde in her brougham "to
make acquaintance with the person who was to have charge of her young
relative," was the distracted mother of a foolish young man who had
given bills to Davis for several thousands, and who by this special
mission obtained possession of the documents. In addition to these
direct, there were many other indirect sacrifices. Grog was obliged for
a season to forego all the habits and profits of his daily life, to
live in a sort of respectable seclusion, his servants in mourning, and
himself in the deepest sable for the loss of a wife who had died
twelve years before. In fact, he had to take out a species of moral
naturalization, the details of which seemed interminable, and served to
convince him that respectability was not the easy, indolent thing he had
hitherto imagined it.

If Davis had been called on to furnish a debtor and creditor account of
the transaction, the sum spent in the accomplishment of this feat would
have astonished his assignee. As he said himself, "Fifteen hundred
would n't see him through it." It is but fair to say that the amount so
represented comprised the very worst of bad debts, but Grog cared little
for that; his theory was that there was n't the difference between a
guinea and a pound in the best bill from Baring's and the worst paper in
Holywell Street. "You can always get either your money or your money's
worth," said he, "and very frequently the last is the better of the
two."

If it was a proud day for the father as he consigned his daughter to
Madame Godarde's care, it was no less a happy one for Lizzy Davis,
as she found herself in the midst of companions of her own age,
and surrounded with all the occupations and appliances of a life of
elegance. Brought up from infancy in a small school in a retired part
of Cornwall, she had only known her father during the two or three off
months of that probationary course of respectability we have alluded
to. With all his affection for his child, and every desire to give it
utterance, Davis was so conscious of his own defects in education,
and the blemishes which his tone of mind and thought would inevitably
exhibit, that he had to preserve a sort of estrangement towards her, and
guard himself against whatever might prejudice him in her esteem. If,
then, by a thousand acts of kindness and liberality he gained on her
affection, there was that in his cold and distant manner that as totally
repelled all confidence. To escape from the dull uniformity of that
dreary home, where a visitor never entered, nor any intercourse with
the world was maintained, to a scene redolent of life, with gay
light-hearted associates, all pursuing the same sunny paths, to engage
her brilliant faculties in a variety of congenial pursuits, wherein
there was only so much of difficulty as inspired zeal, to enter on an
existence wherein each day imparted the sense of new acquirement, was a
happiness that verged on ecstasy. It needed not all the flatteries that
surrounded her to make this seem a paradise; but she had these, too, and
in so many ways. Some loved her light-heartedness, and that gay
spirit that floated like an atmosphere about her; others praised her
gracefulness and her beauty; some preferred to these, those versatile
gifts of mind that gave her the mastery over whatever she desired to
learn; and there were those who dwelt on the great fortune she was to
have, and the great destiny that awaited her.

How often in the sportive levity of happy girlhood had they asked her
what life she should choose for herself,--what station, and what land to
live in! They questioned her in all sincerity, believing she had but to
wish, to have the existence that pleased her. Then what tender caresses
followed,--what flattering entreaties that the dear Princess would not
forget Josephine or Gertrude or Julia, in the days of her greatness, but
would recognize those who had been her loved schoolfellows years before!

"What a touchstone of your tact will it be, Lizzy, when you 're a
duchess," said one, "to meet one of us in a watering-place or on a
steamboat, and to explain, delicately enough, not to hurt us, to his
Grace the Duke that you knew us as girls, and how provoking if you
should call me Jane or Clara!"

"And then the charming condescension of your inquiry if we were married,
though a half-bashful and an awkward-looking man should be standing by
at our interview, waiting to be presented, and afraid to be spoken to.
Or worse than that, the long, terrible pauses in conversation, which
show how afraid you are lest we should tumble into reminiscences."

"Oh, Lizzy darling," cried another, "do be a duchess for a moment, and
show how you would treat us all. It would be charming."

"You seem to be forgetting, mesdames," said she, haughtily, "what an
upstart you are making of me. This wondrous elevation, which is at once
to make me forget my friends and myself, does not present to my eyes the
same dazzling effect. In fact, I can imagine myself a duchess to-morrow
without losing either my self-respect or my memory."

"Daisy dearest, do not be angry with us," cried one, addressing her by
the pet name which they best loved to call her.

"I am rather angry with myself that I should leave no better impression
behind me. Yes," added she, in a tone of sadness, "I am going away."

"Oh, darling Lizzy,--oh, Daisy, don't say so," broke out so many voices
together.

"Too true! dearest friends," said she, throwing her arms around those
nearest to her. "I only learned it this morning. Madame Godarde came to
my room to say papa had written for me, and would come over to fetch me
in about a fortnight I ought doubtless to be so happy at the prospect of
going home; but I have no mother,--I have not either brother or sister;
and here, amidst you, I have every tie that can attach the heart. When
shall I ever live again amidst such loving hearts?--when shall life be
the happy dream I have felt it here?"

"But think of us, Daisy, forlorn and deserted," cried one, sobbing.

"Yes, Lizzy," broke in another, "imagine the day-by-day disappointments
that will break on us as we discover that this pleasure or that spot
owed its charm to you,--that it was your voice made the air melody, your
accents gave the words their feeling! Fancy us as we find out--as
find out we must--that the affection we bore you bound us into one
sisterhood--"

"Oh," burst Lizzy in, "do let me carry away some of my heart to him who
should have it all, and make not my last moments with you too painful to
bear. Remember, too, that it is but a passing separation; we can and we
will write to each other. I 'll never weary of hearing all about you
and this dear spot. There's not a rosebud opening to the morning air
but will bring some fragrance to my heart; and that dear old window! how
often shall I sit at it in fancy, and look over the fair plain before
us. Bethink you, too, that I am only the first launched into that wide
ocean of life where we are all to meet hereafter."

"And be the dear, dear friends we now are," cried another. And so they
hung upon her neck and kissed her, bathing her soft tresses with their
tears, and indulging in all the rapture of that sorrow no ecstasy of joy
can equal.



CHAPTER XVIII. SOME DOINGS OF MR. DRISCOLL.

"There it is, Bella," said Kellett, as he entered the cottage at
nightfall, and threw a sealed letter on the table. "I hadn't the courage
to open it. A fellow came into the office and said, 'Is one Kellett
here? This is a letter from Mr. Davenport Dunn.' _He_ was Mister, and
_I_ was _one_ Kellett. Wasn't I low enough when I couldn't say a word to
it?--wasn't I down-in the world when I had to bear it in silence?"

"Shall I read it for you?" said she, gently.

"Do, darling; but before you begin, give me a glass of
whiskey-and-water. I want courage for it, and something tells me, Bella,
I'll need courage too."

"Come, come, papa, this is not like yourself; this is not the old
Albuera spirit you are so justly proud of."

"Five-and-thirty years' hard struggling with the world never improved
a man's pluck. There was n't a fellow in the Buffs had more life in him
than Paul Kellett. It was in general orders never to sell my traps or
camp furniture when I was reported missing; for, as General Pack said,
'Kellett is sure to turn up to-morrow or the day after.' And look at me
now!" cried he, bitterly; "and as to selling me out, they don't show me
much mercy, Bella, do they?"

She made no reply, but slowly proceeded to break the seal of the letter.

"What a hurry ye're in to read bad news!" cried he, peevishly; "can't
you wait till I finish this?" And he pointed to the glass, which he
sipped slowly, like one wishing to linger over it.

A half-melancholy smile was all her answer, and he went on,--

"I'm as sure of what's in that letter there as if I read it. Now, mark
my words, and I'll just tell you the contents of it: Kellett's Court
is sold, the first sale confirmed, and the Master's report on your poor
mother's charge is unfavorable. There's not a perch of the old estate
left us, and we're neither more nor less than beggars. There it is for
you in plain English."

"Let us learn the worst at once, then," said she, resolutely, as she
opened the letter.

"Who told you that was the worst?" broke he in, angrily. "The worst
isn't over for the felon in the dock when the judge has finished the
sentence; there's the 'drop' to come, after that."

"Father, father!" cried she, pitifully, "be yourself again. Remember
what you said the other night, that if we had poor Jack back again you'd
not be afraid to face life in some new world beyond the seas, and care
little for hardships or humble fortune if we could only be together."

"I was dreaming, I suppose," muttered he, doggedly.

"No; you were speaking out of the fulness of your love and affection;
you were showing me how little the accidents of fortune touch the
happiness of those resolved to walk humbly, and that, once divested
of that repining spirit which was ever recalling the past, we should
confront the life before us more light of heart than we have felt for
many a year."

"I wonder what put it in my head," muttered he, in the same despondent
tone.

"Your own stout heart put it there. You were recalling what young Conway
was telling us about poor Jack's plans and projects; and how, when the
war was over, he 'd get the Sultan to grant him a patch of land close
to the Bosphorus, where he'd build a little kiosk for us all, and we
'd grow our own corn and have our own vines and fig-trees, seeking for
nothing but what our own industry should give us."

"Dreams, dreams!" said he, sighing drearily. "You may read the letter
now." And she began,--

     "Sir,--By direction of Mr. Davenport Dunn, I have to
     acquaint you that the Commissioners, having overruled the
     objections submitted by him, will on Tuesday next proceed to
     the sale of the lands of Kellett's Court, Gorestown, and
     Kilinaganny, free of all charges and encumbrances thereon,
     whether by marriage settlement--"

"I told you,--that's just what I was saying," burst in Kellett; "there's
not sixpence left us!"

She ran hurriedly over to herself the tiresome intricacies that
followed, till she came to the end, where a brief postscript ran,--

     "As your name is amongst those to be reduced in consequence
     of the late Treasury order regarding the Customs, Mr. Dunn
     hopes you will lose no time in providing yourself with
     another employment, to which end he will willingly
     contribute any aid in his power."

A wild, hysterical burst of laughter broke from Kellett as she ceased.

"Isn't there any more good news, Bella? Look over it carefully, darling,
and you 'll surely discover something else."

The terrible expression of his face shocked her, and she could make no
reply.

"I 'll wager a crown, if you search well, you 'll see something about
sending me to jail, or, maybe, transporting me.--Who's that knocking
at the door there?" cried he, angrily, as a very loud noise resounded
through the little cottage.

"'T is a gentleman without wants to speak to the master," said the old
woman, entering.

"I 'm engaged, and can't see anybody," rejoined Kellett, sternly.

"He says it's the same if he could see Miss Bella," reiterated the old
woman.

"He can't, then; she 's engaged too."

The woman still lingered at the door, as if she expected some change of
purpose.

"Don't you hear me?--don't you understand what I said?" cried he,
passionately.

"Tell him that your master cannot see him," said Bella.

"If I don't make too bould,--if it's not too free of me,--maybe you 'd
excuse the liberty I 'm taking," said a man, holding the door slightly
open, and projecting a round bullet head and a very red face into the
room.

"Oh, Mr. Driscoll," cried Bella. "Mrs. Hawkshaw's brother, papa,"
whispered she, quietly, to her father, who, notwithstanding the
announcement, made no sign.

"If Captain Kellett would pardon my intrusion," said Driscoll, entering
with a most submissive air, "he'd soon see that it was at laste with
good intentions I came out all the way here on foot, and a bad night
besides,--a nasty little drizzling rain and mud,--such mud!" And he held
up in evidence a foot about the size of an elephant's.

"Pray sit down, Mr. Driscoll," said Bella, placing a chair for him.
"Papa was engaged with matters of business when you knocked,--some
letters of consequence."

"Yes, miss, to be sure, and did n't want to be disturbed," said
Driscoll, as he sat down, and wiped his heated forehead. "I 'm often the
same way myself; but when I 'm at home, and want nobody to disturb me, I
put on a little brown-paper cap I have, and that's the sign no one's to
talk to me."

Kellett burst into a laugh at the conceit, and Driscoll so artfully
joined in the emotion that when it ceased they were already on terms of
intimacy.

"You see what a strange crayture I am. God help me!" said Driscoll,
sighing. "I have to try as many dodges with myself as others does be
using with the world, for my poor head goes wanderin' away about this,
that, and the other, and I 'm never sure it will think of what I want."

"That's a sad case," said Kellett, compassionately.

"I was like everybody else tell I had the fever," continued Driscoll,
confidentially. "It was the spotted fever, not the scarlet fever, d' ye
mind; and when I came out of it on the twenty-ninth day, I was the same
as a child, simple and innocent You 'd laugh now if I told you what I
did with the first half-crown I got. I bought a bag of marbles!"

And Kellett did laugh heartily; less, perhaps, at the circumstance than
at the manner and look of him who told it.

"Ay, faith, marbles!" muttered Driscoll to himself; "'tis a game I'm
mighty fond of."

"Will you take a little whiskey-and-water? Hot or cold?" asked Kellett,
courteously.

"Just a taste, to take off the deadness of the water," said Driscoll. "I
'm obleeged to be as cautious as if I was walkin' on eggs. Dr. Dodd says
to me, 'Terry,' says he, 'you had never much brains in your best days,
but now you 're only a sheet of thin paper removed from an idiot, and if
you touch spirits it's all up with you.'"

"That was plain speaking, anyhow," said Kellett, smiling.

"Yes," said Driscoll, while he seemed struggling to call up some
reminiscence: and then, having succeeded, said, "Ay, 'There's
five-and-twenty in Swift's this minute,' said he, 'with their heads
shaved, and in blue cotton dressing-gowns, more sensible than yourself.'
But, you see, there was one thing in my favor,--I was always harmless."

The compassionate expression with which Kellett listened to this
declaration guaranteed how completely the speaker had engaged his
sympathy.

"Well, well," continued Driscoll, "maybe I'm just as happy, ay, happier
than ever I was! Every one is kind and good-natured to me now. Nobody
takes offence at what I say or do; they know well in their hearts that I
don't mean any harm."

"That you don't," broke in Bella, whose gratitude for many a passing
word of kindness, as he met her of a morning, willingly seized upon the
opportunity for acknowledgment.

"My daughter has often told me of the kind way you always spoke to her."

"Think of that, now," muttered Terry to himself; "and I saying all the
while to my own heart, ''T is a proud man you ought to be to-day, Terry
Driscoll, to be giving good-morning to Miss Kellett of Kellett's Court,
the best ould blood in your own county.'"

"Your health, Driscoll,--your health," cried Kellett, warmly. "Let your
head be where it will, your heart's in the right place, anyhow."

"Do you say so, now?" asked he, with all the eagerness of one putting a
most anxious question.

"I do, and I 'd swear it," cried Kellett, resolutely. "'Tis too clever
and too 'cute the world's grown; they were better times when there was
more good feeling and less learning."

"Indeed--indeed, it was the remark I made to my sister Mary the night
before last," broke in Driscoll. "'What is there,' says I, 'that
Miss Kellett can't teach them? They know the rule of three and What
's-his-name's Questions as well as I know my prayers. You don't want
them to learn mensuration and the use of the globes?' 'I 'll send them
to a school in France,' says she; 'it's the only way to be genteel.'"

"To a school in France?" cried Bella; "and is that really determined
on?"

"Yes, miss; they 're to go immediately, and ye see that was the reason I
walked out here in the rain to-night I said to myself, 'Terry,' says I,
'they 'll never say a word about this to Miss Kellett till the quarter
is up; be off, now, and break it to her at once.'"

"It was so like your own kind heart," burst out Bella.

"Yes," muttered Driscoll, as if in a revery, "that's the only good o' me
now,--I can think of what will be of use to others."

"Did n't I tell you we were in a vein of good luck, Bella?" said
Kellett, between his teeth; "didn't I say awhile ago there was more
coming?"

"'But,' says I to Mary," continued Driscoll, "'you must take care to
recommend Miss Kellett among your friends--'"

Kellett dashed his glass down with such force on the table as to
frighten Driscoll, whose speech was thus abruptly cut short, and the two
men sat staring fixedly at each other. The expression of poor Terry's
vacant face, in which a struggling effort to deprecate anger was the
solitary emotion readable, so overcame Kellett's passion that, stooping
over, he grasped the other's hand warmly, and said,--

"You 're a kind-hearted creature, and you 'd never hurt a living soul. I
'm not angry with you."

"Thank you, Captain Kellett,--thank you," cried the other, hurriedly,
and wiped his brow, like one vainly endeavoring to follow out a chain
of thought collectedly. "Who is this told me that you had another
daughter?"

"No," said Kellett; "I have a son."

"Ay, to be sure! so it was a son, they said, and a fine strapping young
fellow too. Where is he?"

"He 's with his regiment, the Rifles, in the Crimea."

"Dear me, now, to think of that,--fighting the French, just the way his
father did."

"No," said Kellett, smiling, "it 's the Russians he 's fighting, and the
French are helping him to do it."

"That's better any day," said Driscoll; "two to one is a pleasanter
match. And so he's in the Rifles?" And here he laid his head on his hand
and seemed lost in thought. "Is he a captain?" asked he, after a long
pause.

"No, not yet," said Kellett, while his cheek flushed at the evasion he
was practising.

"Well, maybe he will soon," resumed the other, relapsing once more into
deep thought. "There was a young fellow joined them in Cork just before
they sailed, and I lent him thirty shillings, and he never paid me. I
wonder what became of him? Maybe he's killed."

"Just as likely," said Kellett, carelessly.

"Now, would your son be able to make him out for me?--not for the sake
of the money, for I would n't speak of it, but out of regard for him,
for I took a liking to him; he was a fine, handsome fellow, and bold as
a lion."

"He mightn't be in Jack's battalion, or he might, and Jack not know him.
What was his name?" said Kellett, in some confusion.

"I 'll tell you if you 'll pledge your word you 'll never say a syllable
about the money, for I can't think but he forgot it."

"I 'll never breathe a word about it."

"And will you ask your son all about him,--if he likes the sarvice, or
if he 'd rather be at home, and how it agrees with him?" "And the name?"

"The name?--I wrote it down on a bit of paper just for my own memory's
sake, for I forget everything; the name is Conway,--Charles Conway."

"Why, that's the very--" When he got so far, a warning look from Bella
arrested Kellett's voice, and he ceased speaking, looking eagerly at his
daughter for some explanation. Had he not been so anxious for some
clew to her meaning, he could scarcely have failed to be struck by the
intense keenness of the glance Driscoll turned from the countenance of
the father to that of the daughter. She, however, marked it, and with
such significance that a deathlike sickness crept suddenly over her, and
she sank slowly down into a seat.

"You ware saying, 'That's the very--'" said Driscoll, repeating the
words, and waiting for the conclusion.

"The very name we read in a newspaper," said Bella, who, with a sort
of vague instinct of some necessity for concealment, at once gave this
evasive reply. "He volunteered for somewhere, or was first inside a
battery, or did something or other very courageous."

"It was n't killed he was?" said Driscoll, in his habitual tone.

"No, no," cried Kellett, "he was all safe."

"Isn't it a queer thing? but I'd like to hear of him! There was some
Conway s connections of my mother's, and I can't get it out of my head
but he might be one of them. It's not a common name, like Driscoll."

"Well, Jack will, maybe, be able to tell you about him," said Kellett,
still under the spell of Bella's caution.

"If you would tell me on what points you want to be informed," said
Bella, "I shall be writing to my brother in a day or two. Are there any
distinct questions you wish to be answered?"

The calm but searching glance that accompanied these few words gradually
gave way to an expression of pity as Bella gazed at the hopeless
imbecility of poor Driscoll's face, wherein not a gleam of intelligence
now lingered. It was as if the little struggle of intellect had so
exhausted him that he was incapable of any further effort of reason.
And there he sat, waiting till the returning tide of thought should flow
back upon his stranded intelligence.

"Would you like him to be questioned about the family?" said she,
looking good-naturedly at him.

"Yes, miss,--yes," said he, half dreamily; "that is, I would n't like
my own name, poor crayture as I am, to be mentioned; but if you could
anyways find out if he was one of the Conway s of Abergedley,--they were
my mother's people,--if you could find out that for me, it would be a
great comfort."

"I'll charge myself with the commission," said Bella, writing down the
words "Conway of Abergedley."

"Now there was something else, if my poor head could only remember it,"
said Driscoll, whose countenance displayed the most complete picture of
a puzzled intelligence.

"Mix yourself another tumbler, and you'll think of it by and by," said
Kellett, courteously.

"Yes," muttered Driscoll, accepting the suggestion at once. "It was
something about mustard-seed, I think," added he, after a pause; "they
say it will keep fresh for two years if you put it in a blue-paper
bag,--deep blue is best" A look of sincere compassion passed between
Kellett and his daughter, and Driscoll went on, "I don't think it was
that, though, I wanted to remember." And he fell into deep reflection
for several minutes, at the end of which he started abruptly up,
finished off his glass, and began to button up his coat in preparation
for the road.

"Don't go till I see what the night looks like," cried Kellett, as he
left the room to examine the state of the weather.

"If I should be fortunate enough to obtain any information, how shall
I communicate with you?" asked Bella, addressing him hastily, as if to
profit by the moment of their being alone.

Driscoll looked fixedly at her for a second or two, and gradually the
expression of his face settled down into its habitual cast of unmeaning
imbecility, while he merely muttered to himself, "No evidence; throw out
the bills."

She repeated her question, and in a voice to show that she believed
herself well understood.

"Yes!" said he, with a vacant grin,--"yes! but they don't agree with
everybody."

"There's a bit of a moon out now, and the rain has stopped," said
Kellett, entering, "so that it would n't be friendly to detain you."

"Good-night, good-night," said Driscoll, hurriedly; "that spirit is got
up to my head. I feel it. A pleasant journey to you both, and be sure to
remember me to Mrs. Miller." And with these incoherent words he hastened
away, and his voice was soon heard singing cheerily as he plodded his
way towards Dublin. "That's the greatest affliction of all," said
Kellett, as he sat down and sipped his glass. "There 's nothing like
having one's faculties, one's reason, clear and unclouded. I would n't
be like that poor fellow there to be as rich as the Duke of Leinster."

"It is a strange condition," said Bella, thoughtfully. "There were
moments when his eyes lighted up with a peculiar significance, as if,
at intervals, his mind had regained all its wonted vigor. Did you remark
that?"

"Indeed, I did not. I saw nothing of the kind," said Kellett, peevishly.
"By the way, why were you so cautious about Conway?"

"Just because he begged that his name might not be mentioned. He said
that some trifling debts were still hanging over him, from his former
extravagance; and though all in course of liquidation, he dreaded the
importunate appeals of creditors so certain to pour in if they heard of
his being in Dublin."

"Every one has his troubles!" muttered Kellett, as he sank into a moody
reflection over his own, and sipped his liquor in silence.

Let us now follow Driscoll, who, having turned the corner of the lane,
out of earshot of the cottage, suddenly ceased his song, and walked
briskly along towards town. Rapidly as he walked, his lips moved more
rapidly still, as he maintained a kind of conversation with himself,
bursting out from time to time with a laugh, as some peculiar conceit
amused him. "To be sure, a connection by the mother's side," said he.
"One has a right to ask after his own relations! And, for all I know, my
grandmother was a Conway. The ould fool was so near pokin' his foot
in it, and letting out that he knew him well. She's a deep one, that
daughter; and it was a bould stroke the way she spoke to me when we were
alone. It was just as much as to say, 'Terry, put your cards down, for
I know your hand.' 'No, miss,' says I, 'I've a thrump in the heel of
my fist that ye never set eyes on. Ha, ha, ha!' but she's deep for all
that,--mighty deep; and if it was safe, I wish we had her in the plot!
Ay! but is it safe, Mr. Driscoll? By the virtue of your oath, Terry
Driscoll, do you belave she wouldn't turn on you? She's a fine-looking
girl, too," added he, after an interval. "I wish I knew her sweetheart,
for she surely has one. Terry, Terry, ye must bestir yourself; ye must
be up early and go to bed late, my boy. You 're not the man ye were
before ye had that 'faver,'--that spotted faver!"--here he laughed till
his eyes ran over. "What a poor crayture it has left ye; no memory, no
head for anything!" And he actually shook with laughter at the thought.
"Poor Terry Driscoll, ye are to be pitied!" said he, as he wiped the
tears from his face. "Is n't it a sin and a shame there's no one to look
after ye?"



CHAPTER XIX. DRISCOLL IN CONFERENCE

"Not come in yet, sir; but he is sure to be back soon," said Mr. Clowes,
the butler, to Terry Driscoll, as he stood in the hall of Mr. Davenport
Dunn's house, about eleven o'clock of the same night we have spoken of
in our last chapter.

"You're expecting him, then?" asked Driscoll, in his own humble manner.

"Yes, sir," said Clowes, looking at his watch; "he ought to be here
now. We have a deal of business to get through to-night, and several
appointments to keep; but he'll see you, Mr. Driscoll. He always gives
directions to admit _you_ at once."

"Does he really?" asked Driscoll, with an air of perfect innocence.

"Yes," said Clowes, in a tone at once easy and patronizing, "he likes
_you_. You are one of the very few who can amuse him. Indeed, I don't
think I ever heard him laugh, what I 'd call a hearty laugh, except when
you 're with him."

"Isn't that quare, now!" exclaimed Driscoll. "Lord knows it's little fun
is in me now!"

"Come in and take a chair; charge you nothing for the sitting," said
Clowes, laughing at his own smartness as he led the way into a most
comfortably furnished little room which formed his own sanctum.

The walls were decorated with colored prints and drawings of great
projected enterprises,--peat fuel manufactories of splendid
pretensions, American packet stations on the west coast, of almost regal
architecture, vied with ground-plans of public parks and ornamental
model farms; fish-curing institutions, and smelting-houses, and
beetroot-sugar buildings, graced scenes of the very wildest desolation,
and, by an active representation of life and movement, seemed to typify
the wealth and prosperity which enterprise was sure to carry into
regions the very dreariest and least promising.

"A fine thing, that, Mr. Driscoll!" said Clowes, as Terry stood
admiring a large and highly colored plate, wherein several steam-engines
were employed in supplying mill-streams with water from a vast lake,
while thousands of people seemed busily engaged in spade labor on
its borders. "That is the 'Lough Corrib Drainage and Fresh Strawberry
Company,' capital eight hundred thousand pounds! Chemical analysis
has discovered that the soil of drained lands, treated with a suitable
admixture of the alkaline carbonates, is peculiarly favorable to
the growth of the strawberry,--a fruit whose properties are only now
receiving their proper estimate. The strawberry, you are perhaps not
aware, is a great anti-scorbutic. Six strawberries, taken in a glass of
diluted malic acid of a morning, fasting, would restore the health
of those fine fellows we are now daily losing in such numbers in the
Crimea. I mean, of course, a regular treatment of three months of
this regimen, with due attention to diet, cleanliness, and habit of
exercise,--all predisposing elements removed, all causes of mental
anxiety withdrawn. To this humane discovery this great industrial
speculation owes its origin. There you see the engines at full work; the
lake is in process of being drained, the water being all utilized by the
mills you see yonder, some of which are compressing the strawberry pulp
into a paste for exportation. Here are the people planting the shoots;
those men in blue, with the watering-pots, are the alkaline feeders, who
supply the plant with the chemical preparation I mentioned, the strength
being duly marked by letters, as you see. B. C. P. means bi-carbonate of
potash; S. C. S., sub-carbonate of soda; and so on. Already, sir," said
he, raising his voice, "we have contracts for the supply of twenty-eight
tons a week, and we hope," added he, with a tremulous fervor in his
voice, "to live to see the time when the table of the poorest peasant in
the land will be graced by the health-conducing condiment."

"With all my heart and soul I wish you success," said Driscoll; while
he muttered under his breath what sounded like a fervid prayer for the
realization of this blessed hope.

"Of that we are pretty certain, sir," said Clowes, pompously; "the
shares are now one hundred and twelve,--paid up in two calls, thirty-six
pounds ten shillings, _He_," said Clowes, with a jerk of his thumb
towards Mr. Dunn's room, meant to indicate its owner,--"_he_ don't like
it; calls it a bubble, and all that, but I have, known him mistaken,
sir,--ay, and more than once. You may remember that vein of yellow
marble--giallo antico, they call it--found on Martin's property--That's
his knock; here he comes now," cried he, hurrying away to meet his
master, and leaving the story of his blunder unrelated. "All right,"
said Clowes, re-entering, hastily; "you can go in now. He seems in a
precious humor to-night," added he, in a low whisper; "something or
other has gone wrong with him."

Driscoll had scarcely closed the inner door of cloth that formed
the last security of Davenport Dunn's privacy, when he perceived the
correctness of Mr. Clowes's information. Dunn's brow was dark and
clouded, his face slightly flushed, and his eye restless and excited.

"What is it so very pressing, Driscoll, that could n't wait till
to-morrow?" said he, peevishly, and not paying the slightest attention
to the other's courteous salutation.

"I thought this was the time you liked best," said Driscoll, quietly;
"you always said, 'Come to me when I've done for the day--'"

"But who told you I had done for the day? That pile of letters has yet
to be answered; many of them I have not even read. The Attorney-General
will be here in a few minutes about these prosecutions too."

"That's a piece of good luck, anyhow," said Driscoll, quickly.

"How so? What d' ye mean?"

"Why, we could just get a kind of travelling opinion out of him about
this case."

"What nonsense you talk!" said Dunn, angrily; "as if a lawyer of
standing and ability would commit himself by pronouncing on a most
complicated question, the details of which he was to gather from _you!_"
The look and emphasis that accompanied the last word were to the last
degree insulting, but they seemed to give no offence whatever to him to
whom they were addressed; on the contrary, he met them with a twinkle
of the eye, and a droll twist of the mouth, as he muttered half to
himself,--

"Yes, God help me, I 'll never set the Liffey on fire!"

"You might, though, if you had it heavily insured," said Dunn, with a
savage irony in his manner that might well have provoked rejoinder;
but Driscoll was proof against whatever he didn't want to resent, and
laughed pleasantly at the sarcasm.

"You were dining at the Lodge, I suppose, to-day?" asked he, eager to
get the conversation afloat at any cost.

"No, at Luscombe's,--the Chief Secretary's," said Dunn, curtly.

"They say he's a clever fellow," said Driscoll.

"They are heartily welcome to this opinion who think so," broke in Dunn,
peevishly. "Let them call him a fortunate one if they like, and they 'll
be nearer the mark.--What of this affair?" said he, at last "Have you
found out Conway?"

"No; but I learned that he dined and passed the evening with ould Paul
Kellett He came over to Ireland to bring him some news of his son, who
served in the same regiment, and so I went out to Kellett to pump them;
but for some reason or other they're as close as wax. The daughter beats
all ever you saw! She tried a great stroke of cunning with me, but it
wouldn't do."

"It was your poor head and the spotted fever,--eh?" said Dunn, laughing.

"Yes," said Driscoll; "I never was rightly myself since that" And he
laughed heartily.

"This is too slow for me, Driscoll; you must find out the young fellow
at once, and let me see him. I have read over the statement again, and
it is wonderfully complete. Hatch-ard has it now before him, and will
give me his opinion by Sunday next On that same day Mr. Beecher is to
dine with me; now if you could manage to have Conway here on Monday
morning, I 'd probably be in a condition to treat openly with him."

"You're going too fast,--too fast, entirely," said Driscoll; "sure, if
Conway sees the road before him, he may Just thravel it without us at
all."

"I 'll take care he shall not know which path to take, Driscoll; trust
me for that. Remember that the documents we have are all-essential to
him. Before he sees one of them our terms must be agreed on."

"I'll have ten thousand paid down on the nail. 'Tis eight years I am
collectin' them papers. I bought that shooting-lodge at Banthry,
that belonged to the Beechers, just to search the old cupboard in the
dinner-room. It was plastered over for fifty years, and Denis Magrath
was the only man living knew where it was."

"I am aware of all that. The discovery--if such it prove--was all your
own, Driscoll; and as to the money remuneration, I 'll not defraud you
of a sixpence."

"There was twelve hundred pounds," continued Driscoll, too full of his
own train of thought to think of anything else, "for a wretched ould
place with the roof fallin' in, and every stack of it rotten! Eight
years last Michaelmas,--that's money, let me tell you! and I never got
more than thirty pounds any year out of it since."

"You shall be paid, and handsomely paid."

"Yes," said Terry, nodding.

"You can have good terms on either side."

"Yes, or a little from both," added Driscoll, dryly.



CHAPTER XX. AN EVENING WITH GROG DAVIS.

It was late at night, and Grog Davis sat alone by a solitary candle in
his dreary room. The fire had long burned out, and great pools of wet,
driven by the beating rain through the rickety sashes, soaked the ragged
carpet that covered the floor, while frequent gusts of storm scattered
the slates, and shook the foundations of the frail building.

To all seeming, he paid little attention to the poor and comfortless
features of the spot. A short square bottle of Hollands, and a paper
of coarse cigars beside him, seemed to offer sufficient defence against
such cares, while he gave up his mind to some intricate problem which he
was working out with a pack of cards. He dealt, and shuffled, and dealt
again, with marvellous rapidity. There was that in each motion of
the wrist, in every movement of the finger, that bespoke practised
manipulation, and a glance quick as lightning on the board was enough to
show him how the game fared.

[Illustration: 230]

"Passed twelve times," muttered he to himself; then added aloud, "Make
your game, gentlemen, make your game. The game is made. Red, thirty-two.
Now for it, Grog,--man or a mouse, my boy. Mouse it is! by----," cried
he, with an infamous oath. "Red wins! Confound the cards!" cried he,
dashing them on the floor. "Two minutes ago I had enough to live on the
rest of my days. I appeal to any man in the room," said he, with a look
of peculiar defiance around him, "if he ever saw such ill luck! There''s
not another fellow breathing ever got it like me!" And as he spoke, he
arose and walked up and down the chamber, frowning savagely, and turning
glances of insolent meaning on every side of him. At last, approaching
the table, he filled out a glass of gin and drank it off; and then,
stooping down, he gathered up the cards and reseated himself. "Take you
fifty on the first ace," cried he, addressing an imaginary bettor, while
he began to deal out the cards in two separate heaps. "Won!" exclaimed
he, delightedly. "Go you double or quits, sir?--Any gentleman with
another fifty?--A pony if you like, sir?--Done! Won again, by jingo!
This is the only game, after all; decided in a second. I make the bank,
gentlemen, two hundred in the bank. Why, where are the bettors
this evening? This is only punting, gentlemen. Any one say five
hundred--four--three--one hundred--for the first knave?" And the cards
fell from his hands with wondrous rapidity. "Now, if no one is inclined
to play, let 's have a broiled bone," said he, rising, and bowing
courteously around him.

"Second the motion!" cried a cheery voice, as the door opened and
Annesley Beecher entered. "Why, Grog, my hearty, I thought you had a
regular flock of pigeons here. I heard you talking as I came up the
stairs, and fancied you were doing a smart stroke of work."

"What robbery have _you_ been at with that white choker and that
gimcrack waistcoat?" said Davis, sulkily.

"Dining with Dunn, and a capital dinner he gave me. I 'm puzzled to say
whether I like his wine or his cookery best."

"Were there many there?"

"None but ourselves."

"Lord! how he must have worked you!" cried Davis, with an insolent grin.

"Ain't such a flat as you think me, Master Grog. Solomon was a wise man,
and Samson a strong one, and A. B. can hold his own with most 'in the
ruck.'"

A most contemptuous look was the only answer Davis condescended to this
speech. At last, after he had lighted a fresh cigar, and puffed it into
full work, he said, "Well, what was it he had to say to you?"

"Oh, we talked away of everything; and, by Jupiter! he knows a little of
everything. Such a memory, too; remembers every fellow that was in power
the last fifty years, and can tell you how he was 'squared,' for it 's
all on the 'cross' with _them_, Grog, just as in the ring. Every fellow
rides to order, and half the running one sees is no race! Any hot water
to be had?"

"No, there's cold in that jug yonder. Well, go on with Dunn."

"He is very agreeable, I must say; for, besides having met everybody, he
knows all their secret history,--how this one got out of his scrape,
and why that went into the hole. You see in a moment how much he must
be trusted, and that he can make his book on life as safe as the Bank of
England. Fearfully strong that gin is!"

"No, it ain't," said Grog, rudely; "it's not the velvety tipple Dunn
gave you, but it's good British gin, that's what it is."

"You would n't believe, too, how much he knows about women! He's up to
everything that's going on in town. Very strange that, for a fellow like
him! Don't you think so?"

Davis made no answer, but puffed away slowly. "And after women, what
came next?"

"He talked next--let me see--about books. How he likes Becky Sharp,--how
he enjoys her! He says that character will do the same service as the
published discovery of some popular fraud; and that the whole race of
Beckys now are detected swindlers,--nothing less."

"And what if they are? Is that going to prevent their cheating? Hasn't
the world always its crop of flats coming out in succession like green
peas? What did he turn to after that?"

"Then we had a little about the turf."

"He don't know anything about the turf!" said Grog, with intense
contempt.

"I 'm not so sure of that," said Beecher, cautiously.

"Did he speak of _me_ at all?" said Grog, with a peculiar grin.

"No; only to ask if you were the same Captain Davis that was mentioned
in that affair at Brighton."

"And what did you say?"

"Said! Not knowing, could n't tell, Master Grog. Knew you were a great
friend of my brother Lackington's, and always hand and glove with
Blanchard and the swells."

"And how did he take that?"

"Said something about two of the same name, and changed the subject."

Davis drew near the table, and taking up the cards began to shuffle
them slowly, like one seeking some excuse for a moment of uninterrupted
reflection. "I've found out the way that Yankee fellow does the king,"
said he, at last. "It's not the common bridge that everybody knows.
It's a Mississippi touch, and a very neat one. Cut them now wherever you
like."

Beecher cut the cards with all due care, and leaned eagerly over the
table.

"King of diamonds!" cried Grog, slapping the card on the board.

"Do it again," said Beecher, admiringly; and once more Davis performed
the dexterous feat.

"It's a nick!" cried Beecher, examining the edge of the card minutely.

"It ain't no such thing!" said Davis, angrily. "I'd give you ten years
to find it out, and twenty to do it, and-you 'd fail in both."

"Let's see the dodge, Grog," said Beecher, half-coaxingly.

"You don't see _my_ hand till you put _yours_ on the table," said Davis,
fiercely. Then crossing his arms before him, and fixing his red
fiery eyes on Beecher's face, he went on, "What do you mean by this
fencing--just tell me what you mean by it?"

"I don't understand you," said Beecher, whose features were now of ashy
paleness.

"Then you shall understand me!" cried Davis, with an oath. "Do you want
me to believe that Dunn had you to dine with him all alone, just to talk
about politics, of which you know nothing, or books, of which you know
less; that he 'd give you four precious hours of a Sunday evening to
bear your opinions about men or women or things in general? Do you ask
me to swallow that, sir?"

"I ask you to swallow nothing," stammered out Beecher, in whose heart
pride and fear were struggling for the mastery. "I have told you what
we spoke of. If anything else passed between us, perhaps it was of
a private and personal nature; perhaps it referred to family topics;
perhaps I might have given a solemn assurance not to reveal the subject
of it to any one."

"You did,--did you?" said Davis, with a sneer.

"I said, perhaps I might have done so. I did n't say I had."

"And so you think--you fancy--that you 're a going to double on me,"
said Davis, rising, and advancing towards him with a sort of insulting
menace. "Now, look here, my name ain't Davis but if ever you try it--try
it, I say, because, as to doing it, I dare you to your face--but if
you just try it, twelve hours won't pass over till the dock of a
police court is graced by the Honorable Annesley Beecher on a charge of
forgery."

"Oh, Davis!" cried Beecher, as he placed his hands over the other's
lips, and glanced in terror through the room. "There never was anything
I did n't tell you,--you 're the only man breathing that knows me."

"And I do know you, by Heaven, I do!" cried the other, savagely; "and
I know you'd sneak out of my hands to-morrow, if you dared; but this
I tell you, when you leave _mine_ it will be to exchange into the
turnkey's. You fancy that because I see you are a fool that I don't
suspect you to be a crafty one. Ah! what a mistake you make there!"

"But listen to me, Grog,--just hear me."

"My name 's Davis, sir,--Captain Davis,--let me hear you call me
anything else!"

"Well, Davis, old fellow,--the best and truest friend ever fellow had
in the world,--now what's all this about? I 'll tell you every syllable
that passed between Dunn and myself. I'll give you my oath, as solemnly
as you can dictate it to me, not to conceal one word. He made me swear
never to mention it. It was _he_ that imposed the condition on me. What
he said was this: 'It's a case where you need no counsel, and where any
counsel would be dangerous. He who once knows your secret will be in a
position to dictate to you. Lord Lackington must be your only adviser,
since his peril is the same as your own.'"

"Go on," said Davis, sternly, as the other seemed to pause too long.

Beecher drew a long breath, and, in a voice faint and broken, continued:
"It's a claimant to the title,--a fellow who pretends he derives from
the elder branch,--the Conway Beechers. All stuff and nonsense,--they
were extinct two hundred years ago,--but no matter, the claim is there,
and so circumstantially got up, and so backed by documents and the rest
of it, that Lackington is frightened,--frightened out of his wits. The
mere exposure, the very rumor of the thing, would distract _him_. He's
proud as Lucifer,--and then he's hard up; besides, he wants a loan, and
Dunn tells him there's no getting it till this affair is disposed of,
and that he has hit on the way to do it."

"As how?" said Davis, dryly.

"Well," resumed Beecher, whose utterance grew weaker and less audible at
every word, "Lackington, you know, has no children. It 's very unlikely
he ever will now; and Dunn's advice is that for a life interest in the
title and estates I should bind myself not to marry. That fellow then,
if he can make good his claim, comes in as next of kin after _me_; and
as to who or what comes after _me_," cried he, with more energy, "it
matters devilish little. Once 'toes up' and Annesley Beecher won't
fret over the next match that comes off,--eh, Grog, old fellow?" And he
endeavored by a forced jocularity to encourage his own sinking heart.

"Here's a shindy!" said Grog, as he mixed himself a fresh tumbler and
laid his arms crosswise on the table; "and so it's no less than the
whole stakes is on this match?"

"Title and all," chimed in Beecher.

"I was n't thinking of the title," said Grog, gruffly, as he relapsed
into a moody silence. "Now, what does my Lord say to it all?" asked he,
after a long pause.

"Lackington?--Lackington says nothing, or next to nothing. You read the
passage in his letter where he says, 'Call on Dunn,' or 'Speak to Dunn,'
or something like that,--he did n't even explain about what; and then
you may remember the foolish figure we cut on that morning we waited on
Dunn ourselves, not being able to say why or how we were there."

"I remember nothing about cutting a foolish figure anywhere or any time.
It's not very much _my_ habit. It ain't _my_ way of business."

"Well, I can't say as much," said Beecher, laughing; "and I own frankly
I never felt less at ease in my life."

"That's _your_ way of business," said Grog, nodding gravely at him.

"Every fellow is n't born as sharp as you, Davis. Samson was a wise
man--no, Solomon was a wise man--"

"Leave Samson and Solomon where they are," said Grog, puffing his cigar.
"What we have to look to here is whether there be a claim at all, and
then what it's worth. The whole affair may be just a cross between this
fellow Dunn and one of his own pals. Now, it's my Lord's business to see
to that. _You_ are only the _second_ horse all this while. If my Lord
knows that he can be disqualified, he's wide awake enough to square the
match, he is. But it maybe that Dunn hasn't put the thing fairly before
him. Well, then, you must compare your book with my Lord's. You'll have
to go over to him, Beecher." And the last words were uttered with a
solemnity that showed they were the result of a deep deliberation.

"It's all very well, Master Davis, to talk of going over to Italy; but
where's the tin to come from?"

"It must be had somehow," said Davis, sententiously. "Ain't there any
fellows about would give you a name to a bit of stiff, at thirty-one
days' date?"

"Pumped them all dry long ago!" said Beecher, laughing. "There's not
a man in the garrison would join me to spoil a stamp; and, as to the
civilians, I scarcely know one who isn't a creditor already."

"You are always talking to me of a fellow called Kellett,--why not have
a shy at _him?_"

"Poor Paul!" cried Beecher, with a hearty laugh. "Why, Paul Kellett's
ruined--cleaned out--sold in the Encumbered what d'ye-call-'ems, and has
n't a cross in the world!"

"I ought to have guessed as much," growled out Grog, "or he'd not have
been on such friendly terms with _you_."

"A polite speech that, Grog," said Beecher, smiling.

"It's true, and that's better," said Davis. "The only fellows that stick
close to a man in his poverty are those a little poorer than himself."

"Not but, if he had it," said Beecher, following up his own
thoughts,--"not but, if he had it, he's just the fellow to do a right
good-natured thing."

"Well, I suppose he's got his name,--they have n't sold _that_, have
they?"

"No, but it's very much like the estate," said Beecher. "It's far too
heavily charged ever to pay off the encumbrances."

"Who minds that, nowadays? A bad bill is a very useful thing sometimes.
It's like a gun warranted to burst, and you can always manage to have it
in the right man's hands when it comes the time for the explosion."

"You _are_ a rum un, Davis,--you _are_, indeed," said Beecher,
admiringly; for it was in the delivery of such wise maxims that Davis
appeared to him truly great.

"Get him down for fifty,--that ain't much,--fifty at three months. My
Lord says he 'll stand fifty himself, in that letter I read. It was to
help you to a match, to be sure; but that don't matter. There can be no
question of marrying now. Let me see how this affair is going to turn.
Well, I'll see if I can't do something myself. I've a precious lot of
stamped paper there,"--and he pointed to an old secretary,--"if I could
hit upon a sharp fellow to work it."

"You are a trump, Grog!" cried Beecher, delightedly.

"If we had a clear two hundred, we could start to-morrow," said Grog,
laying down his cigar, and staring steadfastly at him.

"Why, would _you_ come, too?" muttered Beecher, who had never so much as
imagined the possibility of this companionship on the Continent.

"I expect I would," said Davis, with a very peculiar grin. "It ain't
likely you'd manage an affair like this without advice."

"Very true,--very true," said Beecher, hurriedly. "But remember,
Lackington is my brother,--we 're both in the same boat."

"But not with the same skulls," said Grog. And he grinned a savage grin
at the success of his pun.

Beecher, however, so far from appreciating the wit, only understood the
remark as a sneer at his intelligence, and half sulkily said,--

"Oh! I'm quite accustomed to that, now,--I don't mind it."

"That's right,--keep your temper," said Grog, calmly; "that's the best
thing in _your_ book. You 're what they call good-tempered. And," added
he, in the moralizing tone, "though the world does take liberties with
the good-tempered fellows, it shies them many a stray favor,--many a
sly five-pun'-note into the bargain. I've known fellows go
through life--and make a rare good thing of it, too--with no other
stock-in-trade than this same good temper."

Beecher did not pay his habitual attention to Grog's words, but sat
pondering over all the possible and impossible objections to a tour
in such company. There were times and places where men might be seen
talking to such a man as Davis. The betting-ring and the weighing-stand
have their privileges, just like the green-room or the "flats," but in
neither case are the intimacies of such localities exactly of a kind for
parade before the world. Of all the perils of such a course none knew
better than Beecher. What society would think,--what clubs would say of
it,--he could picture to his mind at once.

Now, there were very few of life's casualties of which the Honorable
Annesley Beecher had not tasted. He knew what it was to have his
bills protested, his chattels seized, his person arrested; he had
been browbeaten by Bankruptcy Commissioners, and bullied by sheriffs'
officers; tradesmen had refused him credit; tailors abjured his
custom; he had "burned his fingers" in one or two not very creditable
transactions; but still, with all this, there was yet one depth to which
he had not descended,--he was never seen in public with a "wrong man."
He had a jerk of the head, a wink, or a glance for the leg who met him
in Piccadilly, as every one else had. If he saw him in the garden of the
Star and Garter, or the park at Greenwich, he might even condescend to
banter him on "looking jolly," and ask what new "robbery" he was in for;
but as to descending to intimacy or companionship openly before the gaze
of the world, he 'd as soon have thought of playing cad to a 'bus, or
sweep at a crossing.

It was true the Continent was not Hyde Park,--the most strait-laced
and well-conducted did fifty things there they had never ventured on
at home. Foreign travel had its license, and a passport was a sort of
plenary indulgence for many a social transgression; but, with all this,
there were a few names--about half a dozen in all Europe--that no man
could afford to link his own along with.

As for Grog, he was known everywhere. From Ostend to Odessa his fame
extended, and there was scarcely a police prefect in the travelled
districts of the Continent that had not a description of his person,
and some secret instructions respecting him. From many of the smaller
states, whose vigilance is in the ratio of their littleness, he was
rigidly excluded; so that in his journeying through Europe, he was often
reduced to a zigzag and erratic procedure, not unlike the game known
to schoolboys as scotch-hop. In the ten minutes--it was not more--that
Beecher passed in recalling these and like facts to his memory, his mind
grew more and more perplexed; nor was the embarrassment unperceived by
him who caused it. As Davis sipped and smoked, he stole frequent glances
at his companion's face, and strove to read what was passing in his
mind. "It may be," thought Grog, "he does n't see his way to raising the
money. It may be that his credit is lower in the market than I fancied;
or"--and now his fiery eyes grew fiercer and his lip more tense--"or
it may be that he doesn't fancy _my_ company. If I was only sure it was
_that_," muttered he between his teeth; and had Annesley Beecher only
chanced to look at him as he said it, the expression of that face would
have left a legacy of fear behind it for many a day.

"Help yourself," said Grog, passing the bottle across the table,--"help
yourself, and the gin will help you, for I see you are 'pounded.'"

"Pounded? No, not a bit; nothing of the kind," said Beecher, blushing.
"I was thinking how Lackington would take all this; what my Lady would
say to it; whether they 'd regard it seriously, or whether they 'd laugh
at my coming out so far about nothing."

"They'll not laugh, depend on't; take my word for it, they won't laugh,"
said Davis, dryly.

"Well, but if it all comes to nothing,--if it be only a plant to extort
money?"

"Even that ain't anything to laugh at," said Davis. "I 've done a little
that way myself, and yet I never saw the fellow who was amused by it."

"So that you really think I ought to go out and see my brother?"

"I'm sure and certain that we must go," said Davis, just giving the very
faintest emphasis to the "we."

"But it will cost a pot of money, Grog, even though I should travel in
the cheapest way,--I mean, the cheapest way possible for a fellow as
well known as I am."

This was a bold stroke; it was meant to imply far more than the mere
words announced. It was intended to express a very complicated argument
in a mere innuendo.

"That's all gammon," said Grog, rudely. "We don't live in an age of
couriers and extra-post; every man travels by rail nowadays, and nobody
cares whether you take a coupé or a horse-box; and as to being known, so
am I, and almost as well known as most fellows going."

