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Title: Sir Brook Fossbrooke, Volume II.
Author: Lever, Charles James
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Sir Brook Fossbrooke, Volume II." ***

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SIR BROOK FOSSBROOKE

Volume II.

By Charles James Lever,

With Illustrations By E. J. Wheeler

Boston:

Little, Brown, And Company.

1917.


[Illustration: frontispiece2]



CHAPTER I. A LEVANTER.

The storm raged fearfully during the night, and the sea rose to a
height that made many believe some earthquake had occurred in one of
the islands near. Old trees that resisted the gales of former hurricanes
were uprooted, and the swollen streams tore down amongst the fallen
timber, adding to the clamor of the elements and increasing the signs of
desolation and ruin that abounded.

It was, as Tom called it, a “regular Levanter,” one of those storms
which in a brief twenty-four hours can do the work of years in
destruction and change.

Amongst the group of fishermen who crouched under a rock on the shore,
sad predictions were uttered as to the fate of such as were at sea that
night, and the disasters of bygone years were recalled, and the story of
a Russian liner that was lost off Spartivento, and the Spanish admiral
who was wrecked on the rocks off Melissa, were told with all the details
eyewitnesses could impart to them.

“Those fellows have driven me half distracted, Lucy,” said Tom, as he
came in wet and dripping, “with their tales of shipwreck; and one of
them declares that he saw a large paddle-wheel steamer under English
colors drifting to the southward this morning, perfectly helpless and
unmanageable. I wish I could get over to Cagliari, and hear tidings of
her.”

“Of course that is impossible,” said she, with a shudder.

“So they tell me. They say there’s not a boat in the island would live
five minutes in that sea.”

“And the gale seems increasing too.”

“So it does. They say, just before the storm ends it blows its very
hardest at the finish, and then stops as suddenly as it burst forth.”

By noon the gale began to decline, the sun burst out, and the sea
gradually subsided, and in a few hours the swollen torrents changed to
tiny rivulets, clear as crystal. The birds were singing in the trees,
and the whole landscape, like a newly washed picture, came out in
fresher and brighter color than ever. Nor was it easy to believe that
the late hurricane had ever existed, so little trace of it could be seen
on that rocky island.

A little before sunset a small “latiner” rounded the point, and stood in
towards the little bay. She had barely wind enough to carry her along,
and was fully an hour in sight before she anchored. As it was evident
she was a Cagliari boat, Tom was all impatient for her news, and went
on board of her at once. The skipper handed him a letter from Sir Brook,
saying, “I was to give you this, sir, and say I was at your orders.” Tom
broke the seal, but before he had read half-a-dozen lines, he cried out:
“All right! shove me on shore, and come in to me in an hour. By that
time I ‘ll tell you what I decide on.”

“Here’s great news, Lucy,” cried he. “The ‘Cadmus’ troop-ship has put
into Cagliari disabled, foremast lost, one paddle-wheel carried away,
all the boats smashed, but her Majesty’s--th safe and sound. Colonel
Cave very jolly, and Major Trafford, if you have heard of such a person,
wild with joy at the disaster of being shipwrecked.”

“Oh, Tom, do be serious. What is it at all?” said she, as, pale with
anxiety, she caught his arm to steady herself.

“Here’s the despatch,--read it yourself if you won’t believe me. This
part here is all about the storm and the other wrecks; but here, this is
the important part, in your eyes at least.

“‘Cave is now with me up here, and Trafford is to join us to-night. The
ship cannot possibly be fit for sea before ten days to come; and the
question is, Shall we go over and visit you, or will you and Lucy come
here? One or other of these courses it must be, and it is for you to
decide which suits you best. You know as well as myself what a sorry
place this is to ask dear Lucy to come to, but, on the other hand, I
know nothing as to the accommodation your cottage offers. For my own
part it does not signify; I can sleep on board any craft that takes me
over; but have you room for the soldiers?--I mean Cave and Trafford.
I have no doubt they will be easily put up; and if they could be
consulted, would rather bivouac under the olives than not come. At all
events, let the boat bring yourselves or the invitation for us,--and
at once, for the impatience of one here (I am too discreet to
particularize) is pushing my own endurance to its limits.’

“Now, Lucy, what’s it to be? Decide quickly, for the skipper will be
here soon for his answer.”

“I declare I don’t know, Tom,” said she, faltering at every word. “The
cottage is very small, the way we live here very simple: I scarcely
think it possible we can ask any one to be a guest--”

“So that you opine we ought to go over to Cagliari?” burst he in.

“I think _you_ ought, Tom, certainly,” said she, still more faintly.

“I see,” said he, dryly, “you ‘ll not be afraid of being left alone
here?”

“No, not in the least,” said she; and her voice was now a mere whisper,
and she swayed slightly back and forward like one about to faint.

“Such being the case,” resumed Tom, “what you advise strikes me as
admirable. I can make your apologies to old Sir Brook. I can tell him,
besides, that you had scruples on the propriety,--there may be Mrs.
Grundys at Cagliari, who would be shocked, you know; and then, if
you should get on here comfortably, and not feel it too lonely, why,
perhaps, I might be able to stay with them till they sail.”

She tried to mutter a Yes, but her lips moved without a sound.

“So that is settled, eh?” cried he, looking full at her.

She nodded, and then turned away her head.

“What an arrant little hypocrite it is!” said he, drawing his arm around
her waist; “and with all the will in the world to deceive, what a poor
actress! My child, I know your heart is breaking this very moment at
my cruelty, my utter barbarity, and if you had only the courage, you ‘d
tell me I was a beast!”

“Oh! Tom,--oh! dear Tom,” said she, hiding her face on his shoulder.

“Dear Tom, of course, when there ‘s no help for it. And this is a
specimen of the candor and frankness you promised me!”

“But, Tom,” said she, faltering at every word, “it is not--as you think;
it is not as you believe.”

“What is not as I believe?” said he, quickly.

“I mean,” added she, trembling with shame and confusion, “there is no
more--that it ‘s over--all over!” And unable to endure longer, she burst
into tears, and buried her face between her hands.

“My own dear, dear sister,” said he, pressing her to his side, “why have
you not told me of this before?”

“I could not, I could not,” sobbed she.

“One word more, Lu, and only one. Who was in fault? I mean, darling, was
this _your_ doing or _his?_”

“Neither, Tom; at least, I think so. I believe that some deceit was
practised,--some treachery; but I don’t know what, nor how. In fact, it
is all a mystery to me; and my misery makes it none the clearer.”

“Tell me, at least, whatever you know.”

“I will bring you the letter,” said she, disengaging herself from him.

“And did he write to you?” asked he, fiercely.

“No; _he_ did not write,--from _him_ I have heard nothing.”

She rushed out of the room as she spoke, leaving Tom in a state of wild
bewilderment. Few as were the minutes of her absence, the interval
to him seemed like an age of torture and doubt. Weak, and broken by
illness, his fierce spirit was nothing the less bold and defiant; and
over and over as he waited there, he swore to himself to bring Trafford
to a severe reckoning if he found that he had wronged his sister.

“How noble of her to hide all this sorrow from me, because she saw my
suffering! What a fine nature! And it is with hearts like these fellows
trifle and temper, till they end by breaking them! Poor thing! might
it not be better to leave her in the delusion of thinking him not a
scoundrel, than to denounce and brand him?”

As he thus doubted and debated with himself, she entered the room. Her
look was now calm and composed, but her face was lividly pale, and her
very lips bloodless. “Tom,” said she, gravely, “I don’t think I would
let you see this letter but for one reason, which is, that it will
convince you that you have no cause of quarrel whatever with _him_.”

“Give it to me,--let me read it,” burst he in, impatiently; “I have
neither taste nor temper for any more riddles,--leave me to find my own
road through this labyrinth.”

“Shall I leave you alone, Tom?” said she, timidly, as she handed him the
letter.

“Yes, do so. I think all the quicker when there’s none by me.” He turned
his back to the light, as he sat down, and began the letter.

“I believe I ought to tell you first,” said she, as she stood with her
hand on the lock of the door, “the circumstances under which that was
written.”

“Tell me nothing whatever,--let me grope out my own road;” and now she
moved away and left him.

He read the letter from beginning to end, and then re-read it. He saw
there were many allusions to which he had no clew; but there was a tone
in it which there was no mistaking, and that tone was treachery. The way
in which the writer deprecated all possible criticism of her life,
at the outset, showed how sensitive she was to such remark, and how
conscious of being open to it. Tom knew enough of life to be aware that
the people who affect to brave the world are those who are past defying
it. So far at least he felt he had read her truly; but he had to confess
to himself that beyond this it was not easy to advance.

On the second reading, however, all appeared more clear and simple. It
was the perfidious apology of a treacherous woman for a wrong which she
had hoped, but had not been able, to inflict. “I see it all,” cried Tom;
“her jealousy has been stimulated by discovering Trafford’s love for
Lucy, and this is her revenge. It is just possible, too, she may have
entangled him. There are meshes that men can scarcely keep free of.
Trafford may have witnessed the hardship of her daily life--seen the
indignities to which she submits--and possibly pitied her; if he has
gone no further than this, there is no great mischief. What a clever
creature she must be!” thought he again,--“how easy it ought to be for
a woman like that to make a husband adore her; and yet these women will
not be content with that. Like the cheats at cards, they don’t care to
win by fair play.” He went to the door, and called out “Lucy!”

The tone of his voice sounded cheerily, and she came on the instant.

“How did you meet after this?” asked he, as she entered.

“We have not met since that. I left the Priory, and came abroad three
days after I received it.”

“So then that was the secret of the zeal to come out and nurse poor
brother Tom, eh?” said he, laughing.

“You know well if it was,” said she, as her eyes swam in tears.

“No, no, my poor dear Lu, I never thought so; and right glad am I to
know that you are not to live in companionship with the woman who wrote
that letter.”

“You think ill of her?”

“I will not tell you half how badly I think of her; but Trafford is as
much wronged here as any one, or else I am but a sorry decipherer of
mysterious signs.”

“Oh, Tom!” cried she, clasping his hand and looking at him as though she
yearned for one gleam of hope.

“It is so that I read it; but I do not like to rely upon my own sole
judgment in such a case. Will you trust me with this letter, and will
you let me show it to Sir Brooke? He is wonderfully acute in tracing
people’s real meaning through all the misty surroundings of expression.
I will go over to Cagliari at once, and see him. If all be as I suspect,
I will bring them back with me. If Sir Brook’s opinion be against mine,
I will believe him to be the wiser man, and come back alone.”

“I consent to everything, Tom, if you will give me but one pledge,--you
must give it seriously, solemnly.”

“I guess what you mean, Lucy; your anxious face has told the story
without words. You are afraid of my hot temper. You think I will force a
quarrel on Trafford,--yes, I knew what was in your thoughts. Well, on my
honor I will not. This I promise you faithfully.”

She threw herself into his arms and kissed him, muttering, in a low
voice, “My own dear brother,” in his ear.

“It is just as likely you may see me back again tomorrow, Lucy, and
alone too. Mind that, girl! The version I have taken of this letter may
turn out to be all wrong. Sir Brook may show me how and where and why
I have mistaken it; and if so, Lu, I must have a pledge from you,--you
know what I mean.”

“You need none, Tom,” said she, proudly; “you shall not be ashamed of
your Sister.”

“That was said like yourself, and I have no fears about you now. You
will be anxious--you can’t help being anxious, my poor child--about all
this; but your uncertainty shall be as short as I can make it. Look out
for me, at all events, with the evening breeze. I’ll try and catch the
land-wind to take me up. If I fly no ensign, Lucy, I am alone; if you
see the ‘Jack,’ it will mean I have company with me. Do you understand
me?”

She nodded, but did not speak.

“Now, Lu, I’ll just get my traps together, and be off; that light
Tramontana wind will last till daybreak, and by that time the sea-breeze
will carry me along pleasantly. How I ‘d like to have you with me!”

“It is best as it is, Tom,” said she, trying to smile.

“And if all goes wrong,--I mean if all does not go right,--Lucy, I have
got a plan, and I am sure Sir Brook won’t oppose it. We ‘ll just pack
up, wish the lead and the cobalt and the rest of it a good-bye, and
start for the Cape and join father. There’s a project after your own
heart, girl.”

“Oh, Tom dearest, if we could do that!”

“Think over it till we meet again, and it will at least keep away darker
thoughts.”



CHAPTER II. BY THE MINE AT LA VANNA

The mine of Lavanna, on which Sir Brook had placed all his hopes of
future fortune, was distant from the town of Cagliari about eighteen
miles. It was an old, a very old shaft; Livy had mentioned it, and
Pliny, in one of his letters, compares people of sanguine and hopeful
temperament with men who believe in the silver ore of Lavanna. There had
therefore been a traditionary character of failure attached to the spot,
and not impossibly this very circumstance had given it a greater value
in Fossbrooke’s estimation; for he loved a tough contest with fortune,
and his experiences had given him many such.

Popular opinion certainly set down the mine as a disastrous enterprise,
and the list of those who had been ruined by the speculation was a long
one. Nothing daunted by all he had heard, and fully convinced in his
own mind that his predecessors had earned their failures by their own
mistakes, Fossbrooke had purchased the property many years before, and
there it had remained, like many of his other acquisitions, uncared for
and unthought of, till the sudden idea had struck him that he wanted to
be rich, and to be rich instantaneously.

He had coffee-plantations somewhere in Ceylon, and he had purchased
largely of land in Canada; but to utilize either of these would be a
work of time, whereas the mine would yield its metal bright and ready
for the market. It was so much actual available money at once.

His first care was to restore, so far as to make it habitable, a dreary
old ruinous barrack of a house, which a former speculator had built
to hold all his officials and dependants. A few rooms that opened on
a tumble-down terrace--of which some marble urns yet remained to bear
witness of former splendor--were all that Sir Brook could manage to make
habitable, and even these would have seemed miserable and uncomfortable
to any one less bent on “roughing it” than himself.

Some guns and fishing-gear covered one wall of the room that served as
dinner-room; and a few rude shelves on the opposite side contained such
specimens of ore as were yet discovered, and the three or four books
which formed their library; the space over the chimney displaying a
sort of trophy of pipes of every sort and shape, from the well-browned
meerschaum to the ignoble “dudeen” of Irish origin.

These were the only attempts at decoration they had made, but it was
astonishing with what pleasure the old man regarded them, and with what
pride he showed the place to such as accidentally came to see him.

“I’ll have a room yet, just arrayed in this fashion, Tom,” would he say,
“when we have made our fortune, and go back to live in England. I ‘ll
have a sort of snuggery a correct copy of this; all the old beams in the
ceiling, and those great massive architraves round the doors, shall be
exactly followed, and the massive stone mantelpiece; and it will remind
us, as we sit there of a winter’s night, of the jolly evenings we have
had here after a hard day’s work in the shaft. Won’t I have the laugh at
you, Tom, too, as I tell you of the wry face you used to make over our
prospects, the hang-dog look you ‘d give when the water was gaining on
us, and our new pump got choked!”

Tom would smile at all this, though secretly nourishing no such thoughts
for the future. Indeed, he had for many a day given up all hope of
making his fortune as a miner, and merely worked on with the dogged
determination not to desert his friend.

On one of the large white walls of their sitting-room Sir Brook had
sketched in charcoal a picture of the mine, in all the dreariest aspect
of its poverty, and two sad-looking men, Tom and himself, working at the
windlass over the shaft; and at the other extremity of the space there
stood a picturesque mansion, surrounded with great forest trees, under
which deer were grouped, and two men--the same--were riding up the
approach on mettlesome horses; the elder of the two, with outstretched
arm and hand, evidently directing his companion’s attention to the rich
scenes through which they passed. These were the “now” and “then” of
the old man’s vision, and he believed in them, as only those believe who
draw belief from their own hearts, unshaken by all without.

It was at the close of a summer day, just in that brief moment when the
last flicker of light tinges the earth at first with crimson and then
with deep blue, to give way a moment later to black night, that Sir
Brook sat with Colonel Cave after dinner, explaining to his visitor
the fresco on the wall, and giving, so far as he might, his reasons to
believe it a truthful foreshadowing of the future.

“But you tell me,” said Cave, “that the speculation has proved the ruin
of a score of fellows.”

“So it has. Did you ever hear of the enterprise, at least of one worth
the name, that had not its failures? or is success anything more
in reality than the power of reasoning out how and why others have
succumbed, and how to avoid the errors that have beset them? The men
who embarked in this scheme were alike deficient in knowledge and in
capital.”

“Ah, indeed!” muttered Cave, who did not exactly say what his looks
implied. “Are you their superior in these requirements?”

Sir Brook was quick enough to note the expression, and hastily said, “I
have not much to boast of myself in these respects, but I possess that
which they never had,--that without which men accomplish nothing in
life, going through the world mere desultory ramblers, and not like
sturdy pilgrims, ever footing onward to the goal of their ambition. I
have Faith!”

“And young Lendrick, what says he to it?”

“He scarcely shares my hopes, but he shows no signs of backwardness.”

“He is not sanguine, then?”

“Nature did not make him so, and a man can no more alter his temperament
than his stature. I began life with such a capital of confidence that,
though I have been an arrant spendthrift, I have still a strong store by
me. The cunning fellows laugh at us and call us dupes; but let me tell
you, Cave, if accounts were squared, it might turn out that even as a
matter of policy incredulity has not much to boast of, and were it not
so, this world would be simply intolerable.”

“I’d like, however, to hear that your mine was not all outlay,” said
Cave, bringing back the theme to its starting-point.

“So should I,” said Fossbrooke, dryly.

“And I ‘d like to learn that some one more conversant--more professional
in these matters--”

“Less ignorant than myself, in a word,” said Fossbrooke, laughing. “You
mean you’d like to hear a more trustworthy prophet predict as favorably;
and with all that I agree heartily.”

“There’s no one would be better pleased to be certain that the fine
palace on the wall there was not a castle in Spain. I think you know
that.”

“I do, Cave,--I know it well; but bear in mind, your best runs in the
hunting-field have not always been when you have killed your fox. The
pursuit, when it is well sustained, with its fair share of perils met,
dared, and overcome,--this is success. Whatever keeps a man’s heart up
and his courage high to the end, is no mean thing. I own to you I hope
to win, and I don’t know that there is any such failure possible as
would quench this hope.”

“Just what Trafford said of you when he came back from that
fishing-excursion,” cried Cave, as though carried away by a sudden burst
of thought.

“What a good fellow he is! Shall we have him up here to-night?”

“No; some of our men have been getting into scrapes at Cagliari, and I
have been obliged to ask him to stay there and keep things in order.”

“Is his quarrel with his family final, or is there still an opening to
reconciliation?”

“I ‘m afraid not. Some old preference of his mother’s for the youngest
son has helped on the difference; and then certain stories she brought
back from Ireland of Lionel’s doings there, or at least imputed doings,
have, I suspect, steeled his father’s heart completely against him.”

“I’ll stake my life on it there is nothing dishonorable to attach to
him. What do they allege?”

“I have but a garbled version of the story, for from Trafford himself I
have heard nothing; but I know, for I have seen the bills, he has lost
largely at play to a very dangerous creditor, who also accuses him of
designs on his wife; and the worst of this is that the latter suspicion
originated with Lady Trafford.”

“I could have sworn it. It was a woman’s quarrel, and she would
sacrifice her own son for vengeance. I ‘ll be able to pay her a very
refined compliment when I next see her, Cave, and tell her that she is
not in the least altered from the day I first met her. And has Lionel
been passed over in the entail?”

“So he believes, and I think with too good reason.”

“And all because he loved a girl whose alliance would confer honor on
the proudest house in the land. I think I ‘ll go over and pay Holt a
visit. It is upwards of forty years since I saw Sir Hugh, and I have a
notion I could bring him to reason.”

Cave shook his head doubtingly.

“Ay, to be sure,” sighed Fossbrooke, “it does make a precious difference
whether one remonstrates at the head of a fine fortune or pleads for
justice in a miner’s jacket. I was forgetting that, Cave. Indeed, I
am always forgetting it. And have they made no sort of settlement
on Lionel,--nothing to compensate him for the loss of his just
expectations?”

“I suspect not. He has told me nothing beyond the fact that he is to
have the purchase-money for the lieutenant-colonelcy, which I was
ready and willing to vacate in his favor, but which we are unable to
negotiate, because he owes a heavy sum, to the payment of which this
must go.”

“Can nothing be done with his creditor?--can we not manage to secure the
debt and pay the interest?”

“This same creditor is one not easily dealt with,” said Cave, slowly.

“A money-lender?”

“No. He ‘s the man I just told you wanted to involve Trafford with his
own wife. As dangerous a fellow as ever lived. I take shame to myself to
own that, though acquainted with him for years, I never really knew his
character till lately.”

“Don’t think the worse of yourself for that, Cave. The faculty to read
bad men at sight argues too much familiarity with badness. I like to
hear a fellow say, ‘I never so much as suspected it.’ Is this, man’s
name a secret?”

“No. Nothing of the kind. I don’t suppose you ever met him, but he is
well known in the service,--better perhaps in India than at home,--he
served on Rolffe’s staff in Bengal. His name is Sewell.”

“What! Dudley Sewell?”

“Yes; that’s his name. Do you know him?”

“Do I know him!” muttered the old man, as he bent down and supported his
head upon his hand.

“And do I wrong him in thinking him a dangerous fellow?” asked Cave.
But Fossbrooke made no answer; indeed, he never heard the question, so
absorbed was he in his own thoughts.

“What do you know of him?” asked Cave, in a louder voice.

“Everything,--everything! I know all that he has done, and scores of
things he would have done if he could. By what ill-luck was it that
Trafiford came to know this man?”

“They met at the Cape, and Trafford went to visit him when they came
over to Ireland. I suspect--I do not know it--but I suspect that
there was some flirtation in the case. She is extremely pretty, and a
coquette.”

“I declare,” said Fossbrooke, as he arose and paced the room, totally
unattentive to all the other said,--“I declare I begin sometimes
to think that the only real activity in life is on the part of the
scoundrels. Half the honest people in the world pass their lives in
forming good intentions, while the rogues go straight at their work and
do it. Do you think, Cave, that Trafford would tell me frankly what has
passed between this man and himself?”

