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´╗┐Title: Peg O' My Heart
Author: Manners, J. Hartley, 1870-1928
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 "Peg O' My Heart" ***

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Peg O' My Heart


by

J. Hartley Manners



  To
  "LAURIE"

  "--in that which no waters can quench,
  No time forget, nor distance wear away."



PREFACE

Up to the time of publication, December 1922, "Peg o' My Heart" has
been played as a comedy in English in the United States and Canada in
excess of 8000 times, in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and
Ireland in excess of 6000 times, in India 65 times, in the Orient 20
times, in Holland 152 times, and in Scandinavia 23 times. Australia and
New Zealand have seen 701 performances while South Africa has witnessed
229.

Three companies are playing in France where the total performances
exceed 500, the Belgian figures are not yet available, Spain has two
companies, and Italy five, the total figures for these three countries
last-named running well over a thousand performances. In France and
Belgium "Peg de Mon Coeur" is the title for the French language
version, in Italy "Peg del Mio Cuore" is the name of the Italian "Peg",
while her Spanish admirers and translators have named her "Rirri."

Over 194,000 copies of the novel have been sold in the United States,
while the British Empire has bought 51,600 in novel form. In play form
3000 copies have been sold to date. The new film "Peg o' My Heart" in
nine reels is being distributed throughout the entire world, and while
innumerable companies are playing the comedy throughout the United
States, Canada and the British Empire, an internationally-known
composer, Dr. Hugo Felix, is at work upon the score of a "Peg" operetta
in collaboration with its author, so that the young lady may continue
her career in musical form.

The present work is submitted in its original form with the addition of
illustrations taken from the film recently made, through the courtesy
of the Metro Pictures Corporation, for which acknowledgment is
gratefully made.

It is believed that these statistics are unique in theatrical and
publishing history for it will now be possible in any large city to
read or witness "Peg o' My Heart" in the five phases of her career to
date, viz., novel, printed play, acted comedy, photo play and operetta.


J. Hartley Manners.

The Lotes Club, New York City, December, 1922.



CONTENTS


BOOK THE FIRST

The Romance of an Irish Agitator and an English Lady of Quality

     I  The Irish Agitator Makes His First Appearance
    II  The Panorama of a Lost Youth
   III  St. Kernan's Hill
    IV  Nathaniel Kingsnorth Visits Ireland
     V  Angela
    VI  Angela Speaks Her Mind Freely to Nathaniel
   VII  The Wounded Patriot
  VIII  Angela in Sore Distress
    IX  Two Letters
     X  O'Connell Visits Angela in London
    XI  Kingsnorth's Despair
   XII  Looking Forward


BOOK THE SECOND

The End of the Romance

    I  Angela's Confession
   II  A Communication from Nathaniel Kingsnorth
  III  The Birth of Peg


BOOK THE THIRD

Peg

    I  Peg's Childhood
   II  We Meet an Old Friend After Many Years
  III  Peg Leaves Her Father for the First Time


BOOK THE FOURTH

Peg in England

     I  The Chichester Family
    II  Christian Brent
   III  Peg Arrives in England
    IV  The Chichester Family Receive a Second Shock
     V  Peg Meets Her Aunt
    VI  Jerry
   VII  The Passing of the First Month
  VIII  The Temple of Friendship
    IX  The Dance and its Sequel
     X  Peg Intervenes
    XI  "The Rebellion of Peg"
   XII  A Room in New York
  XIII  The Morning After
   XIV  Alaric to the Rescue
    XV  Montgomery Hawkes
   XVI  The Chief Executor Appears on the Scene
  XVII  Peg Learns of Her Uncle's Legacy
 XVIII  Peg's Farewell to England


BOOK THE FIFTH

Peg Returns to Her Father

     I  After Many Days
    II  Looking Backward
   III  An Unexpected Visitor


Afterword



CHAPTER I

THE IRISH AGITATOR MAKES HIS FIRST APPEARANCE


"Faith, there's no man says more and knows less than yerself, I'm
thinkin'."

"About Ireland, yer riverence?"

"And everything else, Mr. O'Connell."

"Is that criticism or just temper, Father?"

"It's both, Mr. O'Connell."

"Sure it's the good judge ye must be of ignorance, Father Cahill."

"And what might that mane?"

"Ye live so much with it, Father."

"I'm lookin' at it and listenin' to it now, Frank O'Connell."

"Then it's a miracle has happened, Father."

"A miracle?"

"To see and hear one's self at the same time is indade a miracle, yer
riverence."

Father Cahill tightened his grasp on his blackthorn stick, and shaking
it in the other's face, said:

"Don't provoke the Man of God!"

"Not for the wurrld," replied the other meekly, "bein' mesef a Child of
Satan."

"And that's what ye are. And ye'd have others like yerself. But ye
won't while I've a tongue in me head and a sthrong stick in me hand."

O'Connell looked at him with a mischievous twinkle in his blue-grey
eyes:

"Yer eloquence seems to nade somethin' to back it up, I'm thinkin'."

Father Cahill breathed hard. He was a splendid type of the Irish
Parish-Priest of the old school. Gifted with a vivid power of eloquence
as a preacher, and a heart as tender as a woman's toward the poor and
the wretched, he had been for many years idolised by the whole
community of the village of M--in County Clare. But of late there was a
growing feeling of discontent among the younger generation. They lacked
the respect their elders so willingly gave. They asked questions
instead of answering them. They began to throw themselves, against
Father Cahill's express wishes and commands, into the fight for Home
Rule under the masterly statesmanship of Charles Stuart Parnell.
Already more than one prominent speaker had come into the little
village and sown the seeds of temporal and spiritual unrest. Father
Cahill opposed these men to the utmost of his power. He saw, as so many
far-sighted priests did, the legacy of bloodshed and desolation that
would follow any direct action by the Irish against the British
Government. Though the blood of the patriot beat in Father Cahill's
veins, the well-being of the people who had grown up with him was near
to his heart. He was their Priest and he could not bear to think of men
he had known as children being beaten and maimed by constabulary, and
sent to prison afterwards, in the, apparently, vain fight for
self-government.

To his horror that day he met Frank Owen O'Connell, one of the most
notorious of all the younger agitators, in the main street of the
little village.

O'Connell's back sliding had been one of Father Cahill's bitterest
regrets. He had closed O'Connell's father's eyes in death and had taken
care of the boy as well as he could. But at the age of fifteen the
youth left the village, that had so many wretched memories of hardship
and struggle, and worked his way to Dublin. It was many years before
Father Cahill heard of him again. He had developed meanwhile into one
of the most daring of all the fervid speakers in the sacred Cause of
Liberty. Many were the stories told of his narrow escapes from death
and imprisonment. He always had the people on his side, and once away
from the hunt, he would hide in caves, or in mountains, until the hue
and cry was over, and then appear in some totally unexpected town and
call on the people to act in the name of Freedom.

And that was exactly what happened on this particular day. He had
suddenly appeared in the town he was born in and called a meeting on
St. Kernan's Hill that afternoon.

It was this meeting Father Cahill was determined to stop by every means
in his power.

He could hardly believe that this tall, bronzed, powerful young man was
the Frank O'Connell he had watched about the village, as a boy--pale,
dejected, and with but little of the fire of life in him. Now as he
stood before Father Cahill and looked him straight through with his
piercing eye, shoulders thrown back, and head held high, he looked
every inch a born leader of men, and just for a moment the priest
quailed. But only for a moment.

"Not a member of my flock will attend yer meetin' to-day. Not a door
will open this day. Ye can face the constabulary yerself and the few of
the rabble that'll follow ye. But none of my God-fearin' people will
risk their lives and their liberty to listen to you."

O'Connell looked at him strangely. A far-away glint came into his eye,
and the suspicion of a tear, as he answered:

"Sure it's precious little they'd be riskin', Father Cahill; havin' NO
liberty and their lives bein' of little account to them."

O'Connell sighed as the thought of his fifteen years of withered youth
in that poor little village came up before him.

"Let my people alone, I tell ye!" cried the priest. "It's contented
they've been until the likes of you came amongst us."

"Then they must have been easily satisfied," retorted O'Connell, "to
judge by their poor little homes and their drab little lives."

"A hovel may be a palace if the Divine Word is in it," said the priest.

"Sure it's that kind of tachin' keeps Ireland the mockery of the whole
world. The Divine Word should bring Light. It's only darkness I find in
this village," argued O'Connell.

"I've given my life to spreadin' the Light!" said the priest.

A smile hovered on O'Connell's lips as he muttered:

"Faith, then, I'm thinkin' it must be a DARK-LANTERN yer usin', yer
riverence."

"Is that the son of Michael O'Connell talkin'?"

Suddenly the smile left O'Connell's lips, the sneer died on his tongue,
and with a flash of power that turned to white heat before he finished,
he attacked the priest with:

"Yes, it is! It is the son of Michael O'Connell who died on the
roadside and was buried by the charity of his neighbours. Michael
O'Connell, born in the image of God, who lived eight-and-fifty years of
torment and starvation and sickness and misery! Michael O'Connell, who
was thrown out from a bed of fever, by order of his landlord, to die in
sight of where he was born. It's his son is talkin', Father Cahill, and
it's his son WILL talk while there's breath in his body to keep his
tongue waggin'. It's a precious legacy of hatred Michael O'Connell left
his son, and there's no priest, no government, no policeman or soldier
will kape that son from spendin' his legacy."

The man trembled from head to foot with the nervous intensity of his
attack. Everything that had been outraged in him all his life came
before him.

Father Cahill began to realise as he watched him the secret of the
tremendous appeal the man had to the suffering people. Just for a
moment the priest's heart went out to O'Connell, agitator though he was.

"Your father died with all the comforts of the Holy Church," said the
priest gently, as he put his old hand the young man's shoulder.

"The comforts of the church!" scoffed O'Connell. "Praise be to heaven
for that!" He laughed a grim, derisive laugh as he went on:

"Sure it's the fine choice the Irish peasant has to-day. 'Stones and
dirt are good enough for them to eat,' sez the British government.
'Give them prayers,' say the priests. And so they die like flies in the
highways and hedges, but with 'all the comforts of the Holy Church'!"

Father Cahill's voice thrilled with indignation as he said:

"I'll not stand and listen to ye talk that way, Frank O'Connell."

"I've often noticed that those who are the first to PREACH truth are
the last to LISTEN to it," said the agitator drily.

"Where would Ireland be to-day but for the priest? Answer me that.
Where would she be? What has my a here been? I accepted the yoke of the
Church when I was scarcely your age. I've given my life to serving it.
To help the poor, and to keep faith and love for Him in their hearts.
To tache the little children and bring them up in the way of God. I've
baptised them when their eyes first looked out on this wurrld of
sorrows. I've given them in marriage, closed their eyes in death, and
read the last message to Him for their souls. And there are thousands
more like me, giving their lives to their little missions, trying to
kape the people's hearts clean and honest, so that their souls may go
to Him when their journey is ended."

Father Cahill took a deep breath as he finished. He had indeed summed
up his life's work. He had given it freely to his poor little flock.
His only happiness had been in ministering to their needs. And now to
have one to whom he had taught his first prayer, heard his first
confession and given him his first Holy Communion speak scoffingly of
the priest, hurt him as nothing else could hurt and bruise him.

The appeal was not lost on O'Connell. In his heart he loved Father
Cahill for the Christ-like life of self-denial he had passed in this
little place. But in his brain O'Connell pitied the old man for his
wasted years in the darkness of ignorance in which so many of the
villages of Ireland seemed to be buried.

O'Connell belonged to the "Young Ireland" movement. They wanted to
bring the searchlight of knowledge into the abodes of darkness in which
the poor of Ireland were submerged. To the younger men it seemed the
priests were keeping the people from enlightenment. And until the
fierce blaze of criticism could be turned on to the government of
cruelty and oppression there was small hope of freeing the people who
had suffered so long in silence. O'Connell was in the front band of men
striving to arouse the sleeping nation to a sense of its own power. And
nothing was going to stop the onward movement. It pained him to differ
from Father Cahill--the one friend of his youth. If only he could alter
the good priest's outlook--win him over to the great procession that
was marching surely and firmly to self-government, freedom of speech
and of action, and to the ultimate making of men of force out of the
crushed and the hopeless. He would try.

"Father Cahill," he began softly, as though the good priest might be
wooed by sweet reason when the declamatory force of the orator failed,
"don't ye think it would be wiser to attend a little more to the
people's BODIES than to their SOULS? to their BRAINS rather than to
their HEARTS? Don't ye?"

"No, I do NOT," hotly answered the priest.

"Well, if ye DID," said the agitator, "if more priests did, it's a
different Ireland we'd be livin' in to-day--that we would. The
Christian's heaven seems so far away when he's livin' in hell. Try to
make EARTH more like a heaven and he'll be more apt to listen to
stories of the other one. Tache them to kape their hovels clean and
their hearts and lives will have a betther chance of health. Above all
broaden their minds. Give them education and the Divine tachin' will
find a surer restin' place. Ignorance and dirt fill the hospitals and
the asylums, and it is THAT so many of the priests are fosterin'."

"I'll not listen to another wurrd," cried Father Cahill, turning away.

O'Connell strode in front of him.

"Wait. There's another thing. I've heard more than one priest boast
that there was less sin in the villages of Ireland than in any other
country. And why? What is yer great cure for vice? MARRIAGE--isn't it?"

"What are ye sayin'?"

"I'm sayin' this, Father Cahill. If a boy looks at a girl twice, what
do ye do? Engage them to be married. To you marriage is the safeguard
against sin. And what ARE such marriages? Hunger marryin' thirst!
Poverty united to misery! Men and women ignorant and stunted in mind
and body, bound together by a sacrament, givin' them the right to bring
others, equally distorted, into the wurrld. And when they're born you
baptise them, and you have more souls entered on the great register for
the Holy Church. Bodies livin' in perpetual torment, with a heaven
wavin' at them all through their lives as a reward for their suffering
here. I tell ye ye're wrong! Ye're wrong! Ye're wrong! The misery of
such marriages will reach through all the generations to come. I'd
rather see vice--vice that burns out and leaves scar-white the lives it
scorches. There is more sin in the HEARTS and MINDS of these poor,
wretched, ill-mated people than in the sinks of Europe. There is some
hope for the vicious. Intelligence and common-sense will wean them from
it. But there is no hope for the people whose lives from the cradle to
the grave are drab and empty and sordid and wretched."

As O'Connell uttered this terrible arraignment of the old order of
protecting society by early and indiscriminate marriages, it seemed as
if the mantle of some modern prophet had fallen on him. He had struck
at the real keynote of Ireland's misery to-day. The spirit of
oppression followed them into the privacy of their lives. Even their
wives were chosen for them by their teachers. Small wonder the English
government could enforce brutal and unjust laws when the very freedom
of choosing their mates and of having any voice in the control of their
own homes was denied them.

To Father Cahill such words were blasphemy. He looked at O'Connell in
horror.

"Have ye done?" he asked.

"What else I may have to say will be said on St. Kernan's Hill this
afternoon."

"There will be no meetin' there to-day," cried the priest.

"Come and listen to it," replied the agitator.

"I've forbidden my people to go."

"They'll come if I have to drag them from their homes."

"I've warned the resident-magistrate. The police will be there if ye
thry to hold a meetin'."

"We'll outnumber them ten to one."

"There'll be riotin' and death."

"Better to die in a good cause than to live in a bad one," cried
O'Connell. "It's the great dead who lead the world by their majesty.
It's the bad livin' who keep it back by their infamy."

"Don't do this, Frank O'Connell. I ask you in the name of the Church in
which ye were baptised--by me."

"I'll do it in the name of the suffering people I was born among."

"I command you! Don't do this!"

"I can hear only the voice of my dead father saying: 'Go on!'"

"I entreat you--don't!"

"My father's voice is louder than yours, Father Cahill."

"Have an old man's tears no power to move ye?"

O'Connell looked at the priest. Tears were streaming down his cheeks.
He made no effort to staunch them. O'Connell hesitated, then he said
firmly:

"My father wept in the ditch when he was dyin', dying in sight of his
home. Mine was the only hand that wiped away his tears. I can see only
HIS to-day, Father."

"I'll make my last appeal. What good can this meetin' do? Ye say the
people are ignorant and wretched. Why have them batthered and shot down
by the soldiers?"

"It has always been the martyrs who have made a cause. I am willin' to
be one. I'd be a thraitor if I passed my life without lifting my voice
and my hands against my people's oppressors."

"Ye're throwin' yer life away, Frank O'Connell."

"I wouldn't be the first and I won't be the last"

"Nothing will move ye?" cried the priest.

"One thing only," replied the agitator.

"And what is that?"

"Death!" and O'Connell strode abruptly away.



CHAPTER II

THE PANORAMA OF A LOST YOUTH


As O'Connell hurried through the streets of the little village thoughts
surged madly through his brain. It was in this barren spot he was born
and passed his youth. Youth! A period of poverty and struggle: of empty
dreams and futile hopes. It passed before him now as a panorama. There
was the doctor's house where his father hurried the night he was born.
How often had his mother told him of that night of storm when she gave
her last gleam of strength in giving him life! In storm he was born: in
strife he would live. The mark was on him.

Now he came to the little schoolhouse where he first learned to read.
Facing it Father Cahill's tiny church, where he had learned to pray.
Beyond lay the green on which he had his first fight. It was about his
father. Bruised and bleeding, he crept home that day--beaten. His
mother cried over him and washed his cuts and bathed his bruises. A
flush of shame crept across his face as he thought of that beating. The
result of our first battle stays with us through life. He watched his
conqueror, he remembered for years. He had but one ambition in those
days--to gain sufficient strength to wipe out that disgrace. He trained
his muscles, He ran on the roads at early morning until his breathing
was good. He made friends with an English soldier stationed in the
town, by doing him some slight service. The man had learned boxing in
London and could beat any one in his regiment. O'Connell asked the man
to teach him boxing. The soldier agreed. He found the boy an apt pupil.
O'Connell mastered the art of self-defence. He learned the vulnerable
points of attack. Then he waited his opportunity. One half-holiday,
when the schoolboys were playing on the green, he walked up
deliberately to his conqueror and challenged him to a return
engagement. The boys crowded around them. "Is it another batin' ye'd be
afther havin', ye beggar-man's son?" said the enemy.

O'Connell's reply was a well-timed punch on that youth's jaw, and the
second battle was on.

As O'Connell fought he remembered every blow of the first fight when,
weak and unskilful, he was an easy prey for his victor.

"That's for the one ye gave me two years ago, Martin Quinlan," cried
O'Connell, as he closed that youth's right eye, and stepped nimbly back
from a furious counter.

"And it's a bloody nose ye'll have, too," as he drove his left with
deadly precision on Quinlan's olfactory organ, staggering that amazed
youth, who, nothing daunted, ran into a series of jabs and swings that
completely dazed him and forced him to clinch to save further damage.
But the fighting blood of O'Connell was up. He beat Quinlan out of the
clinch with a well-timed upper-cut that put the youth upon his back on
the green.

"Now take back that 'beggar-man's' son!" shouted O'Connell.

"I'll not," from the grass.

"Then get up and be beaten," screamed O'Connell. The boys danced around
them. It was too good to be true. Quinlan had thrashed them all, and
here was the apparently weakest of them--white-faced
O'Connell--thrashing him. Why, if O'Connell could best him, they all
could. The reign of tyranny was over.

"Fight! Fight!" they shouted, as they crowded around the combatants.

Quinlan rose to his feet only to be put back again on the ground by a
straight right in the mouth. He felt the warm blood against his lips
and tasted the salt on his tongue. It maddened him. He staggered up and
rushed with all his force against O'Connell, who stepped aside and
caught Quinlan, as he stumbled past, full behind the ear. He pitched
forward on his face and did not move. The battle was over.

"And I'll serve just the same any that sez a word against me father!"

Not a boy said a word.

"Fighting O'Connell" he was nicknamed that day, and "Fighting
O'Connell" he was known years afterwards to Dublin Castle.

When he showed his mother his bruised knuckles that night and told her
how he came by them, she cried again as she did two years before. Only
this time they were tears of pride.

From door to door he went.

"St. Kernan's Hill at three," was all he said. Some nodded, some said
nothing, others agreed volubly. On all their faces he read that they
would be there.

On through the village he went until he reached the outskirts. He
paused and looked around. There was the spot on which the little cabin
he was born in and in which his mother died, had stood. It had long
since been pulled down for improvements. Not a sign to mark the tomb of
his youth. It was here they placed his father that bleak November
day--here by the ditch. It was here his father gave up the struggle.
The feeble pulse ebbed. The flame died out.

The years stripped back. It seemed as yesterday. And here HE stood
grown to manhood. He needed just that reminder to stir his blood and
nerve him for the ordeal of St. Kernan's Hill.

The old order was dying out in Ireland.

The days of spiritless bending to the yoke were over. It was a "Young
Ireland" he belonged to and meant to lead. A "Young Ireland" with an
inheritance of oppression and slavery to wipe out. A "Young Ireland"
that demanded to be heard: that meant to act: that would fight step by
step in the march to Westminster to compel recognition of their just
claims. And he was to be one of their leaders. He squared his shoulders
as he looked for the last time on the little spot of earth that once
meant "Home" to him.

He took in a deep breath and muttered through his clenched teeth:

"Let the march begin to-day. Forward!" and he turned toward St.
Kernan's Hill.



CHAPTER III

ST. KERNAN'S HILL


To the summit of the hill climbed up men, women and children. The men
grimy and toil-worn; a look of hopelessness in their eyes: the sob of
misery in their voices. Dragging themselves up after them came the
women--some pressing babies to their breasts, others leading little
children by the hand. The men had begged them to stay at home. There
might be bad work that day, but the women had answered:

"If WE go they won't hurt YOU!" and they pressed on after the leaders.

At three o'clock O'Connell ascended the hill and stood alone on the
great mount.

A cry of greeting went up.

He raised his hand in acknowledgment.

It was strange indeed for him to stand there looking down at the people
he had known since childhood. A thousand conflicting emotions swept
through him as he looked at the men and women whom, only a little while
ago, it seemed, he had known as children. THEN he bent to their will.
The son of a peasant, he was amongst the poorest of the poor. Now he
came amongst them to try and lift them from the depths he had risen
from himself.

"It is Frankie O'Connell himself," cried a voice.

"Him we knew as a baby," said another.

"Fightin' O'Connell! Hooray for him!" shouted a third.

"Mary's own child standin' up there tall and straight to get us freedom
and comfort," crooned an old white-haired woman.

"And broken heads," said another old woman.

"And lyin' in the county-jail himself, mebbe, this night," said a third.

"The Lord be with him," cried a fourth.

"Amen to that," and they reverently crossed themselves.

Again O'Connell raised his hand, this time to command silence.

All the murmurs died away.

O'Connell began--his rich, melodious voice ringing far beyond the
farthest limits of the crowd--the music of his Irish brogue making
cadences of entreaty and again lashing the people into fury at the
memory of Ireland's wrongs.

"Irish men and women, we are met here to-day in the sight of God and in
defiance of the English government," (groans and hisses), "to clasp
hands, to unite our thoughts and to nerve our bodies to the supreme
effort of bringing hope to despair, freedom to slavery, prosperity to
the land and happiness to our homes." (Loud applause.) "Too long have
our forefathers lived under the yoke of the oppressor. Too long have
our old been buried in paupers' graves afther lives of misery no other
counthry in the wurrld can equal. Why should it be the lot of our
people--men and women born to a birthright of freedom? Why? Are ye men
of Ireland so craven that aliens can rule ye as they once ruled the
negro?" ("No, no!") "The African slave has been emancipated and his
emancipation was through the blood and tears of the people who wronged
him. Let OUR emancipation, then, be through the blood and tears of our
oppressors. In other nations it is the Irishman who rules. It is only
in his own counthry that he is ruled. And the debt of hathred and
misery and blasted lives and dead hopes is at our door today. Shall
that debt be unpaid?" ("No, no!") "Look around you. Look at the faces
of yer brothers and sisthers, worn and starved. Look at yer women-kind,
old before they've been young. Look at the babies at their mothers'
breasts, first looking out on a wurrld in which they will never know a
happy thought, never feel a joyous impulse, never laugh with the honest
laughther of a free and contented and God-and-government-protected
people. Are yez satisfied with this?" (Angry cries of "No, no!")

"Think of yer hovels--scorched with the heat, blisthered with the wind
and drenched with the rain, to live in which you toil that their owners
may enjoy the fruits of yer slavery--IN OTHER COUNTHRIES. Think of yer
sons and daughthers lavin' this once fair land in hundhreds of
thousands to become wage-earners across the seas, with their hearts
aching for their homes and their loved ones. The fault is at our own
door. The solution is in our own hands. Isn't it betther to die, pike
in hand, fightin' as our forefathers did, than to rot in filth, and
die, lavin' a legacy of disease and pestilence and weak brains and
famished bodies?" His voice cracked and broke into a high-pitched
hysterical cry as he finished the peroration.

A flame leaped through the mob. The men muttered imprecations as a new
light flashed from their eyes. All their misery fell from them as a
shroud. They only thought of vengeance. They were men again. Their
hearts beat as their progenitors' hearts must have beaten at the Boyne.

The great upheaval that flashed star-like through Ireland from epoch to
epoch, burned like vitriol in their veins.

The women forgot their crying babies as they pressed forward, screaming
their paean of vengeance against their oppressors.

The crowd seemed to throb as some great engine of humanity. It seemed
to think with one brain, beat with one heart and call with one voice.

The cry grew into an angry roar.

Suddenly Father Cahill appeared amongst them. "Go back to your homes,"
he commanded, breathlessly.

"Stay where you are," shouted O'Connell.

"In the name of the Catholic Church, go!" said the priest.

"In the name of our down-trodden and suffering people, stay!" thundered
O'Connell.

"Don't listen to him. Listen to the voice of God!"

"God's help comes to those who help themselves," answered the agitator.

Father Cahill made his last and strongest appeal:

"My poor children, the constabulary are coming to break up the meetin'
and to arrest HIM."

"Let them come," cried O'Connell. "Show them that the spirit of Irish
manhood is not dead. Show them that we still have the power and the
courage to defy them. Tell them we'll meet when and where we think fit.
That we'll not silence our voices while there's breath in our bodies.
That we'll resist their tyranny while we've strength to shouldher a gun
or handle a pike. I appeal to you, O Irishmen, in the name of yer
broken homes; in the name of all that makes life glorious and death
divine! In the name of yer maimed and yer dead! Of yer brothers in
prison and in exile! By the listenin' earth and the watching sky I
appeal to ye to make yer stand to-day. I implore ye to join yer hearts
and yer lives with mine. Lift yer voices with me: stretch forth yer
hands with mine and by yer hopes of happiness here and peace hereafter
give an oath to heaven never to cease fightin' until freedom and light
come to this unhappy land!"

"Swear by all ye hold most dear: by the God who gave ye life: by the
memory of all ye hold most sacred: by the sorrow for yer women and
children who have died of hunger and heart-break: stretch forth yer
hands and swear to give yer lives so that the generations to come may
know happiness and peace and freedom. Swear!"

He stopped at the end of the adjuration, his right hand held high above
his head, his left--palm upward, stretched forward in an attitude of
entreaty.

It seemed as though the SOUL of the man was pleading with them to take
the oath that would bind THEIR souls to the "Cause."

Crowding around him, eyes blazing, breasts heaving, as if impelled by
one common thought, the men and women clamoured with outstretched hands:

"We swear!"

In that moment of exaltation it seemed as if the old Saint-Martyrs'
halo glowed over each, as they took the oath that pledged them to the
"CAUSE,"--the Cause that meant the lifting of oppression and tyranny:
immunity from "buckshot" and the prison-cell: from famine and murder
and coercion--all the component parts of Ireland's torture in her
struggle for her right to self-government.

A moment later the crowd was hushed. A tremour ran through it. The
sounds of marching troops: the unintelligible words of command, broke
in on them.

Father Cahill plunged in amongst them. "The constabulary," he cried.
"Back to your homes."

"Stay where you are," shouted O'Connell.

"I beg you, my children! I command you! I entreat you! Don't have
bloodshed here to-day!" Father Cahill turned distractedly to O'Connell,
crying out to him:

"Tell them to go back! My poor people! Tell them to go back to their
homes while there's time."

Turning his back on the priest, O'Connell faced the crowd:

"You have taken your oath. Would you perjure yourselves at this old
man's bidding? See where the soldiers come. Look--and look well at
them. Their uniforms stand for the badge of tyranny. The glint of their
muskets is the message from their illustrious sovereign of her feeling
to this part of her kingdom. We ask for JUSTICE and they send us
BULLETS. We cry for 'LIBERTY' and the answer is 'DEATH' at the hands of
her soldiers. We accept the challenge. Put yer women and childhren
behind you. Let no man move."

The men hurriedly placed the women and children so that they were
protected from the first onslaught of the soldiery.

Then the men of St. Kernan's Hill, armed with huge stones and sticks,
turned to meet the troops.

Mr. Roche, the resident-magistrate, rode at their head.

"Arrest that man," he cried, pointing to O'Connell.

An angry growl went up from the mob.

Father Cahill hurried to him:

"Don't interfere with them, Mr. Roche. For the love of heaven, don't.
There'll be murder here to-day if ye do."

"I have my instructions, Father Cahill, and it's sorry I am to have to
act under them to-day."

"It isn't the people's fault," pleaded the priest; "indeed it isn't."

"We don't wish to hurt them. We want that man O'Connell."

"They'll never give him up. Wait till to-night and take him quietly."

"No, we'll take him here. He's given the police the slip in many parts
of the country. He won't to-day." The magistrate pushed forward on his
horse through the fringe on the front part of the crowd and reined up
at the foot of the mount.

"Frank Owen O'Connell, I arrest you in the Queen's name for inciting
peaceable citizens to violence," he called up to the agitator.

"Arrest me yerself, Mr. Magistrate Roche," replied O'Connell.

Turning to an officer Roche motioned him to seize O'Connell.

As the officer pressed forward he was felled by a blow from a heavy
stick.

In a second the fight was on.

The magistrate read the riot-act.

He, together with Father Cahill, called to the mob to stop. They
shouted to O'Connell to surrender and disperse the people.

Too late.

The soldiers formed into open formation and marched on the mob.

Maddened and reeling, with no order, no discipline, with only blind
fury and the rushing, pulsing blood--that has won many a battle for
England against a common foe--the men of Ireland hurled themselves upon
the soldiers. They threw their missiles: they struck them with their
gnarled sticks: they beat them with their clenched fists.

The order to "Fire" was given as the soldiers fell back from the
onslaught.

When the smoke cleared away the ranks of the mob were broken. Some lay
dead on the turf; some groaned in the agony of shattered limbs. The
women threw themselves moaning on the bodies. Silence fell like a pall
over the mob. Out of the silence a low angry growl went up. O'Connell
had fallen too.

The soldiers surrounded his prostrate body.

The mob made a rush forward to rescue him. O'Connell stopped them with
a cry:

"Enough for to-day, my men." He pointed to the wounded and dying: "Live
to avenge them. Wait until 'The Day'!" His voice failed. He fell back
unconscious.

Into the midst of the crowd and through the ranks of the soldiers
suddenly rode a young girl, barely twenty years old. Beside her was a
terrified groom. She guided her horse straight to the magistrate. He
raised his hat and muttered a greeting, with a glance of recognition.

"Have him taken to 'The Gap,'" she said imperatively, pointing to the
motionless body of O'Connell.

"He is under arrest," replied the magistrate.

"Do you want another death on your hands? Haven't you done enough in
killing and maiming those unfortunate people?" She looked with pity on
the moaning women: and then with contempt on the officer who gave the
order to fire.

"You ought to be proud of your work to-day!" she said.

"I only carried out my orders," replied the man humbly.

"Have that man taken to my brother's house. He will surrender him or go
bail for him until he has been attended to. First let us SAVE him." The
girl dismounted and made a litter of some fallen branches, assisted by
the groom.

"Order some of your men to carry him."

There was a note of command in her tone that awed both the officer and
the magistrate.

Four men were detailed to carry the body on the litter. The girl
remounted. Turning to the magistrate, she said:

"Tell your government, Mr. Roche, that their soldiers shot down these
unarmed people." Then she wheeled round to the mob:

"Go back to your homes." She pointed to the dead and wounded: "THEY
have died or been maimed for their Cause. Do as HE said," pointing to
the unconscious O'Connell, "LIVE for it!"

She started down through the valley, followed by the litter-bearers and
the magistrate.

The officer gave the word of command, and, with some of the ringleaders
in their midst, the soldiers marched away.

Left alone with their dying and their dead, all the ferocity left the
poor, crushed peasants.

They knelt down sobbing over the motionless bodies. For the time being
the Law and its officers were triumphant.

This was the act of the representatives of the English government in
the year of civilisation 18--, and in the reign of her late Gracious
Majesty, Queen Victoria, by the grace of God, Empress of India.



CHAPTER IV

NATHANIEL KINGSNORTH VISITS IRELAND


While the incidents of the foregoing chapters were taking place, the
gentleman whose ownership shaped the destinies of many of the agitators
of St. Kernan's Hill, was confronting almost as difficult a problem as
O'Connell was facing on the mount.

Whilst O'Connell was pleading for the right of Ireland to govern
herself, Mr. Nathaniel Kingsnorth was endeavouring to understand how to
manage so unwieldy and so troublesome an estate.

The death of his father placed a somewhat extensive--and so far
entirely unprofitable--portion of the village in his care. His late
father had complained all his life of the depreciation of values; the
growing reluctance to pay rents; and the general dying-out of the worth
of an estate that had passed into the hands of a Kingsnorth many
generations before in the ordinary course of business, for notes that
had not been taken up, and mortgages that had been foreclosed.

It was the open boast of the old gentleman that he had never seen the
village, and it was one of his dying gratifications that he would never
have to.

He had all the racial antipathy of a certain type of Englishmen to
anything IRISH. The word itself was unpleasant to his ears. He never
heard it without a shudder, and his intimates, at his request,
refrained from using it in his presence. The word represented to him
all that was unsavoury, unpatriotic and unprincipled.

One phrase of his, in speaking of Ireland at a banquet, achieved the
dignity of being printed in all the great London daily papers and was
followed by a splenetic attack in the "Irish Nation." Both incidents
pleased the old gentleman beyond measure. It was an unfailing source of
gratification to him that he had coined the historical utterance. He
quoted it with a grim chuckle on the few occasions when some guest,
unfamiliar with his prejudice, would mention in his presence the hated
word "Ireland."

It appears that one particularly hard winter, when, for some
unnecessary and wholly unwarrantable reason, the potato crop had
failed, and the little Irish village was in a condition of desperate
distress, it was found impossible to collect more than a tithe of Mr.
Kingsnorth's just dues. No persuasion could make the obstinate tenants
pay their rents. Threats, law-proceedings, evictions--all were useless.
They simply would not pay. His agent finally admitted himself beaten.
Mr. Kingsnorth must wait for better times.

Furious at his diminished income and hating, with a bitter hatred, the
disloyal and cheating tenantry, he rose at a Guildhall banquet to reply
to the toast of "The Colonies."

He drew vivid pictures of the splendour of the British possessions: of
India--that golden and loyal Empire; Australia with its hidden mines of
wealth, whose soil had scarce been scratched, peopled by patriotic,
zealous and toiling millions, honestly paying their way through life by
the sweat of their God-and-Queen-fearing brows. What an example to the
world! A country where the wage-earner hurried, with eager footsteps,
to place the honestly earned tolls at the feet of generous and trusting
landlords!

Then, on the other hand, he pointed to that small portion of the
British Isles, where to pay rent was a crime: where landlords were but
targets for insult and vituperation--yes, and indeed for BULLETS from
the hidden assassin whenever they were indiscreet enough to visit a
country where laws existed but that they might be broken, and crime
stalked fearlessly through the land. Such a condition was a reproach to
the English government.

"Why," he asked the astonished gathering of dignitaries, "why should
such a condition exist when three hundred and sixty-five men sat in the
House of Commons, sent there by electors to administer the just and
wise laws of a just and wise country? Why?"

As he paused and glared around the table for the reply that was not
forthcoming, the undying phrase sprang new-born from his lips:

"Oh," he cried; "oh! that for one brief hour Providence would immerse
that island of discontent beneath the waters of the Atlantic and
destroy a people who seemed bent on destroying themselves and on
disintegrating the majesty and dignity and honour of our great Empire!"

Feeling that no words of his could follow so marvellous a climax, he
sat down, amid a silence that seemed to him to be fraught with
eloquence, so impressive and significant was--to him--its full meaning.
Some speeches are cheered vulgarly. It was the outward sign of coarse
approval. Others are enjoyed and sympathised with inwardly, and the
outward tribute to which was silence--and that was the tribute of that
particular Guildhall gathering on that great night.

It seemed to Wilberforce Kingsnorth, hardened after-dinner speaker
though he was, that never had a body of men such as he confronted and
who met his gaze by dropping their eyes modestly to their glasses, been
so genuinely thrilled by so original, so comprehensive and so dramatic
a conclusion to a powerful appeal.

Kingsnorth felt, as he sat down, that it was indeed a red-letter night
for him--and for England.

The Times, in reviewing the speeches the following morning,
significantly commented that:

"Mr. Kingsnorth had solved, in a moment of entreaty, to a hitherto
indifferent Providence, the entire Irish difficulty."

When Nathaniel Kingsnorth found himself the fortunate possessor of this
tract of land peopled by so lawless a race, he determined to see for
himself what the conditions really were, so for the first time since
they owned a portion of it, a Kingsnorth set foot on Irish soil.

Accompanied by his two sisters he arrived quietly some few weeks before
and addressed himself at once to the task of understanding the people
and the circumstances in which they lived.

On this particular afternoon he was occupied with his agent, going
systematically through the details of the management of the estate.

It was indeed a discouraging prospect. Such a condition of pauperism
seemed incredible in a village within a few hours of his own England.
Except for a few moderately thriving tradesmen, the whole population
seemed to live from hand to mouth. The entire village was in debt. They
owed the landlords, the tradesmen, they even owed each other money and
goods. It seemed to be a community cut off from the rest of the world,
in which nothing from the outside ever entered. No money was ever put
into the village. On the contrary there was a continuous withdrawal. By
present standards a day would come when the last coin would depart and
the favoured spot would be as independent of money as many of the
poorer people were of clothing.

It came as a shock to Nathaniel Kingsnorth. For the first time it began
to dawn on him that, after all, the agitators might really have some
cause to agitate: that their attitude was not one of merely fighting
for the sake of the fight. Yet a lingering suspicion, borne of his
early training, and his father's doctrines about Ireland, that Pat was
really a scheming, dishonest fellow, obtruded itself on his mind, even
as he became more than half convinced of the little village's desperate
plight.

Nathaniel loathed injustice. As the magistrate of his county he
punished dishonesty. Was the condition he saw due to English injustice
or Irish dishonesty? That was the problem that he was endeavouring to
solve.

"There doesn't seem to be a sixpence circulating through the whole
place," he remarked to the agent when that gentleman had concluded his
statement of the position of matters.

"And there never will be, until some one puts money into the village
instead of taking it out of it," said the agent.

"You refer to the land-owners?"

"I do. And it's many's the time I wrote your father them same words."

"It is surely not unnatural for owners to expect to be paid for the use
of houses and land, is it? We expect it in England," said Kingsnorth
drily.

"In England the landlord usually lives on his estate and takes some
pride in it."

"Small pride anyone could take in such an estate as this," Kingsnorth
laughed bitterly. Then he went on: "And as for living on it--," and he
shrugged his shoulders in disgust. "Before the Kingsnorths came into
possession the MacMahons lived on it, and proud the people were of them
and they of the people, sir."

"I wish to God they'd continued to," said Kingsnorth wrathfully.

"They beggared themselves for the people--that's what they did, sir.
Improvements here--a road there. A quarry cut to give men work and a
breakwater built to keep the sea from washing away the poor fishermen's
homes. And when famine came not a penny rent asked--and their
women-kind feedin' and nursin' the starvin' and the sick. An' all the
time raisin' money to do it. A mortgage on this and a note of hand for
that--until the whole place was plastered with debt. Then out they were
turned."

The agent moved away and looked out across the well-trimmed lawn to
conceal his emotion.

"Ill-timed charity and business principles scarcely go together, my
good Burke," said Kingsnorth, with ill-concealed impatience. He did not
like this man's tone. It suggested a glorification of the former
BANKRUPT landlord and a lack of appreciation of the present SOLVENT one.

"So the English think," Burke answered.

Kingsnorth went on: "If we knew the whole truth we would probably find
the very methods these people used were the cause of the sorry
condition this village is in now. No landlord has the right to
pauperise his tenantry by giving them money and their homes rent-free.
It is a man's duty and privilege to WORK. INDEPENDENCE--that is what a
man should aim at. The Irish are always CRYING for it. They never seem
to PRACTISE it."

"Ye can't draw the water out of a kettle and expect it to boil, sir,
and by the same token independence is a fine thing to tache to men who
are dependent on all."

"Your sympathies appear to be entirely with the people," said
Kingsnorth, looking shrewdly and suspiciously at the agent.

"No one could live here man and boy and not give it to them," answered
Burke.

"You're frank, anyway."

"Pity there are not more like me, sir."

"I'll see what it is possible to do in the matter of improving
conditions. Mind--I promise nothing. I put my tenants on probation. It
seems hopeless. I'll start works for the really needy. If they show a
desire to take advantage of my interest in them I'll extend my
operations. If they do NOT I'll stop everything and put the estate on
the market."

Burke looked at him and smiled a dry, cracked smile.

He was a thin, active, grizzled man, well past fifty, with keen, shrewd
eyes that twinkled with humour, or sparkled with ferocity, or melted
with sorrow as the mood seized him. As he answered Kingsnorth the eyes
twinkled.

"I'm sure it's grateful the poor people 'ull be when they hear the good
news of yer honour's interest in them."

"I hope so. Although history teaches us that gratitude is not a common
quality in Ireland. 'If an Irishman is being roasted you will always
find another Irishman to turn the spit,' a statesman quoted in the
House of Commons a few nights ago."

"That must be why the same statesman puts them in prison for standin'
by each other, I suppose," said Burke, with a faint smile.

"You are now speaking of the curses of this country--the agitators.
They are the real cause of this deplorable misery. Who will put money
into a country that is ridden by these scoundrels? Rid Ireland of
agitators and you advance her prosperity a hundred years. They are the
clogs on the wheel of a nation's progress." He picked up a copy of the
local newspaper and read a headline from one of the columns:

"I see you have agitators even here?"

"We have, sir."

"Drive them out of the town. Let the people live their own lives
without such disturbing elements in them. Tell them distinctly that
from the moment they begin to work for me I'll have no 'meetings' on my
property. Any of my tenants or workmen found attending them elsewhere
will be evicted and discharged."

"I'll tell them, sir."

"I mean to put that kind of lawlessness down with a firm hand."

"If ye DO ye'll be the first, Mr. Kingsnorth."

"There is one I see to-day," glancing again at the paper.

"There is, sir."

"Who is this man O'Connell?"

"A native of the village, sir."

"What is he--a paid agitator?"

"Faith there's little pay he gets, I'm thinkin'."

"Why don't the police arrest him?"

"Mebbe they will, sir."

"I'll see that they do."

Burke smiled.

"And what do you find so amusing, Mr. Burke?"

"It's a wondher the English government doesn't get tired of arrestin'
them. As fast as they DO others take their place. It's the persecution
brings fresh converts to the 'Cause.' Put one man in jail and there'll
be a hundred new followers the next day."

"We'll see," said Kingsnorth firmly. "Here is one district where the
law will be enforced. These meetings and their frequent bloodshed are a
disgrace to a civilised people."

"Ye may well say that, yer honour," replied Burke.

"Before I invest one penny to better the condition of the people I must
have their pledge to abandon such disgraceful methods of trying to
enlist sympathy. I'll begin with this man O'Connell. Have him brought
to me to-morrow. I'll manage this estate my own way or I'll wash my
hands of it. My father was often tempted to."

"He resisted the temptation though, sir."

"I'm sorry he did. That will do for to-day. Leave these statements.
I'll go over them again. It's hard to make head or tail of the whole
business. Be here tomorrow at ten. Bring that fellow O'Connell with
you. Also give me a list of some of the more intelligent and
trustworthy of the people and I'll sound them as to the prospects of
opening up work here. Drop them a hint that my interest is solely on
the understanding that this senseless agitation stops."

"I will, sir. To-morrow morning at ten," and Burke started for the door.

"Oh, and--Burke--I hope you are more discreet with my tenants than you
have been with me?"

"In what way, Mr. Kingsnorth?"

"I trust that you confine your sympathy with them to your FEELINGS and
not give expression to them in words."

"I can't say that I do, Mr. Kingsnorth."

"It would be wiser to in future, Mr. Burke."

"Well, ye see, sir, I'm a MAN first and an AGENT afterwards."

"Indeed?"

"Yes, sir. It's many's the ugly thing I've had to do for your father,
and if a kind word of mine hadn't gone with it, it's precious little of
the estate would be fit to look at to-day, Mr. Kingsnorth."

"And why not?"

"Do ye remember when Kilkee's Scotch steward evicted two hundred in one
day, sir?"

"I do not."

"Rade about it. It's very enlightenin'."

"What happened?"

"The poor wretched, evicted people burnt down every dwellin' and tree
on the place, sir."

"I would know how to handle such ruffians."

"That's what Kilkee thought. 'Tache them a lesson,' said he. 'Turn them
into the ditches!' And he DID. HE thought he KNEW how to handle them.
He woke up with a jump one mornin' when he found a letter from the
under-steward tellin' him his Scotch master was in the hospital with a
bullet in his spleen, and the beautiful house and grounds were just so
much blackened ashes."

"It seems to me, my good man, there is a note of agreement with such
methods, in your tone."

"Manin' the evictin' or the burnin', yer honour?"

"You know what I mean," and Kingsnorth's voice rose angrily.

"I think I do," answered Burke quietly.

"I want an agent who is devoted to my interests and to whom the people
are secondary."

"Then ye'd betther send to England for one, sir. The men devoted to
landlords and against the people are precious few in this part of
Ireland, sir."

"Do you intend that I should act on that?"

"If ye wish. Ye can have my TIME at a price, but ye won't have my
INDEPENDENCE for any sum ye like to offer."

"Very well. Send me your resignation, to take effect one month from
to-day."

"It's grateful I am, Mr. Kingsnorth," and he went out.

In through the open window came the sound of the tramping of many feet
and the whisper of subdued voices.

Kingsnorth hurried out on to the path and saw a number of men and women
walking slowly down the drive, in the centre of which the soldiers were
carrying a body on some branches. Riding beside them was his sister
Angela with her groom.

"What new horror is this?" he thought, as he hurried down the path to
meet the procession.



CHAPTER V

ANGELA


Wilberforce Kingsnorth left three children: Nathaniel--whose
acquaintance we have already made, and who in a large measure inherited
much of his father's dominant will and hardheadedness--Monica, the
elder daughter, and Angela the younger.

Nathaniel was the old man's favourite.

While still a youth he inculcated into the boy all the tenets of
business, morality and politics that had made Wilberforce prosperous.

Pride in his name: a sturdy grasp of life: an unbending attitude toward
those beneath him, and an abiding reverence for law and order and
fealty to the throne--these were the foundations on which the father
built Nathaniel's character.

Next in point of regard came the elder daughter Monica. Patrician of
feature, haughty in manner, exclusive by nature she had the true
Kingsnorth air. She had no disturbing "ideas": no yearning for things
not of her station. She was contented with the world as it had been
made for her and seemed duly proud and grateful to have been born a
Kingsnorth.

She was an excellent musician: rode fairly to hounds: bestowed prizes
at the local charities with grace and distinction--as became a
Kingsnorth--and looked coldly out at the world from behind the
impenetrable barriers of an old name.

When she married Frederick Chichester, the rising barrister, connected
with six county families, it was a proud day for old Kingsnorth.

His family had originally made their money in trade. The Chichesters
had accumulated a fortune by professions. The distinction in England is
marked.

One hesitates to acknowledge the salutation of the man who provides one
with the necessities of life: a hearty handshake is occasionally
extended to those who minister to one's luxuries.

In England the law is one of the most expensive of luxuries and its
devotees command the highest regard.

Frederick Chichester came of a long line of illustrious lawyers--one
had even reached the distinction of being made a judge. He belonged to
an honourable profession.

Chichesters had made the laws of the country in the House of Commons as
well as administered them in the Courts.

The old man was overjoyed.

He made a handsome settlement on his eldest daughter on her marriage
and felt he had done well by her, even as she had by him.

His son and elder daughter were distinctly a credit to him.

Five years after Monica's birth Angela unexpectedly was born to the
Kingsnorths.

A delicate, sickly infant, it seemed as if the splendid blood of the
family had expended its vigour on the elder children.

Angela needed constant attention to keep her alive. From tremulous
infancy she grew into delicate youth. None of the strict standards
Kingsnorth had used so effectually with his other children applied to
her. She seemed a child apart.

Not needing her, Kingsnorth did not love her. He gave her a form of
tolerant affection. Too fragile to mix with others, she was brought up
at home. Tutors furnished her education. The winters she passed abroad
with her mother. When her mother died she spent them with relations or
friends. The grim dampness of the English climate was too rigorous for
a life that needed sunshine.

Angela had nothing in common with either her brother or her sister. She
avoided them and they her. They did not understand her: she understood
them only too well!

A nature that craved for sympathy and affection--as the frail so often
do--was repulsed by those to whom affection was but a form, and
sympathy a term of reproach.

She loved all that was beautiful, and, as so frequently happens in such
natures as Angela's, she had an overwhelming pity for all that were
unhappy. To her God made the world beautiful: man was responsible for
its hideousness. From her heart she pitied mankind for abusing the
gifts God had showered on them.

It was on her first home-coming since her mother's death that her
attention was really drawn to her father's Irish possessions.

By a curious coincidence she returned home the clay following
Wilberforce Kingsnorth's electrical speech, invoking Providence to
interpose in the settlement of the Irish difficulty. It was the one
topic of conversation throughout dinner. And it was during that dinner
that Angela for the first time really angered her father and raised a
barrier between them that lasted until the day of his death.

The old man had laughed coarsely at the remembrance of his speech on
the previous night, and licked his lips at the thought of it.

Monica, who was visiting her father for a few days smiled in agreeable
sympathy.

Nathaniel nodded cheerfully.

From her father's side Angela asked quietly:

"Have you ever been in Ireland, father?"

"No, I have not," answered the old man sharply: "And, what is more, I
never intend to go there."

"Do you know anything about, the Irish?" persisted Angela.

"Do I? More than the English government does. Don't I own land there?"

"I mean do you know anything about the people?" insisted Angela.

"I know them to be a lot of thieving, rascally scoundrels, too lazy to
work, and too dishonest to pay their way, even when they have the
money."

"Is that all you know?"

"All!" He stopped eating to look angrily at his daughter. The
cross-examination was not to his liking.

Angela went on

"Yes, father; is that all you know about the Irish?"

"Isn't it enough?" His voice rose shrilly. It was the first time for
years anyone had dared use those two hated words "Ireland" and "Irish"
at his table. Angela must be checked and at once.

Before he could begin to check her, however, Angela answered his
question:

"It wouldn't be enough for me if I had the responsibilities and duties
of a landlord. To be the owner of an estate should be to act as the
people's friend, their father, their adviser in times of plenty and
their comrade in times of sorrow."

"Indeed? And pray where did you learn all that, Miss?" asked the
astonished parent.

Without noticing the interruption or the question, Angela went on:

"Why deny a country its own government when England is practically
governed by its countrymen? Is there any position of prominence today
in England that isn't filled by Irishmen? Think. Our Commander-in-Chief
is Irish: our Lord High Admiral is Irish: there are the defences of the
English in the hands of two Irishmen and yet you call them thieving and
rascally scoundrels."

Kingsnorth tried to speak; Angela raised her voice:

"Turn to your judges--the Lord Chief is an Irishman. Look at the House
of Commons. Our laws are passed or defeated by the Irish vote, and yet
so blindly ignorant and obstinate is our insular prejudice that we
refuse them the favours they do us--governing THEMSELVES as well as
England."

Kingsnorth looked at his daughter aghast. Treason in his own house! His
child speaking the two most hated of all words at his own dinner table
and in laudatory terms. He could scarcely believe it. He looked at her
a moment and then thundered:

"How dare you! How dare you!"

Angela smiled a little amusedly-tolerant smile as she looked frankly at
her father and answered:

"This is exactly the old-fashioned tone we English take to anything we
don't understand. And that is why other countries are leaving us in the
race. There is a nation living within a few hours' journey from our
doors, yet millions of English people are as ignorant of them as if
they lived in Senegambia." She paused, looked once more straight into
her father's eyes and said: "And you, father, seem to be as ignorant as
the worst of them!"

"Angela!" cried her sister in horror.

Nathaniel laughed good-naturedly, leaned across to Angela and said:

"I see our little sister has been reading the sensational magazines.
Yes?"

"I've done more than that," replied Angela. "In Nice a month ago were
two English members of Parliament who had taken the trouble to visit
the country they were supposed to assist in governing. They told me
that a condition of misery existed throughout the whole of Ireland that
was incredible under a civilised government."

"Radicals, eh?" snapped her father.

"No. Conservatives. One of them had once held the office of Chief
Secretary for Ireland and was Ireland's most bitter persecutor, until
he visited the country. When he saw the wretchedness of her people he
stopped his stringent methods and began casting about for some ways of
lessening the poor people's torment."

"The more shame to him to talk like that to a girl. And what's more you
had no right to listen to him. A Conservative indeed! A fine one he
must be!"

"He is. I don't see why the Liberal party should have all the
enlightenment and the Conservative party all the bigotry."

"Don't anger your father," pleaded Monica.

"Why, little Angela has come back to us quite a revolutionary," said
Nathaniel.

"Leave the table," shouted her father.

Without a word Angela got up quietly and left the room. Her manner was
entirely unmoved. She had spoken from her inmost convictions. The fact
that they were opposed to her father was immaterial. She loathed
tyranny and his method of shutting the mouths of those who disagreed
with him was particularly obnoxious to her. It was also most
ineffectual with her. From childhood she had always spoken as she felt.
No discipline checked her. Freedom of speech as well as freedom of
thought were as natural and essential to her as breathing was.

From that time she saw but little of her father. When he died he left
her to her brother's care. Kingsnorth made no absolute provision for
her. She was to be dependent on Nathaniel. When the time came that she
seemed to wish to marry, if her brother approved of the match, he
should make a handsome settlement on her.

In response to her request Nathaniel allowed her to go with him to
Ireland on his tour of inspection.

Mr. Chichester was actively engaged at the Old Bailey on an important
criminal case, so Monica also joined them.

Everything Angela saw in Ireland appealed to her quick sympathy and
gentle heart. It was just as she had thought and read and listened to.
On every side she saw a kindly people borne down by the weight of
poverty. Lives ruined by sickness and the lack of nourishment. A
splendid race perishing through misgovernment and intolerant ignorance.

Angela went about amongst the people and made friends with them. They
were chary at first of taking her to their hearts. She was of the hated
Saxon race. What was she doing there, she, the sister of their, till
now, absentee landlord? She soon won them over by her appealing voice
and kindly interest.

All this Angela did in direct opposition to her brother's wishes and
her sister's exhortations.

The morning of the meeting she had ridden some mile to visit a poor.
family. Out of five three were in bed with low fever. She got a doctor
for them, gave them money to buy necessities and, with a promise to
return the next day, she rode away. When within some little distance of
her brother's house she saw a steady, irregular stream of people
climbing a great hill. She rode toward it, and, screened by a clump of
trees, saw and heard the meeting.

When O'Connell first spoke his voice thrilled her. Gradually the
excitement of the people under the mastery of his power, communicated
itself to her. It pulsed in her blood, and throbbed in her brain. For
the first time she realised what a marvellous force was the Call of the
Patriot. To listen and watch a man risking life and liberty in the
cause of his country. Her heart, and her mind and her soul went out to
him.

When the soldiers marched on to the scene she was paralysed with fear.
When the order to fire was gives she wanted to ride into their midst
and cry out to them to stop. But she was unable to move hand or foot.

When the smoke had thinned and she saw the bodies lying motionless on
the ground of men who a moment before had been full of life and
strength: when was added to that the horror of the wounded crying out
with pain, her first impulse was to fly from the sight of the carnage.

She mastered that moment of fear and plunged forward, calling to the
groom to follow her.

What immediately followed has already been told.

The long, slow, tortuous journey home: the men slowly following with
the ghastly mute-body on the rude litter, became a living memory to her
for all the remainder of her life.

She glanced down every little while at the stone-white face and
shuddered as she found herself wondering if eke would ever hear his
voice again or see those great blue-grey eyes flash with his fierce
courage and devotion.

Once only did the lips of the wounded man move. In a moment Angela had
dismounted and halted the soldiers. As she bent down over him O'Connell
swooned again from pain.

The procession went on.

As they neared her brother's house, stragglers began to follow
curiously. Sad looking men and weary women joined the procession
wonderingly. All guessed it was some fresh outrage of the soldiers.