This was pretty plain speaking; and Beecher well knew that Davis's
frankness was always on the verge of the only one thing that was worse
than frankness.

"After all," said Beecher, after a pause, "let the journey be ever so
necessary, I have n't got the money."

"I know you haven't, neither have I; but we shall get it somehow. You
'll have to try Kellett; you 'll have to try Dunn himself, perhaps. I
don't see why you should n't start with him. _He_ knows that you ought
to confer with my Lord; and he could scarce refuse your note at three
months, if you made it--say fifty."

"But, Grog," said Beecher, laying down his cigar, and nerving himself
for a great effort of cool courage, "what would suffice fairly enough
for one, would be a very sorry allowance for two; and as the whole of
my business will be with my own brother,--where of necessity I must be
alone with him,--don't you agree with me that a third person would only
embarrass matters rather than advance them?"

"No!" said Grog, sternly, while he puffed his cigar in measured time.

"I 'm speaking," said Beecher, in a tone of apology,--"I'm speaking,
remember, from my knowledge of Lackington. He's very high and very
proud,--one of those fellows who 'take on,' even with their equals; and
with myself, he never forgets to let me feel I'm a younger brother."

"He would n't take any airs with _me_," said Grog, insolently. And
Beecher grew actually sick at the bare thought of such a meeting.

"I tell you frankly, Davis," said he, with the daring of despair, "it
wouldn't do. It would spoil all. First and foremost, Lackington would
never forgive me for having confided this secret to any one. He'd say,
and not unfairly either, 'What has Davis to do with this? It's not
the kind of case he is accustomed to deal with; his counsel could n't
possibly be essential here.' _He_ does n't know," added he, rapidly,
"your consummate knowledge of the world; _he_ hasn't seen, as I have,
how keenly you read every fellow that comes before you."

"We start on Monday," said Grog, abruptly, as he threw the end of his
cigar into the fire; "so stir yourself, and see about the bills."

Beecher arose and walked the room with hurried strides, his brow growing
darker and his face more menacing at every moment.

"Look here, Davis," cried he, turning suddenly round and facing the
other, "you assume to treat me as if I was a--schoolboy;" and it was
evident that he had intended a stronger word, but had not courage to
utter it, for Davis's wicked eyes were upon him, and a bitter grin of
irony was already on Grog's mouth as he said,--

"Did you ever try a round with _me_ without getting the worst of it? Do
you remember any time where you came well out of it? You 've been mauled
once or twice somewhat roughly, but with the gloves on,--always with
the gloves on. Now, take my advice, and don't drive me to take them
off,--don't! You never felt my knuckles yet,--and, by the Lord Harry, if
you had, you'd not call out 'Encore.'"

"You just want to bully me," said Beecher, in a whimpering tone.

"Bully you,--bully _you!_" said Davis, and his features put on a look of
the most intense scorn as he spoke. "Egad!" cried he, with an insolent
laugh, "you know very little about either of us."

"I'd rather you'd do your worst at once than keep threatening me in this
fashion."

"No, you would n't; no--no--nothing of the kind," said Davis, with a
mockery of gentleness in his voice and manner.

"May I be hanged if I would not!" cried Beecher, passionately.

"It ain't hanging now,--they 've made it transportation," said Davis,
with a grin; "and them as has tried it says the old way was easiest."
And in the slang style of the last words there was a terrible
significance,--it was as though a voice from the felons' dock was
uttering a word of warning. Such was the effect on Beecher that he sank
slowly down into a seat, silent and powerless.

"If you had n't been in this uncommon high style tonight," said Grog,
quietly, "I'd have told you some excellent reasons for what I was
advising. I got a letter from Spicer this morning. He, and a foreign
fellow he calls Count Lienstahl,--it sounds devilish like 'lie and
steal,' don't it?--have got a very pretty plant together, and if they
could only chance upon a good second-rate horse, they reckon about eight
or ten hundred in stakes alone this coming spring. They offer me a share
if I could come out to them, and mean to open the campaign at Brussels.
Now, there's a thing to suit us all,--'picking for every one,' as they
say in the oakum-sheds."

"Cochin China might be had for five hundred; or there's Spotted Snake,
they want to sell him for anything he'll bring," said Beecher, with
animation.

"They could manage five hundred at least, Spicer says. We 're good for
about twelve thousand francs, which ought to get us what we're looking
for."

"There's Anchovy Paste--"

"Broke down before and behind."

"Hop the Twig, own sister to Levanter; ran second for the Colchester
Cup--"

"Mares don't answer abroad."

"Well, what do you say to Mumps?"

"There's the horse for the Continent. A great heavy-headed, thick-jawed
beast, with lazy action, and capped hocks. He's the animal to walk into
a foreign jockey club. Oh, if we had him!"

"I know where he is!" exclaimed Beecher, in ecstasy. "There 's a
Brummagem fellow driving him through Wales,--a bagman,--and he takes him
a turn now and then for the county stakes that offer. I 'll lay my head
on't we get him for fifty pounds."

"Come, old fellow," said Grog, encouragingly, "you _have_ your wits
about you, after all. Breakfast here to-morrow, about twelve o'clock,
and we 'll see if we can't arrange the whole affair. It's a sure five
hundred apiece, as if we had it here;" and he slapped his pockets as he
spoke.

Beecher shook his friend's hand with a warmth that showed all his wonted
cordiality, and with a hearty "Good-night!" they separated.

Grog had managed cleverly. He had done something by terror, and the rest
he had accomplished by temptation. They were the two only impulses to
sway that strange temperament.



CHAPTER XXI. A DARK DAY

It was the day appointed for the sale of Kellett's Court, and a
considerable crowd was assembled to witness the proceeding. Property was
rapidly changing hands; new names were springing up in every county,
and old ones were growing obsolete. Had the tide of conquest and
confiscation flowed over the land, a greater social revolution could not
have resulted; and while many were full of hope and confidence that
a new prosperity was about to dawn upon Ireland, there were some who
continued to deplore the extinction of the old names, and the exile
of the old families, whose traditions were part of the history of the
country.

Kellett's Court was one of those great mansions which the Irish
gentlemen of a past age were so given to building, totally forgetting
how great the disproportion was between their house and their rent-roll.
Irregular, incongruous, and inelegant, it yet, by its very size and
extent, possessed a certain air of grandeur. Eighty guests had sat down
to table in that oak wainscoted dinner-room; above a hundred had been
accommodated with beds beneath that roof; the stables had stalls
for every hunting-man that came; and the servants' hall was a great
galleried chamber, like the refectory of a convent, in everything save
the moderation of the fare.

Many were curious to know who would purchase an estate burdened by so
costly a residence, the very maintenance of which in repair constituted
a heavy annual outlay. The gardens, long neglected and forgotten,
occupied three acres, and were themselves a source of immense expense;
a considerable portion of the demesne was so purely ornamental that
it yielded little or no profit; and, as an evidence of the tastes and
habits of its former owners, the ruins of a stand-house marked out where
races once were held in the park, while hurdle fences and deep drains
even yet disfigured the swelling lawn.

Who was to buy such a property was the question none could answer.
The house, indeed, might be converted into a "Union," if its locality
suited; it was strong enough for a jail, it was roomy enough for a
nunnery. Some averred the Government had decided on purchasing it for
a barrack; others pretended that the sisterhood of the Sacred Heart
had already made their bargain for it; yet to these and many other
assertions not less confidently uttered there were as many demurrers.

While rumors and contradictions were still buzzed about, the
Commissioner took his place on the bench, and the clerk of the Court
began that tedious recital of the circumstances of the estate with whose
details all the interested were already familiar, and the mere curious
cared not to listen to. An informality on a former day had interfered
with the sale, a fact which the Commissioner alluded to with
satisfaction, as property had risen largely in value in the interval,
and he now hoped that the estate would not alone clear off all the
charges against it, but realize something for its former owner. A
confused murmur of conversation followed this announcement. Men
talked in knots and groups, consulted maps and rent-rolls, made
hasty calculations in pencil, whispered secretly together, muttering
frequently the words "Griffith," "plantation measure," "drainage," and
"copyhold," and then, in a half-hurried, half-wearied way, the Court
asked, "Is there no bidding after twenty-seven thousand five hundred?"

"Twenty-eight!" said a deep voice near the door.

A long, dreary pause followed, and the sale was over.

"Twenty-eight thousand!" cried Lord Glengariff; "the house alone cost
fifty."

"It's only the demesne, my Lord," said some one near; "it's not the
estate is sold."

"I know it, sir; but the demesne contains eight hundred acres, fully
wooded, and enclosed by a wall.--Who is it for, Dunn?" asked he, turning
to that gentleman.

"In trust, my Lord," was the reply.

"Of that I am aware, sir; you have said as much to the Court."

Dunn bent over, and whispered some words in his ear.

"Indeed!" exclaimed the other, with evident astonishment; "and intending
to reside?" added he.

"Eventually, I expect so," said Dunn, cautiously, as others were now
attending to the conversation.

Again Lord Glengariff spoke; but, ere he had finished, a strange
movement of confusion in the body of the Court interrupted him, while
a voice hoarse with passionate meaning cried out, "Is the robbery
over?--is it done?" and a large, powerful man, his face flushed, and
his eyes glaring wildly, advanced through the crowd to the railing
beneath the bench. His waistcoat was open, and he held his cravat in one
hand, having torn it off in the violence of his excitement.

"Who is this man?" asked the Commissioner, sternly.

"I'll tell you who I am,--Paul Kellett, of Kellett's Court, the owner of
that house and estate you and your rascally miscreants have just stolen
from me,--ay, stolen is the word; law or justice have nothing to do with
it. Your Parliament made it law, to be sure, to pamper your Manchester
upstarts who want to turn gentlemen--"

"Does any one know him?--has he no friends who will look after him?"
said the Commissioner, leaning over and addressing those beneath in a
subdued voice.

"Devil a friend in the world! It's few friends stick to the man whose
property comes here. But don't make me out mad. I 'm in my full senses,
though I had enough to turn fifty men to madness."

"I know him, my Lord; with the permission of the Court, I 'll take
charge of him," said Dunn, in a tone so low as to be audible only to a
few. Kellett, however, was one of them, and he immediately cried out,--

"Take charge of me! Ay, that he will. He took charge of my estate, too,
and he 'll do by _me_ what he did with the property,--give a bargain of
me!"

A hearty burst of laughter filled the hall at this sally; for Dunn was
one of those men whose prosperity always warrants the indulgence of
a sarcasm. The Court, however, could no longer brook the indecorous
interruption, and sternly ordered that Kellett might be removed.

"My dear Mr. Kellett, pray remember yourself; only recollect where you
are; such conduct will only expose you--"

"Expose me! do you think I've any shame left in me? Do you think, when a
man is turned out to starve on the roads, that he cares much what people
say of him?"

"This interruption is intolerable," said the Commissioner. "If he be not
speedily removed, I 'll order him into the custody of the police."

"Do, in God's name," cried Kellett, calmly. "Anything that will keep me
from laying hands on myself, or somebody else, will be a charity."

"Come with me, Kellett,--do come along with _me!_" said Dunn,
entreatingly.

"Not a step,--not an inch. It was going with _you_ brought me here.
This man, my Lord," cried he, addressing the Court with a wild
earnestness,--"this man said to me that this was the time to sell a
property,--that land was rising every day; that if we came into
the Court now, it's not twenty, nor twenty-five, but thirty years'
purchase--"

"I am sorry, sir," said the Commissioner, sternly, "that you will give
me no alternative but that of committing you; such continued disrespect
of Court cannot longer be borne."

"I 'm as well in jail as anywhere else. You 've robbed me of my
property, I care little for my person. I'll never believe it's
law,--never! You may sit up with your wig and your ushers and your
criers, but you are just a set of thieves and swindlers, neither more
nor less. Talk of shame, indeed! I think some of yourselves might blush
at what you 're doing. There, there, I 'm not going to resist you," said
he to the policeman; "there's no need of roughness. Newgate is the best
place for me now. Mind," added he, turning to where the reporters for
the daily press were sitting,--"mind and say that I just offered a calm
protest against the injustice done me; that I was civilly remonstrating
with the Court upon what every man--"

Ere he could finish, he was quietly removed from the spot, and before
the excitement of the scene had subsided, he was driving away rapidly
towards Newgate.

"Drunk or mad,--which was it?" said Lord Glengariff to Davenport Dunn,
whose manner was scarcely as composed as usual.

"He has been drinking, but not to drunkenness," said Dunn, cautiously.
"He is certainly to be pitied." And now he drew nigh the bench and
whispered a few words to the Commissioner.

Whatever it was that he urged--and there was an air of entreaty in his
manner--did not seem to meet the concurrence of the judge. Dunn pleaded
earnestly, however; and at last the Commissioner said, "Let him be
brought up tomorrow, then, and having made a suitable apology to the
Court, we will discharge him." Thus ended the incident, and once more
the clerk resumed his monotonous readings. Townlands and baronies were
described, valuations quoted, rights of turbary defined, and an ancient
squirearchy sold out of their possessions with as little commotion or
excitement as a mock Claude is knocked down at Christie's. Indeed, of so
little moment was the scene we have mentioned deemed, that scarcely half
a dozen lines of the morning papers were given to its recital. The Court
and its doings were evidently popular with the country at large, and one
of the paragraphs which readers read with most pleasure was that wherein
it was recorded that estates of immense value had just changed owners,
and that the Commissioner had disposed of so many thousands' worth of
landed property within the week.

Sweeping measures, of whatever nature they be, have always been in favor
with the masses; never was any legislation so popular as the guillotine!

Evening was closing in, the gloomy ending of a gloomy day in winter, and
Sybella Kellett sat at the window anxiously watching for her father's
return. The last two days had been passed by her in a state of feverish
uneasiness. Since her father's attendance at the custom-house ceased,--.
for he had been formally dismissed at the beginning of the week,--his
manner had exhibited strange alternations of wild excitement and deep
depression. At times he would move hurriedly about, talking rapidly,
sometimes singing to himself; at others he would sit in a state of
torpor for hours. He drank, too, affecting some passing pain or
some uneasiness as an excuse for the whiskey-bottle; and when gently
remonstrated with on the evil consequences, became fearfully passionate
and excited. "I suppose I 'll be called a drunkard next; there 's
nothing more likely than I 'll be told it was my own sottish
habits brought all this ruin upon me. 'He 's a sot.'--'He 's never
sober.'--'Ask his own daughter about him.'" And then stimulating
himself, he would become furious with rage. As constantly, too, did he
inveigh against Dunn, saying that it was he that ruined him, and that
had he not listened to his treacherous counsels he might have arranged
matters with his creditors. From these bursts of passion he would
fall into moods of deepest melancholy, accusing his own folly and
recklessness as the cause of all his misfortunes, and even pushing
self-condemnation so far as to assert that it was his misconduct and
waste had driven poor Jack from home and made him enlist as a soldier.

Bella could not but see that his intellect was affected and his judgment
impaired, and she made innumerable pretexts to be ever near him. Now she
pretended that she required air and exercise, that her spirits were low,
and needed companionship. Then she affected to have little purchases to
make in town, and asked him to bear her company. At length he showed a
restlessness under this restraint that obliged her to relax it; he even
dropped chance words as if he suspected that he was the object of some
unusual care and supervision. "There's no need of watching me," said he,
rudely, to her on the morning that preceded the sale; "I 'm in no want
of a keeper. They 'll see Paul Kellett 's not the man to quail under any
calamity; the same to-day, to-morrow, and the next day. Sell him out or
buy him in, and you 'll never know by his face that he felt it."

He spoke very little on that morning, and scarcely tasted his breakfast.
His dress was more careful than usual; and Bella, half by way of saying
something, asked if he were going into Dublin.

"Into Dublin! I suppose I am, indeed," said he, curtly, as though giving
a very obvious reply. "Maybe," added he, after a few minutes,--"maybe
you forget this is the seventeenth, and that this is the day for the
sale."

"I did remember it," said she, with a faint sigh, but not daring to ask
how his presence there was needed.

"And you were going to say," added he, with a bitter smile, "what did
that matter to me, and that wasn't wanted. Neither I am,--I 'm neither
seller nor buyer; but still I 'm the last of the name that lived
there,--I was Kellett of Kellett's Court, and there 'll never be another
to say the same, and I owe it to myself to be there to-day,--just as I
'd attend a funeral,--just as I 'd follow the hearse."

"It will only give you needless pain, dearest father," said she,
soothingly; "pray do not go."

"Faith, I'll go if it gave me a fit," said he, fiercely. "They may say
when they go home, 'Paul Kellett was there the whole time, as cool as
_I_ am now; you 'd never believe it was the old family place--the house
his ancestors lived in for centuries--was up for sale; there he was,
calm and quiet If that is n't courage, tell me what is.'"

"And yet I 'd rather you did not go, father. The world has trials enough
to tax our energies, that we should not go in search of them."

"That's a woman's way of looking at it," said he, contemptuously.

"A man with a man's heart likes to meet danger, just to see how he 'll
treat it."

"But remember, father--"

"There, now," said he, rising from the table, "if you talked till you
were tired, I 'd go still. My mind is made up on it."

Bella turned away her head, and stole her handkerchief to her eyes.

"I know very well," burst he in, bitterly, "that the blackguard
newspapers to-morrow will just be as ready to abuse me for it. It would
have been more dignified, or more decent, or something or other, if Mr.
Kellett had not appeared at the sale; but I 'll go, nevertheless, if it
was only to see the man that's to take our place there! Wait dinner for
me till six,--that is, if there 's any dinner at all." And, with a laugh
of bitterest meaning, he left the room, and was soon seen issuing from
the little garden into the road.

What a sad day, full of gloomy forebodings, was that for her! She knew
well how all the easy and careless humor of her father had been changed
by calamity into a spirit fierce and resentful; that, suspectful of
insult on every hand, he held himself ever prepared to meet the most
harmless remark with words of defiance. An imaginary impression that
the world had agreed to scorn him, made him adopt a bearing at once
aggressive and offensive; and he who was once a proverb for good temper
became irritable and savage to a degree.

What might not come of such a temperament, tried in its tenderest spot?
What might occur to expose him to the heartless sneers of those who
neither knew his qualities nor his trials? These were her thoughts as
she walked to and fro in her little room, unable to read, unable
to write, though she made several attempts to begin a letter to her
brother. The dark future also lowered before, without one flicker of
light to pierce its gloom. How were they to live? In a few days more
they would be at the end of their frail resources,--something less than
two pounds was all that they had in the world. How she envied those in
some foreign land who could stoop to the most menial labor, unseen and
unremembered by their own. How easily, she thought, poverty might be
borne, if divested of the terrible contrast with a former condition.
Could they by any effort raise the means to emigrate,--and where to?
Might not Mr. Dunn be the person to give counsel in such a case? From
all she had heard of him, he was conversant with every career, every
walk, and every condition. Doubtless he could name the very colony, and
the very spot to suit them,--nor impossible that he might aid them to
reach it. If they prospered, they could repay him. They might pledge
themselves to such a condition on this head as he would dictate. How,
then, to approach him? A letter? And yet a letter was always so wanting
in the great requisite of answering doubts as they arose, and meeting
difficulties by ready re-Joinder. A personal interview would do this.
Then why not ask for an audience of him? "I'll call upon him at once,"
said she; "he may receive me without other solicitation,--my name will
surely secure me that much of attention." Would her father approve of
such a step?--would it not appear to his eyes an act of meanness and
dependence?--might not the whole scheme be one to which he would offer
opposition? From conflicts like these she came back to the dreary
present and wondered what could still delay his coming. It was a road
but little travelled; and as she sat watching at the window, her eyes
grew wearied piercing the hazy atmosphere, darkening deeper and deeper
as night drew near. She endeavored to occupy herself in various ways:
she made little preparations for his coming; she settled his room
neatly, over and over; she swept the hearth, and made a cheerful fire to
greet him; and then, passing into the kitchen, she looked after the
humble dinner that awaited him. Six o'clock passed, and another weary
hour followed. Seven,--and still he came not. She endeavored to divert
her thoughts into thinking of the future she had pictured to herself.
She tried to fancy the scenery, the climate, the occupation of that
dream-land over the seas; but at every bough that beat against the
window by the wind, at every sound of the storm without, she would start
up, and hasten to the door to listen.

It was now near eight o'clock; and so acute had her hearing become by
intense anxiety that she could detect the sounds of a footfall coming
along the plashy road. She did not venture to move, lest she should lose
the sound, and she dreaded, too, lest it should pass on. She bent down
her head to hear; and now, oh, ecstasy of relief! she heard the latch of
the little wicket raised, and the step upon the gravel-walk within. She
rushed at once to the door, and, dashing out into the darkness, threw
herself wildly upon his breast, saying, "Thank God you are come! Oh, how
I have longed for you, dearest, dearest father!" And then as suddenly,
with a shriek, cried out, "Who is it? Who is this?"

"Conway,--Charles Conway. A friend,--at least, one who would wish to be
thought so."

With a wild and rapid utterance she told him of her long and weary
watch, and that her fears--mere causeless fears, she said she knew they
were--had made her nervous and miserable. Her father's habits, always so
regular and homely, made even an hour's delay a source of anxiety.
"And then he had not been well for some days back,--circumstances had
occurred to agitate him; things preyed upon him more heavily than they
had used. Perhaps it was the dreary season--perhaps their solitary kind
of life--had rendered them both more easily depressed. But, somehow--"
She could not go on; but hastening towards the window, pressed her hands
to her face.

"If you could tell me where I would be likely to hear of him,--what are
his haunts in town--"

"He has none,--none whatever. He has entirely ceased to visit any of his
former friends; even Mr. Beecher he has not called on for months long."

"Has he business engagements in any quarter that you know of?"

"None now. He did hold an office in the Customs, but he does so no
longer. It is possible--just possible--he might have called at Mr.
Dunn's, but he could not have been detained there so late as this. And
if he were--" She stopped, confused and embarrassed.

"As to that," said he, catching at her difficulty with ready tact, "I
could easily pretend it was my own anxiety that caused the visit. I
could tell him it was likely I should soon see Jack again, and ask of
him to let me be the bearer of some kind message to him."

"Yes, yes," muttered Bella, half vacantly; for he had only given to his
words the meaning of a mere pretext.

"I think you may trust to me that I will manage the matter delicately.
He shall never suspect that he has given any uneasiness by his absence."

"But even this," said she, eagerly, "condemns me to some hours longer of
feverish misery. You cannot possibly go back to town and return here in
less than two--perhaps three hours."

"I 'll try and do it in half the time," said Conway, rising, and taking
his cap. "Where does Mr. Dunn live?"

"In Menion Square. I forget the number, but it does not matter; every
one knows his house. It is on the north side."

"You shall see me before--What o'clock is it now?"

"Half-past eight," said she, shuddering, as she saw how late it was.

"Before eleven, I promise you confidently,--and earlier if I can."

"You know my father so very little--so very recently," said Sybella,
with some confusion, "that it may be necessary to guard you,--that is,
you ought to be made aware that on this day the estate our family has
held for centuries was sold. It is true we are no poorer than we were
yesterday; the property we called our own, and from habit believed to
be such, had been mortgaged this many a year. Why or how we ever
fancied that one day or other we should be in a position to pay off the
encumbrances, I cannot tell you; but it is true that we did so fancy,
and used to talk of that happy event as of one we felt to be in store
for us. Well, the blow has fallen at last, and demolished all our
castle-building! Like storm-tossed vessels, we saw ships sinking on
every side, and yet caught at hope for ourselves. This hope has now left
us. The work of this morning has obliterated every trace of it. It is of
this, then, I would ask you to be mindful when you see my poor father.
He has seen ruin coming this many a year; it never came face to face
with him till to-day. I cannot tell how he may brave it, though there
was a time I could have answered for his courage."

"Jack Kellett's father could scarcely be deficient in that quality,"
said Conway, whose flashing eyes showed that it was Jack's sister was
uppermost in his mind as he spoke.

"Oh," said she, sorrowfully, "great as the heroism is that meets death
on the field of battle, it is nothing to the patient and enduring
bravery that confronts the daily ills of life,--confronts them nobly,
but in humility, neither buoyed up by inordinate hope, nor cast down by
despondency, but manfully resolved to do one's best, and, come what may,
to do it without sacrifice of self-respect. Thus meeting fate, and
with a temper that all the crosses of life have not made irritable nor
suspectful, makes a man to my eyes a greater hero than any of those who
charge in forlorn hopes, or single-handed rush up the breach torn by
grape-shot." Her cheek, at first pale, grew deeper and deeper red,
and her dark eyes flashed till their expression became almost wild in
brilliancy, when, suddenly checking her passionate mood, she said, "It
were better I should go along with you,--better, at least, I were at
hand. He will bear much from me that he would not endure from another,
and I will go." So saying, she hastened from the room, and in a moment
came back shawled and ready for the road.

"What a night for you to venture out," said Conway; "and I have got no
carriage of any kind."

"I am well accustomed to brave bad weather, and care nothing for it."

"It is raining fearfully, and the waves are washing clear over the low
sea-wall," said he, trying to dissuade her.

"I have come out here on many such nights, and never the worse for it.
Can't you fancy Jack Kellett's sister equal to more than this?" said
she, smiling through all her sadness, as she led the way to the door.

And now they were upon the road, the wild rain and the gusty wind
beating against them, and almost driving them back. So loud the storm
that they did not try to speak, but with her arm close locked within his
own, Conway breasted the hurricane with a strange sensation of delight
he had never known before.

Scarcely a word passed between them as they went; as the rain beat
heavily against her he would try as well as he could to shelter her;
when the cutting wind blew more severely, he would draw her arm closer
within his own; and yet, thus in silence, they grew to each other like
friends of many a year. A sense of trustfulness, a feeling of a common
object too, sufficed to establish between them a sentiment to be moulded
by the events of after-life into anything. Ay, so is it! Out of these
chance affinities grow sometimes the passion of a life, and sometimes
the disappointments that embitter existence!

"What a good fortune it was that brought you to my aid to-night," said
she; "I had not dared to have come this long road alone."

"What a good fortune mine to have even so humble a service to render
you! Jack used to talk to me of you for hours long. Nights just like
this have we passed together; he telling me about your habits and your
ways, so that this very incident seems to fit into the story of your
life as an every-day occurrence. I know," continued he, as she seemed
to listen attentively, "how you used to ride over the mountains at home,
visiting wild and out-of-the-way spots; how you joined him in his long
fishing excursions, exploring the deep mountain gorges while he lingered
by the riverside. The very names you gave these desolate places--taken
from old books of travel--showed me how a spirit of enterprise was in
your heart."

"Were they not happy days!" murmured she, half to herself.

"They must have been," said he, ardently; "to hear of them has charmed
the weariest watches of the night, and made me long to know you."

"Yes; but I am not what I was," said she, hastily. "Out of that dreamy,
strange existence I have awakened to a world full of its own stern
realities. That pleasant indolence has ill prepared me for the road I
must travel; and it was selfish too! The vulgarest cares of every-day
life are higher aims than all the mere soarings of imagination, and of
this truth I am only now becoming aware."

"But it was for never neglecting those very duties Jack used to praise
you; he said that none save himself knew you as other than the careful
mistress of a household."

"Poor fellow! ours was an humble retinue, and needed little guidance."

"I see," said Conway, "you are too proud to accept of such esteem as
mine; but yet you can't prevent me offering it."

"Have I not told you how I prize your kindness?" said she, gently.

"Will you let me think so?" cried Conway, pressing her arm closely; and
again they were silent Who knows with what thoughts?

How dreary did the streets seem as they entered Dublin! The hazy lamps,
dulled by the fast-falling rain, threw a misty light through the loaded
atmosphere; the streets, deserted by all but the very poorest were
silent and noiseless, save for the incessant plash of the rain; few
lights were seen on any side, and all was darkness and gloom. Wearily
they plodded onward, Sybella deeply sunk in her own thoughts as to the
future, and Conway, too respectful of her feelings to interrupt her,
never uttered a word as they went. At last they reached Merrion Square,
and after some little search stood at the door of Mr. Davenport Dunn.
Sybella drew a heavy sigh as Conway knocked loudly, and muttered to
herself, "Heaven grant me good tidings of my father!"



CHAPTER XXII. AFTER A DINNER-PARTY

Mr. Davenport Dunn had a dinner-party,--he entertained the notables
of the capital; and a chief secretary, a couple of judges, a poor-law
commissioner, and some minor deities, soldier and civilian, formed his
company. They were all social, pleasant, and conversational. The country
was growing governable, calendars were light, military duty a mere
pastime, and they chatted agreeably over reminiscences of a time--not
very remote neither--when Rockites were rife, jails crammed, and
the fatigues and perils of a soldier not inferior to those of actual
warfare.

"To our worthy host here!" said the Chief Baron, eying his claret before
the light,--and it was a comet vintage,--"to our worthy host here are we
indebted for most of this happy change."

"Under Providence," whispered the oily Dean of the Chapel Royal.

"Of course, so I mean," said the judge, with that kind of impatience
he would have met a needless suggestion in court. "Great public
works, stupendous enterprises, and immense expenditure of capital have
encountered rebellion by the best of all methods,--prosperity!"

"Is it really extinct,--has Lazarus died, or is he only sleeping?"
interposed a small dark-eyed man, with a certain air of determination
and a look of defiance that seemed to invite discussion.

"I should, at all events, call it a trance that must lead to
perfect recovery," said the Chief Secretary. "Ireland is no longer a
difficulty."

"She may soon become something more," said the dark man; "instead
of embarrassing your counsels, she may go far towards swaying and
controlling them. The energies that were once wasted in factious
struggles at home here, may combine to carry on a greater combat in
England; and it might even happen that your statesmen might look back
with envy to days of orange-and-green memory."

"She would gladly welcome the change you speak of." said the Secretary.

"I'm not so sure of that, sir; you have not already shown yourselves
so very tolerant when tried. It is but a few years ago, and your bar
rebelled at the thought of an Irishman being made Master of the Rolls in
England, and that Irishman, Plunkett."

"I must say," burst in the Attorney-General, fresh from his first
session in Parliament, and, more still, his first season in town, "this
is but a prejudice,--an unjust prejudice. I can assert for myself that
I never rose in the House without experiencing a degree of attention,--a
deference, in short--"

"Eminently the right of one whose opinions were so valuable," said the
Secretary, bowing blandly, and smiling.

"You did not lash them too often nor too much, Hutchard," said the dark
man. "If I remember aright, you rose once in the session, and that was
to move an adjournment."

"Ah, Lindley," said the other, good-humoredly, "you are an unforgiving
enemy." Then, turning to the Chief Secretary, he said: "He cannot pardon
my efforts, successful as they have been, to enable the Fellows of the
University to marry. He obtained his fellowship as a safe retirement,
and now discovers that his immunity is worth nothing."

"I beg pardon," said Lindley; "I have forgiven you long ago. It was from
your arguments in its favor the measure was so long resisted. You are
really blameless in the matter!"

The sharp give and take of these sallies--the fruit of those intimacies
which small localities produce--rather astonished the English officials,
and the Secretary and the Commissioner exchanged glances of significant
import; nor was this lost on the Chief Baron, who, to change the topic,
suddenly asked,--

"Who bought that estate--Kellett's Court, I think they call it--was sold
this morning?"

"I purchased it in trust," said Dunn, "for an English peer."

"Does he intend ever to reside there?"

"He talks of it, my Lord," said Dunn, "the way men talk of something
very meritorious that they mean to do--one day or other."

"It went, I hear, for half its value," remarked some one.

"A great deal above that, I assure you," said Dunn. "Indeed, as property
is selling now, I should not call the price a bad one."

"Evidently Mr. Kellett was not of your mind," said the former speaker,
laughing.

"I 'm told he burst into court to-day and abused every one, from the
Bench to the crier, called the sale a robbery, and the judge a knave."

"Not exactly that. He did, it is true, interrupt the order of the Court,
but the sale was already concluded. He used very violent language, and
so far forgot his respect for the Bench as to incur the penalty of a
committal."

"And was he committed?" asked the Secretary.

"He was; but rather as a measure of precaution than punishment. The
Court suspected him to be insane." Here Dunn leaned over and whispered
a few words in the Secretary's ear. "Nor was it without difficulty,"
muttered he, in a low tone. "He continued to inveigh in the most violent
tone against us all; declared he 'd never leave the Jail without a
public apology from the Bench; and, in fact, conducted himself so
extravagantly that I half suspected the judge to be right, and that
there was some derangement in the case."

"I remember Paul Kellett at the head of the grand jury of his county,"
said one.

"He was high sheriff the first year I went that circuit," said the
judge.

"And how has it ended?--where is he now?" whispered the Secretary.

"I persuaded him to come home here with me, and after a little calming
down he became reasonable and has gone to his own house, but only within
the last hour. It was that my servant whispered me, when he last brought
in the wine."

"And I suppose, after all," said the Poor-Law Commissioner, "there was
nothing peculiar in this instance; his case was one of thousands."

"Quite true, sir," said Lindley. "Statistical tables can take no note
of such-like applicants for out-door relief; all are classified as
paupers."

"It must be acknowledged," said the Secretary, in a tone of half rebuke,
"that the law has worked admirably; there is but one opinion on that
subject in England."

"I should be greatly surprised were it otherwise," said Lindley; "I
never heard that the Cornish fishermen disparaged shipwrecks!"

"Who is that gentleman?" whispered the Secretary to Dunn.

"A gentleman very desirous to be Crown Prosecutor at Melbourne," said
Dunn, with a smile.

"He expresses himself somewhat freely," whispered the other.

"Only here, sir,--only here, I assure you. He is our stanchest supporter
in the College."

"Of course we shall take Sebastopol, sir," said a colonel from the
end of the table. "The Russians are already on half rations, and their
ammunition is nigh exhausted." And now ensued a lively discussion of
military events, wherein the speakers displayed as much confidence as
skill.

"It strikes me," said Lindley, "we are at war with the Emperor Nicholas
for practising pretty much the same policy we approve of so strenuously
for ourselves. He wanted to treat Turkey like an encumbered estate.
There was the impoverished proprietor, the beggared tenantry, the
incapacity for improvement,--all the hackneyed arguments, in fact, for
selling out the Sultan that we employ so triumphantly against the Irish
gentleman."

"Excuse me," said the Attorney-General, "he wanted to take forcible
possession."

"Nothing of the kind. He was as ready to offer compensation as we
ourselves are when we superannuate a clerk or suppress an office. His
sole mistake was that he proposed a robbery at the unlucky moment that
the nation had taken its periodical attack of virtue,--we were in the
height of our honest paroxysm when he asked us to be knaves; and hence
all that has followed."

"You estimate our national morality somewhat cheaply, sir," said the
Commissioner.

"As to morals, I think we are good political economists. We buy cheaply,
and endeavor, at least, to sell in the dearest markets."

"No more wine, thank you," said the Secretary, rising. "A cup of coffee,
with pleasure."

It was a part of Davenport Dunn's policy to sprinkle his dinner company
with men like Lindley. They were what physicians call a sort of mild
irritants, and occasionally very useful in their way; but, in the
present instance, he rather suspected that the application had been
pushed too far, and he approached the Secretary in the drawing-room with
a kind of half apology for his guest.

"Ireland," said he, "has always possessed two species of place-hunters:
the one, patiently supporting Government for years, look calmly for the
recognition of their services as a debt to be paid; the other, by an
irritating course of action, seem to indicate how vexatious and annoying
they may prove if not satisfactorily dealt with. Lindley is one of
these, and he ought to be provided for."

"I declare to you, Dunn," said the Secretary, as he drew his arm within
the other's, and walked with him into the back drawing-room, "these
kind of men make government very difficult in Ireland. There is no
reserve--no caution about them. They compromise one at every step.
You are the only Irishman I ever met who would seem to understand the
necessity of reserve."

Dunn bowed twice. It was like the acknowledgment of what he felt to be a
right.

"I go further," said the other, warming; "you are the only man here
who has given us real and effective support, and yet never asked for
anything."

"What could I wish for better than to see the country governed as it
is?" said Dunn, courteously.

"All are not inspired so patriotically, Dunn. Personal advantages have
their influence on most men."

"Of course,--naturally enough. But I stand in no need of aid in this
respect I don't want for means. I could n't, if you offered it, take
office; my hands are too full already, and of work which another
might not be able to carry out. Rank, of course--distinction--" and he
stopped, and seemed confused.

"Well, come, we might meet you there, Dunn," said the other, coaxingly.
"Be frank with me. What do you wish for?"

"My family is of humble origin, it is true," said Dunn; "but, without
invidious reflection, I might point to some others--" Again he
hesitated.

"_That_ need not be an obstacle," said the Secretary.

"Well, then, on the score of fortune, there are some poorer than myself
in--in--" He stopped again.

"Very few as wealthy, I should say, Dunn,--very few, indeed. Let me only
know your wishes. I feel certain how they will be treated."

"I am aware," said Dunn, with some energy, "that you incur the risk of
some attack in anything you would do for me. I am necessarily in scant
favor with a large party here. They would _assail you_, they would
_vilify me_; but that would pass over. A few weeks--a few months at
furthest--"

"To be sure,--perfectly correct It would be mere momentary clamor. Sir
Davenport Dunn, Baronet, would survive--"

"I beg pardon," said Dunn, in a voice tremulous with emotion. "I don't
think I heard you aright; I trust, at least, I did not."

The Secretary looked quickly in his face, and saw it pale, the lips
slightly quivering, and the brow contracted.

"I was saying," said he, in a voice broken and uncertain, "that I 'm
sure the Premier would not refuse to recommend you to her Majesty for a
baronetcy."

"May I make so bold as to ask if you have already held any conversation
with the Minister on this subject?"

"None, whatever. I assure you, most solemnly, that I have no
instructions on the subject, nor have I ever had any conversation with
him on the matter."

"Then let me beg you to forget what has just passed between us. It is,
after all, mere chit-chat. That's a Susterman's, that portrait you are
looking at," said he, eager to change the topic. "It is said to be a
likeness of Bianca Capello."

"A very charming picture, indeed; purchased, I suppose, in your last
visit abroad."

"Yes; I bought it at Verona. Its companion, yonder, was a present from
the Archduke Stephen, in recognition, as he was gracious enough to call
it, of some counsels I had given the Government engineers about drainage
in Hungary. Despotic governments, as we like to term them, have this
merit, at least,--they confer acts of munificent generosity."

The Secretary muttered an assent, and looked confused.

"I reaped a perfect harvest of crosses and decorations," continued Dunn,
"during my tour. I have got cordons from countries I should be puzzled
to point out on the map, and am a noble in almost every land of Europe
but my own."

"Ours is the solitary one where the distinction is not a mere title,"
said the other, "and, consequently, there are graver considerations
about conferring it than if it were a mere act of courtesy."

"Where power is already acquired there is often good policy in
legitimatizing it," said Dunn, gravely. "They say that even the Church
of Rome knows how to affiliate a heresy.--Well, Clowes, what is it?"
asked he of the butler, who stood awaiting a favorable moment to address
him. He now drew nigh, and whispered some words in his ear.

"But you said I was engaged--that I had company with me?" said Dunn, in
reply.

"Yes, sir, but she persisted in saying that if I brought up her name you
would certainly see her, were it but for a moment This is her card."

"Miss Kellett," said Dunn to himself. "Very well. Show her into the
study, I will come down.--It is the daughter of that unfortunate
gentleman we were speaking of awhile ago," said he, showing the card.
"I suppose some new disaster has befallen him. Will you excuse me for a
moment?"

As Dunn slowly descended the stairs, a very strange conflict was at
work within him. From his very boyhood there had possessed him a stern
sentiment of vengeance against the Kellett family. It was the daily
lesson his father repeated to him. It grew with his years, and vague
and unmeaning as it appeared, it had the force of an instinct. His own
memory failed him as to all the circumstances of an early insult, but
enough remained to make him know that he had been ignominiously treated
and expelled from the house. In the great career of his life, with
absorbing cares and high interests around him, he had little time for
such memories, but in moments of solitude or of depression the thought
would come up, and a sense of vindictive pleasure fill him, as he
remembered, in the stern words of his father, where was _he_, and where
were _they?_ In the protection he had that very day assumed to throw
over Kellett in the Court, there was the sentiment of an insolent
triumph; and here was again the daughter of the once proud man
supplicating an interview with him.

These were his thoughts as he entered the room where Sybella Kellett was
standing near the fire. She had taken off her bonnet, and as her long
hair fell down, and her dripping clothes clung to her, the picture of
poverty and destitution her appearance conveyed revolted against the
sentiment which had so lately filled him, and it was in a voice of
gentle meaning he asked her to be seated.

"Can you tell me of my father, sir?" said she, eagerly, and not heeding
his words; "he left home early this morning, and has never returned."

"I can tell you everything, Miss Kellett," said he, in a kind voice. "It
will reassure you at once when I say he is well. Before this he is at
home again."

The young girl clasped her hands closely, and her pale lips murmured
some faint words.

"In a moment of excitement this morning he said something to offend the
Court. It was an emergency to try a calmer temper, perhaps, than his;
indeed, he ought not to have been there; at all events, he was betrayed
into expressions which could not be passed over in mere silence, and he
was committed--"

"To prison?" said she, faintly.

"Yes, he was taken into custody, but only for a few hours. I obtained
his release soon after the Court rose. The difficulty was to make him
accept of his liberation. Far from having calmed down, his passion had
only increased, and it was only after much entreaty that he consented to
leave the jail and come here with me. In fact, it was under the pretence
of drawing up a formal protest against his arrest that he did come, and
he has been employed in this manner till about an hour ago, when one of
my clerks took charge of him to convey him home. A little quietness and
a little rest will restore him perfectly, however, and I have no doubt
to-morrow or next day will leave no trace of this excitement."

"You have been most kind," said she, rising, "and I am very grateful for
it. We owe much to you already, and this last but increases the debt."

Dunn stood silently contemplating her, as she replaced her bonnet and
prepared for the road. At last he said, "Have you come all this way on
foot and alone?"

"On foot, but not alone; a comrade of my brother's--a fellow-soldier of
his--kindly gave me his escort. He is waiting for me now without."

"Oh, then, the adventure has had its compensation to a certain degree,"
said Dunn, with a smile of raillery.

"Either I do not understand you, or you mistake me,--which is it?" said
she, boldly.

"My dear young lady," said Dunn, hastily, "do not let me offend you.
There is everything in what you have done this night to secure you
respect and esteem. We live in a time when there is wonderfully little
of personal devotion; and commonplace men like myself may well misjudge
its sacrifices."

"And yet it is precisely from you I should have expected the reverse. If
great minds are tainted with littleness, where are we to look for high
and noble sentiments?" She moved towards the door as she spoke; and
Dunn, anticipating her, said,--

"Do not go for a moment; let me offer you some refreshment, even a glass
of wine. Well, then, your friend? It is scarcely courteous to leave him
outside in such weather."

"Pray forgive me not accepting your offer; but I am impatient to be at
home again. My father, too, will be distressed at my absence."

"But I will send my carriage with you; you shall not walk," said he,
ringing the bell.

"Do not think me ungrateful, but I had rather return as I came. You have
no idea, sir, how painfully kindness comes to hearts like ours. A sense
of pride sustains us through many a trial; break down this, and we are
helpless."

"Is it that you will accept nothing at my hands,--even the most
commonplace of attentions? Well, I'll try if I cannot be more fortunate
elsewhere;" and so saying, he hurried at once from the room. Before
Sybella could well reflect on his words, he was back again, followed by
Charles Conway.

"Miss Kellett was disposed to test your Crimean habits again, my good
fellow," said Dunn, "by keeping you out there under this terrible rain,
and I perceive you have got some rough treatment already;" and he
looked at the armless sleeve of his jacket.

"Yes," said Conway, laughing, "a piece of Russian politeness!"

Few as were the words, the tone and manner of the speaker struck Dunn
with astonishment, and he said,--

"Have you been long in the service?"

"Some years," was the short reply.

"It's very strange," said Dunn, regarding him fixedly, "but your
features are quite familiar to me. You are very like a young officer
who cut such a dash here formerly,--a spendthrift fellow, in a Lancer
regiment."

"Pray don't involve yourself in any difficulty," said Conway, "for,
perhaps--indeed, I 'm convinced--you are describing myself."

"Conway, of the Twelfth?"

"The same, at your service,--at least, in so far as being ruined and
one-armed means the same with the fellow who had a good fortune, and two
hands to scatter it."

"I must go. I 'm impatient to be away," said Sybella, eagerly.

"Then there is the carriage at the door," said Dunn. "This time I have
resolved to have my way;" and he gave her his arm courteously to conduct
her.

"Could you call upon me to-morrow--could you breakfast with me, Mr.
Conway?" said Dunn, as he gave him his hand at parting; "my request is
connected with a subject of great importance to yourself."

"I 'm your man," said Conway, as he followed Sybella into the carriage.
And away they drove.



CHAPTER XXIII. A BREAKFAST-TABLE

When, punctual to the appointed time, Charles Conway presented himself
at Mr. Dunn's door, he learned to his astonishment that that gentleman
had gone out an hour before to breakfast with the Chief Secretary in the
Park.

"But I came by invitation to breakfast with your master," said he.

"Possibly so," said Clowes, scanning the simply clad soldier before him.
"He never mentioned it to me; that's all I know."

Conway stood for a moment, half uncertain what to say; then, with
a quiet smile, he said, "Pray tell him that I was here,--my name is
Conway."

"As to the breakfast part of the matter," said Clowes, who felt "rather
struck" by something in the soldier's manner, as he afterwards expressed
it, "I 'm just about to take mine; you might as well join me."

Conway looked him full in the face,--such a stare was it as a man gives
when he questions the accuracy of his own senses; a slight flush then
rose to his cheek, and his lip curled, and then, with a saucy laugh that
seemed to combat the passing irritation he was suffering, he said, "It's
not a bad notion, after all; I'm your man."

Now, though Mr. Clowes had anticipated a very different reception to his
politeness, he said nothing, but led the way into his sanctum, trusting
to the locality and its arrangement to have their due effect upon his
guest. Indeed, in this respect, he did but fair justice to the comforts
around him.

The breakfast-table, placed close to a cheerful fire, was spread with
every luxury of that meal. A small spirit lamp burned under a dish of
most appetizing cutlets, in the midst of various kinds of bread, and
different sorts of preserves. The grateful odor of mocha mingled with
the purer perfume of fresh flowers, which, although in midwinter, were
never wanting at Mr. Clowes's breakfast-table, while in the centre
rose a splendid pineapple, the first of the season, duly offered by the
gardener to the grand vizier of Davenport Dunn.

"I can promise you a better breakfast than _he_ would have given you,"
said Clowes, as he motioned his guest to a seat, while he significantly
jerked his thumb towards Dunn's study. "_He_ takes tea and dry toast,
and he quite forgets to order anything else. He has some crank or other
about beginning the day with a light meal; quite a mistake,--don't you
think so?"

"This is not the most favorable moment to make me a convert to that
opinion," said Conway, laughing. "I must confess I incline to _your_
side of the controversy."

"There are herrings there," said Clowes, "and a spatchcock coming. You
see," continued he, returning to the discussion, "he overworks--he
does too much--taxes his powers beyond their strength--beyond any man's
strength;" and here Mr. Clowes threw himself back in his chair, and
looked pompously before him, as though to say, Even Clowes would n't
have constitution for what _he_ does.--"A man must have his natural
rest, sir, and his natural support;" and in evidence of the last, he
re-helped himself to the Strasburg pâté.

"Your words are wisdom, and washed down with such Bordeaux I 'd like to
see who 'd gainsay them," said Conway, with a droll twinkle of the eye.

"Better coffee, that, I fancy, than you got in the Crimea," said Clowes,
pointing to the coffee-pot.

"I suspect Lord Raglan himself never saw such a breakfast as this. May I
ask if it be your every-day meal?"

"We change slightly with the seasons. Oysters and Sauterne suit spring;
and then, when summer sets in, we lean towards the subacid fruits and
claret-cup. Dash your pineapple with a little rum,--it's very old, and
quite a liqueur."

"This must be a very jolly life of yours," said Conway, as he lighted
his cigarette and placed his feet on the fender.

"You 'd prefer it to the trenches or the rifle-pits, I suspect," said
Clowes, laughing, "and small blame to you. It was out there you lost
your arm, I suppose?"

Conway nodded, and puffed on in silence.

[Illustration: 270]

"A bad business,--a bad business we 're making of it all! The Crimea
was a mistake; we should have marched direct to Moscow,--Moscow or St
Petersburg,--I don't care which."

"Nor should I, if we could get there," said Conway, quietly.

"Get there,--and why not? Fifty thousand British bayonets are a match
for the world in arms. It is a head we want, sir,--capacity to deal with
the great questions of strategy. Even you yourself must have remarked
that we have no generalship,--no guidance--"

"I won't say that," said Conway, quietly. "We're knocking hard at
Sebastopol, and all we can say is we have n't found the weak spot yet."

"The weak spot! Why, it 's all weak,--earthworks, nothing but
earthworks! Now, don't tell me that Wellington would have minded
earthworks! Ah, we have fallen upon sad times!" sighed he, piteously.
"Our land commanders say earthworks are impregnable; our admirals say
stone walls can't be attacked."

Conway laughed again, and lighted a fresh cigarette.

"And what pension have you for that?" asked Clowes, glancing at the
empty sleeve.

"A mere trifle; I can't exactly tell you, for I have not applied for it"

"I would, though; I 'd have it out of them, and I 'd have whatever I
could, besides. They 'd not give _you_ the Bath; that they keep for
gentlemen--"

Conway took his cigar from his lips, and while his cheek burned, he
seemed about to reply; then, resuming his smoking, he lay back and said
nothing.

"After all," said Clowes, "there must be distinctions of rank. One
regrets, one deplores, but can't help it Look at all the attempts at
equality, and see their failures. No, sir, you have _your_ place in the
social scale, and I have _mine_."

Now, when Mr. Clowes had enunciated this sentiment, he seemed suddenly
to be struck by its severity; for he added, "Not but that every man is
respectable in his own rank; don't imagine that I look down upon you."

Conway's eyes opened widely as he stared at him, and he puffed his cigar
a little more energetically, but never spoke.

"You 've done with the service, I suppose?" said Clowes, after a while.

"I'm afraid so," said Conway, sighing.

"Well, _he_"--and he jerked his thumb towards Dunn's room--"he is the
man to help you to something snug. He can give away places every hour
of the day. Ay, sir," said he, warming, "he can make anything, from an
archbishop to a barony constable."

