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Title: Sir Brook Fossbrooke, Volume I.
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 "Sir Brook Fossbrooke, Volume I." ***

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SIR BROOK FOSSBROOKE

Volume I.

By Charles James Lever,

With Illustrations By E. J. Wheeler

Boston:

Little, Brown, And Company.

1917.


To PHILIP ROSE, Esq.

My dear Rose,--You have often stopped me when endeavouring to express
all the gratitude I felt towards you. You cannot do so now, nor prevent
my telling aloud how much I owe-how much I esteem you. These volumes
were not without interest for me as I wrote them, but they yielded me
no such pleasure as I now feel in dedicating them to you; and, with this
assurance, believe me,

Your affectionate Friend,

CHARLES LEVER.

Spezia, October 20. 1866.



SIR BROOK FOSSBROOKE.



CHAPTER I. AFTER MESS

The mess was over, and the officers of H. M.'s --th were grouped in
little knots and parties, sipping their coffee, and discussing the
arrangements for the evening. Their quarter was that pleasant city
of Dublin, which, bating certain exorbitant demands in the matter of
field-day and guard-mounting, stands pre-eminently first in military
favor.

"Are you going to that great ball in Merrion Square?" asked one., "Not
so lucky; not invited."

"I got a card," cried a third; "but I 've just heard it's not to come
off. It seems that the lady's husband is a judge. He's Chief something
or other; and he has been called away."

"Nothing of the kind, Tomkins; unless you call a summons to the next
world being called away. The man is dangerously ill. He was seized with
paralysis on the Bench yesterday, and, they say, can't recover."

There now ensued an animated conversation as to whether, on death
vacancies, the men went up by seniority at the bar, or whether a
subaltern could at once spring up to the top of the regiment.

"Suppose," said one, "we were to ask the Colonel's guest his opinion.
The old cove has talked pretty nigh of everything in this world during
dinner; what if we were to ask him about Barons of the Exchequer?"

"Who is he? what is he?" asked another.

"The Colonel called him Sir Brook Fossbrooke; that's all I know."

"Colonel Cave told me," whispered the Major, "that he was the fastest
man on town some forty years ago."

"I think he must have kept over the wardrobe of that brilliant period,"
said another. "I never saw a really swallow-tailed coat before."

"His ring amused _me_. It is a small smoothing-iron, with a coat-of-arms
on it. Hush! here he comes."

The man who now joined the group was a tall, gaunt figure, with a high
narrow head, from which the hair was brushed rigidly back to fall behind
in something like an old-fashioned queue. His eyes were black, and
surmounted with massive and much-arched eyebrows; a strongly marked
mouth, stern, determined, and, except in speaking, almost cruel in
expression, and a thin-pointed projecting chin, gave an air of severity
and strong will to features which, when he conversed, displayed a look
of courteous deference, and that peculiar desire to please that we
associate with a bygone school of breeding. He was one of those men,
and very distinctive are they, with whom even the least cautious take
no liberties, nor venture upon any familiarity. The eccentricities of
determined men are very often indications of some deep spirit beneath,
and not, as in weaker natures, mere emanations of vanity or offsprings
of self-indulgence.

If he was, beyond question, a gentleman, there were also signs about him
of narrow fortune: his scrupulously white shirt was not fine, and the
seams of his well-brushed coat showed both care and wear.

He had joined the group, who were talking of the coming Derby when the
Colonel came up. "I have sent for the man we want, Fossbrooke. I'm not
a fisherman myself; but they tell me he knows every lake, river, and
rivulet in the island. He has sat down to whist, but we 'll have him
here presently."

"On no account; don't disturb his game for me."

"Here he comes. Trafford, I want to present you to a very old friend of
mine, Sir Brook Fossbrooke,--as enthusiastic an angler as yourself. He
has the ambition to hook an Irish salmon. I don't suppose any one can
more readily help him on the road to it."

The young man thus addressed was a large, strongly, almost heavily built
young fellow, but with that looseness of limb and freedom that showed
activity had not been sacrificed to mere power. He had a fine, frank,
handsome face, blue-eyed and bold-looking; and as he stood to receive
the Colonel's orders, there was in his air that blending of deference
and good-humored carelessness that made up his whole nature.

It was plain to see in him one easy to persuade, impossible to coerce;
a fellow with whom the man he liked could do anything, bat one perfectly
unmanageable if thrown into the wrong hands. He was the second son of
a very rich baronet, but made the mistake of believing he had as much
right to extravagance as his elder brother, and, having persisted in
this error during two years in the Life Guards, had been sent to do
the double penance of an infantry regiment and an Irish station; two
inflictions which, it was believed, would have sufficed to calm down the
ardor of the most impassioned spendthrift. He looked at Fossbrooke from
head to foot. It was not exactly the stamp of man he would have selected
for companionship, but he saw at once that he was distinctively a
gentleman, and then the prospect of a few days away from regimental
duty was not to be despised, and he quickly replied that both he and his
tackle were at Sir Brook's disposal. "If we could run down to Killaloe,
sir," added he, turning to the Colonel, "we might be almost sure of some
sport."

"Which means that you want two days' leave, Trafford."

"No, sir, four. It will take a day at least to get over there; another
will be lost in exploring; all these late rains have sent such a fresh
into the Shannon there's no knowing where to try."

"You see, Fossbrooke, what a casuistical companion I've given you. I 'll
wager you a five-pound note that if you come back without a rise he 'll
have an explanation that will perfectly explain it was the best thing
could have happened."

"I am charmed to travel in such company," said Sir Brook, bowing. "The
gentleman has already established a claim to my respect for him."

Trafford bowed too, and looked not at all displeased at the compliment.
"Are you an early riser, sir?" asked he.

"I am anything, sir, the occasion exacts; but when I have an early start
before me, I usually sit up all night."

"My own plan too," cried Trafford. "And there's Aubrey quite ready to
join us. Are you a whister, Sir Brook?"

"At your service. I play all games."

"Is he a whister?" repeated the Colonel. "Ask Harry Greville, ask Tom
Newenham, what they say of him at Grahams? Trafford, my boy, you may
possibly give him a hint about gray hackles, but I 'll be shot if you do
about the odd trick."

"If you 'll come over to my room, Sir Brook, we 'll have a rubber, and
I 'll give orders to have my tax-cart ready for us by daybreak," said
Trafford; and, Fossbrooke promising to be with him so soon as he had
given his servant his orders, they parted.

"And are you as equal to this sitting up all night as you used to be,
Fossbrooke?" asked the Colonel.

"I don't smoke as many cigars as formerly, and I am a little more choice
about my tobacco. I avoid mulled port, and take weak brandy-and-water;
and I believe in all other respects I 'm pretty much where I was when we
met last,--I think it was at Ceylon?"

"I wish I could say as much for myself. You are talking of thirty-four
years ago."

"My secret against growing old is to do a little of everything. It keeps
the sympathies wider, makes a man more accessible to other men, and
keeps him from dwelling too much on himself. But tell me about my young
companion; is he one of Sir Hugh's family?"

"His second son; not unlike to be his eldest, for George has gone to
Madeira with very little prospect of recovery. This is a fine lad; a
little wild, a little careless of money, but the very soul of honor and
right-mindedness. They sent him to me as a sort of incurable, but I have
nothing but good to say of him."

"There 'a great promise in a fellow when he can be a scamp and a man of
honor. When dissipations do not degrade and excesses do not corrupt a
man, there is a grand nature ever beneath."

"Don't tell him that, Fossbrooke," said the Colonel, laughing.

"I am not likely to do so," said he, with a grim smile. "I am glad, too,
to meet his father's son; we were at Christ Church together; and now I
see he has the family good looks. 'Le beau Trafford' was a proverb in
Paris once."

"Do you ever forget a man?" asked the Colonel, in some curiosity.

"I believe not. I forget books, places, dates occasionally, but never
people. I met an old schoolfellow t'other day at Dover whom I never saw
since we were boys. He had gone down in the world, and was acting as
one of the 'commissionnaires' they call them, who take your keys to the
Custom-house to have your luggage examined; and when he came to ask me
to employ him, I said, "'What! ain't you Jemmy Harper?' 'And who the
devil are you?' said he. 'Fossbrooke,' said I. 'Not "Wart"?' said he.
That was my school nickname, from a wart I once had on my chin. 'Ay, to
be sure,' said I, 'Wart.' I wish you saw the delight of the old dog. I
made him dine with us. Lord Brackington was with me, and enjoyed it all
immensely."

"And what had brought him so low?"

"He was cursed, he said, with a strong constitution; all the other
fellows of his set had so timed it that when they had nothing to live on
they ceased to live; but Jemmy told us he never had such an appetite as
now; that he passed from fourteen to sixteen hours a day on the pier
in all weathers; and as to gout he firmly believed it all came of the
adulterated wines of the great wine-merchants. British gin he maintained
to be the wholesomest liquor in existence."

"I wonder how fellows bear up under such reverses as that," said the
Colonel.

"My astonishment is rather," cried Fossbrooke, "how men can live on in
a monotony of well-being, getting fatter, older, and more unwieldy, and
with only such experiences of life as a well-fed fowl might have in a
hencoop."

"I know that's _your_ theory," said the other, laughing.

"Well, no man can say that I have not lived up to my convictions; and
for myself, I can aver I have thoroughly enjoyed my intercourse with the
world, and like it as well to-day as on the first morning I made my bow
to it."

"Listen to this, young gentlemen," said the Colonel, turning to his
officers, who now gathered around them. "Now and then I hear some of
you complaining of being bored or wearied,--sick of this, tired of that;
here's my friend, who knows the whole thing better than any of us, and
he declares that the world is the best of all possible worlds, and
that so far from familiarity with it inspiring disgust with life, his
enjoyment of it is as racy as when first he knew it."

"It is rather hard to ask these gentlemen to take me as a guide on
trust," said Fossbrooke; "but I have known the fathers of most of those
I see around me, and could call many of them as witnesses to character.
Major Aylmer, your father and I went up the Nile together, when people
talked of it as a journey. Captain Harris, I 'm sure I am not wrong in
saying you are the son of Godfrey Harris, of Harrisburg. Your father
was my friend on the day I wounded Lord Ecclesmore. I see four or five
others too,--so like old companions that I find it hard to believe I am
not back again in the old days when I was as young as themselves; and
yet I 'm not very certain if I would like to exchange my present quiet
enjoyment as a looker-on for all that active share I once took in life
and its pleasures."

Something in the fact that their fathers had lived in his intimacy,
something in his manner,--a very courteous manner it was,--and something
in the bold, almost defiant bearing of the old man, vouching for great
energy and dignity together, won greatly upon the young men, and they
gathered around him. He was, however, summoned away by a message from
Trafford to say that the whist-party waited for him, and he took his
leave with a stately courtesy and withdrew.

"There goes one of the strangest fellows in Christendom," said the
Colonel, as the other left the room. "He has already gone through three
fortunes; he dissipated the first, speculated and lost the second,
and the third he, I might say, gave away in acts of benevolence and
kindness,--leaving himself so ill off that I actually heard the other
day that some friend had asked for the place of barrack-master at
Athlone for him; but on coming over to see the place, he found a poor
fellow with a wife and five children a candidate for it; so he retired
in his favor, and is content, as you see, to go out on the world, and
take his chance with it."

Innumerable questions pressed on the Colonel to tell more of his strange
friend; he had, however, little beyond hearsay to give them. Of his
own experiences, he could only say that when first he met him it was
at Ceylon, where he had come in a yacht like a sloop of war to hunt
elephants,--the splendor of his retinue and magnificence of his suite
giving him the air of a royal personage,--and indeed the gorgeous
profusion of his presents to the King and the chief personages of the
court went far to impress this notion. "I never met him since," said
the Colonel, "till this morning, when he walked into my room, dusty and
travel-stained, to say, 'I just heard your name, and thought I 'd ask
you to give me my dinner to-day.' I owe him a great many,--not to say
innumerable other attentions; and his last act on leaving Trincomalee
was to present me with an Arab charger, the most perfect animal I ever
mounted. It is therefore a real pleasure to me to receive him. He is a
thoroughly fine-hearted fellow, and, with all his eccentricities, one of
the noblest natures I ever met. The only flaw in his frankness is as
to his age; nobody has ever been able to get it from him. You heard him
talk of your fathers,--he might talk of your grandfathers; and he would,
too, if we had only the opportunity to lead him on to it. I know of my
own knowledge that he lived in the Carlton House coterie, not a man of
which except himself survives, and I have heard him give imitations of
Burke, Sheridan, Gavin Hamilton, and Pitt, that none but one who had
seen them could have accomplished. And now that I have told you all
this, will one of you step over to Trafford's rooms, and whisper him
a hint to make his whist-points as low as he can; and, what is even
of more importance, to take care lest any strange story Sir Brook may
tell--and he is full of them--meet a sign of incredulity, still less
provoke any quizzing? The slightest shade of such a provocation would
render him like a madman."

The Major volunteered to go on this mission, which indeed any of the
others would as willingly have accepted, for the old man had interested
them deeply, and they longed to hear more about him.



CHAPTER II. THE SWAN'S NEST

As the Shannon draws near Killaloe, the wild character of the mountain
scenery, the dreary wastes and desolate islands which marked Lough
Derg, disappear, and give way to gently sloping lawns, dotted over with
well-grown timber, well-kept demesnes, spacious country-houses, and
a country which, in general, almost recalls the wealth and comfort of
England.

About a mile above the town, in a little bend of the river forming a
small bay, stands a small but pretty house, with a skirt of rich wood
projecting at the back, while the lawn in front descends by an easy
slope to the river.

Originally a mere farmhouse, the taste of an ingenious owner had
taken every advantage of its irregular outline, and converted it into
something Elizabethan in character, a style admirably adapted to the
site, where all the features of rich-colored landscape abounded, and
where varied foliage, heathy mountain, and eddying river, all lent
themselves to make up a scene of fresh and joyous beauty.

In the marvellous fertility of the soil, too, was found an ally to every
prospect of embellishment. Sheltered from north and east winds, plants
grew here in the open air, which in less favored spots needed the
protection of the conservatory; and thus in the neatly shaven lawn were
seen groups of blossoming shrubs or flowers of rare excellence, and the
camellia and the salvia and the oleander blended with the tulip, the
moss-rose, and the carnation, to stud the grass with their gorgeous
colors.

Over the front of the cottage, for cottage it really was, a South
American creeper, a sort of acanthus, grew, its crimson flowers hanging
in rich profusion over cornice and architrave; while a passion-tree of
great age covered the entire porch, relieving with its softened tints
the almost over-brilliancy of the southern plant.

Seen from the water,--and it came suddenly into view on rounding a
little headland,--few could forbear from an exclamation of wonder and
admiration at this lovely spot; nor could all the pretentious grandeur
of the rich-wooded parks, nor all the more imposing architecture of the
great houses, detract from the marvellous charm of this simple home.

A tradition of a swan carried away by some rising of the river from the
Castle of Portumna, and swept down the lake till it found refuge in the
little bay, had given the name to the place, and for more than a hundred
years was it known as the Swan's Nest. The Swan, however, no longer
existed, though a little thatched edifice at the water-side marked the
spot it had once inhabited, and sustained the truth of the legend.

The owner of the place was a Dr. Lendrick: he had come to it about
twenty years before the time at which our story opens,--a widower with
two children, a son and a daughter. He was a perfect stranger to all the
neighborhood, though by name well known as the son of a distinguished
judge, Baron Lendrick of the Court of Exchequer.

It was rumored about, that, having displeased his father, first by
adopting medicine instead of law as his profession, and subsequently by
marrying a portionless girl of humble family, the Baron had ceased to
recognize him in any way. Making a settlement of a few hundreds a year
on him, he resolved to leave the bulk of his fortune to a step-son, the
child of his second wife, a Colonel Sewell, then in India.

It was with no thought of practising his profession that Dr. Lendrick
had settled in the neighborhood; but as he was always ready to assist
the poor by his advice and skill, and as the reputation of his great
ability gradually got currency, he found himself constrained to yield
to the insistence of his neighbors, and consent to practise generally.
There were many things which made this course unpalatable to him. He was
by nature shy, timid, and retiring; he was fastidiously averse to a new
acquaintanceship; he had desired, besides, to live estranged from the
world, devoting himself entirely to the education of his children; and
he neither liked the forced publicity he became exposed to, nor that
life of servitude which leaves the doctor at the hourly mercy of the
world around him.

If he yielded, therefore, to the professional calls upon him, he
resisted totally all social claims: he went nowhere but as the doctor.

No persuasion, no inducement, could prevail on him to dine out; no
exigency of time or season prevent him returning to his home at night.
There were in his neighborhood one or two persons whose rank might have,
it was supposed, influenced him in some degree to comply with their
requests,--and, certainly, whose desire for his society would have
left nothing undone to secure it; but he was as obdurate to them as
to others, and the Earl of Drum-carran and Sir Reginald Lacy, of Lacy
Manor, were not a whit more successful in their blandishments than the
Vicar of Killaloe--old Bob Mills, as he was irreverently called--or
Lendrick's own colleague, Dr. Tobin, who, while he respected his
superior ability and admitted his knowledge, secretly hated him as only
a rival doctor knows how to hate a brother practitioner.

For the first time for many years had Dr. Lendrick gone up to Dublin.
A few lines from an old family physician, Dr. Beattie, had, however,
called him up to town. The Chief Baron had been taken ill in Court, and
was conveyed home in a state of insensibility. It was declared that he
had rallied and passed a favorable night; but as he was a man of very
advanced age, at no time strong, and ever unsparing of himself in the
arduous labors of his office, grave doubts were felt that he would
ever again resume his seat on the Bench. Dr. Beattie well knew the long
estrangement that had separated the father from the son; and although,
perhaps, the most intimate friend the Judge had in the world, he never
had dared to interpose a word or drop a hint as to the advisability of
reconciliation.

Sir William Lendrick was, indeed, a man whom no amount of intimacy could
render his friends familiar with. He was positively charming to mere
acquaintanceship,--his manner was a happy blending of deference with
a most polished wit Full of bygone experiences and reminiscences of
interesting people and events, he never overlaid conversation by their
mention, but made them merely serve to illustrate the present, either
by contrast or resemblance. All this to the world and society was he; to
the inmates of his house he was a perfect terror! It was said his first
wife had died of a broken heart; his second, with a spirit fierce and
combative as his own, had quarrelled with him so often, so seriously,
and so hopelessly, that for the last fifteen years of life they had
occupied separate houses, and only met as acquaintances, accepting
and sending invitations to each other, and outwardly observing all the
usages of a refined courtesy.

This was the man of whom Dr. Beattie wrote: "I cannot presume to say
that he is _more_ favorably disposed towards you than he has shown
himself for years, but I would strenuously advise your being here, and
sufficiently near, so that if a happier disposition should occur, or an
opportunity arise to bring you once more together, the fortunate moment
should not be lost. Come up, then, at once, come to my house, where
your room is ready for you, and where you will neither be molested by
visitors nor interfered with. Manage too, if you can, to remain here for
some days."

It is no small tribute to the character of filial affection when one can
say, and say truthfully, that scarcely any severity on a parent's part
effaces the love that was imbibed in infancy, and that struck root in
the heart before it could know what unkindness was! Over and over again
in life have I witnessed this deep devotion. Over and over again have I
seen a clinging affection to a memory which nothing short of a hallowed
tie could have made so dear,--a memory that retained whatever could
comfort and sustain, and held nothing that recalled shame or sorrow.

Dr. Lendrick went up to town full of such emotions. All the wrong--it
was heavy wrong too--he had suffered was forgotten, all the Injustice
wiped out. He only asked to be permitted to see his father,--to nurse
and watch by him. There was no thought for himself. By reconciliation
he never meant restoration to his place as heir. Forgiveness and love he
asked for,--to be taken back to the heart so long closed against him, to
hear himself called Tom by that voice he knew so well, and whose accents
sounded through his dreams.

That he was not without a hope of such happiness, might be gathered from
one circumstance. He had taken up with him two miniatures of his boy and
girl to show "Grandfather," if good fortune should ever offer a fitting
moment.

The first words which greeted him on reaching his friend's house were:
"Better. A tolerably tranquil night. He can move his hand. The attack
was paralysis, and his speech is also improved."

"And his mind? how is his mind?"

"Clear as ever it was,--intensely eager to hear what is said about his
illness, and insatiable as to the newspaper versions of the attack."

"Does he speak? Has he spoken of--his family at all?" said he,
falteringly.

"Only of Lady Lendrick. He desired to see her. He dictated a note to
me, in terms of very finished courtesy, asking her if, without incurring
inconvenience, she would favor him with an early call. The whole thing
was so like himself that I saw at once he was getting better."

"And so you think him better?" asked Lendrick, eagerly.

"Better! Yes--but not out of danger. I fear as much from his
irritability as his malady. He will insist on seeing the newspapers, and
occasionally his eye falls on some paragraph that wounds him. It was but
yesterday that he read a sort of querulous regret from some writer that
'the learned Judge had not retired some years ago, and before failing
health, acting on a very irascible temperament, had rendered him a
terror alike to the bar and the suitors.' That unfortunate paragraph
cost twenty leeches and ice to his temples for eight hours after."

"Cannot these things be kept from him? Surely your authority ought to be
equal to this!"

"Were I to attempt it, he would refuse to see me. In fact, any utility
I can contribute depends on my apparent submission to him in everything.
Almost his first question to me every morning is, 'Well, sir, who is to
be my successor?' Of course I say that we all look with a sanguine hope
to see him soon back in his court again. When I said this yesterday, he
replied, 'I will sit on Wednesday, sir, to hear appeals; there will be
little occasion for me to speak, and I trust another day or two will see
the last of this difficulty of utterance. Pemberton, I know, is looking
to the Attorney-Generalship, and George Hayes thinks he may order his
ermine. Tell them, however, from me, that the Chief Baron intends to
preside in his court for many a year to come; that the intellect, such
as it is, with which Providence endowed him, is still unchanged and
unclouded.' This is his language,--this his tone; and you may know
how such a spirit jars with all our endeavors to promote rest and
tranquillity."

Lendrick walked moodily up and down the room, his head sunk, and his
eyes downcast. "Never to speak of me,--never ask to see me," muttered
he, in a voice of intense sadness.

"I half suspected at one time he was about to do so, and indeed he said,
'If this attack should baffle you, Beattie, you must not omit to give
timely warning. There are two or three things to be thought of.' When I
came away on that morning, I sat down and wrote to you to come up here."

A servant entered at this moment and presented a note to the doctor, who
read it hastily and handed it to Lendrick. It ran thus:--

"Dear Dr. Beattie,--The Chief Baron has had an unfavorable turn, partly
brought on by excitement. Lose no time in coming here; and believe me,
yours sincerely,

"CONSTANTIA LENDRICK."

"They've had a quarrel; I knew they would. I did my best to prevent
their meeting; but I saw he would not go out of the world without a
scene. As he said last night, 'I mean her to hear my "charge." She must
listen to my charge, Beattie;' and I 'd not be astonished if this charge
were to prove his own sentence."

"Go to him at once, Beattie; and if it be at all possible, if you can
compass it in any way, let me see him once again. Take these with you;
who knows but their bright faces may plead better than words for us?"
and thus saying, he gave him the miniatuies; and overcome with emotion
he could not control, turned away and left the room.



CHAPTER III. A DIFFICULT PATIENT

As Dr. Beattie drove off with all speed to the Chief Baron's house,
which lay about three miles from the city, he had time to ponder as he
went over his late interview. "Tom Lendrick," as he still called him
to himself, he had known as a boy, and ever liked him. He had been a
patient, studious, gentle-tempered lad, desirous to acquire knowledge,
without any of that ambition that wants to make the knowledge
marketable. To have gained a professorship would have appeared to have
been the very summit of his ambition, and this rather as a quiet retreat
to pursue his studies further than as a sphere wherein to display his
own gifts. Anything more unlike that bustling, energetic, daring spirit,
his father, would be hard to conceive. Throughout his whole career
at the bar, and in Parliament, men were never quite sure what that
brilliant speaker and most indiscreet talker would do next. Men secured
his advocacy with a half misgiving whether they were doing the very best
or the very worst for success. Give him difficulties to deal with, and
he was a giant; let all go smoothly and well, and he would hunt up
some crotchet,--some obsolete usage,--a doubtful point, that in its
discussion very frequently led to the damage of his client's cause, and
the defeat of his suit.

Display was ever more to him than victory. Let him have a great arena
to exhibit in, and he was proof against all the difficulties and all
the casualties of the conflict. Never had such a father a son less the
inheritor of his temperament and nature; and this same disappointment
rankling on through life--a disappointment that embittered all
intercourse, and went so far as to make him disparage the high abilities
of his son--created a gulf between them that Beattie knew could never
be bridged over. He doubted, too, whether as a doctor he could
conscientiously introduce a theme so likely to irritate and excite. As
he pondered, he opened the two miniatures, and looked at them. The young
man was a fine, manly, daring-looking fellow, with a determined brow and
a resolute mouth, that recalled his grandfather's face; he was evidently
well grown and strong, and looked one that, thrown where he might be in
life, would be likely to assert his own.

The girl, wonderfully like him in feature, had a character of subdued
humor in her eye, and a half-hid laughter in the mouth, which the artist
had caught up with infinite skill, that took away all the severity of
the face, and softened its traits to a most attractive beauty. Through
her rich brown hair there was a sort of golden _reflet_ that imparted
great brilliancy to the expression of the head, and her large eyes of
gray-blue were the image of candor and softness, till her laugh gave
them a sparkle of drollery whose sympathy there was no resisting. She,
too, was tall and beautifully formed, with that slimness of early youth
that only escapes being angular, but has in it the charm of suppleness
that lends grace to every action and every gesture.

"I wish he could see the originals," muttered Beattie. "If the old man,
with his love of beauty, but saw that girl, it would be worth all the
arguments in Christendom. Is it too late for this? Have we time for the
experiment?"

Thus thinking, he drove along the well-wooded approach, and gained the
large ground-space before the door, whence a carriage was about to drive
away. "Oh, doctor," cried a voice, "I'm so glad you 're come; they are
most impatient for you." It was the Solicitor-General, Mr. Pemberton,
who now came up to the window of Beattie's carriage.

"He has become quite unmanageable, will not admit a word of counsel or
advice, resists all interference, and insists on going out for a drive."

"I see him at the window," said Beattie; "he is beckoning to me;
good-bye," and he passed on and entered the house.

In the chief drawing-room, in a deep recess of a window, sat the Chief
Baron, dressed as if to go out, with an overcoat and even his gloves
on. "Come and drive with me, Beattie," cried he, in a feeble but harsh
voice. "If I take my man Leonard, they 'll say it was a keeper. You know
that the 'Post' has it this morning that it is my mind which has given
way. They say they 've seen me breaking for years back. Good heavens!
can it be possible, think you, that the mites in a cheese speculate over
the nature of the man that eats them? You stopped to talk with Pemberton
I saw; what did he say to you?"

"Nothing particular,--a mere greeting, I think."

"No, sir, it was not; he was asking you how many hours there lay between
him and the Attorney-Generalship. They 've divided the carcase already.
The lion has to assist at his autopsy,--rather hard, is n't it? How it
embitters death, to think of the fellows who are to replace us!"

"Let me feel your pulse."

"Don't trust it, Beattie; that little dialogue of yours on the grass
plot has sent it up thirty beats; how many is it?"

"Rapid,--very rapid; you need rest,--tranquillity."

"And you can't give me either, sir; neither you nor your craft. You are
the Augurs of modern civilization, and we cling to your predictions just
as our forefathers did, though we never believe you."

"This is not flattery," said Beattie, with a slight smile.

The old man closed his eyes, and passed his hand slowly over his
forehead. "I suppose I was dreaming, Beattie, just before you came up;
but I thought I saw them all in the Hall, talking and laughing over
my death. Burrowes was telling how old I must be, because I moved the
amendment to Flood in the Irish Parliament in '97; and Eames mentioned
that I was Curran's junior in the great Bagenal record; and old Tysdal
set them all in a roar by saying he had a vision of me standing at
the gate of heaven, and instead of going in, as St. Peter invited me,
stoutly refusing, and declaring I would move for a new trial! How like
the rascals!"

"Don't you think you'd be better in your own room? There's too much
light and glare here."

"Do you think so?"

"I am sure of it. You need quiet, and the absence of all that stimulates
the action of the brain."

"And what do _you_, sir,--what does any one,--know about the brain's
operations? You doctors have invented a sort of conventional cerebral
organ, which, like lunar caustic, is decomposed by light; and in your
vulgar materialism you would make out that what affects _your_ brain
must act alike upon _mine_. I tell you, sir, it is darkness--obscurity,
physical or moral, it matters not which--that irritates _me_, just as I
feel provoked this moment by this muddling talk of yours about brain."

"And yet I 'm talking about what my daily life and habits suggest _some_
knowledge of," said Beattie, mildly.

"So you are, sir, and the presumption is all on my side. If you'll
kindly lend me your arm, I'll go back to my room."

Step by step, slowly and painfully, he returned to his chamber, not
uttering a word as he went.

"Yes, this is better, doctor; this half light soothes; it is much
pleasanter. One more kindness. I wrote to Lady Lendrick this morning to
come up here. I suppose my combative spirit was high in me, and I wanted
a round with the gloves,--or, indeed, without them; at all events, I
sent the challenge. But _now_, doctor, I have to own myself a craven. I
dread the visit Could you manage to interpose? Could you suggest that
it is by your order I am not permitted to receive her? Could you
hint"--here he smiled half maliciously--"that you do not think the time
has come for anodynes,--eh, doctor?"

"Leave it to me. I 'll speak to Lady Lendrick."

"There 's another thing: not that it much matters; but it might perhaps
be as well to send a few lines to the morning papers, to say the
accounts of the Chief Baron are more favorable to-day; he passed a
tranquil night, and so on. Pemberton won't like it, nor Hayes; but
it will calm the fears of a very attached friend who calls here twice
daily. You'd never guess him. He is the agent of the Globe Office, where
I 'm insured. Ah, doctor, it was a bright thought of Philanthropy
to establish an industrial enterprise that is bound, under heavy
recognizances, to be grieved at our death."

"I must not make you talk, Sir William. I must not encourage you
to exert yourself. I 'll say good-bye, and look in upon you this
afternoon."

"Am I to have a book? Well; be it so. I I 'll sit and muse over the
Attorney-General and his hopes."

"I have got two very interesting miniatures here. I 'll leave them with
you; you might like to look at them."

"Miniatures! whose portraits are they?" asked the other, hastily, as he
almost snatched them from his hand. "What a miserable juggler! what a
stale trick this!" said he, as he opened the case which contained the
young man's picture. "So, sir, you lend yourself to such attempts as
these."

"I don't understand you," said Beattie, indignantly.

"Yes, sir, you understand me perfectly. You would do, by a piece of
legerdemain, what you have not the courage to attempt openly. These are
Tom Lendrick's children."

"They are."

"And this simpering young lady is her mother's image; pretty, pretty, no
doubt; and a little--a shade, perhaps--of _espièglerie_ above what her
mother possessed. She was the silliest woman that ever turned a fool's
head. She had the ineffable folly, sir, to believe she could persuade
me to forgive my son for having married her; and when I handed her to a
seat,--for she was at my knees,--she fainted."

"Well. It is time to forgive him now. As for her, she is beyond
forgiveness, or favor, either," said Beattie, with more energy than
before.

"There is no such trial to a man in a high calling as the temptation
it offers him to step beyond it. Take care, sir, that with all your
acknowledged ability, this temptation be not too much for you." The tone
and manner in which the old judge delivered these words recalled the
justice-seat. "It is an honor to me to have you as my doctor, sir.
It would be to disparage my own intelligence to accept you as my
confessor."

"A doctor but discharges half his trust when he fails to warn his
patient against the effects of irritability."

"The man who would presume to minister to my temper or to my nature
should be no longer medico of mine. With what intention, sir, did you
bring me these miniatures?"

"That you might see two bright and beautiful faces whose owners are
bound to you by the strongest ties of blood."

"Do you know, sir,--have you ever heard,--how their father, by his
wilfulness, by his folly, by his heartless denial of my right to
influence him, ruined the fortune that cost my life of struggle and
labor to create?"

The doctor shook his head, and the other continued: "Then I will tell
it to you, sir. It is more than seventeen years to-day when the then
Viceroy sent for me, and said, 'Baron Lendrick, there is no man, after
Plunkett, to whom we owe more than to yourself.' I bowed, and said,
'I do not accept the qualification, my Lord, even in favor of the
distinguished Chancellor. I will not believe myself second to any.' I
need not relate what ensued; the discussion was a long one,--it was also
a warm one; but he came back at last to the object of the interview,
which was to say that the Prime Minister was willing to recommend my
name to her Majesty for the Peerage,--an honor, he was pleased to say,
the public would see conferred upon me with approval; and I refused!
Yes, sir, I refused what for thirty-odd years had formed the pride and
the prize of my existence! I refused it, because I would not that her
Majesty's favor should descend to one so unworthy of it as this
fellow, or that his low-born children should inherit a high name of my
procuring. I refused, sir, and I told the noble Marquess my reasons. He
tried--pretty much as you have tried--to bring me to a more forgiving
spirit; but I stopped him by saying, 'When I hear that your Excellency
has invited to your table the scurrilous author of the lampoon against
you in the "Satirist," I will begin to listen to the claims that may be
urged on the score of forgiveness; not till then.'"

"I am wrong--very wrong--to let you talk on themes like this; we must
keep them for calmer moments." Beattie laid his finger on the pulse as
he spoke, and counted the beats by his watch.

"Well, sir, what says Death? Will he consent to a 'nolle prosequi,' or
must the cause go on?"

"You are not worse; and even that, after all this excitement, is
something. Good-bye now till evening. No books,--no newspapers,
remember. Doze; dream; do anything but excite yourself."

"You are cruel, sir; you cut off all my enjoyments together. You deny
me the resources of reading, and you deny me the solace of my wife's
society." The cutting sarcasm of the last words was shown in the
spiteful sparkle of his eye, and the insolent curl of his mouth; and
as the doctor retired, the memory of that wicked look haunted him
throughout the day.



CHAPTER IV. HOME DIPLOMACIES

"Well, it 's done now, Lucy, and it can't be helped," said young
Lendrick to his sister, as, with an unlighted cigar between his
lips, and his hands in the pockets of his shooting-jacket, he walked
impatiently up and down the drawing-room. "I 'm sure if I only suspected
you were so strongly against it, I 'd not have done it."

"My dear Tom, I'm only against it because I think papa would be so. You
know we never see any one here when he is at home, and why should we
now, because he is absent?"

"Just for that reason. It's our only chance, girl."

"Oh, Tom!"

"Well, I don't mean that exactly, but I said it to startle you. No,
Lucy; but, you see, here's how the matter stands. I have been three
whole days in their company. On Tuesday the young fellow gave me that
book of flies and the top-joint of my rod. Yesterday I lunched with
them. To-day they pressed me so hard to dine with them that I felt
almost rude in persisting to refuse; and it was as much to avoid the
awkwardness of the situation as anything else that I asked them up to
tea this evening."

"I'm sure, Tom, if it would give you any pleasure--"

"Of course it gives me pleasure," broke he in; "I don't suspect that
fellows of my age like to live like hermits. And whom do I ever see down
here? Old Mills and old Tobin, and Larry Day, the dog-breaker. I ask his
pardon for putting him last, for he is the best of the three. Girls can
stand this sort of nun's life, but I 'll be hanged if it will do for
us."

"And then, Tom," resumed she, in the same tone, "remember they are both
perfect strangers. I doubt if you even know their names."

"That I do,--the old fellow is Sir Brook something or other. It 's not
Fogey, but it begins like it; and the other is called Trafford,--Lionel,
I think, is his Christian name. A glorious fellow, too; was in the 9th
Lancers and in the blues, and is now here with the fifty--th because he
went it too hard in the cavalry. He had a horse for the Derby two years
ago." The tone of proud triumph in which he made this announcement
seemed to say, Now, all discussion about him may cease. "Not but," added
he, after a pause, "you might like the old fellow best; he has such a
world of stories, and he draws so beautifully. The whole time we were in
the boat he was sketching something; and he has a book full of odds
and ends; a tea-party in China, quail-shooting in Java, a wedding in
Candia,--I can't tell what more; but he 's to bring them up here with
him."

"I was thinking, Tom, that it might be as well if you 'd go down and ask
Dr. Mills to come to tea. It would take off some of the awkwardness of
our receiving two strangers."

"But they 're not strangers, Lucy; not a bit of it. I call him Trafford,
and he calls me Lendrick; and the old cove is the most familiar old
fellow I ever met."

"Have you said anything to Nicholas yet?" asked she, in some eagerness.

"No; and that's exactly what I want you to do for me. That old bear
bullies us all, so that I can't trust myself to speak to him."

"Well, don't go away, and I'll send for him now;" and she rang the bell
as she spoke. A smart-looking lad answered the summons, to whom she
said, "Tell Nicholas I want him."

"Take my advice, Lucy, and merely say there are two gentlemen coming to
tea this evening; don't let the old villain think you are consulting him
about it, or asking his advice."

"I must do it my own way," said she; "only don't interrupt. Don't
meddle,--mind that, Tom." The door opened, and a very short, thick-set
old man, dressed in a black coat and waistcoat, and drab breeches and
white stockings, with large shoe-buckles in his shoes, entered. His face
was large and red, the mouth immensely wide, and the eyes far set from
each other, his low forehead being shadowed by a wig of coarse red
hair, which moved when he spoke, and seemed almost to possess a sort of
independent vitality.

He had been reading when he was summoned, and his spectacles had been
pushed up over his forehead, while he still held the county paper in his
hand,--a sort of proud protest against being disturbed.

"You heard that Miss Lucy sent for you?" said Tom Lendrick, haughtily,
as his eye fell upon the newspaper.

"I did," was the curt answer, as the old fellow, with a nervous shake of
the head, seemed to announce that he was ready for battle.

"What I wanted, Nicholas, was this," interposed the girl, in a voice of
very winning sweetness; "Mr. Tom has invited two gentlemen this evening
to tea."

"To tay!" cried Nicholas, as if the fact staggered all credulity.

"Yes, to tea; and I was thinking if you would go down to the town and
get some biscuits, or a sponge-cake, perhaps--whatever, indeed, you
thought best; and also beg Dr. Mills to step in, saying that as papa was
away--"

"That you was going to give a ball?"

"No. Not exactly that, Nicholas," said she, smiling; "but that two
friends of my brother's--"

"And where did he meet his friends?" cried he, with a marked emphasis on
the "friends." "Two strangers. God knows who or what! Poachers as like
as anything else. The ould one might be worse."

"Enough of this," said Tom, sternly. "Are you the master here? Go off,
sir, and do what Miss Lucy has ordered you."

"I will not,--the devil a step," said the old man, who now thrust the
paper into a capacious pocket, and struck each hand on a hip. "Is it
when the 'Jidge' is dying, when the newpapers has a column of the names
that 's calling to ask after him, you are to be carousing and feastin'
here?"

"Dear Nicholas, there's no question of feasting. It is simply a cup
of tea we mean to give; sorely there's no carousing in that. And as to
grandpapa, papa says that he was certainly better yesterday, and Dr.
Beattie has hopes now."

"I have n't, then, and I know him better than Dr. Beattie."

"What a pity they have n't sent for you for the consultation!" said Tom,
ironically.

"And look here, Nicholas," said Lucy, drawing the old man towards the
door of a small room that led off the drawing-room, "we could have tea
here; it will look less formal, and give less trouble; and Mears could
wait,--he does it very well; and you need n't be put out at all."
These last words fell to a whisper; but he was beyond reserve, beyond
flattery. The last speech of her brother still rankled in his memory,
and all that fell upon his ear since that fell unheeded.

"I was with your grandfather, Master Tom," said the old man, slowly,
"twenty-one years before you were born! I carried his bag down to Court
the day he defended Neal O' Gorman for high treason, and I was with him
the morning he shot Luke Dillon at Castle Knock; and this I 'll say and
stand to, there 's not a man in Ireland, high or low, knows the Chief
Baron better than myself."

"It must be a great comfort to you both," said Tom; but his sister had
laid her hand on his mouth and made the words unintelligible.

"You'll say to Mr. Mills, Nicholas," said she, in her most coaxing way,
"that I did not write, because I preferred sending my message by _you_,
who could explain why I particularly wanted him this evening."

"I'll go, Miss Lucy, resarving the point, as they say in the
law,--resarving the point! because I don't give in that what you're
doin' is right; and when the master comes home, I'm not goin' to defend
it."

"We must bear up under that calamity as well as we can," said the young
man, insolently; but Nicholas never looked towards or seemed to hear
him.

"A barn-a-brack is better than a spongecake, because if there 's some of
it left it does n't get stale, and one-and-six-pence will be enough; and
I suppose you don't need a lamp?"

"Well, Nicholas, I must say, I think it would be better; and two candles
on the small table, and two on the piano."

"Why don't you mentiou a fiddler?" said he, bitterly. "If it's a ball,
there ought to be music?"

Unable to control himself longer, young Lendrick wrenched open the
sash-door, and walked out into the lawn.

"The devil such a family for temper from this to Bantry!" said Nicholas;
"and here's the company comin' already, or I 'm mistaken. There 's a
boat makin' for the landing-place with two men in the stern."

Lucy implored him once more to lose no time on his errand, and hastened
away to make some change in her dress to receive the strangers.
Meanwhile Tom, having seen the boat, walked down to the shore to meet
his friends.

Both Sir Brook and Trafford were enthusiastic in their praises of the
spot. Its natural beauty was indeed great, but taste and culture had
rendered it a marvel of elegance and refinement. Not merely were the
trees grouped with reference to foliage and tint, but the flower-beds
were so arranged that the laws of color should be respected, and thus
these plats of perfume were not less luxuriously rich in odor than they
were captivating as pictures.

"It is all the governor's own doing," said Tom, proudly, "and he is
continually changing the disposition of the plants. He says variety is
a law of the natural world, and it is our duty to imitate it. Here comes
my sister, gentlemen."

As though set in a beautiful frame, the lovely girl stood for an instant
in the porch, where drooping honeysuckles and the tangled branches of
a vine hung around her, and then came courteously to meet and welcome
them.

"I am in ecstasy with all I see here, Miss Lendrick," said Sir Brook.
"Old traveller that I am, I scarcely know where I have ever seen such a
combination of beauty."

"Papa will be delighted to hear this," said she, with a pleasant smile;
"it is the flattery he loves best."

"I 'm always saying we could keep up a salmon-weir on the river for a
tithe of what these carnations and primroses cost us," said Tom.

"Why, sir, if you had been in Eden you 'd have made it a market garden,"
said the old man.

"If the governor was a Duke of Devonshire, all these-caprices might be
pardonable; but my theory is, roast-beef before roses."

While young Lendrick attached himself to Trafford, and took him here and
there to show him the grounds, Sir Brook walked beside Lucy, who did the
honors of the place with a most charming courtesy.

"I am almost ashamed, sir," said she, as they turned towards the house,
"to have asked you to see such humble objects as these to which we
attach value, for my brother tells me you are a great traveller; but
it is just possible you have met in your journeys others who, like us,
lived so much out of the world that they fancied they had the prettiest
spot in it for their own."

"You must not ask me what I think of all I have seen: here, Miss
Lendrick, till my enthusiasm calms down;" and his look of admiration,
so palpably addressed to herself, sent a flush to her cheek. "A man's
belongings are his history," said Sir Brook, quickly turning the
conversation into an easier channel: "show me his study, his stable,
his garden; let me see his hat, his cane, the volume he thrusts into
his pocket, and I 'll make you an indifferent good guess about his daily
doings."

"Tell me of papa's. Come here, Tom," cried she, as the two young men
came towards her, "and listen to a bit of divination."

"Nay, I never promised a lecture. I offered a confidence," said he, in
a half whisper; but she went on: "Sir Brook says that he reads people
pretty much as Cuvier pronounced on a mastodon, by some small minute
detail that pertained to them. Here's Tom's cigar-case," said she,
taking it from his pocket; "what do you infer from that, sir?"

"That he smokes the most execrable tobacco."

"But can you say why?" asked Tom, with a sly twinkle of his eye.

"Probably for the same reason I do myself," said Sir Brook, producing a
very cheap cigar.

"Oh, that's a veritable Cuban compared to one of mine," cried Tom; "and
by way of making my future life miserable, here has been Mr. Trafford
filling my pocket with real havannahs, giving me a taste for luxuries I
ought never to have known of."

"Know everything, sir, go everywhere, see all that the world can show
you; the wider a man's experiences the larger his nature and the more
open his heart," said Foss-brooke, boldly.

"I like the theory," said Trafford to Miss Lendrick; "do you?"

"Sir Brook never meant it for women, I fancy," said she, in a low tone;
but the old man overheard her, and said: "You are right. The guide ought
to know every part of the mountain; the traveller need only know the
path."

"Here comes a guide who is satisfied with very short excursions," cried
Tom, laughing; "this is our parson, Dr. Mills."

The little, mellow-looking, well-cared-for person who now joined them
was a perfect type of old-bachelorhood, in its aspect of not unpleasant
selfishness. Everything about him was neat, orderly, and appropriate;
and though you saw at a glance it was all for himself and his own
enjoyment it was provided, his good manners and courtesy were ever ready
to extend its benefits to others; and a certain genial look he wore, and
a manner that nature had gifted him with, did him right good service in
life, and made him pass for "an excellent fellow, though not much of a
parson."

He was of use now, if only that by his presence Lucy felt more at ease,
not to say that his violoncello, which always remained at the Nest, made
a pleasant accompaniment when she played, and that he sang with much
taste some of those lyrics which arc as much linked to Ireland by poetry
as by music.

"I wish he was our chaplain,--by Jove I do!" whispered Trafford to
Lendrick; "he's the jolliest fellow of his cloth I have ever met."

"And such a cook," muttered the other.

"A cook!"

"Ay, a cook. I 'll make him ask us to dinner, and you 'll tell me if you
ever ate fish as he gives it, or tasted macaroni as dressed by him. I
have a salmon for you, doctor, a ten-pound fish. I wish it were bigger!
but it is in splendid order."

"Did you set it?" asked the parson, eagerly.

"What does he mean by set it?" whispered Trafford.

"Setting means plunging it in very hot water soon after killing it,
to preserve and harden the 'curd.' Yes; and I took your hint about the
arbutus leaves, too, doctor. I covered it all up with them."

"You are a teachable youth, and shall be rewarded. Come and eat him
to-morrow. Dare I hope that these gentlemen are disengaged, and will
honor my poor parsonage? Will you favor me with your company at five
o'clock, sir?"

Sir Brook bowed, and accepted the invitation with pleasure.

"And you, sir?"

"Only too happy," said Trafford.

"Lucy, my dear, you must be one of us."

"Oh, I could not; it is impossible, doctor,--you know it is."

"I know nothing of the kind."

"Papa away,--not to speak of his never encouraging us to leave home,"
muttered she, in a whisper.

"I accept no excuses, Lucy; such a rare opportunity may not occur to me
in a hurry. Mrs. Brennan, my housekeeper, will be so proud to see you,
that I 'm not sure she 'll not treat these gentlemen to her brandy
peaches,--a delicacy, I feel bound to say, she has never conceded to any
one less than the bishop of the diocese."

"Don't ask me, doctor. I know that papa--"

But he broke in, saying,--"'You know I 'm your priest, and your
conscience is mine;' and besides, I really do want to see how the
parsonage will look with a lady at the top of the table: who knows what
it may lead to?"

"Come, Lucy, that's the nearest thing to a proposal I 've heard for some
time. You really must go now," said Tom.

"Papa will not like it," whispered she in his ear.

"Then he'll have to settle the matter with me, Lucy," said the doctor,
"for it was I who overruled you."

"Don't look to me, Miss Lendrick, to sustain you in your refusal," said
Sir Brook, as the young girl turned towards him. "I have the strongest
interest in seeing the doctor successful."

If Trafford said nothing, the glance he gave her more than backed the
old man's speech, and she turned away half vexed, half pleased, puzzled
how to act, and flattered at the same time by an amount of attention so
new to her and so strange. Still she could not bring herself to promise
she would go, and wished them all good-night at last, without a pledge.

"Of course she will," muttered Tom in the doctor's ear. "She's afraid
of the governor; but I know he'll not be displeased,--you may reckon on
her."


CHAPTER V. THE PICNIC ON HOLY ISLAND

From the day that Sir Brook made the acquaintance of Tom Lendrick and
his sister, he determined he would "pitch his tent," as he called it,
for some time at Killaloe. They had, so to say, captivated the old man.
The young fellow, by his frank, open, manly nature, his ardent love
of sport in every shape, his invariable good-humor, and more than all
these, by the unaffected simplicity of his character, had strongly
interested him; while Lucy had made a far deeper impression by her
gentleness, her refinement, an elegance in deportment that no teaching
ever gives, and, along with these, a mind stored with thought and
reflectiveness. Let us, however, be just to each, and own that her
beauty and the marvellous fascination of her smile gave her, even in
that old man's eyes, an irresistible charm. It was a very long bygone,
but he had once been in love, and the faint flicker of the memory
had yet survived in his heart. It was just as likely Lucy bore no
resemblance to her he had loved, but he fancied she did,--he imagined
that she was her very image. That was the smile, the glance, the tone,
the gesture which once had set his heart a-throbbing, and the illusion
threw around her an immense fascination.

She liked him too. Through all the strange incongruities of his
character, his restless love of adventure and excitement, there ran a
gentle liking for quiet pleasures. He loved scenery passionately, and
with a painter's taste for color and form; he loved poetry, which he
read with a wondrous charm of voice and intonation. Nor was it without
its peculiar power, this homage of an old, old man, who rendered her the
attentive service of a devoted admirer.

There is very subtle flattery in the obsequious devotion of age to
youth. It is, at least, an honest worship, an unselfish offering, and in
this way the object of it may well feel proud of its tribute.

From the vicar, Dr. Mills, Fossbrooke had learned the chief events
of Dr. Lendrick's history, of his estrangement from his father, his
fastidious retirement from the world, and, last of all, his narrow
fortune, apparently now growing narrower, since within the last year he
had withdrawn his son from the University on the score of its expense.

A gold-medallist and a scholar, Dr. Lendrick would have eagerly coveted
such honors for his son. It was, probably, the one triumph in life he
would have set most store by, but Tom was one not made for collegiate
successes. He had abilities, but they were not teachable qualities;
he could pick up a certain amount of almost anything,--he could learn
nothing. He could carry away from a chance conversation an amount of
knowledge it had cost the talkers years to acquire, and yet set him
down regularly to work book-fashion, and either from want of energy, or
concentration, or of that strong will which masters difficulties just
as a full current carries all before it--whichever of these was his
defect,--he arose from his task wearied, worn, but unadvanced.

When, therefore, his father would speak, as he sometimes did,
in confidence to the vicar, in a tone of depression about Tom's
deficiencies, the honest parson would feel perfectly lost in amazement
at what he meant. To his eyes Tom Lendrick was a wonder, a prodigy.
There was not a theme he could not talk on, and talk well too. "It was
but the other day he told the chief engineer of the Shannon Company more
about the geological formation of the river-basin than all his staff
knew. Ay, and what's stranger," added the vicar, "he understands the
whole Colenso controversy better than I do myself." It is just possible
that in the last panegyric there was nothing of exaggeration or excess.
"And with all that, sir, his father goes on brooding over his neglected
education, and foreshadowing the worst results from his ignorance."

"He is a fine fellow," said Fossbrooke, "but not to be compared with his
sister."

"Not for mere looks, perhaps, nor for a graceful manner, and a winning
address; but who would think of ranking Lucy's abilities with her
brother's?"

"Not I," said Fossbrooke, boldly, "for I place hers far and away above
them."

A sly twinkle of the parson's eye showed to what class of advantages
he ascribed the other's preference; but he said no more, and the
controversy ended.

Every morning found Sir Brook at the "Swan's Nest." He was fond of
gardening, and had consummate taste in laying out ground, so that many
pleasant surprises had been prepared for Dr. Lendrick's return. He drew,
too, with great skill, and Lucy made considerable progress under his
teaching; and as they grew more intimate, and she was not ashamed of the
confession that she delighted in the Georgics of Virgil, they read whole
hours together of those picturesque descriptions of rural life and its
occupations, which are as true to nature at this hour as on the day they
were written.

Perhaps the old man fancied that it was he who had suggested this
intense appreciation of the poet. It is just possible that the young
girl believed that she had reclaimed a wild, erratic, eccentric nature,
and brought him back ta the love of simple pleasures and a purer source
of enjoyment. Whichever way the truth inclined, each was happy, each
contented. And how fond are we all, of every age, of playing the
missionary, of setting off into the savage districts of our neighbors'
natures and combating their false idols, their superstitions and strange
rites! The least adventurous and the least imaginative have these little
outbursts of conversion, and all are more or less propagandists.

It was one morning, a bright and glorious one too, that, while Tom
and Lucy were yet at breakfast, Sir Brook arrived and entered the
breakfast-room.

"What a day for a gray hackle, in that dark pool under the larch-trees!"
cried Tom, as he saw him.

"What a day for a long walk to Mount Laurel!" said Lucy. "You said,
t'other morning, you wanted cloud effects on the upper lake. I 'll show
you splendid ones to-day."

"I 'll promise you a full basket before four o'clock," broke in Tom.

"I 'll promise you a full sketch-book," said Lucy, with one of her
sweetest smiles.

"And I 'm going to refuse both; for I have a plan of my own, and a plan
not to be gainsaid."

"I know it, You want us to go to work on that fish-pond. I'm certain
it's that."

"No, Tom; it's the catalogue,--the weary catalogue that he told me, as a
punishment for not being able to find Machiavelli's comedies last week,
he 'd make me sit down to on the first lovely morning that came."

"Better that than those dreary Georgics which remind one of school, and
the third form. But what 's your plan, Sir Brook? We have thought of all
the projects that can terrify us, and you look as if it ought to be a
terror."

"Mine is a plan for pleasure, and pleasure only; so pack up at once and
get ready. Trafford arrived this morning."

"Where is he? I am so glad! Where's Trafford?" cried Tom, delighted.

"I have despatched him with the vicar and two well-filled hampers to
Holy Island, where I mean that we shall all picnic. There 's my plan."

"And a jolly plan too! I adhere unconditionally."

"And you, Lucy, what do you say?" asked Sir Brook, as the young girl
stood with a look of some indecision and embarrassment.

"I don't say that it's not a very pleasant project, but--"

"But what, Lucy? Where 's the but?"

She whispered a few words in his ear, and he cried out: "Is n't this too
bad? She tells me Nicholas does not like all this gayety; that Nicholas
disapproves of our mode of life."

"No, Tom; I only said Nicholas thinks that papa would not like it."

"Couldn't we see Nicholas? Couldn't we have a commission to examine
Nicholas?" asked Sir Brook, laughingly.

"I 'll not be on it, that 's all I know; for I should finish by chucking
the witness into the Shannon. Come along, Lucy; don't let us lose this
glorious morning. I 'll get some lines and hooks together. Be sure you
're ready when I come back."

As the door closed after him, Sir Brook drew near to Lucy, where she
stood in an attitude of doubt and hesitation. "I mustn't risk your good
opinion of me rashly. If you really dislike this excursion, I will give
it up," said he, in a low, gentle voice.

"Dislike it? No; far from it. I suspect I would enjoy it more than
any of you. My reluctance was simply on the ground that all this is
so unlike the life we have been leading hitherto. Papa will surely
disapprove of it. Oh, there comes Nicholas with a letter!" cried she,
opening the sash-window. "Give it to me; it is from papa."

She broke the seal hurriedly, and ran rapidly over the lines. "Oh, yes!
I will go now, and go with delight too. It is full of good news. He is
to see grandpapa, if not to-morrow, the day after. He hopes all will
be well. Papa knows your name, Sir Brook. He says, 'Ask your friend
Sir Brook if he be any relative of a Sir Brook Foss-brooke who rescued
Captain Langton some forty years ago from a Neapolitan prison. The
print-shops were filled with his likeness when I was a boy.' Was he one
of your family?" inquired she, looking at him.

"I am the man," said he, calmly and coldly. "Langton was sentenced to
the galleys for life for having struck the Count d'Aconi across the face
with his glove; and the Count was nephew to the King. They had him at
Capri working in chains, and I landed with my yacht's crew and liberated
him."

"What a daring thing to do!"

"Not so daring as you fancy. The guard was surprised, and fled. It was
only when reinforced that they showed fight. Our toughest enemies were
the galley-slaves, who, when they discovered that we never meant to
liberate them, attacked us with stones. This scar on my temple is a
memorial of the affair."

"And Langton, what became of him?"

"He is now Lord Burrowfield. He gave me two fingers to shake the last
time I met him at the Travellers'."

"Oh, don't say that! Oh, don't tell me of such ingratitude!"

"My dear child, people usually regard gratitude as a debt which, once
acknowledged, is acquitted; and perhaps they are right. It makes all
intercourse freer and less trammelled."

"Here comes Tom. May I tell him this story, or will you tell him
yourself?"

"Not either, my dear Lucy. Your brother's blood is over-hot as it is.
Let him not have any promptings to such exploits as these."

"But may I tell papa?"

"Just as well not, Lucy. There were scores of wild things attributed to
me in those days. He may possibly remember some of them, and begin to
suspect that his daughter might be in better company."

"How was it that you never told me of this exploit?" asked she, looking,
not without admiration, at the hard stern features before her.

"My dear child, egotism is the besetting sin of old people, and even
the most cautious lapse into it occasionally. Set me once a-talking of
myself, all my prudence, all my reserve vanishes; so that, as a measure
of safety for my friends and myself too, I avoid the theme when I can.
There! Tom is beckoning to us. Let us go to him at once."

Holy Island, or Inishcaltra, to give it its Irish name, is a wild spot,
with little remarkable about it, save the ruins of seven churches and
a curious well of fabulous depth. It was, however, a favorite spot with
the vicar, whose taste in localities was somehow always associated with
some feature of festivity, the great merit of the present spot being
that you could dine without any molestation from beggars. In such
estimation, indeed, did he hold the class, that he seriously believed
their craving importunity to be one of the chief reasons of dyspepsia,
and was profoundly convinced that the presence of Lazarus at his gate
counterbalanced many of the goods which fortune had bestowed upon Dives.

"Here we dine in real comfort," said he, as he seated himself under the
shelter of an ivy-covered wall, with a wide reach of the lake at his
feet.

"When I come back from California with that million or two," said
Tom, "I 'll build a cottage here, where we can all come and dine
continually."

"Let us keep the anniversary of the present day as a sort of foundation
era," said the vicar.

"I like everything that promises pleasure," said Sir Brook, "but I like
to stipulate that we do not draw too long a bill on Fortune. Think how
long a year is. This time twelvemonth, for example, you, my dear doctor,
may be a bishop, and not over inclined to these harmless levities. Tom
there will be, as he hints, gold-crushing, at the end of the earth.
Trafford, not improbably, ruling some rajah's kingdom in the far East.
Of your destiny, fair Lucy, brightest of all, it is not for me to speak.
Of my own it is not worth speaking."

"Nolo episcopari," said the vicar; "pass me the Madeira."

"You forget, perhaps, that is the phrase for accepting the mitre," said
Sir Brook, laughing. "Bishops, like belles, say 'No' when they mean
'Yes.'"

"And who told you that belles did?" broke in Lucy. "I am in a sad
minority here, but I stand up for my sex."

"I repeat a popular prejudice, fair lady."

"And Lucy will not have it that belles are as illogical as bishops? I
see I was right in refusing the bench," said the vicar.

"What bright boon of Fortune is Trafford meditating the rejection of?"
said Sir Brook; and the young fellow's cheek grew crimson as he tried to
laugh off the reply.

"Who made this salad?" cried Tom.

"It was I; who dares to question it?" said Lucy. "The doctor has
helped himself twice to it, and that test I take to be a certificate to
character."

"I used to have some skill in dressing a salad, but I have foregone the
practice for many a day; my culinary gift got me sent out of Austria in
twenty-four hours. Oh, it 's nothing that deserves the name of a story,"
said Sir Brook, as the others looked at him for an explanation. "It was
as long ago as the year 1806. Sir Robert Adair had been our minister at
Vienna, when, a rupture taking place between the two Governments, he was
recalled. He did not, however, return to England, but continued to live
as a private citizen at Vienna. Strangely enough, from the moment that
our embassy ceased to be recognized by the Government, our countrymen
became objects of especial civility. I myself, amongst the rest, was
the _bien-venu_ in some of the great houses, and even invited by Count
Cobourg Cohari to those _déjeuners_ which he gave with such splendor at
Maria Hülfe.

"At one of these, as a dish of salad was handed round, instead of eating
it, like the others, I proceeded to make a very complicated dressing for
it on my plate, calling for various condiments, and seasoning my mess in
a most refined and ingenious manner. No sooner had I given the finishing
touch to my great achievement than the Grand-Duchess Sophia, who it
seems had watched the whole performance, sent a servant round to beg
that I would send her my plate. She accompanied the request with a
little bow and a smile whose charm I can still recall. Whatever the
reason, before I awoke next morning, an agent of the police entered my
room and informed me my passports were made out for Dresden, and that
his orders were to give me the pleasure of his society till I crossed
the frontier. There was no minister, no envoy to appeal to, and nothing
left but to comply. They said 'Go,' and I went."

"And all for a dish of salad!" cried the vicar.

"All for the bright eyes of an archduchess, rather," broke in Lucy,
laughing.

The old man's grateful smile at the compliment to his gallantry showed
how, even in a heart so world-worn, the vanity of youth survived.

"I declare it was very hard," said Tom,--"precious hard."

"If you mean to give up the salad, so think I too," cried the vicar.

"I 'll be shot if I 'd have gone," broke in Trafford.

"You'd probably have been shot if you had stayed," replied Tom.

"There are things we submit to in life, not because the penalty of
resistance affrights us, but because we half acquiesce in their justice.
You, for instance, Trafford, are well pleased to be here on leave,
and enjoy yourself, as I take it, considerably; and yet the call
of duty--some very commonplace duty, perhaps--would make you return
tomorrow in all haste."

"Of course it would," said Lucy.

"I 'm not so sure of it," murmured Trafford, sullenly; "I 'd rather go
into close arrest for a week than I 'd lose this day here."

"Bravo! here's your health, Lionel," cried Tom. "I do like to hear a
fellow say he is willing to pay the cost of what pleases him."

"I must preach wholesome doctrine, my young friends," broke in the
vicar. "Now that we have dined well, I would like to say aword on
abstinence."

"You mean to take no coffee, doctor, then?" asked Lucy, laughing.

"That I do, my sweet child,--coffee and a pipe, too, for I know you are
tolerant of tobacco."

"I hope she is," said Tom, "or she 'd have a poor time of it in the
house with me."

"I 'll put no coercion upon my tastes on this occasion, for I 'll take a
stroll through the ruins, and leave you to your wine," said she, rising.

They protested, in a mass, against her going. "We cannot lock the door,
Lucy, _de facto_," said Sir Brook, "but we do it figuratively."

"And in that case I make my escape by the window," said she, springing
through an old lancet-shaped orifice in the Abbey wall.

"There goes down the sun and leaves us but a gray twilight," said Sir
Brook, mournfully, as he looked after her. "If there were only enough
beauty on earth, I verily believe we might dispense with parsons."

"Push me over the bird's-eye, and let me nourish myself till your
millennium comes," said the vicar.

"What a charming girl she is! her very beauty fades away before the
graceful attraction of her manner!" whispered Sir Brook to the doctor.

"Oh, if you but knew her as I do! If you but knew how, sacrificing all
the springtime of her bright youth, she has never had a thought save
to make herself the companion of her poor father,--a sad, depressed,
sorrow-struck man, only rescued from despair by that companionship! I
tell you, sir, there is more courage in submitting one's self to the
nature of another than in facing a battery."

Sir Brook grasped the parson's hand and shook it cordially. The action
spoke more than any words. "And the brother, doctor,--what say you of
the brother?" whispered he.

"One of those that the old adage says 'either makes a spoon or spoils
the horn.' That 's Master Tom there."

Low as the words were uttered, they caught the sharp ears of him they
spoke of, and with a laughing eye he cried out, "What 's that evil
prediction you 're uttering about me, doctor?"

"I am just telling Sir Brook here that it's pure head or tail how you
turn out. There's stuff in you to make a hero, but it's just as likely
you 'll stop short at a highwayman."

"I think I could guess which of the two would best suit the age we live
in," said Tom, gayly. "Are we to have another bottle of that Madeira,
for I suspect I see the doctor putting up the corkscrew?"

"You are to have no more wine than what's before you till you land me
at the quay of Killaloe. When temperance means safety as well as
forbearance, it's one of the first of virtues."

The vicar, indeed, soon grew impatient to depart. Fine as the evening
was then, it might change. There was a feeling, too, not of damp, but
chilliness; at all events, he was averse to being on the water late; and
as he was the great promoter of these little convivial gatherings, his
word was law.

It is not easy to explain how it happened that Trafford sat beside Lucy.
Perhaps the trim of the boat required it; certainly, however, nothing
required that the vicar, who sat next Lucy on the other side, should
fall fast asleep almost as soon as he set foot on board. Meanwhile
Sir Brook and Tom had engaged in an animated discussion as to the
possibility of settling in Ireland as a man settles in some lone island
in the Pacific, teaching the natives a few of the needs of civilization
and picking up a few convenient ways of theirs in turn, Sir Brook
warming with the theme so far as to exclaim at last, "If I only had a
few of those thousands left me which I lost, squandered, or gave away, I
'd try the scheme, and you should be my lieutenant, Tom."

It was one of those projects, very pleasant in their way, where men can
mingle the serious with the ludicrous, where actual wisdom may go hand
in hand with downright absurdity; and so did they both understand it,
mingling, the very sagest reflections with projects the wildest and most
eccentric. Their life, as they sketched it, was to be almost savage in
freedom, untrammelled by all the tiresome conventionalities of the outer
world, and at the same time offering such an example of contentedness
and comfort as to shame the condition of all without the Pale.

They agreed that the vicar must join them; he should be their Bishop.
He might grumble a little at first about the want of hot plates or
finger-glasses, but he would soon fall into their ways, and some native
squaw would console him for the loss of Mrs. Brennan's housekeeping
gifts.

And Trafford and Lucy all this time,--what did they talk of? Did they,
too, imagine a future and plan out a life-road in company? Far too timid
for that,--they lingered over the past, each asking some trait of the
other's childhood, eager to hear any little incident which might
mark character or indicate temper. And at last they came down to the
present,--to the very hour they lived in, and laughingly wondered at
the intimacy that had grown up between them. "Only twelve days to-morrow
since we first met," said Lucy, and her color rose as she said it, "and
here we are talking away as if--as if--"

"As if what?" cried he, only by an effort suppressing her name as it
rose to his lips.

"As if we knew each other for years. To me it seems the strangest thing
in the world,--I who have never had friendships or companionships. To
you, I have no doubt, it is common enough."

"But it is not," cried he, eagerly. "Such fortune never befell me
before. I have gone a good deal into life,--seen scores of people in
country-houses and the like; but I never met any one before I could
speak to of myself,--I mean, that I had courage to tell--not that,
exactly--but that I wanted them to know I was n't so bad a fellow--so
reckless or so heartless as people thought me."

"And is that the character you bear?" said she, with, though not visible
to him, a faint smile on her mouth.

"I think it's what my family would say of me,--I mean now, for once on a
time I was a favorite at home."

"And why are you not still?"

"Because I was extravagant; because I went into debt; because I got
very easily into scrapes, and very badly out of them,--not dishonorably,
mind; the scrapes I speak of were money troubles, and they brought me
into collision with my governor. That was how it came about I was sent
over here. They meant as a punishment what has turned out the greatest
happiness of my life."

"How cold the water is!" said Lucy, as, taking off her glove, she
suffered her hand to dip in the water beside the boat.

"Deliciously cold," said he, as, plunging in his hand, he managed, as
though by accident, to touch hers. She drew it rapidly away, however,
and then, to prevent the conversation returning to its former channel,
said aloud: "What _are_ you laughing over so heartily, Sir Brook? You
and Tom appear to have fallen upon a mine of drollery. Do share it with
us."

"You shall hear it all one of these days, Lucy. Jog the doctor's arm now
and wake him up, for I see the lights at the boat-house, and we shall
soon be on shore."

"And sorry I am for it," muttered Trafford, in a whisper; "I wish this
night could be drawn out to years."



CHAPTER VI. WAITING ON

On the sixth day after Dr. Lendrick's arrival in Dublin--a fruitless
journey so far as any hope of reconciliation was concerned--he resolved
to return home. His friend Beattie, however, induced him to delay
his departure to the-next day, clinging to some small hope from a few
words-that had dropped from Sir William on that same morning. "Let me
see you to-night, doctor; I have a note to show you which I could not
to-day with all these people about me." Now, the people in question
resolved themselves into one person, Lady Lendrick, who indeed bustled
into the room and out of it, slammed doors and upset chairs in a fashion
that might well have excused the exaggeration that converted her into
a noun of multitude. A very warm altercation had occurred, too, in the
doctor's presence with reference to some letter from India, which
Lady Lendrick was urging Sir William to reply to, but which he firmly
declared he would not answer.

"How I am to treat a man subject to such attacks of temper, so easily
provoked, and so incessantly irritated, is not clear to me. At all
events I will see him to-night, and hear what he has to say to me. I am
sure it has no concern with this letter from India." With these words
Beattie induced his friend to defer his journey for another day.

It was a long and anxious day to poor Lendrick. It was not alone that
he had to suffer the bitter disappointment of all his hopes of being
received by his father and admitted to some gleam of future favor, but
he had discovered that certain debts which he had believed long settled
by the judge were still outstanding against him, Lady Lendrick having
interfered to prevent their payment, while she assured the creditors
that if they had patience Dr. Lendrick would one day or other be in a
position to acquit them. Between two and three thousand pounds thus hung
over him of indebtedness above all his calculations, and equally above
all his ability to meet.

"We thought you knew all this, Dr. Lendrick," said Mr. Hack, Sir
William's agent; "we imagined you were a party to the arrangement,
understanding that you were reluctant to bring these debts under the
Chief Baron's eyes, being moneys lent to your wife's relations."

"I believed that they were paid," was all his reply, for the story was
a painful one of trust betrayed and confidence abused, and he did not
desire to revive it. He had often been told that his stepmother was the
real obstacle to all hope of reconciliation with his father, but that
she had pushed her enmity to him to the extent of his ruin was more than
he was prepared for. They had never met, but at one time letters had
frequently passed between them. Hers were marvels of good wishes and
kind intentions, dashed with certain melancholy reflections over some
shadowy unknown something which had been the cause of his estrangement
from his father, but which time and endurance might not impossibly
diminish the bitterness of, though with very little hope of leading to
a more amicable relation. She would assume, besides, occasionally a kind
of companionship in sorrow, and, as though the confession had burst from
her unawares, avow that Sir William's temper was more than human nature
was called upon to submit to, and that years only added to those violent
outbursts of passion which made the existence of all around him
a perpetual martyrdom. These always wound up with some sweet
congratulations on "Tom's good fortune in his life of peaceful
retirement," and the "tranquil pleasures of that charming spot of which
every one tells me such wonders, and which the hope of visiting is one
of my most entrancing daydreams." We give the passage textually,
because it occurred without a change of a word thus in no less than five
different letters.

This formal repetition of a phrase, and certain mistakes she made
about the names of his children, first opened Lendrick's eyes as to
the sincerity and affection of his correspondent, for he was the least
suspicious of men, and regarded distrust as a disgrace to him who
entertained it.

Over all these things now did he ponder during this long dreary day.
He did not like to go out lest he should meet old acquaintances and be
interrogated about his father, of whom he knew less than almost every
one. He shunned the tone of compassionate interest men met him with, and
he dreaded even the old faces that reminded him of the past. He could
not read: he tried, but could not. After a few minutes he found that
his thoughts wandered off from the book and centred on his own concerns,
till his head ached with the weary round of those difficulties which
came ever back, and back, and back again undiminished, unrelieved, and
unsolved. The embarrassments of life are not, like chess problems, to be
resolved by a skilful combination: they are to be encountered by temper,
by patience, by daring at one time, by submission at another, by a
careful consideration of a man's own powers, and by a clear-sighted
estimate of his neighbors; and all these exercised not beforehand, nor
in retirement, but on the very field itself where the conflict is raging
and the fight at its hottest.

It was late at night when Beattie returned home, and entered the study
where Lendrick sat awaiting him. "I am very late, Tom," said he, as he
threw himself into an arm-chair, like one fatigued and exhausted; "but
it was impossible to get away. Never in all my life have I seen him
so full of anecdote, so abounding in pleasant recollections, so
ready-witted, and so brilliant. I declare to you that if I could but
recite the things he said, or give them even with a faint semblance of
the way he told them, it would be the most amusing page of bygone
Irish history. It was a grand review of all the celebrated men whom he
remembered in his youth, from the eccentric Lord Bristol, the Bishop of
Down, to O'Connell and Shiel. Nor did his own self-estimate, high as
it was, make the picture in which he figured less striking, nor less
memorable his concluding words, as he said, 'These fellows are all in
history, Beattie,--every man of them. There are statues to them in our
highways, and men visit the spots that gave them birth; and here am I,
second to none of them. Trinity College and the Four Courts will tell
you if I speak in vanity; and here am I; and the only question about me
is, when I intend to vacate the bench, when it will be my good pleasure
to resign--they are not particular which--my judgeship or my life. But,
sir, I mean not to do either; I mean to live and protest against the
inferiority of the men around me, and the ingratitude of the country
that does not know how to appreciate the one man of eminence it
possesses.' I assure you, Tom, vain and insolent as the speech was, as
I listened I thought it was neither. There was a haughty dignity
about him, to which his noble bead and his deep sonorous voice and his
commanding look lent effect that overcame all thought of attributing to
such a man any over-estimate of his powers."