Little, ragged, old-young children peered down at the body on the
litter and either ran away crying or joined in listlessly with the
others.

It was an old story carrying back mutilated men to the village. None
was surprised. It seemed to Angela that an infinity of time had passed
before they entered the grounds attached to the Kingsnorth house.

She sent a man on ahead to order a room to be prepared and a doctor
sent for.

As she saw her brother coming forward to meet her with knit brows and
stern eyes she nerved herself to greet him.

"What is this, Angela?" he asked, looking in amazement at the strange
procession.

"Another martyr to our ignorant government, Nathaniel," and she pressed
on through the drive to the house.



CHAPTER VI

ANGELA SPEAKS HER MIND FREELY TO NATHANIEL


Nathaniel's indignation at his sister's conduct was beyond bounds when
he learnt who the wounded man was. He ordered the soldiers to take the
man and themselves away.

The magistrate interposed and begged him to at least let O'Connell rest
there until a doctor could patch him up. It might be dangerous to take
him back without medical treatment. He assured Nathaniel that the
moment they could move him he would be lodged in the county-jail.

Nathaniel went back to his study as the sorry procession passed on to
the front door.

He sent immediately for his sister.

The reply came back that she would see him at dinner.

He commanded her to come to him at once.

In a few minutes Angela came into the room. She was deathly pale. Her
voice trembled as she spoke:

"What do you want?"

"Why did you bring that man here?"

"Because he is wounded."

"Such scoundrels are better dead."

"I don't think so. Nor do I think him a scoundrel."

"He came here to attack landlords--to attack ME. ME! And YOU bring him
to MY house and with that RABBLE. It's outrageous! Monstrous!"

"I couldn't leave him with those heartless wretches to die in their
hands."

"He leaves here the moment a doctor has attended him."

"Very well. Is that all?"

"No, it isn't!" Kingsnorth tried to control his anger. After a pause he
continued:

"I want no more of these foolhardy, quixotic actions of yours. I've
heard of your visiting these wretched people--going into fever dens. Is
that conduct becoming your name? Think a little of your station in life
and what it demands."

"I wish YOU did a little more."

"What?" he shouted, all his anger returned.

"There's no need to raise your voice," Angela answered quietly. "I am
only a few feet away. I repeat that I wish you thought a little more of
your obligations. If you did and others like you in the same position
you are in, there would be no such horrible scenes as I saw to-day; a
man shot down amongst his own people for speaking the truth."

"You SAW it?" Nathaniel asked in dismay.

"I did. I not only SAW, but I HEARD. I wish you had, too. I heard a man
lay bare his heart and his brain and his soul that others might knew
the light in them. I saw and heard a man offer up his life that others
might know some gleam of happiness in THEIR lives. It was wonderful! It
was heroic! It was God-like!"

"If I ever hear of you doing such a thing again, you shall go back to
London the next day."

"That sounds exactly as though my dead father were speaking."

"I'll not be made a laughing-stock by you."

"You make yourself one as your father did before you. A Kingsnorth!
What has your name meant? Because one of our forefathers cheated the
world into giving him a fortune, by buying his goods for more than they
were worth, we have tried to canonise him and put a halo around the
name of Kingsnorth. To me it stands for all that is mean and selfish
and vain and ignorant. The power of money over intellect. How did we
become owners of this miserable piece of land? A Kingsnorth swindled
its rightful owner. Lent him money on usury, bought up his bills and
his mortgages and when he couldn't pay foreclosed on him. No wander
there's a curse on the village and on us!"

Kingsnorth tried to speak, but she stopped him:

"Wait a moment. It was a good stroke of business taking this estate
away. Oh yes, it was a good stroke of business. Our name has been built
up on 'good strokes of business.' Well, I tell you it's a BAD stroke of
business when human lives are put into the hands of such creatures as
we Kingsnorths have proved ourselves!"

"Stop!" cried Nathaniel, outraged to the innermost sanctuary of his
being. "Stop! You don't speak like one of our family. It is like
listening to some heretic--some--"

"I don't feel like one of your family. YOU are a KINGSNORTH. _I_ am my
MOTHER'S child. My poor, gentle, patient mother, who lived a life of
unselfish resignation: who welcomed death, when it came to her, as a
release from tyranny. Don't call ME a Kingsnorth. I know the family too
well. I know all the name means to the people who have suffered through
YOUR FAMILY."

"After this--the best thing--the only thing--is to separate," said
Nathaniel.

"Whenever you wish."

"I'll make you an allowance."

"Don't let it be a burden."

"I've never been so shocked--so stunned--"

"I am glad. From my cradle I've been shocked and stunned--in my home.
It's some compensation to know you are capable of the feeling, too.
Frankly, I didn't think you were."

"We'll talk no more of this," and Nathaniel began to pace the room.

"I am finished," and Angela went to the door.

"It would be better we didn't meet again--in any event--not often,"
added Nathaniel.

"Thank you," said Angela, opening the door. He motioned her to close
it, that he had something more to say.

"We'll find you some suitable chaperone. You can spend your winters
abroad, as you have been doing. London for the season--until you're
suitably married. I'll follow out my father's wishes to the letter. You
shall be handsomely provided for the day you marry."

She closed the door with a snap and came back to him and looked him
steadily in the eyes.

"The man I marry shall take nothing from you. Even in his 'last will
and testament' my father proved himself a Kingsnorth. It was only a
Kingsnorth could make his youngest daughter dependent on YOU!"

"My father knew I would respect his wishes."

"He was equally responsible for me, yet he leaves me to YOUR care. A
Kingsnorth!"

"The men MASTERS and the women SLAVES!"

"That is the Kingsnorth doctrine."

"It is a pity our father didn't live a little longer. There are many
changes coming into this old grey world of ours and one of them is the
real, honourable position of woman. The day will come in England when
we will wring from our fathers and our brothers as our right what is
doled out to us now as though we were beggars."

"And they are trying to govern the country of Ireland in the same way.
The reign of the despot. Well, THAT is nearly over too--even as woman's
degrading position to-day is almost at an end."

"Have you finished?"

Once again Angela went to the door. Nathaniel said in a somewhat
changed tone:

"As it is your wish this man should be cared for, I'll do it. When he
is well enough to be moved, the magistrate will take him to jail. But,
for the little while we shall be here, I beg you not to do anything so
unseemly again."

A servant came in to tell Angela the doctor had come. Without a word.
Angela went out to see to the wounded man.

The servant followed her.

Left alone, Nathaniel sat down, shocked and stunned, to review the
interview he had just had with his youngest sister.



CHAPTER VII

THE WOUNDED PATRIOT


When Angela entered the sick-room she found Dr. McGinnis, a cheery,
bright-eyed, rotund little man of fifty, talking freely to the patient
and punctuating each speech with a hearty laugh. His good-humour was
infectious.

The wounded agitator felt the effect of it and was trying to laugh
feebly himself.

"Sure it's the fine target ye must have made with yer six feet and one
inch. How could the poor soldiers help hittin' ye? Answer me that?" and
the jovial doctor laughed again as he dexterously wound a bandage
around O'Connell's arm.

"Aisy now while I tie the bandage, me fine fellow. Ye'll live to see
the inside of an English jail yet."

He turned as he heard the door open and greeted Angela.

"Good afternoon to ye, Miss Kingsnorth. Faith, it's a blessin' ye
brought the boy here. There's no tellin' What the prison-surgeon would
have done to him. It is saltpetre, they tell me, the English doctors
rub into the Irish wounds, to kape them smartin'. And, by the like
token, they do the same too in the English House of Commons. Saltpetre
in Ireland's wounds is what they give us."

"Is he much hurt?" asked Angela.

"Well, they've broken nothin'. Just blackened his face and made a few
holes in his skin. It's buckshot they used. Buckshot! Thank the
merciful Mr. Forster for that same. 'Buckshot-Forster,' as the Irish
reverently call him."

Angela flushed with indignation as she looked at the crippled man.

"What a dastardly thing to do," she cried.

"Ye may well say that, Miss Kingsnorth," said the merry little doctor.
"But it's betther than a bullet from a Martini-Henry rifle, that's what
it is. And there's many a poor English landlord's got one of 'em in the
back for ridin' about at night on his own land. It's a fatherly
government we have, Miss Kingsnorth. 'Hurt 'em, but don't quite kill
'em,' sez they; 'and then put 'em in jail and feed them on bread and
wather. That'll take the fine talkin' and patriotism out of them,' sez
they."

"They'll never take it out of me. They may kill me, perhaps, but until
they do they'll never silence me," murmured O'Connell in a voice so
low, yet so bitter, that it startled Angela.

"Ye'll do that all in good time, me fine boy," said the busy little
doctor. "Here, take a pull at this," and he handed the patient a glass
in which he had dropped a few crystals into some water.

As O'Connell drank the mixture Dr. McGinnis said in a whisper to Angela:

"Let him have that every three hours: oftener if he wants to talk.
We've got to get his mind at rest. A good sleep'll make a new man of
him."

"There's no danger?" asked Angela in the same tone.

"None in the wurrld. He's got a fine constitution and mebbe the
buckshot was pretty clean. I've washed them out well."

"To think of men shot down like dogs for speaking of their country.
It's horrible! It's wicked! It's monstrous."

"Faith, the English don't know what else to do with them, Miss. It's no
use arguin' with the like of him. That man lyin' on that bed 'ud talk
the hind-foot off a heifer. The only way to kape the likes of him quiet
is to shoot him, and begob they have."

"I heard you, doctor," came from the bed. "If they'd killed me to-day
there would be a thousand voices would rise all over Ireland to take
the place of mine. One martyr makes countless converts."

"Faith, I'd rather kape me own life than to have a hundred thousand
spakin' for me and me dead. Where's the good that would be doin' me?
Now kape still there all through the beautiful night, and let the
blessed medicine quiet ye, and the coolin' ointment aize yer pain. I'll
come in by-and-by on the way back home. I'm goin' up beyant 'The Gap'
to some poor people with the fever. But I'll be back."

"Thank you, Dr. McGinnis."

"Is it long yer stayin' here?" and the little man picked up his hat.

"I don't know," said Angela. "I hardly think so."

"Well, it's you they'll miss when ye're gone, Miss Kingsnorth. Faith if
all the English were like you this sort of thing couldn't happen."

"We don't try to understand the people, doctor. We just govern them
blindly and ignorantly."

"Faith it's small blame to the English. We're a mighty hard race to
make head nor tail of. And that's a fact. Prayin' at Mass one minnit
and maimin' cattle the next. Cryin' salt tears at the bedside of a sick
child, and lavin' it to shoot a poor man in the ribs for darin' to ask
for his rint."

"They're not IRISHMEN," came from the sick bed.

"Faith and they are NOW. And it's small wondher the men who sit in
Whitehall in London trate them like savages."

"I've seen things since I've been here that would justify almost
anything!" cried Angela. "I've seen suffering no one in England dreamt
of. Misery, that London, with all its poverty and wretchedness, could
not compare with. Were I born in Ireland I should be proud to stake my
liberty and my life to protect my own people from such horrible
brutality."

The wounded man opened his eyes and looked full at Angela. It was a
look at once of gratitude and reverence and admiration.

Her heart leaped within her.

So far no man in the little walled-in zone she had lived in had ever
stirred her to an even momentary enthusiasm. They were all so fatuously
contented with their environment. Sheltered from birth, their anxiety
was chiefly how to make life pass the pleasantest. They occasionally
showed a spasmodic excitement over the progress of a cricket or polo
match. Their achievements were largely those of the stay-at-home
warriors who fought with the quill what others faced death with the
sword for. Their inertia disgusted her. Their self-satisfaction spurred
her to resentment.

Here was a man in the real heart of life. He was engaged in a struggle
that makes existence worth while--the effort to bring a message to his
people.

How all the conversations she was forced to listen to in her narrow
world rose up before her in their carping meannesses! Her father's
brutal diatribes against a people, unfortunate enough to be compelled,
from force of circumstance, to live on a portion of land that belonged
to him, yet in whose lives he took no interest whatsoever. His only
anxiety was to be paid his rents. How, and through what misery, his
tenants scraped the money together to do it with, mattered nothing to
him. All that DID matter was that he MUST BE PAID.

Then arose a picture of her sister Monica, with her puny social
pretensions. Recognition of those in a higher grade bread and meat and
drink to her. Adulation and gross flattery the very breath of her
nostrils.

Her brother's cheap, narrow platitudes about the rights of rank and
wealth.

To Angela wealth had no rights except to bring happiness to the world.
It seemed to bring only misery once people acquired it. Grim sorrow
seemed to stalk in the trail of the rich.

She could not recall one moment of real, unfeigned happiness among her
family. The only time she could remember her father smiling or
chuckling was at some one else's misfortune, or over some cruel thing
he had said himself.

Her sister's joy over some little social triumph--usually at the cost
of the humiliation of another.

Her brother's cheeriness over some smart stroke of business in which
another firm was involved to their cost.

Parasites all!

The memory of her mother was the only link that bound her to her
childhood. The gentle, uncomplaining spirit of her: the unselfish
abnegation of her: the soul's tragedy of her--giving up her life at the
altar of duty, at the bidding of a hardened despot.

All Angela's childhood came back in a brief illuminating flash. The
face of her one dear, dead companion--her mother--glowed before her.
How her mother would have cared for and tended, and worshipped a man
even as the one lying riddled on that bed of suffering! All the best in
Angela was from her mother. All the resolute fighting quality was from
her father. She would use both now in defence of the wounded man. She
would tend him and care for him, and see that no harm came to him.

She was roused from her self-searching thoughts by the doctor's voice
and the touch of his hand.

"Good-bye for the present, Miss Kingsnorth. Sure it's in good hands I'm
lavin' him. But for you he'd be lyin' in the black jail with old Doctor
Costello glarin' down at him with his gimlet eyes, I wouldn't wish a
dog that. Faith, I've known Costello to open a wound 'just to see if it
was healthy,' sez he, an' the patient screamin' 'Holy murther!' all the
while, and old 'Cos' leerin' down at him and sayin': 'Does it hurt? Go
on now, does it? Well, we'll thry this one and see if that does, too,'
and in 'ud go the lance again. I tell ye it's the Christian he is!" He
stopped abruptly. "How me tongue runs on. 'Talkative McGinnis' is what
the disrespectful ones call me--I'll run in after eight and mebbe I'll
bleed him a little and give him something'll make him slape like a top
till mornin'. Good-bye to yez, for the present," and the kindly, plump
little man hurried out with the faint echo of a tune whistling through
his lips.

Angela sat down at a little distance from the sickbed and watched the
wounded man. His face was drawn with pain. His eyes were closed. But he
was not sleeping. His fingers locked and unlocked. His lips moved He
opened his eyes and looked at her.

"You need not stay here," he said.

"Would you rather I didn't?" asked Angela, rising.

"Why did you bring me here?"

"To make sure your wounds were attended to."

"Your brother is a landlord--'Kingsnorth--the absentee landlord,' we
used to call your father as children. And I'm in his son's house. I'd
betther be in jail than here."

"You mustn't think that."

"You've brought me here to humiliate me--to humiliate me!"

"No. To care for you. To protect you."

"Protect me?"

"If I can."

"That's strange."

"I heard you speak to-day."

"You did?"

"I did."

"I'm glad of that."

"So am I."

"Pity your brother wasn't there too."

"It was--a great pity."

"Here's one that Dublin Castle and the English government can't
frighten. I'll serve my time in prisons when I'm well enough--it's the
first time they've caught me and they had to SHOOT me to do it--and
when I come out I'll come straight back here and take up the work just
where I'm leaving it."

"You mustn't go to prison."

"It's the lot of every Irishman to-day who says what he thinks."

"It mustn't be yours! It mustn't!" Angela's voice rose in her distress.
She repeated: "It mustn't! I'll appeal to my brother to stop it."

"If he's anything like his father it's small heed he'll pay to your
pleading. The poor wretches here appealed to old Kingsnorth in famine
and sickness--not for HELP, mind ye, just for a little time to pay
their rents--and the only answer they ever got from him was 'Pay or
go'!"

"I know! I know!" Angela replied. "And many a time when I was a child
my mother and I cried over it."

He looked at her curiously. "You and yer mother cried over US?"

"We did. Indeed we did."

"They say the heart of England is in its womenkind. But they have
nothing to do with her laws."

"They will have some day."

"It'll be a long time comin', I'm thinkin'. If they take so long to
free a whole country how long do ye suppose it'll take them to free a
whole sex--and the female one at that?"

"It will come!" she said resolutely.

He looked at her strangely.

"And you cried over Ireland's sorrows?"

"As a child and as a woman," said Angela.

"And ye've gone about here tryin' to help them too, haven't ye?"

"I could do very little"

"Well, the spirit is there--and the heart is there. If they hadn't
liked YOU it's the sorry time maybe your brother would have."

He paused again, looking at her intently, whilst his fingers clutched
the coverlet convulsively as if to stifle a cry of pain.

"May I ask ye yer name?" he gasped.

"Angela," she said, almost in a whisper.

"Angela," he repeated. "Angela! It's well named ye are. It's the
ministering angel ye've been down here--to the people--and--to me."

"Don't talk any more now. Rest"

"REST, is it? With all the throuble in the wurrld beatin' in me brain
and throbbin' in me heart?"

"Try and sleep until the doctor comes to-night."

He lay back and closed his eyes.

Angela sat perfectly still.

In a few minutes he opened them again. There was a new light in his
eyes and a smile on his lips.

"Ye heard me speak, did ye?"

"Yes."

"Where were ye?"

"Above you, behind a bank of trees."

A playful smile played around his lips as he said: "It was a GOOD
speech, wasn't it?"

"I thought it wonderful," Angela answered.

"And what were yer feelings listenin' to a man urgin' the people
against yer own country?"

"I felt I wanted to stand beside you and echo everything you said."

"DID you?" and his eyes blazed and his voice rose.

"You spoke as some prophet, speaking in a wilderness of sorrow, trying
to bring them comfort."

He smiled whimsically, as he said, in a weary voice:

"I tried to bring them comfort and I got them broken heads and
buck-shot."

"It's only through suffering every GREAT cause triumphs," said Angela.

"Then the Irish should triumph some day. They've suffered enough, God
knows."

"They will," said Angela eagerly. "Oh, how I wish I'd been born a man
to throw in my lot with the weak! to bring comfort to sorrow, freedom
to the oppressed: joy to wretchedness. That is your mission. How I envy
you. I glory in what the future has in store for you, Live for it! Live
for it!"

"I will!" cried O'Connell. "Some day the yoke will be lifted from us.
God grant that mine will be the hand to help do it. God grant I am
alive to see it done. That day'll be worth living for--to wring
recognition from our enemies--to--to--to" he sank back weakly on the
pillow, his voice fainting to a whisper.

Angela brought him some water and helped him up while he drank it. She
smoothed back the shining hair--red, shot through gold--from his
forehead. He thanked her with a look. Suddenly he burst into tears. The
strain of the day had snapped his self-control at last. The floodgates
were opened. He sobbed and sobbed like some tired, hurt child. Angela
tried to comfort him. In a moment she was crying, too. He took her hand
and kissed it repeatedly, the tears falling on it as he did so.

"God bless ye! God bless ye!" he cried.

In that moment of self-revelation their hearts went out to each other.
Neither had known happiness nor love, nor faith in mankind.

In that one enlightening moment of emotion their hearts were laid bare
to each other. The great comedy of life between man and woman had begun.

From that moment their lives were linked together.



CHAPTER VIII

ANGELA IN SORE DISTRESS


Three days afterwards O'Connell was able to dress and move about his
room. He was weak from loss of blood and the confinement that an active
man resents. But his brain was clear and vivid. They had been three
wonderful days.

Angela had made them the most amazing in his life. The memory of those
hours spent with her he would carry to his grave.

She read to him and talked to him and lectured him and comforted him.
There were times when he thanked the Power that shapes our ends for
having given him this one supreme experience. The cadences of her voice
would haunt him through the years to come.

And in a little while he must leave it all. He must stand his trial
under the "Crimes Act" for speaking at a "Proclaimed" meeting.

Well, whatever his torture he knew he would come out better equipped
for the struggle. He had learned something of himself he had so far
never dreamed of in his bitter struggle with the handicap of his life.
He had something to live for now besides the call of his country--the
call of the HEART--the cry of beauty and truth and reverence.

Angela inspired him with all these. In the three days she ministered to
him she had opened up a vista he had hitherto never known. And now he
had to leave it and face his accusers, and be hectored and jeered at in
the mockery they called "trials." From the Court-House he would go to
the prison and from thence he would be sent back into the world with
the brand of the prison-cell upon him. As the thought of all this
passed through his mind, he never wavered. He would face it as he had
faced trouble all his life, with body knit for the struggle, and his
heart strong for the battle.

And back of it all the yearning that at the end she would be waiting
and watching for his return to the conflict for the great "Cause" to
which he had dedicated his life.

On the morning of the third day Mr. Roche, the resident magistrate, was
sent for by Nathaniel Kingsnorth. Mr. Roche found him firm and
determined, his back to the fireplace, in which a bright fire was
burning, although the month was July.

"Even the climate of Ireland rebels against the usual laws of nature!"
thought Kingsnorth, as he shivered and glanced at the steady, drenching
downpour that had lasted, practically, ever since he had set foot in
the wretched country.

The magistrate came forward and greeted him respectfully.

"Good morning, Mr. Roche," said Nathaniel, motioning him to sit down by
the fire.

"I've sent for you to remove this man O'Connell," added Nathaniel,
after a pause.

"Certainly--if he is well enough to be moved."

"The doctor, I understand, says that he is."

"Very well. I'll drive him down to the Court-House. The Court is
sitting now," said Roche, rising.

Kingsnorth stopped him with a gesture.

"I want you to understand it was against my express wishes that he was
ever brought into this house."

"Miss Kingsnorth told me, when I had arrested him, that you would
shelter him and go bail for him, if necessary," said Roche, in some
surprise.

"My sister does things under impulse that she often regrets afterwards.
This is one. I hope there is no, harm done?"

"None in the world," replied the magistrate. "On the contrary, the
people seem to have a much higher opinion of you, Mr. Kingsnorth, since
the occurrence," he added.

"Their opinion--good or bad--is a matter of complete indifference to
me. I am only anxious that the representatives of the government do not
suppose that, because, through mistaken ideas of charity, my sister
brought this man to my house, I in any way sanction his attitude and
his views!"

"I should not fear that, Mr. Kingsnorth. You have always been regarded
as a most loyal subject, sir," answered Roche.

"I am glad. What sentence is he likely to get?"

"It depends largely on his previous record."

"Will it be settled to-day?"

"If the jury bring in a verdict. Sometimes they are out all night on
these cases."

"A jury! Good God! A jury of Irishmen to try, an Irishman?"

"They're being trained gradually, sir."

"It should never be left to them in a country like this A judge should
have the power of condemning such bare-faced criminals, without trial."

"He'll be condemned," said Roche confidently.

"What jury will convict him if they all sympathise with him? Answer me
that?"

"That was one difficulty we had to face at first," Roche answered. "It
was hard, indeed, as you say, to get an Irishman convicted by an Irish
jury--especially the agitators. But we've changed that. We've made them
see that loyalty to the Throne is better than loyalty to a Fenian."

"How have they done it?"

"A little persuasion and some slight coercion, sir."

"I am glad of it. It would be a crime against justice for a man who
openly breaks the law not to be punished through being tried before a
jury of sympathisers."

"Few of them escape, Mr. Kingsnorth. Dublin Castle found the way. One
has to meet craft with craft and opposition with firmness. Under the
present government we've succeeded wonderfully." Roche smiled
pleasantly as he thought of the many convictions he had been
instrumental in procuring himself.

Kingsnorth seemed delighted also.

"Good," he said. "The condition of things here is a disgrace--mind you,
I'm not criticising the actions of the officials," he hastened to add.

The magistrate bowed.

Kingsnorth went on:

"But the attitude of the people, their views, their conduct, is
deplorable--opeless. I came here to see what I could do for them. I
even thought of spending a certain portion of each year here. But from
what I've heard it would be a waste of time and money."

"It is discouraging, at first sight, but we'll have a better state of
affairs presently. We must first stamp out the agitator. He is the
most potent handicap. Next are the priests. They are nearest to the
people. The real solution of the Irish difficulty would be to make the
whole nation Protestants."

"Could it be done?"

"It would take time--every big movement takes time." Roche paused,
looked shrewdly, at Kingsnorth and asked him:

"What do you intend doing with this estate?"

"I am in a quandary. I'm almost determined to put it in the market.
Sell it. Be rid of it. It has always been a source of annoyance to our
family. However, I'll settle nothing until I return to London. I'll go
in a few days--much sooner than I intended. This man being brought into
my house has annoyed and upset me."

"I'm sorry," said the magistrate. "Miss Kingsnorth was so insistent and
the fellow seemed in a bad way, otherwise I would never have allowed
it."

A servant came in response to Kingsnorth's ring and was sent with a
message to have the man O'Connell ready to accompany the magistrate as
quickly as possible. Over a glass of sherry and a cigar the two men
resumed their discussion.

"I wouldn't decide too hastily about disposing of the land. Although
there's always a good deal of discontent there is really very little
trouble here. In fact, until agitators like O'Connell came amongst us
we had everything pretty peaceful. We'll dispose of him in short order."

"Do. Do. Make an example of him."

"Trust us to do that," said Roche. After a moment he added: "To refer
again to selling the estate you would get very little for it. It can't
depreciate much more, and there is always the chance it may improve.
Some of the people are quite willing to work--"

"ARE they? They've not shown any willingness to me."

"Oh, no. They wouldn't."

"What? Not to their landlord?"

"You'd be the LAST they'd show it to. They're strange people in many
ways until you get to know them. Now there are many natural resources
that might be developed if some capital were put into them."

"My new steward discouraged me about doing that. He said it might be
ten years before I got a penny out."

"Your NEW steward?"

"Andrew McPherson."

"The lawyer?"

"Yes"

"He's a hard man, sir."

"The estate needs one."

"Burke understands the people."

"He sympathises with them. I don't want a man like that working for me.
I want loyalty to my interests The makeshift policy of Burke during my
father's lifetime helped to bring about this pretty state of things.
We'll see what firmness will do. New broom. Sweep the place clean. Rid
it of slovenly, ungrateful tenants. Clear away the tap-room orators. I
have a definite plan in my mind. If I decide NOT to sell I'll perfect
my plan in London and begin operations as soon as I'm satisfied it is
feasible and can be put upon a proper business basis. There's too much
sentiment in Ireland. That's been their ruin. _I_ am going to bring a
little common sense into play." Kingsnorth walked restlessly around the
room as he spoke. He stopped by the windows and beckoned the magistrate.

"There's your man on the drive. See?" and he pointed to where
O'Connell, with a soldier each side of him, was slowly moving down the
long avenue.

The door of the room opened and Angela came in hurriedly and went
straight to where the two men stood. There was the catch of a sob in
her voice as she spoke to the magistrate.

"Are you taking that poor wounded man to prison?"

"The doctor says he is well enough to be moved," replied Roche.

"You've not seen the doctor. I've just questioned him. He told me you
had not asked his opinion and that if you move him it will be without
his sanction."

Kingsnorth interrupted angrily: "Please don't interfere."

Angela turned on him: "So, it's YOU who are sending him to prison?"

"I am."

Angela appealed to the magistrate.

"Don't do this, I entreat you--don't do it."

"But I have no choice, Miss Kingsnorth."

"The man can scarcely walk," she pleaded.

"He will receive every attention, believe me, Miss Kingsnorth," Roche
replied.

Angela faced her brother again.

"If you let that wounded man go from this house to-day you will regret
it to the end of your life." Her face was dead-white; her breath was
coming thickly; her eyes were fastened in hatred on her brother's face.

"Kindly try and control yourself, Angela," Kingsnorth said sternly.
"You should consider my position a little more--"

"YOUR position? And what is HIS? You with EVERYTHING you want in
life--that man with NOTHING. He is being hounded to prison for what?
Pleading for his country! Is that a crime? He was shot down by
soldiers--for what? For showing something we English are always
boasting of feeling OURSELVES and resent any other nation feeling
it--patriotism!"

"Stop!" commanded Kingsnorth.

"If you take that sick, wretched man out of this house it will be a
crime--" began Angela.

Kingsnorth stopped her; he turned to the magistrate: "Kindly take the
man away."

Roche moved to the window.

Angela's heart sank. All her pleading was in vain. Her voice faltered
and broke:

"Very well. Then take him. Sentence him for doing something his own
countrymen will one day build a monument to him for doing. The moment
the prison-door closes behind him a thousand voices will cry 'Shame' on
you and your government, and a thousand new patriots will be enrolled.
And when he comes out from his torture he'll carry on the work of
hatred and vengeance against his tyrants. He will fight you to the last
ditch. You may torture his BODY, but you cannot break his HEART or
wither his spirit. They're beyond you. They're--they're--," she stopped
suddenly, as her voice rose to the breaking-point, and left the room.

The magistrate went down the drive. In a few moments O'Connell was on
his way to the Court-House, a closely guarded prisoner.

Angela, from her window, watched the men disappear. She buried her face
in her hands and moaned as she had not done since her mother left her
just a few years before. The girlhood in her was dead. She was a woman.
The one great note had come to her, transforming her whole nature--love.

And the man she loved was being carried away to the misery and
degradation of a convict.

Gradually the moans died away. The convulsive heaving of her breast
subsided. A little later, when her sister Monica came in search of her,
she found Angela in a dead faint.

By night she was in a fever.



CHAPTER IX

TWO LETTERS


Dublin, Ireland, Nov. 16th, 18--

Dear Lady of Mercy:

I have served my sentence. I am free. At first the horrible humiliation
of my treatment, of my surroundings, of the depths I had to sink to,
burned into me. Then the thought of you sustained me. Your gentle
voice: your beauty: your pity: your unbounded faith in me strengthened
my soul. All the degradation fell from me. They were but ignoble means
to a noble end. I was tortured that others might never know sorrow. I
was imprisoned that my countrymen might know liberty. And so the load
was lighter.

The memory of those three WONDERFUL days was so marvellous, so vivid,
that it shone like a star through the blackness of those TERRIBLE days.

You seem to have taken hold of my heart and my soul and my life.

Forgive me for writing this to you, but it seems that you are the only
one I've ever known who understands the main-springs of my nature, of
my hopes and my ambitions--indeed, of my very thoughts.

To-day I met the leader of my party. He greeted me warmly. At last I
have proved myself a worthy follower. They think it best I should leave
Ireland for a while. If I take active part at once I shall be arrested
again and sent for a longer sentence.

They have offered me the position of one of the speakers In a campaign
in America to raise funds for the "Cause." I must first see the Chief
in London. He sent a message, writing in the highest terms of my work
and expressing a wish to meet me. I wonder if it would be possible to
see you in London?

If I am sent to America it would speed my going to speak to you again.
If you feel that I ask too much, do not answer this and I will
understand.

Out of the fulness of my heart, from the depths of my soul, and with
the whole fervour of my being, I ask you to accept all the gratitude of
a heart filled to overflowing.

God bless and keep you.

Yours in homage and gratitude,
  FRANK OWEN O'CONNELL.


London, Nov. 19th, 18--

My dear Mr. O'Connell:

I am glad indeed to have your letter and to know you are free again. I
have often thought of your misery during all these months and longed to
do something to assuage it. It is only when a friend is in need and all
avenues of help are closed to him that a woman realises how helpless
she is.

That they have not crushed your spirit does not surprise me. I was as
sure of that as I am that the sun is shining to-day. That you do not
work actively in Ireland at once is, I am sure, wise. Foolhardiness is
not courage.

In a little while the English government may realise how hopeless it is
to try and conquer a people who have liberty in their hearts. Then they
will abate the rigour of their unjust laws.

When that day comes you must return and take up the mission with
renewed strength and hope and stimulated by the added experience of
bitter suffering.

I should most certainly like to see you in London. I am staying with a
distant connection of the family. We go to the south of France in a few
weeks. I have been very ill--another reproach to the weakness of woman.
I am almost recovered now but far from strong. I have to lie still all
day. My only companions are my books and my thoughts.

Let me know when you expect to arrive in London. Come straight here.

I have so much to tell you, but the words halt as they come to my pen.

Looking forward to seeing you,
  In all sincerity,
    ANGELA KINGSNORTH.



CHAPTER X

O'CONNELL VISITS ANGELA IN LONDON


Nathaniel Kingsnorth stayed only, long enough in Ireland to permit of
Angela's recovery.

He only went into the sick-room once.

When Angela saw him come into the room she turned her back on him and
refused to speak to him.

For a moment a flush of pity for his young sister gave him a pang at
his heart. She looked so frail and worn, so desperately ill. After all
she was his sister, and again, had she not been punished? He was
willing to forget the foolhardy things she had done and the bitter
things she had said. Let bygones be bygones. He realised that he had
neglected her. He would do so no longer. Far from it. When they
returned to London all that would be remedied. He would take care of
her in every possible way. He felt a genuine thrill course through him
as he thought of his generosity.

To all of this Angela made no answer.

Stung by her silence, he left the room and sent for his other sister.
When Monica came he told her that whenever Angela wished to recognise
his magnanimity she could send for him. She would not find him
unforgiving.

To this Angela sent no reply.

When the fever had passed and she was stronger, arrangements were made
for the journey to London.

As Angela walked unsteadily to the carriage, leaning on the arm of the
nurse, Nathaniel came forward to assist her. She passed him without a
word. Nor did she speak to him once, nor answer any remark of his,
during the long journey on the train.

When they reached London she refused to go to the Kingsnorth house,
where her brother lived, but went at once to a distant cousin of her
mother's--Mrs. Wrexford--and made her home with her, as she had often
done before. She refused to hold any further communication with her
brother, despite the ministrations of her sister Monica and Mrs.
Wrexford.

Mrs. Wrexford was a gentle little white-capped widow whose only
happiness in life seemed to be in worrying over others' misfortunes.
She was on the board of various charitable organisations and was a busy
helper in the field of mercy. She worshipped Angela, as she had her
mother before her. That something serious had occurred between Angela
and her brother Mrs. Wrexford realised, but she could find out nothing
by questioning Angela. Every time she asked her anything relative to
her attitude Angela was silent.

One day she begged Mrs. Wrexford never to speak of her brother again.
Mrs. Wrexford respected her wishes and watched her and nursed her
through her convalescence with a tender solicitude.

When O'Connell's letter came, Angela showed it to Mrs. Wrexford,
together with her reply.

"Do you mind if I see him here?" Angela asked.

"What kind of man is he?"

"The kind that heroes are made of."

"He writes so strangely--may, one say unreservedly? Is he a gentleman?"

"In the real meaning of the word--yes."

"Of good family?"

"Not as we estimate goodness. His family were just simple peasants."

"Do you think it wise to see him?"

"I don't consider the wisdom. I only listen to my heart."

"Do you mean that you care for him?"

"I do."

"You--you love him?"

"So much of love as I can give is his."

"Oh, my dear!" cried Mrs. Wrexford, thoroughly alarmed.

"Don't be afraid," said Angela, quietly. "Our ways lie wide apart. He
is working for the biggest thing in life. His work IS his life. I am
nothing."

"But don't you think it would be indiscreet, dear, to have such a man
come here?"

"Why--indiscreet?"

"A man who has been in prison!" and Mrs. Wrexford shuddered at the
thought. She had seen and helped so many poor victims of the cruel
laws, and the memory of their drawn faces and evil eyes, and coarse
speech, flashed across her mind. She could not reconcile one coming
into her little home.

Angela answered her:

"Yes, he has been in prison, but the shame was for his persecutors--not
for him. Still, if you would rather I saw him somewhere else--"

"Oh no, my dear child. If you wish it--"

"I do. I just want to see him again, as he writes he does me. I want to
hear him speak again. I want to wish him 'God-speed' on his journey."

"Very, well, Angela," said the old lady. "As you wish."

A week afterwards O'Connell arrived in London. They met in Mrs.
Wrexford's little drawing-room in Mayfair.

They looked at each other for some moments without speaking. Both noted
the fresh lines of suffering in each other's faces. They had been
through the long valley of the shadow of sorrow since they had last
met. But O'Connell thought, as he looked at her, that all the suffering
he had gone through passed from him as some hideous dream. It was worth
it--these months of torture--just to be looking at her now. Worth the
long black nights--the labours in the heat of the day, with life's
outcasts around him; the taunts of his gaolers: worth all the infamy of
it--just to stand there looking at her.

She had taken his life in her two little hands.

He had bathed his soul all these months in the thought of her. He had
prayed night and day that he might see her standing near him just as
she was then: see the droop of her eye and the silk of her hair and
feel the touch of her hand and hear the exquisite tenderness of her
voice.

He stood mute before her.

She held out her hand and said simply

"Thank you for coming."

"It was good of you to let me," he answered hoarsely. "They have not
broken your spirit or your courage?"

"No," he replied tensely; "they are the stronger."

"I thought they would be," she said proudly.

All the while he was looking at the pale face and the thin transparency
of her hands.

"But you have suffered, too. You have been ill. Were you in--danger?"
His voice had a catch of fear in it as he asked the, to him, terrible
question.

"No. It was just a fever. It is past. I am a little weak--a little
tired. That will pass, too."

"If anything had happened to you--or ever should happen!" He buried his
face in his hands and moaned "Oh, my God! Oh, my God!"

His body shook with the sobs he tried vainly to check. Angela put her
hand gently on his shoulder.

"Don't do that," she whispered.

He controlled himself with an effort.

"It will be over in a moment. Just a moment. I am sorry."

He suddenly knelt at her feet, his head bowed in reverence. "God help
me," he cried faintly, "I love you! I love you!"

She looked down at him, her face transfigured.

He loved her!

The beat of her heart spoke it! "He loves you!" the throbbing of her
brain shouted it: "He loves you!" the cry of her soul whispered it: "He
loves you!"

She stretched out her hands to him:

"My love is yours, just as yours is mine. Let us join our lives and
give them to the suffering and the oppressed."

He looked up at her in wonder.

"I daren't. Think what I am."

"You are the best that is in me. We are mates."

"A peasant! A beggar!"

"You are the noblest of the noble."

"A convict."

"Our Saviour was crucified so that His people should be redeemed. You
have given the pain of your body so that your people may be free."

"It wouldn't be fair to you," he pleaded.

"If you leave me it will be unfair to us both."

"Oh, my dear one! My dear one!"

He folded her in his arms:

"I'll give the best of my days to guard you and protect you and bring
you happiness."

"I am happy now," and her voice died to a whisper.



CHAPTER XI

KINGSNORTH IN DESPAIR


Three days afterwards Nathaniel Kingsnorth returned late at night from
a political banquet.

It had been a great evening. At last it seemed that life was about to
give him what he most wished for. His dearest ambitions were,
apparently, about to be realised.

He had been called on, as a staunch Conservative, to add his quota to
the already wonderful array of brilliant perorations of seasoned
statesmen and admirable speakers.

Kingsnorth had excelled himself.

Never had he spoken so powerfully.

Being one of the only men at the banquet who had enjoyed even a brief
glimpse of Ireland, he made the solution of the Irish question the main
topic of his speech. Speaking lucidly and earnestly, he placed before
them his panacea for Irish ills.

His hearers were enthralled.

When he sat down the cheering was prolonged. The Chancellor of the
Exchequer, an old friend of his late father, spoke most glowingly to
him and of him in his hearing. The junior Whip hinted at his contesting
a heat at a coming bye-election in the North of Ireland. A man with his
knowledge of Ireland--as he had shown that night--would be invaluable
to his party.

When he left the gathering he was in a condition of ecstasy. Lying
back, amid the cushions, during his long drive home, he closed his eyes
and pictured the future. His imagination ran riot. It took wings and
flew from height to height. He saw himself the leader of a party--"The
Kingsnorth Party!"--controlling his followers with a hand of iron, and
driving them to vote according to his judgment and his decree.

By the time he reached home he had entered the Cabinet and was being
spoken of as the probable Prime Minister. But for the sudden stopping
of the horses he might have attained that proud distinction.

The pleasant warmth of the entrance hall on this chill November night,
greeted him as a benignant welcome. He bummed a tune cheerfully as he
climbed the stairs, and was smiling genially when he entered the
massive study.

He poured out a liqueur and stood sipping it as he turned over the
letters brought by the night's post. One arrested him. It had been
delivered by hand, and was marked "Most Urgent." He lit a cigar and
tore open the envelope. As he read the letter every vestige of colour
left his face. He sank into a chair: the letter slipped from his
fingers. All his dreams had vanished in a moment. His house of cards
had toppled down. His ambitions were surely and positively destroyed at
one stroke. He mechanically picked up the letter and re-read it. Had it
been his death-sentence it could not have affected him more cruelly.

"Dear Nathaniel: I scarcely know how to write to you about what has
happened. I am afraid I am in some small measure to blame. Ten days ago
your sister showed me a letter from a man named O'Connell--[Kingsnorth
crushed the letter in his hand as he read the hated name--the name of
the man who had caused him so much discomfort during that unfortunate
visit to his estate in Ireland. How he blamed himself now for having
ever gone there. There was indeed a curse on it for the Kingsnorths. He
straightened out the crumpled piece of paper and read on]:--a man named
O'Connell--the man she nursed in your house in Ireland after he had
been shot by the soldiers. He was coming to England and wished to see
her. She asked my permission. I reasoned with her--but she was decided.
If I should not permit her to see him in my house she would meet him
elsewhere. It seemed better the meeting should be under my roof, so I
consented. I bitterly reproach myself now for not acquainting you with
the particulars. You might have succeeded in stopping what has
happened."

"Your sister and O'Connell were married this morning by special licence
and left this afternoon for Liverpool, en route to America."

"I cannot begin to tell you how much I deplore the unfortunate affair.
It will always be a lasting sorrow to me. I cannot write any more now.
My head is aching with the thought of what it will mean to you. Try not
to think too hardly of me and believe me."

"Always your affectionate cousin,"

"Mary Caroline Wrexford."

Kingsnorth's head sank on to his breast. Every bit of life left him.
Everything about his feet. Ashes. The laughing-stock of his friends.

Were Angela there at that moment he could have killed her.

The humiliation of it! The degradation of it! Married to that lawless
Irish agitator. The man now a member of his family! A cry of misery
broke from him, as he realised that the best years of his life were to
come and go fruitlessly. His career was ended. Despair lay heavy on his
soul.



CHAPTER XII

LOOKING FORWARD


Standing on the main deck of an Atlantic liner stood Angela and
O'Connell.

They were facing the future together.

Their faces were turned to the West.

The sun was sinking in a blaze of colour.

Their eyes lighted up with the joy of HOPE.

LOVE was in their hearts.



BOOK II

THE END OF THE ROMANCE


CHAPTER I

ANGELA'S CONFESSION


A year after the events in the preceding book took place O'Connell and
his young wife were living in a small; apartment in one of the poorer
sections of New York City.

The first few months in America had been glorious ones for them. Their
characters and natures unfolded to each other as some wonderful
paintings, each taking its own hues from the adoration of the other.

In company with a noted Irish organiser O'Connell had spoken in many of
the big cities of the United States and was everywhere hailed as a hero
and a martyr to English tyranny.

But he had one ever-present handicap--a drawback he had never felt
during the years of struggle preceding his marriage. His means were
indeed small. He tried to eke out a little income writing articles for
the newspapers and magazines. But the recompense was pitiful. He could
not bear, without a pang, to see Angela in the dingy surroundings that
he could barely afford to provide for her.

On her part Angela took nothing with her but a few jewels her mother
had left her, some clothes and very little money. The money soon
disappeared and then one by one the keepsakes of her mother were parted
with. But they never lost heart. Through it all they were happy. All
the poetry of O'Connell's nature came uppermost, leavened, as it was,
by the deep faith and veneration of his wife.

This strangely assorted fervent man and gentle woman seemed to have
solved the great mystery of happiness between two people.

But the poverty chafed O'Connell--not for himself, but for the frail,
loving, uncomplaining woman who had given her life into his care.

His active brain was continually trying to devise new ways of adding to
his meagre income. He multiplied his duties: he worked far into the
night when he could find a demand for his articles. But little by
little his sources of revenue failed him.

Some fresh and horrible Agrarian crimes in Ireland, for which the Home
Rule party were blamed, for a while turned the tide of sympathy against
his party. The order was sent out to discontinue meetings for the
purpose of collecting funds in America--funds the Irish-Americans had
been so cheerfully and plentifully bestowing on the "Cause." O'Connell
was recalled to Ireland. His work was highly commended.

Some day they would send him to the United States again as a Special
Pleader. At present he would be of greater value at home.

He was instructed to apply to the treasurer of the fund and
arrangements would be made for his passage back to Ireland.

He brought the news to Angela with a strange feeling of fear and
disappointment. He had built so much on making a wonderful career in
the great New World and returning home some day to Ireland with the
means of relieving some of her misery and with his wife guarded, as she
should be, from the possibility of want. And here was he going back to
Ireland as poor as he left it--though richer immeasurably in the love
of Angela. She was sitting perfectly still, her eyes on the floor, when
he entered the room. He came in so softly that she did not hear him. He
lifted her head and looked into her eyes. He noticed with certainty
what had been so far only a vague, ill-defined dread. Her face was
very, very pale and transparent. Her eyes were sunken and had a strange
brilliancy. She was much slighter end far more ethereal than on that
day when they stood the deck of the ship and turned their faces so
hopefully to the New World.

He felt a knife-like stab startle through his blood to his heart. His
breath caught.

Angela looked up at him, radiantly.

He kissed her and with mock cheerfulness he said, laughingly:

"Such news, me darlin'! Such wondherful news!"

"Good news, dear?"

"The best in the wurrld," and he choked a sob.

"I knew it would come! I knew it would. Tell me, dear."

"We're to go back--back to--back to Ireland. See--here are the orders,"
and he showed her the official letter.

She took it wonderingly and read it. Her hand dropped to her side. Her
head drooped into the same position he had found her in. In a moment he
was kneeling at her side:

"What is it, dear?"

"We can't go, Frank."

"We can't go? What are ye sayin', dear?"

"We can't go," she repeated, her body crumpled up limply in the chair.

"And why not, Angela? I know I can't take ye back as I brought ye here,
dear, if that's what ye mane. The luck's been against me. It's been
cruel hard against me. An' that thought is tearin' at me heart this
minnit."

"It isn't THAT, Frank," she said, faintly.

"Then what is it?"

"Oh," she cried, "I hoped it would be so different--so very different."

"What did ye think would be so different, dear? Our going back? Is that
what's throublin' ye?"

"No, Frank. Not that. I don't care how we go back so long as you are
with me." He pressed her hand. In a moment she went on: "But we can't
go. We can't go. Oh, my dear, my dear, can't you guess? Can't you
think?" She looked imploringly into his eyes.

A new wonder came into his. Could it be true? Could it? He took both
her hands and held them tightly and stood up, towering over her, and
trembling violently. "Is it--is it--?" he cried and stopped as if
afraid to complete the question.

She smiled a wan smile up at him and nodded her head as she answered:

"The union of our lives is to be complete. Our love is to be rewarded."

"A child is coming to us?" he whispered.

"It is," and her voice was hushed, too.

"Praise be to God! Praise be to His Holy Name," and O'Connell clasped
his hands in prayer.

In a little while she went on: "It was the telling you I wanted to be
so different. I wanted you, when you heard it, to be free of
care--happy. And I've waited from day to day hoping for the best--that
some good fortune would come to you."

He forced one of his old time, hearty laughs, but there was a hollow
ring in it:

"What is that yer sayin' at all? Wait for good fortune? Is there any
good fortune like what ye've just told me? Sure I'm ten times the
happier man since I came into this room." He put his arm around her and
sitting beside her drew her closely to him. "Listen, dear," he said,
"listen. We'll go back to the old country. Our child shall be born
where we first met. There'll be no danger. No one shall harm us with
that little life trembling in the balance--the little precious life. If
it's a girl-child she'll be the mother of her people; and if it be a
man-child he shall grow up to carry on his father's work. So
there--there--me darlin', we'll go back--we'll go back."

She shook her head feebly. "I can't," she said.

"Why not, dear?"

"I didn't want to tell you. But now you make me. Frank, dear, I am ill."

His heart almost stopped. "Ill? Oh, my darlin', what is it? Is it
serious? Tell me it isn't serious?" and his voice rang with a note of
agony.

"Oh, no, I don't think so. I saw the doctor to-day. He said I must be
careful--very careful until--until--our baby is born."

"An' ye kept it all to yerself, me brave one, me dear one. All right.
We won't go back. We'll stay here. I'll make them find me work. I'm
strong. I'm clever too and crafty, Angela. I'll wring it from this
hustling, city. I'll fight it and beat it. Me darlin' shall have
everything she wants. My little mother--my precious little mother."

He cradled her in his strong arms and together they sat for hours and
the pall of his poverty fell from them and they pictured the future
rose-white and crowned with gold--a future in which there were
THREE--the trinity one and undivided.

Presently she fell asleep in his arms. He raised his eyes to heaven and
prayed God to help him in his hour of striving. He prayed that the
little life sleeping so calmly in his arms would be spared him.

"Oh God! answer my prayer, I beseech you," he cried. Angela smiled
contentedly in her sleep and spoke his same. It seemed to O'Connell as
if his prayer had been heard and answered. He gathered the slight form
up in, his arms and carried her to her room and sat by her until dawn.

It was the first night for many weeks that she had slept through till
morning without starting out of her sleep in pain. This night she
slumbered like a child and a smile played on her lips as though her
dreams were happy ones.



CHAPTER II

A COMMUNICATION FROM NATHANIEL KINGSNORTH


The months that followed were the hardest in O'Connell's life. Strive
as he would he could find no really remunerative employment. He had no
special training. He knew no trade. His pen, though fluent, was not
cultured and lacked the glow of eloquence he had when speaking. He
worked in shops and in factories. He tried to report on newspapers. But
his lack of experience everywhere handicapped him. What he contrived to
earn during those months of struggle was all too little as the time
approached for the great event.

Angela was now entirely confined to her bed. She seemed to grow more
spirit-like every day. A terrible dread haunted O'Connell waking and
sleeping. He would start out of some terrible dream at night and listen
to her breathing. When he would hurry back at the close of some long,
disappointing day his heart would be hammering dully with fear for his
loved one.

As the months wore on his face became lined with care, and the bright
gold of his hair dimmed with streaks of silver. But he never faltered
or lost courage. He always felt he must win the fight now for existence
as he meant to win the greater conflict later--for liberty.

Angela, lying so still, through the long days, could only hope. She
felt so helpless. It was woman's weakness that brought men like
O'Connell to the edge of despair. And hers was not merely bodily
weakness but the mare poignant one of PRIDE. Was it fair to her
husband? Was it just? In England she had prosperous relatives. They
would not let her die in her misery. They could not let her baby come
into the world with poverty as its only inheritance. Till now she had
been unable to master her feeling of hatred and bitterness for her
brother Nathaniel; her intense dislike and contempt for her sister
Monica. From the time she left England she had not written to either of
them. Could she now? Something decided her.

One night O'Connell came back disheartened. Try as he would, he could
not conceal it. He was getting to the end of his courage. There was
insufficient work at the shop he had been working in for several weeks.
He had been told he need not come again.

Angela, lying motionless and white, tried to comfort him and give him
heart.

She made up her mind that night. The next day she wrote to her brother.

She could not bring herself to express one regret for what she had done
or said. On the contrary she made many references to her happiness with
the man she loved. She did write of the hardships they were passing
through. But they were only temporary. O'Connell was so clever--so
brilliant--he must win in the end. Only just now she was ill. She
needed help. She asked no gift--a loan--merely. They would pay it back
when the days of plenty came. She would not ask even this were it not
that she was not only ill, but the one great wonderful thing in the
world was to be vouchsafed her--motherhood. In the name of her unborn
baby she begged him to send an immediate response.

She asked a neighbour to post the letter so that O'Connell would not
know of her sacrifice. She waited anxiously for a reply.

Some considerable time afterwards--on the eve of her travail and when
things with O'Connell were at their worst--the answer came by cable.

She was alone when it came.

Her heart beat furiously as she opened it. Even if he only sent a
little it would be so welcome now when they were almost at the end. If
he had been generous how wonderful it would be for her to help the man
to whom nothing was too much to give her. The fact that her brother had
cabled strengthened the belief that he had hastened to come to her
rescue. She opened the cable and read it. Then she fell back on the
pillow with a low, faint moan.

When, hours later, O'Connell returned from a vain search for work he
found her senseless, with the cable in her fingers. He tried to recover
her without success. He sent a neighbour for a doctor. As he watched
the worn, patient face, his heart full to bursting, the thought flashed
through him--what could have happened to cause this collapse? He became
conscious of the cable he had found tightly clasped in her hand. He
picked it up and read it. It was very brief:


You have made your bed, lie in it.

                          Nathaniel Kingsnorth.


was all it said.



CHAPTER III

THE BIRTH OF PEG


Toward morning the doctor placed a little mite of humanity in
O'Connell's arms. He looked down at it in a stupor. It had really come
to pass. Their child--Angela's and his! A little baby-girl. The tiny
wail from this child, born of love and in sorrow, seemed to waken his
dull senses. He pressed the mite to him as the hot tears flowed down
his cheeks. A woman in one of the adjoining flats who had kindly
offered to help took the child away from him. The doctor led him to the
bedside. He looked down at his loved one. A glaze was over Angela's
eyes as she looked up at him. She tried to smile. All her suffering was
forgotten. She knew only pride and love. She was at peace. She raised
her hand, thin and transparent now, to O'Connell. He pressed it to his
lips.

She whispered:

"My baby. Bring me--my baby."

He took it from the woman and placed it in Angela's weak arms. She
kissed it again and again. The child wailed pitifully. The effort had
been too much for Angela's failing strength. Consciousness left her.

       .       .      .       .       .       .       .

Just before sunrise she woke. O'Connell was sitting beside her. He had
never moved. The infant was sleeping on some blankets on the couch--the
woman watching her.

Angela motioned her husband to bend near to her. Her eyes shone with
unearthly brightness. He put his ear near her lips. Her voice was very,
very faint.

"Take--care--of--our--baby--Frank. I'm--I'm--leaving you.
God--help--you--and--keep--you--and bless you--for--your--love--of me."

She paused to take breath--then she whispered her leave-taking. The
words never left O'Connell's memory for all the days of all the years
that followed.

"My--last--words--dear--the--last--I'll--ever--speak--to--you.
I--I--love--you--with--all--my heart--and--my soul--HUSBAND!
Good--good-bye--Frank." She slipped from his arms and lay, lips parted,
eyes open, body still.

The struggle was over. She had gone where there are no petty
treacheries, no mean brutalities--where all stand alike before the
Throne to render an account of their stewardship.

The brave, gentle little heart was stilled forever.



BOOK III

PEG


CHAPTER I

PEG'S CHILDHOOD


And now Peg appears for the first time, and brings her radiant
presence, her roguish smile, her big, frank, soulful, blue eyes, her
dazzling red hair, her direct, honest and outspoken truth: her love of
all that is clean and pure and beautiful--Peg enters our pages and
turns what was a history of romance and drama into a Comedy, of Youth.

Peg--pure as a mountain lily, sweet as a fragrant rose, haunting as an
old melody--Peg o' our Hearts comes into our story, even as she entered
her father's life, as the Saviour of these pages, even as she was the
means of saving O'Connell.

And she did save her father.

It was the presence and the thought of the little motherless baby that
kept O'Connell's hand from destroying himself when his reason almost
left him after his wife's death. The memories of the days immediately
following the passing of Angela are too painful to dwell upon. They are
past. They are sacred in O'Connell's heart. They will be to the
historian. Thanks to some kindly Irishmen who heard of O'Connell's
plight he borrowed enough money to bury his dead wife and place a
tablet to her memory.

He sent a message to Kingsnorth telling him of his sister's death. He
neither expected nor did he receive an answer.

As soon as it was possible he returned to Ireland and threw himself
once again heart and soul into working for the "Cause." He realised his
only hope of keeping his balance was to work. He went back to the
little village he was born in and it was Father Cahill's hands that
poured the baptismal waters on O'Connell's and Angela's baby and it was
Father Cahill's voice that read the baptismal service.

She was christened Margaret.

Angela, one night, when it was nearing her time, begged him if it were
a girl to christen her Margaret after her mother, since all the best in
Angela came from her mother.

O'Connell would have liked to have named the mite "Angela." But his
dead wife's wishes were paramount So Margaret the baby was christened.
It was too distinguished a name and too long for such a little bundle
of pink and white humanity. It did not seem to fit her. So, "Peg" she
was named and "Peg" she remained for the rest of her life.

When she was old enough to go with him O'Connell took Peg everywhere.
He seemed to bear a charmed life when she was with him.

Peg's earliest memories are of the village where she was baptised and
where her father was born. Her little will was law to everyone who came
in contact with her. She ruled her little court with a hand of iron.

Many were the dire predictions of the rod O'Connell was making for his
own back in giving the little mite her own way in everything.

But O'Connell's only happiness was in Peg and he neither heard nor
cared about any criticism that may have been levelled at him for his
fond, and, perhaps, foolish care of her.