“I ‘m not sure. I mean, he might have some reserve on one point, and
that is the very point on which his candor would be most important.
There have been letters, it would seem, that Sewell has got hold of, and
threatens exposure, if some enormous demand be not complied with.”

“What! Is the scoundrel so devoid of devices that he has to go back on
an old exploded villany? Why, he played that game at Rangoon, and got
five thousand pounds out of poor Beresford.”

“I have heard something of that.”

“Have heard of it! Who that ever served in India is not familiar with
the story? What does Trafford mean by not coming up here, and telling me
the whole story?”

“I ‘ll tell you what he means, Fossbrooke: he is heartily ashamed of
himself; he is in love with another, and he knows that you know it; but
he believes you may have heard stories to his detriment, and, tied as he
is, or fancies he is, by a certain delicate reserve, he cannot go into
his exculpation. There, in one word, is the reason that he is not here
to-night; he asked me to put on him special duty, and save him from all
the awkwardness of meeting you with a half-confidence.”

“And I, meanwhile, have written off to Tom Lendrick to come over here
with his sister, or to let us go and pay them a visit at the island.”

“You never told me of this.”

“Why should I? I was using the rights I possess over you as my guests,
doing for you what I deemed best for your amusement.”

“What answer have they given you?”

“None up to this; indeed, there has been scarcely time; and now, from
what you tell me, I do not well know what answer I’d like to have from
them.”

For several minutes neither uttered a word; at last Fossbrooke said:
“Trafford was right not to meet me. It has saved him some prevarication,
and me some passion. Write and tell him I said so.”

“I can scarcely do that, without avowing that I have revealed to you
more than I am willing to own.”

“When you told me in whose hands he was, you told me more than all the
rest. Few men can live in Dudley Sewells intimacy and come unscathed out
of the companionship.”

“That would tell ill for myself, for I have been of late on terms of
much intimacy with him.”

“You have n’t played with him?”

“Ay, but I have; and, what’s more, won of him,” said Cave, laughing.

“You profited little by that turn of fortune,” said Foss-brooke,
sarcastically.

“You imply that he did not pay his debt; but you are wrong: he came to
me the morning after we had played, and acquitted the sum lost.”

“Why, I am entangling myself in the miracles I hear! That Sewell
should lose is strange enough: that he should pay his losses is simply
incredible.”

“Your opinion of him would seem to be a very indifferent one.”

“Far from it, Cave. It is without any qualification whatever. I deem him
the worst fellow I ever knew; nor am I aware of any greater misfortune
to a young fellow entering on life than to have become his associate.”

“You astonish me! I was prepared to hear things of him that one could
not justify, nor would have willingly done themselves, but not to learn
that he was beyond the pale of honor.”

“It is exactly where he stands, sir,--beyond the pale of honor. I wish
we had not spoken of him,” said the old man, rising, and pacing the
room. “The memory of that fellow is the bitterest draught I ever put
to my lips; he has dashed my mind with more unworthy doubts and mean
suspicions of other men than all my experience of life has ever taught
me. I declare, I believe if I had never known him my heart would have
been as hopeful to-day as it was fifty years ago.”

“How came it that I never heard you speak of him?”

“Is it my wont, Cave, to talk of my disasters to my friends? You surely
have known me long enough to say whether I dwell upon the reverses and
disappointments of my life. It is a sorry choice of topics, perhaps,
that is left to men old as myself when they must either be croakers or
boasters. At all events, I have chosen the latter; and people bear with
it the better because they can smile at it.”

“I wish with all my heart I had never played with Sewell, and still more
that I had not won of him.”

“Was it a heavy sum?”

“For a man like myself, a very heavy sum. I was led on--giving him his
revenge, as it is called--till I found myself playing for a stake which,
had I lost, would have cost me the selling my commission.”

Fossbrooke nodded, as though to say he had known of such, incidents in
the course of his life.

“When he appeared at my quarters the next morning to settle the debt, I
was so overcome with shame that I pledge you my word of honor, I believe
I ‘d rather have been the loser and taken all the ruin the loss would
have brought down upon me.”

“How your friend must have appreciated your difficulty!” said
Fossbrooke, sarcastically.

“He was frank enough, at all events, to own that he could not share my
sense of embarrassment. He jeered a little at my pretension to be
an example to my young officers, as well he might. I had selected an
unlucky moment to advance such a claim; and then he handed me over my
innings, with all the ease and indifference in life.”

“I declare, Cave, I was expecting, to the very last moment, a different
ending to your story. I waited to hear that he had handed you a bond of
his wife’s guardian, which for prudential reasons should not be pressed
for prompt payment.”

“Good heavens! what do you mean?” cried Cave, leaning over the table in
intense eagerness. “Who could have told you this?”

“Beresford told me; he brought me the very document once to my house
with my own signature annexed to it,--an admirable forgery as ever
was, done. My seal, too, was there. By bad luck, however, the paper was
stolen from me that very night,--taken out of a locked portfolio. And
when Beresford charged the fellow with the fraud, Sewell called him out
and shot him.”

Cave sat for several minutes like one stunned and overcome. He looked
vacantly before him, but gave no sign of hearing or marking what was
said to him. At last he arose, and, walking over to a table, unlocked
his writing-desk, and took out a large packet, of which he broke the
seal, and without examining the contents, handed it to Fossbrooke,
saying,--“Is that like it?”

“It is the very bond itself; there’s my signature. I wish I wrote as
good a hand now,” said he, laughing. “It is as I always said, Cave,”
 cried he, in a louder, fuller voice; “the world persists in calling this
swindler a clever fellow, and there never was a greater mistake. The
devices of the scoundrel are the very fewest imaginable; and he repeats
his three or four tricks, with scarcely a change, throughout a life
long.”

“And this is a forgery!” muttered Cave, as he bent over the document and
scanned it closely.

“You shall see me prove it such. You ‘ll intrust me with it. I ‘ll
promise to take better care of it this time.”

“Of course. What do you mean to do?”

“Nothing by course of law, Cave. So far I promise you, and I know it is
of that you are most afraid. No, my good friend. If you never figure in
a witness-box till brought there by _me_, you may snap your fingers for
many a day at cross-examinations.”

“This cannot be made the subject of a personal altercation,” said Cave,
hesitatingly.

“If you mean a challenge, certainly not; but it may be made the means
of extricating Trafford from his difficulties with this man, and I can
hardly see where and what these difficulties are.”

“You allude to the wife?”

“We will not speak of that, Cave,” said Fossbrooke, coloring deeply.
“Mrs. Sewell has claims on my regard, that nothing her husband could do,
nothing that he might become could efface. She was the daughter of the
best and truest friend, and the most noble-hearted fellow I ever knew.
I have long ceased to occupy any place in her affections, but I shall
never cease to remember whose child she was,--how he loved her, and how,
in the last words he ever spoke, he asked me to befriend her. In those
days I was a rich man, and had the influence that wealth confers. I
had access to great people, too, and, wanting nothing for myself,
could easily be of use to others; but, where am I wandering to? I only
intended to say that _her_ name is not to be involved in any discussion
those things may occasion. What are these voices I hear outside in the
court? Surely that must be Tom Lendrick I hear.” He arose and flung open
the window, and at the same instant a merry voice cried out, “Here
we are, Sir Brook,--Trafford and myself. I met him in the Piazza at
Cagliari, and carried him off with me.”

“Have you brought anything to eat with you?” asked Fossbrooke.

“That I have,--half a sheep and a turkey,” said Tom.

“Then you are thrice welcome,” said Fossbrooke, laughing; “for Cave and
I are reduced to fluids. Come up at once; the fellows will take care of
your horses. We ‘ll make a night of it, Cave,” said the old man, as he
proceeded to cover the table with bottles. “We’ll drink success to the
mine! We ‘ll drink to the day when, as lieutenant-general, you ‘ll come
and pay me a visit in that great house yonder,--and here come the boys
to help us.”



CHAPTER III. UP AT THE MINE

Though they carried their convivialities into a late hour of the
night, Sir Brook was stirring early on the next morning, and was at Tom
Lendrick’s bedside ere he was awake.

“We had no time for much talk together, Tom, when you came up last
night,” said he; “nor is there much now, for I am off to England within
an hour.”

“Off to England! and the mine?”

“The mine must take care of itself, Tom, till you are stronger and able
to look after it. My care at present is to know if Trafford be going
back with you.”

“I meant that he should; in fact, I came over here expressly to ask
you what was best to be done. You can guess what I allude to; and I
had brought with me a letter which Lucy thought you ought to read; and,
indeed, I intended to be as cautious and circumspect as might be, but I
was scarcely on shore when Trafford rushed across a street and threw
his arm over my shoulder, and almost sobbed out his joy at seeing me. So
overcome was I that I forgot all my prudence,--all, indeed, that I came
for. I asked him to come up with me,--ay, and to come back, too, with me
to the island and stay a week there.”

“I scarcely think that can be done,” said the old man, gravely. “I like
Trafford well, and would be heartily glad I could like him still better;
but I must learn more about him ere I consent to his going over to
Maddalena. What is this letter you speak of?”

“You ‘ll find it in the pocket of my dressing-case there. Yes; that’s
it.”

“It’s a longish epistle, but in a hand I well know,--at least, I knew it
well long ago.” There was an indescribable sadness in the tone in which
he said this, and he turned away that his face should not be seen. He
seated himself in a recess of the window, and read the letter from end
to end. With a heavy sigh he laid it on the table, and muttered below
his breath, “What a long, long way to have journeyed from what I first
saw her to _that!_”

Tom did not venture to speak, nor show by any sign that he had heard
him, and the old man went on in broken sentences: “And to think that
these are the fine natures--the graceful--the beautiful--that are thus
wrecked! It is hard to believe it. In the very same characters of that
letter I have read such things, so beautiful, so touching, so tender, as
made the eyes overflow to follow them. You see I was right, Tom,” cried
he, aloud, in a strong stern voice, “when I said that she should not be
your sister’s companion. I told Sewell I would not permit it. I was in
a position to dictate my own terms to him, and I did so. I must see
Trafford about this!” and as he spoke he arose and left the room.

While Tom proceeded to dress himself, he was not altogether pleased with
the turn of events. If he had made any mistake in inviting Trafford to
return with him, there would be no small awkwardness in recalling
the invitation. He saw plainly enough he had been precipitate, but
precipitation is one of those errors which, in their own cases, men
are prone to ascribe to warm-heartedness. “Had I been as distrustful
or suspicious as that publican yonder,” is the burden of their
self-gratulation; and in all that moral surgery where men operate on
themselves, they cut very gingerly.

“Of course,” muttered Tom, “I can’t expect Sir Brook will take the same
view of these things. Age and suspicion are simply convertible terms,
and, thank Heaven, I have not arrived at either.”

“What are you thanking Heaven for?” said Sir Brook, entering. “In nine
cases out of ten, men use that formula as a measure of their own vanity.
For which of your shortcomings were you professing your gratitude, Tom?”

“Have you seen Trafford, sir?” asked Tom, trying to hide his confusion
by the question.

“Yes; we have had some talk together.”

Tom waited to hear further, and showed by his air of expectation how
eager he felt; but the old man made no sign of any disclosure, but sat
there silent and wrapped in thought. “I asked him this,” said the old
man, fiercely, “‘If you had got but one thousand pounds in all the
world, would it have occurred to you to go down and stake it on a match
of billiards against Jonathan?’ ‘Unquestionably not,’ he replied; ‘I
never could have dreamed of such presumption.’

“‘And on what pretext, by what impulse of vanity,’ said I, ‘were you
prompted to enter the lists with one every way your superior in tact, in
craft, and in coquetry? If she accepted your clumsy addresses, did
you never suspect that there was a deeper game at issue than your
pretensions?’

“‘You are all mistaken,’ said he, growing crimson with shame as he
spoke. ‘I made no advances whatever. I made her certain confidences,
it is true, and I asked her advice; and then, as we grew to be more
intimate, we wrote to each other, and Sewell came upon my letters, and
affected to think I was trying to steal his wife’s affection. She could
have dispelled the suspicion at once. She could have given the key
to the whole mystery, and why she did not is more than I can say. My
unlucky accident just then occurred, and I only issued from my
illness to hear that I had lost largely at play, and was so seriously
compromised, besides, that it was a question whether he should shoot me,
or sue for a divorce.’

“It was clear enough that so long as he represented the heir to the Holt
property, Sewell treated him with a certain deference; but when Trafford
declared to his family that he would accept no dictation, but go his own
road, whatever the cost, from that moment Sewell pressed his claims, and
showed little mercy in his exactions.

“‘And what’s your way out of this mess?’ asked I, ‘What do you propose
to do?’

“I have written to my father, begging he will pay off this debt for
me,--the last I shall ever ask him to acquit. I have requested my
brother to back my petition; and I have told Sewell the steps I have
taken, and promised him if they should fail that I will sell out, and
acquit my debt at the price of my commission.’

“‘And at the price of your whole career in life?’

“‘Just so. If you ‘ll not employ me in the mine, I must turn navvy.’

“‘And how, under such circumstances as these, can you accept Tom
Lendrick’s invitation, and go over to Maddalena?’

“‘I could not well say no when he asked me, but I determined not to go.
I only saw the greater misery I should bring on myself. Cave can send
me off in haste to Gibraltar or to Malta. In fact, I pass off the stage,
and never turn up again during the rest of the performance. ’”

“Poor fellow!” said Tom, with deep feeling.

“He was so manly throughout it all,” said Fossbrooke, “so
straightforward and so simple. Had there been a grain of coxcomb in his
nature, the fellow would have thought the woman in love with him, and
made an arrant fool of himself in consequence, but his very humility
saved him. I ‘m not sure, Master Tom, you ‘d have escaped so safely,
eh?”

“I don’t see why you think so.”

“Now for action,” said Fossbrooke. “I must get to England at once. I
shall go over to Holt, and see if I can do anything with Sir Hugh. I
expect little, for when men are under the frown of fortune they plead
with small influence. I shall then pass over to Ireland. With Sewell I
can promise myself more success. I may be away three or four weeks. Do
you think yourself strong enough to come back here and take my place
till I return?”

“Quite so. I ‘ll write and tell Lucy to join me.”

“I’d wait till Saturday,” said Fossbrooke, in a low voice. “Cave says
they can sail by Saturday morning, and it would be as well Lucy did not
arrive till they are gone.”

“You are right,” said Tom, thoughtfully.

“It’s not his poverty I ‘m thinking of,” cried Fossbrooke. “With health
and strength and vigor, a man can fight poverty. I want to learn that he
is as clean-handed in this affair with the Sewells as he thinks himself.
If I once were sure of that, I ‘d care little for his loss of fortune.
I ‘d associate him with us in the mine, Tom. There will always be more
wealth here than we can need. That new shaft promises splendidly. Such
fat ore I have not seen for many a day.”

Tom’s mouth puckered, and his expression caught a strange sort of
half-quizzical look, but he did not venture to speak.

“I know well,” added the old man, cautiously, “that it ‘s no good
service to a young fellow to plunge him at once into ample means without
making him feel the fatigues and trials of honest labor. He must be
taught to believe that there is work before him,--hard work too. He
must be made to suppose that it is only by persistence and industry, and
steady devotion to the pursuit, that it will yield its great results.”

“I don’t suspect our success will turn his head,” said Tom, dryly.

“That ‘s the very thing I want to guard against, Tom. Don’t you see it
is there all my anxiety lies?”

“Let him take a turn of our life here, and I ‘ll warrant him against the
growth of an over-sanguine disposition.”

“Just so,” said Fossbrooke, too intensely immersed in his own thought
either to notice the words or the accents of the other,--“just so: a
hard winter up here in the snows, with all the tackle frozen, ice on the
cranks, ice on the chains, ice everywhere, a dense steam from the heated
air below, and a cutting sleet above, try a man’s chest smartly; and
then that lead colic, of which you can tell him something. These give a
zest and a difficulty that prove what a man’s nature is like.”

“They have proved mine pretty well,” said Tom, with a bitter laugh.

“And there’s nothing like it in all the world for forming a man!” cried
Fossbrooke, in a voice of triumph. “Your fair-weather fellows go through
life with half their natures unexplored. They know no more of the
interior country of their hearts than we do of Central Africa. Beyond
the fact that there is something there--something--they know nothing. A
man must have conflict, struggle, peril, to feel what stuff there ‘s in
him. He must be baffled, thwarted, ay, and even defeated. He must
see himself amongst other men as an unlucky dog that fellows will
not willingly associate with. He must, on poor rations and tattered
clothing, keep up a high heart,--not always an easy thing to do; and,
hardest of all, he must train himself never in all his poverty to
condescend to a meanness that when his better day comes he would have to
blush for.”

“If you weight poverty with all those fine responsibilities, I suspect
you’ll break its back at once,” said Tom, laughing.

“Far from it. It is out of these self-same responsibilities that poverty
has a backbone at all;” and the old man stood bolt upright, and threw
back his head as though he were emblematizing what he had spoken of.

“Now, Tom, for business. Are you strong enough to come back here and
look after the shaft?”

“Yes, I think so. I hope so.”

“I shall probably be some weeks away. I ‘ll have to go over to Holt; and
I mean to run adown amongst the Cornwall fellows and show them some of
our ore. I ‘ll make their mouths water when they see it.”

Tom bit off the end of his cigar, but did not speak.

“I mean to make Beattie a present of ten shares in that new shaft, too.
I declare it’s like a renewal of youth to me to feel I can do this sort
of thing again. I ‘ll have to write to your father to come back also.
Why should he live in exile while we could all be together again in
affluence and comfort?”

Tom’s eyes ranged round the bare walls and the shattered windows, and he
raised his eyebrows in astonishment at the other’s illusions.

“We had a stiff ‘heat’ before we weathered the point, that’s certain,
Tom,” said the old man. “There were days when the sky looked dark
enough, and it needed all our pluck and all our resolution to push
on; but I never lost heart,--I never wavered about our certainty of
success,--did I?”

“No; that you did not. And if you had, I certainly should not have
wondered at it.”

“I ‘ll ask you to bear this testimony to me one of these days, and to
tell how I bore up at times that you yourself were not over hopeful.”

“Oh, that you may. I’ll be honest enough to own that the sanguine humor
was a rare one with me.”

“And it’s your worst fault. It is better for a young fellow to be
disappointed every hour of the twenty-four than to let incredulity gain
on him. Believe everything that it would be well to believe, and never
grow soured with fortune if the dice don’t turn up as you want them. I
declare I ‘m sorry to leave this spot just now, when all looks so bright
and cheery about it. You ‘re a lucky dog, Tom, to come in when the
battle is won, and nothing more to do than announce the victory.” And so
saying, he hurried off to prepare for the road, leaving Tom Lendrick in
a state of doubt whether he should be annoyed or amused at the opinions
he had heard from him.



CHAPTER IV. PARTING COUNSELS

Quick and decided in all his movements, Fossbrooke set out almost
immediately after this scene with Tom, and it was only as they gathered
together at breakfast that it was discovered he had gone.

“He left Bermuda in the very same fashion,” said Cave. “He had bought a
coffee-plantation in the morning, and he set out the same night; and I
don’t believe he ever saw his purchase after. I asked him about it, and
he said he thought--he was n’t quite sure--he made it a present to Dick
Molyneux on his marriage. ‘I only know,’ said he, ‘it’s not mine now.’”

As they sat over their breakfast, or smoked after it, they exchanged
stories about Fossbrooke, all full of his strange eccentric ways, but
all equally abounding in traits of kind-heartedness and generosity.
Comparing him with other men of liberal mould, the great and essential
difference seemed to be that Fossbrooke never measured his generosity.
When he gave, he gave all that he had; he had no notion of aiding or
assisting. His idea was to establish a man at once,--easy, affluent, and
independent. He abounded in precepts of prudence, maxims of thrift, and
such-like; but in practice he was recklessly lavish.

“Why ain’t there more like him?” cried Trafford, enthusiastically.

“I ‘m not sure it would be better,” said Cave. “The race of idle,
cringing, do-nothing fellows is large enough already. I suspect men like
Fossbrooke--at least what he was in his days of prosperity--give a large
influence to the spread of dependants.”

“The fault I find with him,” said Tom, “is his credulity. He believes
everything, and, what’s worse, every one. There are fellows here who
persuade him this mine is to make his fortune; and if he had thousands
to-morrow, he would embark them all in this speculation, the only result
of which is to enrich these people, and ruin ourselves.”

“Is that your view of it?” asked Cave, in some alarm.

“Of course it is; and if you doubt it, come down with me into the
gallery, as they call it, and judge for yourself.”

“But I have already joined the enterprise.”

“What! invested money in it?”

“Ay. Two thousand pounds,--a large sum for me, I promise you. It was
with immense persuasion, too, I got Fossbrooke to let me have these
shares. He offered me scores of other things as a free gift in
preference,--salmon-fisheries in St. John’s; a saw-mill on Lake Huron; a
large tract of land at the Cape; I don’t know what else: but I was firm
to the copper, and would have nothing but this.”

“I went in for lead,” said Trafford, laughingly.

“_You_; and are _you_ involved in this also?” asked Tom.

“Yes; so far as I have promised to sell out, and devote whatever remains
after paying my debts to the mine.”

“Why, this beats all the infatuation I ever heard of! You have not the
excuse of men at a distance, who have only read or listened to plausible
reports; but you have come here,--you have been on the spot,--you have
seen with your own eyes the poverty-stricken air of the whole concern,
the broken machinery, the ruined scaffoldings, the mounds of worthless
dross that hide the very approach to the shaft; and you have seen us,
too, and where and how we live!”

“Very true,” broke in Cave; “but I have heard _him_ talk, and I could no
more resist the force of his words than I could stand in a current and
not be carried down by it.”

“Exactly so,” chimed in Trafford; “he was all the more irresistible that
he did not seek to persuade. Nay, he tried his utmost to put me off the
project, and, as with the Colonel, he offered me dozens of other ways to
push my fortune, without costing me a farthing.”