"And this note that he wished to show you,--what was it?"

"Oh, the note was a few lines written in an adjoining room by Balfour,
the Viceroy's secretary. It seems that his Excellency, finding all other
seductions fail, thought of approaching your father through you."

"Through _me!_ It was a bright inspiration."

"Yes; he sent Balfour to ask if the Chief Baron would feel gratified by
the post of Hospital Inspector at the Cape being offered to you. It is
worth eight hundred a year, and a house."

"Well, what answer did he give?" asked Lendrick, eagerly.

"He directed Balfour, who only saw Lady Lendrick, to reduce the proposal
to writing. I don't fancy that the accomplished young gentleman exactly
liked the task, but he did not care to refuse, and so he sat down and
wrote one of the worst notes I ever read."

"Worst--in what way?"

"In every way. It was scarcely intelligible, without a previous
knowledge of its contents, and so worded as to imply that when the Chief
Baron had acceded to the proposal, he had so bound himself in gratitude
to the Government that all honorable retreat was closed to him. I wish
you saw your father's face when he read it. 'Beattie,' said he, 'I have
no right to say Tom must refuse this offer; but if he should do so, I
will make the document you see there be read in the House, and my
name is not William Lendrick if it do not cost them more than they are
prepared for. Go now and consult your friend;' it was so he called you.
'If his wants are such that this place is of consequence to him, let him
accept it. I shall not ask his reasons for whatever course he may take.
_My_ reply is already written, and to his Excellency in person.' This
he said in a way to imply that its tone was one not remarkable for
conciliation or courtesy.

"I thought the opportunity a favorable one to say that you were in town
at the moment, that the accounts of his illness had brought you up, and
that you were staying at my house.

"'The sooner will you be able to communicate with him, sir,' said he,
haughtily."

"No more than that!"

"No more, except that he added, 'Remember, sir, his acceptance or his
refusal is to be his own act, not to be intimated in any way to me, nor
to come through me.'"

"This is unnecessary harshness," said Lendrick, with a quivering lip;
"there was no need to tell me how estranged we are from each other."

"I fancied I could detect a struggle with himself in all his sternness;
and his hand trembled when I took it to say 'good-bye.' I was going to
ask if you might not be permitted to see him, even for a brief moment;
but I was afraid, lest in refusing he might make a reconciliation still
more remote, and so I merely said, 'May I leave you those miniatures I
showed you a few days ago? 'His answer was, 'You may leave them, sir.'

"As I came down to the hall, I met Lady Lendrick. She was in evening
dress, going out, but had evidently waited to Catch me as I passed.

"'You find the Chief much better, don't you?' asked she. I bowed and
assented.. 'And he will be better still,' added she, 'when all these
anxieties are over.' She saw that I did not or would not apprehend her
meaning, and added, 'I mean about this resignation, which, of course,
you will advise him to. The Government are really behaving so very well,
so liberal, and withal so delicate. If they had been our own people, I
doubt if they would have shown anything like the same generosity.'

"'I have heard of nothing but the offer to Dr. Lendrick,' said I.

"She seemed confused, and moved on; and then recovering herself, said,
'And a most handsome offer it is. I hope he thinks so.'

"With this we parted, and I believe now I have told you almost word for
word everything that occurred concerning you."

"And what do _you_ say to all this, Beattie?" asked Lendrick, in a
half-sad tone.

"I say that if in your place, Tom, I would accept. It may be that the
Chief Baron will interpose and say, Don't go; or it may be that your
readiness to work for your bread should conciliate him; he has long had
the impression that you are indisposed to exertion, and too fond of your
own ease."

"I know it,--I know it; Lady Lendrick has intimated as much to me."

"At all events, you can make no mistake in entertaining the project; and
certainly the offer is not to be despised."

"It is of him, and of him alone, I am thinking, Beattie. If he would let
me see him, admit me once more on my old terms of affection, I would go
anywhere, do anything that he counselled. Try, my dear friend, to bring
this about; do your best for me, and remember I will subscribe to any
terms, submit to anything, if he will only be reconciled to me."

"It will be hard if we cannot manage this somehow," said Beattie; "but
now let us to bed. It is past two o'clock. Good-night, Tom; sleep well,
and don't dream of the Cape or the Caffres."



CHAPTER VII. THE FOUNTAIN OF HONOR

That ancient and incongruous pile which goes by the name of the Castle
in Dublin, and to which Irishmen very generally look as the well from
which all honors and places flow, is not remarkable for either the
splendor or space it affords to the inmates beneath its roof. Upheld
by a great prestige perhaps, as in the case of certain distinguished
people, who affect a humble exterior and very simple belongings, it may
deem that its own transcendent importance has no need of accessories.
Certainly the ugliness of its outside is in noway unbalanced by the
meanness within; and even the very highest of those who claim its
hospitality are lodged in no-princely fashion.

In a corner of the old red brick quadrangle, to the right of the state
entrance, in a small room whose two narrow windows looked into a lane,
sat a very well-dressed young-gentleman at a writing-table. Short, and
disposed to roundness in face as well as figure, Mr. Cholmondely Balfour
scarcely responded in appearance to his imposing name. Nature had not
been as bountiful, perhaps, as Fortune; for while he was rich,
well born, and considerably gifted in abilities, his features were
unmistakably common and vulgar, and all the aids of dress could not
atone for the meanness in his general look. Had he simply accepted his
image as a thing to be quietly borne and submitted to, the case might
not have been so very bad; but he took it as something to be corrected,
changed, and ameliorated, and the result was a perpetual struggle
to make the most ordinary traits and commonplace features appear the
impress of one on whom Nature had written gentleman. It would have been
no easy task to have imposed on him in a question of his duty. He was
the private secretary of the Viceroy, who was his maternal uncle. It
would have been a tough task to have misled or deceived him in any
matter open to his intelligence to examine; but upon this theme there
was not the inventor of a hair-wash, a skin-paste, a whisker-dye, or a
pearl-powder that might not have led him captive. A bishop might have
found difficulty in getting audience of him,--a barber might have
entered unannounced; and while the lieutenant of a county sat waiting in
the antechamber, the tailor, with a new waistcoat pattern, walked
boldly into the august presence. Entering life by that _petite porte_
of politics, an Irish office, he had conceived a very humble estimate
of the people amongst whom he was placed. Regarding his extradition from
Whitehall and its precincts as a sort of probationary banishment, he
felt, however, its necessity; and as naval men are accredited with two
years of service for every one year on the coast of Africa, Mr. Balfour
was aware that a grateful Government could equally recognize the
devotion of him who gave some of the years of his youth to the Fernando
Po of statecraft.

This impression, being rarely personal in its consequences, was not of
much moment; but it was conjoined with a more serious error, which was
to imagine that all rule and governance in Ireland should be carried
on with a Machiavellian subtlety. The people, he had heard, were
quick-witted; he must therefore out-manoeuvre them. Jobbery had been,
he was told, the ruin of Ireland; he would show its inefficiency by
the superior skill with which he could wield its weapon. To be sure
his office was a very minor one, its influence very restricted, but Mr.
Balfour was ambitious; he was a Viceroy's nephew; he had sat for months
in the House, from which he had been turned out on a petition. He had
therefore social advantages to build on, abilities to display, and
wrongs to avenge; and as a man too late for the train speculates during
the day how far on his road he might have been by this time or by that,
so did Mr. Balfour continually keep reminding himself how, but for that
confounded petition, he might now have been a Treasury this or a
Board of Trade that,--a corporal, in fact, in that great army whose
commissioned officers are amongst the highest in Europe.

Let us now present him to our reader, as he lay back in his chair, and
by a hand-bell summoned his messenger.

"I say, Watkins, when Clancey calls about those trousers show him
in, and send some one over to the packet-office about the
phosphorus blacking; you know we are on the last jar of it. If the
Solicitor-General should come--"

"He is here, sir; he has been waiting these twenty minutes. I told him
you were with his Excellency."

"So I was,--so I always am," said he, throwing a half-smoked cigar into
the fire. "Admit him."

A pale, care-worn, anxious-looking man, whose face was not without
traces of annoyance at the length of time he had been kept waiting, now
entered and sat down.

"Just where we were yesterday, Pemberton," said Balfour, as he rose and
stood with his back to the fire, the tails of his gorgeous dressing-gown
hanging over his arms. "Intractable as he ever was; he won't die, and he
won't resign."

"His friends say he is perfectly willing to resign if you agree to his
terms."

"That may be possible; the question is, What are his terms? Have you a
precedent of a Chief Baron being raised to the peerage?"

"It's not, as I understand, the peerage he insists on; he inclines to a
moneyed arrangement."

"We are too poor, Pemberton,--we are too poor. There's a deep gap in our
customs this quarter. It's reduction we must think of, not outlay."

"If the changes _are_ to be made," said the other, with a tone of
impatience, "I certainly ought to be told at once, or I shall have no
time left for my canvass."

"An Irish borough, Pemberton,--an Irish borough requires so little,"
said Balfour, with a compassionate smile.

"Such is not the opinion over here, sir," said Pemberton, stiffly; "and
I might even suggest some caution in saying it."

"Caution is the badge of all our tribe," said Balfour, with a burlesque
gravity. "By the way, Pemberton, his Excellency is greatly disappointed
at the issue of these Cork trials; why did n't you hang these fellows?"

"Juries can no more be coerced here than in England; they brought them
in not guilty."

"We know all that, and we ask you why? There certainly was little room
for doubt in the evidence."

"When you have lived longer in Ireland, Mr. Balfour, you will learn
that there are other considerations in a trial than the testimony of the
witnesses."

"That's exactly what I said to his Excellency; and I remarked, 'If
Pemberton comes into the House, he must prepare for a sharp attack about
these trials.'"

"And it is exactly to ascertain if I am to enter Parliament that I have
come here to-day," said the other, angrily.

"Bring me the grateful tidings that the Lord Chief Baron has joined his
illustrious predecessors in that distinguished court, I 'll answer you
in five minutes."

"Beattie declares he is better this morning. He says that he has in all
probability years of life before him."

"There 's nothing so hard to kill as a judge, except it be an
archbishop. I believe a sedentary life does it; they say if a fellow
will sit still and never move he may live to any age."

Pemberton took an impatient turn up and down the room, and then wheeling
about directly in front of Balfour, said, "If his Excellency knew,
perhaps, that I do not want the House of Commons--"

"Not want the House,--not wish to be in Parliament?"

"Certainly not. If I enter the House, it is as a law-officer of the
Crown; personally it is no object to me."

"I'll not tell him that, Pem. I'll keep your secret safe, for I tell you
frankly it would ruin you to reveal it."

"It's no secret, sir; you may proclaim it,--you may publish it in the
'Gazette,' But really we are wasting much valuable time here. It is now
two o'clock, and I must go down to Court. I have only to say that if no
arrangement be come to before this time to-morrow--" He stopped short.
Another word might have committed him, but he pulled up in time.

"Well, what then?" asked Balfour, with a half smile.

"I have heard you pride yourself, Mr. Balfour," said the other,
recovering, "on your skill in nice negotiation; why not try what you
could do with the Chief Baron?"

"Are there women in the family?" said Balfour, caressing his moustache.

"No; only his wife."

"I 've seen her," said he, contemptuously.

"He quarrelled with his only son, and has not spoken to him, I believe,
for nigh thirty years, and the poor fellow is struggling on as a country
doctor somewhere in the west."

"What if we were to propose to do something for him? Men are often not
averse to see those assisted whom their own pride refuses to help."

"I scarcely suspect you 'll acquire his gratitude that way."

"We don't want his gratitude, we want his place. I declare I think the
idea a good one. There's a thing now at the Cape, an inspectorship of
something,--Hottentots or hospitals, I forget which. His Excellency
asked to have the gift of it; what if we were to appoint this man?"

"Make the crier of his Court a Commissioner in Chancery, and Baron
Lendrick will be more obliged to you," said Pem-berton, with a sneer.
"He is about the least forgiving man I ever knew or heard of."

"Where is this son of his to be found?"

"I saw him yesterday walking with Dr. Beattie. I have no doubt Beattie
knows his address. But let me warn you once more against the inutility
of the step you would take. I doubt if the old Judge would as much as
thank you."

Balfour turned round to the glass and smiled sweetly at himself, as
though to say that he had heard of some one who knew how to make these
negotiations successful,--a fellow of infinite readiness, a clever
fellow, but withal one whose good looks and distinguished air left even
his talents in the background.

"I think I 'll call and see the Chief Baron myself," said he. "His
Excellency sends twice a day to inquire, and I 'll take the opportunity
to make him a visit,--that is, if he will receive me."

"It is doubtful. At all events, let me give you one hint for your
guidance. Neither let drop Mr. Attorney's name nor mine in your
conversation; avoid the mention of any one whose career might be
influenced by the Baron's retirement; and talk of him less as a human
being than as an institution that is destined to endure as long as the
British constitution."

"I wish it was a woman--if it was only a woman I had to deal with, the
whole affair might be deemed settled."

"If you should be able to do anything before the mail goes out to-night,
perhaps you will inform me," said Pem-berton, as he bowed and left
the room. "And these are the men they send over here to administer
the country!" muttered he, as he descended the stairs,--"such are the
intelligences that are to rule Ireland! Was it Voltaire who said
there was nothing so inscrutable in all the ways of Providence as the
miserable smallness of those creatures to whom the destiny of nations
was committed?"

Ruminating over this, he hastened on to a _nisi prius_ case.



CHAPTER VIII. A PUZZLING COMMISSION

As Colonel Cave re-entered his quarters after morning parade in the
Royal Barracks of Dublin, he found the following letter, which the post
had just delivered. It was headed "Strictly Private," with three dashes
under the words.

"Holt-Trafford.

"My dear Colonel Cave,--Sir Hugh is confined to bed with a severe attack
of gout,--the doctors call it flying gout. He suffers greatly, and his
nerves are in a state of irritation that makes all attempt at writing
impossible. This will be my apology for obtruding upon you, though,
perhaps, the cause in which I write might serve for excuse. We are in
the deepest anxiety about Lionel. You are already aware how heavily his
extravagance has cost us. His play-debts amounted to above ten thousand
pounds, and all the cleverness of Mr. Joel has not been able to
compromise with the tradespeople for less than as much more; nor are
we yet done with demands from various quarters. It is not, however, of
these that I desire to speak. Your kind offer to take him into your
own regiment, and exercise the watchful supervision of a parent, has
relieved us of much anxiety, and his own sincere affection for you is
the strongest assurance we can have that the step has been a wise one.
Our present uneasiness has however a deeper source than mere pecuniary
embarrassment. The boy--he is very little more than a boy in years--has
fallen in love, and gravely writes to his father for consent that he may
marry. I assure you the shock brought back all Sir Hugh's most severe
symptoms; and his left eye was attacked with an inflammation such as Dr.
Gole says he never saw equalled. So far as the incoherency of his letter
will permit us to guess, the girl is a person in a very humble condition
of life, the daughter of a country doctor, of course without family or
fortune. That he made her acquaintance by an accident, as he informs
us, is also a reason to suppose that they are not people in society. The
name, as well as I can decipher it, is Lendrich or Hendrich,--neither
very distinguished!

"Now, my dear Colonel, even to a second son, such an alliance would be
perfectly intolerable,--totally at variance with all his father's plans
for him, and inconsistent with the station he should occupy. But there
are other considerations,--too sad ones, too melancholy indeed to
be spoken of, except where the best interests of a family are to be
regarded, which press upon us here. The last accounts of George from
Madeira leave us scarcely a hope. The climate, from which so much was
expected, has done nothing. The season has been unhappily most severe,
and the doctors agree in declaring that the malady has not yielded
in any respect. You will see, therefore, what a change any day may
accomplish in Lionel's prospects, and how doubly important it is that
he should contract no ties inconsistent with a station of no mean
importance. Not that these considerations would weigh with Lionel in the
least: he was always headstrong, rash, and self-willed; and if he were,
or fancied that he were, bound in honor to do a thing, I know well that
all persuasions would be unavailing to prevent him. I cannot believe,
however, that matters can have gone so far here. This acquaintanceship
must be of the very shortest; and however designing and crafty such
people may be, there will surely be some means of showing them
that their designs are impracticable, and of a nature only to bring
disappointment and disgrace upon themselves. That Sir Hugh would give
his consent is totally out of the question,--a thing not to be thought
of for a moment; indeed I may tell you in confidence that his first
thought on reading L.'s letter was to carry out a project to which
George had already consented, and by which the entail should be cut off,
and our third son, Harry, in that case would inherit. This will show you
to what extent his indignation would carry him.

"Now what is to be done? for, really, it is but time lost in deploring
when prompt action alone can save us. Do you know, or do you know any
one who does know, these Hendrichs or Lendrichs--who are they, what are
they? Are they people to whom I could write myself, or are they in that
rank in life which would enable us to make some sort of compromise?
Again, could you in anyway obtain L.'s confidence, and make him open his
heart to you _first?_ This is the more essential, because the moment he
hears of anything like coercion or pressure, his whole spirit will rise
in resistance, and he will be totally unmanageable. You have perhaps
more influence over him than any one else, and even your influence he
would resent if he suspected any dominance.

"I am madly impatient to hear what you will suggest. Will it be to see
these people, to reason with them, to explain to them the fruitlessness
of what they are doing? Will it be to talk to the girl herself?

"My first thought was to send for Lionel, as his father was so ill, but
on consideration I felt that a meeting between them might be the thing
of all others to be avoided. Indeed, in Sir Hugh's present temper, I
dare not think of the consequences.

"Might it be advisable to get Lionel attached to some foreign station?
If so, I am sure I could manage it--only, would he go? there 's the
question,--would he go? I am writing in such distress of mind, and so
hurriedly too, that I really do not know what I have set down and what I
have omitted. I trust, however, there is enough of this sad case before
you to enable you to counsel me, or, what is much better, act for me. I
wish I could send you L.'s letter, but Sir Hugh has put it away, and I
cannot lay my hand on it. Its purport, however, was to obtain authority
from us to approach this girl's relations as a suitor, and to show that
his intentions were known to and concurred in by his family. The only
gleam of hope in the epistle was his saying, 'I have not the slightest
reason to believe she would accept me, but the approval of my friends
will certainly give me the best chance.'

"Now, my dear Colonel, compassionate my anxiety, and write to me at
once--something--anything. Write such a letter as Sir Hugh may see; and
if you have anything secret or confidential, enclose it as a separate
slip. Was it not unfortunate that we refused that Indian appointment for
him? All this misery might have been averted. You may imagine how Sir
Hugh feels this conduct the more bitterly, coming, as I may say, on the
back of all his late indiscretions.

"Remember, finally, happen what may, this project must not go on. It is
a question of the boy's whole future and life. To defy his father is to
disinherit himself; and it is not impossible that this might be the most
effectual argument you could employ with these people who now seek to
entangle him.

"I have certainly no reason to love Ireland. It was there that my cousin
Cornwallis married that dreadful creature who is now suing him for
cruelty, and exposing the family throughout England.

"Sir Hugh gave directions last week about lodging the purchase-money
for his company, but he wrote a few lines to Cox's last night--to what
purport I cannot say--not impossibly to countermand it. What affliction
all this is!"

As Colonel Cave read over this letter for a second time, he was
not without misgivings about the even small share to which he had
contributed in this difficulty. It was evidently during the short
leave he had granted that this acquaintanceship had been formed; and
Fossbrooke's companionship was the very last thing in the world to deter
a young and ardent fellow from anything high-flown or romantic. "I ought
never to have thrown them together," muttered he, as he walked his room
in doubt and deliberation.

He rang his bell and sent for the adjutant. "Where 's Trafford?" asked
he.

"You gave him three days' leave yesterday, sir. He's gone down to that
fishing-village where he went before."

"Confound the place! Send for him at once--telegraph. No--let us
see--his leave is up to-morrow?"

"The next day at ten he was to report."

"His father is ill,--an attack of gout," muttered the Colonel, to give
some color to his agitated manner. "But it is better, perhaps, not to
alarm him. The seizure seems passing off."

"He said something about asking for a longer term; he wants a fortnight,
I think. The season is just beginning now."

"He shall not have it, sir. Take good care to warn him not to apply. It
will breed discontent in the regiment to see a young fellow who has not
been a year with us obtain a leave every ten or fifteen days."

"If it were any other than Trafford, there would be plenty of grumbling.
But he is such a favorite!"

"I don't know that a worse accident could befall any man. Many a fine
fellow has been taught selfishness by the over-estimate others have
formed of him. See that you keep him to his duty, and that he is to look
for no favoritism."

The Colonel did not well know why he said this, nor did he stop to think
what might come of it. It smacked, to his mind, however, of something
prompt, active, and energetic.

His next move was to write a short note to Lady Trafford, acknowledging
hers, and saying that, Lionel being absent,--he did not add
where,--nothing could be done till he should see him. "To-morrow--next
day at farthest--I will report progress. I cannot believe the case to be
so serious as you suppose; at all events, count upon me."

"Stay!" cried he to the adjutant, who stood in the window awaiting
further instructions; "on second thoughts, do telegraph. Say, 'Return at
once.' This will prepare him for something."



CHAPTER IX. A BREAKFAST AT THE VICARAGE

On the day after the picnic Sir Brook went by invitation to breakfast
with the vicar.

"When a man asks you to dinner," said Fossbrooke, "he generally wants
you to talk; when he asks you to breakfast, he wants to talk to you."

Whatever be the truth of this adage generally, it certainly-had its
application in the present case. The vicar wanted very much to talk to
Sir Brook.

As they sat, therefore, over their coffee and devilled kidneys, chatting
over the late excursion and hinting at another, the vicar suddenly said:
"By the way, I want you to tell me something of the young fellow who
was one of us yesterday. Tobin, our doctor here, who is a perfect
commission-agent for scandal, says he is the greatest scamp going; that
about eight or ten months ago the 'Times' was full of his exploits in
bankruptcy; that his liabilities were tens of thousands,--assets
_nil_. In a word, that, notwithstanding his frank, honest look, and his
unaffected manner, he is the most accomplished scapegrace of the age."

"And how much of this do you believe?" asked Sir Brook, as he helped
himself to coffee.

"That is not so easy to reply to; but I tell you, if you ask me, that I
'd rather not believe one word of it."

"Nor need you. His Colonel told me something about the young fellow's
difficulties; he himself related the rest. He went most recklessly into
debt; betted largely on races, and lost; lent freely, and lost; raised
at ruinous interest, and renewed at still more ruinous; but his father
has paid every shilling of it out of that fortune which one day was to
have come to him, so that Lionel's thirty thousand pounds is now about
eight thousand. I have put the whole story into the fewest possible
words, but that's the substance of it."

"And has it cured him of extravagance?"

"Of course it has not. How should it? _You_ have lived some more years
in the world than he has, and I a good many more than _you_, and
will you tell me that time has cured either of us of any of our old
shortcomings? _Non sum quails eram_ means, I can't be as wild as I used
to be."

"No, no; I won't agree to that. I protest most strongly against the
doctrine. Many men are wiser through experience, and, consequently,
better."

"I sincerely believe I knew the world better at four-and-twenty than I
know it now. The reason why we are less often deceived in after than
in early life is not that we are more crafty or more keen-eyed. It is
simply because we risk less. Let us hazard as much at sixty as we once
did at six-and-twenty, and we 'll lose as heavily."

The vicar paused a few moments over the other's words, and then said,
"To come back to this young man, I half suspect he has formed an
attachment to Lucy, and that he is doing his utmost to succeed in her
favor."

"And is there anything wrong in that, doctor?"

"Not positively wrong; but there is what may lead to a great deal
of unhappiness. Who is to say how Trafford's family would like the
connection? Who is to answer for Lendrick's approval of Trafford?"

"You induce me to make a confidence I have no right to impart; but I
rely so implicitly on your discretion. I will tell you what was
intrusted to me as a secret: Trafford has already written to his father
to ask his consent."

"Without speaking to Lendrick? without even being sure of Lucy's?"

"Yes, without knowing anything of either; but on my advice he has first
asked his father's permission to pay his addresses to the young lady.
His position with his family is peculiar; he is a younger son, but
not exactly as free as most younger sons feel to act for themselves. I
cannot now explain this more fully, but it is enough if you understand
that he is entirely dependent on his father. When I came to know this,
and when I saw that he was becoming desperately in love, I insisted on
this appeal to his friends before he either entangled Lucy in a promise,
or even made any declaration himself. He showed me the letter before
he posted it. It was all I could wish. It is not a very easy task for
a young fellow to tell his father he 's in love; but he, in the very
frankness of his nature, acquitted himself well and manfully."

"And what answer has he received?"

"None as yet. Two posts have passed. He might have heard through
either of them; but no letter has come, and he is feverishly uneasy and
anxious."

The vicar was silent, but a grave motion of his head implied doubt and
fear.

"Yes," said Sir Brook, answering the gesture,--"yes, I agree with you.
The Traffords are great folk in their own country. Trafford was a strong
place in Saxon times. They have pride enough for all this blood, and
wealth enough for both pride and blood."

"They 'd find their match in Lendrick, quiet and simple as he seems,"
said the vicar.

"Which makes the matter worse. Who is to give way? Who is to _céder le
pas?_"

"I am not so sure I should have advised that letter. I am inclined to
think I would have counselled more time, more consideration. Fathers and
mothers are prudently averse to these loves at first sight, and they are
merciless in dealing with what they deem a mere passing sentiment."

"Better that than suffer him to engage the girl's affections, and then
learn that he must either desert her or marry her against the feeling
of his family. Let us have a stroll in the garden. I have made you one
confidence; I will now make you another."

They lit their cigars, and strolled out into a long alley fenced on one
side by a tall dense hedge of laurels, and flanked on the other by a low
wall, over which the view took in the wide reach of the river and the
distant mountains of Scariff and Meelick.

"Was not that where we picnicked yesterday?" asked Sir Brook, pointing
to an island in the distance.

"No; you cannot see Holy Island from this."

Sir Brook smoked on for some minutes without a word; at last, with a
sort of abruptness, he said, "She was so like her, not only in face and
figure, but her manner; the very tone of her voice was like; and then
that half-caressing, half-timid way she has in conversation, and, more
than all, the sly quietness with which she caps you when you fancy that
the smart success is all your own."

"Of whom are you speaking?"

"Of another Lucy," said Sir Brook, with a deep melancholy. "Heaven
grant that the resemblance follow them not in their lives as in their
features! It was that likeness, however, which first attracted me
towards Miss Lendrick. The first moment I saw her it overcame me; as I
grew to know her better, it almost confused me, and made me jumble in
your hearing things of long ago with the present. Time and space were
both forgotten, and I found my mind straying away to scenes in the
Himalaya with those I shall never see more. It was thus that, one day
carried away by this delusion, I chanced to call her Lucy, and she
laughingly begged me not to retract it, but so to call her always." For
some minutes he was silent, and then resumed: "I don't know if you ever
heard of a Colonel Frank Dillon, who served on Napier's staff in Scinde.
Fiery Frank was his nickname among his comrades, but it only applied
to him on the field of battle, and with an enemy in front. Then he was
indeed fiery,--the excitement rose to almost madness, and led him to
acts of almost incredible daring. At Meanee he was nearly cut to pieces,
and as he lay wounded, and to all appearance dying, he received a
lance-wound through the chest that the surgeon declared must prove
fatal. He lived, however, for eight months after,--he lived long enough
to reach the Himalayas, where his daughter, an only child, joined him
from England. On her way out she became acquainted with a young officer,
who was coming out as aide-de-camp to the Governor-General. They were
constantly thrown together on the journey, and his attentions to her
soon showed the sentiments he had conceived for her. In fact, very soon
after Lucy had joined her father, Captain Sewell appeared 'in the Hills'
to make a formal demand of her in marriage.

"I was there at the time, and I remember well poor Dillon's expression
of disappointment after the first meeting with him. His daughter's
enthusiastic description of his looks, his manner, his abilities, his
qualities generally, had perhaps prepared him for too much. Indeed,
Lucy's own intense admiration for the soldierlike character of her
father's features assisted the mistake; for, as Dillon said, 'There must
be a dash of the _sabreur_ in the fellow that will win Lucy.' I came
into Dillon's room immediately after the first interview. The instant
I caught his eye I read what was going on in his brain. 'Sit down here,
Brook,' cried he, 'sit in my chair here;' and he arose painfully as he
spoke. 'I'll show you the man.' With this he hobbled over to a table
where his cap lay, and, placing it rakishly on one side of his head, he
stuck his eyeglass in one eye, and, with a hand in his trousers-pocket,
lounged forward towards where I sat, saying, 'How d' ye do, Colonel?
Wound doing better, I hope. The breezy climate up here soon set you up.'
'Familiar enough this, sir,' cried Dillon, in his own stern voice; 'but
without time to breathe, as it were,--before almost I had exchanged
a greeting with him,--he entered upon the object of his journey. I
scarcely heard a word he said; I knew its purport,--I could mark the
theme,--but no more. It was not the fellow himself that filled my mind;
my whole thoughts were upon my daughter, and I went on repeating to
myself, "Good heavens! is this Lucy's choice? Am I in a trance? Is
it this contemptible cur (for he was a cur, sir) that has won the
affections of my darling, high-hearted, generous girl? Is the romantic
spirit that I have so loved to see in her to bear no better fruit than
this? Does the fellow realize to her mind the hero that fills men's
thoughts?" I was so overcome, so excited, so confused, Brook, that I
begged him to leave me for a while, that one of my attacks of pain was
coming on, and that I should not be able to converse farther He said
something about trying one of his cheroots,--some impertinence or other,
I forget what; but he left me, and I, who never knew a touch of girlish
weakness in my life, who when a child had no mood of softness in my
nature,--I felt the tears trickling along my cheeks, and my eyes dimmed
with them.' My poor friend," continued Fossbrooke, "could not go on; his
emotions mastered him, and he sat with his head buried between his hands
and in silence. At last he said, 'She 'll not give him up, Brook; I have
spoken to her,--she actually loves him. Good heavens!' he cried, 'how
little do we know about our children's hearts! how far astray are we as
to the natures that have grown up beside us, imbibing, as we thought,
our hopes, our wishes, and our prejudices! We awake some day to discover
that some other influence has crept in to undo our teachings, and
that the fidelity on which we would have staked our lives has changed
allegiance.'

"He talked to me long in this strain, and I saw that the effects of this
blow to all his hopes had made themselves deeply felt on his chance of
recovery. It only needed a great shock to depress him to make his case
hopeless. Within two months after his daughter's arrival he was no more.

"I became Lucy's guardian. Poor Dillon gave me the entire control over
her future fortune, and left me to occupy towards her the place he had
himself held. I believe that next to her father I held the best place
in her affections,--of such affections, I mean, as are accorded to
a parent. I was her godfather, and from her earliest infancy she had
learned to love me. The reserve--it was positive coldness--with which
Dillon had always treated Sewell had caused a certain distance, for the
first time in their lives, between the father and daughter. She thought,
naturally enough, that her father was unjust; that, unaccustomed to the
new tone of manners which had grown up amongst young men,--their greater
ease, their less rigid observance of ceremonial, their more liberal
self-indulgence,--he was unfairly severe upon her lover. She was
annoyed, too, that Sewells attempts to conciliate the old man should
have turned out such complete failures. But none of these prejudices
extended to me, and she counted much on the good understanding that she
expected to find grow up between us.

"If I could have prevented the marriage, I would. I learned many things
of the man that I disliked. There is no worse sign of a man than to be
at the same time a man of pleasure and friendless. These he was,--he was
foremost in every plan of amusement and dissipation, and yet none liked
him. Vain fellows get quizzed for their vanity, and selfish men laughed
at for their selfishness, and close men for their avarice; but there
is a combination of vanity, egotism, small craftiness, and
self-preservation in certain fellows that is totally repugnant to all
companionship. Their lives are a series of petty successes, not owing
to any superior ability or greater boldness of daring, but to a studious
outlook for small opportunities. They are ever alive to know the 'right
man,' to be invited to the 'right house,' to say the 'right thing.'
Never linked with whatever is in disgrace or misfortune, they are always
found backing the winning horse, if not riding him.

"Such men as these, so long as the world goes well with them, and events
turn out fortunately, are regarded simply as sharp, shrewd fellows,
with a keen eye to their own interests. When, however, the weight of
any misfortune comes, when the time arrives that they have to bear up
against the hard pressure of life, these fellows come forth in their
true colors, swindlers and cheats.

"Such was he. Finding that I was determined to settle the small fortune
her father had left her inalienably on herself, he defeated me by a
private marriage. He then launched out into a life of extravagance to
which their means bore no proportion. I was a rich man in those days,
and knew nothing better to do with my money than assist the daughter of
my oldest friend. The gallant Captain did not balk my good intentions.
He first accepted, he then borrowed, and last of all he forged my name.
I paid the bills and saved him, not for his sake, I need not tell you,
but for hers, who threw herself at my feet, and implored me not to see
them ruined. Even this act of hers he turned to profit. He wrote to
me to say that he knew his wife had been to my house, that he had long
nurtured suspicions against me,--I that was many years older than her
own father,--that for the future he desired all acquaintance should
cease between us, and that I should not again cross his threshold.

"By what persuasions or by what menaces he led his wife to the step, I
do not know; but she passed me when we met without a recognition. This
was the hardest blow of all. I tried to write her a letter; but after a
score of attempts I gave it up, and left the place.

"I never saw her for eight years. I wish I had not seen her then. I
am an old, hardened man of the world, one whom life has taught all its
lessons to in the sternest fashion. I have been so baffled and beaten,
and thrown back by all my attempts to think well of the world, that
nothing short of a dogged resolution not to desert my colors has rescued
me from a cold misanthropy; and yet, till I saw, I did not believe
there was a new pang of misery my heart had not tasted. What? it is
incredible,--surely that is not she who once was Lucy Dillon,--that
bold-faced woman with lustrous eyes and rouged cheeks,--brilliant,
indeed, and beautiful, but not the beauty that is allied to the
thought of virtue,--whose every look is a wile, whose every action is
entanglement. She was leaning on a great man's arm, and in the smile she
gave him told me how she knew to purchase such distinctions. He noticed
me, and shook my hand as I passed. I heard him tell her who I was; and
I heard her say that I had been a hanger-on, a sort of dependant of her
father's, but she never liked me! I tried to laugh, but the pain was too
deep. I came away, and saw her no more."

He ceased speaking, and for some time they walked along side by side
without a word. At last he broke out: "Don't believe the people who say
that men are taught by anything they experience in life. Outwardly they
may affect it. They may assume this or that manner. The heart cannot
play the hypocrite, and no frequency of disaster diminishes the smart.
The wondrous resemblance Miss Lendrick bears to Lucy Dillon renews to my
memory the bright days of her early beauty, when her poor father would
call her to sit down at his feet and read to him, that he might gaze
at will on her, weaving whole histories of future happiness and joy for
her. 'Is it not like sunshine in the room to see her, Brook?' would he
whisper to me. 'I only heard her voice as she passed under my window
this morning, and I forgot some dark thought that was troubling me.'
And there was no exaggeration in this. The sweet music of her tones
"vibrated so softly on the ear, they soothed the sense, just as we feel
soothed by the gentle ripple of a stream.

"All these times come back to me since I have been here, and I cannot
tell you how the very sorrow that is associated with them has its power
over me. Every one knows with what attachment the heart will cling to
some little spot in a far-away land that reminds one of a loved place at
home,--how we delight to bring back old memories, and how we even like
to name old names, to cheat ourselves back into the past. So it is that
I feel when I see this girl. The other Lucy was once as my daughter; so,
too, do I regard her, and with this comes that dreadful sorrow I have
told you of, giving my interest in her an intensity unspeakable. When
I saw Trafford's attention to her, the only thing I thought of was
how unlike he was to him who won the other Lucy. His frank, unaffected
bearing, his fine, manly trustfulness, the very opposite to the other's
qualities, made me his friend at once. When I say friend, I mean
well-wisher, for my friendship now bears no other fruit. Time was when
it was otherwise."

"What is it, William?" cried the vicar, as his servant came hurriedly
forward.

"There 's a gentleman in the drawing-room, sir, wants to see Sir Brook
Fossbrooke."

"Have I your leave?" said the old man, bowing low. "I 'll join you here
immediately."

Within a few moments he was back again. "It was Trafford. He has just
got a telegram to call him to his regiment. He suspects something has
gone wrong; and seeing his agitation, I offered to go back with him. We
start within an hour."



CHAPTER X. LENDRICK RECOUNTS HIS VISIT TO TOWN

The vicar having some business to transact in Limerick, agreed to
go that far with Sir Brook and Trafford, and accompanied them to the
railroad to see them off.

A down train from Dublin arrived as they were waiting, and a passenger,
descending, hastily hurried after the vicar, and seized his hand. The
vicar, in evident delight, forgot his other friends for a moment,
and became deeply interested in the new-comer. "We must say good-bye,
doctor," said Fossbrooke; "here comes our train."

"A thousand pardons, my dear Sir Brook. The unlooked-for arrival of my
friend here--but I believe you don't know him. Lendrick, come here,
I want to present you to Sir Brook Fossbrooke. Captain Trafford, Dr.
Lendrick."

"I hope these gentlemen are not departing," said Lendrick, with the
constraint of a bashful man.

"It is our misfortune to do so," said Sir Brook; "but I have passed too
many happy hours in this neighborhood not to come back to it as soon as
I can."

"I hope we shall see you. I hope I may have an opportunity of thanking
you, Sir Brook."

"Dublin! Dublin! Dublin! get in, gentlemen: first class, this way, sir,"
screamed a guard, amidst a thundering rumble, a scream, and a hiss. All
other words were drowned, and with a cordial shake-hands the new friends
parted.

"Is the younger man his son?" asked Lendrick; "I did not catch the
name?"

"No; he's Trafford, a son of Sir Hugh Trafford,--a Lincolnshire man,
isn't he?"

"I don't know. It was of the other I was thinking. I felt it so strange
to see a man of whom when a boy I used to hear so much. I have an old
print somewhere of two over-dressed 'Bloods,' as they were called in
those days, with immense whiskers, styled 'Fossy and Fussy,' meaning Sir
Brook and the Baron Geramb, a German friend and follower of the Prince."

"I suspect a good deal changed since that day, in person as well as
purse," said the vicar, sadly.

"Indeed! I heard of his having inherited some immense fortune."

"So he did, and squandered every shilling of it."

"And the chicks are well, you tell me?" said Lendrick, whose voice
softened as he talked of home and his children.

"Could n't be better. We had a little picnic on Holy Island yesterday,
and only wanted yourself to have been perfectly happy. Lucy was for
refusing at first."

"Why so?"

"Some notion she had that you would n't like it. Some idea about not
doing in your absence anything that was not usual when you are here."

"She is such a true girl, so loyal," said Lendrick, proudly.

"Well, I take the treason on my shoulders. I made her come. It was a
delightful day, and we drank your health in as good a glass of Madeira
as ever ripened in the sun. Now for your own news?"

"First let us get on the road. I am impatient to be back at home again.
Have you your car here?"

"All is ready, and waiting for you at the gate."

As they drove briskly along, Lendrick gave the vicar a detailed account
of his visit to Dublin. Passing over the first days, of which the reader
already has heard something, we take up the story from the day on which
Lendrick learned that his father would see him.

"My mind was so full of myself, doctor," said he, "of all the
consequences which had followed from my father's anger with me, that I
had no thought of anything else till I entered the room where he was.
Then, however, as I saw him propped up with pillows in a deep chair,
his face pale, his eyes colorless, and his head swathed up in a bandage
after leeching, my heart sickened, alike with sorrow and shame at my
great selfishness.

"I had been warned by Beattie on no account to let any show of feeling
or emotion escape me, to be as cool and collected as possible, and in
fact, he said, to behave as though I had seen him the day before.

"'Leave the room, Poynder,' said he to his man, 'and suffer no one to
knock at the door--mind, not even to knock--till I ring my bell.' He
waited till the man withdrew, and then in a very gentle voice said, 'How
are you, Tom? I can't give you my right hand,--the rebellious member
has ceased to know me!' I thought I should choke as the words met me; I
don't remember what I said, but I took my chair and sat down beside him.

"'I thought you might have been too much agitated, Tom, but otherwise
I should have wished to have had your advice along with Beattie. I
believe, on the whole, however, he has treated me well.'

"I assured him that none could have done more skilfully.

"The skill of the doctor with an old patient is the skill of an
architect with an old wall. He must not breach it, or it will tumble to
pieces.

"'Beattie is very able, sir,' said I.

"'No man is able,' replied he, quickly, 'when the question is to repair
the wastes of time and years. Draw that curtain, and let me look at
you. No; stand yonder, where the light is stronger. What! is it my eyes
deceive me,--is your hair white?'

"'It has been so eight years, sir.'

"'And I had not a gray hair till my seventy-second year,--not one. I
told Beattie, t' other day, that the race of the strong was dying out.
Good heavens, how old you look! Would any one believe in seeing us that
you could be my son?'

"'I feel perhaps even more than I look it, sir.'

"'I could swear you did. You are the very stamp of those fellows who
plead guilty--"Guilty, my Lord; we throw ourselves on the mercy of
the court." I don't know how the great judgment-seat regards these
pleas,--with _me_ they meet only scorn. Give me the man who says, "Try
me, test me." Drop that curtain, and draw the screen across the fire.
Speak lower, too, my dear,' said he, in a weak soft voice; 'you suffer
yourself to grow excited, and you excite me.'

"'I will be more cautious, sir,' said I.

"'What are these drops he is giving me? They have an acrid sweet taste.'

"'Aconite, sir; a weak solution.'

"'They say that our laws never forgot feudalism, but I declare I believe
medicine has never been able to ignore alchemy: drop me out twenty, I
see that your hand does not shake. Strange thought, is it not, to feel
that a little phial like that could make a new Baron of the Exchequer?
You have heard, I suppose, of the attempts--the indecent attempts--to
induce me to resign. You have heard what they say of my age. They quote
the registry of my baptism, as though it were the date of a conviction.
I have yet to learn that the years a man has devoted to his country's
service are counts in the indictment against his character. Age has been
less merciful to me than to my fellows,--it has neither made me deaf
to rancor nor blind to ingratitude. I told the Lord-Lieutenant so
yesterday.'

"'You saw him then, sir?' asked I.

"'Yes, he was gracious enough to call here; he sent his secretary to ask
if I would receive a visit from him. I thought that a little more tact
might have been expected from a man in his station,--it is the common
gift of those in high places. I perceive,' added he, after a pause, 'you
don't see what I mean. It is this: royalties, or mock royalties, for
they are the same in this, condescend to these visits as deathbed
attentions. They come to us with their courtesies as the priest comes
with his holy cruet, only when they have the assurance that we are
beyond recovery. His Excellency ought to have felt that the man to
whom he proposed this attention was not one to misunderstand its
significance.'

"'Did he remain long, sir?'

"'Two hours and forty minutes. I measured it by my watch.'

"'Was the fatigue not too much for you?'

"'Of course it was; I fainted before he got to his carriage. He twice
rose to go away, but on each occasion I had something to say that
induced him to sit down again. It was the whole case of Ireland we
reviewed,--that is, I did. I deployed the six millions before him,
and he took the salute. Yes, sir, education, religious animosities,
land-tenure, drainage, emigration, secret societies, the rebel priest
and the intolerant parson, even nationality and mendicant insolence, all
marched past, and he took the salute! "And now, my Lord," said I, "it is
the man who tells you these things, who has the courage to tell and the
ability to display them, and it is this man for whose retirement your
Ex-lency is so eager, that you have actually deigned to make him a
visit, that he may carry away into the next world, perhaps, a pleasing
memory of this; it is this man, I say, whom you propose to replace--and
by what, my Lord, and by whom? Will a mere lawyer, will any amount of
_nisi prius_ craft or precedent, give you the qualities you need on that
bench, or that you need, sadly need, at this council-board? Go back, my
Lord, and tell your colleagues of the Cabinet that Providence is more
merciful than a Premier, and that the same overruling hand that has
sustained me through this trial will uphold me, I trust, for years to
serve my country, and save it for some time longer from your blundering
legislation."

"'He stood up, sir, like a prisoner when under sentence; he stood up,
sir, and as he bowed, I waved my adieu to him as though saying, You
have heard me, and you are not to carry away from this place a hope, the
faintest, that any change will come over the determination I have this
day declared.

"'He went away, and I fainted. The exertion was too long sustained,
too much for me. I believe, after all,' added he, with a smile, 'his
Excellency bore it very little better. He told the Archbishop the same
evening that he'd not go through another such morning for "the garter."
Men in his station hear so little of truth that it revolts them like
coarse diet. They 'd rather abstain altogether till forced by actual
hunger to touch it. When they come to me, however, it is the only fare
they will find before them.'

"There was a long pause after this," continued Lendrick. "I saw that
the theme had greatly excited him, and I forbore to say a word, lest
he should be led to resume it. 'Too old for the bench!' burst he out
suddenly; 'my Lord, there are men who are never too old, as there are
those who are never too young. The oak is but a sapling when the pine is
in decay. Is there that glut of intellect just now in England, are we
so surfeited with ability that, to make room for the coming men, we, who
have made our mark on the age, must retire into obscurity?' He tried
to rise from his seat; his face was flushed, and his eyes flashing; he
evidently forgot where he was, and with whom, for he sank back with
a faint sigh, and said, 'Let us talk of it no more. Let us think of
something else. Indeed, it was to talk of something else I desired to
see you.' He went on, then, to say that he wished something could be
done for me. His own means were, he said, sadly crippled; he spoke
bitterly, resentfully, I thought. 'It is too long a story to enter on,
and were it briefer, too disagreeable a one,' added he. 'I ought to be a
rich man, and I am poor; I should be powerful, and I have no influence.
All has gone ill with me.' After a silence, he continued, 'They have
a place to offer you: the inspectorship, I think they call it, of
hospitals at the Cape; it is worth, altogether, nigh a thousand a year,
a thing not to be refused.'

"'The offer could only be made in compliment to you, sir; and if my
acceptance were to compromise your position--'

"'Compromise _me!_' broke he in. 'I 'll take care it shall not. No man
need instruct me in the art of self-defence, sir. Accept at once.'

"'I will do whatever you desire, sir,' was my answer.

"'Go out there yourself, alone,--at first, I mean. Let your boy continue
his college career; the girl shall come to me.'

"'I have never been separated from my children, sir,' said I, almost
trembling with anxiety.

"'Such separations are bearable,' added he, 'when it is duty dictates
them, not disobedience.'

"He fixed his eyes sternly on me, and I trembled as I thought that the
long score of years was at last come to the reckoning. He did not dwell
on the theme, however, but in a tone of much gentler meaning, went
on: 'It will be an act of mercy to let me see a loving face, to hear a
tender voice. Your boy would be too rough for me.'

"'You would like him, sir. He is thoroughly truthful and honest.'

"'So he may, and yet be self-willed, be noisy, be over-redolent of that
youth which age resents like outrage. Give me the girl, Tom; let her
come here, and bestow some of those loving graces on the last hours of
my life her looks show she should be rich in. For your sake she will be
kind to me. Who knows what charm there may be in gentleness, even to
a tiger-nature like mine? Ask her, at least, if she will make the
sacrifice.'

"I knew not what to answer. If I could not endure the thought of
parting from Lucy, yet it seemed equally impossible to refuse his
entreaty,--old, friendless, and deserted as he was. I felt, besides,
that my only hope of a real reconciliation with him lay through this
road; deny him this, and it was clear he would never see me more. He
said, too, it should only be for a season. I was to see how the place,
the climate, suited for a residence. In a word, every possible argument
to reconcile me to the project rushed to my mind, and I at last said,
'Lucy shall decide, sir. I will set out for home at once, and you shall
have her own answer.'

"'Uninfluenced, sir,' cried he,--'mind that. If influence were to be
used, I could perhaps tell her what might decide her at once; but I
would not that pity should plead for me, till she should have seen if
I be worth compassion! There is but one argument I will permit in my
favor,--tell her that her picture has been my pleasantest companion
these three long days. There it lies, always before me. Go now, and let
me hear from you as soon as may be.' I arose, but somehow my agitation,
do what I would, mastered me. It was so long since we had met! All the
sorrows the long estrangement had cost me came to my mind, together
with little touches of his kindness in long-past years, and I could not
speak. 'Poor Tom! poor Tom!' said he, drawing me towards him; and he
kissed me."

As Lendrick said this, emotion overcame him, and he covered his face
with his hands, and sobbed bitterly. More than a mile of road was
traversed before a word passed between them. "There they are, doctor!
There 's Tom, there's Lucy! They are coming to meet me," cried he.
"Good-bye, doctor; you 'll forgive me, I know,--goodbye;" and he sprang
off the car as he spoke, while the vicar, respecting the sacredness of
the joy, wheeled his horse round, and drove back towards the town.



CHAPTER XI. CAVE CONSULTS SIR BROOK

A few minutes after the Adjutant had informed Colonel Cave that
Lieutenant Traflford had reported himself, Sir Brook entered the
Colonel's quarters, eager to know what was the reason of the sudden
recall of Traflford, and whether the regiment had been unexpectedly
ordered for foreign service.

"No, no," said Cave, in some confusion. "We have had our turn of India
and the Cape; they can't send us away again for some time. It was purely
personal; it was, I may say, a private reason. You know," added he, with
a slight smile, "I am acting as a sort of guardian to Trafford just now.
His family sent him over to me, as to a reformatory."

"From everything I have seen of him, your office will be an easy one."

"Well, I suspect that, so far as mere wildness goes,--extravagance and
that sort of thing,--he has had enough of it; but there are mistakes
that a young fellow may make in life--mistakes in judgment--which will
damage him more irreparably than all his derelictions against morality."

"That I deny,--totally, entirely deny. I know what you mean,--that is,
I think I know what you mean; and if I guess aright, I am distinctly at
issue with you on this matter."

"Perhaps I could convince you, notwithstanding. Here's a letter which
I have no right to show you; it is marked 'Strictly confidential and
private.' You shall read it,--nay, you must read it,--because you
are exactly the man to be able to give advice on the matter. You like
Traflford, and wish him well. Read that over carefully, and tell me what
you would counsel."

Fossbrooke took out his spectacles, and, having seated himself
comfortably, with his back to the light, began in leisurely fashion to
peruse the letter. "It's his mother who writes," said he, turning to
the signature,--"one of the most worldly women I ever met. She was a
Lascelles. Don't you know how she married Trafford?"

"I don't remember, if I ever heard."

"It was her sister that Trafford wanted to marry, but she was ambitious
to be a peeress; and as Bradbrook was in love with her, she told Sir
Hugh, 'I have got a sister so like me nobody can distinguish between us.
She 'd make an excellent wife for you. She rides far better than me, and
she is n't half so extravagant. I 'll send for her.' She did so, and the
whole thing was settled in a week."

"They have lived very happily together."

"Of course they have. They didn't 'go in,' as the speculators say, for
enormous profits; they realized very fairly, and were satisfied. I wish
her handwriting had been more cared for. What's this she says here about
a subscription?"

"That 's supervision,--the supervision of a parent."

"Supervision of a fiddlestick! the fellow is six feet one inch high,
and seven-and-twenty years of age; he's quite beyond supervision. Ah!
brought back all his father's gout, has he? When will people begin to
admit that their own tempers have something to say to their maladies?
I curse the cook who made the mulligatawny, but I forget that I ate two
platefuls of it. So it's the doctor's daughter she objects to. I wish
she saw her. I wish _you_ saw her, Cave. You are an old frequenter of
courts and drawing-rooms. I tell you you have seen nothing like this
doctor's daughter since Laura Bedingfield was presented, and that was
before your day."

"Every one has heard of the Beauty Bedingfield; but she was my mother's
contemporary."

"Well, sir, her successors have not eclipsed her! This doctor's
daughter, as your correspondent calls her, is the only rival of her that
I have ever seen. As to wit and accomplishments, Laura could not compete
with Lucy Lendrick."

"You know her, then?" asked the Colonel; and then added, "Tell me
something about the family."

"With your leave, I will finish this letter first. Ah! here we have the
whole secret. Lionel Trafford is likely to be that precious prize, an
eldest son. Who could have thought that the law of entail could sway a
mother's affections? 'Contract no ties inconsistent with his station.'
This begins to be intolerable, Cave. I don't think I can go on."

"Yes, yes; read it through."

"She asks you if you know any one who knows these Hendrichs or
Lendrichs; tell her that you do; tell her that your friend is one of
those men who have seen a good deal of life, heard more, too, than
he has seen. She will understand that, and that his name is Sir Brook
Fossbrooke, who, if needed, will think nothing of a journey over to
Lincolnshire to afford her all the information she could wish for.
Say this, Cave, and take my word for it, she will put very few more
questions to you."

"That would be to avow I had already consulted with you. No, no; I must
not do that."

"The wind-up of the epistle is charming. 'I have certainly no reason to
love Ireland.' Poor Ireland! here is another infliction upon you. Let us
hope you may never come to know that Lady Trafford cannot love you."

"Come, come, Fossbrooke, be just, be fair; there is nothing so very
unreasonable in the anxiety of a mother that her son, who will have a
good name and a large estate, should not share them both with a person
beneath him."

"Why must she assume that this is the case,--why take it for granted
that this girl must be beneath him? I tell you, sir, if a prince of the
blood had fallen in love with her, it would be a reason to repeal the
Royal Marriage Act."

"I declare, Fossbrooke, I shall begin to suspect that your own heart has
not escaped scathless," said Cave, laughing.

The old man's face became crimson, but not with anger. As suddenly it
grew pale; and in a voice of deep agitation he said, "When an old man
like myself lays his homage at her feet, it is not hard to believe how a
young man might love her."

"How did you come to make this acquaintance?" said Cave, anxious to turn
the conversation into a more familiar channel.

"We chanced to fail in with her brother on the river. We found him
struggling with a fish far too large for his tackle, and which at last
smashed his rod and got away. He showed not alone that he was a perfect
angler, but that he was a fine-tempered fellow, who accepted his defeat
manfully and well; he had even a good word for his enemy, sir, and
it was that which attracted me. Trafford and he, young-men-like, soon
understood each other; he came into our boat, lunched with us, and asked
us home with him to tea. There 's the whole story. As to the intimacy
that followed, it was mostly my own doing. I own to you I never so much
as suspected that Trafford was smitten by her; he was always with her
brother, scarcely at all in her company; and when he came to tell me he
was in love, I asked him how he caught the malady, for I never saw him
near the infection. Once that I knew of the matter, however, I made him
write home to his family."

"It was by your advice, then, that he wrote that letter?"

"Certainly; I not only advised, I insisted on it,--I read it, too,
before it was sent off. It was such a letter as, if I had been the young
fellow's father, would have made me prouder than to hear he had got the
thanks of Parliament."

"You and I, Fossbrooke, are old bachelors; we are scarcely able to say
what we should have done if we had had sons."

"I am inclined to believe it would have made us better, not worse," said
Fossbrooke, gravely.

"At all events, as it was at your instigation this letter was written,
I can't well suggest your name as an impartial person in the
transaction,--I mean, as one who can be referred to for advice or
information."

"Don't do so, sir, or I shall be tempted to say more than may be
prudent. Have you never noticed, Cave, the effect that a doctor's
presence produces in the society of those who usually consult him,--the
reserve,--the awkwardness,--the constraint,--the apologetic tone for
this or that little indiscretion,--the sitting in the draught or the
extra glass of sherry? So is it, but in a far stronger degree, when an
old man of the world like myself comes back amongst those he formerly
lived with,--one who knew all their past history, how they succeeded
here, how they failed there,--what led the great man of fashion to
finish his days in a colony, and why the Court beauty married a bishop.
Ah, sir, we are the physicians who have all these secrets in our
keeping. It is ours to know what sorrow is covered by that smile, how
that merry laugh has but smothered the sigh of a heavy heart. It is only
when a man has lived to my age, with an unfailing memory too, that he
knows the real hollowness of life,--all the combinations falsified, all
the hopes blighted,--the clever fellows that have turned out failures,
or worse than failures,--the lovely women that have made shipwreck
through their beauty. It is not only, however, that he knows this, but
he knows how craft and cunning have won where ability and frankness
have lost,--how intrigue and trick have done better than genius and
integrity. With all this knowledge, sir, in their heads, and stout
hearts within them, such men as myself have their utility in life. They
are a sort of walking conscience that cannot be ignored. The railroad
millionnaire talks less boastfully before him who knew him as an
errand-boy; the _grande dame_ is less superciliously insolent in the
presence of one who remembered her in a very different character. Take
my word for it, Cave, Nestor may have been a bit of a bore amongst the
young Greeks of fashion, but he had his utility too."

"But how am I to answer this letter? What advice shall I give her?"

"Tell her frankly that you have made the inquiry she wished; that the
young lady, who is as well born as her son, is without fortune, and if
her personal qualities count for nothing, would be what the world would
call a 'bad match.'"

"Yes, that sounds practicable. I think that will do."

"Tell her, also, that if she seriously desires that her son should
continue in the way of that reformation he has so ardently followed for
some time back, and especially so since he has made the acquaintance of
this family, such a marriage as this would give her better reasons
for confidence than all her most crafty devices in match-making and
settlements."

"I don't think I can exactly tell her that," said Caver smiling.

"Tell her, then, that if this connection be not to her liking, to
withdraw her son at once from this neighborhood before this girl should
come to care for him; for if she should, by heavens! he shall marry her,
if every acre of the estate were to go to a cousin ten times removed!"

"Were not these people all strangers to you t' other day, Fossbrooke?"
said Cave, in something like a tone of reprehension.

"So they were. I had never so much as heard of them; but she, this girl,
has a claim upon my interest, founded on a resemblance so strong that
when I see her, I live back again in the long past, and find myself in
converse with the dearest friends I ever had. I vow to Heaven I never
knew the bitterness of want of fortune till now! I never felt how
powerless and insignificant poverty can make a man till I desired to
contribute to this girl's happiness; and if I were not an old worthless
wreck,--shattered and unseaworthy,--I 'd set to work to-morrow to refit
and try to make a fortune to bestow on her."

If Cave was half disposed to banter the old man on what seemed little
short of a devoted attachment, the agitation of Fossbrooke's manner--his
trembling lip, his shaking voice, his changing color--all warned him
to forbear, and abstain from what might well have proved a perilous
freedom.

"You will dine with us at mess, Fossbrooke, won't you?"

"No; I shall return at once to Killaloe. I made Dr. Lendrick's
acquaintance just as I started by the train. I want to see more of
him. Besides, now that I know what was the emergency that called young
Trafford up here, I have nothing to detain me."

"Shall you see him before you go?"

"Of course. I am going over to his quarters now."

"You will not mention our conversation?"

"Certainly not."

"I 'd like to show you my letter before I send it off. I 'd be glad to
think it was what you recommended."

"Write what you feel to be a fair statement of the case, and if by any
chance an inclination to partiality crosses you, let it be in favor of
the young. Take my word for it, Cave, there is a selfishness in age that
needs no ally. Stand by the sons; the fathers and mothers will take care
of themselves. Good-bye."



CHAPTER XII. A GREAT MAN'S SCHOOLFELLOW

Whether it was that the Chief Baron had thrown off an attack which had
long menaced him, and whose slow approaches had gradually impaired his
strength and diminished his mental activity, or whether, as some of his
"friends" suggested, that the old man's tenure of life had been renewed
by the impertinences of the newspapers and the insolent attacks of
political foes,--an explanation not by any means far-fetched,--whatever
the cause, he came out of his illness with all the signs of renewed
vigor, and with a degree of mental acuteness that he had not enjoyed for
many years before.

"Beattie tells me that this attack has inserted another life in my
lease," said he; "and I am glad of it. It is right that the men who
speculated on my death should be reminded of the uncertainty of life by
the negative proof. It is well, too, that there should be men long-lived
enough to bridge over periods of mediocrity, and connect the triumphs
of the past with the coming glories of the future. We are surely not
destined to a perpetuity of Pendletons and Fitzgibbons?"

It was thus he discoursed to an old legal comrade,--who, less gifted
and less fortunate, still wore his stuff gown, and pleaded for the
outer bar,--poor old Billy Haire, the dreariest advocate, and one of the
honestest fellows that ever carried his bag into court. While nearly all
of his contemporaries had risen to rank and eminence, Billy toiled on
through life with small success, liked by his friends, respected by
the world, but the terror of attorneys, who only saw in him the type of
adverse decisions and unfavorable verdicts.

For forty-odd years had he lived a life that any but himself would have
deemed martyrdom,--his law laughed at, his eloquence ridiculed, his
manner mimicked, jeered at by the bench, quizzed by the bar, sneered at
by the newspapers, every absurd story tagged to his name, every stupid
blunder fathered on him, till at last, as it were, by the mere force
of years, the world came to recognize the incomparable temper that no
provocation had ever been able to irritate, the grand nature that rose
above all resentment, and would think better of its fellows than these
moods of spiteful wit or impertinent drollery might seem to entitle them
to.

The old Judge liked him; he liked his manly simplicity of character, his
truthfulness, and his honesty; but perhaps more than all these, did he
like his dulness. It was so pleasant to him to pelt this poor heavy man
with smart epigrams and pungent sarcasms on all that was doing in the
world, and see the hopeless effort he made to follow him.

Billy, too, had another use; he alone, of all the Chief Baron's friends,
could tell him what was the current gossip of the hall,--what men
thought, or at least what they said of him. The genuine simplicity of
Haire's nature gave to his revelations a character so devoid of all
spitefulness,--it was so evident that, in repeating, he never identified
himself with his story that Lendrick would listen to words from him
that, coming from another, his resentment would have repelled with
indignation.

"And you tell me that the story now is, my whole attack was nothing but
temper?" said the old Judge, as the two men walked slowly up and down on
the grass lawn before the door.

"Not that exactly; but they say that constitutional irritability had
much to say to it."

"It was, in fact, such a seizure as, with a man like yourself, would
have been a mere nothing."

"Perhaps so."

"I am sure of it, sir; and what more do they say?"

"All sorts of things, which, of course, they know nothing about. Some
have it that you refused the peerage, others that it was not offered."

"Ha!" said the old man, irritably, while a faint flush tinged his cheek.

"They say, too," continued Haire, "that when the Viceroy informed you
that you were not to be made a peer, you said: 'Let the Crown look to
it, then. The Revenue cases all come to my court; and so long as I sit
there, they shall never have a verdict.'"

"You must have invented that yourself, Billy," said the Judge, with a
droll malice in his eye. "Come, confess it is your own. It is _so_ like
you."

"No, on my honor," said the other, solemnly.

"Not that I would take it ill, Haire, if you had. When a man has a turn
for epigram, his friends must extend their indulgence to the humor."

"I assure you, positively, it is not mine."

"That is quite enough; let us talk of something else. By the way, I have
a letter to show you. I put it in my pocket this morning, to let you
see it; but, first of all, I must show you the writer,--here she is."
He drew forth a small miniature case, and, opening it, handed it to the
other.

"What a handsome girl! downright beautiful!"

"My granddaughter, sir," said the old man, proudly.

"I declare, I never saw a lovelier face," said Haire. "She must be
a rare cheat if she be not as good as she is beautiful. What a sweet
mouth!"

"The brow is fine; there is a high intelligence about the eyes and the
temples."

"It is the smile, that little lurking smile, that captivates me. What
may her age be?"

"Something close on twenty. Now for her letter. Read that."

While Haire perused the letter, the old Judge sauntered away, looking
from time to time at the miniature, and muttering some low inaudible
words as he went.

"I don't think I understand it. I am at a loss to catch what she is
drifting at," said Haire, as he finished the first side of the letter.
"What is she so grateful for?"

"You think the case is one which calls for little gratitude, then. What
a sarcastic mood you are in this morning, Haire!" said the Judge, with
a malicious twinkle of the eye. "Still, there are young ladies in the
world who would vouchsafe to bear me company in requital for being
placed at the head of such a house as this."

"I can make nothing of it," said the other, hopelessly.

"The case is this," said the Judge, as he drew his arm within the
other's. "Tom Lendrick has beeu offered a post of some value--some value
to a man poor as he is--at the Cape. I have told him that his acceptance
in no way involves me. I have told those who have offered the place that
I stand aloof in the whole negotiation,--that in their advancement of
my son they establish no claim upon _me_, I have even said I will know
nothing whatever of the incident." He paused for some minutes, and then
went on: "I have told Tom, however, if his circumstances were such as
to dispose him to avail himself of this offer, that--until he assured
himself that the place was one to his liking, that it gave a reasonable
prospect of permanence, that the climate was salubrious, and the society
not distasteful--I would take his daughter to live with me."

"He has a son, too, has n't he?"

"He has, sir, and he fain would have induced me to take _him_ instead of
the girl; but this I would not listen to. I have not nerves for the loud
speech and boisterous vitality of a young fellow of four or five and
twenty. His very vigor would be a standing insult to me, and the fellow
would know it. When men come to my age, they want a mild atmosphere in
morals and manners, as well as in climate. My son's physiology has not
taught him this, doctor though he be."

"I see,--I see it all now," said Haire; "and the girl, though sorry to
be separated from her father, is gratified by the thought of becoming a
tie between him and you."

"That is not in the record, sir," said the Judge, sternly. "Keep to your
brief." He took the letter sharply from the other's hand as he spoke.
"My granddaughter has not had much experience of life; but her woman's
tact has told her that her real difficulty--her only one, perhaps--will
be with Lady Lendrick. She cannot know that Lady Lendrick's authority
in this house is nothing,--less than nothing. I would never have invited
her to come here, had it been otherwise."

"Have you apprised Lady Lendrick of this arrangement?"

"No, sir; nor shall I. it shall be for you to do that 'officiously,' as
the French say, to distinguish from what is called 'officially.' I mean
you to call upon her and say, in the course of conversation, informally,
accidentally, that Miss Lendrick's arrival at the Priory has been
deferred, or that it is fixed for such a date,--in fact, sir, whatever
your own nice tact may deem the neatest mode of alluding to the topic,
leaving to her the reply. You understand me?"

"I 'm not so sure that I do."

"So much the better; your simplicity will be more inscrutable than your
subtlety, Haire. I can deal with the one--the other masters me."

"I declare frankly I don't like the mission. I was never, so to say, a
favorite with her Ladyship."

"Neither was I, sir," said the other, with a peremptory loudness that
was almost startling.

"Hadn't you better intimate it by a few lines in a note? Had n't you
better say that, having seen your son during his late visit to town, and
learnt his intention to accept a colonial appointment--"

"All this would be apologetic, sir, and must not be thought of. Don't
you know, Haire, that every unnecessary affidavit is a flaw in a man's
case? Go and see her; your very awkwardness will imply a secret, and she
'll be so well pleased with her acuteness in discovering the mystery,
she 'll half forget its offence."

"Let me clearly understand what I' ve got to do. I 'm to tell her or to
let her find out that you have been reconciled to your son Tom?"

"There is not a word of reconciliation, sir, in all your instructions.
You are to limit yourself to the statement that touches my
granddaughter."

"Very well; it will be so much the easier. I'm to say, then, that you
have adopted her, and placed her at the head of your house; that she is
to live here in all respects as its mistress?"

He paused; and as the Judge bowed a concurrence, he went on: "Of course
you will allow me to add that I was never consulted; that you did not
ask my opinion, and that I never gave one?"

"You are at liberty to, say all this."

"I would even say that I don't exactly see how the thing will work. A
very young girl, with of course a limited experience of life, will
have no common difficulties in dealing with a world so new and strange,
particularly without the companionship of one of her own sex."

"I cannot promise to supply that want, but she shall see as much of
_you_ as possible." And the words were uttered with a blended courtesy
and malice, of which he was perfect master. Poor Haire, however, only
saw the complimentary part, and hurriedly pledged himself to be at Miss
Lendrick's orders at all times.

"Come and let me show you how I mean to lodge her. I intend her to feel
a perfect independence of me and my humors. We are to see each other
from inclination, not constraint: I intend, sir that we should live on
good terms; and as the Church will have nothing to say to the compact,
it is possible it may succeed.

"These rooms are to be hers," said he, opening a door which offered a
_vista_ through several handsomely furnished rooms, all looking out upon
a neatly kept flower-garden. "Lady Lendrick, I believe, had long since
destined them for a son and daughter-in-law of hers, who are on their
way home from India. The plan will be now all the more difficult of
accomplishment."

"Which will not make my communication to her the pleasanter."

"But redound so much the more to the credit of your adroitness, Haire,
if you succeed. Come over here this evening and report progress." And
with this he nodded an easy good-bye, and strolled down the garden.

"I don't envy Haire his brief in this case," muttered he. "He'll not
have the 'court with him,' that's certain;" and he laughed spitefully to
himself as he went.



CHAPTER XIII. LAST DAYS

It may seem a hardship, but not improbably it is in its way an
alleviation, that we are never involved in any of the great trials
in life without having to deal with certain material embarrassments,
questions of vulgar interest which concern our pockets and affect our
finances.

Poor Lendrick's was a case in point. He was about to leave his
country,--to tear himself from a home he had embellished,--to separate
from his children that he loved so dearly, to face a new life in a new
land, friendless and alone; and with all these cares on his heart, he
had creditors to satisfy, debts to insure payment of by security, and,
not least of his troubles, his house to relet. Now, the value the world
sets on that which is not for sale is very unlike its estimate for the
same commodity when brought to market. The light claret your friend
pronounced a very pleasant little wine at your own table, he would
discover, when offered for purchase, to be poor, washy, and acrid. The
horse you had left him, and whose performance he had encomiumized,
if put up to auction, would be found spavined, or windgalled, or
broken-down. Such a stern test is money, so fearfully does its coarse
jingle jar upon all the music of flattery, and make discord of all
compliment. To such a pitch is the process carried, that even pretty
women, who as wives were objects of admiration to despairing and
disappointed adorers, have become, by widowhood, very ordinary
creatures, simply because they are once more "in the market."

It is well for us that heaven itself was not in the "Price Current,"
or we might have begun to think lightly of it. At all events we 'd have
higgled about the cost, and tried to get there as cheaply as might be.

From the day that the Swan's Nest appeared in the Dublin papers "to be
let furnished, for the three years of an unexpired term," Lendrick was
besieged by letters and applications. All the world apparently wanted
the place, but wanted it in some way or other quite out of his power
to accord. One insisted on having it unfurnished, and for a much longer
period than he could give. Another desired more land, and the right of
shooting over several hundred additional acres. A third would like the
house and garden, but would not burden himself with the lawn, and could
not see why Lendrick might not continue to hold the meadow-land, and
come back from the Cape or anywhere else to mow the grass and rick it in
due season.

A schoolmistress proposed he should build a dormitory for thirty young
ladies, and make the flower-garden into a playground; and a miller from
Limerick inquired whether he was willing to join in a suit to establish
a right of water-power by diverting a stream from the Shannon through
the dining-room to turn an undershot wheel.

It was marvellous with what patience and courtesy Lendrick replied to
these and such-like, politely assuring the writers how he regretted
his inability to meet their wishes, and modestly confessing that he had
neither the money nor the time to make his house other than it was.

All these, however, were as nothing to his trials when the day arrived
when the house and grounds, in the language of the advertisement, were
"on view," and the world of the curious and idle were free to invade the
place, stroll at will through rooms and gardens, comment and criticise
not merely the objects before them, but the taste and the fortunes, the
habits and the lives of those who had made this their home, and these
things part of their own natures.

In a half-jesting humor, but really to save Lendrick from a
mortification which, to a nature timid and sensitive as his, would
have been torture, Sir Brook and Tom agreed to divide the labors of
ciceroneship between them; the former devoting his attentions to
the house and furniture, while Tom assumed the charge of grounds and
gardens. To complete the arrangement, Lendrick and Lucy were banished to
a small summer-house, and strictly enjoined never to venture abroad so
long as the stranger horde overran the territory.

"I declare, my dear, I almost think the remedy worse than the disease,"
said Lendrick to his daughter, as he paced with short feverish steps the
narrow limits of his prison-house. "This isolation here has something
secret, something that suggests shame about it. I think I could almost
rather face all the remarks our visitors might make than sit down here
to fancy and brood over them."

"I suspect not, dearest papa; I believe the plan will spare us much that
might pain us."

"After all, child, these people have a right to be critical, and they
are not bound to know by what associations you and I are tied to that
old garden-seat or that bookstand, and we ought to be able to avoid
showing them this."

"Perhaps we ought, papa; but could we do so? that's-the question."

"Surely the tradesman affects no such squeamishness about what he offers
for sale."

"True, papa; because none of his wares have caught any clew to his
identity. They have never been his in the sense which makes possession
pleasure."

"I wish they would not laugh without there; their coarse laughter sounds
to me so like vulgar ridicule. I hardly thought all this would have made
me so irritable; even the children's voices jar on my nerves."

He turned away his head, but her eyes followed him, and two heavy tears
stole slowly along her cheek, and her lip quivered as she looked.

"There, they are going away," said he, listening; "I am better now."

"That 's right, dearest papa; I knew it was a mere passing pang," said
she, drawing her arm within his, and walking along at his side. "How
kind Sir Brook is!"

"How kind every one, we might say. Poor Mills is like a brother, and
Tobin too,--I scarcely expected so much heart from him. He gave me
his old lancet-case as a keepsake yesterday, and I declare his voice
trembled as he said good-bye."