Looming large in Peg's memories in after life are her father showing
her St. Kernan's Hill, and pointing out the mount on which he stood and
spoke that day, whilst her mother, hidden by that dense mass of trees,
saw every movement and heard every word. From there he took her to "The
Gap" and pointed out the windows of the room in which he was nursed for
those three blessed days.

It eased his mind to talk to the child of Angela and always he pictured
her as the poet writes in verse of the passion of his life: as the
painter puts on canvas the features that make life worth the living for
him.

Those memories were very clear in little Peg's mind.

Then somehow her childish thoughts all seemed to run to Home Rule--to
love of Ireland and hatred of England--to thinking all that was good of
Irishmen and all that was bad of Englishmen.

"Why do yez hate the English so much, father?" she asked O'Connell
once, looking up at him with a puzzled look in her big blue eyes, and
the most adorable brogue coming fresh from her tongue.

"Why do yez hate them?" she repeated.

"I've good cause to, Peg me darlin'," he answered, and a deep frown
gathered on his brow.

"Sure wasn't me mother English?" Peg asked.

"She was."

"Then WHY do yez hate the English?"

"It 'ud take a long time to tell ye that, Peggy. Some day I will.
There's many a reason why the Irish hate the English, and many a good
reason too. But there's one why you and I should hate them, and hate
them with all the bittherness that's in us."

"And what is it?" said Peg curiously.

"I'll tell ye. When yer mother and I were almost starvin', and she
lyin' on a bed of sickness, she wrote to an Englishman and asked him to
assist her. An' this is the reply she got: 'Ye've made yer bed; lie in
it.' That was the answer she got the day before you were born, and she
died givin' ye life. And by the same token the man that wrote that
shameful message to a dyin' woman was her own brother."

"Her own brother, yer tellin' me?" asked Peg wrathfully.

"I am, Peg. Her own brother, I'm tellin' ye."

"It's bad luck that man'll have all his life!" said Peg fiercely. "To
write me mother that--and she dyin'! Faith I'd like to see him some
day--just meet him--and tell him--" she stopped, her little fingers
clenched into a miniature fist. The hot colour was in her cheeks and
she stamped her small foot in actual rage. "I'd like to meet him some
day," she muttered.

"I hope ye never will, Peg," said her father solemnly. "And," he added,
"don't let us ever talk of it again, me darlin'!"

And she never did. But she often thought of the incident and the memory
of that brutal message was stamped vividly on her little brain.

The greatest excitements of her young life were going with her father
to hear him speak. She made the most extraordinary collection of scraps
of the speeches she had heard her father make for Home Rule. While he
would be speaking she would listen intently, her lips apart, her little
body tense with excitement, her little heart beating like a trip-hammer.

When they applauded him she would laugh gleefully and clap her little
hands together: if they interrupted him she would turn savagely upon
them. She became known all over the countryside as "O'Connell's Peg."

"Sure O'Connell's not the same man at all, at all, since he came back
with that little bit of a red-headed child," said a man to Father
Cahill one day.

"God is good, Flaherty," replied the priest. "He sent O'Connell a baby
to take him up nearer to Himself. Ye're right. He's NOT the same man.
It's the good Catholic he is again as he was as a boy. An' it's I'm
thankful for that same."

Father Cahill smiled happily. He was much older, but though the figure
was a little bent and the hair thinner, and the remainder of it
snow-white, the same sturdy spirit was in the old man.

"They're like boy and girl together, that's what they are," said
Flaherty with a tone of regret in his voice. "He seems as much of a
child as she is when he's with her," he added.

"Every good man has somethin' of the child left in him, me son.
O'Connell was goin' in the way of darkness until a woman's hand guided
him and gave him that little baby to hold on to his heart strings."

"Sure Peg's the light o' his life, that's what she is," grumbled
Flaherty. "It's small chance we ever have of broken heads an' soldiers
firin' on us, an' all, through O'Connell, since that child's laid hands
on him." Flaherty sighed. "Them was grand days and all," he said.

"They were wicked days, Flaherty," said the priest severely; "and it's
surprised I am that a God-fearin' man like yerself should wish them
back."

"There are times when I do, Father, the Lord forgive me. A fight lets
the bad blood out of ye. Sure it was a pike or a gun O'Connell 'ud
shouldher in the ould days, and no one to say him nay, and we all
following him like the Colonel of a regiment--an' proud to do it, too.
But now it's only the soft words we get from him."

"A child's hand shall guide," said the priest. Then he added:

"It has guided him. Whenever ye get them wicked thoughts about
shouldherin' a gun and flashin' a pike, come round to confession,
Flaherty, and it's the good penance I'll give ye to dhrive the devil's
temptation away from ye."

"I will that, Father Cahill," said Flaherty, hurriedly, and the men
went their different ways.

O'Connell did everything for Peg since she was an infant. His were the
only hands to tend the little body, to wash her and dress her, and tie
up her little shoe-laces, and sit beside her in her childish
sicknesses. He taught her to read and to write and to pray. As she grew
bigger he taught her the little he knew of music and the great deal he
knew of poetry. He instilled a love of verse into her little mind. He
never tired of reading her Tom Moore and teaching her his melodies. He
would make her learn them and she would stand up solemnly and recite or
sing them, her quaint little brogue giving them an added music.
O'Connell and Peg were inseparable.

One wonderful year came to Peg when she was about fourteen.

O'Connell had become recognised as a masterly exponent of the
particular form of Land Act that would most benefit Ireland.

It was proposed that he should lecture right through the country,
wherever they would let him, and awaken amongst the more violent Irish,
the recognition that legislative means were surer of securing the end
in view, than the more violent ones of fifteen years before.

The brutality of the Coercion Act had been moderated and already the
agricultural and dairy produce of the country had developed so
remarkably that the terrible misery of by-gone days, when the
potato-crop would fail, had been practically eliminated, or at least in
many districts mitigated.

O'Connell accepted the proposition.

Through the country he went speaking in every village he passed
through, and sometimes giving several lectures in the big cities. His
mode of travelling was in a cart. He would speak from the back of it,
Peg sitting at his feet, now watching him, again looking eagerly and
intently at the strange faces before her.

They were marvellous days, travelling, sometimes, under a golden sun
through the glistening fields: or pushing on at night under a great
green-and-white moon. Peg would sit beside her father as he drove and
he would tell her little folk-stories, or sing wild snatches of songs
of the days of the Rebellion; or quote lines ringing with the great
Irish confidence in the triumph of Justice:

          "Lo the path we tread
          By our martyred dead
     Has been trodden 'mid bane and blessing,
          But unconquered still
          Is the steadfast will
     And the faith they died confessing."

Or at night he would croon from Moore:

     "When the drowsy world is dreaming, love,
     Then awake--the heavens look bright, my dear,
     'Tis never too late for delight, my dear,
          And the best of all ways
          To lengthen our days
     Is to steal a few hours from the night, my dear!"


When storms would come she would cower down in the bottom of the cart
and cry and pray. Storms terrified her. It seemed as if all the anger
of the heavens were levelled at her. She would cry and moan pitifully
whilst O'Connell would try to soothe her and tell her that neither God
nor man would harm her--no one would touch his "Peg o' my Heart."

After one of those scenes he would sit and brood. Angela had always
been afraid of storms, and in the child's terror his beloved wife would
rise up before him and the big tears would drop silently down his
cheeks.

Peg crept out once when the storm had cleared and the sky was bright
with stars. Her father did not hear her. His thoughts were bridging
over the years and once more Angela was beside him.

Peg touched him timidly and peered up into his face. She thought his
cheeks were wet. But that could not be. She had never seen her father
cry.

"What are ye thinkin' about, father?" she whispered. His voice broke.
He did not want her to see his emotion. He answered with a half-laugh,
half-sob:

"Thinkin' about, is it? It's ashamed I am of ye to be frightened by a
few little flashes of lightnin' and the beautiful, grand thundher that
always kapes it company. It's ashamed I am of ye--that's what I am!" He
spoke almost roughly to hide his emotion and he furtively wiped the
tears from his face so that she should not see them.

"It's not the lightnin' I'm afraid of, father," said Peg solemnly.
"It's the thundher. It shrivels me up, that's what it does."

"The thundher, is it? Sure that's only the bluff the storm puts up when
the rale harm is done by the lightnin's flash. There is no harm in the
thundher at all. And remember, after all, it's the will of God."

Peg thought a moment:

"It always sounds just as if He were lookin' down at us and firin' off
cannons at us because He's angry with us."

O'Connell said nothing. Presently he felt her small hand creep into his:

"Father," said Peg; "are yez ralely ashamed of me when I'm frightened
like that?"

O'Connell was afraid to unbend lest he broke down altogether. So he
continued in a voice of mock severity:

"I am that--when ye cry and moan about what God has been good enough to
send us."

"Is it a coward I am for bein' afraid, father?" said Peg, her lips
quivering.

"That's what ye are, Peg," replied O'Connell with Spartan severity.

"Then I'll never be one again, father! Never again," and her eyes
filled up.

He suddenly took her in his arms and pressed her to him and rocked her
as though she were still a baby, and his voice trembled and was full of
pity as he said:

"Ye can't help it, acushla. Ye can't help it. Ye're NOT a coward, my
own brave little Peg. It's yer mother in ye. She could never bear a
thunder-storm without fear, and she was the bravest woman that ever
lived Bad luck to me for sayin' a cross word to ye."

Suddenly poor little Peg burst out crying and buried her face on her
father's breast and sobbed and sobbed as though her heart would break.

"Ssh! Ssh! There--there, me darlin'," cried O'Connell, now thoroughly
alarmed at the depth of feeling the child had loosened from her pent-up
emotion, "ye mustn't cry--ye mustn't. See it's laughin' I am! Laughin',
that's what I'm doin'."

And he laughed loudly while his heart ached, and he told her stories
until she forgot her tears and laughed too. And that night as he
watched her fall off to sleep he knelt down in the straw and prayed:

"Oh, kape her always like she is now--always just a sweet, innocent,
pure little creature. Kape the mother in her always, dear Lord, so that
she may grow in Your likeness and join my poor, dear Angela in the end.
Amen."

Those were indeed glorious days for Peg. She never forgot them in after
life.

Waking in the freshness of the early morning, making their frugal
breakfast, feeding the faithful old horse and then starting off through
the emerald green for another new and wonderful day, to spread the
light of the "Cause."

O'Connell had changed very much since the days of St. Kernan's Hill. As
was foreshadowed earlier, he no longer urged violence. He had come
under the influence of the more temperate men of the party, and was
content to win by legislative means, what Ireland had failed to
accomplish wholly by conflict. Although no one recognised more
thoroughly than O'Connell what a large part the determined attitude of
the Irish party, in resisting the English laws, depriving them of the
right of free speech, and of meeting to spread light amongst the
ignorant, had played in wringing some measure of recognition and of
tolerance from the bitter narrowness of the English ministers.

What changed O'Connell more particularly was the action of a band of
so-called "Patriots" who operated in many parts of Ireland--maiming
cattle, ruining crops, injuring peaceable farmers, who did not do their
bidding and shooting at landlords and prominent people connected with
the government.

Crime is not a means to honourable victory and O'Connell was ashamed of
the miscreants who blackened the fair name of his country by their
ruthless and despicable methods.

He avoided the possibility of imprisonment again for the sake of Peg.
What would befall her if he were taken from her?

The continual thought that preyed upon him was that he would have
nothing to leave her when his call came. Do what he would he could make
but little money--and when he had a small surplus he would spend it on
Peg--a shawl to keep her warm, or a ribbon to give a gleam of colour to
the drab little clothes.

On great occasions he would buy her a new dress, and then Peg was the
proudest little child in the whole of Ireland.

Every year, on the anniversary of her mother's death, O'Connell had a
Mass said for the repose of Angela's soul, and he would kneel beside
Peg through the service, and be silent for the rest of the day. One
year he had candles, blessed by the Archbishop, lit on our Lady's altar
and he stayed long after the service was over. He sent Peg home. But,
although Peg obeyed him, partially, by leaving the church, she kept
watch outside until her father came out. He was wiping his eyes as he
saw her. He pretended to be very angry.

"Didn't I tell ye to go home?"

"Ye did, father."

"Then why didn't ye obey me?"

"Sure an' what would I be doin' at home, all alone, without you? Don't
be cross with me, father."

He took her hand and they walked home in silence. He had been crying
and Peg could not understand it. She had never seen him do such a thing
before and it worried her. It did not seem right that a MAN should cry.
It seemed a weakness--and that her father, of all men, should do it--he
who was not afraid of anything nor anyone--it was wholly unaccountable
to her.

When they reached home Peg busied herself about her father, trying to
make him comfortable, furtively watching him all the while. When she
had put him in an easy chair, and brought him his slippers, and built
up the fire, she sat down on a little stool by his side. After a long
silence she stroked the back of his hand and then gave him a little
tug. He looked down at her.

"What is it, Peg?"

"Was my mother very beautiful, father?"

"The most beautiful woman that ever lived in all the wurrld, Peg."

"She looks beautiful in the picture ye have of her."

From the inside pocket of his coat he drew out a little
beautifully-painted miniature. The frame had long since been worn and
frayed. O'Connell looked at the face and his eyes shone:

"The man that painted it couldn't put the soul of her into it. That he
couldn't. Not the soul of her."

"Am I like her, at all, father?" asked Peg wistfully.

"Sometimes ye are, dear: very like."

After a little pause Peg said:

"Ye loved her very much, father, didn't ye?"

He nodded. "I loved her with all the heart of me and all the strength
of me."

Peg sat quiet for some minutes: then she asked him a question very
quietly and hung in suspense on his answer:

"Do ye love me as much as ye loved her, father?"

"It's different, Peg--quite, quite different."

"Why is it?" She waited He did not answer.

"Sure, love is love whether ye feel it for a woman or a child," she
persisted.

O'Connell remained silent.

"Did ye love her betther than ye love me, father?"

Her soul was in her great blue eyes as she waited excitedly for the
answer to that, to her, momentous question.

"Why do ye ask me that?" said O'Connell.

"Because I always feel a little sharp pain right through my heart
whenever ye talk about me mother. Ye see, father, I've thought all
these years that I was the one ye really loved--"

"Ye're the only one I have in the wurrld, Peg."

"And ye don't love her memory betther than ye do me?"

O'Connell put both of his arms around her.

"Yer mother is with the Saints, Peg, and here are you by me side. Sure
there's room in me heart for the memory of her and the love of you."

She breathed a little sigh of satisfaction and nestled onto her
father's shoulder. The little fit of childish jealousy of her dead
mother's place in her father's heart passed.

She wanted no one to share her father's affection with her. She gave
him all of hers. She needed all of his.

When Peg was eighteen years old and they were living in Dublin,
O'Connell was offered quite a good position in New York. It appealed to
him. The additional money would make things easier for Peg. She was
almost a woman now, and he wanted her to get the finishing touches of
education that would prepare her for a position in the world if she met
the man she felt she could marry. Whenever he would speak of marriage
Peg would laugh scornfully:

"Who would I be of AFTHER marryin' I'd like to know? Where in the
wurrld would I find a man like you?"

And no coaxing would make her carry on the discussion or consider its
possibility.

It still harassed him to think he had so little to leave her if
anything happened to him. The offer to go to America seemed
providential. Her mother was buried there. He would take Peg to her
grave.

Peg grew very thoughtful at the idea of leaving Ireland. All her little
likes and dislikes--her impulsive affections and hot hatreds were all
bound up in that country. She dreaded the prospect of meeting a number
of new people.

Still it was for her father's good, so she turned a brave face to it
and said:

"Sure it is the finest thing in the wurrld for both of us."

But the night before they left Ireland she sat by the little window in
her bed-room until daylight looking back through all the years of her
short life.

It seemed as if she were cutting off all that beautiful golden period.
She would never again know the free, careless, happy-go-lucky,
living-from-day-to-day existence, that she had loved so much.

It was a pale, wistful, tired little Peg that joined her father at
breakfast next morning.

His heart was heavy, too. But he laughed and joked and sang and said
how glad they ought to be--going to that wonderful new country, and by
the way the country Peg was born in, too! And then he laughed again and
said how FINE SHE looked and how WELL HE felt and that it seemed as if
it were God's hand in it all. And Peg pretended to cheer up, and they
acted their parts right to the end--until the last line of land
disappeared and they were headed for America. Then they separated and
went to their little cabins to think of all that had been. And every
day they kept up the little deception with each other until they
reached America.

They were cheerless days at first for O'Connell. Everything reminded
him of his first landing twenty years before with his young wife--both
so full of hope, with the future stretching out like some wonderful
panorama before them. He returns twenty years older to begin the fight
again--this time for his daughter.

His wife was buried at a little Catholic cemetery a few miles outside
New York City. There he took Peg one day and they put flowers on the
little mound of earth and knelt awhile in prayer. Beneath that earth
lay not only his wife's remains, but O'Connell's early hopes and
ambitions were buried with her.

Neither spoke either going to or returning from the cemetery.
O'Connell's heart was too full. Peg knew what was passing through his
mind and sat with her hands folded in her lap--silent. But her little
brain was busy thinking back.

Peg had much to think of during the early days following her arrival in
New York. At first the city awed her with its huge buildings and
ceaseless whirl of activity and noise. She longed to be back in her own
little green, beautiful country.

O'Connell was away during those first days until late apt night.

He found a school for Peg. She did not want to go to it, but just to
please her father she agreed. She lasted in it just one week. They
laughed at her brogue and teased and tormented her for her absolute
lack of knowledge. Peg put up with that just as long as she could. Then
one day she opened out on them and astonished them. They could not have
been more amazed had a bomb exploded in their midst. The little,
timid-looking, open-eyed, Titian-haired girl was a veritable virago.
She attacked and belittled, and mimicked and berated them. They had
talked of her BROGUE! They should listen to their own nasal utterances,
that sounded as if they were speaking with their noses and not with
their tongues! Even the teacher did not go unscathed. She came in for
an onslaught, too. That closed Peg's career as a New York student.

Her father arranged his work so that he could be with her at certain
periods of the day, and outlined her studies from his own slender stock
of knowledge. He even hired a little piano for her and followed up what
he had begun years before in Ireland--imbuing her with a thorough
acquaintance with Moore and his delightful melodies.

One wonderful day they had an addition to their small family. A little,
wiry-haired, scrubby, melancholy Irish terrier followed O'Connell for
miles. He tried to drive him away. The dog would turn and run for a few
seconds and the moment O'Connell would take his eyes off him he would
run along and catch him up and wag his over-long tail and look up at
O'Connell with his sad eyes. The dog followed him all the way home and
when O'Connell opened the door he ran in. O'Connell Had not the heart
to turn him out, so he poured out some milk and broke up some dry
biscuits for him and then played with him until Peg came home. She
liked the little dog at once and then and there O'Connell adopted him
and gave him to Peg. He said the dog's face had a look of Michael
Quinlan, the Fenian. So "Michael" he was named and he took his place in
the little home. He became Peg's boon companion. They romped together
like children, and they talked to each other and understood each other.
"Michael" had an eloquent tail, an expressive bark and a pair of eyes
that told more than speech.

The days flowed quietly on, O'Connell apparently satisfied with his
lot. But to Peg's sharp eye all was not well with him. There was a
settled melancholy about him whenever she surprised him thinking alone.
She thought he was fretting for Ireland and their happy days together
and so said nothing.

He was really worrying over Peg's future. He had such a small amount of
money put by, and working on a salary it would be long before he could
save enough to leave Peg sufficient to carry her on for a while if
"anything happened." There was always that "if anything happened!"
running in his mind.

One day the chance of solving the whole difficulty of Peg's future was
placed in his hands. But the means were so distasteful to him that he
hesitated about even telling her.

He came in unexpectedly in the early afternoon of that day and found a
letter waiting for him with an English postmark. Peg had eyed it
curiously off and on for hours. She had turned it over and over in her
fingers and looked at the curious, angular writing, and felt a little
cold shiver run up and down her as she found herself wondering who
could be writing to her father from England.

When O'Connell walked in and picked the letter up she watched him
excitedly. She felt, for some strange reason, that they were going to
reach a crisis in their lives when the seal was broken and the contents
disclosed. Superstition was strong--in Peg, and all that day she had
been nervous without reason, and excited without cause.

O'Connell read the letter through twice--slowly the first time, quickly
the second. A look of bewilderment came across his face as he sat down
and stared at the letter in his hand.

"Who is it from, at all?" asked Peg very quietly, though she was
trembling all through her body.

Her father said nothing.

Presently he read it through again.

"It's from England, father, isn't it?" queried Peg, pale as a ghost.

"Yes, Peg," answered her father and his voice sounded hollow and
spiritless.

"I didn't know ye had friends in England?" said Peg, eyeing the letter.

"I haven't," replied her father.

"Then who is it from?" insisted Peg, now all impatience and with a
strange fear tugging at her heart.

O'Connell looked up at her as she stood there staring down at him, her
big eyes wide open and her lips parted. He took both of her hands in
one of his and held them all crushed together for what seemed to Peg to
be a long, long while. She hardly breathed. She knew something was
going to happen to them both.

At last O'Connell spoke and his voice trembled and broke:

"Peg, do ye remember one mornin', years and years ago, when I was goin'
to speak in County Mayo, an' we started in the cart at dawn, an' we
thravelled for miles and miles an' we came to a great big crossing
where the roads divided an' there was no sign post an' we asked each
other which one we should take an' we couldn't make up our minds an' I
left it to you an' ye picked a road an' it brought us out safe and
thrue at the spot we were making for? Do you remember it, Peg?"

"Faith I do, father. I remember it well. Ye called me yer little guide
and said ye'd follow my road the rest of yer life. An' it's many's the
laugh we had when I'd take ye wrong sometimes afterwards." She paused.
"What makes ye think of that just now, father?"

He did not answer.

"Is it on account o' that letther?" she persisted.

"It is, Peg." He spoke with difficulty as if the words hurt him to
speak. "We've got to a great big crossin'-place again where the roads
branch off an' I don't know which one to take."

"Are ye goin' to lave it to me again, father?" said Peg.

"That's what I can't make up me mind about, dear--for it may be that
ye'll go down one road and me down the other."

"No, father," Peg cried passionately, "that we won't. Whatever the road
we'll thravel it together."

"I'll think it out by meself, Peg. Lave me for a while--alone. I want
to think it out by meself--alone."

"If it's separation ye're thinkin' of, make up yer mind to one
thing--that I'LL never lave YOU. Never."

"Take 'MICHAEL' out for a spell and come back in half an hour and in
the meanwhile I'll bate it all out in me mind."

She bent down and straightened the furrows in his forehead with the
tips of her fingers, and kissed him and then whistled to the wistful
"MICHAEL" and together they went running down the street toward the
little patch of green where the children played, and amongst whom
"MICHAEL" was a prime favourite.

Sitting, his head in his hands, his eyes staring into the past,
O'Connell was facing the second great tragedy of his life.



CHAPTER II

WE MEET AN OLD FRIEND AFTER MANY YEARS


While O'Connell sat there in that little room in New York trying to
decide Peg's fate, a man, who had played some considerable part in
O'Connell's life, lay, in a splendidly furnished room in a mansion in
the West End of London--dying.

Nathaniel Kingsnorth's twenty years of loneliness and desolation were
coming to an end. What an empty, arid stretch of time those years
seemed to him as he feebly looked back on them!

After the tragedy of his sister's reckless marriage he deserted public
life entirely and shut himself away in his country-house--except for a
few weeks in London occasionally when his presence was required on one
or other of the Boards of which he was a director.

The Irish estate--which brought about all his misfortunes--he disposed
of at a ridiculously low figure. He said he would accept any bid,
however small, so that he could sever all connection with the hated
village.

From the day of Angela's elopement he neither saw nor wrote to any
member of his family.

His other sister, Mrs. Chichester, wrote to him from time to
time--telling him one time of the birth of a boy: two years later of
the advent of a girl.

Kingsnorth did not answer any of her letters.

In no way dismayed, Mrs. Chichester continued to write periodically.
She wrote him when her son Alaric went to school and also when he went
to college. Alaric seemed to absorb most of her interest. He was
evidently her favourite child. She wrote more seldom of her daughter
Ethel, and when she did happen to refer to her she dwelt principally on
her beauty and her accomplishments. Five years before, an envelope in
deep mourning came to Kingsnorth, and on opening it he found a letter
from his sister acquainting him with the melancholy news that Mr.
Chichester had ended a life of usefulness at the English bar and had
died, leaving the family quite comfortably off.

Kingsnorth telegraphed his condolences and left instructions for a
suitable wreath to be sent to the funeral. But he did not attend it.
Nor did he at any time express the slightest wish to see his sister nor
did he encourage any suggestion on her part to visit him.

When he was stricken with an illness, from which no hope of recovery
was held out to him, he at once began to put his affairs in order, and
his lawyer spent days with him drawing up statements of his last wishes
for the disposition of his fortune.

With death stretching out its hand to snatch him from a life he had
enjoyed so little, his thoughts, coloured with the fancies of a tired,
sick brain, kept turning constantly, to his dead sister Angela.

From time to time down through the years he had a softened, gentle
remembrance of her. When the news of her death came, furious and
unrelenting as he had been toward her, her passing softened it. Had he
known in time he would have insisted on her burial in the Kingsnorth
vault. But she had already been interred in New York before the news of
her death reached him.

The one bitter hatred of his life had been against the man who had
taken his sister in marriage and in so doing had killed all possibility
of Kingsnorth succeeding in his political and social aspirations.

He heard vaguely of a daughter.

He took no interest in the news.

Now, however, the remembrance of his treatment of Angela burnt into
him. He especially repented of that merciless cable: "You have made
your bed; lie in it." It haunted him through the long hours of his slow
and painful illness. Had he helped her she might have been alive
to-day, and those bitter reflections that ate into him night and day
might have been replaced by gentler ones and so make his end the more
peaceful.

He thought of Angela's child and wondered if she were like his poor
dead sister. The wish to see the child became an obsession with him.

One morning, after a restless, feverish night, he sent for his lawyer
and told him to at once institute inquiries--find out if the child was
still living, and if so--where.

This his lawyer did. He located O'Connell in New York, through a friend
of his in the Irish party, and found that the child was living with him
in rather poor circumstances. He communicated the result of his
inquiries to Kingsnorth. That day a letter was sent to O'Connell asking
him to allow his child to visit her dying uncle. O'Connell was to cable
at Kingsnorth's expense and if he would consent the money for the
expenses of the journey would be cabled immediately. The girl was to
start at once, as Mr. Kingsnorth had very little longer to live.

When the letter had gone Kingsnorth drew a breath of relief. He longed
to see the child. He would have to wait impatiently for the reply.
Perhaps the man whom he had hated all his life would refuse his
request. If he did, well, he would make some provision in his will for
her--in memory of his dead sister.

The next day he altered his entire will and made Margaret O'Connell a
special legacy. Ten days late a cable came:

I consent to my daughter's visiting you.
                                  FRANK OWEN O'CONNELL.

The lawyer cabled at once making all arrangements through their bankers
in New York for Miss O'Connell's journey.

That night Kingsnorth slept without being disturbed. He awoke refreshed
in the morning. It was the first kindly action he had done for many
years.

How much had he robbed himself of all his life, if by doing so little
he was repaid so much!



CHAPTER III

PEG LEAVES HER FATHER FOR THE FIRST TIME


O'Connell had a hard struggle with Peg before she would consent to
leave him. She met all his arguments with counter-arguments. Nothing
would move her for hours.

"Why should I go to a man I have never seen and hate the name of?"

"He's your uncle, Peg."

"It's a fine uncle he's been to me all me life. And it was a grand way
he threated me mother when she was starvin'."

"He wants to do somethin' for ye now, Peg."

"I'll not go to him."

"Now listen, dear; it's little I'll have to lave ye when I'm gone,"
pleaded O'Connell.

"I'll not listen to any talk at all about yer goin'. Yer a great strong
healthy man--that's what ye are. What are ye talkin' about? What's got
into yer head about goin'?"

"The time must come, some day, Peg."

"All right, we'll know how to face it when it does. But we're not goin'
out all the way to meet it," said Peg, resolutely.

"It's very few advantages I've been able to give ye, me darlin'," and
O'Connell took up the argument again.

"Advantages or no advantages, what can anybody be more than be happy?
Answer me that? An' sure it's happy I've been with you. Now, why should
ye want to dhrive it all away from me?"

To these unanswerable reasons O'Connell would remain silent for a
while, only to take up the cudgels again. He realised what it would
mean to Peg to go to London to have the value of education and of
gentle surroundings. He knew her heart was loyal to him: nothing
strangers might teach her would ever alter that. And he felt he owed it
to her to give her this chance of seeing the great world. HE would
never be able to do it for her. Much as he hated the name of Kingsnorth
he acknowledged the fact that he had made an offer O'Connell had no
real right to refuse.

He finally persuaded Peg that it was the wise thing: the right thing:
and the thing he wished for the most.

"I don't care whether it's wise or right," said poor Peg, beaten at
last, "but if you wish it--" and she broke off.

"I do wish it, Peg."

"Ye'll turn me away from ye, eh?"

"No, Peg. Ye'll come back to me a fine lady."

"I'd like to see anybody thry THAT with me. A lady, indeed! Ye love me
as I am. I don't want to be any different."

"But ye'll go?"

"If ye say so."

"Then it's all settled?"

"I suppose it is."

"Good, me darlin'. Ye'll never regret it" O'Connell said this with a
cheery laugh, though his heart was aching at the thought of being
separated from her.

Peg looked at him reproachfully. Then she said:

"It's surprised I am at ye turnin' me away from ye to go into a
stuck-up old man's house that threated me mother the way he did."

And so the discussion ended.

For the next few days Peg was busy preparing herself for the journey
and buying little things for her scanty equipment. Then the cable came
to the effect that a passage was reserved for her and money was waiting
at a banker's for her expenses. This Peg obstinately refused to touch.
She didn't want anything except what her father gave her.

When the morning of her departure came, poor Peg woke with a heavy
heart. It was their first parting, and she was miserable.

O'Connell, on the contrary, seemed full of life and high spirits. He
laughed at her and joked with her and made a little bundle of some
things that would not go in her bag--and that he had kept for her to
the last minute. They were a rosary that had been his mother's, a
prayer-book Father Cahill gave him the day he was confirmed, and lastly
the little miniature of Angela. It wrung his heart to part with it, but
he wanted Peg to have it near her, especially as she was going amongst
the relations of the dead woman. All through this O'Connell showed not
a trace of emotion before Peg. He kept telling her there was nothing to
be sad about. It was all going to be for her good.

When the time came to go, the strange pair made their way down to the
ship--the tall, erect, splendid-looking man and the little red-haired
girl in her simple black suit and her little black hat, with red
flowers to brighten it.

O'Connell went aboard with her, and an odd couple they looked on the
saloon-deck, with Peg holding on to "Michael"--much to the amusement of
the passengers, the visitors and the stewards.

Poor, staunch, loyal, honest, true little Peg, going alone to--what?
Leaving the one human being she cared for and worshipped--her playmate,
counsellor, friend and father--all in one!

O'Connell never dropped his high spirits all the time they were
together on board the ship. He went aboard with a laugh and when the
bell rang for all visitors to go ashore he said good-bye to Peg with a
laugh--while poor Peg's heart felt like a stone in her breast. She
stood sobbing up against the rail of the saloon deck as the ship swung
clear. She was looking for her father through the mists of tears that
blinded her.

Just as the boat slowly swept past the end of the dock she saw him
right at the last post so that he could watch the boat uninterruptedly
until it was out of sight. He was crying himself now--crying like a
child, and as the boat swung away he called up, "My little Peg! Peg o'
my Heart!" How she longed to get off that ship and go back to him! They
stood waving to each other as long as they remained in sight.

While the ship ploughed her way toward England with little Peg on
board, the man whom she was crossing the Atlantic to meet died quietly
one morning with no one near him.

The nurse found Mr. Kingsnorth smiling peacefully as though asleep. He
had been dead several hours.

Near him on the table was a cable despatch from New York:

My daughter sailed on the Mauretania to-day at ten o'clock.
                                         FRANK OWEN O'CONNELL.



BOOK IV

PEG IN ENGLAND


CHAPTER I

THE CHICHESTER FAMILY


Mrs. Chichester--whom we last saw under extremely distressing
circumstances in Ireland--now enters prominently into the story. She
was leading a secluded and charming existence in an old and picturesque
villa at Scarboro, in the north of England. Although her husband had
been dead for several years, she still clung to the outward symbols of
mourning. It added a softness to the patrician line of her features and
a touch of distinction to her manner and poise. She had an illustrious
example of a life-long sorrow, and, being ever loyal, Mrs. Chichester
retained the weeds of widowhood and the crepe of affliction ever
present.

She was proud indeed of her two children--about whom she had written so
glowingly to her brother Nathaniel.

Alaric was the elder. In him Mrs. Chichester took the greater pride. He
was so nearly being great--even from infancy--that he continually kept
his mother in a condition of expectant wonder. He was NEARLY brilliant
at school: at college he ALMOST got his degree. He JUST MISSED his
"blue" at cricket, and but for an unfortunate ball dribbling over the
net at a critical moment in the semi-final of the tennis championships,
he MIGHT have won the cup. He was quite philosophic about it, though,
and never appeared to reproach fate for treating him so shabbily.

He was always NEARLY doing something, and kept Mrs. Chichester in a
lively condition of trusting hope and occasional disappointment. She
knew he would "ARRIVE" some day--come into his own: then all these
half-rewarded efforts would be invaluable in the building of his
character.

Her daughter, Ethel, on the other hand, was the exact antithesis to
Alaric. She had never shown the slightest interest in anything since
she had first looked up at the man of medicine who ushered her into the
world. She regarded everything about her with the greatest complacency.
She was never surprised or angry, or pleased, or depressed. Sorrow
never seemed to affect her--nor joy make her smile. She looked on life
as a gentle brook down whose current she was perfectly content to drift
undisturbed. At least, that was the effect created in Mrs. Chichester's
mind. She never thought it possible there might be latent possibilities
in her impassive daughter.

While her mother admired Ethel's lofty attitude of indifference toward
the world--a manner that bespoke the aristocrat--she secretly chafed at
her daughter's lack of enthusiasm.

How different to Alaric--always full of nearly new ideas: always about
to do something. Alaric kept those around him on the alert--no one ever
really knew what he would do next. On the other hand, Ethel depressed
by her stolid content with everything about her. Every one knew what
she would do--or thought they did.

Mrs. Chichester had long since abandoned any further attempt to
interest her brother Nathaniel in the children.

Angela's wretched marriage had upset everything,--driven Nathaniel to
be a recluse and to close his doors on near and distant relatives.

Angela's death the following year did not relieve the situation. If
anything, it intensified it, since she left a baby that, naturally,
none of the family could possibly take the slightest notice of--nor
interest in.

It was tacitly agreed never to speak of the unfortunate incident,
especially before the children. It was such a terrible example for
Ethel, and so discouraging to the eager and ambitious Alaric.

Consequently Angela's name was never spoken inside of Regal Villa.

And so the Chichester family pursued an even course, only varied by
Alaric's sudden and DEFINITE decisions to enter either public life, or
athletics, or the army, or the world of art--it was really extremely
hard for so well-equipped a young man to decide to limit himself to any
one particular pursuit. Consequently he put off the final choice from
day to day.

Suddenly a most untoward incident happened. Alaric, returning from a
long walk, alone--during which he had ALMOST decided to become a
doctor--walked in through the windows from the garden into the
living-room and found his mother in tears, an open letter in her hand.

This was most unusual. Mrs. Chichester was not wont to give vent to
open emotion. It shows a lack of breeding. So she always suppressed it.
It seemed to grow inwards. To find her weeping--and almost
audibly--impressed Alaric that something of more than usual importance
had occurred.

"Hello, Mater!" he cried cheerfully, though his looks belied the
buoyancy of his tone. "Hullo! what's the matter? What's up?"

At the same moment Ethel came in through the door.

It was 11:30, and at precisely that time every morning Ethel practised
for half an hour on the piano. Not that she had the slightest interest
in music, but it helped the morning so much. She would look forward to
it for an hour before, and think of it for an hour afterwards--and then
it was lunch-time. It practically filled out the entire morning.

Mrs. Chichester looked up as her beloved children came toward her--and
REAL tears were in her eyes, and a REAL note of alarm was in her voice:

"Oh Ethel! Oh Alaric!"

Alaric was at her side in a moment. He was genuinely alarmed.

Ethel moved slowly across, thinking, vaguely, that something must have
disagreed with her mother.

"What is it, mater?" cried Alaric.

"Mother!" said Ethel, with as nearly a tone of emotion as she could
feel.

"We're ruined!" sobbed Mrs. Chichester.

"Nonsense!" said the bewildered son.

"Really?" asked the placid daughter.

"Our bank has failed! Every penny your poor father left me was in it,"
wailed Mrs. Chichester. "We've nothing. Nothing. We're beggars."

A horrible fear for a moment gripped Alaric--the dread of poverty. He
shivered! Suppose such a thing should really happen? Then he dismissed
it with a shrug of his shoulders. How perfectly absurd! Poverty,
indeed! The Chichesters beggars? Such nonsense! He turned to his mother
and found her holding out a letter and a newspaper. He took them both
and read them with mingled amazement and disgust. First the headline of
the newspaper caught his eye:

"Failure of Gifford's Bank."

Then he looked at the letter:

"Gifford's Bank suspended business yesterday!" Back his eye travelled
to the paper: "Gifford's Bank has closed its doors!" He was quite
unable, at first, to grasp the full significance of the contents of
that letter and newspaper. He turned to Ethel:

"Eh?" he gasped.

"Pity," she murmured, trying to find a particular piece of music
amongst the mass on the piano.

"We're ruined!" reiterated Mrs. Chichester.

Then the real meaning of those cryptic headlines and the business-like
letter broke in on Alaric. All the Chichester blood was roused in him.

"Now that's what I call a downright, rotten, blackguardly shame--a
BLACKGUARDLY SHAME!" His voice rose in tones as it increased in
intensity until it almost reached a shriek.

Something was expected of him. At any rate indignation. Well, he was
certainly indignant.

"Closed its doors, indeed!" he went on. "Why should it close its doors?
That's what I want to know! Why--should--it?" and he glared at the
unoffending letter and the non-committal newspaper.

He looked at Ethel, who was surreptitiously concealing a yawn, and was
apparently quite undisturbed by the appalling news.

He found no inspiration there.

Back he went to his mother for support.

"What RIGHT have banks to fail? There should be a law against it. They
should be made to open their doors and keep 'em open. That's what we
give 'em our money for--so that we can take it out again when we want
it."

Poor Mrs. Chichester shook her head sadly.

"Everything gone," she moaned. "Ruined! and at my age!"

"Nice kettle of fish," was all Alaric could think of. He was
momentarily stunned. He turned once more to Ethel. He never relied on
her very much, but at this particular crisis he would like to have some
expression of opinion, however slight--from her.

"I say, Ethel, it's a nice kettle of fish all o-boilin', eh?"

"Shame!" she said quietly, as she found the particular movement of
Grieg she had been looking for. She loved Grieg. He fitted into all her
moods. She played everything he composed exactly the same. She seemed
to think it soothed her. She would play some now and soothe her mother
and Alaric.

She began an impassioned movement which she played evenly and
correctly, and without any unseemly force. Alaric cried out
distractedly: "For goodness' sake stop that, Ethel! Haven't you got any
feelings? Can't you see how upset the mater is? And I am? Stop it.
There's a dear! Let's put our backs into this thing and thrash it all
out. Have a little family meetin', as it were."

Poor Mrs. Chichester repeated, as though it were some refrain: "Ruined!
At my age!"

Alaric sat on the edge of her chair and put his arm around her shoulder
and tried to comfort her.

"Don't you worry, mater," he said. "Don't worry. I'll go down and tell
'em what I think of 'em--exactly what I think of 'em. They can't play
the fool with me. I should think NOT, indeed. Listen, mater. You've got
a SON, thank God, and one no BANK can take any liberties with. What we
put in there we've got to have out. That's all I can say. We've simply
got to have it out. There! I've said it!"

Alaric rose, and drawing himself up to his full five feet six inches of
manhood glared malignantly at some imaginary bank officials. His whole
nature was roused. The future of the family depended on him. They would
not depend in vain. He looked at Ethel, who was trying to make the best
of the business by smiling agreeably on them both.

"It's bankrupt!" wailed Mrs. Chichester.

"Failed!" suggested Ethel, cheerfully.

"We're beggars," continued the mother. "I must live on charity for the
rest of my life. The guest of relations I've hated the sight of and who
have hated me. It's dreadful! Dreadful!"

All Alaric's first glow of manly enthusiasm began to cool.

"Don't you think we'll get anything?" By accident he turned to Ethel.
She smiled meaninglessly and said for the first time with any real note
of conviction:

"Nothing!"

Alaric sat down gloomily beside his mother.

"I always thought bank directors were BLIGHTERS. Good Lord, what a
mess!" He looked the picture of misery. "What's to become of Ethel,
mater?"

"Whoever shelters me must shelter Ethel as well," replied the mother
sadly. "But it's hard--at my age--to be--sheltered."

Alaric looked at Ethel, and a feeling of pity came over him. It was
distinctly to his credit--since his own wrongs occupied most of his
attention. But after all HE could buffet the world and wring a living
out of it. All he had to do was to make up his mind which walk in life
to choose. He was fortunate.

But Ethel, reared from infancy in the environment of independence: it
would come very hard and bitter on her.

Alaric just touched Ethel's hand, and with as much feeling as he could
muster, he said: "Shockin' tough, old girl."

Ethel shook her head almost determinedly and said, somewhat
enigmatically, and FOR HER, heatedly:

"NO!"

"No?" asked Alaric. "No--what?"

"Charity!" said Ethel.

"Cold-blooded word," and Alaric shuddered. "What will you do, Ethel?"

"Work."

"At what?"

"Teach."

"TEACH? Who in the wide world can YOU teach?"

"Children."

Alaric laughed mirthlessly. "Oh, come, that's rich! Eh, mater? Fancy
Ethel teachin' grubby little brats their A B C's! Tush!"

"Must!" said Ethel, quite unmoved.

"A CHICHESTER TEACH?" said Alaric, in disgust.

"Settled!" from Ethel, and she swept her finger slowly across the piano.

"Very well," said Alaric, determinedly: "I'll work, too." Mrs.
Chichester looked up pleadingly.

Alaric went on: "I'll put my hand to the plough. The more I think of it
the keener I am to begin. From to-day I'll be a workin' man."

At this Ethel laughed a queer, little, odd, supercilious note, summed
up in a single word: "Ha!" There was nothing mirthful in it. There was
no reproach in it. It was just an expression of her honest feeling at
the bare suggestion of her brother WORKING.

Alaric turned quickly to her:

"And may I ask WHY that 'Ha!'? WHY, I ask you? There's nothing I
couldn't do if I were really put to it--not a single thing. Is there,
mater?"

His mother looked up proudly at him.

"I know that, dear. But it's dreadful to think of YOU--WORKING."

"Not at all," said Alaric, "I'm just tingling all over at the thought
of it. The only reason I haven't so far is because I've never had to.
But now that I have, I'll just buckle on my armour, so to speak, and
astonish you all."

Again came that deadly, cold, unsympathetic "Ha!" from Ethel.

"Please don't laugh in that cheerless way, Ethel. It goes all down my
spine. Jerry's always tellin' me I ought to do something--that the
world is for the worker--and all that. He's right, and I'm goin' to
show him." He suddenly picked up the paper and looked at the date.
"What's to-day? The FIRST? Yes, so it is. June the first. Jerry's
comin' to-day--all his family, too. They've taken 'Noel's Folly' on the
hill. He's sure to look in here. Couldn't be better. He's the cove to
turn to in a case like this."

Jarvis, a white-haired, dignified butler who had served the family man
and boy, came in at this juncture with a visiting card on a salver.

Alaric picked it up and glanced at it. He gave an expression of disgust
and flung the card back on the salver.

"Christian Brent."

For the first time Ethel showed more than a passing gleam of interest.
She stopped strumming the piano and stood up, very erect and very still.

Mrs. Chichester rose too: "I can't see any one," she said imperatively.
"Nor I," added Alaric. "I'm all strung up." He turned to Jarvis. "Tell
Mr. Brent we're very sorry, but--"

"I'LL see him," interrupted Ethel, almost animatedly. "Bring Mr. Brent
here, Jarvis."

As Jarvis went in search of Mr. Brent, Mrs. Chichester went up the
great stairs: "My head is throbbing. I'll go to my room."

"Don't you worry, mater," consoled Alaric. "Leave everything to me.
I'll thrash the whole thing out--absolutely thrash it out."

As Mrs. Chichester disappeared, Alaric turned to his calm sister, who,
strangely enough, was showing some signs of life and interest.

"Awful business, Ethel, eh?"

"Pretty bad."

"Really goin' to teach?"

"Yes."

"Right! I'll find somethin', too. Very likely a doctor. We'll pull
through somehow."

Ethel made a motion toward the door as though to stop any further
conversation.

"Mr. Brent's coming," she said, almost impatiently.

Alaric started for the windows leading into the garden.

"Jolly good of you to let him bore you. I hate the sight of the beggar,
myself. Always looks to me like the first conspirator at a play."

The door opened, and Jarvis entered and ushered in "Mr. Brent." Alaric
hurried into the garden.



CHAPTER II

CHRISTIAN BRENT


A few words of description of Christian Brent might be of interest,
since he represents a type that society always has with it.

They begin by deceiving others: they end by deceiving themselves.

Christian Brent was a dark, tense, eager, scholarly-looking man of
twenty-eight years of age. His career as a diplomatist was halted at
its outset by an early marriage with the only daughter of a prosperous
manufacturer. Brent was moderately independent in his own right, but
the addition of his wife's dowry seemed to destroy all ambition. He no
longer found interest in carrying messages to the various legations or
embassies of Europe, or in filling a routine position as some one's
secretary. From being an intensely eager man of affairs he drifted into
a social lounger--the lapdog of the drawing-room--where the close
breath of some rare perfume meant more than the clash of interests, and
the conquest of a woman greater than that of a nation.

Just at this period Ethel Chichester was the especial object of his
adoration.

Her beauty appealed to him.

Her absolute indifference to him stung him as a lash. It seemed to
belittle his powers of attraction. Consequently he redoubled his
efforts.

Ethel showed neither like nor dislike--just a form of toleration. Brent
accepted this as a dog a crumb, in the hope of something more
substantial to follow. He had come that morning with a fixed resolve.
His manner was determined. His voice wooed as a caress. He went
tenderly to Ethel the moment the door closed on Jarvis.

"How are you?" he asked, and there was a note of subdued passion in his
tone.

"Fair," replied Ethel, without even looking at him. "Where is your
mother?" suggesting that much depended on the answer.

"Lying down," answered Ethel, truthfully and without any feeling.

"And Alaric?"

"In the garden."

"Then we have a moment or two--alone?" Brent put a world of meaning
into the suggestion.

"Very likely," said Ethel, picking up a score of Boheme and looking at
it as if she saw it for the first time: all the while watching him
through her half-closed eyes.

Brent went to her. "Glad to see me?" he asked.

"Why not?"

"I am glad to see you." He bent over her. "More than glad."

"Really?"

He sat beside her: "Ethel," he whispered intensely: "I am at the
Cross-roads."

"Oh?" commented Ethel, without any interest.

"It came last night."

"Did it?"

"This is the end--between Sybil and myself."

"Is it?"

"Yes--the end. It's been horrible from the first--horrible. There's not
a word of mine--not an action--she doesn't misunderstand."

"How boring," said Ethel blandly.

"She would see harm even in THIS!"

"Why?"

"She'd think I was here to--to--" he stopped.

"What?" innocently inquired Ethel.

"Make love to you," and he looked earnestly into her eyes.

She met his look quite frankly and astonished him with the question:
"Well? Aren't you?"

He rose anxiously: "Ethel!"

"Don't you always?" persisted Ethel.

"Has it seemed like that to you?"

"Yes," she answered candidly. "By insinuation: never straightforwardly."

"Has it offended you?"

"Then you admit it?"

"Oh," he cried passionately, "I wish I had the right to--to--" again he
wavered.

"Yes?" and Ethel looked straight at him.

"Make love to you straightforwardly." He felt the supreme moment had
almost arrived. Now, he thought, he would be rewarded for the long
waiting; the endless siege to this marvellous woman who concealed her
real nature beneath that marble casing of an assumed indifference.

He waited eagerly for her answer. When it came it shocked and revolted
him.

Ethel dropped her gaze from his face and said, with the suspicion of a
smile playing around her lips:

"If you had the right to make love to me straightforwardly--you
wouldn't do it."

He looked at her in amazement.

"What do you mean?" he gasped. "It's only because you haven't the right
that you do it--by suggestion," Ethel pursued.

"How can you say that?" And he put all the heart he was capable of into
the question.

"You don't deny it," she said quietly.

He breathed hard and then said bitterly:

"What a contemptible opinion you must have of me."

"Then we're quits, aren't we?"

"How?" he asked.

"Haven't YOU one of ME?"

"Of YOU? Why, Ethel--"

"Surely every married man MUST have a contemptible opinion of the woman
he covertly makes love to. If he hadn't he couldn't do it, could he?"
Once again she levelled her cold, impassive eyes on Brent's flushed
face.

"I don't follow you," was all Brent said.

"Haven't you had time to think of an answer?"

"I don't now what you're driving at," he added.

Ethel smiled her most enigmatical smile:

"No? I think you do." She waited a moment. Brent said nothing. This was
a new mood of Ethel's. It baffled him.

Presently she relieved the silence by asking him:

"What happened last night?"

He hesitated. Then he answered:

"I'd rather not say. I'd sound like a cad blaming a woman."

"Never mind how it sounds. Tell it. It must have been amusing."

"Amusing? Good God!" He bent over her again. "Oh, the more I look at
you and listen to you, the more I realise I should never have married."

"Why DID you?" came the cool question.

Brent answered with all the power at his command. Here was the moment
to lay his heart bare that Ethel might see.

"Have you ever seen a young hare, fresh from its kind, run headlong
into a snare? Have you ever seen a young man free of the trammels of
college, dash into a NET? _I_ did! I wasn't trap-wise!"

He paced the room restlessly, all the self-pity rising in him. He went
on: "Good God! what nurslings we are when we first feel our feet! We're
like children just loose from the leading-strings. Anything that
glitters catches us. Every trap that is set for our unwary feet we drop
into. I did. Dropped in. Caught hand and foot--mind and soul."

"Soul?" queried Ethel, with a note of doubt.

"Yes," he answered.

"Don't you mean BODY?" she suggested.

"Body, mind AND soul!" he said, with an air of finality.

"Well, BODY anyway," summed up Ethel.

"And for what?" he went on. "For WHAT? Love! Companionship! That is
what we build on in marriage. And what did _I_ realise? Hate and
wrangling! Wrangling--just as the common herd, with no advantages,
wrangle, and make it a part of their lives--the zest to their union.
It's been my curse."

"Why wrangling?" drawled Ethel.

"She didn't understand."

"You?" asked Ethel, in surprise.

"My thoughts! My actions!"

"How curious."

"You mean you would?"

"Probably."

"I'm sure of it." He tried to take her hand. She drew it away, and
settled herself comfortably to listen again:

"Tell me more about your wife."

"The slightest attention shown to any other woman meant a ridiculous--a
humiliating scene."

"Humiliating?"

"Isn't doubt and suspicion humiliating?"

"It would be a compliment in some cases."

"How?"

"It would put a fictitious value on some men."

"You couldn't humiliate in that way," he ventured, slowly.

"No. I don't think I could. If a man showed a preference for any other
woman she would be quite welcome to him."

"No man could!" said Brent, insinuatingly.

She looked at him coldly a moment.

"Let me see--where were you? Just married, weren't you? Go on."

"Then came the baby!" He said that with a significant meaning and
paused to see the effect on Ethel. If it had any, Ethel effectually
concealed it. Her only comment was:

"Ah!"

Brent went on:

"One would think THAT would change things. But no. Neither of us wanted
her. Neither of us love her. Children should come of love--not hate.
And she is a child of hate." He paused, looking intently at Ethel. She
looked understandingly at him, then dropped her eyes.

Brent went on as if following up an advantage: "She sits in her little
chair, her small, wrinkled, old disillusioned face turned to us, with
the eyes watching us accusingly. She submits to caresses as though they
were distasteful: as if she knew they were lies. At times she pushes
the nearing face away with her little baby fingers." He stopped,
watching her eagerly. Her eyes were down.

"I shouldn't tell you this. It's terrible. I see it in your face. What
are you thinking?"

"I'm sorry," replied Ethel simply.

"For me?"

"For your wife."

"MY WIFE?" he repeated, aghast.

"Yes," said Ethel. "Aren't you? No? Are you just sorry for yourself?"

Brent turned impatiently away. So this laying-open the wound in his
life was nothing to Ethel. Instead of pity for him all it engendered in
her was sorrow for his wife.

How little women understood him.

There was a pathetic catch in his voice as he turned to Ethel and said
reproachfully:

"You think me purely selfish?"

"Naturally," she answered quickly. "_I_ AM. Why, not be truthful about
ourselves sometimes? Eh?"

"We quarrelled last night--about you!" he said, desperately.

"Really?"

"Gossip has linked us together. My wife has heard and put the worst
construction on it."

"Well?"

"We said things to each other last night that can never be forgiven or
forgotten. I left the house and walked the streets--hours! I looked my
whole life back and through as though it were some stranger's" He
turned abruptly away to the windows and stayed a moment, looking down
the drive.

Ethel said nothing.

He came back to her in a few moments. "I tell you we ought to be
taught--we ought to be taught, when we are young, what marriage really
means, just as we are taught not to steal, nor lie, nor sin. In,
marriage we do all three--when we're ill-mated. We steal affection from
some one else, we lie in our lives and we sin in our relationship."

Ethel asked him very quietly:

"Do you mean that you are a sinner, a thief, and a liar?"

Brent looked at her in horror.

"Oh, take some of the blame," said Ethel; "don't put it all on the
woman."

"You've never spoken to me like this before."

"I've often wanted to," replied Ethel. Then she asked him: "What do you
intend doing?"

"Separate," he answered, eagerly. "You don't doctor a poisoned limb
when your life depends on it; you cut it off. When two lives generate a
deadly poison, face the problem as a surgeon would. Amputate."

"And after the operation? What then?" asked Ethel.

"That is why I am here facing you. Do you understand what I mean?"

"Oh, dear, yes. Perfectly. I have been waiting for you to get to the
point."

"Ethel!" and he impulsively stretched out his arms as though to embrace
her.

She drew back slightly, just out of his reach.

"Wait." She looked up at him, quizzically: "Suppose we generate poison?
What would you do? Amputate me?"

"You are different from all other women."

"Didn't you tell your wife that when you asked her to marry you?"

He turned away impatiently: "Don't say those things, Ethel, they hurt."

"I'm afraid, Christian, I'm too frank, aren't I?"

"You stand alone, Ethel. You seem to look into the hearts of people and
know why and how they beat."

"I do--sometimes. It's an awkward faculty."

He looked at her glowingly: "How marvellously different two women can
be! You--my wife."

Ethel shook her head and smiled her calm, dead smile "We're not really
very different, Christian. Only some natures like change. Yours does.
And the new have all the virtues. Why, I might not last as long as your
wife did."

"Don't say that. We lave a common bond--UNDERSTANDING."

"Think so?"

"I understand you."

"I wonder."

"You do me."

"Yes--that is just the difficulty."

"I tell you I am at the cross-roads. The fingerboard points the way to
me distinctly."

"Does it?"

"It does." He leaned across to her: "Would you risk it?"

"What?" she asked.

"I'll hide nothing. I'll put it all before you. The snubs of your
friends. The whisper of a scandal that would grow into a roar. Afraid
to open a newspaper, fearing what might be printed in it. Life, at
first, in some little Continental village--dreading the passers
through--keeping out of sight lest they would recognise one. No. It
wouldn't be fair to you."

Ethel thought a moment, then answered slowly:

"No, Chris, I don't think it would."

"You see I AM a cad--just a selfish cad!"

"Aren't you?" and she smiled up at him.

"I'll never speak of this again. I wouldn't have NOW--only--I'm
distracted to-day--completely distracted. Will you forgive me for
speaking as I did?"

"Certainly," said Ethel. "I'm not offended. On the contrary. Anyway,
I'll think it over and let you know."

"You will, REALLY?" he asked greedily, grasping at the straw of a hope.
"You will really think it over?"

"I will, really."

"And when she sets me free," he went on, "we could, we could--" He
suddenly stopped.

She looked coolly at him as he hesitated and said: "It IS a difficult
little word at times, isn't it?"

"WOULD you marry me?" he asked, with a supreme effort.

"I never cross my bridges until I come to them," said Ethel, languidly.
"And we're such a long way from THAT one, aren't we?"

"Then I am to wait?"

"Yes. Do," she replied. "When the time comes to accept the charity of
relations, or do something useful for tuppence a week, Bohemian France
or Italy--but then the runaways always go to France or Italy, don't
they?--Suppose we say Hungary? Shall we?"