“Might not we,” said Cave, “ask how it comes that you, taking this
dispiriting view of all here, still continue to embark your fortunes in
its success?”

“It is just because they are my fortunes; had it been my fortune, I had
been more careful. There is all the difference in life between a man’s
hopes and his bank-stock. But if you ask me why I hang on here, after I
have long ceased to think anything can come of it, my answer is, I do so
just as I would refuse to quit the wreck, when he declared he would not
leave it. It might be I should save my life by deserting him; but it
would be little worth having afterwards; and I ‘d rather live with him
in daily companionship, watching his manly courageous temper and his
high-hearted way of dealing with difficulties, than I would go down the
stream prosperously with many another; and over and over have I said to
myself, If that fine nature of his can make defeat so endurable, what
splendor of triumph would it not throw over a real success!”

“And this is exactly what we want to share,” said Traf-ford, smiling.

“But what do either of you know of the man, beyond the eccentricity, or
the general kindliness with which he meets you? You have not seen him
as I have, rising to his daily toil with a racking head and a fevered
frame, without a word of complaint, or anything beyond a passing
syllable of discomfort; never flinching, never yielding; as full of kind
thought for others, as full of hopeful counsel, as in his best days;
lightening labor with proverb and adage, and stimulating zeal with many
a story. You can’t picture to yourselves this man, once at the head of a
princely fortune, which he dispensed with more than princely liberality,
sharing a poor miner’s meal of beans and oil with pleasant humor, and
drinking a toast, in wine that would set the teeth on edge, to that good
time when they would have more generous fare, and as happy hearts to
enjoy it.

“Nor have you seen him, as I have, the nurse beside the sick-bed, so
gentle, so thoughtful,--a very woman in tenderness; and all that after a
day of labor that would have borne down the strongest and the stoutest.
And who is he that takes the world in such good part, and thinks so
hopefully of his fellow-men? The man of all his time who has been most
betrayed, most cheated, whose trust has been most often abused, whose
benefits have been oftenest paid back in ingratitude. It is possible
enough he may not be the man to guide one to wealth and fortune; but to
whatever condition of life he leads, of one thing I am certain, there
will be no better teacher of the spirit and temper to enjoy it; there
will be none who will grace any rank--the highest or the humblest--with
a more manly dignity.”

“It was knowing all this of him,” said Cave, “that impelled me to
associate myself with any enterprise he belonged to. I felt that if
success were to be won by persistent industry and determination, his
would do it, and that his noble character gave a guarantee for fair
dealing better than all the parchments lawyers could engross.”

“From what I have seen of life, I ‘d not say that success attends such
men as he is,” said Tom. “The world would be, perhaps, too good if it
were so.”

Silence now fell upon the party, and the three men smoked on for some
time without a word. At last Tom, rising from the bench where he had
been seated, said, “Take my advice; keep to your soldiering, and have
nothing to do with this concern here. You sail on Saturday next, and
by Sunday evening, if you can forget that there is such an island as
Sardinia, and such poor devils on it as ourselves, it will be all the
better for you.”

“I am sorry to see you so depressed, Lendrick,” said Cave.

“I ‘m not so low as you suspect; but I’d be far lower if I thought that
others were going to share our ill-fortunes.”

Though the speech had no direct reference to Trafford, it chanced
that their eyes met as he spoke, and Trafford’s face flushed to a deep
crimson as he felt the application of the words.

“Come here, Tom,” said he, passing his arm within Len-drick’s, and
leading him off the terrace into a little copse of wild hollies at the
foot of it. “Let me have one word with you.” They walked on some
seconds without a word, and when Trafford spoke his voice trembled with
agitation. “I don’t know,” muttered he, “if Sir Brook has told you of
the change in my fortunes,--that I am passed over in the entail by my
father, and am, so to say, a beggar.”

Lendrick nodded, but said nothing.

“I have got debts, too, which, if not paid by my family, will compel me
to sell out,--has he told you this?”

“Yes; I think he said so.”

“Like the kind, good fellow he is,” continued Trafford, “he thinks he
can do something with my people,--talk my father over, and induce my
mother to take my side. I ‘m afraid I know them better, and that they
‘re not sorry to be rid of me at last. It is, however, just possible--I
will not say more, but just possible--that he may succeed in making some
sort of terms for me before they cut me off altogether. I have no claim
whatever, for I have spent already the portion that should have come to
me as a younger son. I must be frank with you, Tom. There ‘s no use in
trying to make my case seem better than it is.” He paused, and appeared
to expect that the other would say something; but Tom smoked on and made
no sign whatever.

“And it comes to this,” said Trafford, drawing a long breath and making
a mighty effort, “I shall either have some small pittance or other,--and
small it must be,--or be regularly cleaned out without a shilling.”

A slight, very slight, motion of Tom’s shoulders showed that he had
heard him.

“If the worst is to befall me,” said Traflford, with more energy than he
had shown before, “I ‘ll no more be a burden to you than to any other of
my friends. You shall hear little more of me; but if fortune is going to
give me her last chance, will _you_ give me one also?”

“What do you mean?” said Tom, curtly.

“I mean,” stammered out Trafford, whose color came and went with
agitation as he spoke,--“I mean, shall I have your leave--that is, may
I go over to Maddalena?--may I--O Tom,” burst he out at last, “you know
well what hope my heart clings to.”

“If there was nothing but a question of money in the way,” broke in Tom,
boldly, “I don’t see how beggars like ourselves could start very strong
objections. That a man’s poverty should separate him from us would be a
little too absurd; but there ‘s more than that in it. You have got into
some scrape or other. I don’t want to force a confidence--I don’t want
to hear about it. It’s enough for me that you are not a free man.”

“If I can satisfy you that this is not the case--”

“It won’t do to satisfy _me,_” said Tom, with a strong emphasis on the
last word.

“I mean, if I can show that nothing unworthy, nothing dishonorable,
attaches to me.”

“I don’t suspect all that would suffice. It’s not a question of your
integrity or your honor. It’s the simple matter whether when professing
to care for one woman you made love to another?”

“If I can disprove that. It ‘s a long story--”

“Then, for Heaven’s sake, don’t tell it to me.”

“Let me, at least, show that it is not fair to shun me.”

There was such a tone of sorrow in his voice as he spoke that Tom
turned at once towards him, and said: “If you can make all this affair
straight--I mean, if it be clear that there was no more in it than such
a passing levity that better men than either of us have now and then
fallen into--I don’t see why you may not come back with me.”

“Oh, Tom, if you really will let me!”

“Remember, however, you come at your own peril. I tell you frankly, if
your explanation should fail to satisfy the one who has to hear it, it
fails with me too,--do you understand me?”

“I think I do,” said Trafford, with dignity.

“It’s as well that we should make no mistake; and now you are free to
accept my invitation or to refuse it. What do you say?”

“I say, yes. I go back with you.”

“I’ll go and see, then, if Cave will join us,” said Tom, turning hastily
away, and very eager to conceal the agitation he was suffering, and of
which he was heartily ashamed.

Cave accepted the project with delight,--he wanted to see the
island,--but, more still, he wanted to see that Lucy Lendrick of whom
Sir Brook had spoken so rapturously. “I suppose,” whispered he in Tom’s
ear, “you know all about Trafford. You ‘ve heard that he has been cut
out of the estate, and been left with nothing but his pay?”

Tom nodded assent.

“He’s not a fellow to sail under false colors, but he might still have
some delicacy in telling about it--”

“He has told me all,” said Tom, dryly.

“There was a scrape, too,--not very serious, I hope,--in Ireland.”

“He has told me of that also,” said Tom. “When shall you be ready? Will
four o’clock suit you?”

“Perfectly.”

And they parted.



CHAPTER V. ON THE ISLAND

When, shortly after daybreak, the felucca rounded the point of the
island, and stood in for the little bay of Maddalena, Lucy was roused
from sleep by her maid with the tidings, “Give me the glass, quickly,”
 cried she, as she rushed to the window, and after one rapid glance,
which showed her the little craft gayly decked with the flag of England,
she threw herself upon her bed, and sobbed in very happiness. In truth,
there was in the long previous day’s expectancy--in the conflict of her
hope and fear--a tension that could only be relieved by tears.

How delightful it was to rally from that momentary gush of emotion, and
feel so happy! To think so well of the world as to believe that all goes
for the best in it, is a pleasant frame of mind to begin one’s day with;
to feel that though we have suffered anxiety, and all the tortures of
deferred hope, it was good for us to know that everything was happening
better for us than we could have planned it for ourselves, and that
positively it was not so much by events we had been persecuted as by our
own impatient reading of them. Something of all these sensations passed
through Lucy’s mind as she hurried here and there to prepare for her
guests, stopping at intervals to look out towards the sea, and wonder
how little way the felucca made, and how persistently she seemed to
cling to the selfsame spot.

Nor was she altogether unjust in this. The breeze had died away at
sunrise; and in the interval before the land-wind should spring up there
was almost a dead calm.

“Is she moving at all?” cried Lucy, to one of the sailors who lounged on
the rocks beneath the window.

The man thought not. They had kept their course too far from shore, and
were becalmed in consequence.

How could they have done so?--surely sailors ought to have known better!
and Tom, who was always boasting how he knew every current, and every
eddy of wind, what was he about? It was a rude shock to that sweet
optimism of a few moments back to have to own that here at least was
something that might have been better.

“And what ought they to do, what can they do?” asked she, impatiently,
of the sailor.

“Wait till towards noon, when the land-breeze freshens up, and beat.”

“Beat means, go back and forward, scarcely gaining a mile an hour?”

The sailor smiled, and owned she was not far wrong.

“Which means that they may pass the day there,” cried she, fretfully.

“They’re not going to do it, anyhow,” said the man; “they are lowering a
boat, and going to row ashore.”

“Oh, how much better! and how long will it take them?”

“Two hours, if they ‘re good rowers; three, or even four, if they ‘re
not.”

“Come in and have a glass of wine,” said she; “and you shall look
through the telescope, and tell me how they row, and who are in the
boat,--I mean how many are in it.”

“What a fine glass! I can see them as if they were only a cable’s length
off. There’s the Signorino Maso, your brother, at the bow oar; and then
there’s a sailor, and another sailor; and there’s a signore, a large
man,--_per Bacco_, he’s the size of three,--at the stroke; and an old
man, with white hair, and a cap with gold lace round it, steering; he
has bright buttons down his coat.”

“Never mind _him_. What of the large man,--is he young?”

“He pulls like a young fellow! There now, he has thrown off his coat,
and is going at it in earnest! Ah, he’s no signore after all.”

“How no signore?” asked she, hastily.

“None but a sailor could row as he does! A man must be bred to it to
handle an oar in that fashion.”

She took the glass impatiently from him, and tried to see the boat;
but whether it was the unsteadiness of her hand, or that some dimness
clouded her eyes, she could not catch the object, and turned away and
left the room.

The land-wind freshened, and sent a strong sea against the boat, and it
was not until late in the afternoon that the party landed, and, led by
Tom, ascended the path to the cottage. At his loud shout of “Lucy,” she
came to the door looking very happy indeed, but more agitated than she
well liked. “My sister, Colonel Cave,” said Tom, as they came up; “and
here’s an old acquaintance, Lucy; but he’s a major now. Sir Brook is
away to England, and sent you all manner of loving messages.”

“I have been watching your progress since early morning,” said Lucy,
“and, in truth, I scarcely thought you seemed to come nearer. It was a
hard pull.”

“All Trafford’s fault,” said Tom, laughing; “he would do more than his
share, and kept the boat always dead against her rudder.”

“That’s not the judgment one of our boatmen here passed on him,” said
Lucy; “he said it must be a sailor, and no signore, who was at the
stroke oar.”

“See what it is to have been educated at Eton,” said Cave, slyly; “and
yet there are people assail our public schools!”

Thus chatting and laughing, they entered the cottage, and were soon
seated at table at a most comfortable little dinner.

“I will say,” said Tom, in return for some compliment from the Colonel,
“she is a capital housekeeper. I never had anything but limpets and
sea-urchins to eat till she came, and now I feel like an alderman.”

“When men assign us the humble office of providing for them, I remark
they are never chary of their compliments,” said Lucy, laughingly.
“Master Tom is willing to praise my cookery, though he says nothing of
my companionship.”

“It was such a brotherly speech,” chimed in Cave.

“Well, it’s jolly, certainly,” said Tom, as he leaned back in his chair,
“to sit here with that noble sea-view at our feet, and those grand old
cliffs over us.”

While Cave concurred, and strained his eyes to catch some object out
seaward, Trafford, for almost the first time, found courage to address
Lucy. He had asked something about whether she liked the island as well
as that sweet cottage where first he saw her, and by this they were led
to talk of that meeting, and of the long happy day they had passed at
Holy Island.

“How I ‘d like to go back to it!” said Lucy, earnestly.

“To the time, or to the place? To which would you wish to go back?”

“To the Nest,” said Lucy, blushing slightly; “they were about the
happiest days I ever knew, and dear papa was with us then.”

“And is it not possible that you may all meet together there one of
these days? He’ll not remain at the Cape, will he?”

“I was forgetting that you knew him,” said she, warmly; “you met papa
since I saw you last: he wrote about you, and told how kindly and
tenderly you had nursed him on his voyage.”

“Oh, did he? Did he indeed speak of me?” cried Trafford, with intense
emotion.

“He not only spoke warmly about his affection for you, but he showed
pain and jealousy when he thought that some newer friends had robbed him
of you--but perhaps you forget the Cape and all about it.”

Trafford’s face became crimson, and what answer he might have made to
this speech there is no knowing, when Tom cried out, “We are going to
have our coffee and cigar on the rocks, Lucy, but you will come with
us.”

“Of course; I have had three long days of my own company, and am quite
wearied of it.”

In the little cleft to which they repaired, a small stream divided the
space, leaving only room for two people on the rocks at either side; and
after some little jesting as to who was to have the coffee-pot, and who
the brandy-flask, Tom and Cave nestled in one corner, while Lucy and
Trafford, with more caution as to proximity, seated themselves on the
rock opposite.

“We were talking about the Cape, Major Trafford, I think,” said Lucy,
determined to bring him back to the dreaded theme.

“Were we? I think not; I think we were remembering all the pleasant days
beside the Shannon.”

“If you please, more sugar and no brandy; and now for the Cape.”

“I ‘ll just hand them the coffee,” said he, rising and crossing over to
the others.

“Won’t she let you smoke, Trafford?” said Tom, seeing the unlighted
cigar in the other’s fingers; “come over here, then, and escape the
tyranny.”

“I was just saying,” cried Cave, “I wish our Government would establish
a protectorate, as they call it, over these islands, and send us out
here to garrison them; I call this downright paradise.”

“You may smoke, Major Trafford,” said Lucy, as he returned; “I am very
tolerant about tobacco.”

“I don’t care for it--at least not now.”

“You’d rather tell me about the Cape,” said she, with a sly laugh.
“Well, I ‘m all attention.”

“There’s really nothing to tell,” said he, in confusion. “Your father
will have told you already what a routine sort of thing life is,--always
meeting the same people,--made ever more uniform by their official
stations. It’s always the Governor, and the Chief-Justice, and the
Bishop, and the Attorney-General.”

“But they have wives and daughters?”

“Yes; but official people’s wives and daughters are always of the same
pattern. They are only females of the species.”

“So that you were terribly bored?”

“Just so,--terribly bored.”

“What a boon from heaven it must have been then to have met the
Sewells!” said she, with a well-put-on carelessness.

“Oh, your father mentioned the Sewells, did he?” asked Trafford,
eagerly.

“I should think he did mention them! Why, they were the people he was
so jealous of. He said that you were constantly with him till they
came,--his companion, in fact,--and that he grieved heavily over your
desertion of him.”

“There was nothing like desertion; besides,” added he, after a moment,
“I never suspected he attached any value to my society.”

“Very modest, certainly; and probably, as the Sewells did attach this
value, you gave it where it was fully appreciated.”

“I wish I had never met them,” muttered Trafford; and though the words
were mumbled beneath his breath, she heard them.

“That sounds very ungratefully,” said she, with a smile, “if but one
half of what we hear be true.”

“What is it you have heard?”

“I ‘m keeping Major Trafford from his cigar, Tom; he’s too punctilious
to smoke in my company, and so I shall leave him to you;” and so saying,
she arose, and turned towards the cottage.

Trafford followed her on the instant, and overtook her at the porch.

“One word,--only one,” cried he, eagerly. “I see how I have been
misrepresented to you. I see what you must think of me; but will you
only hear me?”

“I have no right to hear you,” said she, coldly.

“Oh, do not say so, Lucy,” cried he, trying to take her hand, but which
she quickly withdrew from him. “Do not say that you withdraw from me the
only interest that attaches me to life. If you knew how friendless I am,
you would not leave me.”

“He upon whom fortune smiles so pleasantly very seldom wants for any
blandishments the world has to give; at least, I have always heard that
people are invariably courteous to the prosperous.”

“And do you talk of me as prosperous?”

“Why, you are my brother’s type of all that is luckiest in life. Only
hear Tom on the subject! Hear him talk of his friend Trafford, and you
will hear of one on whom all the good fairies showered their fairest
gifts.”

“The fairies have grown capricious, then. Has Tom told you nothing--I
mean since he came back?”

“No; nothing.”

“Then let me tell it.”

In very few words, and with wonderfully little emotion, Trafford told
the tale of his altered fortunes. Of course he did not reveal the
reasons for which he had been disinherited, but loosely implied that his
conduct had displeased his father, and with his mother he had never
been a favorite. “Mine,” said he, “is the vulgar story that almost every
family has its instance of,--the younger son, who goes into the world
with the pretensions of a good house, and forgets that he himself is
as poor as the neediest man in the regiment. They grew weary of my
extravagance, and, indeed, they began to get weary of myself, and I am
not surprised at it! and the end has come at last. They have cast me
off, and, except my commission, I have now nothing in the world. I told
Tom all this, and his generous reply was, ‘Your poverty only draws you
nearer to us.’ Yes, Lucy, these were his words. Do you think that his
sister could have spoken them?”

“‘Before she could do so, she certainly should be satisfied on other
grounds than those that touch your fortune,” said Lucy, gravely.

“And it was to give her that same satisfaction I came here,” cried he,
eagerly. “I accepted Tom’s invitation on the sole pledge that I could
vindicate myself to you. I know what is laid to my charge, and I
know too how hard it will be to clear myself without appearing like
a coxcomb.” He grew crimson as he said this, and the shame that
overwhelmed him was a better advocate than all his words. “But,” added
he, “you shall think me vain, conceited,--a puppy, if you will,--but you
shall not believe me false. Will you listen to me?”

“On one condition I will,” said she, calmly.

“Name your condition. What is it?”

“My condition is this: that when I have heard you out,--heard all that
you care to tell me--if it should turn out that I am not satisfied--I
mean, if it appear to me a case in which I ought not to be
satisfied--you will pledge your word that this conversation will be our
last together.”

“But, Lucy, in what spirit will you judge me? If you can approach the
theme thus coldly, it gives me little hope that you will wish to acquit
me.”

A deep blush covered her face as she turned away her head, but made no
answer.

“Be only fair, however,” cried he, eagerly. “I ask for nothing more.” He
drew her arm within his as he spoke, and they turned towards the beach
where a little sweep of the bay lay hemmed in between lofty rocks. “Here
goes my last throw for fortune,” said Trafford, after they had strolled
along some minutes in silence. “And oh, Lucy, if you knew how I would
like to prolong these minutes before, as it may be, they are lost to me
forever! If you knew how I would like to give this day to happiness and
hope!”

She said nothing, but walked along with her head down, her face slightly
averted from him.

“I have not told you of my visit to the Priory,” said he, suddenly.

“No; how came you to go there?”

“I went to see the place where you had lived, to see the garden you had
tended, and the flowers you loved, Lucy. I took away this bit of jasmine
from a tree that overhung a little rustic seat. It may be, for aught I
know, all that may remain to me of you ere this day closes.”

“My dear little garden! I was so fond of it!” she said, concealing her
emotion as well as she could.

“I am such a coward,” said he, angrily; “I declare I grow ashamed of
myself. If any one had told me I would have skulked danger in this wise,
I ‘d have scouted the idea! Take this, Lucy,” said he, giving her the
sprig of withered jasmine; “if what I shall tell you exculpate me--if
you are satisfied that I am not unworthy of your love,--you will give it
back to me; if I fail--” He could not go on, and another silence of some
seconds ensued.

“You know the compact now?” asked he, after a moment. She nodded assent.

For full five minutes they walked along without a word, and then
Trafford, at first timidly, but by degrees more boldly, began a
narrative of his visit to the Sewells’ house. It is not--nor need it
be--our task to follow him through a long narrative, broken, irregular,
and unconnected as it was. Hampered by the difficulties which on each
side beset him of disparaging those of whom he desired to say no word of
blame, and of still vindicating himself from all charge of dishonor,
he was often, it must be owned, entangled, and sometimes scarcely
intelligible. He owned to have been led into high play against his
will, and equally against his will induced to form an intimacy with
Mrs. Sewell, which, beginning in a confidence, wandered away into Heaven
knows what of sentimentality, and the like. Trafford talked of Lucy
Lendrick and his love, and Mrs. Sewell talked of her cruel husband and
her misery; and they ended by making a little stock-fund of affection,
where they came in common to make their deposits and draw their cheques
on fortune.

All this intercourse was the more dangerous that he never knew its
danger; and though, on looking back, he was astonished to think what
intimate relations subsisted between them, yet, at the time, these
had not seemed in the least strange to him. To her sad complaints of
neglect, ill-usage, and insult, he offered such consolations as occurred
to him: nor did it seem to him that there was any peril in his path,
till his mother burst forth with that atrocious charge against Mrs.
Sewell for having seduced her son, and which, so far from repelling with
the indignation it might have evoked, she appeared rather to bend under,
and actually seek his protection to shelter her. Weak and broken by his
accident at the race, these difficulties almost overcame his reason;
never was there, to his thinking, such a web of entanglement. The
hospitality of the house he was enjoying outraged and violated by the
outbreaks of his mother’s temper; Sewell’s confidence in him betrayed
by the confessions he daily listened to from his wife; her sorrows and
griefs all tending to a dependence on his counsels which gave him a
partnership in her conduct. “With all these upon me,” said he, “I don’t
think I was actually mad, but very often I felt terribly close to it.
A dozen times a day I would willingly have fought Sewell; as willingly
would I have given all I ever hoped to possess in the world to enable
his wife to fly his tyranny, and live apart from him. I so far resented
my mother’s outrageous conduct, that I left her without a good-bye.”