"As for the poor people, I hear, papa, that one would think they had
lost their nearest and dearest. Molly Dew says they were crying in her
house this morning over their breakfast as if it was a funeral."

"Is it not strange, Lucy, that what touches the heart so painfully
should help to heal the pang it gives? There is that in all this
affection for us that gladdens while it grieves. All,--all are so kind
to us! That young fellow--Trafford I think his name is--he was waiting
at the post for his letters this morning when I came up, and it seems
that Foss-brooke had told him of my appointment,--indiscreet of him, for
I would not wish it talked of; but Trafford turned to him and said, 'Ask
Dr. Lendrick, is he decided about going;' and when he heard that I was,
he scarcely said goodbye, but jumped into a cab, and drove off full
speed.

"'What does that mean?' asked I.

"'He was so fond of Tom,' said Fossbrooke, 'they were never separate
this last month or five weeks;' so you see, darling, each of us has his
sphere of love and affection."

Lucy was crimson over face and neck, but never spoke a word. Had she
spoken it would have been, perhaps, to corroborate Sir Brook, and to say
how fond the young men were of each other. I do not affirm this, I only
hint that it is likely. Where there are blanks in this narrative, the
reader has as much right to fill them as myself.

"Sir Brook," continued Lendrick, "thinks well of the young man; but for
my own part I hardly like to see Tom in close companionship with one so
much his superior in fortune. He is easily led, and has not yet learned
that stern lesson in life, how to confess that there are many things he
has no pretension to aspire to."

"Tom loves you too sincerely, papa, ever to do that which would
seriously grieve you."

"He would not deliberately,--he would not in cold blood, Lucy; but young
men, when together, have not many moods of deliberation or cold blood.
But let us not speculate on trouble that may never come. It is enough
for the present that he and Trafford are separated, if Trafford was even
likely to lead him into ways of extravagance."

"What 's that! Is n't it, Tom? He's laughing heartily at something. Yes;
here he comes."

"You may come out; the last of them has just driven off," cried Tom,
knocking at the door, while he continued to laugh on immoderately.

"What is it, Tom? What are you laughing at?"

"You should have seen it; it's nothing to tell, but it was wonderful to
witness. I'll never forget it as long as I live."

"But what was it?" asked she, impatiently.

"I thought we had fully done with all our visitors,--and a rum set they
were, most of them, not thinking of taking the place, but come out of
mere curiosity,--when who should drive up with two postilions and
four spicy grays but Lady Drumcarran and a large party, three horsemen
following? I just caught the word 'Excellency,' and found out from
one of the servants that a tall old man with white hair and very heavy
eyebrows was the Lord-Lieutenant. He stooped a good deal, and walked
tenderly; and as the Countess was most eager about the grounds and the
gardens, they parted company very soon, he going into the house to sit
down, while she prosecuted her inquiries without doors.

"I took him into the library; we had a long chat about fishing, and
fish-curing, and the London markets, and flax, and national education,
and land-tenure, and such-like. Of course I affected not to know who he
was, and I took the opportunity to say scores of impertinences about
the stupidity of the Castle, and the sort of men they send over here
to govern us; and he asked me if I was destined for any career or
profession, and I told him frankly that whenever I took up anything I
always was sure to discover it was the one very thing that didn't suit
me; and as I made this unlucky discovery in law, medicine, and the
Church, I had given up my college career, and was now in a sort of
interregnal period, wondering what it was to be next. I did n't like to
own that the _res angusto_ had anything to say to it. It was no business
of his to know about that.

"'You surely have friends able and willing to suggest something that
would fit you,' said he. 'Is not the Chief Baron your grandfather?'

"'Yes, and he might make me crier of his court; but I think he has
promised the reversion to his butler. The fact is, I 'd not do over
well with any fixed responsibilities attached to me. I 'd rather be a
guerilla than serve in the regulars, and so I 'll just wait and see if
something won't turn up in that undisciplined force I 'd like to serve
with.'

"'I 'll give you my name,' said he, 'before we part, and possibly I may
know some one who might be of use to you.'

"I thanked him coolly, and we talked of something else, when there came
a short plump little fellow, all beard and gold chains, to say that Lady
Drumcarran was waiting for him. 'Tell her I'm coming,' said he; 'and,
Balfour,' he cried out, 'before you go away, give this gentleman my
address, and if he should call, take care that I see him.'

"Balfour eyed me, and I eyed him, with, I take it, pretty much the same
result, which said plainly enough, 'You 're not the man for me.'

"'What in heaven's name is this?' cried the Viceroy, as he got outside
and saw Lady Drumcarran at the head of a procession carrying plants,
slips, and flower-pots down to the carriage.

"'Her Ladyship has made a raid amongst the greeneries,' said Balfour,
'and tipped the head-gardener, that tall fellow there with the yellow
rose-tree; as the place is going to be sold, she thought she might well
do a little genteel pillage.' Curious to see who our gardener could be,
all the more that he was said to be 'tall,' I went forward, and what
do you think I saw? Sir Brook, with a flower-pot under one arm, and
a quantity of cuttings under the other, walking a little after the
Countess, who was evidently giving him ample directions as to her
intentions. I could scarcely refrain from an outburst of laughing, but I
got away into the shrubbery and watched the whole proceedings. I was
too far off to hear, but this much I saw. Sir Brook had deposited his
rose-tree and his slips on the rumble, and stood beside the carriage
with his hat off. When his Excellency came up, a sudden movement took
place in the group, and the Viceroy, seeming to push his way through
the others, cried out something I could not catch, and then grasped Sir
Brook's hand with both his own. All was tumult in a moment. My Lady, in
evident confusion and shame,--that much I could see,--was courtesying
deeply to Sir Brook, who seemed not to understand her apologies--,
at least, he appeared stately and courteous, as usual, and not in the
slightest degree put out or chagrined by the incident. Though Lady
Drumcarran was profuse of her excuses, and most eager to make amends
for her mistake, the Viceroy took Sir Brook's arm and led him off to a
little distance, where they talked together for a few moments.

"'It's a promise, then, Fossbrooke,--you promise me!' cried he aloud, as
he approached the carriage.

"'Rely upon me,--and within a week, or ten days at farthest,' said Sir
Brook, as they drove away.

"I have not seen him since, and I scarcely know if I shall be able to
meet him without laughing."

"Here he comes," cried Lucy; "and take care, Tom, that you do nothing
that might offend him."

The caution was so far unnecessary that Sir Brook's manner, as he drew
near, had a certain stately dignity that invited no raillery.

"You have been detained a long time a prisoner, Dr. Len-drick," said
Fossbrooke, calmly; "but your visitors were so charmed with all they saw
that they lingered on, unwilling to take their leave."

"Tom tells me we had some of our county notabilities,--Lord and Lady
Drumcarran, the Lacys, and others," said Lendrick.

"Yes; and the Lord-Lieutenant, too, whom I used to know at Christ
Church. He would have been well pleased to have met you. He told me your
father was the ablest and most brilliant talker he ever knew."

"Ah! we are very unlike," said Lendrick, blushing modestly. "Did he
give any hint as to whether his party are pleased or the reverse with my
father's late conduct?"

"He only said, 'I wish you knew him, Fossbrooke; I sincerely wish you
knew him, if only to assure him that he will meet far more generous
treatment from us than from the Opposition.' He added that we were men
to suit each other; and this, of course, was a flattery for which I am
very grateful."

"And the tall man with the stoop was the Lord-Lieutenant?" asked Tom. "I
passed half an hour or more with him in the library, and he invited me
to call upon him, and told a young fellow, named Balfour, to give me his
address, which he forgot to do."

"We can go together, if you have no objection; for I, too, have promised
to pay my respects," said Sir Brook.

Tom was delighted at the suggestion, but whispered in his sister's ear,
as they passed out into the garden, "I thought I 'd have burst my sides
laughing when I met him; but it's the very last thing in my thoughts
now. I declare I 'd as soon pull a tiger's whiskers as venture on the
smallest liberty with him."

"I think you are right, Tom," said she, squeezing his arm
affectionately, to show that she not alone agreed with him, but was
pleased that he had given her the opportunity of doing so.

"I wonder is he telling the governor what happened this morning? It can
scarcely be that, though, they look so grave."

"Papa seems agitated too," said Lucy.

"I just caught Trafford's name as they passed. I hope he 's not saying
anything against him. It is not only that Lionel Trafford is as good a
fellow as ever lived, but that he fully believes Fossbrooke likes him. I
don't think he could be so false; do you, Lucy?"

"I 'm certain he is not. There, papa is beckoning to you; he wants you;"
and Lucy turned hurriedly away, anxious to conceal her emotion, for her
cheeks were burning, and her lips trembled with agitation.



CHAPTER XIV. TOM CROSS-EXAMINES HIS SISTER

It was decided on that evening that Sir Brook and Tom should set out for
Dublin the next morning. Lucy knew not why this sudden determination had
been come to, and Tom, who never yet had kept a secret from her, was now
reserved and uncommunicative. Nor was it merely that he held aloof his
confidence, but he was short and snappish in his manner, as though she
had someway vexed him, and vexed him in some shape that he could not
openly speak of or resent.

This was very new to her from him, and yet how was it? She had not
courage to ask for an explanation. Tom was not exactly one of those
people of whom it was pleasant to ask explanations., Where the matter to
be explained might be one of delicacy, he had a way of abruptly blurting
out the very thing one would have desired might be kept back. Just as an
awkward surgeon will tear off the dressing, and set a wound a-bleeding,
would he rudely destroy the work of time in healing by a moment of rash
impatience. It was knowing this--knowing it well--that deterred Lucy
from asking what might lead to something not over-agreeable to hear.

"Shall I pack your portmanteau, Tom?" asked she. It was a task that
always fell to her lot.

"No; Nicholas can do it,--any one can do it," said he, as he mumbled
with an unlit cigar between his teeth.

"You used to say I always did it best, Tom,--that I never forgot
anything," said she, caressingly.

"Perhaps I did,--perhaps I thought so. Look here, Lucy," said he, as
though by an immense effort he had got strength to say what he wanted,
"I am half vexed with you, if not more than half."

"Vexed with me, Tom,--vexed with _me!_ and for what?"

"I don't think that you need ask. I am inclined to believe that you know
perfectly well what I mean, and what I would much rather not say, if you
will only let me."

"I do not," said she, slowly and deliberately.

"Do you mean to say, Lucy," said he, and his manner was almost stern as
he spoke, "that you have no secrets from me, that you are as frank and
outspoken with me today as you were three months ago?"

"I do say so."

"Then what's the meaning of this letter?" cried he, as, carried away
by a burst of passion, he overstepped all the prudential reserve he had
sworn to himself to regard. "What does this mean?"

"I know nothing of that letter, nor what it contains," said she,
blushing till her very brow became crimson.

"I don't suppose you do, for though it is addressed to you, the seal is
unbroken; but you know whose handwriting it's in, and you know that you
have had others from the same quarter."

"I believe the writing is Mr. Trafford's," said she, as a deathlike
paleness spread over her face, "because he himself once asked me to read
a letter from him in the same handwriting."

"Which you did?"

"No; I refused. I handed the letter back to him unopened, and said that,
as I certainly should not write to him without my father's knowledge and
permission, I would not read a letter from him without the same."

"And what was the epistle, then, that the vicar's housekeeper handed him
from you?"

"That same letter I have spoken of. He left it on my table, insisting
and believing that on second thoughts I would read it. He thought so
because it was not to me, though addressed to me, but the copy of a
letter he had written to his mother, about me certainly." Here she
blushed deeply again. "As I continued, however, of the same mind,
determined not to see what the letter contained, I re-enclosed it and
gave it to Mrs. Brennan to hand to him."

"And all this you kept a secret from me?"

"It was not my secret. It was his. It was his till such time as he could
speak of it to my father, and this he told me had not yet come."

"Why not?"

"I never asked him that. I do not think, Tom," said she, with much
emotion, "it was such a question as you would have had me ask."

"Do you love--Come, darling Lucy, don't be angry with me. I never meant
to wound your feelings. Don't sob that way, my dear, dear Lucy. You know
what a rough coarse fellow I am; but I'd rather die than offend you.
Why did you not tell me of all this? I never liked any one so well as
Trafford, and why leave me to the chance of misconstruing him? Would n't
it have been the best way to have trusted me as you always have?"

"I don't see what there was to have confided to you. Mr. Trafford might,
if he wished. I mean, that if there was a secret at all. I don't know
what I mean," cried she, covering her face with her handkerchief, while
a convulsive motion of her shoulders showed how she was moved.

"I am as glad as if I had got a thousand pounds, to know you have been
so right, so thoroughly right, in all this, Lucy; and I am glad, too,
that Trafford has done nothing to make me think less well of him. Let's
be friends; give me your hand, like a dear, good girl, and forgive me if
I have said what pained you."

"I am not angry, Tom," said she, giving her hand, but with her head
still averted.

"God knows it's not the time for us to fall out," said he, with a
shaking voice. "Going to separate as we are, and when to be together
again not so easy to imagine."

"You are surely going out with papa?" asked she, eagerly.

"No; they say not."

"Who says not?"

"The governor himself--Sir Brook--old Mills--everybody, in fact. They
have held a committee of the whole house on it. I think Nicholas was
present too; and it has been decided that as I am very much given to
idleness, bitter beer, and cigars, I ought not to be anywhere where
these ingredients compose the chief part of existence. Now the Cape is
precisely one of these places; and if you abstract the idleness,
the bitter beer, and the tobacco, there is nothing left but a little
Hottentotism, which is neither pleasant nor profitable. Voted,
therefore, I am not to go to the Cape. It is much easier, however, to
open the geography books, and show all the places I am unfit for, than
to hit upon the one that will suit me. And so I am going up to Dublin
to-morrow with Sir Brook to consult--I don't well know whom, perhaps a
fortune-teller--what 's to be done with me. All I do know is, I am to
see my grandfather, and to wait on the Viceroy, and I don't anticipate
that any of us will derive much pleasure from either event."

"Oh, Tom! what happiness it would be to me if grandpapa--" She stopped,
blushed, and tried in vain to go on.

"Which is about the least likely thing in the world, Lucy," said he,
answering her unspoken sentence. "I am just the sort of creature he
could n't abide,--not to add that, from all I have heard of him, I 'd
rather take three years with hard labor at the hulks than live with him.
It will do very well with you. You have patience, and a soft forgiving
disposition. You 'll fancy yourself, besides, Heaven knows what of a
heroine, for submitting to his atrocious temper, and imagine slavery to
be martyrdom. Now, I could n't. I 'd let him understand that I was one
of the family, and had a born right to be as ill-tempered, as selfish,
and as unmannerly as any other Lendrick."

"But if he should like you, Tom? If you made a favorable impression upon
him when you met?"

"If I should, I think I 'd go over to South Carolina, and ask some one
to buy me as a negro, for I 'd know in my heart it was all I could be
fit for."

"Oh, my dear, dear Tom, I wish you would meet him in a different spirit,
if only for poor papa's sake. You know what store he lays by grandpapa's
affection."

"I see it, and it puzzles me. If any one should continue to ill-treat
me for five-and-twenty years, I 'd not think of beginning to forgive him
till after fifty more, and I 'm not quite sure I 'd succeed then."

"But you are to meet him, Tom," said she, hopefully. "I trust much to
your meeting."

"That 's more than I do, Lucy. Indeed, I 'd not go at all, except on the
condition which I have made with myself, to accept nothing from him.
I had not meant to tell you this; but it has escaped me, and can't
be helped. Don't hang your head and pout your lip over that bad boy,
brother Tom. I intend to be as submissive and as humble in our interview
as if I was going to owe my life to him, just because I want him to be
very kind and gracious to you; and I 'd not wish to give him any reason
for saying harsh things of me, which would hurt you to listen to. If I
only knew how--and I protest I do not--I'd even try and make a favorable
impression upon him, for I 'd like to be able to come and see you, Lucy,
now and then, and it would be a sore blow to me if he forbade me."

"You don't think I'd remain under his roof if he should do so?" asked
she, indignantly.

"Not if you saw him turn me away,--shutting the door in my face; but
what scores of civil ways there are of intimating that one is not
welcome! But why imagine all these?--none of them may happen; and, as
Sir Brook says, the worst misfortunes of life are those that never come
to us; and I, for one, am determined to deal only with real, actual,
present enemies. Is n't he a rare old fellow?--don't you like him,
Lucy?"

"I like him greatly."

"He loves you, Lucy,--he told me so; he said you were so like a girl
whose godfather he was, and that he had loved her as if she were his
own. Whether she had died, or whether something had happened that
estranged them, I could n't make out; but he said you had raised up
some old half-dead embers in his heart, and kindled a flame where he had
thought all was to be cold forever; and the tears came into his eyes,
and that great deep voice of his grew fainter and fainter, and something
that sounded like a sob stopped him. I always knew he was a brave,
stout-hearted, gallant fellow; but that he could feel like this I never
imagined. I almost think it was some girl he was going to be married
to once that you must be so like. Don't you think so?" "I don't know;
I cannot even guess," said she, slowly. "It's not exactly the sort of
nature where one would expect to find much sentiment; but, as he
said one day, some old hearts are like old chateaux, with strange old
chambers in them that none have traversed for years and years, and with
all the old furniture moth-eaten and crumbling, but standing just where
it used to be. I 'd not wonder if it was of himself he was speaking."

She remained silent and thoughtful, and he went on,--"There's a deal of
romance under that quaint stern exterior. What do you think he said this
morning?--'Your father's heart is wrapped up in this place, Tom; let us
set to work to make money and buy it for him. 'I did not believe he was
serious, and I said some stupid nonsense about a diamond necklace and
ear-rings for you on the day of presentation; and he turned upon me with
a fierce look, and in a voice trembling with anger, said, 'Well, sir,
and whom would they become better? Is it her birth or her beauty would
disparage them, if they were the jewels of a crown?' I know I 'll not
cross another whim of his in the same fashion again; though he came
to my room afterwards to make an apology for the tone in which he had
spoken, and assured me it should never be repeated." "I hope you told
him you had not felt offended." "I did more,--I did, at least, what
pleased him more,--I said I was delighted with that plan of his about
buying up the Nest, and that the very thought gave a zest to any pursuit
I might engage in; and so, Lucy, it is settled between us that if
his Excellency won't make me something with a fine salary and large
perquisites, Sir Brook and I are to set out I'm not very sure where, and
we are to do I'm not quite certain what; but two such clever fellows,
uniting experience with energy, can't fail, and the double event--I mean
the estate and the diamonds--are just as good as won already. Well,
what do you want, Nicholas?" cried Tom, as the grim old man put his head
inside the door and retired again, mumbling something as he went. "Oh,
I remember it now; he has been tormenting the governor all day about
getting him some place,--some situation or other; and the old rascal
thinks we are the most ungrateful wretches under the sun, to be so full
of our own affairs and so forgetful of his: we are certainly not likely
to leave him unprovided for; he can't imagine that. Here he comes again.
My father is gone into Killaloe, Nicholas; but don't be uneasy, he 'll
not forget you."

"Forgettin's one thing, Master Tom, and rememberin's the right way is
another," said Nicholas, sternly. "I told him yesterday, and I repeated
it to-day, I won't go among them Hottentots."

"Has he asked you?"

"Did he ask me?" repeated the old man, leaning forward and eying him
fiercely,--"did he ask me?"

"My brother means, Nicholas, that papa could n't expect you to go so far
away from your home and your friends."

"And where's my home and my friends?" cried the irascible old fellow;
"and I forty-eight years in the family? Is that the way to have a home
or friends either?"

"No, Tom, no,--I entreat--I beg of you," said Lucy, standing between her
brother and the old man, and placing her hand on Tom's lips; "you know
well that he can't help it."

"That's just it," cried Nicholas, catching the words; "I can't help it.
I 'm too old to help it. It is n't after eight-and-forty years one ought
to be looking out for new sarvice."

"Papa hopes that grandpapa will have no objection to taking you,
Nicholas; he means to write about it to-day; but if there should be a
difficulty, he has another place."

"Maybe I'm to 'list and be a sodger; faix, it wouldn't be much worse
than going back to your grandfather."

"Why, you discontented old fool," burst in Tom, "have n't you been
teasing our souls out these ten years back by your stories of the fine
life you led in the Chief Baron's house?"

"The eatin' was better, and the drinkin' was better," said Nicholas,
resolutely. "Wherever the devil it comes from, the small beer here bangs
Banagher; but for the matter of temper he was one of yourselves! and by
my sowl, it's a family not easily matched!"

"I agree with you; any other man than my father would have pitched you
neck and crop into the Shannon years ago,--I 'll be shot if I would
n't."

"Mind them words. What you said there is a threat; it's what the law
makes a constructive threat, and we 'll see what the Coorts say to it."

"I declare, Nicholas, you would provoke any one; you will let no one be
your friend," said Lucy; and taking her brother's arm she led him away,
while the old man, watching them till they entered the shrubbery, seated
himself leisurely in a deep arm-chair, and wiped the perspiration from
his forehead. "By my conscience," muttered he, "it takes two years off
my life every day I have to keep yez in order."



CHAPTER XV. MR. HAIRE'S MISSION.

Although the Chief Baron had assured Haire that his mission had no
difficulty about it, that he 'd find her Ladyship would receive him in a
very courteous spirit, and, finally, that "he'd do the thing" admirably,
the unhappy little lawyer approached his task with considerable
misgivings, which culminated in actual terror as he knocked at the door
of the house where Lady Lendrick resided in Merrion Square, and sent up
his name.

"The ladies are still in committee, sir," said a bland-looking,
usher-like personage, who, taking up Haire's card from the salver,
scanned the name with a half-supercilious look.

"In committee! ah, indeed, I was not aware," stammered out Haire. "I
suspect--that is--I have reason to believe her Ladyship is aware--I mean
my name is not unknown to Lady Lendrick--would you kindly present my
card?"

"Take it up, Bates," said the man in black, and then turned away to
address another person, for the hall was crowded with people of various
conditions and ranks, and who showed in their air and manner a something
of anxiety, if not of impatience.

"Mr. MacClean,--where's Mr. MacClean?" cried a man in livery, as he held
forth a square-shaped letter. "Is Mr. MacClean there?"

"Yes, I'm Mr. MacClean," said a red-faced, fussy-looking man. "I'm Mr.
George Henry MacClean, of 41 Mount Street."

"Two tickets for Mr. MacClean," said the usher, handing him the letter
with a polite bow.

"Mr. Nolan, Balls Bridge,--does any one represent Mr. Nolan of Balls
Bridge?" said the usher, haughtily.

"That 's me," said a short man, who wiped the perspiration from his face
with a red-spotted handkerchief, as large as a small bed-quilt,--"that's
me."

"The references not satisfactory, Mr. Nolan," said the usher, reading
from a paper in his hand.

"Not satisfactory?--what do you mean? Is Peter Arkins, Esquire,
of Clontarf, unsatisfactory? Is Mr. Ryland, of Abbey Street,
unsatisfactory?"

"I am really, sir, unable to afford you the explanation you desire. I am
simply deputed by her Ladyship to return the reply that I find written
here. The noise is really so great here I can hear nothing. Who are you
asking for, Bates?"

"Mr. Mortimer O'Hagan."

"He's gone away," cried a voice; "he was here since eleven o'clock."

"Application refused. Will some one tell Mr. O'Hagan his application is
refused?" said the usher, austerely.

"Might I be bold enough to ask what is going forward?" whispered Haire.

"Mr. W. Haire, Ely Place," shouted out the man in livery. "Card refused
for want of a reference."

"You ought to have sent up two names,--well-known names, Mr. Haire,"
said the usher, with a politeness that seemed marked. "It's not too late
yet; let me see," and he looked at his watch, "we want a quarter to one;
be back here in half an hour. Take a car,--you 'll find one at the door.
Get your names, and I 'll see if I can't do it for you."

"I am afraid I don't understand you, and I am sure you don't understand
me. I came here by appointment--" The rest of the sentence was lost by a
considerable bustle and movement that now ensued, for a number of ladies
descended the stairs, chatting and laughing freely; while servants
rushed hither and thither, calling up carriages, or inquiring for others
not yet come. The usher, frantically pushing the crowd aside to clear a
path for the ladies, was profuse of apologies for the confusion; adding
at the same time that "it was twice as bad an hour ago. There were n't
less than two hundred here this morning."

A number of little pleasantries passed as the bland usher handed the
ladies to their carriages; and it was evident by their laughter that his
remarks were deemed pungent and witty. Meanwhile the hall was becoming
deserted. The persons who had crowded there, descending singly or in
groups, went their several ways, leaving Haire the only one behind. "And
now, sir," said the usher, "you see it's all over. You would n't take my
advice. They are all gone, and it's the last meeting."

"Will you favor me so far as to say for what did they meet? What was the
object of the gathering?"

"I suppose, sir, you are not a reader of the morning papers?"

"Occasionally. Indeed, I always glance at them."

"Well, sir, and has not your glance fallen upon the announcement of the
ball,--the grand ball to be given at the-Rotundo for the orphan asylum
called the 'Rogues Redemptory,' at Rathmines, at the head of whose
patronesses stands my Lady's name?"

Haire shook his head in negative.

"And have you not come like the rest with an application for permission
to attend the ball?"

"No; I have come to speak to Lady Lendrick--and by appointment too."

A faint but prolonged "Indeed!" expressed the usher's-astonishment,
and he turned and whispered a few words to-a footman at his side. He
disappeared, and returned in & moment to say that her Ladyship would see
Mr. Haire.

"I trust you will forgive me, sir," said Lady Lendrick,--a very large,
very showy, and still handsome woman,--as she motioned him to be seated.
"I got your card when my head was so full of this tiresome ball, and I
made the absurd mistake of supposing you came for tickets. You are, I
think your note says, an old friend of Mr. Thomas-Lendrick?"

"I am an old friend of his father's. Madam! The Chief Baron and myself
were schoolfellows."

"Yes, yes: I have no doubt," said she, hurriedly; "but from your note--I
have it here somewhere," and she rummaged amongst a lot of papers that
littered the table,--"your note gave me to understand that your visit
to me regarded Mr. Thomas Lendrick, and not the Chief Baron. It is
possible, however, I may have mistaken your meaning. I wish I could find
it. I laid it out of my hand a moment ago. Oh, here it is! now we shall
see which of us is right," and with a sort of triumph she opened the
letter and read aloud, slurring over the few commencing lines till she
came to "that I may explain to your Ladyship the circumstances by
which Mr. Thomas Lendrick's home will for the present be broken up,
and entreat of you to extend to his daughter the same kind interest and
favor you have so constantly extended to her father." "Now, sir, I hope
I may say that it is not _I_ have been mistaken. If I read this passage
aright, it bespeaks my consideration for a young lady who will shortly
need a home and a protectress."

"I suppose I expressed myself very ill. I mean, Madam, I take it, that
in my endeavor not to employ any abruptness, I may have fallen into
some obscurity. Shall I own, besides," added he, with a tone of
half-desperation in his voice, "that I had no fancy for this mission
of mine at all,--that I undertook it wholly against my will?
Baron Len-drick's broken health, my old friendship for him, his
insistence,--and you can understand what _that_ is, eh?"--he thought she
was about to speak; but she only gave a faint equivocal sort of smile,
and he went on: "All these together overcame my scruples, and I agreed
to come." He paused here as though he had made the fullest and most
ample explanation, and that it was now her turn to speak.

"Well, sir," said she, "go on; I am all ears for your communication."

"There it is: that 's the whole of it, Madam. You are to understand
distinctly that with the arrangement itself I had no concern whatever.
Baron Lendrick never asked my advice; I never tendered it. I 'm not sure
that I should have concurred with his notions,--but that 's nothing to
the purpose; all that I consented to was to come here, to tell you
the thing is so, and why it is so--there!" and with this he wiped his
forehead, for the exertion had heated and fatigued him.

"I know I 'm very dull, very slow of comprehension; and in compassion
for this defect, will you kindly make your explanation a little, a very
little, fuller? What is it that is _so?_" and she emphasized the last
word with a marked sarcasm in her tone.

"Oh, I can see that your Ladyship may not quite like it. There is no
reason why you should like it,--all things considered; but, after all,
it may turn out very well. If she suit him, if she can hit it off with
his temper,--and she may,--young folks have often more forbearance than
older ones,--there 's no saying what it may lead to."

"Once for all, sir," said she, haughtily, for her temper was sorely
tried, "what is this thing which I am not to like, and yet bound to
bear?"

"I don't think I said that; I trust I never said your Ladyship was bound
to bear anything. So well as I can recall the Chief Baron's words,--and,
God forgive me, but I wish I was--no matter what or where--when I heard
them,--this is the substance of what he said: 'Tell her,' meaning
your Ladyship,--'tell her that, rightly understood, the presence of my
granddaughter as mistress of my house--'"

"What do you say, sir?--is Miss Lendrick coming to reside at the
Priory?"

"Of course--what else have I been saying this half-hour?"

"To take the position of lady of the house?" said she, not deigning to
notice his question.

"Just so, Madam."

"I declare, sir, bold as the step is,"--she arose as she spoke, and drew
herself haughtily up,--"bold as the step is, it is not half so bold as
your own courage in coming to tell of it. What the Chief Baron had not
the hardihood to communicate in writing, you dare to deliver to me by
word of mouth,--you dare to announce to me that my place, the station
I ought to fill, is to be occupied by another, and that whenever I pass
the threshold of the Priory, I come as the guest of Lucy Lendrick! I
do hope, sir, I may attribute to the confusion of your faculties--a
confusion of which this short interview has given me proof--that you
really never rightly apprehended the ignominy of the mission your friend
intrusted to you."

"You 're right there," said he, placing both his hands on the side of
his head; "confusion is just the name for it."

"Yes, sir; but I apprehend you must have undertaken this office in a
calm moment, and let me ask you how you could have lent yourself to
such a task? You are aware, for the whole world is aware, that in living
apart from the Chief Baron I am yielding to a necessity imposed by his
horrible, his insufferable temper; now, how long will this explanation
be valid, if my place in any respect should be occupied by another? The
isolation in which he now lives, his estrangement from the world, serve
to show that he has withdrawn from society, and accepted the position of
a recluse. Will this continue now? Will these be the habits of the
house with a young lady at its bead, free to indulge all the caprices of
ignorant girlhood? I declare, sir, I wonder how a little consideration
for your friend might not have led you to warn him against the
indiscretion he was about to commit. The slight to me," said she,
sarcastically, and flushing deeply, "it was possible you might overlook;
but I scarcely see how you could have forgotten the stain that must
attach to that 'large intellect,--that wise and truly great man.' I
am quoting a paragraph I read in the 'Post' this morning, with which,
perhaps, you are familiar."

"I did not see it," said Haire, helplessly.

"I declare, sir, I was unjust enough to think you wrote it. I thought no
one short of him who had come on your errand to-day could have been the
author."

"Well, I wish with all my heart I 'd never come," said he, with a
melancholy gesture of his hands.

"I declare, sir, I am not surprised at your confession. I suppose you
are not aware that in the very moment adopted for this--this--this new
establishment, there is something like studied insult to me. It is only
ten days ago I mentioned to the Chief Baron that my son, Colonel Sewell,
was coming back from India on a sick-leave. He has a wife and three
little children, and, like most soldiers, is not over-well off. I
suggested that as the Priory was a large roomy house, with abundant
space for many people without in the slightest degree interfering with
each other, he should offer the Sewells to take them in. I said nothing
more,--nothing about _ménage_,--no details of any kind. I simply said:
"Could n't you give the Sewells the rooms that look out on the back
lawn? Nobody ever enters them; even when you receive in the summer
evenings, they are not opened. It would be a great boon to an invalid to
be housed so quietly, so removed from all noise and bustle.' And to mark
how I intended no more, I added, 'They would n't bore you, nor need you
ever see them unless you wished for it.' And what was his reply? 'Madam,
I never liked soldiers. I 'm not sure that his young wife would n't be
displeasing to me, and I know that his children would be insufferable.'

"I said, 'Let me take the dear children, then.' 'Do, by all means, and
their dear parents also,' he broke in. 'I should be in despair if I
thought I had separated you.' Yes, sir, I give you his very words. This
wise and truly great man, or truly wise and great--which is it?--had
nothing more generous nor more courteous to say to me than a sarcasm and
an impertinence. Are you not proud of your friend?"

Never was there a more unlucky peroration, from the day when Lord Denman
concluded an eloquent defence of a queen's innocence by appealing to
the unhappy illustration which called forth the touching words, "Let him
that is without sin cast the first stone at her." Never was there a more
signal blunder than to ask this man to repudiate the friendship which
had formed the whole pride and glory of his life.

"I should think I _am_ proud of him, Madam," said he, rising, and
speaking with a boldness that amazed even himself. "I was proud to be
his class-fellow at school; I was proud to sit in the same division with
him in college,--proud when he won his gold medal and carried off his
fellowship. It was a proud day to me when I saw him take his seat on
the bench; and my heart nearly burst with pride when he placed me on
his right hand at dinner, and told the Benchers and the Bar that we
had walked the road of life together, and that the grasp of my hand--he
called it my honest hand--had been the ever-present earnest of each
success he had achieved in his career. Yes, Madam, I am very proud of
him; and my heart must be cold indeed before I cease to be proud of
him."

"I declare, sir, you astonish, you amaze me. I was well aware how that
truly great and wise man had often inspired the eloquence of attack.
Many have assailed--many have vituperated him; but that any one
should have delivered a panegyric on the inestimable value of his
friendship!--his friendship, of all things!--is what I was not prepared
for."

Haire heard the ringing raillery of her laugh; he was stung by he knew
not what tortures of her scornful impertinence; bitter, biting words,
very cruel words, too, fell over and around him like a sort of hail;
they beat on his face and rattled over his head and shoulders. He was
conscious of a storm, and conscious too that he sought neither shelter
nor defence, but only tried to fly before the hurricane, whither he knew
not.

How he quitted that room, descended the stairs, and escaped from the
house, he never was able to recall. He was far away outside the city
wandering along through an unfrequented suburb ere he came to his full
consciousness, murmuring to himself ever as he went, "What a woman, what
a woman! what a temper,--ay, and what a tongue!" Without any guidance of
his own--without any consciousness of it--he walked on and on, till
he found himself at the gate-lodge of the Priory; a carriage was just
passing in, and he stopped to ask whose it was. It was the Chief Baron's
granddaughter who had arrived that morning by train. He turned back when
he heard this, and returned to town. "Whether you like it or not, Lady
Lendrick, it is done now, and there 's no good in carrying on the issue
after the verdict." And with this reflection, embodying possibly as
much wisdom as his whole career had taught him, he hastened homeward,
secretly determining, if he possibly could, never to reveal anything to
the Chief Baron of his late interview with Lady Lendrick.



CHAPTER XVI. SORROWS AND PROJECTS

Dr. Lendrick and his son still lingered at the Swan's Nest after Lucy's
departure for the Priory. Lendrick, with many things to arrange and
prepare for his coming voyage, was still so overcome by the thought of
breaking up his home and parting from his children, that he could not
address his mind to anything like business. He would wander about for
hours through the garden and the shrubberies, taking leave, as he
called it, of his dear plants and flowers, and come back to the house
distressed and miserable. Often and often would he declare to Sir Brook,
who was his guest, that the struggle was too much for him. "I never
was a man of ardor or energy, and it is not now, when I have passed the
middle term of life, that I am to hope for that spring and elasticity
which were denied to my youth. Better for me send for Lucy, and stay
where I am; nowhere shall I be so happy again." Then would come the
sudden thought that all this was mere selfishness, that in this life of
inaction and indolence he was making no provision for that dear girl be
loved so well. Whatever hopes the reconciliation with his father might
lead to, would of course be utterly scattered to the winds by an act
so full of disobedience as this. "It is true," thought he, "I may fail
abroad as I have failed at home. Success and I are scarcely on speaking
terms,--but the grandfather cannot leave the granddaughter whom he has
taken from her home, totally uncared and unprovided for."

As for young Tom, Sir Brook had pledged himself to-take care of him. It
was a vague expression enough; it might mean anything, everything, or
nothing. Sir Brook Fossbrooke had certainly, in worldly parlance, not
taken very good care of himself,--far from it; he had squandered and
made away with two large estates and an immense sum in ready money. It
was true he had friends everywhere,--some of them very great people
with abundant influence, and well able to help those they cared for; but
Fossbrooke was not one of those who ask; and the world has not yet come
to the millennial beatitude in which one's friends importune them with
inquiries how they are to be helped, what and where they wish for.

Many a time in the course of country-house life--at breakfast, as
the post came in, and during the day, as a messenger would deliver a
telegram--some great man would say, "There is a vacancy there--such
a one has died--so-and-so has retired. There's a thing to suit you,
Fossbrooke,"--and Sir Brook would smile, say a word or two that implied
nothing, and so would end the matter. If "my Lord" ever retained any
memory of the circumstance some time after, it would be that he had
offered something to Fossbrooke, who would n't take it, did n't care for
it. For so is it throughout life; the event which to one is the veriest
trifle of the hour, is to another a fate and a fortune; and then, great
folk who lead lives of ease and security are very prone to forget that
humble men have often a pride very disproportioned to their condition,
and are timidly averse to stretch out the hand for what it is just
possible it may not be intended they should touch.

At all events, Fossbrooke went his way through the world a mystery to
many and a puzzle,--some averring that it was a shame to his friends in
power that he had "got nothing," others as stoutly declaring that he was
one whom no office would tempt, nor would any place requite him for the
loss of liberty and independence.

He himself was well aware of each of these theories, but too proud to
say a word to those who professed either of them. If, however, he was
too haughty to ask for himself, he was by no means above being a suitor
for his friends; and many a one owed to his active solicitude the
advancement which none stood more in need of than himself.

"We shall make the Viceroy do something for us, Tom," he would say.
"Think over what it shall be,--for that's the invariable question, What
is it you want? And it's better far to say, Make me an archbishop, than
have to own that you want anything, and are, maybe, fit for nothing."

Though Lendrick was well disposed towards Fossbrooke, and fully sensible
of his manly honesty and frankness, he could not help seeing that he
was one of those impulsive sanguine natures that gain nothing from
experience beyond the gift of companionship. They acquire all that can
make them delightful in society,--boons they are,--and especially to
those whose more prudent temperament inclines them to employ their gifts
more profitably. Scores of these self-made men, rich to overflowing with
all that wealth could buy around them, would say, What a happy fellow
was Fossbrooke! what a blessing it was to have his nature, his spirits,
buoyancy, and such-like,--to be able to enjoy life as he did! Perhaps
they believed all that they said too,--who knows? When they made such
speeches to himself, as they would at times, he heard them with the
haughty humility of one who hears himself praised for that which the
flatterer deems a thing too low for envy. He well understood how cheaply
others estimated his wares, for they were a scrip that figured in no
share-list, and never were quoted at a premium.

Lendrick read him very correctly, and naturally thought that a more
practical and a more worldly guide would have been better for Tom,--some
one to hold him back, not to urge him forward; some one to whisper
prudence, restraint, denial,--not daring, and dash, and indulgence. But
somehow these flighty, imaginative, speculative men have very often a
wonderful persuasiveness about them, and can give to the wildest dreams
a marvellous air of substance and reality. A life so full of strange
vicissitudes as Fossbrooke's seemed a guarantee for any--no matter
what--turn of fortune. Hear him tell of where he had been, what he had
done, and with whom, and you at once felt you were in presence of one to
whom no ordinary laws of worldly caution or prudence applied.

That his life had compassed many failures and few successes was plain
enough. He never sought to hide the fact.

Indeed, he was candor itself in his confessions, only that he
accompanied them by little explanations, showing the exact spot and
moment in which he had lost the game. It was wonderful what credit he
seemed to derive from these disclosures. It was like an honest trader
showing his balance-sheet to prove that, but for the occurrence of such
ills as no prudence could ward off, his condition must have been one of
prosperity.

Never did he say anything more truthful than that "he had never cared
for money." So long as he had it he used it lavishly, thoughtlessly,
very often generously. When he ceased to have it, the want scarcely
appeared to touch him personally. Indeed, it was only when some
necessity presented itself to aid this one or extricate that, he would
suddenly remember his impotence to be of use, and then the sting of his
poverty would sorely pain him.

Like all men who have suffered reverses, he had to experience the
different acceptance he met with in his days of humble fortune from what
greeted him in his era of prosperity. If he felt this, none could detect
it. His bearing and manner betrayed nothing of such consciousness. A
very slight increase of stateliness might possibly have marked him in
his poverty, and an air of more reserved dignity, which showed itself in
his manner to strangers. In all other respects he was the same.

That such a character should have exercised a great influence over
a young man like Tom Lendrick--ardent, impetuous, and desirous of
adventure--was not strange.

"We must make a fortune for Lucy, Tom," said Sir Brook. "Your father's
nature is too fine strung to be a money-maker, and she must be cared
for." This was a desire which he continued to utter day after day; and
though Fossbrooke usually smoked on after he had said it without any
intimation as to where and when and how this same fortune was to be
amassed, Tom Lendrick placed the most implicit faith in the assurance
that it would be done "somehow."

One morning as Lendrick was walking with his son in the garden, making,
as he called it, his farewell visit to his tulips and moss-roses, he
asked Tom if any fixed plan had been decided on as to his future.

"We have got several, sir. The difficulty is the choice. Sir Brook was
at one time very full of buying a great tract in Donegal, and stocking
it with all sorts of wild animals. We began with deer, antelopes, and
chamois; and last night we got to wolves, bears, and a tiger. We were
to have a most commodious shooting-box, and invite parties to come and
sport, who, instead of going to Bohemia, the Rocky Mountains, and to
Africa, would find all their savagery near home, and pay us splendidly
for the privilege.

"There are some difficulties in the plan, it is true; our beasts might
not be easy to keep within bounds. The jaguar might make an excursion
into the market-town; the bear might eat a butcher. Sir Brook, besides,
doubts if _fero_ could be preserved under the game laws. He has sent a
case to Brewster for his opinion."

"Don't tell me of such absurdities," said Lendrick, trying to repress
his quiet laugh. "I want you to speak seriously and reasonably."

"I assure you, sir, we have the whole details of this on paper, even to
the cost of the beasts, and the pensions to the widows of the keepers
that may be devoured. Another plan that we had, and it looked plausible
enough too, was to take out a patent for a wonderful medical antidote.
As Sir Brook says, there is nothing like a patent medicine to make a man
rich; and by good luck he is possessed of the materials for one. He
has the secret for curing the bite of the rattlesnake. He got it from
a Tuscarora Indian, who, I believe, was a sort of father-in-law to him.
Three applications of this to the wound have never been known to fail."

"But we are not infested with rattlesnakes, Tom."

"That's true, sir. We thought of that, and decided that we should alter
the prospectus of our company, and we have called it 'The antidote to an
evil of stupendous magnitude and daily recurrence.

"A new method of flotation in water, by inflating the cellular membrane
to produce buoyancy; a translation of the historical plays of Shakspeare
into Tonga, for the interesting inhabitants of those islands; artificial
rainfall by means of the voltaic battery: these are a few of his
jottings down in a little book in manuscript he has entitled 'Things to
be Done.'

"His favorite project, however, is one he has revolved for years in his
mind, and he is fully satisfied that it contains the germ of boundless
wealth. It has been shown, he says, that in the smoke issuing from the
chimneys of great smelt-ing-furnaces, particles of subtilized metal are
carried away to the amount of thousands of pounds sterling: not merely
is the quantity great, but the quality, as might be inferred, is of the
most valuable and precious kind. To arrest and precipitate this waste is
his project, and he has been for years making experiments to this end.
He has at length, he believes, arrived at the long-sought-for problem;
and as he possesses a lead-mine in the island of Sardinia, he means that
we should set out there, and at once begin operations."

Dr. Lendrick shook his head gravely as he listeued; indeed, Tom's manner
in detailing Sir Brook's projects was little calculated to inspire
serious confidence.

"I know, father," cried he, "what you mean. I know well how wild
and flighty these things appear; but if you had only heard them from
him,--had you but listened to his voice, and heard him speak of his
own doubts and fears,--how he canvasses, not merely the value of his
project, but what the world will say of it and of him,--how modestly he
rates himself,--how free of all the cant of the discoverer he is,--how
simply he enters into explanations,--how free to own the difficulties
that bar success,--I say, if you had experienced these, I feel sure
you would not escape from him without catching some of that malady of
speculation which has so long beset him. Nor is one less disposed to
trust him that he makes no parade of these things. Indeed, they are his
deepest, most inviolable secrets. In his intercourse with the world no
one has ever heard him allude to one of these projects, and I have given
him my solemn pledge not to speak of them, save to you."

"It is a reason to think better of the man, Tom, but not to put more
faith in the discoveries."

"I believe I take the man and his work together; at all events, when I
am along with him, and listening to him, he carries me away captive, and
I am ready to embark in any enterprise he suggests. Here he comes, with
two letters, I see, in his hand. Did you ever see a man less like a
visionary, father? Is not every trait of his marked with thought and
struggle?" This was not the way Tom's father read Fossbrooke, but there
was no time to discuss the point further.

"A letter for each of you," said Sir Brook, handing them; and then
taking out a cigar, he strolled down an alley, while they were engaged
in reading.

"We have got a tenant at last," said Lendrick. "The Dublin house-agent
has found some one who will take the place as it stands; and now, to
think of my voyage."



CHAPTER XVII. A LUNCHEON AT THE PRIORY.

It was well for poor Lendrick that he was not to witness the great
change which, in a few short weeks, had been effected in his once home.
So complete, indeed, was the transformation, there was but very little
left beyond the natural outline of the scenery to remind one of that
lovely nook in which the tasteful cottage nestled. The conservatory had
been converted into a dining-room; the former dinner-room being fitted
up for a billiard-room. The Swiss cowhouse, a pretty little conceit, on
which Lendrick had lavished some money and more time, was turned into
a stable, with three loose boxes; and the neat lawn, whose velvet sward
was scarce less beautiful than the glittering flower-beds that studded
it, was ruthlessly cut up into a racecourse, with hurdles and fences and
double ditches, to represent a stiff country, and offer all the features
of a steeple-chase.

It needed not the assurance of Mr. Kimball, the house-agent, to proclaim
that his client was very unlike the last occupant of the place. "_He_
was no recluse, no wretched misanthropist, hiding his discontent amongst
shrubs and forcing-beds; he was a man of taste and refinement, with
knowledge of life and its requirements. He would be an acquisition to
any neighborhood."

Now, the last phrase--and he invariably made it his peroration--has a
very wide and sweeping acceptation. It appeals to the neighborhood with
all the charms that pertain to social intercourse; a guest the more and
a host the more are no small claims in small places. It appeals to the
parson, as another fountain from which to draw draughts of benevolence.
To the doctor it whispers fees and familiar dinners. Galen knows that
the luckiest of men are not exempt from human ills, and that gout comes
as a frequent guest where the cook is good and the wine tempting;
and the butcher himself revels in the thought of a "good family" that
consumes sirloins and forestalls sweetbreads.

It was somewhat trying to young Tom Lendrick, who had gone down to the
Nest to fetch away some remnants of fishing-tackle he had left there, to
hear these glowing anticipations of the new-comer, so evidently placed
in contrast with the quiet and inexpensive life his father had led. How
unlike were his father and this "acquisition to any neighborhood,"
was impressed upon him at any moment! How could a life of unobtrusive
kindness, of those daily ministerings to poor men's wants, compete with
the glitter and display which were to adorn a neighborhood?

Already were people beginning to talk of Lendrick as odd, eccentric,
peculiar; to set down his finest qualities as strange traits of a
strange temperament, and rather, on the whole, to give themselves credit
for the patience and forbearance which they had shown to one who, after
all, was "simply an egotist."

Yes, such are not unfrequent judgments in this same world of ours; and
if you would have men's suffrages for the good you do, take care that
you do it conventionally. Be in all things like those around you; and if
there be a great man in your vicinity, whenever a doubt arises in your
mind as to any course of action, do as you may imagine he might do.

Young Lendrick came away not a little disgusted with this taste of human
fickleness. The sight of their old home changed even to desecration was
bad enough, but this cold ingratitude was worse.

Had he gone into the cabins of the poor, had he visited the humble
dwellings where his father's generous devotion had brought him face
to face with famine and fever, he would have heard much to redress the
balance of these opinions. He would have heard those warm praises
that come from sorrow-stricken hearts, the wail of the friendless and
forlorn. Tom heard not these, and he returned to town with a feeling of
anger and resentment against the world he had never known before.

"How absurd it is in old Fossbrooke," thought he, "to go on saying money
cannot do this, that, and t'other! Why, it can do everything. It does
not alone make a man great, powerful, and influential, but it gains him
the praise of being good and kind and generous. Look at my poor father,
who never had a thought but for others, who postponed himself to all
around him; and yet here is some one, whose very name is unknown, more
eagerly looked for, more ardently desired, than would he be were it to
be announced to-morrow he was coming back to live amongst them. What
nonsense it is to say that the world cares for any qualities save those
it can utilize; and I am only amazed how a man could have seen so much
of life as Sir Brook and gained so little by his experience."

It was in this mood he got back to the little lodging in a humble suburb
called Cullen's Wood, where Sir Brook awaited him. It is not impossible
that the disparities of temperament in this world are just as
beneficial, just as grateful, as are the boundless variety and change we
find in nature. To Tom Lendrick's depression, almost disgust with life,
Sir Brook brought that bright, hopeful, happy spirit which knew how to
throw sunlight on every path to be travelled.

He had received good news, or what he thought was good news, from
Sardinia. A new vein of ore had been struck,--very "fat" ore they called
it,--some eighty-odd per cent, and a fair promise of silver in it. "They
ask me for thirty thousand francs, though, Tom," said he, with a smile;
"they might as well have written 'pounds' when they were about it. They
want to repair the engine and erect a new crane. They say, too, the
chains are worn and unsafe,--a thing to be looked to, or we shall have
some accidents. In fact, they need fully double what they ask for; and
seeing how impossible was the performance, I am astonished at their
modesty."

"And what do you mean to do, sir?" asked Tom, bluntly.

"I have been thinking of two courses: my first thought was to make a
formal conveyance of the mine to you and your sister, for your joint use
and benefit. This done, and I standing aloof from all possible interest
in it, I bethought me of a loan to be raised on the security of the
property,--not publicly, not generally, but amongst your father's
friends and well-wishers,--beginning with the neighborhood where he has
lived so long, and around which he has sowed the seeds of such benefits
as needs must ripen in gratitude."

"Indulge no delusions on that score, sir. There is not a man in the
county, except old Mills the vicar, perhaps, has a good word for us; and
as to going to one of them for assistance, I 'd rather sweep a
crossing. You shake your head, Sir Brook, and you smile at my passionate
denunciation; but it is true, every word of it. I heard, in the
few hours I spent there, scores of stories of my poor father's
eccentricity,--his forgetfulness, his absence, and what not,--but
never a syllable of his noble liberality, his self-sacrifice, or his
gentleness."

"My dear Tom," said the old man, solemnly, "when you have lived to
one-half my age, you will discover that the world is not so much cursed
with ill-nature as with levity, and that when men talk disparagingly of
their fellows, they do so rather to seem witty than to be just. There
was not, perhaps, one of those who tried to raise a laugh at your
father's oddities, or who assumed to be droll at his expense, who would
not in a serious mood have conceded to him every good and great trait
of his nature. The first step in worldly knowledge is to rise above all
consideration of light gossip. Take my word for it, we often confirm men
in wrong thinking by opposition, who, if left to themselves and their
own hearts, would review their judgments, and even retract them."

Tom took a hasty turn up and down the room; a ready reply was on his
lip; indeed, it was with difficulty he repressed it, but he did so, and
stood in seeming acquiescence to what he had heard. At last he said,
"And the other plan, Sir Brook,--what was that?"

"Perhaps a more likely one, Tom," said the old man, cheerfully. "It was
to apply directly to your grandfather, a man whose great intelligence
would enable him to examine a project with whose details he had not ever
before versed himself, and ask whether he would not make the advance we
require on mortgage or otherwise."

"I don't think I 'd like to ask him," said Tom, with a grim smile.

"The proposal could come from me," said Sir Brook, proudly, "if he would
graciously accord me an interview."

Tom turned away to hide a smile, for he thought, if such a meeting were
to take place, what he would give to be an unseen witness of it,--to
watch the duel between antagonists so different, and whose weapons were
so unlike.

"My sister knows him better than any of us," said Tom, at last; "might I
consult her as to the likelihood of any success with him?"

"By all means; it is what I would have myself advised."

"I will do so, then, to-day. I ought to have gone to see her yesterday;
but I will go to-day, and report progress when I come back. I have a
long budget for her," added he, with a sigh,--"a catalogue of all the
things I am not going to do. I am not going to be a medallist, nor win
a fellowship, nor even be a doctor; it will, however, give me great
courage if I can say, I 'll be a miner."

Tom Lendrick was right when he said he should have gone to see his
sister on the day before, though he was not fully aware how right. The
Chief Baron, in laying down a few rules for Lucy's guidance, made a
point of insisting that she should only receive visitors on one day of
the week; and in this regulation he included even her brother. So averse
was the old man to be exposed to even a passing meeting with strangers,
that on these Tuesdays he either kept his room or retired to a little
garden of which he kept the key, and from whose precincts all were
rigorously excluded.

Well knowing her brother's impatience of anything like restricted
liberty, and how rapidly he would connect such an injunction as this
with a life of servitude and endurance, Lucy took care to make the time
of receiving him appear a matter of her own choice and convenience, and
at the time of parting would say, "Good-bye till Tuesday, Tom; don't
forget Tuesday, for we shall be sure to be alone and to ourselves." He
the more easily believed this, that on these same Tuesdays the whole
place seemed deserted and desolate. The grave-looking man in black, who
preceded him up the stairs, ushered him along the corridor, and finally
announced him, awaited him like a piece of machinery, repeating every
movement and gesture with an unbroken uniformity, and giving him to
understand that not only his coming was expected, but all the details of
his reception had been carefully prescribed and determined on.

"As I follow that fellow along the passage, Lucy," said Tom, one day, "I
can't help thinking that I experience every sensation of a man going to
be hanged,--his solemn face, his measured tread, the silence, and the
gloom,--only needing pinioned arms to make the illusion perfect."

"Tie them around me, dearest Tom," said she, laughing, and drawing him
to a seat beside her on the sofa; "and remember," added she, "you have
a long day. Your sentence will not come off for another week;" and thus
jestingly did she contrive to time his coming without ever letting him
know the restrictions that defined his visits.

Now, the day before this conversation between Sir Brook and Tom took
place being a Tuesday, Lucy had watched long and anxiously for his
coming. She knew he had gone down to Killaloe on the preceding Saturday,
but he had assured her he would be back and be with her by Tuesday.
Lucy's life was far from unhappy, but it was one of unbroken uniformity,
and the one sole glimpse of society was that meeting with her brother,
whose wayward thoughts and capricious notions imparted to all he said
a something striking and amusing. He usually told her how his week had
been passed,--where he had been and with whom,--and she had learned to
know his companions, and ask after them by name. Her chief interest was,
however, about Sir Brook, from whom Tom usually brought a few lines,
but always in an unsealed envelope, inscribed, "By the favor of Mr.
Lendrick, jun."

How often would Tom quiz her about the respectful devotion of her old
admirer, and jestingly ask her if she could consent to marry him. "I
know he'll ask you the question one of these days, Lucy, and it's your
own fault if you give him such encouragement as may mislead him." And
then they would talk over the romance of the old man's nature, wondering
whether the real world would be rendered more tolerable or the reverse
by that ideal tone which so imaginative a temperament could give it "Is
it not strange," said Tom, one day, "that I can see all the weakness of
his character wherever my own interests do not come, but the moment he
presents before me some bright picture of a splendid future, a great
name to achieve, a great fortune to make, that moment he takes me
captive, and I regard him not as a visionary or a dreamer, but as a man
of consummate shrewdness and great knowledge of life?"

"In this you resemble Sancho Panza, Tom," said she, laughing. "He had
little faith in his master's chivalry, but he implicitly believed in the
island he was to rule over;" and from that day forward she called her
brother Sancho and Sir Brook the Don.

On the day after that on which Tom's visit should have been but was
not paid, Lucy sat at luncheon with her grandfather in a small
breakfast-room which opened on the lawn. The old Judge was in unusual
spirits; he had just received an address from the Bar, congratulating
him on his recovery, and expressing hope that he might be soon again
seen on that Bench he had so much ornamented by his eloquence and his
wisdom. The newspapers, too, with a fickleness that seems their most
invariable feature, spoke most flatteringly of his services, and placed
his name beside those who had conferred highest honor on the judgeship.

"It is neatly worded, Lucy," said the old man, taking up the paper on
which the address was written; "and the passage that compares me with
Mansfield is able as well as true. Both Mansfield and myself understood
how there stands above all written law that higher, greater, grander
law, that is based in the heart of all humanity, in the hope of an
eternal justice, and soars above every technicality, by the intense
desire of truth. It would have been, however, no more than fair to have
added that, to an intellect the equal of Mansfield, I brought a temper
which Mansfield had not, and a manner which if found in the courts
of royalty, is seldom met with on the Bench. I do not quite like
that phrase, 'the rapid and unerring glance of Erskine.' Erskine was
brilliant for a Scotchman, but a brilliant Scotchman is but a third-rate
Irishman. They who penned this might have known as much. I am better
pleased with the words, 'the noble dignity of Lord Eldon.' There, my
child, there, they indeed have hit upon a characteristic. In Eldon
nature seemed to have created the judicial element in a high degree. It
would be the vulgarity of modesty to pretend not to recognize in my own
temperament a like organization.

"May I read you, Lucy, the few words in which I mean to reply to this
courteous address? Will it bore you, my dear?"

"On the contrary, sir, I shall feel myself honored as well as
interested."

"Sit where you are, then, and I will retire to the far corner of the
room. You shall judge if my voice and delivery be equal to the effort;
for I mean to return my thanks in person, Lucy. I mean to add the force
of my presence to the vigor of my sentiments. I have bethought me of
inviting those who have signed this document to luncheon here; and it
may probably be in the large drawing-room that I shall deliver this
reply. If not, it may possibly be in my court before rising,--I have not
fully determined." So saying, he arose, and with feeble steps--assisting
himself, as he went, by the table, and then grasping a chair--he moved
slowly across the room. She knew him too well to dare to offer her arm,
or appear in any way to perceive his debility. That he felt, and felt
bitterly, "the curse of old age," as he once profanely called it, might
be marked in the firm compression of his lips and the stern frown that
settled on him, while, as he sank into a seat, a sad weary sigh declared
the utter exhaustion that overcame him.

It was not till after some minutes that he rallied sufficiently to
unroll his manuscript and adjust his spectacles. The stillness in the
room was now perfect; not a sound was heard save the faint hum of a bee
which had strayed into the room, and was vaguely floating about to
find an exit. Lucy sat in an attitude of patient attention,--her hands
crossed before her, and her eyes slightly downcast.

A faint low cough, and he began, but in a voice tremulous and faint,
"'Mr. Chief Sergeant, and Gentlemen of the Bar'--do you hear me, Lucy?"

"Yes, sir, I hear you."

"I will try to be more audible; I will rest for a moment." fie laid his
paper on his knees, closed his eyes, and sat immovable for some seconds.

It was at this moment, when to the intense stillness was added a sense
of expectancy, the honeysuckle that grew across the window moved, the
frail branches gave way, and a merry voice called out, "Scene the first:
a young lady discovered at luncheon!" and with a spring Tom Lendrick
bounced into the room, and, ere her cry of alarm had ended, was clasping
his sister in his arms.

"Oh, Tom, dearest Tom, why to-day? Grandpapa--grandpapa is here," sighed
she, rather than whispered, in his ear.

The young man started back, more struck by the emotion he had shown than
by her words, and the Chief Baron advanced towards him with a manner
of blended courtesy and dignity, saying, "I am glad to know you. Your
sister's brother must be very welcome to me."

"I wish I could make a proper excuse for this mode of entry, sir. First
of all, I thought Lucy was alone; and, secondly--"

"Never mind the second plea; I submit to a verdict on the first," said
the Judge, smiling.

"Tom forgot; it was Tuesday was his day," began Lucy.

"I have no day; days are all alike to me, Lucy. My occupations of
Monday could be transferred to a Saturday, or, if need be, postponed
indefinitely beyond it."

"The glorious leisure of the fortunate," said the Judge, with a peculiar
smile.

"Or the vacuity of the unlucky, possibly," said Tom, with an easy laugh.

"At all events, young gentleman, you carry your load jauntily."

"One reason is, perhaps, that I never knew it was a load. I have always
paraded in heavy marching order, so that I don't mind the weight of my
pack."

For the first time did the old man's features relax into a look of
kindly meaning. To find the youth not merely-equal to appreciate a
figure of speech, but able to carry on the illustration, seemed so to
identify him with his own blood and kindred that the old Judge felt
himself instinctively drawn towards him.

"Lucy, help your brother to something; there was an excellent curry
there awhile ago,--if it be not cold."

"I have set my affections on that cold beef. It seems tome an age since
I have seen a real sirloin."

A slight twitch crossed the Judge's face,--a pang he felt at what might
be an insinuated reproach at his in hospitality; and he said, in a
tone of almost apology, "We see no one---absolutely no one--here. Lucy
resigns herself to the companionship of a very dreary old man whom all
else have forgotten."

"Don't say so, grandpapa, on the day when such a testimony of esteem and
affection reaches you."

Young Lendrick looked up from his plate, turning his eyes first towards
his sister, then towards his grandfather; his glance was so palpably an
interrogatory, there was no-mistaking it. Perhaps the old man's first
impulse was not to reply; but his courtesy or his vanity, or a blending
of both, carried the day, and he said, in a voice of much feeling: "Your
sister refers to an address I have just received,--an address which
the Irish Bar have deemed proper to transmit to me with their
congratulations on my recovery. It is as gratifying, it is as
flattering, as she says. My brethren have shown that they can rise above
all consideration of sect or party in tendering their esteem to a man
whom no administration has ever been able to convert into a partisan."

"But you have always been a Whig, sir, haven't you?" said Tom, bluntly.

"I have been a Whig, sir, in the sense that a King is a Royalist," said
the old man, haughtily; and though Tom felt sorely provoked to reply
to this pretentious declaration, he only gave a wicked glance at his
sister, and drank off his wine.

"It was at the moment of your unexpected appearance," continued the
Judge, "that I was discussing with your sister whether my reply to this
compliment would come better if delivered here, or from my place on the
Bench."

"I 'd say from the Bench," said Tom, as he helped himself to another
slice of beef.

The old man gave a short cough, with a start. The audacity of tendering
advice so freely and positively overcame him; and his color, faint
indeed, rose to his withered cheek, and his eye glittered as he said,
"Might I have the benefit of hearing the reasons which have led you to
this opinion?"

"First of all," said Tom, in a careless off-hand way, "I take it the
thing would have more--what shall I say?--dignity; secondly, the men
who have signed the address might feel they were treated with more
consideration; and lastly,--it 's not a very good reason, but I 'm
bound to own it,--I 'd like to hear it myself, which I could if it were
delivered in public, but which I am not so likely to do if spoken here."

"Oh, Tom, dear Tom!" whispered his sister, in dismay at a speech so
certain to be accepted in its least pleasing signification.

"You have already to-day reminded me of my deficiencies in hospitality,
sir. This second admonition was uncalled for. It is happy for _me_ that
my defence is unassailable. It is happy for _you_ that your impeachment
is unwitnessed."

"You have mistaken me, sir," said Tom, eagerly. "I never thought of
reflecting on your hospitality. I simply meant to say that as I find
myself here to-day by a lucky accident, I scarcely look to Fortune to do
me such another good turn in a hurry."

"Your father's fault--a fault that would have shipwrecked fourfold
more ability than ever he possessed--was a timidity that went to very
cowardice. He had no faith in himself, and he inspired no confidence
in others. Yours is, if possible, a worse failing. You have boldness
without knowledge. You have the rashness that provokes a peril, and
no part of the skill that teaches how to meet it. It was with a wise
prescience that I saw we should not be safe company for each other."

He arose as he spoke, and, motioning back Lucy as she approached to
offer her arm, he tottered from the room, to all seeming more overcome
by passion than even by years and infirmity.

"Well!" said Tom, as he threw his napkin on the table, and pushed his
chair back, "I 'll be shot if I know how I provoked that burst of
anger, or to what I owe that very neat and candid appreciation of my
character."

Lucy threw her arm around his neck, and, bending over his shoulder till
her face touched his own, said, "Oh, my dearest Tom, if you only knew
how nervous and susceptible he is, in part from his nature, but more,
far more, from suffering and sorrow! Left to the solitude of his own
bitter thoughts for years, without one creature to whisper a kind word
or a hopeful thought, is it any wonder if his heart has begun to consume
itself?"

"Devilish bitter diet it must find it! Pass me over the Madeira, Lucy.
I mean to have my last glass to the old gentleman's health and better
temper."

"He has moments of noble generosity that would win all your love," said
she, enthusiastically.

"You have a harder lot than ever I thought it, my poor Lucy," said
he, looking into her eyes with an affectionate solicitude. "This is so
unlike our old home."

"Oh, so unlike!" said she; and her lip quivered and her eyes grew glazy.

"And can you bear it, girl? Does it not seem to you like a servitude to
put up with such causeless passion, such capricious anger as this?"

She shook her head mournfully, but made no answer.

"If it be your woman's nature enables you to do it, all I can say is, I
don't envy you your sex."

"But, Tom, remember his years,--remember his age."

"By Jove, he took good care to remind me of my own!--not that he was so
far wrong in what he said of me, Lucy. I felt all the while he had 'hit
the blot,' and I would have owned it too, if he had n't taken himself
off so quickly."

"If you had, Tom,--if you had said but one word to this purport,--you
would have seen how nobly forgiving he could be in an instant."

"Forgiving,--humph! I don't think the forgiveness was to have come from
_him_."

"Sir William wishes to speak with you, Miss Lucy," said the butler,
entering hastily.

"I must go, Tom,--good-bye. I will write to you tomorrow,--to-night, if
I can,--good-bye, my dearest brother; be sure to come on Tuesday,--mind,
Tuesday. You will be certain to find me alone."



CHAPTER XVIII. THE FIRST LETTER HOME.

The post of the morning after the events of our last chapter brought
Lucy a letter from her father. It was the first since his departure.
What chapters in life are these first letters after absence! How do
they open to us glimpses of not only new scenes and incidents, but of
emotions and sentiments which, while we had relied upon them, we had
never so palpably realized before! There is such ecstasy in thinking
that time and space are no barriers against love, and that, even as we
read, the heart that sent the message is beating with affection for us.

Lendrick's letter to his daughter was full of fondness; her image had
evidently gone with him through all the changes of the voyage, and their
old home mingled in every thought of the new life before him. It was
plain enough how unwillingly he turned from the past to the present, and
how far rather he would revel in the scenes around the Shannon than turn
to the solitary existence that awaited him beyond the seas.

"I console myself, dear Lucy," wrote he, "as well as I may, by thinking
that in my great sacrifice I have earned the love of my father,--that
love from which I have lived so long estranged, and for which my heart
had never ceased to yearn; and I delight to think how by this time
you must have grown into his heart, soothed many a care for him, and
imparted to his solitary life the blessing of that bright hopefulness
which gave even to my own dull existence a glow of glad sunshine. Out
of my selfishness I cannot help asking you to remind him of all I have
given him. And now that my egotism is so fully aroused, let me tell of
myself. The voyage was less dreary than my fears had made it. I suffered
at first, it is true; and when at last use had inured me to the sea, I
fell into a sort of low feverish state, more the result of homesickness,
perhaps, than real malady. It was a condition of rather depression than
disease. Nothing could engage, nothing interest me. I could not read,
neither could I partake in any of the various pastimes by which my
fellow-voyagers beguiled the hours; and I found myself in that pitiable
state of sinking daily lower and lower, without what I could call a
cause for the depression.

"I have more than once in my experience as a doctor had to deal with
such cases, and I own now that I have neither valued their intensity
nor understood their importance. I did not, it is true, go to the vulgar
extent of calling them hippishness; but I did the next worse thing,--I
treated them as the offspring of an over-easy existence, of a placid
frictionless life.

"With much shame do I recall how often I have rallied these poor
sufferers on the vast space that separated them from real sorrow. There
is no unreality, dearest Lucy, in whatever so overcomes the brain that
thought is all but madness, and so pains the heart that the whole wish
is for death. There are subtler influences in our nature than those that
work by the brain or the blood, and the maladies of these have but one
physician.

"It was my great good-fortune to have a fellow-traveller who took the
kindest interest in me. If he could not cure, he certainly did much
to console me. He was a young man, lately gazetted on the
commander-in-chief's staff, and who came on board of us in the Downs
from a frigate bound for England. It was the merest accident that he did
not miss us and lose his passage.

"I am not a very attractive person, and it was with some astonishment
that I heard he desired to make my acquaintance; and on meeting he said,
'Though you have forgotten me, Dr. Lendrick, I had the honor of being
presented to you at Killaloe by my friend Sir Brook Fossbrooke;' and
I then remembered all about it, and how it was his features were so
familiar to me,--very good features, too, they were, with much candor
and manliness in the expression,--altogether a handsome young fellow,
and with an air of good birth about him just as distinctive as his good
looks.

"I am so unused to being singled out by a stranger as the object of
attentions, that I never fully got over the surprise which this young
man's attachment to me inspired; and I am not using too strong a word,
Lucy, when I call it attachment. There might have been, at least to his
eyes, something in our respective fortunes that suggested this drawing
towards me. Who knows whether he too might not have parted from a loved
home and friends!

"When he first came on board, his manner was wild,--almost incoherent;
he ran here and there, like one in search of something or of somebody,
but whose name he had forgotten. Indeed he actually startled me by the
eagerness with which he addressed me; and when I informed him that I was
alone, quite alone, and as friendles as himself on board, I thought he
would have fainted. In all this suffering and emotion I suspected that
I found what led him to a companionship with one as sorrow-stricken as
himself.

"As it was, there was no care he did not bestow on me. My own dear boy
himself could not have nursed me more tenderly, nor tried to rally my
spirits with more affectionate solicitude. He read for me, played chess
with me, he even lent himself to the sort of reading I liked best, to
become more companionable to me, withdrawing all this while from the gay
and pleasant society of young fellows like himself. In a word, Lucy, by
his devotion to me, he sent through my heart a lurking thought, almost
like a hope, that I must somehow have certain qualities for which the
world at large had not yet credited me, which could make me of
interest to a young, bright-natured creature, fresh to life and all its
enjoyments; and from the self-esteem of this notion I really believe I
drew more encouragement than from any amount of more avowed approbation.

"I feel I am not wearying you, my darling Lucy, by dwelling even with
prolixity on what beguiled the long hours of absence, the weary, weary
days at sea.

"When we landed, for a time at least, I only met him now and then;
he had his duties, and I had mine. I had to look out for a house. My
predecessor's family are still occupying the official residence, and
have begged of me leave to remain there a little longer. I had my visits
of duty or compliment to make, and a whole round of little courtesies to
perform, for which I well know I have all your sympathy. Every one was,
however, kind and polite; some were even friendly. Indeed, my very want
of manner, my awkward bashfulness and deficient tact, have, I can
see, not injured me in the esteem of those whose worldly breeding and
knowledge have taught them to be compassionate as well as courteous.

"Amongst the many persons to whom I was presented I made two
acquaintances of more than common interest to me,--I will not go
farther, and say of any great degree of gratification. In dining with
the Governor, yesterday week, he said, 'You will meet a relation to-day,
Dr. Lendrick. His ship has just put in to coal, and he and his wife dine
with us.' Though quite persuaded the Governor was laboring under some
mistake, I waited with anxiety as the different arrivals were announced,
and at last came Colonel and Mrs. Sewell,--the Colonel being Lady
Lendrick's son by her first marriage,--what relation to myself all my
skill in genealogy is unable to pronounce.

"We met, however, shook hands very cordially, and I had the honor to
conduct Mrs. Sewell to table. I am unfortunately terribly prone to first
impressions, and all those that I entertain regarding the Colonel
are adverse. He is a tall, handsome man, easy in manner, and with the
readiness in speech and address that shows familiarity with life. He
however will never suffer your eyes to meet his, never exchange a
frank look with you, and seems, from some cause or other, to be always
laboring under an impatient anxiety to be somewhere else than where he
stands at the moment.

"He asked about my father, and never waited for my reply; and he
laughingly said, with a bad taste that shocked me, 'My mother and he
never could hit it off together.'

"Mrs. Sewell interested me more than her husband. She is still very
handsome; she must at one time have been perfectly beautiful. She is
very gentle, low-voiced, and quiet, talking with a simplicity that even
I can detect only covers a deep knowledge of life and the world. The
dread of her husband seems, however, to pervade all she says or does.
She changes color when he looks at her, and if he addresses her, she
sometimes seems about to faint. His slightest word is accepted as a
command; and yet with all this terror--terror it was--I caught a
look that once passed between them that actually overwhelmed me
with amazement. It was the very look that two accomplices might have
interchanged in a moment when they could not communicate more freely.
Don't think that there is any exaggeration in this, Lucy, or that I
am assuming to possess a finer insight into human motives than my
neighbors; but my old craft as a doctor supplies me with a technical
skill that no acquaintance with the mere surface-life of the world could
have given; for the _Medico_ reads mankind by a stronger and steadier
light than ever shone out of conventionalities or social usages.