He did not answer.

She went on: "Very well. When I have to choose between charity and
labour, Bohemian Hungary may beckon me."

He looked at her in a puzzled way. What new mood was this?

"Charity?" he asked. "Labour?"

"Yes. It has come to that. A tiresome bank has failed with all our
sixpences locked up in it. Isn't it stupid?"

"Is ALL your money gone?"

"I think so."

"Good God!"

"Dear mamma knows as little about business as she does about me. Until
this morning she has always had a rooted belief in her bank and her
daughter. If I bolt with you, her last cherished illusion will be
destroyed."

"Let me help you," he said eagerly.

"How?" and she looked at him again with that cold, hard scrutiny. "Lend
us money, do you mean?"

He fell into the trap.

"Yes," he said. "I'd do that if you'd let me."

She gave just the suggestion of a sneer and turned deliberately away.

He felt the force of the unspoken reproof:

"I beg your pardon," he said humbly.

She went on as if she had not heard the offensive suggestion: "So you
see we're both, in a way, at the crossroads."

He seized her hand fiercely: "Let me take you away out of it all!" he
cried.

She withdrew her hand slowly.

"No," she said, "not just now. I'm not in a bolting mood to-day."

He moved away. She watched him. Then she called him to her. Something
in the man attracted this strange nature. She could not analyse or
define the attraction. But the impelling force was there.

He went to her.

Ethel spoke to him for the first time softly, languorously, almost
caressingly:

"Chris! Sometime--perhaps in the dead of night--something will snap in
me--the slack, selfish, luxurious ME, that hates to be roused into
action, and the craving for adventure will come. Then I'll send for
you."

He took her hand again and this time she did not draw it away. He said
in a whisper:

"And you'll go with me?"

Ethel stretched lazily, and smiled at him through her half-closed eyes.

"I suppose so. Then Heaven help you!"

"Why should we wait?" he cried.

"It will give us the suspense of expectation."

"I want you! I need you!" he pleaded.

"Until the time comes for AMPUTATION?"

"Don't! Don't!" and he dropped her hand suddenly.

"Well, I don't want you to have any illusions about me, Chris. I have
none about you. Let us begin fair anyway. It will be so much easier
when the end comes."

"There will be no end," he said passionately. "I love you--love you
with every breath of my body, every thought in my mind, every throb of
my nerves. I love you!" He kissed her hand repeatedly. "I love you!" He
took her in his arms and pressed her to him.

She struggled with him without any anger, or disgust, or fear. As she
put him away from her she just said simply:

"Please don't. It's so hot this morning."

As she turned away from him she was struck dumb. Sitting beside the
table in the middle of the room, her back turned to them, was the
strangest, oddest little figure Ethel had ever seen.

Who was she? How long had she been in the room?

Ethel turned to Brent. He was quite pale now and was nervously stroking
his slight moustache.

Ethel was furious! It was incredible that Brent could have been so
indiscreet!

How on earth did that creature get there without their hearing or
seeing her?

Ethel went straight to the demure little figure sitting on the chair.



CHAPTER III

PEG ARRIVES IN ENGLAND


Peg's journey to England was one of the unhappiest memories of her
life. She undertook the voyage deliberately to please her father,
because he told her it would please him. But beneath this feeling of
pleasing him was one of sullen resentment at being made to separate
from him.

She planned all kinds of reprisals upon the unfortunate people she was
going amongst. She would be so rude to them and so unbearable that they
would be glad to send her back on the next boat. She schemed out her
whole plan of action. She would contradict and disobey and berate and
belittle. Nothing they would do would be right to her and nothing she
would do or say would be right to them. She took infinite pleasure in
her plan of campaign. Then when she was enjoying the pleasure of such
resentful dreams she would think of her father waiting for news of her:
of his pride in her: of how much he wanted her to succeed. She would
realise how much the parting meant to HIM, and all her little plots
would tumble down and she would resolve to try and please her
relations, learn all she could, succeed beyond all expression and
either go back to America prosperous, or send for her father to join
her in England. All her dreams had her father, either centrifugally or
centripetally, beating through them.

She refused all advances of friendship aboard ship. No one dared speak
to her. She wanted to be alone in her sorrow. She and "MICHAEL" would
romp on the lower deck, by favour of one of the seamen, who would keep
a sharp look-out for officers.

This seaman--O'Farrell by name--took quite a liking to Peg and the dog
and did many little kindly, gracious acts to minister to the comfort of
both of them.

He warned her that they would not let "Michael" go with her from the
dock until he had first been quarantined. This hurt Peg more than
anything could. She burst into tears. To have "Michael" taken from her
would be the last misfortune. She would indeed be alone in that strange
country. She was inconsolable.

O'Farrell, at last, took it on himself to get the dog ashore. He would
wrap him up in some sail cloths, and then he would carry "Michael"
outside the gates when the Customs' authorities had examined her few
belongings.

When they reached Liverpool O'Farrell was as good as his word, though
many were the anxious moments they had as one or other of the Customs'
officers would eye the suspicious package O'Farrell carried so
carelessly under his arm.

At the dock a distinguished-looking gentleman came on board and after
some considerable difficulty succeeded in locating Peg. He was a
well-dressed, soft-speaking, vigorous man of forty-five. He inspired
Peg with an instant dislike by his somewhat authoritative and pompous
manner. He introduced himself as Mr. Montgomery Hawkes, the legal
adviser for the Kingsnorth estate, and at once proceeded to take charge
of Peg as a matter of course.

Poor Peg felt ashamed of her poor little bag, containing just a few
changes of apparel, and her little paper bundle. She was mortified when
she walked down the gangway with the prosperous-looking lawyer whilst
extravagantly dressed people with piles of luggage dashed here and
there endeavouring to get it examined.

But Mr. Hawkes did not appear to notice Peg's shabbiness. On the
contrary he treated her and her belongings as though she were the most
fashionable of fine ladies and her wardrobe the most complete.

Outside the gates she found O'Farrell waiting for her, with the
precious "Michael" struggling to free himself from his coverings.
Hawkes soon had a cab alongside. He helped Peg into it: then she
stretched out her arms and O'Farrell opened the sail-cloths and out
sprang "Michael," dusty and dirty and blear-eyed, but oh! such a happy,
fussy, affectionate, relieved little canine when he saw his beloved
owner waiting for him. He made one spring at her, much to the lawyer's
dignified amazement, and began to bark at her, and lick her face and
hands, and jump on and roll over and over upon Peg in an excess of joy
at his release.

Peg offered O'Farrell an American dollar. She had very little left.

O'Farrell indignantly refused to take it.

"Oh, but ye must, indade ye must," cried Peg in distress. "Sure I won't
lie aisy to-night if ye don't. But for you poor 'Michael' here might
have been on that place ye spoke of--that Quarantine, whatever it is.
Ye saved him from that. And don't despise it because it's an American
dollar. Sure it has a value all over the wurrld. An' besides I have no
English money." Poor Peg pleaded that O'Farrell should take it. He had
been so nice to her all the way over.

Hawkes interposed skilfully, gave 'O'Farrell five shillings; thanked
him warmly for his kindness to Peg and her dog; returned the dollar to
Peg; let her say good-bye to the kindly sailor: told the cabman to
drive to a certain railway station, and in a few seconds they were
bowling along and Peg had entered a new country and a new life. They
reached the railway station and Hawkes procured tickets and in half an
hour they were on a train bound for the north of England.

During the journey Hawkes volunteered no information. He bought her
papers and magazines and offered her lunch. This Peg refused. She said
the ship had not agreed with her. She did not think she would want food
for a long time to come.

After a while, tired out with the rush and excitement of the ship's
arrival, Peg fell asleep.

In a few hours they reached their destination. Hawkes woke her and told
her she was at her journey's end. He again hailed a cab, told the
driver where to go and got in with Peg, "MICHAEL" and her luggage. In
the cab he handed Peg a card and told her to go to the address written
on it and ask the people there to allow her to wait until he joined
her. He had a business call to make in the town. He would be as short a
time as possible. She was just to tell the people that she had been
asked to call there and wait.

After the cab had gone through a few streets it stopped before a big
building; Hawkes got out, told the cabman where to take Peg, paid him,
and with some final admonitions to Peg, disappeared through the
swing-doors of the Town Hall.

The cabman took the wondering Peg along until he drove up to a very
handsome Elizabethan house. There he stopped. Peg looked at the name on
the gate-posts and then at the name on the card Mr. Hawkes had given
her. They were the same. Once more she gathered up her belongings and
her dog and passed in through the gateposts and wandered up the long
drive on a tour of inspection. She walked through paths dividing
rosebeds until she came to some open windows. The main entrance-hall of
the house seemed to be hidden away somewhere amid the tall old trees.

Peg made straight for the open windows and walked into the most
wonderful looking room she had ever seen. Everything in it was old and
massive; it bespoke centuries gone by in every detail. Peg held her
breath as she looked around her. Pictures and tapestries stared at her
from the walls. Beautiful old vases were arranged in cabinets. The
carpet was deep and soft and stifled all sound. Peg almost gave an
ejaculation of surprise at the wonders of the room when she suddenly
became conscious that she was not alone in the room: that others were
there and that they were talking.

She looked in the direction the sounds came from and saw to her
astonishment, a man with a woman in his arms. He was speaking to her in
a most ardent manner. They were partially concealed by some statuary.

Peg concluded at once that she had intruded on some marital scene at
which she was not desired, so she instantly sat down with her back to
them.

She tried not to listen, but some of the words came distinctly to her.
Just as she was becoming very uncomfortable and had half made up her
mind to leave the room and find somewhere else to wait, she suddenly
heard herself addressed, and in no uncertain tone of voice. There was
indignation, surprise and anger in Ethel's question:

"How long have you been here?"

Peg turned round and saw a strikingly handsome, beautifully dressed
young lady glaring down at her. Her manner was haughty in the extreme.
Peg felt most unhappy as she looked at her and did not answer
immediately.

A little distance away was a dark, handsome young man who was looking
at Peg with a certain languid interest.

"How long have you been here?" again asked Ethel.

"Sure I only came in this minnit," said Peg innocently and with a
little note of fear. She was not accustomed to fine-looking,
splendidly-dressed young ladies like Ethel.

"What do you want?" demanded the young lady.

"Nothin'," said Peg reassuringly.

"NOTHING?" echoed Ethel, growing angrier every moment.

"Not a thing. I was just told to wait," said Peg.

"Who told you?"

"A gentleman," replied Peg.

"WHAT gentleman?" asked Ethel sharply and suspiciously.

"Just a gentleman." Peg, after fumbling nervously in her pocket,
produced the card Mr. Hawkes had given her, which "MICHAEL" immediately
attempted to take possession of. Peg snatched it away from the dog and
handed it to the young lady.

"He told me to wait THERE."

Ethel took the card irritably and read:

"'Mrs. Chichester, Regal Villa.' And what do you want with Mrs.
Chichester?" she asked Peg, at the same time looking at the shabby
clothes, the hungry-looking dog, and the soiled parcel.

"I don't want anythin' with her. I was just told to wait!"

"Who are you?" Peg was now getting angry too. There was no mistaking
the manner of the proud young lady. Peg chafed under it. She looked up
sullenly into Ethel's face and said:

"I was not to say a wurrd, I'm tellin' ye. I was just to wait." Peg
settled back in the chair and stroked "MICHAEL." This questioning was
not at all to her liking. She wished Mr. Hawkes would come and get her
out of a most embarrassing position. But until he DID she was not going
to disobey his instructions. He told her to say nothing, so nothing
would she say.

Ethel turned abruptly to Brent and found that gentleman looking at the
odd little stranger somewhat admiringly. She gave an impatient
ejaculation and turned back to Peg quickly:

"You say you have only been here a minute?"

"That's all," replied Peg. "Just a minnit."

"Were we talking when you came in?"

"Ye were."

Ethel could scarcely conceal her rage.

"Did you hear what we said?"

"Some of it. Not much," said Peg.

"WHAT did you hear?"

"Please don't--it's so hot this mornin'," said Peg with no attempt at
imitation--just as if she were stating a simple, ordinary occurrence.

Ethel flushed scarlet. Brent smiled.

"You refuse to say why you're here or who you are?" Ethel again asked.

"It isn't ME that's refusin'. All the gentleman said to me was, 'Ye go
to the place that's written down on the card and ye sit down there an'
wait. And that's all ye do.'" Ethel again turned to the perplexed
Brent: "Eh?"

"Extraordinary!" and Brent shook his head.

The position was unbearable. Ethel decided instantly how to relieve it.
She looked freezingly down at the forlorn-looking little intruder and
said:

"The servants' quarters are at the back of the house."

"ARE they?" asked Peg, without moving, and not in any way taking the
statement to refer to her.

"And I may save you the trouble of WAITING by telling you we are quite
provided with servants. We do not need any further assistance."

Peg just looked at Ethel and then bent down over "MICHAEL." Ethel's
last shot had struck home. Poor Peg was cut through to her soul. How
she longed at that moment to be back home with her father in New York.
Before she could say anything Ethel continued:

"If you insist on waiting kindly do so there."

Peg took "MICHAEL" up in her arms, collected once more her packages and
walked to the windows. Again she heard the cold hard tones of Ethel's
voice speaking to her:

"Follow the path to your right until you come to a door. Knock and ask
permission to wait there, and for your future guidance go to the BACK
door of a house and ring, don't walk unannounced into a private room."

Peg tried to explain:

"Ye see, ma'am, I didn't know. All the gentleman said was 'Go there and
wait'--"

"That will do."

"I'm sorry I disturbed yez." And she glanced at the embarrassed Brent.

"THAT WILL DO!" said Ethel finally.

Poor Peg nodded and wandered off through the windows sore at heart. She
went down the path until she reached the door Ethel mentioned. She
knocked at it. While she is waiting for admission we will return to the
fortunes of the rudely-disturbed LOVERS(?).



CHAPTER IV

THE CHICHESTER FAMILY RECEIVES A SECOND SHOCK


Ethel turned indignantly to Brent, as the little figure went off down
the path.

"Outrageous!" she cried.

"Poor little wretch." Brent walked to the windows and looked after her.
"She's quite pretty."

Ethel looked understandingly at him: "IS she?"

"In a shabby sort of way. Didn't you think so?"

Ethel glared coldly at him.

"I never notice the lower orders. You apparently do."

"Oh, yes--often. They're very interesting--at times." He strained to
get a last glimpse of the intruder:

"Do you know, she's the strangest little apparition--"

"She's only a few yards away if you care to follow her!"

Her tone brought Brent up sharply. He turned away from the window and
found Ethel--arms folded, eyes flashing--waiting for him. Something in
her manner alarmed him. He had gone too far.

"Why, Ethel,"--he said, as he came toward her.

"Suppose my mother had walked in here--or Alaric--instead of that
creature? Never do such a thing again."

"I was carried away," he hastened to explain.

"Kindly exercise a little more restraint. You had better go now." There
was a finality of dismissal in her tone as she passed him and crossed
to the great staircase. He followed her:

"May I call to-morrow?"

"No," she answered decidedly. "Not to-morrow."

"The following day, then," he urged.

"Perhaps."

"Remember--I build on you."

She looked searchingly at him:

"I suppose we ARE worthy of each other."

Through the open windows came the sound of voices.

"Go!" she said imperatively and she passed on up the stairs. Brent went
rapidly to the door. Before either he could open it or Ethel go out of
sight Alaric burst in through the windows.

"Hello, Brent," he cried cheerfully. "Disturbin' ye?" And he caught
Ethel as she was about to disappear: "Or you, Ethel?"

Ethel turned and answered coolly:

"You've not disturbed me."

"I'm just going," said Brent.

"Well, wait a moment," and Alaric turned to the window and beckoned to
someone on the path and in from the garden came Mr. Montgomery Hawkes.

"Come in," said the energetic Alaric. "Come in. Ethel, I want you to
meet Mr. Hawkes--Mr. Hawkes--my sister. Mr. Brent--Mr. Hawkes." Having
satisfactorily introduced everyone he said to Ethel: "See if the
mater's well enough to come down, like a dear, will ye? This gentleman
has come from London to see her. D'ye mind? And come back yourself,
too, like an angel. He says he has some business that concerns the
whole family."

Ethel disappeared without a word.

Alaric bustled Hawkes into a chair and then seized the somewhat
uncomfortable Brent by an unwilling hand and shook it warmly as he
asked:

"MUST you go?"

"Yes," replied Brent with a sigh of relief.

Alaric dashed to the door and opened it as though to speed the visitor
on his way.

"So sorry I was out when you called," lied Alaric nimbly. "Run in any
time. Always delighted to see you. Delighted. Is the angel wife all
well?"

Brent bowed: "Thank you."

"And the darling child?"

Brent frowned. He crossed to the door and turned in the frame and
admonished Alaric:

"Please give my remembrances to your mother." Then he passed out. As he
disappeared the irrepressible Alaric called after him:

"Certainly. She'll be so disappointed not to have seen you. Run in any
time--any time at all." Alaric closed the door and saw his mother and
Ethel coming down the stairs.

All traces of emotion had disappeared from Ethel's face and manner. She
was once again in perfect command of herself. She carried a beautiful
little French poodle in her arms and was feeding her with sugar.

Alaric fussily brought his mother forward.

"Mater, dear," he said; "I found this gentleman in a rose-bed enquiring
the way to our lodge. He's come all the way from dear old London just
to see you. Mr. Hawkes--my mother."

Mrs. Chichester looked at Hawkes anxiously.

"You have come to see me?"

"On a very important and a very private family matter," replied Hawkes,
gravely. "IMPORTANT? PRIVATE?" asked Mrs. Chichester in surprise.

"We're the family, Mr. Hawkes," ventured Alaric, helpfully.

Mrs. Chichester's forebodings came uppermost. After the news of the
bank's failure nothing would surprise her now in the way of calamity.
What could this grave, dignified-looking man want with them? Her eyes
filled.

"Is it BAD news?" she faltered.

"Oh, dear, no," answered Mr. Hawkes, genially.

"Well--is it GOOD news?" queried Alaric.

"In a measure," said the lawyer.

"Then for heaven's sake get at it. You've got me all clammy. We could
do with a little good news. Wait a minute! Is it by any chance about
the BANK?"

"No," replied Mr. Hawkes. He cleared his throat and said solemnly and
impressively to Mrs. Chichester:

"It is about your LATE brother--Nathaniel Kingsnorth."

"Late!" cried Mrs. Chichester. "Is Nathaniel DEAD?"

"Yes, madam," said Hawkes gravely. "He died ten days ago."

Mrs. Chichester sat down and silently wept. Nathaniel to have died
without her being with him to comfort him and arrange things with him!
It was most unfortunate.

Alaric tried to feel sorry, but inasmuch as his uncle had always
refused to see him he could not help thinking it may have been
retribution. However, he tried to show a fair and decent measure of
regret.

"Poor old Nat," he cried. "Eh, Ethel?"

"Never saw him," answered Ethel, her face and voice totally without
emotion. "You say he died ten days ago?" asked Mrs. Chichester.

Mr. Hawkes bowed.

"Why was I not informed? The funeral--?"

"There was no funeral," replied Mr. Hawkes.

"No funeral?" said Alaric in astonishment.

"No," replied the lawyer. "In obedience to his written wishes he was
cremated and no one was present except the chief executor and myself.
If I may use Mr. Kingsnorth's words without giving pain, he said he so
little regretted not having seen any of his relations for the last
twenty years of his life-time he was sure THEY would regret equally
little his death. On no account was anyone to wear mourning for him,
nor were they to express any open sorrow. 'They wouldn't FEEL it, so
why lie about it?' I use his own words," added Mr. Hawkes, as if
disclaiming all responsibility for such a remarkable point of view.

"What a rum old bird!" remarked Alaric, contemplatively.

Mrs. Chichester wept as she said:

"He was always the most unfeeling, the most heartless--the most--"

"Now in his will--" interrupted the lawyer, producing a leather
pocket-book filled with important-looking papers: "In his will--" he
repeated--

Mrs. Chichester stopped crying:

"Eh? A will?"

"What?" said Alaric, beaming; "did the dear old gentleman leave a will?"

Even Ethel stopped playing with "Pet" and listened languidly to the
conversation.

Mr. Hawkes, realising he had their complete interest, went on
importantly: "As Mr. Kingsnorth's legal adviser up to the time of his
untimely death I have come here to make you acquainted with some of its
contents."

He spread a formidable-looking document wide-open on the table,
adjusted his pince-nez and prepared to read. "Dear old Nat!" said
Alaric reflectively. "Do you remember, mater, we met him at Victoria
Station once when I was little more than a baby? Yet I can see him now
as plainly as if it were yesterday. A portly, sandy-haired old buck,
with three jolly chins."

"He was white toward the end, and very, very thin," said Mr. Hawkes
softly.

"Was he?" from Alaric. "Fancy that. It just shows, mater, doesn't it?"
He bent eagerly over the table as Hawkes traced some figures with a
pencil on one of the pages of the will.

"How much did he leave?" And Alaric's voice rose to a pitch of
well-defined interest.

"His estate is valued, approximately, at some two hundred thousand
pounds," replied the lawyer.

Alaric gave a long, low whistle, and smiled a broad, comprehensive
smile.

Ethel for the first time showed a gleam of genuine interest.

Mrs. Chichester began to cry again. "Perhaps it was my fault I didn't
see him oftener," she said.

Alaric, unable to curb his curiosity, burst out with: "How did the old
boy split it up?"

"To his immediate relations he left" Mr. Hawkes looked up from the will
and found three pairs of eyes fixed on him. He stopped. It may be that
constant association with the law courts destroys faith in human
nature--but whatever the cause, it seemed to Mr. Hawkes in each of
those eyes was reflected the one dominant feeling--GREED. The
expression in the family's combined eyes was astonishing in its
directness, its barefacedness. It struck the dignified gentleman
suddenly dumb.

"Well? Well?" Cried Alaric. "How much? Don't stop right in the middle
of an important thing like that. You make me as nervous as a chicken."

Mr. Hawkes returned to the will and after looking at it a moment
without reading said:

"To his immediate relations Mr. Kingsnorth left, I regret to
say--NOTHING."

A momentary silence fell like a pall over the stricken Chichester
family.

Mrs. Chichester rose, indignation flashing from the eyes that a moment
since showed a healthy hope.

"Nothing?" she cried incredulously.

"Not a penny-piece to anyone?" ventured Alaric.

The faintest suspicion of a smile flitted across Ethel's face.

Hawkes looked keenly at them and answered:

"I deeply regret to say--nothing."

Mrs. Chichester turned to Ethel, who had begun to stroke "Pet" again.

"His own flesh and blood!" cried the poor lady.

"What a shabby old beggar!" commented Alaric, indignantly.

"He was always the most selfish, the most--" began Mrs. Chichester,
when Mr. Hawkes, who bad been turning over the pages of the document
before him, gave an ejaculation of relief.

"Ah! Here we have it. This, Mrs. Chichester, is how Mr. Kingsnorth
expressed his attitude toward his relations in his last will and
testament."

"'I am the only member of the Kingsnorth family who ever made any
money. All my precious relations either inherited it or married to get
it.'--"

"I assure you--" began Mrs. Chichester.

Alaric checked her: "Half a moment, mater. Let us hear it out to the
bitter end. He must have been an amusin' old gentleman!"

Mr. Hawkes resumed: "--'consequently I am not going to leave one penny
to relations who are already, well-provided for.'"

Mrs. Chichester protested vehemently:

"But we are NOT provided for."

"No," added Alaric. "Our bank's bust."

"We're ruined," sobbed Mrs. Chichester.

"Broke!" said Alaric.

"We've nothing!" wailed the old lady.

"Not thruppence," from the son.

"Dear, dear," said the lawyer. "How extremely painful."

"PAINFUL? That's not the word. Disgustin' I call it," corrected Alaric.

Mr. Hawkes thought a moment. Then he said: "Under those circumstances,
perhaps a clause in the will may have a certain interest and an element
of relief."

As two drowning people clinging to the proverbial straws the mother and
son waited breathlessly for Mr. Hawkes to go on.

Ethel showed no interest whatever.

"When Mr. Kingsnorth realised that he had not very much longer to live
he spoke constantly of his other sister--Angela," resumed Mr. Hawkes.

"Angela?" cried Mrs. Chichester in surprise; "why, she is dead."

"That was why he spoke of her," said Hawkes gravely. "And not a word of
me?" asked Mrs. Chichester.

"We will come to that a little later," and Mr. Hawkes again referred to
the will. "It appears that this sister Angela married at the age of
twenty, a certain Irishman by name O'Connell, and was cut off by her
family--"

"The man was an agitator--a Fenian agitator. He hadn't a penny. It was
a disgrace--"

Alaric checked his mother again.

Hawkes resumed: "--was cut off by her family--went to the United States
of America with her husband, where a daughter was born. After going
through many, conditions of misery with her husband, who never seemed
to prosper, she died shortly after giving birth to the child." He
looked up: "Mr. Kingsnorth elsewhere expresses his lasting regret that
in one of his sister's acute stages of distress she wrote to him asking
him, for the first time, to assist her. He replied: 'You have made your
bed; lie in it.'"

"She had disgraced the family. He was justified," broke in Mrs.
Chichester.

"With death approaching," resumed Hawkes, "Mr. Kingsnorth's conscience
began to trouble him and the remembrance of his treatment of his
unfortunate sister distressed him. If the child were alive he wanted to
see her. I made inquiries and found that the girl was living with her
father in very poor circumstances in the City of New York. We sent
sufficient funds for the journey, together with a request to the father
to allow her to visit Mr. Kingsnorth in England. The father consented.
However, before the young girl sailed Mr. Kingsnorth died."

"Oh!" cried Alaric, who had been listening intently. "Died, eh? That
was too bad. Died before seeing her. Did you let her sail, Mr. Hawkes?"

"Yes. We thought it best to bring her over here and acquaint her with
the sad news after her arrival. Had she known before sailing she might
not have taken the journey."

"But what was the use of bringing her over when Mr. Kingsnorth was
dead?" asked Alaric.

"For this reason," replied Hawkes: "Realising that he might never see
her, Mr. Kingsnorth made the most remarkable provision for her in his
will."

"Provided for HER and not for--?" began Mrs. Chichester.

"Here is the provision," continued Mr. Hawkes, again reading from the
will: "'I hereby direct that the sum of one thousand pounds a year be
paid to any respectable well-connected woman of breeding and family,
who will undertake the education and up-bringing of my niece, Margaret
O'Connell, in accordance with the dignity and tradition of the
Kingsnorths'--"

"He remembers a niece he never saw and his own sister--" and Mrs.
Chichester once more burst into tears.

"It beats cock-fighting, that's all I can say," cried Alaric. "It
simply beats cock-fighting."

Mr. Hawkes went on reading: "'If at the expiration of one year my niece
is found to be, in the judgment of my executors, unworthy of further
interest, she is to be returned to her father and the sum of two
hundred and fifty pounds a year paid her to provide her with the
necessities of life. If, on the other hand, she proves herself worthy
of the best traditions of the Kingsnorth family, the course of training
is to be continued until she reaches the age of twenty-one, when I
hereby bequeath to her the sum of five thousand pounds a year, to be
paid to her annually out of my estate during her life-time and to be
continued after her death to any male issue she may have--by marriage.'"

Mr. Hawkes stopped, and once again looked at the strange family. Mrs.
Chichester was sobbing: "And me--his own sister--"

Alaric was moving restlessly about: "Beats any thing I've heard of.
Positively anything."

Ethel was looking intently at "Pet's" coat.

Hawkes continued: "'On no account is her father to be permitted to
visit her, and should the course of training be continued after the
first year, she must not on any account visit her father. After she
reaches the age of twenty-one she can do as she pleases.'" Mr. Hawkes
folded up the will with the air of a man who had finished an important
duty.

Alaric burst out with:

"I don't see how that clause interests us in the least, Mr. Hawkes."

The lawyer removed his pince-nez and looking steadily at Mrs.
Chichester said:

"Now, my dear Mrs. Chichester, it was Mr. Kingsnorth's wish that the
first lady to be approached on the matter of undertaking the training
of the young lady should be--YOU!"

Mrs. Chichester rose in astonishment: "I?"

Alaric arose in anger: "My mother?"

Ethel quietly pulled "Pet's" ear and waited.

Mr. Hawkes went on quietly:

"Mr. Kingsnorth said, 'he would be sure at least of his niece having a
strict up-bringing in the best traditions of the Kingsnorths, and that
though his sister Monica was somewhat narrow and conventional in
ideas'--I use his own words--'still he felt sure she was eminently
fitted to undertake such a charge.' There--you have the whole object of
my visit. Now--will you undertake the training of the young lady?"

"I never heard of such a thing!" cried Mrs. Chichester furiously.

"Ridiculous!" said Ethel calmly.

"Tush and nonsense," with which Alaric dismissed the whole matter.

"Then I may take it you refuse?" queried the astonished lawyer.

"Absolutely!" from Mrs. Chichester.

"Entirely!" from Ethel.

"I should say so!" and Alaric brought up the rear.

Mr. Hawkes gathered up his papers and in a tone of regret ventured:
"Then there is nothing more to be said. I was only carrying out the
dead man's wishes by coming here and making the facts known to you. Mr.
Kingsnorth was of the opinion that you were well provided for and,
that, outside of the sentimental reason that the girl was your own
niece, the additional thousand pounds a year might be welcome as, say,
pin-money for your daughter."

Ethel laughed her dry, cheerless little laugh. "Ha! Pin-money!"

Alaric grew suddenly grave and drew his mother and sister out of Mr.
Hawkes' vicinity.

"Listen, mater--Ethel. It's a cool thousand, you know? Thousands don't
grow on raspberry bushes when your bank's gone up. What do ye think,
eh?"

Mrs. Chichester brightened:

"It would keep things together," she said.

"The wolf from the door," urged Alaric.

"No charity," chimed in Ethel.

Mrs. Chichester looked from daughter to son. "Well? What do you think?"

"Whatever you say, mater," from Alaric.

"You decide, mamma," from Ethel.

"We might try it for a while, at least," said Mrs. Chichester.

"Until we can look around," agreed Alaric.

"Something may be saved from the wreck," reasoned Mrs. Chichester more
hopefully.

"Until _I_ get really started," said Alaric with a sense of climax.

Mrs. Chichester turned to her daughter: "Ethel?"

"Whatever you decide, mamma."

Mrs. Chichester thought a moment--then decided "I'll do it," she said
determinedly. "It will be hard, but I'll do it." She went slowly and
deliberately to Mr. Hawkes, who by this time had disposed of all his
documents and was preparing to go. A look in Mrs. Chichester's face
stopped him. He smiled at her. "Well?" he asked.

"For the sake of the memory of my dead sister, I will do as Nathaniel
wished," said Mrs. Chichester with great dignity and self-abnegation.

Mr. Hawkes breathed a sigh of relief.

"Good!" he said. "I'm delighted. It is splendid. Now that you have
decided so happily there is one thing more I must tell you. The young
lady is not to be told the conditions of the will, unless at the
discretion of the executors should, some crisis arise. She will be to
all intents and purposes--your GUEST. In that way we may be able to
arrive at a more exact knowledge of her character. Is that understood?"

The family signified severally and collectively that it was.

"And now," beamed the lawyer, happy at the fortunate outcome of a
situation that a few moments before seemed so strained, "where is your
bell?"

Alaric indicated the bell.

"May I ring?" asked the lawyer.

"Certainly," replied Alaric.

Mr. Hawkes rang.

Alaric watched him curiously: "Want a sandwich or something?"

Hawkes smiled benignly on the unfortunate family and rubbed his hands
together self-satisfiedly:

"Now I would like to send for the young lady,--the heiress."

"Where is she?" asked Mrs. Chichester.

"She arrived from New York this morning and I brought her straight
here. I had to call on a client, so I gave her your address and told
her to come here and wait."

At the word "wait" an uneasy feeling took possession of Ethel. That was
the word used by that wretched-looking little creature who had so
rudely intruded upon her and Brent. Could it be possible--?

The footman entered at that moment.

The lawyer questioned him.

"Is there a young lady waiting for Mr. Hawkes?"

"A YOUNG LADY, sir? No, sir." answered Jarvis. Mr. Hawkes was puzzled.
What in the world had become of her? He told the cabman distinctly
where to go.

Jarvis opened the door to go out, when a thought suddenly occurred to
him. He turned back and spoke to the lawyer:

"There's a young person sitting in the kitchen: came up and knocked at
the door and said she had to wait until a gentleman called. Can't get
nothin' out of her." Hawkes brightened up.

"That must be Miss O'Connell," he said. He turned to Mrs. Chichester
and asked her if he might bring the young lady in there.

"My niece in the kitchen!" said Mrs. Chichester to the unfortunate
footman. "Surely you should know the difference between my niece and a
servant!"

"I am truly sorry, madam," replied Jarvis in distress, "but there was
nothing to tell."

"Another such mistake and you can leave my employment," Mrs. Chichester
added severely.

Jarvis pleaded piteously:

"Upon my word, madam, no one could tell."

"That will do," thundered Mrs. Chichester. "Bring my niece here--at
once."

The wretched Jarvis departed on his errand muttering to himself: "Wait
until they see her. Who in the world could tell she was their relation."

Mrs. Chichester was very angry.

"It's monstrous!" she exclaimed.

"Stoopid!" agreed Alaric. "Doocid stoopid."

Ethel said nothing. The one thought that was passing through her mind
was: "How much did that girl hear Brent say and how much did she see
Mr. Brent do?"

Hawkes tried to smooth the misunderstanding out.

"I am afraid it was all my fault," he explained. "I told her not to
talk. To just say that she was to wait. I wanted to have an opportunity
to explain matters before introducing her."

"She should have been brought straight to me," complained Mrs.
Chichester. "The poor thing." Then with a feeling of outraged pride she
said: "My niece in kitchen. A Kingsnorth mistaken for a servant!"

The door opened and Jarvis came into the room. There was a look of
half-triumph on his face as much as to say: "Now who would not make a
mistake like that? Who could tell this girl was your niece?"

He beckoned Peg to come into the room.

Then the Chichester family received the second shock they had
experienced that day--one compared with which the failure of the bank
paled into insignificance. When they saw the strange, shabby,
red-haired girl slouch into the room, with her parcels and that
disgraceful-looking dog, they felt the hand of misfortune had indeed
fallen upon them.



CHAPTER V

PEGS MEETS HER AUNT


As Peg wandered into the room Mrs. Chichester and Alaric looked at her
in horrified amazement.

Ethel took one swift glance at her and then turned her attention to
"Pet."

Jarvis looked reproachfully at Mrs. Chichester as much as to say: "What
did I tell you?" and went out.

Alaric whispered to his mother:

"Oh, I say, really, you know--it isn't true! It CAN'T be."

"Pet" suddenly saw "Michael" and began to bark furiously at him.
"Michael" responded vigorously until Peg quieted him.

At this juncture Mr. Hawkes came forward and, taking Peg gently by the
arm, reassured her by saying:

"Come here, my dear. Come here. Don't be frightened. We're all your
friends."

He brought Peg over to Mrs. Chichester, who was staring at her with
tears of mortification in her eyes. When Peg's eyes met her aunt's she
bobbed a little curtsey she used to do as a child whenever she met a
priest or some of the gentle folk.

Mrs. Chichester went cold when she saw the gauche act. Was it possible
that this creature was her sister Angela's child? It seemed incredible.

"What is your name?" she asked sternly.

"Peg, ma'am."

"What?"

"Sure me name's Peg, ma'am," and she bobbed another little curtsey.

Mrs. Chichester closed her eyes and shivered. She asked Alaric to ring.
As that young gentleman passed Ethel on his way to the bell he said:
"It can't really be true! Eh, Ethel?"

"Quaint," was all his sister replied.

Hawkes genially drew Peg's attention to her aunt by introducing her:

"This lady is Mrs. Chichester--your aunt." Peg looked at her doubtfully
a moment then turned to Hawkes and asked him:

"Where's me uncle?"

"Alas! my dear child, your uncle is dead."

"Dead!" exclaimed Peg in surprise. "Afther sendin' for me?"

"He died just before you sailed," added Hawkes.

"God rest his soul," said Peg piously. "Sure if I'd known that I'd
never have come at all. I'm too late, then. Good day to yez," and she
started for the door.

Mr. Hawkes stopped her.

"Where are you going?"

"Back to me father."

"Oh, nonsense."

"But I must go back to me father if me uncle's dead."

"It was Mr. Kingsnorth's last wish that you should stay here under your
aunt's care. So she has kindly consented to give you a home."

Peg gazed at Mrs. Chichester curiously.

"Have yez?" she asked.

Mrs. Chichester, with despair in every tone, replied: "I have!"

"Thank yez," said Peg, bobbing another little curtsey, at which Mrs.
Chichester covered her eyes with her hand as if to shut out some
painful sight.

Peg looked at Mrs. Chichester and at the significant action. There was
no mistaking its significance. It conveyed dislike and contempt so
plainly that Peg felt it through her whole nature. She turned to Alaric
and found him regarding her as though she were some strange animal.
Ethel did not deign to notice her. And this was the family her father
had sent her over to England to be put in amongst. She whispered to
Hawkes:

"I can't stay here."

"Why not?" asked the lawyer.

"I'd be happier with me father," said Peg.

"Nonsense. You'll be quite happy here. Quite."

"They don't seem enthusiastic about us, do they?" and she looked down
at "Michael" and up at Hawkes and indicated the Chichester family, who
had by this time all turned their backs on her. She smiled a wan,
lonely smile, and with a little pressure on "Michael's" back, murmured:
"We're not wanted here, 'Michael!'"

The terrier looked up at her and then buried his head under her arm as
though ashamed.

Jarvis came in response to the ring at that moment, bearing a pained,
martyr-like expression on his face.

Mrs. Chichester directed him to take away Peg's parcels and the dog.

Peg frightenedly clutched the terrier.

"Oh, no, ma'am," she pleaded. "Plaze lave 'Michael' with me. Don't take
him away from me."

"Take it away," commanded Mrs. Chichester severely, "and never let it
INSIDE the house again."

"Well, if ye don't want HIM inside yer house ye don't want ME inside
yer house," Peg snapped back.

Hawkes interposed. "Oh, come, come, Miss O'Connell, you can see the
little dog whenever you want to," and he tried to take "Michael" out of
her arms. "Come, let me have him."

But Peg resisted. She was positive when she said:

"No, I won't give him up. I won't. I had a hard enough time gettin' him
ashore, I did."

Hawkes pleaded again.

"No," said Peg firmly. "I WILL NOT GIVE HIM UP. And that's all there is
about it."

The lawyer tried again to take the dog from her: "Come, Miss O'Connell,
you really must be reasonable."

"I don't care about being reasonable," replied Peg. "'Michael' was
given to me by me father an' he's not very big and he's not a watchdog,
he's a pet dog--and look--" She caught sight of Ethel's little poodle
and with a cry of self-justification, she said:

"See, she has a dog in the house--right here in the house. Look at it!"
and she pointed to where the little ball of white wool lay sleeping on
Ethel's lap. Then Peg laughed heartily: "I didn't know what it was
until it MOVED."

Peg finally weakened under Mr. Hawkes' powers of persuasion and on the
understanding that she could see him whenever she wanted to, permitted
the lawyer to take "Michael" out of her arms and give him to the
disgusted footman, who held him at arm's length in mingled fear and
disgust.

Then Hawkes took the bag and the parcels and handed them also to
Jarvis. One of them burst open, disclosing her father's parting gifts.
She kept the rosary and the miniature, and wrapping up the others
carefully she placed them on the top of the other articles in the
outraged Jarvis's arms, and then gave him her final injunctions.
Patting "Michael" on the head she said to the footman:

"Ye won't hurt him, will ye?"

"Michael" at that stage licked her hand and whined as though he knew
they were to be separated. Peg comforted him and went on: "And I'd be
much obliged to ye if ye'd give him some wather and a bone. He loves
mutton bones."

Jarvis, with as much dignity as he could assume, considering that he
had one armful of shabby parcels and the other hand holding at arm's
length a disgraceful looking mongrel, went out, almost on the verge of
tears.

Peg looked down and found Alaric sitting at a desk near the door
staring at her in disgust.

He was such a funny looking little fellow to Peg that she could not
feel any resentment toward him. His sleek well-brushed hair; his
carefully creased and admirably-cut clothes; his self-sufficiency; and
above all his absolute assurance that whatever he did was right, amused
Peg immensely. He was an entirely new type of young man to her and she
was interested. She smiled at him now in a friendly way and said: "Ye
must know 'Michael' is simply crazy about mutton. He LOVES mutton."

Alaric turned indignantly away from her. Peg followed him up. He had
begun to fascinate her. She looked at his baby-collar with a well-tied
bow gleaming from the centre; at his pointed shoes; his curious,
little, querulous look. He was going to be good fun for Peg. She wanted
to begin at once. And she would have too, not the icy accents of Mrs.
Chichester interrupted Peg's plans for the moment.

"Come here," called Mrs. Chichester.

Peg walked over to her and when she got almost beside the old lady she
turned to have another glimpse at Alaric and gave him a little,
chuckling, good-natured laugh.

"Look at ME!" commanded Mrs. Chichester sternly.

"Yes, ma'am," replied Peg, with a little curtsey. Mrs. Chichester
closed her eyes for a moment. What was to be done with this barbarian?
Why should this affliction be thrust upon her? Then she thought of the
thousand pounds a year. She opened her eyes and looked severely at Peg.

"Don't call me 'ma'am'!" she said.

"No, ma'am," replied Peg nervously, then instantly corrected herself:
"No, ANT! No, ANT!"

"AUNT!" said Mrs. Chichester haughtily. "AUNT. Not ANT."

Alaric commented to Ethel:

"ANT! Like some little crawly insect."

Peg heard him, looked at him and laughed. He certainly was odd. Then
she looked at Ethel, then at Mr. Hawkes, then all round the room as if
she missed someone. Finally she faced Mrs. Chichester again.

"Are you me Uncle Nat's widdy?"

"No, I am not," contradicted the old lady sharply.

"Then how are you me--AUNT?" demanded Peg.

"I am your mother's sister," replied Mrs. Chichester.

"Oh!" cried Peg. "Then your name's Monica?"

"It is."

"What do ye think of that?" said Peg under her breath. She
surreptitiously opened out the miniature and looked at it, then she
scrutinised her aunt. She shook her head.

"Ye don't look a bit like me poor mother did."

"What have you there?" asked Mrs. Chichester.

"Me poor mother's picture," replied Peg softly.

"Let me see it!" and Mrs. Chichester held out her hand for it. Peg
showed it to Mrs. Chichester, all the while keeping a jealous hold on a
corner of the frame. No one would ever take it away from her. The old
lady looked at it intently. Finally she said:

"She had changed very much since I last saw her--and in one year."

"Sorrow and poverty did that, Aunt Monica," and the tears sprang
unbidden into Peg's eyes.

"AUNT will be quite sufficient. Put it away," and Mrs. Chichester
released the miniature.

Peg hid it immediately in her bosom.

"Sit down," directed the old lady in the manner of a judge preparing to
condemn a felon.

Peg sprawled into a chair with a great sigh of relief.

"Thank ye, ant--AUNT," she said. Then she looked at them all
alternately and laughed heartily:

"Sure I had no idea in the wurrld I had such fine relations. Although
of course my father often said to me, 'Now, Peg,' he would say, 'now,
Peg, ye've got some grand folks on yer mother's side'--"

"Folks! Really--Ethel!" cried Alaric disgustedly.

"Yes, that's what he said. Grand FOLKS on me mother's side."

Mrs. Chichester silenced Peg.

"That will do. Don't sprawl in that way. Sit up. Try and remember where
you are. Look at your cousin," and the mother indicated Ethel. Peg sat
up demurely and looked at Ethel. She chuckled to herself as she turned
back to Mrs. Chichester:

"Is she me cousin?"

"She is," replied the mother.

"And I am too," said Alaric. "Cousin Alaric."

Peg looked him all over and laughed openly. Then she turned to Ethel
again, and then looked all around the room and appeared quite puzzled.
Finally she asked Mrs. Chichester the following amazing question:

"Where's her husband?"

Ethel sprang to her feet. The blow was going to fall. She was to be
disgraced before her family by that beggar-brat. It was unbearable.

Mrs. Chichester said in astonishment: "Her HUSBAND?"

"Yes," replied Peg insistently. "I saw her husband when I came in here
first. I've been in this room before, ye know. I came in through those
windows and I saw, her and her husband, she was--"

"What in heaven's name does she mean?" cried Alaric.

Peg persisted: "I tell ye it was SHE sent me to the kitchen--she and
HIM."

"Him? Who in the world does she mean?" from Alaric.

"To whom does she refer, Ethel?" from Mrs. Chichester.

"Mr. Brent," said Ethel with admirable self-control. She was on thin
ice, but she must keep calm. Nothing may come out yet if only she can
silence that little chatterbox.

Alaric burst out laughing.

Mrs. Chichester looked relieved.

Peg went on:

"Sure, she thought I was a servant looking for a place and Mr. Hawkes
told me not to say a word until he came--and I didn't say a word--" Mr.
Hawkes now broke in and glancing at his watch said:

"My time, is short. Miss O'Connell, it was your uncle's wish that you
should make your home here with Mrs. Chichester. She will give you
every possible advantage to make you a happy, well-cared for, charming
young lady."

Peg laughed.

"LADY? ME? Sure now--"

The lawyer went on:

"You must do everything she tells you. Try and please her in all
things. On the first day of every month I will call and find out what
progress you're making."

He handed Mrs. Chichester a card:

"This is my business address should you wish to communicate with me.
And now I must take my leave." He picked up his hat and cane from the
table.

Peg sprang up breathlessly and frightenedly. Now that Mr. Hawkes was
going she felt deserted. He had at least been gentle and considerate to
her. She tugged at his sleeve and looked straight up into his face with
her big blue eyes wide open and pleaded:

"Plaze, sir, take me with ye and send me back to New York. I'd rather
go home. Indade I would. I don't want to be a lady. I want me father.
Plaze take me with you."

"Oh--come--come" Mr. Hawkes began.

"I want to go back to me father. Indade I do." Her eyes filled with
tears. "He mightn't like me to stay here now that me uncle's dead."

"Why, it was your uncle's last wish that you should come here. Your
father will be delighted at your good fortune." He gently pressed her
back into the chair and smiled pleasantly and reassuringly down at her.

Just when he had negotiated everything most satisfactorily to have Peg
endeavour to upset it all was most disturbing. He went on again: "Your
aunt will do everything in her power to make you feel at home. Won't
you, Mrs. Chichester?"

"Everything!" said Mrs. Chichester, as if she were walking over her own
grave.

Peg looked at her aunt ruefully: her expression was most forbidding: at
Ethel's expressive back; lastly at Alaric fitting a cigarette into a
gold mounted holder. Her whole nature cried out against them. She made
one last appeal to Mr. Hawkes:

"DO send me back to me father!"

"Nonsense, my dear Miss O'Connell. You would not disappoint your father
in that way, would you? Wait for a month. I'll call on the first and I
expect to hear only the most charming things about you. Now, good-bye,"
and he took her hand.

She looked wistfully up at him:

"Good-bye, sir. And thank ye very much for bein' so kind to me."

Hawkes bowed to Mrs. Chichester and Ethel and went to the door.

"Have a cab?" asked Alaric.

"No, thank you," replied the lawyer. "I have no luggage. Like the walk.
Good-day," and Peg's only friend in England passed out and left her to
face this terrible English family alone.

"Your name is Margaret," said Mrs. Chichester, as the door closed on
Mr. Hawkes.

"No, ma'am--" Peg began, but immediately corrected herself; "no,
aunt--I beg your pardon--no aunt--my name is Peg," cried she earnestly.

"That is only a CORRUPTION. We will call you Margaret," insisted Mrs.
Chichester, dismissing the subject once and for all. But Peg was not to
be turned so lightly aside. She stuck to her point.

"I wouldn't know myself as Margaret--indade I wouldn't. I might forget
to answer to the name of Margaret." She stopped her pleading tone and
said determinedly: "My name IS Peg." Then a little softer and more
plaintively she added: "Me father always calls me Peg. It would put me
in mind of me father if you'd let me be called Peg, aunt." She ended
her plea with a little yearning cry.

"Kindly leave your father out of the conversation," snapped the old
lady severely.

"Then it's all I will LAVE him out of!" cried Peg, springing up and
confronting the stately lady of the house.

Mrs. Chichester regarded her in astonishment and anger.

"No TEMPER, if you please," and she motioned Peg to resume her seat.

Poor Peg sat down, breathing hard, her fingers locking and unlocking,
her staunch little heart aching for the one human being she was told
not to refer to.

This house was not going to hold her a prisoner if her father's name
was to be slighted or ignored; on that point she was determined. Back
to America she would go if her father's name was ever insulted before
her. Mrs. Chichester's voice broke the silence:

"You must take my daughter as your model in all things."

Peg looked at Ethel and all her anger vanished temporarily. The idea of
taking that young lady as a model appealed to her as being irresistibly
amusing. She smiled broadly at Ethel. Mrs. Chichester went on:

"Everything my daughter does you must try and imitate. You could not
have a better example. Mould yourself on her."

"Imitate her, is it?" asked Peg innocently with a twinkle in her eye
and the suggestion of impishness in her manner.

"So far as lies in your power," replied Mrs. Chichester.

A picture of Ethel struggling in Brent's arms suddenly flashed across
Peg, and before she could restrain herself she had said in exact
imitation of her cousin:

"Please don't! It is so hot this morning!"

Then Peg laughed loudly to Ethel's horror and Mrs. Chichester's disgust.

"How dare you!" cried her aunt.

Peg looked at her a moment, all the mirth died away.

"Mustn't I laugh in this house?" she asked.

"You have a great deal to learn."

"Yes, aunt."

"Your education will begin to-morrow."

"Sure that will be foine," and she chuckled.

"No levity, if you please," said her aunt severely.

"No, aunt."

"Until some decent clothes can be procured for you we will find some
from my daughter's wardrobe."

"Sure I've a beautiful dhress in me satchel I go to Mass in on Sundays.
It's all silk, and--"

Mrs. Chichester stopped her:

"That will do. Ring, Alaric, please."

As Alaric walked over to press the electric button he looked at Peg in
absolute disgust and entire disapproval. Peg caught the look and
watched him go slowly across the room. He had the same morbid
fascination for her that some uncanny elfish creature might have. If
only her father could see him! She mentally decided to sketch Alaric
and send it out to her father with a full description of him.

Mrs. Chichester again demanded her attention.

"You must try and realise that you have an opportunity few girls in
your position are ever given. I only hope you will try and repay our
interest and your late uncle's wishes by obedience, good conduct and
hard study."

"Yes, aunt," said Peg demurely. Then she added quickly: "I hope ye
don't mind me not having worn me silk dress, but ye see I couldn't wear
it on the steamer--it 'ud have got all wet. Ye have to wear yer
thravellin' clothes when ye're thravellin'."

"That will do," said Mrs. Chichester sharply.

"Well, but I don't want ye to think me father doesn't buy me pretty
clothes. He's very proud of me, an' I am of him--an'--"

"That will do," commanded Mrs. Chichester as Jarvis came in reply to
the bell.

"Tell Bennett to show my niece to the Mauve Room and to attend her,"
said Mrs. Chichester to the footman. Then turning to Peg she dismissed
her.

"Go with him."

"Yes, aunt," replied Peg. "An' I am goin' to thry and do everythin' ye
want me to. I will, indade I will."

Her little heart was craving for some show of kindness. If she was
going to stay there she would make the best of it. She would make some
friendly advances to them. She held her hand out to Mrs. Chichester:

"I'm sure I'm very grateful to you for taking me to live with yez here.
An' me father will be too. But ye see it's all so strange to me here,
an' I'm so far away--an' I miss me father so much."

Mrs. Chichester, ignoring the outstretched hand, stopped her
peremptorily:

"Go with him!" and she pointed up the stairs, on the first landing of
which stood the portly Jarvis waiting to conduct Peg out of the
family's sight.

Peg dropped a little curtsey to Mrs. Chichester, smiled at Ethel,
looked loftily at Alaric, then ran up the stairs and, following the
footman's index finger pointing the way, she disappeared from Mrs.
Chichester's unhappy gaze.

The three tortured people looked at each other in dismay.

"Awful!" said Alaric.

"Terrible!" agreed Mrs. Chichester.

"Dreadful!" nodded Ethel.

"It's our unlucky day, mater!" added Alaric. "One thing is absolutely
necessary," Mrs. Chichester went on to say, "she must be kept away from
every one for the present."

"I should say so!" cried Alaric energetically. Suddenly he ejaculated:
"Good Lord! Jerry! HE mustn't see her. He'd laugh his head off at the
idea of my having a relation like her. He'll probably run in to lunch."

"Then she must remain in her room until he's gone," said Mrs.
Chichester, determinedly. "I'll go into town now and order some things
for her and see about tutors. She must be taught and at once."

"Why put up with this annoyance at all?" asked Ethel, for the first
time showing any real interest.

Mrs. Chichester put her arm around Ethel and a gentle look came into
her eyes as she said:

"One thousand pounds a year--that is the reason--and rather than you or
Alaric should have to make any sacrifice, dear, or have any discomfort,
I would put up with worse than that."

Ethel thought a moment before she replied reflectively:

"Yes, I suppose you would. I wouldn't," and she went up the stairs.
When she was little more than half way up Alaric, who had been watching
her nervously, called to her:

"Where are you off to, Ethel?"

She looked down at him and a glow, all unsuspected, came into her eyes
and a line of colour ran through her cheeks, and there was an unusual
tremor in her voice, as she replied:

"To try to make up my mind, if I can, about something. The coming of
PEG may do it for me."

She went on out of sight.

Alaric was half-inclined to follow her. He knew she was taking their
bad luck to heart withal she said so little. He was really quite fond
of Ethel in a selfish, brotherly way. But for the moment he decided to
let Ethel worry it out alone while he would go to the railway station
and meet his friend's train. He called to his mother as she passed
through the door:

"Wait a minute, mater, and I'll go with you as far as the station-road
and see if I can head Jerry off. His train is almost due if it's
punctual."

He was genuinely concerned that his old chum should not meet that
impossible little red-headed Irish heathen whom an unkind fate had
dropped down in their midst.

At the hall-door Mrs. Chichester told Jarvis that her niece was not to
leave her room without permission.

As Mrs. Chichester and Alaric passed out they little dreamt that the
same relentless fate was planning still further humiliations for the
unfortunate family and through the new and unwelcome addition to it.



CHAPTER VI

JERRY


Peg was shown by the maid, Bennett, into a charming old-world room
overlooking the rose garden. Everything about it was in the most
exquisite taste. The furniture was of white and gold, the vases of
Sevres, a few admirable prints on the walls and roses everywhere.

Left to her reflections, poor Peg found herself wondering how people,
with so much that was beautiful around them, could live and act as the
Chichester family apparently did. They seemed to borrow nothing from
their once illustrious and prosperous dead. They were, it would appear,
only concerned with a particularly near present.

The splendour of the house awed--the narrowness of the people irritated
her. What an unequal condition of things where such people were endowed
with so much of the world's goods, while her father had to struggle all
his life for the bare necessities!

She had heard her father say once that the only value money had,
outside of one's immediate requirements, was to be able to relieve
other people's misery: and that if we just spent it on ourselves money
became a monster that stripped life of all happiness, all illusion, all
love--and made it just a selfish mockery of a world!

How wonderfully true her father's diagnosis was!

Here was a family with everything to make them happy--yet none of them
seemed to breathe a happy breath, think a happy thought, or know a
happy hour.

The maid had placed Peg's scanty assortment of articles on the
dressing-table. They looked so sadly out of place amid the satin-lined
boxes and perfumed drawers that Peg felt another momentary feeling of
shame. Since her coming into the house she had experienced a series of
awakenings. She sturdily overcame the feeling and changed her cheap
little travelling suit for one of the silk dresses her father had
bought her in New York. By the time she had arranged her hair with a
big pink ribbon and put on the precious brown silk garment she began to
feel more at ease. After all, who were they to intimidate her? If she
did not like the house and the people, after giving them a fair trial,
she would go back to New York. Very much comforted by the reflection
and having exhausted all the curious things in the little Mauve-Room
she determined to see the rest of the house.

At the top of the stairs she met the maid Bennett.

"Mrs. Chichester left word that you were not to leave your room without
permission. I was just going to tell you," said Bennett.

All Peg's independent Irish blood flared up. What would she be doing
shut up in a little white-and-gold room all day? She answered the maid
excitedly:

"Tell Mrs. CHI-STER I am not goin' to do anythin' of the kind. As long
as I stay in this house I'll see every bit of it!" and she swept past
the maid down the stairs into the same room for the third time.

"You'll only get me into trouble," cried the maid.

"No, I won't. I wouldn't get you into trouble for the wurrld. I'll get
all the trouble and I'll get it now." Peg ran across, opened the door
connecting with the hall and called out at the top of her voice:

"Aunt! Cousins! Aunt! Come here, I want to tell ye about myself!"