I can no more trace him through this wandering explanation than I
dare ask my reader to follow. It was wild, broken, and discursive. Now
interrupted by protestations of innocence, now dashed by acknowledgments
of sorrow, who knows if his unartistic story did not serve him better
than a more connected narrative,--there was such palpable truth in it!

Nor was Lucy less disposed to leniency that he who pleaded before her
was no longer the rich heir of a great estate, with a fair future before
him, but one poor and portionless as herself. In the reserve with which
he shrouded his quarrel with his family, she fancied she could see the
original cause,--his love for her; and if this were so, what more had
she need of to prove his truth and fidelity? Who knows if her woman’s
instinct had not revealed this to her? Who knows if, in that finer
intelligence of the female mind, she had not traced out the secret of
the reserve that hampered him, of the delicate forbearance with which he
avoided the theme of his estrangement from his family? And if so, what a
plea was it for him! Poor fellow, thought she, what has he not given up
for me!

Rich men make love with great advantages on their side. There is no
doubt that he who can confer demesnes and diamonds has much in his
favor. The power that abides in wealth adds marvellous force to the
suitor’s tale; but there is, be it owned, that in poverty which, when
allied with a sturdy self-dependence, appeals wonderfully to a woman’s
mind. She feels all the devotion that is offered her, and she will not
be outdone in generosity. It is so fine of him, when others care for
nothing but wealth and riches, to be satisfied with humble fortune, and
with _me!_ There is the summing up, and none need be more conclusive.

How long Trafford might have gone on strengthening his case, and calling
up fresh evidence to his credit,--by what force of words he might still
have sustained his character for fidelity,--there is no saying; but his
eloquence was suddenly arrested by the sight of Cave and Tom coming to
meet them.

“Oh, Lucy,” cried he, “do not quit my arm till you tell me my fate. For
very pity’s sake, do not leave me in the misery of this anxiety,” said
he, as she disengaged herself, affecting to arrange her shawl.

“I have a word to say to my brother,” said she, hurriedly; “keep this
sprig of jasmine for me. I mean to plant it somewhere;” and without
another word she hastened away and made for the house.

“So we shall have to sail at once, Trafford,” said Cave. “The Admiral
has sent over the ‘Gondomar’ to fetch us; and here’s a lieutenant with a
despatch waiting for us at the cottage.”

“The service may go--No, I don’t mean that; but if you sail to-morrow
you sail without me.”

“Have you made it all right?” whispered Tom in his ear.

“I ‘m the happiest fellow in Europe,” said he, throwing his arm round
the other’s shoulder. “Come here, Tom, and let me tell you all--all.”



CHAPTER VI. HOW CHANGED

We are once more at the Priory; but how changed is it all! Billy Haire
himself scarcely recognizes the old spot, and indeed comes now but
seldom to visit it; for the Chief has launched out into the gay
world, and entertains largely at dinner, and even gives _déjeuners
dansants_,--foreign innovations at which he was wont to inveigh with
vehemence.

The old elm under whose shade Avonmore and the wits used to sit of an
evening, beneath whose leafy canopy Curran had jested and Moore had
sung, was cut down, and a large tent of gaudy blue and white spread its
vulgar wings over innumerable breakfast-tables, set forth with what the
newspapers call every delicacy of the season.

The Horatian garden, and the Roman house--conceits of an old Lord
Chancellor in former times, and once objects of almost veneration in Sir
William’s eyes--have been swept away, with all their attendant details
of good or bad taste, and in their place a fountain has been erected,
for whose aquatic displays, be it noted in parenthesis, two horses
and as many men are kept in full employ. Of the wild old woodland
walks--shady and cool, redolent of sweet-brier and honeysuckle--not a
trace remains; driving-roads, wide enough for a pony-carriage, have been
substituted for these, and ruthless gaps in the dense wood open long
vistas to the eye, in a spot where once it was the sense of enclosure
and seclusion that imparted the chief charm. For so it is, coming out of
the din and bustle of a great city, there is no attraction which can vie
with whatever breathes of tranquillity, and seems to impart peace by
an air of unbroken quiet. It was for this very quality the Priory had
gained its fame. Within doors the change was as great as without. New,
and, be it admitted, more comfortable furniture had replaced the old
ponderous objects which, in every form of ugliness, had made the former
decorations of the rooms. All was now light, tasteful, elegant. All
invited to ease of intercourse, and suggested that pleasant union of
social enjoyment with self-indulgence which our age seems to cultivate.
But of all the changes and mutations which a short time had effected,
none could compete with that in the old Chief himself. Through life he
had been studiously attentive to neatness and care in his dress; it was
with something of pride that he exhibited little traits of costume that
revived bygone memories; and his long white hak, brushed rigidly back,
and worn as a queue behind, and his lace ruffles, recalled a time when
these were distinctive signs of class and condition.

His sharply cut and handsome features were well served by the
well-marked temples and lofty head that surmounted them, and which
the drawn-back hair displayed to full advantage; and what a terrible
contrast did the expression present when a light-brown wig covered his
head, and a lock of childlike innocence graced his forehead! The large
massive eyebrows, so impressive in their venerable whiteness, were now
dyed of a dark hue; and to prevent the semblance of ghastliness which
this strong color might impart to the rest of the face, a faint tinge
of rouge was given to the cheek, thus lending to the whole features an
expression of mingled smirk and severity as little like the former look
of dignified intelligence as might be.

A tightly fitting frock-coat and a colored cravat, fastened with a
massive jewelled pin, completed a travesty which, strange to say,
imparted its character to his gait, and made itself evident in his
carriage.

His manner, too,--that admirable courtesy of a bygone day, of which,
when unprovoked by a personal encounter, he was a master,--was now
replaced by an assumed softness,--an ill-put-on submission that seemed
to require all his watchfulness never to forget.

If his friends deplored and his enemies exulted over this unbecoming
change in one who, whatever his defects, had ever displayed the force
and power of a commanding intellect, the secret was known to few. A
violent and unseemly attack had been made in the “House” against him by
some political partisan, who alleged that his advanced age and failing
faculties urgently demanded his retirement from the Bench, and calling
loudly on the Government to enforce a step which nothing but the
tenacity and obstinacy of age would have refused to accept voluntarily
and even gratefully.

In the discussion--it was not debate--that the subject gave rise to, the
year of his birth was quoted, the time he had been first called, and the
long period he had served on the Bench; and if his friends were strong
in their evidences of his unfailing powers and unclouded faculties, his
assailants adduced instances in which he had mistaken the suitors and
misstated the case. His temper, too, imperious even to insult, had,
it was said, driven many barristers from his court, where few liked to
plead except such as were his abject and devoted followers.

When the attack appeared in the morning papers, Beattie drove out in all
haste to the Priory to entreat that the newspapers should be withheld
from him, and all mention of the offensive subject be carefully avoided.
The doctor was shown into the room where the Sewells were at breakfast,
and at once eagerly announced the reason for his early visit.

“You are too late, doctor,” said Sewell; “he had read every line of it
before we came downstairs. He made me listen to it, too, before I could
go to breakfast.”

“And how did he bear it?”

“On the whole, I think well. He said they were incorrect about the
year he was called, and also as to the time he entered Parliament. With
regard to the man who made the attack, he said, ‘It is my turn to be
biographer now; let us see if the honorable member will call the victory
his.’”

“He must do nothing of the kind. I will not answer for his life if he
gives way to these bursts of temper.”

“I declare I think I’d not interfere with him,” drawled out Sewell,
as he broke an egg. “I suspect it’s better to let those high-pressure
people blow off their steam.”

“I’m sure Dr. Beattie is right,” interposed Mrs. Sewell, who saw in the
doctor’s face an unmistakable look of disgust at the Colonel’s speech.

“I repeat, sir,” said Beattie, gravely, “that it is a question of Sir
William’s life; he cannot survive another attack like his last one.”

“It has always been a matter of wonder to me how he has lived so long.
To go on existing, and be so sensitive to public opinion, is something
quite beyond my comprehension.”

“You would not mind such attacks, then?” said Beattie, with a very
slight sneer.

“I should think not! A man must be a fool if he does n’t know there are
scores of fellows who don’t like him; and he must be an unlucky dog if
there are not others who envy him for something or other, though it only
be his horse or his dog, his waistcoat or his wife.”

In the look of malevolence he threw across the table as he spoke this,
might be read the concentrated hate of one who loved to insult his
victim. The doctor saw it, and rose to leave, disgusted and angry. “I
suppose Sir William knows I am here?” said he, coldly.

“I suspect not,” said Sewell. “If you ‘ll talk to my wife, or look over
the ‘Times,’ I’ll go and tell him.”

The Chief Baron was seated at his writing-table when Sewell entered, and
angrily cried out, “Who is there?”

“Sewell, my Lord. May I come in?”

“Sir, you have taken that liberty in anticipation of the request. What
do you want?”

“I came to say, my Lord, that Dr. Beattie is here.”

“Who sent for him, sir?”

“Not I, my Lord, certainly.”

“I repeat my question, sir, and expect a direct answer.”

“I can only repeat my answer, my Lord. He was not sent for by me or with
my knowledge.”

“So that I am to understand that his presence here is not the result
of any active solicitude of my family for the consequences of this new
outrage upon my feelings;” and he clutched the newspaper as he spoke,
and shook it with passion.

“I assure you, my Lord, Beattie has come here of his own accord.”

“But on account of this!” and the words came from him with a hissing
sound that denoted intense anger. Sewell made a gesture to imply that
it might be so, but that he himself knew nothing of it. “Tell him, then,
sir, that the Chief Baron regrets he cannot see him; that he is at this
moment engaged with the reply to a late attack in the House of Commons,
which he desires to finish before post hour; and add, sir, that he is
in the best of health and in excellent spirits,--facts which will afford
him increased enjoyment, if Dr. Beattie will only be kind enough to
mention them widely in the course of his visits.”

“I ‘m delighted, my Lord, to be charged with such a message,” said
Sewell, with a well-assumed joy.

“I am glad, sir, to have pleased you, at the same time that I have
gained your approbation.”

There was a haughty tone in the way these words were delivered that for
an instant made Sewell doubt whether they meant approval or reprimand;
but he thought he saw a look of self-satisfied vanity in the old man’s
face, and he merely bowed his thanks for the speech.

“What do you think, sir, they have had the hardihood to say in the House
of Commons?” cried the Chief, while his cheek grew crimson and his
eye flashed fire. “They say that, looking to the perilous condition of
Ireland, with a widespread conspiracy through the land, and rebellion in
most daring form bearding the authorities of the Crown, it is no time to
see one of the chief seats of justice occupied by one whose achievements
in Crown prosecutions date from the state trials of ‘98! In which
capacity, sir, am I assailed? Is it as Patriarch or Patriot? Am I
held up to obloquy because I came into the world at a certain year, or
because I was one of the counsel for Wolfe Tone? From whom, too, come
these slanderous assaults? Do these puny slanderers not yet know that
it is with men as with plants, and that though the dockweed is rotten
within a few weeks, the oak takes centuries to reach maturity?

“There were men in the Administration once, sir, in whom I had that
confidence I could have placed my office in their hands with the
full conviction it would have been worthily conferred,--men above the
passions of party, and who saw in public life other ambitions than the
struggles for place. I see these men no longer. They who now compose the
Cabinet inspire no trust; with them I will not treat.”

Exhausted by this outburst of passion, he lay back in his chair,
breathing heavily, and to all seeming overcome.

“Shall I get you anything, my Lord?” whispered Sewell.

The old man smiled faintly, and whispered, “Nothing.”

“I wish, my Lord,” said Sewell, as he bent over his chair,--“I wish
I could dare to speak what is passing in my mind; and that I had that
place in your Lordship’s esteem which might give my words any weight.”

“Speak--say on,” said he, faintly.

“What I would say is this, my Lord,” said Sewell, with increased force,
“that these attacks on your Lordship are in a great measure provoked by
yourself.”

“Provoked by me! and how, sir?” cried the Chief, angrily.

“In this wise, my Lord. You have always held your libellers so cheap
that you actually encourage their assaults. You, in the full vigor
of your faculties, alive to the latest events, interested in all that
science discovers or invention develops, persist in maintaining, both in
your mode of living and your companionship, a continued reference to
the past. With a wit that could keep pace with the brightest, and
an imagination more alive than the youngest men can boast, you vote
yourself old, and live with the old. Why, my Lord, is it any wonder that
they try you on the indictment you have yourself drawn up? I have
only to ask you to look across the Channel and see the men--your own
contemporaries, your colleagues too--who escape these slanders, simply
because they keep up with the modes and habits of the day. Their
equipages their retinues, their dress, are all such as fashion
sanctions. Nothing in their appearance reminds the world that they lived
with the grandfathers of those around them; and I say, my Lord, if these
men can do this, how much easier would it be for you to do it? You,
whose quick intellect the youngest in vain try to cope with; you who
are readier in repartee,--younger, in fact, in all the freshness of
originality and in all the play of fancy, than the smartest wits of the
day.

“My Lord, it has not been without a great effort of courage I have dared
to speak thus boldly; but I have so often talked the subject over with
my wife, and she, with a woman’s wit, has so thoroughly entered into the
theme, that I felt, even at the hazard of your displeasure, I ought to
risk the telling you.” After a pause, he added: “It was but yesterday
my wife said, ‘If papa,’--you know, my Lord, it is so she calls you in
secret,--‘if papa will only cease to dress like a church dignitary, he
will not look above fifty,--fifty four or five at most.’”

“I own,” said the Judge, slowly, “it has often struck me as strange how
little animadversion the Press bestowed upon my English colleagues for
their advanced years, and how persistently they commented on mine;
and yet the history of Ireland does not point to the early decline of
intellectual power. They are fond of showing the characteristics that
separate us, but they have never adduced this one.”

“I hope I have your Lordship’s forgiveness for my boldness,” said
Sewell, with humility.

“You have more, sir,--you have my gratitude for an affectionate
solicitude. I will think over what you have said when I am alone.”

“It will make me a very proud man if I find that my words have had
weight with you. I am to tell Beattie, my Lord, that you are engaged,
and cannot see him?” said he, moving towards the door.

“Yes. Say that I am occupied with my reply to this slander. Tell him if
he likes to dine with me at six--”

“I beg pardon, my Lord--but my wife hoped you would dine with us to-day.
We have a few young soldiers, and two or three pretty women coming to
us--”

“Make my compliments to Mrs. Sewell, and say I am charmed to accept her
invitation.”

Sewell took his leave with every token of respectful gratitude. But no
sooner had he reached the stairs than he burst into a fit of laughter.
“Would any one have believed that the old fool would have swallowed the
bait? I was so terrified at my own temerity, I ‘d have given the world
to be out of the scrape! I declare, if my mother could be got rid of,
we ‘d have him leading something of sixteen to the altar. Well, if this
acute attack of youth does n’t finish him, he must have the constitution
of an elephant.”



CHAPTER VII. HOW TO MEET A SCANDAL

When the Government of the day had found that all their efforts to
induce the Chief Baron to retire from the Bench were failures,--when
they saw him firmly decided to accept nothing less than that price which
they would not pay,--with a littleness which, it is but fair to own,
took its origin from Mr. Cholmondely Balfour, they determined to pass
upon him a slight which he could not but feel most painfully.

It happened in this wise. At the time I speak of Ireland was suffering
from one of those spasmodic attacks of rebellion which every now and
then occur through the chronic disaffection of the country, just
as certain eruptions are thrown out over the body to relieve, as is
supposed, some feverish tendencies of the system.

Now, although the native thinks no more of these passing troubles than
would an old Indian of an attack of the “prickly heat,” to the English
mind they always suggest danger, tend to increase the military force of
the kingdom, and bring on in Parliament one of those Irish debates--a
political sham fight--where, though there is a good deal of smoke,
bustle, and confusion, nobody is hurt, nor, if the truth be told, is any
one the better when it is over.

Through such a paroxysm was Ireland now passing. It matters little to
our purpose to give it a specific name, for the Whiteboy or the Rockite,
the Terry-alt, the Ribbonman, or the Fenian are the same; there being
only one character in this dreary drama, however acute Viceroys and
energetic secretaries may affect to think they are “assisting” at the
representation of a perfectly new piece, with new scenery, dresses, and
decorations.

In ordinary disturbances in Ireland, whenever they rose above the
dignity of local mischief, the assistance and sympathy of France was
always used as a sort of menace to England. It was a threat very certain
to irritate, if it did no more. As, however, by course of time, we
grew to form closer relations with France,--to believe, or affect to
believe,--I am not very sure which,--that we had outlived old grudges,
and had become rather ashamed of old rivalries, France could not
be employed as the bugbear it had once been. Fortunately for Irish
rebellion, America was quite prepared to take the vacant post, and with
this immense additional gain, that the use of our own language enabled
our disaffected in the States to revile us with a freedom and a vigor
which, if there be that benefit which is said to exist in “seeing
ourselves as others see us,” ought unquestionably to redound to our
future good.

The present movement had gone so far as to fill the public mind with
terror, and our jails with suspected traitors. To try these men a
special commission had been named by the Government, from which,
contrary to custom, the Chief Baron had been omitted. Nor was this all.
The various newspapers supposed to be organs, or at least advocates, of
the Ministry, kept up a continuous stream of comment on the grave injury
to a country, at a crisis like that then present, to have one of its
chief judicial seats occupied by one whose age and infirmities totally
disabled him from rendering those services which the Crown and the
nation alike had a right to expect from him.

Stories, for the most part untrue, of the Chief Baron’s mistakes on
the Bench appeared daily. Imaginary suitors, angry solicitors, and
such-like--the Bar was too dignified to join in the cry--wrote letters
averring this, that, or the other cruel wrong inflicted upon them
through the “senile incapacity of this obstructive and vain old man.”

Never was there a less adroit tactic. Every insult they hurled at him
only suggested a fresh resolve to hold his ground. To attack such a
man was to evoke every spark of vigorous resistance in his nature, to
stimulate energies which nothing short of outrage could awaken, and to
call into activity powers which, in the ordinary course of events, would
have fallen into decline and decay. As he expressed it, “in trying to
extinguish the lamp they have only trimmed the wick.” When, through
Sewell’s pernicious counsels, the old Judge determined to convince the
world of his judicial fitness by coming out a young man, dressed in the
latest fashion, and affecting in his gait and manner the last fopperies
of the day, all the reserve which respect for his great abilities
had imposed was thrown aside, and the papers now assailed him with a
ridicule that was downright indecent. The print shops, too, took up the
theme, and the windows were filled with caricatures of every imaginable
degree of absurdity.

There was one man to whom these offensive attacks gave pain only
inferior to what they inflicted on the Chief himself,--this was his
friend Haire. To have lived to see the great object of all his homage
thus treated by an ungrateful country, seemed to him the direst of
all calamities. Over and over did he ponder with himself whether such
depravity of public feeling portended the coming decline of the nation,
and whether such gross forgetfulness of great services was not to be
taken as a sign of approaching dissolution.

It was true that since the Sewells had taken up their residence at
the Priory he had seen but little of his distinguished friend. All the
habits, the hours, and the associations of the house had been changed.
The old butler, who used to receive Haire when he arrived on terms of
humble friendship, telling him in confidence, before he went in, the
temper in which he should find the Judge, what crosses or worries
had recently befallen him, and what themes it might be discreet to
avoid,--he was pensioned off, and in his place a smart Englishman, Mr.
Cheetor, now figured,--a gentleman whose every accent, not to speak of
his dress, would have awed poor Haire into downright subjection. The
large back hall, through which you passed into the garden,--a favorite
stroll of Haire’s in olden times,--was now a billiard room, and
generally filled with fine ladies and gentlemen engaged in playing;
the very sight of a lady with a billiard cue, and not impossibly a
cigarette, being shocks to the old man’s notions only short of seeing
the fair delinquent led off to the watchhouse. The drowsy quietude of
the place, so grateful after the crush and tumult of a city, was gone;
and there was the clang of a pianoforte, the rattle of the billiard
balls, the loud talk and loud laughter of morning visitors, in its
stead. The quaint old gray liveries were changed for coats of brilliant
claret color. Even to the time-honored glass of brandy-and-water which
welcomed Haire as he walked out from town there was revolution; and
the measure of the old man’s discomfiture was complete as the
silvery-tongued butler offered him his choice of hock and seltzer or
claret-cup!

“Does the Chief like all this? Is it possible that at his age these
changes can please him?” muttered Haire, as he sauntered one day
homeward, sad and dispirited; and it would not have been easy to resolve
the question.

There was so much that flattered the old Judge’s vanity,--so much that
addressed itself to that consciousness that his years were no barrier to
his sentiments, that into all that went on in life, whatever of new
that men introduced into their ways or habits, he was just as capable of
entering as the youngest amongst them; and this avidity to be behind in
nothing showed itself in the way he would read the sporting papers,
and make himself up in the odds at Newmarket and the last news of the
Cambridge Eleven. It is true, never was there a more ready-money payment
than the admiration he reaped from all this; and enthusiastic cornets
went so far as to lament how the genius that might have done great
things at Doncaster had been buried in a Court of Exchequer. “I wish he
‘d tell us who ‘ll win the Riggles-worth”--“I ‘d give a fifty to
know what he thinks of Polly Perkins for the cup,” were the dropping
utterances of mustachioed youths who would have turned away inattentive
on any mention of his triumphs in the Senate or at the Bar.

“I declare, mother,” said Sewell, in one of those morning calls
at Merrion Square in which he kept her alive to the events of the
Priory,--“I declare, mother, if we could get _you_ out of the way, I
think he ‘d marry again. He ‘s uncommonly tender towards one of those
Lascelles girls, nieces of the Viceroy, and I am certain he would
propose for her.”