"'We are on our way to England, to Ireland, perhaps,' he said to me, in
a careless way; but she, not aware of his speech, told me they had been
invited to the Priory,--a piece of information which I own startled
me. First of all, they are not by any means like people who would be
agreeable to my father, nor, so far as I can guess, are they persons who
would easily sacrifice their own modes of life and habits to the wishes
of a recluse. Least of all, dearest Lucy, do I desire this lady to be
your companion. She has, I see, many attractive qualities; she may have
others as good and excellent; but if I do not greatly err, her
whole nature and being are in subjection to a very stern, cold, and
unscrupulous man, and she is far from being all that she should be with
such gifts as she possesses, and farther again from what she might have
been with a happier destiny in marriage.

"If it were not that you are so certain to meet, and not improbably see
much of these people, I should not have filled so much of my letter with
them; but I confess to you, since I saw them they have never been out
of my thoughts. Our relationship--if that be the name for it--led us
rapidly into considerable intimacy; he brought his children--two lovely
girls, and a little cherub of a boy of three years old--to see me
yesterday, and Mrs. Sewell comes to take me to drive every day after
luncheon. She expresses the most ardent desire to meet you, and says she
knows you will love each other. She carried off your picture t' other
day, and I was in real terror till I got it back again. She seemed in
ecstasy on being told you were living with your grandfather; but I saw a
look she shot across to her husband as I told it, and I saw his reply by
another glance that revealed to me how my tidings had caused surprise,
and something more than surprise.

"You must not set me down as fanciful or captious, dear Lucy; but the
simple truth is, I have never had a quiet moment since I knew these
people. They inspire me with the same sort of anxiety I have often felt
when, in the course of my profession, some symptom has supervened in
a case not very grave or startling in itself, but still such as I have
always found heralding in very serious combinations. It is therefore the
doctor as much as the father that takes alarm here.

"It is just possible--mind, I say possible--that I am a little jealous
of these Sewells, for they have already seduced from me my young friend
Lionel, who was so kind to me on the voyage. I scarcely see him now, he
is always with them; and yesterday I heard--it may not be true--that
he is already weary of Cape Town, and means to return home by the next
ship,--that is, along with the Sewells, who are to sail on Friday.

"I am certain that Sewell is neither a good nor a safe companion for a
young fellow so bashful and unsuspecting as Lionel Trafford.

"There are men who read the world the way certain dishonest critics
quote a book or an article, by extracting all that is objectionable,
and, omitting context and connection, place passage after passage in
quick sequence. By such a process as this, human life is a pandemonium.
I half suspect Sewell to be one of this scornful school; and if so, a
most dangerous intimate. The heartfelt racy enjoyment of his manner, as
he records some trait of rascality or fraud, is not more marked than the
contemptuous sneer with which he receives a story that bears testimony
to generosity or trustfulness, throwing over his air in each that tone
of knowledge of life and the world that seems to say, 'These are
the things we all of us know well, though only a few have either the
manliness or the honesty to declare them openly.'

"I may have tired you with this long tirade, my dear Lucy, but I am
pouring out to you my thoughts as they come,--come, too, out of the
fulness of much reflection. Remember, too, my sweet child, that I have
often told you, 'It is just some half-dozen people with whom we are
intimate who make or mar our fate in life.' Big as the world is, we play
a very small game in one corner of the board, and it behoves us to look
well to those with whom we are to play it.

"If I am jealous of the Sewells for having robbed me of my young friend,
I am envious of himself also, for he is going back to England,--going
back to the loved faces and scenes he has left,--going back to Home.
There 's the word, Lucy, that gathers all that we come to live for, when
life really is a blessing.

"It would seem too early to pronounce, but I think I can already see
this is not a place to which I would like to bring you; but I will not
prejudge it. It may be that time will reconcile me to some things I
now dislike; it may be, too, that the presence of my own around me will
dispose me to take a cheerier view of much that now depresses me. I have
a great deal to do; I am employed during the whole day, and never really
free till evening, when society claims me. This latter is my only severe
burden. You can imagine me daily dining out, and fancy the martyrdom it
costs me.

"I am most anxious to hear of you, and how you like your new life,--I
mean how you bear it. Liking is not the word for that which entails
separation. I feel assured that you will love my father. You will be
generous towards those traits which the host of mere acquaintanceship
took pleasure in exaggerating, and you will be fair enough not to
misjudge his great qualities because of certain faults of temper. He has
great gifts, Lucy; and as you will see, the two pendulums of his nature,
heart and head, swing together, and he is as noble in sentiment as he is
grand in action.

"It almost consoles me for separation when I think that I have
transferred to him the blessings of that presence that made my own
sunshine. Mind that you send me a diary of your life. I want your whole
day; I want to see how existence is filled, so that whenever my
mind flies back to you I may say, 'She is in her garden,--she is
working,--she is at her music,--she is reading to him.'

"It was a mistake to send me here, Lucy. There are men in scores who
would rejoice in the opportunities of such a place, and see in it
the road to rapid fortune. I only look at one feature of it,--the
banishment. Not that by nature I am discontented,--I hope and believe
this is not so,--but I feel that there are many things in life far worse
than poverty. I have not the same dread of narrow means most men have.
I do not feel depressed in spirit when I lie beneath a very humble roof,
and sit down to a coarse meal; nor has splendor the power to exhilarate
or elevate me. I am essentially humble, and I need nothing that is not
generally within the reach of the humble; and I vow to you in all truth,
I 'd rather be your grandfather's gardener than be the governor of this
great colony. There 's an ignoble confession, but keep it for yourself.

"I have written a long letter to Tom by this post, and addressed it to
Mr. Dempster, who will forward it if he should have left before this. It
distresses me greatly when I think that I have not been able to give him
any definite career in life before we parted. Mere aptitude has no value
with the world. You may be willing and ready to do fifty things, but
some fourth-rate fellow who _knows_ how to do one will beat you. The
marketable quality in life is skill; the thing least in request is
genius. Tom has this harsh lesson yet to learn, but learn it he must,
for the world is a schoolmaster that will stand no skulking, and however
little to our taste be its tasks, we must come up when called on, and go
on with our lesson as well as we may.

"In many respects Sir Brook Fossbrooke was an unfortunate companion
for him to have chanced upon. A man of considerable resources, who has
employed them all unprofitably, is a bad pilot. The very waywardness of
such a nature was exactly the quality to be avoided in Tom's case; but
what was to be done? Poverty can no more select its company than its
climate; and it would have been worse than ungracious to have rejected a
friendship so generously and freely offered.

"I am curious--I am more than curious, I am anxious--to know if Tom
should ever have met my father. They are so intensely alike in many
things that I fear me their meeting could not lead to-good. I know well
that Tom resents, and would like to show that he resents, what he
deems the harsh treatment evinced towards me, and I dread anything
like interchange of words between them. My whole hope is that you would
prevent such a mischance, or, if it did occur, would take measures to
obviate its dangers.

"Tell me particularly about this when you write. Tell me also, have
you met Lady Lendrick, and if so, on what terms? I have ever found her
obliging and good-natured, and with many qualities which the world has
not given her credit for. Give her my most respectful regards when you
see her.

"It is daybreak; the hot sun of Africa is already glancing into the
room, and I must conclude. I cannot bear to think of the miles these
lines must travel ere they meet you, but they will be with you at last,
and they are in this more fortunate than your loving father,

"T. Lendrick."

Lucy sat long pondering over this letter. She read it too, again and
again, and by a light which was certainly not vouchsafed to him who
wrote it. To _her_ there was no mystery in Trafford's conduct. It
was plain enough he had gone out, expecting to find her as his
fellow-passenger. His despair--his wretchedness--his devotion to
her father, the last resource of that disappointment he could not
subdue--were all intelligible enough. Less easy, however, to read the
sudden attachment he had formed for the Sewells. What did this mean? Had
it any meaning; and if so, was it one that concerned her to know?



CHAPTER XIX. OFFICIAL MYSTERIES

"I think I had better see him myself," said Fossbrooke, after patiently
listening to Tom Lendrick's account of his meeting with his grandfather.
"It is possible I may be able to smooth down matters a little, and
dispose the old gentleman, besides, to accord us some aid in our
Sardinian project, for I have resolved upon that, Tom."

"Indeed, sir; the gold-mine?"

"No, the lead,--the lead and silver. In the rough calculation I made
last night on this slip of paper, I see my way to something like seven
thousand a year to begin with; untold wealth will follow. There are no
less than eleven products available,--the black lead of pencils and the
white used by painters being the chief; while in my new salt, which I
am disposed to call the 'pyrochloride of plumbium,' we have a sedative
that will allay the pangs of hydrophobia."

"I wish it would quiet the Chief Baron," muttered Tom; and Sir Brook,
not hearing him correctly, continued,--"I think so,--I think the Chief
Baron eminently calculated to take a proper estimate of my discovery. A
man of fine intellect is ever ready to accept truth, albeit it come in a
shape and through a channel in which he has himself not pursued it. Will
you write a line to your sister and ask if it would be his Lordship's
convenience to receive me, and at what time?"

"Of course, sir, whatever you wish," said Tom, in some confusion; "but
might I ask if it be your intention to ask my grandfather to aid me with
his purse?"

"Naturally. I mean that he should, by advancing, let us say, eight
hundred pounds, put you in a position to achieve a speedy fortune. He
shall see, too, that our first care has been your sister's interests.
Six-sixteenths of the profits for fifty years are to be hers; three each
we reserve for ourselves; the remaining four will form a reserve fund
for casualties, a capital for future development, and a sum at interest
to pay superannuations, with some other objects that you will find
roughly jotted down here, for which, however, they will amply suffice. I
take it his Lordship knows something of metallurgy, Tom?" "I believe
he knows a little of everything." "Chemistry I feel sure he must have
studied." "I won't answer for the study; but you 'll find that when
you come to talk with him, you 'll scarcely wander very far out of his
geography. But I was going to say, sir, that I 'm not quite easy at the
thought of asking him for money."

"It's not money--at least, it's no gift--we require of him. We are in
possession of a scheme certain to secure a fortune. We know where a
treasure lies hid, and we want no more than the cost of the journey to
go and fetch it. He shall be more than repaid. The very dispositions
we make in your sister's favor will show him in what spirit we mean to
deal. It is possible--I am willing to own it--it is possible I might
approach a man of inferior intelligence with distrust and fear, but in
coming before Baron Lendrick I have no misgivings. All my experience of
life has shown me that the able men are the generous men. In the ample
stretch of their minds they estimate mankind by larger averages, and
thus they come to see that there is plenty of good in human nature."

"I believe the old Judge is clever enough, and some speak very well
of his character; but his temper--his temper is something that would
swallow up all the fine qualities that ever were accorded to one man;
and even if you were about to go on a mission I liked better, I 'd
say, Don't ask to see him, don't expose yourself to the risk of some
outrageous affront,--something you could n't bear and would n't resent."

"I have never yet found myself in the predicament you speak of,"
said Sir Brook, drawing himself up haughtily, "nor do I know of any
contingency in life from which I could retreat on account of its perils.
It may be, indeed it is, more than likely, from what you tell me, that
I shall make no appeal to your grandfather's generosity; but I shall see
him to tender your regrets for any pain you may have caused him, and to
tell also so much of our future intentions as it is becoming the head
of your house should hear. I also desire to see your sister, and say
good-bye."

"Ask her to let me do so too. I can't go away without seeing her again."
Tom took a turn or two up and down the room as though he had not made up
his mind whether to say something or not. He looked out of the window,
possibly in search of something to distract his thoughts, and then
turning suddenly about, he said: "I was thinking, sir, that if it was
your opinion--mind, I don't want to insinuate that it ought to be, or
even that it is my own--but that if you came to the conclusion that
my sister was not happy with my grandfather--that her life was one of
depression and suffering--what would you say to her coming along with
us?"

"To Sardinia! Coming to Sardinia, do you mean, Tom?" said the old man,
in astonishment.

"Yes, sir, that is what I meant."

"Have I not told you the sort of life that lies before us in the
island,--the hardships, the dangers, the bitter privations we shall
have to endure? Is it to these we can invite a young girl, trained and
accustomed to every elegance and every comfort?"

"She 'd not shrink from her share,--that much I 'll warrant you; and the
worst roughing of that rugged life would be easier to bear than this old
man's humor."

"No, no; it must not be thought of," said Fossbrooke, sternly. "What
meaning has our enterprise if it be not to secure her future fortune?
She cannot--she shall not--pay any part of the price. Let me think over
this, Tom. It may be that we ought not to leave her; it may be that we
should hit upon something nearer home. I will go up to the Castle and
see the Viceroy."

He made a light grimace as he said this. Such a visit was by no means to
his taste. If there was anything totally repugnant to his nature, it was
to approach men whom he had known as friends or intimates with anything
like the request for a favor. It seemed to him to invert all the
relations which ought to subsist between men in society. The moment
you had stooped to such a step, in his estimation you had forfeited all
right to that condition of equality which renders intercourse agreeable.

"I must have something for this young fellow,--something that may enable
him to offer his sister a home if she should need it. I will accept
nothing for myself,--on that I am determined. It is a sorry part, that
of suppliant, but so long as it is for another it is endurable. Not that
I like it, though,--not that it sits easy on me,--and I am too old to
acquire a new manner." Thus muttering to himself, he went along till he
found himself at the chief entrance of the Castle.

"You will have to wait on Mr. Balfour, sir, his Excellency's private
secretary, the second door from the corner," said the porter, scarcely
deigning a glance at one so evidently unversed in viceregal observances.
Sir Brook nodded and withdrew. From a groom who was holding a
neat-looking cob pony Fossbrooke learned that Mr. Balfour was about to
take his morning's ride. "He'll not see you now," said the man. "You 'll
have to come back about four or half-past."

"I have only a question to ask," said Sir Brook, half to himself as he
ascended the stairs. As he gained the landing and rang, the door opened
and Mr. Balfour appeared. "I regret to detain you, sir," began Sir
Brook, as he courteously raised his hat. "Mr. Balfour, I believe."

"You are right as to my name, but quite as wrong if you fancy that you
will detain me," said that plump and very self-satisfied gentleman, as
he moved forward.

"And yet, sir, such is my intention," said Sir Brook, placing himself
directly in front of him.

"That is a matter very soon settled," said Balfour, returning to the
door and calling out, "Pollard, step down to the lower yard, and send a
policeman here."

Sir Brook heard the order unmoved in manner, and even made way for the
servant to pass down the stairs. No sooner, however, was the man out
of hearing than he said, "It would be much better, sir, not to render
either of us ridiculous. I am Sir Brook Fossbrooke, and I come here to
learn at what time it would be his Excellency's pleasure to receive me."

The calm quiet dignity in which he spoke, even more than the words, had
its effect on Balfour, who, with more awkwardness than he would like
to have owned, asked Sir Brook to walk in and be seated. "I have had a
message for you from his Excellency these three or four days back, and
knew not where to find you."

"Did it never occur to you to try what assistance the police might
afford, sir?" said he, with deep gravity.

"One thinks of these generally as a last resource," said Balfour,
coolly, and possibly not sorry to show how imperturbable he could be
under a sarcasm.

"And now for the message, sir," said Fossbrooke.

"I'll be shot if I remember it. Wasn't it something about an election
riot? You thrashed a priest, named Malcahy, eh?"

"I opine not, sir," said Sir Brook, with a faint smile.

"No, no; you are the great man for acclimatization; you want to make the
ornithorhynchus as common as the turkey. Am I right?"

Sir Brook shook his head.

"I never have my head clear out of office hours, that 's the fact," said
Balfour, impatiently. "If you had called on me between twelve and three,
you 'd have found me like a directory."

"Put no strain upon your recollection, sir. When I see the Viceroy, it
is probable he will repeat the message."

"You know him, then?"

"I have known him eight-and-forty years."

"Oh, I have it,--I remember it all now. You used to be with Colonel
Hanger and Hugh Seymour and O'Kelly and all the Carlton House lot."

Fossbrooke bowed a cold assent.

"His Excellency told us the other evening that there was not a man in
England who had so many stories of the Prince. Didn't Moore go to you
about his Life of Sheridan?--yes, of course,--and you promised him some
very valuable documents; and sent him five-and-twenty protested bills of
poor Brinsley's, labelled 'Indubitable Records.'"

"This does not lead us to the message, sir," said Foss-brooke, stiffly.

"Yes, but it does though,--I'm coming to it. I have a system of
artificial memory, and I have just arrived at you now through Carlton
House, milk-punch, and that story about Lord Grey and yourself riding
postilions to Ascot, and you on the wheelers tipping up Grey with your
whip till he grew frantic. Was n't that a fact?"

"I wait for the message, sir; or rather I grow impatient at not hearing
it."

"I remember it perfectly. It's a place he wants to offer you; it's
a something under the Courts of Law. You are to do next to
nothing,--nothing at all, I believe, if you prefer it, as the last
fellow did. He lived in Dresden for the education of his children, and
he died there, and we did n't know when he died,--at least they suspect
he signed some dozen life certificates that his doctor used to forward
at quarter-day. Mind, I don't give you the story as mine; but the
impression is that he held the office for eight years after his death."

"Perhaps, sir, you would now favor me with the name and nature of the
appointment."

"He was called the Deputy-Assistant Sub-something of somewhere in the
Exchequer; and he had to fill, or to register, or to put a seal, or, if
not a seal, a stamp on some papers; but the marrow of the matter is, he
had eight hundred a year for it; and when the Act passed requiring two
seals, he asked for an increase of salary and an assistant clerk, and
they gave him two hundred more, but they refused the clerk. They do such
shabby things in those short sittings over the Estimates!"

"And am I to understand that his Excellency makes me an offer of this
appointment?"

"Well, not exactly; there's a hitch in it,--I may say there are
two hitches: first of all, we 're not sure it's in our gift; and,
secondly--"

"Perhaps I may spare you the secondly,--the firstly is more than enough
for me."

"Yes, but I'd like to explain. Here's how it is: the Chief Baron claimed
the patronage about twenty years ago, and we made, or the people
who were in power made, some sort of a compromise about an ultimate
nomination, and he was to have the first. Now this man only died
t' other day, having held the office, as I said, upwards of twenty
years,--a most unconscionable thing,--just one of those selfish acts
small official fellows are always doing; and so _I_ thought, as I saw
your name down for something on his Excellency's list, that I 'd mention
_you_ for the post as a sort of sop to Baron Lendrick, saying, 'Look
at our man; we are not going to saddle the country with one of your
long-annuity fellows,--_he_ 's eighty if he's a day.' I say, I 'd press
this point, because the old Judge says he is no longer bound by
the terms of the compromise, for that the office was abolished and
reconstructed by the 58th of Victoria, and that he now insists on the
undivided patronage."

"I presume that the astute reasons which induced you to think of _me_
have not been communicated to the Viceroy."

"I should think not. I mention them to you frankly, because his
Excellency said you were one of those men who must be dealt with openly.
'Play on the square with Foss-brooke,' said he; 'and whether he win or
lose, you 'll see no change in him. Try to overreach him, and you 'll
catch a tiger.'"

"I am very grateful for his kind estimate of me. It is, however, no more
than I looked for at his hands." This he said with a marked feeling,
and then added, in a lighter tone, "I have also a debt of gratitude
to yourself, of which I know not how to acquit myself better than by
accepting this appointment, and taking the earliest opportunity to die
afterwards."

"No, don't do that; I don't mean that. You can do like that fellow they
made Pope because he looked on the verge of the grave, and who pitched
his crutch into the air when he had put on the tiara."

"I understand; so that it is only in Baron Lendrick's eyes I am to look
short-lived."

"Just so; call on him,--have a meeting with him; say that his Excellency
desires to act with every delicacy towards him,--that should it be
discovered hereafter the right of nomination lies with the Court and not
with us, we 'll give him an equivalent somewhere else, till--till--"

"Till I shall have vacated the post," chimed in Sir Brook, blandly; "a
matter, of course, of very brief space."

"You see the whole thing,--you see it in all its bearings; and now if
you only could know something about the man you have to deal with, there
would be nothing more to tell you."

"I have heard about him passingly."

"Oh, yes, his eccentricities are well known. The world is full of
stories of him, but he is one of those men who play wolf on the
species,--he must be worrying somebody to keep him from worrying
himself; he smashed the last two Governments here, and he 'd have upset
_us_ too if _I_ had n't been here. He hates _me_ cordially; and if you
don't want to rouse his anger, don't let your lips murmur the name,
Cholmondely Balfour."

"You may rely upon me, sir," said Sir Brook, bowing. "I have scarcely
ever met a gentleman whose name I am not more likely to recall than your
own."

"Sharp, that; did you mean it?" said Balfour, with his glass to his eye.

"I am never ambiguous, sir, though it occasionally happens to me to say
somewhat less than I feel. I wish you a good day."



CHAPTER XX. IN COURT.

When the day arrived that the Chief Baron was to resume his place on
the Bench, no small share of excitement was seen to prevail within the
precincts of the Four Courts. Many opined that his recovery was far
from perfect, and that it was not his intention ever to return to the
justice-seat. Some maintained that the illness had been far less severe
than was pretended, and that he had employed the attack as a means of
pressure on the Government, to accord to his age and long services
the coveted reward. Less argumentative partisans there were who were
satisfied to wager that he would or would not reappear on the Bench, and
bets were even laid that he would come for one last time, as though to
show the world in what full vigor of mind and intellect was the man the
Government desired to consign to inactivity and neglect.

It is needless to say that he was no favorite with the Bar. There was
scarcely a man, from the highest to the lowest, whom he had not on some
occasion or another snubbed, ridiculed, or reprimanded. Whose law had he
not controverted? Whose acuteness had he not exposed, whose rhetoric
not made jest of? The mere presence of ability before him seemed to
stimulate his combative spirit, and incite him to a passage at arms with
one able to defend himself. No first-rate man could escape the shafts of
his barbed and pointed wit; it was only dulness, hopeless dulness,
that left his court with praise of his urbanity and an eulogy over his
courteous demeanor.

Now, hopeless dulness is not the characteristic of the Irish Bar, and
with the majority the Chief Baron was the reverse of popular.

No small tribute was it therefore to his intellectual superiority, to
that mental power that all acknowledged while they dreaded, that his
appearance was greeted with a murmur of approbation, which swelled
louder and louder as he moved across the hall, till it burst out at
last into a hoarse, full cheer of welcome. Mounting the steps with
difficulty, the pale old man, seared with age and wrinkled with care,
turned round towards the vast crowd, and with an eye of flashing
brightness, and a heightened color, pressed his hand upon his heart,
and bowed. A very slight motion it was,--less, far less, perhaps, than
a sovereign might have accorded; but in its dignity and grace it was a
perfect recognition of all the honor he felt had been done him.

How broken! how aged! how fearfully changed! were the whispered remarks
that were uttered around as he took his seat on the Bench, and more
significant even than words were the looks interchanged when he
attempted to speak, and instead of that clear metallic ring which once
had been audible even outside the court, a faint murmuring sound was
only heard.

A few commonplace motions were made and discharged. A somewhat wearisome
argument followed on a motion for a new trial, and the benches of the
Bar gradually grew thinner and thinner, as the interest of the scene
wore off, and as each in turn had scanned, and, after his own fashion,
interpreted, the old Judge's powers of mind and body; when suddenly,
and as it were without ostensible cause, the court began to fill,--bench
after bench was occupied, till at last even all the standing-space was
crowded; and when the massive curtain moved aside, vast numbers were
seen without, eagerly trying to enter. At first the Chief Baron appeared
not to notice the change, but his sharp eye no sooner detected it than
he followed with his glance the directed gaze of the crowd, and saw
it fixed on the gallery, opposite the jury-box, now occupied by a
well-dressed company, in the midst of whom, conspicuous above all, sat
Lady Lendrick. So well known were the relations that subsisted between
himself and his wife, such publicity had been given to their hates and
quarrels, that her presence here was regarded as a measure of shameless
indelicacy. In the very defiant look, too, that she bestowed on the body
of the court she seemed to accept the imputation, and to dare it.

Leisurely and calmly did she scan the old man's features through her
double eyeglass, while from time to time, with a simpering smile, she
would whisper some words to the lady at her side,--words it was not
needful to overhear, they were so palpably words of critical comment
upon him she gazed at.

So engrossed was attention by the indecency of this intrusion, which had
not even the shallow pretext of an interesting cause to qualify it, that
it was only after a considerable time it was perceived that the lady who
sat next Lady Lendrick was exceedingly beautiful. If no longer in her
first youth, there were traits of loveliness in her perfectly formed
features which even years respect; and in the depth of her orbits and
the sculptural elegance of her nostrils and her mouth, there was all
that beauty we love to call Greek, but in which no classic model ever
could compete with the daughters of England.

Her complexion was of exceeding delicacy, as was the half-warm tint of
her light-brown hair. But it was when she smiled that the captivation
of her beauty became perfect; and it seemed as though each and all there
appropriated that radiant favor to himself, and felt his heart bound
with a sort of ecstasy. It had been rumored in the morning through the
hall that the Chief Baron, at the rising of the Court, would deliver a
short reply to the address of the Bar; and now, as the last motion was
being disposed of, the appearance of eager expectation and curiosity
became conspicuous on every side.

That the unlooked-for presence of his wife had irritated and embarrassed
the old man, was plain to the least observant. The stern expression of
his features; the steadfast way in which he gazed into the body of
the court, to avoid even a chance glance at the gallery; the fretful
impatience with which he moved his hands restlessly amongst his
papers,--all showed discomposure and uneasiness. Still, it was well
known that the moment he was called on for a mental effort intellect
ever assumed the mastery over temper, and all felt that when he should
arise not a trace of embarrassment would remain to mar the calm dignity
of his manner.

It was amidst a hushed silence that he stood up, and said: "Mr. Chief
Sergeant, and Gentlemen of the Bar: I had intended to-day,--I had even
brought down with me some notes of a reply which I purposed to make to
the more than flattering address which you so graciously offered to me.
I find, however, that I have overrated the strength that remains to
me. I find I have measured my power to thank you by the depth of my
gratitude, and not by the vigor of my frame. I am too weak to say all
that I feel, and too deeply your debtor to ask you to accept less than I
owe you. Had the testimony of esteem you presented to me only alluded to
those gifts of mind and intellect with which a gracious Providence was
pleased to endow me,--had you limited yourself to the recognition of the
lawyer and the judge,--I might possibly have found strength to assure
you that I accepted your praise with the consciousness that it was not
all unmerited. The language of your address, however, went beyond this;
your words were those of regard, even of affection. I am unused to such
as these, gentlemen,--they unsettle--they unman me. Physicians tell us
that the nerves of the student acquire a morbid and diseased acuteness
for want of those habits of action and physical exertion which more
vulgar organizations practise. So do I feel that the mental faculties
gain an abnormal intensity in proportion as the affections are
neglected, and the soil of the heart left untilled.

"Mine have been worse than ignored," said he, with an elevated tone, and
in a voice that rang through the court,--"they have been outraged; and
when the time comes that biography will have to deal with my character
and my fortunes, if there be but justice in the award, the summing-up
will speak of me as one ever linked with a destiny that was beneath
him. He was a lawyer,--he ought to have been a legislator. He sat on
the Bench, while his place was the Cabinet; and when at the end of
a laborious life his brethren rallied round him with homage and with
tender regard, they found him like a long beleaguered city starved
into submission, carrying a bold port towards the enemy, but torn by
dissension within, and betrayed by the very garrison that should have
died in its defence."

The savage fierceness of these words turned every eye in the court to
the gallery, where Lady Lendrick sat, and where, with a pleasant smile
on her face, she not only listened with seeming pleasure, but beat time
with her fan to the rhythm of the well-rounded periods.

A quivering of the lip, and a strange flattening of the cheek of one
side, succeeded to the effort with which he delivered these words, and
when he attempted to speak again his voice failed him; and after a few
attempts he placed his hand on his brow, and with a look of intense and
most painful significancy, bowed around him to both sides of the court
and retired.

"That woman, that atrocious woman, has killed him," muttered poor Haire,
as he hastened to the Judge's robing-room.

"I am sorry, my dear, you should not have heard him in a better vein,
for he is really eloquent at times," said Lady Lendrick to her beautiful
companion, as they moved through the crowd to their carriage.

"I trust his present excitement will not have bad consequences," said
the other, softly. "Don't you think we ought to wait and ask how he is?"

"If you like. I have only one objection, and that is, that we may be
misconstrued. There are people here malicious enough to impute the worst
of motives to our anxiety. Oh, here is Mr. Pemberton! Mr. Pemberton,
will you do me the great favor to inquire how the Chief Baron is? Would
you do more, and say that I am most eager to know if I could be of any
use to him?"

If Mr. Pemberton had no fancy for his mission, he could not very well
decline it. While he was absent, the ladies took a turn through the
hall, inspecting the two or three statues of distinguished lawyers, and
scanning the living faces, whose bewigged expression seemed to blend the
over-wise and the ridiculous in the strangest imaginable manner.

A sudden movement in the crowd betokened some event; and now, through a
lane formed in the dense mass, the Chief Baron was seen approaching.
He had divested himself of his robes, and looked the younger for the
change. Indeed, there was an almost lightness in his step, as he
came forward, and with a bland smile said: "I am most sensible of the
courtesy that led you here. I only wish my strength had been more
equal to the occasion." And he took Lady Lendrick's hand with a mingled
deference and regard.

"Sir William, this is my daughter-in-law. She only arrived yesterday,
but was determined not to lose the opportunity of hearing you."

[Illustration: 178]

"To have _heard_ me to-day was disappointment," said the old man, as
he raised the young lady's hand to his lips; "to see her is none. I am
charmed to meet one so closely tied to me,--of such exquisite beauty.
Ah, Madam! it's a dear-bought privilege, this candid appreciation of
loveliness we old men indulge in. May I offer you my arm?"

And now through the dense crowd they passed along,--all surprised and
amazed at the courteous attentions of the old Judge, whom but a few
moments before they had seen almost convulsed with passion.

"She almost had won the game, Haire," said the Chief Baron, as, having
handed the ladies to their carriage, he went in search of his own. "But
I have mated her. My sarcasm has never given me one victory with
that woman," said he, sternly. "I have never conquered her except by
courtesy."

"Why did she come down to court at all?" blurted out Haire; "it was
positively indecent."

"The Spanish women go to bull-fights, but I never heard that they
stepped down into, the arena. She has great courage,--very great
courage."

"Who was the handsome woman with her?"

"Her daughter-in-law, Mrs. Sewell. Now, that is what I call beauty,
Haire. There is the element which is denied to us men,--to subdue
without effort, to conquer without conflict."

"Your granddaughter is handsomer, to my thinking."

"They are like each other,--strangely like. They have the same dimpling
of the cheek before they smile, and her laugh has the same ring as
Lucy's."

Haire muttered something, not very intelligibly, indeed, but certainly
not sounding like assent.

"Lady Lendrick had asked me to take these Sewells in at the Priory, and
I refused her. Perhaps I 'd have been less peremptory had I seen this
beauty. Yes, sir! There is a form of loveliness--this woman has it--as
distinctly an influence as intellectual superiority, or great rank,
or great riches. To deny its power you must live out of the world, and
reject all the ordinances of society."

"Coquettes, I suppose, have their followers; but I don't think you or I
need be of the number."

"You speak with your accustomed acuteness, Haire; but coquetry is the
exercise of many gifts, beauty is the display of one. I can parry off
the one; I cannot help feeling the burning rays of the other. Come,
come, don't sulk; I am not going to undervalue your favorite Lucy. They
have promised to dine with me on Sunday; you must meet them."

"Dine with you!--dine with you, after what you said today in open
court!"

"That I could invite them, and they accept my invitation, is the best
reply to those who would, in their malevolence, misinterpret whatever
may have fallen from me. The wound of a sharp arrow is never very
painful till some inexpert bungler endeavors to withdraw the weapon. It
is then that agony becomes excruciating, and peril imminent."

"I suppose I am the bungler, then?"

"Heaven forbid I should say so! but as I have often warned you, Haire,
your turn for sarcasm is too strong for even your good sense. When you
have shotted your gun with a good joke, you will make a bull's eye of
your best friend."

"By George, then, I don't know myself, that's all; and I could as easily
imagine myself a rich man as a witty one."

"You are rich in gifts more precious than money; and you have the
quintessence of all wit in that property that renders you suggestive;
it is like what chemists call latent heat. But to return to Mrs. Sewell:
she met my son at the Cape, and reports favorably of his health and
prospects."

"Poor fellow! what a banishment he must feel it!"

"I wonder, sir, how many of us go through life without sacrifices! She
says that he goes much into the world, and is already very popular in
the society of the place,--a great and happy change to a man who
had suffered his indolence and self-indulgence to master him. Had he
remained at home, I might have been able to provide for him. George
Ogle's place is vacant, and I am determined to exercise my right of
appointment."

"First Registrar, was he not?"

"Yes; a snug berth for incapacity,--one thousand a year. Ogle made
more of it by means we shall not inquire into, but which shall not be
repeated."

"You ought to give it to your grandson," said Haire, bluntly.

"You ought to know better than to say so, sir," said the Judge, with a
stern severity. "It is to men like myself the public look for example
and direction, and it would be to falsify all the teaching of my life if
I were to misuse my patronage. Come up early on Saturday morning, and
go over the lists with me. There are one hundred and twenty-three
applicants, backed by peers, bishops, members of Parliament, and men in
power."

"I don't envy you your patronage."

"Of course not, sir. The one hundred and twenty-two disappointed
candidates would present more terror to a mind like yours than any
consciousness of a duty fulfilled would compensate for; but I am
fashioned of other stuff."

"Well, I only hope it may be a worthy fellow gets it."

"If you mean worthy in what regards a devotion to the public service, I
may possibly be able to assure you on that head."

"No, no; I mean a good fellow,--a true-hearted, honest fellow, to whom
the salary will be a means of comfort and happiness."

"Sir, you ask far too much. Men in my station investigate fitness and
capacity; they cannot descend to inquire how far the domestic virtues
influence those whom they advance to office."

"You may drop me here: I am near home," said Haire, who began to feel a
little weary of being lectured.

"You will not dine with me?"

"Not to-day. I have some business this evening. I have a case to look
over."

"Come up on Saturday, then,--come to breakfast; bring me any newspapers
that treat of the appointment, and let us see if we cannot oppose this
spirit of dictation they are so prone to assume; for I am resolved I
will never name a man to office who has the Press for his patron."

"It may not be his fault."

"It shall be his misfortune, then. Stop, Drab; Mr. Haire wishes to get
down. To the Priory," said he, as his friend went his way; and now,
leaning back in his carriage, the old man continued to talk aloud, and,
addressing an imaginary audience, declaim against the encroaching
spirit of the newspapers, and inveigh against the perils to which their
irresponsible counsels exposed the whole framework of society; and thus
speaking, and passionately gesticulating, he reached his home.



CHAPTER XXI. A MORNING CALL.

As Sir William waited breakfast for Haire on Saturday morning, a car
drove up to the door, and the butler soon afterwards entered with a card
and a letter. The card bore the name "Sir Brook Fossbrooke," and the
letter was sealed with the viceregal arms, and had the name "Wilmington"
on the corner. Sir William broke it open, and read,--

"My dear Chief Baron,--This will come to your hand through Sir Brook
Fossbrooke, one of my oldest and choicest friends. He tells me
he desires to know you, and I am not aware of any more natural or
legitimate ambition. It would be presumption in me to direct your
attention to qualities you will be more quick to discover and more able
to appreciate than myself. I would only add that your estimate will,
I feel assured, be not less favorable that it will be formed of one
of whose friendship I am proud. It may be that his visit to you will
include a matter of business; if so, give it your courteous attention:
and believe me ever, my dear Chief Baron, your faithful friend,

"Wilmington."

"Show the gentleman in," said the Judge; and he advanced towards the
door as Sir Brook entered. "I am proud to make your acquaintance, Sir
Brook," said he, presenting his hand.

"I would not have presumed to call on you at such an hour, my Lord Chief
Baron, save that my minutes are numbered. I must leave for England this
evening; and I wished, if possible, to meet you before I started."

"You will, I hope, join me at breakfast?"

"I breakfasted two hours ago,--if I dare to dignify by the name my meal
of bread and milk. But, pray, let me not keep you from yours,--that is,
if you will permit me to speak to you while so occupied."

"I am at your orders, sir," said the old Judge, as he seated himself and
requested his visitor to sit beside him.

"His Excellency tells me, my Lord, that there is just now vacant a
situation of which some doubt exists as to the patron,--a Registrarship,
I think he called it, in your Court?"

"There is no doubt whatever, sir. The patronage is mine."

"I merely quote the Viceroy, my Lord,--I assert nothing of myself."

"It may not impossibly save time, sir, when I repeat that his Excellency
has misinformed you. The office is in my gift."

"May I finish the communication with which he charged me?"

"Sir, there is no case before the court," said the Judge. "I can
hear you, as a matter of courtesy; but it cannot be your object to be
listened to on such terms?"

"I will accept even so little. If it should prove that the view taken by
his Excellency is the correct one--pray, sir, let me proceed--"

"I cannot; I have no temper for a baseless hypothesis. I will not,
besides, abuse your time any more than my own forbearance; and I
therefore say that if any portion of your interest in making my
acquaintance concerns that question you have so promptly broached, the
minutes employed in the discussion would be thrown away by us both."

"Mr. Haire," said the servant, at this moment; and the Chief Baron's old
friend entered, rather heated by his walk.

"You are late by half an hour, Haire; let me present you to Sir Brook
Fossbrooke, whose acquaintance I am now honored in making. Sir Brook
is under a delusive impression, Haire, which I told you a few days ago
would demand some decisive step on my part; he thinks that the vacant
registrarship is at the disposal of the Crown."

"I ask pardon," said Fossbrooke. "As I understood his Excellency, they
only claim the alternate appointment."

"And they shall not assert even that, sir."

"Sir William's case is strong,--it is irrefutable. I have gone over it
myself," broke in Haire.

"There, sir! listen to that. You have now wherewithal to go back and
tell the Viceroy that the opinion of the leading man of the Irish Bar
has decided against his claim. Tell him, sir, that accident timed your
visit here at the same moment with my distinguished friend's, and that
you in this way obtained a spontaneous decision on the matter at issue.
When you couple with that judgment the name of William Haire, you will
have said enough."

"I bow to this great authority," said Sir Brook, with deep courtesy,
"and accepting your Lordship's statement to the fullest, I would only
add, that as it was his Excellency's desire to have named me to this
office, might I so far presume, on the loss of the good fortune that I
had looked for, to approach you with a request, only premising that it
is not on my own behalf?"

"I own, sir, that I do not clearly appreciate the title to your claim.
You are familiar with the turf, Sir Brook, and you know that it is only
the second horse has a right to demand his entry."

"I have not been beaten, my Lord. You have scratched my name and
prevented my running."

"Let us come back to fact, sir," said the Chief Baron, not pleased with
the retort. "How can you base any right to approach me with a request on
the circumstance that his Excellency desired to give you what belonged
to another?"

"Yes, that puts it forcibly--unanswerably--to my thinking," said Haire.

"I may condole with disappointment, sir, but I am not bound to
compensate defeat," said the old Judge; and he arose and walked the room
with that irritable look and manner which even the faintest opposition
to him often evoked, and for which even the utterance of a flippant
rebuke but partly compensated him.

"I take it, my Lord Chief Baron," said Fossbrooke, calmly, "that I
have neither asked for condolence nor compensation. I told you, I hoped
distinctly that what I was about to urge was not on my own behalf."

"Well, sir, and I think the plea is only the less sustainable. The
Viceroy's letter might give a pretext for the one; there is nothing in
our acquaintance would warrant the other."

"If you knew, sir, how determined I am not to take offence at words
which certainly imperil patience, you would possibly spare me some
of these asperities. I am in close relations of friendship with your
grandson; he is at present living with me; I have pledged myself to his
father to do my utmost in securing him some honorable livelihood, and
it is in his behalf that I have presented myself before you to-day. Will
you graciously accord me a hearing on this ground?"

There was a quiet dignity of manner in which he said this, a total
forgetfulness of self, and a manly simplicity of purpose so palpable,
that the old Judge felt he was in presence of one whose character called
for all his respect; at the same time he was not one to be suddenly
carried away by a sentiment, and in a very measured voice he replied,
"If I 'm flattered, sir, by the interest you take in a member of my
family, I am still susceptible of a certain displeasure that it should
be a stranger should stand before me to ask me for any favor to my own."

"I am aware, my Lord Chief Baron, that my position is a false one, but
so is your own."

"Mine, sir! mine? What do you mean? Explain yourself."

"If your Lordship's interest had been exerted as it might have been,
Dr. Lendrick's son would never have needed so humble a friend as he has
found in me."

"And have you come here, sir, to lecture me on my duty to my family?
Have you presented yourself under the formality of a viceregal letter
of introduction to tell a perfect stranger to you how he should have
demeaned himself to his own?"

"Probably I might retort, and ask by what right you lecture me on my
manners and behavior? But I am willing to be taught by so consummate a
master of everything; and though I was once a courtier, I believe that
I have much to learn on the score of breeding. And now, my Lord, let us
leave this unpromising theme, and come to one which has more interest
for each of us. If this registrarship, this place, whatever it be, would
be one to suit your grandson, will the withdrawal of _my_ claim serve
to induce your Lordship to support _his?_ In one word, my Lord, will you
let him have the appointment?"

"I distinctly refuse, sir," said the Judge, waving his hand with an air
of dignity. "Of the young gentleman for whom you intercede I know but
little; but there are two disqualifications against him, more than
enough, either of them, to outweigh your advocacy."

"May I learn them?" asked Sir Brook, meekly.

"You shall, sir. He carries my name without its prestige; he inherits
_my_ temper, but not my intellect." The blood rushed to his face as he
spoke, and his chest swelled, and his whole bearing bespoke the fierce
pride that animated him; when suddenly, as it were, recollecting
himself, he added: "I am not wont to give way thus, sir. It is only in
a moment of forgetfulness that I could have obtruded a personal
consideration into a question of another kind. My friend here will tell
you if it has been the habit of my life to pension my family on the
public."

"Having failed in one object of my coming, let me hope for better
success in another. May I convey to your Lordship your grandson's regret
for having offended you? It has caused him sincere sorrow and much
self-reproach. May I return with the good tidings of your forgiveness?"

"The habits of my order are opposed to rash judgments, and consequently
to hasty reversions. I will consider the case, and let you hear my
opinion upon it."

"I think that is about as much as you will do with him," muttered Haire
in Sir Brook's ear, and with a significant gesture towards the door.

"Before taking my leave, my Lord, would it be too great a liberty if I
beg to present my personal respects to Miss Lendrick?"

"I will inform her of your wish, sir," said the Judge, rising, and
ringing the bell. After a pause of some minutes, in which a perfect
silence was maintained by all, the servant returned to say, "Miss
Lendrick would be happy to see Sir Brook."

"I hope, sir," said the Chief Baron, as he accompanied him to the door,
"I have no need to request that no portion of what has passed here
to-day be repeated to my granddaughter."

A haughty bow of assent was all the reply.

"I make my advances to her heart," said the Judge, with a tone of more
feeling in his voice, "through many difficulties. Let these not be
increased to me,--let her not think me unmindful of my own."

"Give her no reason to think so, my Lord, and you may feel very
indifferent to the chance words of a passing acquaintance."

"For the third time to-day, sir, have you dared to sit in judgment over
my behavior to my family. You cannot plead want of experience of life,
or want of converse with men, to excuse this audacity. I must regard
your intrusion, therefore, as a settled project to insult me. I accept
no apologies, sir," said the old man, with a haughty wave of his hand,
while his eyes glittered with passion. "I only ask, and I hope I ask as
a right, that I may not be outraged under my own roof. Take your next
opportunity to offend me when I may not be hampered by the character
of your host. Come down into the open arena, and see how proud you will
feel at the issue of the encounter." He rang the bell violently as he
spoke, and continued to ring it till the servant came.

"Accompany this gentleman to the gate," said he to the man.

Not a change came over Sir Brook's face during the delivery of this
speech; and as he bowed reverentially and withdrew, his manner was all
that courtesy could desire.

"I see he's not going to visit Lucy," muttered Haire, as Sir Brook
passed the window.

"I should think not, sir. There are few men would like to linger where
they have been so ingloriously defeated." He walked the room with a
proud defiant look for some minutes, and then, sinking faintly into a
chair, said, in a weak, tremulous tone, "Haire, these trials are too
much for me. It is a cruel aggravation of the ills of old age to have a
heart and a brain alive to the finest sense of injury."

Haire muttered something like concurrence.

"What is it you say, sir? Speak out," cried the Judge.

"I was saying," muttered the other, "I wish they would not
provoke--would not irritate you; that people ought to see the state your
nerves are in, and should use a little discretion how they contradict
and oppose you." The bland smile of the Chief-Justice, and an assenting
gesture of his hand, emboldened Haire to continue, and he went on: "I
have always said, Keep away such as excite him; his condition is not one
to be bettered by passionate outbreaks. Calm him, humor him."

"What a pearl above price is a friend endowed with discretion! Leave me,
Haire, to think over your nice words. I would like to ponder them alone
and to myself. I 'll send for you by and by."



CHAPTER XXII. COMING-HOME THOUGHTS

Had a mere stranger been a guest on that Sunday when the Chief
Baron entertained at dinner Lady Lendrick, the Sewells, and his old
schoolfellow Haire, he might have gone away under the impression that he
had passed an evening in the midst of a happy and united family.

Nothing could be more perfect than the blending of courtesy and
familiarity. The old Chief himself was in his best of humors, which
means that, with the high polish of a past age, its deference, and its
homage, he combined all the readiness and epigrammatic smartness of a
later period. Lady Lendrick was bland, courteous, and attentive. Colonel
Sewell took the part assigned him by his host, alternate talker and
listener; and Mrs. Sewell herself displayed, with true woman's wit, that
she knew how to fall in with the Judge's humor, as though she had known
him for years, and that, in each sally of his wit and each flash of
his repartee he was but reviving memories of such displays in long-past
years. As for Haire, no enchantment could be more complete; he found
himself not only listened to but appealed to. The Chief asked him to
correct him about some fact or other of recent history; he applied
to him to relate some incident in a trial he had taken part in; and,
greatest triumph of all, he was called on to decide some question about
the dressing of Mrs. Sewell's hair, his award being accepted as the last
judgment of connoisseurship.

Lucy talked little, but seemed interested by all around her. It was
a bit of high-life comedy, really amusing, and she had that mere
suspicion--it was no more--of the honesty and loyalty of the talkers
to give an added significance to all she saw and heard. This slight
distrust, however, gave way, when Mrs. Sewell sat down beside her in the
drawing-room, and talked to her of her father. Oh, how well she appeared
to know him; how truly she read the guileless simplicity of his noble
nature; how she distinguished--it was not all who did so--between his
timid reserve and pride; how she saw that what savored of haughtiness
was in reality an excess of humility shrouding itself from notice; how
she dwelt on his love for children, and the instantaneous affection
he inspired in them towards himself. Last of all, how she won the poor
girl's heart as she said, "It will never do to leave him there, Lucy; we
must have him here, at home with us. I think you may intrust it to me; I
generally find my way in these sort of things."

Lucy could have fallen at her feet with gratitude as she heard these
words, and she pressed her hand to her lips and kissed it fervently.
"Why isn't your brother here? Is he not in Dublin?" asked Mrs. Sewell,
suddenly.

"Yes, he is in town," stammered out Lucy, "but grandpapa scarcely knows
him, and when they did meet, it was most unfortunate. I 'll tell you all
about it another time."

"We have many confidences to make each other," said Mrs. Sewell, with
a sigh so full of sorrow that Lucy instinctively pressed her hand with
warmth, as though to imply her trustfulness would, not be ill deposited.

At last came the hour of leave-taking, and the Judge accompanied his
guests to the door, and even bareheaded handed Lady Lendrick to her
carriage. To each, as they said "Good-night," he had some little
appropriate speech,--a word or two of gracious compliment, uttered with
all his courtesy.

"I call this little dinner a success, Lucy," said he, as he stood to say
"Good-night" on the stairs. "Lady Lendrick was unusually amiable, and
her daughter-in-law is beyond praise."

"She is indeed charming," said Lucy, fervently.

"I found the Colonel also agreeable,--less dictatorial than men of
his class generally are. I suspect we shall get on well together with
further acquaintance; but, as Haire said, I was myself to-night, and
would have struck sparks out of the dullest rock, so that I must not
impute to him what may only have been the reflex of myself. Ah, dear!
there was a time when these exertions were the healthful stimulants
of my life; now they only weary and excite,--good-night, dear child,
good-night."

As Lady Lendrick and her party drove homeward, not a word was uttered
for some minutes after they had taken their seats. It was not till after
they had passed out of the grounds, and gained the high-road, that she
herself broke silence. "Well, Dudley," said she at last, "is he like my
description? Was my portrait too highly colored?"

"Quite the reverse. It was a faint weak sketch of the great original.
In all my life I never met such inordinate vanity and such overweening
pretension. I give him the palm as the most conceited man and the
greatest bore in Christendom."

"Do you wonder now if I could n't live with him?" asked she, half
triumphantly.

"I 'll not go that far. I think I could live with him if I saw my way to
any advantage by it."

"I'm certain you could not! The very things you now reprobate are the
few endurable traits about him. It is in the resources of his intense
conceit he finds whatever renders him pleasant and agreeable. I wish you
saw his other humor."

"I can imagine it may not be all that one would desire; but still--"

"It comes well from you to talk of submitting and yielding," burst out
Lady Lendrick. "I certainly have not yet detected these traits in your
character; and I tell you frankly, you and Sir William could not live a
week under the same roof together. Don't you agree with me, Lucy?"

"What should she know about it?" said he, fiercely; and before she could
reply, "I don't suspect she knows a great deal about me,--she knows
nothing at all about _him_."

"Well, would you like to live with him yourself, Lucy?" asked Lady
Lendrick.

"I don't say I 'd _like_ it, but I think it might be done," said she,
faintly, and scarcely raising her eyes as she spoke.

"Of course, then, my intractable temper is the cause of all our
incompatibility; my only consolation is that I have a son and a
daughter-in-law so charmingly endowed that their virtues are more than
enough to outweigh my faults."

"What I say is this," said the Colonel, sternly,--"I think the man is a
bore or a bully, but that he need n't be both if one does n't like
it. Now I 'd consent to be bored, to escape being bullied, which is
precisely the reverse of what you appear to have done."

"I am charmed with the perspicuity you display. I hope, Lucy, that it
tends to the happiness of your married life to have a husband so well
able to read character."

Apparently this was a double-headed shot, for neither spoke for several
minutes.

"I declare I almost wish he would put you to the test," said Lady
Lendrick. "I mean, I wish he'd ask you to the Priory."

"I fancy it is what he means to do," said Mrs. Sewell, in the same
low tone,--"at least he came to me when I was standing in the small
drawing-room, and said, 'How would you endure the quiet stillness and
uniformity of such a life as I lead here? Would its dulness overpower
you?'"

"Of course, you said it would be paradise," broke in her Ladyship; "you
hinted all about your own resources, and such-like."

"She did no such thing; she took the pathetic line, put her handkerchief
to her eyes, and implied how she would love it, as a refuge from the
cruel treatment of a bad husband,--eh, am I right?" Harsh and insolent
as the words were, the accents in which they were uttered were far more
so. "Out with it, Madam! was it not something like that you said?"

"No," said she, gently. "I told Sir William I was supremely happy,
blessed in every accident and every relation of my life, and that
hitherto I had never seen the spot which could not suit the glad temper
of my heart."

"You keep the glad temper confoundedly to yourself then," burst he out.
"I wish you were not such a niggard of it."

"Dudley, Dudley, I say," cried Lady Lendrick, in a tone of reproof.

"I have learned not to mind these amenities," said Mrs. Sewell, in a
quiet voice, "and I am only surprised that Colonel Sewell thinks it
worth while to continue them."

"If it be your intention to become Sir William's guest, I must say such
habits will require to be amended," said her Ladyship, gravely.

"So they shall, mother. Your accomplished and amiable husband, as you
once called him in a letter to me, shall only see us in our turtle
moods, and never be suffered to approach our cage save when we are
billing and cooing."

The look of aversion he threw at his wife as he spoke was something
that words cannot convey; and though she never raised eyes to meet it, a
sickly pallor crept over her cheek as the blight fell on her.

"I am to call on him to-morrow, by appointment. I wish he had not said
twelve. One has not had his coffee by twelve; but as he said, 'I hope
that will not be too early for you,' I felt it better policy to reply,
'By no means;' and so I must start as if for a journey."

"What does he mean by asking you to come at that hour? Have you any
notion what his business is?"

"Not the least. We were in the hall. I was putting on my coat, when he
suddenly turned round and asked me if I could without inconvenience drop
in about twelve."

"I wonder what it can be for."

"I'll tell you what I hope it may not be for! I hope it may not be to
show me his conservatory, or his Horatian garden, as he pedantically
called it, or his fish-ponds. If so, I think I 'll invite him some
fine morning to turn over all my protested bills, and the various writs
issued against me. Bore for Bore, I suspect we shall come out of the
encounter pretty equal."

"He has some rare gems. I'd not wonder if it was to get you to select a
present for Lucy."

"If I thought so, I'd take a jeweller with me, as though my friend, to
give me a hint as to the value."

"He admires you greatly, Lucy; he told me so as he took me downstairs."

"She has immense success with men of that age: nothing over eighty seems
able to resist her."

This time she raised her eyes, and they met his, not with their former
expression, but full of defiance, and of an insolent meaning, so that
after a moment he turned away his gaze, and with a seeming struggle
looked abashed and ashamed. "The first change I will ask you to make in
that house," said Lady Lendrick, who had noticed this by-play, "if ever
you become its inmates, will be to dismiss that tiresome old hanger-on,
Mr. Haire. I abhor him."

"My first reform will be in the sherry,--to get rid of that vile sugary
compound of horrid nastiness he gives you After soup. The next will be
the long-tailed black coach-horses. I don't think a man need celebrate
his own funeral every time he goes out for a drive."

"Haire," resumed Lady Lendrick, in a tone of severity, meant, perhaps,
to repress all banter on a serious subject,--"Haire not only supplies
food to his vanity, but stimulates his conceit by little daily stories
of what the world says of him. I wish he would listen to _me_ on that
subject,--I wish he would take _my_ version of his place in popular
estimation."

"I opine that the granddaughter should be got rid of," said the Colonel.

"She is a fool,--only a fool," said Lady Lendrick.

"I don't think her a fool," said Mrs. Sewell, slowly.

"I don't exactly mean so much; but that she has no knowledge of life,
and knows nothing whatever of the position she is placed in, nor how to
profit by it."

"I'd not even go that far," said Mrs. Sewell, in the same quiet tone.

"Don't pay too much attention to _that_," said the Colonel to his
mother. "It's one of her ways always to see something in every one that
nobody else has discovered."

"I made that mistake once too often for my own welfare," said she, in a
voice only audible to his ear.

"She tells me, mother, that she made that same mistake once too often
for her own welfare; which being interpreted, means in taking me for her
husband,--a civil speech to make a man in presence of his mother."

"I begin to think that politeness is not the quality any of us are eager
about," said Lady Lendrick; "and I must say I am not at all sorry that
the drive is over."

"If I had been permitted to smoke, you'd not have been distressed by any
conversational excesses on my part," said the Colonel.

"I shall know better another time, Dudley; and possibly-it would be
as well to be suffocated with tobacco as half-choked with anger. Thank
heaven we are at the door!"

"May I take your horses as far as the Club?" asked Sewell, as he handed
her out.

"Yes, but not to wait. You kept them on Tuesday night till past four
o'clock."

"On second thought, I'll walk," said he, turning away. "Good-night;"
and leaving his wife to be assisted down the steps by the footman, he
lighted his cigar, and walked away.



CHAPTER XXIII. A VERY HUMBLE DWELLING

The little lodging occupied by Sir Brook and young Lendrick was in a
not very distinguished suburb near Cullen's Wood. It was in a small
one-storied cottage, whose rickety gate bore the inscription "Avoca
Villa" on a black board, under which, in the form of permanence that
indicated frequent changes of domicile, were the words, "Furnished
Apartments, and Board if required." A small enclosure, with three
hollyhocks in a raised mound in the centre, and a luxurious crop of
nettles around, served as garden: a narrow path of very rough shingle
conducted to the door.

The rooms within were very small, low, and meanly furnished; they
bespoke both poverty and neglect; and while the broken windows,
the cobwebbed ceiling, and the unwashed floor all indicated that no
attention was bestowed on comfort or even decency, over the fireplace,
in a large black frame, was a painting representing the genealogical
tree of the house of the proprietor, Daniel O'Reardon, Esquire, the
lineal descendant of Frenok-Dhubh-na-Bochlish O'Reardon, who was King of
West Carbarry, a.d. 703, and who, though at present only a doorkeeper in
H. M. Court of Exchequer, had royal blood in his veins, and very kingly
thoughts in his head.

If a cruel destiny compelled Mr. O'Reardon to serve the Saxon, he "took
it out" in a most hearty hatred of his patron. He denounced him when he
talked, and he reviled him when he sang. He treasured up paragraphs of
all the atrocities of the English press, and he revelled in the severe
strictures which the Irish papers bestowed on them. So far as hating
went, he was a true patriot.

If some people opined that Mr. O'Reardon's political opinions rather
partook of what was in vogue some sixty-odd years ago than what
characterized a time nearer our own day, there were others, less
generous critics, who scrupled not to say that he was a paid spy of the
Government, and that all the secret organization of treason--all the
mysterious plotting of rebellion that seems never to die completely
out in Ireland--were known to and reported by this man to the Castle.
Certain it was that he lived in a way his humble salary at the Four
Courts could not have met, and indulged in convivial excesses far beyond
the reach of his small income.

When Sir Brook and Tom Lendrick became his lodgers, he speedily saw that
they belonged to a class far above what usually resorted to his humble
house. However studiously simple they might be in all their demands,
they were unmistakably gentlemen; and this fact, coupled with their
evident want of all employment or occupation, considerably puzzled Mr.
O'Reardon, and set him a-thinking what they could be, who they were,
and, as he phrased it, "what they were at." No letters came for them,
nor, as they themselves gave no names, was there any means of tracing
their address; and to his oft-insinuated request, "If any one asks
for you, sir, by what name will I be able to answer?" came the same
invariable "No one will call;" and thus was Mr. O'Reardon reduced
to designate them to his wife as the "old chap" and the "young
one,"--titles which Sir Brook and Tom more than once overheard through
the frail partitions of the ill-built house.

It is not impossible that O'Reardon's peculiar habits and line of life
disposed him to attach a greater significance to the seeming mystery
that surrounded his lodgers than others might have ascribed; it is
probable that custom had led him to suspect everything that was in any
way suspicious. These men draw many a cover where there is no fox, but
they rarely pass a gorse thicket and leave one undetected. His lodgers
thus became to him a study. Had he been a man of leisure, he would have
devoted the whole of it to their service; he would have dogged their
steps, learned their haunts, and watched their acquaintances,--if
they had any. Sunday was, however, his one free day, and by some
inconceivable perversity they usually spent the entire of it at home.

The few books they possessed bore no names, some of them were in foreign
languages, and increased thereby Mr. O'Reardon's suspicious distrust;
but none gave any clew to their owners. There was another reason for his
eagerness and anxiety; for a long time back Ireland had been generally
in a condition of comparative quiet and prosperity; there was less
of distress, and, consequently, less of outrage. The people seemed at
length to rely more upon themselves and their own industry than on
the specious promises of trading politicians, and Mr. O'Reardon, whose
functions, I fear, were not above reproach in the matter of secret
information, began to fear lest some fine morning he might be told his
occupation was gone, and that his employers no longer needed the fine
intelligence that could smell treason, even by a sniff; he must, he
said, do something to revive the memory of his order, or the chance was
it would be extinguished forever.

He had to choose between denouncing them as French emissaries or
American sympathizers. A novel of Balzac's that lay on the table decided
for the former, for he knew enough to be aware it was in French; and
fortified with this fact, he proceeded to draw up his indictment for the
Castle.

It was, it must be confessed, a very meagre document; it contained
little beyond the writer's own suspicions. Two men who were poor enough
to live in Avoca Villa, and yet rich enough to do nothing for their
livelihood, who gave no names, went out at unseasonable hours, and
understood French, ought to be dangerous, and required to be watched,
and therefore he gave an accurate description of their general
appearance, age, and dress, at the office of the Private Secretary, and
asked for his "instructions" in consequence.

Mr. O'Reardon was not a bad portrait-painter with his pen, and in
the case of Sir Brook there were peculiarities enough to make even
a caricature a resemblance; his tall narrow head, his long drooping
moustache, his massive gray eyebrows, his look of stern dignity, would
have marked him, even without the singularities of dress which recalled
the fashions of fifty years before.

Little, indeed, did the old man suspect that his high-collared coat and
bell-shaped hat were subjecting him to grave doubts upon his loyalty.
Little did he think, as he sauntered at evening along the green lanes
in this retired neighborhood, that his thoughts ought to have been on
treason and bloodshed.

He had come to the little lodging, it is true, for privacy. After his
failure in that memorable interview with Sir William Lendrick, he had
determined that he would not either importune the Viceroy for place, or
would he be in any way the means of complicating the question between
the Government and the Chief Baron by exciting the Lord-Lieutenant's
interest in his behalf.

"We must change our lodging, Tom," said he, when he came home on that
night. "I am desirous that, for the few days we remain here, none should
trace nor discover us. I will not accept what are called compensations,
nor will I live on here to be either a burden or a reproach to men who
were once only my equals."

"You found my worthy grandfather somewhat less tractable than you
thought for, sir?" asked Tom.

"He was very fiery and very haughty; but on the whole, there was much
that I liked in him. Such vitality in a man of his years is in itself a
grand quality, and even in its aggressiveness suggests much to regard.
He refused to hear of me for the vacant office, and he would not accept
_you_."

"How did he take your proposal to aid us by a loan?"

"I never made it. The terms we found ourselves on after half an hour's
discussion of other matters rendered such a project impossible."

"And Lucy, how did she behave through it all?"

"She was not there; I did not see her."

"So that it turned out as I predicted,--a mere meeting to exchange
amenities."

"The amenities were not many, Tom; and I doubt much if your grandfather
will treasure up any very delightful recollections of my acquaintance."

"I'd like to see the man, woman, or child," burst out Tom, "who ever got
out of his cage without a scratch. I don't believe that Europe contains
his equal for irascibility."

"Don't dwell on these views of life," said Sir Brook, almost sternly.
"You, nor I, know very little what are the sources of those intemperate
outbreaks we so often complain of,--what sore trials are ulcerating the
nature, what agonizing maladies, what secret terrors, what visions of
impending misery; least of all do we know or take count of the fact that
it is out of these high-strung temperaments we obtain those thrilling
notes of human passion and tenderness coarser natures never attain to.
Let us bear with a passing discord in the instrument whose cadences can
move us to very ecstasy."

Tom hung his head in silence, but he certainly did not seem convinced.
Sir Brook quietly resumed: "How often have I told you that the world
has more good than bad in it,--yes, and what's more, that as we go on
in life this conviction strengthens in us, and that our best experiences
are based on getting rid of our disbeliefs. Hear what happened me this
morning. You know that for some days back I have been negotiating to
raise a small loan of four hundred pounds to take us to Sardinia and
start our mine. Mr. Waring, who was to have lent me this sum on the
security of the mine itself, took it into his head to hesitate at the
last hour, and inserted an additional clause that I should insure my
life in his behalf.

"I was disconcerted, of course, by this,--so much so, that had I not
bought a variety of tools and implements on trust, I believe I would
have relinquished the bargain and tried elsewhere. It was, however, too
late for this; I was driven to accept his terms, and, accredited with a
printed formula from an insurance office, I waited on the doctor who was
to examine me.

"A very brief investigation satisfied him that I was not seaworthy; he
discovered I know not what about the valves of my heart, that implied
mischief, and after 'percussing' me, as he called it, and placing his
ear to my chest, he said, 'I regret to say, sir, that I cannot pronounce
you insurable.'

"I could have told him that I came of a long-lived race on either side;
that during my life I had scarcely known an illness, that I had borne
the worst climates without injury, and such-like,--but I forbore; I
had too much deference for his station and his acquirements to set
my judgment against them, and I arose to take my leave. It is just
possible, though I cannot say I felt it, that his announcement might
have affected me; at all events, the disappointment did so, and I was
terrified about the difficulties in which I saw myself involved. I
became suddenly sick, and I asked for a glass of water; before it came I
had fainted, a thing that never in my whole life had befallen me.
When, I rallied, he led me to talk of my usual habits and pursuits,
and gradually brought me to the subject which had led me-to his house.
'What!' said he, 'ask for any security beyond the property itself! It is
absurd; Waring is always-doing these things. Let me advance this money.
I know a great deal more about you, Sir Brook, than you think; my friend
Dr. Lendrick has spoken much of you, and of all your kindness to his
son; and though you may not have heard of my name,--Beattie,--I am very
familiar with yours.'

"In a word, Tom, he advanced the money. It is now in that writing-desk;
and I have--I feel it--a friend the-more in the world. As I left his
door, I could not help saying to myself, What signify a few days more or
less of life, so long as such generous traits as this follow one to the
last? He made me a happier man by his noble trust in me than if he had
declared me a miracle of strength and vigor. Who is that looking in at
the window, Tom? It's the second time I have seen a face there."

Tom started to his feet and hurried to the door. There was, however, no
one there; and the little lane was silent and deserted. He stopped a few
minutes to listen, but not a footfall could be heard, and he returned to
the room believing it must have been a mere illusion.

"Let us light candles, Tom, and have out our maps. I want to see whether
Marseilles will not be our best and cheapest route to the island."

They were soon poring eagerly over the opened map, Sir Brook carefully
studying all the available modes of travel; while Tom, be it owned, let
his eyes wander from land to land, till following out the Danube to the
Black Sea, he crossed over and stretched away into the mountain gorges
of Circassia, where Schamyl and his brave followers were then fighting
for liberty. For maps, like the lands they picture, never offer to
two minds kindred thoughts; each follows out in space the hopes and
ambitions that his heart is charged with; and where one reads wars
and battle-fields, another but sees pastoral pleasures and a tranquil
existence,--home and home-happiness.

"Yes, Tom; here I have it. These coasting-craft, whose sailing-lines
are marked here, will take us and our traps to Cagliari for a mere
trifle,--here is the route."

As the young man bent over the map, the door behind opened, and a
stranger entered. "So I have found you, Fossbrooke!" cried he, "though
they insisted you had left Ireland ten days ago."

"Mercy on me! Lord Wilmington!" said Sir Brook, as he shaded his eyes to
stare at him. "What could have brought you here?"

"I 'll tell you," said he, dropping his voice. "I read a description so
very like you in the secret report this morning, that I sent my servant
Curtis, who knows you well, to see if it was not yourself; when he
came back to me--for I waited for him at the end of the lane--with the
assurance that I was right, I came on here. I must tell you that I took
the precaution to have your landlord detained, as if for examination, at
the Under-Secretary's office; and he is the only one here who knows me.
Mr. Lendrick, I hope you have not forgotten me? We met some months ago
on the Shannon."

"What can I offer you?" said Sir Brook. "Shall it be tea? We were just
going to have it."

"I 'll take whatever you like to give me; but let us profit by the few
moments I can stay. Tell me how was it you failed with the Chief Baron?"

"He wouldn't have me; that's all. He maintains his right to an undivided
patronage, and will accept of no dictation."

"Will he accept of your friend here? He has strong claims on him."

"As little as myself, my Lord; he grew eloquent on his public virtue,
and of course became hopeless."

"Will he retire and let us compensate him?"

"I believe not. He thinks the country has a vested interest in his
capacity, and as he cannot be replaced, he has no right to retire.''

"He may make almost his own terms with us, Fossbrooke," said
the Viceroy. "We want to get rid of himself and an intractable
Solicitor-General together. Will you try what can be done?"

"Not I, my Lord. I have made my first and last advances in that
quarter."

"And yet I believe you are our last chance. He told Pemberton yesterday
you were the one man of ability that ever called on him with a message
from a Viceroy."

"Let us leave him undisturbed in his illusion, my Lord."

"I 'd say, let us profit by it, Fossbrooke. I have been in search of you
these eight days, to beg you would take the negotiation in hand. Come,
Mr. Lendrick, you are interested in this; assist me in persuading Sir
Brook to accept this charge. If he will undertake the mission, I am
ready to give him ample powers to treat."

"I suspect, my Lord," said Tom, "you do not know my grandfather. He is
not a very manageable person to deal with."

"It is for that reason I want to place him in the hands of my old friend
here."

"No, no, my Lord; it is quite hopeless. Had we never met, I might
have come before him with some chance of success; but I have already
prejudiced myself in his eyes, and our one interview was not very
gratifying to either of us."

"I'll not give in, Fossbrooke, even though I am well aware I can do
nothing to requite the service I ask of you."

"We leave Ireland to-morrow evening. We have a project which requires
our presence in the island of Sardinia. We are about to make our
fortunes, my Lord, and I 'm sure you 're not the man to throw any
obstacle in the way."

"Give me half an hour of your morning, Fossbrooke; half an hour will
suffice. Drive out to the Priory; see the Chief Baron; tell him I
intrusted the negotiation to you, as at once more delicate to each
of us. You are disconnected with all party ties here. Say it is not a
question of advancing this man or that,--that we well know how
inferior must any successor be to himself, but that certain changes
are all-essential to us. We have not--I may tell you in confidence--the
right man as our law adviser in the House; and add, 'It is a moment
to make your own terms; write them down and you shall have your reply
within an hour,--a favorable one I may almost pledge myself it will be.
At all events, every detail of the meeting is strictly between us, and
on honor.' Come, now, Fossbrooke; do this for me as the greatest service
I could entreat of you."

"I cannot refuse you any longer. I will go. I only premise that I am to
limit myself strictly to the statement you shall desire me to repeat. I
know nothing of the case; and I cannot be its advocate."

"Just so. Give me your card. I will merely write these words,--'See Sir
Brook for me.--Wilmington.' Our object is his resignation, and we are
prepared to pay handsomely for it. Now, a word with you, Mr. Lendrick. I
heard most honorable mention of you yesterday from the vice-provost; he
tells me that your college career was a triumph so long as you liked
it, and that you have abilities for any walk in life. Why not continue,
then, on so successful a path? Why not remain, take out your degree, and
emulate that distinguished relative who has thrown such lustre on your
family?"

"First of all, my Lord, you have heard me much overrated. I am not at
all the man these gentlemen deem me; secondly, if I were, I 'd rather
bring my abilities to any pursuit my friend here could suggest. I 'd
rather be _his_ companion than be my grandfather's rival. You have heard
what he said awhile ago,--we are going to seek our fortune."

"He said to make it," said Lord Wilmington, with a smile.

"Be it so, my Lord. _I 'll_ seek, and _he 'll_ find; at all events, I
shall be his companion; and I'm a duller dog than I think myself if I do
not manage to be the better of it."

"You are not the only one he has fascinated," said the Viceroy, in a
whisper. "I 'm not sure I 'd disenchant you if I had the power."

"Must I positively undertake this negotiation?" asked Fossbrooke, with a
look of entreaty.

"You must"

"I know I shall fail."

"I don't believe it."

"Well, as Lady Macbeth says, if we fail _we fail_; and though murdering
a king be an easier thing than muzzling a Chief Baron,--here goes."

As he said this, the door was gently moved, and a head protruded into
the room.

"Who is that?" cried Tom, springing rapidly towards the door; but
all was noiseless and quiet, and no one to be seen. "I believe we are
watched here," said he, coming back into the room.

"Good-night, then. Let me have your report as early as may be,
Fossbrooke. Good-night."



CHAPTER XXIV. A MORNING AT THE PRIORY

The morning after this interview was that on which the Chief Baron had
invited Colonel Sewell to inspect his gardens and hothouses,--a promise
of pleasure which, it is but fair to own, the Colonel regarded with no
extravagant delight. To his thinking, the old Judge was an insupportable
bore. His courtesy, his smartness, his anecdotes, his reminiscences were
all Boredom. He was only endurable when by the excess of his conceit he
made himself ridiculous. Then alone did Sewell relish his company; for
he belonged to that class of men, and it is a class, who feel their
highest enjoyment whenever they witness any trait in human nature that
serves to disparage its dignity or tarnish its lustre.

That a man of unquestionable ability and power like the Chief
Baron should render himself absurd through his vanity, was a great
compensation to such a person as Sewell. To watch the weaknesses and
note the flaws in a great nature, to treasure up the consolation that,
after all, these "high intelligences" occasionally make precious fools
of themselves, are very congenial pastimes to small folk. Perhaps,
indeed, they are the sole features of such men they are able to
appreciate, and, like certain reptiles, they never venture to bite save
where corruption has preceded them.

Nothing in his manner betrayed this tendency; he was polished and
courteous to a degree. A very critical eye might have detected in
his bearing that he had been long a subordinate. His deference was a
little--a very little--overstrained; he listened with a slight tinge
of over-attention; and in his humility as he heard an order, and his
activity as he obeyed it, you could read at once the aide-decamp in
waiting.

It is not necessary to remind the reader that all this lacquer of good
breeding covered a very coarse and vulgar nature. In manner he was
charming,--his approach, his address, his conversation were all perfect;
he knew well when to be silent,--when to concur by a smile with what he
was not expected to confirm by a word,--when to seem suddenly confronted
with a new conviction, and how to yield assent as though coerced to
what he would rather have resisted. In a word, he was perfect in all the
training of those superb poodles who fetch and carry for their masters,
that they may have the recompense of snarling at all the rest of
mankind.