"They've all gone out," said the maid quickly.

"Then what are ye makin' such a fuss about? You go out too."

She watched the disappointed Bennett leave the room and then began a
tour of inspection. She had never seen so many strange things outside
of a museum.

Fierce men in armour glared at her out of massive frames: old gentlemen
in powdered wigs smiled pleasantly at her; haughty ladies in
breath-bereaving coiffures stared superciliously right through her. She
felt most uncomfortable in such strange company.

She turned from the gallery and entered the living room. Everything
about it was of the solid Tudor days and bespoke, even as the
portraits, a period when the family must have been of some considerable
importance. She wandered about the room touching some things
timidly--others boldly. For example--on the piano she found a perfectly
carved bronze statuette of Cupid. She gave a little elfish cry of
delight, took the statuette in her arms and kissed it.

"Cupid! me darlin'. Faith, it's you that causes all the mischief in the
wurrld, ye divil ye!" she cried.

All her depression vanished. She was like a child again. She sat down
at the piano and played the simple refrain and sang in her little
girlish tremulous voice, one of her father's favourite songs, her eyes
on Cupid:

     "Oh! the days are gone when Beauty bright
          My heart's charm wove!
     When my dream of life, from morn till night,
          Was love, still love!
          New hope may bloom,
          And days may come,
          Of milder, calmer beam,
     But there's nothing half so sweet in life
          As Love's young dream!
     No, there's nothing half so sweet in life
          As Love's young dream."

As she let the last bars die away and gave Cupid a little caress, and
was about to commence the neat verse a vivid flash of lightning played
around the room, followed almost immediately by a crash of thunder.

Peg cowered down into a deep chair.

All the laughter died from her face and the joy in her heart. She made
the sign of the cross, knelt down and prayed to Our Lady of Sorrows.

By this time the sky was completely leaden in hue and rain was pouring
down.

Again the darkening room was lit up by a vivid forked flash and the
crash of the thunder came instantly. The storm was immediately
overhead. Peg closed her eyes, as she did when a child, while her lips
moved in prayer.

Into the room through the window came a young man, his coat-collar
turned up, rain pouring from his hat; inside his coat was a
terrified-looking dog. The man came well into the room, turning down
the collar of his coat; and shaking the moisture from his clothes, when
he suddenly saw the kneeling figure of Peg. He looked down at her in
surprise. She was intent on her prayers.

"Hello!" cried the young man. "Frightened, eh?"

Peg looked up and saw him staring down at her with a smile on his lips.
Inside his coat was her precious little dog, trembling with fear. The
terrier barked loudly when he saw his mistress. Peg sprang up, clutched
"Michael" away from the stranger, just as another blinding flash played
around the room followed by a deafening report.

Peg ran across to the door shouting: "Shut it out! Shut it out!" She
stood there trembling, covering her eyes with one hand, with the other
she held on to the overjoyed "MICHAEL," who was whining with glee at
seeing her again.

The amazed and amused young man closed the windows and the curtains.
Then he moved down toward Peg.

"Don't come near the dog, sir. Don't come near it!" She opened a door
and found it led into a little reception room. She fastened "MICHAEL"
with a piece of string to a chair in the room and came back to look
again at the stranger, who had evidently rescued her dog from the
storm. He was a tall, bronzed, athletic-looking, broad shouldered young
man of about twenty-six, with a pleasant, genial, magnetic manner and a
playful humour lurking in his eyes.

As Peg looked him all over she found that he was smiling down at her.

"Does the dog belong to you?" he queried.

"What were you doin' with him?" she asked in reply.

"I found him barking at a very high-spirited mare."

"MARE?" cried Peg. "WHERE?"

"Tied to the stable-door."

"The stable-door? Is that where they put 'MICHAEL'?" Once again the
lightning flashed vividly and the thunder echoed dully through the room.

Peg shivered.

The stranger reassured her.

"Don't be frightened. It's only a summer storm."

"Summer or winter, they shrivel me up," gasped Peg.

The young man walked to the windows and drew back the curtains. "Come
and look at it," he said encouragingly. "They're beautiful in this part
of the country. Come and watch it."

"I'll not watch it!" cried Peg. "Shut it out!"

Once more the young man closed the curtains.

Peg looked at him and said in an awe-struck voice:

"They say if ye look at the sky when the lightnin' comes ye can see the
Kingdom of Heaven. An' the sight of it blinds some and kills
others--accordin' to the state of grace ye're in."

"You're a Catholic?" said the stranger.

"What else would I be?" asked Peg in surprise.

Again the lightning lit the room and, after some seconds, came the deep
rolling of the now distant thunder.

Peg closed her eyes again and shivered.

"Doesn't it seem He is angry with us for our sins?" she cried.

"With ME, perhaps--not with you," answered the stranger.

"What do ye mane by that?" asked Peg.

"You don't know what sin is," replied the young man.

"And who may you be to talk to me like that?" demanded Peg.

"My name is Jerry," said the stranger.

"JERRY?" and Peg looked at him curiously.

"Yes. What is yours?"

"Peg!" and there was a sullen note of fixed determination in her tone.

"Peg, eh?" and the stranger smiled.

She nodded and looked at him curiously. What a strange name he
had--JERRY! She had never heard such a name before associated with such
a distinguished-looking man. She asked him again slowly to make certain
she had heard aright.

"Jerry, did ye say?"

"Just plain Jerry," he answered cheerfully. "And you're Peg."

She nodded again with a quick little smile: "Just plain Peg."

"I don't agree with you," said the young man. "I think you are very
charming."

"Ye mustn't say things like that with the thunder and lightnin'
outside," answered Peg, frowning.

"I mean it," from the man who called himself "Jerry."

"No, ye don't mane it," said Peg positively. "The man who MANES them
things never sez them. My father always told me to be careful of the
fellow that sez flattherin' things right to yer face. 'He's no good,
Peg,' my father sez; 'He's no good.'"

Jerry laughed heartily.

"Your father is right, only his doctrine hardly applies in this
instance. I didn't mean it as flattery. Just a plain statement of fact."

After a pause he went on: "Who are you?"

"I'm me aunt's niece," replied Peg, looking at him furtively.

Jerry laughed again.

"And who is your aunt?"

"Mrs. Chi-ster."

"Whom?"

Poor Peg tried again at the absurd tongue-tying name.

"My aunt is Mrs. Chi-sister."

"Mrs. Chichester?" asked Jerry in surprise.

"That's it," said Peg.

"How extraordinary!"

"Isn't it? Ye wouldn't expect a fine lady like her to have a niece like
me, would ye?"

"That isn't what I meant," corrected Jerry.

"Yes, it is what ye meant. Don't tell untruths with the storm ragin'
outside," replied Peg.

"I was thinking that I don't remember Alaric ever telling me that he
had such a charming cousin."

"Oh, do you know Alaric?" asked Peg with a quick smile.

"Very well," answered Jerry.

Peg's smile developed into a long laugh.

"And why that laugh?" queried Jerry.

"I'd like me father to see Alaric. I'd like him just to see Alaric for
one minnit."

"Indeed?"

"Yes, indade. Ye know ALARIC, do ye?--isn't it funny how the name suits
him?--ALARIC! there are very few people a name like that would get
along with--but fits HIM all right--doesn't it? Well, he didn't know I
was alive until I dropped down from the clouds this mornin'."

"Where did you drop from?"

"New York."

"Really? How odd."

"Not at all. It's nearly as big as London and there's nothin' odd about
New York."

"Were you born there?" asked Jerry.

"I was," answered Peg.

"By way of old Ireland, eh?"

"How did ye guess that?" queried Peg, not quite certain whether to be
pleased or angry.

"Your slight--but DELIGHTFUL accent," replied Jerry.

"ACCENT is it?" and Peg looked at him in astonishment. "Sure I'VE no
accent. I just speak naturally. It's YOU have the accent to my way of
thinkin'."

"Really?" asked the amused Jerry. Peg imitated the young man's
well-bred, polished tone:

"Wah ye bawn theah?"

Jerry laughed immoderately. Who was this extraordinary little person?
was the one thought that was in his mind.

"How would you say it?" he asked.

"I'd say it naturally. I would say: 'Were ye borrn there?' I wouldn't
twist the poor English language any worse than it already is."

Peg had enough of the discussion and started off on another expedition
of discovery by standing on a chair and examining some china in a
cabinet.

Jerry turned up to the windows and drew back the curtains, threw the
windows wide open and looked up at the sky. It was once more a crystal
blue and the sun was shining vividly.

He called to Peg: "The storm is over. The air is clear of electricity.
All the anger has gone from the heavens. See?"

Peg said reverently: "Praise be to God for that."

Then she went haphazardly around the room examining everything, sitting
in various kinds of chairs, on the sofa, smelling the flowers and
wherever she went Jerry followed her, at a little distance.

"Are you going to stay here?" he reopened the conversation with.

"Mebbe I will and mebbe I won't," was Peg's somewhat unsatisfactory
answer.

"Did your aunt send for you?"

"No--me uncle."

"Indeed?"

"Yes, indade; me Uncle Nat."

"NAT?"

"Nathaniel Kingsnorth--rest his soul."

"Nathaniel Kingsnorth!" cried Jerry in amazement

Peg nodded.

"Sleepin' in his grave, poor man."

"Why, then you're Miss Margaret O'Connell?"

"I am. How did ye know THAT?"

"I was with your uncle when he died."

"WERE ye?"

"He told me all about you."

"Did he? Well, I wish the poor man 'ud ha' lived. An' I wish he'd a'
thought o' us sooner. He with all his money an' me father with none,
an' me his sister's only child."

"What does your father do?" Peg took a deep breath and answered
eagerly. She was on the one subject about which she could talk
freely--all she needed was a good listener. This strange man, unlike
her aunt, seemed to be the very person to talk to on the one really
vital subject to Peg. She said breathlessly:

"Sure me father can do anythin' at all--except make money. An' when he
does MAKE it he can't kape it. He doesn't like it enough. Nayther do I.
We've never had very much to like, but we've seen others around us with
plent an' faith we've been the happiest--that we have."

She only stopped to take breath before on she went again:

"There have been times when we've been most starvin', but me father
never lost his pluck or his spirits. Nayther did I. When times have
been the hardest I've never heard a word of complaint from me father,
nor seen a frown on his face. An' he's never used a harsh word to me in
me life. Sure we're more like boy and girl together than father and
daughther." Her eyes began to fill and her voice to break.

"An' I'm sick for the sight of him. An' I'm sure he is for me--for his
'Peg o' my Heart,' as he always calls me."

She covered her eyes as the tears trickled down through her fingers.
Under her breath Jerry heard her saying:

"I wish I was back home--so I do."

He was all compassion in a moment. Something in the loneliness and
staunchness of the little girl appealed to him.

"Don't do that," he said softly, as he felt the moisture start into his
own eyes.

Peg unpinned her little handkerchief and carefully wiped away her tears
and just as carefully folded the handkerchief up again and pinned it
back by her side.

"I don't cry often," she said. "Me father never made me do it. I never
saw HIM cry but twice in his life--once when he made a little money and
we had a Mass said for me mother's soul, an' we had the most beautiful
candles on Our Lady's altar. He cried then, he did. And when I left him
to come here on the ship. And then only at the last minnit. He laughed
and joked with me all the time we were together--but when the ship
swung away from the dock he just broke down and cried like a little
child. 'My Peg!' he kep' sayin'; 'My little Peg!' I tell ye I wanted to
jump off that ship an' go back to him--but we'd started--an' I don't
know how to swim."

How it relieved her pent-up feelings to talk to some one about her
father! Already she felt she had known Jerry for years. In a moment she
went on again:

"I cried meself to sleep THAT night, I did. An' many a night, too, on
that steamer."

"I didn't want to come here--that I didn't. I only did it to please me
father. He thought it 'ud be for me good."

"An' I wish I hadn't come--that I do. He's missin' me every minnit--an'
I'm missin' him. An' I'm not goin' to be happy here, ayther."

"I don't want to be a lady. An' they won't make me one ayther if I can
help it. 'Ye can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear,' that's what
me father always said. An' that's what I am. I'm a sow's ear."

She stopped,--her eyes fixed on the ground.

Jerry was more than moved at this entirely human and natural outbreak.
It was even as looking into some one's heart and brain and hearing
thoughts spoken aloud and seeing the nervous workings of the heart.
When she described herself in such derogatory terms, a smile of relief
played on Jerry's face as he leaned over to her and said:

"I'm afraid I cannot agree with you."

She looked up at him and said indifferently: "It doesn't make the
slightest bit of difference to me whether ye do or not. That's what I
am. I'm a sow's ear."

He reasoned with her:

"When the strangeness wears off you'll be very happy."

"Do yez know the people here--the Chi-sters?"

"Oh, yes. Very well."

"Then what makes ye think I'll be happy among them?"

"Because you'll know that you're pleasing your father."

"But I'm all alone."

"You're among friends."

Peg shook her head and said bitterly: "No, I'm not. They may be me
RELATIONS, but they're not me FRIENDS. They're ashamed of me."

"Oh, no!" interrupted Jerry.

"Oh, yes," contradicted Peg. "I tell ye they are ashamed of me. They
sent me to the kitchen when I first came here. And now they put
'MICHAEL' to slape in the stable. I want ye to understand 'MICHAEL' is
not used to that. He always sleeps with me father."

She was so unexpected that Jerry found himself on the verge of tears
one moment, and the next something she would say, some odd look or
quaint inflection would compel his laughter again. He had a mental
picture of "MICHAEL," the pet of Peg's home, submitting to the
indignity of companionship with mere horses. Small wonder he was
snapping at Ethel's mare, when Jerry, discovered him.

He turned again to Peg and said:

"When they really get to know you, Miss O'Connell, they will be just as
proud of you as your father is--as--I would be."

Peg looked at him in whimsical astonishment: "You'd be? Why should YOU
be proud of ME?"

"I'd be more than proud if you'd look on me as your friend."

"A FRIEND is it?" cried Peg warily. "Sure I don't know who you are at
all," and she drew away from him. She was on her guard. Peg made few
friends. Friendship to her was not a thing to be lightly given or
accepted. Why, this man, calling himself by the outlandish name of
"Jerry," should walk in out of nowhere, and offer her his friendship,
and expect her to jump at it, puzzled her. It also irritated her. Who
WAS he?

Jerry explained:

"Oh, I can give you some very good references. For instance, I went to
the same college as your cousin Alaric."

Peg looked at him in absolute disdain.

"Did ye?" she said. "Well, I'd mention that to very few people if I
were you," and she walked away from him. He followed her.

"Don't you want me to be your friend?"

"Sure I don't know," Peg answered quickly. "I'm like the widdy's pig
that was put into a rale bed to sleep. It nayther wanted it, nor it
didn't want it. The pig had done without beds all its life, and it
wasn't cryin' its heart out for the loss of somethin' it had never had
and couldn't miss."

Jerry laughed heartily at the evident sincerity of the analogy.

Peg looked straight at him: "I want to tell ye that's one thing that's
in yer favour," she said.

"What is?" asked Jerry.

"Sure, laughter is not dead in you, as it is in every one else in this
house."

Whilst Jerry was still laughing, Peg suddenly joined in with him and
giving him a playful slap with the back of her hand, asked him:

"Who are ye at all?"

"No one in particular," answered Jerry between gasps.

"I can see that," said Peg candidly. "I mean what do ye do?"

"Everything a little and nothing really well," Jerry replied. "I was a
soldier for a while: then I took a splash at doctoring: read law:
civil-engineered in South America for a year: now I'm farming."

"Farming?" asked Peg incredulously.

"Yes. I'm a farmer."

Peg laughed as she looked at the well-cut clothes, the languid manner
and easy poise.

"It must be mighty hard on the land and cattle to have YOU farmin'
them," she said.

"It is," and he too laughed again. "They resent my methods. I'm a new
farmer."

"Faith ye must be."

"To sum up my career I can do a whole lot of things fairly well and
none of them well enough to brag about."

"Just like me father," she said interestedly.

"You flatter me," he replied courteously.

Peg thought she detected a note of sarcasm. She turned on him fiercely:

"I know I do. There isn't a man in the whole wurrld like me father. Not
a man in the wurrld. But he says he's a rollin' stone and they don't
amount to much in a hard-hearted wurrld that's all for makin' dollars."

"Your father is right," agreed Jerry. "Money is the standard to-day and
we're all valued by it."

"And he's got none," cried Peg. Thoughts were coming thick and fast
through her little brain. To speak of her father was to want to be near
him. And she wanted him there now for that polished, well-bred
gentleman to see what a wonderful man he was. She suddenly said:

"Well, he's got me. I've had enough of this place. I'm goin' home now."
She started up the staircase leading to the Mauve Room.

Jerry called after her anxiously:

"No, no! Miss O'Connell. Don't go like that."

"I must," said Peg from the top of the stairs. "What will I get here
but to be laughed at and jeered at by a lot of people that are not fit
to even look at me father. Who are they I'd like to know that I mustn't
speak his name in their presence? I love me father and sure it's easier
to suffer for the want of food than the want of love!"

Suddenly she raised one hand above her head and in the manner and tone
of a public-speaker she astounded Jerry with the following outburst:

"An' that's what the Irish are doin' all over the wurrld. They're
driven out of their own country by the English and become wandherers on
the face of the earth and nothin' they ever EARN'LL make up to them for
the separation from their homes and their loved ones!" She finished the
peroration on a high note and with a forced manner such as she had
frequently heard on the platform.

She smiled at the astonished Jerry and asked him:

"Do ye know what that is?"

"I haven't the least idea," he answered truthfully.

"That's out of one of me father's speeches. Me father makes grand
speeches. He makes them in the Cause of Ireland."

"Oh, really! In the Cause of Ireland, eh?" said Jerry.

"Yes. He's been strugglin' all his life to make Ireland free--to get
her Home Rule, ye know. But the English are so ignorant. They think
they know more than me father. If they'd do what me father tells them
sure there'd be no more throuble in Ireland at all."

"Really?" said Jerry, quite interestedly.

"Not a bit of throuble. I wish me father was here to explain it to ye.
He could tell ye the whole thing in a couple of hours. I wish he were
here now just to give you an example of what fine speakin' really is.
Do you like speeches?"

"Very much--sometimes," replied Jerry, guardedly.

"Me father is wondherful on a platform with a lot o' people in front of
him. He's wondherful. I've seen him take two or three hundred people
who didn't know they had a grievance in the wurrld--the poor
cratures--they were just contented to go on bein' ground down and
trampled on and they not knowing a thing about it--I've seen me father
take that crowd and in five minutes, afther he had started spakin' to
them ye wouldn't know they were the same people. They were all shoutin'
at once, and they had murther in their eye and it was blood they were
afther. They wanted to reform somethin'--they weren't sure what--but
they wanted to do it--an' at the cost of life. Me father could have led
them anywhere. It's a wondherful POWER he was. And magnetism. He just
looks at the wake wuns an' they wilt. He turns to the brave wuns and
they're ready to face cannon-balls for him. He's a born leader--that's
what he is, a born leader!" She warmed to her subject: she was on her
hobby-horse and she would ride it as far as this quiet stranger would
let her. She went on again:

"Ye know the English government are very much frightened of me father.
They are indade. They put him in prison once--before I was born. They
were so afraid of him they put him in prison. I wish ye could see him!"
she said regretfully.

"I am sure I wish I could--with all my heart. You have really aroused
my keenest interest," said Jerry gravely. "He must be a very remarkable
man," he added.

"That's what he is," agreed Peg warmly. "An' a very wondherful lookin'
man, too. He's a big, upstandin' man, with gold hair goin' grey, an' a
flashin' eye an' a great magnetic voice. Everybody sez 't's the
MAGNETISM in him that makes him so dangerous. An' he's as bold as a
lion. He isn't frightened of anybody. He'll say anything right to your
face. Oh, I wish ye could just meet him. He's not afraid to make any
kind of a speech--whether it's right or not, so long as it's for the
'Cause.' Do yez like hearin' about me father?" she asked Jerry
suddenly, in case she was tiring him--although how any one COULD be
tired listening to the description of her Hero she could not imagine.

Jerry hastened to assure her that he was really most interested.

"I am not botherin' ye listenin', am I?"

"Not in the least," Jerry assured her again.

"Well, so long as yer not tired I'll tell ye some more. Ye know I went
all through Ireland when I was a child with me father in a cart. An'
the police and the constabulary used to follow us about. They were very
frightened of me father, they were. They were grand days for me. Ye
know he used to thry his speeches on me first. Then I'd listen to him
make them in public. I used to learn them when I'd heard them often
enough. I know about fifty. I'll tell ye some of them if I ever see ye
again. Would ye like to hear some of them?"

"Very much indeed," answered Jerry.

"Well, if I STAY here ye must come some time an' I'll tell ye them. But
it is not the same hearin' me that it is hearin' me father. Ye've got
to see the flash of his eye hear the big sob in his voice, when he
spakes of his counthry, to ralely get the full power o' them. I'll do
me best for ye, of course."

"Ye're English, mebbe?" she asked him suddenly.

"I am," said Jerry. He almost felt inclined to apologise.

"Well, sure that's not your fault. Ye couldn't help it. No one should
hold that against ye. We can't all be born Irish."

"I'm glad you look at it so broad-mindedly," said Jerry.

"Do ye know much about Ireland?" asked Peg.

"Very little, I'm ashamed to say," answered Jerry. "Well, it would be
worth yer while to learn somethin' about it," said Peg.

"I'll make it my business to," he assured her. "It's God country, is
Ireland. And it's many a tear He must have shed at the way England
mismanages it. But He is very lenient and patient with the English.
They're so slow to take notice of how things really are. And some day
He will punish them and it will be through the Irish that punishment
will be meted out to them." She had unconsciously dropped again into
her father's method of oratory, climaxing the speech with all the
vigour of the rising inflection. She looked at Jerry, her face aglow
with enthusiasm.

"That's from another of me father's speeches. Did ye notice the way he
ended it?--'through the Irish that punishment will be meted out to
them!' I think 'meted out' is grand. I tell you me father has the most
wondherful command of language."

She stood restlessly a moment, her hands beating each other alternately.

"I get so lonesome for him," she said.

Suddenly with a tone of definite resolve in her voice she started up
the stairs, calling over her shoulder:

"I'm goin' back to him now. Good-bye!" and she ran all the way upstairs.

Jerry followed her--pleading insistently:

"Wait! Please wait!" She stopped at the top of the stairs and looked
down at him.

"Give us one month's trial--one month!" he urged. "It will be very
little, out of your life and I promise you your father will not suffer
through it except in losing you for that one little month. Will you?
Just a month?"

He spoke so earnestly and seemed so sincerely pained and so really
concerned at-her going, that she came down a few steps and looked at
him irresolutely:

"Why do you want me to stay?" she asked him.

"Because--because your late uncle was my friend. It was his last wish
to do something for you. Will you? Just a month?"

She struggled, with the desire to go away from all that was so foreign
and distasteful to her. Then she looked at Jerry and realised, with
something akin to a feeling of pleasure, that he was pleading with her
to stay, and doing it in such a way as to suggest that it mattered to
him. She had to admit to herself that she rather liked the look of him.
He seemed honest, and even though he were English he did show an
interest whenever she spoke of her father and he had promised to try
and learn something about Ireland. That certainly was in his
favour--just as the fact that he could laugh was, too. Quickly the
thoughts ran hot-foot through Peg's brain: After all to run away now
would look cowardly. Her father would be ashamed of her. This stuck-up
family would laugh at her. That thought was too much. The very
suggestion of Alaric laughing at her caused a sudden rush of blood to
her head. Her temples throbbed. Instantly she made up her mind.

She would stay. Turning to Jerry, she said: "All right, then. I'll
stay--a month. But not any more than a month, though!"

"Not unless you wish it."

"I won't wish it--I promise ye that. One month'll be enough in this
house. It's goin' to seem like a life-time."

"I'm glad," said Jerry, smiling.

"Ye're glad it's goin' to seem like a life-time?"

"No, no!" he corrected her hastily; "I am glad you're going to stay."

"Well, that's a comfort anyway. Some one'll be pleased at me stayin'."
And she came down the stairs and walked over to the piano again.

Jerry followed her:

"I am--immensely."

"All right Ye've said it!" replied Peg, looking up and finding him
standing beside her. She moved away from him. Again he followed her:

"And will you look on me as your friend?"

This time she turned away abruptly. She did not like being followed
about by a man she had only just met.

"There's time enough for that," she said, and went across to the
windows.

"Is it so hard?" pleaded Jerry, again following her..

"I don't know whether it's hard or aisy until I thry it."

"Then try," urged Jerry, going quite close to her: She faced him: "I
never had anyone makin' such a fuss about havin' me for a friend
before. I don't understand you at all."

"Yet I'm very simple," said Jerry.

"I don't doubt ye," Peg answered drily. "From what I've heard of them
most of the English are--simple."

He laughed and held out his hand. "What's that for?" she asked
suspiciously.

"To our friendship."

"I never saw the likes of you in all me life."

"Come--Peg."

"I don't think it's necessary."

"Come!"

She looked into his eyes: They were fixed upon her. Without quite
knowing why she found herself giving him her hand.

He grasped it firmly.

"Friends, Peg?"

"Not yet now," she answered half defiantly, half frightenedly.

"I'll wager we will be."

"Don't put much on it, ye might lose."

"I'll stake my life on it."

"Ye don't value it much, then."

"More than I did. May you be very happy amongst us, Peg."

A door slammed loudly in the distance. Peg distinctly heard her aunt's
voice and Alaric's. In a moment she became panic-stricken. She made one
bound for the stairs and sprang up them three at a time. At the top she
turned and warned him:

"Don't tell any one ye saw me."

"I won't," promised the astonished young man.

But their secret was to be short-lived.

As Peg turned, Ethel appeared at the top of the stairs and as she
descended, glaring at Peg, the unfortunate girl went down backwards
before her. At the same moment Mrs. Chichester and Alaric came in
through the door.

They all greeted Jerry warmly.

Mrs. Chichester was particularly gracious. "So sorry we were out. You
will stay to lunch?"

"It is what I came for," replied Jerry heartily. He slipped his arm
through Alaric's and led him up to the windows:

"Why, Al, your cousin is adorable!" he said enthusiastically.

"What?" Alaric gasped in horror. "You've met her?"

"Indeed I have. And we had the most delightful time together. I want to
see a great deal of her while she's here."

"You're joking?" remarked Alaric cautiously.

"Not at all. She has the frank honest grip on life that I like better
than anything in mankind or womankind. She has made me a convert to
Home Rule already."

The luncheon-gong sounded in the distance. Alaric hurried to the door:

"Come along, every one! Lunch!"

"Thank goodness," cried Jerry, joining him. "I'm starving."

Peg came quietly from behind the newell post, where she had been
practically hidden, and went straight to Jerry and smiling up at him,
her eyes dancing with amusement, said:

"So am I starvin' too. I've not had a bite since six."

"Allow me," and Jerry offered her his arm.

Mrs. Chichester quickly interposed.

"My niece is tired after her journey. She will lunch in her room."

"Oh, but I'm not a bit tired," ejaculated Peg anxiously. "I'm not tired
at all, and I'd much rather have lunch down here with Mr. Jerry."

The whole family were aghast.

Ethel looked indignantly at Peg.

Mrs. Chichester ejaculated: "What?"

Alaric, almost struck dumb, fell back upon: "Well, I mean to say!"

"And you SHALL go in with Mr. Jerry," said that young gentleman,
slipping Peg's arm through his own. Turning to Mrs. Chichester he asked
her: "With your permission we will lead the way. Come--Peg," and he led
her to the door and opened it.

Peg looked up at him, a roguish light dancing in her big expressive
eyes.

"Thanks. I'm not so sure about that wager of yours. I think yer life is
safe. I want to tell ye ye've saved mine." She put one hand gently on
her little stomach and cried: "I am so hungry me soul is hangin' by a
thread."

Laughing gaily, the two new-found friends went in search of the
dining-room.

The Chichester family looked at each other.

It seemed that the fatal first day of June was to be a day of shocks.

"Disgraceful!" ventured Ethel.

"Awful!" said the stunned Alaric.

"She must be taken in hand and at once!" came in firm tones from Mrs.
Chichester. "She must never be left alone again. Come quickly before
she can disgrace us any further to-day."

The unfortunate family, following in the wake of Peg and Jerry, found
them in the dining-room chattering together like old friends. He was
endeavouring to persuade Peg to try an olive. She yielded just as the
family arrived. She withdrew the olive in great haste and turning to
Jerry said: "Faith, there's nothin' good about it but it's colour!" In
a few moments she sat down to the first formal meal is the bosom of the
Chichester family.



CHAPTER VII

THE PASSING OF THE FIRST MONTH


The days that followed were never-to-be-forgotten ones for Peg. Her
nature was in continual revolt. The teaching of her whole lifetime she
was told to correct. Everything she SAID, everything she LOOKED,
everything she DID was wrong.

Tutors were engaged to prepare her for the position she might one day
enjoy through her dead uncle's will. They did not remain long. She
showed either marked incapacity to acquire the slightest veneer of
culture--else it was pure wilfulness.

The only gleams of relief she had were on the occasions when Jerry
visited the family. Whenever they could avoid Mrs. Chichester's
watchful eyes they would chat and laugh and play like children. She
could not understand him--he was always discovering new traits in her.
They became great friends.

Her letters to her father were, at first, very bitter, regarding her
treatment by the family. Indeed so resentful did they become that her
father wrote to her in reply urging her, if she was so unhappy, to at
once return to him on the next steamer. But she did NOT. Little by
little the letters softened. Occasionally, toward the end of that first
month they seemed almost contented. Her father marvelled at the cause.

The month she had promised to stay was drawing to an end. But one more
day remained. It was to be a memorable one for Peg.

Jerry had endeavoured at various times to encourage her to study. He
would question her, and chide her and try to stimulate her. One day he
gave her a large, handsomely-bound volume and asked her to read it at
odd times and he would examine her in it when she had mastered its
contents. She opened it wonderingly and found it to be "Love Stories of
the World."

It became Peg's treasure. She kept it hidden from every one in the
house. She made a cover for it out of a piece of cloth so that no one
could see the ornate binding. She would read it at night in her room,
by day out in the fields or by the sea. But her favourite time and
place was in the living-room, every evening after dinner. She would
surround herself with books--a geography, a history of England, a huge
atlas, a treatise on simple arithmetic and put the great book in the
centre; making of it an island--the fount of knowledge. Then she would
devour it intently until some one disturbed her. The moment she heard
anyone coming she would cover it up quickly with the other books and
pretend to be studying.

The book was a revelation to her. It gave all her imagination full
play. Through its pages treaded a stately procession of Kings and
Queens--Wagnerian heroes and heroines: Shakespearian creations,
melodious in verse; and countless others. It was indeed a
treasure-house. It took her back to the lives and loves of the
illustrious and passionate dead, and it brought her for the first time
to the great fount of poetry and genius.

Life began to take on a different aspect to her.

All her rebellious spirit would soften under the spell of her
imagination; and again all her dauntless spirit would assert itself
under the petty humiliations the Chichester family frequently inflicted
upon her.

Next to Mrs. Chichester she saw Alaric the most.

Although she could not actively dislike the little man her first
feeling of amusement wore off. He simply bored her now. He was no
longer funny. He seemed of so little account in the world.

She saw but little of Ethel. They hardly spoke when they met.

All through the month Christian Brent was a frequent visitor.

If Peg only despised the Chichesters she positively loathed Brent, and
with a loathing she took no pains to conceal.

On his part, Brent would openly and covertly show his admiration for
her. Peg was waiting for a really good chance to find out Mr. Brent's
real character. The opportunity came.

On the night of the last day of the trial-month, Peg was in her
favourite position, lying face downward on a sofa, reading her
treasure, when she became conscious of dome one being in the room
watching her. She started up in a panic instinctively hiding the book
behind her. She found Brent staring down at her in open admiration.
Something in the intentness of his gaze caused her to spring to her
feet. He smiled a sickly smile.

"The book must be absorbing. What is it?" he asked.

Peg faced him, the book clasped in both of her hands behind her back;
her eyes flashing and her heart throbbing. Brent looked at her with
marked appreciation. "You mustn't be angry, child. What is it? Eh?
Something forbidden?" and he leered knowingly at her. Then he made a
quick snatch at the book, saying:

"Show it me!"

Peg ran across the room and turning up a corner of the carpet, put the
book under it, turned back the carpet, put her foot determinedly on it
and turned again to face her tormentor.

Brent went rapidly across to her. The instinct of the chase was quick
in his blood.

"A hiding-place, eh? NOW you make me really curious. Let me see." He
again made a movement toward the hidden book.

Peg clenched both of her hands into little fists and glared at Brent,
while her breath came in quick, sharp gasps. She was prepared to defend
the identity of the book at any cost.

"I love spirit!" cried Brent.

Then he looked at her charming dress; at her stylish coiffure; at the
simple spray of flowers at her breast. He gave an ejaculation of
pleasure.

"What a wonderful change in a month. You most certainly would not be
sent to the kitchen now. Do you know you have grown into a most
attractive young lady? You are really delightful angry. And you are
angry, aren't you? And with me, eh? I'm so sorry if I've offended you.
Let us kiss and be friends." He made an impulsive movement toward her
and tried to take her in his arms. Peg gave him a resounding box on the
ear. With a muffled ejaculation of anger and of pain he attempted to
seize her by the wrists, when the door opened and Ethel came into the
room.

Peg, panting with fury, glared at them both for a moment and then
hurried out through the windows.

Brent, gaining complete control of himself, turned to Ethel and,
advancing with outstretched hands, murmured:

"My dear!"

Ethel looked coldly at him, ignored the extended hands and asked:

"Why did she run away?" Brent smiled easily and confidently:

"I'd surprised one of her secrets and she flew into a temper. Did you
see her strike me?" He waited anxiously for her reply.

"Secrets?" was all Ethel said.

"Yes. See." He walked across to the corner and turned back the carpet
and kneeling down searched for the book, found it and held it up
triumphantly:

"Here!" He stood up, and opened the book and read the title-page:

"'Love Stories o f the World.' 'To Peg from Jerry.' Oho!" cried Mr.
Brent. "Jerry! Eh? No wonder she didn't want me to see it."

He put the book back into its hiding-place and advanced to Ethel:

"Jerry! So that's how the land lies. Romantic little child!"

Ethel looked steadily at him as he came toward her. Something in her
look stopped him within a few feet of her.

"Why don't you go after her?" and she nodded in the direction. Peg had
gone.

"Ethel!" he cried, aghast.

"She is new and has all the virtues."

"I assure you" he began--

"You needn't. If there is one thing I am convinced of, it's your
assurance."

"Really--Ethel--"

"Were you 'carried away' again?" she sneered.

"Do you think for one moment--" he stopped.

"Yes, I do," answered Ethel positively.

Brent hunted through his mind for an explanation. Finally he said
helplessly:

"I--I--don't know what to say."

"Then you'd better say nothing."

"Surely you're not jealous--of a--a--child?"

"No. I don't think it's JEALOUSY," said Ethel slowly.

"Then what is it?" he asked eagerly.

She looked scornfully at him:

"Disgust!" She shrugged her shoulders contemptuously as he tried in
vain to find something to say. Then she went on:

"Now I understand why the SCULLERY is sometimes the rival of the
DRAWING-ROOM. The love of change!"

He turned away from her. He was hurt. Cut to the quick.

"This is not worthy of you!" was all he said.

"That is what rankles," replied Ethel. "It isn't. YOU'RE not."

"Ethel!" he cried desperately.

"If that ever happened again I should have to AMPUTATE YOU."

Brent walked over to the window-seat where he had left his automobile
coat and cap and picked them up.

Ethel watched him quietly.

"Chris! Come here!"

He turned to her.

"There! It's over! I suppose I HAVE been a little hard on you. All
forgotten?" She held out her hand. He bent over it.

"My nerves have been rather severely tried this past month," Ethel went
on. "Put a mongrel into a kennel of thoroughbreds, and they will either
destroy the intruder or be in a continual condition of unsettled,
irritated intolerance. That is exactly MY condition. I'm unsettled,
irritable and intolerant."

Brent sat beside her and said softly:

"Then I've come in time?"

Ethel smiled as she looked right through him:

"So did I, didn't I?" and she indicated the window through which Peg
ran after assaulting Brent.

The young man sprang up reproachfully:

"Don't! Please don't!" he pleaded.

"Very well," replied Ethel complacently, "I won't."

Brent was standing, head down, his manner was crestfallen. He looked
the realisation of misery and self-pity.

"I'm sorry, Chris," remarked Ethel finally, after some moments had
passed. "A month ago it wouldn't have mattered so much. Just now--it
does. I'd rather looked forward to seeing you. It's been horrible here."

"A month of misery for me, too," replied Brent, passionately.

"I'm going away--out of it. To-morrow!" he added.

"Are you?" she asked languidly. "Where?"

"Petersburg--Moscow--Siberia--"

"Oh! The COLD places" She paused, then asked "Going alone?" He knelt on
the sofa she was sitting on and whispered almost into her ear:

"Unless someone--goes with me!"

"Naturally," replied Ethel, quite unmoved.

"Will--you--go?" And he waited breathlessly.

She thought a moment, looked at him again, and said quietly: "Chris! I
wish I'd been here when you called--instead of that--BRAT."

He turned away up again to the window-seat crying:

"Oh! This is unbearable."

Ethel said quite calmly: "Is it? Your wife all over again, eh?"

He came back to her: "No. I place you far above her, far above all
petty suspicions and carping narrownesses. I value you as a woman of
understanding."

"I am," she said frankly. "From what you've told me of your wife, SHE
must be too."

"Don't treat me like this!" he pleaded distractedly. "What shall I do?"
asked Ethel with wide open eyes, "apologise? That's odd. I've been
waiting for YOU to."

Brent turned away again with an impatient ejaculation. As he moved up
toward the windows Alaric came in behind him through the door. "Hello,
Brent," he called out heartily. "H'are ye?"

"Very well, thank you, Alaric," he said, controlling his surprise.

"Good. The dear wife well too?"

"Very."

"And the sweet child?"

"Yes."

"You must bring 'em along sometime. The mater would love to see them
and so would Ethel. Ethel loves babies, don't you, dear?" Without
waiting for Ethel to reply he hurried on: "And talkin' of BABIES, have
you seen MARGARET anywhere?"

Ethel nodded in the direction of the garden: "Out there!"

"Splendid. The mater wants her. We've got to have a family meetin'
about her and at once. Mater'll be here in a minute. Don't run away,
Brent," and Alaric hurried out through the windows into the garden.

Brent hurried over to Ethel:

"I'm at the hotel. I'll be there until morning. Send me a message, will
you? I'll wait up all night for one." He paused: "Will you?"

"Perhaps," replied Ethel. "I'm sorry if anything I've said or done has
hurt you. Believe me it is absolutely and entirely unnecessary."

"Don't say any more."

"Oh, if only--" he made an impulsive movement toward her. She checked
him just as her mother appeared at the top of the stairs. At the same
moment Bennett, the maid, came in through the door.

Mrs. Chichester greeted Brent courteously:

"How do you do, Mr. Brent? You will excuse me?" She turned to the maid:

"When did you see my niece last?"

"Not this hour, madam."

"Tell Jarvis to search the gardens--the stables--to look up and down
the road."

"Yes, madam," and the maid hurried away in search of Jarvis.

Mrs. Chichester turned again to her guest:

"Pardon me--Mr. Brent."

"I'm just leaving, Mrs. Chichester."

"Oh, but you needn't--" expostulated that lady.

"I'm going abroad to-morrow. I just called to say good-bye."

"Indeed?" said Mrs. Chichester. "Well, I hope you and Mrs. Brent have a
very pleasant trip. You must both call the moment you return."

"Thank you," replied Brent. "Good-bye, Mrs. Chichester--and--Ethel--"
He looked meaningly and significantly at Ethel as he stood in the
doorway. The next moment he was gone.

Ethel was facing the problem of her future with no one to turn to and
ask for guidance. Her mother least of all. Mrs. Chichester had never
encouraged confidence between her children and herself, consequently,
any crisis they reached they had to either decide for themselves or
appeal to others. Ethel had to decide for herself between now and
to-morrow morning. Next day it would be too late. What was she to do?
Always loath to make up her mind until forced to, she decided to wait
until night.

It might be that the something she was always expecting to snap in her
nature would do so that evening and save her the supreme effort of
taking the final step on her own initiative, and consequently having to
bear the full responsibility. Whilst these thoughts were passing
rapidly through her mind, Alaric hurried in through the windows from
the garden.

"Not a sign of Margaret anywhere," he said furiously, throwing himself
into a chair and fanning himself vigorously.

"This cannot go on," cried Mrs. Chichester.

"I should think not indeed. Running about all over, the place."

Mrs. Chichester held up an open telegram:

"Mr. Hawkes telegraphs he will call to-morrow for his first report.
What can I tell him?"

"What WILL you?" asked Alaric.

"Am I to tell him that every tutor I've engaged for her resigned? Not
one stays more than a week. Can I tell him THAT?"

"You could, mater dear: but would it be wise?"

Mrs. Chichester went on:

"Am I to tell him that no maid will stay with her? That she shows no
desire to improve? That she mimics and angers her teachers, refuses to
study and plays impish tricks like some mischievous little elf? Am I to
tell him THAT?"

"Serve her jolly well right if you did. Eh, Ethel?" said Alaric. "It
would," replied Ethel.

At that moment the footman and the maid both entered from the garden
very much out of breath. "I've searched everywhere, madam. Not a sign
of her," said Bennett.

"Not in the stables, nor up or down the road. And the DOG'S missin',
madam," added Jarvis.

Ethel sprang up. "'PET'?"

"No, miss. SHE'S gnawin' a bone on the lawn. The OTHER."

"That will do," and Mrs. Chichester dismissed them.

As they disappeared through the door, the old lady said appealingly to
her children:

"Where IS she?"

"Heaven knows," said Alaric.

"Oh, if I could only throw the whole business up."

"Wish to goodness we COULD. But the monthly cheque will be useful
to-morrow, mater."

"That's it! That's it!" cried the unhappy woman.

"No one seems particularly anxious to snatch at MY services as yet,"
said Alaric. "Course it's a dull time, Jerry tells me. But there we
are. Not tuppence comin' in and the butcher's to be paid--likewise the
other mouth-fillers. See where I'm comin'?"

"Have I not lain awake at night struggling with it?" replied the poor
lady, almost on the verge of tears.

"Well, I'll tell you what," said the hope of the family; "I'll tell you
what we'll do. Let's give the little beggar another month of it. Let
her off lightly THIS time, and the moment the lawyer-bird's gone, read
her the riot-act. Pull her up with a jerk. Ride her on the curb and NO
ROT!"

"We could try," and Mrs. Chichester wiped her eyes: "Of course she HAS
improved in her manner. For THAT we have to thank Ethel." She looked
affectionately at her daughter and choked back a sob. "Who could live
near dear Ethel and NOT improve?"

"Ah! There we have it!" agreed Alaric.

"But I don't know how much of the improvement is genuine and how much
pretended," gasped his mother.

"There we go again. She's got us fairly gravelled," said Alaric
despondently.

"Of course I can truthfully tell him that, at times, she is very
tractable and obedient."

"AT TIMES! About two minutes a week! When Jerry's around. How on earth
he puts up with her I can't understand. She follows him about like a
little dog. Listens to him. Behaves herself. But the moment he's
gone--Poof! back she goes to her old tricks. I tell you she's a freak!"
and Alaric dismissed the matter, and sat back fanning himself.

"Can I tell Mr. Hawkes that?" asked Mrs. Chichester.

"No," replied Alaric. "But I WOULD say that the thousand a year is very
hardly earned. Nat ought to have made it ten thousand. Dirt cheap at
THAT. Tell him that out of respect for the dead man's wishes, we shall
continue the job and that on the whole we have HOPES.
SLIGHT--BUT--HOPES!"

In through the open windows came the sound of dogs barking furiously.
Ethel sprang up crying:

"'Pet!'" and hurried out into the garden.

Mrs. Chichester and Alaric went to the windows and looked out.

"Margaret!" cried Mrs. Chichester.

"And the mongrel! She's urgin' him on. The terrier's got 'Pet' now."
Alaric called out to the little poodle: "Fight him, old girl! Maul him!
Woa there! 'Pet's' down. There is Ethel on the scene," he cried as
Ethel ran across the lawn and picked up the badly treated poodle.

"Go and separate them," urged Mrs. Chichester.

"Not me," replied Alaric. "Ethel can handle 'em. I hate the little
brutes. All hair and teeth. I cannot understand women coddling those
little messes of snarling, smelly wool."

Ethel came indignantly into the room soothing the excited and ruffled
"Pet." She was flushed and very angry. How dare that brat let her
mongrel touch the aristocratic poodle?

A moment later Peg entered with the victorious "Michael" cradled in her
arms. She had a roguish look of triumph in her eyes. Down the front of
her charming new dress were the marks of "Michael's" muddy paws. Peg
was also breathing quickly, and evidently more than a little excited.

"Take that animal out of the room!" cried Mrs. Chichester indignantly
the moment Peg appeared.

Peg turned and walked straight out into the garden and began playing
with "Michael" on the grass.

Mrs. Chichester waited for a few moments, then called out to her:

"Margaret!" Then more sharply: "Margaret! Come here! Do you hear me?"

Peg went on playing with "Michael" and just answered: "I hear ye."

"Come here at once!"

"Can 'Michael' come in too?" came from the garden.

"You come in and leave that brute outside."

"If 'Michael' can't come in, I don't want to," obstinately insisted Peg.

"Do as I tell you. Come here," commanded her aunt. Peg tied "Michael"
to one of the French windows and then went slowly into the room and
stood facing her aunt.

"Where have you been?" asked that lady.

"Down to the say-shore," replied Peg indifferently.

"Haven't I told you NEVER to go out ALONE?"

"Ye have."

"How dare you disobey me?"

"Sure I had to."

"You HAD to?"

"I did."

"And WHY?"

"'Michael' needed a bath, so I took him down to the say-shore an' gave
him one. He loves the wather, he does."

"Are there no SERVANTS?"

"There ARE sure."

"Isn't that THEIR province?"

"Mebbe. But they hate 'Michael' and I hate THEM. I wouldn't let them
touch him."

"In other words you WILFULLY disobeyed me?"

"I did."

"Is this the way MY NIECE should behave?"

"Mebbe not. It's the way _I_ behave though."

"So my wishes count for nothing?"

The old lady looked so hurt as well as so angry that Peg softened and
hastened to try and make it up with her aunt:

"Sure yer wishes DO count with me, aunt. Indade they do."

"Don't say INDADE. There is no such word. Indeed!" corrected Mrs.
Chichester.

"I beg your pardon, aunt. INDEED they do."

"Look at your dress!" suddenly cried Mrs. Chichester as she caught
sight of the marks of "MICHAEL'S" playfulness.

Peg looked at the stains demurely and said cheerfully "'MICHAEL' did
that. Sure they'll come off."

Mrs. Chichester looked at the flushed face of the young girl, at the
mass of curly hair that had been carefully dressed by Bennett for
dinner and was now hovering around her eyes untidily. The old lady
straightened it:

"Can you not keep your hair out of your eyes? What do you think will
become of you?"

"I hope to go to Heaven, like all good Catholics," said Peg.

Mrs. Chichester turned away with a gesture of despair.

"I give it up! I give it up!" she said, half-crying.

"I should say so," agreed Alaric. "Such rubbish!"

Peg shook her head the moment Mrs. Chichester turned her back, and the
little red curls once more danced in front of her eyes.

"I do everything I can, everything," complained Mrs. Chichester, "but
you--you--" she broke off. "I don't understand you! I don't understand
you!"

"Me father always said that," cried Peg eagerly; "and if HE couldn't
sure how could any one else?"

"Never mind your father," said Mrs. Chichester severely. Peg turned
away.

"What IS it?" continued the old lady. "I say WHAT IS IT?"

"What is WHAT?" asked Peg.

"Is it that you don't wish to improve? Is it THAT?"

"I'll tell ye what I think it is," began Peg helpfully, as if anxious
to reach some satisfactory explanation: "I think there's a little divil
in me lyin' there and every now and again he jumps out."

"A devil?" cried Mrs. Chichester, horrified.

"Yes, aunt," said Peg demurely.

"How dare you use such a word to ME?"

"I didn't. I used it about MESELF. I don't know whether you have a
divil in ye or not. I think I have."

Mrs. Chichester silenced her with a gesture:

"To-morrow I am to give Mr. Hawkes my first report on you."

Peg laughed suddenly and then checked herself quickly.

"And why did you do that?" asked her aunt severely.

"I had a picture of what ye're goin' to tell him."

"Your manners are abominable."

"Yes, aunt."

"What am I to tell Mr. Hawkes?"

"Tell him the truth, aunt, and shame the divil."

"Margaret!" and the old lady glared at her in horror.

"I beg yer pardon," said Peg meekly.

"Don't you wish to remain here?" continued Mrs. Chichester.

"Sometimes I do, an' sometimes I don't."

"Don't I do everything that is possible for you?"

"Yes, ye do everything possible TO me--"

"What?"

"I mean--FOR ME. I should have said FOR me, aunt!" and Peg's blue eyes
twinkled mischievously.

"Then why do you constantly disobey me?" pursued the old lady.

"I suppose it is the original sin in me," replied Peg thoughtfully.

"WHAT?" cried Mrs. Chichester again taken completely aback.

"Oh, I say, you know! that's good! Ha!" and Alaric laughed heartily.
Peg joined in and laughed heartily with him. Alaric immediately stopped.

Ethel took absolutely no notice of any one.

Peg sat down beside her aunt and explained to her:

"Whenever I did anythin' wilful or disturbin' as a child me father
always said it was the 'original sin' in me an' that I wasn't to be
punished for it because I couldn't help it. Then he used to punish
himself for MY fault. An' when I saw it hurt him I usen't to do it
again--for a while--at least. I think that was a grand way to bring up
a daughter. I've been wonderin' since I've been here if an aunt could
bring a niece up the same way." And she looked quizzically at Mrs.
Chichester.

"Supposin', for instance, YOU were to punish yerself for everythin'
wrong that I'd do, I might be so sorry I'd never do it again--but of
course I might NOT. I am not sure about meself. I think me father knows
me betther than I do meself."

"Your father must have been a very bad influence on you," said Mrs.
Chichester sternly.

"No, he wasn't," contradicted Peg, hotly. "Me father's the best man--"

Mrs. Chichester interrupted her: "Margaret!"

Peg looked down sullenly and said: "Well, he was."

"Haven't I TOLD you never to CONTRADICT me?"

"Well, YOU contradict ME all the time."

"Stop!"

"Well, there's nothin' fair about your conthradictin' ME and ME not
being able to--"

"Will you stop?"

"Well, now, aunt, ye will do me a favour if you will stop spakin' about
me father the way you do. It hurts me, it does. I love my father
and--I--I--"

"WILL--YOU--STOP?"

"I have stopped." And Peg sank back in her chair, breathing hard and
her little fists punching against each other.

Her aunt then made the following proposition: "If I consent to take
charge of you for a further period, will you promise me you will do
your best to show some advancement during the next month?"

"Yes, aunt," said Peg readily.

"And if I get fresh tutors for you, will you try to keep them?"

"Yes, aunt."

Mrs. Chichester questioned Alaric. "What do you think?"

"We might risk it," replied Alaric, turning to his sister: "Eh, Ethel?"

"Don't ask me," was Ethel's reply.

"Very well," said Mrs. Chichester determinedly, "Begin to-night."

"Begin what" queried Peg, full of curiosity.

"To show that you mean to keep your promise. Work for a while."

"What at?" asked Peg, all eagerness to begin something.

"Get your books," said her aunt.

"Sure an' I will." And Peg turned to different parts of the room,
finding an atlas here, a book of literature on the piano, an English
history under the table. Finally she got them complete and sat down at
the big table and prepared to study.

Jarvis came in with a letter on a salver.

"Well?" asked the old lady.

"For Miss Chichester, madam," and he handed Ethel the letter. "By hand,
miss."

Ethel took the letter quite unconsciously and opened it. Whilst she was
reading it, Peg called the footman over to her.

"Jarvis," she said, "me dog 'MICHAEL' is outside there, tied up to the
door. He's had a fight an' he's tired. Will ye put him to bed for me
like a good boy?"

Jarvis went out disgustedly, untied the dog and put him in the kennel
that had been specially made for him.

Poor Jarvis's life this last month had been most unhappy. The smooth
and peaceful order of things in the house had departed. The coming of
the "niece" had disturbed everything. Many were the comments below
stairs on the intruder. The following is an example of the manner in
which Peg was regarded by the footman and Mrs. Chichester's own maid,
Bennett.

"A NIECE!" cried Bennett, sarcastically, just after Peg's arrival.

"So they SAY!" retorted Jarvis, mysteriously.

"What do you make of her?"

"Well, every family I've served and my mother before me, had a family
skeleton. SHE is OURS."

"Why, she hadn't a rag to her back when she came here. I'd be ashamed
to be dressed as she was. You should have seen the one she goes to Mass
in!"

"I did," said Jarvis indignantly. "All wrapped up in the 'Irish Times.'
Then I got ragged for putting her in the kitchen. Looked too good for
her. And that dog! Can't go near it without it trying to bite me. I
don't approve of either of 'em comin' into a quiet family like ours."

Just then the bell called him to the drawing-room and further
discussion of Peg and "MICHAEL" was deferred to a more suitable
opportunity.

To return--Ethel read her letter and went to the writing-desk to reply
to it. "Who is it from?" asked Mrs. Chichester.

"Mr. Brent," replied Ethel, indifferently.

"Brent?" cried Alaric. "What on earth does he write to YOU for?"

"He wants me to do something for him," and she tore the letter up into
the smallest pieces and placed them in a receptacle on the desk.

"Do something?" questioned Alaric.

"Yes. Nothing very much. I'll answer it here," and she proceeded quite
imperturbably to write an answer.

Mrs. Chichester had seen that Peg had commenced to study--which
meant--with Peg--roaming through her books until she found something
that interested her. Then she would read it over and over again until
she thought she knew it.

"Come, Alaric," and Mrs. Chichester left the room after admonishing Peg
that an hour would be sufficient to sit up. Alaric watched his mother
go out of the room and then he slouched over to Peg and grinned
chaffingly down at her.

"ORIGINAL-SIN, eh? That's a good 'un."

Peg looked up at him and a dangerous gleam came into her eyes. Alaric
was not going to mock at her and get away unscathed. All unconscious of
his danger, Alaric went on:

"Study all the pretty maps and things."

Peg closed the book with a slam and took it up and held it in a
threatening manner as she glared at Alaric.

"Little devil!" and Alaric laughed at her.

"He's tuggin' at me now!" replied Peg. "The devil must hate knowledge.
He always tries to keep ME from gettin' any."

Alaric laughed again maliciously. "Watch your cousin! Model yourself on
Ethel! Eh? What?"

Peg hurled the book at him; he dodged it and it just escaped hitting
Ethel, who turned at the disturbance.

Alaric hurried out to avoid any further conflict--calling back over his
shoulder:

"Little devil."

Peg picked up the book, looked at Ethel, who had finished the letter
and had put it into an unaddressed envelope. She took a cigarette out
of her case and lit it neatly.

Peg took one out of the box on the table and lit it clumsily, though in
exact imitation of Ethel.

When Ethel had addressed the envelope she turned and saw Peg smoking,
sitting on the edge of the table, watching Ethel with a mischievous
twinkle in her eye.

Ethel impatiently threw her cigarette on to the ash tray on the desk.

Peg did the same action identically into a tray on the table.

Ethel rose indignantly and faced Peg.

"Why do you watch me?"

"Aunt told me to. Aren't ye me model? I'm to mould meself on you, sure!"

Ethel turned away furiously and began to ascend the stairs.

Peg followed her and called up to her:

"May I talk to ye?"

"You were told to study," replied Ethel, angrily.

"Won't ye let me talk to ye? Please, do!" urged Peg. Then she went on:
"Ye haven't said a kind wurrd to me since I've been here." She stopped
a moment. Ethel said nothing. Peg continued: "Sure, we're both girls,
in the same house, of the same family, an' pretty much the same age,
and yet ye never look at me except as if ye hated me. Why, ye like yer
dog betther than you do ME, don't ye?"

Ethel looked down at "Pet" and fondled her and kissed her.

"I'm sorry 'Michael' hurt him. It was a cowardly thing of 'Michael' to
do to snap at a little bit of a thing like that is. But it wasn't
'Michael's' fault. _I_ set him on to it, an' he always obeys me. He'd
bite a lion or THAT"--and she pointed to the poor little poodle--"if I
set him onto it."

"You made him attack 'Pet'?" cried Ethel.

"I did. I hate it. It's so sleek and fat and well-bred. I hate fat,
well-bred things. I like them thin and common, like 'Michael' and
meself. A dog should be made to look like a dog if it is a dog. No one
could mistake 'Michael' for anything else BUT a dog, but THAT thing--"

Ethel gave an indignant ejaculation and again started to go upstairs.