"I rather fear that my capacity for employment might not be found very
remarkable. I have idle habits and ways," said Conway, smiling.

"Bad things, my friend,--bad things for any man, but especially for a
poor one. I myself began life in an humble way,--true, I assure you; but
with industry, zeal, and attention, I am what you see me."

"That _is_ encouraging, certainly," said Conway, gravely.

"It is so, and I mention it for your advantage."

Charles Conway now arose, and threw the half-smoked cigar into the fire.
The movement betokened impatience, and, sooth to say, he was half angry
with himself; for, while disposed to laugh at the vanity and conceit of
the worthy butler, he still felt that he was his guest, and that such
ridicule was ill applied to one whose salt he had eaten.

"You're not going without seeing him?" said Clowes. "He 's sure to be
in before noon. We are to receive the Harbor Commissioners exactly at
twelve."

"I have a call to make, and at some distance off in the country, this
morning."

"Well, if I can be of any use to you, just tell me," said Clowes,
good-naturedly. "My position here--one of trust and confidence, you may
imagine--gives me many an opportunity to serve a friend; and I like you.
I was taken with your manner as you came into the hall this morning, and
I said to myself, 'There 's good stuff in that young fellow, whoever he
is.' And I ain't wrong. You have some blood in you, I'll be bound."

"We used to be rather bumptious about family," said Conway, laughing;
"but I suspect the world has taught us to get rid of some of our
conceit."

"Never mind the world. Pride of birth is a generous prejudice. I
have never forgotten that my grandfather, on the mother's side, was a
drysalter. But can I be of any use to you? that's the question."

"I 'm inclined to think not; though I 'm just as grateful to you. Mr.
Dunn asked me here this morning, I suspect, to talk over the war with
me. Men naturally incline to hear what an eyewitness has to say, and he
may have fancied I could have mentioned some new fact, or suggested some
new expedient, which in these days seems such a fashionable habit, when
everybody has his advice to proffer."

"No, no," said Clowes, shaking his head; "it could n't be that. _We_
have been opposed to this war from the beginning. It was all a mistake,
a dead mistake. Aberdeen agreed with us, but we were outvoted. They
would have a fight. They said we wanted something to get cotton-spinning
out of our blood; and, egad! I suspect they've got it.

"Our views," continued Clowes, pompously, "were either a peace or a
march to St. Petersburg. This French alliance is a rotten thing, sir.
That Corsican will double on us. The very first moment any turn of
fortune gives France an advantage, _he 'll_ make peace, and leave us all
the obloquy of a reluctant assent. That's _his_ view,--that's mine, too;
and we are seldom mistaken."

"For all that, I wish I were back there again," said Conway. "With every
one of its hardships--and they were no trifles--it was a better life
than this lounging one I lead now. Tell Mr. Dunn that I was here. Say
that I enjoyed your excellent hospitality and pleasant company; and
accept my hearty thanks for both." And with a cordial shake of the hand,
Conway wished him "Good-bye," and departed.

"That's just the class of men we want in our army," said Clowes, as he
followed him with his eyes. "A stamp somewhat above the common,--a very
fine young fellow too."

In less than a quarter of an hour after Conway's departure, Davenport
Dunn's carriage drew up at his door, and Mr. Clowes hastened to receive
his master.

"Are they out, sir,--are they out?" said he, eagerly, as he followed him
into the study.

"Yes," said Dunn; "but everything is still at sixes and sevens. Lord
Derby has been sent for, and Lord John sent for, and Lord Palmerston
sent for, but nothing decided on,--nothing done."

"And how will it end?" asked Clowes, like one waiting for the solution
of a difficulty.

"Who has called this morning?" said Dunn, curtly. "Has Lord Glengariff
been here?"

"No, sir. Sir Jacob Harris and the Drumsna Directors are all in waiting,
and a rather promiscuous lot are in the back parlor. A young soldier,
too, was here. He fancied you had asked him to breakfast, and so I made
him join mine."

"Indeed!" exclaimed Dunn. "I forgot all about that engagement. How
provoking! Can you find out where he is stopping?"

"No. But he's sure to drop in again: I half promised him a sort of
protection; and he looks a shrewd sort of fellow, and not likely to
neglect his hits."

A strange twinkle shone in Dunn's eyes as he heard this speech, and
a queer motion at the angle of his mouth accompanied it, but he never
spoke a word.

As for Conway, meanwhile, he was briskly stepping out towards Clontarf,
to inquire after poor Kellett, whose state was one to call for much
anxiety. To the intense excitement of the morning there had succeeded
a dull and apathetic condition, in which he seemed scarcely to notice
anything or anybody. A look half weary, half vacant, was in his eye; his
head was drooped; and a low muttering to himself was the only sign he
gave of any consciousness whatever. Such was his state when Conway left
the cottage late on the night before, with a promise to be back there
again early the next morning.

Conway saw that the shutters of the little drawing-room were half closed
as he entered the garden, and his quiet, cautious knock at the door
denoted the fear at his heart. From the window, partly open, came a low,
moaning sound, which, as he listened, he discovered to be the sick man's
voice.

"He was just asking if you had come," said Bella. "He has been talking
of poor Jack, and fancies that you have some tidings of him." And so
saying, she led him into the house.

Seated before the fire, in a low chair, his hands resting on his knees,
and his gaze fixed on the embers, Kellett never turned his head round
as they entered, nor did he notice Bella, as, in a soft, low voice, she
mentioned Conway's name.

"He has come out to see you, dear papa; to sit with you and keep you
company, and talk about dear Jack."

"Ay!" said the sick man, in a vague, purposeless tone; and Conway now
took a seat at his side, and laid one of his hands over his.

"You are better to-day, Captain Kellett, ain't you?" said he, kindly.

"Yes," said he, in the same tone as before.

"And will be still better to-morrow, I trust, and able to come out and
take this long walk with me we have so often promised ourselves."

Kellett turned and looked him full in the face. The expression of his
features was that of one vainly struggling with some confusion of ideas,
and earnestly endeavoring to find his way through difficulties, and a
faint, painful sigh at last showed that the attempt was a failure.

"What does this state mean? Is it mere depression, or is it serious
illness?" whispered Bella.

"I am not skilful enough to say," replied Conway, cautiously; "but I
hope and trust it is only the effect of a shock, and will pass off as it
came."

"Ay," said Kellett, in a tone that startled them, and for a moment they
fancied he must have overheard them; but one glance at his meaningless
features showed that they had no ground for their fears.

"The evil is deeper than that," whispered Bella, again. "This cold dew
on his forehead, those shiverings that pass over him from time to time,
and that look in his eye, such as I have never seen before, all betoken
a serious malady. Could you fetch a doctor,--some one in whom you place
confidence?"

"I do know of one, in whom I have the fullest reliance," said Conway,
rising hastily. "I'll go for him at once."

"Lose not a moment, then," said Bella, as she took the place he had just
vacated, and placed her hand on her father's, as Conway had done.

Kellett's glance slowly followed Conway to the door, and then turned
fully in Bella's face, while, with a voice of a thrilling distinctness,
he said, "Too late, darling,--too late!"

The tears gushed from Bella's eyes, and her lips trembled; but she never
uttered a word, but sat silent and motionless as before.

Kellett's eyes were now bent upon her fixedly, with an expression of
deep and affectionate interest; and he slowly drew his hand from beneath
hers, and placed his arm around her.

"I wish he was come, darling," said he, at last.

"Who, papa?--the doctor?" asked Bella.

"The doctor!--no, not the doctor," said he, sighing heavily.

"It is poor Jack you are thinking of," said she, affectionately.

"Poor, sure enough," muttered he; "we're all poor now." And an
inexpressible misery was in his face as he spoke.

Bella wished to speak words of comfort and encouragement; she longed to
tell him that she was ready and willing to devote herself to him; that
in a little time, and by a little effort on their part, their changed
fortunes would cease to fret them; that they would learn to see how much
of real happiness can consist with narrow means, but she knew not in
what spirit her words might be accepted; a chance phrase, an accidental
expression, might jar upon some excited feeling, and only irritate where
it was meant to soothe, and so she only pressed her lips to his hand and
was silent.

The sick man's head gradually declined lower and lower, his breathing
grew heavier, and he slept. The long dreary day dragged on its weary
hours, and still Sybella sat by her father's side watching and waiting.
It was already dusk, when a carriage stopped at the little gate and
Conway got out, and was quickly followed by another. "The doctor, at
last," muttered Sybella, gently moving from her place; and Kellett awoke
and looked at him.

Conway had barely time to whisper the name of the physician in Bella's
ear, when Sir Maurice Dashwood entered. There was none of the solemn
gravity of the learned doctor, none of the catlike stealthiness of the
fashionable practitioner, in his approach. Sir Maurice advanced like a
man entering a drawing-room before a dinner-party, easy, confident, and
affable. He addressed a few words to Miss Kellett, and then placing his
chair next her father's, said,--

"I hope my old brother officer does n't forget me. Don't you remember
Dashwood of the 43d?"

"The wildest chap in the regiment," muttered Kellett, "though he was the
surgeon. Did you know him, sir?"

"I should think I did," said the doctor, smiling; "he was a great chum
of yours, was n't he? You messed together in the Pyrenees for a whole
winter."

"A wild chap,--could never come to any good," went on Kellett to
himself. "I wonder what became of him."

"I can tell you, I think. Meanwhile, let me feel your pulse. No fixed
pain here," said he, touching the region of the heart. "Look fully at
me. Ah, it is there you feel it," said he, as he touched the other's
forehead; "a sense of weight rather than pain, isn't it?"

"It's like lead I feel it," said Kellett; "and when I lay it down, I
don't think I 'll ever be able to lift it up again."

"That you will, and hold it high too, Kellett," said the doctor, warmly.
"You must just follow my counsels for a day or two, and we shall see a
great change in you."

"I 'll do whatever you bid me, but it's no use, doctor; but I 'll do it
for her sake there." And the last words were in a whisper.

"That's spoken like yourself, Kellett," said the other, cheerily. "Now
let me have pen and ink."

As the doctor sat down to a table, he beckoned Bella to his side, and
writing a few words rapidly on the paper before him, motioned to her to
read them.

She grasped the chair as she read the lines, and it shook beneath her
hand, while an ashy pallor spread over her features.

"Ask him if I might have a little brandy-and-water, Bella," said the
sick man.

"To be sure you may," said Sir Maurice; "or, better still, a glass of
claret; and it so happens I have just the wine to suit him. Conway, come
back with me, and I 'll give you a half-dozen of it."

"And is there nothing--is there no--" Bella could utter no more, when a
warning of the doctor's hand showed that her father's eyes were on her.

"Come here, Bella," said he, in a low tone,--"come here to me. There's
a pound in my waistcoat-pocket, in my room; put a shilling inside of it,
for it's a guinea he ought to have, and gold, by rights, if we had it.
And tell him we 'll send for him if we want to see him again. Do it
delicately, darling, so as not to let him know. Say I 'm used to these
attacks; say they're in the family; say--But there, they are driving
away,--they're off! and he never waited for his fee! That's the
strangest thing of all." And so he fell a-thinking over this curious
fact, muttering from time to time to himself, "I never heard of the like
before."



CHAPTER XXIV. THE COTTAGE

Davenport Dunn had but little leisure to think about Conway or poor
Kellett. A change of Ministry had just occurred in England, and men's
minds were all eagerly speculating who was "to come in." Crowds of
country gentlemen flocked up to Dublin, and "rising men" of all shades
of opinion anxiously paraded their own claims to notice. Dunn's house
was besieged from morning to night by visitors, all firmly persuaded
that he must know more of the coming event than any one. Whether such
was really the case, or that he deemed it good policy to maintain the
delusion, Dunn affected a slight indisposition, and refused to admit any
visitor. Mr. Clowes, indeed, informed the inquirers that it was a mere
passing ailment,--"a slight derangement in the bronchi," he said; but be
rigidly maintained the blockade, and suffered none to infringe it.

Of course, a hundred rumors gave their own version of this illness. It
was spleen; it was indignation; the Government had thrown him over: he
had been refused the secretaryship which he had formerly applied for.
Others averred that his attack was most serious,--an ossification or a
scirrhus of some cartilage, a thing always fatal and dreadfully painful.
Some went further. It was his prosperity was in peril. Over-speculation
had jeopardized him, and he was deep in the "Crédit Mobilier." Now, all
this while, the disappointed politician, the hopeless invalid, and the
ruined speculator ate and drank well, received and wrote replies to
innumerable confidential notes from those in power, and carefully drew
up a list of such as he desired to recommend to the Government for place
and employment.

Every morning Sir Maurice Dashwood's well-appointed cab drew up at his
door, and the lively baronet would dash up the stairs to Dunn's room
with all the elasticity of youth, and more real energy than is the
fortune of one young fellow in a thousand. With a consummate knowledge
of men and the world, he was second to none in his profession. He felt
he could afford to indulge the gay and buoyant spirits with which Nature
had blessed him, and even, doctor that he was, take his share in all the
sports of the field and all the pleasures of society.

"Well, Dunn," cried he, gayly, one morning, as he entered the carefully
darkened room where the other sat, surrounded with papers and deep in
affairs, "I think you may accept your bill of health, and come out
of dock tomorrow. They are gazetted now, and the world as wise as
yourself."

"So I mean to do," said Dunn. "I intend to dine with the Chancellor.
What is said about the new Government?"

"Very little. There is really little to say. They are nearly the same
pieces, only placed differently on the board. This trumpery cry about
'right men in right places' will lead to all kinds of confusion, since
it will eternally suggest choice, which, in plain words, means newspaper
dictation."

"As good as any other dictation: better in one respect, for it so often
recants its judgments," said Dunn, sarcastically.

"Well, they are unanimous about _you_ this morning. They are all eagerly
inquiring in what way the Government propose to recognize the services
of one of the ablest men and most disinterested patriots of our day."

"I don't want anything from them," said Dunn, testily, and walking to
the window to avoid the keen, sharp glance the other bent upon him.

"The best way to get it when you _do_ want," said Dash-wood. "By the
way, what's our new Viceroy like?"

"A very good appointment, indeed," said Dunn, gravely.

"Oh, I don't mean that. I want to know what he is personally: is he
stiff, haughty, grave, gay, stand-off, or affable?"

"I should say, from what I have seen of Lord Allington, that he is one
of those men who are grave without sadness--"

"Come, come, never mind the antithesis; does he care for society, does
he like sport, is he free-handed, or has he only come here with the
traditional policy to 'drain Ireland'?"

"You 'll like him much," said Dunn, in his natural voice, "and he 'll
like _you_."

Sir Maurice smiled, as though to say, "I could answer as much for
myself;" and then asked, "Have you known him long?"

"No; that is, not very long," said Dunn, hesitating, "nor very
intimately. Why do you ask?"

"Just because I want to get something,--at once too. There's a poor
fellow, a patient of mine now,--we were brother officers once,--in
a very sad way. Your friends of the Encumbered Court have Just been
selling him out, and by the shock they have so stunned him that his
brain has been attacked; at present it does not seem so formidable, but
it will end in softening, and all the rest of it. Now, if they 'd make
him something at once,--quickly it must be,--he could drop out on some
small retired allowance,--anything, in short, that would support him."

"But what is it to be?" asked Dunn.

"Whatever you like to make him. It can scarcely be a bishop, for he's
not in orders; nor a judge, for he was not called to the bar; but why
not a commissioner of something? You have them for all purposes and of
all degrees."

"You take a low estimate of commissionerships, I perceive," said Dunn,
smiling.

"They are row-boats, where two or three pull, and the rest only dip
their oars. But come, promise me you 'll look to this; take a note of
the name,--Paul Kellett a man of excellent family, and once with a large
landed property."

"I know him," said Dunn, with a peculiar significance.

"And know nothing to his disadvantage, I'm certain. He was a good
officer and a kind-hearted fellow, whom we all liked. And there he is
now," added he, after a pause, "with a charming girl--his daughter--and
I really don't believe they have a five-pound note in the world. You
must do this for me, Dunn. I 'm bent upon it!"

"I'll see what can be done about it. Anything like a job is always a
difficulty."

"And everything is a job here, Dunn, and no man knows better how to deal
with one." And so saying, and with a pleasant laugh, the gay-hearted
doctor hurried away, to carry hope, and some portion at least of his own
cheery nature, into many a darkened sick-room.

Though several names were announced with pressing entreaties for an
audience, Dunn would see no one. He continued to walk up and down the
room deep in thought, and seemed resolved that none should interrupt
him. There were events enough to occupy, cases enough to engage
him,--high questions of policy, deep matters of interest, all that can
stimulate ambition, all that can awaken energy,--and yet, amidst all,
where were his thoughts straying? They were away to the years of his
early boyhood, when he had been Paul Kellett's playfellow, and when he
was admitted--a rare honor--to the little dinner of the nursery! What a
strange thing it was that it was "there and then" his first studies of
life and character should have been made; that it was there and then he
first moulded himself to the temper and ways of another, conforming to
caprices and tending to inclinations not his own. Stern tyrants were
these child masters! How they _did_ presume upon their high station, how
severely did they make him feel the distance between them, and what
arts did they teach him,--what subtle devices to outwit their own
imperiousness and give him the mastery over them! To these memories
succeeded others more painful still; and Dunn's brow contracted and his
lips became tight-drawn as he recollected them.

"I suppose even my father would allow that the debt is acquitted now,"
muttered he to himself. "I 'll go and see them!" said he, after a
moment; "such a sight will teach me how far I have travelled in life."

He gently descended a private stair that led to the garden, and, passing
out by the stables, soon gained the street Walking rapidly on to the
first stand, he engaged a car, and started for Clontarf.

If Davenport Dunn never gave way to a passion for revenge in life, it
was in some sort because he deemed it a luxury above his means. He often
fancied to himself that the time might come when he could indulge in
this pleasure, just as now he revelled in a thousand others, which once
had seemed as remote. His theory was that he had not yet attained that
eminence whence he could dispense with all aid, and he knew not what
man's services at any moment might be useful to him. Still, with all
this, he never ceased to enjoy whatever of evil fortune befell those who
even in times past had injured him. To measure their destiny with his
now, was like striking a balance with Fate,--a balance so strong in his
favor; and when he had not actually contributed to their downfall, he
deemed himself high-minded, generous, and pure-hearted.

It was reflecting in this wise he drove along, and at last drew up
at Kellett's door; his knock was answered by Sybella herself, whose
careworn features and jaded look scarcely reminded him of her appearance
when first he saw her, flushed and excited by exercise.

"I thought I'd come myself and ask after him," said Dunn, as he
explained the object of his visit.

"He has scarce consciousness enough to thank you," said she, mournfully,
"but _I_ am very grateful to you;" and she preceded him into the room,
where her father sat in the selfsame attitude as before.

"He doesn't know me," whispered Dunn, as the sick man's gaze was turned
to him without the slightest sign of recognition,--"he does n't know
me!"

"I do. I know you well, Davenport Dunn, and I know why you come here,"
said Kellett, with a distinctness that startled them both. "Leave us
alone together, Bella darling; we want to talk privately."

Sybella was so astounded at this sudden show of intelligence that she
scarcely knew how to take it, or what to do; but at a gesture from Dunn,
she stepped noiselessly from the room, and left them together.

"You must not excite yourself, Kellett, nor prejudice your prospect
of recovery by any exertion; there will be time enough for matters of
business hereafter--"

"No, there won't; that's the reason I want to talk to you now," said
Kellett, sharply. "I know well enough my life is short here."

[Illustration: 284]

Dunn began some phrase of cheering meaning; but the other stopped him
abruptly, and said,--

"There, there, don't be losing time that way. Is that the touch of a man
long for this world?" and he laid on the other's hand his own hot and
burning fingers. "I said I knew why you came here, Dunn," continued he,
more strongly; "it was to look at your work. Ay, just so. It was _you_
brought me to this, and you wanted to see it. Turn your eyes round the
room, and you 'll see it's poor enough. Look in at that bedroom there,
and you 'll say it could n't be much more humble! I pawned my watch
yesterday; there's all that's out of it;" and he showed some pieces of
silver and copper mixed together in the palm of his hand; "there's not a
silver spoon left, so that you see you 've done it well!"

"My dear Kellett, these words of yours have no meaning in them--"

"Maybe not; but maybe you understand them, for all that! Look here, now,
Dunn," said he, clutching his hand in his own feverish grasp; "what the
Child begins the Man finishes! I know you well, and I 've watched you
for many a year. All your plans and schemes never deceived _me_; but
it's a house of cards you 're building, after all! What I knew about you
as a boy others may know as a man; and I would n't believe St. Peter if
he told me you only did it _once!_"

"If this be not raving, it is a deliberate insult!" muttered Dunn,
sternly, while he rudely pushed away the other's hand, and drew back his
chair.

"Well, it's not raving, whatever it is," said Kellett, calmly. "The cold
air of the earth that's opening for me clears my brain, and I know well
the words I 'm saying, and the warning I 'm giving you. Tell the people
fairly that it's only scheming you were; that the companies are a bubble
and the banks a sham; that you 're only juggling this man's credit
against that, making the people think that you have the confidence of
the Government, and the Government believe that you can do what you like
with the people. Go at once and publish it, that you are only cheating
them all, or you 'll have a gloomier ending even than this!"

"I came out of compassion for you."

"No, you did n't, not a bit of it. You came to tell old Mat Dunn that
the score was wiped off; _he_ came to the window here this morning and
looked in at me."

"My father? Impossible! He's nearly ninety, and barely able to move
about a room."

"I don't care for that: there he was, where you see that bush, and he
leaned on the window-sill and looked at me; and he wiped the glass,
where his breath dulled it, twice. Then I gave a shout at him that sent
him off. They had to carry him to the car outside."

"Is this true?" cried Dunn, eagerly.

"If I had had but the strength to bring me to the window, it's little I
'd have minded his white hair."

"If you had dared!" said Dunn, rising, and no longer able to control his
anger.

"Don't go yet; I have more to say to you," cried he, stretching out his
hands towards him. "You think, because your roguery is succeeding, that
you are great and respected. Not a bit; the gentlemen won't have you,
and your own sort won't have you. There's not an honest man would eat
your salt,--there's not an honest girl would bear your name. There you
stand, as much alone in the world as if you came out of another country,
and you 're the only man in Ireland does n't see it."

Dunn darted from the room as the last words were uttered, and gained the
road. So overwhelmed was he by rage and astonishment that it was some
minutes ere he could remember where he was or whither he would go.

"To Beldoyle," said he to the carman, pointing in the direction of the
low shore, where his father lived; "drive your best pace." Then suddenly
changing his mind, he said, "No, to town."

"Is he gone, Bella?" said Kellett, as his daughter entered.

"Yes; and before I could thank him for his coming."

"I think I said enough," said he, with a fierce laugh, which made her
suddenly turn and look at him.

It was all she could do to repress a sudden cry of horror; for one side
of his face was distorted by palsy, and the mouth drawn all awry.

"What's this here, Bella?" said he, trying to touch his cheek with his
hand; "a kind of stiffness--a sort of--Eh, are you crying, darling?"

"No; it was something in my eye pained me," said she, turning away to
hide her face.

"Give me a looking-glass, quickly," cried he.

"No, no," said she, forcing a laugh; "you have not shaved these two
days, and you are quite neglected-look-ing. You sha'n't see yourself in
such a state."

"Bring it this minute, I say," said he, passionately, and in a voice
that grew less and less articulate every moment.

"Now pray be patient, dearest papa."

"Then I'll go for it myself;" and with these words he grasped the arm
of the chair and tried to rise.

"There, there," said she, softly forcing him back into his seat, "I 'll
fetch it at once. I wish you would be persuaded, dear papa--" began she,
still holding the glass in her hands. But he snatched it rudely from
her, and placed it before him.

"That's what it is," said he, at last; "handsome Paul Kellett they used
to call me at Corfu. I wonder what they'd say now?"

"It is a mere passing thing, a spasm of some kind."

"Ay," said he, with a mocking laugh, to which the distortion imparted
a shocking expression. "Both sides will be the same--to-morrow or next
day--I know that."

She could hear no more, but, covering her face with her hands, sobbed
bitterly.

Kellett still continued to look at himself in the glass; and whether
the contortion was produced by the malady or a passing emotion, a
half-sardonic laugh was on his features as he said, "I was wrong when I
said I'd never be chapfallen."



CHAPTER XXV. A CHURCHYARD.

There come every now and then, in our strange climate, winter days
which imitate the spring, with softened sunlight, glistening leaves, and
warbling birds; even the streams unite in the delusion, and run clearly
along with eddying circles, making soft music among the stones. These
delicious intervals are full of pleasant influences, and the garden
breath that floats into the open drawing-room brings hope as well
as health on its wings. It was on such a morning a little funeral
procession entered the gateway of the ruined church at Kellester, and
wound its way towards an obscure corner where an open grave was seen.
With the exception of one solitary individual, it was easy to perceive
that they who followed the coffin were either the hired mourners, or
some stray passers-by indulging a sad curiosity in listlessness. It was
poor Kellett's corpse was borne along, with Conway walking after it.

The mournful task over, and the attendants gone, Conway lingered about
among the graves, now reading the sad records of surviving affection,
now stopping to listen to the high-soaring lark whose shrill notes
vibrated in the thin air. "Poor Jack!" thought he, aloud; "he little
knows the sad office I have had this morning. He always was talking
of home and coming back again, and telling his dear father of all his
campaigning adventures; and so much for anticipation--beneath that
little mound of earth lies all that made the Home he dreamed of! He's
almost the last of the Albueras," said he, as he stood over the grave;
and at the same time a stranger drew near the spot, and, removing his
hat, addressed him by name. "Ah! Mr. Dunn, I think?" said Conway.

"Yes,"-said the other; "I regret to see that I am too late. I wished to
pay the last tribute of respect to our poor friend, but unfortunately
all was over when I arrived."

"You knew him intimately, I believe?" said Conway.

"From boyhood," said Dunn, coughing, to conceal some embarrassment. "Our
families were intimate; but of him, personally, I saw little: he went
abroad with his regiment, and when he returned, it was to live in a
remote part of the country, so that we seldom met."

"Poor fellow!" muttered Conway, "he does seem to have been well-nigh
forgotten by every one. I was alone here this morning."

"Such is life!" said Dunn.

"But such ought not death to be," rejoined Conway. "A gallant old
soldier might well have been followed to his last billet by a few
friends or comrades; but he was poor, and that explains all!"

"That is a harsh judgment for one so young as you are."

"No: if poor Kellett had fallen in battle, he had gone to his grave
with every honor to his memory; but he lived on in a world where other
qualities than a soldier's are valued, and he was forgotten,--that's the
whole of it!"

"We must think of the daughter now; something must be done for her,"
said Dunn.

"I have a plan about that, if you will kindly aid me with it," said
Conway, blushing as he spoke. "You are aware, perhaps, that Jack Kellett
and I were comrades. He saved my life, and risked his own to do it, and
I owe him more than life in the cheery, hearty spirit he inspired me
with, at a time when I was rather disposed to sulk with the whole world;
so that I owe him a heavy debt." Here he faltered, and at last stopped,
and it was only as Dunn made a gesture to him to continue, that he
went on: "Well, I have a dear, kind old mother, living all alone in
Wales,--not over well off, to be sure, but quite able to do a kind
thing, and fully as willing. If Miss Kellett could be induced to come
and stay with her,--it might be called a visit at first,--time would
gradually show them how useful they were to each other, and they 'd find
they need n't--they could n't separate. That's my plan; will you support
it?"

"I ought to tell you, frankly, that I have no presumption to counsel
Miss Kellett. I never saw her till the night you accompanied her to
my house; we are utter strangers to each other therefore. There is,
however, sufficient in your project to recommend itself, and if anything
I can add will aid it, you may reckon upon me; but you will yourself see
whether my counsels be admissible. There is only one question I
would ask,--you 'll excuse the frankness of it for the sincerity it
guarantees,--Miss Kellett, although in poverty, was the daughter of a
gentleman of fortune,--all the habits of her life were formed in that
station; now, is it likely--I mean--are your mother's circumstances--"

"My mother has something like a hundred a year in the world," broke in
Conway, hastily. "It's a poor pittance, I know, and you would be puzzled
to say how one could eke out subsistence on it, but she manages it very
cleverly."

"I had really no intention to obtrude my curiosity so far," said Dunn,
apologizing. "My object was to show you, generally, that Miss Kellett,
having hitherto lived in a condition of comfort--"

"Well, we 'll do our best--I mean my mother will," said Conway. "Only
say you will recommend the plan, and I 'm satisfied."

"And for yourself--have you no project, no scheme of life struck out?
A man so full of youth and energy should not sink into the listless
inactivity of a retired soldier."

"You forget this," said Conway, pointing to his armless sleeve.

"Many a one-armed officer leads his squadron into fire; and your
services--if properly represented, properly supported--would perhaps
meet recognition at the Horse Guards. What say you, would you serve
again if they offered you a cornetcy?"

"Would I?--would I bless the day that brought me the tidings? But the
question is not of _me_," said he, proudly; and he turned away to leave
the spot. Dunn followed him, and they walked out into the road together.
A handsome chariot, splendid in all its appointments, and drawn by two
powerful thoroughbreds, awaited the rich man's coming, and the footman
banged down the steps with ostentatious noise as he saw him approach.

"Let the carriage follow," said Dunn to the servant, and walked on at
Conway's side. "If it was not that I am in a position to be of service
to you, my observation would be a liberty," said Dunn; "but I have some
influence with persons in power--"

"I must stop you at once," said Conway, good-humoredly. "I belong to a
class which does not accept of favors except from personal friends; and
though I fully recognize your kind intentions towards me, remember we
are strangers to each other."

"I should wish to forget that," said Dunn, courteously.

"I should still be ungracious enough to bear it in mind. Come, come, Mr.
Dunn," said he, "this is not the topic I want you to be interested in.
If you can bring some hope and comfort into that little cottage yonder,
you will do a far greater kindness than by any service you can render
one like me."

"It would scarcely be advisable to do anything for a day or two?" said
Dunn, rather asking the question.

"Of course not. Meanwhile I'll write to my mother, and she shall herself
address Miss Kellett, or, if you think it better, she 'd come over
here."

"We 'll think over that. Come back with me to town and eat your dinner
with me, if you have no engagement."

"Not to-day,--excuse me to-day. I am low and out of sorts, and I feel as
if I 'd rather be alone."

"Will you let me see you to-morrow, or the day after?"

"The day after to-morrow be it. By that time I shall have heard from my
mother," said Conway. And they parted.

Long after Mr. Dunn's handsome equipage had driven away, Charles Conway
continued to linger about the neighborhood of the little cottage. The
shutters were closed, and no smoke issued from the chimney, and it
looked dreary and desolate. Again and again would he draw near the
little wicket and look into the garden. He would have given all he
possessed to have been able to ask after her,--to have seen any one who
could have told him of her,--how she bore up in her dread hour of trial;
but none was to be seen. More than once he adventured to approach the
door, and timidly stood, uncertain what to do, and then, cautiously
retracing his steps, he regained the road, again to resume his lonely
watch. And so the noon passed, and the day waned, and evening drew nigh,
and there he still lingered. He thought that when night closed in, some
flickering light might give sign of life within,--some faint indication
of her his heart was full of; but all remained dark, silent, and
cheerless. Even yet could he not bear to leave the spot, and it was
already far into the night ere he turned his steps towards Dublin.

Let us go back for a moment to Mr. Davenport Dunn, who was not the only
occupant of the handsome chariot that rolled smoothly back to town. Mr.
Driscoll sat in one corner; the blind carefully down, so as to screen
him from view.

"And that was Conway!" said he, as soon as Dunn had taken his seat.
"Wasn't I right when I said you were sure to catch him here?"

"I knew as much myself," said Dunn, curtly.

"Well, and what is he like?--is he a chap easy to deal with?--is he any
way deep?"

"He's as proud as Lucifer,--that 's all I can make out of him; and there
are few things harder to manage than real pride."

"Ay, if you can't get round it," said Driscoll, with a sly twinkle of
the eye.

"I have no time for such management," said Dunn, stiffly.

"Well, how did he take what you said to him? Did he seem as if he 'd
enter into the business kindly?"

"You don't suppose that I spoke to him about his family or his fortune,
do you? Is it in a chance meeting like this that I could approach a
subject full of difficulty and complication? You have rare notions of
delicacy and address, Driscoll!"

"God help me! I'm a poor crayture, but somehow I get along for all that,
and I 'm generally as far on my road at the end of the day as them that
travels with four posters."

"You'd make a pretty mess of whatever required a light hand and a fine
touch, that I can tell you. The question here lies between a peer of the
realm with twelve thousand a year, and a retired soldier with eightpence
a day pension. It does not demand much thought to see where the balance
inclines."

"You're forgetting one trifling matter. Who has the right to be the peer
with the twelve thousand a year?"

"I am not forgetting it; I was going to it when you stopped me. Until we
have failed in obtaining our terms from Lord Lackington--"

"Ay, but what are the terms?" broke in Driscoll, eagerly.

"If you interrupt me thus at every moment, I shall never be able to
explain my meaning. The terms are for yourself to name; you may write
the figures how you please. As for me, I have views that in no way clash
with yours. And to resume: until we fail with the Viscount, we have no
need of the soldier. All that we have to think of as regards Conway
is, that he falls into no hands but our own, that he should never learn
anything of his claim, nor be within reach of such information till the
hour when we ourselves think fit to make it known to him--"

"He oughtn't to keep company with that daughter of Paul Kellett, then,"
broke in Driscoll. "There's not a family history in the kingdom she
hasn't by heart."

"I have thought of that already, and there is some danger of such an
occurrence."

"As how?"

"Young Conway is at this very moment plotting how she may be
domesticated with his mother, somewhere in Wales, I believe."

"If he's in love with her, it will be a bad business," said Driscoll.
"She does be reading and writing, too, from morning till night. There's
no labor nor fatigue she's not equal to, and all the searches and
inquiries that weary others she'd go into out of pure amusement. Now, if
she was ever to be with his mother, and heard the old woman talk about
family history, she 'd be at it hard and fast next morning."

"There is no need she should go there."

"No. But she must n't go,--must never see her."

"I think I can provide for that. It will be somewhat more difficult
to take him out of the way for the present. I wish he were back in the
Crimea."

"He might get killed--"

"Ay, but his claim would not die. Look here, Driscoll," said he, slowly;
"I ventured to tell him this morning that I would assist him with my
influence if he wishes to re-enter the service as an officer, and he
resented the offer at once as a liberty. Now, it might be managed in
another way. Leave me to think it over, and perhaps I can hit upon
the expedient. The Attorney-General is to report upon the claims to me
to-morrow, next day I'm to see Conway himself, and then you shall learn
all."

"I don't like all these delays," began Driscoll; but at a look from Dunn
he stopped, and held down his head, half angry, half abashed.

"You advance small loans of money on approved security, Driscoll,"
said Dunn, with a dry expression of the mouth. "Perhaps some of these
mornings you may be applied to for a few hundreds by a young fellow
wishing to purchase his commission,--you understand me?"

"I believe I do," said Driscoll, with a significant smile.

"You 'll not be too hard on him for the terms, especially if he has any
old family papers to deposit as security,--eh?"

"Just so--just so. A mere nominal guarantee," said Driscoll, still
laughing. "Oh, dear! but it's a queer world, and one has to work his
wits hard to live in it." And with this philosophic explanation of
life's trials, Mr. Driscoll took his leave of Dunn, and walked homeward.



CHAPTER XXVI. THE OSTEND PACKET

It was a wild, stormy night, with fast-flying clouds above, and a heavy
rolling sea below, as the "Osprey" steamed away for Ostend, her closed
hatchways and tarpaulined sailors, as well as her sea-washed deck and
dripping cordage, telling there was "dirty weather outside." Though the
waves broke over the vessel as she lay at anchor, and the short distance
between the shore and her gangway had to be effected at peril of life,
the captain had his mail, and was decided on sailing. There were but
three passengers: two went aboard with the captain; the third was
already on deck when they arrived, and leisurely paraded up and down
with his cigar, stopping occasionally to look at the lights on shore, or
cast a glance towards the wild chaos of waves that raged without.

"Safe now, I suppose, Grog?" muttered Beecher, as the vessel, loosed
from her last mooring, turned head to sea out of the harbor.

"I rather suspect you are," said Davis, as he struck a light for his
cigar. "Few fellows would like to swim out here with a judge's warrant
in his mouth such a night as this."

"I don't like it overmuch myself," said Beecher; "there's a tremendous
sea out there, and she's only a cockleshell after all."

"A very tidy one, sir, in a sea, I promise you," said the Captain,
overhearing, while with his trumpet he bellowed forth some directions to
the sailors.

"You've no other passengers than ourselves, have you?" asked Beecher.

"Only that gentleman yonder," whispered the Captain, pointing towards
the stranger.

"Few, I take it, fancy coming out in such weather," said Beecher.

"Very few, sir, if they have n't uncommonly strong reasons for crossing
the water," replied the Captain.

"I think he had you there!" growled Grog in his ear. "Don't you go
poking nonsense at fellows like that. Shut up, I tell you! shut up!"

"I begin to feel it deuced cold here," said Beecher, shuddering.

"Come down below, then, and have something hot. I 'll make a brew and
turn in," said Davis, as he moved towards the ladder. "Come along."

"No, I must keep the deck, no matter how cold it is. I suffer dreadfully
when I go below. Send me up a tumbler of rum-and-water, Davis, as hot as
may be."

"You 'd better take your friend's advice, sir," said the Captain. "It
will be dirty weather out there, and you 'll be snugger under cover."
Beecher, however, declined; and the Captain, crossing the deck, repeated
the same counsel to the other passenger.

"No, I thank you," said he, gayly; "but if one of your men could
spare me a cloak or a cape, I 'd be much obliged, for I am somewhat
ill-provided against wet weather."

"I can let you have a rug, with pleasure," said Beecher, overhearing the
request; while he drew from a recess beneath the binnacle one of those
serviceable aids to modern travel in the shape of a strong woollen
blanket.

"I accept your offer most willingly, and the more so as I suspect I
have had the honor of being presented to you," said the stranger. "Do I
address Mr. Annesley Beecher?"

"Eh?--I'm not aware--I'm not quite sure, by this light," began Beecher,
in considerable embarrassment, which the other as quickly perceived, and
remedied by saying,--

"I met you at poor Kellett's. My name is Conway."

"Oh, Conway,--all right," said Beecher, laughing. "I was afraid you
might be a 'dark horse,' as we say. Now that I know your colors, I'm
easy again."

Conway laughed too at the frankness of the confession, and they turned
to walk the deck together.

"You mentioned Kellett. He 's gone 'toes up,' is n't he?" said Beecher.

"He is dead, poor fellow," said Conway, gravely. "I expected to have met
you at his funeral."

"So I should have been had it come off on a Sunday," said Beecher,
pleasantly; "but as in seeing old Paul 'tucked in' they might have
nabbed me, I preferred being reported absent without leave."

"These were strong reasons, doubtless," said Conway, dryly.

"I liked the old fellow, too," said Beecher. "He was a bit of a bore,
to be sure, about Arayo Molinos, and Albuera, and Soult, and Beresford,
and the rest of 'em; but he was a rare good one to help a fellow at a
pinch, and hospitable as a prince."

"That I 'm sure of!" chimed in Conway.

"I know it, I can swear to it; I used to dine with him every Sunday,
regularly as the day came. I'll never forget those little tough legs
of mutton,--wherever he found them there's no saying,--and those hard
pellets of capers, like big swan-shot, washed down with table beer and
whiskey-grog, and poor Kellett thinking all the while he was giving you
haunch of venison and red hermitage."

"He 'd have given them just as freely if he had them," broke in Conway,
half gruffly.

"That he would! He did so when he had it to give,--at least, so they
tell me, for I never saw the old place at Kellett's Town, or Castle
Kellett--"

"Kellett's Court was the name."

"Ay, to be sure, Kellett's Court. I wonder how I could forget it, for
I'm sure I heard it often enough."

"One forgets many a thing they ought to remember," said Conway,
significantly.

"Hit him again, he hasn't got no friends!" broke in Beecher, laughing
jovially at this rebuke of himself. "You mean, that I ought to have a
fresher memory about all old Paul's kindnesses, and you 're right there;
but if you knew how hard the world has hit _me_, how hot they 've been
giving it to me these years back, you 'd perhaps not lean so heavily on
me. Since the Epsom of '42," said he, solemnly, "I never had one chance,
not one, I pledge you my sacred word of honor. I 've had my little
'innings,' you know, like every one else,--punted for five-pun-notes
with the small ones, but never a real chance. Now, I call that hard,
deuced hard."

"I suppose it _is_ hard," said Conway; but, really, it would have been
very difficult to say in what sense his words should be taken.

"And when a fellow finds himself always on the wrong side of the road,"
said Beecher, who now fancied that he was taking a moralist's view of
life, and spoke with a philosophic solemnity,--"I say, when a fellow
sees that, do what he will, he's never on the right horse, he begins to
be soured with the world, and to think that it's all a regular 'cross.'
Not that I ever gave in. No! ask any of the fellows up at Newmarket--ask
the whole ring--ask--" he was going to say Grog Davis, when he suddenly
remembered the heavy judgment Conway had already fulminated on that
revered authority, and then, quickly correcting himself, he said, "Ask
any of the legs you like what stuff A. B. 's made of,--if he ain't
hammered iron, and no mistake!"

"But what do you mean when you say you never gave in?" asked Conway,
half sternly.

"What do I mean?" said Beecher, repeating the words, half stunned by the
boldness of the question,--"what do I mean? Why, I mean that they never
saw me 'down,'--that no man can say Annesley Beecher ever said 'die.'
Have n't I had my soup piping hot,--spiced and peppered too! Was n't I
in for a pot on Blue Nose, when Mope ran a dead heat with Belshazzar for
the Cloudeslie,--fifteen to three in fifties twice over, and my horse
running in bandages, and an ounce of corrosive sublimate in his stomach!
Well, you 'd not believe it,--I don't ask any one to believe it that
did n't see it,--but I was as cool as I am here, and I walked up to
Lady Tinkerton's drag and ate a sandwich; and when she said, 'Oh!
Mr. Beecher, do come and tell me what to bet on,' I said to her,
'Quicksilver's the fastest of metals, but don't back it just now.' They
had it all over the course in half an hour: 'Quicksilver's the fastest
of metals--'"

"I'm afraid I don't quite catch your meaning."

"It was alluding to the bucketing, you know. They 'd just given Blue
Nose corrosive sublimate, which is a kind of quicksilver."

"Oh, I perceive," said Conway.

"Good,--wasn't it?" said Beecher, chuckling. "Let A. B. alone to 'sarve
them out,'--that's what all the legs said!" And then he heaved a little
sigh, as though to say that, after all, even wit and smartness were only
a vanity and a vexation of spirit, and that a "good book" was better
than them all.

"I detest the whole concern," said Conway. "So long as gentlemen bred
and trained to run their horses in honorable rivalry, it was a noble
sport, and well became the first squirearchy of the world; but when it
degenerated into a field for every crafty knave and trickster,--when
the low cunning of the gambler succeeded to the bold daring of the true
lover of racing,--then the turf became no better than the _rouge et
noir_ table, without even the poor consolation of thinking that chance
was any element in the result."

"Why, what would you have? It's a game where the best player wins,
that's all," broke in Beecher.

"If you mean it is always a contest where the best horse carries away
the prize, I enter my denial to the assertion. If it were so, the legs
would have no existence, and all that classic vocabulary of 'nobbling,'
'squaring,' and so on, have no dictionary."

"It's all the same the whole world over," broke in Beecher. "The
wide-awake ones will have the best seat on the coach."

Conway made no reply; but the increased energy with which he puffed his
cigar bespoke the impatience he was suffering under.

"What became of the daughter?" asked Beecher, abruptly; and then, not
awaiting the answer, went on: "A deuced good-looking girl, if properly
togged out, but she had n't the slightest notion of dressing herself."

"Their narrow fortune may have had something to say to that," said
Conway, gravely.

"Where there's a will, there's a way,--that 's my idea. I was never so
hard up in life but I could make my tailor torn me out like a gentleman.
I take it," added he, returning to the former theme, "she was a proud
one. Old Kellett was awfully afraid of doing many a thing from the dread
of her knowing it. He told me so himself."

"Indeed!" exclaimed Conway, with evident pleasure in the tone.

"I could have helped him fifty ways. I knew fellows who would have
'done' his bills,--small sums, of course,--and have shoved him along
pleasantly enough, but _she_ would n't have it at any price."

"I was not aware of that," remarked Conway, inviting, by his manner,
further revelations.

Beecher, however, mistaking the source of the interest he had thus
excited, and believing that his own craft and shrewdness were the
qualities that awakened respect, went on to show how conversant he was
with all financial operations amongst Jews and money-lenders, proudly
declaring that there was not a "man on town" knew the cent per centers
as he did.

"I've had my little dealings with them," said he, with some vanity in
the manner. "I 've had my paper done when there was n't a fellow on the
'turf' could raise a guinea. You see," added he, lowering his voice to a
whisper that implied secrecy, "I could do them a service no money could
repay. I was up to all that went on in life and at the clubs. When
Etheridge got it so heavy at the 'Rag,' I warned Fordyce not to advance
him beyond a hundred or two. I was the only gentleman knew Brookdale's
horse could win 'the Ripsley.' The legs, of course, knew it well before
the race came off. Jemmy could have had ten thousand down for his
'book.' Ah! if you and I had only known each other six years ago, what
a stroke of work we might have done together! Even now," said he, with
increased warmth of voice, "there's a deuced deal to be done abroad.
Brussels and Florence are far from worked out; not among the foreigners,
of course, but our own fellows,--the young Oxford and Cambridge
'saps,'--the green ones waiting for their gazette in the Guards! Where
are you bound for?--what are you doing?" asked he, as if a sudden
thought had crossed his mind.

"I am endeavoring to get back to the Crimea," said Conway, smiling at
the prospect which the other had with such frankness opened to him.

"The Crimea!" exclaimed Beecher, "why, that is downright madness; they
're fighting away there just as fresh as ever. The very last paper I saw
is filled with an account of a Russian sortie against our lines, and a
lot of our fellows killed and wounded."

"Of course there are hard knocks--"

"It's all very well to talk of it that way, but I think you might have
been satisfied with what you saw, I 'd just as soon take a cab down to
Guy's, or the Middlesex Hospital, and ask one of the house-surgeons to
cut me up at his own discretion, as go amongst those Russian savages. I
tell you it don't pay,--not a bit of it!"

"I suppose, as to the paying part, you 're quite right; but, remember,
there are different modes of estimating the same thing. Now, I like
soldiering--"

"No accounting for tastes," broke in Beecher. "I knew a fellow who was
so fond of the Queen's Bench Prison he would n't let his friends clear
him out; but, seriously speaking, the Crimea 's a bad book."

"I should be a very happy fellow to-night if I knew how I could get back
there. I 've been trying in various ways for employment in any branch
of the service. I 'd rather be a driver in the Wagon Train than whip the
neatest four-in-hand over Epsom Downs."

"There 's only one name for that," said Beecher; "at least, out of
Hanwell."

"I 'd be content to be thought mad on such terms," said Conway,
good-humoredly, "and not even quarrel with those who said so!"

"I 've got a better scheme than the Crimea in my head," said Beecher, in
a low, cautious voice, like one afraid of being overheard. "I've half
a mind to tell you, though there 's one on board here would come down
pretty heavily on me for peaching."

"Don't draw any indignation on yourself on _my_ account," said Conway,
smiling. "I'm quite unworthy of the confidence, and utterly unable to
profit by it."

"I 'm not so sure of that," responded Beecher. "A fellow who has got it
so hot as you have, has always his eyes open ever after. Come a little
to this side," whispered he, cautiously. "Did you remark my going
forward two or three times when I came on board?"

"Yes, I perceived that you did so."

"You never guessed why?"

"No; really I paid no particular attention to it."

"I 'll tell you, then," whispered he, still lower, "it was to look after
a horse I 've got there. 'Mumps,' that ran such a capital second for the
Yarmouth, and ran a dead heat afterwards with Stanley's 'Cross-Bones,'
he's there!" and his voice trembled between pride and agitation.

"Indeed!" exclaimed Conway, amused at the eagerness of his manner.

"There he is, disguised as a prize bull for the King of Belgium. Nobody
suspects him,--nobody could suspect him, he 's so well got up, horns and
all. Got him on board in the dark in a large roomy box, clap posters to
it on the other side, and 'tool' him along to Brussels. That's what I
call business! Now, if you wait a week or two, you can lay on him as
deep as you like. We'll let the Belgians 'in,' before we 've done
with them. We run him under the name of 'Klepper;' don't forget
it,--Klepper!"

"I've already told you I 'm unworthy of such a confidence; you only risk
yourself when you impart a secret to indiscretion like mine."

"You'd not blow us?" cried Annesley, in terror.

"The best security against my doing so accidentally is that I may be
hundreds of miles away before your races come off."

For a minute or two Beecher's misery was extreme. He saw how his
rashness had carried him away to a foolish act of good-nature, and had
not even reaped thanks for his generosity. What would he not have given
to recall his words?--what would he not have done to obliterate their
impression? At last a sudden thought seemed to strike him, and he
said,--

"There are two of us in 'the lay,' and my 'pal' is the readiest pistol
in Europe."

"I 'll not provoke any display of his skill, depend on 't," said Conway,
controlling, as well as he could, the inclination to laugh out.

"He'd tumble you over like winking if you sold him. He 'd make it as
short work with myself if he suspected me."

"I'd rather have a quieter sort of colleague," said Conway, dryly.

"Oh! but he's a rare one to 'work the oracle.' Solomon was a wise man--"

"What infernal balderdash are you at with Solomon and Samson, there?"
shouted out Grog Davis, who had just been looking after the horse-box in
the bow. "Come down below, and have a glass of brandy-and-water."

"I 'll stay where I am," said Beecher, sulkily, and walked away in
dudgeon from the spot.

"I think I recognize your friend's voice," said Conway, when Beecher
next joined him. "If I 'm right, it's a fellow I 've an old grudge
against."

"Don't have it out, then,--that 's all," broke in Beecher, hastily.
"I 'd just as soon go into a cage and dispute a bone with one of Van
Amburgh's tigers, as I 'd 'bring _him_ to book.'"

"Make your mind easy about that," said Conway. "I never go in search
of old scores. I would only say, don't leave yourself more in his power
than you can easily escape from. As for myself, it's very unlikely I
shall ever see him again."