As there are heaven-born doctors, lawyers, divines, and engineers, so
are there men specially created for the antechamber, and Sewell was one
of them.

The old Judge had given orders for a liberal breakfast. He deemed a
soldier's appetite would be a hearty one, and he meant to treat him
hospitably. The table was therefore very generously spread, and
Sewell looked approvingly at the fare, and ventured on a few words of
compliment on the ample preparations before him.

"It is the only real breakfast-table I have seen since I left Calcutta,"
said he, smiling graciously.

"You do me honor, sir," replied the old man, who was not quite sure
whether or not he felt pleased to be complimented on a mere domestic
incident.

Sewell saw the hitch at once, and resumed: "I remember an observation
Lord Commorton made me when I joined his staff in India. I happened to
make some remark on a breakfast set out pretty much like this, and he
said, 'Bear in mind, Captain Sewell, that when a man who holds a high
function sits down to a well-served breakfast, it means that he has
already completed the really important work of the day. The full head
means the empty stomach.'"

"His Excellency was right, sir; had he always been inspired with
sentiments of equal wisdom, we should never have been involved in that
unhappy Cantankankarabad war."

"It was a very disastrous affair, indeed," sighed Sewell; "I was through
the whole of it."

"When I first heard of the project," continued the Judge, "I remarked
to a friend who was with me,--one of the leading men at the Bar,--'This
campaign will tarnish our arms, and imperil our hold on India. The
hill-tribes are eminently warlike, and however specious in their
promises to us, their fidelity to their chiefs has never been shaken.'"

"If your judgment had been listened to, it would have saved us a heavy
reverse, and saved me a very painful wound; both bones were fractured
here," said Sewell, showing his wrist.

The Chief Baron scarcely deigned a glance at the cicatrix; he was high
above such puny considerations. He was at that moment Governor-General
of India and Prime Minister of England together. He was legislating for
hundreds of millions of dark-skins, and preparing his explanations of
his policy for the pale faces at home.

"'Mark my words, Haire,' said I," continued the Judge, with increased
pomposity of manner, "'this is the beginning of insurrection in India.'
We have a maxim in law, Colonel Sewell, Like case, like rule. So was it
there. May I help you to this curry?"

"I declare, my Lord, I was beginning to forget how hungry I was. Shall I
be deemed impertinent if I ask how you obtained your marvellous--for it
is marvellous--knowledge of India?"

"Just as I know the Japanese constitution; just as I know Central
Africa; just as I know, and was able to quote some time back, that
curious chapter of the Brehon laws on substitutes in penal cases. My
rule of life has been, never to pass a day without increasing the store
of my acquirements."

"And all this with the weighty charge and labor of your high office."

"Yes, sir; I have been eighteen years on the Bench. I have delivered
in that time some judgments which have come to be deemed amongst the
highest principles of British law. I have contributed largely to the
periodical literature of the time. In a series of papers--you may not
have heard of them--signed 'Icon,' in the 'Lawyer's Treasury of Useful
Facts,' I have defended the Bar against the aggressive violence of the
Legislature, I hope it is not too much to say, triumphantly."

"I remember Judge Beale, our Indian Chief-Justice, referring to those
papers as the most splendid statement of the position and claims of the
barrister in Great Britain."

"Beale was an ass, sir; his law was a shade below his logic,--both were
pitiable."

"Indeed?--yes, a little more gravy. Is your cook a Provençal? that
omelette would seem to say so."

"My cook is a woman, and an Irishwoman, sir. She came to me from Lord
Manners, and, I need not say, with the worst traditions of her art,
which, under Lady Lendrick's training, attained almost to the dignity of
poisoning."

Sewell could not restrain himself any longer, but laughed out at this
sudden outburst. The old Judge was, however, pleased to accept the
emotion as complimentary; he smiled and went on: "I recognized her
aptitude, and resolved to train her, and to this end I made it a
practice to detain her every morning after prayers, and read to her
certain passages from approved authors on cookery, making her experiment
on the receipts for the servants' hall. We had at first some slight
cases of illness, but not more serious than colic and violent cramps. In
the end she was successful, sir, and has become what you see her."

"She would be a _cordon bleu_ in Paris."

"I will take care, sir, that she hears of your approval. Would you not
like a glass of Maraschino to finish with?"

"I have just tasted your brandy, and it is exquisite."

"I cannot offer you a cigar, Colonel; but you are at liberty to smoke if
you have one."

"If I might have a stroll in that delicious garden that I see there, I
could ask nothing better. Ah, my Lord," said he, as they sauntered
down a richly scented alley, "India has nothing like this,--I doubt if
Paradise has any better."

"You mean to return to the East?"

"Not if I can help it,--not if an exchange is possible. The fact is,
my Lord, my dear wife's health makes India impossible so far as she is
concerned; the children, too, are of the age that requires removal to
Europe; so that, if I go back, I go back alone." He said this with
a voice of deep depression, and intending to inspire the sorrow that
overwhelmed him. The old Judge, however, fancied he had heard of heavier
calamities in life than living separated from the wife of his bosom;
he imagined, at least, that with courage and fortitude the deprivation
might be endured; so he merely twitched the corners of his mouth in
silence.

The Colonel misread his meaning, and went on: "Aspiring to nothing in
life beyond a home and home-happiness, it is, of course, a heavy blow
to me to sacrifice either my career or my comfort. I cannot possibly
anticipate a return earlier than eight or ten years; and who is to count
upon eight or ten years in that pestilent climate? Assuredly not a man
already broken down by wounds and jungle fever!"

The justice of the remark was, perhaps, sufficient for the Chief Baron.
He paid no attention to its pathetic side, and _so_ did not reply.

Sewell began to lose patience, but he controlled himself, and, after a
few puffs of his cigar, went on: "If it were not for the children, I 'd
take the thing easy enough. Half-pay is a beggarly thing, but I 'd
put up with it. I 'm not a man of expensive tastes. If I can relish
thoroughly such sumptuous fare as you gave me this morning, I can put up
with very humble diet. I 'm a regular soldier in that."

"An excellent quality, sir," said the old man, dryly.

"Lucy, of course, would suffer. There are privations which fall very
heavily on a woman, and a woman, too, who has always been accustomed to
a good deal of luxury."

The Chief bowed an assent.

"I suppose I might get a depot appointment for a year or two. I might
also--if I sold out--manage a barrack-mastership, or become an inspector
of yeomanry, or some such vulgar makeshift; but I own, my Lord, when
a man has filled the places I have,--held staff appointments,--been a
private secretary,--discharged high trusts, too, for in Mooraghabad
I acted as Deputy-Resident for eight months,--it does seem a precious
come-down to ask to be made a paymaster in a militia regiment, or a
subaltern in the mounted police."

"Civil life is always open to a man of activity and energy," said the
Judge, calmly.

"If civil life means a profession, it means the sort of labor a man is
very unfit for after five-and-thirty. The Church, of course, is open on
easier terms; but I have scruples about the Church. I really could not
take orders without I could conscientiously say, This is a walk I feel
called to."

"An honorable sentiment, sir," was the dry rejoinder.

"So that the end will be, I suppose, one of these days I shall just
repack my bullock-trunk, and go back to the place from whence I came,
with the fate that attends such backward journeys!"

The Chief Baron made no remark. He stooped to fasten, a fallen carnation
to the stick it had been attached to, and then resumed his walk. Sewell
was so provoked by the sense of failure--for it had been a direct
assault--that he walked along silent and morose. His patience could
endure no longer, and he was ready now to resent whatever should annoy
him.

"Have you any of the requirements, sir, that civil services demand?"
asked the Judge, after a long pause.

"I take it I have such as every educated gentleman possesses," replied
Sewell, tartly.

"And what may these be, in your estimation?"

"I can read and write, I know the first three rules of arithmetic, and I
believe these are about the qualifications that fit a man for a place in
the Cabinet."

"You are right, sir. With these, and the facility to talk platitudes in
Parliament, a man may go very far and very high in life. I see that you
know the world."

Sewell, for a moment, scarcely knew whether to accept the speech as
irony or approval; but a sidelong glance showed him that the old man's
face had resumed its expression of mingled insolence and vanity, and
convinced him that he was now sincere. "The men," said the Judge,
pompously, "who win their way to high station in these days are either
the crafty tricksters of party or the gross flatterers of the people;
and whenever a man of superior mould is discovered, able to leave his
mark on the age, and capable of making his name a memory, they have
nothing better to offer him, as their homage, than an entreaty that he
would resign his office and retire."

"I go with every word you say, my Lord," cried Sewell, with a well-acted
enthusiasm.

"I want no approval, sir; I can sustain my opinions without a
following!" A long silence ensued; neither was disposed to speak: at
last the Judge said,--and he now spoke in a more kindly tone, divested
alike of passion and of vanity,--"Your friends must see if something
cannot be done for you, Colonel Sewell. I have little doubt but that
you have many and warm friends. I speak not of myself; I am but a broken
reed to depend on. Never was there one with less credit with his party.
I might go farther, and say, never was there one whose advocacy would
be more sure to damage a good cause; therefore exclude _me_ in all
questions of your advancement. If you could obliterate our relationship,
it might possibly serve you."

"I am too proud of it, my Lord, to think so."

"Well, sir," said he, with a sigh, "it is possibly a thing a man need
not feel ashamed of; at least I hope as much. But we must take the world
as it is, and when we want the verdict of public opinion, we must not
presume to ask for a special jury. What does that servant want? Will you
have the kindness to ask him whom he is looking for?"

"It is a visitor's card, my Lord," said Sewell, handing it to the old
man as he spoke.

"There is some writing on it. Do me the favor to read it."

Sewell took the card and read, "See Sir B. for me.--Wilmington. Sir
Brook Fossbrooke." The last words Sewell spoke in a voice barely above
a whisper, for a deadly sickness came over him, and he swayed to and fro
like one about to faint.

"What! does he return to the charge?" cried the old man, fiercely. "The
Viceroy was a diplomatist once. Might it not have taught him that, after
a failure, it would be as well to employ another envoy?"

"You have seen this gentleman already, then?" asked Sewell, in a low
faint tone.

"Yes, sir. We passed an hour and half together,--an hour and half that
neither of us will easily forget."

"I conjecture, then, that he made no very favorable impression upon you,
my Lord?"

"Sir, you go too fast. I have said nothing to warrant your surmise; nor
am I one to be catechised as to the opinions I form of other men. It is
enough on the present occasion if I say I do not desire to receive Sir
Brook Fossbrooke, accredited though he be from so high a quarter.
Will you do me the very great favor"--and now his voice became almost
insinuating in its tone--"will you so deeply oblige me ate to see him
for me? Say that I am prevented by the state of my health; that the
rigorous injunctions of my doctor to avoid all causes of excitement--lay
stress on excitement--deprive me of the honor of receiving him in
person; but that _you_--mention our relationship--have been deputed by
me to hear, and if necessary to convey to me, any communication he
may have to make. You will take care to impress upon him that if the
subject-matter of his visit be the same as that so lately discussed
between ourselves, you will avail yourself of the discretion confided
to you not to report it to me. That my nerves have not sufficiently
recovered from the strain of that excitement to return to a topic
no less full of irritating features than utterly hopeless of
all accommodation. Mind, sir, that you employ the word as I give
it,--'accommodation.' It is a Gallicism, but all the better, where one
desires to be imperative, and yet vague. You have your instructions,
sir."

"Yes, I think I understand what you desire me to do. My only difficulty
is to know whether the matters Sir Brook Fossbrooke may bring forward
be the same as those you discussed together. If I had any clew to these
topics, I should at once be in a position to say, These are themes I
must decline to present to the Chief Baron."

"You have no need to know them, sir," said the old man, haughtily. "You
are in the position of an attesting witness; you have no dealing with
the body of the document. Ask Sir Brook the question as I have put it,
and reply as I have dictated."

Sewell stood for a moment in deep thought. Had the old man but known
over what realms of space his mind was wandering,--what troubles and
perplexities that brain was encountering,--he might have been more
patient and more merciful as he gazed on him.

"I don't think, sir, I have confided to you any very difficult or very
painful task," said the Judge at last.

"Nothing of the kind, my Lord," replied he, quickly; "my anxiety is
only that I may acquit myself to your perfect satisfaction. I 'll go at
once."

"You will find me here whenever you want me."

Sewell bowed, and went his way; not straight towards the house, however,
but into a little copse at the end of the garden, to recover his
equanimity and collect himself. Of all the disasters that could befall
him, he knew of none he was less ready to confront than the presence of
Sir Brook Fossbrooke in the same town with himself. No suspicion ever
crossed his mind that he would come to Ireland. The very last he had
heard of him was in New Zealand, where it was said he was about to
settle. What, too, could be his business with the Chief Baron? Had he
discovered their relationship, and was he come to denounce and expose
him? No,--evidently not. The Viceroy's introduction of him could not
point in this direction, and then the old Judge's own manner negatived
this conjecture. Had he heard but one of the fifty stories Sir Brook
could have told of him, there would be no question of suffering him to
cross his threshold.

"How shall I meet him? how shall I address him?" muttered he again and
again to himself, as he walked to and fro in a perfect agony of trouble
and perplexity. With almost any other man in the world, Sewell would
have relied on his personal qualities to carry him through a passage of
difficulty. He could assume a temper of complete imperturbability; he
could put on calm, coldness, deference, if needed, to any extent; he
could have acted his part--it would have been mere acting--as man of
honor and man of courage to the life, with any other to confront him but
Sir Brook.

This, however, was the one man on earth who knew him,--the one man by
whose mercy he was able to hold up his head and maintain his station;
and that this one man should now be here! here, within a few yards of
where he stood!

"I could murder him as easily as I go to meet him," muttered Sewell, as
he turned towards the house.



CHAPTER XXV. AN UNEXPECTED MEETING

As Sir Brook sat in the library waiting for the arrival of the Chief
Baron, Lucy Lendrick came in to look for a book she had been reading.
"Only think, sir," said she, flushing deeply with joy and astonishment
together,--"to find you here! What a delightful surprise!"

"I have come, my dear child," said he, gravely, "to speak with Sir
William on a matter of some importance; and evidently he is not aware
that my moments are precious, for I have been here above half an hour
alone."

"But now that I am with you," said she, coquettishly, "you 'll surely
not be so churlish of your time, will you?"

"There is no churlishness, my darling Lucy, in honest thrift. I
have nothing to give away." The deep sadness of his voice showed how
intensely his words were charged with a stronger significance. "We are
off to-night."

"To-night!" cried she, eagerly.

"Yes, Lucy. It's no great banishment,--only to an island in the
Mediterranean, and Tom came up here with me in the vague, very vague
hope he might see you. I left him in the shrubbery near the gate, for he
would not consent to come farther."

"I 'll go to him at once. We shall meet again," said she, as she opened
the sash-door and hastened down the lawn at speed.

After another wait of full a quarter of an hour, Foss-brooke's patience
became exhausted, and he drew nigh the bell to summon a servant; his
hand was on the rope, when the door opened, and Sewell entered. Whatever
astonishment Fossbrooke might have felt at this unexpected appearance,
nothing in his manner or look betrayed it. As for Sewell, all his
accustomed ease had deserted him, and he came forward with an air of
assumed swagger, but his color came and went, and his hands twitched
almost convulsively.

He bowed, and, smiling courteously, invited Fossbrooke to be seated.
Haughtily drawing himself up to his full height, Sir Brook said, in his
own deep sonorous voice, "There can be nothing between us, sir, that
cannot be dismissed in a moment--and as we stand."

"As you please, sir," rejoined Sewell, with an attempt at the same
haughty tone. "I have been deputed by my stepfather, the Chief Baron,
to make his excuses for not receiving you,--his health forbids
the excitement. It is his-wish that you may make to _me_ whatever
communication you had destined for _him_."

"Which I refuse, sir, at once," interrupted Sir Brook. "I opine, then,
there is no more to be said," said Sewell, with a faint smile.

"Nothing more, sir,--not a word; unless perhaps you will be gracious
enough to explain to the Chief Baron the reasons--they cannot be unknown
to you--why I refuse all and any communication with Colonel Sewell."

"I have no presumption to read your mind and know your thoughts," said
Sewell, with quiet politeness.

"You would discover nothing in either to your advantage, sir," said
Fossbrooke, defiantly.

"Might I add, sir," said Sewell, with an easy smile, "that all your
malevolence cannot exceed my indifference to it?"

Fossbrooke waived his hand haughtily, as though to dismiss the subject
and all discussion of it, and after a few seconds' pause said: "We have
a score that must be settled one day. I have deferred the reckoning out
of reverence to the memory of one whose name must not be uttered between
us, but the day for it shall come. Meanwhile, sir, you shall pay me
interest on your debt."

"What do you assume me to owe you?" asked Sewell, whose agitation could
no longer be masked.

"You would laugh if I said, your character before the world and the
repute through which men keep your company; but you will not laugh--no,
sir, not even smile--when I say that you owe me the liberty by which
you are at large, instead of being, as I could prove you, a forger and a
felon."

Sewell threw a hurried and terrified look around the room, as though
there might possibly be some to overhear the words; he grasped the back
of a chair to steady himself, and in the convulsive effort seemed as if
he was about to commit some act of violence.

"None of that, sir," said Fossbrooke, folding his arms.

"I meant nothing; I intended nothing; I was faint, and wanted support,"
stammered out Sewell, in a broken voice. "What do you mean by interest?
How am I to pay interest on an indefinite sum?"

"It may relieve you of some anxiety to learn that I am not speaking
of money in the interest I require of you. What I want--what I shall
exact--is this: that you and yours--" He stopped and grew scarlet; the
fear lest something coarse or offensive might fall from him in a moment
of heat and anger arrested his words, and he was silent.

Sewell saw all the difficulty. A less adroit man would have deemed the
moment favorable to assert a triumph; Sewell was too acute for this, and
waited without speaking a word.

"My meaning is this," said Fossbrooke, in a voice of emotion. "There is
a young lady here for whom I have the deepest interest. I desire that,
so long as she lives estranged from her father's roof, she should not be
exposed to other influences than such as she has met there. She is new
to life and the world, and I would not that she should make acquaintance
with them through any guidance save of her own nearest and dearest
friends."

"I hear, sir; but, I am free to own, I greatly mistrust myself to
appreciate your meaning."

"I am sorry for it," said Fossbrooke, sighing. "I wanted to convey my
hope that in your intercourse here Miss Lendrick might be spared the
perils of--of--"

"My wife's friendship, you would say, sir," said Sewell, with a perfect
composure of voice and look.

Fossbrooke hung his head. Shame and sorrow alike crushed him down. Oh
that the day should come when he could speak thus of Frank Dillon's
daughter!

"I will not say with what pain I hear you, Sir Brook," said Sewell, in
a low gentle voice. "I am certain that you never uttered such a speech
without much suffering. It will alleviate your fears when I tell you
that we only remain a few days in town. I have taken a country house,
some sixty or seventy miles from the capital, and we mean to live there
entirely."

"I am satisfied," said Sir Brook, whose eagerness to make reparation was
now extreme.

"Of course I shall mention nothing of this to my wife," said Sewell.

"Of course not, sir; save with such an explanation as I could give of my
meaning, it would be an outrage."

"I was not aware that there was--that there could be--an explanation,"
said Sewell, quietly; and then seeing the sudden flash that shot from
the old man's eyes, he added hastily, "This is far too painful to dwell
on; let it suffice, sir, that I fully understand you, and that you shall
be obeyed."

"I ask no more," said Fossbrooke, bowing slightly.

"You will comprehend, Sir Brook," resumed Sewell, "that as I am
precluded from making this conversation known to my wife, I shall not be
able to limit any intimacy between her and Miss Lendrick farther than by
such intimations and hints as I may offer without exciting suspicion. It
might happen, for instance, that in coming up to town we should be Sir
William's guests. Am I to suppose that you interdict this?"

"I hope I am not capable of such a condition," said Sir Brook, flushing,
for at every step and stage of the negotiation he felt that his zeal had
outrun his judgment, and that he was attempting not only more than he
could, but more than he ought to do.

"In fairness, Sir Brook," said Sewell, with an assumed candor that sat
very well on him, "I ought to tell you that your conditions are very
easy ones My wife has come to this country to recruit her health and
look after her children. I myself shall probably be on my way back to
India soon after Christmas. Our small means totally preclude living
in the gay world; and," added he, with a laugh, "if we really had
any blandishments or captivations at our disposal, they would be best
bestowed on the Horse Guards, to extend my leave, or assist me to an
exchange."

There was high art in the way in which Sewell had so contrived to get
the old man involved in the conflict of his own feelings that he was
actually grateful for the easy and even familiar tone employed towards
him.

"I have wounded this man deeply," said Fossbrooke to himself. "I have
said to him things alike unfeeling and ungenerous, and yet he has temper
enough to treat me amicably, even courteously."

It was almost on his lips to say that he had still some influence
with the Horse Guards, that a great man there had been one of his most
intimate friends in life, and that he was ready to do anything in his
power with him, when a sudden glance at Sewell's face recalled him at
once to himself, and he stammered out, "I will detain you no longer,
sir. Be kind enough to explain to the Lord Chief Baron that my
communication was of a character that could not be made indirectly. His
Excellency's name on my card probably suggested as much. It might be
proper to add that the subject was one solely attaching to his Lordship
and to his Lordship's interest. He will himself understand what I mean."

Sewell bowed acquiescence. As he stood at the half-open door, he was
disposed to offer his hand. It was a bold step, but he knew if it should
succeed it would be a great victory. The opportunity was too good to be
lost, and just as Sir Brook turned to say good-morning, Sewell, like one
carried away by a sudden impulse, held out his hand, and said, "You may
trust me, Sir Brook."

"If you wish me to do so, sir, let me not touch your hand," said the
old man, with a look of stern and haughty defiance, and he strode out
without a farewell.

Sewell staggered back into the room and sat down. A clammy cold
perspiration covered his face and forehead, for the rancor that filled
his heart sickened him like a malady. "You shall pay for this, by
heaven! you shall," muttered he, as he wiped the great drops from his
brow. "The old fool himself has taught me where he was vulnerable, and
as I live he shall feel it."

"His Lordship wants to see you, sir; he is in the garden," said a
servant; and Sewell rose and followed him. He stopped twice as he went
to compose his features and regain his calm. On the last time he even
rehearsed the few words and the smile by which he meant to accost the
Judge. The little artifice was, however, forestalled, as Sir William
met him abruptly with the words, "What a time you have been,
sir,--forty-eight minutes by my watch!"

"I assure you, my Lord, I'd have made it shorter if I could," said
Sewell, with a smile of some significance.

"I am unable to see why you could not have done so. The charge I gave
you was to report to me, not to negotiate on your own part."

"Nor did I, my Lord. Sir Brook Fossbrooke distinctly declared that he
would only communicate with yourself personally,--that what he desired
to say referred to yourself, and should be answered by yourself."

"On hearing which, sir, you withdrew?"

"So far as your Lordship was concerned, no more was said between us.
What passed after this I may be permitted to call private."

"What, sir! You see a person in _my_ house, at _my_ instance, and with
_my_ instructions,--who comes to see and confer with _me_; and you
have the hardihood to tell me that you took that opportunity to discuss
questions which you call private!"

"I trust, my Lord, you will not press me in this matter; my position is
a most painful one."

"It is worse than painful, sir; it is humiliating. But," added he, after
a short pause, "I have reason to be grateful to you. You have rescued
me from, perhaps, a very grave indiscretion. Your position--your wife's
health--your children's welfare had all interested me. I might have--No
matter what, sir. I have recovered the balance of my mind. I am myself
again."

"My Lord, I will be open with you."

"I will accept of no forced confidences, sir," said the Judge, waving
his hand haughtily.

"They are not forced, my Lord, farther than my dislike to give you pain
renders them so. The man to whom you sent me this morning is no stranger
to me--would that he had been!--would that I had never known nor heard
of him! Very few words will explain why, my Lord. I only entreat that,
before I say them, they may be in strictest confidence between us."

"If they require secrecy, sir, they shall have it."

"Quite enough, my Lord,--amply sufficient for me is this assurance. This
person, then, my Lord, was the old friend and brother officer of Sir
Frank Dillon, my father-in-law. They lived as young men in closest
friendship together; shared perils, amusements, and purse together. For
many years nothing occurred to interrupt the relations between them,
though frequent remonstrances from Dillon's family against the intimacy
might possibly have caused a coolness; for the world had begun to talk
of Fossbrooke with a certain distrust, comparing his mode of living with
the amount of his fortune, and half hinting that his successes at play
were more than accidental.

"Still Dillon held to him; and to break the tie at last, his family
procured an Indian appointment for him, and sent him to Calcutta.
Fossbrooke no sooner heard of it than he sold off his town house and
horses, and actually sailed in the same packet with him."

"Let us sit down, Colonel Sewell; I am wearied with walking, and I
should like to hear the remainder of this story."

"I will make it very brief, my Lord. Here is a nice bench to rest on.
Arrived in India, they commenced a style of living the most costly
and extravagant imaginable. Their receptions, their dinners, their
equipages, their retinues, completely eclipsed the splendors of the
native princes. For a while these were met promptly by ready money;
later on came bills, at first duly met, and at last dishonored. On
investigation, however, it was found that the greater number--far the
greater number--of the acceptances were issued by Dillon alone,--a
circumstance which puzzled none so much as Dillon himself, who never
remembered the emergencies that had called for them."

"They were forgeries by Fossbrooke," said the Judge.

"You are right, my Lord, they were, but so adroitly done that Dillon
was the first to declare the signatures his own; nor was the fraud
ever discovered. To rescue his friend, as it were, Dillon sold off
everything, and paid, I know not what amount, and they both left for
Ceylon, where Dillon was named Commander of the Forces.

"Here Dillon married, and, on the birth of his first child, Fossbrooke
was the godfather, their affection being stronger than ever. Once
more the life of extravagance burst forth, and now, besides the costly
household and reckless expenditure, the stories of play became rife and
frequent, several young fellows being obliged to leave the service and
sell their commissions to meet their debts. The scandal reached England,
and Dillon was given his choice to resign or resume active service at
his old rank. He accepted the last, and went back to India. For a
while they were separated. My father-in-law made a brilliant campaign,
concluding with the victory of Atteyghur. He was named Political
Resident at the seat of government, and found himself in the receipt
of a large revenue, and might in a few years have become wealthy and
honored. His evil genius, however, was soon at his side. Fossbrooke
arrived, as he said, to see him before leaving for Europe; he never left
him till his death. From that day dated my father-in-law's inevitable
ruin. Maladministration, corruption, forced loans on every side.
Black-mail was imposed on all the chiefs, and a system of iniquity
instituted that rendered the laws a farce, and the office of judge a
degradation.

"Driven almost to desperation by his approaching ruin, and yet blind to
the cause of it, Sir Frank took service against the Affghans, and fell,
severely wounded, at Walhalla. Fossbrooke followed him to the Hills,
where he went to die. The infatuation of that fatal man was unbroken,
and on his deathbed he not only confided to him all the deeds and
documents that concerned his fortune, but gave him the guardianship
and control of his daughter. In the very last letter he ever penned are
these words: 'Scandal may some day or other dare to asperse him (Sir
Brook),--the best have no immunity on that score,--but I charge you,
however fortune may deal with you, share it with him if he need it;
your father never had so true, so noble, so generous a friend. Have full
courage in any course he approves of, and never distrust yourself so
completely as when he differs from you; above all, believe no ill of
him.'

"I have seen this letter,--I have read it more than once; and with my
full knowledge of the man, with my memory stored with stories about him,
it was very hard to see him exercise an influence in my house, and a
power over my wife. For a while I tried to respect what had been the
faith of her childhood; I could not bear to destroy what formed one of
the links that bound her to her father's memory; but the man's conduct
obliged me to abandon this clemency. He insisted on living upon us,
and living in a style not merely costly, but openly, flagrantly
disreputable. Of his manner to myself I will not speak; he treated me
not alone as a dependant, but as one whose character and fortune were in
his hands. To what comments this exposed me in my own house I leave you
to imagine: I remonstrated at first, but my endurance became exhausted,
and I turned him from my house.

"Then began his persecution of me,--not alone of myself, but my wife,
and all belonging to me. I must not dwell on this, or I should forget
myself.

"We left India, hoping never to hear more of him. There was a story
that he had gone on a visit to a Rajah in Oude, and would in all
likelihood live there till he died. Imagine what I felt, my Lord, when
I read his name on that visiting-card. I knew, of course, what his
presence meant, a pretended matter of business with you,--the real
object being to traduce and vilify me. He had ascertained the connection
between us, and determined to turn it to profit. So long as I followed
my career in India,--a poor soldier of fortune,--I was not worth
persecution; but here at home, with friends, possibly with friends able
and willing to aid me, I at once assumed importance in his eyes. He well
knows how dear to us is the memory of my wife's father, what sacrifices
we have made, what sacrifices we would make again, that his name should
not be harshly dealt with by the world. He feels, too, all the power and
weight he can yield by that letter of poor Dillon's, given so frankly,
so trustfully, and so unfortunately on his deathbed. In one word, my
Lord, this man has come back to Europe to exert over me the pressure
which he once on a time used over my father-in-law. For reasons I cannot
fathom, the great people who knew him once, and who ought to know whom
and what he has become, are still willing to acknowledge him. It is true
he no longer frequents their houses and mixes in their society,--but
they recognize him. The very card he sent in this morning bore the
Viceroy's name,--and from this cause alone, even if there were not
others, he would be dangerous. I weary you, my Lord, and I will
conclude. By an accidental admission he let drop that he would soon
leave Ireland for a while; let it seem, my Lord, so long as he remains
here, that I am less intimate here, less frequent as a visitor, than he
has imagined. Let him have grounds to imagine that my presence here was
a mere accident, and that I am not at all likely to enjoy any share of
your Lordship's favor,--in fact, let him believe me as friendless here
as he saw me in India, and he will cease to speculate on persecuting
me."

"There would be indignity in such a course, sir," cried the Judge,
fiercely; "the man has no terrors for _me_."

"Certainly not, my Lord, nor for me personally. I speak on my wife's
behalf; it is for her sake and for her peace of mind I am alone thinking
here."

"I will speak to her myself on this head."

"I entreat you not, my Lord. I implore you never to approach the
subject. She has for years been torn between the terrible alternative of
obeying the last injunctions of her father or yielding to the wishes of
her husband. Her life has been a continual struggle, and her shattered
health has been the consequence. No, my Lord; let us go down for a few
weeks or months--as it may be--to this country place they have taken for
us; a little quietness will do us both good. My leave will not expire
till March; there is still time to look about me."

"Something shall be done for you, sir," said the Judge, pompously.
Sewell bowed low: he knew how to make his bow a very deep acknowledgment
of gratitude; he knew the exact measure of deference and trustfulness
and thankfulness to throw into his expression as he bent his head, while
he seemed too much overpowered to speak.

"Yes, sir, you shall be cared for," said the old man. "And if this
person, this Sir Brook Fossbrooke, return here, it is with _me_ he will
have to deal,--not _you_."

"My Lord, I entreat you never to admit him; neither see nor correspond
with him. The man is a desperado, and holds his own life too cheap to
care for another's."

"Sir, you only pique my curiosity to meet with him. I have heard of such
fellows, but never saw one."

"From all I have heard, my Lord, _your_ courage requires no proofs."

"You have heard the truth, sir. It has been tested in every way, and
found without alloy. This man came here a few days ago to ask me to
nominate my grandson to an office in my gift; but, save a lesson for his
temerity, he 'took nothing by his motion.'" The old Judge walked up and
down with short impatient steps, his eyebrows moving fiercely, And his
mouth twitching angrily. "The Viceroy must be taught that it is not
through such negotiators he can treat with men like myself. We hear much
about the dignity of the Bench. I would that his Excellency should know
that the respect for it is a homage to be rendered by the highest as
well as the lowest, and that I for one will accept of nothing less than
all the honors that befit my station."

Relieved, as it were, by this outburst of vanity, his heart unburdened
of a load of self-conceit, the old man felt freer And better; and in
the sigh he heaved there seemed a something that indicated a sense of
alleviation. Then, turning to Sewell, with a softened voice, he said,
"How grieved I am that you should have passed such a morning! It was
certainly not what I had intended for you."

"You are too good to me, my Lord,--far too good, and too thoughtful of
me," said Sewell, with emotion.

"I am one of those men who must go to the grave misconstrued and
misrepresented. He who would be firm in an age of cowardice, he who
would be just in an age of jobbery, cannot fail to be calumniated. But,
sir, there is a moral stature, as there is a material stature, that
requires distance for its proportions; and it is possible posterity will
be more just to me than my contemporaries."

"I would only hope, my Lord, that the time for such a judgment may be
long deferred."

"You are a courtier, sir," said the Judge, smiling. "It was amongst
courtiers I passed my early youth, and I like them. When I was a young
man, Colonel Sewell, it was the fashion to make the tour of Europe as a
matter of education and good breeding. The French Court was deemed, and
justly deemed, the first school of manners, and I firmly believe France
herself has suffered in her forms of politeness from having ceased to
be the centre of supply to the world. She adulterated the liquor as the
consumers decreased in taste and increased in number."

"How neatly, how admirably expressed!" said Sewell, bowing.

"I had some of that gift once," said the old man, with a sigh; "but it
is a weapon out of use nowadays. Epigram has its place in a museum now
as rightfully as an Andrea Ferrara."

"I declare, my Lord, it is two o'clock. Here is your servant coming to
announce luncheon. I am ashamed to-think what a share of your day I have
monopolized."

"You will stay and take some mutton broth, I hope?"

"No, my Lord. I never eat luncheon, and I am, besides, horrified at
inflicting you so long already."

"Sir, if I suffer many of the miseries of old age, I avail myself of
some of its few privileges. One of the best of these is, never to be
bored. I am old and feeble enough to be able to say to him who wearies
me, Leave me--leave-me to myself and my own dreariness. Had you
'inflicted' me, as you call it, I 'd have said as much two hours ago.
Your company was, however, most agreeable. You know how to talk, and,
what is rarer, you know how to listen."

Sewell bowed respectfully and in silence.

"I wish the school that trains aides-de-camp could be open to junior
barristers and curates," muttered he, half to himself; then added aloud,
"Come and see me soon again. Come to breakfast, or, if you prefer it, to
dinner. We dine at seven;" and without further adieu than a slight wave
of his hand, he turned away and entered the house.



CHAPTER XXVI. SIR BROOK IN CONFUSION

Tom Lendrick had just parted with his sister as Fossbrooke came up, and,
taking his arm in silence, moved slowly down the road.

Seeing his deep preoccupation, Tom did not speak for some time, but
walked along without a word. "I hope you found my grandfather in better
temper, sir?" asked Tom, at last.

"He refused to receive me; he pleaded illness, or rather he called it
by its true name, indisposition. He deputed another gentleman to meet
me,--a Colonel Sewell, his stepson."

"That 's the man my father saw at the Cape; a clever sort of person he
called him, but, I suspect, not one to his liking; too much man of the
world,--too much man of fashion for poor Dad."

"I hope so," muttered Fossbrooke, unconsciously.

"Indeed, sir; and why?" asked Tom, eagerly.

"What of Lucy?" said Sir Brook, abruptly; "how did you think she was
looking?"

"Well, sir, on the whole, well. I've seen her jollier; but, to be sure,
it was a leave-taking to-day, and that's not the occasion to put one in
high spirits. Poor girl, she said, 'Is it not hard, Tom? There are only
three of us, and we must all live apart.'"

"So it is,--hard, very hard. I 'd have tried once more to influence the
old Judge if he 'd have given me a meeting. He may do worse with that
office than bestow it on you, Tom. I believe I'd have told him as much."

"It's perhaps as well, sir, that you did not see him," said Tom, with a
faint smile.

"Yes," said Fossbrooke, following along the train of his own thoughts,
and not noticing the other's remark. "He may do worse; he may give it
to _him_, and thus draw closer the ties between them; and if _that_ man
once gets admission there, he'll get influence."

"Of whom are you talking, sir?"

"I was not speaking, Tom. I was turning over some things in my mind. By
the way, we have much to do before evening. Go over to Hodgen's about
those tools; he has not sent them yet: and the blasting-powder, too, has
not come down. I ought, if I could manage the time, to test it; but it
's too late. I must go to the Castle for five minutes,--five minutes
will do it; and I 'll pass by Grainger's on my way back, and buy the
flannel--miners' flannel they call it in the advertisement. We must look
our _métier_, Tom, eh? You told Lucy where to write, and how to address
us, I hope?"

"Yes, sir, she wrote it down. By the way, that reminds me of a letter
she gave me for you. It was addressed to her care, and came yesterday."

The old man thrust it in his pocket without so much as a look at it.

"I think the post-mark was Madeira," said Tom, to try and excite some
curiosity.

"Possibly. I have correspondents everywhere."

"It looked like Trafford's writing, I thought."

"Indeed! let us see;" and he drew forth the letter, and broke the
envelope. "Right enough, Tom,--it is Trafford."

He ran his eyes rapidly over the first lines, turned to the next side,
and then to the end of the letter, and then once more began at the
beginning.

"This is his third attempt, he says, to reach me, having written twice
without any acknowledgment; hence he has taken the liberty--and a very
great liberty too--to address the present to the care of your sister.
His brother died in March last, and the younger brother has now shown
symptoms of the same malady, and has been sent out to Madeira. 'I could
not,' he writes,--'I could not refuse to come out here with him, however
eager I was to go to Ireland. You can well believe,'"--here the old
man slurred over the words, and murmured inaudibly for some seconds. "I
see," added he at last, "he has gone back to his old regiment, with good
hopes of the majority. 'Hinks is sick of the service, and quite willing
to leave. Harvey, however, stands above me, and deems it a cruel thing
to be passed over. I must have your advice about this, as well as
about--'" Here again he dropped his voice and mumbled unintelligibly.
At length he read on: "'What is Tom doing? What a shame it would be if a
fellow with such abilities should not make his way!'"

"A crying shame," burst in Tom, "but I neither see the abilities nor the
way; would he kindly indicate how to find either or both?"

"'My mother suggested,'" read on Sir Brook, "'two or three things which
my father could readily obtain, but you know the price of the promotion;
you know what I would have to--'" Here, once more, the old man stopped
abruptly.

"Pray go on, sir," cried Tom, eagerly; "this interests me much, and as
it touches myself I have half a claim to hear it."

Sir Brook gave no heed to the request, but read on in silence and to
himself. Turning to the last page, he said: "'I may then hope to be
in England by the end of the month. I shall not go down to Holt, but
straight to Dublin. My leave will expire on the 28th, and this will give
me a good excuse for not going home. I am sure you will agree with me
that I am doing the right thing.

"'If I am fortunate enough to meet you in Dublin, I can ask your advice
on many things which press for solution; but if you should have left
Ireland and gone heaven knows where, what is to become of me?'"

"Got into debt again, evidently," said Tom, as he puffed his cigar.

"Nothing of the kind. I know thoroughly what he alludes to, though I am
not at liberty to speak of it. He wishes me to leave our address with
Colonel Cave at the barracks, and that if we should have left Ireland
already, he 'll try and manage a month's leave, and pay us a visit."

"I declare I guessed that!" burst out Tom. "I had a dread of it, from
the very day we first planned our project. I said to myself, So sure as
we settle down to work,--to work like men who have no thought but how to
earn their bread,--some lavender-gloved fellow, with a dressing-case
and three hat-boxes, will drop down to disgust us alike with our own
hardships and _his_ foppery."

"He'll not come," said Sir Brook, calmly; "and if he should, he will be
welcome."

"Oh! as to that," stammered out Tom, somewhat ashamed of his late
warmth, "Trafford is perhaps the one exception to the sort of thing I am
afraid of. He is a fine, manly, candid fellow, with no affectations nor
any pretensions."

"A gentleman, sir,--just a gentleman, and of a very good type."

The last few lines of the letter were small and finely written, and cost
the old man some time to decipher. At last he read them aloud. "'Am I
asking what you would see any objection to accord me, if I entreat you
to give me some letter of introduction or presentation to the Chief
t Baron? I presume that you know him; and I presume that he might not
refuse to know _me_. It is possible I may be wrong in either or both
of these assumptions. I am sure you will be frank in your reply to
this request of mine, and say No, if you dislike to say Yes. I made the
acquaintance of Colonel Sewell, the Judge's step-son, at the Cape; but
I suspect--I may be wrong--but I suspect that to be presented by
the Colonel might not be the smoothest road to his Lordship's
acquaintance,--I was going to write "favor," but I have no pretension,
as yet at least, to aspire that far.'

"'The Colonel himself told me that his mother and Sir William never met
without a quarrel. His affectionate remark was that the Chief Baron was
the only creature in Europe whose temper was worse than Lady Lendrick's,
and it would be a blessing to humanity if they could be induced to live
together.

"'I saw a good deal of the Se wells at the Cape. She is charming! She
was a Dillon, and her mother a Lascelles, some forty-fifth cousin of my
mother's,--quite enough of relationship, however, to excuse a very rapid
intimacy, so that I dined there when I liked, and uninvited. I did not
like _him_ so well; but then he beat me at billiards, and always won my
money at _écarté_, and of course these are detracting ingredients which
ought not to be thrown into the scale.

"'How she sings! I don't know how you, with your rapturous love of
music, would escape falling in love with her: all the more that she
seems to me one who expects that sort of homage, and thinks herself
defrauded if denied it. If the Lord Chief Baron is fond of ballads, he
has been her captive this many a day.

"'My love to Tom, if with you or within reach of you; and believe me,
ever yours affectionately,--Lionel Trafford.'"

"It was the eldest son who died," said Tom, carelessly.

"Yes, the heir. Lionel now succeeds to a splendid fortune and the
baronetcy."

"He told me once that his father had made some sort of compact with his
eldest son about cutting off the entail, in case he should desire to do
it. In fact, he gave me to understand that he was n't a favorite with
his father, and that, if by any course of events he were likely to
succeed to the estate, it was more than probable his father would use
this power, and merely leave him what he could not alienate,--a very
small property that pertained to the baronetage."

"With reference to what did he make this revelation to you? What had you
been talking of?"

"I scarcely remember. I think it was about younger sons,--how hardly
they were treated, and how unfairly."

"Great hardship truly that a man must labor! not to say that there
is not a single career in life he can approach without bringing to it
greater advantages than befall humbler men,--a better and more liberal
education, superior habits as regards society, powerful friends, and
what in a country like ours is inconceivably effective,--the prestige of
family. I cannot endure this compassionate tone about younger sons. To
my thinking they have the very best opening that life can offer, if they
be men to profit by it; and if they are not, I care very little what
becomes of them."

"I do think it hard that my elder brother should have fortune and wealth
to over-abundance, while my pittance will scarcely keep me in cigars."

"You have no right, sir, to think of his affluence. It is not in
the record; the necessities of your position have no-relation to his
superfluities. Bethink you of yourself, and if cigars are too expensive
for you, smoke cavendish. Trafford was full of this cant about the
cruelty of primogeniture, but I would have none of it. Whenever a man
tells me that he deems it a hardship that he should do anything for his
livelihood, I leave him, and hope never to see more of him."

"Trafford surely did not say so."

"No,--certainly not; there would have been no correspondence between us
if he had. But I want to see these young fellows showing the world that
they shrink from no competitorship with any. They have long proved that
to confront danger and meet death they are second to none. Let me show
that in other qualities they admit of no inferiority,--that they are as
ready for enterprise, as well able to stand cold and hunger and thirst,
to battle with climate and disease. _I_ know well they can do it, but I
want the world to know it."

"As to intellectual distinctions," said Tom, "I think they are the
equals of any. The best man in Trinity in my day was a fellow-commoner."

This speech seemed to restore the old man to his best humor. He slapped
young Lendrick familiarly on the shoulder and said: "It would be a grand
thing, Tom, if we could extend the application of that old French adage,
'noblesse oblige,' and make it apply to every career in life and every
success. Come along down this street; I want to buy some nails,--we can
take them home with us."

They soon made their purchases; and each, armed with a considerably
sized brown-paper parcel, issued from the shop,--the old man eagerly
following up the late theme, and insisting on all the advantages good
birth and blood conferred, and what a grand resource was the gentleman
element in moments of pressure and temptation.

"His Excellency wishes to speak to you, sir," said a footman,
respectfully standing hat in hand before him "The carriage is over the
way."

Sir Brook nodded an assent, and then, turning to Torn, said, "Have
the kindness to hold this for me for a moment; I will not detain you
longer;" and placing in young Lendrick's hands a good-sized parcel, he
stepped across the street, totally forgetting that over his left arm,
the hand of which was in his pocket, a considerable coil of strong rope
depended, being one of his late purchases. As he drew nigh the carriage,
he made a sign that implied defeat; and mortified as the Viceroy was
at the announcement, he could not help smiling at the strange guise in
which the old man presented himself.

"And how so, Fossbrooke?" asked he, in answer to the other's signal.

"Simply, he would not see me, my Lord. Our first meeting had apparently
left no very agreeable memories of me, and he scarcely cared to
cultivate an acquaintance that opened so inauspiciously."

"But you sent him your card with my name?"

"Yes; and his reply was to depute another gentleman to receive me and
take my communication."

"Which you refused, of course, to make?"

"Which I refused."

"Do you incline to suppose that the Chief Baron guessed the object of
your visit?"

"I have no means of arriving at that surmise, my Lord. His refusal of me
was so peremptory that it left me no clew to any guess."

"Was the person deputed to receive you one with whom it was at all
possible to indicate such an intimation of your business as might convey
to the Chief Baron the necessity of seeing you?"

"Quite the reverse, my Lord; he was one with whom, from previous
knowledge, I could hold little converse."

"Then there is, I fear, nothing to be done."

"Nothing."

"Except to thank you heartily, my dear Fossbrooke, and ask you once
more, why are you going away?"

"I told you last night I was going to make a fortune. I have--to my own
astonishment I own it--begun to feel that narrow means are occasionally
most inconvenient; that they limit a man's action in so many ways that
he comes at last to experience a sort of slavery; and instead of chafing
against this, I am resolved to overcome it, and become rich."

"I hope, with all my heart, you may. There is no man whom wealth will
more become, or who will know how to dispense it more reputably."

"Why, we have gathered a crowd around us, my Lord," said Fossbrooke,
looking to right and left, where now a number of people had gathered,
attracted by the Viceroy's presence, but still more amused by the
strange-looking figure with the hank of rope over his arm, who
discoursed so freely with his Excellency. "This is one of the penalties
of greatness, I take it," continued he. "It's your Excellency's Collar
of St. Patrick costs you these attentions--"

"I rather suspect it's _your 'grand cordon_,' Fossbrooke," said the
Viceroy, laughing, while he pointed to the rope.

"Bless my stars!" exclaimed Sir Brook, blushing deeply, "how forgetful I
am growing! I hope you forgive me. I am sure you could not suppose--"

"I could never think anything but good of you, Fossbrooke. Get in, and
come out to 'the Lodge' to dinner."

"No, no; impossible. I am heartily ashamed of myself. I grow worse
and worse every day; people will lose patience at last, and cut me;
good-bye."

"Wait one moment. I want to ask you something about young Lendrick.
Would he take an appointment in a colonial regiment? Would he--" But
Fossbrooke had elbowed his way through the dense crowd by this time, and
was far out of hearing,--shocked with himself, and overwhelmed with the
thought that in his absurd forgetfulness he might have involved another
in ridicule.

"Think of me standing talking to his Excellency with this on my arm,
Tom!" said he, flushing with shame and annoyance: "how these absent
fits keep advancing on me! When a man begins to forget himself in this
fashion, the time is not very distant when his friends will be glad to
forget him. I said so this moment to Lord Wilmington, and I am afraid
that he agreed with me. Where are the screws, Tom,--have I been
forgetting them also?"

"No, sir, I have them here; the holdfasts were not finished, but
they will be sent over to us this evening, along with the cramps you
ordered."

"So, then, my head was clear so far," cried he, with a smile. "In my
prosperous days, Tom, these freaks of mine were taken as good jokes,
and my friends laughed at them over my Burgundy; but when a man has
no longer Burgundy to wash down his blunders with, it is strange how
different becomes the criticism, and how much more candid the critic."

"So that, in point of enlightenment, sir, it is better to be poor."

"It is what I was just going to observe to you," said he, calmly. "Can
you give me a cigar?"



CHAPTER XXVII. THE TWO LUCYS

Within a week after this incident, while Fossbrooke and young Lendrick
were ploughing the salt sea towards their destination, Lucy sat in her
room one morning engaged in drawing. She was making a chalk copy from
a small photograph her brother had sent her, a likeness of Sir Brook,
taken surreptitiously as he sat smoking at a window, little heeding or
knowing of the advantage thus taken of him.

The head was considerably advanced, the brow and the eyes were nearly
finished, and she was trying for the third time to get an expression
into the mouth which the photograph had failed to convey, but which she
so often observed in the original. Eagerly intent on her work, she never
heard the door open behind her, and was slightly startled as a very
gentle hand was laid on her shoulder.

"Is this a very presumptuous step of mine, dear Lucy?" said Mrs. Sewell,
with one of her most bewitching smiles: "have I your leave for coming in
upon you in this fashion?"

"Of course you have, my dear Mrs. Sewell; it is a great pleasure to me
to see you here."

"And I may take off my bonnet and my shawl and my gloves and my company
manner, as my husband calls it?"

"Oh! _you_ have no company manner," broke in Lucy.

"I used to think not; but men are stern critics, darling, and especially
when they are husbands. You will find out, one of these days, how neatly
your liege lord will detect every little objectionable trait in
your nature, and with what admirable frankness he will caution you
against--yourself."

"I almost think I 'd rather he would not."

"I 'm very certain of it, Lucy," said the other, with greater firmness
than before. "The thing we call love in married life has an
existence only a little beyond that of the bouquet you carried to the
wedding-breakfast; and it would be unreasonable in a woman to expect
it, but she might fairly ask for courtesy and respect, and you would
be amazed how churlish even gentlemen can become about expending these
graces in their own families."

Lucy was both shocked and astonished at what she heard, and the grave
tone in which the words were uttered surprised her most of all.

Mrs. Sewell had by this time taken off her bonnet and shawl, and,
pushing back her luxuriant hair from her forehead, looked as though
suffering from headache, for her brows were contracted, and the orbits
around her eyes dark and purple-looking.

"You are not quite well to-day," said Lucy, as she sat down on the sofa
beside her, and took her hand.

"About as well as I ever am," said she, sighing; and then, as if
suddenly recollecting herself, added, "India makes such an inroad on
health and strength! No buoyancy of temperament ever resisted that fatal
climate. You would n't believe it, Lucy, but I was once famed for high
spirits."

"I can well believe it."

"It was, however, very long ago. I was little more than a child at the
time--that is, I was about fourteen or fifteen--when I left England, to
which I returned in my twentieth year. I went back very soon afterwards
to nurse my poor father, and be married."

The depth of sadness in which she spoke the last words made the silence
that followed intensely sad and gloomy.

"Yes," said she, with a deep melancholy smile, "papa called me madcap.
Oh dear, if our fathers and mothers could look back from that eternity
they have gone to, and see how the traits they traced in our childhood
have saddened and sobered down into sternest features, would they
recognize us as their own? I don't look like a madcap now, Lucy, do
I?" As she said this, her eyes swam in tears, and her lip trembled
convulsively. Then standing hastily up, she drew nigh the table, and
leaned over to look at the drawing at which Lucy had been engaged.

"What!" cried she, with almost a shriek,--"what is this? Whose portrait
is this? Tell me at once; who is it?"

"A very dear friend of mine and of Tom's. One you could not have ever
met, I'm sure."

"And how do you know whom I have met?" cried she, fiercely. "What can
you know of my life and my associates?"

"I said so, because he is one who has lived long estranged from the
world," said Lucy, gently; for in the sudden burst of the other's
passion she only saw matter for deep compassion. It was but another part
of a nature torn and distracted by unceasing anxieties.

"But his name,--his name?" said Mrs. Sewell, wildly.

"His name is Sir Brook Fossbrooke."

"I knew it, I knew it!" cried she, wildly,--"I knew it!" and said it
over and over again. "Go where we will we shall find him. He haunts;
us like a curse,--like a curse!" And it was in almost a shriek the last
word came forth.

"You cannot know the man if you say this of him," said Lucy, firmly.

"Not know him!--not know him! You will tell me next that I do not know
myself,--not know my own name,--not know the life of bitterness I have
lived,--the shame of it,--the ineffable shame of it!" and she threw
herself on her face on the sofa, and sobbed convulsively. Long and
anxiously did Lucy try all in her power to comfort and console her. She
poured out her whole heart in pledges of sisterly love and affection.
She assured her of a sympathy that would never desert her; and, last
of all, she told her that her judgment of Sir Brook was a mistaken
one,--that in the world there lived not one more true-hearted, more
generous, or more noble.

"And where did you learn all this, young woman?" said the other,
passionately. "In what temptations and trials of your life have these
experiences been gained? Oh, don't be angry with me, dearest Lucy;
forgive this rude speech of mine; my head is turning, and I know not
what I say. Tell me, child, did this man speak to you of my husband?"

"No."

"Nor of myself?"

"Not a word. I don't believe he was aware that we were related to each
other."

"He not aware? Why, it's his boast that he knows every one and every
one's connections. You never heard him speak without this parade of
universal acquaintanceship. But why did he come here? How did you happen
to meet him?"

"By the merest accident. Tom found him one day fishing the river close
to our house, and they got to talk together; and it ended by his
coming to us to tea. Intimacy followed very quickly, and then a close
friendship."

"And do you mean to tell me that all this while he never alluded to us?"

"Never."

"This is so unlike him,--so unlike him," muttered she, half to herself.
"And the last place you saw him,--where was it?"

"Here in this house."

"Here! Do you mean that he came here to see you?"

"No; he had some business with grandpapa, and called one morning, but
he was not received. Grandpapa was not well, and sent Colonel Sewell to
meet him."

"He sent my husband! And did he go?"

"Yes."

"Are you sure of that?"

"I know it."

"I never heard of this," said she, holding her hands to her temples.
"About what time was it?"

"It was on Friday last. I remember the day, because it was the last time
I saw poor Tom."

"On Friday last," said she, pondering. "Yes, you are right. I do
remember that Friday;" and she drew up the sleeve of her dress, and
looked at a dark-blue mark upon the fair white skin of her arm; but so
hastily was the action done that Lucy did not remark it.

"It was on Friday morning. It was on the forenoon of Friday, was it
not?"

"Yes. The clock struck one, I remember, as I got back to the house."

"Tell me, Lucy," said she in a caressing tone, as she drew her arm round
the girl's waist,--"tell me, darling, how did Colonel Sewell look after
that interview? Did he seem angry or irritated? I'll tell you why I
ask this some other time,--but I want to know if he seemed vexed or
chagrined by meeting this man."

"I did not see him after; he went away almost immediately after Sir
Brook. I heard his voice talking with grandpapa in the garden, but I
went to my room, and we did not meet."

"As they spoke in the garden, were their voices raised? Did they talk
like men excited or in warmth?"

"Yes. Their tone and manner were what you say,--so much so that I went
away, not to overhear them. Grandpapa, I know, was angry at something;
and when we met at luncheon, he barely spoke to me."

"And what conclusion did you draw from all this?"

"None! There was nothing to induce me to dwell on the circumstance;
besides," added she, with some irritation, "I am not given to reason
upon the traits of people's manner, or their tone in speaking."

"Nor perhaps accustomed to inquire, when your grandfather is vexed, what
it is that has irritated him."

"Certainly not. It is a liberty I should not dare to take."

"Well, darling," said she, with a saucy laugh, "he is more fortunate in
having _you_ for a granddaughter than me. I 'm afraid I should have less
discretion,--at all events, less dread."

"Don't be so sure of that," said Lucy, quietly. "Grandpapa is no
common person. It is not his temper but his talent that one is loath to
encounter."

"I do not suspect that either would terrify me greatly. As the soldiers
say, Lucy, I have been under fire pretty often, and I don't mind it now.
Do you know, child, that we have got into a most irritable tone with
each other? Each of us is saying something that provokes a sharp reply,
and we are actually sparring without knowing it."

"I certainly did not know it," said Lucy, taking her hand within both
her own, "and I ask pardon if I have said anything to hurt you."

Leaving her hand to Lucy unconsciously, and not heeding one word of what
she had said, Mrs. Sewell sat with her eyes fixed on the floor deep in
thought. "I 'm sure, Lucy," said she at last, "I don't know why I asked
you all those questions awhile ago. That man--Sir Brook, I mean--is
nothing to me; he ought to be, but he is not. My father and he were
friends; that is, my father thought he was his friend, and left him the
guardianship of me on his deathbed."

"Your guardian,--Sir Brook your guardian?" cried Lucy, with intense
eagerness.

"Yes; with more power than the law, I believe, would accord to any
guardian." She paused and seemed lost in thought for some seconds, and
then went on: "Colonel Sewell and he never liked each other. Sir Brook
took little trouble to be liked by him; perhaps Dudley was as careless
on his side. What a tiresome vein I have got in! How should _you_ care
for all this?"

"But I do care--I care for all that concerns you."

"I take it, if you were to hear Sir Brook's account, we should not make
a more brilliant figure than himself. He 'd tell you about our mode of
life, and high play, and the rest of it; but, child, every one plays
high in India, every one does scores of things there they would n't
do at home, partly because the _ennui_ of life tempts to
anything,--anything that would relieve it; and then all are tolerant
because all are equally--I was going to say wicked; but I don't mean
wickedness,--I mean bored to that degree that there is no stimulant left
without a breach of the decalogue."

"I think that might be called wickedness," said Lucy, dryly.

"Call it what you like, only take my word for it you 'd do the selfsame
things if you lived there. I was pretty much what you are now when I
left England; and if any naughty creature like myself were to talk, as
I am doing to you now, and make confession of all her misdeeds and
misfortunes, I'm certain I'd have known how to bridle up and draw away
my hand, and retire to a far end of the sofa, and look unutterable
pruderies, just as you do this moment."

"Without ever suspecting it, certainly," said Lucy laughing.

"Tear up that odious drawing, dear Lucy," said she, rising and walking
the room with impatience. "Tear it up; or, if you won't do that, let me
write a line under it--one line, I ask for no more--so that people may
know at whom they are looking."

"I will do neither; nor will I sit here to listen to one word against
him."

"Which means, child, that your knowledge of life is so-much greater than
mine, you can trust implicitly to your own judgment. I can admire your
courage, certainly, though I am not captivated by your prudence."

"It is because I have so little faith in my own judgment that I am
unwilling to lose the friend who can guide me."

"Perhaps it would be unsafe if I were to ask you to choose between _him_
and me," said Mrs. Sewell, very slowly, and with her eyes fully bent on
Lucy.

"I hope you will not."

"With such a warning I certainly shall not do so. Who-could have
believed it was so late?" said she, hastily looking at her watch;
"What a seductive creature you must be, child, to slip over one's whole
morning without knowing it,--two o'clock already. You lunch about this
time?"

"Yes, punctually at two."

"Are you sufficiently lady of the house to invite me, Lucy?"

"I am sure _you_ need no invitation here; you are one of us."

"What a little Jesuit it is!" said Mrs. Sewell, patting her cheek.
"Come, child, I 'll be equal with you. I 'll enter the room on your arm,
and say, 'Sir William, your granddaughter insisted on my remaining; I
thought it an awkwardness, but she tells me she is the mistress here,
and I obey.'"

"And you will find he will be too well-bred to contradict you," said
Lucy, while a deep blush covered her face and throat.

"Oh, I think him positively charming!" said Mrs. Sewell, as she arranged
her hair before the glass; "I think him charming. My mother-in-law and
I have a dozen pitched battles every day on the score of his temper and
his character. _My_ theory is, the only intolerable thing on earth is
a fool; and whether it be that Lady Lendrick suspects me of any secret
intention to designate one still nearer to her by this reservation, I
do not know, but the declaration drives her half crazy. Come, Lucy, we
shall be keeping grandpapa waiting for us."

They moved down the stairs arm-in-arm, without a word; but as they
gained the door of the dining-room, Mrs. Sewell turned fully round
and said, in a low deep voice, "Marry anything,--rake, gambler,
villain,--anything, the basest and the blackest; but never take a fool,
for a fool means them all combined."



CHAPTER XXVIII. THE NEST WITH STRANGE "BIRDS" IN IT

To the Swan's Nest, very differently tenanted from what we saw it at
the opening of our story, we have now to conduct our reader. Its present
occupant--"the acquisition to any neighborhood," as the house-agent
styled him--was Colonel Sewell.

Lady Lendrick had taken the place for her son on finding that Sir
William would not extend his hospitality to him. She had taken the
precaution not merely to pay a year's rent in advance, but to make a
number of changes in the house and its dependencies, which she hoped
might render the residence more palatable to him, and reconcile him in
some degree to its isolation and retirement.

The Colonel was, however, one of those men--they are numerous enough
in this world--who canvass the mouth of the gift-horse, and have few
scruples in detecting the signs of his age. He criticised the whole
place with a most commendable frankness. It was a "pokey little hole."
It was dark; it was low-ceilinged. It was full of inconveniences.
The furniture was old-fashioned. You had to mount two steps into the
drawing-room and go down three into the dining-room. He had to cross
a corridor to his bath-room, and there was a great Tudor window in the
small breakfast-parlor, that made one feel as if sitting in a lantern.

As for the stables, "he would n't put a donkey into them." No light,
no ventilation,--no anything, in short. To live surrounded with so many
inconveniences was the most complete assertion of his fallen condition,
and, as he said, "he had never realized his fall in the world till he
settled down in that miserable Nest."

There are men whose especial delight it is to call your attention to
their impaired condition, their threadbare coat, their patched shoes,
their shabby equipage, or their sorry dwelling, as though they were
framing a sort of indictment against Fate, and setting forth the
hardships of persons of merit like them being subjected to this
unjustifiable treatment by Fortune.

"I suppose you never thought to see me reduced to this," is the burden
of their song; and it is very strange how, by mere repetition and
insistence, these people establish for themselves a sort of position,
and oblige the world to yield them a black-mail of respect and
condolence.

"This was not the sort of tipple I used to set before you once on a
time, old fellow," will be uttered by one of whose hospitalities you
have never partaken. "It was another guess sort of beast I gave you for
a mount when we met last," will be said by a man who never rose above
a cob pony; and one is obliged to yield a kind of polite assent to such
balderdash, or stand forward as a public prosecutor and arraign the
rascal for a humbug.

In this self-commiseration Sewell was a master, and there was not
a corner of the house he did not make the butt of his ridicule,--to
contrast its littleness and vulgarity with the former ways and
belongings of his own once splendor.

"You're capital fellows," said he to a party of officers from the
neighboring garrison, "to come and see me in this dog-hole. Try and find
a chair you can sit on, and I 'll ask my wife if we can give you some
dinner. You remember me up at Rangoon, Hobbes? Another guess sort of
place, wasn't it? I had the Rajah's palace and four elephants at my
orders. At Guzerat, too, I was the Resident, and, by Jove, I never
dreamed of coming down to this!"

Too indolent or too indifferent to care where or how she was lodged, his
wife gave no heed to his complaints, beyond a little half-supercilious
smile as he uttered them. "If a fellow will marry, however, he deserves
it all," was his usual wind-up to all his lamentations; and in this he
seemed to console himself by the double opportunity of pitying himself
and insulting his wife.

All that Colonel Cave and his officers could say in praise of the spot,
its beauty, its neatness, and its comfort, were only fresh aliment to
his depreciation, and he more than half implied that possibly the place
was quite good enough for _them_, but that was not exactly the question
at issue.

Some men go through life permitted to say scores of things for which
their neighbor would be irrevocably cut and excluded from society.
Either that the world is amused at their bitterness, or that it is
regarded as a malady, far worse to him who bears than to him who
witnesses it,--whatever the reason,--people endure these men, and make
even a sort of vicious pets of them. Sewell was of this order, and a
fine specimen too.

All the men around him were his equals in every respect, and yet there
was not one of them who did not accept a position of quiet, unresisting
inferiority to him for the sake of his bad temper and his bad tongue. It
was "his way," they said, and they bore it.

He was a consummate adept in all the details of a household; and his
dinners were perfection, his wine good, and his servants drilled to
the very acme of discipline. These were not mean accessories to any
pretension; and as they sat over their claret, a pleasanter and more
social tone succeeded than the complaining spirit of their host had at
first promised.

The talk was chiefly professional. Pipeclay will ever assert its
pre-eminence, and with reason, for it is a grand leveller; and Digges,
who joined three months ago, may have the Army List as well by heart
as the oldest major in the service: and so they discussed, Where was
Hobson? what made Jobson sell out? how did Bobson get out of that scrape
with the paymaster? and how long will Dobson be able to live at his
present rate in that light-cavalry corps? Everything that fell from them
showed the most thorough intimacy with the condition, the fortune, and
the prospects of the men they discussed,--familiarity there was enough
of, but no friendship. No one seemed to trouble himself whether the
sick-leave or the sell-out meant hopeless calamity,--all were dashed
with a species of well-bred fatalism that was astonished with nothing,
rejoiced at nothing, repined at nothing.

"I wish Trafford would make up his mind!" cried one. "Three weeks ago he
told me positively he would leave, and now I hear he offered Craycroft
three thousand pounds to retire from the majority."

"That 's true; Craycroft told me so himself; but old Joe is a wily bird,
and he 'll not be taken so easily."

"He's an eldest son now!" broke in another. "What does he care whether
he be called major or captain?"

"An eldest son!" cried Sewell, suddenly; "how is that? When I met him at
the Cape, he spoke of an elder brother."

"So he had, then, but he's 'off the hooks.'"

"I don't think it matters much," said the Colonel. "The bulk of the
property is disentailed, and Sir Hugh can leave it how he likes."

"That's what I call downright shameful," said one; but he was the
minority, for a number of voices exclaimed,--"And perfectly right; that
law of primogeniture is a positive barbarism."

While the dispute waxed warm and noisy, Sewell questioned the Colonel
closely about Trafford,--how it happened that the entail was removed,
and why there was reason to suppose that Sir Hugh and his son were not
on terms of friendship.

Cave was frank enough when he spoke of the amount of the fortune and the
extent of the estate, but used a careful caution in speaking of family
matters, merely hinting that Trafford had gone very fast, spent a deal
of money, had his debts twice paid by his father, and was now rather
in the position of a reformed spendthrift, making a good character for
prudence and economy.

"And where is he?--not in Ireland?" asked Se well, eagerly.

"No; he is to join on Monday. I got a hurried note from him this
morning, dated Holyhead. You said you had met him?"

"Yes, at the Cape; he used to come and dine with us there occasionally."

"Did you like him?"

"In a way. Yes, I think he was a nice fellow,--that is, he might be made
a nice fellow, but it was always a question into what hands he fell; he
was at the same time pliant and obstinate. He would always imitate,--he
would never lead. So he seemed to me; but, to tell you the truth, I left
him a good deal to the women; he was too young and too fresh for a man
like myself."

"You are rather hard on him," said Cave, laughing; "but you are partly
right. He has, however, fine qualities,--he is generous and trustful to
any extent."

"Indeed!" said Sewell, carelessly, as he bit off the end of a cigar.

"Nothing would make him swerve from his word; and if placed in a
difficulty where a friend was involved, his own interests would be the
last he 'd think of."

"Very fine, all that. Are you drinking claret?--if so, finish that
decanter, and let's have a fresh bottle."

Cave declined to take more wine, and he arose, with the rest, to repair
to the drawing-room for coffee.

It was not very usual for Sewell to approach his wife or notice her in
society; now, however, he drew a chair near her as she sat at the fire,
and in a low whisper said, "I have some pleasant news for you."

"Indeed!" she said coldly,--"what a strange incident!"

"You mean it is a strange channel for pleasant news to come through,
perhaps," said he, with a curl of his lip.

"Possibly that is what I meant," said she, as quietly as before.

"None of these fine-lady airs with me, Madam," said he, reddening with
anger; "there are no two people in Europe ought to understand each other
better than we do."

"In that I quite agree with you."

"And as such is the case, affectations are clean thrown away, Madam; we
_can_ have no disguises for each other."

A very slight inclination of her head seemed to assent to this remark,
but she did not speak.

"We came to plain speaking many a day ago," said he, with increased
bitterness in his tone. "I don't see why we are to forego the advantage
of it now,--do you?"

"By no means. Speak as plainly as you wish; I am quite ready to hear
you."

"You have managed, however, to make people observe us," muttered he,
between his teeth,--"it's an old trick of yours, Madam. You can play
martyr at the shortest notice." He rose hastily and moved to another
part of the room, where a very noisy group were arranging a party for
pool at billiards.

"Won't you have me?" cried Sewell, in his ordinary tone. "I'm a perfect
boon at pool; for I am the most unlucky dog in everything."

"I scarcely think you'll expect us to believe _that_," said Cave, with a
glance of unmistakable admiration towards Mrs. Sewell.

"Ay," cried Sewell, fiercely, and answering the unspoken
sentiment,--"ay, sir, and _that_,"--he laid a stern emphasis on the
word,--"and _that_ the worst luck of all."

"I 've been asking Mrs. Sewell to play a game with us, and she says she
has no objections," said a young subaltern, "if Colonel Sewell does not
dislike it."

"I'll play whist, then," said Sewell. "Who 'll make a rubber?--Cave,
will you? Here's Houghton and Mowbray,--eh?"

"No, no," said Mowbray,--"you are all too good for me."

"How I hate that,--too good for me," said Sewell. "Why, man, what
better investment could you ask for your money than the benefit of good
teaching? Always ride with the best hounds, play with the best players,
talk with the best talkers."

"And make love to the prettiest women," added Cave, in a whisper, as
Mowbray followed Mrs. Sewell into the billiard-room.

"I heard you, Cave," whispered Sewell, in a still lower whisper;
"there's devilish little escapes my ears, I promise you." The bustle and
preparation of the card-table served in part to cover Cave's confusion,
but his cheek tingled and his hand shook with mingled shame and
annoyance.

Sewell saw it all, and knew how to profit by it. He liked high play,
to which Cave generally objected; but he well knew that on the present
occasion Cave would concur in anything to cover his momentary sense of
shame.

"Pounds and fives, I suppose," said Sewell; and the others bowed, and
the game began.

As little did Cave like three-handed whist, but he was in no mood to
oppose anything; for, like many men who have made an awkward speech, he
exaggerated the meaning through his fears, and made it appear absolutely
monstrous to himself.

"Whatever you like," was therefore his remark; and he sat down to the
game.

Sewell was a skilled player; but the race is no more to the swift in
cards than in anything else,--he lost, and lost heavily. He undervalued
his adversaries too, and, in consequence, he followed up his bad luck
by increased wagers. Cave tried to moderate the ardor he displayed,
and even remonstrated with him on the sums they were staking, which, he
good-humoredly remarked, were far above his own pretensions; but
Sewell resented the advice, and replied with a coarse insinuation about
winners' counsels. The ill-luck continued, and Sewell's peevishness and
ill-temper increased with every game. "What have I lost to you?" cried
he, abruptly, to Cave; "it jars on my nerves every time you take out
that cursed memorandum, so that all I can do is not to fling it into the
fire."

"I'm sure I wish you would, or that you would let me do it," said Cave,
quietly.

"How much is it?--not short of three hundred, I'll be bound."

"It is upwards of five hundred," said Cave, handing the book across the
table.

"You'll have to wait for it, I promise you. You must give me time, for
I am in all sorts of messes just now." While Cave assured him that
there was no question of pressing for payment,--to take his own perfect
convenience,--Sewell, not heeding him, went on: "This confounded place
has cost me a pot of money. My wife, too, knows how to scatter her
five-pound notes; in short, we are a wasteful lot. Shall we have one
rubber more, eh?"

"As you like. I am at your orders."

"Let us say double or quits, then, for the whole sum."

Cave made no reply, and seemed not to know how to answer.

"Of course, if you object," said Sewell, pushing back his chair from the
table, as though about to rise, "there's no more to be said."

"What do _you_ say, Houghton?" asked Cave.

"Houghton has nothing to say to it; _he_ hasn't won twenty pounds from
me," said Sewell, fiercely.

"Whatever you like, then," said Cave, in a tone in which it was easy to
see irritation was with difficulty kept under, and the game began.

The game began in deep silence. The restrained temper of the players and
the heavy sum together impressed them, and not a word was dropped. The
cards fell upon the table with a clear, sharp sound, and the clink of
the counters resounded through the room, the only noises there.

As they played, the company from the billiard-room poured in and drew
around the whist-table, at first noisily enough; but seeing the deep
preoccupation of the players, their steadfast looks, their intense
eagerness, made more striking by their silence, they gradually lowered
their voices, and at last only spoke in whispers and rarely.

The first game of the rubber had been contested trick by trick, but
ended by Cave winning it. The second game was won by Sewell, and the
third opened with his deal.

As he dealt the cards, a murmur ran through the bystanders that
the stake was something considerable, and the interest increased in
consequence. A few trifling bets were laid on the issue, and one of
the group, in a voice slightly raised above the rest, said, "I'll back
Sewell for a pony."

"I beg you will not, sir," said Sewell, turning fiercely round. "I'm in
bad luck already, and I don't want to be swamped altogether. There, sir,
your interference has made me misdeal," cried he, passionately, as he
flung the cards on the table.

Not a word was said as Cave began his deal. It was too plain to every
one that Sewell's temper was becoming beyond control, and that a word or
a look might bring the gravest consequences.

"What cards!" said Cave, as he spread his hand on the table: "four
honors and nine trumps." Sewell stared at them, moved his fingers
through them to separate and examine them, and then, turning his head
round, he looked behind. It was his wife was standing at the back of his
chair, calm, pale, and collected. "By Heaven!" cried he, savagely, "I
knew who was there as well as if I saw her. The moment Cave spread out
his cards, I 'd have taken my oath that _she_ was standing over me."