Peg entreated her:

"Don't go for a minnit. Won't ye make friends with me?"

"We've nothing in common," replied Ethel.

"Sure, that doesn't prevent us bein' dacent to each other, does it?"

"DECENT?" cried Ethel in disgust.

"I'll meet ye three quarthers o' the way if ye'll show just one little
generous feelin' toward me." She paused as she looked pleadingly at
Ethel: "Ye would if ye knew what was in me mind."

Ethel came down to the last step of the stairs and stood there looking
down searchingly at Peg. Finally she said:

"You're a strange creature."

"Not at all. It's you people here who are strange--I'm just what I am.
I don't pretend or want to be anythin' else. But you--all of you--seem
to be trying to be somethin' different to what ye are."

"What do you mean?" asked Ethel suspiciously.

"Oh, I watch ye and listen to ye," went on Peg eagerly. "Ye turn yer
face to the wurrld as much as to say, 'Look at me! aren't I the
beautiful, quiet, well-bred, aisy-goin', sweet-tempered young lady?'
An' yer nothin' o' the kind, are ye?"

Ethel went slowly over to Peg and looked into her eyes:

"What am I?"

"Sure ye've got the breedin' all right, an' the nice-looks, an' the
beautiful manners--but down in yer heart an' up in yer brain ye're
worryin' yer little soul all the time, aren't ye?" And Peg paused.
Ethel looked down. Peg after a moment continued: "An' ye've got a
temper just as bad as mine. It's a beautiful temper ye have, Ethel.
It's a shame not to let a temper like that out in the daylight now and
again. But ye kape it out o' sight because it isn't good form to show
it. An' with all yer fine advantages ye're not a bit happy, are ye? Are
ye, Ethel?"

Ethel, moved in spite of herself, admitted involuntarily: "No. I'm not!"

Peg went on quietly: "Nor am I--in this house. Couldn't we try and
comfort each other?" There was a look of genuine sympathy with Ethel in
Peg's big blue eyes and a note of tender entreaty in her tone.

"Comfort? YOU--comfort ME?" cried Ethel, in disdain.

"Yes, Ethel dear, ME comfort YOU, They say 'a beautiful thought makes a
beautiful face'; an' by the same token, sure a kind action gives ye a
warm feelin' around the heart. An' ye might have that if ye'd only be a
little kind to me--sometime."

Peg's honest sincerity and depth of feeling had suddenly a marked
effect on the, apparently, callous Ethel. She turned to Peg and there
was a different expression entirely in her look and tone as she said:

"I'm afraid I have been a little inconsiderate."

"Ye have, sure," said Peg.

"What would you like me to do?"

"I'd like ye to spake to me sometimes as though I were a human bein'
an' not a clod o' earth."

"Very well, Margaret, I will. Good night." And feeling the matter was
closed, Ethel again turned away to leave the room.

"Will ye give me another minnit--NOW--PLEASE," called Peg, after her,
excitedly.

Ethel looked at the letter in her hand, hesitated, then re-entered the
room and went down to Peg and said gently:

"All right"

"Only just a minnit," repeated Peg, breathlessly.

"What do you want, Margaret?"

"I want ye to tell me somethin'."

"What is it?"

Peg paused--looked at Ethel bashfully--dropped her eyes to the
ground--took a deep breath--then said as fast as she could speak:

"Do ye know anything about--about LOVE?"

"Love?" echoed Ethel, very much astonished.

"Yes," said Peg. "Have ye ever been in love?" and she wanted
expectantly for Ethel's answer.

Ethel put the letter she had just written to Mr. Brent slowly behind
her back and answered coldly:

"No. I have not."

"Have ye ever THOUGHT about it?"

"Yes."

"WHAT do ye think about it?" questioned Peg eagerly.

"Rot!" replied Ethel, decidedly.

"ROT? ROT?" cried Peg, unable to believe her ears.

"Sentimental nonsense that only exists in novels."

"Ye're wrong!" insisted the anxious Peg; "ye're wrong. It's the most
wondherful thing in the wurrld!"

Ethel brought the letter up to her eyes and read the superscription.
"Think so?" she asked calmly.

"I do," cried Peg hotly. "I do. It's the most wondherful thing in the
whole wurrld. To love a good man, who loves you. A man that made ye hot
and cold by turns: burnin' like fire one minnit an' freezin' like ice
the next. Who made yer heart leap with happiness when he came near ye,
an' ache with sorrow when he went away from ye. Haven't ye ever felt
like that, Ethel?"

"Never!" replied Ethel, positively.

Peg went on: "Oh! it's mighty disturbin', I'm tellin' ye. Sometimes ye
walk on air, an' at others yer feet are like lead. An' at one time the
wurrld's all beautiful flowers and sweet music and grand poetry--an' at
another it's all coffins, an' corpses, an' shrouds." She shook her head
seriously: "Oh! I tell ye it's mighty disturbin'."

Ethel looked at her inquiringly:

"How do you know this?"

Peg grew confused, then answered hurriedly:

"I've been readin' about it--in a book. It's wondherful--that's what it
is."

"When you're a little older you will think differently," corrected
Ethel, severely. "You will realise then that it is all very primitive."

"PRIMITIVE?" asked Peg, disappointedly.

"Of the earth--earthy," answered Ethel.

Peg thought a moment: "Sure I suppose _I_ am then." She looked
half-shyly at Ethel and asked her quietly: "Don't you like men?"

"Not much," answered Ethel, indifferently.

"Just dogs?" persisted Peg.

"You can trust THEM," and Ethel caressed "PET'S" little pink snout.

"That's thrue," agreed Peg. "I like dogs, too. But I like children
betther. Wouldn't ye like to have a child of yer own, Ethel?"

That young lady looked at her horrifiedly: "MARGARET!"

"Well, _I_ would," said Peg. "That's the rale woman in us. Ye know ye
only fondle that animal because ye haven't got a child of yer own to
take in yer arms. Sure that's the reason all the selfish women have pet
dogs. They're afraid to have childhren. I've watched them! O' course a
dog's all very well, but he can't talk to ye, an' comfort ye, an' cry
to ye, an' laugh to ye like a child can."

Peg paused, then pointed to "PET" and launched the following wonderful
statement:

"Sure THAT thing could never be President of the United States. But if
ye had a baby he might grow up to it."

"That's very IRISH," sneered Ethel.

"Faith I think it's very human," answered Peg. "I wish ye had some more
of it, Ethel, acushla." Ethel walked away as though to dismiss the
whole subject. It was most distasteful to her:

"It is not customary for girls to talk about such things."

"I know it isn't," said Peg. "An' the more's the pity. Why shouldn't we
discuss events of national importance? We THINK about them--very well!
why shouldn't we TALK about them. Why shouldn't girls be taught to be
honest with each other? I tell ye if there was more honesty in this
wurrld there wouldn't be half the sin in it, that there wouldn't."

"Really--" began Ethel--

"Let US be honest with each other, Ethel," and Peg went right over to
her and looked at her compassionately.

"What do ye mean?" said Ethel with a sudden contraction of her breath.

"You like Mr. Brent, don't ye?"

So! the moment had come. The little spy had been watching her. Well,
she would fight this common little Irish nobody to the bitter end. All
the anger in her nature surged uppermost as Ethel answered Peg--but she
kept her voice under complete control and once more put the letter
behind her back.

"Certainly I like Mr. Brent. He is a very old friend of the family!"

"He's got a wife?"

"He has!"

"An' a baby?"

"Yes--and a baby." Ethel was not going to betray herself. She would
just wait and see what course this creature was going to take with her.

Peg went on:

"Of course I've never seen the wife or the baby because he never seems
to have them with him when he calls here. But I've often heard Alaric
ask afther them."

"Well?" asked Ethel coldly.

"Is it usual for English husbands with babies to kiss other women's
hands?" and Peg looked swiftly at her cousin.

Ethel checked an outburst and said quite calmly:

"It is a very old and a very respected custom."

"The devil doubt it but it's OLD. I'm not so sure about the RESPECT.
Why doesn't he kiss me AUNT'S hand as well?"

Ethel went quickly to the staircase. She could not control herself much
longer. It was becoming unbearable. As she crossed the room she said
with as little heat as possible:

"You don't understand."

"Well, but I'm thryin' to," persisted Peg. "That's why I watch YE all
the time."

Ethel turned: she was now at bay:

"YOU WATCH ME?"

"Aren't ye me model?"

"It's contemptible!" cried Ethel.

"Sure I only saw the 'OLD and RESPECTED CUSTOM' by, accident--when I
came in through THERE a month ago--an' once since when I came in again
by accident--a few days aftherwards. I couldn't help seein' it both
times. And as for bein' CONTEMPTIBLE I'm not so sure the CUSTOM doesn't
deserve all the CONTEMPT."

Ethel was now thoroughly aroused:

"I suppose it is too much to expect that a child of the COMMON people
should understand the customs of DECENT people."

"Mebbe it is," replied Peg. "But I don't see why the COMMON PEOPLE
should have ALL the decency and the aristocracy NONE."

"It is impossible to talk to you. I was foolish to have stayed here.
You don't understand: you never could understand--"

Peg interrupted:

"Why, I never saw ye excited before:--not a bit of colour in yer cheeks
till now--except TWICE. Ye look just as ye did when Mr. Brent followed
that OLD and RESPECTED custom on yer hand," cried Peg.

Ethel answered, this time, excitedly and indignantly, giving full and
free vent to her just anger:

"Be good enough never to speak to me again as long as you're in this
house. If I had MY way you'd leave it this moment. As it is--as it
is--" her voice rose almost to a scream: her rage was unbridled.

What more she might have said was checked by the door opening and
Jarvis showing in Jerry.

Jerry walked cheerfully and smilingly into the roam and was amazed to
find the two young ladies glaring at each other and apparently in the
midst of a conflict.

All power of speech left him as he stood looking in amazement at the
combatants.



CHAPTER VIII

THE TEMPLE OF FRIENDSHIP


Ethel was the first to recover her equanimity.

She came down the steps, greeted Jerry with a genial handshake, asked
to be excused for a moment, and after halting the departing Jarvis she
went over to the writing-desk, opened the envelope, added a postscript,
addressed a new envelope, put the augmented epistle inside it, sealed
it, handed it to Jarvis, saying:

"Send that at once. No answer."

As Jarvis left the room, Ethel turned to speak to Jerry. Meanwhile,
that young gentleman had greeted Peg:

"And how is Miss Peg this evening?"

"I'm fine, Mr. Jerry, thank ye." She looked at him admiringly. He was
in evening dress, a light overcoat was thrown across his arm and a
Homburg hat in his hand.

"Let me take your hat and coat?" she suggested.

"No, thank you," said Jerry, "I'm not going to stay."

"Aren't ye?" she asked disappointedly.

"Is your aunt in?"

"Yes, she's in. Is it HER ye've come to see?"

"Yes," replied Jerry.

At that moment Ethel joined them.

"I came over to ask Mrs. Chichester's permission for you two young
ladies to go to a dance to-night. It's just across from here at the
assembly rooms."

Peg beamed joyfully. It was just what she wanted to do. Ethel viewed
the suggestion differently: "It's very kind of you," she said; "but
it's quite impossible."

"Oh!" ejaculated Peg.

"Impossible?" exclaimed Jerry.

"I'm sorry," and Ethel went to the door.

"So am I," replied Jerry regretfully. "I would have given you longer
notice only it was made up on the spur of the moment. Don't you think
you could?"

"I don't care for dancing. Besides,--my head aches."

"What a pity," exclaimed the disappointed young man. Then he said
eagerly: "Do you suppose your mother would allow Miss Margaret to go?"

"I'll ask her," and Ethel left the room.

Peg ran across, stopped the door from closing and called after Ethel:

"I didn't mean to hurt ye--indade I didn't. I wanted to talk to ye,
that was all--an' ye made me angry--" Ethel disappeared without even
turning her head.

Peg came into the room ruefully, and sat down on the sofa. She was
thoroughly unhappy.

Jerry looked at her a moment, walked over to her and asked her: "What's
the matter?"

"One of us girls has been brought-up all wrong. I tried to make friends
with her just now and only made her angry, as I do every one in this
house whenever I open my mouth."

"Aren't you friends?"

"Indade--INDEED--INDEED--we're NOT. None of them are with me."

"What a shame!"

"Wait until ye hear what me aunt says when ye ask her about the dance!"

"Don't you think she'll let you go?"

"No. I do NOT." She looked at him quizzically for a moment. Then she
burst out laughing. He was glad to see her spirits had returned and
wondered as to the cause. She looked up at him, her eyes dancing with
mischief:

"Misther Jerry, will ye take me all the same if me aunt doesn't
consent?"

"Why, Peg--" he began, astonishedly.

"But I haven't got an evenin' dress. Does it matter?"

"Not in the least, but--"

"Will this one do?"

"It's very charming--still--"

"Stains and all?"

"My dear Peg--"

"Perhaps they'll rub out. It's the prettiest one me aunt gave me--an' I
put it on to-night--because--I thought you--that is, SOMEONE might come
here to-night. At least, I HOPED he would, an' ye've come!" Suddenly
she broke out passionately: "Oh, ye must take me! Ye must! I haven't
had a bit of pleasure since I've been here. It will be wondherful.
Besides I wouldn't rest all night with you dancin' over there an' me a
prisoner over here."

"Now, Peg--" he tried to begin--

"It's no use, I tell ye. Ye've GOT to take me. An' if it goes against
yer conscience to do it, I'LL take YOU. Stop, now! Listen! The moment
they're all in bed, an' the lights are all out I'll creep down here an'
out through those windows an' you'll meet me at the foot o' the path.
An' it's no use ye sayin' anythin' because I'm just goin' to that
dance. So make up yer mind to it." Jerry laughed uncomfortably. She was
quite capable of doing such a thing and getting herself into a great
deal of unnecessary trouble. So he tried to dissuade her. He laughed
cheerfully.

"There may not be any occasion to do such a wild, foolish thing. Why,
your aunt may be delighted."

"ME aunt has never been DELIGHTED since she was born!"

"Have you been annoying her again?"

"Faith, I'm always doin' that."

He looked at the litter of books on the table and picked up one.

"How are your studies progressing?"

"Just the way they always have," replied Peg. "Not at all."

"Why not?"

"I don't like studying," answered Peg earnestly.

"And are you going through life doing only the things you LIKE?"

"Sure, that's all life's for."

"Oh, no, it isn't. As you grow older you'll find the only real
happiness in life is in doing things for others."

"Oh!" she said quickly: "I like doin' them NOW for others." She looked
up at him a moment, then down at a book and finished under, her breath:
"When I LIKE the OTHERS."

He looked at her intently a moment and was just going to speak when she
broke in quickly:

"What's the use of learnin' the heights of mountains whose names I
can't pronounce and I'm never goin' to climb? And I'm very much
surprised at me aunt allowin' me to read about the doin's of a lot of
dead kings who did things we ought to thry and forget."

"They made history," said Jerry. "Well, they ought to have been ashamed
of themselves. I don't care how high Mont Blanc is nor when William the
Conqueror landed in England."

"Oh, nonsense!" reasoned Jerry--

"I tell ye I HATE English history. It makes all me Irish blood boil."
Suddenly she burst into a reproduction of the far-off father, suiting
action to word and climaxing at the end, as she had so often heard him
finish:

"'What IS England? What is it, I say. I'll tell ye! A mane little bit
of counthry thramplin' down a fine race like OURS!' That's what me
father sez, and that's the way he sez it. An' when he brings his fist
down like that--" and she showed Jerry exactly how her father did
it--"when he brings his fist down like THAT, it doesn't matther how
many people are listenin' to him, there isn't one dares to conthradict
him. Me father feels very strongly about English History. An' I don't
want to learn it."

"Is it fair to your aunt?" asked Jerry.

Peg grew sullen and gloomy. She liked to be praised, but all she ever
got in that house was blame. And now he was following the way of the
others. It was hard. No one understood her.

"Is it fair to your aunt?" he repeated.

"No. I don't suppose it is."

"Is it fair to yourself?"

"That's right--scold me, lecture me! You sound just like me aunt, ye
do."

"But you'll be at such a disadvantage by-and-by with other young ladies
without half your intelligence just because they know things you refuse
to learn. Then you'll be ashamed."

She looked at him pleadingly. "Are YOU ashamed of me? Because I'm
ignorant? Are ye?"

"Not a bit," replied Jerry heartily. "I was just the same at your age.
I used to scamp at school and shirk at college until I found myself so
far behind fellows I despised that _I_ was ashamed. Then I went after
them tooth and nail until I caught them up and passed them."

"Did ye?" cried Peg eagerly.

"I did."

"I will, too," she said.

"WILL you?"

She nodded vigorously:

"I will--INDEED I will. From now on I'll do everythin' they tell me an'
learn everythin' they teach me, if it kills me!"

"I wish you would," he said seriously.

"An' when I pass everybody else, an' know more than anyone EVER
knew--will ye be very proud of me?"

"Yes, Peg. Even more than I am now."

"Are ye NOW?"

"I am. Proud to think you are my friend."

"Ye'd ha' won yer wager. We ARE friends, aren't we?"

"I am YOURS."

"Sure, I'm YOURS ALL RIGHT."

She looked at him, laughed shyly and pressed her cheeks. He was
watching her closely.

"What are you laughing at?" he asked.

"Do ye know what Tom Moore wrote about Friendship?"

"No."

"Shall I tell ye?" excitedly.

"Do."

"See if anywan's comin' first." As he looked around the room and
outside the door to detect the advent of an intruder Peg sat at the
piano and played very softly the prelude to an old Irish song.

As Jerry walked back he said surprisedly: "Oh! so you play?"

Peg nodded laughingly.

"Afther a fashion. Me father taught me. Me aunt can't bear it. An' the
teacher in the house said it was DREADFUL and that I must play scales
for two years more before I thry a tune. She said I had no ear."

Jerry laughed as he replied: "I think they're very pretty."

"DO ye? Well watch THEM an' mebbe ye won't mind me singin' so much. An'
afther all ye're only a farmer, aren't ye?"

"Hardly that," and Jerry laughed again.

Her fingers played lightly over the keys for a moment.

"This is called 'A Temple to Friendship,'" she explained.

"Indeed?"

"And it's about a girl who built a shrine and she thought she wanted to
put 'Friendship' into it. She THOUGHT she wanted 'Friendship.' Afther a
while she found out her mistake. Listen:" And Peg sang, in a pure,
tremulous little voice that vibrated with feeling the following:

     "'A temple to Friendship,' said Laura enchanted,
     'I'll build in this garden: the thought is divine!'
     Her temple was built and she now only wanted
     An Image of Friendship to place on the shrine.

     She flew to a sculptor who set down before her
     A Friendship the fairest his art could invent!
     But so cold and so dull that the Youthful adorer
     Saw plainly this was not the idol she meant.

     'Oh! never,' she cried, 'could I think of enshrining
     An image whose looks are so joyless and dim--
     But yon little god (Cupid) upon roses reclining,
     We'll make, if you please, sir, a Friendship of him.'

     So the bargain was struck; with the little god laden
     She joyfully flew to her shrine in the grove:
     'Farewell,' said the sculptor, 'you're not the first maiden
     Who came but for Friendship and took away--Love.'"

She played the refrain softly after she had finished the song.
Gradually the last note died away.

Jerry looked at her in amazement.

"Where in the world did you learn that?"

"Me father taught it to me," replied Peg simply. "Tom Moore's one of me
father's prayer-books."

Jerry repeated as though to himself:

"'Who came but for FRIENDSHIP and took away LOVE!'"

"Isn't that beautiful?" And Peg's face had a rapt expression as she
looked up at Jerry.

"Do you believe it?" he asked.

"Didn't Tom Moore write it?" she answered.

"Is there anything BETTER than Friendship between man and woman?"

She nodded:

"Indeed there is. Me father felt it for me mother or I wouldn't be here
now. Me father loved me mother with all his strength and all his soul."

"Could YOU ever feel it?" he asked, and there was an anxious look in
his eyes as he waited for her to answer.

She nodded.

"HAVE you ever felt it?" he went on.

"All me life," answered Peg in a whisper.

"As a child, perhaps," remarked Jerry. "Some DAY it will come to you as
a woman and then the whole world will change for you."

"I know," replied Peg softly. "I've felt it comin'."

"Since when?" and once again suspense was in his voice.

"Ever since--ever since--" suddenly she broke off breathlessly and
throwing her arms above her head as though in appeal she cried:

"Oh, I do want to improve meself. NOW I wish I HAD been born a lady.
I'd be more worthy of--"

"WHAT? WHOM?" asked Jerry urgently and waiting anxiously for her answer.

Peg regained control of herself, and cowering down again on to the
piano-stool she went on hurriedly.

"I want knowledge now. I know what you mean by bein' at a disadvantage.
I used to despise learnin'. I've laughed at it. I never will again. Why
I can't even talk yer language. Every wurrd I use is wrong. This book
ye gave me--the 'LOVE STORIES OF THE WORLD,' I've never seen anythin'
like it. I never knew of such people. I didn't dhream what a wondherful
power in the wurrld was the power of love. I used to think it somethin'
to kape to yerself and never spake of out in the open. Now I know it's
the one great big wondherful power in the wurrld. It's me love for me
father has kept faith and hope alive in me heart. I was happy with him.
I never wanted to lave him. Now I see there is another happiness, too
an' it's beyond me. I'm no one's equal. I'm just a little Irish
nothin'--"

"Don't say that," Jerry interrupted. "There's an obstinate bad
something in me that holds me back every time I want to go forward.
Sometimes the good little somethin' tries so hard to win, but the bad
bates it. It just bates it, it does."

"What you call the bad is the cry of youth that resents being curbed:
and the GOOD is the WOMAN in you struggling for an outlet," explained
Jerry.

"Will you help me to give it an outlet, Mr. Jerry?"

"In any way in my power, Peg."

As they stood looking at each other the momentary something was
trembling on both their lips and beating in both of their hearts. The
something--old as time, yet new as birth--that great transmuter of
affection into love, of hope into faith. It had come to them--yet
neither dared speak.

Peg read his silence wrongly. She blushed to the roots of her hair and
her heart beat fast with shame. She laughed a deliberately misleading
laugh and, looking up roguishly at him, said, her eyes dancing with
apparent mischief, though the tear lurked behind the lid:

"Thank ye for promisin' to help me, Misther Jerry. But would ye mind
very much if the BAD little somethin' had one more SPURT before I
killed it altogether? Would ye?"

"Why, how do you mean?"

"Take me to that dance tonight--even without me aunt's permission, will
ye? I'll never forget ye for it if ye will. An' it'll be the last wrong
thing I'll ever do. I'm just burnin' all over at the thought of it. My
heart's burstin' for it." She suddenly hummed a waltz refrain and
whirled around the room, the incarnation of childish abandonment.

Mrs. Chichester came slowly down the stairs, gazing in horror at the
little bouncing figure. As Peg whirled past the newel post she caught
sight of her aunt. She stopped dead.

"What does this mean?" asked Mrs. Chichester angrily.

Peg crept away and sank down into a chair:

Jerry came to the rescue. He shook hands with Mrs. Chichester and said:

"I want you to do something that will make the child very happy. Will
you allow her to go to a dance at the Assembly Rooms tonight?"

"Certainly not," replied Mrs. Chichester severely. "I am surprised at
you for asking such a thing."

"I could have told ye what she'd say wurrd for wurrd!" muttered Peg.

"I beg your pardon," said Jerry, straightening up, hurt at the old
lady's tone. "The invitation was also extended to your daughter, but
she declined. I thought you might be pleased to give your niece a
little pleasure."

"Go to a dance--unchaperoned?"

"My mother and sisters will be there."

"A child of her age?" said Mrs. Chichester.

"CHILD is it?" cried Peg vehemently. "I'd have ye know my father lets
me go anywhere--"

"MARGARET!" and the old lady attempted to silence Peg with a gesture.
Peg changed her tone and pleaded:

"Plaze let me go. I'll study me head off tomorrow, if ye'll only let me
dance me feet off a bit tonight. Plaze let me!"

The old lady raised her band commanding Peg to stop. Then turning to
Jerry she said in a much softer tone:

"It was most kind of you to trouble to come over. You must pardon me if
I seem ungracious--but it is quite out of the question."

Peg sprang up, eager to argue it out.

Jerry looked at her as if imploring her not to anger her aunt any
further. He shook Mrs. Chichester's hand and said:

"I'm sorry. Good night." He picked up his hat and coat and went to the
door.

"Kindly remember me to your mother and sisters," added Mrs. Chichester
gently.

"With pleasure," and Jerry opened the door.

"Good night, Misther Jerry," called Peg.

He turned and saw Peg deliberately pointing to the pathway and
indicating that he was to meet her there.

Mrs. Chichester happened to look around just in time to catch her. Peg
reddened and stood trapped.

Jerry went out.

The old lady looked at her for several moments without speaking.
Finally she asked:

"What did you mean by dancing in that disgraceful way? And what did you
mean by those signs you were making?"

Peg said nothing.

"Are you always going to be a disgrace to us? Are you ever going to
learn how to behave?"

"Yes, aunt," said Peg, and the words came out in a torrent. "I'm never
goin' to do anythin' agen to annoy ye--AFTHER TONIGHT. I'm goin' to
wurrk hard too--AFTHER TONIGHT. Don't ye see what a disadvantage I'd be
at with girls without half me intelligence if I don't? Don't ye see it?
_I_ do. I'd be ashamed--that's what I'd be. Well--I'm goin' afther them
tooth and nail an' I'm goin' to catch them up an' pass them an' then
he'll--YE'LL--YE'LL--be proud of me--that ye will."

"What is all this?" asked the amazed old lady.

"It's what I'm goin' to do--AFTHER TO-NIGHT."

"I'm very glad to hear it."

"I knew ye would be. An' I'll never be any more throuble to ye--afther
to-night."

"I hope you will be of the same mind in the morning."

"So do I, aunt. D'ye mind if I stay up for another hour? I'd like to
begin now."

"Begin what?"

"Tryin' to pass people--tooth an' nail. May I study for just one more
hour?"

"Very well. Just an hour."

"Sure that'll be fine" She went to the table and began eagerly to
arrange her books once again.

"Turn off the lights when you've finished," said Mrs. Chichester.

"Yes, aunt. Are you goin' to bed now?"

"I am"

"Everybody in the house goin' to bed--except me?"

"Everybody."

"That's good," said Peg, with a sigh of relief.

"Don't make any noise," admonished the old lady.

"Not a sound, aunt," agreed Peg.

"Good night," and Mrs. Chichester went to the stairs.

"Good night, aunt! Oh! there's somethin' else. I thought perhaps I
would have to be gettin' back home to me father but I had a letther
from him this mornin' an'. it was quite cheerful--so I think--if ye
don't mind--I'd like to stay another month. Can I?"

"We'll talk it over with Mr. Hawkes in the morning," Mrs. Chichester
said coldly and went on up the stairs.

Peg watched her out of sight then jumped up all excitement and danced
around the room. She stopped by the table, locked at the open books in
disgust--with a quick movement swept them off the table. Then she
listened panic-stricken and hurriedly knelt down and picked them all up
again. Then she hurried over to the windows and looked out into the
night. The moonlight was streaming full down the path through the
trees. In a few moments Peg went to the foot of the stairs and
listened. Not hearing anything she crept upstairs into her own little
Mauve-Room, found a cloak and some slippers and a hat and just as
quietly crept down again into the living-room.

She just had time to hide the cloak and hat and slippers on the immense
window-seat when the door opened and Ethel came into the room. She
walked straight to the staircase without looking at Peg, and began to
mount the stairs.

"Hello, Ethel!" called out Peg, all remembrance of the violent
discussion gone in the excitement of the present. "I'm studyin' for an
hour. Are yez still angry with me? Won't ye say I 'good night'? Well,
then, I will. Good night, Ethel, an' God bless you."

Ethel disappeared in the bend of the stairs.

Peg listened again until all was still, then she crept across the room,
turned back the carpet and picked up her treasure--her marvellous book
of "Love-Stories."

She took it to the table, made an island of it as was her wont--and
began to read--the precious book concealed by histories and atlases, et
cetera.

Her little heart beat excitedly.

The one thought that beat through her quick brain was:

"Will Jerry come back for me?"



CHAPTER IX

THE DANCE AND ITS SEQUEL


Mrs. Chichester's uncompromising attitude had a great deal to do with
what followed. Had she shown the slightest suggestion of fairness or
kindness toward Peg things might have resulted differently.

But her adamantine attitude decided Jerry.

He resolved to fly in the face of the proprieties.

He would take the little child to the Assembly Rooms, put her in the
care of his mother and sisters and safeguard at least one evening's
pleasure for her.

And this he did.

He met her at the foot of the path when he saw all the lights disappear
in the house.

They walked across the lawns and meadows on that beautiful July night
with the moon shining down on them.

Once at the great hall his mother put the gauche little Peg at her
ease, introduced her to the most charming of partners, and saw that
everything was done to minister, to her enjoyment.

It was a wonderful night for Peg.

She danced every dance: she had the supper one with Jerry: she laughed
and sang and romped and was the centre of all the attention. What might
have appeared boldness in another with Peg was just her innocent,
wilful, child-like nature. She made a wonderful impression that night
and became a general favourite. She wanted it to go on and on and to
never stop. When the last waltz was played, and encored, and the ball
was really ended, Peg felt a pang of regret such as she had not felt
for a long, long time.

It was the first real note of pleasure she had experienced in England
and now it was ended and tomorrow had to be faced and the truth told.
What would happen? What course would Mrs. Chichester take? Send her
away? Perhaps--and then--? Peg brushed the thought away. At all events
she had enjoyed that ones wonderful evening.

"Oh, I am so happy! So happy!" she cried, as Jerry led her back to her
seat at the conclusion of the last dance. "Sure the whole wurrld seems
to be goin' round and round and round in one grand waltz. It's the
first time I've been ralely happy since I came here. And it's been
through you! Through you! Thank ye, Jerry."

"I'm glad it has been through me, Peg," said Jerry quietly.

"Faith these are the only moments in life that count--the happy ones.
Why can't it always be like this? Why shouldn't we just laugh and dance
our way through it all?" went on Peg excitedly. The rhythm of the
movement of the dance was in her blood: the lights were dancing before
her eyes: the music beat in on her brain.

"I wish I could make the world one great ball-room for you," said Jerry
earnestly.

"Do ye?" asked Peg tremulously.

"I do."

"With you as me partner?"

"Yes"

"Dancin' every dance with me?"

"Every one"

"Wouldn't that be beautiful? An' no creepin' back afther it all like a
thief in the night?"

"No," replied Jerry. "Your own mistress, free to do whatever you
wished."

"Oh," she cried impulsively; "wouldn't that be wondherful!" Suddenly
she gave a little elfish chuckle and whispered:

"But half the fun to-night has been that I'm supposed to be sleepin'
across beyant there and HERE I am stalin' time" She crooned softly:

     "'Sure the best of all WAYS to lengthen our DAYS,
     Is to stale a few hours from the NIGHT, me dear.'"

"You've stolen them!" said Jerry softly.

"I'm a thief, sure!" replied Peg with a little laugh.

"You're the--the sweetest--dearest--" he suddenly checked himself.

His mother had come across to say "Good night" to Peg. In a few moments
his sisters joined them. They all pressed invitations on Peg to call on
them at "Noel's Folly" and with Mrs. Chichester's permission, to stay
some days.

Jerry got her cloak and just as they were leaving the hall the band
struck up again, by special request, and began to play a new French
waltz. Peg wanted to go back but Jerry suggested it would be wiser now
for her to go home since his mother had driven away.

Back across the meadows and through the lanes, under that marvellous
moon and with the wild beat of the Continental Walse echoing from the
ball-room, walked Peg and Jerry, side by side, in silence. Both were
busy with their thoughts. After a little while Peg whispered:

"Jerry?"

"Peg?"

"What were you goin' to say to me when yer mother came up to us just
now?"

"Something it would be better to say in the daylight, Peg."

"Sure, why the daylight? Look at the moon so high in the heavens."

"Wait until to-morrow."

"I'll not slape a wink thinkin' of all the wondherful things that
happened this night. Tell me--Jerry--yer mother and yer sisters--they
weren't ashamed o' me, were they?"

"Why of course not. They were charmed with you."

"Were they? Ralely?"

"Really, Peg."

"Shall I ever see them again?"

"I hope some day you'll see a great deal of them."

They reached the windows leading into the now famous--to
Peg--living-room. He held out his hand:

"Good night, Peg."

"What a hurry ye are in to get rid o' me. An' a night like this may
never come again."

Suddenly a quick flash of jealousy startled through her:

"Are ye goin' back to the dance? Are ye goin' to dance the extra ones
ye wouldn't take me back for?"

"Not if you don't wish me to."

"Plaze don't," she pleaded earnestly. "I wouldn't rest aisy if I
thought of you with yer arm around one of those fine ladies' waists, as
it was around mine such a little while ago--an' me all alone here. Ye
won't, will ye?"

"No, Peg; I will not."

"An' will ye think o' me?"

"Yes, Peg, I will."

"All the time?"

"All the time."

"An' I will o' you. An' I'll pray for ye that no harm may come to ye,
an' that HE will bless ye for makin' me happy."

"Thank you, Peg."

He motioned her to go in. He was getting anxious. Their voices might be
heard.

"Must I go in NOW?" asked Peg. "NOW?" she repeated.

"You must."

"With the moon so high in the heavens?"

"Someone might come."

"An' the music comin' across the lawn?"

"I don't want you to get into trouble," he urged.

"All right," said Peg, half resignedly. "I suppose you know best. Good
night, Jerry, and thank ye."

"Good night, Peg."

He bent down and kissed her hand reverently.

At the same moment the sound of a high power automobile was heard in
the near distance. The brakes were put on and the car came to a
stand-still. Then the sound of footsteps was heard distinctly coming
toward the windows.

"Take care," cried Jerry. "Go in. Someone is coming."

Peg hurried in and hid just inside the windows and heard every word
that followed.

As Peg disappeared Jerry walked down the path to meet the visitor. He
came face to face with Christian Brent.

"Hello, Brent," he said in surprise.

"Why, what in the world--?" cried that astonished gentleman.

"The house is asleep," said Jerry, explanatorily.

"So I see," and Brent glanced up at the darkened windows. There was a
moment's pause. Then out of the embarrassing silence Jerry remarked:

"Just coming from the dance? I didn't see you there."

"No," replied the uncomfortable Brent. "I was restless and just
strolled here."

"Oh! Let us go on to the road."

"Right," said the other man, and they walked on.

Before they had gone a few steps Jerry stopped abruptly. Right in front
of him at the gate was a forty-horse-power "Mercedes" automobile.

"Strolled here? Why, you have your car!" said Jerry.

"Yes," replied Brent hurriedly. "It's a bright night for a spin."

The two men went on out of hearing.



CHAPTER X

Peg Intervenes


Peg listened until she heard the faint sounds in the distance of the
automobile being started--then silence.

She crept softly upstairs. Just as she reached the top Ethel appeared
from behind the curtains on her way down to the room. She was fully
dressed and carried a small travelling bag.

Peg looked at her in amazement.

"Ethel!" she said in a hoarse whisper.

"You!" cried Ethel, under her breath and glaring at Peg furiously.

"Please don't tell anyone ye've seen me!" begged Peg.

"Go down into the room!" Ethel ordered.

Peg went down the stairs into the dark room, lit only by the stream of
moonlight coming in through the windows at the back. Ethel followed her:

"What are you doing here?"

"I've been to the dance. Oh, ye won't tell me aunt, will ye? She'd send
me away an' I don't want to go now, indade I don't."

"To the dance?" repeated Ethel, incredulously. Try as she would she
could not rid herself of the feeling that Peg was there to watch her.

"To the DANCE?" she asked again.

"Yes. Mr. Jerry took me."

"JERRY took you?"

"Yer mother wouldn't let me go. So Jerry came back for me when ye were
all in bed and he took me himself. And I enjoyed it so much. An' I
don't want yer mother to know about it. Ye won't tell her, will ye?"

"I shall most certainly see that my mother knows of it."

"Ye will?" cried poor, broken-hearted Peg.

"I shall. You had no right to go."

"Why are ye so hard on me, Ethel?"

"Because I detest you."

"I'm sorry," said Peg simply. "Ye've spoiled all me pleasure now. Good
night, Ethel."

Sore at heart and thoroughly unhappy, poor Peg turned away from Ethel
and began to climb the stairs. When she was about half-way up a thought
flashed across her. She came back quickly into the room and went
straight across to Ethel.

"And what are YOU doin' here--at this time o' night? An' dressed like
THAT? An' with that BAG? What does it mane? Where are ye goin'?"

"Go to your room!" said Ethel, livid with anger, and trying to keep her
voice down and to hush Peg in case her family were awakened.

"Do you mean to say you were going with--"

Ethel covered Peg's mouth with her hand.

"Keep down your voice, you little fool!"

Peg freed herself. HER temper was up, too. The thought of WHY Ethel was
there was uppermost in her mind as she cried:

"HE was here a minnit ago an' Mr. Jerry took him away."

"HE?" said Ethel, frightenedly. "Mr. BRENT," answered Peg.

Ethel went quickly to the windows. Peg sprang in front of her and
caught her by the wrists. "Were ye goin' away with him? Were ye?"

"Take your hands off me."

"Were ye goin' away with him? Answer me?" insisted Peg.

"Yes," replied Ethel vehemently. "And I AM."

"No ye're not," said the indomitable Peg holding her firmly by the
wrist.

"Let me go!" whispered Ethel, struggling to release herself.

"Ye're not goin' out o' this house to-night if I have to wake everyone
in it."

"Wake them!" cried Ethel. "Wake them. They couldn't stop me. Nothing
can stop me now. I'm sick of this living on CHARITY; sick of meeting
YOU day by day, an implied insult in your every look and word, as much
as to say: 'I'M giving you your daily bread; I'M keeping the roof over
you!' I'm sick of it. And I end it to-night. Let me go or I'll--I'll--"
and she tried in vain to release herself from Peg's grip.

Peg held her resolutely:

"What d'ye mane by INSULT? An' yer DAILY BREAD? An' kapin' the roof
over ye? What are ye ravin' about at all?"

"I'm at the end--to-night. I'm going!" and she struggled with Peg up to
the windows. But Peg did not loose her hold. It was firmer than before.

"You're not goin' away with him, I tell ye. Ye're NOT. What d'ye
suppose ye'd be goin' to? I'll tell ye. A wakin' an' sleepin'
HELL--that's what it would be."

"I'm going," said the distracted girl.

"Ye'd take him from his wife an' her baby?"

"He hates THEM! and I hate THIS! I tell you I'm going--"

"So ye'd break yer mother's heart an' his wife's just to satisfy yer
own selfish pleasure? Well I'm glad _I_ sinned to-night in doin' what I
wanted to do since it's given me the chance to save YOU from doin' the
most shameful thing a woman ever did!"

"Will you--" and Ethel again struggled to get free.

"YOU'LL stay here and HE'LL go back to his home if I have to tell
everyone and disgrace yez both."

Ethel cowered down frightenedly.

"No! No! You must not do that! You must not do that!" she cried,
terror-stricken.

"Ye just told me yer own mother couldn't stop ye?" said Peg.

"My mother mustn't know. She mustn't know. Let me go. He is
waiting--and it is past the time--"

"Let him wait!" replied Peg firmly. "He gave his name an' life to a
woman an' it's yer duty to protect her an' the child she brought him."

"I'd kill myself first!" answered Ethel through her clenched teeth.

"No, ye won't. Ye won't kill yerself at all. Ye might have if ye'd gone
with him. Why that's the kind of man that tires of ye in an hour and
laves ye to sorrow alone. Doesn't he want to lave the woman now that he
swore to cherish at the altar of God? What do ye suppose he'd do to one
he took no oath with at all? Now have some sense about it. I know him
and his kind very well. Especially HIM. An' sure it's no compliment
he's payin' ye ayther. Faith, he'd ha' made love to ME if I'd LET him."

"What? To YOU?" cried Ethel in astonishment.

"Yes, to ME. Here in this room to-day. If ye hadn't come in when ye
did, I'd ha' taught him a lesson he'd ha' carried to his grave, so I
would!"

"He tried to make love to you?" repeated Ethel incredulously, though a
chill came at her heart as she half realised the truth of Peg's
accusation.

"Ever since I've been in this house," replied Peg. "An' to-day he comes
toward me with his arms stretched out. 'Kiss an' be friends!' sez
he--an' in YOU walked."

"Is that true?" asked Ethel.

"On me poor mother's memory it is, Ethel!" replied Peg.

Ethel sank down into a chair and covered her eyes.

"The wretch!" she wailed, "the wretch!"

"That's what he is," said Peg. "An' ye'd give yer life into his kapin'
to blacken so that no dacent man or woman would ever look at ye or
spake to ye again."

"No! That is over! That is over!"

All the self-abasement of consenting to, or even considering going
with, such a creature as Brent now came uppermost. She was disgusted
through and through to her soul. Suddenly she broke down and tears for
the first time within her remembrance came to her. She sobbed and
sobbed as she had not done since she was a child.

"I hate myself," she cried between her sobs. "Oh, how I hate myself"

Peg was all pity in a moment. She took the little travelling bag away
from Ethel and put it on the table. Then with her own hands she
staunched Ethel's tears and tried to quiet her.

"Ethel acushla! Don't do that! Darlin'! Don't! He's not worth it. Kape
yer life an' yer heart clane until the one man in all the wurrld comes
to ye with HIS heart pure too, and then ye'll know what rale happiness
means."

She knelt down beside the sobbing girl and took Ethel in her arms, and
tried to comfort her.

"Sure, then, cry dear, and wash away all the sins of this night. It's
the salt of yer tears that'll cleanse yer heart an' fall like Holy
Wather on yer sowl. Ssh! There! There! That's enough now. Stop now an'
go back to yer room, an' slape until mornin', an' with the sunlight the
last thought of all this will go from ye. Ssh! There now! Don't! An'
not a wurrd o' what's happened here to-night will cross my lips."

She helped her cousin up and supported her. Ethel was on the point of
fainting, and her body was trembling with the convulsive force of her
half-suppressed sobs.

"Come to MY room," said Peg in a whisper, as she helped Ethel over to
the stairs. "I'll watch by yer side till mornin'. Lane on me. That's
right. Put yer weight on me."

She picked up the travelling-bag and together the two girls began to
ascend the stairs.

Ethel gave a low choking moan.

"Don't, dear, ye'll wake up the house," cried Peg anxiously. "We've
only a little way to go. Aisy now. Not a sound! Ssh, dear! Not a morsel
o' noise."

Just as the two girls reached the landing, Peg in her anxiety stepped
short, missed the top step, lost her footing and fell the entire length
of the staircase into the room, smashing a tall china flower-vase that
was reposing on the post at the foot of the stairs.

The two girls were too stunned for a moment to move.

The worst thing that could possibly have happened was just what DID
happen.

There would be all kinds of questions and explanations. Peg instantly
made up her mind that they were not going to know why Ethel was there.

Ethel must be saved and at any cost.

She sprang to her feet. "Holy Mother!" she cried, "the whole house'll
be awake! Give me yer hat! Quick! An' yer cloak! An' yer bag!" Peg
began quickly to put on Ethel's hat and cloak. Her own she flung out of
sight beneath the great oak table.

"Now remember," she dictated, "ye came here because ye heard me. Ye
weren't goin' out o' the house at all. Ye just heard me movin' about in
here. Stick to that."

The sound of voices in the distance broke in on them.

"They're comin'," said Peg, anxiously. "Remember ye're here because ye
heard ME. An' ye were talkin--an'--I'll do the rest. Though what in the
wurrld I am GOIN' to say and do I don't know at all. Only YOU were not
goin' out o' this house! That's one thing we've got to stick to. Give
me the bag."

Wearing Ethel's hat and cloak and with Ethel's travelling-bag in her
hand, staunch little Peg turned to meet the disturbed family, with no
thought of herself, what the one abiding resolution to, at any and at
all costs, save her cousin Ethel from disgrace.



CHAPTER XI

"THE REBELLION OF PEG"


"Take care, mater--keep back. Let me deal with them." And Alaric with
an electric flash-light appeared at the head of the stairs, followed by
his mother holding a night-lamp high over her head, and peering down
into the dark room. "It was from here that the sound came, dear," she
said to Alaric.

"Stay up there," replied the valiant youth: "I'll soon find out what's
up."

As Alaric reached the bottom of the stairs, the door just by the
staircase opened noiselessly and a large body protruded into the room
covered in an equally gigantic bath robe. As the face came stealthily
through the doorway, Alaric made one leap and caught the invader by the
throat.

A small, frightened voice cried out:

"Please don't do that, sir. It's only me!"

Alaric flashed the electric-light in the man's face and found it was
the unfortunate Jarvis.

"What are you doing here?" asked Alaric.

"I heard a disturbance of some kind and came down after it, sir,"
replied Jarvis, nervously.

"Guard that door then! and let no one pass. If there is any one
trespassing in here I want to find 'em."

He began a systematic search of the room until suddenly the reflector
from the flash-light shone full on the two girls.

Ethel was sitting back fainting in a chair, clinging to Peg, who was
standing beside her trembling.

"ETHEL!" cried Alaric in amazement.

"MARGARET!" said Mrs. Chichester in anger.

"Well, I mean to say," ejaculated the astounded young man as he walked
across to the switch and flooded the room with light.

"That will do," ordered Mrs. Chichester, dismissing the equally
astonished footman, who passed out, curiosity in every feature.

"What are you two girls playin' at?" demanded Alaric.

"What does this mean?" asked Mrs. Chichester severely.

"Sure, Ethel heard me here," answered Peg, "an' she came in, an'--"

"What were you doing here?"

"I was goin' out an' Ethel heard me an' came in an' stopped me--an'--"

"Where were you going?" persisted the old lady.

"Just out--out there--" and Peg pointed to the open windows.

Mrs. Chichester had been examining Peg minutely. She suddenly exclaimed:

"Why, that is Ethel's cloak."

"Sure it is," replied Peg, "and this is her hat I've got an' here's her
bag--" Peg was striving her utmost to divert Mrs. Chichester's
attention from Ethel, who was in so tense and nervous a condition that
it seemed as if she might faint at any moment. She thrust the
dressing-bag into the old lady's hand. Mrs. Chichester opened it
immediately and found just inside it Ethel's jewel-box. She took it out
and held it up accusingly before Peg's eyes: "Her jewel-box! Where did
you get this?"

"I took it," said Peg promptly.

"Took it?"

"Yes, aunt, I took it!"

Mrs. Chichester opened the box: it was full. Every jewel that Ethel
owned was in it.

"Her jewels! Ethel's jewels?"

"Yes--I took them too."

"You were STEALING them?"

"No. I wasn't STEALING them,--I just TOOK 'em!"

"Why did you take them?"

"I wanted--to WEAR them," answered Peg readily.

"WEAR them?"

"Yes--wear them." Suddenly Peg saw a way of escape, and she jumped
quickly at it. "I wanted to wear them at the DANCE."

"WHAT dance?" demanded Mrs. Chichester, growing more suspicious every
moment.

"Over there--in the Assembly Rooms. To-night. I went over there, an' I
danced. An' when I came back I made a noise, an' Ethel heard me, an'
she threw on some clothes, an' she came in here to see who it was, an'
it was ME, an' were both goin' up to bed when I slipped an' fell down
the stairs, an' some noisy thing fell down with me--an' that's all."

Peg paused for want of breath. Ethel clung to her. Mrs. Chichester, not
by any means satisfied with the explanation, was about to prosecute her
inquiries further, when Alaric called out from the window:

"There's some one prowling in the garden. He's on the path! He's coming
here. Don't be frightened, mater. I'll deal with him." And he boldly
went up the steps leading into the alcove to meet the marauder. Ethel
half rose from the chair and whispered: "Mr. Brent!" Peg pressed her
back into the chair and turned toward the windows.

On came the footsteps nearer and nearer until they were heard to be
mounting the steps from the garden into the alcove.

Alaric pushed his electric light full into the visitors face, and fell
back.

"Good Lord! Jerry!" he ejaculated, completely astonished. "I say, ye
know," he went on, "what is happening in this house to-night?"

Jerry came straight down to Mrs. Chichester.

"I saw your lights go up and I came here on the run. I guessed
something like this had happened. Don't be hard on your niece, Mrs.
Chichester. The whole thing was entirely my fault. I asked her to go."

Mrs. Chichester looked at him stonily.

"You took my niece to a dance in spite of my absolute refusal to allow
her to go?"

"He had nothin' to do with it;" said Peg, "I took him to that dance."
She wasn't going to allow Jerry to be abused without lodging a protest.
After all it was her fault. She made him take her. Very, well--she
would take the blame. Mrs. Chichester looked steadily at Jerry for a
few moments before she spoke. When she did speak her voice was cold and
hard and accusatory.

"Surely, Sir Gerald Adair knows better than to take a girl of eighteen
to a public ball without her relations' sanction?"

"I thought only of the pleasure it would give her," he answered.
"Please accept my sincerest apologies."

Peg looked at him in wonder:

"Sir Gerald Adair! Are YOU Sir Gerald Adair?"

"Yes, Peg."

"So ye have a title, have yez?"

He did not answer.

Peg felt somehow that she had been cheated. Why had he not told her?
Why did he let her play and romp and joke and banter with him as though
they had been children and equals? It wasn't fair! He was just
laughing, at her! Just laughing at her! All her spirit was in quick
revolt.

"Do you realise what you have done?" broke in Mrs. Chichester.

"I'm just beginning to," replied Peg bitterly.

"I am ashamed of you! You have disgraced us all!" cried Mrs. Chichester.

"Have I?" screamed Peg fiercely. "Well, if I HAVE then I am goin' back
to some one who'd never be ashamed o' me, no matter what I did. Here
I've never been allowed to do one thing I've wanted to. He lets me do
EVERYTHING I want because he loves and trusts me an' whatever I do is
RIGHT because _I_ do it. I've disgraced ye, have I? Well, none of you
can tell me the truth. I'm goin' back to me father."

"Go back to your father and glad we are to be rid of you!" answered
Mrs. Chichester furiously.

"I am goin' back to him--"

Before she could say anything further, Ethel suddenly rose unsteadily
and cried out:

"Wait, mother! She mustn't go. We have all been grossly unfair to her.
It is _I_ should go. To-night she saved me from--she saved me from--"
suddenly Ethel reached the breaking-point; she slipped from Peg's arms
to the chair and on to the floor and lay quite still.

Peg knelt down beside her:

"She's fainted. Stand back--give her air--get some water, some
smelling-salts--quick--don't stand there lookin' at her: do somethin'!"

Peg loosened Ethel's dress and talked to her all the while, and Jerry
and Alaric hurried out in different directions in quest of restoratives.

Mrs. Chichester came toward Ethel, thoroughly alarmed and upset.

But Peg would not let her touch the inanimate girl.

"Go away from her!" cried Peg hysterically.

"What good do ye think ye can do her? What do you know about her? You
don't know anything about yer children--ye don't know how to raise
them. Ye don't know a thought in yer child's mind. Why don't ye sit
down beside her sometimes and find out what she, thinks and who she
sees? Take her hand in yer own and get her to open her soul to ye! Be a
mother to her! A lot you know about motherhood! I want to tell ye me
father knows more about motherhood than any man in the wurrld."

Poor Mrs. Chichester fell back, crushed and humiliated from Peg's
onslaught.

In a few moments the two men returned with water and salts. After a
while Ethel opened her eyes and looked up at Peg. Peg, fearful lest she
should begin to accuse herself again, helped her up the stairs to her
own room and there she sat beside the unstrung, hysterical girl until
she slept, her hand locked in both of Peg's.

Promising to call in the morning, Jerry left.

The mother and son returned to their rooms.

The house was still again.

But how much had happened that night that went to shaping the
characters and lives of these two young girls, who were first looking
out at life with the eyes and minds of swiftly advancing womanhood! One
thing Peg had resolved: she would not spend another night in the
Chichester home.

Her little heart was bruised and sore. The night had begun so happily:
it had ended so wretchedly.

And to think the one person in whom she trusted had been just amusing
himself with her, leading her to believe he was a farmer--"less than
that" he had once said, and all the time he was a man of breeding and
of birth and of title.

Poor Peg felt so humiliated that she made up her mind she would never
see him again.

In the morning she would go back to the one real affection of her
life--to the min who never hurt or disappointed her--her father.



CHAPTER XII

A ROOM IN NEW YORK


We will now leave Peg for a while and return to one who claimed so much
of the reader's attention in the early pages of this history--O'Connell.

It had not been a happy month for him.

He felt the separation from Peg keenly. At first he was almost
inconsolable. He lived in constant dread of hearing that some untoward
accident had befallen her.

All the days and nights of that journey of Peg's to England, O'Connell
had the ever-present premonition of danger. When a cable came, signed
Montgomery Hawkes, acquainting O'Connell with the news of Peg's safe
arrival, he drew a long breath of relief.

Then the days passed slowly until Peg's first letter came. It contained
the news of Kingsnorth's death--Peg's entrance into the Chichester
family, her discontent--her longing to be back once more in New York.
This was followed by more letters all more or less in the same key.
Finally he wrote urging her to give it all up and come back to him. He
would not have his little daughter tortured for all the advantages
those people could give her. Then her letters took on a different
aspect. They contained a curious half-note of happiness in them. No
more mention of returning. On the contrary, Peg appeared to be making
the best of the conditions in which she was placed.

These later letters set O'Connell wondering. Had the great Message of
Life come to his little Peg?

Although he always felt it WOULD come some day, now that it seemed
almost a very real possibility, he dreaded it. There were so few
natures would understand her.

Beneath all her resolute and warlike exterior, it would take a keenly
observing eye to find the real, gentle, affectionate nature that
flourished in the sunshine of affection, and would fret and pine amid
unsympathetic surroundings.

That Peg was developing her character and her nature during those few
weeks was clear to O'Connell. The whole tone of her letters had
changed. But no word of hers gave him any clue to the real state of her
feelings, until one day he received a letter almost entirely composed
of descriptions of the appearance, mode of speech, method of thought
and expression of one "Jerry." The description of the man appealed to
him, he apparently having so many things in common with the mysterious
person who had so vividly impressed himself on Peg.

Apparently Peg was half trying to improve herself.

There was a distinct note of seriousness about the last letter. It was
drawing near the end of the month and she was going to ask her aunt to
let her stay on for another month if her father did not mind. She did
not want him to be unhappy, and if he was miserable without her, why
she would sail back to New York on the very first steamer. He wrote her
a long affectionate letter, telling her that whatever made her happy
would make HIM, too, and that she must not, on any account, think of
returning to New York if she found that she was helping her future by
staying with her aunt. All through the letter he kept up apparent high
spirits, and ended it with a cheery exhortation to stay away from him
just as long as she could; not to think of returning until it was
absolutely necessary.

It was with a heavy heart he posted that letter. Back of his brain he
had hoped all through that month that Peg would refuse to stay any
longer in England.

Her determination to stay was a severe blow to him.

He lived entirely alone in the same rooms he had with Peg when she was
summoned abroad.

He was preparing, in his spare time, a history, of the Irish movement
from twenty years before down to the present day. It was fascinating
work for him, embodying as it did all he had ever felt and thought or
done for the "Great Cause."

In addition to this work--that occupied so many of his free hours--he
would give an occasional lecture on Irish conditions or take part as
adviser in some Irish pageant. He became rapidly one of the best liked
and most respected of the thoughtful, active, executive Irishmen in New
York City.

The night of the day following the incidents in the preceding
chapter--incidents that determined Peg's future--O'Connell was sitting
in his little work room, surrounded by books of reference, and loose
sheets of manuscript, developing his great work--the real work of his
life--because in it he would incorporate everything that would further
the march of advancement in Ireland--to work and thought and government
by her people.

A ring at the bell caused O'Connell to look up frowningly. He was not
in the habit of receiving calls. Few people ever dared to intrude on
his privacy. He preferred to be alone with his work. It passed the time
of separation from Peg quicker than in any other way.

He opened the door and looked in amazement at his visitor. He saw a
little, round, merry-looking, bald-headed gentleman with gold-rimmed
spectacles, an enormous silk-hat, broad cloth frock-coat suit, patent
boots with grey spats on them, and a general air of prosperity and good
nature that impressed itself on even the most casual observer.

"Is that Frank O'Connell?" cried the little man.

"It is," said O'Connell, trying in vain to see the man's features
distinctly in the dim light. There was a familiar ring in his voice
that seemed to take O'Connell back many years.

"You're not tellin' me ye've forgotten me?" asked the little man,
reproachfully.

"Come into the light and let me see the face of ye. Yer voice sounds
familiar to me, I'm thinkin'," replied O'Connell.

The little man came into the room, took of his heavy silk-hat and
looked up at O'Connell with a quizzing look in his laughing eyes.

"McGinnis!" was all the astonished agitator could say.

"That's who it is! 'Talkative McGinnis,' come all the way from ould
Ireland to take ye by the hand."

The two men shook hands warmly and in a few moments O'Connell had the
little doctor in the most comfortable seat in the room, a cigar between
his lips and a glass of whiskey--and--water at his elbow.