"I wish you'd given up the Crimea," said Beecher, who, by one of the
strange caprices of his strange nature, began to feel a sort of liking
for Conway.

"Why should I give it up? It's the only career I 'm fit for,--if I even
be fit for that, which, indeed, the Horse Guards don't seem to think.
But I 've got an old friend in the Piedmontese service who is going
out in command of the cavalry, and I 'm on my way now to Turin to
see whether he cannot make me something,--anything, in short, from
an aide-de-camp to an orderly. Once before the enemy, it matters
wonderfully little what rank a man holds."

"The chances of his being knocked over are pretty much alike," said
Beecher, "if that's what you mean."

"Not exactly," said Conway, laughing, "not exactly, though even in
_that_ respect the calculation is equal."

They now walked the deck step for step together in silence. The
conversation had arrived at that point whence, if not actually
confidential, it could proceed no further without becoming so, and so
each appeared to feel it, and yet neither was disposed to lead the way.
Beecher was one of those men who regard the chance persons they meet
with in life just as they would accidental spots where they halt when on
a journey,--little localities to be enjoyed at the time, and never, in
all likelihood, revisited. In this way they obtained far more of his
confidence than if he was sure to be in constant habits of intercourse
with them. He felt they were safe depositaries, just as he would have
felt a lonely spot in a wood a secure hiding-place for whatever
he wanted to conceal. Now he was already--we are unable to say
why--disposed to like Conway, and he would gladly have revealed to him
much that lay heavily at his heart,--many a weighty care, many a sore
misgiving. There was yet remaining in his nature that reverence and
respect for honesty of character which survives very often a long course
of personal debasement, and he felt that Conway was a man of honor.
Such men he very well knew were usually duped and done,--they were the
victims of the sharp set he himself fraternized with; but, with all
that, there was something about them that he still clung to, just as he
might have clung to a reminiscence of his boy-days.

"I take it," said he, at last, "that each of us have caught it
as heavily as most fellows going. _You_, to be sure, worse than
myself,--for I was only a younger son."

"_My_ misfortunes," said Conway, "were all of my own making. I
squandered a very good fortune in a few years, without ever so much
as suspecting I was in any difficulty; and, after all, the worst
recollection of the past is, how few kindnesses, how very few
good-natured things a fellow does when he leads a life of mere
extravagance. I have enriched many a money-lender, I have started half
a dozen rascally servants into smart hotel-keepers, but I can scarcely
recall five cases of assistance given to personal friends. The truth is,
the most selfish fellow in the world is the spendthrift."

"That 's something new to me, I must own," said Beecher, thoughtfully;
but Conway paid no attention to the remark. "My notion is this," said
Beecher, after a pause,--"do what you will, say what you will, the world
won't play fair with you!"

Conway shook his head dissentingly, but made no reply, and another and a
longer silence ensued.

"You don't know my brother Lackington?" said Beecher, at length.

"No. I have met him in the world and at clubs, but don't know him."

"I 'll engage, however, you 've always heard him called a clever fellow,
a regular sharp fellow, and all that, just because he's the Viscount;
but he is, without exception, the greatest flat going,--never saw his
way to a good thing yet, and if you told him of one, was sure to spoil
it. I 'm going over to see him now," added he, after a pause.

"He 's at Rome, I think, the newspapers say?"

"Yes, he's stopping there for the winter." Another pause followed, and
Beecher threw away the end of his cigar, and, sticking an unlighted one
in his mouth, walked the deck in deep deliberation. "I 'd like to put a
case to you for your opinion," said he, as though screwing himself to a
great effort. "If you stood next to a good fortune,--next in reversion,
I mean,--and that there was a threat--just a threat, and no more--of a
suit to contest your right, would you accept of a life interest in the
property to avoid all litigation, and secure a handsome income for your
own time?"

"You put the case too vaguely. First of all, a mere threat would not
drive me to a compromise."

"Well, call it more than a threat; say that actual proceedings had been
taken,--not that I believe they have; but just say so."

"The matter is too complicated for my mere Yes or No to meet it; but
on the simple question of whether I should compromise a case of that
nature, I'd say No. I'd not surrender my right if I had one, and I 'd
not retain possession of that which did n't belong to me."

"Which means, that you 'd reject the offer of a life interest?"

"Yes, on the terms you mention."

"I believe you 're right. Put the bold face on, and stand the battle.
Now the real case is this. My brother Lack-ington has just been served
with notice--"

Just as Beecher had uttered the last word, his arm, which rested on the
binnacle against which he was standing, was grasped with such force that
he almost cried out with the pain, and at the same instant a muttered
curse fell upon his ear.

"Go on," said Conway, as he waited to hear more.

Beecher muttered some unintelligible words about feeling suddenly
chilled, and "wanting a little brandy," and disappeared down the stairs
to the cabin.

"I heard you," cried Davis, as soon as the other entered,--"I heard you!
and if I hadn't heard you with my own ears, I 'd not have believed it!
Have n't I warned you, not once but fifty times, against that confounded
peaching tongue of yours? Have n't I told you that if every act of your
life was as pure and honest as you know it is not, your own stupid talk
would make an indictment against you? You meet a fellow on the deck of a
steamer--"

"Stop there!" cried Beecher, whose temper was sorely tried by this
attack. "The gentleman I talked with is an old acquaintance; he knows
me,--ay, and what's more, he knows _you!_"

"Many a man knows _me_, and does not feel himself much the better for
his knowledge!" said Davis, boldly.

"Well, I believe our friend here would n't say he was the exception to
that rule," said Beecher, with an ironical laugh.

"Who is he?--what's his name?"

"His name is Conway; he was a lieutenant in the 12th Lancers, but you
will remember him better as the owner of Sir Aubrey."

"I remember him perfectly," replied Davis, with all his own
composure,--"I remember him perfectly,--a tall, good-looking fellow,
with short moustaches. He was--except yourself--the greatest flat I
ever met in the betting-ring; and that's a strong word, Mr. Annesley
Beecher,--ain't it?"

"I suspect you 'd scarcely like to call him a flat to-day, at least, to
his face," said Beecher, angrily.

A look of mingled insolence and contempt was all the answer Davis gave
this speech; and then half filling a tumbler with brandy, he drank it
off, and said slowly,--

"What _I_ would dare to do, _you_ certainly would never suspect,--that
much I 'm well aware of. What _you_ would dare is easily guessed at."

"I don't clearly understand you," said Beecher, timidly.

"_You_ 'd dare to draw me into a quarrel on the chance of seeing me
'bowled over,'" said Davis, with a bitter laugh. "_You_ 'd dare to see
me stand opposite another man's pistol, and pray heartily at the same
time that his hand might n't shake, nor his wrist falter; but I've
got good business habits about me, Master Beecher. If you open that
writing-desk, you 'll own few men's papers are in better order, or more
neatly kept; and there is no satisfaction I could have to offer any one
would n't give me ample time to deposit in the hands of justice seven
forged acceptances by the Honorable Annesley Beecher, and the power of
attorney counterfeited by the same accomplished gentleman's hand."

Beecher put out his hand to catch the decanter of brandy; but Davis
gently removed the bottle, and said, "No, no; that's only Dutch courage,
man; nerve yourself up, and learn to stand straight and manfully, and
when you say, 'Not guilty,' do it with a bold look at the jury box.'"

Beecher dropped into his seat, and buried his head between his hands.

"I often think," said Davis, as he took out his cigar-case and proceeded
to choose a cigar,--"I often think it would be a fine sight when the
swells--the fashionable world, as the newspapers call them--would be
pressing on to the Old Bailey to see one of their own set in the dock.
What nobs there would be on the Bench! All Brookes's and the Wyndham
scattered amongst the bar. The 'Illustrated News' would have a
photographic picture of you, and the descriptive fellows would come out
strong about the way you recognized your former acquaintances in court.
Egad! old Grog Davis would be quite proud to give his evidence in such
company!' How long have you been acquainted with the prisoner in the
dock, Mr. Davis?' cried he, aloud, imitating the full and imperious
accents of an examining counsel. 'I have known him upwards of fifteen
years, my Lord. We went down together to Leeds in the summer of 1840 on
a little speculation with cogged dice--'"

Beecher looked up and tried to speak, but his strength failed him, and
his head fell heavily down again on the table.

"There, 'liquor up,' as the Yankees say," cried Davis, passing the
decanter towards him. "You 're a poor chicken-hearted creature, and
don't do much honor to your 'order.'"

"You 'll drive me to despair yet," muttered Beecher, in a voice scarcely
above a whisper.

"Not a bit of it, man; there's pluck in despair! You 'll never go that
far!"

Beecher grasped his glass convulsively; and as his eyes flashed wildly,
he seemed for a moment as if about to hurl it in the other's face.
Davis's look, however, appeared to abash him, and with a low, faint sigh
he relinquished his hold, while his head fell forward on his bosom.

Davis now drew near the fire, and with a leg on either side of it,
smoked away at his ease.



CHAPTER XXVII. A VISIT OF CONDOLENCE

"I think she will _see_ me," said Davenport Dunn, to the old woman
servant who opened the door to him at the Kelletts' cottage, "if you
will tell her my name: Mr. Dunn,--Mr. Davenport Dunn."

"She told me she 'd not see anybody, sir," was the obdurate reply.

"Yes; but I think when you say who it is--"

"She would not see that young man that was in the regiment with her
brother, and he was here every day, wet or dry, to ask after her."

"Well, take in my card now, and I 'll answer for it she'll not refuse
me."

The old woman took the card half sulkily from his hand, and returned in
a few minutes to say that Miss Kellett would receive him.

Dressed in mourning of the very humblest and cheapest kind, and with all
the signs of recent suffering and sorrow about her, Sybella Kellett
yet received Mr. Dunn with a calm and quiet composure for which he was
scarcely prepared.

"If I have been importunate, Miss Kellett," said he, "it is because I
desire to proffer my services to you. I feel assured that you will
not take ill this assistance on my part I would wish to be thought a
friend--"

"You were so to my father, sir," said she, interrupting, while she held
her handkerchief to her eyes.

Dunn's face grew scarlet at these words, but, fortunately for him, she
could not see it.

"I had intended to have written to you, sir," said she, with recovered
composure. "I tried to do so this morning, but my head was aching so
that I gave it up. I wanted your counsel, and indeed your assistance. I
have no need to tell you that I 'm left without means of support. I
do not want to burden relatives, with whom, besides, I have had no
intercourse for years; and my object was to ask if you could assist me
to a situation as governess, or, if not, to something more humble still.
I will not be difficult to please," said she, smiling sadly, "for my
pretensions are of the very humblest."

"I 'm aware how much you underrate them. I 'm no stranger to Miss
Kellett's abilities," said Dunn, bowing.

She scarcely moved her head in acknowledgment of this speech, and went
on: "If you could insure me immediate occupation, it would serve to
extricate me from a little difficulty at this moment, and relieve me
from the embarrassment of declining ungraciously what I cannot accept
of. This letter here is an invitation from a lady in Wales to accept
the hospitality of her house for the present; and however deeply the
kindness touches me, I must not avail myself of it. You may read the
letter," said she, handing it to him.

Dunn perused it slowly, and, folding it up, laid it on the table again.

"It is most kindly worded, and speaks well for the writer," said he,
calmly.

"I feel all its kindness," said she, with a slight quivering of the lip.
"It comes when such is doubly precious, but I have my reasons against
accepting it."

"Without daring to ask, I can assume them, Miss Kellett. I am one of
those who believe that all efforts in life to be either good or great
should strike root in independence; that he who leans upon another parts
with the best features of identity, and loses himself in suiting his
tastes to another's."

She made no reply, but a slight flush on her cheek, and an increased
brightness in her eye, showed that she gave her full concurrence to the
words.

"It is fortunate, Miss Kellett," said he, resuming, "that I am the
bearer of a proposition which, if you approve of, meets the case at
once. I have been applied to by Lord Glengariff to find a lady who
would accept the situation of companion to his daughter. He has so far
explained the requirements he seeks for, that I can answer for Miss
Kellett being exactly everything to fulfil them."

"Oh, sir!" broke she in, "this is in no wise what I desired. I am
utterly unfitted for such a sphere and such associations. Remember how
and where my life has been passed. I have no knowledge of life, and no
experience of society."

"Let me interrupt you. Lord Glengariff lives completely estranged
from the world in a remote part of the country. Lady Augusta, his only
unmarried daughter, is no longer young; they see no company; indeed,
their fortune is very limited, and all their habits of the very simplest
and least expensive. It was remembering this very seclusion, I was glad
to offer you a retreat so likely to meet your wishes."

"But even my education is not what such persons would look for. I have
not one of the graceful accomplishments that adorn society. My skill as
a musician is very humble; I cannot sing at all; and though I can read
some modern languages, I scarcely speak them."

"Do not ask me to say how much I am aware of your capacity and
acquirements, Miss Kellett. It is about two months back a little volume
came into my hands which had once been yours; how it ceased to be so I
don't choose to confess; but it was a work on the industrial resources
of Ireland, annotated and commented on by _you_. I have it still. Shall
I own to you that your notes have been already used by me in my reports,
and that I have adopted some of the suggestions in my recommendations to
Government? Nay, if you doubt me, I will give you the proof."

"I left such a volume as you speak of at Mr. Hawkhaw's, and believed it
had been mislaid."

"It was deliberately stolen, Miss Kellett, that's the truth of it. Mr.
Driscoll chanced to see the book, and happened to show it to me. I could
not fail to be struck with it, the more as I discovered in your remarks
hints and suggestions, coupled with explanations, that none had ever
offered me."

"How leniently you speak of my presumption, sir!"

"Say, rather, how sincerely I applaud your zeal and intelligence,--the
book bespeaks both. Now, when I read it, I wished at once to make your
acquaintance. There were points wherein you were mistaken; there were
others in which you evidently see further than any of us. I felt that
if time, and leisure, and opportunity of knowledge were supplied, these
were the studies in which you might become really proficient. Lord
Glengariff s proposal came at the very moment. It was all I could desire
for you,--a quiet home, the society of those whose very breeding is
acted kindliness."

"Oh, sir! do not flatter me into the belief that I am worthy of such
advantages."

"The station will gain most by your association with it, take my word
for that."

How was it that these words sent a color to her cheek and a courage to
her heart that made her for a moment forget she was poor and fatherless
and friendless? What was it, too, that made them seem less flattery
than sound, just, and due acknowledgment? He that spoke them was neither
young, nor handsome, nor fascinating in manner; and yet she felt his
praise vibrate within her heart strangely and thrillingly.

He spoke much to her about her early life,--what she had read, and how
she was led to reflect upon themes so unlikely to attract a young girl's
thoughts. By degrees, as her reserve wore off, she ventured to
confess what a charm the great men of former days possessed for
her imagination,--how their devotion, their courage, their
single-heartedness animated her with higher hopes for the time when
Ireland should have the aid of those able to guide her destinies and
make of her all that her great resources promised.

"The world of contemporaries is seldom just to these," said Dunn,
gravely; "they excite envy rather than attract friendship, and then
they have often few of the gifts which conciliate the prejudices around
them."

"What matter if they can live down these prejudices?" cried she, warmly;
then blushing at her own eagerness, she said, falteringly, "How have I
dared to speak of these things, and to _you?_"

Dunn arose and walked to the window, and now a long pause occurred in
which neither uttered a word.

"Is this cottage yours, Miss Kellett?" said he, at last.

"No; we had rented it, and the time expires in a week or two."

"And the furniture?"

"It was hired also, except a very few articles of little or no value."

Dunn again turned away, and seemed lost in deep thought; then, in a
voice of some uncertainty and hesitation, said: "Your father's affairs
were complicated and confused,--there were questions of law, too, to
be determined about them,--so that, for the present, there is no saying
exactly how they stand; still, there will be a sum,--a small one,
unfortunately, but still a sum available to you, which, for present
convenience, you must allow me to advance to you."

"You forget, sir, that I have a brother. To him, of right, belongs
anything that remains to us."

"I had, indeed, forgotten that," said Dunn, in some confusion, "and it
was just of him I wanted now to speak. He is serving as a soldier with a
Rifle regiment in the Crimea. Can nothing be done to bring him favorably
before the notice of his superiors? His gallantry has already attracted
notice; but as his real station is still unknown, his advancement has
been merely that accorded to the humblest merits. I will attend to it. I
'll write about him this very day."

"How I thank you!" cried she, fervently; and she bent down and pressed
her lips to his hand.

A cold shivering passed over Dunn as he felt the hot tears that fell
upon his hand, and a strange sense of weakness oppressed him.

"It will make your task the lighter," cried she, eagerly, "to know that
Jack is a soldier in heart and soul,--brave, daring, and high-hearted,
but with a nature gentle as a child's. There was a comrade of his here
the other day, one whose life he saved--"

"I have seen Conway," said Dunn, dryly, while he scanned her features
closely.

No change of color nor voice showed that she felt the scrutiny, and in
a calm tone she went on: "I know so little of these things that I do
not know, if my dear brother were made an officer to-morrow, whether his
want of private fortune would prevent his acceptance of the rank, but
there surely must be steps of advancement open to men poor as he is."

"You may trust all to me," interrupted Dunn. "Once that you consider me
as your guardian, I will neglect nothing that concerns you."

"Oh, how have I deserved such kindness!" cried she, trying to smother
her emotion.

"You must call me your guardian, too, and write to me as such. The world
is of such a temper that it will serve you to be thought my ward. Even
Lady Augusta Arden herself will feel the force of it." There was a kind
of rude energy in the way these last words were uttered that gave them a
character almost defiant.

"You are, then, decided that I ought to take the situation?" said
she. And already her manner had assumed the deference of one seeking
direction.

"Yes, for the present it is all that could be desired. There will be no
necessity of your continuing there if it should ever be irksome to you.
Upon this, as upon all else, I trust you will communicate freely with
me."

"I should approach an actual duty--a task--with far more confidence
than I feel in offering to accommodate myself to the ways and tempers of
utter strangers."

"Very true," said he; "but when I have told you about them they will
be strangers no longer. People are easily comprehended who have certain
strong ruling passions. They have only one, and that the very simplest
of all motives,--pride. Let me tell you of them." And so he drew his
chair to her side, and began to describe the Ardens.

We do not ask the reader to follow Davenport Dunn in his sketch; enough
that we say his picture was more truthful than flattering, for he
portrayed traits that had often given him offence and suffering.
He tried to speak with a sort of disinterested coldness,--a kind of
half-pitying indifference about "ways and notions" that people estranged
from "much intercourse with the world _will_ fall into;" but his tone
was, in spite of himself, severe and resentful, and scarcely compensated
by his concluding words, "though, of course, to _you_ they will be
amiable and obliging."

"How I wish I could see them, though only for a minute!" said she, as he
finished.

"Have you such confidence, then, in your power of detecting character at
sight?" asked he, with a keen and furtive glance.

"My gift is generally enough for my own guidance," said she, frankly;
"but, to be sure, it has only been exercised amongst the country people,
and they have fewer disguises than those we call their betters."

"I may write word, then, that within a week you will be ready,"
said Dunn, rising. "You will find in that pocket-book enough for any
immediate outlay,--nay, Miss Kellett, it is your own,--I repeat it,
all your own. I am your guardian, and no more." And with a stiffness of
manner that almost repelled gratitude, he took his leave and withdrew.
As he gained the door, however, he stopped, and after a moment came back
into the room. "I should like to see you again before you leave; there
are topics I would like to speak with you on. May I come in a day or
two?"

"Whenever and as often as you please."

Dunn took her hand and pressed it tenderly. A deep crimson overspread
her face as she said "Good-bye!" and the carriage had rolled away ere
she knew that he was gone.



CHAPTER XXVIII. THE HERMITAGE AT GLENGARIFF.

Beside a little arm of the sea, and surrounded by lofty mountains,
stood the cottage of Lord Glengariff. It was originally built as a mere
fishing-lodge, a resting-place in the bathing-season, or a spot to
visit when it was the pleasure of its owners to affect retirement and
seclusion. Then would the Earl and his Countess and the Ladies Julia and
Jemima come down to the Hermitage with a sort of self-approving humility
that seemed to say, "Even _we_ know how to chastise pride, and vanity,
and the sinful lusts of the flesh." Whether it was that these seasons of
mortification became more frequent, or that they required more space,
we cannot say; but, in course of time, the hermitage extended its limbs,
first in one direction, and then in another, till at length it grew
to be a very commodious house, with ample rooms and every imaginable
comfort, Owing to the character of the architecture, too, it gained in
picturesque effect by these successive additions; and in its jutting
projections, its deep-shadowed courts, and its irregular line of roof,
it presented a very pleasing specimen of that half-Elizabethan cottage
so rarely hit upon in any regular plan. As the fortunes of the noble
house declined,--the Earl's ancestors had been amongst the most
extravagant of Irish gentry,--the ancient castle of Holt-Glengariff,
where they had long resided, was sold, and the family settled down to
live at the Hermitage. At first the change was supposed to be merely
temporary,--"they were going to live in London or in Brighton; they
were about to establish themselves in Paris; her Ladyship was ordered to
Italy,"--a variety of rumors, in fact, were afloat to explain that the
sunshine of their presence in that lonely glen would be but brief and
short-lived. All the alterations that might be made in the cottage or
its grounds, all the facilities of approach by land and water, all the
beneficial changes in the village itself, were alluded to as projects
for the day when they would come back there; for my Lord said he
"really liked the place,"--a species of avowal that was accepted by the
neighborhood as the proudest encomium man could pronounce upon their
"happy valley."

With all these plans and intentions, it was now eighteen years, and
the Earl had never quitted the Hermitage for any longer journey than
an occasional trip to Dublin. The Countess had taken a longer road
than that over the Alps, and lay at rest in the village churchyard. The
Ladies Georgina, Arabella, and Julia had married off, and none remained
but Lady Augusta Arden, of whom we have already made brief mention to
our readers in a former chapter.

We did but scant justice to Lady Augusta when we said that she had once
been handsome: she was so still. She had fine eyes and fine teeth; a
profusion of brown hair of the very silkiest; her figure was singularly
graceful; and, baring a degree of haughtiness,--a family trait,--her
manner was unexceptionably good and pleasing. Both the Earl and his
daughter had lived too long amongst those greatly inferior to them
in rank and fortune not to conceive a very exaggerated estimate of
themselves.

No Pasha was ever more absolute than my Lord in the little village
beside him; his will was a sort of firman that none dreamed of
disputing; and, indeed, the place men occupied in the esteem of their
fellows there, was little else than a reflex of how they were regarded
at the Hermitage. We never scruple to bestow a sort of derisive pity
upon the savage who, having carved his deity out of a piece of wood,
sits down to worship him; and yet, what an unconscious imitation of the
red man is all our adulation of great folks! We follow him to the very
letter, not only in investing the object of our worship with a hundred
qualities that he has not, but we make him the butt of our evil
passions, and in the day of our anger and disappointment we turn round
and rend him! Not that the villagers ever treated my Lord in this
wise,--they were still in the stage "of worship;" they had been at
"their offices," fathers and grandfathers, for many a year, and though
some were beginning to complain that their knees were getting sore, none
dreamed of getting on their legs! The fact was, that even they who liked
the religion least thought it was not worth while abjuring the faith of
their fathers, especially when they could not guess what was to replace
it; and so my Lord dictated and decided and pronounced for the
whole neighborhood; and Lady Augusta doctored and model-schooled and
loan-funded them to her heart's content. Nay, we are wrong! It was all
in the disappointed dreariness of an unsatisfied heart that she took to
benevolence! Oh, dear! what a sorry search is that after motives, if one
only knew how much philanthropy and active charity have come of a
breach of promise to marry! Not that Lady Augusta had ever stood in this
position, but either that she had looked too high, or was too hard to
please, or from some other cause, but she never married.

The man who has no taste for horsemanship consoles himself for the
unenjoyed pleasure by reading of the fractured ribs and smashed
collar-bones of the hunting-field. Was it in something of this spirit
that Lady Augusta took an especial delight in dwelling in her mind and
in her letters on all the disagreeables of her sisters' wedded life? The
extravagance of men, their selfishness, their uncomplying habits, the
odious tyranny of their tempers, were favorite themes with her, dashed
with allusions to every connubial contingency, from alimony to the
measles in the nursery! At last, possibly because, by such frequent
recurrence to the same subjects, she had no longer anything new to say
on them, or perhaps--it is just possible--that the themes themselves had
less interest for others than for herself, her sisters seemed to reply
less regularly than of old. Their answers were shorter and drier; and
they appeared neither to care so much for sympathy and condolence as
formerly; and, in fact, as Lady Augusta said to herself, "They were
growing inured to ill-treatment!" And if half of us in this world only
knew of the miseries we are daily suffering, and which sympathetic
friends are crying over, what a deal of delightful affliction might we
enjoy that we now are dead to! What oppressive governments do we live
under, what cruel taskmasters, what ungrateful publics, not to speak of
the more touching sorrows of domestic life,--the undervaluing parents
and unsympathizing wives! Well, one thing is a comfort: there are dear
kind hearts in mourning over all these for us, anxiously looking for the
day we may awaken to a sense of our own misery!

It was of a cheery spring morning, sunlit and breezy, when, in the
chirping songs of birds, the rustling leaves, and fast-flowing rivulets,
Nature seems to enjoy a more intense vitality, that the Earl sat at
breakfast with his daughter. A fairer prospect could hardly be seen than
that which lay before the open windows in front of them. The green lawn,
dotted with clumps of ancient trees, inclined with many a waving slope
to the sea, which in a long narrow arm pierced its way between two
jutting headlands,--the one bold, rocky, and precipitous; the other
grass-covered and flowery, reflecting its rich tints in the glassy water
beneath. The sea was, indeed, calm and still as any lake, and, save
when a low, surging sound arose within some rocky cavern, as silent and
noiseless. The cattle browsed down to the very water's edge, and the
nets of the fishermen hung to dry over the red-berried foliage of
the arbutus. They who looked--when they did, perchance, look on this
scene--gazed with almost apathy on it. Their eyes never brightened as
the changing sunlight cast new effects upon the scene. Nor was this
indifference the result of any unconsciousness of its beauty. A few
months back it was the theme of all their praises. Landscape-painters
and photographers were invited specially to catch its first morning
tints, its last mellow glow at sunset. The old Lord said it was finer
than Sorrento, equal to anything in Greece. If the Mediterranean
were bluer, where was there such emerald verdure,--where such blended
coloring of heaths, purple and blue and violet,--in what land did the
fragrance of the white thorn so load the warm atmosphere? Such, and such
like, were the encomiums they were wont to utter; and wherefore was
it that they uttered them no more? The explanation is a brief one. A
commission, or a deputation, or a something as important, had come down
to examine Bantry Bay, and investigate its fitness to become a packet
station for America. In the course of this examination, a scientific
member of the body had strayed down to Glengariff, where, being of
a speculative as well as of a scientific turn, he was struck by its
immense capabilities. What a gem it was, and what might it not be made!
It was Ireland in the tropics,--"the Green Isle" in the Indian Ocean!
Only imagine such a spot converted into a watering-place! With a lodge
for the Queen on that slope sheltered by the ilex-copse, crescents, and
casinos, and yacht stations, and ornamental villas rose on every side
by his descriptive powers, and the old Earl--for he was dining with
him--saw at one glance how he had suddenly become a benefactor of
mankind and a millionnaire. "That little angle of the shore yonder, my
Lord,--the space between the pointed rock and the stone-pine trees,--is
worth fifty thousand pounds; the crescent that would stand there would
leave many an untenanted house at Kemp Town. I 'll engage myself to get
you a thousand guineas for that small bit of tableland to the right; the
Duke of Uxmore is only waiting to hit upon such a spot. Here, too, where
we sit, must be the hydropathic establishment. You can't help it, my
Lord, you must comply. This park will bring you in a princely revenue.
It is gold,--actual gold,--every foot of it! There 's not a Swiss
cottage in these woods won't pay cent per cent!"

Mr. Galbraith--such was his name--was of that pictorially gifted
order of which the celebrated George Robins was once chief. He knew how
to dress his descriptions with the double attraction of the picturesque
and the profitable, so that trees seemed to bend under golden fruit, and
the sea-washed rocks looked like "nuggets."

If there be something very seductive in the prospect of growing
immensely rich all at once, there is a terrible compensation in the
utter indifference inflicted on us as to all our accustomed pleasures in
life. The fate of Midas seems at once our own; there is nothing left to
us but that one heavy and shining metal of all created blessedness! Lord
Glengariff was wont to enjoy the lonely spot he lived in with an intense
appreciation of its beauty. He never wearied of watching the changing
effects of season on a scene so full of charm; but now he surveyed it
with a sense of fidgety impatience, eager for the time when the sounds
of bustle and business should replace the stillness that now reigned
around him.

"This is from Dunn," said he, breaking open a large, heavy-sealed letter
which had just arrived. His eyes ran hastily along it, and he exclaimed
peevishly, "No prospectus yet; no plan issued; nothing whatever
announced. 'I have seen Galbraith, and had some conversation with him
about your harbor.' My harbor!"

"Go on," said Lady Augusta, mildly.

"Why, the insolent upstart has not even listened to what was said to
him. My harbor! He takes it for granted that we were wanting to make
this a packet station for America, and he goes on to say that the place
has none of the requisite qualifications,--no depth of water! I wish the
fellow were at the bottom of it! Really, this is intolerable. Here is
a long lecture to me not to be misled by those 'speculation-mongers who
are amongst the rife products of our age.' I ask you, if you ever heard
of impertinence like that? This fellow--the arch-charlatan of his day,
the quack _par excellence_ of his nation--dares to warn _me_ against the
perils of his class and kindred! Only listen to this, Gusty," cried he,
bursting into a fit of half-angry laughter: "'I am disposed to think
that, by drawing closer to the present party in power, you could serve
your interests much more effectively than by embarking in any schemes
of mere material benefit. Allington'--he actually calls him
Allington!--'dropped hints to this effect in a confidential conversation
we held last evening together, and I am in hopes that, when we meet, you
will enter into our views.' Are the coronets of the nobility to be put
up to sale like the acres of the squirearchy? or what is it this fellow
is driving at?" cried he, flinging down the letter in a rage, and
walking up and down the room. "The rule of O'Connell and his followers
was mild and gentle and forbearing, compared with the sway of these
fellows. In the one case we had a fair stand-up fight,--opinion met
opinion, and the struggle was an open one; but here we have an organized
association to investigate the state of our resources, to pry into our
private affairs, learning what pressure bears upon us here, what weak
spot gives way there. They hold our creditors in leash, to slip them on
us at any moment; and the threat of a confiscation--for it is just that,
and nothing less--is unceasingly hanging over us!"

He stopped short in his torrent of passion, for the white sail of a
small fishing-craft that just showed in the offing suddenly diverted his
thoughts to that vision of prosperity he so lately revelled in,--that
pleasant dream of a thriving watering-place, bright, sunny, and
prosperous, the shore dotted with gayly caparisoned donkeys, and the sea
speckled with pleasure-boats. All the elements of that gay Elysium came
up before him,--the full tide of fortune setting strongly in, and
coming to his feet. Galbraith, who revelled in millions, whose rapid
calculations rarely descended to ignoble thousands, had constantly
impressed upon him that if Dunn only took it up, the project was already
accomplished. "He'll start you a company, my Lord, in a week; a splendid
prospectus and an admirable set of names on the direction, with a
paid-up capital, to begin with, of--say £30,000. He knows to a nicety
how many Stock Exchange fellows, how many M.P.'s, how many county
gentlemen to have. He 'll stick all the plums in the right place too;
and he'll have the shares quoted at a premium before the scrip is well
out in the market. Clever fellow, my Lord,--vastly clever fellow, Dunn!"
And so the Earl thought, too, till the letter now before him dashed that
impression with disappointment.

"I 'll tell you what it is, Gusty," said he, after a pause,--"we must
ask him down here. It is only by an actual inspection of the bay that he
can form any just conception of the place. You must write to him for me.
This gouty knuckle of mine makes penwork impossible. You can say--Just
find a sheet of paper, and I 'll tell you what to say." Now, the noble
Earl was not as ready at dictation as he had fancied; for when Lady
Augusta had opened her writing-desk, arranged her writing-materials, and
sat, pen in hand, awaiting his suggestions, he was still pacing up and
down the room, muttering to himself in broken and unconnected phrases,
quite unsuited to the easy flow of composition. "I suppose, Gusty,--I
take it for granted,--you must begin, 'My dear sir,'--eh?--or, perhaps,
better still, 'Dear Mr. Dunn.'"

"'Dear Mr. Dunn,'" said she, not looking up from the paper, but quietly
retouching the last letters with her pen.

"But I don't see why, after all, we should follow this foolish lead,"
said he, proudly. "The acceptance he meets from others need not dictate
to us, Gusty. I 'd say, 'The Earl of Glengariff'--or, 'I am requested by
Lord Glen-gariff--'"

"'My father, Lord Glengariff,'" interposed she, quietly.

"It sounds more civilly, perhaps. Be it so;" and again he walked up
and down, in the same hard conflict of composition. At length he burst
forth: "There 's nothing on earth more difficult than addressing a man
of this sort. You want his intimacy without familiarity. You wish to
be able to obtain the benefit of his advice, and yet not incur the
infliction of his dictation. In fact, you are perfectly prepared to
treat him as a valued guest, provided he never lapses into the delusion
that he is your friend. Now, it would take old Metternich to write the
sort of note I mean."

"If I apprehend you, your wish is to ask him down here on a visit of
a few days, with the intimation that you have a matter of business to
communicate--"

"Yes, yes," said he, impatiently, "that's very true. The business part
of the matter should come in incidentally, and yet the tone of the
invitation be such as to let him distinctly understand that he does not
come without an express object Now you have my meaning, Gusty," said he,
with the triumphant air of one who had just surmounted a difficulty.

"If I have, then, I am as far as ever from knowing how to convey it,"
said she, half peevishly. "I'd simply say, 'Dear Sir,' or, 'Dear Mr.
Dunn,--There is a question of great moment to myself, on which your
advice and counsel would be most valuable to me. If you could spare
me the few days a visit would cost you, and while giving us the great
pleasure of your society--'"

"Too flattering, by half. No, no," broke he in again. "I 'll tell you
what would be the effect of all that, Gusty,"--and his voice swelled out
full and forcibly,--"the fellow would come here, and, before a week was
over, he 'd call me Glengariff!"

She grew crimson over face and forehead and neck, and then almost as
quickly pale again; and, rising hastily from the table, said, "Really,
you expect too much from my subtlety as a note-writer. I think I
'd better request Mr. Dunn to look out for one of those invaluable
creatures they call companions, who pay your bills, correct your French
notes, comb the lapdog, and scold your maid for you. _She_ might be,
perhaps, equal to all this nice diplomacy."

"Not a bad notion, by any means, Gusty," said he, quickly. "A clever
woman would be inestimable for all the correspondence we are like to
have soon; far better than a man,--less obtrusive, more confidential,
not so open to jobbery; a great point,--a very great point. Dunn's the
very man, too, to find out the sort of person we want."

"Something more than governess, and less than lady," said she, half
superciliously.

"The very thing, Gusty,--the very thing. Why, there are women with
breeding enough to be maids of honor, and learning sufficient for a
professor, whose expectations never rise beyond a paltry hundred a
year--what am I saying?--sixty or seventy are nearer the mark. Now for
it, Gusty. Make this object the substance of your letter. You can
have no difficulty in describing what will suit us. We live in
times, unfortunately, when people of birth and station are reduced
to straitened circumstances on every hand. It reminds me of what poor
Hammersley used to say,--'Do you observe,' said he, 'that whenever
there's a great smash on the turf, you 'll always see the coaches horsed
with thoroughbreds for the next year or two!'"

"A very unfeeling remark, if it mean anything at all." "Never mind.
Write this letter, and say at the foot of it, 'We should be much pleased
if, in your journeys 's out'--he's always coming down to Cork and the
neighborhood--you could give us a few days at Glengariff Hermitage. My
father has certain communications to make to you, which he is confident
would exempt your visit from the reproach of mere idleness.' He'll take
that; the fellow is always flattered when you seem impressed by the
immensity of his avocations!" And with a hearty chuckle at the weakness
he was triumphing over, the old Lord left the room, while his daughter
proceeded to compose her letter.



CHAPTER XXIX. A MORNING AT OSTEND.

It would never have occurred to the mind of any one who saw Annesley
Beecher and Davis, as they sat at breakfast together in Ostend, that
such a scene as we have described could have occurred between them. Not
only was their tone frank and friendly with each other, but a gay
and lively spirit pervaded the conversation, and two seemingly more
light-hearted fellows it were hard to find.

As the chemist is able by the minutest drop, an almost imperceptible
atom of some subtle ingredient, to change the properties of some vast
mass, altering color and odor and taste at once, so did the great artist
Grog Davis know how to deal with the complicated nature of Beecher,
that he could at any moment hurl him down into the blackest depths of
despair, or elevate him to the highest pinnacle of hope and enjoyment.
The glorious picture of a race-course, with all its attendant rogueries,
betting-stands crammed with "fats," a ring crowded with "green-horns,"
was a tableau of which he never wearied. Now, this was a sort of
landscape Grog touched off neatly. All the figures he introduced were
life-studies, every tint and shade and effect taken carefully from
nature. With a masterly hand he sketched out a sort of future campaign,
artfully throwing Beecher himself into the foreground, and making him
fancy that he was in some sort necessary to the great events before
them.

"Mumps did not touch his hock, I hope, when he kicked there?" asked
Beecher.

"Call him Klepper,--never forget that," remonstrated Grog; "he's
remarkably like Mumps, that's all; but Mumps is in Staffordshire,--one
of the Pottery fellows has him."

"So he is," laughed Beecher, pleasantly. "I know the man that owns him."

"No, you don't," broke in Davis; "you've only heard his name,--it
is Coulson or Cotton, or something like that. One thing, however, is
certain: he values him at twelve hundred pounds, and we 'd sell our
horse for eight."

"So we would, Grog, and be on the right side of the hedge too."

"He'd be dog cheap for it," said Davis; "he's one of those lazy beggars
that never wear out. I 'd lay an even thousand on it that he runs this
day two years as he does to-day, and even when he has n't speed for a
flat race he 'll be a rare steeple-chase horse."

Beecher's eyes glistened, and he rubbed his hands with delight as he
heard him.

"I do like an ugly horse," resumed Davis; "a heavy-shouldered beast,
with lob-ears, lazy eyes, and capped hocks, and if they know how to come
out a stable with a 'knuckle over' of the pastern, or a little bit lame,
they 're worth their weight in gold."

What a merry laugh was Beecher's as he listened!

"Blow me!" cried Grog, in a sort of enthusiasm, "if some horses don't
seem born cheats,--regular legs! They drag their feet along, all weary
and tired; if you push them a bit, they shut up, or they answer the whip
with a kind of shrug, as if to say, 'It ain't any use punishing me at
all,' the while they go plodding in, at the tail of the others, till
within five, or maybe four lengths of the winning-post, and then you see
them stretching--it ain't a stride, it's a stretch--you can't say how
it's done, but they draw on--on--on, till you see half a head in front,
and there they stay--just doing it--no more."

"Mumps is exactly--"

"Klepper,--remember, he's Klepper," said Grog, mildly.

"Klepper, to be sure,--how can I forget it?"

"I hope that fellow Conway is off," said Grog.

"Yes, he started by the train for Liege,--third class too,--must be
pretty hard up, I take it, to travel that way."

"Good enough for a fellow that has been roughing it in the ranks these
two years."

"He's a gentleman, though, for all that," broke in Beecher.

"And Strawberry ran at Doncaster, and I saw him t' other day in a 'bus.
Now, I 'd like to know how much better he is for having once been a
racer?"

"Blood always tells--"

"In a horse, Beecher, in a horse, not in a man. Have n't I got a deal of
noble blood in my veins?--ain't I able to show a thoroughbred pedigree?"
said he, mockingly. "Well, let me see the fellow will stand at eight
paces from the muzzle of a rifle-pistol more cool, or who'll sight his
man more calm than I will." There was a tinge of defiance in the way
these words were said that by no means contributed to the ease of him
who heard them.

"When do we go for Brussels, Grog?" asked he, anxious to change the
subject.

"Here's the map of the country," said Davis, producing a card scrawled
over with lines and figures. "Brussels, the 12th and 14th; Spa, the
20th; Aix, the 25th. Then _you_ might take a shy at Dusseldorf, _I_
can't; I winged a Prussian major there five years ago, and they won't
let me in. I 'll meet you at Wiesbaden, and we 'll have a week at the
tables. You 'll have to remember that I 'm Captain Christopher so long
as we're on the Rhine; once at Baden, 'Richard's himself again!'"

"Is this for either of you, gentlemen?" said the waiter, presenting an
envelope from the telegraph-office.

"Yes; I'm Captain Davis," said Grog, as he broke the seal.

"'Is the Dean able to preach?--may we have a collection?--Telegraph
back.--Tom,'" read? Davis, slowly, aloud; and then added, "Ain't he a
flat to be always telegraphing these things? As if every fellow in the
office couldn't see his game!"

"Spicer, is it?" asked Beecher.

"Yes; he wants to hear how the horse is,--if there's good running in
him, and what he's to lay on; but that's no way to ask it. I mind the
day, at Wolverton, when Lord Berrydale got one of these: 'Your mother is
better,--they are giving her tonics.' And I whispered to George Rigby,
'It 's about Butterfly his mare, that's in for the York, and that's to
say, "She's all safe, lay heavy on it." And so I hedged round, and
backed her up to eight thousand,--ay, and I won my money; and when
Berrydale said to me after the race was over, 'Grog,' says he, 'you seem
to have had a glimpse of the line of country this time,' says I to him;
'Yes, my Lord,' says I; 'and I 'm glad to find the tonics agree with
your Lordship's mother.' Did n't he redden up to the roots of his hair!
and when he turned away he said, 'There's no coming up to that fellow
Davis!'"

"But I wonder you let him see that you were in his secret," said
Beecher.

"That was the way to treat _him_. If it was Baynton or Berries, I'd not
have said a word; but I knew Berrydale was sure to let me have a share
in the first good thing going just out of fear of me, and so he did;
that was the way I came to back Old Bailey."

It was now Beecher's turn to gaze with admiring wonder at this great
intelligence, and certainly his look was veneration itself.

"Here's another despatch," cried Davis, as the waiter presented another
packet like the former one. "We 're like Secretaries of State to-day,"
added he, laughing, as he tore open the envelope. This time, however, he
did not read the contents aloud, but sat slowly pondering over the lines
to himself.

"It's not Spicer again?" asked Beecher.

"No," was the brief reply.

"Nor that other fellow,--that German with the odd name?"

"No."

"Nothing about Mumps,--Klepper, I mean,--nothing about him?"

"Nothing; it don't concern him at all. It's not about anything you ever
heard of before," said Davis, as he threw a log of wood on the fire, and
kicked it with his foot. "I 'll have to go to Brussels to-night. I 'll
have to leave this by the four o'clock train," said he, looking at his
watch. "The horse is n't fit to move for twenty-four hours, so you 'll
remain here; he must n't be left without one of us, you know."

"Of course not. But is there anything so very urgent--"

"I suppose a man is best judge of his own affairs," said Davis, rudely.

Beecher made no reply, and a long and awkward silence ensued.

"Let him have one of the powders in a linseed mash," said Davis, at
last, "and see that the bandages are left on--only a little loose--at
night. Tom must remain with him in the box on the train, and I 'll look
out for you at the station. If we shouldn't meet, come straight to the
Hôtel Tirlemont, where all will be ready for you."

"Remember, Grog, I've got no money; you haven't trusted me with a single
napoleon."

"I know that; here's a hundred francs. Look out sharp, for you 'll have
to account for every centime of it when we meet. Dine upstairs here, for
if you go down to the ordinary you 'll be talking to every man Jack you
meet,--ay, you know you will."

"Egad! it's rather late in the day to school me on the score of
manners."

"I 'm not a-talking of manners, I 'm speaking of discretion,--of common
prudence,--things you 're not much troubled with; you 're just as fit to
go alone in life as I am to play the organ at an oratorio."

"Many thanks for the flattery," said Beecher, laughing.

"What would be the good of flattering you?" broke out Grog. "You ain't
rich, that one could borrow from you; you haven't a great house, where
one could get dinners out of you; you 're not even the head of your
family, that one might draw something out of your rank,--you ain't
anything."

"Except _your_ friend, Grog Davis; pray don't rob me of that
distinction," said Beecher, with a polished courtesy the other felt more
cutting than any common sarcasm.

"It's the best leaf in your book, whatever you may think of it," said
Davis, sternly; "and it will be a gloomy morning for you whenever you
cease to be it."

"I don't intend it, old fellow; I 'll never tear up the deed of
partnership, you may rely upon that. The old-established firm of Beecher
and Davis, or Davis and Beecher--for I don't care which--shall last _my_
time, at least;" and he held out his hand with a cordiality that even
Grog felt irresistible, for he grasped and shook it heartily.

"If I could only get you to run straight, I 'd make a man of you," said
Grog, eying him fixedly. "There's not a fellow in England could do as
much for you as I could. There's nobody knows what's in you as I do, and
there's nobody knows where you break down like _me_."

"True, O Grog, every word of it."

"I 'd put you in the first place in the sporting world,--I 'd have
your name at the top of the list at 'the turf.' In six months from
this day--this very day--I 'd bind myself to make Annesley Beecher the
foremost man at Newmarket. But just on one condition."

"And that?"

"You should take a solemn oath--I 'd make it a solemn one, I promise
you--never to question anything I decided in your behalf, but obey me
to the letter in whatever I ordered. Three months of that servitude, and
you 'd come out what I 've promised you."

"I 'll swear it this moment," cried Beecher.

"Will you?" asked Davis, eagerly.

"In the most solemn and formal manner you can dictate on oath to me. I
'll take it now, only premising you 'll not ask me anything against the
laws."

"Nothing like hanging, nor even transportation," said Grog, laughing,
while Beecher's face grew crimson, and then pale. "No,--no; all I 'll
ask is easily done, and not within a thousand miles of a misdemeanor.
But you shall Just think it over quietly. I don't want a 'catch match.'
You shall have time to reconsider what I have said, and when we meet at
Brussels you can tell me your mind."

"Agreed; only I hold _you_ to your bargain, remember, if _I_ don't
change."

"I'll stand to what I've said," said Davis. "Now, remember, the Hotel
Tirlemont; and so, good-bye, for I must pack up."

When the door closed after him, Annesley Beecher walked the room,
discussing with himself the meaning of Davis's late words. Well did
he know that to restore himself to rank and credit and fair fame was
a labor of no common difficulty. How was he ever to get back to that
station, forfeited by so many derelictions! Davis might, it is true,
get his bills discounted,--might hit upon fifty clever expedients for
raising the wind,--might satisfy this one, compromise with that; he
might even manage so cleverly that racecourses and betting-rooms would
be once more open to him. But what did--what could Grog know of that
higher world where once he had moved, and to which, by his misdeeds,
he had forfeited all claim to return? Why, Davis did n't even know the
names of those men whose slightest words are verdicts upon character.
All England was not Ascot, and Grog only recognized a world peopled with
gentlemen riders and jocks, and a landscape dotted with flagstaffs, and
closed in with a stand-house.

"No, no," said he to himself; "that's a flight above you, Master Davis.
It 's not to be thought of."



CHAPTER XXX. THE OPERA.

A dingy old den enough is the Hôtel Tirlemont, with its low-arched
_porte-cochere_, and its narrow windows, small-paned and iron-barred.
It rather resembles one of those antiquated hostels you see in the
background of an Ostade or a Teniers than the smart edifice which
we nowadays look for in an hotel. Such was certainly the opinion of
Annesley Beecher as he arrived there on the evening after that parting
with Davis we have just spoken of. Twice did he ask the guide who
accompanied him if this was really the Tirlemont, and if there were not
some other hotel of the same name; and while he half hesitated whether
he should enter, a waiter respectfully stepped forward to ask if he
were the gentleman whose apartment had been ordered by Captain Davis,--a
demand to which, with a sullen assent, he yielded, and slowly mounted
the stairs.

"Is the Captain at home?" asked he.

"No, sir; he went off to the railway station to meet you. Mademoiselle,
however, is upstairs."

"Mademoiselle!" cried Beecher, stopping, and opening wide his eyes in
astonishment. "This _is_ something new," muttered he. "When did she
come?"

"Last night, sir, after dinner."

"Where from?"

"From a Pensionnat outside the Porte de Scharbeck, I think, sir; at
least, her maid described it as in that direction."

"And what is she called,--Mademoiselle Violette, or Virginie, or Ida, or
what is it, eh?" asked he, jocularly.

"Mademoiselle, sir,--only Mademoiselle,--the Captain's daughter!"

"His daughter!" repeated he, in increased wonderment, to himself. "Can
this be possible?"

"There is no doubt of it, sir. The lady of the Pensionnat brought her
here last night in her own carriage, and I heard her, as she entered the
salon, say, 'Now, Mademoiselle, that I have placed you in the hands of
your father--' and then the door closed."

"I never knew he had a daughter," muttered Beecher to himself. "Which is
my room?"

"We have prepared this one for you, but to-morrow you shall have a more
comfortable one, with a look-out over the lower town."

"Put me somewhere where I sha'n't hear that confounded piano, I beg of
you. Who is it rattles away that fashion?"

"Mademoiselle, sir."

"To be sure,--I ought to have guessed it; and sings too, I'll be bound?"

"Like Grisi, sir," responded the waiter, enthusiastically; for the
Tirlemont, being frequented by the artistic class, had given him great
opportunity for forming his taste.

Just at this moment a rich, full voice swelled forth in one of the
popular airs of Verdi, but with a degree of ease and freedom that
showed the singer soared very far indeed above the pretensions of mere
amateurship.

"Wasn't I right, sir?" asked the waiter, triumphantly. "You'll not hear
anything better at the Grand Opera."

"Send me up some hot water, and open that portmanteau," said Beecher,
while he walked on towards the door of the salon. He hesitated for a
second or two about then presenting himself; but as he thought of Grog
Davis, and what Grog Davis's daughter must be like, he turned the handle
and entered.

A lady rose from the piano as the door opened, and even in the
half-darkened room Beecher could perceive that she was graceful, and
with an elegance in her gesture for which he was in no wise prepared.

"Have I the honor to address Miss Davis?"

"You are Mr. Annesley Beecher, the gentleman my papa has been
expecting," said she, with an easy smile. "He has just gone off to meet
you."