She moved hastily away at the ruffianly speech, and a low murmur of
indignant anger filled the room. Cave and Houghton quitted the table,
and mingled with the others; but Sewell sat still, tearing up the
cards one by one, with a quiet, methodical persistence that betrayed no
passion. "There!" said he, as he threw the last fragment from him, "you
shall never bring good or bad luck to any one more." With the ease
of one to whom such paroxysms were not un-frequent, he joined in the
conversation of a group of young men, and with a familiar jocularity
soon set them at their ease towards him; and then, drawing his arm
within Cave's, he led him apart, and said: "I 'll go over to the Barrack
to-morrow and breakfast with you. I have just thought of how I can
settle this little debt."

"Oh, don't distress yourself about that," said Cave. "I beg you will not
let it give you a moment's uneasiness."

"Good fellow!" said Sewell, clapping him on the shoulder; "but I
have the means of doing it without inconvenience, as I 'll show you
to-morrow. Don't go yet; don't let your fellows go. We are going to have
a broil, or a devilled biscuit, or something." He walked over and rang
the bell, and then hastily passed on into a smaller room, where his wife
was sitting on a sofa, an old doctor of the regiment seated at her side.

"I won't interrupt the consultation," said Sewell, "but I have just one
word to say." He leaned over the back of the sofa, and whispered in her
ear, "Your friend Trafford is become an eldest son. He is at the
Bilton Hotel, Dublin; write and ask him here. Say I have some
cock-shooting,--there are harriers in the neighborhood. Are you
listening to me, Madam?" said he, in a harsh hissing voice, for she had
half turned away her head, and her face had assumed an expression of
sickened disgust. She nodded, but did not speak. "Tell him that I've
spoken to Cave--he'll make his leave all right--that I 'll do my best
to make the place pleasant to him, and that--in fact, I needn't toy to
teach you to write a sweet note. You understand me, eh?"

"Oh, perfectly," said she, rising; and a livid paleness now spread over
her face, and even her lips were bloodless.

"I was too abrupt with my news. I ought to have been more considerate;
I ought to have known it might overcome you," said he, with a sneering
bitterness. "Doctor, you 'll have to give Mrs. Se well some cordial,
some restorative,--that's the name for it. She was overcome by some
tidings I brought her. Even pleasant news will startle us occasionally.
As the French comedy has it, _La joie fait peur_;" and with a listless,
easy air, he sauntered away into another room.



CHAPTER XXIX. SEWELL VISITS CAVE

Punctual to his appointment, Sewell appeared at breakfast the next
morning with Colonel Cave. Of all the ill-humor and bad conduct of the
night before, not a trace now was to be seen. He was easy, courteous,
and affable. He even made a half-jesting apology for his late display of
bad temper; attributing it to an attack of coming gout. "So long as
the malady," said he, "is in a state of menace, one's nerves become so
fine-strung that there is no name for the irritability; but when once a
good honest seizure has taken place, a man recovers himself, and stands
up to his suffering manfully and well.

"To-day, for instance," said he, pointing to a shoe divided by long
incisions, "I have got my enemy fixed, and I let him do his worst."

The breakfast proceeded pleasantly; Cave was in admiration of his
guest's agreeability; for he talked away, not so much of things as of
people. He had in a high degree that-man-of-the-world gift of knowing
something about every one. No name could turn up of which he could not
tell you something the owner of it had said or done, and these "scratch"
biographies are often very amusing, particularly when struck off with
the readiness of a practised talker.

It was not, then, merely that Sewell obliterated every memory of the
evening before, but he made Cave forget the actual object for which he
had come that morning. Projects, besides, for future pleasure did Sewell
throw out, like a man who had both the leisure, the means, and the taste
for enjoyment. There was some capital shooting he had just taken; his
neighbor, an old squire, had never cared for it, and let him have
it "for a song." They were going to get up hack races, too, in the
Park,--"half-a-dozen hurdles and a double ditch to tumble over," as he
said, "will amuse our garrison fellows,--and my wife has some theatrical
intentions--if you will condescend to help her."

Sewell talked with that blended munificence and shiftiness, which seems
a specialty with a certain order of men. Nothing was too costly to be
done, and yet everything must be accomplished with a dexterity that was
almost a dodge. The men of this gift are great scene-painters. They dash
you off a view--be it a wood or a rich interior, a terraced garden or an
Alpine hut--in a few loose touches. Ay! and they "smudge" them out again
before criticism has had time to deal with them. "By the way," cried he,
suddenly, stopping in the full swing of some description of a possible
regatta, "I was half forgetting what brought me here this morning. I am
in your debt, Cave."

He stopped as though his speech needed some rejoinder, and Cave grew
very red and very uneasy--tried to say something--anything--but could
not. The fact was, that, like a man who had never in all his life
adventured on high play or risked a stake that could possibly be of
importance to him, he felt pretty much the same amount of distress at
having won as he would have felt at having lost. He well knew that if by
any mischance he had incurred such a loss as a thousand pounds, it would
have been a most serious embarrassment--by what right, then, had he won
it? Now, although feelings of this sort were about the very last to find
entrance into Sewell's heart, he well knew that there were men who were
liable to them, just as there were people who were exposed to plague
or yellow fever, and other maladies from which he lived remote. It
was, then, with a sort of selfish delight that he saw Cave's awkward
hesitating manner, and read the marks of the shame that was overwhelming
him.

"A heavy sum too," said Sewell, jauntily; "we went the whole 'pot' on
that last rubber."

"I wish I could forget it--I mean," muttered Cave, "I wish we could both
forget it."

"I have not the least objection to that," said Sewell gayly; "only let
it first be paid."

"Well, but--what I meant was--what I wanted to say, or rather, what I
hoped--was--in plain words, Sewell," burst he out, like a man to whom
desperation gave courage,--"in plain words, I never intended to play
such stakes as we played last night,--I never have--I never will again."

"Not to give me my revenge?" said Sewell, laughing.

"No, not for anything. I don't know what I 'd have done--I don't know
what would have become of me--if I had lost; and I pledge you my honor,
I think the next worst thing is to have won."

"Do you, by George!"

"I do, upon my sacred word of honor. My first thoughts on waking this
morning were more wretched than they have been for any day in the last
twenty years of life, for I was thoroughly ashamed of myself."

"You 'll not find many men afflicted with your malady, Cave; and, at all
events, it's not contagious."

"I know nothing about that," said Cave, half irritably; "I never was a
play man, and have little pretension to understand their feelings."

"They have n't got any," said Sewell, as he lit his cigar.

"Perhaps not; so much the worse for them. I can only say, if the misery
of losing be only proportionate to the shame of winning, I don't envy a
gambler. Such an example, too, to exhibit to my young officers! It was
too bad--too bad."

"I declare I don't understand this," said Sewell, carelessly; "when I
commanded a battalion, I never imagined I was obliged to be a model to
the subs or the junior captains." The tone of banter went, this time,
to the quick; and Cave flushed a deep crimson, and said,--"I'm not sorry
that my ideas of my duty are different; though, in the present case, I
have failed to fulfil it."

"Well, well, there's nothing to grow angry about," said Sewell,
laughing, "even though you won't give me my revenge. My present business
is to book up;" and, as he spoke, he sat down at the table, and drew a
roll of papers from his pocket and laid it before him.

"You distress me greatly by all this, Sewell," said Cave, whose
agitation now almost overcame him. "Cannot we hit upon some way? can't
we let it lie over? I mean,--is there no arrangement by which this
cursed affair can be deferred? You understand me?"

"Not in the least. Such things are never deferred without loss of honor
to the man in default. The stake that a man risks is supposed to be
in his pocket, otherwise play becomes trade, and accepts all the
vicissitudes of trade."

"It's the first time I ever heard them contrasted to the disparagement
of honest industry."

"And I call billiards, tennis, whist, and écarté honest industries, too,
though I won't call them trades. There, there," said he, laughing at the
other's look of displeasure, "don't be afraid; I am not going to preach
these doctrines to your young officers, for whose morals you are so much
concerned. Sit down here, and just listen to me for one moment."

Cave obeyed, but his face showed in every feature how reluctantly.

"I see, Cave," said Sewell, with a quiet smile,--"I see you want to do
me a favor,--so you shall. I am obliged to own that I am an exception to
the theory I have just now enunciated. I staked a thousand pounds, and I
had _not_ the money in my pocket. Wait a moment,--don't interrupt me.
I had not the money in gold or bank-notes, but I had it here"--and he
touched the papers before him--"in a form equally solvent, only that it
required that he who won the money should be not a mere acquaintance,
but a friend,--a friend to whom I could speak with freedom and in
confidence. This," said he, "is a bond for twelve hundred pounds, given
by my wife's guardian in satisfaction of a loan once made to him; he was
a man of large fortune, which he squandered away recklessly, leaving
but a small estate, which he could neither sell nor alienate. Upon this
property this is a mortgage. As an old friend of my father-in-law,--a
very unworthy one, by the way,--I could of course not press him for the
interest, and, as you will see, it has never been paid; and there is now
a balance of some hundred pounds additional against him. Of this I
could not speak, for another reason,--we are not without the hope of
inheriting something by him, and to allude to this matter would be
ruinous. Keep this, then. I insist upon it. I declare to you, if you
refuse, I will sell it to-morrow to the first moneylender I can find,
and send you my debt in hard cash. I 've been a play-man all my life,
but never a defaulter."

There was a tone of proud indignation in the way he spoke that awed Cave
to silence; for in good truth he was treating of themes of which he knew
nothing whatever: and of the sort of influences which swayed gamblers,
of the rules that guided and the conventionalities that bound them, he
was profoundly ignorant.

"You 'll not get your money, Cave," resumed Sewell, "till this old
fellow dies; but you will be paid at last,--of that I can assure you.
Indeed, if by any turn of luck I was in funds myself, I 'd like to
redeem it. All I ask is, therefore, that you 'll not dispose of it, but
hold it over in your own possession till the day--and I hope it may be
an early one--it will be payable."

Cave was in no humor to dispute anything. There was no condition to
which he would not have acceded, so heartily ashamed and abashed was
he by the position in which he found himself. What he really would have
liked best, would have been to refuse the bond altogether, and say,
Pay when you like, how you like, or, better still, not at all. This of
course was not possible, and he accepted the terms proposed to him at
once.

"It shall be all as you wish," said he, hurriedly. "I will do everything
you desire; only let me assure you that I would infinitely rather this
paper remained in _your_ keeping than in _mine_. I'm a careless fellow
about documents," added he, trying to put the matter on the lesser
ground of a safe custody. "Well, well, say no more; you don't wish it,
and that's enough."

"I must be able to say," said Sewell, gravely, "that I never lost over
night what I had not paid the next morning; and I will even ask of you
to corroborate me so far as this transaction goes. There were several
of your fellows at my house last night; they saw what we played for, and
that I was the loser. There will be--there always is--plenty of gossip
about these things, and the first question is, 'Has he-booked up?' I'm
sure it's not asking more than you are ready to do, to say that I paid
my debt within twenty-four hours."

"Certainly; most willingly. I don't know that any one has a right to
question me on the matter."

"I never said he had. I only warned you how people will talk, and how
necessary it is to be prepared to stifle a scandal even before it has
flared out."

"It shall be cared for. I'll do exactly as you wish," said Cave, who
was too much flurried to know what was asked of him, and to what he was
pledged.

"I'm glad this is off my mind," said Sewell, with a long sigh of relief.
"I lay awake half the night thinking of it; for there are scores of
fellows who are not of your stamp, and who would be for submitting these
documents to their lawyer, and asking, Heaven knows, what this affair
related to. Now I tell you frankly, I 'd have given no explanations. He
who gave that bond is, as I know, a consummate rascal, and has robbed
me--that is, my wife--out of two-thirds of her fortune; but _my_ hands
are tied regarding him. I could n't touch him, except he should try to
take my life,--a thing, by the way, he is quite capable of. Old Dillon,
my wife's father, believed him to be the best and truest of men, and my
wife inherited this belief, even in the face of all the injuries he had
worked us. She went on saying, 'My father always said, "Trust Fossy:
there's at least one man in the world that will never deceive you.'""

"What was the name you said?" asked Cave, quickly.

"Oh, only a nickname. I don't want to mention his name. I have sealed up
the bond, with this superscription,--'Colonel Sewell's bond.' I did this
believing you would not question me farther; but if you desire to read
it over, I 'll break the envelope at once."

"No, no; nothing of the kind. Leave it just as it is."

"So that," said Sewell, pursuing his former line of thought, "this man
not alone defrauded me, but he sowed dissension between me and my wife.
Her faith is shaken in him, I have no doubt, but she 'll not confess it.
Like a genuine woman, she will persist in asserting the convictions
she has long ceased to be held by, and quote this stupid letter of her
father in the face of every fact.

"I ought not to have got into these things," said Sewell, as he walked
impatiently down the room. "These family bedevilments should be kept
from one's friends; but the murder is out now, and you can see how
I stand--and see besides, that if I am not always able to control my
temper, a friend might find an excuse for me."

Cave gave a kindly nod of assent to this, not wishing, even by a word,
to increase the painful embarrassment of the scene.

"Heigh ho!" cried Sewell, throwing himself down in a chair, "there's one
care off my heart, at least! I can remember a time when a night's bad
luck would n't have cost me five minutes of annoyance; but nowadays
I have got it so hot and so heavy from fortune, I begin not to know
myself." Then, with a sudden change of tone, he added: "When are you
coming out to us again? Shall we say Tuesday?"

"We are to be inspected on Tuesday. Trafford writes me that he is coming
over with General Halkett,--whom, by the way, he calls a Tartar,--and
says, 'If the Sewells are within hail, say a kind word to them on my
part.'"

"A good sort of fellow, Trafford," said Sewell, carelessly.

"An excellent fellow,--no better living!"

"A very wide-awake one too," said Sewell, with one eye closed, and a
look of intense cunning.

"I never thought so. It is, to my notion, to the want of that faculty he
owes every embarrassment he has ever suffered. He is unsuspecting to a
fault."

"It's not the way _I_ read him; though, perhaps, I think as well of him
as _you_ do. I 'd say that for his years he is one of the very shrewdest
young fellows I ever met."

"You astonish me! May I ask if you know him well?"

"Our acquaintance is not of very old date, but we saw a good deal of
each other at the Cape. We rode out frequently, dined, played, and
conversed freely together; and the impression he made upon me was that
every sharp lesson the world had given him he 'd pay back one day or
other with a compound interest."

"I hope not,--I fervently hope not!" cried Cave. "I had rather hear
to-morrow that he had been duped and cheated out of half his fortune
than learn he had done one act that savored of the--the--" He stopped,
unable to finish, for he could not hit upon the word that might be
strong enough for his meaning, and yet not imply an offence.

"Say blackleg. Is n't that what you want? There's my wife's pony chaise.
I 'll get a seat back to the Nest. Goodbye, Cave. If Wednesday is open,
give it to us, and tell Trafford I'd be glad to see him."

Cave sat down as the door closed after the other, and tried to recall
his thoughts to something like order. What manner of man was that who
had just left him? It was evidently a very mixed nature. Was it the good
or the evil that predominated? Was the unscrupulous tone he displayed
the result of a spirit of tolerance, or was it the easy indifference of
one who trusted nothing,--believed nothing?

Was it possible his estimate of Trafford could be correct? and
could this seemingly generous and open manner cover a nature cold,
calculating, and treacherous? No, no. _That_ he felt to be totally out
of the question.

He thought long and intently over the matter, but to no end; and as he
arose to deposit the papers left by Sewell in his writing-desk, he felt
as unsettled and undecided as when he started on the inquiry.



CHAPTER XXX. THE RACES ON THE LAWN

A bright October morning, with a blue sky and a slight, very slight
feeling of frost in the air, and a gay meeting on foot and horseback on
the lawn before the Swan's Nest, made as pretty a picture as a painter
of such scenes could desire. I say of such scenes, because in the
_tableau de genre_ it is the realistic element that must predominate,
and the artist's skill is employed in imparting to very commonplace
people and costumes whatever poetry can be lent them by light and shade,
by happy groupings, and, more than all these, by the insinuation of
some incident in which they are the actors,--a sort of storied interest
pervading the whole canvas, which gives immense pleasure to those who
have little taste for the fine arts.

There was plenty of color even in the landscape. The mountains had put
on their autumn suit, and displayed every tint from a pale opal to
a deep and gorgeous purple, while the river ran on in those circling
eddies which come to the surface of water under sunshine as naturally as
smiles to the face of flattered beauty.

Colonel Sewell had invited the country-side to witness hack-races in his
grounds, and the country-side had heartily responded to the invitation.
There were the county magnates in grand equipages,--an earl with
two postilions and outriders, a high sheriff with all his official
splendors, squires of lower degree in more composite vehicles, and a
large array of jaunting-cars, through all of which figured the red coats
of the neighboring garrison, adding to the scene that tint of warmth in
color so dear to the painter's heart.

The wonderful beauty of the spot, combining, as it did, heath-clad
mountain, and wood, and winding river, with a spreading lake in the
distance, dotted with picturesque islands, was well seconded by
a glorious autumnal day,--one of those days when the very air has
something of champagne in its exhilarating quality, and gives to every
breath of it a sense of stimulation.

The first three races--they were on the flat--had gone off admirably.
They were well contested, well ridden, and the "right horse" the winner.
All was contentment, therefore, on every side, to which the interval of
a pleasant moment of conviviality gave hearty assistance, for now came
the hour of luncheon; and from the "swells" in the great marquée, and
the favored intimates in the dining-room, to the assembled unknown in
the jaunting-cars, merry laughter issued, with clattering of plates
and popping of corks, and those commingled sounds of banter and jollity
which mark such gatherings.

The great event of the day was, however, yet to come off. It was a
hurdle race, to which two stiff fences were to be added, in the shape
of double ditches, to test the hunting powers of the horses. The hurdles
were to be four feet eight in height, so that the course was by no means
a despicable one, even to good cross-country riders. To give increased
interest to the race, Sewell himself was to ride, and no small share
of eagerness existed amongst the neighboring gentry to see how the
new-comer would distinguish himself in the saddle,--some opining he
was too long of leg; some, that he was too heavy; some, that men of his
age--he was over five-and-thirty--begin to lose nerve; and many going
so far as to imply "that he did not look like riding,"--a judgment whose
vagueness detracts nothing from its force.

"There he goes now, and he sits well down too!" cried one, as a group
of horsemen swept past, one of whom, mounted on a "sharp" pony, led
the way, a white macintosh and loose overalls covering him from head to
foot. They were off to see that the fences were all being properly put
up, and in an instant were out of sight.

"I'll back Tom Westenra against Sewell for a twenty-pound note," cried
one, standing up on the seat of his car to proclaim the challenge.

"I'll go further," shouted another,--"I 'll do it for fifty."

"I 'll beat you both," cried out a third,--"I 'll take Tom even against
the field."

The object of all this enthusiasm was a smart, cleanshaven little
fellow, with a good blue eye, and a pleasant countenance, who smoked his
cigar on the seat of a drag near, and nodded a friendly recognition to
their confidence.

"If Joe Slater was well of his fall, I 'd rather have him than any one
in the county," said an old farmer, true to a man of his own class and
standing.

"Here's one can beat them both!" shouted another; "here's Mr. Creagh of
Liskmakerry!" and a thin, ruddy-faced, keen-eyed man of about fifty
rode by on a low-sized horse, with that especial look of decision in his
mouth, and a peculiar puckering about the corners that seem to belong to
those who traffic in horse-flesh, and who, it would appear, however much
they may know about horses, understand humanity more thoroughly still.

"Are you going to ride, Creagh?" cried a friend from a high tax-cart.

"Maybe so, if the fences are not too big for me;" and a very malicious
drollery twinkled in his gray eye.

"Faix, and if they are," said a farmer, "the rest may stay at home."

"I hope you 'll ride, Creagh," said the first speaker, "and not let
these English fellows take the shine out of us. Yourself and Tom are the
only county names on the card."

"Show it to me," said Creagh, listlessly; and he took the printed list
in his hand and conned it over, as though it had all been new to him.
"They 're all soldiers, I see," said he. "It's Major This, and Captain
That--Who is the lady?" This question was rapidly called forth by a
horsewoman who rode past at an easy canter in the midst of a group of
men. She was dressed in a light-gray habit and hat of the same color,
from which a long white feather encircling the hat hung on one side.

"That's Mrs. Sewell,--what do you think of her riding?"

"If her husband has as neat a hand, I 'd rather he was out of the
course. She knows well what she 's about."

"They say there's not her equal in the park in London."

"That's not park riding; that's something very different, take my word
for it. She could lead half the men here across the country."

Nor was she unworthy of the praise, as, with her hand low, her head a
little forward, but her back well curved in, she sat firmly down in her
saddle; giving to the action of the horse that amount of movement that
assisted the animal, but never more. The horse was mettlesome enough to
require all her attention. It was his first day under a sidesaddle, and
he chafed at it, and when the heavy skirt smote his flank, bounded with
a lunge and a stroke of his head that showed anger.

"That's a four-hundred guinea beast she 's on. He belongs to the tall
young fellow that's riding on her left."

"I like his own horse better,--the liver-chestnut with the short legs. I
wish I had a loan of him for the hurdle-race."

"Ask him, Phil; or get the mistress there to ask him," said another,
laughing. "I 'm mighty mistaken or he wouldn't refuse her."

"Oh, is that it?" said Creagh, with a knowing look.

"So they tell me here, for I don't know one of them myself; but the
story goes that she was to have married that young fellow when Sewell
earned her off."

"I must go and get a better look at her," said Creagh, as he spurred his
horse and cantered away.

"Is any one betting?" said little Westenra, as he descended from his
seat on the drag. "I have not seen a man to-day with five pounds on the
race."

"Here's Sewell," muttered another; "he's coming up now, and will give or
take as much as you like."

"Did you see Mrs. Sewell, any of you?" asked Sewell, cavalierly, as he
rode up with an open telegram in his hand; and as the persons addressed
were for the most part his equals, none responded to the insolent
demand.

"Could you tell me, sir," said Sewell, quickly altering his tone, while
he touched his hat to Westenra, "if Mrs. Sewell passed this way?"

"I haven't the honor to know Mrs. Sewell, but I saw a lady ride past,
about ten minutes ago, on a black thoroughbred."

"Faix, and well she rode him too," broke in an old farmer.

"She took the posy out of that young gentleman's button-hole, while her
beast was jumping, and stuck it in her breast, as easy as I 'm sitting
here."

Sewel's face grew purple as he darted a look of savage anger at the
speaker, and, turning his horse's head, he dashed out at speed and
disappeared.

"Peter Delaney," said Westenra, "I thought you had more discretion than
to tell such a story as that."

"Begorra, Mister Tom! I didn't know the mischief I was making till I saw
the look he gave me!"

It was not till after a considerable search that Sewell came up with
his wife's party, who were sauntering leisurely along the river-side,
through a gorse-covered slope.

"I 've had a devil of a hunt after you!" he cried, as he rode up, and
the ringing tone of his voice was enough to intimate to her in what
temper he spoke. "I 've something to say to you," said he, as though
meant for her private ear; and the others drew back, and suffered them
to ride on together. "There 's a telegram just come from that old beast
the Chief Baron; he desires to see me to-night. The last train leaves
at five, and I shall only hit it by going at once. Can't you keep your
horse quiet, Madam, or must you show off while I 'm speaking to you?"

"It was the furze that stung him," said she, coldly, and not showing the
slightest resentment at his tone.

"If the old bear means anything short of dying, and leaving me his heir,
this message is a shameful swindle."

"Do you mean to go?" asked she, coldly.

"I suppose so; that is," added he, with a bitter grin, "if I can tear
myself away from _you_;" but she only smiled.

"I 'll have to pay a forfeit in this match," continued he, "and my book
will be all smashed, besides. I say," cried he, "would Trafford ride for
me?"

"Perhaps he would."

"None of your mock indifference, Madam. I can't afford to lose a
thousand pounds every time you have a whim. Ay, look astonished if you
like! but if you had n't gone into the billiard-room on Saturday evening
and spoiled my match, I 'd have escaped that infernal whist-table.
Listen to me now! Tell him that I have been sent for suddenly,--it might
be too great a risk for me to refuse to go,--and ask him to ride
Crescy; if he says Yes,--and he will say yes if you ask him as you
_ought_,"--her cheek grew crimson as he uttered the last word with a
strong emphasis,--"tell him to take up my book. Mind you use the words
'take up;' _he'll_ understand you."

"But why not say all this yourself?--he 's riding close behind at this
minute."

"Because I have a wife, Madam, who can do it so much better; because I
have a wife who plucks a carnation out of a man's coat, and wears it in
her bosom, and this on an open race-course, where people can talk of it!
and a woman with such rare tact ought to be of service to her husband,
eh?" She swayed to and fro in her saddle for an instant as though about
to fall, but she grasped the horn with both hands and saved herself.

"Is that all?" muttered she, faintly.

"Not quite. Tell Trafford to come round to my dressing-room, and I 'll
give him a hint or two about the horse. He must come at once, for I have
only time to change my clothes and start. You can make some excuse
to the people for my absence; say that the old Judge has had another
attack, and I only wish it may be true. Tell them I got a telegram, and
_that_ may mean anything. Trafford will help you to do the honors, and
I 'll swear him in as viceroy before I go. Is n't that all that could
be asked of me?" The insolence of his look as he said this made her turn
away her head as though sickened and disgusted.

"They want you at the weighing-stand, Colonel Sewell," said a gentleman,
riding up.

"Oh, they do! Well, say, please, that I 'm coming. Has he given you that
black horse?" asked he, in a hurried whisper.

"No; he offered him, but I refused."

"You had no right to refuse; he's strong enough to carry _me_; and the
ponies that I saw led round to the stable-yard, whose are they?"

"They are Captain Trafford's."

"You told him you thought them handsome, I suppose, didn't you?"

"Yes, I think them very beautiful."

"Well, don't take them as a present. Win them if you like at piquet or
écarté,--any way you please, but don't take them as a gift, for I heard
Westenra say they were meant for you."

She nodded; and as she bent her head, a smile, the very strangest,
crossed her features. If it were not that the pervading expression of
her face was at the instant melancholy, the look she gave him would have
been almost devilish.

"I have something else to say, but I can't remember it."

"You don't know when you'll be back?" asked she, carelessly.

"Of course not,--how can I? I can only promise that I'll not arrive
unexpectedly, Madam; and I take it that's as much as any gentleman can
be called on to say. Bye-bye."

"Good-bye," said she, in the same tone.

"I see that Mr. Balfour is here. I can't tell who asked him; but mind
you don't invite him to luncheon; take no notice of him whatever;
he'll not bet a guinea; never plays; never risks anything,--even his
_affections!_"

"What a creature!"

"Isn't he! There! I'll not detain you from pleasanter company; good-bye;
see you here when I come back, I suppose?"

"Most probably," said she, with a smile; and away he rode, at a tearing
gallop, for his watch warned him that he was driven to the last minute.

"My husband has been sent for to town, Captain Traf-ford," said she,
turning her head towards him as he resumed his place at her side; "the
Chief Baron desires to see him immediately, and he sets off at once."

"And his race? What 's to become of his match?"

"He said I was to ask you to ride for him."

"Me--I ride! Why, I am two stone heavier than he is."

"I suppose he knew that," said she, coldly, and as if the matter was
one of complete indifference to her. "I am only delivering a message,"
continued she, in the same careless tone; "he said, 'Ask Captain
Trafford to ride for me and take up my book; 'I was to be particular
about the phrase 'take up;' I conclude you will know what meaning to
attach to it."

"I suspect I do," said he, with a low soft laugh.

"And I was to add something about hints he was to give you, if you 'd
go round to his dressing-room at once; indeed, I believe you have little
time to spare."

"Yes, I'll go,--I 'll go now; only there 's one thing I 'd like to
ask--that is--I'd be very glad to know--"

"What is it?" said she, after a pause, in which his confusion seemed to
increase with every minute.

"I mean, I should like to know whether you wished me to ride this race
or not?"

"Whether _I_ wished it?" said she, in a tone of astonishment.

"Well, whether you cared about the matter one way or other?" replied he,
in still deeper embarrassment.

"How could it concern me, my dear Captain Trafford?" said she, with an
easy smile; "a race never interests me much, and I 'd just as soon see
Blue and Orange come in as Yellow and Black; but you 'll be late if you
intend to see my husband; I think you 'd better make haste."

"So I will, and I 'll be back immediately," said he, not sorry to escape
a scene where his confusion was now making him miserable.

"You _are_ a very nice horse!" said she, patting the animal's neck, as
he chafed to dash off after the other. "I 'd like very much to own you;
that is, if I ever was to call anything my own."

"They 're clearing the course, Mrs. Sewell," said one of her companions,
riding up; "we had better turn off this way, and ride down to the
stand."

"Here's a go!" cried another, coming up at speed. "Big Trafford is going
to ride Crescy; he 's well-nigh fourteen stone."

"Not thirteen: I 'll lay a tenner on it."

"He can ride a bit," said a third.

"I 'd rather he 'd ride his own horse than mine."

"Sewell knows what he 's about, depend on 't."

"That's his wife," whispered another; "I'm certain she heard you."

Mrs. Sewell turned her head as she cantered along, and, in the strange
smile her features wore, seemed to confirm the speaker's words; but the
hurry and bustle of the moment drowned all sense of embarrassment, and
the group dashed onward to the stand.

Leaving that heaving, panting, surging tide of humanity for an instant,
let us turn to the house, where Sewell was already engaged in preparing
for the road.

"You are going to ride for me, Trafford?" said Sewell, as the other
entered his dressing-room, where, with the aid of his servant, he was
busily packing up for the road.

"I 'm not sure; that is, I don't like to refuse, and I don't see how to
accept."

"My wife has told you; I 'm sent for hurriedly."

"Yes."

"Well?" said he, looking round at him from his task.

"Just as I have told you already; I 'd ride for you as well as a heavy
fellow could take a light-weight's place, but I don't understand about
your book--am I to stand your engagements?"

"You mean, are you to win all the money I'm sure to pocket on the
match?"

"No, I don't mean that," said he, laughing; "I never thought of trading
on another man's brains; I simply meant, am I to be responsible for the
losses?"

"If you ride Crescy as you ought to ride him, you needn't fret about the
losses?"

"But suppose that I do not--and the case is a very possible one--that,
not knowing your horse--"

"Take this portmanteau down, Bob, and the carpet-bag; I shall only lose
my train," said Sewell, with a gesture of hot impatience; and as the
servant left the room, he added: "Pray don't think any more about this
stupid race; scratch Crescy, and tell my wife that it was a change of
mind on "my" part,--that I did not wish you to ride; good-bye;" and he
waved a hasty adieu with his hand, as though to dismiss him at once.

"If you 'll let me ride for you, I 'll do my best," blundered out
Trafford; "when I spoke of your engagements, it was only to prepare you
for what perhaps you were not aware of, that I 'm not very well off just
now, and that if anything like a heavy sum--"

"You are a most cautious fellow; I only wonder how you ever did get into
a difficulty; but I 'm not the man to lead you astray, and wreck such
splendid principles; adieu!"

"I 'll ride, let it end how it may!" said Trafiford, angrily, and left
the room at once, and hurried downstairs.

Sewell gave a parting look at himself in the glass; and as he set his
hat jauntily on one side, said, "There 's nothing like a little mock
indignation to bully fellows of _his_ stamp; the keynote of their
natures is the dread of being thought mean, and particularly of being
thought mean by a woman." He laughed pleasantly at this conceit, and
went on his way.



CHAPTER XXXI. SEWELL ARRIVES IN DUBLIN

It was late at night when Sewell reached town. An accidental delay to
the train deferred the arrival for upwards of an hour after the usual
time; and when he reached the Priory, the house was all closed for the
night, and not a light to be seen.

He knocked, however, and rang boldly; and after a brief delay, and
considerable noise of unbolting and unbarring, was admitted. "We gave
you up, sir, after twelve o'clock," said the butler, half reproachfully,
"and his Lordship ordered the servants to bed. Miss Lendrick, however,
is in her drawing-room still."

"Is there anything to eat, my good friend? That is what I stand most in
need of just now."

"There's a cold rib of beef, sir, and a grouse pie; but if you 'd like
something hot, I 'll call the cook."

"No, no, never mind the cook; you can give me some sherry, I 'm sure?"

"Any wine you please, sir. We have excellent Madeira, which ain't to be
had everywhere nowadays."

"Madeira be it, then; and order a fire in my room. I take it you have a
room for me?"

"Yes, sir, all is ready; the bath was hot about an hour ago, and I 'll
have it refreshed in a minute."

"Now for the grouse pie. By the way, Fenton, what is the matter with his
Lordship? He was n't ill, was he, when he sent off that despatch to me?"

"No, sir; he was in court to-day, and he dined at the Castle, and was in
excellent spirits before he went out."

"Has anything gone wrong, then, that he wanted me up so hurriedly?"

"Well, sir, it ain't so easy to say, his Lordship excites himself so
readily; and mayhap he had words with some of the judges,--mayhap with
his Excellency, for they 're always at him about resigning, little
knowing that if they 'd only let him alone he 'd go of himself, but if
they press him he 'll stay on these twenty years."

"I don't suspect he has got so many as twenty years before him."

"If he wants to live, sir, he 'll do it. Ah, you may laugh, sir, but I
have known him all my life, and I never saw the man like him to do the
thing he wishes to do."

"Cut me some of that beef, Fenton, and fetch me some draught beer. How
these old tyrants make slaves of their servants," said he, aloud, as the
man left the room,--"a slavery that enthralls mind as well as body."
A gentle tap came to the door, and before Sewell could question the
summons, Miss Lendrick entered. She greeted him cordially, and said how
anxiously her grandfather had waited for him till midnight. "I don't
know when I saw him so eager or so impatient," she said.

"Have you any clew to his reason for sending for me?" said he, as he
continued to eat, and assumed an air of perfect unconcern.

"None whatever. He came into my room about two o'clock, and told me to
write his message in a good bold hand; he seemed in his usual health,
and his manner displayed nothing extraordinary. He questioned me about
the time it would take to transmit the message from the town to your
house, and seemed satisfied when I said about half an hour."

"It's just as likely, perhaps, to be some caprice,--some passing fancy."

She shook her head dissentingly, but made no reply.

"I believe the theory of this house is, 'he can do no wrong,'" said
Sewell, with a laugh.

"He is so much more able in mind than all around him, such a theory
might prevail; but I 'll not go so far as to say that it does."

"It's not his mind gives him his pre-eminence, Miss Lucy,--it's his
temper; it's that same strong will that overcomes weaker natures by dint
of sheer force. The people who assert their own way in life are not the
most intellectual, they are only the best bullies."

"You know very little of grandpapa, Colonel Sewell, that's clear."

"Are you so sure of that?" asked he, with a dubious-smile.

"I _am_ sure of it, or in speaking of him you would never have used such
a word as bully."

"You mistake me,--mistake me altogether, young lady. I spoke of a class
of people who employ certain defects of temper to supply the place of
certain gifts of intellect; and if your grandfather, who has no occasion
for it, chooses to take a weapon out of their armory, the worse taste
his."

Lucy turned fiercely round, her face flushed, and her lip trembling.
An angry reply darted through her mind, but she repressed it by a great
effort, and in a faint voice she said, "I hope you left Mrs. Sewell
well?"

"Yes, perfectly well, amusing herself vastly. When I saw her last, she
had about half a dozen young fellows cantering on either side of her,
saying, doubtless, all those pleasant things that you ladies like to
hear."

Lucy shrugged her shoulders, without answering.

"Telling you," continued he, in the same strain, "that if you are
unmarried you are angels, and that if married you are angels and martyrs
too; and it is really a subject that requires investigation, how
the best of wives is not averse to hearing her husband does not half
estimate her. Don't toss your head so impatiently, my dear Miss Lucy; I
am giving you the wise precepts of a very thoughtful life."

"I had hoped, Colonel Sewell, that a very thoughtful life might have
brought forth pleasanter reflections." "No, that is precisely what it
does not do. To live as long as I have, is to arrive at a point when all
the shams have been seen through, and the world exhibits itself pretty
much as a stage during a day rehearsal."

"Well, sir, I am too young to profit by such experiences, and I will
wish you a very good-night,--that is, if I can give no orders for
anything you wish."

"I have had everything. I will finish this Madeira--to your health--and
hope to meet you in the morning, as beautiful and as trustful as I see
you now,--_felice notte_." He bowed as he opened the door for her to
pass out, and she went, with a slight bend of the head and a faint
smile, and left him.

"How I could make you beat your wings against your cage, for all your
bravery, if I had only three days here, and cared to do it," said he, as
he poured the rest of the wine into his glass. "How weary I could make
you of this old house and its old owner. Within one month--one short
month--I 'd have you repeating as wise saws every sneer and every
sarcasm that you just now took fire at. And if I am to pass three days
in this dreary old dungeon, I don't see how I could do better. What can
he possibly want with me?" All the imaginable contingencies he could
conjure up now passed before his mind. That the old man was sick
of solitude, and wanted him to come and live with them; that he was
desirous of adopting one of the children, and which of them? then,
that he had held some correspondence with Fossbrooke, and wanted some
explanations,--a bitter pang, that racked and tortured him while he
revolved it; and, last of all, he came back to his first guess,--it was
about his will he had sent for him. He had been struck by the beauty
of the children, and asked their names and ages twice or thrice over;
doubtless he was bent on making some provision for them. "I wish I could
tell him that I'd rather have ten thousand down, than thrice the sum
settled on Reginald and the girls. I wish I could explain to him that
mine is a ready-money business, and that cash is the secret of success;
and I wish I could show him that no profits will stand the reverses of
loans raised at two hundred per cent! I wonder how the match went off
to-day; I'd like to have the odds that there were three men down at
the double rail and bank." Who got first over the brook, was his next
speculation, and where was Trafford? "If he punished Crescy, I think I
could tell _that_," muttered he, with a grin of malice. "I only wish I
was there to see it;" and in the delight this thought afforded he tossed
off his last glass of wine, and rang for his bedroom candle.

"At what time shall I call you, sir?" asked the butler.

"When are you stirring here,--I mean, at what hour does Sir William
breakfast?"

"He breakfasts at eight, sir, during term; but he does not expect to see
any one but Miss Lucy so early."

"I should think not. Call me at eleven, then, and bring me some coffee
and a glass of rum when you come. Do you mean to tell me," said he, in a
somewhat stern tone, "that the Chief Baron gets up at seven o'clock?"

"In term-time, sir, he does every day."

"Egad! I 'm well pleased that I have not a seat on the Bench. I 'd not
be Lord Chancellor at that price."

"It 's very hard on the servants, sir,--very hard indeed."

"I suppose it is," said Sewell, with a treacherous twinkle of the eye.

"If it was n't that I'm expecting the usher's place in the Court, I 'd
have resigned long ago."

"His Lordship's pleasant temper, however, makes up for everything,
Fenton, eh?"

"Yes, sir, that's true;" and they both laughed heartily at the pleasant
conceit; and in this merry humor they went their several ways to bed.



CHAPTER XXXII. MORNING AT THE PRIORY

Sewell was awoke from a sound and heavy sleep by the Chief Baron's valet
asking if it was his pleasure to see his Lordship before he went down to
Court, in which case there was not much time to be lost.

"How soon does he go?" asked Sewell, curtly.

"He likes to be on the Bench by eleven exactly, sir, and he has always
some business in Chamber first."

"All that tells me nothing, my good friend. How much time have I now to
catch him in before he starts?"

"Half an hour, sir. Forty minutes, at most."

"Well, I 'll try and do it. Say I 'm in my bath, and that I 'll be with
him immediately."

The man was not well out of the room when Sewell burst out into a
torrent of abuse of the old Judge and his ways: "His inordinate vanity,
his consummate conceit, to imagine that any activity of an old worn-out
intellect like his could be of service to the public! If he knew but
all, he is just as useful in his nightcap as in his wig, and it would
be fully as dignified to sleep in his bed as in the Court of Exchequer."
While he poured forth this invective, he dressed himself with all
possible haste; indeed his ill-temper stimulated his alacrity, and he
very soon issued from his room, trying to compose his features into a
semblance of pleasure on meeting with his host.

"I hope and trust I have not disturbed you unreasonably," said the
Judge, rising from the breakfast-table, as Sewell entered. "I know you
arrived very late, and I 'd have given you a longer sleep if it were in
my power."

"An old soldier, my Lord, knows how to manage with very little. I am
only sorry if I have kept you waiting."

"No man ever presumed to keep me waiting, sir. It is a slight I have yet
to experience."

"I mean, my Lord, it would have grieved me much had I occasioned you an
inconvenience."

"If you had, sir, it might have reacted injuriously upon yourself."

Sewell bowed submissively, for what he knew not; but he surmised that
as there was an opening for regret, there might also be a reason for
gratitude; he waited to see if he were right.

"My telegram only told you that I wanted you; it could not say for
what," continued the Judge; and his voice still retained the metallic
ring the late irritation had lent it.

"There has been a contested question between the Crown and myself as to
the patronage to an office in my Court. I have carried my point. They
have yielded. They would have me believe that they have submitted out
of deference to myself personally, my age, and long services. I know
better, sir. They have taken the opinion of the Solicitor-General in
England, who, with no flattering opinion of what is called 'Irish law,'
has pronounced against them. The gift of the office rests with me, and
it is my intention to confer it upon _you_."

"Oh, my Lord, I have no words to express my gratitude!"

"Very well, sir, it shall be assumed to have been expressed. The salary
is one thousand a year. The duties are almost nominal."

"I was going to ask, my Lord, whether my education and habits are such
as would enable me to discharge these duties?"

"I respect your conscientious scruple, sir. It is creditable and
commendable. Your mind may, however, be at ease. Your immediate
predecessor passed the last thirteen years at Tours, in France, and
there was never a complaint of official irregularity till, three
years ago, when he came over to afford his substitute a brief leave of
absence, he forgot to sign his name to certain documents,--a mistake the
less pardonable that his signature formed his whole and sole official
drudgery."

It was on Sewell's lips to say, "that if _he_ had not signed his name a
little too frequently in life, his difficulties would not have been such
as they now were."

"I am afraid I did not catch what you said, sir," said the Judge.

"I did not speak, my Lord," replied he, bowing.

"You will see, therefore, sir, that the details of your official life
need not deter you, although I have little doubt the Ministerial
press will comment sharply upon your absence, if you give them the
opportunity, and will reflect severely upon your unfitness, if they can
detect a flaw in you. Is there anything, therefore, in your former life
to which these writers can refer--I will not say disparagingly--but
unpleasantly?"

"I am not aware, my Lord, of anything."

"Of course, sir, I could not mean what might impugn your honor or
affect your fame. I spoke simply of what soldiers are, perhaps,
more exposed to than civilians,--the lighter scandals of society. You
apprehend me?"

"I do, my Lord; and, I repeat that I have a very easy conscience on
this score: for though I have filled some rather responsible stations at
times, and been intrusted with high functions, all my tastes and habits
have been so domestic and quiet--I have been so much more a man of home
than a man of pleasure--that I have escaped even the common passing
criticisms bestowed on people who are before the world."

"Is this man--this Sir Brook Fossbrooke--one likely to occasion you any
trouble?"

"In the first place, my Lord, he is out of the country, not very likely
to return to it; and secondly, it is not in his power--not in any man 's
power--to make me a subject for attack."

"You are fortunate, sir; more fortunate than men who have served their
country longer. It will scarcely be denied that I have contributed to
the public service, and yet, sir, _I_ have been arraigned before the
bar of that insensate jury they call Public Opinion, and it is only in
denying the jurisdiction I have deferred the award."

Sewell responded to the vainglorious outburst by a look of admiring
wonder, and the Judge smiled a gracious acceptance of the tribute. "I
gather, therefore, sir, that you can accept this place without fear of
what scandal or malignity may assail you by--"

"Yes, my Lord, I can say as much with confidence."

"It is necessary, sir, that I should be satisfied on this-head. The very
essence of the struggle between the Crown and myself is in the fact
that _my_ responsibility is pledged, _my_ reputation is in bond for the
integrity and the efficiency of this officer, and I will not leave to
some future biographer of the Irish Chief Barons of the Exchequer the
task of apology for one who was certainly not the least eminent of the
line."

"Your Lordship's high character shall not suffer through me," said
Sewell, bowing respectfully.

"The matter, then, is so far settled; perhaps, however, you would like
to consult your wife? She might be averse to your leaving the army."

"No, my Lord. She wishes--she has long wished it. We are both domestic
in our tastes, and we have always-been looking to the time when we could
live more for each other, and devote ourselves to the education of our
children."'

"Commendable and praiseworthy," said the Judge, with a half grunt,
as though he had heard something of this-same domesticity and
home-happiness, but that his own experiences scarcely corroborated the
report. "There are-certain steps you will have to take before leaving
the service; it may, then, be better to defer your public nomination to
this post till they be taken?"

This, which was said in question, Sewell answered at once, saying,
"There need be no delay on this score, my Lord; by this day week I shall
be free."

"On this day week, then, you shall be duly sworn in. Now, there is
another point--I throw it out simply as a suggestion--you will not
receive it as more if you are indisposed to it. It may be some time
before you can find a suitable house or be fully satisfied where to
settle down. There is ample room here; one entire wing is unoccupied.
May I beg to place it at your disposal?"

"Oh, my Lord, this is really too much kindness. You overwhelm me with
obligations. I have never heard of such generosity."

"Sir, it is not all generosity,--I reckon much on the value of your
society. Your companionable qualities are gifts I would secure by a
'retainer.'"

"In your society, my Lord, the benefits would be all on my side."

"There was a time, sir,--I may say it without boastful-ness,--men
thought me an agreeable companion. The three Chiefs, as we were called
from our separate Courts, were reputed to be able talkers. I am the sole
survivor; and it would be a gain to those who care to look back on the
really great days of Ireland, if some record should remain of a time
when there were giants in the land. I have myself some very curious
materials--masses of letters and such-like--which we may turn over some
winter's evening together."

Sewell professed his delight at such a prospect; and the Judge
then, suddenly bethinking himself of the hour,--it was already nigh
eleven,--arose. "Can I set you down anywhere? Are you for town?" asked
he.

"Yes, my Lord; I was about to pay my mother a visit."

"I 'll drop you there; perhaps you would convey a message from me,
and say how grateful I should feel if she would give us her company at
dinner,--say seven o'clock. I will just step up to say good-bye to my
granddaughter, and be with you immediately."

Sewell had not time to bethink him of all the strange events which a few
minutes had grouped around him, when the Chief Baron appeared, and they
set out.

As they drove along, their converse was most agreeable. Sewell's
attentive manner was an admirable stimulant, and the old Judge was
actually sorry to lose his companion, as the carriage stopped at Lady
Lendrick's door.

"What on earth brought you up, Dudley?" said she, as he entered the room
where she sat at breakfast.

"Let me have something to eat, and I 'll tell you," said he, seating
himself at table, and drawing towards him a dish of cutlets. "You may
imagine what an appetite I have when I tell you whose guest I am."

"Whose?"

"Your husband's."

"You! at the Priory! and how came that to pass?"

"I told you already I must eat before I talk. When I got downstairs this
morning, I found the old man just finishing his breakfast, and instead
of asking me to join him, he entertained me with the siege of Derry, and
some choice anecdotes of Lord Bristol and 'the Volunteers.' This coffee
is cold."

"Ring, and they 'll bring you some."

"If I am to take him as a type of Irish hospitality as well as Irish
agreeability, I must say I get rid of two delusions together."

"There 's the coffee. Will you have eggs?"

"Yes, and a rasher along with them. You can afford to be liberal with
the larder, mother, for I bring you an invitation to dine."

"At the Priory?"

"Yes; he said seven o'clock."

"Who dines there?"

"Himself and his granddaughter and I make the company, I believe."

"Then I shall not go. I never do go when there 's not a party."

"He's safer, I suppose, before people?"

"Just so. I could not trust to his temper under the temptation of a
family circle. But what Drought you to town?"

"He sent for me by telegraph; just, too, when I had the whole county
with me, and was booked to ride a match I had made with immense trouble.
I got his message,--'Come up immediately.' There was not the slightest
reason for haste, nor for the telegraph at all. The whole could have
been done by letter, and replied to at leisure, besides--"

"What was it, then?"

"It is a place he has given me,--a Registrarship of something in his
Court, that he has been fighting the Castle people about for eighteen
years, and to which Heaven knows if he has the right of appointment this
minute."

"What'sit worth?"

"A thousand a year net. There were pickings,--at least, the last man
made a good thing of them,--but there are to be no more. We are
to inaugurate, as the newspapers say, a reign of integrity and
incorruptibility."

"So much the better."

"So much the worse," say I. "My motto is, Full batta and plenty of loot;
and it's every man's motto, only that every man is not honest enough to
own it."

"And when are you to enter upon the duties of your office?"

"Immediately. I 'm to be sworn in--there's an oath, it seems--this day
week, and we 're to take up our abode at the Priory till we find a house
to suit us."

"At the Priory?"

"Yes. May I light a cigarette, mother: only one? He gave the invitation
most royally. A whole wing is to be at our disposal. He said nothing
about the cook or the wine-cellar, and these are the very ingredients I
want to secure."

She shook her head dubiously, but made no answer.

"You don't think, then, that he meant to have us as his guests?"

"I think it unlikely."

"How shall I find out? It's quite certain I 'll not go live under his
roof--which means his surveillance--without an adequate compensation. I
'll only consent to being bored by being fed."

"House-rent is something, however."

"Yes, mother, but not everything. That old man would be inquiring who
dined with me, how late he stayed, who came to supper, and what they did
afterwards. Now, if he take the whole charge of us, I 'll put up with a
great deal, because I could manage a little '_pied à terre_' somewhere
about Kingstown or Dalkey, and 'carry on' pleasantly enough. You
must find out his intentions, mother, before I commit myself to an
acceptance. You must, indeed."

"Take my advice, Dudley, and look out for a house at once. You 'll not
be in _his_ three weeks."

"I can submit to a great deal when it suits me, mother," said he, with a
derisive smile, and a look of intense treachery at the same time.

"I suppose you can," said she, nodding in assent. "How is she?"

"As usual," said he, with a shrug of the shoulders.

"And the children?"

"They are quite well. By the way, before I forget it, don't let the
Judge know that I have already sent in my papers to sell out. I want him
to believe that I do so now in consequence of his offer."

"It is not likely we shall soon meet, and I may not have an opportunity
of mentioning the matter."

"You 'll come to dinner to-day, won't you?"

"No."

"You ought, even out of gratitude on _my_ account. It would be only
commonly decent to thank him."

"I could n't."

"Couldn't what? Couldn't come, or couldn't thank him?"

"Could n't do either. You don't know, Dudley, that whenever our
intercourse rises above the common passing courtesies of mere
acquaintanceship, it is certain to end in a quarrel. We must never
condemn or approve. We must never venture upon an opinion, lest it lead
to a discussion, for discussion means a fight."

"Pleasant, certainly,--pleasant and amiable too!"

"It would be better, perhaps, that I had some of that happy disposition
of my son," said she, with a cutting tone, "and could submit to whatever
suited me."

He started as if he had seen something, and turning on her a look of
passionate anger, began: "Is it from _you_ that this should come?" Then
suddenly recollecting himself, he subdued his tone, and said: "We 'll
not do better by losing our tempers. Can you put me in the way to raise
a little money? I shall have the payment for my commission in about a
fortnight; but I want a couple of hundred pounds at once."

"It's not two months since you raised five hundred."

"I know it, and there 's the last of it. I left Lucy ten sovereigns
when I came away, and this twenty pounds is all that I now have in the
world."

"And all these fine dinners and grand entertainments that I have been
told of,--what was the meaning of them?"

"They were what the railway people call 'preliminary expenses,' mother.
Before one can get fellows to come to a house where there is play, there
must be a sort of easy style of good living established that all men
like: excellent dinners and good wine are the tame elephants, and
without them you 'll not get the wild ones into your 'compounds.'"

"And to tell me that this could pay!"

"Ay, and pay splendidly. If I had three thousand pounds in the world to
carry on with, I 'd see the old Judge and his rotten place at Jericho
before I 'd accept it. One needs a little capital, that's all. It's
just like blockade-running,--you must be able to lose three for one you
succeed with."

"I see nothing but ruin--disreputable ruin--in such a course."

"Come down and look at it, mother, and you 'll change your mind. You
'll own you never saw a better ordered society in your life,--the _beau
idéal_ of a nice country-house on a small scale. I admit our _chef_ is
not a Frenchman, and I have only one fellow out of livery; but the thing
is well done, I promise you. As for any serious play, you 'll never
hear of it--never suspect it--no more than a man turning over Leech's
sketches in a dentist's drawing-room suspects there's a fellow getting
his eye-tooth extracted in the next room."

"I disapprove of it all, Dudley. It is sure to end ill."

"For that matter, mother, so shall I! All I have asked from Fate this
many a year is a deferred sentence; a long day, my Lord,--a long day!"

"Tell Sir William I am sorry I can't dine at the Priory to-day. It is
one of my cruel headache-days. Say you found me looking very poorly.
It puts him in good-humor to hear it; and if you can get away in the
evening, come in to tea."

"You will think of this loan I want,--won't you?"

"I 'll think of it, but I don't know what good thinking will do." She
paused, and after a few minutes' silence, said, "If you really are
serious about taking up your abode at the Priory, you 'll have to get
rid of the granddaughter."

"We could marry her off easily enough."

"You might, and you mightn't. If she marry to Sir William's
satisfaction, he'll leave her all he has in the world."

"Egad, he must have a rare taste in a son-in-law if he likes the fellow
I 'll promote to the place."

"You seem to forget, Dudley, that the young lady has a will of her own.
She's a Lendrick too."

"With all my heart, mother. She 'll not be a match for Lucy."

"And would _she_--"

"Ay, would she," interrupted he, "if her pride as a woman--if her
jealousy was touched. I have made her do more than that when I wounded
her self-love!"

"You are a very amiable husband, I must say."

"We might be better, perhaps, mother; but I suspect we are pretty much
like our neighbors. And it's positive you won't come to dinner?"

"No! certainly not."

"Well, I 'll try and look in at tea-time. You 'll not forget what I
spoke of. I shall be in funds in less than three weeks."

She gave a little incredulous laugh as she said "Goodbye!" She had heard
of such pledges before, and knew well what faith to attach to them.



CHAPTER XXXIII. EVENING AT THE PRIORY

The Chief Baron brought his friend Haire back from Court to dine with
him. The table had been laid for five, and it was only when Sewell
entered the drawing-room that it was known Lady Lendrick had declined
the invitation. Sir William heard the apology to the end; he even waited
when Sewell concluded, to see if he desired to add anything more, but
nothing came.

"In that case," said he, at length, "we 'll order dinner." That his
irritation was extreme needed no close observation to detect, and the
bell-rope came down with the pull by which he summoned the servant.

The dinner proceeded drearily enough. None liked to adventure on a
remark which might lead to something unpleasant in discussion, and
little was spoken on any side. Sewell praised the mutton, and the
Chief Baron bowed stiffly. When Haire remarked that the pale sherry was
excellent, he dryly told the butler to "fill Mr. Haire's glass;" and
though Lucy, with more caution, was silent, she did not escape, for he
turned towards her and said, "We have not been favored with a word
from your lips, Miss Lendrick; I hope these neuralgic headaches are not
becoming a family affection."

"I am perfectly well, sir," said she, with a smile.

"It is Haire's fault, then," said the Judge, with one of his malicious
twinkles of the eye,--"all Haire's fault if we are dull. It is ever so
with wits, Colonel Sewell; they will not perform to empty benches."

"I don't know whom you call a wit," began Haire.

"My dear friend, the men of pleasantry and happy conceits must no more
deny the reputation that attaches to them than must a rich merchant
dishonor his bill; nor need a man resent more being called a Wit, than
being styled a Poet, a Painter, a Chief Baron, or"--here he waved his
hand towards Sewell, and bowing slightly, added--"a Chief Registrar to
the Court of Exchequer."

"Oh, have you got the appointment?" said Haire to the Colonel. "I am
heartily glad of it. I 'm delighted to know it has been given to one of
the family."

"As I said awhile ago," said the Judge, with a smile of deeper malice,
"these witty fellows spare nobody! At the very moment he praises the
sherry he disparages the host. Why should not this place be filled by
one of my family, Haire? I call upon you to show cause."

"There's no reason against it. I never said there was. Nay, I was far
from satisfied with you on the day you refused my prayer on behalf of
one belonging to you."

"Sir, you are travelling out of the record," said the Judge, angrily.

"I can only say," added Haire, "that I wish Colonel Sewell joy with all
my heart; and if he 'll allow me, I 'll do it in a bumper."

"'A reason fair to drink his health again!' That 's not the line. How
does it go, Lucy? Don't you remember the verse?"

"No, sir; I never heard it."

"'A reason fair,--a reason fair.' I declare I believe the newspapers are
right. I am losing my memory. One of the scurrilous rascals t'other day
said they saw no reason Justice should be deaf as well as blind. Haire,
was that yours?"

"A thousand a year," muttered Haire to Sewell.

"What is that, Haire?" cried the old Judge. "Do I hear you aright? You
utter one thousand things just as good every year?"

"I was speaking of the Registrar's salary," said Haire, half testily.

"A thousand a year is a pittance,--a mere pittance, sir, in a country
like England. It is like the place at a window to see a procession. You
may gaze on the passing tide of humanity, but must not dare to mix in
it."

"And yet papa went half across the globe for it," said Lucy, with a
flushed and burning cheek.

"In your father's profession the rewards are less money, Lucy, than the
esteem and regard of society. I have ever thought it wise of our rulers
not to bestow titles on physicians, but to leave them the unobtrusive
and undistinguished comforters of every class and condition. The equal
of any,--the companion of all."

It was evident that the old Judge was eager for discussion on anything.
He had tried in vain to provoke each of his guests, and he was almost
irritable at the deference accorded him.

"Do I see you pass the decanter, Colonel Sewell? Are you not drinking
any wine?"

"No, my Lord."

"Perhaps you like coffee? Don't you think, Lucy, you could give him
some?"

"Yes, sir. I shall be delighted."

"Very well. Haire and I will finish this magnum, and then join you in
the drawing-room."

Lucy took Sewells arm and retired. They were scarcely well out of the
room when Sewell halted suddenly, and in a voice so artificial that, if
Lucy had been given to suspectfulness, she would have detected at
once, said, "Is the Judge always as pleasant and as witty as we saw him
today?"

"To-day he was very far from himself; something, I 'm sure, must have
irritated him, for he was not in his usual mood."

"I confess I thought him charming; so full of neat reply, pleasant
apropos, and happy quotation."

"He very often has days of all that you have just said, and I am
delighted with them."

"What an immense gain to a young girl--of course, I mean one whose
education and tastes have fitted her for it--to be the companion of such
a mind as his! Who is this Mr. Haire?"

"A very old friend. I believe he was a schoolfellow of grandpapa's."

"Not his equal, I suspect, in ability or knowledge."

"Oh, nothing like it; a most worthy man, respected by every one, and
devotedly attached to grandpapa, but not clever."

"The Chief, I remarked, called him witty," said Sewell with a faint
twinkle in his eye.

"It was done in jest. He is fond of fathering on him the smart sayings
of the day, and watching his attempts to disown them."

"And Haire likes that?"

"I believe he likes grandpapa in every mood he has."

"What an invaluable friend! I wish to Heaven he could find such another
for me. I want--there 's nothing I want more than some one who would
always approve of me."

"Perhaps you might push this fidelity further than grandpapa does," said
she, with a smile.

"You mean that it might not always be so easy to applaud _me_."

She only laughed, and made no effort to disclaim the assertion.

"Well," said he, with a sigh, "who knows but if I live to be old and
rich I may be fortunate enough to have such an accommodating friend?
Who are the other 'intimates' here? I ask because we are going to be
domesticated also."

"I heard so this morning."

"I hope with pleasure, though you have n't said as much."

"With pleasure, certainly; but with more misgiving than pleasure."

"Pray explain this."

"Simply that the very quiet life we lead here would not be endurable by
people who like the world, and whom the world likes. We never see any
one, we never go out, we-have not even those second-hand glances at
society that people have who admit gossiping acquaintances; in fact,
regard what you have witnessed to-day as a dinner-party, and then
fashion for yourself our ordinary life."

"And do _you_ like it?"

"I know nothing else, and I am tolerably happy. If papa and Tom were
here, I should be perfectly happy."

"By Jove! you startle me," said he, throwing away the unlighted cigar
he had held for some minutes in his fingers; "I did n't know it was so
bad."

"It is possible he may relax for you and Mrs. Sewell; indeed, I think it
more than likely that he will."

"Ay, but the relaxation might only be in favor of a few more like that
old gent we had to-day. No, no; the thing will never work. I see it at
once. My mother said we could not possibly stand it three weeks, and I
perceive it is your opinion too."

"I did not say so much," said she, smiling.

"Joking apart," said he, in a tone that assuredly bespoke sincerity, "I
could n't stand such a dinner as we had to-day very often. I can bear
being bullied, for I was brought up to it. I served on Rolffe's staff in
Bombay for four years, and when a man has been an aide-de-camp he knows
what being bullied means; but what I could not endure is that outpouring
of conceit mingled with rotten recollections. Another evening of it
would kill me."

"I certainly would not advise your coming here at that price," said she,
with a gravity almost comical.

"The difficulty is how to get off. He appears to me to resent as an
affront everything that differs from his own views."

"He is not accustomed to much contradiction."

"Not to any at all!"

The energy with which he said this made her laugh heartily, and he half
smiled at the situation himself.

"They are coming upstairs," said she; "will you ring for tea?--the bell
is beside you."

"Oh, if they 're coming I 'm off. I promised my mother a short visit
this evening. Make my excuses if I am asked for;" and with this he
slipped from the room and went his way.

"Where's the Colonel, Lucy? Has he gone to bed?"

"No, sir, he has gone to see his mother; he had made some engagement to
visit her this evening."

"This new school of politeness is too liberal for my taste. When we were
young men, Haire, we would not have ventured to leave the house where we
had dined without saluting the host."

"I take it we must keep up with the spirit of our time." "You mistake,
Haire,--it is the spirit of our time is in arrear. It is that same
spirit lagging behind, and deserting the post it once occupied, makes
us seem in default. Let us have the cribbage-board, Lucy. Haire has said
all the smart things he means to give us this evening, and I will take
my revenge at the only game at which I am his master. Haire, who reads
men like a book, Lucy," continued the Chief, as he dealt the cards,
"says that our gallant friend will rebel against our humdrum life here.
I demur to the opinion,--what say you?" But he was now deep in his game,
and never heeded the answer.



CHAPTER XXXIV. SEWELL'S TROUBLES

"A letter for you by the post, sir, and his Lordship's compliments to
say he is waiting breakfast," were the first words which Sewell heard
the next morning.

"Waiting breakfast! Tell him not to wait,--I mean, make my respects to
his Lordship, and say I feel very poorly to-day,--that I think I 'll not
get up just yet."

"Would you like to see Dr. Beattie, sir? He's in the drawing-room."

"Nothing of the kind. It's a complaint I caught in India; I manage it
myself. Bring me up some coffee and rum in about an hour, and mind,
don't disturb me on any account till then. What an infernal house!"
muttered he, as the man withdrew. "A subaltern called up for morning
parade has a better life than this. Nine o'clock only! What can this old
ass mean by this pretended activity? Upon whom can it impose? Who will
believe that it signifies a rush whether he lay abed till noon or rose
by daybreak?" A gentle tap came to the door, but as he made no reply
there came after a pause another, a little louder. Sewell still
preserved silence, and at last the sound of retiring footsteps along the
corridor. "Not if I know it," muttered he to himself, as he turned round
and fell off asleep again.

"The coffee, sir, and a despatch; shall I sign the receipt for you?"
said the servant, as he reappeared about noon.

"Yes; open the window a little, and leave me."

Leaning on his arm, he tore open the envelope and glanced at the
signature,--"Lucy." He then read, "Send down Eccles or Beattie by next
train; he is worse." He read and re-read this at least half-a-dozen
times over before he bethought him of the letter that lay still unopened
on the bed.

He now broke the seal; it was also from his wife, dated the preceding
evening, and very brief:--

"Dear Dudley,--Captain Trafford has had a severe fall. Crescy balked
at the brook and fell afterwards. Trafford was struck on the head as he
rose by Mr. Creagh's horse. It is feared the skull is fractured. You
are much blamed for having asked him to ride a horse so much under his
weight. All have refused to accept their bets but Kinshela the grocer.
I have written to Sir H. Trafford, and I telegraphed to him Dr. Tobin's
opinion, which is not favorable. I suppose you will come back at once;
if not, telegraph what you advise to be done. Mr. Balfour is here still,
but I do not find he is of much use. The veterinary decided Crescy
should be shot, as the plate-bone, I think he called it, was
fractured; and as he was in great pain, I consented. I hope I have done
right.--Yours truly,

"Lucy Sewell."

"Here's a go! a horse I refused four hundred and fifty for on Tuesday
last! I _am_ a lucky dog, there 's no denying it. I did n't know there
was a man in Europe could have made that horse balk his fence. What
a rumpus to make about a fellow getting a 'cropper'! My share of the
disaster is a deuced deal the worst. I 'll never chance on such a horse
again. How am I to find either of these men?" muttered he, as he took up
the telegram. He rang the bell violently, and scarcely ceased to pull at
it till the servant entered.

"Where does Dr. Eccles live?"

"Sir Gilbert, sir?"

"Ay, if he be Sir Gilbert."

"Merrion Square, sir," said the man reproachfully, for he thought it
rather hard to ignore one of the great celebrities of the land.

"Take this note to him, that I 'll write now, and if he be from home go
to the other man,--what's his name?--Beattie."

"Dr. Beattie is coming to dinner to-day, sir," said the servant,
thinking to facilitate matters.

"Just do as I tell you, my good fellow, and don't interrupt. If I am to
take up my quarters here, you'll all of you have to change some of
your present habits." As he spoke, he dashed off a few hasty lines,
addressing them to Sir Gilbert Eccles or Dr. Beattie. "Ask if it's 'all
right;' that will be sufficient reply; and now send me my bath." As he
proceeded with his dressing,--a very lengthy affair it always was,--he
canvassed with himself whether or not he ought to take the train and
go down to the country with the doctor. Possibly few men in such
circumstances would have given the matter a doubt. The poor fellow who
had incurred the mishap had been, at his insistence, acting for him. Had
it not been for Se well's pressing this task upon him, Trafford would
at that moment have been hale and hearty. Sewell knew all this well; he
read the event just as nineteen out of every twenty would have read
it, but having done so, he proceeded to satisfy himself why all these
reasonings should give way to weightier considerations.

First of all, it would not be quite convenient to let the old Judge know
anything of these doings in the country. His strait-laced notions might
revolt at races and betting-rings. It might not be perhaps decorous that
a registrar of a high court should be the patron of such sports. These
were prudential reasons, which he dilated on for some time. Then came
some, others more sentimental. It was to a house of doctors and nurses
and gloom and sorrow he should go back. All these were to him peculiarly
distasteful. He should be tremendously "bored" by it all, and being
"bored" was to him whatever was least tolerable in life. It was strange
that there was one other reason stronger than all these,--a reason that
really touched him in what was the nearest thing in his nature to heart.
He couldn't go back and look at the empty loose-box where his favorite
horse once stood, and where he was never to stand more. Crescy the
animal he was so proud of,--the horse he counted on for who knows what
future triumphs,--the first steeplechase horse, he felt convinced, in
Ireland, if not in the kingdom,--such strength, such power in the loins,
such square joints, such courage, should he ever see united again? If
there was anything in that man's nature that represented affection, he
had it for this horse. He knew well to what advantage he looked when on
his back,--he knew what admiration and envy it drew upon him to see
him thus mounted. He had won him at billiards from a man who was half
broken-hearted at parting with him, and who offered immense terms rather
than lose him.

"He said I'd have no luck with him," muttered Sewell, now in his
misery,--"and, confound the fellow! he was right. No, I can't go back to
look at his empty stall. It would half kill me."

It was very real grief, all this; he was as thoroughly heart-sore as it
was possible for him to be. He sorrowed for what nothing in his future
life could replace to him; and this is a very deep sorrow.

Trafford's misfortune was so much the origin and cause of his own
disaster that he actually thought of him with bitterness. The man who
could make Crescy balk! What fate could be too hard for him?

Nor was he quite easy in his mind about that passage in his wife's
letter stating that men would not take their bets. Was this meant as
reflecting upon him? Was it a censure on him for making Trafford ride
a horse beneath his weight? "They get up some stupid cry of that sort,"
muttered he, "as if I am not the heaviest loser of all. I lost a horse
that was worth a score of Traffords."

When dressed, Sewell went down to the garden and lit his cigar. His
sorrow had grown calmer, and he began to think that in the new life
before him he should have had to give up horses and sport of every kind.
"I must make my book now on this old fellow, and get him to make me his
heir. He cares little for his son, and he can be made to care just as
little for his granddaughter. That's the only game open to me,--a dreary
life it promises to be, but it's better than a jail."

The great large wilderness of a garden, stretching away into an orchard
at the end, was in itself a place to suggest sombre thoughts,--so
silent and forsaken did it all appear. The fruit lay thick on the ground
uncared for; the artichokes, grown to the height of shrubs, looked
monsters of uncouthness; and even in the alleys flower-seeds had fallen
and given birth to flowers, which struggled up through the gravel and
hung their bright petals over the footway. There was in the neglect, the
silence, the un-cared-for luxuriance of the place, all that could make
a moody man moodier; and as he knocked off the great heads of the tall
hollyhocks, he thought, and even said aloud, "This is about as much
amusement as such a spot offers."

"Oh no, not so bad as that," said a laughing voice; and Lucy peeped over
a laurel-hedge with a rake in her hand, and seemed immensely amused at
his discomfiture.

[Illustration: 302]

"Where are you?--I mean, how is one to come near you?" said he, trying
to laugh, but not successfully.

"Go round yonder by the fish-pond, and you 'll find a wicket. This is
_my_ garden, and I till it myself."

"So!" said he, entering a neat little enclosure, with beds of flowers
and flowering shrubs, "this is your garden?"

"Yes,--what do you think of it?"

"It's very pretty,--it 's very nice. I should like it larger, perhaps."

"So would I; but, being my own gardener, I find it quite big enough."

"Why doesn't the Chief give you a gardener?--he's rich enough, surely."

"He never cared for gardening himself. Indeed, I think it is the wild
confusion of foliage here that he likes. He said to me one day, 'In _my_
old garden a man loses himself in thought. In this trimly kept place one
is ever occupied by the melon-frame or the forcing-house.'"

"That's the dreadful thing about old people; they are ever for making
the whims and crotchets of age the rules of life to others. I wonder you
bear this so well."

"I didn't know that I bore anything," said she, with a smile.

"That's true slave doctrine, I must say; and when one does not feel
bondage, there's no more to be said."

"I suspect I have a great deal more freedom than most girls; my time is
almost all my own, to dispose of as I will. I read, or play, or walk,
or work, as I feel inclined. If I wish to occupy myself with household
matters, I am the mistress here."

"In other words, you are free to do everything that is not worth
doing,--you lead the life of a nun in a convent, only that you have not
even a sister nun to talk to."

"And which are the things you say are worth doing?"

"Would you not care to go out into the world, to mix in society, to go
to balls, theatres, fêtes, and such-like? Would you not like to ride? I
don't mean it for flattery, but would you not, like the admiration you
would be sure to meet,--the sort of homage people render to beauty,
the ouly tribute the world ever paid freely,--are all these not worth
something?"

"I am sure they are: they are worth a great deal to those who can enjoy
them with a happy heart; but remember, Colonel Se well, I have a father
living in exile, simply to earn a livelihood, and I have a brother
toiling for his bread in a strange land: is it likely I could forget
these, or is it likely that I could carry such cares about with me, and
enjoy the pleasures you tell of?"

"Oh! as for that, I never met the man, nor woman either, that could
bring into the world a mind unburdened by care. You must take life as it
is. If I was to wait for a heart at ease before I went into society, I
'd have to decline a few dinner-parties. Your only chance of a little
respite, besides, is at your age. The misfortunes of life begin as a
little drizzle, but become a regular downpour when one gets to _my_ time
of life. Let me just tell you what this morning brought forth. A letter
and then a telegram from my wife, to tell me that my favorite horse--an
animal worth five hundred pounds if he was worth five shillings--the
truest, bravest, best horse I ever backed--has just been killed by a
stupid fellow I got to ride for me. What he did to make the horse refuse
his leap, what magic he used, what conjuring trick he performed, I can't
tell. With _me_ it was enough to show him his fence, and if I wanted it
I could n't have held him back. But this fellow--a dragoon, too, and the
crack rider of his regiment--contrives to discourage my poor beast, then
rushes him at the jump at half speed. I know it was a widish brook, and
they tumbled in, and my horse smashed his blade bone,--of course there
was nothing for it but to shoot him."

"How sad! I am really sorry for you."

"And all this came of the old Judge's message, the stupidity of sending
me five words in a telegram, instead of writing a proper note, and
saying what he wanted. But for that I 'd have stayed at home, ridden my
horse, won my match, and spared myself the whole disaster."

"Grandpapa is often very hasty in his decisions, but I believe he seldom
sees cause to revoke them."

"The old theory, 'The King can do no wrong,'" said Sewell, with a saucy
laugh; "but remember he can often do a deal of mischief incidentally, as
it were,--as on the present occasion."