"An' what in the wurrld brings ye here, docthor?" asked O'Connell.

"Didn't ye hear?"

"I've heard nothin', I'm tellin' ye."

"Ye didn't hear of me old grand-uncle, McNamara of County Sligo
dyin'--after a useless life--and doin' the only thing that made me
proud of him now that he's gone--may he slape in peace--lavin' the
money he'd kept such a close fist on all his life to his God-fearin'
nephew so that he can spind the rest of his days in comfort? Didn't ye
hear that?"

"I did not. And who was the nephew that came into it?"

"Meself, Frank O'Connell!"

"You! Is it the truth ye're tellin' me?"

"May I nivver spake another wurrd if I'm not."

O'Connell took the little man's hand and shook it until the doctor
screamed out to him to let it go.

"What are ye doin' at all--crushin' the feelin' out of me? Sure that's
no way to show yer appreciation," and McGinnis held the crushed hand to
the side of his face in pain.

"It's sorry I am if I hurt ye and it's glad I am at the cause. So it's
a wealthy man ye are now, docthor, eh?"

"Middlin' wealthy."

"And what are ye doin' in New York?"

"Sure this is the counthry to take money to. It doubles itself out here
over night, they tell me."

"Yer takin' it away from the land of yer birth?"

"That's what I'm doin' until I make it into enough where I can go back
and do some good. It's tired I am of blood-lettin', and patchin' up the
sick and ailin', fevers an' all. I've got a few years left to enjoy
meself--an' I'm seventy come November--an' I mane to do it."

"How did ye find me?"

"Who should I meet in the sthreet this mornin'--an' me here a week--but
Patrick Kinsella, big as a house and his face all covered in
whiskers--him that I took into me own home the night they cracked his
skull up beyant the hill when O'Brien came to talk to us."

"'What are yer doin' here at all?' sez I. 'Faith, it's the foine thing
I'm in,' sez he. 'An' what is it?' sez I. 'Politics!' sez he, with a
knowin' grin. 'Politics is it?' I asks, all innocent as a baby. 'That's
what I'm doin',' sez he. 'An' I want to tell ye the Irish are wastin'
their time worryin their heads over their own country when here's a
great foine beautiful rich one over here just ripe, an' waitin' to be
plucked. What wud we be doin' tryin' to run Ireland when we can run
America. Answer me that,' sez he. 'Run America?' sez I, all dazed.
'That's what the Irish are doin' this minnit. Ye'd betther get on in
while the goin's good. It's a wondherful melon the Irish are goin' to
cut out here one o' these fine days,' an' he gave me a knowin' grin,
shouted to me where he was to be found and away he wint."

"There's many a backslider from the 'Cause' out here, I'm thinkin',"
continued the doctor.

"If it's me ye mane, ye're wrong. I'm no backslider."

"Kinsella towld me where to find ye. Sure it's many's the long day
since ye lay on yer back in 'The Gap' with yer hide full o' lead, and
ye cursin' the English government. Ye think different now maybe to what
ye did then?"

"Sure I think different. Other times, other ways. But if it hadn't been
for the methods of twenty years ago we wouldn't be doin' things so
peaceably now. It was the attitude of Irishmen in Ireland that made
them legislate for us. It wasn't the Irish members in Westminster that
did it."

"That's thrue for ye."

"It was the pluck--and determination--and statesmanship--and
unflinchin' not-to-be-quieted-or-deterred attitude of them days that's
brought the goal we've all been aimin' at in sight. An' it's a happier
an' more contented an' healthier an' cleaner Ireland we're seein'
to-day than the wun we had to face as childhren."

"Thrue for ye agen. I see ye've not lost the gift o' the gab. Ye've got
it with ye still, Frank O'Connell."

"Faith an' while I'm talkin' of the one thing in the wurrld that's near
our hearts--the future of Ireland--I want to prophesy--"

"Prophesy is it?"

"That's what I want to do."

"An' what's it ye'd be after prophesying?"

"This: that ten years from now, with her own Government, with her own
language back again--Gaelic--an' what language in the wurrld yields
greater music than the old Gaelic?--with Ireland united and Ireland's
land in the care of IRISHMEN: with Ireland's people self-respectin' an'
sober an' healthy an' educated: with Irishmen employed on Irish
industries, exportin' them all over the wurrld: with Ireland's heart
beatin' with hope an' faith in the future--do ye know what will happen?"

"Go on, Frank O'Connell. I love to listen to ye. Don't stop."

"I'll tell ye what will happen! Back will go the Irishmen in tens o'
thousands from all the other counthries they were dhriven to in the
days o' famine an' oppression an' coercion an' buck-shot--back they
will go to their mother counthry. An' can ye see far enough into the
future to realise what THAT will do? Ye can't. Well, I'll tell ye that,
too. The exiled Irish, who have lived their lives abroad--takin' their
wives, like as not, from the people o' the counthry they lived in an'
not from their own stock--when they go back to Ireland with different
outlooks, with different manners an' with different tastes, so long as
they've kept the hearts o' them thrue an' loyal--just so long as
they've done that--an' kept the Faith o 'their forefathers--they'll
form a new NATION, an' a NATION with all the best o' the old--the great
big Faith an' Hope o' the old--added to the prosperity an' education
an' business-like principles an' statesmanship o' the NEW--an' it's the
BLOOD o' the great OLD an' the POWER o' the great NEW that'll make the
Ireland o' the future one o' the greatest NATIONS in PEACE as she has
always been in WAR."

O'Connell's voice died away as he looked out across the years to come.
And the light of prophecy shone in his eyes, and the eerie tone of the
seer was in his voice.

It was the Ireland he had dreamed of! Ireland free, prosperous,
contented--happy. Ireland speaking and writing in her national tongue!
Ireland with all the depth of the poetic nature of the peasant equal to
the peer! Ireland handling her own resources, developing her own
national character, responsible before the WORLD and not to an alien
nation for her acts--an Ireland triumphant.

Even if he would not live to see the golden harvest ripen he felt proud
to be one of those who helped, in the days of stress that were gone,
her people, to the benefiting of the future generations, who would have
a legacy of development by PACIFIC measures, what he and his
forefathers strove to accomplish by the loss of their liberty and the
shedding of their blood.

"Sure it's the big position they should give you on College Green when
they get their own government again, Frank O'Connell," the little
doctor said, shaking his head knowingly.

"The race has been everythin' to me: the prize--if there's one--'ud be
nothin'. A roof to me head and a bite to eat is all I need by day--so
long as the little girl is cared for."

"An' where is the little blue-eyed maiden? Peg o' your heart? Where is
she at all?"

"It's in London she is."

"London!"

"Aye. She's with an aunt o' hers bein' educated an' the like"

"Is it English ye're goin' to bring her up?" cried the doctor in horror
and disgust. "No, it's not, Docthor McGinnis--an' ye ought to know me
betther than to sit there an' ask me such a question. Bring her up
English? when the one regret o' me life is I never knew enough Gaelic
to tache her the language so that we'd be free of the English speech
anyway. Bring her up English! I never heard the like o' that in me
life."

"Then what is she doin' there at all?"

"Now listen, McGinnis, and listen well--an' then we'll never ask such a
question again. When the good Lord calls me to Himself it's little
enough I'll have to lave little Peg. An' that thought has been
throublin' me these years past. I'm not the kind that makes money
easily or that kapes the little I earn. An' the chance came to give Peg
advantages I could never give her. Her mother's people offered to take
her and it's with them she has been this last month. But with all their
breedin' an' their fine manners and soft speech they've not changed
Peg--not changed her in the least. Her letthers to me are just as sweet
an' simple as if she were standin' there talkin' to me. An' I wish she
were standin' here--now--this minnit," and his eyes filled up and he
turned away.

McGinnis jumped up quickly and turned the tall, bronzed man around with
a hand on each shoulder--though he had to stand tip-toe to do it, and
poured forth his feelings as follows:

"Send for her! Bring her back to ye! Why man, yer heart is heavy
without her; aye, just as yer HAIR is goin' grey, so is yer LIFE
without the one thing in it that kapes it warm and bright. Send for
her! Don't let the Saxons get hold of her with their flattherin' ways
and their insincerities, an' all. Bring her back to ye and kape her
with ye until the right man comes along--an' he must be an
Irishman--straight of limb an' of character--with the joy of livin' in
his heart and the love of yer little girl first to him in the wurrld,
an' then ye'll know ye've done the right thing by her; for it's the
only happiness yer Peg'll ever know--to be an Irish wife an' an Irish
mother as well as an Irish daughther. Send for her--I'm tellin' ye,
Frank O'Connell, or it's the sore rod ye'll be makin' for yer own back."

McGinnis's words sank in.

When they parted for the night with many promises to meet again ere
long, McConnell sat down and wrote Peg a long letter, leaving the
choice in her hands, but telling her how much he would like to have her
back with him. He wrote the letter again and again and each time
destroyed it. It seemed so clumsy.

It was so hard to express just what he felt. He decided to leave it
until morning.

All that night he tossed about in feverish unrest. He could not sleep.
He had a feeling of impending calamity.

Toward dawn he woke, and lighting a lamp wrote out a cable message:

     Miss Margaret O'Connell
     c/o Mrs. Chichester
     Regal Villa, Scarboro, England

     Please come back to me. I want you.
                          Love from
                            Your Affectionate Father

Relieved in his mind, he put the message on the table, intending to
send it on his way to business. Then he slept until breakfast-time
without a dream.

His Peg would get the message and she would come to him.

At breakfast a cable was brought to him.

He opened it and looked in bewilderment at the contents:

"Sailing to-day for New York on White Star boat Celtic. Love.    Peg."



CHAPTER XIII

THE MORNING AFTER


The morning after the incident following Peg's disobedience in going to
the dance, and her subsequent rebellion and declaration of
independence, found all the inmates of Regal Villa in a most unsettled
condition. Peg had, as was indicated in a preceding chapter remained by
Ethel's side until morning, when, seeing that her cousin was sleeping
peacefully, she had gone to her own room to prepare for her leaving.

One thing she was positive about--she would take nothing out of that
house she did not bring into it--even to a heartache.

She entered the family a month before Gore at heart--well, she was
leaving it in a like condition.

Whilst she was making her few little preparations, Mrs. Chichester was
reviewing the whole situation in her room. She was compelled to admit,
however outraged her feelings may have been the previous night, that
should Peg carry out her intention to desert them, the family would be
in a parlous condition. The income from Mr. Kingsnorth's will was
indeed the one note of relief to the distressed household. She had
passed a wretched night, and after a cup of tea in her room, and a good
long period of reflection, she decided to seek the aid of the head of
the family--her son.

She found him in the morning-room lying full length on a lounge reading
the "Post." He jumped up directly he saw her, led her over to the
lounge, kissed her, put her down gently beside him and asked her how
she was feeling.

"I didn't close my eyes all night," answered the unhappy old lady.

"Isn't that rotten?" said Alaric sympathetically. "I was a bit plungy
myself--first one side and then the other." And he yawned and stretched
languidly. "Hate to have one's night's rest broken," he concluded. Mrs.
Chichester looked at him sadly.

"What is to be done?" she asked, despair in every note.

"We must get in forty winks during the day some time," he replied,
encouragingly.

"No, no, Alaric. I mean about Margaret?"

"Oh! The imp? Nothin' that I can see. She's got it into her stubborn
little head that she's had enough of us, and that's the end of it!"

"And the end of our income," summed up Mrs. Chichester, pathetically.

"Well, you were a bit rough on her, mater. Now, I come to think of it
we've all been a bit rough on her--except ME. I've made her laugh once
or twice--poor little soul. After all, suppose she did want to dance?
What's the use of fussing? LET her, I say. LET her. Better SHE should
dance and STAY, than for US to starve if she GOES."

"Don't reproach me, dear. I did my duty. How could I consent to her
going? A girl of her age!"

"Girl! Why, they're grown women with families in America at her age."

"Thank God they're not in England."

"They will be some day, mater. They're kickin' over the traces more and
more every day. Watch 'em in a year or two, I say, watch 'em. One time
women kept on the pavement. Now they're out in the middle of the
road--and in thousands! Mark me! What ho!"

"They are not women!" ejaculated Mrs. Chichester severely.

"Oh, bless me, yes. They're women all right. I've met 'em. Listened to
'em talk. Some of 'em were rippers. Why, there was one girl I really
have rather a fash on. Great big girl she is with a deep voice. She had
me all quivery for a while." And his mind ran back over his "Militant"
past and present.

"Just when I had begun to have some hope of her!" Alaric started.

"I didn't know you met her. Do you know Marjory Fairbanks?"

"No," replied Mrs. Chichester, almost sharply: "I mean Margaret."

"Oh! The little devil? Did ye? I never did. Not a hope! I've always
felt she ought to have the inscription on dear old Shakespeare's grave
waving in front of her all the time 'Good friend, for Heaven's sake
forbear.' There's no hope for her, mater. Believe ME."

"I thought that perhaps under our influence--in time--"

"Don't you think it. She will always be a Peter Pan. Never grow up.
She'd play elfish tricks if she had a nursery full of infants."

"But," persisted the old lady, "some GOOD man--one day might change
that."

"Ah! But where is he? Good men who'd take a girl like that in hand are
very scarce, mater--very scarce indeed. Oh, no. Back she goes to
America to-day, and off I go to-morrow to work. Must hold the roof up,
mater, and pacify the tradesmen. I've given up the doctor idea--takes
too long to make anything. And it's not altogether a nice way to earn
your living. No; on the whole, I think--Canada. . ."

Mrs. Chichester rose in alarm

"Canada! my boy!"

"Nice big place--plenty of room. We're all so crowded together here in
England. All the professions are chock-full with people waitin' to
squeeze in somewhere. Give me the new big countries! England is too old
and small. A fellow with my temperament can hardly turn round and take
a full breath in an island our size. Out there, with millions of acres
to choose from, I'll just squat down on a thousand or so, raise cattle,
and in a year or two I'll be quite independent. Then back I'll come
here and invest it. See?"

"Don't go away, from me, Alaric. I couldn't bear that."

"All right--if you say so, mater. But it does seem a shame to let all
that good land go to waste when it can be had for the asking."

"Well, I'll wander round the fields for a bit, and thrash it all out.
'Stonishing how clear a fellow's head gets in the open air. Don't you
worry, mater--I'll beat the whole thing out by myself."

He patted the old lady gently on the shoulder, and humming a music-hall
ballad cheerfully, started off into the garden. He had only gone a few
steps when his mother called to him. He stopped. She joined him
excitedly.

"Oh, Alaric! There is a way--one way that would save us." And she
trembled as she paused, as if afraid to tell him what the alternative
was.

"Is there, mater? What is it?"

"It rests with you, dear."

"Does it? Very good. I'll do it."

"Will you?"

"Honour bright, I will."

"Whatever it is?"

"To save you and Ethel and the roof, 'course I will. Now you've got me
all strung up. Let me hear it."

She drew him into a little arbour in the rose-garden out of sight and
hearing of the open windows.

"Alaric?" she asked, in a tone that suggested their fate hung on his
answer: "Alaric! Do you LIKE her?"

"Like whom?"

"Margaret! Do you?"

"Here and there. She amuses me like anything at times. She drew a map
of Europe once that I think was the most fearful and wonderful thing I
have ever seen. She said it was the way her father would like to see
Europe. She had England, Scotland and Wales in GERMANY, and the rest of
the map was IRELAND. Made me laugh like anything." And he chuckled at
the remembrance.

Suddenly Mrs. Chichester placed both of her hands on his shoulders and
with tears in her eyes exclaimed:

"Oh! my boy! Alaric! My son!"

"Hello!" cried the astonished youth. "What is it? You're not goin' to
cry, are ye?"

She was already weeping copiously as she gasped between her sobs:

"Oh! If you only COULD."

"COULD? WHAT?"

"Take that little wayward child into your life and mould her."

"Here, one moment, mater: let me get the full force of your idea. You
want ME to MOULD Margaret?"

"Yes, dear."

"Ha!" he laughed uneasily. Then said decidedly: "No, mater, no. I can
do most things, but as a moulder--oh, no. Let Ethel do it--if she'll
stay, that is."

"Alaric, my dear--I mean to take her really into your life 'to have and
to hold.'" And she looked pleadingly at him through her tear-dimmed
eyes.

"But, I don't want to hold her, mater!" reasoned her son.

"It would be the saving of her," urged the old lady. "That's all very
well, but what about me?"

"It would be the saving of us all!" she insisted significantly. But
Alaric was still obtuse. "Now, how would my holding and moulding
Margaret save us?" The old lady placed her cards deliberately, on the
table as she said sententiously: "She would stay with us here--if you
were--engaged to her!" The shock had cone. His mother's terrible
alternative was now before him in all its naked horror. A shiver ran
through him. The thought of a man, with a future as brilliant as his,
being blighted at the outset by such a misalliance. He felt the colour
leave his face. He knew he was ghastly pale. The little arbour seemed
to close in on him and stifle him. He could scarcely breathe. He
murmured, his eyes half closed, as if picturing some vivid nightmare:
"Engaged! Don't, mother, please." He trembled again: "Good lord!
Engaged to that tomboy!" The thought seemed to strike him to the very
core of his being. He who might ally himself with anyone sacrificing
his hopes of happiness and advancement with a child of the earth.

"Don't, mother!" he repeated in a cry of entreaty.

"She has the blood of the Kingsnorths!" reminded, Mrs. Chichester. "It
is pretty well covered up in O'Connell Irish," replied Alaric bitterly.
"Please don't say any more, mater. You have upset me for the day.
Really, you have for the whole day." But his mother was not to be
shaken so easily in her determination. She went on:

"She has the breeding of my sister Angela, dear."

"You wouldn't think it to watch her and listen to her. Now, once and
for all" and he tried to pass his mother and go into the garden.

There was no escape. Mrs. Chichester held him firmly:

"She will have five thousand pounds a year when she is twenty-one!"

She looked the alarmed youth straight in the eyes. She was fighting for
her own. She could not bear to think of parting with this home where
she had lived so happily with her husband, and where her two children
were born and reared. Even though Peg was not of the same caste, much
could be done with her. Once accept her into the family and the rest
would be easy.

As she looked piercingly into Alaric's eyes, he caught the full
significance of the suggestion. His lips pursed to whistle--but no
sound came through them. He muttered hoarsely, as though he were
signing away his right to happiness.

"Five thousand pounds a year! Five thousand of the very best!" Mrs.
Chichester took the slowly articulated words in token of acceptance. He
would do it! She knew he would! Always ready to rise to a point of
honour and to face a duty or confront a danger, he was indeed her son.

She took him in her arms and pressed his reluctant and shrinking body
to her breast.

"Oh, my boy!" she wailed joyfully. "My dear, dear boy!"

Alaric disengaged himself alertly.

"Here, half a minute, mater. Half a minute, please: One can't burn all
one's boats like that, without a cry for help."

"Think what it would mean, dear! Your family preserved, and a brand
snatched from the burning!"

"That's just it. It's all right savin' the family. Any cove'll do that
at a pinch. But I do not see myself as a 'brand-snatcher' Besides, I am
not ALTOGETHER at liberty."

"What?" cried his mother.

"Oh, I've not COMMITTED myself to anything. But I've been three times
to hear that wonderful woman speak--once on the PLATFORM! And people
are beginning to talk. She thinks no end of me. Sent me a whole lot of
stuff last week--'ADVANCED LITERATURE' she calls it. I've got 'em all
upstairs. Wrote every word of 'em herself. Never saw a woman who can
TALK and WRITE as she can. And OUTSIDE of all that I'm afraid I've more
or less ENCOURAGED her. And there you are--the whole thing in a
nutshell."

"It would unite our blood, Alaric," the fond mother insisted.

"Oh, hang our blood! I beg your pardon, mater, but really I can't make
our blood the FIRST thing."

"It would settle you for life, dear," she suggested after a pause.

"I'd certainly be settled all right," in a despairing tone.

"Think what it would mean, Alaric."

"I am, mater. I'm thinking--and thinking awfully hard. Now, just a
moment. Don't let either of us talk. Just let us think. I know how much
is at stake for the family, and YOU realise how much is at stake for
ME, don't you?"

"Indeed I do. And if I didn't think you would be happy I would not
allow it--indeed I wouldn't."

Alaric thought for a few moments.

The result of this mental activity took form and substance as follows:

"She is not half-bad-lookin'--at times--when she's properly dressed."

"I've seen her look almost beautiful!" cried Mrs. Chichester.

Alaric suddenly grew depressed.

"Shockin' temper, mater!" and he shook his head despondently.

"That would soften under the restraining hand of affection!" reasoned
his mother.

"She would have to dress her hair and drop DOGS. I will not have a dog
all over the place, and I do like tidiness in women. Especially their
hair. In that I would have to be obeyed."

"The woman who LOVES always OBEYS!" cried his mother.

"Ah! There we have it!" And Alaric sprang up and faced the old lady.
"There we have it! DOES she LOVE me?"

Mrs. Chichester looked fondly at her only son and answered:

"How could she be NEAR you for the last month and NOT love you?"

Alaric nodded:

"Of course there is that. Now, let me see--just get a solid grip on the
whole thing. IF she LOVES me--and taking all things into
consideration--for YOUR sake and darling ETHEL'S and for my--that is--"

He suddenly broke off, took his mother's hand between both of his and
pressed it encouragingly, and with the courage of hopefulness, he said:

"Anyway, mater, it's a go! I'll do it. It will take a bit of doin', but
I'll do it."

"Bless you, my boy," said the overjoyed mother, "Bless you."

As they came out of the little arbour it seemed as if Fate had changed
the whole horizon for the Chichester family.

Mrs. Chichester was happy in the consciousness that her home and her
family would lie free from the biting grip of debt.

Alaric, on the other hand, seemed to have all the sunlight suddenly
stricken out of his life. Still, it was his DUTY, and duty was in the
Chichester motto.

As mother and son walked slowly toward the house, they looked up, and
gazing through a tiny casement of the little Mauve-Room was Peg, her
face white and drawn.

Alaric shivered again as he thought of his sacrifice.



CHAPTER XIV

ALARIC TO THE RESCUE


Mrs. Chichester went up to the Mauve-Room a little later and found Peg
in the same attitude, looking out of the window--thinking.

"Good morning, Margaret," she began, and her tone was most
conciliatory, not to say almost kindly.

"Good mornin'," replied Peg dully.

"I am afraid I was a little harsh with you last night," the old lady
added. It was the nearest suggestion of an apology Mrs. Chichester had
ever made.

"Ye'll never be again," flashed back Peg sharply.

"That is exactly what I was saying to Alaric. I shall never be harsh
with you again. Never!"

If Mrs. Chichester thought the extraordinary unbending would produce an
equally, Christian-like spirit in Peg, she was unhappily mistaken. Peg
did not vary her tone or hear attitude. Both were absolutely
uncompromising.

"Ye'll have to go to New York if ye ever want to be harsh with me
again. That is where ye'll have to go. To New York."

"You are surely not going to leave us just on account of a few words of
correction?" reasoned Mrs. Chichester.

"I am," replied Peg, obstinately. "An' ye've done all the correctin'
ye'll ever do with me."

"Have you thought of all you are giving up?"

"I thought all through the night of what I am going back to. And I am
going back to it as soon as Mr. Hawkes comes. And now, if ye don't
mind, I'd rather be left alone. I have a whole lot to think about, an'
they're not very happy thoughts, ayther--an' I'd rather be by
meself--if ye plaze."

There was a final air of dismissal about Peg that astonished and
grieved the old lady. How their places had changed in a few hours!
Yesterday it was Mrs. Chichester who commanded and Peg who
obeyed--SOMETIMES.

Now, she was being sent out of a room in her own house, and by her poor
little niece.

As she left the room Mrs. Chichester thought sadly of the condition
misfortune had placed her in. She brightened as she realised that they
had still one chance--through Alaric--of recouping, even slightly, the
family fortunes. The thought flashed through Mrs. Chichester's mind of
how little Margaret guessed what an honour was about to be conferred
upon her through the nobility of her son in sacrificing himself on the
altar of duty. The family were indeed repaying good for evil--extending
the olive branch--in tendering their idol as a peace-offering at the
feet of the victorious Peg.

Meanwhile, that young lady had suddenly remembered two
things--firstly--that she must not return to her father in anything
Mrs. Chichester had given her. Out of one of the drawers she took the
little old black jacket and skirt and the flat low shoes and the
red-flowered hat. Secondly, it darted through her mind that she had
left Jerry's present to her in its familiar hiding-place beneath a
corner of the carpet. Not waiting to change into the shabby little
dress, she hurried downstairs into the empty living-room, ran across,
and there, sure enough, was her treasure undisturbed. She took it up
and a pang went through her heart as it beat in on her that never again
would its donor discuss its contents with her. This gentleman of title,
masquerading as a farmer, who had led her on to talk of herself, of her
country and of her father, just to amuse himself. The blood surged up
to her temples as she thought how he must have laughed at her when he
was away from her: though always when with her he showed her the
gravest attention, and consideration, and courtesy. It was with mingled
feelings she walked across the room, the book open in her hand, her
eyes scanning some of the familiar and well-remembered lines.

As she reached the foot of the stairs, Alaric came in quickly through
the windows.

"Hello! Margaret!" he cried cheerfully, though his heart was beating
nervously at the thought of what he was about to do--and across his
features there was a sickly pallor.

Peg turned and looked at him, at the same moment hiding the book behind
her back.

"What have you got there, all tucked away?" he ventured as the opening
question that was to lead to the all-important one.

Peg held it up for him to see: "The only thing I'm takin' away that I
didn't bring with me."

"A book, eh?"

"That's what it is--a book;" and she began to go upstairs.

"Taking it AWAY?" he called up to her.

"That's what I'm doin'," and she still went on up two more steps.

Alaric made a supreme effort and followed her.

"You're not really goin' away--cousin?" he gasped.

"I am," replied Peg. "An' ye can forget the relationship the minnit the
cab drives me away from yer door!"

"Oh, I say, you know," faltered Alaric. "Don't be cruel!"

"Cruel, is it?" queried Peg in amazement. "Sure, what's there cruel in
THAT, will ye tell me?"

She looked at him curiously.

For once all Alaric's confidence left him. His tongue was dry and clove
to the roof of his mouth. Instead of conferring a distinction on the
poor little creature he felt almost as if he were about to ask her a
favour.

He tried to throw a world of tenderness into his voice as he spoke
insinuatingly:

"I thought we were goin' to be such good little friends," and he looked
almost languishingly at her.

For the first time Peg began to feel some interest. Her eyes winked as
she said:

"DID ye? Look at that, now. I didn't."

"I say, you know," and he went up on the same step with her: "I
say--really ye mustn't let what the mater said last night upset ye!
Really, ye mustn't!"

"Mustn't I, now? Well, let me tell ye it did upset me--an' I'm still
upset--an' I'm goin' to kape on bein' upset until I get into the cab
that dhrives me from yer door."

"Oh, come, now--what nonsense! Of course the mater was a teeny bit
disappointed--that's all. Just a teeny bit. But now it's all over."

"Well, _I_ was a WHOLE LOT disappointed--an' it's all over with me,
too." She started again to get away from him, but he stepped in front
of her.

"Don't go for a minute. Why not forget the whole thing and let's all
settle down into nice, cosy, jolly little pals, eh?"

He was really beginning to warm to his work the more she made
difficulties. It was for Alaric to overcome them. The family roof was
at stake. He had gone chivalrously to the rescue. He was feeling a
gleam of real enthusiasm. Peg's reply threw a damper again on his
progress.

"Forget it, is it? No--I'll not forget it. My memory is not so
convaynient. You're not goin' to be disgraced again through me!" She
passed him and went on to the landing. He followed her eagerly.

"Just a moment," he cried, stopping her just by an a oriel window. She
paused in the centre of the glow that radiated from its panes.

"What is it, now?" she asked impatiently. She wanted to go back to her
room and make her final preparations.

Alaric looked at her with what he meant to be adoration in his eyes.

"Do you know, I've grown really awfully fond of you?" His voice
quivered and broke. He had reached one of the crises of his life.

Peg looked at him and a smile broadened across her face.

"No, I didn't know it. When did ye find it out?"

"Just now--down in that room--when the thought flashed through me that
perhaps you really meant to leave us. It went all through me. 'Pon my
honour, it did. The idea positively hurt me. Really HURT me."

"Did it, now?" laughed Peg. "Sure, an' I'm glad of it."

"Glad! GLAD?" he asked in astonishment.

"I am. I didn't think anythin' could hurt ye unless it disturbed yer
comfort. An' I don't see how my goin' will do that."

"Oh, but it will," persisted Alaric. "Really, it will."

"Sure, now?" Peg was growing really curious. What was this odd little
fellow trying to tell her? He looked so tremendously in earnest about
something What in the world was it?

Alaric answered her without daring to look at her.

He fixed his eye on his pointed shoe and said quaveringly:

"You know, meetin' a girl round the house for a whole month, as I've
met you, has an awful effect on a fellow. AWFUL Really!"

"AWFUL?" cried Peg.

"Yes, indeed it has. It grows part of one's life, as it were. Not to
see you running up and down those stairs: sittin' about all over the
place: studyin' all your jolly books and everything--you know the
thought bruises me--really it BRUISES."

Peg laughed heartily. Her good humour was coming back to her.

"Sure, ye'll get over it, Alaric," she said encouragingly.

"That's just it," he protested anxiously. "I'm afraid I WON'T get over
it. Do you know, I'm quite ACHE-Y NOW. Indeed I am."

"Ache-y?" repeated Peg, growing more and more amused.

Alaric touched his heart tenderly:

"Yes, really. All round HERE!"

"Perhaps it's because I disturbed yer night's rest, Alaric?"

"You've disturbed ALL my rest. If you GO I'll never have ANY rest."
Once again he spurred on his flagging spirits and threw all his ardour
into the appeal. "I've really begun to care for you very much. Oh,
very, very much. It all came to me in a flash--down in the room."
And--for the moment--he really meant it. He began to see qualities in
his little cousin which he had never noticed before. And the fact that
she was not apparently a willing victim, added zest to the attack.

Peg looked at him with unfeigned interest:

"Sure, that does ye a great dale of credit. I've been thinkin' all the
time I've known ye that ye only cared for YERSELF--like all Englishmen."

"Oh, no," protested Alaric. "Oh, DEAR, no. We care a great deal at
times--oh, a GREAT deal--and never say a word about it--not a single
word. You know we hate to wear our hearts on our sleeves."

"I don't blame ye. Ye'd wear them out too soon, maybe."

Alaric felt that the moment had now really come.

"Cousin," he said, and his voice dropped to the caressing note of a
wooer: "Cousin! Do you know I am going to do something now I've never
done before?"

He paused to let the full force of what was to come have its real value.

"What is it, Alaric?" Peg asked, all unconscious of the drama that was
taking place in her cousin's heart! "Sure, what is it? Ye're not goin'
to do somethin' USEFUL, are ye?"

He braced himself and went on: "I am going to ask a very charming young
lady to marry me. Eh?"

"ARE ye?"

"I am."

"What do ye think o' that, now!"

"And--WHO--DO--YOU--THINK--IT--IS?"

He waited, wondering if she would guess correctly. It would be so
helpful if only she could.

But she was so unexpected.

"I couldn't guess it in a hundred years, Alaric. Ralely, I couldn't."

"Oh, TRY! Do. TRY!" he urged. "I couldn't think who'd marry YOU--indade
I couldn't. Mebbe the poor girl's BLIND. Is THAT it?"

"Can't you guess? No? Really?"

"NO, I'm tellin' ye. Who is it?"

"YOU!"

The moment had come. The die was cast. His life was in the hands of
Fate--and of Peg. He waited breathlessly for the effect.

Peg looked at him in blank astonishment.

All expression had left her face.

Then she leaned back against the balustrade and laughed long and
unrestrainedly. She laughed until the tears came coursing down her
cheeks.

Alaric was at first nonplussed. Then he grasped the situation in its
full significance. It was just a touch of hysteria. He joined her and
laughed heartily as well.

"Aha!" he cried, between laughs: "That's a splendid sign. Splendid!
I've always been told that girls CRY when they're proposed to."

"Sure, that's what I'm doin'," gasped Peg. "I'm cryin'--laughin'."

Alaric suddenly checked his mirth and said seriously:

"'Course ye must know, cousin, that I've nothin' to offer you except a
life-long devotion: a decent old name--and--my career--when once I get
it goin'. I only need an incentive to make no end of a splash in the
world. YOU would be my incentive." Peg could hardly believe her ears.
She looked at Alaric while her eyes danced mischievously.

"Go on!" she said. "Go on. Sure, ye're doin' fine!"

"Then it's all right?" he asked fervently.

"Faith! I think it's wondherful."

"Good. Excellent. But--there are one or two little things to be settled
first."

Even as the victorious general, with the capitulated citadel, it was
time to dictate terms. Delays in such matters, Alaric had often been
told, were unwise. A clear understanding at the beginning saved endless
complications afterwards.

"Just a few little things," he went on, "such as a little
OBEDIENCE--that's most essential. A modicum of care about ORDINARY
things,--for instance, about dress, speech, hair, et ectera--and NO
'Michael.'"

"Oh!" cried Peg dejectedly, while her eyes beamed playfully:

"Sure, couldn't I have 'Michael'?"

"No," he said firmly. It was well she should understand that once and
for all. He had never in a long experience, seen a dog he disliked more.

"Oh!" ejaculated Peg, plaintively.

Prepared to, at any rate, compromise, rather than have an open rupture,
he hastened to modify his attitude:

"At least NOT in the HOUSE."

"In the STABLES?" queried Peg.

"We'd give him a jolly little kennel somewhere, if you really wanted
him, and you could see him--say TWICE a day."

He felt a thrill of generosity as he thus unbent from his former rigid
attitude.

"Then it wouldn't be 'love me love my dog'?" quizzed Peg.

"Well, really, you know, one cannot regulate one's life by proverbs,
cousin. Can one?" he reasoned.

"But 'Michael' is all I have in the wurrld, except me father. Now, what
could ye give me instead of him?"

Here was where a little humour would save the whole situation. Things
were becoming strained--and over a dog.

Alaric would use his SUBTLER humour--keen as bright steel--and turn the
edge of the discussion.

"What can I give you instead of 'Michael'?"

He paused, laughed cheerfully and bent tenderly aver her and whispered:

"MYSELF, dear cousin! MYSELF!" and he leaned back and watched the
effect. A quick joke at the right moment had so often saved the day. It
would again, he was sure. After a moment he whispered softly:

"What do you say--dear cousin?"

Peg looked up at him, innocently, and answered:

"Sure, I think I'd rather have 'Michael'--if ye don't mind."

He started forward: "Oh, come, I say! You don't MEAN that?"

"I do," she answered decidedly.

"But think--just for one moment--of the ADVANTAGES?"

"For you, or for me?" asked Peg.

"For YOU--of course," replied the disappointed Alaric.

"I'm thryin' to--but I can only think of 'Michael. Sure, I get more
affection out of his bark of greetin' than I've ever got from a human
bein' in England. But then he's IRISH. No, thank ye, all the same. If
it makes no difference to ye, I'd rather have 'Michael.'"

"You don't mean to say that you REFUSE me?" he asked blankly.

"If ye don't mind," replied Peg meekly.

"You actually decline my HAND and--er--HEART?"

"That's what I do."

"Really?" He was still unable to believe it. He wanted to hear her
refusal distinctly.

"Ralely," replied Peg, gravely.

"Is that FINAL?"

"It's the most final thing there is in the wurrld," replied Peg, on the
brink of an outburst of laughter.

Alaric looked so anxious and crestfallen now--in sharp contrast to his
attitude of triumph a few moments before.

To her amazement the gloom lifted from her cousin's countenance. He
took a deep breath, looked at her in genuine relief, and cried out
heartily:

"I say! You're a BRICK!"

"Am I?" asked Peg.

"It's really awfully good of you. Some girls in your position would
have jumped at me. Positively JUMPED!"

"WOULD they--poor things!"

"But YOU--why, you're a genuine, little, hall-marked 'A number one
brick'! I'm extremely obliged to you."

He took her little hand and shook it warmly.

"You're a plucky little girl, that's what you are--a
PLUCKY--LITTLE--GIRL. I'll never forget it--NEVER. If there is anythin'
I can do--at any time--anywhere--call on me. I'll be there--right on
the spot."

He heard his mother's voice, speaking to Jarvis, in the room below. At
the same moment he saw Ethel walking toward them along the corridor.

He said hurriedly and fervently to Peg:

"Bless you, cousin. You've taken an awful load off my mind. I was
really worried. I HAD to ask you. Promised to. See you before you go!
Hello! Ethel! All right? Good!" Without waiting for an answer, the
impulsive young gentleman went on up to his own room to rejoice over
his escape.

Peg walked over and took Ethel by both hands and looked into the tired,
anxious eyes.

"Come into my room," she whispered.

Without a word, Ethel followed her into the Mauve Room.



CHAPTER XV

MONTGOMERY HAWKES


On the 30th day of June, Mr. Montgomery Hawkes glanced at his
appointments for the following day and found the entry: "Mrs.
Chichester, Scarboro--in re Margaret O'Connell."

He accordingly sent a telegram to Mrs. Chichester, acquainting her with
the pleasant news that she might expect that distinguished lawyer on
July 1, to render an account of her stewardship of the Irish agitator's
child.

As he entered a first-class carriage on the Great Northern Railway at
King's Cross station next day, bound for Scarboro, he found himself
wondering how the experiment, dictated by Kingsnorth on his death-bed,
had progressed. It was a most interesting case. He had handled several,
during his career as a solicitor, in which bequests were made to the
younger branches of a family that had been torn by dissension during
the testator's lifetime, and were now remembered for the purpose of
making tardy amends.

But in those cases the families were all practically of the same caste.
It would be merely benefiting them by money or land. Their education
had already been taken care of. Once the bequest was arranged all
responsibility ended.

The O'Connell-Kingsnorth arrangement was an entirely different
condition of things altogether. There were so many provisions each
contingent on something in the character of the beneficiary. He did not
regard the case with the same equanimity he had handled the others. It
opened up so many possibilities of difficulty, and the object of Mr.
Kingsnorth's bequest was such an amazing young lady to endeavour to do
anything with. He had no preconceived methods to employ in the matter.
It was an experiment where his experience was of no use. He had only to
wait developments, and, should any real crisis arise, consult with the
Chief Executor.

By the time he reached Scarboro he had arranged everything in his mind.
It was to be a short and exceedingly satisfactory interview and he
would be able to catch the afternoon express back to London.

He pictured Miss O'Connell as being marvellously improved by her gentle
surroundings and eager to continue in them. He was sure he would have a
most satisfactory report to make to the Chief Executor.

As he walked up the beach-walk he was humming gaily an air from
"Girofle-Girofla." He was entirely free from care and annoyance. He was
thinking what a fortunate young lady Miss O'Connell was to live amid
such delightful surroundings. It would be many a long day before she
would ever think of leaving her aunt.

All of which points to the obvious fact that even gentlemen with
perfectly-balanced legal brains, occasionally mis-read the result of
force of character over circumstances.

He was shown into the music-room and was admiring a genuine Greuze when
Mrs. Chichester came in.

She greeted him tragically and motioned him to a seat beside her.

"Well?" he smiled cheerfully. "And how is our little protegee?"

"Sit down," replied Mrs. Chichester, sombrely.

"Thank you."

He sat beside her, waited a moment, then, with some sense of misgiving,
asked: "Everything going well, I hope?"

"Far from it." And Mrs. Chichester shook her head sadly.

"Indeed?" His misgivings deepened.

"I want you to understand one thing, Mr. Hawkes," and tears welled up
into the old lady's eyes: "I have done my best."

"I am sure of that, Mrs. Chichester," assured the lawyer, growing more
and more apprehensive.

"But she wants to leave us to-day. She has ordered cab. She is packing
now."

"Dear, dear!" ejaculated the bewildered solicitor. "Where is she going?"

"Back to her father."

"How perfectly ridiculous. WHY?"

"I had occasion to speak to her severely--last night. She grew very
angry and indignant--and--now she has ordered a cab."

"Oh!" and Hawkes laughed easily. "A little childish temper. Leave her
to me. I have a method with the young. Now--tell me--what is her
character? How has she behaved?"

"At times ADMIRABLY. At others--" Mrs. Chichester raised her hands and
her eyes in shocked disapproval.

"Not quite--?" suggested Mr. Hawkes.

"Not AT ALL!" concluded Mrs. Chichester.

"How are her studies?"

"Backward."

"Well, we must not expect too much," said the lawyer reassuringly.
"Remember everything is foreign to her."

"Then you are not disappointed, Mr. Hawkes?"

"Not in the least. We can't expect to form a character in a month. Does
she see many people?"

"Very few. We try to keep her entirely amongst ourselves."

"I wouldn't do that. Let her mix with people. The more the better. The
value of contrast. Take her visiting with you. Let her talk to
others--listen to them--exchange opinions with them. Nothing is better
for sharp-minded, intelligent and IGNORANT people than to meet others
cleverer than themselves. The moment they recognise their own
inferiority, they feel the desire for improvement."

Mrs. Chichester listened indignantly to this, somewhat platitudinous,
sermon on how to develop character. And indignation was in her tone
when she replied:

"Surely, she has sufficient example here, sir?"

Hawkes was on one of his dearest hobbies--"Characters and
Dispositions." He had once read a lecture on the subject. He smiled
almost pityingly at Mrs. Chichester, as he shook his head and answered
her.

"No, Mrs. Chichester, pardon me--but NO! She has NOT sufficient example
here. Much as I appreciate a HOME atmosphere, it is only when the young
get AWAY from it that they really develop. It is the contact with the
world, and its huge and marvellous interests, that strengthens
character and solidifies disposition. It is only--" he stopped.

Mrs. Chichester was evidently either not listening, or was entirely
unimpressed. She was tapping her left hand with a lorgnette she held in
her right, and was waiting for an opportunity to speak. Consequently,
Mr. Hawkes stopped politely.

"If you can persuade her to remain with us, I will do anything you wish
in regard to her character and its development."

"Don't be uneasy," he replied easily, "she will stay. May I see her?"

Mrs. Chichester, rose crossed over to the bell and rang it. She wanted
to prepare the solicitor for the possibility of a match between her son
and her niece. She would do it NOW and do it tactfully.

"There is one thing you must know, Mr. Hawkes. My son is in love with
her," she said, as though in a burst of confidence.

Hawkes rose, visibly perturbed.

"What? Your son?"

"Yes," she sighed. "Of course she is hardly a suitable match for
Alaric--as YET. But by the time she is of age--"

"Of age?"

"By that time, much may be done."

Jarvis came in noiselessly and was despatched by Mrs. Chichester to
bring her niece to her.

Hawkes was moving restlessly about the room. He stopped in front of
Mrs. Chichester as Jarvis disappeared.

"I am afraid, madam, that such a marriage would be out of the question."

"What do you mean?" demanded the old lady. "As one of the executors of
the late Mr. Kingsnorth's will, in my opinion, it would be defeating
the object of the dead man's legacy."

Mrs. Chichester retorted, heatedly: "He desires her to be TRAINED. What
training is better than MARRIAGE?"

"Almost any," replied Mr. Hawkes. "Marriage should be the union of two
formed characters. Marriage between the young is one of my pet
objections. It is a condition of life essentially for those who have
reached maturity in nature and in character. I am preparing a paper on
it for the Croydon Ethical Society and--"

Whatever else Mr. Hawkes might have said in continuation of another of
his pet subjects was cut abruptly short by the appearance of Peg. She
was still dressed in one of Mrs. Chichester's gifts. She had not had an
opportunity to change into her little travelling suit.

Hawkes looked at her in delighted surprise. She had completely changed.
What a metamorphosis from the forlorn little creature of a month ago!
He took her by the hand and pressed it warmly, at the same time saying
heartily:

"Well, well! WHAT an improvement."

Peg gazed at him with real pleasure. She was genuinely glad to see him.
She returned the pressure of his hand and welcomed him:

"I'm glad you've come, Mr. Hawkes."

"Why, you're a young lady!" cried the astonished solicitor.

"Am I? Ask me aunt about that!" replied Peg, somewhat bitterly.

"Mr. Hawkes wishes to talk to you, dear," broke in Mrs. Chichester, and
there was a melancholy pathos in her voice and, in her eyes.

If neither Alaric nor Mr. Hawkes could deter her, what would become of
them?

"And I want to talk to Mr. Hawkes, too," replied Peg. "But ye must
hurry," she went on. "I've only, a few minutes."

Mrs. Chichester went pathetically to the door, and, telling Mr. Hawkes
she would see him again when he had interviewed her niece, she left
them.

"Now, my dear Miss Margaret O'Connell--" began the lawyer.

"Will ye let me have twenty pounds?" suddenly asked Peg.

"Certainly. NOW?" and he took out his pocket-book.

"This minnit," replied Peg positively.

"With pleasure," said Mr. Hawkes, as he began to count the bank-notes.

"And I want ye to get a passage on the first ship to America. This
afternoon if there's one," cried Peg, earnestly.

"Oh, come, come--" remonstrated the lawyer.

"The twenty pounds I want to buy something for me father--just to
remember England by. If ye think me uncle wouldn't like me to have it
because I'm lavin', why then me father'll pay ye back. It may take him
a long time, but he'll pay it."

"Now listen--" interrupted Mr. Hawkes.

"Mebbe it'll only be a few dollars a week, but father always pays his
debts--in time. That's all he ever needs--TIME."

"What's all this nonsense about going away?"

"It isn't nonsense. I'm goin' to me father," answered Peg resolutely.

"Just when everything is opening out for you?" asked the lawyer.

"Everything has closed up on me," said Peg. "I'm goin' back."

"Why, you've improved out of all knowledge."

"Don't think that. Me clothes have changed--that's all. When I put me
thravellin' suit back on agen, ye won't notice any IMPROVEMENT."

"But think what you're giving up."

"I'll have me father. I'm only sorry I gave HIM up--for a month."

"The upbringing of a young lady!"

"I don't want it. I want me father."

"The advantages of gentle surroundings."

"New York is good enough for me--with me father."

"Education!"

"I can get that in America--with me father."

"Position!"

"I don't want it. I want me father."

"Why this rebellion? This sudden craving for your father?"

"It isn't sudden," she turned on him fiercely. "I've wanted him all the
time I've been here. I only promised to stay a month anyway. Well, I've
stayed a month. Now, I've disgraced them all here an' I'm goin' back
home."

"DISGRACED them?"

"Yes, disgraced them. Give me that twenty pounds, please," and she held
out her hand for the notes.

"How have you disgraced them?" demanded the astonished lawyer.

"Ask me aunt. She knows. Give me the money, please."

Hawkes hunted through his mind for the cause of this upheaval in the
Chichester home. He remembered Mrs. Chichester's statement about
Alaric's affection for his young cousin. Could the trouble have arisen
from THAT? It gave him a clue to work on. He grasped it.

"Answer me one question truthfully, Miss O'Connell."

"What is it? Hurry. I've a lot to do before I go."

"Is there an affair of the heart?"

"D'ye mean LOVE?"

"Yes."

"Why d'ye ask me that?"

"Answer me," insisted Mr. Hawkes.

Peg looked down on the ground mournfully and replied:

"Me heart is in New York--with me father."

"Has anyone made love to you since you have been here?"

Peg looked up at him sadly and shook her head. A moment later, a
mischievous look came into her eyes, and she said, with a roguish laugh:

"Sure one man wanted to kiss me an' I boxed his ears. And
another--ALMOST man--asked me to marry him."

"Oh!" ejaculated the lawyer.

"Me cousin Alaric."

"And what did you say?" questioned Hawkes.

"I towld him I'd rather have 'Michael.'"

He looked at her in open bewilderment and repeated:

"Michael?"

"Me dog," explained Peg, and her eyes danced with merriment.

Hawkes laughed heartily and relievedly.

"Then you refused him?"

"Of course I refused him. ME marry HIM! What for, I'd like to know?"

"Is he too young?"

"He's too selfish, an' too silly too, an' too everything I don't like
in a man!" replied Peg.

"And what DO you like in a man?"

"Precious little from what I've seen of them in England."

As Hawkes looked at her, radiant in her spring-like beauty, her clear,
healthy complexion, her dazzling teeth, her red-gold hair, he felt a
sudden thrill go through him. His life had been so full, so
concentrated on the development of his career, that he had never
permitted the feminine note to obtrude itself on his life. His effort
had been rewarded by an unusually large circle of influential clients
who yielded him an exceedingly handsome revenue. He had heard whispers
of a magistracy. His PUBLIC future was assured.

But his PRIVATE life was arid. The handsome villa in Pelham Crescent
had no one to grace the head of the table, save on the occasional
visits of his aged mother, or the still rarer ones of a married sister.

And here was he in the full prime of life.

It is remarkable how, at times, in one's passage through life, the
throb in a voice, the breath of a perfume, the chord of an old song,
will arouse some hidden note that had so far lain dormant in one's
nature, and which, when awakened into life, has influences that reach
through generations.

It was even so with Hawkes, as he looked at the little Irish girl, born
of an aristocratic English mother, looking up at him, hand
outstretched, expectant, in all her girlish pudicity.

Yielding to some uncontrollable impulse, he took the little hand in
both of his own. He smiled nervously, and there was a suspicious tremor
in his voice:

"You would like a man of position in life to give you what you most
need. Of years to bring you dignity, and strength to protect you."

"I've got HIM," stated Peg unexpectedly, withdrawing her hand and
eyeing the bank-notes that seemed as far from her as when she first
asked for them.

"You've got him?" ejaculated the man-of-law, aghast.

"I have. Me father. Let ME count that money. The cab will be here an' I
won't be ready--" Hawkes was not to be denied now. He went on in his
softest and most persuasive accents:

"I know one who would give you all these--a man who has reached the
years of discretion! one in whom the follies of youth have merged into
the knowledge and reserve of early middle-age. A man of position and of
means. A man who can protect you, care for you, admire you--and be
proud to marry you."

He felt a real glow of eloquent pleasure, as he paused for her reply to
so dignified and ardent an appeal.

If Peg had been listening, she certainly could not have understood the
meaning of his fervid words, since she answered him by asking a
question:

"Are ye goin' to let me have the money?"

"Do not speak of MONEY at a moment like this!" cried the mortified
lawyer.

"But ye said ye would let me have it!" persisted Peg.

"Don't you wish to know who the man is, whom I have just described, my
dear Miss O'Connell?"

"No, I don't. Why should I? With me father waitin' in New York for
me--an' I'm waitin' for that--" and again she pointed to his
pocket-book.

"Miss O'Connell--may I say--Margaret, I was your uncle's adviser--his
warm personal friend. We spoke freely of you for many weeks before he
died. It was his desire to do something for you that would change your
whole life and make it full and happy and contented. Were your uncle
alive, I know of nothing that would give him greater pleasure than for
his old friend to take you, your young life--into his care. Miss
O'Connell--I am the man!"

It was the first time this dignified gentleman had ever invited a lady
to share his busy existence, and he felt the warm flush of youthful
nervousness rush to his cheeks, as it might have done had he made just
such a proposal, as a boy. It really seemed to him that he WAS a boy as
he stood before Peg waiting for her reply.

Again she did not say exactly what he had thought and hoped she would
have said.

"Stop it!" she cried. "What's the matther with you men this morning?
Ye'd think I was some great lady, the way ye're all offerin' me yer
hands an' yer names an' yer influences an' yer dignities. Stop it! Give
me that money and let me go."

Hawkes did not despair. He paused.

"Don't give your answer too hastily. I know it must seem abrupt--one
might almost say BRUTAL. But _I_ am alone in the world--YOU are alone.
Neither of us have contracted a regard for anyone else. And in addition
to that--there would be no occasion to marry until you are twenty-one.
There!"

And he gazed at her with what he fondly hoped were eyes of sincere
adoration.

"Not until I'm twenty-one! Look at that now!" replied Peg--it seemed to
Mr. Hawkes, somewhat flippantly.

"Well! What do you say?" he asked vibrantly.

"What do I say, to WHAT?"

"Will you consent to an engagement?"

"With YOU?"

"Yes, Miss O'Connell, with me."

Peg suddenly burst into a paroxysm of laughter.

Hawkes' face clouded and hardened.

The gloomier he looked, the more hearty were Peg's ebullitions of
merriment.

Finally, when the hysterical outburst had somewhat abated, he asked
coldly:

"Am I to consider that a refusal?"

"Ye may. What would _I_ be doin', marryin' the likes of you? Answer me
that?"

His passion began to dwindle, his ardour to lessen.

"That is final?" he queried.

"Absolutely, completely and entirely final."

Not only did all HOPE die in Mr. Hawkes, but seemingly all REGARD as
well.

Ridicule is the certain death-blow to a great and disinterested
affection.

Peg's laugh still rang in his ears and as he looked at her now, with a
new intelligence, unblinded by illusion, he realised what a mistake it
would have been for a man, of his temperament, leanings and
achievements to have linked his life with hers. Even his first feeling
of resentment passed. He felt now a warm tinge of gratitude. Her
refusal--bitter though its method had been--was a sane and wise
decision. It was better for both of them.

He looked at her gratefully and said:

"Very well. I think your determination to return to your father, a very
wise one. I shall advise the Chief Executor to that effect. And I shall
also see that a cabin is reserved for you on the first out-going
steamer, and I'll personally take you on board."

"Thank ye very much, sir. An' may I have the twenty pounds?"

"Certainly. Here it is," and he handed her the money.

"I'm much obliged to ye. An' I'm sorry if I hurt ye by laughin' just
now. But I thought ye were jokin', I did."

"Please never refer to it again."

"I won't--indade I won't. I am sure it was very nice of ye to want to
marry me--"

"I beg you--" he interrupted, stopping her with a gesture.

"Are you goin' back to London to-day?"

"By the afternoon express."

"May I go with you?"

"Certainly."

"Thank ye," cried Peg. "I won't kape ye long. I've not much to take
with me. Just what I brought here--that's all."

She hurried across the room to the staircase. When, she was halfway up
the stairs, Jarvis entered and was immediately followed by Jerry.

Peg stopped when she saw him come into the room.

As Jarvis went out, Jerry turned and saw Peg looking down at him. The
expression on her face was at once stern and wistful and angry and
yearning.

He went forward eagerly.

"Peg!" he said gently, looking up at her.

"I'm goin' back to me father in half an hour!" and she went on up the
stairs.

"In half an hour?" he called after her.

"In thirty minutes!" she replied and disappeared.

As Jerry moved slowly away from the staircase, he met Montgomery Hawkes.



CHAPTER XVI

THE CHIEF EXECUTOR, APPEARS UPON THE SCENE


"Why, how do you do, Sir Gerald?" and Hawkes went across quickly with
outstretched hand.

"Hello, Hawkes," replied Jerry, too preoccupied to return the act of
salutation. Instead, he nodded in the direction Peg had gone and
questioned:

"What does she mean--going in a few minutes?"

"She is returning to America. Our term of guardianship is over."

"How's that?"

"She absolutely refuses to stay here any longer. My duties in regard to
her, outside of the annual payment provided by her late uncle, end
to-day," replied the lawyer.

"I think not, Hawkes."

"I beg your pardon?"

"As the Chief Executor of the late Mr. Kingsnorth's will, _I_ must be
satisfied that its conditions are complied with in the SPIRIT as well
as to the LETTER," said Jerry, authoritatively.

"Exactly," was the solicitor's reply. "And--?"

"Mr. Kingsnorth expressly stipulated that a year was to elapse before
any definite conclusion was arrived at. So far only a month has passed."

"But she insists on returning to her father!" protested Mr. Hawkes.

"Have you told her the conditions of the will?"

"Certainly not. Mr. Kingsnorth distinctly stated she was not to know
them."

"Except under exceptional circumstances. I consider the circumstances
most exceptional."

"I am afraid I cannot agree with you, Sir Gerald."

"That is a pity. But it doesn't alter my intention."

"And may I ask what that intention is?"

"To carry out the spirit of Mr. Kingsnorth's bequest."

"And what do you consider the spirit?"

"I think we will best carry out Mr. Kingsnorth's last wishes by making
known the conditions of his bequest to Miss O'Connell and then let her
decide whether she wishes to abide by them or not."

"As the late Mr. Kingsnorth's legal adviser, I must strongly object to
such a course," protested the indignant lawyer.

"All the same, Mr. Hawkes, I feel compelled to take it, and I must ask
you to act under my instructions."

"Really," exclaimed Mr. Hawkes; "I should much prefer to resign from my
executorship."

"Nonsense. In the interests of all parties, we must act together and
endeavour to carry out the dead man's wishes."

The lawyer considered a moment and then in a somewhat mollified tone,
said:

"Very well, Sir Gerald. If you think it is necessary, why then by all
means, I shall concur in your views."

"Thank you," replied the Chief Executor.

Mrs. Chichester came into the room and went straight to Jerry. At the
same time, Alaric burst in through the garden and greeted Jerry and
Hawkes.

"I heard you were here--" began Mrs. Chichester.

Jerry interrupted her anxiously: "Mrs. Chichester, I was entirely to
blame for last night's unfortunate business. Don't visit your
displeasure on the poor little child. Please don't."