Nothing could be more commonplace than these words, but they were
uttered in a way that at once declared the breeding of the speaker. She
spoke to a friend of her father, and there was a tone of one who felt
that even in a first meeting a certain amount of intimacy might subsist
between them.

"It's very strange," said Beecher, "but your father and I have been
friends this many a year--close friends too--and I never as much as
suspected he had a daughter. What a shame of him not to have given me
the pleasure of knowing you before!"

"It was a pleasure he was chary enough of to himself," said she,
laughing. "I have been at school nearly four years, and have only seen
him once, and then for a few hours."

"Yes--but really," stammered out Beecher, "fascinations--charms such
as--"

"Pray, sir, don't distress yourself about turning a compliment. I'm
quite sure I'm very attractive, but I don't in the least want to be told
so. You see," she added, after a pause, "I 'm presuming upon what papa
has told me of your old friendship to be very frank with you."

"I am enchanted at it," cried Beecher. "Egad! if you. 'cut out all the
work,' though, I 'll scarcely be able to follow you."

"Ah! so here you are before me," cried Davis, entering and shaking his
hand cordially. "You had just driven off when I reached the station. All
right, I hope?"

"All right, thank you."

"You 've made Lizzy's acquaintance, I see, so I need n't introduce you.
_She_ knows you this many a day."

"But why have I not had the happiness of knowing _her?_" asked Beecher.

"How 's Klepper?" asked Grog, abruptly. "The swelling gone out of the
hocks yet?"

"Yes; he's clean as a whistle."

"The wind-gall, too,--has that gone?"

"Going rapidly; a few days' walking exercise will make him perfect."

"No news of Spicer and his German friend,--though I expected to have
had a telegraph all day yesterday. But come, these are not interesting
matters for Lizzy,--we 'll have up dinner, and see about a box for the
opera."

"A very gallant thought, papa, which I accept with pleasure."

"I must dress, I suppose," said Beecher, half asking; for even yet he
could not satisfy his mind what amount of observance was due to the
daughter of Grog Davis.

"I conclude you must," said she, smiling; "and I too must make a
suitable toilette;" and, with a slight bow and a little smile, she swept
past them out of the room.

"How close you have been, old fellow,--close as wax,--about this," said
Beecher; "and hang me, if she mightn't be daughter to the proudest Duke
in England!"

"So she might," said Grog; "and it was to make her so, I have consented
to this life of separation. What respect and deference would the fellows
show _my_ daughter when I wasn't by? How much delicacy would she meet
with when the fear of an ounce ball wasn't over them? And was I going to
bring her up in such a set as you and I live with? Was a young creature
like that to begin the world without seeing one man that wasn't a
leg, or one woman that wasn't worse? Was it by lessons of robbery and
cheating her mind was to be stored? And was she to start in life by
thinking that a hell was high society? Look at her _now_," said he,
sternly, "and say if I was in Norfolk Island to-morrow, where 's the
fellow that would have the pluck to insult her? It is true _she_ doesn't
know me as you and the others know me; but the man that would let her
into _that_ secret would never tell her another." There was a terrible
fierceness in his eye as he spoke, and the words came from him with a
hissing sound like the venomous threatenings of a serpent. "_She_ knows
nothing of _my_ life nor _my_ ways. Except your own name, she never
heard me mention one of the fellows we live with. She knows _you_ to be
the brother of Lord Viscount Lack-ington, and that you are the Honorable
Annesley Beecher, that's all she knows of _you_; ain't that little
enough?"

Beecher tried to laugh easily at this speech; but it was only a very
poor and faint attempt, after all.

"She thinks _me_ a man of fortune, and _you_ an unblemished gentleman;
and if that be not innocence, I 'd like to know what is! Of where, how,
and with whom we pick up our living, she knows as much as _we_ do about
the Bench of Bishops."

"I must confess I don't think the knowledge would improve her!" said
Beecher, with a laugh.

A fierce and savage glance from Davis, however, very quickly arrested
his jocularity; and Beecher, in a graver tone, resumed: "It was a deuced
fine thing of you, Grog, to do this. There 's not another fellow living
would have bad the head to think of it But now that she has come home
to you, how do you mean to carry on the campaign? A girl like that can't
live secluded from the world,--she must go out into society? Have you
thought of that?"

"I have thought of it," rejoined Davis, bluntly, but in a tone that by
no means invited further inquiry.

"Her style and her manner fit her for the best set anywhere--"

"That's where I intend her to be," broke in Davis.

"I need scarcely tell as clever a fellow as you," said Beecher, mildly,
"that there's nothing so difficult as to find footing among these
people. Great wealth may obtain it, or great patronage. There are women
in London who can do that sort of thing; there are just two or three
such, and you may imagine how difficult it is to secure their favor."

"They 're all cracked teacups, those women you speak of; one has only to
know where the flaw is, and see how easily managed they are!"

Beecher smiled at this remark; he chuckled to himself, too, to see that
for once the wily Grog Davis had gone out of his depth, and adventured
to discuss people and habits of which he knew nothing; but, unwilling to
prolong a controversy so delicate, he hurried away to his room to dress.
Davis, too, retired on a similar errand, and a student of life might
have been amused to have taken a peep into the two dressing-rooms. As
for Beecher, it was but the work of a few minutes to array himself
in dinner costume. It was a routine task that he performed without
a thought on its details. All was ready at his hand; and even to
the immaculate tie, which seemed the work of patience and skill, he
despatched the whole performance in less than a quarter of an hour. Not
so Davis: he ransacked drawers and portmanteaus; covered the bed,
the chairs, and the table with garments; tried on and took off again;
endeavored to make colors harmonize, or hit upon happy contrasts. He
was bent on appearing a "swell;" and, unquestionably, when he did issue
forth, with a canary-colored vest, and a green coat with gilt buttons,
his breast a galaxy of studs and festooned chains, it would have been
unfair to say he had not succeeded.

Beecher had but time to compliment him on his "get up," when Miss
Davis entered. Though her dress was simply the quiet costume of a young
unmarried girl, there was in her carriage and bearing, as she came in,
all the graceful ease of the best society; and lighted up by the lamps
of the apartment, Beecher saw, to his astonishment, the most beautiful
girl he had ever beheld. It was not alone the faultless delicacy of
her face, but there was that mingled gentleness and pride, that
strange blending of softness and seriousness, which sit so well on the
high-born, giving a significance to every gesture or word of those whose
every movement is so measured, and every syllable so carefully uttered.
"Why was n't she a countess in her own right?" thought he; "that girl
might have all London at her feet."

The dinner went on very pleasantly. Davis, too much occupied in
listening to his daughter or watching the astonishment of Beecher,
scarcely ever spoke; but the others chatted away about whatever' came
uppermost in a light and careless tone that delighted him.

Beecher was not sorry at the opportunity of a little dis-play. He was
glad to show Davis that in the great world of society he could play
no insignificant part; and so he put forth all his little talents as
a talker, with choice anecdotes of "smart people," and the sayings and
doings of a set which, to Grog, were as much myths as the inscriptions
on an Assyrian monument. Lizzy Davis evidently took interest in his
account of London and its life. She liked, too, to hear about the
families of her schoolfellows, some of whom bore "cognate" names, and
she listened with actual eagerness to descriptions of the gorgeous
splendor and display of a town "season."

"And I am to see all these fine things, and know all these fine people,
papa?" asked she.

"Yes, I suppose so,--one of these days, at least," muttered Grog, not
caring to meet Beecher's eye.

"I don't think you care for this kind of life so much as Mr. Beecher,
pa. Is their frivolity too great for your philosophy?"

"It ain't that!" muttered Grog, growing confused.

"Then do tell me, now, something of the sort of people you are fond of;
the chances are that I shall like them just as well as the others."

Beecher and Davis exchanged glances of most intense significance; and
were it not from downright fear, Beecher would have burst out laughing.

"Then I will ask Mr. Beecher," said she, gayly. "_You 'll_ not be so
churlish as papa, I 'm certain. _You 'll_ tell me what his world is
like?"

"Well, it's a very smart world too," said Beecher, slyly enjoying the
malicious moment of worrying Grog with impunity. "Not so many pretty
women in it, perhaps, but plenty of movement, plenty of fun,--eh, Davis?
Are you fond of horses, Miss Davis?"

"Passionately; and I flatter myself I can ride too. By the way, is it
true, papa, you have brought a horse from England for me?"

"Who could have told you that?" said Davis, almost sternly.

"My maid heard it from a groom that has just arrived, but with such
secrecy that I suppose I have destroyed all the pleasure of the surprise
you intended me; never mind, dearest pa, I am just as grateful--"

"Grateful for nothing," broke in Davis. "The groom is a prating rascal,
and your maid ought to mind her own affairs." Then reddening to his
temples with shame at his ill-temper, he added, "There is a horse, to be
sure, but he ain't much of a lady's palfrey."

"What would you say to her riding Klepper in the Allée Verte,--it might
be a rare stroke?" asked Beecher, in a whisper to Davis.

"Do you think that _she_ is to be brought into _our_ knaveries? Is
_that_ all you have learned from what I 've been saying to you?"
whispered Davis, with a look of such savage ferocity that Beecher grew
sick at heart with terror.

"I 'm sorry to break in upon such confidential converse," said she,
laughingly, "but pray remember we are losing the first scene of the
opera."

"I 'm at your orders," said Beecher, as, with his accustomed easy
gallantry, he stepped forward to offer her his arm.

The opera was a favorite one, and the house was crowded in every part.
As in all cities of a certain rank, the occupants of the boxes, with a
few rare exceptions, were the same well-known people who, night after
night, follow along the worn track of pleasure. To them the stage is but
a secondary object, to which attention only wanders at intervals. The
house itself, the brilliant blaze of beauty, the splendor of diamonds,
the display of dress, and, more than all these, the subtle by-play of
intrigue, detectable only by eyes deep-skilled and trained,--these form
the main attractions of a scene wherein our modern civilization is more
strikingly exhibited than in any other situation.

Scarcely had Lizzy Davis taken her seat than a low murmur of wondering
admiration ran through the whole house, and, in the freedom which our
present-day habits license, every opera-glass was turned towards her.
Totally unconscious of the admiration she was exciting, her glances
ranged freely over the theatre in every part, and her eyes were directed
from object to object in amazement at the gorgeousness of the scene
around her. Seated far back in the box, entirely screened from view, her
father, too, perceived nothing of that strange manifestation wherein a
sort of homage is blended with a degree of impertinence, but watched the
stage with intense eagerness. Very different from the feelings of either
father or daughter were the feelings of Annesley Beecher. He knew well
the opera and its habits, and as thoroughly saw that it is to the world
of fashion what Tattersall's or the turf is to the world of sport,--the
great ring where every match is booked, every engagement registered, and
every new aspirant for success canvassed and discussed. There was not a
glance turned towards the unconscious girl at his side but he could read
its secret import. How often had it been his own lot to stare up
from his stall at some fair face, unknown to that little world which
arrogates to itself all knowledge, and mingle his criticism with all the
impertinences fashion loves to indulge in! The steady stare of some, the
unwilling admiration of others, the ironical gaze of more, were all easy
of interpretation by him, and for the very first time in his life he
became aware of the fact that it was possible to be unjust with regard
to the unknown.

As the piece proceeded, and her interest in the play increased, a
slightly heightened color and an expression of half eagerness gave her
beauty all that it had wanted before of animation, and there was now an
expression of such captivation on her face that, carried away by that
mysterious sentiment which sways masses, sending its secret spell from
heart to heart, the whole audience turned from the scene to watch
its varying effects upon that beautiful countenance. The opera was
"Rigoletto," and she continued to translate to her father the touching
story of that sad old man, who, lost to every sentiment of honor, still
cherished in his heart of hearts his daughter's love. The terrible
contrast between his mockery of the world and his affection for his
home, the bitter consciousness of how he treated others, conjuring up
the terrors of what yet might be his own fate, came to him in her words,
as the stage revealed their action, and gradually he leaned over in his
eagerness till his head projected outside the box.

"There--was n't I right about her?" said a voice from one of the stalls
beneath. "That's Grog Davis. I know the fellow well."

"I 've won my wager," said another. "There 's old Grog leaning over her
shoulder, and there can't be much doubt about her now."

"Annesley Beecher at one side, and Grog Davis at the other," said
a third, make the case very easy reading. "I 'll go round and get
presented to her."

"Let us leave this, Davis," whispered Beecher, while he trembled from
head to foot,--"let us leave this at once. Come down to the crush-room,
and I 'll find a carriage."

[Illustration: 342]

"Why so--what do you mean?" said Davis; and as suddenly he followed
Beecher's glance towards the pit, whence every eye was turned towards
them.

That glance was not to be mistaken. It was the steady and insolent stare
the world bestows upon those who have neither champions nor defenders;
and Davis returned the gaze with a defiance as insulting.

"For any sake, Davis, let us get away," whispered Beecher again. "Only
think of _her_, if there should be any exposure!"

"Exposure!--how should there? Who 'd dare--"

Before he could finish, the curtain at the back of the box was rudely
drawn aside, and a tall, handsome man, with a certain swaggering ease of
manner that seemed to assert his right to be there if he pleased, came
forward, saying,--

"How goes it, Davis? I just caught a glimpse of that charming--"

"A word with you, Captain Hamilton," said Davis, between his teeth, as
he pushed the other towards the door.

"As many as you like, old fellow, by and by. For the present, I mean to
establish myself here."

"That you sha'n't, by Heaven!" cried Davis, as he placed himself in
front of him. "Leave this, sir, at once."

"Why, the fellow is deranged," said Hamilton, laughing; "or is it
jealousy, old boy?"

With a violent push Davis drove him backwards, and ere he could recover,
following up the impulse, he thrust him outside the box, hurriedly
passing outside, and shutting the door after him.

So rapidly and so secretly had all this occurred, that Lizzy saw nothing
of it, all her attention being eagerly fixed on the stage. Not so
Beecher. He had marked it all, and now sat listening in terror to the
words of high altercation in the lobby. From sounds that boded like
insult and outrage, the noise gradually decreased to more measured
tones; then came a few words in whisper, and Davis, softly drawing the
curtain, stepped gently to his chair at his daughter's back. A hasty
sign to Beecher gave him to understand that all was settled quietly, and
the incident was over.

"You 'll not think me very churlish if I rob you of one act of the
opera, Lizzy?" said Davis, as the curtain fell; "but I have a racking
headache, which all this light and heat are only increasing."

"Let us go at once, dearest papa," said she, rising. "You should have
told me of this before. There, Mr. Beecher, you needn't leave this--"

"She's quite right," said Davis; "you must remain."

And the words were uttered with a certain significance that Beecher well
understood as a command.

It was past midnight when Annesley Beecher returned to the hotel, and
both Davis and his daughter had already gone to their rooms.

"Did your master leave any message for me?" said he to the groom, who
acted as Davis's valet.

"No, sir, not a word."

"Do you know, would he see me? Could you ask him?" said he.

The man disappeared for a few minutes, and then coming back, said, "Mr.
Davis is fast asleep, sir, and I dare not disturb him."

"Of course not," said Beecher, and turned away.

"How that fellow can go to bed and sleep, after such a business as
that!" muttered Beecher, as he drew his chair towards the fire, and
sat ruminating over the late incident. It was in a spirit of triumphant
satisfaction that he called to mind the one solitary point in which he
was the superior of Davis,--class and condition,--and he revelled in the
thought that men like Grog make nothing but blunders when they attempt
the habits of those above them. "With all his shrewdness," said he to
himself, half aloud, "he could not perceive that he has been trying
an impossibility. She is beyond them all in beauty, her manners are
perfect, her breeding unexceptionable; and yet, there she is, Grog
Davis's daughter! Ay, Grog, my boy, you 'll see it one of these days. It
's all to no use. Enter her for what stakes you like, she 'll be
always disqualified. There 's only one thing carries these attempts
through,--if you could give her a pot of money. Yes, Master Davis, there
are fellows--and with good blood in their veins--that, for fifty or
sixty thousand pounds, would marry even _your_ daughter." With this last
remark he finished all his reflections, and proceeded to prepare for
bed.

Sleep, however, would not come; he was restless and uneasy; the incident
in the theatre might get abroad, and his own name be mentioned; or it
might be that Hamilton, knowing well who and what Davis was, would
look to him, Beecher, for satisfaction. There was another pleasant
eventuality,--to be drawn into a quarrel and shot for Grog Davis's
daughter! To be the travelling-companion of such a man was bad enough;
to risk being seen with him on railroads and steamboats was surely
sufficient; but to be paraded in places of public amusement, to be
dragged before the well-dressed world, not as his chance associate,
but as a member of his domestic circle, chaperoning his daughter to the
opera, was downright intolerable! And thus was it that this man, who
had been dunned and insulted by creditors, hunted from place to place by
sheriff's officers, browbeaten by bankruptcy practitioners, stigmatized
by the press, haunted all the while by a conscience that whispered there
was even worse hanging over him, yet did he feel more real terror from
the thought of how he would be regarded by his own "order" for
this unseemly intimacy, than shame for all his deeper and graver
transgressions.

"No," said he, at last, springing from his bed, and lighting his candle,
"I 'll be off. I 'll cut my lucky, Master Grog; and here goes to write
you half a dozen lines to break the fact to you. I 'll call it a sudden
thought--a notion--that I ought to see Lackington at once. I 'll say
that I could n't think of subjecting Miss Davis to the inconvenience of
that rapid mode of travelling I feel to be so imminently necessary. I
'll tell him that as I left the theatre, I saw one of Fordyce's clerks,
that the fellow knew me and grinned, and that I know I shall be arrested
if I stay here. I 'll hint that Hamilton, who is highly connected, will
have the English Legation at us all. Confound it, he 'll believe none of
these. I 'll just say"--Here he took his pen and wrote,--

     "Dear D.,--After we parted last night, a sudden caprice
     seized me that I 'd start off at once for Italy. Had you
     been alone, old fellow, I should never have thought of it;
     but seeing that I left you in such charming company, with
     one whose--['No, that won't do--I must strike out that;
     and so he murmured over the lines ending in 'company.' and
     then went on.]--I have no misgivings about being either
     missed or wanted.--['Better, perhaps, missed or
     regretted.'] We have been too long friends to--['No, we
     are too old pals, that's better--he does n't care much for
     friendship']--too old pals to make me suspect you will be
     displeased with this--this unforeseen--['That's a
     capital word!--unforeseen what? It's always calamity
     comes after  unforeseen; but I can't call it calamity']--
     unforeseen 'bolt over the ropes,' and believe me as ever, or
     believe me 'close as wax,'

     "Yours,  A. B."

"A regular diplomatic touch, I call that note," said he, as he reread it
to himself with much complacency. "Lack-ington thinks me a 'flat;' then
let any one read that, and say if the fellow that wrote it is a fool."
And now he sealed and directed his epistle, having very nearly addressed
it to Grog, instead of to Captain Davis. "His temper won't be angelic
when he gets it," muttered he, "but I'll be close to Liege by that
time." And with this very reassuring reflection he jumped into bed
again, determining to remain awake till daybreak.

Wearied out at last with watching, Annesley Beecher fell off asleep, and
so soundly, too, that it was not till twice spoken to he could arouse
and awaken.

"Eh, what is it, Rivers?" cried he, as he saw the trim training-groom at
his side. "Anything wrong with the horse?"

"No, sir, nothing; _he's_ all right, anyhow."

"What is it, then; any one from town looking for us?"

"No, sir, nobody whatever. It's the Captain himself--"

"What of him? Is he ill?"

"Sound as a roach, sir; he's many a mile off by this. Says he to me,
'Rivers,' says he, 'when you gets back to the Tirlemont, give this note
to Mr. Beecher; he 'll tell you afterwards what's to be done. Only,'
says he, 'don't forget to rub a little of the white oils on that near
hock; very weak,' says he; 'be sure it's very weak, so as not to blister
him.' Ain't he a wonderful man, sir, to be thinking o' that at such a
moment?"

"Draw the curtain, there,--let me have more light," cried Beecher,
eagerly, as he opened the small and crumpled piece of paper. The
contents were in pencil, and very brief,--

     "I 'm off through the Ardennes towards Treves; come up to
     Aix with my daughter, and wait there till you hear from me.
     There 's a vacant 'troop' in the Horse Guards Blue this
     morning. Rivers can tell you all.--Yours, C. D."

"What has happened, Rivers?" cried he, in intense anxiety. "Tell me at
once."

"Sir, it don't take long to tell. It did n't take very long to do. It
was three, or maybe half-past, this morning, the Captain comes to my
room, and says, 'Rivers, get up; be lively,' says he, 'dress yourself,
and go over to Jonesse, that fellow as has the shooting-gallery, give
him this note; he 'll just read it, and answer it at once; then run
over to Burton's and order a coupé, with two smart horses, to be here at
five; after that come back quickly, for I want a few things packed up.'
He made a sign to me that all was to be 'dark,' and so away I went, and
before three quarters of an hour was back here again. At five to the
minute the carriage came to the corner of the park, and we stepped out
quietly; and when we reached it, there was Jonesse inside, with a tidy
little box on his knee. 'Oh, is that it?' said I, for I knowed what that
box meant,--'is that it?'

"'Yes,' says the Captain, 'that's it; get up and make him drive briskly
to Boitsfort.' We were a bit late, I think, for the others was there
when we got up, and I heard them grumbling something about being behind
time. 'Egad,' says the Captain, 'you 'll find we 've come early enough
before we've done with you.' They were cruel words, sir, now that I
think how he tumbled him over stone dead in a moment."

"Who dead?"

"That fine, handsome young man, with the light-brown beard,--Hamilton,
they said his name was,--and a nicer fellow you could n't wish to see.
I 'll never forget him as he lay there stretched on the grass, and the
small blue hole in his forehead,--you 'd not believe it was ever half
the size of a bullet,--and his glove in his left hand, all so natural as
if he was alive. I believe I 'd have been standing there yet, looking at
him, when the Captain called me, and said, 'Rivers, take these stirrups
up a hole,'--for he had a saddle-horse all ready for him,--'and give
this note to Mr. Beecher; he 'll give you his orders about Klepper,'
says he, 'but mind you look to that hock.'"

"And Captain Hamilton was killed?" muttered Beecher, while he trembled
from head to foot at the terrible tidings.

"Killed--dead--he never moved a finger after he fell!"

"What did his friend do? Did he say anything?--did he speak?"

"He dropped down on his knees beside him, and caught him by the hand,
and cried out, 'George, my own dear fellow,--George, speak to me;' but
George never spoke another word."

"And Davis,--Captain Davis,--what did he do?"

"He shook hands with Jones, and said something in French that made him
laugh; and then going over to where the body lay, he said, 'Colonel
Humphrey,' says he, 'you 're a witness that all was fair and honorable,
and that if this unhappy affair ever comes to be--' and then the Colonel
moved his hand for him to be off, and not speak to him. And so the
Captain took his advice, and got into the saddle; but I heard him mutter
something about 'teaching the Colonel better manners next time they
met."

[Illustration: 350]

"And then he rode away?"

"Yes; he turned into the wood, at a walking pace, for he was lighting
his cigar. I saw no more of him, after that, for they called me to help
them with the body, and it was all we could do, four of us, to carry him
to the road where the carriage was standing."

"Did you ever hear them mention my name amongst them?" asked Beecher,
tremblingly.

"No, sir; nobody spoke of you but my master, when he handed me the
note."

"What a sad business it has all been!" exclaimed Beecher, half aloud.

"I suppose it would go hard with the Captain, sir, if he was caught?"
said Rivers, inquiringly.

Again Beecher read over the note, pondering every word as he went "What
a sad business!" murmured he, "and all for nothing, or next to nothing!"
Then, as if suddenly rousing himself to action, he said, "Rivers, we
must get away at once. Take this passport to the police, and then look
after a horse-box for the next train to Liege. We shall start at two
o'clock."

"That's just what the Captain said, sir. 'Don't delay in Brussels,' says
he; 'and don't you go a-talking about this morning's work. If they have
you up for examination, mind that you saw nothing, you heard nothing,
you know nothing.'"

"Send Miss Davis's maid here," said Beecher; "and then see about those
things I 've mentioned to you."

Mademoiselle Annette was a French Swiss, who very soon apprehended that
a "difficulty" had occurred somewhere, which was to be kept secret from
her young mistress; and though she smiled with a peculiar significance
at the notion of Miss Davis travelling under Beecher's protection, she
did so with all the decorum of her gifted class.

"You 'll explain everything, Annette," said Beecher, who in his
confusion was eager to throw any amount of burden or responsibility upon
another; "you'll tell her whatever you like as to the cause of his going
away, and I 'll swear to it."

"Monsieur need not give himself any trouble," was the ready answer; "all
shall be cared for."



CHAPTER XXXI. EXPLANATIONS.

What a sad pity it is that the great faculty of "making things
comfortable," that gifted power which blends the announcement with the
explanation of misfortune, should be almost limited to that narrow
guild in life to which Mademoiselle Annette belonged! The happy knack
of half-informing and all-mystifying would be invaluable on the Treasury
benches; and great proficients as some of our public men are in this
walk, how immeasurably do they fall short of the dexterity of the
"soubrette"!

So neatly and so cleverly had Annette performed her task, that when Miss
Davis met Beecher at breakfast, she felt that a species of reserve was
necessary as to the reasons of her father's flight; that, as he had not
directly communicated with herself, her duty was simply to accept of the
guidance he had dictated to her. Besides this, let it be owned, she had
not yet rallied from the overwhelming astonishment of her first meeting
with her father, so utterly was he unlike all that her imagination had
pictured him! Nothing could be more affectionate, nothing kinder, than
his reception; a thoughtful anxiety for her comfort pervaded all he
said. The gloomy old Tirlemont even caught up an air of home as she
passed the threshold; but still he was neither in look, manner, nor
appearance what she fancied. All his self-restraint could not gloss over
his vulgarity, nor all his reserve conceal his defects in breeding. His
short, dictatorial manner with the servants,--his ever-present readiness
to confront nobody saw what peril,--a suspectful insistence upon this
or that mark of deference as a right of which he might possibly be
defrauded,--all gave to his bearing a tone of insolent defiance that at
once terrified and repelled her.

To all her eager questionings as to their future life, where and how it
was to be passed, he would only answer vaguely or evasively. He met her
inquiries about the families and friends of her schoolfellows in the
same way. Of her pleasures and pursuits, her love of music, and her
skill in drawing, he could not even speak with those conventionalities
that disguise ignorance or indifference. Of the great world--the
"swells" he would have called them--he only knew such as were on the
turf. Of the opera, he might possibly tell the price of a stall, but not
the name of a singer; and as to his own future, what or where it should
be, Grog no more knew than who would be first favorite for the Léger a
century hence. To "fence off" any attempt "to pump him" in the ring, to
dodge a clever cross-examiner in a court of justice, Davis would have
proved himself second to none,--these were games of skill, which he
could play with the best,--but it was a very different task to thread
his way through the geography of a land he had not so much as heard of,
and be asked to act as guide through regions whose very names were new
to him.

The utmost that Lizzy could glean from that long first evening's talk
was, that her father had few or no political ambitions, rather shunned
the great world, cared little for dukes or duchesses, nor set any great
store on mere intellectual successes. "Perhaps," thought she, "he has
tried and found the hollowness of them all; perhaps he is weary of
public life; perhaps he 'd like the quiet pleasures of a country house,
and that calm existence described as the chateau life of England.
Would that he were only more frank with me, and let us know each other
better!"

We entreat our readers to forgive us this digression, necessary as it is
to show that Lizzy, whatever her real doubts and anxieties, felt bound
not to display them, but accept Beecher's counsel as her father's will.

"And so we start for Aix-la-Chapelle by two?" said she, calmly.

"Yes; and I represent papa," said Beecher. "I hope you feel impressed
with a due reverence for my authority."

"Much will depend upon the way you exercise it," said she; "I could very
easily be a rebel if I suspected the justice of the Crown."

"Come, come," said he, laughing, "don't threaten me! my viceroyship will
be very short-lived,--he 'll perhaps be at Aix before us."

"And I suppose all my dreams of extravagance here are defeated," said
she. "Annette and I have been plotting and planning such rare devices
in 'toilette,' not exactly aware where or upon whom the captivations
were to be exercised. I actually revelled in the thought of all the
smart fineries my Pensionnat life has denied me hitherto."

There was that blending of levity with seriousness in her tone that
totally puzzled Beecher; and so was it through all she said,--there ran
the same half-mocking vein that left him quite unable even to fathom
her meaning. He muttered out something about "dress" and "smart things"
being to be found everywhere, and that most probably they should visit
even more pretentious cities than Brussels erelong.

"Which means that you know perfectly well where we are going, but
won't tell it. Well, I resign myself to my interesting part of 'Captive
Princess' all the more submissively, since every place is new to me,
every town an object of interest, every village a surprise."

"You 'd like to see the world,--the real, the great world, I mean?"
asked Beecher.

"Oh, how much!" cried she, clasping her hands in eagerness, as she
arose.

Beecher watched her as she walked up and down the room, every movement
of her graceful figure displaying dignity and pride, her small and
beautifully shaped head slightly thrown back, while, as her hand held
the folds of her dress, her march had something almost stage-like in its
sweeping haughtiness. "And how she would become it!" muttered he, below
his breath, but yet leaving the murmured sounds half audible.

"What are you saying, sir? Any disparaging sentiment on school-girl
conceit or curiosity?"

"Something very like the opposite," said Beecher. "I was whispering to
myself that Grantley House and Rocksley Castle were the proper sphere
for _you_."

"Are these very splendid?" asked she, calmly.

"The best houses in England. Of their owners, one is a Duke with two
hundred thousand a year, the other an Earl with nearly as much."

"And what do they do with it?"

"Everything; all that money can have--and what is there it cannot?--is
there. Gorgeous houses, horses, dress, dinners, pictures, plate, the
best people to visit them, the best cook, the best deer-park, the
fastest yacht at Cowes, the best hunting-stable at Melton."

"I should like that; it sounds very fascinating, all of it. How
it submerges at once, too, all the petty cares and contrivances,
perpetually asking, 'Can we do this?' 'Dare we do that?' It makes
existence the grand, bold, free thing one dreams it ought to be."

"You 're right there; it does make life very jolly."

"Are _you_ very rich?" asked she, abruptly.

"No, by Jove! poor as a church mouse," said he, laughing at the
strangeness of the question, whose sincere simplicity excluded all
notion of impertinence. "I'm what they call a younger son, which means
one who arrives in the world when the feast is over. I have a brother
with a very tidy fortune, if that were of any use to me."

"And is it not the same? You share your goods together, I suppose?"

"I should be charmed to share mine with him, on terms of reciprocity,"
said Beecher; "but I 'm afraid he 'd not like it."

"So that he is rich, and you poor?"

"Exactly so."

"And this is called brotherhood? I own I don't understand it."

"Well, it has often puzzled me too," said Beecher, laughingly; "but I
believe, if I had been born first, I should have had no difficulty in it
whatever."

"And papa?" asked she, suddenly,--"what was he,--an elder or a younger
son?"

It was all that Beecher could do to maintain a decent gravity at this
question. To be asked about Grog Davis's parentage seemed about the
drollest of all possible subjects of inquiry; but, with an immense
effort of self-restraint, he said,--

"I never exactly knew; I rather suspect, however, he was an only child."

"Then there is no title in our family?" said she, inquiringly.

"I believe not; but you are aware that this is very largely the case in
England. We are not all 'marquises' and 'counts' and 'chevaliers,' like
foreigners."

"I like a title; I like its distinctiveness: the sense of carrying out
a destiny, transmitting certain traits of race and kindred, seems a fine
and ennobling thing; and this one has not, one cannot have, who has no
past. So that," said she, after a pause, "papa is only what you would
call a 'gentleman.'"

"'Gentleman' is a very proud designation, believe me," said he, evading
an answer.

"And how would they address me in England,--am I 'my Lady'?"

"No, you are Miss Davis."

"How meanly it sounds,--it might be a governess, a maid."

"When you are married, you take the rank and title of your husband,--a
duchess, if he be a duke."

"A duchess be it, then," said she, in that light, volatile tone she was
ever best pleased to employ, while, with a rattling gayety, she went on:
"How I should love to be one of those great people you have described to
me,--soaring away in all that ideal splendor which would come of a life
of boundless cost, the actual and the present being only suggestive of a
thousand fancied enjoyments! What glorious visions might one conjure
up out of the sportiveness of an untrammelled will! Yes, Mr. Beecher, I
have made up my mind,--I 'll be a duchess!"

"But you might have all these as a marchioness, a countess--"

"No, I 'll be a duchess; you sha'n't cheat me out of my just claims."

"Will your Grace please to give orders about packing up, for we must be
away soon after one o'clock," said he, laughing.

"If I were not humility itself, I'd say the train should await my
convenience," said she, as she left the room with a proud and graceful
dignity that would have become a queen.

For a few moments Beecher sat silent and thoughtful in his chair, and
then burst out into a fit of immoderate laughing,--he laughed till his
eyes ran over and his sides ached. "If this ain't going the pace, I 'd
like to know what speed is!" cried he, aloud. "I wonder what old Grog
would say if he heard her; and the best of the joke is, she is serious
all the while. She is in the most perfect good faith about it all. And
this comes of the absurdity of educating her out of her class. What a
strange blunder for so clever a head to make! You might have guessed,
Master Grog, that she never could be a 'plater.' Let her only enter for
a grand match, and she 'll be 'scratched' from one end of England to the
other. Ay, Davis, my boy, you fancy pedigrees are only cared for on the
turf; but there _is_ a Racing Calendar, edited by a certain Debrett,
that you never heard of."

Again, he thought of Davis as a peer,--"Viscount Davis!" Baron Grog,
as he muttered it, came across him, and he burst out once more into
laughter; then suddenly checking himself, he said, "I must take right
good care, though, that he never hears of this same conversation; he's
just the fellow to say _I_ led her on to laugh at and ridicule him;
he 'd suspect in a moment that I took her that pleasant gallop,--and if
he did--" A long, wailing whistle finished the sentence for him.

Other and not very agreeable reflections succeeded these. It was this
very morning that he himself had determined on "levanting," and there
he was, more securely moored than ever. He looked at his watch, and
muttered, "Eleven o'clock; by this time I should have been at Verviers,
and on the Rhine before midnight. In four days more, I 'd have had the
Alps between us, and now here I am without the chance of escape; for if
I bolted and left his daughter here, he'd follow me through the world to
shoot me!"

He sat silent for some minutes, and then, suddenly springing up from his
chair, he cried out,--

"Precious hard luck it is! but I can neither get on _with_ this fellow
nor _without_ him;" and with this "summing up" he went off to his room
to finish his preparations for the road.



CHAPTER XXXII. THE COUPÉ ON THE RAIL.

Annesley Beecher felt it "deuced odd" to be the travelling companion
and protector of a very beautiful girl of nineteen, to whose fresh youth
every common object of the road was a thing of wonderment and curiosity;
the country, the people, the scores of passengers arriving or departing,
the chance incidents of the way all amused her. She possessed that
power of deriving intense enjoyment from the mere aspect of life
that characterizes certain minds, and while thus each little incident
interested her, her gay and lively sallies animated one who without
her companionship had smoked his cigar in half-sulky isolation, voting
journey and fellow-travellers "most monstrous bores." As they traversed
that picturesque tract between Chaude Fontaine and Verviers, her delight
and enjoyment increased. Those wonderful little landscapes which open
at the exit from each tunnel, and where to the darkness and the
gloom succeed, as if by magic, those rapid glances at swelling lawns,
deep-bosomed woods, and winding rivers, with peaceful homesteads dotting
the banks, were so many surprises full of marvellous beauty.

"Ah! Mr. Beecher," said she, as they emerged upon one of these charming
spots, "I'm half relenting about my decision in regard to greatness. I
think that in those lovely valleys yonder, where the tall willows are
hanging over the river, there might possibly be an existence I should
like better than the life of even a duchess."

"It's a much easier ambition to gratify," said he, smiling.

"It was not of _that_ I was thinking," said she, haughtily, "nor am I so
certain you are right there. I take it people can generally be that they
have set their heart on being."

"I should like to be convinced of your theory," cried he, "for I have
been I can't say how many years wishing for fifty things I have never
succeeded in attaining."

"What else have you done besides wishing?" asked she, abruptly.

"Well, that is a hard question," said he, in some confusion; "and after
all, I don't see what remained to me to do but wish."

"If that were all, it is pretty clear you had no right to succeed. When
I said that people can have what they set their heart on, I meant what
they so longed for that no toil was too great, no sacrifice too painful
to deter them; that with eyes upturned to the summit they could breast
the mountain, not minding weariness, and even when, footsore and
exhausted, they sank down, they arose to the same enterprise, unshaken
in courage, unbroken in faith. Have you known this?"

"I can scarcely say I have; but as to the longing and pining after a
good turn of fortune, I'll back myself against any one going."

"That's the old story of the child crying for the moon," said she,
laughing. "Now, what was it you longed for so ardently?"

"Can't you guess?"

"You wanted to marry some one who would not have you, or who was beneath
you, or too poor, or too some-thing-or-other for your grand relations?"

"No, not that."

"You aspired to some great distinction as a politician, or a soldier, or
perhaps a sailor?"

"No, by Jove! never dreamed of it," burst he in, laughing at the very
idea.

"You sighed for some advancement in rank, or perhaps it was great
wealth?"

"There you have it! Plenty of money--lots of ready--with that all the
rest comes easy."

"It must be very delightful, no doubt, to indulge every passing caprice,
without ever counting the cost; but, after a while, what a spoilt-child
weariness would come over one from all this cloying enjoyment,--how
tiresome would it be to shorten the journey between will and
accomplishment, and make of life a mere succession of 'tableaux'! I 'd
rather strive and struggle and win."

"Ay, but one does n't always win," broke he in.

"I believe one does--if one deserves it; and even when one does not, the
battle is a fine thing. How much sympathy, I ask you, have we for those
classic heroes who are always helped out of their difficulties by some
friendly deity? What do we feel for him who, in the thick of the fight,
is sure to be rescued by a goddess in a cloud?"

"I confess I do like a good 'book,' 'hedged' well all round, and
standing to win somewhere. I mean," added he, in an explanatory tone, "I
like to be safe in this world."

"Stand on the bank of the stream, then, and let bolder hearts push
across the river!"

"Well, but I 'm rather out of patience," said he, in a tone of half
irritation. "I 've had many a venture in life, and too many of them
unfortunate ones."

"How I do wonder," said she, after a pause, "that you and papa are
such great friends; for I have rarely heard of two people who take
such widely different notions of life. _You_ seem to me all caution and
reserve; _he_, all daring and energy."

"That's the reason, perhaps, we suit each other so well," said Beecher,
laughing.

"It may be so," said she, thoughtfully; and now there was silence
between them.

"Have you got sisters, Mr. Beecher?" said she, at length.

"No; except I may call my brother's wife one."

"Tell me of her. Is she young?--is she handsome?"

"She is not young, but she is still a very handsome woman."

"Dark or fair?"

"Very dark, almost Spanish in complexion; a great deal of haughtiness in
her look, but great courtesy when she pleases."

"Would she like me?"

"Of course she would," said he, with a smile and a bow; but a flush
covered his face at the bare thought of their meeting.

"I 'm not so certain you are telling the truth there," said she,
laughing; "and yet you know there can be no offence in telling me I
should not suit some one I have never seen; do, then, be frank with me,
and say what would she think of me."

"To begin," said he, laughing, "she 'd say you were very beautiful--"

"'Exquisitely beautiful,' was the phrase of that old gentleman that got
into the next carriage; and I like it better."

"Well, exquisitely beautiful,--the perfection of gracefulness,--and
highly accomplished."

"She'd not say any such thing; she'd not describe me like a governess;
she 'd probably say I was too demonstrative,--that's a phrase in vogue
just now,--and hint that I was a little vulgar. But I assure you," added
she, seriously, "I'm not so when I speak French. It is a stupid attempt
on my part to catch up what I imagine must be English frankness when
I talk the language that betrays me into all these outspoken
extravagances. Let us talk French now."

"You 'll have the conversation very nearly to yourself then," said
Beecher, "for I'm a most indifferent linguist."

"Well, then, I must ask you to take my word for it, and believe that I
'm well bred when I can afford it. But your sister,--do tell me of her."

"She is 'très grande dame,' as you would call it," said Beecher; "very
quiet, very cold, extremely simple in language, dresses splendidly, and
never knows wrong people."

"Who are wrong people?"

"I don't exactly know how to define them; but they are such as are to
be met with in society, not by claim of birth and standing, but because
they are very rich, or very clever, in some way or other,--people, in
fact, that one has to ask who they are."

"I understand. But that must apply to a pretty wide circle of this
world's habitants."

"So it does. A great part of Europe, and _all_ America," said Beecher,
laughing.

"And papa and myself, how should we come through this formidable
inquiry?"

"Well," said he, hesitating, "your father has always lived so much out
of the world,--this kind of world, I mean,--so studiously retired, that
the chances are that, in short--"

"In short, they 'd ask, 'Who are these Davises?'" She threw into her
face, as she spoke, such an admirable mimicry of proud pretension that
Beecher laughed immoderately at it "And when they 'd ask it," continued
she, "I 'd be very grateful to you to tell me what to reply to them,
since I own to you it is a most puzzling question to myself."

"Well," said Beecher, in some embarrassment, "it is strange enough; but
though your father and I are very old friends,--as intimate as men
can possibly be,--yet he has never spoken to me about his family or
connections,--nay, so far has he carried his reserve, that, until
yesterday, I was not aware he had a daughter."

"You don't mean to say he never spoke of me?"

"Never to _me_, at least; and, as I have told you, I believe no one
possesses a larger share of his confidence than myself."

"That _was_ strange," said she, in deep reflection. Then, after a few
minutes, she resumed: "If I had a story of my life I 'd tell it you; but
there is really none, or next to none. As a child, I was at school in
Cornwall. Later on, papa came and fetched me away to a small cottage
near Walmer, where I lived with a sort of governess, who treated me with
great deference,--in short, observed towards me so much respect that I
grew to believe I was something very exalted and distinguished, a sort
of 'Man in the Iron Mask,' whose pretensions had only to be known to
convulse half Europe. Thence I passed over to the Pensionnat at
the Three Fountains, where I found, if not the same homage, all the
indications of my being regarded as a privileged individual. I had my
maid; I enjoyed innumerable little indulgences none others possessed. I
'm not sure whether the pony I rode at the riding-school was my own
or not; I only know that none mounted him but myself. In fact, I was
treated like one apart, and all papa's letters only reiterated the same
order,--I was to want for nothing. Of course, these teachings could
impress but one lesson,--that I was a person of high rank and great
fortune; and of this I never entertained a doubt. Now," added she, with
more energy, "so far as I understand its uses, I _do_ like wealth, and
so far as I can fancy its privileges, I love rank; but if the tidings
came suddenly upon me that I had neither one nor the other, I feel a
sort of self-confidence that tells me I should not be dispirited or
discouraged."

Beecher gazed at her with such admiration that a deep blush rose to
her face, as she said, "You may put this heroism of mine to the test
at once, by telling me frankly what you know about my station. Am I a
Princess in disguise, Mr. Beecher, or am I only an item in the terrible
category of what you have just called 'wrong people'?"

If the dread and terror of Grog Davis had been removed from Annesley
Beecher's mind, there is no saying to what excess of confidence the
impulse of the moment might have carried him. He was capable of telling
her any and every thing. For a few seconds, indeed, the thought of being
her trusted friend so overcame his prudence that he actually took her
hand between his own, as the prelude of the revelations he was about to
open; when, suddenly, a vision of Davis swept before his mind,--Davis,
in one of his moods of wrath, paroxysms of passion as they were, wherein
he stopped at nothing. "He 'd send me to the dock as a felon; he 'd
shoot me down like a dog," muttered he to himself, as, dropping her
hand, he leaned back in the carriage.

She bent over and looked calmly into his face. Her own was now perfectly
pale and colorless, and then, with a faint, sad smile, she said,--

"I see that you 'd like to gratify me. It is through some sense of
delicacy and reserve that you hesitate. Be it so. Let us be good friends
now, and perhaps, in time, we may trust each other thoroughly."

Beecher took her hand once more, and, bending down, kissed it fervently.
What a strange thrill was that that ran through his heart, and what an
odd sense of desolation was it as he relinquished that fair, soft
hand, as though it were that by its grasp he held on to life and hope
together! "Oh," muttered he to himself, "why was not she--why was not he
himself--twenty things that neither of them were?"

"I wish I could read your thoughts," said she, smiling gently at him.

"I wish to heaven you could!" cried he, with an honest energy that his
nature had not known for many a day.

For the remainder of the way neither spoke, beyond some chance remark
upon the country or the people. It was as though the bridge between them
was yet too frail to cross, and that they trusted to time to establish
that interchange of thought and confidence which each longed for.

"Here we are at the end of our journey!" said he, with a sigh, as they
entered Aix.

"And the beginning of our friendship," said she, with a smile, while she
held out her hand to pledge the contract.

So intently was Beecher gazing at her face that he did not notice the
action.

"Won't you have it?" asked she, laughing.

"Which," cried he,--"the hand or the friendship?"

"I meant the friendship," said she, quietly.

"Tickets, sir!" said the guard, entering. "We are at the station."

Annesley Beecher was soon immersed in all those bustling cares which
attend the close of a journey; and though Lizzy seemed to enjoy the
confusion and turmoil that prevailed, he was far from happy amidst the
anxieties about baggage and horse-boxes, the maid and the groom each
tormenting him in the interests of their several departments. All was,
however, safe; not a cap-case was missing; Klepper "never lost a hair;"
and they drove off to the Hotel of the Four Nations in high spirits all.



CHAPTER XXXIII. THE "FOUR NATIONS" AT AIX

All the bustle of "settling down" in the hotel over, Annesley
Beecher began to reflect a little on the singularity of his situation.
The wondering admiration which had followed Lizzy Davis wherever she
appeared on the journey seemed to have reached its climax now, and
little knots and groups of lounging travellers were to be seen before
the windows, curious to catch a glance at this surpassing beauty. Now,
had she been his _bona fide_ property, he was just the man to derive
the most intense enjoyment from this homage at second hand; he 'd have
exulted and triumphed in it. His position was, however, a very different
one, and, as merely her companion, while it exposed her to very
depreciating judgments, it also necessitated on his part a degree of
haughty defiance and championship for which he had not the slightest
fancy whatever.

Annesley Beecher dragged into a row for Grog Davis's daughter, Beecher
fighting some confounded Count or other about Lizzy Davis, Annesley
shot by some Zouave Captain who insisted on waltzing with his
"friend,"--these were pleasant mind-pictures which he contemplated with
the very reverse of enjoyment; and yet the question of her father's
station away, he felt it was a cause wherein even one who had no more
love for the "duello" than himself might well have perilled life. All
her loveliness and grace had not been wasted when they could kindle up a
little gleam of chivalry in the embers of that wasted heart!

He ran over in his mind all the Lady Julias and Georginasof the
fashionable world. He bethought him of each of those who had been the
queens of London seasons, and yet how vastly were they all her
inferiors! It was not alone that in beauty she eclipsed them, but she
possessed, besides, the thousand nameless attractions of manner and
gesture, a certain blended dignity and youthful gayety that made her
seem the very ideal of high-born loveliness. He had seen dukes'
daughters who could not vie with her in these gifts; he had known
countesses immeasurably beneath her. From these thoughts he went on to
others as to her future, and the kind of fellow that might marry her;
for, strangely enough, in all his homage there mingled the ever-present
memory of Grog and his pursuits. Mountjoy Stubbs might marry her; he has
fifty thousand a year, and his father was a pawnbroker. Lockwood Harris
might marry her; he got all his money from the slave trade. There were
three or four more,--all wealthy, and all equivocal in position: men to
be seen in clubs, to be dined with and played with; fellows who had
yachts at Cowes and grouse-lodges in Scotland, and yet in London were
"nowhere." These men could within their own sphere do all they
pleased,--they could afford any extravagance they fancied; and what a
delightful extravagance it would be to marry Lizzy Davis! Often as he
had envied these men, he never did so more than now. _They_ had no
responsibilities of station ever hanging over them; no brothers in the
Peerage to bully them about this; no sisters in waiting to worry them
about that. They could always, as he phrased it, "paint their coach
their own color," without any fear of the Herald's Office; and what
better existence could a man wish for than a prolific fancy and
unlimited funds to indulge it. "If I were Stubbs, I 'd marry her." This
he said fully a dozen times over, and even confirmed it with an oath.
And what an amiable race of people are the Stubbses of this habitable
globe! how loosely do responsibilities sit upon them! how generously are
they permitted every measure of extravagance and every violation of good
taste! What a painful contrast did his mind draw between Stubbs'
condition and his own! There was a time, too, when the State repaired in
some sort the injustice that younger sons groaned under,--the public
service was full of the Lord Charleses and the Honorables, who looked up
to a paternal Government for their support; but now there was actually a
run against them. Beecher argued himself so warmly into this belief,
that he said aloud, "If I asked for something to-morrow, they 'd refuse
me, just because I 've a brother a Peer!"

The reader is already aware what a compensation he found for all his
defeats and shortcomings in life by arraigning the injustice of the
world. Downing Street, the turf, Lackington, Tattersall's, the Horse
Guards, and "the little hell in St. James's Street" were all in a league
to crush him; but he'd show them "a turn round the corner yet," he said;
and with a saucy laugh of derision at all the malevolence of fortune, he
set about dressing for dinner. Beecher was not only a very good-looking
fellow, but he had that stamp of man of fashion on him which all the
contamination of low habits and low associates had not effaced. His
address was easy and unaffected, his voice pleasantly toned, his smile
sufficiently ready; and his whole manner was an agreeable blending of
deference with a sort of not ungraceful self-esteem. Negatives best
describe the class of men he belonged to, and any real excellence
he possessed was in not being a great number of things which form,
unhappily, the social defects of a large section of humanity. He was
never loud, never witty, never oracular, never anecdotic; and although
the slang of the turf and its followers clung to him, he threw out its
"dialectics" so laughingly that he even seemed to be himself ridiculing
the quaint phraseology he employed.