"And the rider, what of him? Did he escape unhurt?" said she, eager to
avoid unpleasant discussion.

"The rider! my dear young lady," said he, with affected slowness,--"the
rider came to grief. What he did, or how he did it, to throw my poor
horse down, is his own secret, and, from what I hear, he is likely to
keep it. No, no, don't look so horrified,--he's not killed, but I don't
suspect he's a long way off it. He got a smashing fall at a fence I 'd
have backed myself to ride with my hands tied. Ay, and to have my good
horse back again, I 'd ride in that fashion to-morrow."

"And the poor fellow, where is he now?"

"The poor fellow is receiving the very sweetest of Mrs. Sewell's
attentions. He is at my house,--in all likelihood in my room,--not that
he is very conscious of all the favors bestowed upon him."

"Oh, don't talk with that pretended indifference! You must be, you
cannot help being, deeply sorry for what has happened."

"There can be very little doubt on that score. I've lost such a horse as
I never shall own again."

"Pray think of something beside your horse. Who was he? What's his
name?"

"A stranger,--an Englishman; you never heard of him; and I wish I had
never heard of him!"

"What are you smiling at?" said she, after a pause, for he stood as
though reflecting, and a very strange half-smile moved his mouth.

"I was just thinking," said he, gravely, "what his younger brother ought
to give me; for this fellow was an elder son, and heir to a fine estate
too."

She turned an indignant glance towards him, and moved away. He was
quickly after her, however, and, laying his hand on her arm, said
good-humoredly: "Come, don't be angry with me. I 'm sorry, if you
like,--I 'm very sorry for this poor fellow. I won't say that my own
loss does not dash my sorrow with a little anger,--he was such a horse!
and the whole thing was such a blunder! as fair a brook,--with a high
bank, it's true,--but as fair a fence as ever & man rode at, and ground
like this we 're walking over to take off from."

"Is he in danger?"

"I believe so; here's what my wife says. Oh, I haven't got the letter
about me, but it comes to this, I was to send down one of the best
doctors by the first train, telling him it was a case of compression
or concussion, which is it? And so I have despatched Beattie, your
grandfather's man. I suppose there 's no better?"

"But why have you not gone back yourself? He was a friend, was he not?"

"Yes, he was what people would call a friend. I 'm like the hare in the
fable, I have many friends; but if I must be confidential, I 'll tell
you why I did _not_ go. I had a notion, just as likely to be wrong
as right, that the Chief would take offence at his Registrar being a
sporting character, and that if I were to absent myself just now, he'd
find out the reason, whereas by staying here I could keep all quiet, and
when Beattie came back I could square _him_."

"You could what?"

"A thousand pardons for my bit of slang; but the fact is, just as one
talks French when he wants to say nothings, one takes to slang when one
requires to be shifty. I meant to say, I could manage to make the doctor
hold his tongue."

"Not if grandpapa were to question him."

Sewell smiled, and shook his head in dissent.

"No, no. You're quite mistaken in Dr. Beattie; and what's more, you 're
quite mistaken in grandpapa too, if you imagine that he 'll think the
better of you for forgetting the claims of friendship."

"There was none."

"Well, of humanity, then! It was in _your_ cause this man suffered, and
it is in _your_ house he lies ill. I think you ought to be there also."

"Do you think so?"

"I 'm sure of it. You know the world a great deal better than I do,
and you can tell what people will say of your absence; but I think it
requires no knowledge of more than one's own nature to feel what is
right and proper here."

"Indeed!" said he, reflectingly.

"Don't you agree with me?"

"Perhaps,--that is, in part. I suppose what you mean about the world is,
that there will be some scandal afloat, the 'young wife' story, and all
that sort of balderdash?"

"I really do not understand you."

"You don't?"

"No. Certainly not. What do you mean?"

"Possibly you did not understand me. Well, if I am to go, there 's no
time to be lost. It's four o'clock already, and the last train leaves at
five-forty. I will go."

"You are quite right."

"You 'll make my excuses to the Chief. You 'll tell him that my wife's
message was so alarming that I could not delay my departure. Beattie
will probably be back tomorrow, and bring you news of us."

"Won't you write a few lines?"

"I 'm not sure,--I 'll not promise. I'm a bad penman, but my wife will
write, I 've no doubt. Say all sorts of affectionate and dutiful things
to the Chief for me; tell him I went away in despair at not being able
to say good-bye; he likes that style of thing, does n't he?"

"I don't think he cares much for 'that style of thing,'" said she, with
a saucy smile.

"What a capital mimic you are! Do you know I am just beginning to
suspect that you are, for all your quiet simplicity of manner, a deuced
deep one. Am I right?"

She shook her head, but made no reply.

"Not that I 'd like you the less for it," said he, eagerly; "on the
contrary, we 'd understand each other all the better; there's nothing
like people talking the same language, eh?"

"I hope you'll not lose your train," said she, looking at her watch; "I
am half-past four."

"A broad hint," said he, laughing; "bye-bye,--_à bientôt_."



CHAPTER XXXV. BEATTIE'S RETURN

The old Chief sat alone in his dining-room over his wine. If somewhat
fatigued by the labors of the day,--for the Court had sat late,--he
showed little of exhaustion; still less was he, as his years might have
excused, drowsy or heavy. He sat bolt upright in his chair, and by an
occasional gesture of his hand, or motion of his head, seemed as though
he were giving assent to some statement he was listening to, or making
his comments on it as it proceeded.

The post had brought a letter to Lucy just as dinner was over. It bore
the post-mark "Cagliari," and was in her brother's hand; and the old
man, with considerate kindness, told her to go to her room and read it.
"No, my dear child," said he, as she arose to leave the room; "no! I
shall not be lonely,--where there is memory there are troops of friends.
Come back and tell me your news when you have read your letter."

More than an hour passed over, and he sat there heedless of time. A
whole long life was passing in review before him, not connectedly, or in
due sequence of events, but in detached scenes and incidents. Now it
was some stormy night in the old Irish House, when Flood and Grattan
exchanged their terrific denunciations and insults,--now it was a
brilliant dinner at Ponsonby's, with all the wits of the day,--now he
was leading the famous Kitty O'Dwyer, the beauty of the Irish Court, to
her carriage, amid such a murmur of admiration as made the progress a
triumph; or, again, it was a raw morning of November, and he was driving
across the park to be present at Curran's meeting with Egan.

A violent ring of the hall bell startled him, and before he could
inquire the cause a servant had announced Dr. Beattie.

"I thought I might be fortunate enough to catch you before bed-hour,"
said the doctor, "and I knew you would like to hear some tidings of my
mission."

"You have been to--Where have you been?" said the old Judge, embarrassed
between the late flood of his recollections and the sudden start of his
arrival.

"To Killaloe, to see that poor fellow who had the severe fall in the
hurdle-race."

"Ay--to be sure--yes. I remember all now. Give me a moment, however." He
nodded his head twice or thrice, as if concurring with some statement,
and then said, "Go on, sir; the Court is with you."

Beattie proceeded to detail the accident and the state of the
sufferer,--of whom he pronounced favorably,--saying that there was no
fracture, nor anything worse than severe concussion. "In fact," said he,
"were it an hospital case, I'd say there was very little danger."

"And do you mean to tell me, sir," said the Judge, who had followed the
narrative with extreme attention, "that the man of birth and blood must
succumb in any conflict more readily than the low-born?"

"It's not the individual I was thinking of, so much as his belongings
here. What I fear for in the present case is what the patient must
confront every day of his convalescence."

Seeing that the Judge waited for some explanation, Beattie began to
relate that, as he had started from Dublin the day before, he found
himself in the same carriage with the young man's mother, who had been
summoned by telegraph to her son's bedside.

"I have met," said he, "in my time, nearly all sorts and conditions
of people. Indeed, a doctor's life brings him into contact with more
maladies of nature and temperament than diseases of material origin;
but anything like this woman I never saw before. To begin: she combined
within herself two qualities that seem opposed to each other,--a most
lavish candor on the score of herself and her family, and an intense
distrust of all the rest of mankind. She told me she was a baronet's
wife; how she had married him; where they lived; what his estate was
worth; how this young fellow had become, by the death of a brother, the
heir to the property; and how his father, indignant at his extravagance,
had disentailed the estate, to leave it to a younger son if so disposed.
She showed at times the very greatest anxiety about her son's state; but
at other moments just as intense an eagerness to learn what schemes and
intrigues were being formed against him,--who were the people in whose
house he then was, what they were, and how he came there. To all my
assurances that they were persons in every respect her son's equals,
she answered by a toss of the head or a saucy half-laugh. 'Irish?' asked
she. 'Yes, Irish.' 'I thought so,' rejoined she; 'I told Sir Hugh I
was sure of it, though he said there were English Sewells.' From this
instant her distrust broke forth. All Ireland had been in a conspiracy
against her family for years. She had a brother, she said it with a
shiver of horror, who was cruelly beaten by an attorney in Cork for a
little passing pleasantry to the man's sister; he had kissed her, or
something of the kind, in a railroad carriage; and her cousin,--poor
dear Cornwall is Merivale,--it was in Ireland he found that creature
that got the divorce against him two years since. She went on to say
that there had been a plot against her son, in the very neighborhood
where he now lay ill, only a year ago,--some intrigue to involve him in
a marriage, the whole details of which she threatened me with the first
time we should be alone.

"Though at some moments expressing herself in terms of real affection
and anxiety about her poor son, she would suddenly break off to
speculate on what might happen from his death. 'You know, doctor, there
is only one more boy, and if his life lapsed, Holt and the Holt estate
goes to the Carringtons.'"

"An odious woman, sir,--a most odious woman; I only wonder why you
continued to travel in the same carriage with her."

"My profession teaches great tolerance," said the doctor, mildly.

"Don't call tolerance, sir, what there is a better word
for,--subserviency. I am amazed how you endured this woman."

"Remember--it is to'be remembered--that in my version of her I have
condensed the conversation of some hours, and given you, as it were, the
substance of much talking; and also that I have not attempted to convey
what certainly was a very perfect manner. She had no small share of
good looks, a very sweet voice, and considerable attraction in point of
breeding."

"I will accept none of these as alleviations, sir; her blandishments
cannot blind the Court."

"I will not deny their influence upon myself," said Beattie, gently.

"I can understand you, sir," said the Judge, pompously. "The habits of
your profession teach you to swallow so much that is nauseous in a sweet
vehicle, that you carry the same custom into morals."

Beattie laughed so heartily at the analogy that the old man's good-humor
returned to him, and he bade him continue his narrative.

"I have not much more to tell. We reached the house by about eleven
o'clock at night, and my fellow-traveller sat in the carriage till I
announced her to Mrs. Sewell. My own cares called me to the sick-room,
and I saw no more of the ladies till this morning, just before I came
away."

"She is, then, domesticated there? She has taken up her quarters at the
Sewells' house?"

"Yes. I found her maid, too, had taken possession of Colonel Sewell's
dressing-room, and dispossessed a number of his chattels to make room
for her own."

"It is a happy thing, a very happy thing for me, that I have not been
tried by these ordeals," said the Judge, with a long-drawn breath. "I
wonder how Colonel Sewell will endure it."

"I have no means of knowing; he arrived late at night, and was still in
bed and asleep when I left."

"You have not told me these people's name?"

"Trafford,--Sir Hugh Beecham Trafford, of Holt-Trafford, Staffordshire."

"I have met the man, or rather his father, for it was nigh fifty years
ago,--an old family, and of Saxon origin; and his wife,--who was she?"

"Her name was Merivale. Her father, I think, was Governor of Madras."

"If so, sir, she has hereditary claims for impertinence and presumption.
Sir Ulysses Merivale enjoyed the proud distinction of being the most
insolent man in England. It is well that you have told me who she was,
Beattie, for I might have made a very fatal blunder. I was going to
write to Sewell to say, 'As this is a great issue, I would advise you
to bring down your mother, "special,"' but I recall my intention. Lady
Lendrick would have no chance against Lady Trafford. Irish insolence has
not the finish of the English article, and we put an alloy of feeling in
it that destroys it altogether. Will the young man recover?"

"He is going on favorably, and I see nothing to apprehend, except,
indeed, that the indiscretions of his mother may prejudice his case. She
is very likely to insist on removing him; she hinted it to me as I took
my leave."

"I will write to the Sewells to come up here at once. They shall
evacuate the territory, and leave her in possession. As persons closely
connected with my family, they must not have this outrage put upon
them." He rang the bell violently, and desired the servant to request
Miss Lendrick to come to him.

"She is not very well, my Lord, and has gone to her room. She told Mrs.
Beales to serve your Lordship's tea when you were ready for it."

"What is this? What does all this mean?" said the old Judge, eagerly;
for the idea of any one presuming to be ill without duly apprising
him--without the preliminary step of ascertaining that it could not
inconvenience him--was more than he was fully prepared for.

"Tell Mrs. Beales I want her," said he, as he rose and left the room.
Muttering angrily as he went, he ascended the stairs and traversed the
long corridor which led to Lucy's room; but before he had reached the
door the housekeeper was at his side.

"Miss Lucy said she 'd like to see your Lordship, if it was n't too much
trouble, my Lord."

"I am going to see her. Ask her if I may come in."

"Yes, my Lord," said Mrs. Beales from the open door. "She is awake."

"My own dear grandpapa," said Lucy, stretching out her arms to him from
her bed, "how good and kind of you to come here!"

"My dear, dear child," said he, fondly; "tell me you are not ill; tell
me that it is a mere passing indisposition."

"Not even so much, grandpapa. It is simply a headache. I was crying, and
I was ashamed that you should see it; and I walked out into the air; and
I came back again, trying to look at ease; and my head began to throb
and to pain me so that I thought it best to go to bed. It was a letter I
got,--a letter from Cagliari. Poor Tom has had the terrible fever of
the island. He said nothing about it at first, but now he has relapsed.
There are only three lines in his own hand,--the rest is from his
friend. You shall see what he says. It is very short, and not very hard
to read."

The old man put on his spectacles and read:--

"'My very dear Lucy.'

"Who presumes to address you in this way? 'Brook Fossbrooke?' What! is
this the man who is called Sir Brook Fossbrooke? By what means have you
become so intimate with a person of his character?"

"I know nothing better, nothing more truly noble and generous, than his
character," said she, holding her temples as she spoke, for the pain of'
her head was almost agony. "Do read on,--read on, dearest grandpapa."

He turned again to the letter, and read it over in silence till he came
to the few words in Tom's hand, which he read aloud: "Darling Lu--I
shall be all right in a week. Don't fret, but write me a long--long"--he
had forgotten the word "letter,"--"and love me always."

She burst into tears, as the old man read the words, for by some strange
magic, the syllables of deep affection, uttered by one unmoved, smite
the heart with a pang that is actual torture.

"I will take this letter down to Beattie, Lucy, and hear what he says of
it," said the old man, and left the room.

"Read this, Beattie, and tell me what you say to it," said the Chief
Baron, as he handed the doctor Sir Brook's letter; "I'll tell you of the
writer when you have read it."

Beattie read the note in silence, and as he laid it on the table said,
"I know the man, and his strange old-fashioned writing would have
recalled him without his name."

"And what do you know of him, sir?" asked the Judge, sternly.

"I can tell you the story in three words: He came to consult me one
morning, about six or eight months ago. It was about an insurance on his
life,--a very small sum he wanted to raise, to go out to this very place
he writes from. He got to talk about the project, and I don't exactly
know how it came about,--I forget the details now,--but it ended by my
lending him the money myself."

"What, sir! do you combine usury with physic?"

"On that occasion I appear to have done so," said Beattie, laughing.

"And you advanced a sum of money to a man whom you saw for the first
time, simply on his showing that his life was too insecure to guarantee
repayment?"

"That puts the matter a little too nakedly."

"It puts it truthfully, sir, I apprehend."

"If you mean that the man impressed me so favorably that I was disposed
to do him a small service, you are right."

"You and I, Beattie, are too old for this impulsive generosity,--too old
by thirty years! After forty philanthropy should take a chronic form,
and never have paroxysms. I think I am correct in my medical language."

"Your medicine pleases me more than your morality," said Beattie,
laughing; "but to come back to this Sir Brook, I wish you had seen him."

"Sir, I have seen him, and I have heard of him, and if not at liberty
to say what I have heard of him, it is quite enough to state that _my_
information cannot corroborate _your_ opinion."

"Well, my Lord, the possibility of what I might hear will not shake the
stability of what I have seen. Remember that we doctors imagine we read
human nature by stronger spectacles than the laity generally."

"You imagine it, I am aware, sir; but I have met with no such instances
of acuteness amongst your co-professionals as would sustain the claim;
but why are we wandering from the record? I gave you that letter to read
that you might tell me, is this boy's case a dangerous one?"

"It is a very grave case, no doubt; this is the malaria fever of
Sardinia,--bad enough with the natives, but worse with strangers. He
should be removed to better air at once if he could bear removal."

"So is it ever with your art," said the Judge, in a loud declamatory
voice. "You know nothing in your difficulties but a piteous entreaty to
the unknown resources of nature to assist you. No, sir; I will not
hear your defence; there is no issue before the Court. What sort of
practitioners have they in this island?"

"Rude enough, I can believe."

"Could a man of eminence be found to go out there and see him?"

"A man in large practice could not spare the time; but there are men of
ability who are not yet in high repute: one of these might be possibly
induced."

"And what might the expense be?"

"A couple of hundred--say three hundred pounds, would perhaps suffice."

"Go upstairs and see my granddaughter. She is very nervous and feverish;
calm her mind so far as you are able; say that we are concerting
measures for her brother's benefit; and by the time you shall come down
again I will have made up my mind what to do."

Beattie was a valued friend of Lucy's, and she was glad to see him enter
her room, but she would not suffer him to speak of herself; it was
of poor Tom alone she would talk. She heard with delight the generous
intentions of her grandfather, and exclaimed with rapture,--"This is his
real nature, and yet it is only by the little foibles of his temper that
the world knows him; but we, doctor,--we, who see him as he is, know how
noble-hearted and affectionate he can be!"

"I must hasten back to him," said Beattie, after a short space; "for
should he decide on sending out a doctor, I must lose no time, as I must
return to see this young fellow at Killaloe to-morrow."

"Oh, in my greater anxieties I forgot him! How is he,--can he recover?"

"Yes, I regard him as out of danger,--that is, if Lady Trafford can be
persuaded not to talk him into a relapse."

"Lady Trafford! who is she?"

"His mother; she arrived last night."

"And his name is Trafford, and his Christian name Lionel?"

"Lionel Wentworth Trafford. I took it from his dressing-case when I
prescribed for him."

Lucy had been leaning on her arm as she spoke, but she now sank slowly
backward and fainted.

It was a long time before consciousness came back, and even then she
lay voiceless and motionless, and, though she heard what Beattie said
to her, unable to speak to him, or intimate by a gesture that she heard
him.

The doctor needed no confidences,--he read the whole story. There are
expressions in the human face which have no reference to physical ills;
nor are there any indications of bodily suffering. He who asked, "Canst
thou minister to a mind diseased?" knew how hopeless was his question;
and this very despair it is--this sense of an affliction beyond the
reach of art--gives a character to the expression which the doctor's eye
never fails to discriminate from the look worn by mere malady.

As she lay there motionless, her large eyes looking at him with that
expression in which eagerness struggles against debility, he saw how he
had become her confidant.

"Come, my dear child," said he, taking her hand between both his own,
"you have no occasion for fears on this score,--so far I assure you on
my honor."

She gave his hand a slight, a very slight pressure, and tried to say
something, but could not. "I will go down now, and see what is to be
done about your brother." She nodded, and he continued: "I will pay you
another visit to-morrow early, before I leave town, and let me find
you strong and hearty; and remember that though I force no confidences,
Lucy, I will not refuse them if you offer."

"I have none, sir,--none," said she, in a voice of deep melancholy.

"So that I know all that is to be known?" asked he.

"All, sir," said she, with a trembling lip.

"Well, accept me as a friend whom you may trust, my dear Lucy. If you
want me, I will not fail you; and if you have no need of me, there is
nothing that has passed to-day between us ever to be remembered,--you
understand me?"

"I do, sir. You will come to-morrow, won't you?"

He nodded assent, and left her.



CHAPTER XXXVI. AN EXIT

Colonel Sewell stood at the window of a small drawing-room he
called "his own," watching the details of loading a very cumbrous
travelling-carriage which was drawn up before the door. Though the
postilions were in the saddle, and all ready for a start, the process of
putting up the luggage went on but slowly,--now a heavy imperial
would be carried out, and after a while taken in again; dressing-boxes
carefully stowed away would be disinterred to be searched for some
missing article; bags, baskets, and boxes of every shape and sort came
and went and came again; and although the two footmen who assisted these
operations showed in various ways what length of training had taught
them to submit to in the way of worry and caprice, the smart "maid," who
now and then appeared to give some order, displayed most unmistakable
signs of ill-humor on her face. "Drat those dogs! I wish they were down
the river!" cried she, of two yelping, barking Maltese terriers, which,
with small bells jingling on their collars, made an uproar that was
perfectly deafening.

"Well, Miss Morris, if it would oblige _you_--" said one of the tall
footmen, as he caressed his whisker, and gave a very languishing
look, more than enough, he thought, to supply the words wanting to his
sentence.

"It would oblige _me_ very much, Mr. George, to get away out of this
horrid place. I never did--no, never--in all my life pass such a ten
days."

"We ain't a-going just yet, after all," said footman number two, with a
faint yawn.

"It's so like you, Mr. Breggis, to say something disagreeable," said
she, with a toss of her head.

"It's because it's true I say it, not because it's onpleasant, Miss
Caroline."

"I'm not Miss Caroline, at least from you, Mr. Breggis."

"Ain't she haughty,--ain't she fierce?" But his colleague would not
assent to this judgment, and looked at her with a longing admiration.

"There's her bell again," cried the girl; "as sure as I live, she's rung
forty times this morning;" and she hurried back to the house.

"Why do you think we're not off yet?" asked George.

"It's the way I heerd her talking that shows me," replied the other.
"Whenever she 's really about to leave a place she goes into them fits
of laughing and crying and screaming one minute, and a-whimpering the
next; and then she tells the people--as it were, unknownst to her--how
she hated them all,--how stingy they was,--the shameful way they starved
the servants, and such-like. There's some as won't let her into their
houses by reason of them fits, for she'll plump out everything she knows
of a family,--who ran away with the Misses, and why the second daughter
went over to France."

"You know her better than me, Breggis."

"I do think I does; it's eight years I 've had of it. Eh, what's
that,--was n't that a screech?" and as he spoke a wild shrill scream
resounded through the house, followed by a rapid succession of notes
that might either have been laughter or crying.

Sewell drew the curtain; and wheeling an arm-chair to the fireside, lit
his cigar, and began to smoke.

The house was so small that the noises could be heard easily in every
part of it; and for a time the rapid passage of persons overhead, and
the voices of many speaking together, could be detected, and, above
these, a wild shriek would now and then rise above all, and ring through
the house. Sewell smoked on undisturbed; it was not easy to say that he
so much as heard these sounds. His indolent attitude, and his seeming
enjoyment of his cigar, indicated perfect composure; nor even when the
door opened, and his wife entered the room, did he turn his head to see
who it was.

"Can William have the pony to go into town?" asked she, in a
half-submissive voice.

"For what?"

"To tell Dr. Tobin to come out; Lady Trafford is taken ill."

"He can go on foot; I may want the pony."

"She is alarmingly ill, I fear,--very violent spasms; and I don't think
there is any time to be lost."

"Nobody that makes such a row as that can be in any real danger."

"She is in great pain, at all events."

"Send one of her own people,--despatch one of the postboys,--do what you
like, only don't bore _me_."

She was turning to leave the room, when he called out, "I say, when the
attack came on did she take the opportunity to tell you any pleasant
little facts about yourself or your family?" She smiled faintly, and
moved towards the door. "Can't you tell me, ma'am? Has this woman been
condoling with you over your hard fate and your bad husband? or has she
discovered how that 'dear boy' upstairs broke his head as well as his
heart in your service?"

"She did ask me certainly if there was n't a great friendship between
you and her son," said she, with a tone of quiet disdain.

"And what did you reply?" said he, throwing one leg over the arm of the
chair as he swung round to face her.

"I don't well remember. I may have said _you_ liked _him_, or that _he_
liked _you_. It was such a commonplace reply I made, I forget it."

"And was that all that passed on the subject?"

"I think I'd better send for the doctor," said she, and left the room
before he could stop her, though that such was his intention was evident
from the way he arose from his chair with a sudden spring.

"You shall hear more of this, Madam,--by Heaven, you shall!" muttered
he, as he paced the room with rapid steps. "Who's that? Come in," cried
he, as a knock came to the door. "Oh, Balfour! is it you?"

"Yes; what the deuce is going on upstairs? Lady Trafford appears to have
gone mad."

"Indeed! how unpleasant!"

"Very unpleasant for your wife, I take it. She has been saying all sorts
of unmannerly things to her this last hour,--things that, if she were
n't out of her reason, she ought to be thrown out of the window for."

"And why didn't you do so?"

"It was a liberty I couldn't think of taking in another man's house."

"Lord love you, I'd have thought nothing of it! I'm the best-natured
fellow breathing. What was it she said?"

"I don't know how I can repeat them."

"Oh, I see, they reflect on me. My dear young friend, when you live to
my age you will learn that anything can be said to anybody, provided it
only be done by 'the third party.' Whatever the law rejects as evidence,
assumes in social life the value of friendly admonition. Go on, and tell
me who it is is in love with my wife."

Cool as Mr. Cholmondely Balfour was, the tone of this demand staggered
him.

"Art thou the man, Balfour?" said Sewell at last, staring at him with a
mock frown.

"No, by Jove! I never presumed that far."

"It's the sick fellow, then, is the culprit?"

"So his mother opines. She is an awful woman! I was sitting with your
wife in the small drawing-room when she burst into the room and cried
out, 'Mrs. Sewell, is your name Lucy? for, if so, my son has been
rambling on about you this last hour in a wonderful way: he has told me
about fifty times that he wants to see you before he dies; and now that
the doctor says he is out of danger he never ceases talking of dying.
I suppose you have no objection to the interview; at least they tell me
you were constantly in his room before my arrival."

"How did my wife take this?--what did she say?" asked Sewell, with an
easy smile as he spoke.

"She said something about agitation or anxiety serving to excuse conduct
which otherwise would be unpardonable; and she asked me to send her maid
to her,--as I think, to get me away."

"Of course you rang the bell and sat down again."

"No; she gave me a look that said, I don't want you here, and I went;
but the storm broke out again as I closed the door, and I heard Lady
Trafford's voice raised to a scream as I came downstairs."

"It all shows what I have said over and over again," said Sewell,
slowly, "that whenever a man has a grudge or a grievance against a
woman, he ought always to get another woman to torture her. I 'll lay
you fifty pounds Lady Traf-ford cut deeper into my wife's flesh by
her two or three impertinences than if I had stormed myself into an
apoplexy."

"And don't you mean to turn her out of the house?"

"Turn whom out?"

"Lady Trafford, of course."

"It's not so easily done, I suspect. I'll take to the long-boat myself
one of these days, and leave her in command of the ship."

"I tell you she's a dangerous, a very dangerous woman; she has
been ransacking her son's desk, and has come upon all sorts of ugly
memoranda,--sums lost at play, and reminders to meet bills, and
such-like."

"Yes; he was very unlucky of late," said Sewell, coldly.

"And there was something like a will, too; at least there was a packet
of trinkets tied up in a paper, which purported to be a will, but only
bore the name Lucy."

"How delicate! there's something touching in that, Balfour; isn't
there?" said Sewell, with a grin. "How wonderfully you seem to have got
up the case! You know the whole story. How did you manage it?"

"My fellow Paxley had it from Lady Trafford's maid. She told him that
her mistress was determined to show all her son's papers to the Chief
Baron, and blow you sky high."

"That's awkward, certainly," said Sewell, in deep thought. "It would be
a devil of a conflagration if two such combustibles came together. I 'd
rather she 'd fight it out with my mother."

"Have you sent in your papers to the Horse Guards?"

"Yes; it's all finished. I am gazetted out, or I shall be on Tuesday."

"I'm sorry for it. Not that it signifies much as to this registrarship.
We never intended to relinquish our right to it, we mean to throw the
case into Chancery, and we have one issue already to submit to trial at
bar."

"Who are _we_ that are going to do all this?"

"The Crown," said Balfour, haughtily.

"_Ego et rex meus_; that's the style, is it? Come now, Balfy, if you 're
for a bet, I 'll back my horse, the Chief Baron, against the field. Give
me sporting odds, for he 's aged, and must run in bandages besides."

"That woman's coming here at this moment was most unlucky."

"Of course it was; it would n't be _my_ lot if it were anything else.
I say," cried he, starting up, and approaching the window, "what's up
now?"

"She's going at last, I really believe."

The sound of many and heavy footsteps was now heard descending the
stairs slowly, and immediately after two men issued from the door,
carrying young Trafford on a chair; his arms hung listlessly at his
side, and his head was supported by his servant.

"I wonder whose doing is this? Has the doctor given his concurrence to
it? How are they to get him into the coach, and what are they to do with
him when he is there?" Such was the running commentary Balfour kept
up all the time they were engaged in depositing the sick man in the
carriage. Again a long pause of inaction ensued, and at last a tap came
to the door of the room, and a servant inquired for Mr. Balfour.

"There!" cried Sewell, "it's _your_ turn now. I only hope she 'll insist
on your accompanying her to town."

Balfour hurried out, and was seen soon afterwards escorting Lady
Trafford to the carriage. Whether it was that she was not yet decided
as to her departure, or that she had so many injunctions to give before
going, the eventful moment was long delayed. She twice tried the seat in
the carriage, once with cushions and then without. She next made Balfour
try whether it might not be possible to have a sort of inclined plane to
lie upon. At length she seemed overcome with her exertions, sent for
a chair, and had a glass of water given her, to which her maid added
certain drops from a phial.

"You will tell Colonel Sewell all I have said, Mr. Balfour," said she,
aloud, as she prepared to enter the carriage. "It would have been more
agreeable to me had he given me the opportunity of saying it to himself,
but his peculiar notions on the duties of a host have prevented this. As
to Mrs. Sewell, I hope and believe I have sufficiently explained myself.
She at least knows my sentiments as to what goes on in this house. Of
course, sir, it is very agreeable to _you_. Men of pleasure are not
persons to be overburdened with scruples,--least of all such scruples as
interfere with self-indulgence. This sort of life is therefore charming;
I leave you to all its delights, sir, and do not even warn you against
its dangers. I will not promise the same discretion, however, when I go
hence. I owe it to all mothers who have sons, Mr. Balfour,--I owe it to
every family in which there is a name to be transmitted, and a fortune
to be handed down, to declare what I have witnessed under this roof. No,
Lionel,--no, my dear boy; nothing shall prevent my speaking out." This
was addressed to her son, who by a deep sigh seemed to protest against
the sentiments he was not able to oppose. "It may suit Mr. Balfour's
habits, or his tastes, to remain here,--with these I have nothing to do.
The Duke of Bayswater might possibly think his heir could keep better
company,--with that I have no concern; though when the matter comes to
be discussed before me,--as it one day will, I have no doubt,--I shall
hold myself free to state my opinion. Good-bye, sir; you will, perhaps,
do me the favor to call at the Bilton; I shall remain till Saturday
there; I have resolved not to leave Ireland till I see the Viceroy; and
also have a meeting with this Judge, I forget his name, Lam--Lena--what
is it? He is the Chief something, and easily found."

A few very energetic words, uttered so low as to be inaudible to all but
Balfour himself, closed this address.

"On my word of honor,--on my sacred word of honor,--Mr. Balfour," said
she, aloud as she placed one foot on the step, "Caroline saw it,--saw
it with her own eyes. Don't forget all I have said; don't drop that
envelope; be sure you come to see me." And she was gone.

"Give me five minutes to recover myself," said Balfour, as he entered Se
well's room, and threw himself on a sofa; "such a 'breather' as that I
have not had for many a day."

"I heard a good deal of it," said Sewell, coolly. "She screams,
particularly when she means to be confidential; and all that about my
wife must have reached the gardener in the shrubbery. Where is she off
to?"

"To Dublin. She means to see his Excellency and the Chief Baron; she
says she can't leave Ireland till she has unmasked all your wickedness."

"She had better take a house on a lease then; did you tell her so?"

"I did nothing but listen,--I never interposed a word. Indeed, she won't
let one speak."

"I 'd give ten pounds to see her with the Chief Baron. It would be such
a 'close thing.' All his neat sparring would go for nothing against her;
for though she hits wide, she can stand a deal of punishment without
feeling it."

"She 'll do you mischief there."

"She might," said he, more thoughtfully. "I think I 'll set my mother at
her; not that she 'll have a chance, but just for the fun of the thing.
What 's the letter in your hand?"

"Oh, a commission she gave me. I was to distribute this amongst your
household;" and he drew forth a banknote. "Twenty pounds! you have no
objection to it, have you?"

"I know nothing about it; of course you never hinted such a thing to
me;" and with this he arose and left the room.



CHAPTER XXXVII. A STORMY MOMENT

Within a week after the first letter came a second from Cagliari. It was
but half a dozen lines from Tom himself.

"They are sending me off to a place called Maddalena, dearest Lucy, for
change of air The priest has given me his house, and I am to be Robinson
Crusoe there, with an old hag for Friday,--how I wish for you! Sir Brook
can only come over to me occasionally. Look out for three rocks--they
call them islands--off the N. E. of Sardinia; one of them is mine.--Ever
your own,

"Tom L."

Lucy hastened down with this letter in her hand to her grandfather's
room, but met Mr. Haire on the stairs, who whispered in her ear, "Don't
go in just yet, my dear; he is out of sorts this morning; Lady Lendrick
has been here, and a number of unpleasant letters have arrived, and it
is better not to disturb him further."

"Will you take this note," said she, "and give it to him at any fitting
moment? I want to know what I shall reply,--I mean, I 'd like to hear if
grandpapa has any kind message to send the poor fellow."

"Leave it with me. I 'll take charge of it, and come up to tell you when
you can see the Judge." Thus saying, he passed on, and entered the room
where the Chief Baron was sitting. The curtains were closely drawn, and
in one of the windows the shutters were closed,--so sensitive to light
was the old man in his periods of excitement. He lay back in a deep
chair, his eyes closed, his face slightly flushed, breathing heavily,
and the fingers of one hand twitching slightly at moments; the other was
held by Beattie, as he counted the pulse. "Dip that handkerchief in the
cold lotion, and lay it over his forehead," whispered Beattie to Haire.

"Speak out, sir; that muttering jars on my nerves, and irritates me,"
said the Judge, in a slow firm tone.

"Come," said Beattie, cheerfully, "you are better now; the weakness has
passed off."

"There is no weakness in the case, sir," said the old man, sitting bolt
upright in the chair, as he grasped and supported himself by the arms.
"It is the ignoble feature of your art to be materialist. You can see
nothing in humanity but a nervous cord and a circulation."

"The doctor's ministry goes no further," said Beattie, gently.

"Your art is then but left-handed, sir. Where 's Haire?"

"Here, at your side," replied Haire.

"I must finish my story, Haire. Where was it that I left off? Yes; to
be sure,--I remember now. This boy of Sewell's--Reginald Victor
Sewell--was, with my permission, to take the name of Lendrick, and be
called Reginald Victor Sewell Lendrick."

"And become the head of your house?"

"The head of my house, and my heir. She did not say so, but she could
not mean anything short of it."

"What has your son done to deserve this?" asked Haire, bluntly.

"My son's rights, sir, extend but to the modest fortune I inherited from
my father. Whatever other property I possess has been acquired by my own
ability and labor, and is mine to dispose of."

"I suppose there are other rights as well as those of the statute-book?"

"Listen to this, Beattie," cried the old Judge, with a sparkle of the
eye,--"listen to this dialectician, who discourses to me on the import
of a word. It is not generous I must say, to come down with all the
vigor of his bright, unburdened faculties upon a poor, weak, and
suffering object like myself. You might have waited, Haire, till I had
at least the semblance of power to resist you."

"What answer did you give her?" asked Haire, bluntly.

"I said,--what it is always safe to say,--'_Le roi s'avisera_.' Eh,
Beattie? this is the grand principle of your own craft. Medicine is very
little else than 'the wisdom of waiting.' I told her," continued he, "I
would think of it,--that I would see the child. 'He is here,' said she,
rising and leaving the room, and in a few moments returned, leading a
little boy by the hand,--a very noble-looking child, I will say, with
a lofty head and a bold brow. He met me as might a prince, and gave
his hand as though it were an honor he bestowed. What a conscious
power there is in youth! Ay, sirs, that is the real source of all the
much-boasted vigor and high-heartedness. Beattie will tell us some story
of arterial action or nervous expansion; but the mystery lies deeper.
The conscious force of a future development imparts a vigor that all the
triumphs of after life pale before."

"'_Fiat justitia, ruât coelum_,'" said Haire,--"I'd not provide for
people out of my own family."

"It is a very neat though literal translation, sir, and, like all that
comes from you, pointed and forcible."

"I'd rather be fair and honest than either," said Haire, bluntly.

"I appeal to you, Beattie, and I ask if I have deserved this;" and the
old Judge spoke with an air of such apparent sincerity as actually to
impose upon the doctor. "The sarcasms of this man push my regard for him
to the last intrenchment."

"Haire never meant it; he never intended to reflect upon you," said
Beattie, in a low tone.

"He knows well enough that I did not," said Haire, half sulky; for he
thought the Chief was pushing his raillery too far.

"I 'm satisfied," said the Judge, with a sigh. "I suppose he can't help
it. There are fencers who never believe they have touched you till they
see the blood. Be it so; and now to go back. She went away and left the
child with me, promising to take him up after paying a visit she had to
make in the neighborhood. I was not sorry to have the little fellow's
company. He was most agreeable, and, unlike Haire, he never made me his
butt. Well, I have done; I will say no more on that head. I was actually
sorry when she came to fetch him, and I believe I said so. What does
that grunt mean, Haire?"

"I did not speak."

"No, sir; but you uttered what implied an ironical assent,--a _nisi
prius_ trick,--like the leer I have seen you bestow upon the jury-box.
How hard it is for the cunning man to divest himself of the subtlety of
his calling!"

"I want to hear how it all ended," muttered Haire.

"You shall hear, sir, if you will vouchsafe me a little patience. When
men are in the full vigor of their faculties, they should be tolerant
to those footsore and weary travellers who, like myself, halt behind and
delay the march. But bear in mind, Haire, I was not always thus. There
was a time when I walked in the van. Ay, sir, and bore myself bravely
too. I was talking with that child when they announced Mr. Balfour, the
private secretary, a man most distasteful to me; but I told them to show
him in, curious, indeed, to hear what new form of compromise they were
about to propose to me. He had come with a secret and confidential
message from the Viceroy, and really seemed distressed at having to
speak before a child of six years old, so mysterious and reserved was
he. He made a very long story of it,--full an hour; but the substance
was this: The Crown had been advised to dispute my right of appointment
to the registrarship, and to make a case for a jury; but--mark the
'but'--in consideration for my high name and great services, and in
deference to what I might be supposed to feel from an open collision
with the Government, they were still willing for an accommodation, and
would consent to ratify any appointment I should make, other than that
of the gentleman I had already named,--Colonel Sewell.

"Self-control is not exactly the quality for which my friends give me
most credit. Haire, there, will tell you I am a man of ungovernable
temper, and who never even tried to curb his passion; but I would
hope there is some injustice in this award. I became a perfect dove
in gentleness, as I asked Balfour for the reasons which compelled his
Excellency to make my stepson's exclusion from office a condition. 'I am
not at liberty to state them,' was the cool reply. 'They are personal,
and, of course, delicate?' asked I, in a tone of submission, and he gave
a half assent in silence. I concurred,--that is, I yielded the point. I
went even further. I hinted, vaguely of course, at the courteous
reserve by which his Excellency was willing to spare me such pain as an
unpleasant disclosure--if there were such--might occasion me. I added,
that old men are not good subjects for shocks; and I will say, sirs,
that he looked at me as I spoke with a compassionate pity which won all
my gratitude! Ay, Beattie, and though my veins swelled at the temples,
and I felt a strange rushing sound in my ears, I had no fit, and in a
moment or two was as calm as I am this instant.

"'Let me be clear upon this point,' said I to him. 'I am to nominate to
the office any one except Sewell, and you will confirm such nomination?'
'Precisely,' replied he. 'Such act on my part in no way to prejudice
whatever claim I lay to the appointment in perpetuity, or jeopardize
any rights I now assert?' 'Certainly not,' said he. 'Write it,' said I,
pushing towards him a pen and paper; and so overjoyed was he with his
victorious negotiation that he wrote word for word as I dictated. When
I came to the name Sewell, I added, 'To whose nomination his Excellency
demurs, on grounds of character and conduct sufficient in his
Excellency's estimation to warrant such exclusion; but which, out of
deference to the Chief Baron's feelings, are not set forth in this
negotiation.' 'Is this necessary?' asked he, as he finished writing. 'It
is,' was my reply; 'put your name at foot, and the date;' and he did so.

"I now read over the whole aloud; he winced at the concluding lines, and
said, 'I had rather, with your permission, erase these last words; for
though I know the whole story, and believe it too, there 's no occasion
for entering upon it here.'

"As he spoke, I folded the paper and placed it in my pocket. 'Now, sir,'
said I, 'let _me_ hear the story you speak of.' 'I cannot. I told you
before I was not at liberty to repeat it.' I insisted, and he refused.
There was a positive altercation between us and he raised his voice in
anger, and demanded back from me the paper which he said I had tricked
him into writing. I will not say that he meant to use force, but he
sprang from his chair and came towards me with such an air of menace
that the boy, who was playing in the corner, rushed at him and struck
him with his drumstick, saying, 'You sha'n't beat grandpapa!' I believe
I rang the bell; yes, I rang the bell sharply. The child was crying when
they came. I was confused and flurried. Balfour was gone."

"And the paper?" asked Haire.

"The paper is here, sir," said he, touching his breastpocket. "The
country shall ring with it, or such submission shall I exact as will
bring that Viceroy and his minions to my feet in abject contrition. Were
you to ask me now, I know not what terms I would accept of."

"I would rather you said no more at present," said Beattie. "You need
rest and quietness."

"I need reparation and satisfaction, sir; that is what I need."

"Of course--of course; but you must be strong and well to enforce it,"
said Beattie.

"I told Lady Lendrick to leave the child with me. She said she would
bring him back to-morrow. I like the boy. What does my pulse say,
Beattie?"

"It says that all this talking and agitation are injurious to you,--that
you must be left alone."

The old man sighed faintly, but did not speak.

"Haire and I will take a turn in the garden, and be within call if you
want us," said Beattie.

"Wait a moment,--what was it I had to say? You are too abrupt, Beattie;
you snap the cords of thought by such rough handling, and we old men
lose our dexterous knack of catching the loose ends, as we once did.
There, there--leave me now; the skein is all tangled in hopeless
confusion." He waved his hand in farewell, and they left him.



CHAPTER XXXVIII. A LADY'S LETTER

"Lucy asked me to show him this note from her brother," said Haire, as
he strolled with Beattie down the lawn. "It was no time to do so. Look
over it and say what you advise."

"The boy wants a nurse, not a doctor," said Beattie. "A little care and
generous diet would soon bring him round; but they are a strange race,
these Lendricks. They have all the stern qualities that brave danger,
and they are terribly sensitive to some small wound to their self-love.
Let that young fellow, for instance, only begin to feel that he is
forgotten or an outcast, and he 'll droop at once. A few kind words, and
a voice he loved, _now_, will do more than all my art could replace a
little later."

"You mean that we ought to have him back here?" asked Haire, bluntly.

"I mean that he ought to be where he can be carefully and kindly
treated."

"I 'll tell the Chief you think so. I 'll say that you dropped the
remark to myself, of course,--never meaning to dictate anything to
_him_."

Beattie shook his head in sign of doubt.

"I know him well, better perhaps than any one, and I know there's no
more generous man breathing; but he must not be coerced,--he must not be
even influenced, where the question be one for a decision. As he said to
me one day, 'I want the evidence, sir, I don't want your speech to it.'"

"There 's the evidence, then," said Beattie,--"that note with its
wavering letters, weak and uncertain as the fingers that traced
them,--show him that. Say, if you like, that _I_ read it and thought
the lad's case critical. If, after that, he wishes to talk to me on the
subject, I 'm ready to state my opinion. If the boy be like his father,
a few tender words and a little show of interest for him will be worth
all the tonics that ever were brewed."

"It's the grandfather's nature too; but the world has never known
it,--probably never will know it," said Haire.

"In that I agree with you," said Beattie, dryly.

"He regards it as a sort of weakness when people discover any act of
generosity or any trait of kindliness about him; and do you know," added
he, confidentially, "I have often thought that what the world
regarded as irritability and sharpness was nothing more nor less than
shyness,--just shyness."

"I certainly never suspected that he was the victim of that quality."

"No, I imagine not. A man must know him as I do to-understand it. I
remember one day, long, long ago, I went so far as to throw out a half
hint that I thought he labored under this defect; he only smiled and
said, 'You suspect me of diffidence. I am diffident,--no man more so,
sir; but it is of the good or great qualities in other men.' Was n't
that a strange reply? I never very clearly understood it,--do you?"

"I suspect I do; but here comes a message to us."

Haire spoke a word with the servant, and then, turning: to Beattie,
said: "He wants to see me. I 'll just step in, and be back in a moment."

Beattie promised not to leave till he returned, and strolled along
by the side of a little brook which meandered tastefully through the
greensward. He had fallen into a revery,--a curious inquiry within
himself whether it were a boon or an evil for a man to have acquired
that sort of influence over another mind which makes his every act and
word seem praiseworthy and excellent. "I wonder is the Chief the better
or the worse for this indiscriminating attachment? Does it suggest
a standard to attain to, or does it merely minister to self-love and
conceit? Which is it? which is it?" cried he, aloud, as he stood and
gazed on the rippling rivulet beside him.

"Shall I tell you?" said a low, sweet voice; and Lucy Lendrick slipped
her arm within his as she spoke,--"shall I tell you, doctor?"

"Do, by all means."

"A little of both, I opine. Mind," said she, laughing, "I have not the
vaguest notion of what you were balancing in your mind, but somehow
I suspect unmixed good or evil is very rare, and I take my stand on a
compromise. Am I right?"

"I scarcely know, but I can't submit the case to you. I have an
old-fashioned prejudice against letting young people judge their
seniors. Let us talk of something else. What shall it be?"

"I want to talk to you of Tom."

"I have just been speaking to Haire about him. We must get him back
here, Lucy,--we really must."

"Do you mean here, in this house, doctor?"

"Here, in this house. Come, don't shake your head, Lucy. I see the
necessity for it on grounds you know nothing of. Lady Lendrick is
surrounding your grandfather with her family, and I want Tom back here
just that the Chief should see what a thorough Lendrick he is. If your
grandfather only knew the stuff that's in him, he 'd be prouder of him
than of all his own successes."

"No, no, no,--a thousand times no, doctor! It would never do,--believe
me, it would never do. There are things which a girl may submit to in
quiet obedience, which in a man would require subserviency. The Sewells,
too, are to be here on Saturday, and who is to say what that may bring
forth?"

"She wrote to you," said the doctor, with a peculiar significance in his
voice.

"Yes, a strange sort of note too; I almost wish I could show it to
you,--I 'd so like to hear what you 'd say of the spirit of the writer."

"She told me she would write," said he again, with a more marked meaning
in his manner.

"You shall see it," said she, resolutely; "here it is;" and she drew
forth the letter and handed it to him. For an instant she seemed as
if about to speak, but suddenly, as if changing her mind, she merely
murmured, "Read it, and tell me what you think of it." The note ran
thus:--

"My dearest Lucy,--We are to meet to-morrow, and I hope and trust to
meet like sisters who love each other. Let me make one brief explanation
before that moment arrives. I cannot tell what rumors may have reached
you of all that has happened here. I know nothing of what people say,
nor have I the faintest idea how our life may have been represented. If
you knew me longer and better, you would know that I neither make this
ignorance matter of complaint nor regret. I have lived about long enough
to take the world at its just value, and not to make its judgments of
such importance as can impair my self-esteem and my comfort. It would,
however, have been agreeable to me to have known what you may have heard
of me--of us--as it is not impossible I might have felt the necessity to
add something,--to correct something,--perhaps to deny something. I am
now in the dark, and pray forgive me if I stumble rudely against you,
where I only meant to salute you courteously.

"You at least know the great disaster which befell here. Dr. Beattie
has told you the story,--what more he may have said I cannot guess. If
I were to wait for our meeting, I should not have to ask you. I should
read it in your face, and hear it in every accent of your voice; but I
write these few lines that you may know me at once in all frankness
and openness, and know that if _you_ be innocent of _my_ secret, _I_ at
least have _yours_ in my keeping. Yes, Lucy, I know all; and when I say
all, I mean far more than you yourself know.

"If I were treacherous, I would not make this avowal to you. I should be
satisfied with the advantage I possessed, and employ it to my
benefit. Perhaps with any other woman than yourself I should play this
part,--with you I neither can nor will. I will declare to you frankly
and at once, you have lost the game and I have won it. That I say this
thus briefly, is because in amplifying I should seem to be attempting to
explain what there is no explaining. That I say it in no triumph, my own
conscious inferiority to you is the best guarantee. I never would have
dreamed of a rivalry had I been a girl. It is because I cannot claim the
prize I have won it. It is because my victory is my misery I have gained
it. I think I know your nature well enough to know that you will bear me
no ill-will. I even go so far as to believe I shall have your compassion
and your sympathy. I need them more, far more, than you know of. I could
tell you that had matters fallen out differently it would not have
been to _your_ advantage, for there were obstacles--family
obstacles--perfectly insurmountable. This is no pretence: on my honor I
pledge to the truth of what I say. So long as I believed they might be
overcome, I was in _your_ interest, Lucy. You will not believe me, will
you, if I swear it? Will you if I declare it on my knees before you?

"If I have not waited till we met to say these things, it is that we may
meet with open hearts, in sorrow, but in sincerity. When I have told
you everything, you will see that I have not been to blame. There may
be much to grieve over, but there is nothing to reprehend--anywhere.
And now, how is our future to be? It is for you to decide. I have not
wronged you, and yet I am asking for forgiveness. Can you give me your
love, and what I need as much, your pity? Can you forget your smaller
affliction for the sake of my heavier one, for it is heavier?

"I plead guilty to one only treachery; and this I stooped to, to avoid
the shame and disgrace of an open scandal. I told his mother that,
though Lucy was my name, it was yours also; and that you were the Lucy
of all his feverish wanderings. Your woman's heart will pardon me this
one perfidy.

"She is a very dangerous woman in one sense. She has a certain position
in the world, from which she could and would open a fire of slander on
any one. She desires to injure me. She has already threatened, and she
is capable of more than threatening. She says she will see Sir William.
This she may not be able to do; but she can write to him. You know
better than I do what might ensue from two such tempers meeting; for
myself I cannot think of it.

"I have written you a long letter, dear Lucy, when I only meant to have
written five or six lines. I have not courage to read it over; were I
to do so, I am sure I would never send it. Perhaps you will not thank
me for my candor. Perhaps you will laugh at all my scrupulous
honesty. Perhaps you will--no, that you never will--I mean, employ my
trustfulness against myself.

"Who knows if I have not given to this incident an importance which you
will only smile at? There are people so rich that they never are aware
if they be robbed. Are you one of these, Lucy? and, if so, will you
forgive the thief who signs herself your ever-loving sister,

"Lucy Skwell.

"I have told Dr. Beattie I would write to you; he looked as if he knew
that I might, or that I ought,--which is it? Doctors see a great deal
more than they ought to see. The great security against them is, that
they acquire an indifference to the sight of suffering, which, in
rendering them callous, destroys curiosity, and then all ills that can
neither be bled nor blistered they treat as trifles, and end by ignoring
altogether. Were it otherwise,--that is, had they any touch of humanity
in their nature,--they would be charming confidants, for they know
everything and can go everywhere. If Beattie should be one of your pets,
I ask pardon for this impertinence; but don't forget it altogether, as,
one day or other, you will be certain to acknowledge its truth.

"We arrive by the 4.40 train on Saturday afternoon. If I see you at the
door when we drive up, I shall take it as a sign I am forgiven."

Beattie folded the letter slowly, and handed it to Lucy without a
word. "Tell me," said he, after they had walked on several seconds in
silence,--"tell me, do you mean to-be at the door as she arrives?"

"I think not," said she, in a very low voice.

"She has a humble estimate of doctors; but there is one touch of nature
she must not deny them,--they are very sensitive about contagion. Now,
Lucy, I wish with all my heart that you were not to be the intimate
associate of this woman."

"So do I, doctor; but how is it to be helped?"

He walked along silent and in deep thought.

"Shall I tell you, doctor, how it can be managed, but only by your help
and assistance? I must leave this."

"Leave the Priory! but for where?"

"I shall go and nurse Tom: he needs _me_, doctor, and I believe I need
_him_; that is, I yearn after that old companionship which made all my
life till I came here--Come now, don't oppose this plan; it is only by
your hearty aid it can ever be carried out. When you have told grandpapa
that the thought is a good one, the battle will be more than half won.
You see yourself I ought not to be here."

"Certainly not here with Mrs. Sewell; but there comes the grave
difficulty of how you are to be lodged and cared for in that wild
country where your brother lives?"

"My dear doctor, I have never known pampering till I came here. Our life
at home--and was it not happy!--was of the very simplest. To go back
again to the same humble ways will be like a renewal of the happy past;
and then Tom and I suit each other so well,--our very caprices are
kindred. Do say you like this notion, and tell me you will forward it."

"The very journey is an immense difficulty."

"Not a bit, doctor; I have planned it all. From this to Marseilles
is easy enough,--only forty hours; once there, I either go direct to
Cagliari, or catch the Sardinian steamer at Genoa--"

"You talk of these places as if they were all old acquaintances; but, my
dear child, only fancy yourself alone in a foreign city. I don't speak
of the difficulties of a new language."

"You might, though, my dear doctor. My French and Italian, which carry
me on pleasantly enough with Racine and Ariosto, will expose me sadly
with my 'commissionnaire.'"

"But quite alone you cannot go,--that's certain."

"I must not take a maid, that's as certain; Tom would only send us both
back again. If you insist, and if grandpapa insists upon it, I will take
old Nicholas. He thinks it a great hardship that he has not been carried
away over seas to see the great world; and all his whims and tempers
that tortured us as children will only amuse us now; his very tyranny
will be good fun."

"I declare frankly," said the doctor, laughing, "I do not see how the
difficulties of foreign travel are to be lessened by the presence of old
Nicholas; but are you serious in all this?"

"Perfectly serious, and fully determined on it, if I be permitted."

"When would you go?"

"At once! I mean as soon as possible. The Sewells are to be here on
Saturday. I would leave on Friday evening by the mail-train from London.
I would telegraph to Tom to say on what day he might expect me."

"To-day is Tuesday; is it possible you could be ready?"

"I would start to-night, doctor, if you only obtain my leave."

"It is all a matter of the merest chance how your grandfather will take
it," said Beattie, musing.

"But _you_ approve? tell me you approve of it."

"There is certainly much in the project that I like. I cannot bear to
think of your living here with the Sewells; my experience of them
is very brief, but it has taught me to know there could be no worse
companionship for you; but as these are things that cannot be spoken
of to the Chief, let us see by what arguments we should approach him.
I will go at once. Haire is with him, and he is sure to see that what I
suggest has come from you. If it should be the difficulty of the journey
your grandfather objects to, Lucy, I will go as far as Marseilles with
you myself, and see you safely embarked before I leave you."

She took his hand and kissed it twice, but was not able to utter a word.

"There, now, my dear child, don't agitate yourself; you need all your
calm and all your courage. Loiter about here till I come to you, and it
shall not be long."

"What a true, kind friend you are!" said she, as her eyes grew dim with
tears. "I am more anxious about this than I like to own, perhaps.
Will you, if you bring me good tidings, make me a signal with your
handkerchief?"

He promised this, and left her.

Lucy sat down under a large elm-tree, resolving to wait there patiently
for his return; but her fevered anxiety was such that she could not rest
in one place, and was forced to rise and walk rapidly up and down.
She imagined to herself the interview, and fancied she heard her
grandfather's stern question,--whether she were not satisfied with her
home? What could he do more for her comfort or happiness than he had
done? Oh, if he were to accuse her of ingratitude, how should she bear
it? Whatever irritability he might display towards others, to herself he
had always been kind and thoughtful and courteous.

She really loved him, and liked his companionship, and she felt that if
in leaving him she should consign him to solitude and loneliness, she
could scarcely bring herself to go; but he was now to be surrounded with
others, and if they were not altogether suited to him by taste or habit,
they would, even for their own sakes, try to conform to his ways and
likings.

Once more she bethought her of the discussion, and how it was faring.
Had her grandfather suffered Beattie to state the case fully, and say
all that he might in its favor? or had he, as was sometimes his wont,
stopped him short with a peremptory command to desist? And then what
part had Haire taken? Haire, for whose intelligence the old Judge
entertained the lowest possible estimate, had somehow an immense
influence over him, just as instincts are seen too strong for reason.
Some traces of boyish intercourse yet survived and swayed his mind with
his consciousness of its power.

"How long it seems!" murmured she. "Does this delay augur ill for
success, or is it that they are talking over the details of the plan?
Oh, if I could be sure of that! My poor dear Tom, how I long to be
near you--to care for you--and watch you!" and as she said this, a cold
sickness came over her, and she muttered aloud: "What perfidy it all is!
As if I was not thinking of myself, and my own sorrows, while I try to
believe I am but thinking of my brother." And now her tears streamed
fast down her cheeks, and her heart felt as if it would burst. "It must
be an hour since he left this," said she, looking towards the house,
where all was still and motionless. "It is not possible that they are
yet deliberating. Grandpapa is never long in coming to a decision.
Surely all has been determined on before this, and why does he not come
and relieve me from my miserable uncertainty?"

At last the hall door opened, and Haire appeared; he beckoned to her
with his hand to come, and then re-entered the house. Lucy knew not what
to think of this, and she could scarcely drag her steps along as she
tried to hasten back. As she entered the hall, Haire met her, and,
taking her hand cordially, said, "It is all right; only be calm, and
don't agitate him. Come in now;" and with this she found herself in
the room where the old Judge was sitting, his eyes closed and his whole
attitude betokening sleep. Beattie sat at his side, and held one hand in
his own. Lucy knelt down and pressed her lips to the other hand, which
hung over the arm of the chair. Gently drawing away the hand, the old
man laid it on her head, and in a low faint voice said: "I must not look
at you, Lucy, or I shall recall my pledge. You are going away!"

The young girl turned her tearful eyes towards him, and held her lips
firmly closed to repress a sob, while her cheeks trembled with emotion.

"Beattie tells me you are right," continued he, with a sigh; and then,
with a sort of aroused energy, he added; "But old age, amongst its other
infirmities, fancies that right should yield to years. '_Ce sont les
droits de la decrepitude_,' as La Rochefoucauld calls them. I will
not insist upon my 'royalties,' Lucy, this time. You shall go to your
brother." His hand trembled as it lay on her head, and then fell heavily
to his side. Lucy clasped it eagerly, and pressed it to her cheek, and
all was silent for some seconds in the room.

At last the old man spoke, and it was now in a clear distinct voice,
though weak. "Beattie will tell you everything, Lucy; he has all my
instructions. Let him now have yours. To-morrow we shall, both of us, be
calmer, and can talk over all together. To-morrow will be Thursday?"

"Wednesday, grandpapa."

"Wednesday,--all the better, my dear child; another day gained. I say,
Beattie," cried he in a louder tone, "I cannot have fallen into the
pitiable condition the newspapers describe, or I could never have gained
this victory over my selfishness. Come, sir, be frank enough to own that
where a man combats himself, he asserts his identity. Haire will go out
and give that as his own," muttered he; and as he smiled, he lay back,
his breathing grew heavier and longer, and he sank into a quiet sleep.



CHAPTER XXXIX. SOME CONJUGAL COURTESIES

"You have not told me what she wrote to you," said Sewell to his wife,
as he smoked his cigar at one side of the fire while she read a novel
at the other. It was to be their last evening at the Nest; on the morrow
they were to leave it for the Priory. "Were there any secrets in it, or
were there allusions that I ought not to see?"

"Not that I remember," said she, carelessly.

"What about our coming? Does the old man seem to wish for it?--how does
she herself take it?"

"She says nothing on the subject, beyond her regret at not being there
to meet us."

"And why can't she?--where will she be?"

"At sea, probably, by that time. She goes off to Sardinia to her
brother."

"What! do you mean to that fellow who is living with Fossbrooke? Why did
n't you tell me this before?"

"I don't think I remembered it; or, if I did, it's possible I thought it
could not have much interest for you."

"Indeed, Madam! do you imagine that the only things I care for are the
movements of _your_ admirers? Where 's this letter? I 'd like to see
it."

"I tore it up. She begged me to do so when I had read it."

"How honorable! I declare you ladies conduct your intercourse with an
integrity that would be positively charming to think of if only your
male friends were admitted to any share of the fair dealing. Tell me so
much as you can remember of this letter."

"She spoke of her brother having had a fever, and being now better, but
so weak and reduced as to require great care and attention, and obliged
to remove for change of air to a small island off the coast."

"And Fossbrooke,--does she mention _him?_"

"Only that he is not with her brother, except occasionally: his business
detains him near Cagliari."

"I hope it may continue to detain him there! Has this-young woman gone
off all alone on this journey?"

"She has taken no maid. She said it might prove inconvenient to her
brother; and has only an old family servant she calls Nicholas with
her."

"So, then, we have the house to ourselves so far. She 'll not be in a
hurry back, I take it. Anything would be better than the life she led
with her grandfather."

"She seems sorry to part with him, and recurs three or four times to his
kindness and affection."

"His kindness and affection! His vanity and self-love are nearer the
mark. I thought I had seen something of conceit and affectation, but
that old fellow leaves everything in that line miles behind. He is,
without exception, the greatest bore and the most insupportable bully I
ever encountered."

"Lucy liked him."

"She did not,--she could not. It suits you women to say these things,
because you cultivate hypocrisy so carefully that you carry on the game
with each other! How could any one, let her be ever so abject, like that
incessant homage this old man exacted,--to be obliged to be alive to his
vapid jokes and his dreary stories, to his twaddling reminiscences of
college success or House of Commons--Irish House too--triumphs? Do
you think if I wasn't a beggar I 'd go and submit myself to such a
discipline?"

To this she made no reply, and for a while there was a silence in the
room. At last he said, "_You'll_ have to take up that line of character
that _she_ acted. _You'll_ have to 'swing the incense' now. I'll be shot
if _I_ do."

She gave no answer, and he went on: "You 'll have to train the brats
too to salute him, and kiss his hand and call him--what are they to call
him--grandpapa? Yes, they must say grandpapa. How I wish I had not sent
in my papers! If I had only imagined I could have planted you all here,
I could have gone back to my regiment and served out my time."

"It might have been better," said she, in a low voice.

"Of course it would have been better; each of us would have been
free, and there are few people, be it said, take more out of their
freedom,--eh, Madam?"

She shrugged her shoulders carelessly, but a slight, a very slight,
flush colored her cheek.

"By the way, now we're on that subject, have you answered Lady
Trafford's letter?"

"Yes," said she; and now her cheek grew crimson.

"And what answer did you send?"

"I sent back everything."

"What do you mean?--your rings and trinkets, the bracelet with the
hair--mine, of course,--it could be no one's but mine."

"All, everything," said she, with a gulp.

"I must read the old woman's letter over again. You have n't burnt
_that_, I hope?"

"No; it's upstairs in my writing-desk."

"I declare," said he, rising and standing with his back to the fire,
"you women, and especially fine ladies, say things to each other that
men never would dare to utter to other men. That old dame, for
instance, charged you with what we male creatures have no equivalent
for,--cheating at play would be mild in comparison."

"I don't think that _you_ escaped scot-free," said she, with an intense
bitterness, though her tone was studiously subdued and low.

"No," said he, with a jeering laugh. "I figured as the accessory or
accomplice, or whatever the law calls it. I was what polite French
ladies call _le mari complaisant_,--a part I am so perfect in, Madam,
that I almost think I ought to play it for my Benefit.' What do you say?"

"Oh, sir, it is not for me to pass an opinion on your abilities."

"I have less bashfulness," said he, fiercely. "I 'll venture to say a
word on _yours_. I 've told you scores of times--I told you in India,
I told you at the Cape, I told you when we were quarantined at Trieste,
and I tell you now--that you never really captivated any man much under
seventy. When they are tottering on to the grave, bald, blear-eyed, and
deaf, you are perfectly irresistible; and I wish--really I say it in all
good faith--you would limit the sphere of your fascinations to such very
frail humanities. Trafford only became spooney after that smash on the
skull; as he grew better, he threw off his delusions,--did n't he?"

"So he told me," said she, with perfect calm.

"By Jove! that was a great fluke of mine," cried he, aloud. "That was a
hazard I never so much as tried. So that this fellow had made some sort
of a declaration to you?"

"I never said so."

"What was it then that you _did_ say, Madam? Let us understand each
other clearly."

"Oh, I am sure we need no explanations for that," said she, rising, and
moving towards the door.

"I want to hear about this before you go," said he, standing between her
and the door.

"You are not going to pretend jealousy, are you?" said she, with an easy
laugh.

"I should think not," said he, insolently. "That is about one of the
last cares will ever rob me of my rest at night. I 'd like to know,
however, what pretext I have to send a ball through your young friend."

"Oh, as to that peril, it will not rob _me_ of a night's rest," said
she, with such a look of scorn and contempt as seemed actually to sicken
him, for he staggered back as though about to fall and she passed out
ere he could recover himself.

"It is to be no quarter between us then! Well, be it so," cried he, as
he sank heavily into a seat. "She's playing a bold game when she goes
thus far." He leaned his head on the table, and sat thus so long that he
appeared to have fallen asleep; indeed, the servant who came to tell
him that tea was served, feared to disturb him, and retired without
speaking. Far from sleeping, however, his head was racked with a
maddening pain, and he kept on muttering to himself, "This is the second
time--the second time she has taunted me with cowardice. Let her beware!
Is there no one will warn her against what she is doing?"

"Missis says, please, sir, won't you have a cup of tea?" said the maid
timidly at the door.

"No; I'll not take any."

"Missis says too, sir, that Miss Blanche is tuk poorly, and has a
shiverin' over her, and a bad headache, and she hopes you 'll send in
for Dr. Tobin."

"Is she in bed?"

"Yes, sir, please."

"I'll go up and see her;" and with this he arose and passed up the
little stair that led to the nursery. In one bed a little dark-haired
girl of about three years old lay fast asleep; in the adjoining bed a
bright blue-eyed child of two years or less lay wide awake, her cheeks
crimson, and the expression of her features anxious and excited. Her
mother was bathing her temples with cold water as Sewell entered, and
was talking in a voice of kind and gentle meaning to the child.

"That stupid woman of yours said it was Blanche," said Sewell,
pettishly, as he gazed at the little girl.

"I told her it was Cary; she has been heavy all day, and eaten nothing.
No, pet,--no, darling," said she, stooping over the sick child, "pa is
not angry; he is only sorry that little Cary is ill."

"I suppose you'd better have Tobin to see her," said he, coldly. "I 'll
tell George to take the tax-cart and fetch him out. It's well it was n't
Blanche," muttered he, as he sauntered out of the room. His wife's eyes
followed him as he went, and never did a human face exhibit a stronger
show of repressed passion than hers, as, with closely compressed lips
and staring eyes, she watched him as he passed out.

"The fool frightened me,--she said it was Blanche," were the words he
continued to mutter as he went down the stairs.

Tobin arrived in due time, and pronounced the case not serious,--a mere
feverish attack that only required a day or two of care and treatment.

"Have you seen Colonel Sewell?" said Mrs. Sewell, as she accompanied the
doctor downstairs.

"Yes; I told him just what I 've said to you."

"And what reply did he make?"

"He said, 'All right! I have business in town, and must start to-morrow.
My wife and the chicks can follow by the end of the week.'"

"It's so like him!--so like him!" said she, as though the pent-up
passion could no longer be restrained.



CHAPTER XL. MR. BALFOUR'S OFFICE

On arriving in Dublin, Sewell repaired at once to Balfour's office in
the Castle yard; he wanted to "hear the news," and it was here that
every one went who wanted to "hear the news." There are in all cities,
but more especially in cities of the second order, certain haunts where
the men about town repair; where, like the changing-houses of bankers,
people exchange their "credits,"--take up their own notes, and give up
those of their neighbors.

Sewell arrived before the usual time when people dropped in, and found
Balfour alone and at breakfast. The Under-Secretary's manner was dry, so
much Sewell saw as he entered; he met him as though he had seen him the
day before, and this, when men have not seen each other for some time,
has a certain significance. Nor did he ask when he had come up, nor
in any way recognize that his appearance was matter of surprise or
pleasure.

"Well, what's going on here?" said Sewell, as he flung himself into an
easy-chair, and turned towards the fire. "Anything new?"

"Nothing particular. I don't suppose you care for the Cattle Show or the
Royal Irish Academy?"

"Not much,--at least, I can postpone my inquiries about them. How about
my place here? Are you going to give me trouble about it?"

"Your place,--your place?" muttered the other, once or twice; and then,
standing up with his back to the fire, and his skirts over his arms,
he went on. "Do you want to hear the truth about this affair, or are we
only to go on sparring with the gloves, eh?"

"The truth, of course, if such a novel proceeding should not be too much
of a shock to you."

"No, I suspect not. I do a little of everything every day just to keep
my hand in."

"Well, go on now, out with this truth."

"Well, the truth is,--I am now speaking confidentially,--if I were you I
'd not press my claim to that appointment,--do you perceive?"

"I do not; but perhaps I may when you have explained yourself a little
more fully."

"And," continued he, in the same tone, and as though no interruption had
occurred, "that's the opinion of Halkett, and Doyle, and Jocelyn, and
the rest."

"Confidentially, of course," said Sewell, with a sneer so slight as not
to be detected.

"I may say confidentially, because it was at dinner we talked it
over, and we were only the household,--no guests but Byam Herries and
Barrington."

"And you all agreed?"

"Yes, there was not a dissentient voice but Jocelyn's, who said, if he
were in your place, he'd insist on having all the papers and letters
given up to him. His view is this: 'What security have I that the same
charges are not to be renewed again and again? I submit now, but am I
always to submit? Are my Indian'--(what shall I call them? I forget what
he called them; I believe it was escapades)--'my Indian escapades to
declare me unfit to hold anything under the Crown?' He said a good deal
in that strain, but we did not see it. It was hard, to be sure, but we
did not see it. As Halkett said, 'Sewell has had his innings already in
India. If, with a pretty wife and a neat turn for billiards, he did not
lay by enough to make his declining years comfortable, I must say that
he was not provident.' Doyle, however, remarked that after that affair
with Loftus up at Agra--wasn't it Agra?"--Sewell nodded--"it was n't
so easy for you to get along as many might think, and that you were
a devilish clever fellow to do what you had done. Doyle likes you,
I think." Sewell nodded again, and, after a slight pause, Balfour
proceeded: "And it was Doyle, too, said, 'Why not try for something in
the colonies? There are lots of places a man can go and nothing be ever
heard of him. If I was Sewell, I 'd say, Make me a barrackmaster in the
Sandwich Islands, or a consul in the Caraccas.'

"They all concurred in one thing, that you never did so weak a thing in
your whole life as to have any dealings with Trafford. It was his mother
went to the Duke--ay, into the private office at the Horse Guards--and
got Clifford's appointment cancelled, just for a miserable five hundred
pounds Jack won off the elder brother,--that fellow who died last year
at Madeira. She's the most dangerous woman in Europe. She does not care
what she says, nor to whom she says it. She 'd go up to the Queen at a
drawing-room and make a complaint as soon as she 'd speak to you or
me. As it is, she told their Excellencies here all that went on in your
house, and I suppose scores of things that did not go on either, and
said, 'And are you going to permit this man to be'--she did not remember
what, but she said--'a high official under the Crown? and are you going
to receive his wife amongst your intimates?' What a woman she is! To
hear her you 'd think her 'dear child,' instead of being a strapping
fellow of six feet two, was a brat in knickerbockers, with a hat and
feather. The fellow himself must be a consummate muff to be bullied
by her; but then the estate is not entailed, they say, and there's a
younger brother may come into it all. His chances look well just now,
for Lionel has got a relapse, and the doctors think very ill of him."

"I had not heard that," said Sewell, calmly.

"Oh, he was getting on most favorably,--was able to sit up at the
window, and move a little about the room,--when, one morning Lady
Trafford had driven over to the Lodge to luncheon, he stepped downstairs
in his dressing-gown as he was, got into a cab, and drove off into the
country. All the cabman could tell was that he ordered him to take the
road to Rathfarnham, and said, 'I 'll tell you by and by where to;' and
at last he said, 'Where does Sir William Lendrick live?' and though the
man knew the Priory, he had taken a wrong turn and got down to ask
the road. Just at this moment a carriage drove by with two grays and a
postilion--A young lady was inside with an elderly gentleman, and the
moment Trafford saw her he cried out, 'There she is,--that is she!' As
hard as they could they hastened after; but they smashed a trace, and
lost several minutes in repairing it, and as many more in finding out
which way the carriage had taken. It was to Kingstown, and, as the
cabman suspected, to catch the packet for Holyhead; for just as they
drove up, the steamer edged away from the pier, and the carriage with
the grays drove off with only the old man, Trafford fell back in a
faint, and appeared to have continued so, for when they took him out of
the cab at Bilton's he was insensible.