“I’m sure I’m very sorry I should be an obstacle to him, especially as
it prevents him from crowning the whole folly of his life.”

“She’s a great horsewoman, and he has given me a commission to get him a
saddle-horse to ride with her.”

“Which of course you will not.”

“Which of course I will, though. I’m going about it now. He has been
very intractable about stable matters hitherto; the utmost we could do
was to exchange the old long-tailed coach-horses, and get rid of that
vile old chariot; but if we get him once launched into riding hacks, we
‘ll have something to mount us.”

“And when his granddaughter returns, will not all go back to the former
state?”

“First of all, she’s not coming. There’s a split in that quarter, and in
all likelihood an irremediable one.”

“How so? What has she done?”

“She has fallen in love with a young fellow as poor as herself; and her
brother Tom has written to the Chief to know if he sees any reason why
they should not marry. The very idea of an act of such insubordination
as falling in love of course outraged him. He took my wife into his
counsels besides, and she, it would appear, gave a most unfavorable
character of the suitor,--said he was a gambler,--and we all know what a
hopeless thing that is!--that his family had thrown him off; that he had
gone through the whole of his patrimony, and was, in short, just as bad
‘a lot’ as could well be found.”

“She was quite right to say so,” burst in Lady Lendrick. “I really do
not see how she could have done otherwise.”

“Perhaps not; the only possible objection was, that there was no truth
in it all.”

“Not true!”

“Not a word of it, except what relates to his quarrel with his family.
As for the rest, he is pretty much like other fellows of his age and
time of life. He has done the sort of things they all do, and hitherto
has come fairly enough out of them.”

“But what motive could she have had for blackening him?”

“Ask her, mother,” said he, with a grin of devilish
spite-fulness,--“just ask her; and even if she won’t tell you, your
woman’s wit will find out the reason without her aid.”

“I declare, Dudley, you are too bad,--too bad,” said she, coloring with
anger as she spoke.

“I should say, Too good,--too good by half, mother; at least, if
endurance be any virtue. The world is beautifully generous towards
us husbands. We are either monsters of cruelty, or we come into that
category the French call ‘complaisant.’ I can’t say I have any fancy for
either class; but if I am driven to a choice, I accept the part which
meets the natural easiness of my disposition, the general kindliness of
my character.”

For an instant Lady Lendrick’s eyes flashed with a fiery indignation,
and she seemed about to reply with anger; but with an effort she
controlled her passion, and took a turn or two in the room without
speaking. At last, having recovered her calm, she said, “Is the marriage
project then broken off?”

“So far as the Chief is concerned, it is. He has written a furious
letter to his granddaughter,--dwelt forcibly on the ingratitude of her
conduct. There is nothing old people so constantly refer to ingratitude
as young folks falling in love. It is strange what a close tie would
seem to connect this sin of ingratitude with the tender passion. He has
reminded her of all the good precepts and wise examples that were placed
before her at the Priory, and how shamefully she would seem to have
forgotten them. He asks her, Did she ever see him fall in love? Did she
ever see any weakness of this kind in Mrs. Beales the housekeeper, or
Joe the gardener?”

“What stuff and nonsense!” said Lady Lendrick, turning angrily away from
him. “Sir William is not an angel, but as certainly he is not a fool.”

“There I differ from you altogether. He may be the craftiest lawyer,
the wisest judge, the neatest scholar, and the best talker of his
day,--these are all claims I cannot adjudicate on,--they are far and
away above me. But I _do_ pretend to know something about life and the
world we live in, and I tell you that your all-accomplished Chief Baron
is, in whatever relates to these, as consummate an ass as ever I met
with. It is not that he is sometimes wrong; it is that he is never
right.”

“I can imagine he is not very clever at billiards, and it is possible
that there may be persons more conversant than _he_ with the odds at
Tattersall’s,” said she, with a sneer.

“Not bad things to know something about, either of them,” said he,
quietly; “but not exactly what I was alluding to. It is, however,
somewhat amusing, mother, to see you come out as his defender. I assure
you, honestly, when I counselled him on that new wig, and advised him to
the choice of that dark velvet paletot, I never contemplated his making
a conquest of you.”

“He _has_ done some unwise things in life,” said she, with a fierce
energy; “but I do not know if he has ever done so foolish a one as
inviting you to come to live under his roof.”

“No, mother; the mistake was his not having done it earlier,--done it
when he might have fallen in more readily with the wise changes I have
introduced into his household, and when--most important element--he had
a better balance at his banker’s. You can’t imagine what sums of money
he has gone through.”

“I know nothing--I do not desire to know anything--of Sir William’s
money matters.”

Not heeding in the slightest degree the tone of reproof she spoke in,
he went on, in the train of his own thoughts: “Yes! It would have made
a considerable difference to each of us had we met somewhat earlier. It
was a sort of backing I always wanted in life.”

“There was something else that you needed far more,” said she, with a
sarcastic sternness.

“I know what you mean, mother,--I know what it is. Your politeness will
not permit you to mention it. You would hint that I might not have been
the worse of a little honesty,--is n’t that it? I was certain of it.
Well, do you know, mother, there’s nothing in it,--positively nothing.
I ‘ve met fellows who have tried it,--clever fellows too, some of
them,--and they have universally admitted it was as great a sham as the
other thing. As St. John said, Honesty is a sort of balloon jib, that
will bowl you along splendidly with fair weather; but when it comes on
to blow, you’ll soon find it better to shift your canvas and bend a very
different sail. Now, men like myself are out in all kinds of weather; we
want a handy rig and light tackle.”

“Is Lucy coming to luncheon?” said Lady Lendrick, most unmistakably
showing how little palatable to her was his discourse.

“Not she. She’s performing devoted mother up at the Priory, teaching
Regy his catechism, or Cary her scales, or, what has an infinitely finer
effect on the surrounders, dining with the children. Only dine with the
children, and you may run a-muck through the Decalogue all the evening
after.”

And with this profound piece of morality he adjusted his hat before the
glass, trimmed his whiskers, gave himself a friendly nod, and walked
away.



CHAPTER VIII. TWO MEN WELL MET

Sewell had long coveted the suite of rooms known at the Priory as “Miss
Lucy’s.” They were on the ground-floor; they opened on a small enclosed
garden of their own; they had a delicious aspect; and it was a thousand
pities they should be consigned to darkness and spiders while he wanted
so much a snuggery of his own,--a little territory which could be
approached without coming through the great entrance, and where he could
receive his familiars, and a variety of other creatures whose externals
alone would have denied them admittance to any decent household.

Now, although Sir William’s letter to Lucy was the sort of document
which, admitting no species of reply, usually closes a correspondence,
Sewell had not courage to ask the Chief for the rooms in question. It
would be too like peremptory action to be prudent. It might lead the
old man to reconsider his judgment. Who knows what tender memories the
thought might call up? Indeed, as Sewell himself remembered, he had
seen fellows in India show great emotion at the sale of a comrade’s kit,
though they had read the news of his death with comparative composure.
“If the old fellow were to toddle in here, and see her chair and her
writing-table and her easel, it might undo everything,” said he; so that
he wisely resolved it would be better to occupy the premises without a
title than endeavor to obtain them legitimately.

By a slight effort of diplomacy with Mrs. Beales, he obtained possession
of the key, and as speedily installed himself in occupancy. Indeed,
when the venerable housekeeper came round to see what the Colonel could
possibly want to do with the rooms, she scarcely recognized them. A
pipe-rack covered one wall, furnished with every imaginable engine for
smoke; a stand for rifles and fowling-pieces occupied a corner; some
select prints of Derby winners and ballet celebrities were scattered
about; while a small African monkey, of that color they call green, sat
in a small arm-chair, of his own, near the window, apparently sunk in
deep reflection. This creature, whom his master called Dundas--I am
unable to say after what other representative of the name--was gifted
with an instinctive appreciation of duns, and flew at the man who
presented a bill as unerringly as ever a bull rushed at the bearer of a
red rag.

How he learned to know tailors, shoemakers, and tobacconists, and
distinguish them from the rest of mankind, and how he recognized them
as natural enemies, I cannot say. As for Se well, he always spoke of the
gift as the very strongest evidence in favor of the Darwinian theory,
and declared it was the prospective sense of troubles to come that
suggested the instinct. The chalk head, the portrait Lucy had made of
Sir Brook, still hung over the fireplace. It would be a curious subject
of inquiry to know why Sewell suffered it still to hold its place
there. If there was a man in the world whom he thoroughly hated, it
was Fossbrooke. If there was one to injure whom he would have bartered
fortune and benefit to himself, it was he. And how came it that he could
bear to have this reminder of him so perpetually before his eyes?--that
the stern features should be ever bent upon him,--darkly, reproachfully
lowering, as he had often seen them in life? If it were simply that
his tenure of the place was insecure, what so easy as to replace the
picture, and why should he endure the insult of its presence there?
No, there was some other reason,--some sentiment stronger than a
reason,--some sense of danger in meddling with that man in any shape.
Over and over again he vowed to himself he would hang it against a tree,
and make a pistol-mark of it. Again and again he swore that he would
destroy it; he even drew out his penknife to sever the head from the
neck, significant sign of how he would like to treat the original; but
yet he had replaced his knife, and repressed his resolve, and sat down
again to brood over his anger inoperative.

To frown at the “old rascal,” as he loved to call him,--to menace him
with his fist as he passed,--to scowl at him as he sat before the fire,
were, after all, the limits of his wrath; but still the picture exerted
a certain influence over him, and actually inspired a sense of fear as
well as a sense of hatred.

Am I imposing too much on my reader’s memory by asking him to recall
a certain Mr. O’Reardon, in whose humble dwelling at Cullen’s Wood Sir
Brook Fossbrooke was at one time a lodger? Mr. O’Reardon, though an
official of one of the law courts, and a patriot by profession, may not
have made that amount of impression necessary to retain a place in the
reader’s recollection, nor indeed is it my desire to be exacting on this
head. He is not the very best of company, and we shall not see much of
him.

When Sewell succeeded to the office of Registrar, which the old Judge
carried against the Castle with a high hand, he found Mr. O’Reardon
there; he had just been promoted to the rank of keeper of the
waiting-room. In the same quick glance with which the shrewd Colonel
was wont to single out a horse, and knew the exact sort of quality he
possessed, he read this man, and saw with rapid intelligence the stuff
he was made of, and the sort of service he could render.

He called him into his office, and, closing the door, asked him a few
questions about his former life. O’Reardon, long accustomed to regard
the man who spoke with an English accent as an easy dupe, launched out
on his devoted loyalty, the perils it had cost him, the hate to which
his English attachment exposed him from his countrymen, and the little
reward all his long-proved fidelity had ever won him; but Sewell cut
him suddenly short with: “Don’t try any of this sort of balderdash
upon _me_, old fellow,--it’s only lost time: I’ve been dealing with
blackguards of your stamp all my life, and I read them like print.”

“Oh! your honor, them’s hard words,--blackguard, blackguard! to a decent
man that always had a good name and a good character.”

“What I want you to understand is this,” said Sewell, scanning him
keenly while he spoke, “and to understand it well: that if you intend to
serve me, and make yourself useful in whatever way I see fit to employ
you, there must be no humbug about it. The first lesson you have to
learn is, never to imagine you can take me in. As I have just told
you, I have had my education amongst fellows more than your masters in
craft,--so don’t lose your time in trying to outrogue me.”

“Your honor’s practical,--I always like to serve a gentleman that’s
practical,” said the fellow, with a totally changed voice.

“That will do,--speak that way,--drop your infernal whine,--turn out
your patriotic sentiments to grass, and we’ll get on comfortably.”

“Be gorra! that’s practical,--practical, every word of it.”

“Now the first thing I want is to know who are the people who come here.
I shall require to be able to distinguish those who are accustomed to
frequent the office from strangers; I suppose you know the attorneys and
solicitors, all of them?”

“Every man of them, sir; there’s not a man in Dublin with a pair of
black trousers that I could n’t give you the history of.”

“That’s practical, certainly,” said Sewell, adopting his phrase; and the
other laughed pleasantly at the employment of it. “Whenever you have to
announce persons that are strangers to you, and whose business you
can’t find out, mention that I am most busily engaged,--that persons
of consequence are with me,--delay them, in short, and put them off for
another day--”

“Till I can find out all about them?” broke in O’Reardon.

“Exactly.”

“And that’s what I can do as well as any man in Ireland,” said the
fellow, overjoyed at the thought of such congenial labor.

“I suppose you know a dun by the look of him?” asked Sewell, with a low,
quiet laugh.

“Don’t I, then?” was the reply.

“I ‘ll have none of them hanging about here,--mind that; you may tell
them what you please, but take care that my orders are obeyed.”

“I will, sir.”

“I shall probably not come down every day to the office; it may chance
that I may be absent a week at a time; but remember, I am always
here,--you understand,--I am here, or I am at the Chief Baron’s
chambers,--somewhere, in short, about the Court.”

“Up in one of the arbitration rooms, maybe,” added O’Rear-don, to show
he perfectly comprehended his instructions.

“But whether I come to the office or not, I shall expect you every
morning at the Priory, to report to me whatever I ought to know,--who
has called,--what rumors are afloat; and mind you tell everything as it
reaches you. If you put on any embroidery of your own, I ‘ll detect it
at once, and out you go, Master O’Reardon, notwithstanding all your long
services and all your loyalty.”

“Practical, upon my conscience,--always practical,” said the fellow,
with a grin of keen approval.

“One caution more; I’m a tolerably good friend to the man who serves
me faithfully. When things go well, I reward liberally; but if a fellow
doubles on me, if he plays me false, I ‘ll back myself to be the worst
enemy he ever met with. That’s practical, isn’t it?”

“It is indeed, sir,--nothing more so.”

“I’ll expect you to begin your visits on Thursday, then. Don’t come
to the hall-door, but pass round by the end of the house and into the
little garden. I ‘ll leave the gate open, and you ‘ll find my room
easily. It opens on the garden. Be with me by eleven.”

Colonel Sewell was not more than just to himself when he affirmed that
he read men very quickly. As the practised cashier never hesitates about
the genuineness of a note, but detects the forgery at a glance, this man
had an instinctive appreciation of a scoundrel. Who knows if there be
not some magnetic affinity between such natures, that saves them
the process of thought and reason? He was right in the present case.
O’Reardon was the very man he wanted. The fellow liked the life of a spy
and an informer. To track, trace, connect this with that, and seek out
the missing link which gave connection to the chain, had for him the
fascination of a game, and until now his qualities had never been fairly
appreciated. It was with pride too that he showed his patron that his
gifts could be more widely exercised than within the narrow limits of
an antechamber; for he brought him the name of the man who wrote in “The
Starlight” the last abusive article on the Chief Baron, and had date
and place for the visit of the same man to the under-secretary, Mr.
Cholmondely Balfour. He gave him the latest news of the Curragh, and how
Faunus had cut his frog in a training gallop, and that it was totally
impossible he could be “placed” for his race. There were various
delicate little scandals in the life of society too, which, however
piquant to Sewell’s ears, would have no interest for us; while of the
sums lost at play, and the costly devices to raise the payments, even
Sewell himself was amazed at the accuracy and extent of his information.

Mr. O’Reardon was one of a small knot of choice spirits who met every
night and exchanged notes. Doubtless each had certain “reserves” which
he kept strictly to himself; but otherwise they dealt very frankly
and loyally with each other, well aware that it was only on such a
foundation their system could be built; and the training-groom, and the
butler, and the club-waiter, the office messenger, and the penny-postman
became very active and potent agents in that strange drama we call life.

Now, though Mr. O’Reardon had presented himself each morning with due
punctuality at the little garden, in which he was wont to make his
report while Sewell smoked his morning cigar, for some days back
the Colonel had not appeared. He had gone down to the country to a
pigeon-match, from which he returned vexed and disappointed. He had shot
badly, lost his money, lost his time, and lost his temper,--even to
the extent of quarrelling with a young fellow whom he had long been
speculating on “rooking,” and from whom he had now parted on terms that
excluded further acquaintance.

Although it was a lovely morning, and the garden looking its very
brightest and best,--the birds singing sweetly on the trees, and the air
balmy with the jasmine and the sweet-brier,--Sewell strolled out upon
the velvety sward in anything but a mood of kindred enjoyment. His bills
were flying about on all sides, renewals upon renewals swelling up to
formidable sums, for which he had not made any provision. Though his
residence at the Priory, and his confident assurance to his creditors
that the old Judge had made him his heir, obtained a certain credit for
him, there were “small-minded scoundrels,” as he called them, who would
n’t wait for their fifty per cent. In his desperation to stave off
the demands he could not satisfy, he had been driven to very ruinous
expedients. He sold timber off the lawn without the old Judge’s
knowledge, and only hesitated about forging Sir William’s name through
the conviction that the document to which he would have to append it
would itself suggest suspicion of the fraud. His increasing necessities
had so far impaired his temper that men began to decline to play with
him. Nobody was sure of him, and this cause augmented the difficulties
of his position. Formerly his two or three hours at the club before
dinner, or his evening at mess, were certain to keep him in current
cash. He could hold out his handful of sovereigns, and offer to bet them
in that reckless carelessness which, amongst very young men, is accepted
as something akin to generosity. Now his supply was almost stopped,
not to say that he found, what many have found, the rising generation
endowed with an amount of acuteness that formerly none attained to
without sore experiences and sharp lessons.

“Confound them,” he would say, “there are curs without fluff on their
chins that know the odds at Newmarket as well as John Day! What chance
has a man with youngsters that understand the ‘call for trumps’?”

It was thus moralizing over a world in decline that he strolled through
the garden, his unlit cigar held firm between his teeth, and his hands
deep sunk in his trousers’ pockets. As he turned an angle of a walk, he
was arrested by a very silky voice saying, “Your honor’s welcome home. I
hope your honor’s well, and enjoyed yourself when you were away.”

“Ah, O’Reardon, that you! pretty well, thank you; quite well, I believe;
at least, as well as any man can be who is in want of money, and does
not know where to find it.”

Mr. O’Reardon grinned, as if _that_, at least, was one of the
contingencies his affluent chief could never have had any experience of.
“Moses is to run after all, sir,” said he, after a pause; “the bandages
was all a sham,--he never broke down.”

“So much the worse for me. I took the heavy odds against him on your
fine information,” said Sewell, savagely.

“You ‘ll not be hurt this time. He ‘ll have a tongue as big as three on
the day of the race; and there will be no putting a bridle on him.”

“I don’t believe in that trick, O’Reardon.”

“I do, sir; and I’m laying the only ten-pound note I have on it,” said
the other, calmly.

“What about Mary Draper? is she coughing still?”

“She is, sir, and won’t feed besides; but Mr. Harman is in such trouble
about his wife going off with Captain Peters, that he never thinks of
the mare. Any one goes into the stable that likes.”

“Confounded fool he must be! He stood heavily on that mare. When did
Lady Jane bolt?”

“On Tuesday night, sir. She was here at the Priory at luncheon with
Captain Peters that morning. She and Mrs. Sewell were walking more than
an hour together in the back garden.”

“Did you overhear anything they said?”

“Only once, sir, for they spoke low; but one time your Lady said aloud,
‘If any one blames you, dear, it won’t be me.’ I think the other was
crying when she said it.”

“Stuff and nonsense!” said Sewell, angrily.

“She’s gone away, at all events, sir; and Mr. Harman ‘s out of his mind
about it. Cross told me this morning that he would n’t be surprised if
his master cut his throat or went to live on the Continent.”

“Do you happen to know anybody would lend me a thousand pounds on no
particular security, O’Reardon?”

“Not just at the minute,--perhaps if I had a day or two to think of it.”

“I could give you a week,--a fortnight if it was any use, but it is not;
and you know it’s not, Master O’Reardon, as well as any man breathing.”

There was a silence of some minutes now between them; and while Sewell
brooded over his hard fortune, O’Reardon seemed to be reviewing in his
mind the state of the share market, and taking a sweeping view of the
course of the exchanges.

“Well, indeed, sir, money is tight,--mighty tight, at this time. Old
M’Cabe of the lottery office wouldn’t advance three hundred to Lord
Arthur St. Aubin without the family plate, and I saw the covered dishes
going in myself.”

“I wish _I_ had family plate,” sighed Sewell.

“So you will yet, please God,” said the other, piously. “His Lordship
can’t live forever! But jewels is as good,” resumed he, after a slight
pause.

“I have just as much of the one as the other, O’Reardon. They were a
sort of scrip I never invested in.”

“It is n’t a bad thing to do, after all. I remember poor Mr. Giles
Morony saying one day, ‘I dined yesterday, Tom,’ says he, ‘off one of my
wife’s ear-rings, and I never ate a better dinner in my life; and
with the blessing of Providence I’ll go drunk to bed off the other
to-night.’”

“Was n’t he hanged afterwards for a murder?”

“No, sir,--sentenced, but never hanged. Mr. Wallace got him off on a
writ of error. He was a most agreeable man. Has Mrs. Sewell any trinkets
of value, sir?”

“I believe not--I don’t know--I don’t care,” said he, angrily; for the
subject, as an apropos, was scarcely pleasant. “Any one at the office
since I left?” asked he, with a twang of irritation still in his tone.

“That ould man I tould your honor about called three times.”

“You told me nothing of any old man.”

“I wrote it twice to your honor since I saw you, and left the letters
here myself.”

“You don’t think I break open letters in such handwriting as yours, do
you? Why, man, my table is covered with them. Who is the old man you
speak of?”

“Well, sir, that’s more than I know yet; but I ‘ll be well acquainted
with all about him before a week ends, for I knew him before and he
puzzled me too.”

“What’s his business with me?”

“He would not tell. Indeed, he’s not much given to talk. He just says,
‘Is Colonel Sewell here?’ and when I answer, ‘No, sir,’ he goes on, ‘Can
you tell the day or the hour when I may find him here?’ Of course I say
that your honor might come at any moment,--that your time is uncertain,
and such-like,--that you ‘re greatly occupied with the Chief Baron.”