"I've tried to tell her that I'll overlook it. But she seems determined
to go. Can you suggest anything that might make her stay? She seems to
like you--and after all--as you so generously admit--it was--to a
certain extent your fault."

Before Jerry could reply, Jarvis came down the stairs with a
pained--not to say mortified--expression on his face. Underneath his
left arm he held tightly a shabby little bag and a freshly wrapped up
parcel: in his right hand, held far away from his body, was the
melancholy and picturesque terrier--"Michael."

Mrs. Chichester looked at him in horror.

"Where are you going with those--THINGS?" she gasped.

"To put them in a cab, madam," answered the humiliated footman. "Your
niece's orders."

"Put those articles in a travelling-bag--use one of my daughter's,"
ordered the old lady.

"Your niece objects, madam. She sez she'll take nothing away she didn't
bring with her."

The grief-stricken woman turned away as Jarvis passed out. Alaric tried
to comfort her. But the strain of the morning had been too great. Mrs.
Chichester burst into tears.

"Don't weep, mater. Please don't. It can't be helped. We've all done
our best. I know _I_ have!" and Alaric put his mother carefully down on
the lounge and sat beside her on the arm. He looked cheerfully at Jerry
and smiled as he said:

"I even offered to marry her if she'd stay. Couldn't do more than that,
could I?"

Hawkes listened intently.

Jerry returned Alaric's smile as he asked: "YOU offered to marry her?"

Alaric nodded:

"Poor little wretch. Still I'd have gone through with it."

"And what did she say?" queried Jerry.

"First of all she laughed in my face--right in my face--the little
beggar!"

Hawkes frowned gloomily as though at some painful remembrance.

"And after she had concluded her cachinnatory outburst, she coolly told
me she would rather have 'MICHAEL.' She is certainly a remarkable
little person and outside of the inconvenience of having her here, we
should all be delighted to go on taking care of her. And if dancing is
the rock we are going to split on, let us get one up every week for
her. Eh, Jerry? You'd come, wouldn't you?"

Down the stairs came Peg and Ethel. Peg was holding one of Ethel's
hands tightly. There seemed to be a thorough understanding between
them. Peg was dressed in the same little black suit she wore when she
first entered the Chichester family and the same little hat.

They all looked at her in amazement, amusement, interrogation and
disgust respectively.

When they reached the bottom of the stairs, Ethel stopped Peg and
entreated:

"Don't go!"

"I must. There's nothin' in the wurrld 'ud kape me here now. Nothin'!"

"I'll drive with you to the station. May I?" asked Ethel.

"All right, dear." Peg crossed over to Mrs. Chichester:

"Good-bye, aunt. I'm sorry I've been such a throuble to ye."

The poor lady looked at Peg through misty eyes and said reproachfully:

"WHY that dress? Why not one of the dresses I gave you?"

"This is the way I left me father, an' this is the way I'm goin' back
to him!" replied Peg sturdily. "Goodbye, Cousin Alaric," and she
laughed good-naturedly at the odd little man. In spite of everything he
did, he had a spice of originality about him that compelled Peg to
overlook what might have seemed to others unpardonable priggishness.

"Good-bye--little devil!" cried Alaric, cheerfully taking the offered
hand. "Good luck to ye. And take care of yerself," added Alaric,
generously.

As Peg turned away from him, she came face to face with Jerry--or as
she kept calling him in her brain by his new name--to her--Sir Gerald
Adair. She dropped her eyes and timidly held out her hand:

"Good-bye!" was all she said.

"You're not going, Peg," said Jerry, quietly and positively.

"Who's goin' to stop me?"

"The Chief Executor of the late Mr. Kingsnorth's will."

"An' who is THAT?"

"'Mr. Jerry,' Peg!"

"YOU an executor?"

"I am. Sit down--here in our midst--and know why you have been here all
the past month."

As he forced Peg gently into a chair, Mrs. Chichester and Alaric turned
indignantly on him. Mr. Hawkes moved down to listen, and, if necessary,
advise.

There was pleasure showing on one face only--on Ethel's.

She alone wanted Peg to understand her position in that house.

Since the previous night the real womanly note awakened in Ethel.

Her heart went out to Peg.



CHAPTER XVII

PEG LEARNS OF HER UNCLE'S LEGACY


Peg looked up wonderingly from the chair.

"Me cab's at the door!" she said, warningly to Jerry.

"I am sorry to insist, but you must give me a few, moments," said the
Chief Executor.

"MUST?" cried Peg.

"It is urgent," replied Jerry quietly.

"Well, then--hurry;" and Peg sat on the edge of the chair, nervously
watching "Jerry."

"Have you ever wondered at the real reason you were brought here to
this house and the extraordinary interest taken in you by relations
who, until a month ago, had never even bothered about your existence?"

"I have, indeed," Peg answered. "But whenever I've asked any one, I've
always been told it was me uncle's wish."

"And it was. Indeed, his keenest desire, just before his death, was to
atone in some way for his unkindness to your mother."

"Nothin' could do that," and Peg's lips tightened.

"That was why he sent for you."

"Sendin' for me won't bring me poor mother back to life, will it?"

"At least we must respect his intentions. He desired that you should be
given the advantages your mother had when she was a girl."

"'Ye've made yer bed; lie in it'! That was the message he sent me
mother when she was starvin'. And why? Because she loved me father.
Well, I love me father an' if he thought his money could separate us he
might just as well have let me alone. No one will ever separate us."

"In justice to yourself," proceeded Jerry, "you must know that he set
aside the sum of one thousand pounds a year to be paid to the lady who
would undertake your training."

Mrs. Chichester covered her eyes to hide the tears of mortification
that sprang readily into them.

Alaric looked at Jerry in absolute disgust.

Hawkes frowned his disapproval.

Peg sprang up and walked across to her aunt and looked down at her.

"A thousand pounds a year!" She turned to Jerry and asked: "Does she
get a thousand a year for abusin' me?"

"For taking care of you," corrected Jerry.

"Well, what do ye think of that?" cried Peg, gazing curiously at Mrs.
Chichester. "A thousand pounds a year for makin' me miserable, an' the
poor dead man thinkin' he was doin' me a favour!"

"I tell you this," went on Jerry, "because I don't want you to feel
that you have been living on charity. You have not."

Peg suddenly blazed up:

"Well, I've been made to feel it," and she glared passionately at her
aunt. "Why wasn't I told this before? If I'd known it I'd never have
stayed with ye a minnit Who are YOU, I'd like to know, to bring me up
any betther than me father? He's just as much a gentleman as any of
yez. He never hurt a poor girl's feelin's just because she was poor.
Suppose he hasn't any money? Nor ME? What of it? Is it a crime? What
has yer money an' yer breedin' done for you? It's dried up the very
blood in yer veins, that's what it has! Yer frightened to show one
real, human, kindly impulse. Ye don't know what happiness an' freedom
mean. An' if that is what money does, I don't want it. Give me what
I've been used to--POVERTY. At least I can laugh sometimes from me
heart, an' get some pleasure out o' life without disgracin' people!"

Peg's anger gave place to just as sudden a twinge of regret as she
caught sight of Ethel, white-faced, and staring at her compassionately.
She went across to Ethel and buried her face on her shoulder and wept
as she wailed.

"Why WASN'T I told! I'd never have stayed! Why wasn't I told?"

And Ethel comforted her:

"Don't cry, dear," she whispered. "Don't. The day you came here we were
beggars. You have literally, fed and housed us for the last month."

Peg looked up at Ethel in astonishment.

She forgot her own sorrow.

"Ye were beggars?"

"Yes. We have nothing but the provision made for your training."

Poor Mrs. Chichester looked at her daughter reproachfully.

Alaric had never seen his sister even INTERESTED much less EXCITED
before. He turned to his mother, shrugged his shoulders and said:

"I give it up! That's all I can say! I simply give it up!"

Peg grasped the full meaning of Ethel's words:

"And will ye have nothin' if I go away?"

Peg paused: Ethel did not speak.

Peg persisted: "Tell me--are ye ralely dependin' on ME? Spake to me.
Because if ye are, I won't go. I'll stay with ye. I wouldn't see ye
beggars for the wurrld. I've been brought up amongst them, an' I know
what it is."

Suddenly she took Ethel by the shoulders and asked in a voice so low
that none of the others heard her:

"Was that the reason ye were goin' last night?"

Ethel tried to stop her.

The truth illumined Ethel's face and Peg saw it and knew.

"Holy Mary!" she cried, "and it was I was drivin' ye to it. Ye felt the
insult of it every time ye met me--as ye said last night. Sure, if I'd
known, dear, I'd never have hurt ye, I wouldn't! Indade, I wouldn't!"

She turned to the others:

"There! It's all settled. I'll stay with ye, aunt, an' ye can tache me
anythin' ye like. Will some one ask Jarvis to bring back me bundles an'
'Michael.' I'm goin' to stay!"

Jerry smiled approvingly at her. Then he said:

"That is just what I would have expected you to do. But, my dear Peg,
there's no need for such a sacrifice."

"Sure, why not?" cried Peg, excitedly. "Let me, sacrifice meself. I
feel like it this minnit."

"There is no occasion."

He walked over to Mrs. Chichester and addressed her:

"I came here this morning with some very good news for you. I happen to
be one of the directors of Gifford's bank and I am happy to say that it
will shortly reopen its doors and all the depositors' money will be
available for them in a little while."

Mrs. Chichester gave a cry of joy as she looked proudly at her two
children:

"Oh, Alaric!" she exclaimed: "My darling Ethel!"

"REOPEN its doors?" Alaric commented contemptuously. "So it jolly well
ought to. What right had it to CLOSE 'em? That's what _I_ want to know.
What right?"

"A panic in American securities, in which we were heavily interested,
caused the suspension of business," explained Jerry. "The panic is
over. The securities are RISING every day. We'll soon be on easy street
again."

"See here, mater," remarked Alaric firmly, "every ha'penny of ours goes
out of Gifford's bank and into something that has a bottom to it. In
future, I'LL manage the business of this family."

The Chichester family, reunited in prosperity, had apparently forgotten
the forlorn little girl sitting on the chair, who a moment before had
offered to take up the load of making things easier for them by making
them harder for herself. All their backs were turned to her.

Jerry looked at her. She caught his eye and smiled, but it had a sad
wistfulness behind it.

"Sure, they don't want me now. I'd better take me cab. Good day to
yez." And she started quickly for the door.

Jerry stopped her.

"There is just one more condition of Mr. Kingsnorth's will that you
must know. Should you go through your course of training satisfactorily
to the age of twenty-one, you will inherit the sum of five thousand
pounds a year."

"When I'm twenty-one, I get five thousand pounds year?" gasped Peg.

"If you carry out certain conditions."

"An' what are they?"

"Satisfy the executors that you are worthy of the legacy."

"Satisfy you?"

"And Mr. Hawkes."

Peg looked at the somewhat uncomfortable lawyer, who reddened and
endeavoured to appear at ease.

"Mr. Hawkes! Oho! Indade!" She turned back to Jerry: "Did he know about
the five thousand? When I'm twenty-one?"

"He drew the will at Mr. Kingsnorth's dictation," replied Jerry.

"Was that why ye wanted me to be engaged to ye until I was twenty-one?"
she asked the unhappy lawyer.

Hawkes tried to laugh it off.

"Come, come, Miss O'Connell," he said, "what nonsense!"

"Did YOU propose to Miss Margaret?" queried Jerry.

"Well--" hesitated the embarrassed lawyer--"in a measure--yes."

"That's what it was," cried Peg, with a laugh. "It was very measured.
No wondher the men were crazy to kape me here and to marry me."

She caught sight of Alaric and smiled at him. He creased his face into
a sickly imitation of a smile and murmured:

"Well, of course, I mean to say!" with which clear and well-defined
expression of opinion, he stopped.

"I could have forgiven you, Alaric," said Peg, "but Mr. Hawkes, I'm
ashamed of ye."

"It was surely a little irregular, Hawkes," suggested Jerry.

"I hardly agree with you, Sir Gerald. There can be nothing irregular in
a simple statement of affection."

"Affection is it?" cried Peg.

"Certainly. We are both alone in the world. Miss O'Connell seemed to be
unhappy: the late Mr. Kingsnorth desired that she should be trained--it
seemed to me be an admirable solution of the whole difficulty."

Peg laughed openly and turning to Jerry, said "He calls himself a
'solution.' Misther Hawkes--go on with ye--I am ashamed of ye."

"Well, there is no harm done," replied Mr. Hawkes, endeavouring to
regain his lost dignity.

"No!" retorted Peg. "It didn't go through, did it?"

Hawkes smiled at that, and taking Peg's hand, protested:

"However--always your friend and well-wisher."

"But nivver me husband!" insisted Peg.

"Good-bye."

"Where are ye goin' without me?"

"You surely are not returning to America now?" said Hawkes, in surprise.

"Why, of course, I'm goin' to me father now. Where else would I go?"

Hawkes hastened to explain:

"If you return to America to your father, you will violate one of the
most important clauses in the will."

"If I go back to me father?"

"Or if he visits you--until you are twenty-one," added Jerry.

"Is that so?" And the blood rushed up to Peg's temples. "Well, then,
that settles it. No man is goin' to dictate to me about me father. No
dead man--nor no livin' one nayther."

"It will make you a rich young lady in three years, remember. You will
be secure from any possibility of poverty."

"I don't care. I wouldn't stay over here for three years with" she
caught Mrs. Chichester's eyes fastened on her and she checked herself.

"I wouldn't stay away from me father for three years for all the money
in the wurrld," she concluded, with marked finality.

"Very well," agreed Jerry. Then he spoke to the others: "Now, may I
have a few moments alone with my ward?"

The family expressed surprise.

Hawkes suggested a feeling of strong displeasure.

"I shall wait to escort you down to the boat, Miss O'Connell."

Bowing to every one, the man of law left the room.

Peg stared at Jerry incredulously.

"WARD? Is that ME?"

"Yes, Peg. I am your legal guardian--appointed by Mr. Kingsnorth!"

"You're the director of a bank, the executor of an estate, an' now
ye're me guardian. What do ye do with yer spare time?"

Jerry smiled and appealed to the others:

"Just a few seconds--alone."

Mrs. Chichester went to Peg and said coldly "Good-bye, Margaret. It is
unlikely we'll meet again. I hope you have a safe and pleasant journey."

"I thank ye, Aunt Monica." Poor Peg longed for at least one little sign
of affection from her aunt. She leaned forward to kiss her. The old
lady either did not see the advance or did not reciprocate what it
implied. She went on upstairs out of sight.

Mingled with her feeling of relief that she would never again be
slighted and belittled by Mrs. Chichester, she was hurt to the heart by
the attitude of cold indifference with which her aunt treated her.

She was indeed overjoyed to think now it was the last she would ever
see of the old lady.

Alaric held out his hand frankly:

"Jolly decent of ye to offer to stay here--just to keep us
goin'--awfully decent. You are certainly a little wonder. I'll miss you
terribly--really I will."

Peg whispered:

"Did ye know about that five thousand pounds when I'm twenty-one?"

"'Course I did. That was why I proposed. To save the roof." Alaric was
nothing if not honest.

"Ye'd have sacrificed yeself by marryin' ME?" quizzed Peg.

"Like a shot."

"There's somethin' of the hero about you, Alaric!"

"Oh, I mustn't boast," he replied modestly. "It's all in the family."

"Well, I'm glad ye didn't have to do it," Peg remarked positively.

"So am I. Jolly good of you to say 'No.' All the luck in the world to
you. Drop me a line or a picture-card from New York. Look you up on my
way to Canada--if I ever really go. 'Bye!" The young man walked over to
the door calling over his shoulder to Jerry: "See ye lurchin' about
somewhere, old dear!" and he too went out of Peg's life.

She looked at Ethel and half entreated, half commanded Jerry:

"Plaze look out of the window for a minnit. I want to spake to me
cousin." Jerry sauntered over to the window and stood looking at the
gathering storm.

"Is that all over?" whispered Peg.

"Yes," replied Ethel, in a low tone.

"Ye'll never see him again?"

"Never. I'll write him that. What must you think of me?"

"I thought of you all last night," said Peg eagerly. "Ye seem like some
one who's been lookin' for happiness in the dark with yer eyes shut.
Open them wide, dear, and look at the beautiful things in the daylight
and then you'll be happy."

Ethel shook her head sadly:

"I feel to-day that I'll never know happiness again."

"Sure, I've felt like that many a time since I've been here. Ye know
three meals a day, a soft bed to slape in an' everythin' ye want
besides, makes ye mighty discontented. If ye'd go down among the poor
once in a while an' see what they have to live on, an' thry and help
them, ye might find comfort and peace in doin' it."

Ethel put both of her hands affectionately on Peg's shoulders.

"Last night you saved me from myself--and then; you shielded me from my
family."

"Faith I'd do THAT for any poor girl, much less me own cousin."

"Don't think too hardly of me, Margaret. Please!" she entreated.

"I don't, dear. It wasn't yer fault. It was yer mother's."

"My mother's?"

"That's what I said. It's all in the way, we're brought up what we
become aftherwards. Yer mother, raised ye in a hot house instead of
thrustin' ye out into the cold winds of the wurrld when ye were young
and gettin' ye used them. She taught ye to like soft silks and shining
satins an' to look down on the poor, an' the shabby. That's no way to
bring up anybody. Another thing ye learnt from her--to be sacret about
things that are near yer heart instead of encouragin' ye to be
outspoken an' honest. Of course I don't think badly of ye. Why should
I? I had the advantage of ye all the time. It isn't ivery girl has the
bringin' up such as I got from me father. So let yer mind be aisy,
dear. I think only good of ye. God bless ye!" She took Ethel gently in
her arms and kissed her.

"I'll drive down with you," said Ethel, brokenly, and hurried out.

Peg stood looking after her for a moment, then she turned and looked at
Jerry, who was still looking out of the window.

"She's gone," said Peg, quietly.

Jerry walked down to her.

"Are you still determined to go?" he asked.

"I am."

"And you'll leave here without a regret?"

"I didn't say that sure."

"We've been good friends, haven't we?"

"I thought we were," she answered gently. "But friendship must be
honest. Why didn't ye tell me ye were a gentleman? Sure, how was I to
know? 'Jerry' might mean anybody. Why didn't ye tell me ye had a title?"

"I did nothing to get it. Just inherited it," he said simply. Then he
added: "I'd drop it altogether if I could."

"Would ye?" she asked curiously.

"I would. And as for being a gentleman, why one of the finest I ever
met drove a cab in Piccadilly. He was a GENTLE MAN--that is--one who
never willingly hurts another. Strange in a cabman, eh?"

"Why did ye let me treat ye all the time as an equal?"

"Because you ARE--superior in many things. Generosity, for instance."

"Oh, don't thry the comther on me. I know ye now. Nothin' seems the
same."

"Nothing?"

"Nothin'!"

"Are we never to play like children again?" he pleaded.

"No," she said firmly. "Ye'll have to come out to New York to do it.
An' then I mightn't."

"Will nothing make you stay?"

"Nothing. I'm just achin' for me home."

"Such as this could never be home to you?"

"This? Never," she replied positively.

"I'm sorry. Will you ever think of me?" He waited. She averted her eyes
and said nothing.

"Will you write to me?" he urged.

"What for?"

"I'd like to hear of you and from you. Will you?"

"Just to laugh at me spellin'?"

"Peg!" He drew near to her.

"Sir Gerald!" she corrected him and drew a little away. "Peg, my dear!"
He took both of her hands in his and bent over her.

Just for a moment was Peg tempted to yield to the embrace.

Had she done so, the two lives would have changed in that moment. But
the old rebellious spirit came uppermost, and she looked at him
defiantly and cried:

"Are you goin' to propose to me, too?"

That was the one mistake that separated those two hearts. Sir Gerald
drew back from her--hurt.

She was right--they were not equals.

She could not understand him, since he could never quite say all he
felt, and she could never divine what was left unsaid.

She was indeed right.

Such as this could never be a home for her.

Jarvis came quietly in:

"Mr. Hawkes says, Miss, if you are going to catch the train--"

"I'll catch it," said Peg impatiently; and Jarvis went out.

Peg looked at Jerry's back turned eloquently toward her, as though in
rebuke.

"Why in the wurrld did I say that to him?" she muttered. "It's me Irish
tongue." She went to the door, and opened it noisily, rattling the
handle loudly--hoping he would look around.

But he never moved.

She accepted the attitude as one of dismissal.

Under her breath she murmured:

"Good-bye, Misther Jerry--an' God bless ye--an' thank ye for bein' so
nice to me." And she passed out.

In the hall Peg found Ethel and Hawkes waiting for her.

They put her between them in the cab and with "Michael" in her arms,
she drove through the gates of Regal Villa never to return.

The gathering storm broke as she reached the station. In storm Jerry
came into her life, in storm she was leaving his.

The threads of what might have been a fitting addition to the "LOVE
STORIES OF THE WORLD" were broken.

Could the break ever be healed?



CHAPTER XVIII

PEG'S FAREWELL TO ENGLAND


Many and conflicting were Peg's feelings as she went aboard the ship
that was to carry her from England forever.

In that short MONTH she had experienced more contrasted feelings than
in all the other YEARS she had lived.

It seemed as if she had left her girlhood, with all its keen hardships
and sweet memories, behind her.

When the vessel swung around the dock in Liverpool and faced toward
America Peg felt that not only was she going back to the New World, but
she was about to begin a new existence. Nothing would ever be quite the
same again. She had gone through the leavening process of emotional
life and had come out of it with her courage still intact, her honesty
unimpaired, but somehow with her FAITH abruptly shaken. She had
believed and trusted, and she had been--she thought--entirely mistaken,
and it hurt her deeply.

Exactly why Peg should have arrived at such a condition--bordering as
it was on cynicism--was in one sense inexplicable, yet from another
point of view easily understood. That Jerry had not told her all about
himself when they first met, as she did about herself to him, did not
necessarily imply deceit on his part. Had she asked any member or
servant in the Chichester family who and what "Jerry" was they would
readily have told her. But that was contrary to Peg's nature. If she
liked anyone, she never asked questions about them. It suggested a
doubt, and doubt to Peg meant disloyalty in friendship and affection.
Everyone had referred to this young gentleman as "Jerry." He even
introduced himself by that unromantic and undignified name. No one
seemed to treat him with any particular deference, nor did anything in
his manner seem to demand it. She had imagined that anyone with a title
should not only be proud of it, but would naturally hasten to let
everyone they met become immediately aware whom they were addressing.

She vividly remembered her father pointing out to her a certain
north-of-Ireland barrister who--on the strength of securing more
convictions under the "Crimes Act" than any other jurist in the whole
of Ireland--was rewarded with the Royal and Governmental approval by
having conferred on him the distinction and dignity of knighthood. It
was the crowning-point of his career. It has steadily run through his
life since as a thin flame of scarlet. He lives and breathes
"knighthood." He thinks and speaks it. He DEMANDS recognition from his
equals, even as he COMPELS it from his inferiors. Her father told Peg
that all the servants were drilled carefully to call him--"Sir Edward."

His relations, unaccustomed through their drab lives to the usages of
the great, found extreme difficulty in acquiring the habit of using the
new appellation in the place of the nick-name of his youth--"Ted." It
was only when it was made a condition of being permitted an audience
with the gifted and honoured lawyer, that they allowed their lips to
meekly form the servile "Sir!" when addressing their distinguished
relation.

When he visited Dublin Castle to consult with his Chiefs, and any of
his old-time associates hailed him familiarly as "Ted!" a grieved look
would cross his semi-Scotch features, and he would hasten to correct in
his broad, coarse brogue: "Sir Edward, me friend! Be the Grace of Her
Majesty and the British Government--Sir Edward--if--ye plaze!"

THERE was one who took pride in the use of his title.

He desired and exacted the full tribute due the dignity it carried.
Then why did not "Jerry" do the same?

She did not appreciate that to him the prefix having been handed down
from generations, was as natural to him as it was unnatural to the
aforementioned criminal lawyer. The one was born with it, consequently
it became second nature to him. The other had it conferred on him for
his zeal in procuring convictions of his own countrymen, and never
having in his most enthusiastic dreams believed such a condition would
come to pass--now that it was an accomplished fact, he naturally wanted
all to know and respect it.

They were two distinct breeds of men.

Peg had occasionally met the type of the honoured lawyer. They sprang
up as mushrooms over night during the pressure of the "Crimes Act," and
were liberally rewarded by the government--some were even transferred
to the English Bar. And they carried their blatant insistence even
across the channel.

But the man of breeding who exacted nothing; of culture, who pretended
not to have acquired it; of the real power and dignity of life, yet was
simplicity itself in his manner to others--that kind of man was new to
Peg.

She burned with shame as she thought of her leave-taking. What must Sir
Gerald think of her?

Even to the end she was just the little "Irish nothin'," as she had
justly, it seemed to her now, described herself to him. She had hurt
and offended him. In that one rude, foolish, unnecessary question, "Are
you goin' to propose too?" she had outraged common courtesy, and made
it impossible for him to say even a friendly "Good bye" to her. She did
not realise the full measure of the insult until afterwards. She had
practically insinuated that he was following the somewhat sordid
example of cousin Alaric and Montgomery Hawkes in proposing for her
hand because, in a few years, she would benefit by her uncle's will.
Such a suggestion was not only unworthy of her--it was an unforgivable
thing to say to him. He had always treated her with the greatest
courtesy and consideration, and because he did not flaunt his gentility
before her, she had taken unwarranted umbrage and had said something
that raised an impassable barrier between them.

All the way across the Atlantic poor lonely Peg had many opportunities
of reviewing that brief glimpse of English life. She felt now how wrong
her attitude had been to the whole of the Chichester family. She had
judged them at first sight. She had resolved that they were just
selfish, inconsiderate, characterless people. On reflection, she
determined that they were not. And even if they had been, why should
Peg have been their accuser? And after all, is there not an element of
selfishness in every nature? Was Peg herself entirely immune?

And in a family with traditions to look back on and live up to, have
they not a greater right to being self-centred than the plebeian with
nothing to look back on or forward to? And, all things considered, is
not selfishness a thoroughly human and entirely natural feeling? What
right had she to condemn people wholesale for feeling and practising it?

These were the sum and substance of Peg's self-analysis during the
first days of her voyage home.

Then the thought came to her,--were the Chichesters really selfish? Now
that she had been told the situation, she knew that her aunt had
undertaken her training to protect Ethel and Alaric from distress and
humiliation. She realised how distasteful it must have been to a lady
of Mrs. Chichester's nature and position to have occasion to receive
into her house, amongst her own family, such a girl as Peg. And she had
not made it easy for her aunt. She had regarded the family as being
allied against her.

Was it not largely her own fault if they had been? Peg's sense of
justice was asserting itself.

The thought of Alaric flashed through her mind, and with it came a
little pang of regret for the many occasions she had made fun of
him--and in his mother's presence. His proposal to her had its pathetic
as well as its humorous side. To save his family he would have
deliberately thrown away his own chance of happiness by marrying her.
Yet he would have done it willingly and cheerfully and, from what she
had seen of the little man, he would have lived up to his obligations
honourably and without a murmur.

Alaric's sense of relief at her refusal of him suddenly passed before
her, and she smiled broadly as she saw, in a mental picture, his eager
and radiant little face as he thanked her profusely for being so
generous as to refuse him. Looking back, Alaric was by no means as
contemptible as he had appeared at first sight. He had been coddled too
much. He needed the spur of adversity and the light of battle with his
fellowmen. Experience and worldly wisdom could make him a useful and
worthy citizen, since fundamentally there was nothing seriously wrong
with him.

Peg's outlook on life was distinctly becoming clarifled.

Lastly, she thought of Ethel. Poor, unhappy, lonely Ethel! In her
little narrow ignorance, Peg had taken an intense dislike to her cousin
from the beginning. Once or twice she had made friendly overtures to
Ethel, and had always been repulsed. She placed Ethel in the category
of selfish English-snobdom that she had heard and read about and now,
apparently, met face to face. Then came the vivid experience at night
when Ethel laid bare her soul pitilessly and torrentially for Peg to
see. With it came the realisation of the heart-ache and misery of this
outwardly contented and entirely unemotional young lady. Beneath the
veneer of repression and convention Peg saw the fires of passion
blazing in Ethel, and the cry of revolt and hatred against her
environment. But for Peg she would have thrown away her life on a
creature such as Brent because there was no one near her to understand
and to pity and to succour.

Peg shuddered as she thought of the rash act Ethel had been saved
from--blackening her life in the company of that satyr.

How many thousands of girls were there in England today, well-educated,
skilled in the masonry of society--to all outward seeming perfectly
contented, awaiting their final summons to the marriage-market--the
culmination of their brief, inglorious careers. Yet if one could
penetrate beneath the apparent calm, one might find boiling in THEIR
blood and beating in THEIR brains the same revolt that had driven Ethel
to the verge of the Dead Sea of lost hopes and vain ambitions--the
vortex of scandal.

When from time to time a girl of breeding and of family elopes with an
under-servant or a chauffeur, the unfortunate incident is hushed up and
the parents attribute the unhappy occurrence primarily to some mental
or moral twist in the young lady. They should seek the fault in their
own hearts and lives. It is the home life of England that is
responsible for a large portion of the misery that drives the victims
to open revolt. The children are not taught from the time they can
first speak to be perfectly frank and honest about everything they
think and feel. They are too often left in the care of servants at an
age when parental influence has the greatest significance. On the rare
occasions when they are permitted to enter the august presence of their
parents, they are often treated with a combination of tolerant
affection and imperial severity. Small wonder the little ones in their
development to adolescence evade giving confidences that have neither
been asked for nor encouraged. They have to learn the great secrets of
life and of nature from either bitter experience or from the lips of
strangers. Children and parents grow up apart. It often takes a
convulsion of nature or a devastating scandal to awaken the latter to
the full realisation of their responsibility.

During their talk the morning following that illuminating incident, Peg
learned more of Ethel's real nature than she had done in all of the
four weeks she had seen and listened to her daily.

She had opened her heart to Peg, and the two girls had mingled
confidences. If they had only begun that way, what a different month it
might have been for both! Peg resolved to watch Ethel's career from
afar: to write to her constantly: and to keep fresh and green the
memory of their mutual regard.

At times there would flash through Peg's mind--what would her future in
America be--with her father? Would he be disappointed? He so much
wanted her to be provided for that the outcome of her visit abroad
would be, of a certainty, in the nature of a severe shock to him. What
would be the outcome? How would he receive her? And what had all the
days to come in store for her with memory searching back to the days
that were? She had a longing now for education: to know the essential
things that made daily intercourse possible between people of culture.
She had been accustomed to look on it as affectation. Now she realised
that it was as natural to those who had acquired the masonry of gentle
people as her soft brogue and odd, blunt, outspoken ways were to her.

From, now on she would never more be satisfied with life as it was of
old. She had passed through a period of awakening; a searchlight had
been turned on her own shortcomings and lack of advantages. She had not
been conscious of them before, since she had been law unto herself. But
now a new note beat in on her. It was as though she had been
colour-blind and suddenly had the power of colour-differentiation
vouchsafed her and looked out on a world that dazzled by its new-found
brilliancy. It was even as though she had been tone-deaf and, by a
miracle, had the gift of sweet sounds given her, and found herself
bathed in a flow of sweet music. She was bewildered. Her view of life
had changed. She would have to rearrange her outlook by her experience
if she hoped to find happiness.

And always as she brooded and argued with and criticised herself and
found things to admire in what had hitherto been wrong to her--always
the face of Jerry rose before her and the sound of his voice came
pleasantly to her ears and the memory of his regard touched gently at
her heart, and the thought of her final mistake burnt and throbbed in
her brain.

And with each pulsation of the giant engines she was carried farther
and farther away froze the scene of her first romance. One night she
made her "farewell" to England and all it contained that had played a
part in her life.

It was the night before she reached New York.

As she came nearer and nearer to America, the thought of one who was
waiting for her--who had never shown anger or resentment toward
her--whatever she did; who had never shown liking for any but her; who
had always given her the love of his heart and the fruit of his brain;
who had sheltered and taught and loved and suffered for her,--rose
insistently before her and obliterated all other impressions and all
other memories.

As she spoke her "farewell" to England, Peg turned her little body
toward the quickly nearing shores of America and thanked God that
waiting to greet her would be her father, and entreated Him that he
would be spared to her, and that when either should die that she might
be called first; that life without him would be barren and terrible!
and above all, she pleaded that He would keep her little heart loyal
always to her childhood hero, and that no other should ever supplant
her father in her love and remembrance.

When she awoke nest day amid the bustle of the last morning on board,
it seemed that her prayer had been answered.

Her farewell to England was indeed final.

She had only one thought uppermost--she was going to see her father.



BOOK V

PEG RETURNS TO HER FATHER


CHAPTER I

AFTER MANY DAYS


Frank O'Connell stood on the quay that morning in July, and watched the
great ship slowly swing in through the heads, and his heart beat fast
as he waited impatiently while they moored her.

His little one had come back to him.

His fears were at rest.

She was on board that floating mass of steel and iron, and the giant
queen of the water had gallantly survived storm and wave and was
nestling alongside the pier.

Would she be the same Peg? That was the thought beating through him as
he strained his eyes to see the familiar and beloved little figure. Was
she coming back to him--transformed by the magic wand of association--a
great lady? He could scarcely believe that she WOULD, yet he had a
half-defined fear in his soul that she might not be the same.

One thing he made up his mind to--never again would he think of
separation. Never again would he argue her into agreeing to go away
from him. He had learned his lesson and by bitter experience. Never
again until SHE wished it.

Amid the throngs swarming down the gangways he suddenly saw his
daughter, and he gave a little gasp of surprised pleasure, and a mist
swam before his eyes and a great lump came into his throat and his
heart beat as a trip-hammer. It was the same Peg that had gone away a
month ago. The same little black suit and the hat with the berries and
the same bag and "Michael" in her arms.

Their meeting was extraordinary. It was quite unlike what either had
supposed it would be. There was a note of strangeness in each. There
was--added to the fulness of the heart--an aloofness--a feeling that,
in the passage of time, life had not left either quite the same.

How often that happens to two people who have shared the intimacy of
years and the affection of a lifetime! After a separation of even a
little while, the break in their joint-lives, the influence of
strangers, and the quick rush of circumstance during their parting,
creates a feeling neither had ever known. The interregnum had created
barriers that had to be broken down before the old relationship could
be resumed.

O'Connell and Peg made the journey home almost in silence. They sat
hand in hand in the conveyance whilst Peg's eyes looked at the tall
buildings as they flashed past her, and saw the daring advertisements
on the boardings and listened to the ceaseless roar of the traffic.

All was just as she had left it.

Only Peg had changed.

New York seemed a Babel after the quiet of that little north of England
home. She shivered as thoughts surged in a jumbled mass through her
brain.

They reached O'Connell's apartment.

It had been made brilliant for Peg's return.

There were additions to the meagre furnishings Peg had left behind.
Fresh pictures were on the walls. There were flowers everywhere.

O'Connell watched Peg anxiously as she looked around. How would she
feel toward her home when she contrasted it with what she had just left?

His heart bounded as he saw Peg's face brighten as she ran from one
object to another and commented on them.

"It's the grand furniture we have now, father!"

"Do ye like it, Peg?"

"That I do. And it's the beautiful picture of Edward Fitzgerald ye have
on the wall there!"

"Ye mind how I used to rade ye his life?"

"I do indade. It's many's the tear I've shed over him and Robert Emmet."

"Then ye've not forgotten?"

"Forgotten what?"

"All ye learned as a child and we talked of since ye grew to a girl?"

"I have not. Did ye think I would?"

"No, Peg, I didn't. Still, I was wondherin'--"

"What would I be doin' forgettin' the things ye taught me?"

He looked at her and a whimsical note came in his voice and the old
look twinkled in his eyes.

"It's English I thought ye'd be by now. Ye've lived so long among the
Saxons."

"English! is it?" And her tone rang with disgust and her look was one
of disdain. "English ye thought I'd be! Sure, ye ought to know me
betther than that!"

"I do, Peg. I was just tasin' ye."

"An' what have ye been doin' all these long days without me?"

He raised the littered sheets of his manuscript and showed them to her.

"This."

She looked over her shoulder and read:

"From 'BUCK-SHOT' to 'AGRICULTURAL ORGANISATION.' "THE HISTORY OF A
GENERATION OF ENGLISH MISRULE, by Frank Owen O'Connell."

She looked up proudly at her father.

"It looks wondherful, father."

"I'll rade it to you in the long evenin's now we're together again."

"Do, father."

"And we won't separate any more, Peg, will we?"

"We wouldn't have this time but for you, father."

"Is it sorry ye are that ye went?"

"I don't know. I'm sorry o' coorse, and GLAD, too, in some ways."

"What made yez come back so sudden-like?"

"I only promised to stay a month."

"Didn't they want ye any longer?"

"In one way they did, an' in another they didn't. It's a long
history--that's what it is. Let us sit down here as we used in the
early days and I'll tell ye the whole o' the happenin's since I left
ye."

She made him comfortable as had been her wont before, and, sitting on
the little low stool at his feet, she told him the story of her month
abroad and the impelling motive of her return.

She softened some things and omitted others--Ethel entirely. That
episode should be locked forever in Peg's heart.

Jerry she touched on lightly.

O'Connell asked her many questions about him, remembering the tone of
her later letters. And all the time he never took his eyes from her
face, and he marked how it shone with a warm glow of pleasure when
Jerry's name occurred, and how the gleam died away and settled into one
of sadness when she spoke of her discovery that he had a title.

"They're queer people, the English, Peg."

"They are, father."

"They're cool an' cunnin' an' crafty, me darlin'."

"Some o' them are fine an' honourable an' clever too, father."

"Was this fellow that called himself 'Jerry'--an' all the while was a
Lord--that same?"

"Ivery bit of it, father."

"And he trated ye dacent-like?"

"Sure, I might have been a LADY, the way he behaved to me."

"Did he iver smile at ye?"

"Many's the time."

"Do ye remember the proverb I taught ye as a child?"

"Which wun, father? I know a hundred, so I do."

"'Beware the head of a bull, the heels of a horse, of the smile of an
Englishman!'"

He paused and looked at her keenly.

"Do you remember that, Peg?"

"I do. There are Englishmen AND Englishmen. There are PLENTY o' bad
Irish, and by the same token there are SOME good Englishmen. An' he is
wun o' them."

"Why didn't he tell ye he was a Lord?"

"He didn't think it necessary. Over there they let ye gather from their
manner what they are. They don't think it necessary to be tellin'
everyone."

"It's the strange ones they are, Peg, to be rulin' us."

"Some day, father, they'll go over to Ireland and learn what we're
really like, and then they'll change everything. Jerry said that."

"They've begun to already. Sure, there's a man named Plunkett has done
more in a few years than all the governments have accomplished in all
the years they've been blunderin' along tryin' to thrample on us. An'
sure, Plunkett has a title, too!"

"I know, father. Jerry knows him and often spoke of him."

"Did he, now?"

"He did. He said that so long as the English government 'ud listen to
kindly, honourable men like Plunkett, there was hope of makin' Ireland
a happy, contented people, an' Jerry said--"

"It seems Misther Jerry must have said a good deal to yez."

"Oh, he did. Sure, it was HE started me learnin' things, an' I am goin'
on learnin' now, father. Let us both learn."

"What?" cried the astonished father.

"O' coorse, I know ye have a lot o' knowledge, but it's the little FINE
things we Irish have got to learn. An' they make life seem so much
bigger an' grander by bein' considerate an' civil an' soft-spoken to
each other. We've let the brutality of all the years that have gone
before eat into us, and we have thrown off all the charm and formality
of life, and in their place adopted a rough and crude manner to each
other that does not come really from our hearts, but from the memory of
our wrongs."

Unconsciously Peg had spoken as she had heard Jerry so often speak when
he discussed the Irish. She had lowered her voice and concluded with
quiet strength and dignity. The contrast to the beginning of the speech
was electrical. O'Connell listened amazed.

"Did the same Jerry say that?"

"He did, father. An' much more. He knows Ireland well, an' loves it.
Many of his best friends are Irish--an'--"

"Wait a minnit. Have I ever been 'rough an' crude' in me manner to you,
Peg?"

"Never, father. But, faith, YOU ought to be a Lord yerself. There isn't
one o' them in England looks any betther than you do. It's in their
MANNER that they have the advantage of us."

"And where would _I_ be gettin' the manner of a Lord, when me father
died the poorest peasant in the village, an' me brought up from hand to
mouth since I was a child?"

"I'm sorry I said anythin', father. I wasn't reproachin' ye."

"I know that, Peg."

"I'm so proud of ye that yer manner manes more to me than any man o'
title in England."

He drew her gently to him.

"There's the one great danger of two people who have grown near to each
other separatin'. When they, meet again, they each think the other has
changed. They look at each other with different eyes, Peg. An' that's
what yer doin' with me. So long as I was near ye, ye didn't notice the
roughness o' me speech an' the lack o' breedin' an' the want o'
knowledge. Ye've seen and listened to others since who have all I never
had the chance to get. God knows I want YOU to have all the advantages
that the wurrld can give ye, since you an' me counthry--an' the memory
of yer mother--are all I have had in me life these twenty years past.
An' that was why I urged ye to go to England on the bounty of yer
uncle. I wanted ye to know there was another kind of a life, where the
days flowed along without a care or a sorrow. Where poverty was but a
word, an' misery had no place. An' ye've seen it, Peg. An' the whole
wurrld has changed for ye, Peg. An' from now you'll sit in judgment on
the dead and gone days of yer youth--an' in judgment on me--"

She interrupted him violently:

"What are ye sayin' to me at all! _I_ sit in judgment on YOU! What do
ye think I've become? Let me tell ye I've come back to ye a thousand
times more yer child than I was when I left ye. What I've gone through
has only strengthened me love for ye and me reverence for yer life's
work. _I_ MAY have changed. But don't we all change day by day, even as
we pass them close to each other. An' if the change is for the betther,
where's the harm? I HAVE changed, father. There's somethin' wakened in
me I never knew before. It's a WOMAN I've brought ye back instead o'
the GIRL I left. An' it's the WOMAN'LL stand by ye, father, even as the
child did when I depended on ye for every little thing. There's no
power in the wurrld'll ever separate us!"

She clung to him hysterically.

Even while she protested the most, he felt the strange new note in her
life. He held her firmly and looked into her eyes.

"There's one thing, Peg, that must part us, some day, when it comes to
you."

"What's that, father?"

"LOVE, Peg."

She lowered her eyes and said nothing.

"Has it come? Has it, Peg?"

She buried her face on his breast, and though no sound came, he knew by
the trembling of her little body that she was crying.

So it HAD come into her life.

The child he had sent away a month ago had come back to him transformed
in that little time--into a woman.

The Cry of Youth and the Call of Life had reached her heart.



CHAPTER II

LOOKING BACKWARD


That night Peg and her father faced the future. They argued out all it
might mean. They would fight it together. It was a pathetic, wistful
little Peg that came back to him, and O'Connell set himself the task of
lifting something of the load that lay on his child's heart.

After all, he reasoned with her, with all his gentility and his
advantages to have allowed Peg to like him and then to deliberately
hurt her at the end, just as she was leaving, for a fancied insult, did
not augur well for the character of Jerry.

He tried to laugh her out of her mood.

He chided her for joking with an Englishman at a critical moment such
as their leave-taking.

"And it WAS a joke, Peg, wasn't it?"

"Sure, it was, father."

"You ought to have known betther than that. During all that long month
ye were there did ye meet one Englishman that ever saw a joke?"

"Not many, father. Cousin Alaric couldn't."

"Did ye meet ONE?"

"I did, father."

"Ye did?"

"I did."

"THERE was a man whose friendship ye might treasure."

"I do treasure it, father."

"Ye do?"

"Yes, father."

"Who was it?"

"Jerry, father."

O'Connell took a long breath and sighed.

Jerry! Always Jerry!

"I thried several jokes on him, an' he saw most of 'em."

"I'd like to see this paragon, faith."

"I wish ye could, father. Indade I do. Ye'd be such good friends."

"WE'D be friends? Didn't ye say he was a GINTLEMAN?"

"He sez a GENTLEMAN is a man who wouldn't willingly hurt anybody else.
And he sez, as well, that it doesn't matther what anybody was born, if
they have that quality in them they're just as much gintleman as the
people with ancestors an' breedin'. An' he said that the finest
gintleman he ever met was a CABMAN."

"A cabman, Peg?"

"Yes, faith--that's what he said. The cabman couldn't hurt anybody, and
so he was a gintlemaa."

"Did he mane it?"

"He meant everything he said--to ME."

"There isn't much the matther with him, I'm thinkin'."

"There's nothin' the matther with him, father."

"Mebbe he is Irish way back. It's just what an Irishman would say--a
RALE Irishman."

"There's no nationality in character or art, or sport or letthers or
music. They're all of one great commonwealth. They're all one
brotherhood, whether they're white or yellow or red or black. There's
no nationality about them. The wurrld wants the best, an' they don't
care what colour the best man is, so long as he's GREAT."

O'Connell listened amazed.

"An' where might ye have heard that?"

"Jerry towld me. An' it's thrue. I believe it."

They talked far into the night.

He unfolded his plans.

If his book was a success and he made some little money out of it, they
would go back to Ireland and live out their lives there. And it was
going to be a wonderful Ireland, too, with the best of the old and
ceaseless energy of the new.

An Ireland worth living in.

They would make their home there again, and this time they would not
leave it.

"But some day we might go to England, father, eh?"

"What for?"

"Just to see it, father."

"I was only there once. It was there yer mother an' me were married. It
was there she gave her life into me care."

He became suddenly silent, and the light of memory shone in his eyes,
and the sigh of heart-ache broke through his lips.

And his thoughts stretched back through the years, and once again
Angela was beside him.

Peg saw the look and knew it. She kept quite still. Then, as of old,
when her father was in trouble, she did as she was wont in those
old-young days--she slipped her little hand into his and waited for him
to break the silence.

After a while he stood up.

"Ye'd betther be goin' to bed, Peg."

"All right, father."

She went to the door. Then she stopped.

"Ye're glad I'm home, father?"

He pressed her closely to him for answer.

"I'll never lave ye again," she whispered.

All through the night Peg lay awake, searching through the past and
trying to pierce through the future.

Toward morning she slept and, in a whirling dream she saw a body
floating down a stream. She stretched out her hand to grasp it when the
eyes met hers, and the eyes were those of a dead man--and the man was
Jerry.

She woke trembling with fear and she turned on the light and huddled
into a chair and sat chattering with terror until she heard her father
moving in his room. She went to the door and asked him to let her go in
to him. He opened the door and saw his little Peg wild eyed, pale and
terror-stricken, standing on the threshold. The look in her eyes
terrified him.

"What is it, Peg, me darlin'? What is it?"

She crept in, and looked up into his face with her startling gaze, and
she grasped him with both of her small hands, and in a voice dull and
hopeless, cried despairingly:

"I dreamt he was dead! Dead! and I couldn't rache him. An' he went on
past me--down the stream--with his face up-turned--" The grasp
loosened, and just as she slipped from him, O'Connell caught her in his
strong arms and placed her gently on the sofa and tended her until her
eyes opened again and looked up at him.

It was the first time his Peg had fainted.

She had indeed come back to him changed.

He reproached himself bitterly.

Why had he insisted on her going?

She had a sorrow at her heart, now, that no hand could heal--not even
his.

Time only could soften her grief--time--and--



CHAPTER III

AN UNEXPECTED VISITOR


Those first days following Peg's return found father and child nearer
each other than they had been since that famous trip through Ireland,
when he lectured from the back of his historical cart.

She became O'Connell's amanuensis. During the day she would go from
library to library in New York, verifying data for her father's
monumental work. At night he would dictate and she would write.
O'Connell took a newer and more vital interest in the book, and it
advanced rapidly toward completion.

It was a significant moment to introduce it, since the eyes of the
world were turned on the outcome of the new measure for Home Rule for
Ireland, that Mr. Asquith's government were introducing, and that
appeared to have every chance of becoming law.

The dream of so many Irishmen seemed to be within the bounds of
possibility of becoming a forceful reality.

Accordingly O'Connell strained every nerve to complete it. He reviewed
the past; he dwelt on the present: he attempted to forecast the future.
And with every new page that he completed he felt it was one more step
nearer home--the home he was hoping for and building on for Peg--in
Ireland.

There the colour would come back to her cheeks, the light to her eyes
and the flash of merriment to her tongue. She rarely smiled now, and
the pallor was always in her cheeks, and wan circles pencilled around
her eyes spoke of hard working days and restless nights.

She no longer spoke of England.

He, wise in his generation, never referred to it. All her interest
seemed to be centred in his book.

It was a strange metamorphosis for Peg--this writing at dictation:
correcting her orthography; becoming familiar with historical facts and
hunting through bookshelves for the actual occurrences during a certain
period.

And she found a certain happiness in doing it.

Was it not for her father?

And was she not improving herself?

Already she would not be at such a disadvantage, as a month ago, with
people.

The thought gratified her.

She had two letters from Ethel: the first a simple, direct one of
gratitude and of regret; gratitude for Peg's kindness and loyalty to
her, and regret that Peg had left them. The second told of a trip she
was about to make to Norway with some friends.

They were going to close the house in Scarboro and return to London
early in September.

Alaric had decided to follow his father's vocation and go to the bar.
The following Autumn they would settle permanently in London while
Alaric ate his qualifying dinners and addressed himself to making his
career!

Of Brent she wrote nothing. That incident was apparently closed. She
ended her letter with the warmest expressions of regard and affection
for Peg, and the hope that some day they would meet again and renew
their too-brief intimacy. The arrival of these letters and her daily
'deviling' for her father were the only incidents in her even life.

One evening some few weeks after her return, she was in her room
preparing to begin her night's work with her father when she heard the
bell ring. That was unusual. Their callers were few. She heard the
outer door open--then the sound of a distant voice mingling with her
father's.

Then came a knock at her door.

"There's somebody outside here to see ye, Peg," said her father.

"Who is it, father?"

"A perfect sthranger--to me. Be quick now."

She heard her father's footsteps go into the little sitting-room and
then the hum of voices.

Without any apparent reason she suddenly felt a tenseness and
nervousness. She walked out of her room and paused a moment outside the
closed door of the sitting-room and listened.

Her father was talking. She opened the door and walked in. A tall,
bronzed man came forward to greet her. Her heart almost stopped. She
trembled violently. The next moment Jerry had clasped her hand in both
of his.

"How are you, Peg?"

He smiled down at her as he used to in Regal Villa: and behind the
smile there was a grave look in his dark eyes, and the old tone of
tenderness in his voice.

"How are you, Peg?" he repeated.

"I'm fine, Mr. Jerry," she replied in a daze. Then she looked at
O'Connell and she hurried on to say:

"This is my father--Sir Gerald Adair."

"We'd inthroduced ourselves already," said O'Connell, good-naturedly,
eyeing the unexpected visitor all the while. "And what might ye be
doin' in New York?" he asked.

"I have never seen America. I take an Englishman's interest in what we
once owned--"

"--And lost thro' misgovernment--"

"--Well, we'll say MISUNDERSTANDING--"

"--As they'll one day lose Ireland--"

"--I hope not. The two countries understand each other better every
day."

"It's taken centuries to do it."

"The more lasting will be the union."

As Peg watched Jerry she was wondering all the time why he was there.
This quiet, undemonstrative, unemotional man. Why?

The bell rang again. Peg started to go, but O'Connell stopped her.

"It's McGinnis. This is his night to call and tell me the politics of
the town. I'll take him into the next room, Peg, until yer visitor is
gone."

"Oh, please--" said Jerry hurriedly and taking a step toward the door.
"Allow me to call some other time."

"Stay where ye are!" cried O'Connell, hurrying out as the bell rang
again.

Peg and Jerry looked at each other a moment, then she lowered her eyes.

"I want to ask ye something, Sir Gerald," she began.

"Jerry!" he corrected.

"Please forgive me for what I said to ye that day. It was wrong of me
to say it. Yet it was just what ye might have expected from me. But
ye'd been so fine to me--a little nobody--all that wonderful month that
it's hurt me ever since. And I didn't dare write to ye--it would have
looked like presumption from me. But now that ye've come here--ye've
found me out and I want to ask yer pardon--an' I want to ask ye not to
be angry with me."

"I couldn't be angry with you, Peg."

He paused, and, as he looked at her, the reserve of the held-in,
self-contained man was broken. He bent over her and said softly:

"Peg, I love you!"

A cry welled up from Peg's heart to her lips, and was stifled. The room
swam around her.

Was all her misery to end?

Did this man come back from the mists of memory BECAUSE he loved her?

She tried to speak but nothing came from her parched lips and tightened
throat.

Then she became conscious that he was speaking again, and she listened
to him with all her senses, with all her heart, and from her soul.

"I knew you would never write to me, and somehow I wondered just how
much you cared for me--if at all. So I came here. I love you, Peg. I
want you to be my wife. I want to care for you, and tend you, and make
you happy. I love you!"

Her heart leaped and strained. The blood surged to her temples.

"Do you love me?" she whispered, and her voice trembled and broke.

"I do. Indeed I do. Be my wife."

"But you have a title," she pleaded

"Share it with me!" he replied.

"Ye'd be so ashamed o' me, ye would!"

"No, Peg, I'd be proud of you. I love you!"

Peg, unable to argue or plead, or strive against what her heart yearned
for the most, broke down and sobbed as she murmured:

"I love you, too, Mister Jerry."

In a moment she was in his arms.

It was the first time anyone had touched her tenderly besides her
father. All her sturdy, boyish ruggedness shrank from any display of
affection. Just for a moment it did now. Then she slowly yielded
herself.

But Jerry stroked her hair, and looked into her eyes and smiled down at
her lovingly, as he asked:

"What will your father say?"

She looked happily up at him and answered:

"Do you know one of the first things me father taught me when I was
just a little child?"

"Tell me!"

"It was from Tom Moore: 'Oh, there's nothin' half so sweet in life As
Love's young dream.'"

When O'Connell came into the room later he realised that the great
summons had come to his little girl.

He felt a dull pain at his heart.

But only for a moment.

The thought came to him that he was about to give to England his
daughter in marriage! Well, had he not taken from the English one of
her fairest daughters as his wife?

And a silent prayer went up from his heart that happiness would abide
with his Peg and her 'Jerry' and that their romance would last longer
than had Angela's and his.



AFTERWORD

And now the moment has come to take leave of the people I have lived
with for so long. Yet, though I say "Adieu!" I feel it is only a
temporary leave-taking. Their lives are so linked with mine that some
day in the future I may be tempted to draw back the curtain and show
the passage of years in their various lives.

Simultaneously with the Second-Reading of the Home Rule Bill passing
through the English House of Commons, O'Connell published his book.

Setting down clearly, without passion or prejudice, the actual facts of
the ancient and modern struggle for Ireland's freedom, and
foreshadowing the coming of the New Era of prosperity and enlightenment
and education and business integrity--O'Connell found himself hailed,
as a modern prophet.

He appealed to them to BEG no longer but to cooperate, to
organize--above all to WORK and to work consistently and intelligently.
He appealed to the Irish working in factories and work-shops and in
civil appointments in the great cities of the world, to come back to
Ireland, and, once again to worship at the shrine of the beauty of
God's Country! To open their eyes and their hearts to all the light and
glory and wonder which God gives to the marvellous world He has made
for humanity. To see the Dawn o'er mountain and lake; scent the grass
and the incense of the flowers, and the sweet breath of the land. To
grasp the real and tumultuous magnificence of their native country.

He appealed to all true Irishmen to take up their lives again in the
land from which, they were driven, and to be themselves the progenitors
of Ireland's New Nation.

It will not be long before his appeal will be answered and his prophecy
fulfilled.

The Dawn of the New Ireland has begun to shed its light over the
country, and the call of Patriotism will bring Irishmen from the
farthest limits of the world, as it drove them away in the bitter time
of blood and strife and ignorance and despotism.

Those days have passed. O'Connell was in the thick o the battle in his
youth; in his manhood he now sees the fruit of the conflict.

Some day, with him, we will visit Peg in her English home, and see the
marvels time and love have wrought upon her. But to those who knew her
in the old days she is still the same Peg O' my Heart--resolute, loyal,
unflinching, mingling the laugh with the tear--truth and honesty her
bed-rock.

And whilst we are in London we will drop into the Law-Courts and hear
Alaric Chichester, now Barrister-at-Law, argue his first case and show
the possibility of following in his famous father's footsteps.

We will also visit Mrs. Chichester and hear of her little grand-child,
born in Berlin, where her daughter, Ethel, met and married an attache
at the Embassy, and has formed a salon in which the illustrious in the
Diplomatic world foregather.

It will be a grateful task to revive old memories of those who formed
the foreground of the life-story of one whose radiant presence shall
always live in my memory: whose steadfastness and courage endeared her
to all; whose influence on those who met her and watched her and
listened to her was far-reaching, since she epitomized in her small
body all that makes woman loveable and man supreme: honour, faith and
Love!

Adieu! Peg O' my Heart!





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