We cannot venture to affirm that our readers might have liked his
company, but we are safe in asserting that Lizzy Davis did so. He
possessed that very experience of life--London life--that amused her
greatly. She caught up with an instinctive quickness the meaning of
those secret springs which move society, and where, though genius and
wealth are suffered to exercise their influence, the real power is alone
centred in those who are great by station and hereditary claims. She saw
that the great Brahmins of fashion maintained a certain exclusiveness
which no pretensions ever breached, and that to this consciousness of
an unassailable position was greatly owing all the dignified repose
and serenity of their manner. She made him recount to her the style of
living in the country houses of England,--the crowds of visitors that
came and went, the field-sports, the home resources that filled up the
day, while intrigues of politics or fashion went silently on beneath
the surface. She recognized that in this apparently easy and indolent
existence a great game was ever being played, and that all the workings
of ambition, all the passions of love and hate and fear and jealousy
"were on the board."

They had dined sumptuously. The equivocal position in which they
appeared, far from detracting from the deference of the hotel people,
served but to increase their homage. Experience had shown that such
persons as they were supposed to be spent most and paid best, and so
they were served on the most splendid plate; waiters in full dress
attended them; even to the bouquet of hothouse flowers left on
"Mademoiselle's" napkin, all were little evidences of that consideration
of which Annesley Beecher well knew the meaning.

"Will you please to enlighten my ignorance on one point, Mr. Beecher?"
said she, as they sat over their coffee. "Is it customary in this rigid
England, of which you have told me so many things, for a young unmarried
lady to travel alone with a gentleman who is not even a relative?"

"When her father so orders it, I don't see that there can be much wrong
in it," said he, with some hesitation.

"That is not exactly an answer to my question; although I may gather
from it that the proceeding is, at least, unusual."

"I won't say it's quite customary," said Beecher; "but taking into
account that I am a very old and intimate friend of your father's--"

"There must, then, have been some very pressing emergency to make papa
adopt such a course," interrupted she.

"Why so?" asked he. "Is the arrangement so very distasteful to you?"

"Perhaps not; perhaps I like it very well. Perhaps I find you very
agreeable, very amusing, very--What shall I say?"

"Respectful."

"If you like that epithet, I have no objection to put it in your
character. Yet still do I come back to the thought that papa could
scarcely have struck out this plan without some grave necessity. Now, I
should like much to know what that is, or was." Beecher made no sign of
reply, and she quickly asked, "Do you know his reasons?"

"Yes," said he, gravely; "but I prefer that you should not question me
about them."

"I can't help that, Mr. Beecher," said she, in that half-careless
tone she sometimes used. "Just listen to me for one moment," said she,
earnestly, and fixing her eyes fully on him,--"just hear me attentively.
From what I have gathered from your account of England and its habits, I
am certainly now doing that which, to say the least, is most unusual and
unwarrantable. Now, either there is a reason so grave for this that it
makes a choice of evils imperative,--and, therefore, I ought to have my
choice,--or there is another even worse interpretation--at least, a more
painful one--to come."

"Which is?" cried he.

"That I am not of that station to which such propriety attaches of
necessity."

She uttered these words with a cold sternness and determination that
actually made Beecher tremble. "It was Davis's daughter spoke there,"
thought he. "They are the words of one who declares that, no matter what
be the odds against her, she is ready to meet the whole world in arms.
What a girl it is!" muttered he, with a sense of mingled fear and
admiration.

"Well, Mr. Beecher," said she, at length, "I _do_ think you owe me a
little frankness; short as our acquaintance has been, I, at least, have
talked in all the freedom of old friendship. Pray show me that I have
not been indiscreet."

"Hang me, if I know what to say or do!" cried Beecher, in dire
perplexity. "If I were to tell you why your father hurried away from
Brussels, _he_ 'd bring me to book very soon, I promise you."

"I do not ask that," interrupted she, eagerly. "It is upon the other
point my interest is most engaged." He looked blankly at her, for he
really did not catch to what she alluded. "I want you to tell me, in
one word, who are the Davises? Who are we? If we are not recognizable by
that high world you have told me of, who, then, are our equals? Remember
that by an honest answer to my question you give guidance and direction
to my future life. Do not shrink from fear of giving me pain,--there is
no such pain as uncertainty; so be frank."

Beecher covered his face with his hands to think over his reply. He
did not dare to look at her, so fearful was he of her reading his very
embarrassment.

"I will spare you, sir," said she, smiling half superciliously; "but if
you bad known me a little longer or a little better, you had seen how
needless all this excessive caution on your part I have more of what you
call 'pluck' than you give me credit for."

"No, by Jove! that you have n't," cried Beecher; "you have more real
courage than all the men I ever knew."

"Show me, then, that you are not deficient in the quality, and give me a
plain answer to a plain question. Who are we?"

"I have just told you," said Beecher, whose confusion now made him
stammer and stutter at every word,--"I have just told you that your
father never spoke to me about his relations. I really don't know his
county, nor anything about his family."

"Then it only remains to ask, What are we? or, in easier words, Has my
father any calling or profession? Come, sir, so much you can certainly
tell me."

"Your father was a captain in a West India regiment, and, when I met him
first, he was a man about town,--went to all the races, made his bets,
won and lost, like the rest of us; always popular,--knew everybody."

"A 'sporting character,' in short,--is n't that the name newspapers give
it?" said she, with a malicious twinkle of the eye.

"By Jove! how you hit a thing off at once!" exclaimed Beecher, in honest
ecstasy at her shrewdness.

"So, then, I am at the end of the riddle at last," said she, musingly,
as she arose and walked the room in deep meditation. "Far better to have
told me so many a year ago; far better to have let me conform to this
station when I might have done so easily and without a pang!" A bitter
sigh escaped her at the last word, and Beecher arose and joined her.

"I hope you are not displeased with me, my dear Miss Davis," said he,
with a trembling voice; "I don't know what I'd not rather suffer than
offend you."

"You have _not_ offended me," said she, coldly.

"Well, I mean, than I 'd pain you,--than I 'd say anything that should
distress you. You know, after all, it was n't quite fair to push me so
hard."

"Are you forgetting, sir," broke she in, haughtily, "that you have
really told me next to nothing, and that I am left to gather from mere
insinuations that there is something in our condition your delicacy
shrinks from explaining?"

"Not a bit of it," chimed he in, quickly. "The best men in England are
on the turf, and a good book on the Oaks is n't within reach of the
income-tax. Your father's dealings are with all the swells in the
Peerage."

"So there is a partnership in the business, sir," said she, with a quiet
irony; "and is the Honorable Mr. Beecher one of the company?"

"Well--ha--I suppose--I ought to say yes," muttered he, in deep
confusion. "We do a stroke of work together now and then--on the square,
of course, I mean."

"Pray don't expose the secrets of the firm, sir. I am even more
interested than yourself that they should be conducted with discretion.
There is only one other question I have to ask; and as it purely
concerns myself, you 'll not refuse me a reply. Knowing our station
in life, as I now see you know it, by what presumption did you dare to
trifle with my girlish ignorance, and lead me to fancy that I might yet
move in a sphere which in your heart you knew I was excluded from?"

Overwhelmed with shame and confusion, and stunned by the embarrassment
of a dull man in a difficulty, Beecher stood, unable to utter a word.

"To say the least, sir, there was levity in this," said she, in a tone
of sorrowful meaning; "but, perhaps, you never meant it so."

"Never, upon my oath, never!" cried he, eagerly. "Whatever I said, I
uttered in all frankness and sincerity. I know London town just as well
as any man living, and I 'll stand five hundred to fifty there's not
your equal in it,--and that's giving the whole field against the odds.
All I say is, you shall go to the Queen's Drawing-room--"

"I am not likely to do so, sir," said she, with a haughty gesture, and
left the room.



CHAPTER XXXIV. AIX-LA-CHAPELLE

Three days passed over,--three days varied with all the incidents that
go to make up a longer existence,--and Beecher and his fair charge were
still in Aix. If they forbore to speak to each other of the strange
situation in which they found themselves, they were not the less full of
it. Neither telegraph nor letter came from Davis, and Beecher's anxiety
grew hourly greater. There was scarcely an eventuality his mind had not
pictured. Davis was arrested and carried off to prison in Brussels,--was
waylaid and murdered in the Ardennes,--was ill, dying in some
unheard-of village,--involved in some other row, and obliged to keep
secret,--arrested on some old charge; in fact, every mishap that a
fertile fancy could devise had befallen him, and now only remained the
question what was he himself to do with Lizzy Davis.

Whether it was that her present life was an agreeable change from the
discipline of the Three Fountains, or that the new objects of interest
about her engaged her to the exclusion of much thought, or that some
higher philosophy of resignation supported her, but certain is it
she neither complained of the delay nor exhibited any considerable
impatience at her father's silence. She went about sightseeing, visited
churches and galleries, strolled on the Promenade, before dinner, and
finished with the theatre at night, frankly owning that it was a kind of
do-nothing existence that she enjoyed greatly. Her extraordinary beauty
was already a town talk; and the passages of the hotel were crowded as
she went down to her carriage, and to her box at the opera were directed
almost every glass in the house. This, however, is a homage not always
respectful; and in the daring looks of the men, and the less equivocal
glances of the women, Beecher read the judgment that had been pronounced
upon her. Her manner, too, in public had a certain fearless gayety about
it that was sure to be severely commented on, while the splendor of her
dress was certain to be not more mercifully interpreted.

To have the charge of a casket of jewels through the thieves' quarter
of London was the constant similitude that rose to Beecher's mind as he
descended the stairs at her side. To be obliged to display her to the
wondering gaze of some hundred idlers, the dissipated and debauched
loungers of a watering-place, men of bad lives and worse tongues; to
mark the staring insolence of some, and the quizzical impertinence
of others; to see how narrowly each day they escaped some more overt
outrage from that officious politeness that is tendered to those in
equivocal positions, were tortures that half maddened him. Nor could he
warn her of the peril they stood in, or dare to remonstrate about many
little girlish ways which savored of levity. The scene of the theatre
in Brussels was never off his mind, and the same one idea continually
haunted him, that poor Hamilton's fate might be his own.
The characterless men of the world are always cowards as to
responsibility,--they feel that there is a flaw in their natures that
must smash them if pressed upon; and so was it here. Beecher's life was
actual misery, and each morning he awoke the day seemed full of menace
and misfortune to him. In his heart, he knew that if an emergency arose
he should be found wanting; he 'd either not think of the right thing,
or have pluck for it if he even thought it; and then, whatever trouble
or mishap he came through, there still remained worse behind,--the
settlement with Grog himself at the end.

Like most persons who seek the small consolation of falling back on
their own foresight, he called to mind how often he had said to himself
that nothing but ill could come of journeying with Grog Davis,--he knew
it, he was sure of it. A fellow to conspire with about a "plant"--a
man to concert with on a race or a "safe thing with the cards"--was
not exactly a meet travelling-companion, and he fretted over the fatal
weakness that had induced his acceptance of him. They had only just
started, and their troubles had already begun! Even if Davis himself
were there, matters might not be so bad. Grog was always ready to "turn
out" and have a shot with any one. It was a sort of pastime he rather
liked when nothing else was stirring, it seemed like keeping his hand
in; but, confound the fellow! he had gone off, and left in his place one
who had a horror of hair-triggers, and shuddered at the very thought of
a shot-wound.

He was far too conversant with the habits of _demi-monde_ existence not
to see that the plot was thickening, and fresh dangers clustering round
him. The glances in the street were hourly growing more familiar,--the
looks were half recognitions. Half a dozen times in the morning,
well-dressed and well-bearded strangers had bolted into their
sitting-room in mistake, and while apologizing for their blunder,
delayed unnecessarily long over the explanation.

The waiter significantly mentioned that Prince Bottoffsky was then
stopping at the hotel, with seven carriages and eighteen servants. The
same intelligent domestic wondered they never went to see Count Czapto
witch's camellias,--"he had sent a bouquet of them that very day to her
Ladyship." And Beecher groaned in his spirit as the fellow produced it.

"I see how it's all to end," muttered he, as he paced the room, unable
any longer to conceal the misery that was consuming him. "One of those
confounded foreigners will come swaggering up to talk to her on the
Promenade, and then I'm 'in for it.' It's all Davis's fault. It's
all _her_ fault. Why can't she look like other people,--dress like
them,--walk like them? What stuff and nonsense it is for _her_ to be
going about the world like a Princess Royal! It was only last night she
wore a Brussels lace shawl at the opera that cost five thousand francs;
and when it caught on a nail in the box and was torn, she laughed, and
said, 'Annette will be charmed with this disaster, for she was always
coveting this lace, and wondering when she was to have it.' That's the
fine 'bring-ing-up' old Grog is so proud of! If she were a Countess in
her own right, with ten thousand a year, she 'd be a bad bargain!"

Ah, Beecher! your heart never went with you when you made this cruel
speech; you uttered it in spleen and bitterness, but not in sincerity;
for already in that small compartment of your nature where a few honest
affections yet lingered _she was_ treasured, and, had you known how to
do it, you would have loved her. Poor devil as he was, Life was a hard
battle to him,--always over head and ears in debt; protested bills
meeting him at every moment; duns rising before him at every turn.
Levity was to him, as to many, a mere mask over Fear, and he walked the
world in the hourly terror that any moment might bring him to shame and
ruin. If he were a few minutes alone, his melancholy was almost
despair; and over and over had he pictured to his mind a scene in the
police-court, where he was called on to find full and sufficient bail
for his appearance on trial. From such sorrowing thoughts he made his
escape to rush into society--anywhere, anyhow; and, by the revulsion of
his mind, came that rattling and boisterous gayety that made him seem
the most light-hearted fellow in existence. Such men are always making
bonfires of their household gods, and have nothing to greet them when
they are at home.

What a fascination must Lizzy Davis have exercised over such a mind!
Her beauty and her gracefulness would not have been enough without her
splendid dressing, and that indescribable elegance of manner which was
native to her. Then how she amused him!--what droll caricatures did she
sketch of the queer originals of the place,--the bearded old colonels,
or the pretentious loungers that frequented the "Cursaal"! How witty the
little epigrams by which she accompanied them, and how charmingly at a
moment would she sit down at the piano and sing for him anything, from
a difficult "scena" from Verdi to some floating barcarole of Venice!
She could--let us tell it in one breath--make him laugh; and oh, dearly
valued reader! what would you or I give for the company of any one who
could do as much? The world is full of learned people and clever people.
There are Bourse men, and pre-Raphaelite men, and Old-red-sandstone men,
and Greek-particle men; but where are the pleasant people one used to
chat with long ago, who, though talking of mere commonplaces, threw out
little sparks of fun,--fireflies in the dark copses,--giving to what
they said that smack of epigram that spiced talk but never over-seasoned
it, whose genial sympathy sent a warm life-blood through every theme,
and whose outspoken heartiness refreshed one after a cold bath of polite
conventionalities? If they still exist upon this earth, they must be
hiding themselves, wisely seeing it is not an age to suit them; they lie
quiet under the ice, patiently hibernating till another summer may call
them forth to vitality.

Now Lizzy Davis could make Beecher laugh in his lowest and gravest
moments; droll situations and comical conceits came in showers over her
mind, and she gave them forth with all the tact of a consummate actress.
Her mimicry, too, was admirable; and thus he who rarely reflected and
never read, found in her ready talents resources against all weariness
and ennui. What a girl she was!--how perfectly she would become any--the
very highest--station! what natural dignity in her manner!--and--Then,
after a pause, he murmured, "What a fortune she'd make on the stage!
Why, there's nothing to compare with her,--she's as much beyond them all
in beauty as in genius!" And so he set about thinking how, by marrying
her, a man might make a "deuced good thing of it." There's no saying
what Webster wouldn't offer; and then there was America, always a
"safe card;" not that it would do for himself to think of such a thing.
Lackington would never speak to him again. All his family would cut
him dead; he had n't an acquaintance would recognize him after such
disgrace.

"Old Grog is _so_ confoundedly well known," muttered he,--"the
scoundrel is _so_ notorious!" Still, there were fellows would n't mind
that,--hard-up men, who had done everything, and found all failure.
He knew--"Let us see," said he to himself, beginning to count on his
fingers all the possible candidates for her hand. "There's Cranshaw
Craven at Caen, on two hundred a year; _he'd_ marry her, and never
ask to see her if she 'd settle twenty thousand francs a year on him.
Brownlow Gore would marry her, and for a mere five hundred too, for he
wants to try that new martingale at Ems; he's certain he 'd break the
bank with less. Foley would marry her; but, to be sure, he has a wife
somewhere, and she might object to that! I'd lay an even fifty," cried
he, in ecstasy at the bright thought, "Tom Beresford would marry her
just to get out of the Fleet!"

"What does that wonderful calculation mean?" cried she, suddenly, as she
saw him still reckoning on his fingers. "What deep process of reasoning
is my learned guardian engaged in?"

"I 'd give you a long time to guess," said he, laughing.

"Am I personally concerned in it?" asked she.

"Yes, that you are!"

"Well," said she, after a pause, "you are counting over the days we have
passed, or are still to pass here?"

"No, not _that!_"

"You are computing, perhaps, one by one, all your fashionable
friends who would be shocked by my levity--that 's the phrase, I
believe,--meaning those outspoken impertinences you encourage me to
utter about everything and everybody!"

"Far from it. I was--"

"Oh! of course, you were charmed," broke she in; "and so you ought to
be, when one performs so dangerous a trick to amuse you. The audience
always applauds the rope-dancer that perils his neck; and you 'd be
worse than ungrateful not to screen me when I 'm satirized. But it may
relieve somewhat the load of obligation when I say that I utter these
things just to please myself. I bear the world no ill-will, it is true;
but I 'm very fond of laughing at it."

"In the name and on behalf of that respectable community, let me return
you my thanks," said he, bowing.

"Remember," said she, "how little I really know of what I ridicule, and
so let my ignorance atone for my ill-nature; and now, to come back, what
was it that you were counting so patiently on your fingers? Not _my_
faults, I'm certain, or you'd have had both hands."

"I'm afraid I could scarcely tell you," said he, "though somehow I
feel that if I knew you a very little longer, I could tell you almost
anything."

"I wish you could tell me that this pleasant time was coming. What
is this?" asked she, as the waiter entered, and presented her with a
visiting-card.

"Monsieur the Count desires to know if Mademoiselle will receive him,"
said the man.

"What, how? What does this mean?" exclaimed Beecher, in terror and
astonishment.

"Yes," said she, turning to the waiter; "say, 'With pleasure.'"

"Gracious mercy!" exclaimed Beecher, "you don't know what you 're doing.
Have you seen this person before?"

"Never!"

"Never heard of him!"

"Never," said she, with a faint smile, for the sight of his terror
amused her.

"But who is he, then? How has he dared--"

"Nay," said she, holding behind her back the visiting-card, which he
endeavored to snatch from her hand,--"this is _my_ secret!"

"This is intolerable!" cried Beecher. "What is your father to think
of your admitting a person to visit you,--an utter stranger,--a fellow
Heaven knows--"

At this moment, as if to answer in the most palpable form the question
he was propounding, a somewhat sprucely dressed man, middle-aged and
comely, entered; and, passing Beecher by with the indifference he might
have bestowed on a piece of furniture, advanced to where Lizzy was
standing, and, taking her band, pressed it reverently to his lips.

So far from resenting the liberty, she smiled most courteously on him,
and motioned to him to take a seat on the sofa beside her.

"I can't stand this, by Jove!" said Beecher, aloud; while, with an
assumption of courage his heart little responded to, he walked straight
up to the stranger. "You understand English, I hope?" said he, in very
indifferent French.

"Not a syllable," replied the other, in the same language.

"I only know 'All right';" and he laughed pleasantly as he uttered the
words in an imitation of English.

"Come, I 'll not torture you any longer," said Lizzy, laughing; "read
_that_." And she handed him the card, whereon, in her father's writing,
there was, "See the Count; he'll tell you everything.--C. D."

"I have heard the name before.--Count Lienstahl," said Beecher to
himself. "Has he seen your father? Where is he?" asked he, eagerly.

"He'll inform me on all, if you'll just give him time," said she; while
the Count, with an easy volubility, was pouring out a flow of words
perfectly unintelligible to poor Beecher.

Whether it was the pleasure of the tidings he brought, or the delicious
enjoyment of once more hearing and replying in that charming tongue that
she loved so dearly, but Lizzy ceased even to look at Beecher, and only
occupied herself with her new acquaintance.

[Illustration: 384]

Now, while we leave her thus pleasantly engaged, let us present the
visitor to our reader.

Nothing could be less like the traditional "Continental Count" than the
plump, close-shaven, blue-eyed gentlemen who sat beside Lizzy Davis,
with an expression of _bonhomie_ in his face that might have graced a
squire of Devon. He was neither frogged nor moustached; his countenance
neither boded ill to the Holy Alliance, nor any close intimacy with
billiards or dice-boxes. A pleasant, easy-tempered, soft-natured man
he seemed, with a ready smile and a happy laugh, and an air of yielding
good-humor about him that appeared to vouch for his being one none need
ever dispute with. If there were few men less generally known throughout
Europe, there was not one whose origin, family, fortune, and belonging
were wrapped in more complete obscurity. Some said he was a Pomeranian,
others called him a Swede; many believed him Russian, and a few,
affecting deeper knowledge, declared he was from Dalmatia. He was a
Count, however, of somewhere, and as certainly was he one who had the
_entrée_ to all the best circles of the Continent, member of its most
exclusive clubs, and the intimate of those who prided themselves on
being careful in their friendships. While his manners were sufficiently
good to pass muster anywhere, there was about him a genial kindliness, a
sort of perennial pleasantry, that was welcome everywhere; he brought to
society that inestimable gift of adhesiveness by which cold people and
stiff people are ultimately enabled to approximate and understand each
other. No matter how dull and ungenial the salon, he was scarcely across
the doorway when you saw that an element of social kindliness had just
been added, and in his little caressing ways and coaxing inquiries you
recognized one who would not let condescension crush nor coldness chill
him. If young people were delighted to see one so much their senior
indulging in all the gay and light frivolities of life, older folk were
gratified to find themselves so favorably represented by one able to
dance, sing, and play like the youngest in company. So artfully, too,
did he contribute his talent to society, that no thought of personal
display could ever attach to him. It was all good-nature; he played to
amuse _you_,--he danced to gratify some one else; he was full of little
attentions of a thousand kinds, and you no more thought of repayment
than you'd have dreamed of thanking the blessed sun for his warmth or
his daylight. Such men are the _bonbons_ of humanity, and even they who
do not care for sweet things are pleased to see them.

If his birth and origin were mysterious, far more so were his means of
life. Nobody ever heard of his agent or his banker. He neither owned nor
earned, and yet there he was, as well dressed, as well cared for, and
as pleasant a gentleman as you could see. He played a little, but it was
notorious that he was ever a loser. He was too constantly a winner in
the great game of life to be fortunate as a gambler, and he could well
afford to laugh at this one little mark of spitefulness in Fortune.
Racing and races were a passion with him; but he loved sport for itself,
not as a speculation,--so, at least, he said; and when he threw his arm
over your shoulder, and said anything in that tone of genial simplicity
that was special to him, I 'd like to have seen the man--or, still more,
the woman--who would n't have believed him.

The turf--like poverty--teaches one to know strange bed-fellows; and
this will explain how the Count and Grog Davis became acquaintances, and
something more.

The grand intelligence who discovered the great financial problem of
France--the _Crédit Mobilier_--has proclaimed to the world that the
secret lay in the simple fact that there were industrial energies which
needed capital, and capital which needed industry, and that all he
avowed to accomplish was to bring these two distant but all necessary
elements into close union and co-operation. Now, something of the same
kind moved Grog and the Count to cement their friendship; each saw that
the other supplied some want of his own nature, and before they had
passed an hour together they ratified an alliance. An instinct
whispered to each, "We are going the same journey in life, let us travel
together;" and some very profitable tours did they make in company!

His presence now was on a special mission from Davis, whom he just met
at Treves, and who despatched him to request his daughter to come on to
Carlsruhe, where he would await her. The Count was charged to explain,
in some light easy way of his own, why her father had left Brussels so
abruptly; and he was also instructed to take Annesley Beecher into
his holy keeping, and not suffer him to fall into indiscretions, or
adventure upon speculations of his own devising.

Lizzy thought him "charming,"--far more worldly-wise people than Lizzy
had often thought the same. There was a bubbling fountain of good-humor
about him that seemed inexhaustible. He was always ready for any plan
that promised pleasure. Unlike Beecher, who knew nobody, the Count
walked the street in a perpetual salutation,--bowing, hand-shaking,
and sometimes kissing, as he went; and in that strange polyglot that
he talked he murmured as he went, "Ah, lieber Freund!"--"Come
sta?"--"Addio!"--"Mon meilleur ami!" to each that passed; so that
veritably the world did seem only peopled with those who loved him.

As for Beecher, notwithstanding a certain distrust at the beginning,
he soon fell captive to a manner that few resisted; and though the
intercourse was limited to shaking hands and smiling at each other, the
Count's pleasant exclamation of "All right!" with a jovial slap on the
shoulder, made him feel that he was a "regular trump," and a man "to
depend on."

One lurking thought alone disturbed this esteem,--he was jealous of his
influence over Lizzy; he marked the pleasure with which she listened to
him, the eager delight she showed when he came, her readiness to sing or
play for him. Beecher saw all these in sorrow and bitterness; and though
twenty times a day he asked himself, "What the deuce is it to me,--how
can it possibly matter to _me_ whom she cares for?" the haunting dread
never left his mind, and became his very torturer. But why should he
worry himself about it at all? The fellow did what he liked with every
one. Rivers, the sulky training-groom, that would not have let a Royal
Highness see "the horse," actually took Klepper out and galloped him for
the Count. The austere landlady of the inn was smiles and courtesy
to him; even to that unpolished class, the hackney coachmen, his
blandishments extended, and they vied with each other who should serve
him.

"We are to start for Wiesbaden to-morrow," said Lizzy to Beecher.

"Why so,--who says so?"

"The Count"

"Si, si, andiamo,--all right!" cried the Count, laughing; and the march
was ordered.



CHAPTER XXXV. A FOREIGN COUNT.

The announcement of Count Lienstahl's arrival at Wiesbaden was received
with rejoicing. "Now we shall open the season in earnest. We shall have
balls, picnics, races, hurdle-matches, gypsy parties, excursions by
land and water. _He_ 'll manage everything and everybody." Such were the
exclamations that resounded along the Promenade as the party drove up
to the hotel. Within less than an hour the Count had been to Beberich
to visit the reigning Duke, he had kissed hands with half-a-dozen serene
highnesses, made his bow to the chief minister and the Governor of
Wiesbaden, and come back to dinner all smiles and delight at the
condescension and kindness of the court and the capital.

If Lienstahl's popularity was great, he only shared a very humble
portion of public attention when they appeared at the _table d'hote_.
There Lizzy Davis attracted every look, and the fame of her beauty was
already wide-spread. Such was the eagerness to obtain place at the
table that the most extravagant bribes were offered for a seat, and a
well-known elegant of Vienna actually paid a waiter five louis to cede
his napkin to him and let him serve in his stead. Beecher was anything
but gratified at these demonstrations. If his taste was offended, his
fears were also excited. "Something bad must come of it," was his own
muttered reflection; and as they retired after dinner to take their
coffee, he showed very palpably his displeasure.

"Eh, _caro mio_,--all right?" said the Count, gayly, as he threw an arm
over his shoulder.

"No, by Jove!--all wrong. I don't like it. It's not the style of thing I
fancy." And here his confusion overwhelmed him, and he stopped abruptly;
for the Count, seating himself at the piano, and rattling off a lively
prelude, began a well-known air from a popular French vaudeville, of
which the following is a rude version:--

     "With a lovely face beside you,
        You can't walk this world far,
     But from those who 've closely eyed you,
        Comes the question, Who are you?

     And though Dowagers will send you
        Cutting looks and glances keen,
     The men will comprehend you
       When you say, 'C'est ma cousine.'"

He was preparing for the second verse when Lizzy entered the room, and,
turning at once to her, he poured forth some sentences with all that
voluble rapidity he possessed.

"So," said she, addressing Beecher, "it seems that you are shocked or
horrified, or your good taste is outraged, by certain demonstrations
of admiration for me exhibited by the worthy public of this place;
and, shall I own to you, I liked it I thought it very nice, and very
flattering, and all that, until I thought it was a little--a very
little, perhaps, but still a little--impertinent Was that your opinion?"

There was a blunt frankness about this question, uttered in such
palpable honesty of intention that Beecher felt overwhelmed at once.

"I don't know the Continent like your friend there. I can't pretend to
offer you advice and counsel like him; but if you really ask me, I 'd
say, 'Don't dine below any more; don't go to the rooms of an evening;
don't frequent the Promenade--"'

"What would you say to my taking the veil, for I fancy I 've some
vocation that way?" And then, turning to the Count, she said something
in French, at which he laughed immoderately.

Whether vexed with himself or with her, or, more probably still, annoyed
by not being able to understand what passed in a foreign language,
Beecher took his hat and left the room. Without his ever suspecting it,
a new pang was just added to his former griefs, and he was jealous! It
is very rare that a man begins by confessing a sense of jealousy to his
own heart; he usually ascribes the dislike he feels to a rival to some
defect or some blemish in his nature. He is a coarse fellow; rude,
vulgar, a coxcomb, or, worst of all, a bore. In some such disposition
as this Beecher quitted the town, and strolled away into the country.
He felt he hated the Count, and yet he could not perceive why; Lienstahl
possessed a vast number of the qualities he was generally disposed to
like. He was gay, lively, light-hearted, never out of humor, never even
thoughtful; his was that easy temperament that seemed to adapt itself
to every phase of life. What was it, then? What could it be that he
disliked about him? It was somewhat "cool," too, of Grog, to send this
fellow over without even the courtesy of a line to himself. "Serve
him right--serve them all right--if I were to cut my lucky;" and he
ruminated long and anxiously over the thought. His present position was
anything but pleasant or flattering to him. For aught _he_ knew,
the Count and Lizzy Davis passed their time laughing at his English
ignorance of all things foreign. By dint of a good deal of such
self-tormenting, he at last reached that point whereat the very
slightest additional impulse would have determined him to decamp from
his party, and set out all alone for Italy. The terror of a day of
reckoning with Davis was, however, a dread that he could never shake
off. Grog the unforgiving, the inexorable! Grog, whose greatest boast
in his vainglorious moments was that, in the "long run," no man ever got
the better of him, would assuredly bring him to book one day or other;
and he knew the man's nature well enough to be aware that no fear of
personal consequences would ever balk him on the road to a vengeance.

Sometimes the thought occurred to him that he would make a frank and
full confession to Lackington of all his delinquencies, even to that
terrible "count" by which the fame and fortune of his house might be
blasted forever. If he could but string up his courage to this pitch,
Lackington might "pull him through," Lackington would see that "there
was nothing else for it," and so on. It is marvellous what an apparent
strength of argument lies in those slang expressions familiar to certain
orders of men. These conventionalities seem to settle at once questions
which, if treated in more befitting phraseology, would present the
gravest difficulties.

He walked on and on, and at last gained a pine wood which skirted the
base of a mountain, and soon lost himself in its dark recesses. Gloomier
than the place itself was the tone of his reflections. All that he might
have been, all that lay so easily within his reach, all that life
once offered him, contrasted bitterly with what he now saw himself.
Conscience, it is true, suggested few of his present pangs; he
believed--ay, sincerely believed--that he had been more "sinned against
than sinning." Such a one had "let him in" here; such another "had sold
him" there. In his reminiscences he saw himself trustful, generous, and
confiding, while the world--the great globe that includes Tattersalls,
Goodwood, Newmarket, and Ascot--was little better than a nest of knaves
and vagabonds.

Why could n't Lackington get him something abroad,--in the Brazils or
Lima, for instance? He was n't quite sure where they were; but they were
far away, he thought,--places too remote for Grog Davis to hunt him out,
and whence he could give the great Grog a haughty defiance. They--how
it would have puzzled him to say who "they" were--they couldn't refuse
Lackington if he asked. He was always voting and giving his proxies, and
doing all manner of things for them; he made a speech, too, last year
at Hoxton, and gave a lecture upon something that must have served
them. Lackington would begin the old story about character; "but who had
character nowadays?" "Take down the Court Guides," cried he, aloud, "and
let _me_ give you the private life and adventures of each as you
read out the names. Talk of _me!_ why, what have I done equal to what
Lockwood, Hepton, Bulkleigh, Frank Melton, and fifty more have done? No,
no; for public life, now, they must do as a sergeant of the Ninety-fifth
told me t' other day, 'We 're obliged to take 'em little, sir, and glad
to get 'em too!'"

It might be that there was something grateful to his feelings,
reassuring to his heart, in this reflection, for he walked along now
more briskly, and his head higher than before. Without being aware, he
had already gone some miles from the town, and now found himself in one
of those long grassy alleys which traversed the dense wood in various
directions. As he looked down the narrow road which seemed like the
vast aisle of some Gothic cathedral, he felt a sort of tremulous motion
beneath his feet; and then, the moment after, he could detect the
measured tramp of a horse at speed. A slight bend of the alley had
hitherto shut out the view; but, suddenly, a dark object came sweeping
round the turn and advancing towards him.

[Illustration: 392]

Half to secure a position, and half with the thought of watching what
this might portend, Beecher stepped aside into the dense brushwood at
the side of the alley, and which effectually hid him from view. He had
barely time to make his retreat when a horse swept past him at full
stride, and with one glance he recognized him as "Klepper." It was
Rivers, too, who rode him, sitting high over the saddle and with his
hands low, as if racing. Now, it was but that very morning Rivers had
told him that the horse was not "quite right,"--a bit heavy or so about
the eyes,--"out of sorts" he called it; and there he was now, flying
along at the top of his speed in full health and condition. It needed
but the fortieth part of this to suggest a suspicion to such a mind as
his, and with the speed of lightning there flashed across him the notion
of a "cross." He, Annesley Beecher, was to be "put into the hole," to
be "squared," and "nobbled," and all the rest of it! It did not, indeed,
occur to him how very unprofitably such an enterprise would reward its
votaries, that it would be a most gratuitous iniquity to "push him to
the wall," that all the ingenious malevolence in the world could never
make the venture "pay;" his self-conceit smothered these reasonings, and
he determined to watch and to see how the scheme was to be developed.
He had not to wait long in suspense; at the bend of the alley where the
horse had disappeared, two horsemen were now seen slowly approaching
him. As they drew nearer, Beecher could mark that they were in close,
and what seemed confidential conversation. One he quickly recognized to
be the Count; the other, to his amazement, was Spicer, of whose arrival
at Aix he had not heard anything. They moved so slowly past the spot
where he was standing that he could gather some of the words that
escaped them, although being in French. The sound of his own name
quickly caught his ear. It was the Count spoke as they came up,--

"He is a _pauvre sire_, this Beecher, and I don't yet see what use he
can be to us."

"Davis likes him, or, at least, he wants him," replied Spicer, "and
that's enough for us. Depend upon it, Grog makes no mistakes." The other
laughed; but what he replied was lost in the distance?

It was some time ere Beecher could summon resolution to leave the place
of his concealment and set out towards the town. Of all the sentiments
that swayed and controlled him, none had such a perfect mastery over
his nature as distrust. It was, in fact, the solitary lesson his life's
experience had taught him. He fancied that he could trace every mistake
he had ever made, every failure he had ever incurred, to some unlucky
movement of credulity on his own part, and that "believing" was the one
great error of his whole life. He had long been of opinion that high
station and character had no greater privileges than the power they
possessed of imposing a certain trustfulness in their pledges, and that
the great "pull" a duke had over a "leg" was that his Grace would be
believed in preference. But it also appeared to him that rogues were
generally true to each other; now, if this last hope were to be taken
away, what was there left in life to cling to? Spicer had said, "Davis
wants him." What did that mean?--what could it mean? Simply that Grog
found him, not an associate or colleague, but a convenient tool. What an
intolerable insult, that he, the Honorable Annesley Beecher, whose great
connections rambled through half Debrett, was to be accounted a mere
outpost sentry in the corps of Grog Davis!

His anger increased as he went along. The wound to his self-esteem was
in the very tenderest spot of his nature. Had any man ever sacrificed
so much to be a sharp fellow as he had? Who had, like him, given up
friends, station, career, and prospects? Who had voluntarily surrendered
the society of his equals, and gone down to the very dregs of mankind,
just to learn that one great secret? And was it to be all in vain?
Was all his training and teaching to go for nothing? Was he, after
descending to the ranks, to discover that he never could learn
the manual exercise? How often, in the gloomiest hours of his
disappointment, had he hugged the consolation to his heart, that Grog
Davis knew and valued him! "Ask G. D. if I'm a flat," was the proud
rejoinder he would hurl at any attempt to depreciate his shrewdness.
What was to become of him, then, if the bank that held all his fortune
were to fail? If Beecher deemed a sharp fellow the most enviable of all
mortals, so he regarded a dupe as the meanest and most miserable, and
the very thought of such a fate was almost maddening. "No, confound me!
they sha'n't have it to say that they 'landed' A. B.; they shall never
boast they nobbled me," cried he, warming with the indignation that
worked within him. "I 'm off, and this time without beat of drum. Davis
may do his worst. I'll lie by snug for a year or two. There must be many
a safe spot in Germany or Italy, where a man may defy detection." And
then he ran over in his mind all the successful devices he had seen
adopted for disguising a man's appearance. Howard Vane had a wig and
whiskers that left him unrecognized by his own mother; Crofton Campbell
travelled with Inspector Field in search of himself, all by means of a
nose. It was wonderful what science was accomplishing every day for the
happiness and welfare of mankind!

The plan of escape was not without its difficulties, however. First of
all, he had no money. Davis had given him merely enough to pay railroad
fares and the charges incidental to the road, and he was living at the
hotel on credit. This was a serious obstacle, but it was also one which
had so often before occurred in Beecher's experience that he was not so
much dismayed by it as many another might have been. "Money was always
to be had somehow," was a golden rule of his philosophy, the somehow
meaning that it resolved itself into a simple question of skill and
address of the individual in want of it Aix was a considerable town,
much frequented by strangers, and must, doubtless, possess all the
civilizing attributes of other cities,--namely, Jews, money-lenders, and
discounters. Then, the landlord of the inn; it was always customary to
give him the preference in these cases. _He 'd_ surely not refuse an
advance of a few hundred francs to a man who came accompanied as he was.
Klepper alone was good security for ten times more than he needed. Must
it be confessed that he felt elevated in his own esteem when he had
resolved upon this scheme? It savored of shrewdness,--that great
touchstone of capacity which he revered so highly. "They shall see if
I'm a flat, this time," chuckled he to himself as he went along; and
he stepped out briskly in the excitement of self-approval. Then he went
over in his mind all the angry commentaries that would be passed upon
his flight,--the passionate fury of Grog, the amazement of Spicer,
the almost incredulous surprise of the Count,--till at last he came to
Lizzy; and then, for the first time in all his calculations, a sense
of shame sent the color to his cheek, and he blushed till his face grew
crimson. "Ay, by Jove! what will _she_ think!" muttered he, in a voice
of honest truthfulness. How he should appear to her--how he should stand
in her estimation--after such an ignoble desertion, was a thought not
to be encountered by self-praises of his cunning. What would her "pluck"
say to his "cowardice," was a terrible query.



CHAPTER XXXVI. A COUNTRY VISIT

Let us now return to the Hermitage, and the quiet lives of those who
dwelt there. Truly, to the traveller gazing down from some lofty point
of the Glengariff road upon that lowly cottage deep buried in its beech
wood, and only showing rare glimpses of its trellised walls, nothing
could better convey the idea of estrangement from the world and its
ambitions. From the little bay, where the long low waves swept in
measured cadence on the sands, to the purple-clad mountains behind, the
scene was eminently calm and peaceful. The spot was precisely one to
suggest the wisdom of that choice which prefers tranquil obscurity to
the struggle and conflict of the great world. What a happy existence
would you say was theirs, who could drop down the stream of a life
surrounded with objects of such beauty, free to indulge each rising
fancy, and safe from all the collisions of mankind!--how would one be
disposed to envy the unbroken peacefulness that no ambitions ruffled, no
rude disappointments disturbed! And yet such speculations as these are
ever faulty, and wherever the human heart throbs, there will be found
its passions, its hopes and fears. Beneath that quiet roof there dwelt
all the elements that make the battle of life; and high aspirings and
ignoble wishes, and love and fear, and jealousy, and wealth-seeking
lived there, as though the spot were amidst the thundering crash of
crowded streets and the din of passing thousands!

Sybella Kellett had been domesticated there about two months,
and between Lady Augusta and herself there had grown a sort of
intimacy,--short, indeed, of friendship, but in which each recognized
good qualities in the other.

Had Miss Kellett been older, less good-looking, less grace-ful in
manner, or generally less attractive, it is just possible that--we say
it with all doubt and deference--Lady Augusta might have been equally
disposed to feel satisfied. She suspected "Mr. Dunn must have somewhat
mistaken the object of her note," or "overlooked the requirements they
sought for." Personal attractions were not amongst the essentials she
had mentioned. "My Lord," too, was amazed at his recommending a
"mere girl,"--she couldn't be more than "twenty,"--and, consequently,
"totally deficient in the class of knowledge he desired."

Two months,--no very long period,--however, sufficed to show both father
and daughter that they had been, to some extent, mistaken. Not only had
she addressed herself to the task of an immense correspondence, but
she had drawn out reports, arranged prospectuses, and entered into most
complicated financial details with a degree of clearness that elicited
marked compliment from the different bodies with whom this intercourse
was maintained. The Glengariff Joint Stock Company, with its
half-million capital, figured largely in the public journals. Landscapes
of the place appeared in the various illustrated papers, and cleverly
written magazine articles drew attention to a scheme that promised to
make Ireland a favored portion of the empire. Her interest once excited,
Sybella Kellett's zeal was untiring.

Already she anticipated the time when the population of that poor
village--now barely subsisting in direst poverty--should become thriving
and happy. The coast-fisheries--once a prolific source of wealth--were
to be revived; fishing-craft and tackle and curing-houses were all to
be provided; means of transporting the proceeds to the rich markets
of England procured; she had also discovered traces of lead in the
neighborhood; and Dunn was written to, to send down a competent person
to investigate the matter. In fact, great as was her industry, it seemed
only second to an intelligence that adapted itself to every fresh demand
and every new exigency, without a moment's interruption. To the old Lord
her resources appeared inexhaustible, and gradually he abandoned the
lead and guidance he had formerly given to his plans, and submitted
everything to her will and dictation. It did not, indeed, escape his
shrewdness that her zeal was more warmly engaged by the philanthropy
than by the profit of these projects. It was to the advancement of the
people, the relief of their misery, the education of their children, the
care of their sick, that she looked as the great reward of all that
they proposed. "What a lesson we shall teach the rest of Ireland if we
'succeed'!" was the constant exclamation she uttered. "How we shall be
sought after to explain this and reveal that! What a proud day for us
will it be when Glengariff shall be visited as the model school of the
empire!"

Thus fed and fostered by her hopes, her imagination knew no bounds,
and the day seemed even too short for the duties it exacted. Even Lady
Augusta could not avoid catching some of the enthusiasm that animated
her, only restraining her expectations, however, by the cautious remark,
"I wonder what Mr. Dunn will say. I am curious to know how he will
pronounce upon it all."

The day at last came when this fact was to be ascertained, and the post
brought the brief but interesting intelligence that Mr. Davenport Dunn
would reach the Hermitage for dinner.

Lord Glengariff would have felt excessively offended could any one have
supposed him anxious or uneasy on the score of Dunn's coming. That a
great personage like himself should be compelled occasionally in life
to descend to the agencies of such people was bad enough, but that he
should have any misgivings about his co-operation or assistance, was
really intolerable; and yet, we blush to confess, these were precisely
the thoughts which troubled his Lordship throughout the whole of that
long day.

"Not that Dunn has ever forgotten himself with _me_,--not that he has
ever shown himself unmindful of our respective stations,--so much I must
say," were the little scraps of consolation that he repeated over and
over to himself, while grave doubts really oppressed him that we had
fallen upon evil days, when men of that stamp usurped almost all the
influence that swayed society. No easy matter was it, either, to resolve
what precise manner to assume towards him. A cold and dignified bearing
might possibly repel all confidence, and an easy familiarity be just
as dangerous as surrendering the one great superiority his position
conferred. It was true his Lordship had never yet experienced any
difficulty on such a score,--of all men, he possessed a consummate sense
of his own dignity, and suffered none to infringe it; but "this fellow
Dunn had been spoiled." Great men--greater men than Lord Glengariff
himself--had asked him to dinner. He had passed the thresholds of
certain fine houses in Piccadilly, and well-powdered lackeys in Park
Lane had called "Mr. Dunn's carriage." Now, the Irishman that has soared
to the realm of whitebait with a minister, or even a Star and Garter
luncheon with a Secretary of State, becomes, to the eyes of his
home-bred countrymen, a very different person from the celebrity of mere
Castle attentions and Phoenix Park civilities. Dunn was this, and more.
He lounged into the Irish Office as into his own lodgings, and he
walked into the most private chambers of Downing Street as if by right.
Consulted or not, he had the reputation of holding the patronage of all
Ireland in his hands; and assuredly they who attained promotion were not
slow in testifying to what quarter they owed their gratitude. Some of
that mysterious grandeur that clung to the old religions of the Greeks
seems to hover round the acts of a great Government, till the Ministers,
like Priests or Augurs, appear less equals and fellow-men than stewards
and dispensers of immense bounties intrusted to their keeping. There was
about Dunn's manner much to foster this illusion. He was a blending of
mystery with the deepest humility, but with a very evident desire that
you should neither believe one nor the other. It was the same conscious
power looming through the affected modesty of his pretensions that
offended Lord Glengariff, and made him irritable in all his intercourse
with him.

Let us take a passing glance at Lady Augusta. And why, may we ask, has
she taken such pains about her toilette to-day? Not that her dress is
unusually rich or costly, but she has evidently made a study of the
"becoming," and looks positively handsome. She remembered something of a
fuchsia in her hair, long, long ago; and now, by mere caprice of course,
she has interwoven one in those dark clusters, never glossier nor
more silky. Her calm, cold features, too, have caught up a gentler
expression, and her voice is softer and lower. Her maid can make nothing
of it. Lady Augusta has been so gracious and so thoughtful, and asked
about her poor old sick grandmother. Well, these sunlights are meant to
show what the coldest landscapes may become when smiled on by brighter
skies!

And Sybella. Pale and melancholy, and in mourning, she, too, has caught
up a sense of pleasure at the coming visit, and a faint line of color
tinges her white cheek. She is very glad that Mr. Dunn is expected. "She
has to thank him for many kindnesses; his prompt replies to her letters;
his good nature to poor Jack, for whom he has repeatedly written to the
Horse Guards; not to speak of the words of encouragement and hope he has
addressed to herself. Yes, he is, indeed, her friend; perhaps her only
friend in the world."

And now they are met in the drawing-room, waiting with anxiety for some
sounds that may denote the great man's coming. The three windows open to
the ground; the rich sward, spangled here and there with carnations or
rich-scented stocks, slopes down towards a little river, from the bridge
over which a view is caught of the Glen-gariff road; and to this spot
each as silently loitered, and as listlessly turned back again without a
word.

"We are waiting for Mr. Dunn, Augusta, ain't we?" asked Lord Glengariff,
as if the thought had just suddenly struck him for the first time.

"Yes," replied she, gravely; "he promised us his company to-day at
dinner."

"Are you quite sure it was to-day he mentioned?" said he, with an
affected indifference in his tone.

"Miss Kellett can inform us with certainty."

"He said Thursday, and in time for dinner," said Sybella, not a little
puzzled by this by-play of assumed forgetfulness.

"The man who makes his own appointments ought to keep them. I am five
minutes beyond the half-hour," said Lord Glengariff, as he looked at his
watch.

"I suspect you are a little fast," observed Lady Augusta.

"There!--I think I heard the crack of a postilion's whip," cried
Sybella, as she went outside the window to listen. Lady Augusta
followed, and was soon at her side.

"You appear anxious for Mr. Dunn's coming. Is he a _very_ intimate
friend of yours, Miss Kellett?" said she, with a keen, quick glance of
her dark eyes.

"He was the kind friend of my father, when he lived, and, since his
death, he has shown himself not less mindful of me. There--I hear the
horses plainly! Can't you hear them now, Lady Augusta?"

"And how was this kindness evidenced,--in your own case I mean?" said
Lady Augusta, not heeding her question.

"By advice, by counsel, by the generous interference which procured for
me my present station here, not to speak of the spirit of his letters to
me."

"So then you correspond with him?" asked she, reddening suddenly.

"Yes," said she, turning her eyes fully on the other. And thus they
stood for some seconds, when, with a slight, but very slight, motion of
impatience, Lady Augusta said,--

"I was not aware--I mean, I don't remember your having mentioned this
circumstance to me."

"I should have done so if I thought it could have had any interest for
you," said Sybella, calmly. "Oh, there is the carriage coming up the
drive; I knew I was not mistaken."

Lady Augusta made no reply, but returned hastily to the house. Bella
paused for a few seconds, and followed her.

No sooner was Mr. Dunn's carriage seen approaching the little bridge
over the stream than Lord Glengariff rang to order dinner.

"It will be a rebuke he well merits," said he, "to find the soup on the
table as he drives up."

There was something more than a mere movement of irritation in this;
his Lordship regarded it as a fine stroke of policy, by which Dunn's
arrival, tinged with constraint and awkwardness, should place that
gentleman at a disadvantage during the time he stayed, Lord Glengariff's
favorite theory being that "these people were insufferable when at their
ease."

Ah, my Lord, your memory was picturing the poor tutor of twenty years
before, snubbed and scoffed at for his ungainly ways and ill-made
garments,--the man heavy in gait and awkward in address, sulky when
forgotten, and shy when spoken to,--this was the Davenport Dunn of your
thoughts; there the very door _he_ used to creep through in bashful
confusion, yonder the side-table where he dined in a mockery of
consideration. Little, indeed, were you prepared for him whose assured
voice was already heard outside giving orders to his servant, and who
now entered the drawing-room with all the ease of a man of the world.

"Ah, Dunn, most happy to see you here. No accident, I trust, occurred
to detain you," said Lord Glengariff, meeting him with a well-assumed
cordiality, and then, not waiting for his reply, went on: "My daughter,
Lady Augusta, an old acquaintance--if you have not forgotten her. Miss
Kellett you are acquainted with."

Mr. Dunn bowed twice, and deeply, before Lady Augusta, and then, passing
across the room, shook hands warmly with Sybella.

"How did you find the roads, Dunn?" asked his Lordship, still fishing
about for some stray word of apology; "rather heavy, I fear, at this
season."

"Capital roads, my Lord, and excellent horses. We came along at a rate
which would have astonished the lumbering posts of the Continent."