“What is he like? Is he a gentleman?”

“I think he is,--at least he was once; for though his clothes is not new
and his boots are patched, there’s a look about him that common people
never have.”

“Is he short or tall? What is he like?” Just as Sewell had put this
question they had gained the door of the little sitting-room, which lay
wide open, admitting a full view of the interior. “Give me some notion
of his appearance, if you can.”

“There he is, then,” cried O’Reardon, pointing to the chalk head over
the chimney. “That’s himself, and as like as life.”

“What? that!” exclaimed Sewell, clutching the man’s arm, and actually
shaking him in his eagerness. “Do you mean that he is the same man you
see here?”

“I do indeed, sir. There’s no mistaking him. His beard’s a little longer
than the picture, and he’s thinner, perhaps; but that’s the man.”

Sewell sat down on the chair nearest him, sick and faint; a cold clammy
sweat broke over his face and temples, and he felt the horrible nausea
of intense weakness. “Tell me,” said he at last, with a great effort to
seem calm, “just the words he said, as nearly as you can recall them.”

“It was what I told your honor. ‘Is Colonel Sewell here? Is there no
means of knowing when he may be found here?’ And then when I’d say,
‘What name am I to give? who is it I ‘m to say called?’ his answer would
be, ‘That is no concern of yours. It is for me to leave my name or not,
as it pleases me.’ I was going to remind him that he once lodged in my
house at Cullen’s Wood, but I thought better of it, and said nothing.”

“Did he speak of calling again?”

“No, but he came yesterday; and whether he thought I was denying your
honor or not I don’t know, but he sat down in the waiting-room and
smoked a cigar there, and heard two or three come in and ask for you and
get the same answer.”

Sewell groaned heavily, and covered his face with his hands.

“I think,” said O’Reardon, with a half-hesitating, timid manner, as
though it was a case where any blunder would be very awkward, “that
if it was how that this man was any trouble,--I mean any sort of an
inconvenience to your honor,--and that it was displeasing to your honor
to have any dealings with him, I think I could find a way to make him
cut his stick and leave the country; or if he would n’t do that, come to
worse luck here.”

“What do you mean,--have you anything against him?” cried Sewell, with a
wild eagerness.

“If I ‘m not much mistaken, I can soon have against him as much as his
life ‘s worth.”

“If you could,” said Sewell, clutching both his arms, and staring him
fixedly in the face,--“if you could! I mean, if you could rid me of him,
now and forever,--I don’t care how, and I ‘ll not ask how,--only do it;
and I ‘ll swear to you there ‘s nothing in my power to serve you I ‘ll
refuse doing,--nothing!”

“What ‘s between your honor and him?” said O’Reardon, with an assurance
that his present power suggested.

“How dare you ask me, sir? Do you imagine that when I take such a fellow
as you into my service, I make him my confidant and my friend?”

“That’s true, sir,” said the other, whose face only grew paler
under this insult, while his manner regained all its former
subserviency,--“that’s true, sir. My interest about your honor made me
forget myself; and I was thinking how I could be most use to you. But,
as your honor says, it’s no business of mine at all.”

“None whatever,” said Sewell, sternly; for a sudden suspicion had
crossed him of what such a fellow as this might become if once intrusted
with the power of a secret.

“Then it’s better, your honor,” said he, with a slavish whine, “that I
‘d keep to what I ‘m fit for,--sweeping out the office, and taking the
messages, and the like, and not try things that ‘s above me.”

“You ‘ll just do whatever my service requires, and whenever I find that
you do it ill, do it unfaithfully, or even unwillingly, we part company,
Master O’Reardon. Is that intelligible?”

“Then, sir, the sooner you fill up my place the better. I ‘ll give
notice now, and your honor has fifteen days to get one that will suit
him better.”

Sewell turned on him a look of savage hatred. He read, through all the
assumed humility of the fellow’s manner, the determined insolence of his
stand.

“Go now, and go to the devil, if you like, so that I never see your
hang-dog face again; that ‘s all I bargain for.”

“Good-morning, sir; there’s the key of the office, and that’s the key
of the small safe; Mr. Simmes has the other. There ‘s a little account
I have,--it’s only a few shillings is coming to me. I ‘ll leave it here
to-morrow; and if your honor would like me to tell the new man about the
people that come after your honor--who ‘s to be let in and who ‘s not--”

Sewell made a haughty gesture with his arm as though to say that he need
not trouble himself on that head.

“Here’s them cigars your honor gave me last week. I suppose I ought to
hand them back, now that I ‘m discharged and turned away.”

“You have discharged yourself, my good friend. With a civil tongue in
your head, and ordinary prudence, you might have held on to your place
till it was time to pension you out of it.”

“Then I crave your honor’s pardon, and you ‘ll never have to find the
same fault with me again. It was just breaking my heart, it was,--the
thought of leaving your honor.”

“That’s enough about it; go back to your duty. Mind _your_ business; and
take good care you never meddle with mine.”

“Has your honor any orders?” said O’Reardon, with his ordinary tone of
respectful attention.

“Find out if Hughes is well enough to ride; they tell me he was worse
yesterday. Don’t bother me any more about that fellow that writes the
attacks on the Chief Baron. They do the thing better now in the English
papers, and ask nothing for it. Look out for some one who will advance
me a little money,--even a couple of hundreds; and above all, track the
old fellow who called at the office; find out what he ‘s in Ireland for,
and how long he stays. I intend to go to the country this evening, so
that you ‘ll have to write your report,--the post-town is Killaloe.”

“And if the ould man presses me hard,” said O’Reardon, with one eye
knowingly closed, “your honor’s gone over to England, and won’t be back
till the cock-shooting.”

Sewell nodded, and with a gesture dismissed the fellow, half ashamed at
the familiarity that not only seemed to read his thoughts, but to follow
them out to their conclusions.



CHAPTER IX. A SURPRISE

In a little cabin standing on the extreme point of the promontory
of Howth, which its fisherman owner usually let to lodgers in the
bathing-season, Sir Brook Fossbrooke had taken up his abode. The view
was glorious from the window where he generally sat, and took in the
whole sweep of the bay, from Killiney, with the background of the
Wicklow mountains, to the very cliffs at his feet; and when the
weather was favorable,--an event, I grieve to say, not of every-day
occurrence,--leading him often to doubt whether in its graceful outline
and varied color he did not prefer it to Cagliari, with its waving
orange groves and vine-clad slopes.

He made a little water-color drawing to enclose in a letter to Lucy; and
now, as he sat gazing on the scene, he saw some effect of light on the
landscape which made him half disposed to destroy his sketch and begin
another.

“Tell your sister, Tom,” wrote he, “that if my letter to her goes
without the picture I promised her, it is because the sun has just got
behind a sort of tattered broken cloud, and is streaming down long slips
of light over the Wicklow hills and the woods at their feet, which are
driving me crazy with envy; but if I look on it any longer, I shall only
lose another post, so now to my task.

“Although I remained a day in the neighborhood, I was not received at
Holt. Sir Hugh was ill, and most probably never heard of my vicinity.
Lady Trafford sent me a polite--a very polite--note of regrets, &c.,
for not being able to ask me to the house, which she called a veritable
hospital, the younger son having just returned from Madeira dangerously
ill. She expressed a hope, more courteous possibly than sincere, that my
stay in England would allow my returning and passing some days there, to
which I sent a civil answer and went my way. The young fellow, I hear,
cannot recover, so that Lionel will be the heir after all; that is, if
Sir Hugh’s temper should not carry him to the extent of disinheriting
his son for a stranger. I was spared my trip to Cornwall; spared it
by meeting in London with a knot of mining-people, ‘Craig, Pears, and
Denk,’ who examined our ore, and pronounced it the finest ever brought
to England. As the material for the white-lead of commerce, they say
it is unrivalled; and when I told them that our supply might be called
inexhaustible, they began to regard me as a sort of Croesus. I dined
with them at a City club, called, I think, the Gresham, a very grand
entertainment,--turtle and blackcock in abundance, and a deal of
talk,--very bumptious talk of all the money we were all going to make,
and how our shares, for we are to be a company, must run up within a
week to eight or ten premium. They are, I doubt not, very honest
fine fellows, but they are vulgar dogs, Tom, I may say it to you in
confidence, and use freedoms with each other in intercourse that are
scarcely pleasing. To myself personally there was no lack of courtesy,
nor can I complain that there was any forgetful-ness of due respect. I
could not accept their invitation to a second dinner at Greenwich, but
deferred it till my return from Ireland.

“I came on here on Wednesday last, and if you ask me what I have done,
my answer is, Nothing--absolutely nothing. I have been four several
times at the office where Sewell presides, but always to meet the
same reply, ‘Not in town to-day;’ and now I learn that he is hunting
somewhere in Cheshire. I am averse to going after him to the Chief
Baron’s house, where he resides, and am yet uncertain how to act. It is
just possible he may have learned that I am in Ireland, and is keeping
out of my way, though I have neglected no precaution of secrecy,
have taken a humble lodging some miles from town, and have my letters
addressed to the post-office to be called for. Up to this I have not
met one who knows me. The Viceroy is away in England, and in broken
health,--indeed, so ill that his return to Ireland is more than
doubtful; and Balfour, who might have recognized me, is happily so much
occupied with the ‘Celts,’ as the latest rebels call themselves, that he
has no time to go much abroad.

“The papers which I have sent you regularly since my arrival will inform
you about this absurd movement. You will also see the debate on your
grandfather. He will not retire, do all that they may; and now, as a
measure of insult, they have named a special commission and omitted his
name.

“They went so far as to accuse him of senile weakness and incapacity;
but the letter which has been published with his name is one of the most
terrific pieces of invective I ever read: I will try and get a copy to
send you.

“I am anxious to call and see Beattie; but until I have met Sewell, and
got this troublesome task off my mind, I have no heart for anything.
From chance travellers in the train, as I go up to town, I hear that
the Chief Baron is living at a most expensive rate,--large dinners every
week, and costly morning parties, of a style Dublin has not seen before.
They say, too, that he dresses now like a man of five-and-thirty,
rides a blood horse, and is seen joining in all the festivities of the
capital. Of myself, of course, I can confirm none of these stories.
There comes the rain again. It is now dashing like hail against the
windows; and of the beautiful bay and the rocky islands, the leafy shore
and the indented coast-line I can see nothing,--nothing but the dense
downpour that, thickening at every moment, shuts out all view, so that
even the spars of the little pinnace in the bay beneath are now lost to
me. A few minutes ago I was ready to declare that Europe had nothing to
compare with this island, and now I ‘d rather take rocky Ischia, with
its scraggy cliffs, sunlit and scorching, than live here watery and
bloated like a slug on a garden-wall. Perhaps my temper is not improved
by the reflection that I ‘ll have to walk to the post, about two miles
off, with this letter, and then come back to my own sad company for the
rest of the evening.

“I had half a mind to run down and look at the ‘Nest,’ but I am told I
should not know it again, it has been so changed in every way. I have
spared myself, therefore, the pain the sight would have given me, and
kept my memory of it as I saw it on my first visit, when Lucy met me at
the door. Tell her from me, that when--”

The letter broke off here, and was continued lower down the page in a
more hurried hand, thus:--

“In their ardor to suppress the insurrection here, some one has
denounced _me_; and my pistols and my packet of lead, and my
bullet-mould, have so far confirmed suspicion against me, that I am to
go forthwith before a magistrate. It is so far provoking that my name
will probably figure in the newspapers, and I have no fancy to furnish
a laugh to the town on such grounds. The chief of the party (there are
three of them, and evidently came prepared to expect resistance) is
very polite, and permits me to add these few lines to explain my abrupt
conclusion. Tell Lucy I shall keep back my letter to her, and finish
it to-morrow. I do not know well whether to laugh or be angry at this
incident. If a mere mistake, it is of course absurd, but the warrant
seems correct in every respect. The officer assures me that any
respectable bail will be at once accepted by the magistrate; and I have
not the courage to tell him that I do not possess a single friend or
acquaintance in this city whom I could ask to be my surety.

“After all, I take it, the best way is to laugh at the incident. It was
only last night, as I walked home here in the dark, I was thinking I had
grown too old for adventures, and here comes one--at least it may prove
so--to contradict me.

“The car to convey me to town has arrived; and with loves to dear Lu and
yourself, I am, as ever, yours,

“Bk. Fossbrooke.

“It is a great relief to me--it will be also to you--to learn that the
magistrate can, if he please, examine me in private.”



CHAPTER X. THE CHIEF AND HIS FRIEND

A few days after the conversation just related in the chapter before
the last, while the Chief Baron was undergoing the somewhat protracted
process of a morning toilet,--for it needed a nice hand and a critical
eye to give the curls of that wig their fitting wave, and not to
“charge” those shrunken cheeks with any redundant color,--Mr. Haire was
announced.

“Say I shall be down immediately,--I am in my bath,” said the Chief, who
had hitherto admitted his old friend at all times and seasons.

While Haire was pacing the long dinner-room with solemn steps, wondering
at the change from those days when the Chief would never have thought
of making him wait for an interview, Sir William, attired in a long
dark-blue silk dressing-gown, and with a gold-tasselled cap to match,
entered the room, bringing with him a perfumed atmosphere, so loaded
with bergamot that his old friend almost sneezed at it. “I hurried my
dressing, Haire, when they told me you were here. It is a rare event
to have a visit from you of late,” said the old man, as he sat down and
disposed with graceful care the folds of his rich drapery.

“No,” muttered the other, in some confusion. “I have grown
lazy,--getting old, I suppose, and the walk is not so easy as it used to
be five-and-twenty years ago.”

“Then drive, sir, and don’t walk. The querulous tone men employ about
their age is the measure of their obstinate refusal to accommodate
themselves to inevitable change. As for me, I accept the altered
condition, but I defy it to crush me.”

“Every one has not your pluck and your stamina,” said Haire, with a
half-suppressed sigh.

“My example, sir, might encourage many who are weaker.”

“Any news of Lucy lately?” asked Haire, after a pause.

“Miss Lendrick, sir, has, through her brother, communicated to me her
attachment to a young fellow in some marching regiment, and asked my
permission to marry him. No, I am incorrect. Had she done this, there
had been deference and respect; she asks me to forward a letter to her
father, with this prayer, and to support it by my influence.”

“And why not, if he ‘s a good fellow, and likely to be worthy of her?”

“A good fellow! Why, sir, you are a good fellow, an excellent fellow;
but it would never occur to me to recommend you for a position of high
responsibility or commanding power.”

“Heaven forbid!--or, if you should, Heaven forbid I might be fool enough
to accept it. But what has all this to do with marriage?”

“Explain yourself more fully, sir; you have assumed to call in question
the parallelism I would establish between the tie of marriage and the
obligation of a solemn trust; state your plea.”

“I ‘ll do nothing of the kind. I came here this morning to--to--I’ll be
shot if I remember what I came about; but I know I had something to tell
you; let me try and collect myself.”

“Do, sir, if that be the name you give the painful process.”

“There, there; you’ll not make me better by ridiculing me. What could it
have been that I wanted to tell you?”

“Not, impossibly, some recent impertinence of the press towards myself.”

“I think not,--I think not,” said the other, musingly. “I suppose you
‘ve seen that squib in the ‘Banner.’”

“It is a paper, sir, I would not condescend to touch.”

“The fellow says that a Chief Baron without a court,--he means this in
allusion to the Crown not bringing those cases of treason-felony into
the Exchequer,--a Chief without a court is like one of those bishops
_in partibus_, and that it would n’t be an unwise thing to make the
resemblance complete and stop the salary. And then another observes--”

“Sir, I do not know which most to deplore,--your forgetfulness or your
memory; try to guide your conversation without any demand upon either.”

“And it was about those Celts, as they call these rascals, that I wanted
to say something. What could it have been?”

“Perhaps you may have joined them. Are you a head-centre, or only
empowered to administer oaths and affirmations?”

“Oh! I have it now,” cried Haire, triumphantly. “You remember, one
day we were in the shrubbery after breakfast, you remarked that this
insurrection was especially characterized by the fact that no man of
education, nor, indeed, of any rank above the lowest, had joined it. You
said something about the French Revolution, too; and how, in the Reign
of Terror, the principles of the Girondists had filtered down, and were
to be seen glittering like--”

“Spare me, Haire,--spare me, and do not ask me to recognize the bruised
and battered coinage, without effigy or legend, as the medal of my own
mint.”

“At all events, you remember what I’m referring to.”

“With all your efforts to efface my handwriting I can detect something
of my signature,--go on.”

“Well, they have at last caught a man of some mark and station. I saw
Spencer, of the head office, this morning, and he told me that he had
just committed to Newgate a man of title and consideration. He would not
mention his name; indeed, the investigation was as private as possible,
as it was felt that the importance of such a person being involved in
the project would give a very dangerous impulse to the movement.”

“They are wrong, sir. The insurrection that is guided by men of
condition will, however dangerous, be a game with recognized rules
and laws. The rebellion of the ignorant masses will be a chaos to defy
calculation. You may discuss measures, but there is no arguing with
murder!”

“That’s not the way Spencer regarded it. He says the whole thing must
be kept dark; and as they have refused to accept his bail, it’s clear
enough they think the case a very important one.”

“If I was not on the Bench I would defend these men! Ay, sir, defend
them! They have not the shadow of a case to show for this rebellion.
It is the most causeless attempt to subvert a country that ever was
conceived; but there is that amount of stupidity,--of ignorance, not
alone of statecraft, but of actual human nature, on the part of those
who rule us, that it would have been the triumph of my life to assail
and expose them. Why, sir, it was the very plebeian character of this
insurrection that should have warned them against their plan of nursing
and encouraging it. Had the movement been guided by gentlemen, it might
have been politic to have affected ignorance of their intentions till
they had committed themselves beyond retreat; but with this rabble--this
rebellion in rags--to tamper was to foster. You had no need to dig
pitfalls for such people; they never emerged from the depths of
their own ignominious condition. You should have suppressed them at
once,--stopped them before the rebel press had disseminated a catechism
of treason, and instilled the notion through the land that the first
duty of patriotism was assassination.”

“And you would have defended these men?”

“I would have arraigned their accusers, and charged them as accomplices.
I would have told those Castle officials to come down and stand in the
dock with their confederates. What, sir! will you tell me that it was
just or moral, or even politic, to treat these unlettered men as
though they were crafty lawyers, skilled in all the arts to evade the
provisions of a statute? This policy was not unfitted towards _him_ who
boasted he could drive a coach-and-six through any Act of Parliament;
but how could it apply to creatures more ready to commit themselves than
even you were to entrap them? who wanted no seduction to sedition,
and who were far more eager to play traitor than you yourself to play
prosecutor? I say again, I wish I had my youth and my stuff-gown, and
they should have a defender.”

“I am just as well pleased it is as we see it,” muttered Haire.

“Of course you are, sir. There are men who imagine it to be loyal to be
always on the side that is to be strongest.” He took a few turns up
and down the room, his nostrils dilated, and his lips trembling with
excitement. “Do me a favor, Haire,” said he at last, as he approached
and laid his hand on the other’s arm. “Go and learn who this gentleman
they have just arrested is. Ascertain whatever you can of the charge
against him,--the refusal of bail implies it is a grave case; and
inquire if you might be permitted to see and speak with him.”

“But I don’t want to speak with him. I’d infinitely rather not meet him
at all.”

“Sir, if you go, you go as an emissary from me,” said the Chief,
naughtily, and by a look recalling Haire to all his habitual deference.

“But only imagine if it got abroad--if the papers got hold of it; think
of what a scandal it would be, that the Chief Baron of the Exchequer was
actually in direct communication with a man charged with treason-felony.
I would n’t take a thousand pounds, and be accessory to such an
allegation.”

“You shall do it for less, sir. Yes, I repeat it, Haire, for less. Five
shillings’ car-hire will amply cover the cost. You shall drive over to
the head-office and ask Mr. Spencer if--of course with the prisoner’s
permission--you may be admitted to see him. When I have the reply I will
give you your instructions.”

“I protest I don’t see--I mean, I cannot imagine--it’s not possible--in
fact, I know, that when you reflect a little over it, you will be
satisfied that this would be a most improper thing to do.”

“And what is this improper thing I am about to do? Let us hear, sir,
what you condemn so decidedly! I declare my libellers must have more
reason than I ever conceded to them. I am growing very, very old! There
must be the blight of age upon my faculties, or you would not have
ventured to administer this lesson to me! this lesson on discretion and
propriety. I would, however, warn you to be cautious. The wounded tiger
is dangerous, though the ball should have penetrated his vitals. I
would counsel you to keep out of reach of his spring, even in his dying
moments.”

He actually shook with passion as he said this, and his hands closed and
opened with a convulsive movement that showed the anger that possessed
him.

“I have never lectured any one; least of all would it occur to me to
lecture you,” said Haire, with much dignity. “In all our intercourse I
have never forgotten the difference between us,--I mean intellectually;
for I hope, as to birth and condition, there is no inequality.”

Though he spoke this slowly and impressively, the Chief Baron heard
nothing of it. He was so overwhelmed by the strong passions of his
own mind that he could not attend to another. “I shall soon be called
incorrigible as well as incompetent,” uttered he, “if the wise counsels
of my ablest friends are powerless to admonish me.”

“I must be moving,” said Haire, rising and taking his hat. “I promised
to dine with Beattie at the Rock.”

“Say nothing of what has taken place here to-day; or if you mention me
at all, say you found me in my usual health.” Haire nodded.

“My usual health and spirits,” continued the Chief. “I was going to say
temper, but it would seem an epigram. Tell Beattie to look in here as he
goes home; there ‘s one of the children slightly ailing. And so, Haire,”
 cried he, suddenly, in a louder voice, “you would insinuate that my
power of judgment is impaired, and that neither in the case of my
granddaughter nor in that larger field of opinion--the state of
Ireland--am I displaying that wisdom or that acuteness on which it was
one time the habit to compliment me.”

“You may be quite right. I won’t presume to say you ‘re not. I only
declare that I don’t agree with you.”

“In either case?”

“No; not in either case.”