"Beattie says he'll come through it, but Maclin thinks he 'll never be
the same man again; he 'll have a hardening or a softening--which is
it?--of the brain, and that he'll be fit for nothing."

"Except a place in the viceregal household, perhaps. I don't imagine you
want gold-medallists for your gentlemen-in-waiting?"

"We have some monstrous clever fellows, let me tell you. Halkett made
a famous examination at Sandhurst, and Jocelyn wrote that article in
'Bell's Life,' 'The Badger Drawn at Last.'"

"To come back to where we were, how are you to square matters with the
Chief Baron? Are you going to law with him about this appointment, or
are you about to say that _I_ am the objection? Let me have a definite
answer to this question."

"We have not fully decided; we think of doing either, and we sometimes
incline to do both. At all events, we are not to have it; that's the
only thing certain."

"Have you got a cigar? No, not these things; I mean something that can
be smoked."

"Try this," said Balfour, offering his case.

"They 're the same as those on the chimney. I must say, Balfour, the
traditional hospitalities of the Castle are suffering in their present
hands. When I dined here the last time I was in town, they gave me two
glasses of bad sherry and one glass of a corked Gladstone; and I came
to dinner that day after reading in Barrington all about the glorious
festivities of the Irish Court in the olden days of Richmond and
Bedford."

"Lady Trafford insists that your names--your wife's as well as your
own--are to be scratched from the dinner-list. Sir Hugh has three votes
in the House, and she bullies us to some purpose, I can tell you. I
can't think how you could have made this woman so much your enemy. It is
not dislike,--it is hatred."

"Bad luck, I suppose," said Sewell, carelessly.

"She seems so inveterate too; she'll not give you up, very probably."

"Women generally don't weary in this sort of pursuit."

"Couldn't you come to some kind of terms? Couldn't you contrive to let
her know that you have no designs on her boy? You've won money of him,
have n't you?"

"I have some bills of his,--not for a very large amount, though; you
shall have them a bargain."

"I seldom speculate," was the dry rejoinder.

"You are right; nor is this the case to tempt you."

"They 'll be paid, I take it?"

"Paid! I'll swear they shall!" said Sewell, fiercely. "I'll stand a deal
of humbug about dinner invitations, and cold salutations, and such-like;
but none, sir, not one, about what touches a material interest."

"It's not worth being angry about," said Balfour, who was really glad to
see the other's imperturbability give way.

"I'm not angry. I was only a little impatient, as a man may be when he
hears a fellow utter a truism as a measure of encouragement. Tell your
friends--I suppose I must call them your friends--that they make an
egregious mistake when they push a man like me to the wall. It is
intelligible enough in a woman to do it; women don't measure their
malignity, nor their means of gratifying it; but _men_ ought to know
better."

"I incline to think I'll tell my 'friends' nothing whatever on the
subject."

"That's as you please; but remember this,--if the day should come that
I need any of these, details you have given me this morning, I'll quote
them, and you too, as their author; and if I bring an old house about
your ears, look out sharp for a falling chimney-pot! You gave me a piece
of advice awhile ago," continued he, as he put on his hat before the
glass, and arranged his necktie. "Let me repay you with two, which you
will find useful in their several ways: Don't show your hand when
you play with as shrewd men as myself; and, Don't offer a friend such
execrable tobacco as that on the chimney;" and with this he nodded and
strolled out, humming an air as he crossed the Castle yard and entered
the city.



CHAPTER XLI. THE PRIORY IN ITS DESERTION

The old Judge was very sad after Lucy's departure from the Priory. While
she lived there they had not seen much of each other, it is true.
They met at meal-times, and now and then Sir William would send up
the housekeeper to announce a visit from him; but there is a sense of
companionship in the consciousness that under the same roof with you
dwells one upon whose affection you can draw, whose sympathy will be
with you in your hour of need; and this the old man now felt to be
waiting; and he wandered restlessly about the house and the garden,
tenacious to see that nothing she liked or loved was threatened with any
change, and repeating to all that she must find everything as she left
it when she came back again.

Sewell had been recalled to the country by the illness of his child, and
they were not expected at the Priory for at least a week or two longer.
Haire had gone on circuit, and even Beattie the Judge only saw hurriedly
and at long intervals. With Lady Lendrick he had just had a most angry
correspondence, ending in one of those estrangements which, had they
been nations instead of individuals, would have been marked by the
recall of their several envoys, but which they were satisfied to
signalize by an order at the Priory gate-lodge not to admit her
Ladyship's carriage, and an equally determined command at Merrion Square
for the porter to take in no letters that came from the Chief Baron.

Lest the world should connect this breach with any interest in my story,
I may as well declare at once the incident had no possible bearing upon
it. It was a little episode entirely self-contained, and consisted
in Lady Lendrick having taken advantage of Sir William's illness and
confinement to house to send for and use his carriage-horses,--a liberty
which he resented by a most furious letter, to which the rejoinder
begot another infinitely more sarcastic,--the correspondence ending by
a printed notice which her Ladyship received in an envelope, that the
Chief Baron's horses would be sold on the ensuing Saturday at Dycer's to
the highest bidder, his Lordship having no further use for them.

Let me own that the old Judge was sincerely sorry when this incident
was concluded. So long as the contest lasted, while he was penning his
epistle or waiting for the reply, his excitement rallied and sustained
him. He used to sit after the despatch of one of his cutting letters
calculating with himself the terror and consternation it produced, just
as the captain of a frigate might have waited with eager expectancy
that the smoke might drift away and show him the shattered spars or the
yawning bulwarks of his enemy. But when his last missive was returned
unopened, and the messenger reported that the doctor's carriage was at
her Ladyship's door as he came away, the Judge collapsed at once, and
all the dreariness of his deserted condition closed in upon him.

Till Sewell returned to-town, Sir William resolved not to proceed
farther with respect to the registrarship. His plan, long determined
upon, was to induct him into the office, administer the oaths, and
leave him to the discharge of the duties. The scandal of displacing an
official would, he deemed, be too great a hazard for any government
to risk. At all events, if such a conflict came, it would be a great
battle, and with the nation for spectators.

"The country shall ring with it," was the phrase he kept repeating
over and over as he strolled through his neglected garden or his leafy
shrubberies; but as he plodded along, alone and in silence, the dreary
conviction would sometimes shoot across his mind that he had run his
race, and that the world had wellnigh forgotten him. "In a few days
more," sighed he out, "it will be over, and I shall be chronicled as
the last of them." And for a moment it would rally him to recall
the glorious names with which he claimed companionship, and compare
them--with what disparagement!--with the celebrities of the time.

It was strange how bright the lamp of intellect would shine out as the
wick was fast sinking in the socket. His memory would revive some stormy
scene in the House, some violent altercation at the Bar, and all the
fiery eloquence of passion would recur to him, stirring his heart and
warming his blood, till he half forgot his years, and stood forth, with
head erect and swelling chest, strong with a sense of power and a whole
soul full of ambition.

"Beattie would not let me take my Circuit," would he say. "I wish he
saw me to-day. Decaying powers! I would tell them that the Coliseum
is grander in its ruin than all their stuccoed plastering in its trim
propriety. Had he suffered me to go, the grand jury would have heard
a charge such as men's ears have not listened to since Avonmore!
Avon-more! what am I saying?--Yelverton had not half my law, nor a tenth
part of my eloquence."

In his self-exaltation he began to investigate whether he was greater as
an advocate or as prosecutor. How difficult to decide! After all, it
was in the balance of the powers thus displayed that he was great as a
judge. He recalled the opinions of the press when he was raised to the
bench, and triumphantly asked aloud, had he not justified every hope and
contradicted every fear that was entertained of him? "Has my learning
made me intolerant, or my brilliancy led me into impatience? Has the
sense of superiority that I possess rendered me less conciliatory? Has
my 'impetuous genius'--how fond they were of that phrase!--carried me
away into boundless indiscretions? and have I, as one critic said, so
concentrated the attention of the jury on myself that the evidence went
for nothing and the charge was everything?"

It was strange how these bursts of inordinate vanity and self-esteem
appeared to rally and invigorate the old man, redressing, as it were,
the balance of the world's injustice--such he felt it--towards him. They
were like a miser's hoard, to be counted and re-counted in secret with
that abiding assurance that he had wealth and riches, however others
might deem him poor.

It was out of these promptings of self-love that he drew the energetic
powers that sustained him, broken and failing and old as he was.

Carried on by his excited thoughts, he strayed away to a little mound,
on which, under a large weeping-ash, a small bench was placed, from
which a wide view extended over the surrounding country. There was a
tradition of a summer-house on the spot in Curran's day, and it was
referred to more than once in the diaries and letters of his friends;
and the old Chief loved the place, as sacred to great memories.

He had just toiled up the ascent, and gained the top, when a servant
came to present him with a card and a letter, saying that the gentleman
who gave them was then at the house. The card bore the name, "Captain
Trafford,--th Regiment." The letter was of a few lines, and ran thus:--

"My dear Sir William,--I had promised my friend and late patient Captain
Trafford to take him over to the Priory this morning and present him to
you. A sudden call has, however, frustrated the arrangement; and as
his time is very brief, I have given him this as a credential to your
acquaintance, and I hope you will permit him to stroll through the
garden and the shrubberies, which he will accept as a great favor.
I especially beg that you will lay no burden on your own strength to
become his entertainer: he will be amply gratified by a sight of
your belongings, of which he desires to carry the memory beyond
seas.--Believe me very sincerely yours,

"J. Beattie."

"If the gentleman who brought this will do me the favor to come up here,
say I shall be happy to see him."

As the servant went on his message, the old man lay back on his seat,
and, closing his eyes, muttered some few dropping words, implying his
satisfaction at this act of reverential homage. "A young soldier too;
it speaks well for the service when the men of action revere the men of
thought. I am glad it is a good day with me; he shall carry away other
memories than of woods and streams. Ah! here he comes."

Slowly, and somewhat feebly, Trafford ascended the hill, and with a most
respectful greeting approached the Judge.

"I thank you for your courtesy in coming here, sir," said the Chief;
"and when we have rested a little, I will be your _Cicerone_ back to the
house." The conversation flowed on pleasantly between them, Sir William
asking where Traflford had served, and what length of time he had been
in Ireland,--his inquiries evidently indicating that he had not heard of
him before, or, if he had, had forgotten him.

"And now you are going to Malta?"

"Yes, my Lord; we sail on the 12th."

"Well, sir, Valetta has no view to rival that. See what a noble sweep
the bay takes here, and mark how well the bold headlands define the
limits! Look at that stretch of yellow beach, like a golden fillet round
the sea; and then mark the rich woods waving in leafy luxuriance to
the shore! Those massive shadows are to landscape what times of silent
thought are to our moral natures. Do you like your service, sir?"

"Yes, my Lord; there is much in it that I like. I would like it all if
it were in 'activity.'"

"I have much of the soldier in myself, and the qualities by which I
have gained any distinction I have won are such as make generals,--quick
decision, rapid intelligence, prompt action."

Traflford bowed to this pretentions summary, but did not speak.

The old Judge went on to describe what he called the military
mind, reviewing in turn the generals of note from Hannibal down to
Marlborough. "What have they left us by way of legacy, sir? The game,
lost or won, teaches us as much! Is not a letter of Cicero, is not an
ode of Horace worth it all? And as for battle-fields, it is the painter,
not the warrior, has made them celebrated. Wouvermans has done more for
war than Turenne!"

"But, my Lord, there must be a large number of men like myself who make
very tolerable soldiers, but who would turn out sorry poets or poor
advocates."

"Give me your arm now, and I will take you round by the fish-pond and
show you where the 'Monks of the Screw' held their first meeting. You
have heard of that convivial club?" Trafiford bowed; and the Judge went
on to tell of the strange doings of those grave and thoughtful men,
who-deemed no absurdity too great in their hours of distraction and
levity. When they reached the house, the old man was so fatigued that
he had to sit down in the porch to rest. "You have seen all, sir; all I
have of memorable. You say you 'd like to see the garden, but there is
not a memory connected with it. See it, however, by all means; saunter
about till I have rallied a little, and then join me at my early dinner.
I 'll send to tell you when it is ready. I am sorry it will be such
a lonely meal; but she who could have thrown sunshine over it is
gone--gone!" And he held his hands over his face, and said no more.
Trafiford moved silently away, and went in search of the garden. He
soon found the little wicket, and ere many minutes was deep in the leafy
solitude of the neglected spot. At last he came upon the small gate
in the laurel hedge, passing through which he entered the little
flower-garden. Yes, yes; there was no doubting it! This was hers! Here
were the flowers she tended; here the heavy bells from which she emptied
the rain-drops; here the tendrils her own hands had trained! Oh, force
of love, that makes the very ground holy, and gives to every leaf and
bud an abiding value! He threw himself upon the sward and kissed it.
There was a little seat under a large ilex--how often had she sat there
thinking!--could it be thinking over the days beside the Shannon,--that
delicious night they came back from Holy Island, the happiest of all his
life? Oh, if he could but believe that she loved him! if he could only
know that she did not think of him with anger and resentment!--for
she might! Who could tell what might have been said of his life at the
Sewells'? He had made a confidante of one who assumed to misunderstand
him, and who overwhelmed him with a confession of her own misery, and
declared she loved him; and this while he lay in a burning fever, his
head racked with pain, and his mind on the verge of wandering. Was
there-ever a harder fate than his? That he had forfeited the affection
of his family, that he had wrecked his worldly fortunes, seemed little
in his eyes to the danger of being thought ill of by her he loved.

His father's last letter to him had been a command to leave the army and
return home, to live there as became the expectant head of the house.
"I will have your word of honor to abandon this ignoble passion"--so he
called his love; "and in addition, your solemn pledge never to marry an
Irishwoman." These words were, he well knew, supplied by his mother. It
had been the incessant burden of her harangues to him during the tedious
days of his recovery; and even when, on the morning of this very day,
she had been suddenly recalled to England by a severe attack of illness
of her husband, her last act before departure was to write a brief note
to Lionel, declaring that if he should not follow her within a week, she
would no longer conceive herself bound to maintain his interests against
those of his more obedient and more affectionate brother.

"Won't that help my recovery, doctor?" said he, showing the kind and
generous epistle to Beattie. "Are not these the sort of tonic stimulants
your art envies?"

Beattie shook his head in silence, and after a long pause said, "Well,
what was your reply to this?"

"Can you doubt it? Don't you know it; or don't you know _me?_"

"Perhaps I guess."

"No, but you are certain of it, doctor. The regiment is ordered to
Malta, and sails on the 12th. I go with them! Holt is a grand old place,
and the estate is a fine one; I wish my brother every luck with both.
Will you do me a favor,--a great favor?"

"If in my power, you may be certain I will. What is it?"

"Take me over to the Priory; I want to see it. You can find some pretext
to present me to the Chief Baron, and obtain his leave to wander through
the grounds."

"I perceive--I apprehend," said Beattie, slyly. "There is no difficulty
in this. The old Judge cherishes the belief that the spot is little
short of sacred; he only wonders why men do not come as pilgrims to
visit it. There is a tradition of Addison having lived there, while
secretary in Ireland; Curran certainly did; and a greater than either
now illustrates the locality."

It was thus that Trafford came to be there; with what veneration for the
haunts of genius let the reader picture to himself!

"His Lordship is waiting dinner, sir," said a servant, abruptly, as he
sat there--thinking, thinking; and he arose and followed the man to the
house.

The Chief Baron had spent the interval since they parted in preparing
for the evening's display. To have for his guest a youth so imbued
with reverence for Irish genius and ability, was no common event. Young
Englishmen and soldiers, too, were not usually of this stuff; and the
occasion to make a favorable impression was not to be lost.

When he entered the dinner-room, Trafford was struck by seeing that
the table was laid for three, though they were but two; and that on the
napkin opposite to where he sat a small bouquet of fresh flowers was
placed.

"My granddaughter's place, sir," said the old Judge, as he caught his
eye. "It is reserved for her return. May it be soon!"

How gentle the old man's voice sounded as he said this, and how
kindly his eyes beamed! Trafford thought there was something actually
attractive in his features, and wondered he had not remarked it before.

Perhaps on that day when the old Judge well knew how agreeable he was,
what stores of wit and pleasantry he was pouring forth, his convictions
assured him that his guest was charmed. It was a very pardonable
delusion,--he talked with great brilliancy and vigor. He possessed the
gift--which would really seem to be the especial gift of Irishmen of
that day--to be a perfect relater. To a story he imparted that slight
dash of dramatic situation and dialogue that made it lifelike, and yet
never retarded the interest nor prolonged the catastrophe. Acute as was
his wit, his taste was fully as conspicuous, never betraying him for an
instant, so long as his personal vanity could be kept out of view.

Trafford's eager and animated attention showed with what pleasure he
listened; and the Chief, like all men who love to talk and know they
talk well, talked all the better for the success vouchsafed to him. He
even arrived at that stage of triumph in which he felt that his guest
was no common man, and wondered if England really turned out many young
fellows of this stamp,--so well read, so just, so sensible, so keenly
alive to nice distinction, and so unerring in matters of taste.

"You were schooled at Rugby, sir, you told me; and Rugby has reason
to be proud if she can turn out such young men. I am only sorry Oxford
should not have put the fine edge on so keen an intellect."

Trafford blushed at a compliment he felt to be so unmerited, but the old
man saw nothing of his confusion,--he was once again amongst the great
scenes and actors of his early memories.

"I hope you will spare me another day before you leave Ireland. Do you
think you could give me Saturday?" said the Chief, as his guest arose to
take leave.

"I am afraid not, my Lord; we shall be on the march by that day."

"Old men have no claim to use the future tense, or I should ask you to
come and see me when you come back again."

"Indeed will I. I cannot thank you enough for having asked me."

"Why are there not more young men of that stamp?" said the old Judge,
as he looked after him as he went. "Why are they not more generally
cultivated and endowed as he is? It is long since I have found one more
congenial to me in every way. I must tell Beattie I like his friend. I
regret not to see more of him."

It was in this strain Sir William ruminated and reflected; pretty much
like many of us, who never think our critics so just or so appreciative
as when they applaud ourselves.



CHAPTER XLII. NECESSITIES OP STATE

It is, as regards views of life and the world, a somewhat narrowing
process to live amongst sympathizers; and it may be assumed as an axiom,
that no people so much minister to a man's littleness as those who pity
him.

Now, when Lady Lendrick separated from Sir William, she carried away
with her a large following of sympathizers. The Chief Baron was well
known; his haughty overbearing temper at the bar, his assuming attitude
in public life, his turn for sarcasm and epigram, had all contributed to
raise up for him a crowd of enemies; and these, if not individually well
disposed to Lady Lendrick, could at least look compassionately on one
whose conjugal fate had been so unfortunate. All _her_ shortcomings were
lost sight of in presence of _his_ enormities, for the Chief Baron's
temper was an Aaron's rod of irascibility, which devoured every other;
and when the verdict was once passed, that "no woman could live with
him," very few women offered a word in his defence.

It is just possible that if it had not been for this weight in the
opposite scale, Lady Lendrick herself would not have stood so high. Sir
William's faults, however, were accounted to her for righteousness,
and she traded on a very pretty capital in consequence. Surrounded by a
large circle of female friends, she lived in a round of those charitable
dissipations by which some people amuse themselves; and just as dull
children learn their English history through a game, and acquire their
geography through a puzzle, these grown-up children take in their
Christianity by means of deaf and dumb bazaars, balls for blind
institutions, and private theatricals for an orphan asylum. This
devotion, made easy to the lightest disposition, is not, perhaps, a
bad theory,--at least, it does not come amiss to an age which likes to
attack its gravest ills in a playful spirit, to treat consumption with
cough lozenges, and even moderate the excesses of insanity by soft
music. There is another good feature, too, in the practice: it furnishes
occupation and employment to a large floating class which,' for the
interest and comfort of society, it is far better should be engaged in
some pursuit, than left free to the indulgence of censorious tastes and
critical habits. Lady Lendrick lived a sort of monarch amongst
these. She was the patroness of this, the secretary of that, and
the corresponding member of some other society. Never was an active
intelligence more actively occupied; but she liked it all, for she liked
power, and, strange as it may seem, there is in a small way an
exercise of power even in these petty administrations. Loud, bustling,
overbearing, and meddlesome, she went everywhere, and did everything.
The only sustaining hope of those she interfered with was that she was
too capricious to persist in any system of annoyance, and was prone
to forget to-day the eternal truths she had propounded for reverence
yesterday.

I am not sure that she conciliated--I am not sure that she would have
cared for--much personal attachment; but she had what certainly she
did like, a large following of very devoted supporters. All her little
social triumphs--and occasionally she had such--were blazoned abroad by
those people who loved to dwell on the courtly attentions bestowed
upon their favorite, what distinguished person had taken her "down" to
dinner, and the neat compliment that the Viceroy paid her on the taste
of her "tabinet."

It need scarcely be remarked that the backwater of all this admiration
for Lady Lendrick was a swamping tide of ill-favor for her husband. It
would have been hard to deny him ability and talent. But what had he
made of his ability and talent? The best lawyer of the bar was not even
Chief-Justice of the Queen's Bench. The greatest speaker and scholar of
his day was unknown, except in the reminiscences of a few men almost
as old as himself. Was the fault in himself, or was the disqualifying
element of his nature the fact of being an Irishman? For a number of
years the former theory satisfied all the phenomena of the case, and
the restless, impatient disposition--irritable, uncertain, and almost
irresponsible--seemed reason enough to deter the various English
officials who came over from either seeking the counsels or following
the suggestions of the bold Baron of the Exchequer. A change, however,
had come, in pail; induced by certain disparaging articles of the
English press as to the comparative ability of the two countries; and
now it became the fashion to say that had Sir William been born on
the sunnier side of St. George's Channel, and had his triumphs been
displayed at Westminster instead of the Four Courts, there would have
been no limit to the praise of his ability as a lawyer, nor any delay in
according him the highest honors the Crown could bestow.

Men shook their heads, recalled the memorable "curse" recorded by Swift,
and said, "Of course there is no favor for an Irishman." It is not the
place nor the time to discuss this matter here. I would only say that
a good deal of the misconception which prevails upon it is owing to the
fact that the qualities which win all the suffrages of one country are
held cheaply enough in the other. Plodding unadorned ability, even of
a high order, meets little favor in Ireland, while on the other side
of the Channel Irish quickness is accounted as levity, and the rapid
appreciation of a question without the detail of long labor and thought,
is set down as the lucky hit of a lively but very idle intelligence.
I will not let myself wander away further in this digression, but come
back to my story. Connected with this theory of Irish depreciation, was
the position that but for the land of his birth Sir William would have
been elevated to the peerage.

Of course it was a subject to admit of various modes of telling,
according to the tastes, the opportunities, and the prejudices of the
tellers. The popular version of the story, however, was this: that Sir
William declined to press a claim that could not have been resisted,
on account of the peculiarly retiring, unambitious character of him
who should be his immediate successor. His very profession--adopted
and persisted in, in despite of his father's wish--was a palpable
renunciation of all desire for hereditary honor. As the old Judge said,
"The _Libro d, Oro_ of nobility is not the Pharmacopoeia;" and the
thought of a doctor in the peerage might have cost "Garter" a fit of
apoplexy.

Sir William knew this well,--no man better; but the very difficulties
gave all the zest and all the flavor to the pursuit. He lived, too, in
the hope that some Government official might have bethought him of this
objection, that he might spring on him, tiger-like, and tear him in
fragments.

"Let them but tell me this," muttered he, "and I will rip up the whole
woof, thread by thread, and trace them! The noble duke whose ancestor
was a Dutch pedler, the illustrious marquess whose great-grandfather was
a smuggler, will have to look to it. Before this cause be called on I
would say to them, better to retain me for the Crown! Ay, sirs, such is
my advice to you."

While these thoughts agitated Sir William's mind, the matter of them
was giving grave and deep preoccupation to the Viceroy. The Cabinet had
repeatedly pressed upon him the necessity of obtaining the Chief Baron's
retirement from the bench,--a measure the more imperative that while
they wanted to provide for an old adherent, they were equally anxious to
replace him in the House by an abler and readier debater; for so is it,
when dulness stops the way, dulness must be promoted,--just as the most
tumble-down old hackney-coach must pass on before my Lord's carriage can
draw up.

"Pemberton must go up," said the Viceroy. "He made a horrid mess of that
explanation t' other night in the House. His law was laughed at, and
his logic was worse; he really must go on the bench. Can't you hit upon
something, Balfour? Can you devise nothing respecting the Chief Baron?"

"He 'll take nothing but what you won't give him; I hear he insists on
the peerage."

"I'd give it, I declare,--I 'd give it to-morrow. As I told the Premier
t' other day, Providence always takes care that these law lords have
rarely successors. They are life peerages and no more; besides, what
does it matter a man more or less in 'the Lords'? The peer without
hereditary rank and fortune is like the officer who has been raised from
the ranks,--he does not dine at mess oftener than he can help it."

Balfour applauded the illustration, and resolved to use it as his own.

"I say again," continued his Excellency, "I'd give it, but they won't
agree with me; they are afraid of the English bar,--they dread what the
benchers of Lincoln's Inn would say."

"They'd only say it for a week or two," mumbled Balfour.

"So I remarked: you'll have discontent, but it will be passing. Some
newspaper letters will appear, but Themis and Aristides will soon tire,
and if they should not, the world who reads them will tire; and probably
the only man who will remember the event three months after will be the
silversmith who is cresting the covered dishes of the new creation. You
think you can't go and see him, Balfour?"

"Impossible, my Lord, after what occurred between us the last time."

"I don't take it in that way. I suspect he 'll not bear any malice.
Lawyers are not thin-skinned people; they give and take such hard knocks
that they lose that nice sense of injury other folks are endowed with. I
think you might go."

"I 'd rather not, my Lord," said he, shaking his head.

"Try his wife, then."

"They don't live together. I don't know if they're on speaking terms."

"So much the better,--she'll know every chink of his armor, and perhaps
tell us where he is vulnerable. Wait a moment. There has been some talk
of a picnic on Dalkey Island. It was to be a mere household affair. What
if you were to invite her?--making of course the explanation that it was
a family party, that no cards had been sent out; in fact, that it was to
be so close a thing the world was never to hear of it."

"I think the bait would be irresistible, particularly when she found out
that all her own set and dear friends had been passed over."

"Charge her to secrecy,--of course she'll not keep her word."

"May I say we 'll come for her? The great mystery will be so perfectly
in keeping with one of the household carriages and your Excellency's
liveries."

"Won't that be too strong, Balfour?" said the Viceroy, laughing.

"Nothing is too strong, my Lord, in this country. They take their
blunders neat as they do their sherry, and I'm sure that this part of
the arrangement will, in the gossip it will give rise to, be about the
best of the whole exploit."

"Take your own way, then; only make no such mistake as you made with
the husband. No documents, Balfour,--no documents, I beg;" and with
this warning laughingly given, but by no means so pleasantly taken, his
Excellency went off and left him.



CHAPTER XLIII. MR. BALFOUR'S MISSION

Lady Lendrick was dictating to her secretary, Miss Morse, the Annual
Report of the "Benevolent Ballad-Singers' Aid Society," when her servant
announced the arrival of Mr. Cholmondely Balfour. She stopped abruptly
short at a pathetic bit of description,--"The aged minstrel, too old
for erotic poetry, and yet debarred by the stern rules of a repressive
policy from the strains of patriotic song,"--for, be it said
parenthetically, Lady Lendrick affected "Irishry" to a large
extent,--and, dismissing Miss Morse to an adjoining room, she desired
the servant to introduce Mr. Balfour.

Is it fancy, or am I right in supposing that English officials have a
manner specially assumed for Ireland and the Irish,--a thing like the
fur cloak a man wears in Russia, or the snowshoes he puts on in Lapland,
not intended for other latitudes, but admirably adapted for the locality
it is made for? I will not insist that this theory of mine is faultless,
but I appeal to a candid public of my own countrmen if they have not
in their experience seen what may support it. I do not say it is a bad
manner,--a presuming manner,--a manner of depreciation towards these it
is used to, or a manner indicative of indifference in him who uses it. I
simply say that they who employ it keep it as especially for Ireland as
they keep their macintosh capes for wet weather, and would no more think
of displaying it in England than they would go to her Majesty's levee in
a shooting-jacket. Mr. Balfour was not wanting in this manner. Indeed,
the Administration of which he formed a humble part were all proficients
in it. It was a something between a mock homage and a very jocular
familiarity, so that when he arose after a bow, deep and reverential
enough for the presence of majesty, he lounged over to a chair and threw
himself down with the ease and unconcern of one perfectly at home.

"And how is my Lady? and how are the fourscore and one associations for
turnkeys' widows and dog-stealers' orphans doing? What 's the last new
thing in benevolence? Do tell me, for I 've won five shillings at loo,
and want to invest it."

"You mean you have drawn your quarter's salary, Mr. Balfour."

"No, by Jove; they don't pay us so liberally. We have the run of our
teeth and no more."

"You forget your tongue, sir; you are unjust."

"Why, my Lady, you are as quick as Sir William himself; living with that
great wit has made you positively dangerous."

"I have not enjoyed over-much of the opportunity you speak of."

"Yes, I know that; no fault of yours, though. The world is agreed on
that point. I take it he's about the most impossible man to live with
the age has yet produced. Sewell has told me such things of him!--things
that would be incredible if I had not seen him."

"I beg pardon for interrupting, but of course you have not come to
dilate on the Chief Baron's defects of temper to his wife."

"No, only incidentally,--parenthetically, as one may say,--just as one
knocks over a hare when he's out partridge-shooting."

"Never mind the hare, then, sir; keep to your partridges."

"My partridges! my partridges! which are my partridges? Oh, to be sure!
I want to talk to you about Sewell. He has told you perhaps how ill we
have behaved to him,--grossly, shamefully ill, I call it."

"He has told me that the Government object to his having this
appointment, but he has not explained on what ground."

"Neither can I. Official life has its mysteries, and, hate them as one
may, they must be respected; he ought n't to have sold out,--it was
rank folly to sell out. What could he have in the world better than
a continued succession of young fellows fresh from home, and knowing
positively nothing of horse-flesh or billiards?"

"I don't understand you, sir,--that is, I hope I misunderstand you,"
said she, haughtily.

"I mean simply this, that I'd rather be a lieutenant-colonel with such
opportunities than I 'd be Chairman of the Great Overland."

"Opportunities--and for what?"

"For everything,--for everything; for game off the balls, on every race
in the kingdom, and as snug a thing every night over a devilled kidney
as any man could wish for. Don't look shocked,--it's all on the square;
that old hag that was here last week would have given her diamond
ear-rings to find out something against Sewell, and she could n't."

"You mean Lady Trafford?"

"I do. She stayed a week here just to blacken his character, and she
never could get beyond that story of her son and Mrs. Sewell."

"What story? I never heard of it."

"A lie, of course, from beginning to end; and it's hard to imagine that
she herself believed it."

"But what was it?"

"Oh, a trumpery tale of young Trafford having made love to Mrs. Sewell,
and proposed to run off with her, and Sewell having played a game at
écarté on it, and lost,--the whole thing being knocked up by Trafford's
fall. But you must have heard it! The town talked of nothing else for a
fortnight."

"The town never had the insolence to talk of it to _me_."

"What a stupid town! If there be anything really that can be said to be
established in the code of society, it is that you may say anything
to anybody about their relations. But for such a rule how could
conversation go on?--who travels about with his friend's family-tree
in his pocket? And as to Sewell,--I suppose I may say it,--he has not a
truer friend in the world than myself."

She bowed a very stiff acknowledgment of the speech, and he went on: "I
'm not going to say he gets on well with his wife,--but who does? Did
you ever hear of him who did? The fact I take to be this, that every one
has a certain capital of good-nature and kindliness to trade on, and he
who expends this abroad can't have so much of it for home consumption;
that's how your insufferable husbands are such charming fellows for the
world! Don't you agree with me?"

A very chilling smile, that might mean anything, was all her reply.

"I was there all the time," continued he, with unabated fluency. "I
saw everything that went on: Sewell's policy was what our people call
non-intervention; he saw nothing, heard nothing, believed nothing; and
I will say there 's a great deal of dignity in that line; and when your
servant comes to wake you in the morning, with the tidings that your
wife has run away, you have established a right before the world to be
distracted, injured, overwhelmed, and outraged to any extent you may
feel disposed to appear."

"Your thoughts upon morals are, I must say, very edifying, sir."

"They 're always practical, so much I will say. This world is a
composite sort of thing, with such currents of mixed motives running
through it, if a man tries to be logical he is sure to make an ass of
himself, and one learns at last to become as flexible in his opinions
and as elastic as the great British constitution.

"I am delighted with your liberality, sir, and charmed with your candor;
and as you have expressed your opinion so freely upon my husband and my
son, would it appear too great a favor if I were to ask what you would
say of myself?"

"That you are charming, Lady Lendrick,--positively charming,"
replied he, rapturously. "That there is not a grace of manner, nor
a captivation, of which you are not mistress; that you possess that
attraction which excels all others in its influence; you render all who
come within the sphere of your fascination so much your slaves that the
cold grow enthusiastic, the distrustful become credulous, and even
the cautious reserve of office gives way, and the well-trained private
secretary of a Viceroy betrays himself into indiscretions that would
half ruin an aide-de-camp."

"I assure you, sir, I never so much as suspected my own powers."

"True as I am here; the simple fact is, I have come to say so."

"You have come to say so! What do you mean?"

With this he proceeded to explain that her Excellency had deputed him
to invite Lady Lendrick to join the picnic on the island. "It was
so completely a home party, that, except himself and a few of the
household, none had even heard of it. None but those really intimate
will be there," said he; "and for once in our lives we shall be able
to discuss our absent friends with that charming candor that gives
conversation its salt. When we had written down all the names, it was
her Excellency said, 'I 'd call this perfect if I could add one more to
the list.' 'I'll swear I know whom you mean,' said his Excellency; and
he took his pencil and wrote a line on a card. 'Am I right?' asked he.
She nodded, and said, 'Balfour, go and ask her to come. Be sure you
explain what the whole thing is, how it was got up, and that it must not
be talked of.' Of course, do what one will, these things do get about.
Servants will talk of them, and tradespeople talk of them, and we must
expect a fair share of ill-nature and malice from that outer world which
was not included in the civility; but it can't be helped. I believe it's
one of the conditions of humanity, that to make one man happy you may
always calculate on making ten others miserable."

This time Lady Lendrick had something else to think of besides Mr.
Balfour's ethics, and so she only smiled and said nothing.

"I hope I 'm to bring back a favorable answer," said he, rising to take
leave. "Won't you let me say that we 're to call for you?"

"I really am much flattered. I don't know how to express my grateful
sense of their Excellencies' recollection of me. It is for Wednesday,
you say?"

"Yes, Wednesday. We mean to leave town by two o'clock, and there will be
a carriage here for you by that hour. Will that suit you?"

"Perfectly."

"I am overjoyed at my success. Good-bye till Wednesday, then." He moved
towards the door, and then stopped. "What was it? I surely had something
else to say. Oh, to be sure, I remember. Tell me, if you can, what are
Sir William's views about retirement: he is not quite pleased with us
just now, and we can't well approach him; but we really would wish to
meet his wishes, if we could manage to come at them." All this he said
in a sort of careless, easy way, as though it were a matter of little
moment, or one calling for very slight exercise of skill to set right.

"And do you imagine he has taken me into his confidence, Mr. Balfour?"
asked she, with a smile.

"Not formally, perhaps,--not what we call officially; but he may have
done so in that more effective way termed 'officiously.'"

"Not even that. I could probably make as good a guess about your own
future intentions as those of the Chief Baron."

"You have heard him talk of them?"

"Scores of times."

"And in what tone,--with what drift?"

"Always as that of one very ill-used, hardly treated, undervalued, and
the like."

"And the remedy? What was the remedy?"

"To make him a peer,--at least, so his friends say."

"But taking that to be impossible, what next?"

"He becomes 'impossible' also," said she, laughing.

"Are we to imagine that a man of such intelligence as he possesses
cannot concede something to circumstances,--cannot make allowances for
the exigencies of 'party,'--cannot, in fact, take any other view of a
difficulty but the one that must respond to his own will?"

"Yes; I think that is exactly what you are called on to imagine. You
are to persuade yourself to regard this earth as inhabited by the Chief
Baron, and some other people not mentioned specifically in the census."

"He is most unreasonable, then."

"Of course he is; but I wouldn't have you tell him so. You see, Mr.
Balfour, the Chief imagines all this while that he is maintaining and
upholding the privileges of the Irish Bar. The burden of his song is,
'There would have been no objection to my claim had I been the Chief
Baron of the English Court.'"

"Possibly," murmured Balfour; and then, lower again, "Fleas are not--"

"Quite true," said she, for her quick ear caught his words,--"quite
true. Fleas are not lobsters,--bless their souls! But, as I said before,
I 'd not remind them of that fact. 'The Fleas' are just sore enough upon
it already."

Balfour for once felt some confusion. He saw what a slip he had made,
and now it had damaged his whole negotiation. Nothing but boldness would
avail now, and he resolved to be bold.

"There is a thing has been done in England, and I don't see why we might
not attempt it in the present case. A great lawyer there obtained a
peerage for his wife--"

She burst out into a fit of laughter at this, at once so hearty and so
natural that at last he could not help joining, and laughing too.

"I must say, Mr. Balfour," said she, as soon as she could speak,--"I
must say there is ingenuity in your suggestion. The relations that
subsist between Sir William and myself are precisely such as to
recommend your project."

"I am not so sure that they are obstacles to it. I have always heard
that he had a poor opinion of his son, who was a common-place sort of
man that studied medicine. It could be no part of the Chief Baron's plan
to make such a person the head of a house. Now, he likes Sewell, and he
dotes on that boy,--the little fellow I saw at the Priory. These are all
elements in the scheme. Don't you think so?"

"Let me ask you one question before I answer yours: Does this thought
come from yourself alone, or has it any origin in another quarter?"

"Am I to be candid?"

"You are."

"And are _you_ to be confidential?"

"Certainly."

"In that case," said he, drawing a long breath, as though about to
remove a perilous weight off his mind, "I will tell you frankly, it
comes from authority. Now, don't ask me more,--not another question. I
have already avowed what my instructions most imperatively forbid me
to own,--what, in fact, would be ruin to me if it were known that I
revealed. What his Excellency--I mean, what the other person said
was, 'Ascertain Lady Lendrick's wishes on this subject; learn, if you
can,--but, above all, without compromising yourself,--whether she really
cares for a step in rank; find out, if so, what aid she can or will lend
us.' But what am I saying? Here am I entering upon the whole detail?
What would become of me if I did not know I might rely upon you?"

"It's worth thinking over," said she, after a pause.

"I should think it is. It is not every day of our lives such a brilliant
offer presents itself. All I ask, all I stipulate for, is that you make
no confidences, ask no advice from any quarter. Think it well over in
your own mind, but impart it to none, least of all to Sewell."

"Of course not to _him_," said she, resolutely, for she knew well to
what purposes he would apply the knowledge.

"Remember that we want to have the resignation before Parliament
meets,--bear that in mind. Time is all-important with us; the rest will
follow in due course." With this he said "Good-bye," and was gone.

"The rest will follow in due course," said she to herself, repeating his
last words as he went. "With your good leave, Mr. Balfour, the 'rest'
shall precede the beginning."

Was n't it Bolingbroke that said constitutional government never could
go on without lying,--audacious lying too? If the old Judge will only
consent to go, her Ladyship's peerage will admit of a compromise. Such
was Mr. Balfour's meditation as he stepped into his cab.



CHAPTER XLIV. AFTER-DINNER THOUGHTS

Her Majesty's--th had got their orders for Malta, and some surmised
for India, though it was not yet known; but all agreed it was
hard,--"confoundedly hard," they called it. "Had n't they had their turn
of Inidan service?--how many years had that grim old major passed in the
Deccan,--what weary winters had the bronzed bald captain there spent at
Rangoon!"

How they inveighed against the national niggardliness that insisted on
making a small army do the work of a large one! How they scouted the
popular idea that regiments were treated alike and without favoritism!
_They_ knew better. They knew that if they had been the Nine Hundred and
Ninth, or Three Thousand and First, there would have been no thought of
sending them back to cholera and jungle fever. Some, with a little sly
flattery, ascribed the order to their efficiency, and declared that they
had done their work so well at Gonurshabad, the Government selected them
at once when fresh troubles were threatening; and a few old grumblers,
tired of service, sick of the Horse Guards,--not over-enamored of
even life,--agreed that it was rank folly to join a regiment where the
Lieutenant-Colonel was not a man of high connections; as they said, "If
old Cave there had been a Lord George or even an Honorable, we 'd have
had ten years more of home service."

With the exception of two or three raw subalterns who had never been out
of England, and who wanted the glory of pig-sticking and the brevet
to tell tiger stories, there were gloom and depression everywhere. The
financially gifted complained that as they had all or nearly all
bought their commissions, there was no comparison between the treatment
administered to them and to officers in any foreign army; and such as
knew geography asked triumphantly whether a Frenchman, who could be only
sent to Africa, or an Austrian, whose most remote banishment was the
"Banat," was in the same position as an unfortunate Briton, who could be
despatched to patrol the North Pole to-day, and to-morrow relieve guard
at New Zealand? By a unanimous vote it was carried that the English
army was the worst paid, hardest worked, and most ill-treated service in
Europe; but the roast-beef played just at the moment, and they went in
to dinner.

As the last bars of that prandial melody were dying away, two men
crossed the barrack-yard towards the mess-house. They were in close
confabulation, and although evidently on their way to dinner, showed by
their loitering pace how much more engrossed they were by the subject
that engaged them than by any desire for the pleasures of the table.
They were Colonel Cave and Sewell.

"I can scarcely picture to my mind as great a fool as that," said
Sewell, angrily. "Can you?"

"I don't know," said Cave, slowly and doubtingly. "First of all, I never
was heir to a large estate; and, secondly, I was never, that I remember,
in love."

"In love! in fiddlestick. Why, he has not seen the girl this year and
half; he scarcely knows her. I doubt greatly if she cares a straw for
him; and for a caprice--a mere caprice--to surrender his right to a fine
fortune and a good position is absolute idiocy; but I tell you more,
Cave, though worse--far worse." Here his voice grew harsh and grating,
as he continued: "When I and other men like me played with Trafford, we
betted with the man who was to inherit Holt. When I asked the fellow to
my house, and suffered a certain intimacy--for I never liked him--it was
because he represented twelve thousand a year in broad acres. I 'd
stand a good deal from a man like that, that I 'd soon pull another up
for,--eh?"

The interrogative here puzzled Cave, who certainly was not a concurring
party to the sentiment, and yet did not want to make it matter of
discussion.

"We shall be late,--we've lost our soup already," said he, moving more
briskly forward.

"I 'd no more have let that fellow take on him, as he did under my roof,
than I 'd sufifer him to kennel his dogs in my dressing-room. You
don't know--you can't know--how he behaved." These words were spoken in
passionate warmth, and still there was that in the speaker's manner that
showed a want of real earnestness; so it certainly seemed to Cave, who
secretly determined to give no encouragement to further disclosures.

"There are things," resumed Sewell, "that a man can't speak on,--at
least, he can only speak of them when they become the talk of the town."

"Come along, I want my dinner. I'm not sure I have not a guest, besides,
who does not know any of our fellows. I only remembered him this
instant. Is n't this Saturday?"

"One thing I 'll swear,--he shall pay me every shilling he owes me, or
he does not sail with the regiment. I 'll stand no nonsense of renewals;
if he has to sell out for it, he shall book up. You have told him, I
hope, he has nothing to expect from my forbearance?"

"We can talk this all over another time. Come along now,--we 're very
late."

"Go on, then, and eat your dinner; leave me to my cigar--I 've no
appetite. I 'll drop in when you have dined."

"No, no; you shall come too,--your absence will only make fellows talk;
they are talking already."

"Are they? and in what way?" asked he, sternly.

"Nothing seriously, of course," mumbled Cave, for he saw how he had
fallen into an indiscretion; "but you must come, and you must be
yourself too. It's the only way to meet flying rumors."

"Come along, then," said Sewell, passing his arm within the other's; and
they hurried forward without another word being spoken by either.

It was evident that Sewell's appearance caused some surprise. There was
a certain awkward significance in the way men looked at him and at each
other that implied astonishment at his presence.

"I didn't know you were down here," said the old Major, making an
involuntary explanation of his look of wonderment.

"Nothing very remarkable, I take it, that a man is stopping at his own
house," said Se well, testily. "No--no fish. Get me some mutton," added
he to the mess-waiter.

"You have heard that we 've got our orders," said a captain opposite
him.

"Yes; Cave told me."

"I rather like it,--that is, if it means India," said a very
young-looking ensign.

Sewell put up his eye-glass and looked at the speaker, and then, letting
it drop, went on with his dinner without a word.

"There 's no man can tell you more about Bengal than Colonel Sewell
there," said Cave, to some one near him. "He served on the staff there,
and knows every corner of it."

"I wish I did n't, with all my heart. It's a sort of knowledge that
costs a man pretty dearly."

"I 've always been told India was a capital place," said a gay,
frank-looking young lieutenant, "and that if a man did n't drink, or
take to high play, he could get on admirably."

"Nor entangle himself with a pretty woman," added another.

"Nor raise a smashing loan from the Agra Bank," cried a third.

"You are the very wisest young gentlemen it has ever been my privilege
to sit down with," said Sewell, with a grin. "Whence could you have
gleaned all these prudent maxims?"

"I got mine," said the Lieutenant, "from a cousin. Such a good fellow
as he was! He always tipped me when I was at Sandhurst, but he's past
tipping any one now."

"Dead?"

"No; I believe it would be better he were; but he was ruined
in India,--'let in' on a race, and lost everything, even to his
commission."

"Was his name Stanley?"

"No, Stapyleton,--Frank Stapyleton,--he was in the Grays."

"Sewell, what are you drinking?" cried Cave, with a loudness that
overbore the talk around him. "I can't see you down there. You 've got
amongst the youngsters."

"I am in the midst of all that is agreeable and entertaining," said
Sewell, with a smile of most malicious meaning. "Talk of youngsters,
indeed! I'd like to hear where you could match them for knowledge of
life and mankind."

There was certainly nothing in his look or manner as he spoke these
words that suggested distrust or suspicion to those around him, for they
seemed overjoyed at his praise, and delighted to hear themselves called
men of the world. The grim old Major at the opposite side of the table
shook his head thoughtfully, and muttered some words to himself.

"They 're a shady lot, I take it," said a young captain to his neighbor,
"those fellows who remain in India, and never come home; either they
have done something they can't meet in England, or they want to do
things in India they couldn't do here."

"There's great truth in that remark," said Sewell. "Captain Neeves, let
us have a glass of wine together. I have myself seen a great deal to
bear out your observation."

Neeves colored with pleasure at this approval, and went on: "I heard of
one fellow--I forget his name--I never remember names; but he had a very
pretty wife, and all the fellows used to make up to her, and pay her
immense attention, and the husband rooked them all at écarté, every man
of them."

"What a scoundrel!" said Sewell, with energy. "You ought to have
preserved the name, if only for a warning."

"I think I can get it, Colonel. I 'll try and obtain it for you."

"Was it Moorcroft?" cried one.

"Or Massingbred?" asked another.

"I'll wager a sovereign it was Dudgeon; wasn't it Dudgeon?"

But no; it was none of the three. Still, the suggestions opened a whole
chapter of biographical details, in which each of these worthies vied
with the other. No man ever listened to the various anecdotes narrated
with a more eager interest than Sewell. Now and then, indeed, a slight
incredulity--a sort of puzzled astonishment that the world could be so
very wicked, that there really were such fellows--would seem to distract
him; but he listened on, and even occasionally asked an explanation
of this or of that, to show the extreme attention he vouchsafed to the
theme.

To be sure, their attempts to describe the way some trick was played
with the cards or the dice, how the horse was "nobbled" or the match
"squared," were neither very remarkable for accuracy nor clearness. They
had not been well "briefed," as lawyers say, or they had not mastered
their instructions. Sewell, however, was no captious critic; he took
what he got, and was thankful.

When they arose from the table, the old Major, dropping behind the line
of those who lounged into the adjoining room, caught a young officer by
the arm, and whispered some few words in his ear.

"What a scrape I 'm in!" cried the young fellow as he listened.

"I think not, this time; but let it be a caution to you how you talk of
rumors in presence of men who are strangers to you."

"I say, Major," asked a young captain, coming up hurriedly, "isn't that
Sewell the man of the Agra affair?"

"I don't think I 'd ask him about it, that's all," said the Major,
slyly, and moved away.

"I got amongst a capital lot of young fellows at my end of the
table--second battalion men, I think,--who were all new to me, but very
agreeable," said Sewell to Cave, as he sipped his coffee.

"You'd like your rubber, Sewell, I know," said Cave; "let us see if we
haven't got some good players."

"Not to-night,--thanks,--I promised my wife to be home early; one of the
chicks is poorly."

"I want so much to have a game with Colonel Sewell," said a young
fellow. "They told me up at Delhi that you hadn't your equal at whist or
billiards."

Sewell's pale face grew flushed; but though he smiled and bowed, it
was not difficult to see that his manner evinced more irritation than
pleasure.

"I say," said another, who sat shuffling the cards by himself at a
table, "who knows that trick about the double ace in picquet? That was
the way Beresford was rooked at Madras."

"I must say good-night," said Sewell; "it's a long drive to the Nest You
'll come over to breakfast some morning before you leave, won't you?"

"I 'll do my best. At all events, I 'll pay my respects to Mrs. Sewell;"
and with a good deal of hand-shaking and some cordial speeches Sewell
took his leave and retired.

Had any one marked the pace at which Sewell drove home that night, black
and dark as it was, he would have said, "There goes one on some errand
of life or death." There was something of recklessness in the way
he pushed his strong-boned thoroughbred, urging him up hill and down
without check or relief, nor slackening rein till he drew up at his own
door, the panting beast making the buggy tremble with the violent action
of his respiration. Low muttering to himself, the groom led the beast
to the stable, and Sewell passed up the stairs to the small drawing-room
where his wife usually sat.

She was reading as he entered; a little table with a tea equipage at
her side. She did not raise her eyes from her book when he came in; but
whether his footstep on the stair had its meaning to her quick ears
or not, a slight flush quivered on her cheek, and her mouth trembled
faintly.

"Shall I give you some tea?" asked she, as he threw himself into a seat.
He made no answer, and she laid down her book, and sat still and silent.

"Was your dinner pleasant?" said she, after a pause.

"How could it be other than pleasant, Madam," said he, fiercely, "when
they talked so much of _you?_"

"Of _me?_--talked of _me?_"

"Just so; there were a set of young fellows who had just joined from
another battalion, and who discoursed of you, of your life in India, of
your voyage home, and lastly of some incidents that were attributed to
your sojourn here. To me it was perfectly delightful. I had my opinion
asked over and over again, if I thought that such a levity was so
perfectly harmless, and such another liberty was the soul of innocence?
In a word, Madam, I enjoyed the privilege, very rarely accorded to a
husband, I fancy, to sit in judgment over his own wife, and say what he
thought of her conduct."

"Was there no one to tell these gentlemen to whom they were speaking?"
said she, with a subdued, quiet tone.

"No; I came in late and took my place amongst men all strangers to me. I
assure you I profited largely by the incident. It is so seldom one gets
public opinion in its undiluted form, it 's quite refreshing to taste
it neat. Of course they were not always correct. I could have set them
right on many points. They had got a totally wrong version of what they
called the 'Agra row,' though one of the party said he was Beresford's
cousin."

She grasped the table convulsively to steady herself, and in so doing
threw it down, and the whole tea equipage with it.

"Yes," continued he, as though responding to this evidence of emotion on
her part,--"yes; it pushed one's patience pretty hard to be obliged to
sit under such criticism."

"And what obliged you, sir? was it fear?"

"Yes, Madam, you have guessed it. I was afraid--terribly afraid to own I
was your husband."

A low faint groan was all she uttered, as she covered her face with her
hands. "I had next," continued he, "to listen to a dispute as to whether
Trafford had ever seriously offered to run away with you or not. It was
almost put to the vote. Faith, I believe my casting voice might have
carried the thing either way if I had only known how to give it." She
murmured something too low to be heard correctly, but he caught at
part of it, and said: "Well, that was pretty much what I suspected. The
debate was, however, adjourned; and as Cave called me by my name at the
moment, the confidences came to an abrupt conclusion. As I foresaw that
these youngsters, ignorant of life and manners as they were, would be at
once for making apologetic speeches and such-like, I stole away and
came home, _more domestico_, to ruminate over my enjoyments at my own
fireside."

"I trust, sir, they were strangers to your own delinquencies. I hope
they had no unpleasant reminders to give you of yourself."

"Pardon, Madam. They related several of what you pleasantly call my
delinquencies, but they only came in as the by-play of the scene where
you were the great character. We figured as brigands. It was _you_
always who stunned the victim; _I_ only rifled his pockets--fact, I
assure you. I'm sorry that china is smashed. It was Saxe,--wasn't it?"

She nodded.

"And a present of Trafford's too! What a pity! I declare I believe
we shall not have a single relic of the dear fellow, except it be a
protested bill or two." He paused a moment or so, and then said, "Do you
know, it just strikes me that if they saw how ill--how shamefully you
played your cards in this Trafford affair, they 'd actually absolve you
of all the Circe gifts the world ascribes to you."

She fixed her eyes steadfastly on him, and as her clasped hands dropped
on her knees, she leaned forward and said: "What do you mean by it? What
do you want by this? If these men, whose insolent taunts you had not
courage to arrest or to resent, say truly, whose the fault? Ay, sir,
whose the fault? Answer me, if you dare, and say, was not my shame
incurred to cover and conceal _yours?_"

"Your tragedy-queen airs have no effect upon me. I 've been too long
behind the scenes to be frightened by stage thunder. What is past
is past. You married a gambler; and if you shared his good luck, you
oughtn't to grumble at partaking his bad fortune. If you had been tired
of the yoke, I take it you 'd have thrown it behind you many a day ago."

"If I had not done so, you know well why," said she, fiercely.

"The old story, I suppose,--the dear darlings upstairs. Well, I can't
discuss what I know nothing about. I can only promise you that such ties
would never bind _me_."

"I ask you once again what you mean by this?" cried she, as her lips
trembled and her pale cheeks shook with agitation. "What does it point
to? What am I to do? What am I to be?"

"That's the puzzle," said he, with an insolent levity; "and I 'll be
shot if I can solve it! Sometimes I think we 'd do better to renounce
the partnership, and try what we could do alone; and sometimes I
suspect--it sounds odd, does n't it?--but I suspect that we need each
other."

She had by this time buried her face between her hands, and by the
convulsive motion of her shoulders, showed she was weeping bitterly.

"One thing is certainly clear," said he, rising, and standing with his
back to the fire,--"if we decide to part company, we have n't the means.
If either of us would desert the ship, there 's no boat left to do it
with."

She arose feebly from her chair, but sank down again, weak and overcome.

"Shall I give you my arm?" asked he.

"No; send Jane to me," said she, in a voice barely above a whisper.

He rang the bell, and said, "Tell Jane her mistress wants her;" and with
this he searched for a book on the table, found it, and strolled off to
his room, humming an air as he went.



CHAPTER XLV. THE TIDELESS SHORES

They who only know the shores of the Mediterranean in the winter months,
and have but enjoyed the contrast--and what a contrast!--between our
inky skies and rain-charged atmosphere with that glorious expanse of
blue heaven and that air of exciting elasticity,--they, I say, can still
have no conception of the real ecstasy of life in a southern climate
till they have experienced a summer beside the tideless sea.

Nothing is more striking in these regions than the completeness of
the change from day to night. It is not alone the rapidity with which
darkness succeeds,--and in this our delicious twilight is ever to be
regretted; what I speak of is the marvellous transition from the world
of sights and sounds to the world of unbroken silence and dimness. In
the day the whole air rings with life. The flowers flaunt out their
gorgeous petals, not timidly or reluctantly, but with the bold
confidence of admitted beauty. The buds unfold beneath your very eyes,
the rivulets sing in the clear air, and myriads of insects chirp till
the atmosphere seems to be charged with vitality. This intense vitality
is the striking characteristic of the scene; and it is to this that
night succeeds, grand, solemn, and silent, at first to all seeming in
unrelieved blackness, but soon to be displayed in a glorious expanse
of darkest, deepest blue, with stars of surpassing size. To make this
change more effective, too, it is instantaneous. It was but a moment
back, and you were gazing on the mountain peaks bathed in an opal
lustre, the cicala making the air vibrate with his song; a soft
sea-breeze was blowing, and stirring the oranges amongst the leaves;
and now all is dim and silent and breathless, as suddenly as though an
enchanter's wand had waved and worked the miracle.

In a little bay--rather a cleft in the shore than a bay--bounded by
rocks and backed by a steep mountain overgrown with stunted olives,
stood a small cottage,--so very small that it looked rather like a toy
house than a human dwelling, a resemblance added to now as the windows
lay wide open, and all the interior was a blaze of light from two lamps.
All was still and silent within; no human being was to be seen, nor was
there a sign of life about the place; for it was the only dwelling on
the eastern shore of the island, and that island was Maddalena, off
Sardinia.

In a little nook among the rocks, close to the sea, sat Tom and Lucy
Lendrick. They held hands, but were silent; for they had come down into
the darkness to muse and ponder, and drink in the delicious tranquillity
of that calm hour. Lucy had now been above a week on the island, and
every day Tom made progress towards recovery. She knew exactly, and
as none other knew, what amount of care and nursing he would accept of
without resistance,--where companionship would gratify and where oppress
him; she knew, besides, when to leave him to the full swing of his own
wild discursive talk, and never to break in upon his moods of silent
reflection.

For upwards of half an hour they had sat thus without a word, when Tom,
suddenly turning round, and looking towards the cottage, said, "Is n't
this the very sort of thing we used to imagine and wish for long ago,
Lucy?"

"It was just what was passing through my mind. I was thinking how often
we longed to have one of the islands on Lough Derg, and to go and live
there all by ourselves."

"We never dreamed of anything so luxurious as this, though. We knew
nothing of limes and oranges, Lucy. We never fancied such a starry
sky, or an air so loaded with perfume. I declare," cried he, with more
energy, "it repays one for all the disappointment, to come and taste the
luxury of such a night as this."

"And what is the disappointment you speak of, Tom?"

"I mean about our project-that blessed mine, by which we were to have
amassed a fortune, and which has only yielded lead enough to shoot
ourselves with."

"I never suspected that," said she, with a sigh.

"Of course you never did; nor am I in a great hurry to tell it even now.
I'd not whisper it if Sir Brook were on the same island with us. Do you
know, girl, that he resents a word against the mine as if it was a stain
upon his own honour. For a while I used to catch up his enthusiasm, and
think if we only go on steadily, if we simply persist, we are sure to
succeed in the end. But when week after week rolled over, and not a
trace of a mineral appeared when the very workmen said we were toiling
in vain when I felt half-ashamed to meet the jeering questions of
the neighbours, and used to skulk up to the shaft by the back way,--he
remarked it, and said to me one morning, 'I am afraid, Tom, it is
your sense of loyalty to me that keeps you here, and not your hope of
success. Be frank, and tell me if this be so.' I blundered out something
about my determination to share his fate, whatever it might be, and it
would have been lucky if I had stopped there; but I went on to say that
I thought the mine was an arrant delusion, and that the sooner we turned
our backs on it, and addressed our energies to another quarter, the
better. 'You think so?' said he, looking almost fiercely at me. 'I am
certain of it,' said I, decisively; for I thought the moment had come
when a word of truth could do him good service. He went out without
speaking, and instead of going to Lavanna, where the mine is, he went
over to Cagliari, and only came home late at night. The next morning,
while we were taking our coffee before 'setting out, he said to me,
'Don't strap on your knapsack to-day. I don't mean you should come down
into the shaft again.' 'How so?' asked I; 'what have I said or done that
could offend you?' 'Nothing, my dear boy,' said he, laying his hand on
my shoulder; 'but I cannot bear you should meet this dreary life of toil
without the one thing that can lighten its gloom--Hope. I have managed,
therefore, to raise a small sum on the mine; for,' said he, with a sly
laugh, 'there are men in Cagliari who don't take the despondent view
you have taken of it; and I have written to my old friend at the Horse
Guards to give you a commission, and you shall go and be a soldier.'
And leave you here, sir, all alone?' 'Far from alone, lad. I have that
companion which you tell me never joined _you_. I have Hope with _me_.'

"'Then I'll stay too, sir, and try if he'll not give me his company yet.
At all events, I shall have _yours_; and there is nothing I know that
could recompense me for the loss of it.' It was not very easy to turn
him from his plan, but I insisted so heartily-for I'd have stayed on
now, if it were to have entailed a whole life of poverty-that he gave in
at last; and from that hour to this, not a word of other than agreement
has passed between us. For my own part, I began to work with a will,
and a determination that I never felt before; and perhaps I overtaxed my
strength, for I caught this fever by remaining till the heavy dews began
to fall, and in this climate it is always a danger."

"And the mine, Tom--did it grow better?" "Not a bit. I verily believe
we never saw ore from that day. We got upon yellow clay, and lower down
upon limestone rock, and then upon water; and we are pumping away yet,
and old Sir Brook is just as much interested by the decrease of the
water as if he saw a silver floor beneath it. 'We've got eight inches
less this morning, Tom; we are doing famously now.' I declare to you,
Lucy, when I saw his fine cheery look and bright honest eye, I thought
how far better this man's fancies are than the hard facts of other
people; and I'd rather have his great nature than all the wealth success
could bring us."

"My own dear brother!" was all she could say, as she grasped his hand,
and held it with both her own.

"The worst of all is, that in the infatuation he feels about this mining
project he forgets everything else. Letters come to him from agents and
men of business asking for speedy answers; some occasionally come to
tell that funds upon which he had reckoned to meet certain payments
had been withdrawn from his banker long sinca When he reads these, he
ponders a moment, and mutters, 'The old story, I suppose. It is so easy
to write Brook Fossbrooke;' and then the whole seems to pass out of his
mind, and he'll say, 'Come along, Tom; we must push matters a little;
I'll want some coin by the end of the month.'

"When I grew so weak that I could n't go to the mine, the accounts he
used to give me daily made me think we must be prospering. He would come
back every night so cheery and so hopeful, and his eyes would sparkle
as he 'd tell of a bright vein that they 'd just 'struck.' He owned that
the men were less sanguine, but what could they know? They had no other
teaching than the poor experiences of daily labor. If they saw lead or
silver, they believed in it. To him, however, the signs of the coming
ore were enough; and then he would open a paper full of dark earth in
which a few shining particles might be detected, and point them out to
me as the germs of untold riches. 'These are silver, Tom, every one
of them; they are oxidized, but still perfectly pure. I 've seen the
natives in Ceylon washing earth not richer than this;' and the poor
fellow would make this hopeful tidings the reason for treating me to
champagne, which in an unlucky moment the doctor said would be good for
me, and which Sir Brook declared always disagreed with him. But I don't
believe it, Lucy,--I don't believe it! I am certain that he suffered
many a privation to give me luxuries that he would n't share. Shall I
tell you the breakfast I saw him eating one morning? I had gone to his
room to speak to him before he started to the mine, and, opening the
door gently, I surprised him at his breakfast,--a piece of brown bread
and a cup of coffee without milk was his meal, to support him till he
came home at nightfall. I knew if he were aware that I had seen him that
it would have given him great distress, so I crept quietly back to my
bed, and lay down to think of this once pampered, flattered gentleman,
and how grand the nature must be that could hold up uncomplaining and
unshaken under such poverty as this. Nor is it that he ignores the past,
Lucy, or strives to forget it,--far from that. He is full of memories
of bygone events and people, but he talks of his own part in the grand
world he once lived in as one might talk of another individual; nor is
there the semblance of a regret that all this splendor has passed away
never to return. He will be here on Sunday to pay us a visit, Lucy; and
though perhaps you 'll find him sadly changed in appearance, you 'll see
that his fine nature is the same as ever."

"And will he persist in this project, Tom, in spite of all failure and
in defiance of hope?"

"That's the very point I 'm puzzled about. If he decide to go on, so
must I. I 'll not leave him, whatever come of it."

"No, no, Tom; that I know you will not do."

"His confidence of success is unshaken. It was only t' other night, as
we sat at a very frugal supper, he said, 'You 'll remember all this,
Tom, one of these days; and as you sip your Burgundy, you 'll tell your
friends how jolly we thought ourselves over our little acid wine and an
onion.' I did not dare to say what was uppermost in my thoughts, that I
disbelieved in the Burgundy era."

"It would have been cruel to have done it."

"He had the habit, he tells me, in his days of palmiest prosperity, of
going off by himself on foot, and wandering about for weeks, roughing it
amongst all sorts of people,---gypsies, miners, charcoal-burners in the
German forests, and such-like. He said, without something of this sort,
he would have grown to believe that all the luxuries he lived amongst
were _bona fide_ necessities of life. He was afraid too, he said, they
would become part of him; for his theory is, never let your belongings
master your own nature."

"There is great romance in such a man."

"Ah! there you have it, Lucy; that's the key to his whole temperament;
and I 'd not be surprised if he had been crossed in some early love."

"Would that account for all his capricious ways?" said she, smiling.

"My own experiences can tell me nothing; but I have a sister who could
perhaps help me to an explanation. Eh, Lucy? What think you?"

She tried to laugh off the theme, but the attempt only half succeeded,
and she turned away her head to hide her confusion.

Tom took her hand between his own, and patted it affectionately.

"I want no confessions, my own dear Lucy," said he, gently; "but if
there is anything which, for your own happiness or for my honor, I ought
to know, you will tell me of it, I am certain."

"There is nothing," said she, with a faint gasp.

"And you would tell me if there had been?"

She nodded her head, but did not trust herself to speak.

"And grandpapa, Lucy?" said he, trying to divert her thoughts from what
he saw was oppressing her; "has he forgiven me yet, or does he still
harp on about my presumption and self-sufficiency?"

"He is more forgiving than you think, Tom," said she, smiling.

"I am not so sure of that. He wrote me a long letter some time back,--a
sort of lecture on the faults and shortcomings of my disposition,
in which he clearly showed that if I had all the gifts which my own
self-confidence ascribed to me, and a score more that I never dreamed
of, they would go for nothing,--absolutely nothing, so long as they
were allied with my unparalleled--no, he did n't call it impudence, but
something very near it. He told me that men of my stamp were like the
people who traded on credit, and always cut a sorry figure when their
accounts came to be audited; and, perhaps to stave off the hour of my
bankruptcy, he enclosed me fifty pounds."

"So like him!" said she, proudly.

"I suppose it was. Indeed, as I read his note, I thought I heard him
talking it. There was an acrid flippancy about it that smacked of his
very voice."

"Oh, Tom, I will not let you say that."

"I 'll think it all the same, Lucy. His letter brought him back to my
mind so palpably that I thought I stood there before him on that
morning when he delivered that memorable discourse on my character after
luncheon."

"Did you reply to him?"

"Yes, I replied," said he, with a dry sententiousness that sounded as
though he wished the subject to drop.

"Do tell me what you said. I hope you took it in good part. I am sure
you could not have shown any resentment at his remarks."

"No; I rather think I showed great forbearance. I simply said, 'My dear
Lord Chief Baron, I have to acknowledge the receipt of your letter, of
which I accept everything but the enclosure.--I am, faithfully yours.'"

"And refused his gift?"

"Of course I did. The good counsel without the money, or the last
without the counsel, would have beeu all very well; but coming together,
in what a false position the offer placed me! I remember that same day
we happened to have an unusually meagre dinner, but I drank the old
man's health after it in some precious bad wine; and Sir Brook, who knew
nothing about the letter, joined in the toast, and pronounced a very
pretty little eulogium on his vigor and energy; and thus ended the whole
incident."

"If you only knew him better, Tom! if you knew him as I know him!"

Tom shrugged his shoulders, and merely said, "It was nicely done,
though, not to tell _you_ about this. There was delicacy in _that_."

Lucy went on now to relate all his kind intentions towards Tom when the
news of his illness arrived,--how he had conferred with Beattie about
sending out a doctor, and how, at such a sacrifice to his own daily
habits, he had agreed that she should come out to Cagliari. "And you
don't know how much this cost him, Master Tom," said she, laughing; "for
however little store you may lay by my company, he prizes it, and prizes
it highly too, I promise you; and then there was another reason which
weighed against his letting me come out here,--he has got some absurd
prejudice against Sir Brook. I call it absurd, because I have tried to
find out to what to trace it, and could not; but a chance expression or
two that fell from Mrs. Sewell leads me to suppose the impression was
derived from them."

"I don't believe he knows the Sewells. I never heard him speak of them.
I 'll ask when he comes over here. By the way, how do you like them
yourself?"

"I scarcely know. I liked her at first,--that is, I thought I should
like her; and I fancied, too, it was her wish that I might--but--"

"But what? What does this 'but' mean?"

"It means that she has puzzled me, and my hope of liking her depends on
my discovering that I have misunderstood her."

"That's a riddle, if ever there was one! but I suppose it comes to this,
that if you have read her aright you do not like her."

"I wish I could show you a letter she wrote me."

"And why can't you?"

"I don't think I can tell you even that, Tom."

"What a mysterious damsel you have grown! Does this come of your living
with that great law lord, Lucy? If so, tell him from me he has spoiled
you sadly. How frank you were long ago!"

"That is true," said she, sighing.

"How I wish we could go back to that time, with all its dreaminess and
all its castle-building. Do you remember, Lu, when we used to set off
of a morning in the boat on a voyage of discovery, as we called it, and
find out new islands and new creeks, and give them names?"

"Do I not? Oh, Tom, were we not a thousand times happier then than we
knew we were?"

"That's a bit of a bull, Lucy, but it's true all the same. I know all
you mean, and I agree with you."

"If we had troubles, what light ones they were!"

"Ay, that's true. We were not grubbing for lead in those days, and
finding only quartz; and our poor hearts, Lucy, were whole enough then."
He gave a half malicious laugh as he said this; but, correcting himself
quickly, he drew her towards him and said, "Don't be angry with me, dear
Lu; you know of old what a reckless tongue I 've got."

"Was that thunder, Tom? There it is again. What is it?"

"That's a storm getting up. It's coming from the south'ard. See how the
drift is flying overhead, and all the while the sea beneath is like a
mill-pond! Watch the stars now, and you 'll see how, one by one, they
will drop out, as if extinguished; and mark the little plash--it
is barely audible--that begins upon the beach. There! did you hear
that,--that rushing sound like wind through the trees? That's the sea
getting up. How I wish I was strong enough to stay out here. I 'd like
to show you a 'Levanter,' girl,--a regular bit of Southern passion, not
increasing slowly, like a Northern wrath, but bursting out in its full
fury in an instant. Here it comes!" and as he spoke two claps of thunder
shook the air, followed by a long clattering roll like musketry, and
the sea, upheaving, surged heavily hither and thither, while the air was
still and calm; and then, as though let loose from their caverns, the
winds swept past with a wild shrill whistle that swelled into a perfect
roar. The whole surface of the sea became at once white, and the wind,
sweeping across the crests of the waves, carried away a blinding drift
that added to the darkness. The thunder, too, rolled on unceasingly, and
great flashes of lightning broke through the blackness, and displayed
tall masts and spars of ships far out to sea, rocking fearfully, and in
the next instant lost to sight in the dense darkness.

"Here comes the rain, and we must run for it," said Tom, as a few heavy
drops fell. A solemn pause in the storm ensued, and then, as though the
very sky was rent, the water poured down in cataracts. Laughing merrily,
they made for the cottage, and though but a few yards off, were drenched
thoroughly ere they reached it.

"It's going to be a terrific night," said Tom, as he passed from window
to window, looking to the bars and fastenings. "The great heat always
brings one of the Levant storms, and the fishermen here know it so well
that on seeing certain signs at sunset they draw up all their boats on
shore, and even secure the roofs of their cabins with strong spars and
stones."

"I hope poor old Nicholas is safe by this time. Could he have reached
Cagliari by this?" said Lucy.

"Yes, he is snug enough. The old rogue is sitting at his supper this
minute, cursing the climate and the wine and the place, and the day he
came to it."

"Come, Tom! I think he bears everything better than I expected."

"Bears everything better! Why, child, what has he to bear that you and
I have not to bear? Is there one privation here that falls to his share
without coming to us?"

"And what would be the value of that good blood you are so proud of,
Tom, if it would not make us as proof against petty annoyances as
against big dangers?"

"I declare time and place make no change on you. You are the same
disputatious damsel here that you used to be beside the Shannon. Have
I not told you scores of times you must never quote what one has once
said, when it comes in opposition to a present opinion?"

"But if I cease to quote you, Tom, whence am I to derive those maxims of
wisdom I rely upon so implicitly?"

"Take care, young lady,--take care," said he, shaking his finger at
her. "Every fort has its weak side. If you assail me by the brain, I
may attack you at the heart! How will it be then, eh?" Coloring till
her face and neck were crimson, she tried to laugh; but though her lips
parted, no sound came forth, and after a second or two of struggle, she
said, "Good-night," and rushed away.

"Good-night, Lu," cried he after her. "Look well to your
window-fastenings, or you will be blown away before morning."

END OF VOL. I.





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