"Dinner, my Lord," said the butler, throwing wide the folding-doors.

"Will you give Lady Augusta your arm, Dunn?" said Lord Glengariff, as he
offered his own to Miss Kellett.

"We have changed our dinner-room, Mr. Dunn," said Lady Augusta, as they
walked along; thus by a mere word suggesting "bygones and long ago."

"And with advantage, I should say," replied he, easily, as he surveyed
the spacious and lofty apartment into which they had just entered. "The
old dinner-room was low-ceilinged and gloomy."

"Do you really remember it?" asked she, with a pleasant smile.

"An over-good memory has accompanied me through life, Lady Augusta,"
said he. And then, as he remarked the rising color of her cheek,
quickly added, "It is rarely that the faculty treats me to such grateful
recollections as the present."

Lord Glengariffs table was a good specimen of country-house living. All
the materials were excellent, and the cookery reasonably good; his wine
was exquisite,--the years and epochs connoisseurship loves to dwell
upon; but Mr. Dunn ate sparingly and drank little. He had passed forty
without gourmand tastes, and no man takes to epicurism after that. His
Lordship beheld, not without secret dissatisfaction, his curdiest salmon
declined, his wonderful "south-down" sent away scarcely tasted, and,
horror of horrors! saw water mixed with his 1815 claret as if it were a
"little Bordeaux wine" at a Swiss _table d'hôte_.

"Mr. Dunn has no appetite for our coarse country fare, Augusta," said
Lord Glengariff; "you must take him over the cliffs, to-morrow, and let
him feel the sharp Glengariff air. There's nothing but hunger for it."

"Pardon me, my Lord, if I say that I accept with gratitude the proposed
remedy, though I don't acknowledge a just cause for it. I am always a
poor eater."

"Tell him of Beverley, Augusta, tell him of Beverley," said my Lord.

"Oh, it was simply a case similar to your own," said she, hesitatingly,
"and, in all probability, incurred in the same way. The Duke of
Beverley, a very hard-worked man, as you know, always at Downing Street
at ten, and never leaving it till night, came here two years ago, to
pass a few weeks with us, and although hale and stout, to look at, could
eat nothing,--that is, he cared for nothing. It was in vain we put in
requisition all our little culinary devices to tempt him; he sat down
with us, and, like yourself, would fain persuade us that he dined, but
he really touched nothing; and, in utter despair, I determined to try
what a course of open air and exercise would do."

"She means eight hours a day hard walking, Dunn," chimed in Lord
Glengariff; "a good grouse-shooter's pace, too, and cross country."

"Well, confess that my remedy succeeded," said she, triumphantly.

"That it did. The Duke went back to town fifteen years younger. No one
knew him; the Queen did not know him. And to this day he says, 'Whenever
I'm hipped or out of sorts, I know what a resource I have in the
Glengariff heather.'"

It is possible that Davenport Dunn listened with more of interest to
this little incident because the hero of it was a Duke and a Cabinet
Minister.

Assuredly the minor ills of life, the petty stomachic miseries, and such
like, are borne with a more becoming patience when we know that they are
shared by peers and great folk. Not by _you_, valued reader, nor even by
_me_,--we have no such weaknesses,--but by the Davenport Dunns of this
world, one of whom we are now treating. It was pleasant, too, to feel
that he not only had a ducal ailment, but that he was to be cured like
his Grace! And so he listened eagerly, as Lady Augusta went on to tell
of the various localities, strange and unpronounceable, that they used
to visit, and how his Grace loved to row across such an arm of the lake,
and what delight he took in the ascent of such a mountain. "But you
shall judge for yourself, Mr. Dunn," said she, smiling, "and I now
engage you for to-morrow, after breakfast." And with that she rose, and,
accompanied by Sybella, passed into the drawing-room. Dunn was about to
follow, when Lord Glengariff called out, "I'm of the old school, Dunn,
and must have half an hour with my bottle before I join the ladies."

We do not stop to explain--perhaps we should not succeed to our wishes
if we tried--why it was that Dunn was more genial, better satisfied, and
more at his ease than when the dinner began; but so it was that as he
filled the one glass of claret be meant to indulge in, he felt that he
had been exaggerating to his own mind the disagreeables of this visit,
and that everybody was kinder, pleasanter, and more natural than he had
expected.

"Jesting apart, Dunn," said his Lordship, "Augusta is right. What you
require is rest,--perfect repose; never to read or write a letter
for three weeks, not look at a newspaper, nor receive a telegraphic
despatch. Let us try if Glengariff cannot set you up. The fact is, we
can't spare you."

"Your opinion is too flattering by half, my Lord; but really, any
one--I mean any one whose views are honest, and whose intentions are
upright--can complete the work I have begun. There is no secret,--no
mystery in it."

"Come, come, this is over-modest. We all know that your head alone
could carry on the vast number of these great schemes which are now
in operation amongst us. Could you really tell the exact number of
companies of which you are Director?"

"I 'm afraid to say that I could," said Dunn, smiling.

"Of course you could n't. It is marvellous, downright marvellous, how
you get through it. You rise early, of course?"

"Yes, my Lord, at five, summer and winter; light my own fire, and
sit down to the desk till eight; by that time I have finished my
correspondence on business topics. I then take a cup of tea and a little
dry toast. This is my preparation for questions of politics, which
usually occupy me till eleven. From that hour till three I receive
deputations,--heads of companies, and such like. I then take my ride,
weather permitting, and usually contrive to call at the Lodge, till nigh
dinner-hour. If alone, my meal is a frugal one, and soon despatched;
and then begins the real work of the day. A short nap of twenty minutes
refreshes me, and I address myself with energy to my task. In these
quiet hours, undisturbed and uninterrupted,--for I admit none, not
one, at such seasons,--my mind is clear and unclouded, and I can work,
without a sense of fatigue, till past midnight; it has even happened
that morning has broke upon me without my being aware of it."

"No health, no constitution, could stand that, Dunn," said Lord
Glengariff, with a voice artfully modulated to imply deep interest.

"Men are mere relays on the road of life; when one sinks, wearied
or worn out, a fresh one comes forth ready to take his place in the
traces."

"That may be--that may be, in the mass of cases; but there are
exceptional men, Dunn,--men who--men, in fact, whose faculties have such
an adaptiveness to the age we live in--do you perceive my meaning?--men
of the situation, as the French say." Here his Lordship began to feel
that he was getting upon very ticklish ground, and by no means sure how
he was to get safely back again, when, with a violent plunge, he said,
"That fellow Washington was one of those men, Louis Napoleon is another,
and you--I don't hesitate to say it--you are also an instance of what I
mean."

Dunn's pale face flushed up as he muttered some broken words of
depreciating meaning.

"The circumstances, I am aware, are different. You have not to
revolutionize a country, but you have undertaken just as hard a task: to
remodel its social state,--to construct out of the ruined materials of
a bankrupt people the elements of national wealth and greatness. Let
no man tell me, sir, that this is not a bolder effort than the other.
Horse, foot, and dragoons, as poor Grattan used to say, won't aid
you here. To your own clear head and your own keen intellect must you
trust."

"My dear Lord," broke in Dunn, in a voice not devoid of emotion, "you
exaggerate both my labor and my capacity. I saw that the holders of
Irish property were not the owners, and I determined that they should
be so. I saw that the people were improvident, less from choice than
necessity, and I gave them banks. I saw land unproductive for want of
capital, and I established the principle of loans for drainage and other
improvements. I perceived that our soil and our climate favor certain
species of cultivation, and as certainly deny some others. I popularized
this knowledge."

"And you call this nothing! Why, sir, where's the statesman can point
to such a list of legislative acts? Peel himself has left no such legacy
behind him."

"Ah, my Lord, this is too flattering,--too flattering by half." And Dunn
sipped his wine and looked down. "By the way, my Lord," said he, after
a pause, "how has my recommendation in the person of Miss Kellett
succeeded?"

"A very remarkable young woman,--a singularly gifted person indeed,"
said the old Lord, pompously. "Some of her ideas are tinctured, it
is true, with that canting philanthropy we are just now infected
with,--that tendency to discover all the virtue in rags and all the
vice in purple; but, with this abatement to her utility, I must say she
possesses a very high order of mind. She comes of a good family, doesn't
she?"

"None better. The Kelletts of Kellett's Court were equal to any gentry
in this county."

"And left totally destitute?"

"A mere wreck of the property remains, and even that is so cumbered with
claims and so involved in law that I scarcely dare to say that they have
an acre they can call their own."

"Poor girl! A hard case,--a very hard case. We like her much, Dunn. My
daughter finds her very companionable; her services, in a business point
of view, are inestimable. All those reports you have seen are hers, all
those drawings made by her hand."

"I am aware, my Lord, how much zeal and intelligence she has displayed,"
said Dunn, who had no desire to let the conversation glide into the
great Glengariff scheme, "and I am also aware how gratefully she feels
the kindness she has met with under this roof."

"That is as it should be, Dunn, and I am rejoiced to hear it. It is in
no spirit of self-praise I say it, but in simple justice,--we do--my
daughter and myself, both of us--do endeavor to make her feel that her
position is less that of dependant than--than--companion."

"I should have expected nothing less from your Lordship nor Lady
Augusta," said Dunn, gravely.

"Yes, yes; you knew Augusta formerly; you can appreciate her high-minded
and generous character, though I think she was a mere child when you saw
her first."

"Very young indeed, my Lord," said Dunn, coloring faintly.

"She is exactly, however, what she then promised to be,--an Arden, a
genuine Arden, sir; no deceit, no double; frank, outspoken; too much so,
perhaps, for our age of mock courtesy, but a noble-hearted girl, and one
fit to adorn any station."

There was an honest, earnest sincerity in the old Lord's manner that
made Dunn listen with respect to the sentiments be uttered, though
in his heart the epithet "girl," as applied to Lady Augusta, seemed
somewhat ill chosen.

"I see you take no wine, so that, if you have no objection, we'll join
the ladies."

"Your Lordship was good enough to tell me that I was to make myself
perfectly at home here; may I begin at once to avail myself of your
kindness, and say that for this evening I beg to retire early? I have a
number of letters to read, and some to answer."

"Really, Lady Augusta will feel quite offended if you slight her
tea-table."

"Nay, my Lord. It is only for this evening, and I am sure you will make
my excuses becomingly."

"It shall be as you please," said the old Lord, with a rather stiff
courtesy.

"Thank you, my Lord; thank you. I assure you it is very rarely the
sacrifice to duty costs me so keenly. Goodnight."



CHAPTER XXXVII. "A MAN IN REQUEST"

The bountifully spread breakfast-table of the following morning was not
destined to be graced by Mr. Dunn's presence. A clerk had arrived
early in the morning with a mass of correspondence from Dublin, and
a Government messenger, armed with an ominous-looking red box, came
post-haste about an hour later, while a request for a cup of tea in
his own room explained that Mr. Dunn was not to make his appearance in
public.

"This savors of downright slavery," said Lady Augusta, whose morning
toilette was admirably devised.

"To me it savors of downright humbug," said Lord Glengariff, pettishly.
"No one shall tell me that a man has not time to eat his meals like a
gentleman. A Secretary of State does n't give himself such airs. Why, I
protest, here comes another courier! what can this fellow be?"

"A messenger from the Home Office has just arrived for Mr. Dunn," said
Miss Kellett, entering the room.

"Our little cottage is become like a house in Whitehall Gardens," said
Lord Glengariff, angrily. "I have no doubt we ought to feel excessively
flattered by the notoriety the newspapers are certain to accord us."

"Mr. Dunn is more to be pitied than any of us," said Lady Augusta,
compassionately.

"I suspect he'd not agree with you," said his Lordship, bitterly. "I
rather opine that Mr. Dunn has another and a very different estimate of
his present position."

"Such a life is certainly not enviable. Perhaps I'm wrong, though," said
she, quickly; "Miss Kellett does not seem of _my_ mind."

Sybella blushed slightly, and in some embarrassment said, "Certain
minds find their best happiness in great labor; Mr. Dunn's may be one of
these."

"Pulteney found time for a cast with the hounds, and Charles Fox
had leisure for his rubber of whist. It is these modern fellows have
introduced the notion that 'the House' is like a 'mill at Manchester.'
There goes one with his despatches," cried he, as a mounted messenger
rode off from the door. "I 'd wager a trifle that if they never came to
hand the world would just jog on its course as pleasantly, and no one
the worse for the mishap."

"With Mr. Dunn's compliments, my Lord," said a servant, placing several
open letters on the table; "he thought your Lordship would like to see
the latest news from the Crimea."

While Lord Glengariff took out his spectacles, his face grew crimson,
and he seemed barely able to restrain a burst of passionate indignation.
As the servant closed the door, he could no longer contain himself, but
broke out: "Just fancy their sending off these despatches to this fellow
Dunn. Here am I, an Irish peer, of as good blood and ancient family as
any in my country, and I might as well expect to hear Buckingham Palace
was fitted up for my town residence when next I went to London, as look
for an attention of this sort. If I had n't it here under my own eyes,
and saw the address, 'Davenport Dunn, Esq.,' 'on her Majesty's service,'
I 'd say flatly it was impossible."

"May I read some of them?" asked Lady Augusta, wishing by any means to
arrest this torrent of angry attack.

"Yes, read away," cried he, laying down his spectacles. "Miss Kellett,
too, may indulge her curiosity, if she has any, about the war."

"I have a dearer interest at stake there," said Sybella, blushing.

"I see little here we have not already read in the 'Times,'" said Lady
Augusta, perusing the paper before her. "The old story of rifle-pits,
sorties against working parties, the severity of the duty, and the
badness of the commissariat."

"This is interesting," broke in Sybella. "It is an extract from a
private letter of some one high in command. It says: 'The discontent
of our allies increases every day; and as every post from France only
repeats how unpopular the war is in that country, I foresee that nothing
short of some great _fait d'armes_, in which the French shall have all
the glory, will induce the Imperial Government to continue the struggle.
The satisfaction felt in France at the attacks of the English journals
on our own army, its generalship, and its organization, are already
wearing out, and they look now for some higher stimulant to the national
vanity.'"

"Who writes this?" cried Lord Glengariff, eagerly.

"The name is not given," said she. "The despatch goes on merely to say,
'Your Lordship would do well to give these words the consideration
they seem to deserve.' But here again, 'the coolness of the Marshal
increases, and our intercourse is neither frank nor confidential.'"

"All this sounds badly," said Lord Glengariff. "Our only progress would
seem to be in ill-will with our ally. I suppose the end of it will be,
we shall be left to continue the struggle alone."

"Would that it were so!" burst in Sybella. "A great orator said t' other
day in the House, that coalitions were fatal; Englishmen never liked
them. He only spoke of those alliances where parties agree to merge
their differences and unite for some common object; but far more
perilous are the coalitions where nations combine, the very contest
that they wage being a field to evoke ancient rivalries and smouldering
jealousies. I 'd rather see our little army alone, with its face to
the foe and its back to the sea, than I 'd read of our entrance into
Sebastopol side by side with the legions of France."

The passionate enthusiasm of the moment had carried her away, and she
grew pale and heart-sick at her unwonted boldness as she finished.

"I hope Mr. Dunn may be able to benefit by your opinions on strategy,"
said Lady Augusta, as she rose from the table.

"What was it Lady Augusta said?" cried Lord Glengariff, as she left the
room.

"I scarcely heard her aright, my Lord," said Sybella, whose face was now
crimson.

It was the first moment in her life in which dependence had exposed her
to insult, and she could not collect her faculties, or know what to do.

"These things," said Lord Glengariff, pushing the despatches
contemptuously away, "add nothing to our knowledge. That writer in the
'Times' gives us everything we want to know, and gives it better too.
Send them back to Dunn, and ascertain, if you can, when we are likely to
see him. I want him to come down to the bay; he ought to see the harbor
and the coast. Manage this, Miss Kellett,--not from me, of course, but
in your own way,--and let me know."

Lord Glengariff now left the room, and Sybella was once more deep in the
despatches.

Dry and guarded as they were,--formal, with all the stamp of official
accuracy,--they yet told of the greatest and grandest struggle of our
age. It was a true war of Titans, with the whole world for spectators.
The splendid heroism of our army seemed even eclipsed by the unbroken
endurance of daily hardship,--that stern and uncomplaining courage that
faced death in cold blood, and marched to the fatal trenches with the
steadfast tramp of a forlorn hope.

"No conscript soldiers ever bore themselves thus," cried she,
in ecstasy. "These are the traits of personal gallantry, not the
disciplined bravery that comes of the serried file and the roll of the
drum."

With all her anxieties for his fate, she gloried to think "dear Jack"
was there,--that he was bearing his share of their hardships, and
reaping his share of their glory. And oh! if she could but read mention
of his name; if she could hear of him quoted for some act of gallantry,
or, better still, some trait of humanity and kindness,--that he had
rescued a wounded comrade, or succored some poor maimed and forlorn
enemy!

How hard was it for her on that morning, full of these themes, to
address herself to the daily routine of her work! The grand panorama
of war continued to unroll itself before her eyes, and the splendid
spectacle of the contending armies revealed itself like a picture before
her. The wondrous achievements she had read of reminded her of those old
histories which had been the delight of her childhood, and she gloried
to think that the English race was the same in daring and chivalry as it
had shown itself centuries back!

She tried hard to persuade herself that the peaceful triumphs of art,
the great discoveries of science, were finer and grander developments of
human nature; but with all her ingenuity they seemed inglorious and poor
beside the splendid displays of heroism.

"And now to my task," said she, with a sigh, as she folded up the map of
the Crimea, on which she was tracing the events of the war.

Her work of that morning was the completion of a little "Memoir" of
Glengariff and its vicinity, written in that easy and popular style
which finds acceptance in our periodicals, and meant to draw attention
to the great scheme for whose accomplishment a company was to be formed.
Lord Glengariff wished this sketch should be completed while Dunn was
still there, so that it might be shown him, and his opinion be obtained
upon it.

Never had her task seemed so difficult, never so uncongenial; and though
she labored hard to summon up all her former interest in the great
enterprise, her thoughts would stray away, in spite of her, to the
indented shores of the Crimea, and the wild and swelling plains around
Sebastopol. Determined to see if change of place might not effect some
change of thought, she carried her papers to a little summer-house on
the river-side, and once more addressed herself resolutely to her work.
With an energy that rarely failed her, she soon overcame the little
distraction, and wrote away rapidly and with ease. She at last reached
that stage in her essay where, having enumerated all the advantages of
the locality, she desired to show how nothing was wanting to complete
its celebrity and recognition but the touch of some of those great
financial magicians whose great privilege it is to develop the wealth
and augment the resources of their fellow-men. She dwelt earnestly and,
indeed, eloquently on the beauty of the scenery. She knew it in every
varying aspect of its coloring, and she lingered over a description of
which the reality had so often captivated her. Still, even here, the
fostering hand of taste might yet contribute much. The stone pine and
the ilex would blend favorably with the lighter foliage of the ash and
the hazel, and many a fine point of view was still all but inaccessible
for want of a footpath. How beautifully, too, would the tasteful cottage
of some true lover of the picturesque peep from amidst the evergreen
oaks that grew down to the very shore. While she wrote, a shadow fell
over her paper. She looked up, and saw Mr. Dunn. He had strolled by
accident to the spot, and entered unperceived by her.

[Illustration: 414]

"What a charming place you have chosen for your study, Miss Kellett!"
said he, seating himself at the table. "Not but I believe," continued
he, "that when once deeply engaged in a pursuit, one takes little
account of surrounding objects. Pastorals have been composed in garrets,
and our greatest romancer wrote some of his most thrilling scenes amid
the noise and commonplace interruptions of a Court of Sessions."

"Such labors as mine," said she, smiling, "neither require nor deserve
the benefit of a chosen spot."

"You are engaged upon Glengariff," said he; "am I at liberty to look?"
And he took the paper from the table as he spoke. At first he glanced
half carelessly at the lines; but as he read on he became more
attentive, and at last, turning to the opening pages, he read with
marked earnestness and care.

"You have done this very well,--admirably well," said he, as he laid it
down; "but shall I be forgiven if I make an ungracious speech?"

"Say on," said she, smiling good-naturedly.

"Well, then," said he, drawing a long breath, "you are pleading an
impossible cause. They who suggested it were moved by the success of
those great enterprises which every day develops around us, and which,
by the magic word 'Company,' assume vitality and consistence; they
speculated on immense profits just as they could compute a problem in
arithmetic. It demanded so much skill and no more. _You_--I have no need
that you should tell me so--were actuated by very different motives. You
wanted to benefit a poor and neglected peasantry, to disseminate amongst
them the blessings of comfort and civilization; _you_ were eager for the
philanthropy of the project, _they_ for its gain."

"But why, as a mere speculation, should it be a failure?" broke she in.

"There are too many reasons for such a result," said he, with a
melancholy smile. "Suffice it if I give you only one. We Irish are not
in favor just now. While we were troublesome and rebellious, there was
an interest attached to us,--we were dangerous; and even in the
sarcasms of the English press there lurked a secret terror of some great
convulsion here which should shake the entire empire. We are prosperous
now, and no longer picturesque. Our better fortune has robbed us of the
two claims we used to have on English sympathy; we are neither droll
nor ragged, and so they can neither laugh at our humor nor sneer at our
wretchedness. Will not these things show you that we are not likely
to be fashionable? I say this to you; to Lord Glengariff I will speak
another language. I will tell him that his scheme will not attract
speculators. I myself cannot advocate it. I never link my name with
defeats. He will be, of course, indignant, and we shall part on bad
terms. He is not the first I have refused to make rich."

There was a tone of haughty assumption in the way he spoke these words
that astonished Sybella, who gazed at him without speaking.

"Are you happy here?" asked he, abruptly.

"Yes,--that is, I have been so up to this--"

"In short, until I had robbed you of an illusion," said he, interrupting
her. "Ah, how many a pang do these 'awakenings' cost us in life!"
muttered he, half to himself. "Every one has his ambitions of one
sort or other, and fancies his goal the true one; but, his faith once
disturbed, how hard it is to address himself earnestly to another
creed!"

"If it be duty," broke she in, "and if we have the consciousness of an
honest breast and a right intention--"

"That is to say, if we gain a verdict in the court where we ourselves
sit as judge," said he, with a suddenness that surprised her. "I, for
instance, have my own sense of what is right and just; am I quite sure
it is _yours?_ I see certain anomalies in our social condition, great
hardships, heavy wrongs; if I address myself to correct them, am I so
certain that others will concur with me? The battle of life, like every
other conflict, is one in which to sustain the true cause one must do
many a cruel thing. It is only at last, when success has crowned all
your efforts, that the world condescends to say you have done well."

"You, of all men, can afford to await this judgment patiently."

"Why do you say that of _me?_" asked he, eagerly.

"Because, so long as I can remember, I have seen your name associated
with objects of charity and benevolence; and not these alone, but with
every great enterprise that might stimulate the efforts and develop the
resources of the country."

"Some might say that personal objects alone influenced me," said he, in
a low voice.

"How poor and narrow-minded would be such a judgment!" replied she,
warmly. "There is an earnestness in high purpose no self-seeking could
ever counterfeit."

"That is true,--quite true," said he; "but are you so certain that the
world makes the distinction? Does not the vulgar estimate confound the
philanthropist with the speculator? I say this with sorrow." said he,
painfully, "for I myself am the victim of this very injustice." He
paused for a few seconds, and then rising, he said, "Let us stroll along
the river-side; we have both worked enough for the day." She arose at
once, and followed him. "It is ever an ungracious theme,--one's self,"
said he, as they walked along; "but, somehow, I am compelled to talk to
you, and, if you will allow me, confidentially." He did not wait for a
reply, but went on: "There was, in the time of the French Regency, a
man named Law, who, by dint of deep study and much labor, arrived at the
discovery of a great financial scheme; so vast, so comprehensive, and
so complete was it, that not only was it able to rescue the condition
of the State from bankruptcy, but it disseminated through the
trading-classes of the nation the sound principles of credit on which
alone commerce can be based. Now, this man--a man of unquestionable
genius and, if benefits to one's species gave a just title to the
name, a philanthropist--lived to see the great discovery he had made
prostituted to the basest arts of scheming speculators. From the Prince,
who was his patron, to the humblest agent of the Bourse, he met nothing
but duplicity, falsehood, and treachery, and he ended in being driven
in shame and ignominy from the land he had succeeded in rescuing from
impending rain! You will say that the people and the age explain much of
this base ingratitude; but, believe me, nations and eras are wonderfully
alike. The good and evil of this world go on repeating themselves in
cycles with a marvellous regularity. The fate which befell Law may
overtake any who will endeavor to imitate him; there is but one
condition which can avert this catastrophe, and that is success. Law
had too long deferred to provide for his own security. Too much occupied
with his grand problem, he had made himself neither rich nor great,
so that when the hour of adversity came no barriers of wealth or
power stood between him and his enemies. Had he foreseen this
catastrophe,--had he anticipated it,--he might have so dovetailed his
own interests with those of the State that attack upon one involved the
fate of the other. But Law did nothing of the kind; he made friends
of Princes, and with the fortune that attaches to such friendships, he
fell!" For some minutes he walked along at her side without speaking,
and then resumed: "With all these facts before me, I, too, see that
Law's fate may be my own!"

"But have you--" When she had gone thus far, Sybella stopped, and
blushed deeply, unable to continue.

"Yes," said he, answering what might have been her words,--"yes, it was
my ambition to have been to Ireland what Law was to France,--not
what calumny and injustice have pictured him, remember, but the great
reformer, the great financier, the great philanthropist,--to make this
faction-torn land a great and united nation. To develop the resources
of the richest country in Europe was no mean ambition, and he who even
aspired to it was worthy of a better recompense than attack and insult."

"I have seen none of these," broke she in. "Indeed, so long as I
remember, I can call to mind only eulogies of your zeal, praises of your
intelligence, and the grandeur of your designs."

"There are such, however," said he, gloomily; "they are the first low
murmurings, too, of a storm that will come in full force hereafter! Let
it come," muttered he, below his breath. "If I am to fall, it shall be
like Samson, and the temple shall fall with me."

Sybella did not catch his words, but the look of his features as he
spoke them made her almost shudder with terror.

"Let us turn back," said she; "it is growing late."

Without speaking, Dunn turned his steps towards the cottage, and walked
along in deep thought.

"Mr. Hankes has come, sir," said Dunn's servant, as he reached the door.
And without even a word, Dunn hastened to his own room.



CHAPTER XXXVIII. MR. DAVENPORT DUNN IN MORE MOODS THAN ONE

Although Mr. Hankes performs no very conspicuous part in our story,
he makes his appearance at the Hermitage with a degree of pomp and
circumstance which demand mention. With our reader's kind leave,
therefore, we mean to devote a very brief chapter to that gentleman and
his visit.

As in great theatres there is a class of persons to whose peculiar skill
and ability are confided all the details of "spectacle," all those grand
effects of panoramic splendor which in a measure make the action of the
drama subordinate to the charms of what, more properly, ought to be mere
accessories; so modern speculation has called to its aid its own
special machinists and decorators,--a gifted order of men, capable of
surrounding the dryest and least promising of enterprises with all the
pictorial attractions and attractive graces of the "ballet"

If it be a question of a harbor or dock company, the prospectus is
headed with a colored print, wherein tall three-deckers mingle with
close-reefed cutters, their gay buntings fluttering in the breeze as the
light waves dance around the bows; from the sea beneath to the clouds
above, all is motion and activity,--meet emblems of the busy shore
where commerce lives and thrives. If it be a building speculation, the
architecture is but the background of a brilliant "mall," where splendid
equipages and caracoling riders figure, with gay parasols and sleek
poodles intermixed.

One "buys in" to these stocks with feelings far above "five percent."
A sense of the happiness diffused amongst thousands of our
fellow-creatures--the "blessings of civilization," as we like to call
the extension of cotton prints--cheer and animate us; and while laying
out our money advantageously, we are crediting our hearts with a
large balance on the score of philanthropy. To foster this commendable
tendency, to feed the tastes of those who love, so to say, to "shoot at
Fortune with both barrels," an order of men arose, cunning in all the
devices of advertisement, learned in the skill of capitals, and adroit
in illustrations.

Of these was Mr. Hankes. Originally brought up at the feet of George
Robins, he was imported into Ireland by Mr. Davenport Dunn as his chief
man at business,--the Grand Vizier of Joint Stock Companies and all
industrial speculations.

If Dr. Pangloss was a good man for knowing what wickedness was, Mr.
Hankes might equally pretend to skill in all enterprises, since he had
experienced, for a number of years, every species of failure and
defeat The description of his residences would fill half a column of a
newspaper. They ranged from Brompton to Boulogne, and took in everything
from Wilton Crescent to St John's Wood. He had done a little of
everything, too, from "Chief Commissioner to the Isthmus"--we never
heard of what isthmus--to Parliamentary Agent for the friends of Jewish
emancipation. With a quickness that rarely deceived him, Dunn saw his
capabilities. He regarded him as fighting fortune so bravely with all
the odds against him, that he ventured to calculate what such a man
might be, if favorably placed in the world. The fellow who could bring
down his bird with a battered old flint musket might reasonably enough
distinguish himself if armed with an Enfield rifle. The venture was not,
however, entirely successful; for though Hankes proved himself a very
clever fellow, he was only really great under difficulties. It was
with the crash of falling fortunes around him--amidst debt, bankruptcy,
executions, writs, and arrests--Hankes rose above his fellows, and
displayed all the varied resources of his fertile genius. The Spartan
vigor of his mind assorted but badly with prosperity, and Hankes
waxed fat and indolent, affected gorgeous waistcoats and chains, and
imperceptibly sank down to the level of those decorative arts we have
just alluded to.

The change was curious: it was as though Gerard or Gordon Cumming should
have given up lion-hunting and taken to teach piping bullfinches!

Every venture of Davenport Dunn was prosperous. All his argosies were
borne on favoring winds, and Hankes saw his great defensive armor hung
up to rust and to rot. Driven in some measure, therefore, to cut out his
path in life, he invented that grand and gorgeous school of enterprise
whose rashness and splendor crush into insignificance all the puny
attempts of commonplace speculators. He only talked millions; thousands
he ignored. He would accept of no names on the direction of his schemes
save the very highest in rank. If he crossed the Channel, his haste
required a special steamer. If he went by rail, a special train awaited
him. The ordinary world, moving along at its tortoise pace, was shocked
at the meteor course that every now and then shot across the hemisphere,
and felt humiliated in their own hearts by the comparison.

Four smoking posters, harnessed to the neatest and lightest of
travelling-carriages, had just deposited Mr. Hankes at the Hermitage;
and he now sat in Mr. Dunn's dressing-room, arranging papers and
assorting documents in preparation for his arrival.

It was easy to perceive that as Dunn entered the room he was very far
from feeling pleased at his lieutenant's presence there.

"What was there so very pressing, Mr. Hankes," said he, "that could not
have awaited my return to town?"

"A stormy meeting of the Lough Allen Tin Company yesterday, sir,--a
very stormy meeting indeed. Shares down to twenty-seven and an
eighth,--unfavorable report on the ore, and a rumor--mere rumor, of
course--that the last dividend was paid out of capital."

"Who says this?" asked Dunn, angrily.

"The 'True Blue,' sir, hinted as much in the evening edition, and the
suggestion was at once caught up by the Tory Press."

"Macken--isn't that the man's name--edits the 'True Blue'?"

"Yes, sir; Michael Macken."

"What answer shall I give him, then?" asked Hankes.

"Tell him--explain to him that the exigencies of party--No, that won't
do. Send down Harte to conduct his election, let him be returned for
the borough, and tell Joe Harte to take care to provide a case that will
unseat him on a petition; before the petition comes on, we shall have
the sale completed. The Colonel shall be taught that our tactics are
somewhat sharper than his own."

Hankes smiled approvingly at this stratagem of his chief, and really for
the moment felt proud of serving such a leader. Once more, however,
did he turn to his dreary note-book and its inexorable bead-roll of
difficulties; but Dunn no longer heard him, for he was deep in his
private correspondence, tearing open and reading letter after letter
with impatient haste. "What of the Crimea--what did you say, there?"
cried Dunn, stopping suddenly, and catching at the sound of that one
word.

"That report of the 'Morning Post' would require a prompt
contradiction."

"What report?" asked Dunn, quickly.

"Here's the paragraph." And the other read from a newspaper before him:
"'Our readers, we feel assured, will learn with satisfaction that the
Government is at this moment in negotiation for the services of Mr.
Davenport Dunn in the Crimea. To any one who has followed the sad
story of our Commissariat blunders and shortcomings, the employment of
this--the first administrative mind of our day--will be matter for just
gratification. We have only to turn our eyes to the sister country, and
see what success has attended his great exertions there, to anticipate
what will follow his labors in the still more rugged field of the
Crimea.'

"This is from the 'Examiner': 'We are sorry to hear, and upon the
authority that assumes to be indisputable, that a grave difficulty has
suspended, for the time at least, the negotiation between the Government
and Mr. Daren-port Dunn; the insistence on the part of that gentleman of
such a recognition for his services as no Administration could dare to
promise being the obstacle.'

"'Punch' has also his say: 'Mr. Davenport Dunn's scheme is now before
the cabinet It resolves itself into this: The Anglo-French alliance
to be conducted on the principles of a Limited Liability Company. For
preference shares, address Count Morny in Paris, or Dowb at Balaklava.'"

"So much for official secrecy and discretion. This morning brings me the
offer from the Minister of this appointment; and here is the whole press
of England speculating, criticising, and ridiculing it, forty-eight
hours before the proposal is made me! What says the great leading
journal?" added he, opening a broad sheet before him. "Very brief, and
very vague," muttered he. "'No one knows better than the accomplished
individual alluded to, how little the highest honors in the power of the
Crown to bestow could add to the efficiency of that zeal, or the purpose
of that guidance he has so strenuously and successfully devoted to the
advancement of his country.' Psha!" cried he, angrily, as he threw down
the paper, and walked to the window.

Hankes proceeded to read aloud one of those glowing panegyrics certain
popular journals loved to indulge in, on the superior virtue, capacity,
and attainments of the middle classes. "Of these," said the writer,
"Mr. Dunn is a good specimen. Sprung from what may be called the very
humblest rank--"

"Who writes that? What paper is it?"

"The 'Daily Tidings.'"

"You affect to know all these fellows of the press. It is your pride
to have been their associate and boon companion. I charge you, then, no
matter for the means or the cost, get that man discharged; follow him
up too; have an eye upon him wherever he goes, and wherever he obtains
employment. He shall learn that a hungry stomach is a sorry recompense
for the pleasure of pointing a paragraph. Let me see that you make a
note of this, Mr. Hankes, and that you execute it also."

It was something so new for Hankes to see Dunn manifest any the
slightest emotion on the score of the press, whether its comments took
the shape of praise or blame, that he actually stared at him with a sort
of incredulous astonishment.

"If I were born a Frenchman, an Italian, or even a German," said Dunn,
with a savage energy of voice, "should I be taunted in the midst of my
labors that my origin was plebeian? Would the society in which I move be
reminded that they accept me on sufferance? Would the cheer that greeted
my success be mingled with the cry, 'Remember whence you came'? I tell
you, sir," and here he spoke with the thickened utterance of intense
passion,--"I tell you, sir, that with all the boasted liberty of our
institutions, we cultivate a social slavery in these islands, to which
the life of a negro is freedom in comparison!"

A sharp tap at the door interrupted him, and he cried, "Come in." It was
a servant to say dinner was on the table, and his Lordship was waiting.

"Please to say I am indisposed,--a severe headache. I hope his Lordship
will excuse my not appearing to-day," said he, with evident confusion;
and then, when the servant withdrew, added: "You may go down to the inn.
I suppose there is one in the village. I shall want horses to-morrow,
and relays ready on the road to Killarney. Give the orders, and if
anything else occurs to my recollection, I 'll send you word in the
evening."

Whether it was that Mr. Hankes had been speculating on the possible
chances of dining with "my Lord" himself, or that the prospect of the
inn at Glengariff was little to his taste, but he assuredly gathered
up his papers in a mood that indicated no peculiar satisfaction, and
withdrew without a word.

A second message now came to inquire what Mr. Dunn would like to
take for his dinner, and conveying Lord Glengariffs regrets for his
indisposition.

"A little soup--some fish, if there be any--nothing else," said Dunn,
while he opened his writing-desk and prepared for work. Not noticing the
interruption of the servant as he laid the table, he wrote away rapidly;
at last he arose, and, having eaten a few mouthfuls, reseated himself at
his desk. His letter was to the Minister, in answer to the offer of
that morning's post. There was a degree of dexterity in the way that he
conveyed his refusal, accompanying it by certain suggestive hints, vague
and shadowy of course, of what the services of such a man as himself
might possibly accomplish, so as to indicate how great was the loss
to the State by not being fortunate enough to secure such high
acquirements. The whole wound up with a half-ambiguous regret that,
while the Ministry should accept newspaper dictation for their
appointments, they could not also perceive that popular will should be
consulted in the rewards extended to those who deserted their private
and personal objects to devote their energies to the cause of the
empire.

"Whenever such a Government shall arise," wrote he, "the Ministry
will find few refusals to the offers of employment, and men will alike
consult their patriotism and their self-esteem in taking office under
the Crown; nor will there be found, in the record of replies to a
Ministerial proffer, one such letter as now bears the signature of your
Lordship's

"Very devoted and very obedient servant,

"Davenport Dunn."

This history does not profess to say how Mr. Dunn's apology was received
by his noble host. Perhaps, however, we are not unwarranted in supposing
that Lord Glengariffs temper was sorely and severely tested; one thing
is certain, the dinner passed off with scarcely a word uttered at the
table, and a perfect stillness prevailed throughout the cottage.

After some hours of hard labor, Dunn opened his window to enjoy the
fresh air of the night, tempered slightly as it was with a gentle
sea-breeze. If our western moonlights have not the silver lustre of
Greece, of which old Homer himself sings, they have, in compensation,
a mellow radiance of wondrous softness and beauty. Objects are less
sharply defined and picked out, it is true, but the picture gains
in warmth of color, and those blended effects where light and shadow
alternate. The influences of Nature--the calm, still moonlight; the
measured march of the long, sweeping waves upon the strand; those
brilliant stars, "so still above, so restless in the water"--have a
marvellous power over the hard-worked men of the world. They are amidst
the few appeals to the heart which they can neither spurn nor reject.

Half hidden by the trees, but still visible from where he sat, Dunn
could mark the little window of his humble bedroom twenty years ago! Ay!
there was the little den to which he crept at night, his heart full of
many a sorrow; the "proud man's contumely" had eaten deep into him, and
each day brought some new grievance, some new trial to be endured, while
the sight of her he loved--the young and haughty girl--goaded him almost
to madness.

One after another came all the little incidents of that long-forgotten
time crowding to his memory; and now he bethought him how noiselessly he
used to glide down those stairs, and, stealing into the wood, meet her
in her morning's walk, and how, as with uncovered head, he bowed to
her, she would bestow upon him one of her own half-saucy smiles,--more
mockery than kindness. He called to mind the day, too, he had climbed
the mountain to gather a bouquet of the purple heath,--she said she
liked it,--and how, after a great effort of courage, he ventured to
offer it to her. She took it half laughingly from his hand, and then,
turning to her pet goat beside her, gave it him to eat. He could have
shot himself that morning, and yet there he was now, to smile over the
incident!

As he sat, the sounds of music floated up from the open window of the
room beneath. It was the piano, the same he used to hear long ago, when
the Poet himself of the Melodies came down to pass a few days at the
Hermitage. A low, soft voice was now singing, and as he bent down he
could hear the words of poor Griffin's beautiful song:--

     "A place in thy memory, dearest,
         Is all that I claim;
     To pause and look back as thou nearest
         The sound of my name."

What a strange thrill did the words send through him! They came, as it
were, to fill up the whole story of the past, embodying the unspoken
prayer his love-sick heart once was filled with. For that "smile and
kind word when we meet," had he once pined and longed, and where was the
spirit now that had once so yearned for love? A cold shudder passed over
him, and he felt ill. He sat for a long while so deep in reflection that
he did not notice the music had ceased, and now all was still and silent
around. From the balcony outside his window a little winding stair led
down to the lawn beneath; and down this he now took his way, resolving
to stroll for half an hour or so before bedtime.

Walking carelessly along, he at last found himself on the banks of
the river, close to the spot where he had met Miss Kellett that same
morning. How glad he would have been to find her there again! That long
morning's ramble had filled him with many a hopeful thought--he knew,
with the instinct that in such men as himself rarely deceives--that
he had inspired her with a sort of interest in him, and it warmed his
self-esteem to think that he could be valued for something besides
"success." The flutter of a white dress crossing the little rustic
bridge caught his eye at this moment, and he hurried along the path. He
soon gained sufficiently upon the retiring figure to see it was a lady.
She was strolling quietly along, stopping at times to catch the effects
of the moonlight on the landscape.

Dunn walked so as to make his footsteps heard approaching, and she
turned suddenly and exclaimed, "Oh, Mr. Dunn, who would have thought to
see you here?"

"A question I might almost have the hardihood to retort, Lady Augusta,"
said he, completely taken by surprise.

"As for me," said she, carelessly, "it is my usual walk every evening. I
stroll down to the shore round by that rocky headland, and rarely return
before midnight; but _you,_" added she, throwing a livelier interest
into her tone, "they said you were poorly, and so overwhelmed with
business it was hopeless to expect to see you."

"Work follows such men as myself like a destiny," said he, sighing; "and
as the gambler goes on to wager stake after stake on fortune, so do we
hazard leisure, taste, happiness, all, to gain--I know not what in the
end."

"Your simile points to the losing gamester," said she, quickly; "but
he who has won, and won largely, may surely quit the table when he
pleases."

"It is true," said he, after a pause,--"it is true, I have had luck with
me. The very trees under whose branches we are walking, could they but
speak, might bear witness to a time when I strolled here as poor and as
hopeless as the meanest outcast that walks the high-road. I had not one
living soul to say, 'Be of good cheer, your time will come yet.' My
case had even more than the ordinary obstacles to success; for fate had
placed me where every day, every hour of my life, should show me the
disparity between myself and those high-born great to whose station I
aspired. If you only knew, Lady Augusta," added he, in a tone tremulous
with emotion, "what store I laid on any passing kindness,--the simplest
word, the merest look,--how even a gesture or a glance lighted hope
within my heart, or made it cold and dreary within me, you 'd wonder
that a creature such as this could nerve itself to the stern work of
life."

"I was but a child at the time you speak of," said she, looking down
bashfully; "but I remember you perfectly."

"Indeed!" said he, with an accent that implied pleasure.

"So well," continued she, "that there is not a spot in the wood where we
used to take our lesson-books in summer, but lives still associated in
my mind with those hours, so happy they were!"

"I always feared that I had left very different memories behind me
here," said he, in a low voice.

"You were unjust, then," said she, in a tone still lower,--"unjust to
yourself and to us."

They walked on without speaking, a strange mysterious consciousness that
each was in the other's thoughts standing in place of converse between
them. At length, stopping suddenly in front of a little rocky cavern,
over which aquatic plants were drooped, she said, "Do you remember
calling that 'Calypso's grotto'? It bears no other name still."

"I remember more," said he; and then stopped in some confusion.

"Some girlish folly of mine, perhaps," broke she in hurriedly; "but
once for all, let me ask forgiveness for many a thoughtless word, many
a childish wrong. You, who know all tempers and moods of men as few
know them, can well make allowances for natures spoiled as ours
were,--pampered and flattered by those about us, living in a little
world of our own here. And yet, do not think me silly when I own that
I would it were all back again. The childish wrong. You, who know all
tempers and moods of men as few know them, can well make allowances for
natures spoiled as ours were--pampered and nattered by those about us,
living in a little world of our own here. And yet, do not think me silly
when I own that I would it were all back again. The childhood and the
lessons, ay, the dreary Telemachus, that gave me many a headache, and
the tiresome hours at the piano, and the rest of it." She glanced a
covert glance at Dunn, and saw that his features were a shade darker and
gloomier than before. "Mind," said she, quickly, "I don't ask you
to join in this wish. You have lived to achieve great successes--to be
courted, and sought after, and caressed. I don't expect you to care
to live over again hours which perhaps you look back to with a sort of
horror."

"I dare not well tell you how I look back to them," said he, in a
half-irresolute manner.

Had there been any to mark it, he would have seen that her cheek flushed
and her dark eyes grew darker as he spoke these words. She was far too
skilful a tactician to disturb, even by a syllable, the thoughts she
knew his words indicated; and again they sauntered along in silence,
till they found themselves standing on the shore of the sea.

"How is it that the sea, like the sky, seems ever to inspire the wish
that says, 'What lies beyond that?'" said Dunn, dreamily.

"It comes of that longing, perhaps, for some imaginary existence out of
the life of daily care and struggle--"

"I believe so," said he, interrupting. "One is so apt to forget that
another horizon is sure to rise to view,--another bourne to be passed!"
Then suddenly, as if with a rapid change of thought, he said, "What a
charming spot this is to pass one's days in,--so calm, so peaceful, so
undisturbed!"

"I love it!" said she, in a low, murmuring voice, as though speaking to
herself.

"And I could love it too," said he, ardently, "if fortune would but
leave me to a life of repose and quiet."

"It is so strange to hear men like yourself--men who in a measure make
their own fate,--always accuse Destiny. Who is there, let me ask," said
she, with a boldness the stronger that she saw an influence followed her
words,--"who is there who could with more of graceful pride retire from
the busy cares of life than he who has worked so long, so successfully,
for his fellow-men? Who is there who, having achieved fortune, friends,
station--Why do you shake your head?" cried she, suddenly.

"You estimate my position too flatteringly, Lady Augusta," said
he, slowly, and like one laboring with some painful reflection. "Of
fortune--if that mean wealth--I have more than I need. Friends--what the
world calls such--I suppose I may safely say I possess my share of. But
as to station, by which I would imply the rank which stamps a certain
grade in society, and carries with it a prestige--"

"It is your own whenever you care to demand it," broke she in. "It is
not when the soldier mounts the breach that his country showers its
honours on him--it is when, victory achieved, he comes back great and
triumphant. You have but to declare that your labours are completed,
your campaign finished, to meet any, the proudest, recognition your
services could claim. You know my father," said she, suddenly changing
her voice to a tone at once confidential and intimate--"you know how
instinctively, as it were, he surrounds himself with all the prejudices
of his order. Well, even he, as late as last night, said to me, 'Dunn
ought to be one of us, Augusta. We want men of his stamp. The lawyers
overbear us just now. It is men of wider sympathies lets technical less
narrowed, that we need. He ought to be one of us.' Knowing what a great
admission that was for one like him, I ventured to ask how this was to
be accomplished. 'Ministers are often the last to ratify the judgment
the public' he pronounced."

"Well, and what said you to that," asked Dunn, eagerly.

"Let him only open his mind to Lady Augusta," said she. "If he but have
the will I promise to show him the way."

Dunn uttered no reply, but with bent-down head walked along, deep in
thought.

"May I ask you to lend me your arm, Mr. Dunn?" said Lady Augusta, in
her gentlest of voices; and Dunn's heart beat with a strange, proud
significance as he gave it.

They spoke but little as they returned to the cottage.



CHAPTER XXXIX. "A LETTER TO JACK"

Long after the other inhabitants of the Hermitage were fast locked in
sleep, Sybella Kellett sat at her writing-desk. It was the time--the
only time--she called her own, and she was devoting it to a letter to
her brother. Mr. Dunn had told her on that morning that an opportunity
offered to send anything she might have for him, and she had arranged a
little packet--some few things, mostly worked by her own hands--for the
poor soldier in the Crimea.

As one by one she placed the humble articles in the box, her tears fell
upon them--tears half pleasure and half sorrow--for she thought
how "poor dear Jack" would feel as each new object came before him,
reminding him of some thoughtful care, some anticipation of this or that
casualty; and when at last all seemed packed and nothing forgotten, she
arose and crossed the room towards a little shelf, from which she took a
small volume, and, kissing it twice fervently, laid it in the box. This
done, she knelt down, and with her head between her hands, close pressed
and hidden, prayed long and fervently. If her features wore a look of
sadness as she arose, it was of sadness not without hope; indeed,
her face was like one of those fair Madonnas which Raphael has left
us,--faces where trustfulness is more eminently the characteristic than
any other quality.

Her long letter was nearly completed, and she sat down to add the last
lines to it. It had grown into a sort of Journal of her daily life, its
cares and occupations, and she was half shocked at the length to which
it extended. "I am not," wrote she, "so unreasonable as to ask you to
write as I have done, but it would be an unspeakable pleasure if you
would let me give the public some short extracts from the letters you
send me, they are so unlike those our papers teem with. The tone of
complaint is, I know, the popular one. Some clever correspondents
have struck the key-note with success, and the public only listen with
eagerness where the tale is of sufferings which might have been spared,
and hardships that need not have been borne. But you, dear Jack,
have taken another view of events, and one which, I own, pleases
me infinitely more. You say truly, besides, that these narratives,
interesting as no doubt they are to all at home here, exercise a baneful
influence on the military spirit of our army. Men grow to care too
much for newspaper distinction, too little for that noble _esprit de
camaraderie_ which is the finest enthusiasm of the service. I could not
help feeling as if I heard your voice as I read, 'I wish they would n't
go on telling us about muddy roads, raw coffee, wet canvas, and short
rations; we don't talk of these things so much amongst ourselves; we
came out here to thrash the Russians, and none of us ever dreamed it was
to be done without rough usage.' What you add about the evil effects
of the soldier appealing to the civilian public for any redress of
his grievances, real or imaginary, is perfectly correct. It is a great
mistake.

"You must forgive my having shown your last letter to Mr. Davenport
Dunn, who cordially joins me in desiring that you will let me send it to
the papers. He remarks truly, that the Irish temperament of making the
ludicrous repay the disagreeable is wanting in all this controversy, and
that the public mind would experience a great relief if one writer would
come forth to show that the bivouac fire is not wanting in pleasant
stories, nor even the wet night in the trenches without its burst of
light-hearted gayety.

"Mr. Dunn fully approves of your determination not to 'purchase.' It
would be too hard if you could not obtain your promotion from the ranks
after such services as yours; so he says, and so, I suppose, I ought to
concur with him; but as this seven hundred pounds lies sleeping at
the banker's while your hard life goes on, I own I half doubt if he be
right. I say this to show you, once for all, that I will accept
nothing of it I am provided for amply, and I meet with a kindness and
consideration for which I was quite unprepared. Of course, I endeavor
to make my services requite this treatment, and do my best to merit the
good-will shown me.