“I think I shall ride to-day,” said the Chief; for they had now reached
the hall-door, and were looking out over the grassy lawn and the
swelling woods that enclosed it. “You lose much, Haire, in not being a
horseman. What would my critics say if they saw me following the hounds,
eh?”

“I ‘ll be shot if it would surprise me to see it,” muttered Haire to
himself. “Good-bye.”

“Good-bye, Haire. Come out and see me soon again. I ‘ll be better
tempered when you come next. You ‘re not angry with me, I know.”

Haire grasped the hand that was held out to him, and shook it cordially.
“Of course I ‘m not. I know well you have scores of things to vex and
irritate you that never touch fellows like myself. I shall never feel
annoyed at anything you may _say_ to _me_. What would really distress me
would be that you should do anything to lower your own reputation.”

The old Judge stood on the doorstep pondering over these last words of
his friend long after his departure. “A good creature--a true-hearted
fellow,” muttered he to himself; “but how limited in intelligence! It
is the law of compensation carried out. Where nature gives integrity she
often grudges intellect. The finer, subtler minds play with right and
wrong till they detect their affinities.--Who are you, my good fellow?
What brings you here?” cried he to a fellow who was lounging in the
copse at the end of the house.

“I ‘m a carman, your honor. I ‘m going to drive the Colonel to the
railway at Stoneybatter.”

“I never heard that he was about to leave town,” muttered the old Judge.
“I thought he had been confined to bed with a cold these days back.
Cheetor, go and tell Colonel Sewell that I should be much obliged if he
would come over to my study at his earliest convenience.”

“The Colonel will be with you, my Lord, in five minutes,” was the prompt
reply.



CHAPTER XI. A LEAP IN THE DARK

Colonel Sewell received the Chief Baron’s message with a smothered
expression of no benevolent meaning.

“Who said I was here? How did he know I had arrived?” cried he, angrily.

“He saw the carman, sir; and asked for whom he was waiting.”

Another and not less energetic benediction was invoked on the rascally
car-driver, whom he had enjoined to avoid venturing in front of the
house.

“Say I’m coming; I’ll be with him in an instant,” said be, as he
hurriedly pitched some clothes into his portmanteau.

Now it is but fair to own that this demand upon his time came at an
inconvenient moment; he had run up to town by an early train, and was
bent on going back by the next departure. During his absence, no letter
of any kind from his agent O’Reardon had reached him, and, growing
uneasy and impatient at this silence, he had come up to learn the
reason. At the office he heard that O’Reardon had not been there for
the last few days. It was supposed he was ill, but there was no means
of ascertaining the fact; none knew his address, as, they said, “he
was seldom in the same place for more than a week or two.” Sewell had a
profound distrust of his friend; indeed, the only reason for confiding
in him at all was, that it was less O’Reardon’s interest to be false
than true. Since Fossbrooke’s arrival, however, matters might have
changed. They might have met and talked together. Had Sir Brook seduced
the fellow to take service under him? Had he wormed out of him certain
secrets of his (Sewell’s) life, and thus shown how useful he might be in
running him to earth? This was far from unlikely. It seemed the easiest
and most natural way of explaining the fellow’s absence. At the same
time, if such were the case, would he not have taken care to write to
him? Would not his letters, calling for some sort of reply, some answer
to this or that query, have given him a better standing-ground with his
new master, showing how far he possessed Sewell’s confidence, and how
able he was to make his treason to him effective? Harassed by these
doubts, and fearing he knew not what of fresh troubles, he had passed
a miserable week in the country. Debt and all its wretched consequences
were familiar enough to him. His whole life had been one long struggle
with narrow means, and with the expedients to meet expenses he should
never have indulged in. He had acquired, together with a recklessness,
a sort of self-reliance in these emergencies which positively seemed to
afford him a species of pleasure, and made him a hero to himself by his
successes; but there were graver troubles than these on his heart, and
with the memory of these Fossbrooke was so interwoven that to recall
them was to bring him up before him.

Besides these terrors, he had learned, during his short stay at the
Nest, a most unwelcome piece of intelligence. The vicar, Mr. Mills, had
shown him a letter from Dr. Lendrick, in which he said that the climate
disagreed with him, and his isolation and loneliness preyed upon him so
heavily that he had all but determined to resign his place and return
home. He added that he had given no intimation of this to his children,
lest by any change of plan he might inflict disappointment upon them;
nor had he spoken of it to his father, in the fear that if the Chief
Baron should offer any strenuous objection, he might be unable to carry
out his project; while to his old friend the vicar he owned that his
heart yearned after a home, and if it could only be that home where he
had lived so contentedly, the Nest! “If I could promise myself to
get back there again,” he wrote, “nothing would keep me here a month
longer.” Now, as Sewell had advertised the place to be let, Mills at
once showed him this letter, believing that the arrangement was such as
would suit each of them.

It needed all Sewell’s habitual self-command not to show the uneasiness
these tidings occasioned him. Lendrick’s return to Ireland might
undo--it was almost certain to undo--all the influence he had obtained
over the Chief Baron. The old Judge was never to be relied upon from one
day to the next. Now it was some impulse of vindictive passion, now of
benevolence. Who was to say when some parental paroxysm might not seize
him, and he might begin to care for his son?

Here was a new peril,--one he had never so much as imagined might befall
him. “I ‘ll have to consult my wife,” said he, hastily, in reply to
Mills’s question. “She is not at all pleased at the notion of giving up
the place; the children were healthier here: in fact,” added he, in some
confusion, “I suspect we shall be back here one of these days.”

“I told him I’d have to consult _you_,” said Sewell, with an insolent
sneer, as he told his wife this piece of news. “I said you were so fond
of the country, so domestic, and so devoted to your children, that I
scarcely thought you ‘d like to give up a place so suited to all your
tastes;--wasn’t I right?”

She continued to look steadily at the book she had been reading, and
made no reply.

“I did n’t say, though I might, that the spot was endeared to you by a
softer, more tender reminiscence; because, being a parson, there ‘s no
saying how he ‘d have taken it.”

She raised her book higher, so as to conceal her face, but still said
nothing.

“At all events,” said he, in a more careless tone, “we are not going to
add to the inducements which attract this gentleman to return home, and
we must not forget that our host here may turn us out at any moment.”

“I think it will be our fault whenever he does so,” said she, quietly.

“Fault and misfortune are pretty much alike, to my thinking. There is
one thing, however, I have made up my mind on,--I ‘ll bolt. When he
gives notice to quit, he shall be obliged to provide for you and the
brats out of sheer necessity. He cannot turn you out on the streets, he
can’t send you to the Union; you have no friends to whom he can pack you
off; so let him storm as he likes: something he must do.”

To this speech she seemed to give no attention whatever. Whether the
threat was an oft-repeated one, or that she was inured to coarseness
of this nature, or that silence was the best line to take in these
emergencies, she never appeared to notice his words.

“What about that money he promised you? Has he given it?” said he
suddenly, when about to leave the room.

“No; he said something about selling out some mining-shares,--scrip he
called it. I forget exactly what he said, but the purport was that he
was pressed just now.”

“I take it he is. My mother’s allowance is in arrear, and she is not one
to bear the delay very patiently. So you ‘ve got nothing?”

“Nothing, except ten pounds he gave Cary yesterday for her birthday.”

“Where is it?”

“In that work-box,--no, in the upper part. Do you want it?”

“What a question! Of course I want it, somewhat more than Gary does,
I promise you. I was going off to-day with just five sovereigns in my
pocket. By-bye. I shall be late if I don’t hurry myself.” As he reached
the door he turned round. “What was it I had to tell you,--some piece of
news or other,--what could it have been?”

“Nothing pleasant, I ‘m sure, so it’s as well unremembered.”

“Polite, certainly,” said he, walking slowly back while he seemed trying
to recall something. “Oh, I have it. The transport that took out
the--th has been wrecked somewhere off Sardinia. Engine broken down,
paddle-wheels carried away, quarter-boats smashed, and, in fact, total
wreck. I have no time to tell you more;” and so saying, he hurried away,
but, opening the door noiselessly, he peeped in, and saw her with her
head buried in her hands, leaning on the table; and, stealing stealthily
down the corridor, he hastened to his room to pack up for his journey;
and it was while thus occupied the Chief’s message reached him.

When the Chief Baron asked Haire to call at the Police Office and
inquire if he might not be permitted to see the person who had been
arrested that morning at Howth, he had not the very vaguest idea what
step he should next take, nor what proceedings institute, if his demand
might be acceded to. The indignant anger he felt at the slight put upon
him by the Government in passing him over on the Commission, had got
such entire possession of him that he only thought of a reprisal without
considering how it was to be effected. “I am not one to be insulted with
impunity. Are these men such ignorant naturalists as not to know that
there is one species of whale that the boldest never harpoons? Swift was
a Dean, but he never suffered his cassock to impede the free use of his
limbs. I am a Judge, but they shall see that the ermine embarrasses me
just as little. They have provoked the conflict, and it is not for me to
decline it. They are doing scores of things every day in Ireland that,
if there was one man of ability and courage opposed to them, would shake
the Cabinet to its centre. I will make Pemberton’s law a proverb and a
byword. The public will soon come to suspect that the reason I am not
on the Bench at these trials is not to be looked for in the spiteful
malignity of the Castle, but in the conscientious scruples of one who
warned the Crown against these prosecutions. They were not satisfied
with native disaffection, and they have invented a new crime for
Ireland, which they call treason-felony; but they have forgotten to
apprise the people, who go on blunderingly into treason as of old, too
stupid to be taught by a statute! The Act is a new one. It would give
me scant labor to show that it cannot be made law, that its clauses are
contradictory, its provisions erroneous, its penalties evasive. What
is to prevent me introducing, as a digression, into my next charge to a
grand jury, my regrets or sorrows over such bungling legislation? Who
is to convict me for arraigning the wisdom of Parliament, or telling the
country, You are legislated for by ignorance! your statutes are made
by incompetence! The public press is always open, and it will soon be
bruited about that the letter signed ‘Lycurgus’ was written by William
Lendrick. I will take Barnewell or Perrin, or some other promising young
fellow of the junior bar, and instruct him for the defence. I will
give him law enough to confute, and he shall furnish the insolence to
confront this Attorney-General. There never was a case better suited
to carry the issue out of the Queen’s Bench and arraign the Queen’s
advisers. Let them turn upon me if they dare: I was a citizen before
I was a lawyer, I was an Irishman before I became a judge. There was
a bishop who braved the Government in the days of the volunteers. They
shall find that high station in Ireland is but another guarantee for
patriotism.” By such bursts of angry denunciation had he excited himself
to such a degree that when Sewell entered the room the old man’s face
was flushed, his eye flashing, and his lip quivering with passion.

“I was not aware of your absence, sir!” said he, sternly; “and a mere
accident informed me that you were going away again.”

“A sudden call required my presence at Killaloe, my Lord; and I found
when I had got there I had left some papers behind here.”

“The explanation would be unexceptionable, sir, if this house were an
inn to which a man comes and returns as he pleases; but if I err not,
you are my guest here, and I hope if a host has duties he has rights.”

“My Lord, I attached so very little importance to my presence that I
never flattered myself by thinking I should be missed.”

“I seldom flatter, sir, and I never do so where I intend to censure!”
 Sewell bowed submissively, but the effort to control his temper cost him
a sharp pang and a terrible struggle. “Enough of this, at least for the
present; though I may mention, passingly, that we must take an early
opportunity of placing our relations towards each other on some basis
that may be easily understood by each of us. The law of contracts will
guide us to the right course. My object in sending for you now is to
ask a service at your hands, if your other engagements will leave you at
liberty to render it.”

“I am entirely at your Lordship’s orders.”

“Well, sir, I will be very brief. I must needs be so, for I have
fatigued myself by much talking already. The papers will have informed
you that I am not to sit on this Commission. The Ministers who cannot
persuade me by their blandishments are endeavoring to disgust me by
insult. They have read the fable of the sun and the wind backwards, and
inverted the moral. It had been whispered abroad that if I tried these
men there would have been no convictions. They raked up some early
speeches of mine--youthful triumphs they were--in defence of Wolfe Tone,
and Jackson, and others; and they argued--no, I am wrong--they did not
argue, they imagined, that the enthusiasm of the advocate might have
twined itself around the wisdom of the Judge. They have quoted, too, in
capital letters,--it is there on the table,--the peroration of my
speech in Neilson’s case, where I implored the jury to be cautious and
circumspect, for so deeply had the Crown advisers compromised themselves
in the pursuit of rebellion, it needed the most careful sifting not
to include the law-officers of the Castle, and to avoid placing the
Attorney-General side by side with his victim.”

“How sarcastic! how cutting!” muttered Sewell, in praise.

“It was more than sarcastic, sir. It stung the Orange jury to the quick;
and though they convicted my client, they trembled at the daring of his
defender.

“But I turn from the past to the present,” said he, after a pause. “They
have arrested this morning, at Howth, a man who is said to be of rank
and station. The examination, conducted in secret, has concealed his
name; and all that we know is that bail has not been accepted, if
offered, for him. So long as these arrests concerned the vulgar fellows
who take to rebellion for its robberies, no case can be made. With the
creatures of rusty pikes and ruffian natures I have no sympathy. It
matters little whether they be transported for treason or for theft.
With the gentleman it is otherwise. Some speculative hope, some
imaginative aspiration of serving his country, some wild dream begotten
of the great Revolution of France, dashed not impossibly with some
personal wrong, drives men from their ordinary course in life, and makes
them felons where they meant to be philanthropists. I have often thought
if this movement now at work should throw up to the surface one of this
stamp, what a fine occasion it might afford to test the wisdom of those
who rule us, to examine the machinery by which they govern, and to
consider the advantage of that system,--such a favorite system in
Ireland, by which rebellion is fostered as a means of subsequent
concession, as though it were necessary to manure the loyalty of the
land by the blood of traitors.

“I weary you, sir, and I am sorry for it. No, no, make no protestations.
It is a theme cannot have the same interest for _you_ as for _me_.
What I would ask of you is, to go down to the head-office and see
Mr. Spencer, and learn from him if you might have an order to see the
prisoner,--your pretext being the suspicion that he is personally known
to you. If you succeed in getting the order, you will proceed to the
Richmond Bridewell and have an interview with him. You are a man of the
world, sir, and I need not give you any instructions how to ascertain
his condition, his belongings, and his means of defence. If he be
a gentleman, in the sense we use that term when applying its best
attributes to it, you will be frank and outspoken, and will tell him
candidly that your object is to make his case the groundwork of an
attack on the Government, and the means by which all the snares that
have led men to rebellion may be thoroughly exposed, and the craft of
the Crown lawyer be arraigned beside the less cold-blooded cruelty of
the traitor. Do you fully comprehend me, sir?”

“I think so, my Lord, Your intention is, if I take you correctly, to
make the case, if it be suitable, the groundwork for an attack on the
Government of Ireland.”

“In which I am not to appear.”

“Of course, my Lord; though possibly with no objection that it should be
known how far your sympathy is with a free discussion of the whole state
of Ireland?”

“You apprehend me aright, sir,--a free discussion of the whole state of
Ireland.”

“I go, therefore, without any concert with your Lordship at present. I
take this step entirely at my own instance?”

“You do, sir. If matters eventually should take the turn which admits of
any intervention on my part--any expression of opinion--any elucidation
of sentiments attributed to me--I will be free to make such in the
manner I deem suitable.”

“In case this person should prove one, either from his character or the
degree in which he has implicated himself, unfitted for your Lordship’s
object, I am to drop the negotiation?”

“Rather, I should say, sir, you are not to open it.”

“I meant as much,” said Sewell, with some irritation.

“It is an occasion, sir, for careful action and precise expression.
I have no doubt you will acquit yourself creditably in each of these
respects. Are you already acquainted with Mr. Spencer?”

“We have met at the Club, my Lord; he at least knows who I am.”

“That will be quite sufficient. One point more--I have no need to
caution you as to secrecy--this is a matter which cannot be talked of.”

“That you may rely on, my Lord; reserve is so natural to me, that I have
to put no strain upon my manner to remember it.”

“I shall be curious to hear the result of your visit,--that is, if you
be permitted to visit the Bridewell. Will you do me the favor to come to
me at once?”

Sewell promised this faithfully, and withdrew.

“If ever an old fool wanted to run his head into a noose,” muttered he,
“here is one; the slightest blunder on my part, intentional or not, and
this great Baron of the Exchequer might be shown up as abetting
treason. To be sure, he has given me nothing under his hand--nothing
in writing--I wonder was that designedly or not; he is so crafty in the
middle of all his passion.” Thus meditating, he went on his mission.



CHAPTER XII. SOME OF SEWELL’S OPINIONS

Sewell was well received by the magistrate, and promised that he should
be admitted to see the prisoner on the next morning; having communicated
which tidings to the Chief Baron, he went off to dine with his mother in
Merrion Square.

“Isn’t Lucy coming?” said Lady Lendrick, as he entered the drawing-room
alone.

“No. I told her I wanted a long confidential talk with you; I hinted
that she might find it awkward if one of the subjects discussed should
happen to be herself, and advised her to stay at home, and she concurred
with me.”

“You are a great fool, Dudley, to treat her in that fashion. I tell you
there never was a woman in the world who could forgive it.”

“I don’t want her to forgive it, mother; there ‘s the mistake you are
always making. The way she baffles me is by non-resistance. If I could
once get her to resent something--anything--I could win the game.”

“Perhaps some one might resent for her,” said she, dryly.

“I ask nothing better. I have tried to bring it to that scores of times,
but men have grown very cautious latterly. In the old days of duelling
a fellow knew the cost of what he was doing; now that we have got juries
and damages, a man thinks twice about an entanglement, without he be a
very young fellow.”

“It is no wonder that she hates you,” said she, fiercely.

“Perhaps not,” said he, languidly; “but here comes dinner.”

For a while the duties of the table occupied them, and they chatted away
about indifferent matters; but when the servants left the room, Sewell
took up the theme where they had left it, and said: “It’s no use to
either of us, mother, to get what is called judicial separation. It’s
the chain still, only that the links are a little longer--and it’s the
chain we _hate!_ We began to hate it before we were a month tied to each
other, and time, somehow, does not smooth down these asperities. As
to any other separation, the lawyers tell me it is hopeless. There’s
a functionary called the ‘Queen’s’ something or other, who always
intervenes in the interests of morality, and compels people who have
proved their incompatibility by years of dissension to go back and
quarrel more.”

“I think if it were only for the children’s sake--”

“For the children’s sake!” broke he in. “What can it possibly matter
whether they be brought up by their mother alone, or in a house where
their father and mother are always quarrelling? At all events, they form
no element in the question so far as I am concerned.”

“I think your best hold on the Chief Baron is his liking for the
children; he is very fond of Reginald.”

“What’s the use of a hold on an old man who has more caprices than he
has years? He has made eight wills to my own knowledge since May last.
You may fancy how far afield he strays in his testamentary dispositions
when in one of them he makes _you_ residuary legatee.”

“Me! Me!”

“You; and what’s more, calls you his faithful and devoted wife,
‘who--for five-and-twenty years that we lived apart--contributed mainly
to the happiness of my life.’”

“The parenthesis, at least, is like him,” said she, smiling.

“To the children he has bequeathed I don’t know what, sometimes with
Lucy as their guardian, sometimes myself. The Lendrick girl was
always handsomely provided for till lately, when he scratched her out
completely; and in the last document which I saw there were the words,
‘To my immediate family I bequeath my forgiveness for their desertion
of me, and this free of all legacy duty and other charges.’ I am sure,
mother, he’s a little mad.”

“Nothing of the kind,--no more than you are.”

“I don’t know that. I always suspect ‘that the marvellous vigor’ of old
age gets its prime stimulus from an overexcited brain. He sat up a whole
night last week--I know it to my cost, for I had to copy it out--writing
a letter to the ‘Times’ on the Land Tenure Bill, and he nearly went out
of his mind on seeing it in small type.”

“He is vain, if you like; but not mad certainly.”

“For a while I thought one of his fits of passion would do for him,--he
gets crimson, and then lividly pale, and then flushed again, and his
nails are driven into his palms, and he froths at the mouth; but somehow
the whole subsides at last, and his voice grows gentle, and his manner
courteous,--you ‘d think him a lamb, if you had never seen him as a
tiger. In these moods he becomes actually humble, so that the other
night he sat down and wrote his resignation to the Home Office, stating,
amidst a good deal of bombast, that the increasing burden of years and
infirmity left him no other choice than that of descending from the
Bench he had occupied so long and so unworthily, and begging her Majesty
would graciously accord a retreat to one ‘who had outlived everything
but his loyalty.’”

“What became of this?”

“He asked me about it next morning, but I said I had burned it by his
orders; but I have it this moment in my desk.”

“You have no right to keep it. I insist on your destroying it.”

“Pardon me, mother. I’d be a rich man to-day if I had n’t given way to
that foolish habit of making away with papers supposed to be worthless.
The three lines of a man’s writing, that the old Judge said he could
hang any man on, might, it strikes me, be often used to better purpose.”

“I wish you would keep your sharp practices for others and spare _him_,”
 said she, severely.

“It’s very generous of you to say so, mother, considering the way he
treats you and talks of you.”

“Sir William and I were ill-met and ill-matched, but that is not any
reason that I should like to see him treacherously dealt with.”

“There’s no talk of treachery here. I was merely uttering an abstract
truth about the value of old papers, and regretting how late I came to
the knowledge. There’s that bundle of letters of that fool Trafford, for
instance, to Lucy. I can’t get a divorce on them, it’s true; but I hope
to squeeze a thousand pounds out of him before he has them back again.”

“I hope in my heart that the world does not know you!” said she,
bitterly.

“Do you know, mother, I rather suspect it does? The world is aware
that a great many men, some of whom it could ill spare, live by what
is called their wits,--that is to say, that they play the game entitled
‘Life’ with what Yankees call ‘the advantages;’ and the world no more
resents _my_ living by the sharp practice long experience has taught
me, than it is angry with this man for being a lawyer, and that one for
being a doctor.”

“You know in your heart that Trafford never thought of stealing Lucy’s
affections.”