"I often wonder, dear Jack, when we are to meet, and where. Two more
isolated creatures there can scarcely be on earth than ourselves, and
we ought, at least, to cling to each other. Not but I feel that, in thus
struggling alone with fortune, we are storing up knowledge of ourselves,
and experiences of life that will serve us hereafter. When I read in
your letters how by many a little trait of character you can endear
yourself to your poor comrades, softening the hardship of their lot by
charms and graces acquired in another sphere from theirs, I feel doubly
strong in going forth amongst the poor families of our neighborhood, and
doubly hopeful that even I may carry my share of comfort to some poorer
and more neglected.

"The last object I have placed in your box, dearest Jack,--it will be
the first to reach your hands,--is my prayer-book. You have often held
it with me, long, long ago! Oh, if I dared to wish, it would be for that
time again, when we were children, with one heart between us. Let us
pray, my dear brother, that we may live to meet and be happy as we then
were; but if that is not to be,--if one be destined to remain alone a
wanderer here,--pray, my dearest brother, that the lot fall not to me,
who am weak-hearted and dependent.

"The day is already beginning to break, and I must close this. My
heartfelt prayer and blessings go with it over the seas. Again and
again, God bless you."

Why was it that still she could not seal that letter, but sat gazing
sadly on it, while at times she turned to the open pages of poor Jack's
last epistle to her?



CHAPTER XL. SCHEMES AND PROJECTS

The post-horses ordered for Mr. Dunn's carriage arrived, duly, at break
of day; but from some change of purpose, of whose motive this veracious
history can offer no explanation, that gentleman did not take his
departure, but merely despatched a messenger to desire Mr. Hankes would
come over to the Hermitage.

"I shall remain here to-day, Hankes," said he, carelessly, "and not
impossibly to-morrow also. There's something in the air here suits me,
and I have not felt quite well latterly."

Mr. Hankes bowed; but not even his long-practised reserve could conceal
the surprise he felt at this allusion to health or well-being. Positive
illness he could understand,--a fever or a broken leg were intelligible
ills; but the slighter casualties of passing indispositions were
weaknesses that he could not imagine a business mind could descend
to, no more than he could fancy a man's being turned from pursuing his
course because some one had accidentally jostled him in the streets.

Dunn was too acute a reader of men's thoughts not to perceive the
impression his words had produced; but with the indifference he ever
bestowed upon inferiors, he went on:--

"Forward my letters here till you hear from me; there's nothing so very
pressing at this moment that cannot wait my return to town. Stay--I was
to have had a dinner on Saturday; you'll have to put them off. Clowes
will show you the list; and let some of the evening papers mention
my being unavoidably detained in the south,--say nothing about
indisposition."

"Of course not, sir," said Hankes, quite shocked at such an indiscretion
being deemed possible.

"And why, 'of course,' Mr. Hankes?" said Dunn, slowly. "I never knew it
was amongst the prerogatives of active minds to be exempt from ailment."

"A bad thing to speak about, sir,--a very bad thing, indeed," said
Hankes, solemnly. "You constantly hear people remark, 'He was never the
same man since that last attack.'"

"Psha!" said Dunn, contemptuously.

"I assure you, sir, I speak the sense of the community. The old adage
says, 'Two removes are as bad as a fire,' and in the same spirit I would
say, 'Two gouty seizures are equal to a retirement'."

"Absurdity!" said Dunn, angrily. "I never have acknowledged--I never
will acknowledge--any such accountability to the world."

"They bring us 'to book' whether we will or not," said Hankes, sturdily.

Dunn started at the words, and turned away to hide his face; and well
was it he did so, for it was pale as ashes, even to the lips, which were
actually livid.

"You may expect me by Sunday morning, Hankes,"--he spoke without turning
round,--"and let me have the balance-sheet of the Ossory Bank to look
over. We must make no more advances to the gentry down there; we must
restrict our discounts."

"Impossible, sir, impossible! There must be no discontent--for the
present, at least," said Hankes; and his voice sunk to a whisper.

Dunn wheeled round till he stood full before him, and thus they remained
for several seconds, each staring steadfastly at the other.

"You don't mean to say, Hankes--" He stopped.

"I do, sir," said the other, slowly, "and I say it advisedly."

"Then there must be some gross mismanagement, sir," said Dunn,
haughtily. "This must be looked to! Except that loan of forty-seven
thousand pounds to Lord Lacking-ton, secured by mortgage on the estate
it went to purchase, with what has this Bank supplied us?"

"Remember, sir," whispered Hankes, cautiously glancing around the room
as he spoke, "the loan to the Viscount was advanced by ourselves at six
per cent, and the estate was bought in under your own name; so that, in
fact, it is to us the Bank have to look as their security."

"And am I not sufficient for such an amount, Mr. Hankes?" said he,
sneeringly.

"I trust you are, sir, and for ten times the sum. Time is everything
in these affairs. The ship that would float over the bar at high water
would stick fast at half-flood."

"The 'Time' I am anxious for is a very different one," said Dunn,
reflectively. "It is the time when I shall no longer be harassed with
these anxieties. Life is not worth the name when it excludes the thought
of all enjoyment."

"Business is business, sir," said Mr. Hankes, with all the solemnity
with which such men deliver platitudes as wisdom.

"Call it slavery, and you 'll be nearer the mark," broke in Dunn. "For
what or for whom, let me ask you, do I undergo all this laborious toil?
For a world that at the first check or stumble will overwhelm me with
slanders. Let me but afford them a pretext, and they will debit me with
every disaster their own recklessness has caused, and forget to credit
me with all the blessings my wearisome life has conferred upon them."

"The way of the world, sir," sighed Hankes, with the same stereotyped
philosophy.

"I know well," continued Dunn, not heeding the other's commonplace,
"that there are men who would utilize the station which I have acquired;
they'd soon convert into sterling capital the unprofitable gains that
I am content with. They 'd be cabinet ministers, peers, ambassadors,
colonial governors. It's only men like myself work without wages."

"'The laborer is worthy of his hire,' says the old proverb." Mr. Hankes
was not aware of the authority, but quoted what he believed a popular
saying.

"Others there are," continued Dunn, still deep in his own thoughts,
"that would consult their own ease, and, throwing off this drudgery,
devote what remained to them of life to the calm enjoyments of a home."

Mr. Hankes was disposed to add, "Home, sweet home;" but he coughed down
the impulse, and was silent.

Dunn walked the room with his arms crossed on his breast and his head
bent down, deep in his own reflections, while his lips moved, as if
speaking to himself. Meanwhile Mr. Hankes busied himself gathering
together his papers, preparatory to departure.

"They 've taken that fellow Redlines. I suppose you 've heard it?" said
he, still sorting and arranging the letters.

"No," said Dunn, stopping suddenly in his walk; "where was he
apprehended?"

"In Liverpool. He was to have sailed in the 'Persia,' and had his place
taken as a German watchmaker going to Boston."

"What was it he did? I forget," said Dunn, carelessly.

"He did, as one may say, a little of everything; issued false scrip
on the Great Coast Railway, sold and pocketed the price of some thirty
thousand pounds' worth of their plant, mortgaged their securities, and
cooked their annual accounts so cleverly that for four years nobody had
the slightest suspicion of any mischief."

"What was it attracted the first attention to these frauds, Hankes?"
said Dunn, apparently curious to hear an interesting story.

"The merest accident in the world. He had sent a few lines to the Duke
of Wycombe to inquire the character and capacity of a French cook.
Pollard, the Duke's man of business, happened to be in the room when the
note came, and his Grace begged he would answer it for him. Pollard, as
you are aware, is Chairman of the Coast Line; and when he saw the name
'Lionel Redlines,' he was off in a jiffy to the Board room with the
news."

"One would have thought a little foresight might have saved him from
such a stupid mistake as this," said Dunn, gravely. "A mode of living
so disproportioned to his well-known means must inevitably have elicited
remark."

"At any other moment, so it would," said Hankes; "but we live in a
gambling age, and no one can say where, when, the remedy be curative
or poisonous." Then, with a quick start round, he said, "Hankes, do
you remember that terrific accident which occurred a few years ago in
France,--at Angers, I think the place was called? A regiment in marching
order had to cross a suspension-bridge, and coming on with the measured
tramp of the march, the united force was too much for the strength of
the structure; the iron beams gave way, and all were precipitated into
the stream below. This is an apt illustration of what we call credit. It
will bear, and with success, considerable pressure if it be irregular,
dropping, and incidental. Let the forces, however, be at once
consentaneous and united,--let the men keep step,--and down comes the
bridge! Ah, Hankes, am I not right?"

"I believe you are, sir," said Hankes, who was not quite certain that he
comprehended the illustration.

"His Lordship is waiting breakfast, sir," said a smartly dressed footman
at the door.

"I will be down in a moment. I believe, Hankes, we have not forgotten
anything? The Cloyne and Carrick Company had better be wound up; and
that waste-land project--let me have the papers to look over. You think
we ought to discount those bills of Barrington's?"

"I'm sure of it, sir. The people at the Royal Bank would take them
to-morrow."

"The credit of the Bank must be upheld, Hankes. The libellous articles
of those newspapers are doing us great damage, timid shareholders assail
us with letters, and some have actually demanded back their deposits. I
have it, Hankes!" cried he, as a sudden thought struck him,--"I have it!
Take a special train at once for town, and fetch me the balance-sheet
and the list of all convertible securities. You can be back here--let
us see--by to-morrow at noon, or, at latest, to-morrow evening. By that
time I shall have matured my plan."

"I should like to hear some hint of what you intend," said Hankes.

"You shall know all to-morrow," said he, as he nodded a good-bye, and
descended to the breakfast-room. He turned short, however, at the foot
of the stairs, and returned to his chamber, where Hankes was still
packing up his papers. "On second thoughts, Hankes, I believe I had
better tell you now," said he. "Sit down."

And they both eat down at the table, end never moved from it for an
hour. Twice--even thrice--there cane messages from below, requesting
Mr. Dunn's presence at the breakfast-table, but a hurried "Yes,
immediately," was his reply, and he came not.

At last they rose? Hankes the first, saying, as he looked at his watch,
"I shall just be in time. It is a great idea, a very great idea indeed,
and does you infinite credit."

"It ought to have success, Hankes," said he, calmly.

"Ought, Sir! It will succeed. It is as fine a piece of tactics as I ever
heard of. Trust me to carry it out, that's all."

"Remember, Hankes, time is everything. Goodby!"



CHAPTER XLI. "A COUNTRY WALK"

What a charming day was that at the Hermitage,--every one pleased,
happy, and good-humored! With a frankness that gave universal
satisfaction, Mr. Dunn declared he could not tear himself away.
Engagements the most pressing, business appointments of the deepest
moment, awaited him on every side, but, "No matter what it cost," said
he, "I will have my holiday!" Few flatteries are more successful than
those little appeals to the charms and fascinations of a quiet home
circle; and when some hard-worked man of the world, some eminent leader
at the Bar, or some much-sought physician condescends to tell us that
the world of clients must wait while he lingers in our society, the
assurance never fails to be pleasing. It is, indeed, complimentary to
feel that we are, in all the easy indolence of leisure, enjoying
the hours of one whose minutes are valued as guineas; our own value
insensibly rises at the thought, and we associate ourselves in our
estimate of the great man. When Mr. Davenport Dunn had made this
graceful declaration, he added another, not less gratifying, that he was
completely at his Lordship's and Lady Augusta's orders, as regarded the
great project on which they desired to have his opinion.

"The best way is to come down and see the spot yourself, Dunn. We 'll
walk over there together, and Augusta will acquaint you with our notions
as we go along."

"I ought to mention," said Dunn, "that yesterday, by the merest chance,
I had the opportunity of looking over a little sketch of your project."

"Oh, Miss Kellett's!" broke in Lady Augusta, coloring slightly. "It is
very clever, very prettily written, but scarcely practical, scarcely
business-like enough for a prosaic person like myself. A question of
this kind is a great financial problem, not a philanthropic experiment.
Don't you agree with me?"

"Perfectly," said he, bowing.

"And its merits are to be tested by figures, and not by Utopian dreams
of felicity. Don't you think so?"

He bowed again, and smiled approvingly.

"I am aware," said she, in a sort of half confusion, "what rashness it
would be in me to say this to any one less largely minded than yourself;
how I should expose myself to the censure of being narrow-hearted and
worldly, and so forth; but I am not afraid of such judgments from you."

"Nor have you need to dread them," said he, in a voice a little above a
whisper.

"Young ladies, like Miss Kellett, are often possessed by the ambition--a
very laudable sentiment, no doubt--of distinguishing themselves by these
opinions. It is, as it were, a 'trick of the time' we live in, and, with
those who do not move in 'society,' has its success too."

The peculiar intonation of that one word "society" gave the whole point
and direction of this speech. There was in it that which seemed to say,
"_This_ is the real tribunal! Here is the one true court where claims
are recognized and shams nonsuited." Nor was it lost upon Mr. Davenport
Dunn. More than once--ay, many a time before--had he been struck by the
reference to that Star Chamber of the well-bred world. He had even heard
a noble lord on the Treasury benches sneer down a sturdy champion
of Manchesterism, by suggesting that in a certain circle, where the
honorable gentleman never came, very different opinions prevailed from
those announced by him.

While Dunn was yet pondering over this mystic word, Lord Glengariff came
to say that, as Miss Kellett required his presence to look over some
papers in the library, they might stroll slowly along till he overtook
them.

As they sauntered along under the heavy shade of the great beech-trees,
the sun streaking at intervals the velvety sward beneath their feet,
while the odor of the fresh hay was wafted by on a faint light breeze,
Dunn was unconsciously brought back in memory to the "long, long ago,"
when he walked the self-same spot in a gloom only short of despair. Who
could have predicted the day when he should stroll there, with _her_ at
his side, _her_ arm within his own, _her_ voice appealing in tones
of confidence and friendship? His great ambitions had grown with his
successes, and as he rose higher and higher, his aims continued to
mount upwards; but here was a sentiment that dated from the time of his
obscurity, here a day-dream that had filled his imagination when from
imagination alone could be derived the luxury of triumph, and now it was
realized, and now--

Who is to say what strange wild conflict went on within that heart where
worldliness felt its sway for once disputed? Did there yet linger there,
in the midst of high ambitions, some trait of boyish love, or was it
that he felt this hour to be the crowning triumph of his long life of
toil?

"If I were not half ashamed to disturb your revery," said Lady Augusta,
smiling, "I'd tell you to look at that view yonder. See where the coast
stretches along there, broken by cliff and headland, with those rocky
islands breaking the calm sea-line, and say if you saw anything finer in
your travels abroad?"

"Was I in a revery? have I been dreaming?" cried he, suddenly, not
regarding the scene, but turning his eyes fully upon herself. "And
yet you 'd forgive me were I to confess to you of what it was I was
thinking."

"Then tell it directly, for I own your silence piqued me, and I stopped
speaking when I perceived I was not listened to."

"Perhaps I am too confident when I say you would forgive me?"

"You have it in your power to learn, at all events," said she,
laughingly.

"But not to recall my words if they should have been uttered rashly,"
said he, slowly.

"Shall I tell you a great fault you have,--perhaps your greatest?" asked
she, quickly.

"Do, I entreat of you."

"And you pledge yourself to take my candor well, and bear me no malice
afterwards?"

"It is a coldness,--a reserve almost amounting to distrust, which seems
actually to dominate in your temper. Be frank with me, now, and say
fairly, was not this long alley reylying all the thoughts of long ago,
and were you not summing up the fifty-one little grudges you had against
that poor silly child who used to torment and fret you, and, instead
of honestly owning all this, you fell back upon that stern dignity of
manner I have just complained of? Besides," added she, as though hurried
away by some strong impulse, "if it would quiet your spirit to know you
were avenged, you may feel satisfied."

"As how?" asked he, eagerly, and not comprehending to what she pointed.

"Simply thus," resumed she. "As I continued to mark and read of your
great career in life, the marvellous successes which met you in each new
enterprise, how with advancing fortune you ever showed yourself equal to
the demand made upon your genius, I thought with shame and humiliation
over even my childish follies, how often I must have grieved--have hurt
you! Over and over have I said, 'Does he ever remember? Can he forgive
me?' And yet there was a sense of exquisite pleasure in the midst of
all my sorrow as I thought over all these childish vanities, and said to
myself, 'This man, whom all are now flattering and fawning upon, was the
same I used to irritate with my caprices, and worry with my whims!'"

"I never dreamed that you remembered me," said he, in a voice tremulous
with delight.

"Your career made a romance for me," said she, eagerly. "I could repeat
many of those vigorous speeches you made,--those spirited addresses.
One, in particular, I remember well; it was when refusing the offer of
the Athlone burgesses to represent their town; you alluded so happily
to the cares which occupied you,--less striking than legislative duties,
but not less important,--or, as you phrased it, yours was like the
part of those 'who sound the depth and buoy the course that thundering
three-deckers are to follow.' Do you remember the passage? And again,
that proud humility with which, alluding to the wants of the poor, you
said, 'I, who have carried my musket in the ranks of the people!' Let me
tell you, sir," added she, playfully, "these are very haughty avowals,
after all, and savor just as much of personal pride as the insolent
declarations of many a pampered courtier!"

Dunn's face grew crimson, and his chest swelled with an emotion of
intense delight.

"Shall I own to you," continued she, still running on with what seemed
an irrepressible freedom, "that it appears scarcely real to me to be
here talking to you about yourself, and your grand enterprises, and your
immense speculations. You have been so long to my mind the great genius
of wondrous achievements, that I cannot yet comprehend the condescension
of your strolling along here as if this world could spare you."

If Dunn did not speak, it was that his heart was too full for words; but
he pressed the round arm that leaned upon him closer to his side, and
felt a thrill of happiness through him.

"By the way," said she, after a pause, "I have a favor to ask of you:
papa would be charmed to have a cast of Marochetti's bust of you, and
yet does not like to ask for it. May I venture--"

"Too great an honor to me," muttered Dunn. "Would you--I mean, would
he--accept--"

"Yes, I will, and with gratitude; not but I think the likeness hard and
harsh. It is, very probably, what you are to that marvellous world
of politicians and financiers you live amongst, but not such as your
friends recognize you,--what you are to-day, for instance."

"And what may that be," asked he, playfully.

"I was going to say an impudence, and I only caught myself in time."

"Do, then, let me hear it," said he, eagerly, "for I am quite ready to
cap it with another."

"Yours be the first, then," said she, laughing. "Is it not customary to
put the amendment before the original motion?"

Both Mr. Dunn and his fair companion were destined to be rescued from
the impending indiscretion by the arrival of Lord Glengariff, who,
mounted on his pony, suddenly appeared beside them.

"Well, Dunn," cried he, as he came up, "has she made a convert of you?
Are you going to advocate the great project here?"

Dunn looked sideways towards Lady Augusta, who, seeing his difficulty,
at once said, "Indeed, papa, we never spoke of the scheme. I doubt if
either of us as much as remembered there was such a thing."

"Well, I'm charmed to find that your society could prove so fascinating,
Augusta," said Lord Glengariff, with some slight irritation of manner,
"but I must ask of Mr. Dunn to bear with me while I descend to the very
commonplace topic which has such interest for me. The very spot we stand
on is admirably suited to take a panoramic view of our little bay, the
village, and the background. Carry your eyes along towards the rocky
promontory on which the stone pines are standing; we begin there."

Now, most worthy reader, although the noble Lord pledged himself to
be brief, and really meant to keep his word, and although he fancied
himself to be graphic,--truth is truth,--he was lamentably prolix
and confused beyond all endurance. As for Dunn, he listened with
an exemplary patience; perhaps his thoughts were rambling away
elsewhere,--perhaps he was compensated for the weariness by the
occasional glances which met him from eyes now downcast, now bent softly
upon him. Meanwhile the old Lord floundered on, amidst crescents
and bathing-lodges, yacht stations and fisheries, aiding his memory
occasionally with little notes, which, as he contrived to mistake, only
served to make the description less intelligible. At length he had got
so far as to conjure up a busy, thriving, well-to-do watering-place,
sought after by the fashionable world that once had loved Brighton or
Dieppe. He had peopled the shore with loungers, and the hotels with
visitors; equipages were seen flocking in, and a hissing steamer in
the harbor was already sounding the note of departure for Liverpool or
Holyhead, when Dunn, suddenly rousing himself from what might have been
a revery, said, "And the money, my Lord,--the means to do all this?"

"The money--the means--we look to _you_, Dunn, to answer that question.
Our scheme is a great shareholding company of five thousand--no,
fifty--nay, I 'm wrong. What is it, Augusta?"

"The exact amount scarcely signifies much, my Lord. The excellence of
the project once proved, money can always be had. What I desired to know
was, if you already possessed the confidence of some great capitalist
favorable to the undertaking, or is it simply its intrinsic merits which
recommend it?"

"Its own merits, of course," broke in Lord Glengariff, hastily. "Are
they not sufficient?"

"I am not in a position to affirm or deny that opinion," said Dunn,
gravely. "Let me see," added he, to himself, while he drew a pencil from
his pocket, and on the back of a letter proceeded to scratch certain
figures. He continued to calculate thus for some minutes, when at last
he said: "If you like to try it, my Lord, with an advance of say twenty
thousand pounds, there will be no great difficulty in raising the money.
Once afloat, you will be in a position to enlist shareholders easily
enough." He spoke with all the cool indifference of one discussing the
weather.

"I must say, Dunn," cried Lord Glengariff, with warmth, "this is a very
noble--a very generous offer. I conclude my personal security--"

"We can talk over all this at another time, my Lord," broke in Dunn,
smiling. "Lady Augusta will leave us if we go into questions of bonds
and parchments. My first care will be to send you down Mr. Steadman, a
very competent person, who will make the necessary surveys; his report,
too, will be important in the share market."

"So that the scheme enlists your co-operation, Dunn,--so that we have
_you_ with us," cried the old Lord, rubbing his hands, "I have no fears
as to success."

"May we reckon upon so much?" whispered Lady Augusta, while a long,
soft, meaning glance stole from her eyes.

Dunn bent his head in assent, while his face grew crimson.

"I say, Augusta," whispered Lord Glengariff, "we have made a capital
morning's work of it--eh?"

"I hope so, too," said she. And her eyes sparkled with an expression of
triumph.

"There is only one condition I would bespeak, my Lord. It is this: the
money market at this precise moment is unsettled, over-speculation
has already created a sort of panic, so that you will kindly give me a
little time--very little will do--to arrange the advance. Three weeks
ago we were actually glutted with money, and now there are signs of what
is called tightness in discounts."

"Consult your own convenience in every respect," said the old Lord,
courteously.

"Nothing would surprise me less than a financial crisis over here,"
said Dunn, solemnly. "Our people have been rash in their investments
latterly, and there is always a retribution upon inordinate gain!"

Whether it was the topic itself warmed him, or the gentle pressure
of Lady Augusta's arm as in encouragement of his sentiments, but Dunn
continued to "improve the occasion" as they strolled along homeward,
inveighing in very choice terms against speculative gambling, and
deploring the injury done to honest, patient industry by those examples
of wealth acquired without toil and accumulated without thrift. He
really treated the question well and wisely, and when he passed from
the mere financial consideration to the higher one of "morals" and the
influence exerted upon national character, he actually grew eloquent.

Let us acknowledge that the noble Lord did not participate in all his
daughter's admiration of this high-sounding harangue, nor was he without
a sort of lurking suspicion that he was listening to a lecture upon
his, own greed and covetousness; he, however, contrived to throw in at
intervals certain little words of concurrence, and in this way occupied
they arrived at the Hermitage.

It is not always that the day which dawns happily continues bright and
unclouded to its close; yet this was such a one. The dinner passed off
most agreeably, the evening in the drawing-room was delightful. Lady
Augusta sang prettily enough to please even a more critical ear than
Mr. Dunn's, and she had a tact, often wanting in better performers,
to select the class of music likely to prove agreeable to her hearers.
There is a very considerable number of people who like pictures for
the story and music for the sentiment, and for these high art is less
required than something which shall appeal to their peculiar taste.
But, while we are confessing, let us own that if Mr. Dunn liked "the
melodies," it assuredly added to their charm to hear them sung by a
peer's daughter; and as he lay back in his well-cushioned chair, and
drank in the sweet sounds, it seemed to him that he was passing a very
charming evening.

Like many other vulgar men in similar circumstances, he wondered at the
ease and unconstraint he felt in such choice company! He could not help
contrasting the tranquil beatitude of his sensations with what he had
fancied must be the coldness and reserve of such society. He was, as he
muttered to himself, as much at home as in his own house; and truly, as
with one hand in his breast, while with the fingers of the other he beat
time,--and all falsely,--he looked the very ideal of his order.

"Confound the fellow!" muttered the old peer, as he glanced at him over
his newspaper, "he is insufferably at his ease amongst us!"

And Sybella Kellett, where was she all this time--or have we forgotten
her? Poor Sybella! she had been scarcely noticed at dinner, scarcely
spoken to in the drawing-room, and she had slipped unperceived away to
her own room.

They never missed her.



CHAPTER XLII. THE GERM OF A BOLD STROKE

If Mr. Davenport Dunn had passed a day of unusual happiness and ease,
the night which followed was destined to be one of intense labor and
toil. Scarcely had the quiet of repose settled down upon the Hermitage,
than the quick tramp of horses, urged to their sharpest trot, was
heard approaching, and soon after Mr. Hankes descended from his
travelling-carriage at the door.

Dunn had been standing at his open window gazing into the still
obscurity of the night, and wondering at what time he might expect him,
when he arrived.

"You have made haste, Hankes," said he, not wasting a word in
salutation. "I scarcely looked to see you before daybreak."

"Yes, sir; the special train behaved well, and the posters did their
part as creditably. I had about four hours altogether in Dublin, but
they were quite sufficient for everything."

"For everything?" repeated Dunn.

"Yes; you'll find nothing has been forgotten. Before leaving Cork, I
telegraphed to Meekins of the 'Post,' and to Browne of the 'Banner,'
to meet me on my arrival at Henrietta Street. Strange enough, they both
were anxiously waiting for some instructions on the very question at
issue. They came armed with piles of provincial papers, all written
in the same threatening style. One in particular, the 'Upper Ossory
Beacon,' had an article headed, 'Who is our Dionysius?'"

"Never mind that," broke in Dunn, impatiently. "You explained to them
the line to be taken?"

"Fully, sir. I told them that they were to answer the attacks weakly,
feebly, deprecating in general terms the use of personalities, and
throwing out little appeals for forbearance, and so on. On the question
of the Bank, I said, 'Be somewhat more resolute; hint that certain
aspersions might be deemed actionable; that wantonly to assail credit is
an offence punishable at law; and then dwell upon the benefits already
diffused by these establishments, and implore all who have the interest
of Ireland at heart not to suffer a spirit of faction to triumph over
their patriotism.'"

"Will they understand the part?" asked Dunn, more impatiently than
before.

"Thoroughly; Browne, indeed, has a leader already 'set up'--"

"What do I care for all these?" broke in Dunn, peevishly. "Surely no man
knows better than yourself that these fellows are only the feathers that
show where the wind blows. As to any influence they wield over public
opinion, you might as well tell me that the man who sweats a guinea can
sway the Stock Exchange."

Hankes shook his head dissentingly, but made no reply.

"You have brought the Bank accounts and the balance-sheet?"

"Yes, they are all here."

"Have you made any rough calculation as to the amount--" He stopped.

"Fifty thousand ought to cover it easily--I mean with what they have
themselves in hand. The first day will be a heavy one, but I don't
suspect the second will, particularly when it is known that we are
discounting freely as ever."

"And now as to the main point?" said Dunn.

"All right, sir. Etheridge's securities give us seventeen thousand; we
have a balance of about eleven on that account of Lord Lackington; I
drew out the twelve hundred of Kellett's at once; and several other
small sums, which are all ready."

"It _is_ a bold stroke!" muttered Dunn, musingly.

"None but an original mind could have hit upon it, sir. I used to
think the late Mr. Robins a very great man, sir,--and he _was_ a great
man,--but this is a cut above him."

"Let us say so when it has succeeded, Hankes," said Dunn, with a
half-smile.

As he spoke, he seated himself at the table, and, opening a massive
account-book, was soon deep in its details. Hankes took a place beside
him, and they both continued to con over the long column of figures
together.

"We stand in a safer position than I thought, Hankes," said Dunn,
leaning back in his chair.

"Yes, sir; we have been nursing this Ossory Bank for some time. You
remember, some time ago, saying to me, 'Hankes, put condition on that
horse, we 'll have to ride him hard before the season is over'?"

"Well, you have done it cleverly, I must say," resumed Dunn. "This
concern is almost solvent."

"Almost, sir," echoed Hankes.

"What a shake it will give them all, Hankes," said Dunn, gleefully,
"when it once sets in, as it will and must, powerfully! The Provincial
will stand easily enough."

"To be sure, sir."

"And the Royal, also; but the 'Tyrawley'--"

"And the 'Four Counties,'" added Hankes. "Driscoll is ready with four
thousand of the notes 'to open the ball,' as he says, and when Terry's
name gets abroad it will be worse to them than a placard on the walls."

"I shall not be sorry for the 'Four Counties.' It was Mr. Morris, the
chairman, had the insolence to allude to me in the House, and ask if it
were true that the Ministry had recommended Mr. Davenport Dunn as a fit
object for the favors of the Crown? That question, sir, placed my claim
in abeyance ever since. The Minister, pledged solemnly to me, had to
rise in his place and say 'No.' Of course he added the stereotyped
sarcasm, 'Not that, if such a decision had been come to, need the
Cabinet have shrunk from the responsibility through any fears of the
honorable gentleman's indignation.'"

"Well, Mr. Morris will have to pay for his joke now," said Hankes. "I 'm
told his whole estate is liable to the Bank."

"Every shilling of it. Driscoll has got me all the details."

"Lushington will be the great sufferer by the 'Tyrawley,'" continued
Hankes.

"Another of them, Hankes,--another of them," cried Dunn, rubbing his
hands joyfully. "Tom Lushington--the Honorable Tom, as they called
him--blackballed me at 'Brookes's. They told me his very words: 'It's
bad enough to be "Dunned," as we are, out of doors, but let us, at
least, be safe from the infliction at our Clubs.' A sorry jest, but
witty enough for those who heard it."

"I don't think he has sixpence."

"No, sir; nor can he remain a Treasury Lord with a fiat of bankruptcy
against him. So much, then, for Tom Lushington! I tell you, Hankes,"
said he, spiritedly, "next week will have its catalogue of shipwrecks.
There's a storm about to break that none have yet suspected."

"There will be some heavy sufferers," said Hankes gravely.

"No doubt, no doubt," muttered Dunn. "I never heard of a battle without
killed and wounded. I tell you, sir, again," said he, raising his voice,
"before the week ends the shore will be strewn with fragments; we alone
will ride through the gale unharmed. It is not fully a month since
I showed the Chief Secretary here--ay, and his Excellency, also--the
insolent but insidious system of attack the Government journals maintain
against me, the half-covert insinuations, the impertinent queries,
pretended inquiries for mere information's sake. Of course, I got for
answer the usual cant about 'freedom of the press,' 'liberty of public
discussion,' with the accustomed assurance that the Government had
not, in reality, any recognized organ; and, to wind up, there was the
laughing question, 'And what do you care, after all, for these fellows?'
But now I will show what I _do_ care,--that I have good and sufficient
reason to care,--that the calumnies which assail me are directed against
my material interests; that it is not Davenport Dunn is 'in cause,' but
all the great enterprises associated with his name; that it is not an
individual, but the industry of a nation, is at stake; and I will say to
them, 'Protect me, or--' You remember the significant legend inscribed
on the cannon of the Irish Volunteers, 'Independence or--' Take my word
for it, I may not speak as loudly as the nine-pounder, but my fire will
be to the full as fatal!"

Never before had Hankes seen his chief carried away by any sense of
personal injury; he had even remarked, amongst the traits of his great
business capacity, that a calm contempt for mere passing opinion was his
characteristic, and he was sorely grieved to find that such equanimity
could be disturbed. With his own especial quickness Dunn saw what was
passing in his lieutenant's mind, and he added hastily,--

"Not that, of all men, I need care for such assaults; powerful even
to tyranny as the press has become amongst us, there is one thing more
powerful still, and that is--Prosperity! Ay, sir, there may be cavil and
controversy as to your abilities; some may condemn your speech, or carp
at your book, they may cry down your statecraft, or deny your diplomacy;
but there is a test that all can appreciate, all comprehend, and that
is--Success. Have only _that_, Hankes, and the world is with you."

"There's no denying that," said Hankes, solemnly.

"It is the gauge of every man," resumed Dunn,--"from him that presides
over a Railway Board to him that sways an Empire. And justly so, too,"
added he, rapidly. "A man must be a consummate judge of horseflesh that
could pick out the winner of the Oaks in a stable; but the scrubbiest
varlet on the field can _see_ who comes in first on the day of the race!
Have you ever been in America, Hankes?" asked he, suddenly.

"Yes; all over the States. I think I know Cousin Jonathan as well as I
know old John himself."

"You know a very shrewd fellow, then," muttered Dunn; "over-shrewd,
mayhap."

"What led you to think of that country now?" asked the other, curiously.

"I scarcely know," said Dunn, carelessly, as he walked the room in
thoughtfulness; then added, "If no recognition were to come of these
services of mine, I 'd just as soon live there as here. I should, at
least, be on the level of the best above me. Well," cried he, in a
higher tone, "we have some trumps to play out ere it come to that."

Once more they turned to the account books and the papers before them,
for Hankes had many things to explain and various difficulties to
unravel. The vast number of those enterprises in which Dunn engaged had
eventually blended and mingled all their interests together. Estates and
shipping, and banks, mines, railroads, and dock companies had so often
interchanged their securities, each bolstering up the credit of the
other in turn, that the whole resembled some immense fortress, where the
garrison, too weak for a general defence, was always hastening to some
one point or other,--the seat of immediate attack. And thus an Irish
draining-fund was one day called upon to liquidate the demands upon a
sub-Alpine railroad, while a Mexican tin-mine flew to the rescue of a
hosiery scheme in Balbriggan! To have ever a force ready on the point
assailed was Dunn's remarkable talent, and he handled his masses like a
great master of war.

Partly out of that indolent insolence which power begets, he had
latterly been less mindful of the press, less alive to the strictures of
journalism, and attacks were made upon him which, directed as they were
against his solvency, threatened at any moment to assume a dangerous
shape. Roused at last by the peril, he had determined on playing a bold
game for fortune; and this it was which now engaged his thoughts, and
whose details the dawning day saw him deeply considering. His now great
theory was that a recognized station amongst the nobles of the land was
the one only security against disaster. "Once amongst them," said he,
"they will defend me as one of their order." How to effect this grand
object had been the long study of his life. But it was more,--it
was also his secret! They who fancied they knew the man, thoroughly
understood the habits of his mind, his passions, his prejudices, and his
hopes, never as much as suspected what lay at the bottom of them all. He
assumed a sort of manner that in a measure disarmed their suspicion; he
affected pride in that middle station of life he occupied, and seemed to
glory in those glowing eulogies of commercial ability and capacity which
it was the good pleasure of leading journalists just then to deliver.
On public occasions he made an even ostentatious display of these
sentiments, and Davenport Dunn was often quoted as a dangerous man for
an hereditary aristocracy to have against them.

Such was he who now pored over complicated details of figures, intricate
and tangled schemes of finance; and yet, while his mind embraced them,
with other thoughts was he picturing to himself a time when, proud
amongst the proudest, he would take his place with the great nobles of
the land. It was evident that another had not regarded this ambition as
fanciful or extravagant. Lady Augusta--the haughty daughter of one
of the haughtiest in the peerage--as much as said, "It was a fair and
reasonable object of hope; then none could deny the claims he preferred,
nor any affect to undervalue the vast benefits he had conferred on his
country." There was something so truly kind, so touching too, in the
generous tone she assumed, that Dunn dwelt upon it again and again.
Knowing all the secret instincts of that mysterious brotherhood as she
did, Dunn imagined to himself all the advantage her advice and counsels
could render him. "She can direct me in many ways, teaching me how to
treat these mysterious high-priests as I ought What shall I do to secure
her favor? How enlist it in my cause? Could I make her partner in the
enterprise?" As the thought flashed across him, his cheek burned as
if with a flame, and he rose abruptly from the table and walked to
the window, fearful lest his agitation might be observed. "That were
success, indeed!" muttered he. "What a strong bail-bond would it be when
I called two English peers my brothers-in-law, and an earl for my wife's
father! This would at once lead me to the very step of the 'Order.' How
many noble families would it interest in my elevation! The Ardens are
the best blood of the south, connected widely with the highest in both
countries. Is it possible that this could succeed?" He thought of the
old Earl and his intense pride of birth, and his heart misgave him; but
then, Lady Augusta's gentle tones and gentler looks came to his mind,
and he remembered that though a peer's daughter, she was penniless,
and--we shame to write it--not young. The Lady Augusta Arden marries the
millionnaire Mr. Dunn, and the world understands the compact There are
many such matches every season.

"What age would you guess me to be, Hankes?" said he, suddenly turning
round.

"I should call you--let me see--a matter of forty-five or forty-six,
sir."

"Older, Hankes,--older," said he, with a smile of half-pleasure.

"You don't look it, sir, I protest you don't. Sitting up all night and
working over these accounts, one might, perhaps, call you forty-six; but
seeing you as you come down to breakfast after your natural rest, you
don't seem forty."

"This same life is too laborious; a man may follow it for the ten or
twelve years of his prime, but it becomes downright slavery after that."

"But what is an active mind like yours to do, sir?" asked Hankes.

"Take his ease and rest himself."

"Ease!--rest! All a mistake, sir. Great business men can't exist in that
lethargy called leisure."

"You are quite wrong, Hankes; if I were the master of some venerable old
demesne, like this, for instance, with its timber of centuries' growth,
and its charms of scenery, such as we see around us here, I 'd ask no
better existence than to pass my days in calm retirement, invite a stray
friend or two to come and see me, and with books and other resources
hold myself aloof from stocks and statecraft, and not so much as ask how
are the Funds or who is the Minister."

"I 'd be sorry to see you come to that, sir, I declare I should," said
Hankes, earnestly.

"You may live to see it, notwithstanding," said Dunn, with a placid
smile.

"Ah, sir," said Hankes, "it's not the man who has just conceived such
a grand idea as this "--and he touched the books before him--"ought to
talk about turning hermit."

"We'll see, Hankes,--we'll see," said Dunn, calmly. "There come the
post-horses--I suppose for you."

"Yes, sir; I ordered them to be here at six. I thought I should have had
a couple of hours in bed by that time; but it does n't signify, I can
sleep anywhere."

"Let me see," said Dunn, calculating. "This is Tuesday; now, Friday
ought to be the day, the news to reach me on Thursday afternoon; you can
send a telegraphic message and then send on a clerk. Of course, you will
know how to make these communications properly. It is better I should
remain here in the interval; it looks like security."

"Do you mean to come over yourself, sir?"

"Of course I do. You must meet me there on Friday morning. Let Mrs.
Hailes have the house in readiness in case I might invite any one."

"All shall be attended to ir," said Hankes. "I think I'll despatch
Wilkins to you with the news; he's an awful fellow to exaggerate evil
tidings."

"Very well," said Dunn. "Good-night, or, I opine, rather, good-morning."
And he turned away into his bedroom.



CHAPTER XLIII. THE GARDEN

From the moment that Mr. Davenport Dunn announced he would still
continue to enjoy the hospitality of the Hermitage, a feeling of
intimacy grew up between himself and his host that almost savored of
old friendship. Lord Glengariff already saw in the distance wealth and
affluence; he had secured a co-operation that never knew failure,--the
one man whose energies could always guarantee success.

It was true, Dunn had not directly pledged himself to anything; he had
listened and questioned and inquired and reflected, but given nothing
like a definite opinion, far less a promise. But, as the old Lord said,
"These fellows are always cautious, always reserved; and whenever they
do not oppose, it may be assumed that they concur. At all events, we
must manage with delicacy; there must be no haste, no importunity; the
best advocacy we can offer to our plans is to make his visit here as
agreeable as possible." Such was the wise counsel he gave his daughter
as they strolled through the garden after breakfast, talking over the
character and the temperament of their guest.

"By George, Gusty!" cried Lord Glengariff, after a moment's silence, "I
cannot yet persuade myself that this is 'Old Davy,' as you and the girls
used to call him long ago. Of all the miraculous transformations I have
ever witnessed, none of them approaches this!"

"It is wonderful, indeed!" said she, slowly.

"It is not that he has acquired or increased his stock of
knowledge,--that would not have puzzled me so much, seeing the life
of labor he has led,--but I go on asking myself what has become of his
former self, of which not a trace nor vestige remains? Where is his
shy, hesitating manner, his pedantry, his suspicion,--where the intense
eagerness to learn what was going on in the house? You remember how his
prying disposition used to worry us?"

"I remember," said she, in a low voice.

"There is something, now, in his calm, quiet deportment very like
dignity. I protest I should--seeing him for the first time--call him a
well-bred man."

"Certainly," said she, in the same tone.

"As little was I prepared for the frank and open manner in which he
spoke to me of himself."

"Has he done so?" asked she, with some animation.

"Yes; with much candor, and much good sense too. He sees the obstacles
he has surmounted in life, and he just as plainly perceives those that
are not to be overcome."

"What may these latter be?" asked she, cautiously.

"It is pretty obvious what they are," said he, half pettishly,--"his
family; his connections; his station, in fact."

"How did he speak of these,--in what terms, I mean?"

"Modestly and fairly. He did not conceal what he owned to feel as
certain hardships, but he was just enough to acknowledge that our social
system was a sound one, and worked well."

"It was a great admission," said she, with a very faint smile.

"The Radical crept out only once," said the old Lord, laughing at the
recollection. "It was when I remarked that an ancient nobility, like
a diamond, required centuries of crystallization to give it lustre and
coherence. 'It were well to bear in mind, my Lord,' said he, 'that it
began by being only charcoal.'"

She gave a low, quiet laugh, but said nothing.

"He has very sound notions in many things,--very sound, indeed. I wish,
with all my heart, that more of the class he belongs to were animated
with _his_ sentiments. He is no advocate for pulling down; moderate,
reasonable changes,--changes in conformity with the spirit of the age,
in fact,--these he advocates. As I have already said, Gusty, these men
are only dangerous when our own exclusiveness has made them so. Treat
them fairly, admit them to your society, listen to their arguments,
refute them, show them where they have mistaken us, and they are _not_
dangerous."

"I suppose you are right," said she, musingly.

"Another thing astonishes me: he has no pride of purse about him; at
least, I cannot detect it. He talks of money reasonably and fairly,
acknowledges what it can and what it cannot do--"

"And what, pray, is that?" broke she in, hastily.

"I don't think there can be much dispute on _that_ score!" said he, in
a voice of pique. "The sturdiest advocate for the power of wealth never
presumed to say it could make a man,--one of us!" said he, after a
pause, that sent the blood to his face.

"But it can, and does, every day," said she, resolutely. "Our peerage is
invigorated by the wealth as well as by the talent of the class beneath
it; and if Mr. Dunn be the millionnaire that common report proclaims
him, I should like to know why that wealth, and all the influence that
it wields, should not be associated with the institutions to which we
owe our stability."

"The wealth and the influence if you like, only not himself," said the
Earl, with a saucy laugh. "My dear Augusta," he added, in a gentle tone,
"he is a most excellent and a very useful man--where he is. The age
suits him, and he suits the age. We live in stirring times, when these
sharp intellects have an especial value."

"You talk as if these men were _your_ tools. Is it not just possible you
may be _theirs?_" said she, impatiently.

"What monstrous absurdity is this, child!" replied he, angrily. "It
is--it is downright--" he grew purple in the endeavor to find the right
word,--"downright Chartism!"

"If so, the Chartists have more of my sympathy than I was aware of."

Fortunately for both, the sudden appearance of Dunn himself put an end
to a discussion which each moment threatened to become perilous,
and whose unpleasant effects were yet visible on their faces. Lord
Glengariff had not sufficiently recovered his composure to do more
than salute Mr. Dunn; while Lady Augusta's confusion was even yet more
marked. They had not walked many steps in company, when Lord Glengariff
was recalled to the cottage by the visit of a neighboring magistrate,
and Lady Augusta found herself alone with Mr. Dunn.

"I am afraid, Lady Augusta," said he, timidly, "my coming up was
inopportune. I suspect I must have interrupted some confidential
conversation."

"No, nothing of the kind," said she, frankly. "My father and I were
discussing what we can never agree upon, and what every day seems to
widen the breach of opinion between us, and I am well pleased that your
arrival should have closed the subject."

"I never meant to play eavesdropper, Lady Augusta," said he, earnestly;
"but as I came up the grass alley I heard my own name mentioned
twice. Am I indiscreet in asking to what circumstance I owe the honor of
engaging your attention?"

"I don't exactly know how to tell you," said she, blushing. "Not,
indeed, but that the subject was one on which your own sentiments would
be far more interesting than our speculations; but in repeating what
passed between us, I might, perhaps, give an undue weight to opinions
which merely came out in the course of conversation. In fact, Mr. Dunn,"
said she, hastily, "my father and I differ as to what should constitute
the aristocracy of this kingdom, and from what sources it should be
enlisted."

"And was used as an illustration?" said Dunn, bowing low, but without
the slightest trace of irritation.

"You were," said she, in a low but distinct voice.

"And," continued he, in the same quiet tone, "Lady Augusta Arden
condescended to think and to speak more favorably of the class I belong
to than the Earl her father. Well," cried he, with more energy of
manner, "it is gratifying to me that I found the advocacy in the quarter
that I wished it. I can well understand the noble Lord's prejudices;
they are not very unreasonable; the very fact that they have taken
centuries to mature, and that centuries have acquiesced in them, would
give them no mean value. But I am also proud to think that you, Lady
Augusta, can regard with generosity the claims of those beneath you.
Remember, too," added he, "what a homage we render to your order when
men like myself confess that wealth, power, and influence are all little
compared with recognition by you and yours."

"Perhaps," said she, hesitatingly, "you affix a higher value on these
distinctions than they merit."

"If you mean so far as they conduce to human happiness, I agree with
you; but I was addressing myself solely to what are called the ambitions
of life."

"I have the very greatest curiosity to know what are yours," said she,
abruptly.

"Mine! mine!" said Dunn, stammering, and in deep confusion. "I have but
one."

"Shall I guess it? Will you tell me, if I guess rightly?

"I will, most faithfully."

"Your desire is, then, to be a Cabinet Minister; you want to be where
the administrative talents you possess will have their fitting influence
and exercise."

"No, not that!" sighed he, heavily.

"Mere title could never satisfy an ambition such as yours; of that I am
certain," resumed she. "You wouldn't care for such an empty prize."

"And yet there is a title, Lady Augusta," said he, dropping his voice,
which now faltered in every word,--"there is a title to win which has
been the guiding spirit of my whole life. In the days of my poverty and
obscurity, as well as in the full noon of my success, it never ceased
to be the goal of all my hopes. If I tremble at the presumption of even
approaching this confession, I also feel the sort of desperate courage
that animates him who has but one throw for fortune. Yes, Lady Augusta,
such a moment as this may not again occur. I know you sufficiently well
to feel that when one, even humble as I am, dares to avow--"

A quick step in the walk adjoining startled both, and they looked up. It
was Sybella Eellett, who came up with a sealed packet in her hand.

"A despatch, Mr. Dunn," said she; "I have been in search of you all over
the garden." He took it with a muttered "Thanks," and placed it unread
in his pocket Miss Eellett quickly saw that her presence was not
desired, and with a hurried allusion to engagements, was moving away,
when Lady Augusta said,--

"Wait for me, Miss Kellett; Mr. Dunn must be given time for his letters,
or he will begin to rebel against his captivity." And with this she
moved away.

"Pray don't go, Lady Augusta," said he. "I 'm proof against business
appeals to-day." But she was already out of hearing.

[Illustration:  462]

Amongst the secrets which Davenport Dunn had never succeeded in
unravelling, the female heart was pre-eminently distinguished. The
veriest young lady fresh from her governess or the boarding-school would
have proved a greater puzzle to him than the most intricate statement
of a finance minister. Whether Lady Augusta had fully comprehended his
allusion, or whether, having understood it, she wished to evade the
subject, and spare both herself and him the pain of any mortifying
rejoinder, were now the difficult questions which he revolved over and
over in his mind. In his utter ignorance of the sex, he endeavored to
solve the problem by the ordinary guidance of his reason, taking no
account of womanly reserve and delicacy, still less of that "finesse" of
intelligence which, with all the certainty of an instinct, can divine at
once in what channel feelings will run, and how their course can be most
safely directed.

"She must have seen to what I pointed," said he; "I spoke out plainly
enough,--perhaps too plainly. Was that the mistake I made? Was my
declaration too abrupt? and if so, was it likely she would not have
uttered something like reproof? Her sudden departure might have this
signification, as though to say, 'I will spare you any comment; I
will seem even not to have apprehended you.' In the rank to which she
pertains, I have heard, a chief study is, how much can be avoided of
those rough allusions which grate upon inferior existences; how to make
life calm and peaceful, divesting it so far as may be of the irritations
that spring out of hasty words and heated tempers. In her high-bred
nature, therefore, how possible is it that she would reason thus, and
say, 'I will not hurt him by a direct refusal; I will not rebuke the
presumption of his wishes. He will have tact enough to appreciate my
conduct, and return to the topic no more! 'And yet, how patiently she
had heard me up to the very moment of that unlucky interruption. Without
a conscious sense of encouragement I had never dared to speak as I did.
Yes, assuredly, she led me on to talk of myself and my ambitions as I am
not wont to do. She went even further. She overcame objections which,
to myself, had seemed insurmountable. She spoke to me like one taking a
deep, sincere interest in my success; and was this feigned? or, if real,
what meant it? After all, might not her manner be but another phase
of that condescension with which her 'Order' listen to the plots and
projects of inferior beings,--something begotten of curiosity as much as
of interest?"

In this fashion did he guess and speculate and question on a difficulty
where even wiser heads have guessed and speculated and questioned just
as vaguely.

At last he was reminded of the circumstance which had interrupted their
converse,--the despatch. He took it from his pocket and looked at the
address and the seal, but never opened it, and with a kind of half-smile
replaced it in his pocket.


END OF VOL I





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