“Perhaps I do; but I don’t know what were Lucy’s intentions towards
Trafford.”

“Oh, fie, fie!”

“Be shocked if you like. It’s very proper, perhaps, that you should
be shocked; but nature has endowed me with strong nerves or coarse
feelings, whichever you like to call them, and consequently I can talk
of these things with as little intermixture of sentiment as I would
employ in discussing a protested bill. Lucy herself is not deficient
in this cool quality, and we have discussed the social contract styled
Marriage with a charming unanimity of opinion. Indeed, when I have
thought over the marvellous agreement of our sentiments, I have been
actually amazed why we could not live together without hating each
other.”

“I pity her--from the bottom of my heart I pity her.”

“So do I, mother. I pity her, because I pity myself. It was a stupid
bargain for each of us. I thought I was marrying an angel with sixty
thousand pounds. She fancied she was getting a hero, with a peerage
in the distance. Each made a ‘bad book.’ It is deuced hard, however,”
 continued he, in a fiercer strain, “if one must go on backing the horse
that you know will lose, staking your money where you see you cannot
win. My wife and myself awoke from our illusions years ago; but to
please the world, to gratify that amiable thing called Society, we must
go on still, just as if we believed all that we know and have proved to
be rotten falsehoods. Now I ask you, mother, is not this rather hard?
Would n’t it be hard for a good-tempered, easy-going fellow? And is it
not more than hard for a hasty, peevish, irritable dog like myself? We
know and see that we are bad company for each other, but you--I mean
the world--you insist that we should go on quarrelling to the end, as if
there was anything edifying in the spectacle of our mutual dislike.”

“Too much of this. I beseech you, drop the subject, and talk of
something else.”

“I declare, mother, if there was any one I could be frank and outspoken
with on this theme, I believed it to be yourself. You have had ‘your
losses’ too, and know what it is to be unhappily mated.”

“Whatever I may have suffered, I have not lost self-respect,” said she,
haughtily.

“Heigho!” cried he, wearily, “I always find that my opinions place me in
a minority, and so it must ever be while the world is the hypocritical
thing we see it. Oh dear, if people could only vote by ballot, I’d like
to see marriage put to the test.”

“What did Sir William say about my going to the picnic?” asked she,
suddenly.

“He said you were quite right to obtain as many attentions as you could
from the Castle, on the same principle that the vicar’s wife stipulated
for the sheep in the picture,--‘as many as the painter would put in for
nothing.’”

“So that he is firmly determined not to resign?”

“Most firmly; nor will he be warned by the example of the well-bred dog,
for he sees, or he might see, all the preparations on foot for kicking
him out.”

“You don’t think they would compel him to resign?”

“No; but they’ll compel him to go, which amounts to the same. Balfour
says they mean to move an address to the Queen, praying her Majesty to
superannuate him.”

“It would kill him,--he ‘d not survive it.”

“So it is generally believed,--all the more because it is a course
he has ever declared to be impossible,--I mean constitutionally
impossible.”

“I hope he may be spared this insult.”

“He might escape it by dying first, mother; and really, under the
circumstances, it would be more dignified.”

“Your morals were not, at any time, to boast of, but your manners used
to be those of a gentleman,” said she, in a voice thick with passion.

“I am afraid, mother, that both morals and manners, like this hat of
mine, are a little the worse for wear; but, as in the case of the hat
too, use has made them pleasanter to me than spick-and-span new ones,
with all the gloss on. At all events, I never dreamed of offending when
I suggested the possibility of your being a widow. Indeed, I fancied it
was feminine for widower, which I imagined to be no such bad thing.”

“If the Chief Baron should be compelled to leave the Bench, will it
affect your tenure of the Registrarship?”

“That is what nobody seems to know. Some opine one way, some another;
and though all ask me what does the Chief himself say on the matter, I
have never had the courage to ask the question.”

“You are quite right It would be most indiscreet to do so.”

“Indeed, if I were rash enough to risk the step, it would redound to
nothing, since I am quite persuaded that he believes that whenever he
retires from public life or quits this world altogether, a general chaos
will ensue, and that all sorts of ignorant and incompetent people will
jostle the clever fellows out of the way, just because the one great
directing mind of the age has left the scene and departed.”

“All his favors to you have certainly not bought your gratitude,
Dudley.”

“I don’t suspect it is a quality I ever laid up a large stock of,
mother,--not to say that I have always deemed it a somewhat unworthy
thing to swallow the bad qualities of a man simply because he was civil
to you personally.”

“His kindness might at least secure your silence.”

“Then it would be a very craven silence. But I ‘ll join issue with you
on the other counts. What is this great kindness for which I am not to
speak my mind about him? He has housed and fed me: very good things in
their way, but benefits which never cost him anything but his money.
Now, what have I repaid him with? My society, my time, my temper, I
might say my health, for he has worried me to that degree some days that
I have been actually on the verge of a fever. And if his overbearing
insolence was hard to endure, still harder was it to stand his
inordinate vanity without laughter. I ask you frankly, isn’t he the
vainest man, not that you ever met, but that you ever heard of?”

“Vain he is, but not without some reason. He has had great triumphs,
great distinctions in life.”

“So he has told me. I have listened for hours long to descriptions of
the sensation he created in the House--it was always the Irish House,
by the way--by his speech on the Regency Bill, or some other obsolete
question; and how Flood had asked the House to adjourn and recover their
calm and composure, after the overwhelming power of the speech they had
just listened to; and how, at the Bar, Plunkett once said to a jury,
‘Short of actual guilt, there is no such misfortune can befall a man
as to have Sergeant Lendrick against him.’ I wish I was independent,--I
mean, rich enough, to tell him what I think of him; that I had just five
minutes--I ‘d not ask more--to convey my impression of his great and
brilliant qualities! and to show him that, between the impulses of his
temper and his vanity together, he is, in matters of the world, little
better than a fool! What do you think he is going to do at this very
moment? I had not intended speaking of it, but you have pushed me to it.
In revenge for the Government having passed him over on the Commission,
he is going to supply some of these ‘Celt’ rascals with means to employ
counsel, and raise certain questions of legality, which he thinks will
puzzle Pemberton to meet. Of course, rash and indiscreet as he is,
this is not to be done openly. It is to be accomplished in secret, and
through _me!_ I am to go to-morrow morning at eleven o’clock to the
Richmond Jail. I have the order for my admission in my pocket. I am
there to visit Heaven knows whom; some scoundrel or other,--just as
likely a Government spy as a rebel, who will publish the whole scheme to
the world. At all events, I am to see and have speech of the fellow, and
ascertain on what evidence he was committed to prison, and what kind of
case he can make as to his innocence. He is said to be a gentleman,--the
very last reason, to my thinking, for taking him up; for whenever a
gentleman is found in any predicament beneath him, the presumption
is that he ought to be lower still. The wise judge, however, thinks
otherwise, and says, ‘Here is the very opportunity I wanted.’”

“It is a most disagreeable mission, Dudley. I wish sincerely you could
have declined it.”

“Not at all. I stand to win, no matter how it comes off: if all goes
right, the Chief must make me some acknowledgment on my success; if it
be a failure, I ‘ll take care to be so compromised that I must get away
out of the country, and I leave to yourself to say what recompense will
be enough to repay a man for the loss of his home, and of his wife and
his children.”

The laugh with which he concluded this speech rang out with something so
devilish in its cadence that she turned away sickened and disgusted.

“If I thought you as base as your words bespeak you, I’d never see you
again,” said she, rising and moving towards the door.

“I’ll have one cigar, mother, before I join you in the drawing-room,”
 said he, taking it out as he spoke. “I’d not have indulged if you had
not left me. May I order a little more sherry?”

“Ring for whatever you want,” said she, coldly, and quitted the room.



CHAPTER XIII. THE VISIT TO THE JAIL.

Colonel Sewell was well known in the city, and when he presented himself
at the jail, was received by the deputy-governor with all fitting
courtesy. “Your house is pretty full, I believe, Mr. Bland,” said
Sewell, jocularly.

“Yes, sir; I never remember to have had so many prisoners in charge; and
the Mountjoy Prison has sent off two drafts this morning to England, to
make room for the new committals. The order is all right, sir,” said
he, looking at the paper Sewell extended towards him. “The governor has
given him a small room in his own house. It would have been hard to put
him with the others, who are so inferior to him.”

“A man of station and rank, then?” asked Sewell.

“So they say, sir.”

“And his name?”

“You must excuse me, Colonel. It is a case for great caution; and we
have been strictly enjoined not to let his name get abroad at present.
Mr. Spencer’s note--for he wrote to us last night--said, ‘If it should
turn out that Colonel Sewell is acquainted with the prisoner, as he
opines, you will repeat the caution I already impressed upon him, not to
divulge his name.’ The fact is, sir,” said he, lowering his voice to a
confidential tone, “I may venture to tell you that his diary contains so
many names of men in high position, that it is all-important we should
proceed with great secrecy, for we find persons involved whom nobody
could possibly have suspected could be engaged in such a scheme.”

“It is not easy to believe men could be such asses,” said Sewell,
contemptuously. “Is this gentleman Irish?”

“Not at liberty to say, sir. My orders are peremptory on the subject of
his personality.”

“You are a miracle of discretion, Mr. Bland.”

“Charmed to hear you say so, Colonel Se well. There ‘s no one whose good
word I ‘d be more proud of.”

“And why is n’t he bailed?” said Sewell, returning to the charge. “Had
he no one to be his surety?”

“That ‘s strange enough, sir. Mr. Spencer put it to him that he ‘d
better have some legal adviser; and though he would n’t go so far as to
say they ‘d take bail for him, he hinted that probably he would like
to confer with some friend, and all the answer he got was, ‘It’s all a
mistake from beginning to end. I ‘m not the man you ‘re looking for; but
if it gives the poor devil time to make his escape, perhaps he’ll live
to learn better; and so I’m at your orders.’”

“I suppose that pretext did not impose upon the magistrate?”

“Not for a moment, sir. Mr. Spencer is an old bird, and not to be caught
by such chaff. He sent him off here at once. He tried the same dodge,
though, when he came in. ‘If I could have a quiet room for the few days
I shall be here, it would be a great comfort to me,’ said he to the
governor. ‘I have a number of letters to write; and if you could manage
to give me one with a north light, it would oblige me immensely, for
I’m fond of painting.’ Not bad that, sir, for a man suspected of
treason-felony,--a north light to paint by!”

“You need not announce me by name, Mr. Bland, for it’s just as likely
I shall discover that this gentleman and I are strangers to each other;
but simply say, ‘A gentleman who wishes to see you.’”

“Take Colonel Sewell up to the governor’s corridor,” said he to a
turnkey, “and show him to the small room next the chapel.”

Musing over what Mr. Bland had told him, Sewell ascended the stairs.
His mission had not been much to his taste from the beginning. If it at
first seemed to offer the probability of placing the old Judge in his
power by some act of indiscretion, by some rash step or other, a little
reflection showed that to employ the pressure such a weakness might
expose him to, would necessitate the taking of other people into
confidence. “I will have no accomplices!” muttered Sewell; “no fellows
to dictate the terms on which they will not betray me! If I cannot get
this old man into my power by myself alone, I ‘ll not do it by the help
of another.”

“I shall have to lock you in, sir,” said the man, apologetically, as he
proceeded to open the door.

“I suppose you will let me out again?” said Sewell, laughing.

“Certainly, sir. I’ll return in half an hour.”

“I think you’d better wait and see if five minutes will not suffice.”

“Very well, sir. You ‘ll knock whenever you wish me to open the door.”

When Sewell entered the room, the stranger was seated at the window,
with his back towards the door, and apparently so absorbed in his
thoughts that he had not heard his approach. The noise of the door being
slammed to and locked, however, aroused him, and he turned suddenly
round, and almost as suddenly sprang to his feet. “What! Sir Brook
Fossbrooke!” cried Sewell, falling back towards the door.

[Illustration: 512]

“Your surprise is not greater than mine, sir, at this meeting. I have no
need to be told, however, that you did not come here to see me.”

“No; it was a mistake. The man brought me to the wrong room. My visit
was intended for another,” muttered Sewell, hastily.

“Pray, sir, be seated,” said Fossbrooke, presenting a chair. “Chance
will occasionally do more for us than our best endeavors. Since I have
arrived in Ireland I have made many attempts to meet you, but without
success. Accident, however, has favored me, and I rejoice to profit by
my good luck.”

“I have explained, Sir Brook, that I was on my way to see a gentleman to
whom my visit is of great consequence. I hope you will allow me to take
another opportunity of conferring with you.”

“I think my condition as a prisoner ought to be the best answer to your
request. No, sir. The few words we need say to each other must be said
now. Sit there, if you please;” and as he placed a chair for Sewell
towards the window, he took his own place with his back to the door.

“This is very like imprisonment,” said Sewell, with an attempt at a
laugh.

“Perhaps, sir, if each of us had his due, you have as good a right to be
here as myself; but let us not lose time in an exchange of compliments.
My visit to this country was made entirely on your account.”

“On mine! How upon mine?”

“On yours, Colonel Sewell. You may remember at our last conversation--it
was at the Chief Baron’s country-house--you made me a promise with
regard to Miss Lendrick--”

“I remember,” broke in Sewell, hastily, for he saw in the flush of
the other’s cheek how the difficulty of what he had to say was already
giving him a most painful emotion. “You stipulated something about
keeping my wife apart from that young lady. You expressed certain fears
about contamination--”

“Oh, sir, you wrong me deeply,” said the old man, with broken utterance.

“I’d be happy to think I had misunderstood you,” said Sewell, still
pursuing his advantage. “Of course, it was very painful to me at the
time. My wife, too, felt it bitterly.”

Fossbrooke started at this as if stung, and his brow darkened and his
eyes flashed as he said: “Enough of this, sir. It is not the first time
I have been calumniated in the same quarter. Let us talk of something
else. You hold in your hand certain letters of Major Trafford,--Lionel
Trafford,--and you make them the ground of a threat against him. Is it
not so?”

“I declare, Sir Brook, the interest you take in what relates to my wife
somewhat passes the bounds of delicacy.”

“I know what you mean. I know the advantage you would take of me,
and which you took awhile ago; but I will not suffer it. I want these
letters,--what’s their price?”

“They are in the hands of my solicitors, Kane & Kincaid; and I think it
very unlikely they will stay the proceedings they have taken on them by
any demand of yours.”

“I want them, and must have them.”

Sewell shrugged his shoulders, and made a gesture to imply that he had
already given him his answer.

“And what suit would you pretend--But why do I ask you? What is it to me
by what schemes you prosecute your plans? Look here, sir; I was once
on a time possessed of a document which would have subjected you to the
fate of a felon; it was the forgery of my name--”

“My dear Sir Brook, if your memory were a little better you would
remember that you had once to apologize for that charge, and avow it was
totally unfounded.”

“It is untrue, sir; and you know it is untrue. I declared I would
produce a document before three or four of your brother officers, and it
was stolen from me on the night before the meeting.”

“I remember that explanation, and the painful impression your position
excited at the time; but really I have no taste for going back over
a long-past period. I ‘m not old enough, I suppose, to care for these
reminiscences. Will you allow me to take my leave of you?”

“No, sir; you shall hear me out: It may possibly be to your
own advantage to bestow a little time upon me. You are fond of
compromises,--as you ought to be, for your life has been a series of
them: now I have one to propose to you. Let Trafford have back his
letters, and you shall hear of this charge no more.”

“Really, sir, you must form a very low estimate of my intelligence, or
you would not have made such a proposition; or probably,” added he, with
a sneer, “you have been led away by the eminence of the position you
occupy at this moment to make this demand.”

Fossbrooke started at the boldness of this speech, and looked about him,
and probably remembered for the first time since the interview began
that he was a prisoner. “A few days--a few hours, perhaps--will see me
free,” said the old man, haughtily. “I know too well the difficulties
that surround men in times like these to be angry or impatient at a
mistake whose worst consequences are a little inconvenience.”

“I own, sir, I was grieved to think you could have involved yourself in
such a scheme.”

“Nothing of the kind, sir. You were only grieved to think that there
could be no solid foundation for the charge against me. It would be the
best tidings you could hear to learn that I was to leave this for the
dock, with the convict hulk in the distance; but I forget I had promised
myself not to discuss my own affairs with you. What say you to what I
have proposed?”

“You have proposed nothing, Sir Brook,--at least nothing serious, since
I can scarcely regard as a proposition the offer not to renew a charge
which broke down once before for want of evidence.”

“What if I have that evidence? What if I am prepared to produce it? Ay,
sir, you may look incredulous if you like. It is not to a man of
_your_ stamp I appeal to be believed on my word; but you shall see the
document,--you shall see it on the same day that a jury shall see it.”

“I perceive, Sir Brook, that it is useless to prolong this conversation.
Your old grudge against me is too much even for your good sense. Your
dislike surmounts your reason. Yes, open the door at once. I am tired
waiting for you,” cried he, impatiently, as the turnkey’s voice was
heard without.

“Once more I make you this offer,” said Fossbrooke, rising from his
seat. “Think well ere you refuse it.”

“You have no such document as you say.”

“If I have not, the failure is mine.”

The door was now open, and the turnkey standing at it.

“They will accept bail, won’t they?” said Sewell, adroitly turning
the conversation. “I think,” continued he, “this matter can be easily
arranged. I will go at once to the Head Office and return here at once.”

“We are agreed, then?” said Fossbrooke, in a low voice.

“Yes,” said Sewell, hastily, as he passed out and left him.

The turnkey closed and locked the door, and overtook Sewell as he walked
along the corridor. “They are taking information this moment, sir, about
the prisoner. The informer is in the room.”

“Who is he? What’s his name?”

“O’Reardon, sir; a fellow of great ‘cuteness. He’s in the pay of the
Castle these thirty years.”

“Might I be present at the examination? Would you ask if I might hear
the case?”

The man assured him that this was impossible; and Sewell stood with his
hand on the balustrade, deeply revolving what he had just heard.

“And is O’Reardon a prisoner here?”

“Not exactly, sir; but partly for his own safety, partly to be sure he
‘s not tampered with, we often keep the men in confinement till a case
is finished.”

“How long will this morning’s examination last? At what hour will it
probably be over?”

“By four, sir, or half-past, they’ll be coming out.”

“I’ll return by that time. I ‘d like to speak to him.”



CHAPTER XIV. A GRAND DINNER AT THE PRIORY

The examination was still proceeding when Sewell returned at five
o’clock; and although he waited above an hour in the hope of its being
concluded, the case was still under consideration; and as the Chief
Baron had a large dinner-party on that day, from which the Colonel could
not absent himself, he was obliged to hasten back in all speed to dress.

“His Lordship has sent three times to know if you had come in, sir,”
 said his servant, as he entered his room.

And while he was yet speaking came another messenger to say that the
Chief Baron wanted to see the Colonel immediately. With a gesture of
impatience Sewell put on again the coat he had just thrown off, and
followed the man to the Chief’s dressing-room.

“I have been expecting you since three o’clock, sir,” said the old man,
after motioning to his valet to leave the room.

“I feared I was late, my Lord, and was going to dress when I got your
message.”

“But you have been away seven hours, sir.”

The tone and manner of this speech, and the words themselves, calling
him to account in a way a servant would scarcely have brooked, so
overcame Sewell that only by an immense effort of self-control could
he restrain his temper, and avoid bursting forth with the long-pent-up
passion that was consuming him.

“I was detained, my Lord,--unavoidably detained,” said he, with a voice
thick and husky with anger. What added to his passion was the confusion
he felt; for he had not determined, when he entered the room, whether to
avow that the prisoner was Fossbrooke or not, resolving to be guided by
the Chief’s manner and temper as to the line he should take. Now this
outburst completely routed his judgment, and left him uncertain and
vacillating.

“And now, sir, for your report,” said the old man, seating himself and
folding his arms on his chest.

“I have little to report, my Lord. They affect a degree of mystery about
this person, both at the Head Office and at the jail, which is perfectly
absurd; and will neither give his name nor his belongings. The pretence
is, of course, to enable them to ensnare others with whom he is in
correspondence. I believe, however, the truth to be, he is a very vulgar
criminal,--a gauger, it is said, from Loughrea, and no such prize as the
Castle people fancied. His passion for notoriety, it seems, has involved
him in scores of things of this kind; and his ambition is always to be
his own lawyer and defend himself.”

“Enough, sir; a gauger and self-confident prating rascal combine the two
things which I most heartily detest. Pem-berton may take his will of him
for me; he may make him illustrate every blunder of his bad law, and I
‘ll not say him nay. You will take Lady Ecclesfield in to dinner to-day,
and place her opposite me at table. Your wife speaks French well,--let
her sit next Count de Lanoy, but give her arm to the Bishop of Down.
Let us have no politics over our wine; I cannot trust myself with
the law-officers before me, and at my own table they must not be
sacrificed.”

“Is Pemberton coming, my Lord?”

“He is, sir,--he is coming on a tour of inspection,--he wants to
see from my dietary how soon he may calculate on my demise; and the
Attorney-General will be here on the like errand. My hearse, sir, it is,
that stops the way, and I have not ordered it up yet. Can you tell me is
Lady Lendrick coming to dinner, for she has not favored me with a reply
to my invitation?”

“I am unable to say, my Lord; I have not seen her; she has, however,
been slightly indisposed of late.”

“I am distressed to hear it. At all events, I have kept her place
for her, as well as one for Mr. Balfour, who is expected from England
to-day. If Lady Lendrick should come, Lord Kilgobbin will take her in.”

“I think I hear an arrival. I ‘d better finish my dressing. I scarcely
thought it was so late.”

“Take care that the topic of India be avoided, or we shall have Colonel
Kimberley and his tiger stories.”

“I’ll look to it,” said Sewell, moving towards the door.

“You have given orders about decanting the champagne?”

“About everything, my Lord. There comes another carriage, I must make
haste;” and so saying, he fled from the room before the Chief could add
another question.

Sewell had but little time to think over the step he had just taken, but
in that little time he satisfied himself that he had acted wisely.
It was a rare thing for the Chief to return to any theme he had once
dismissed. Indeed, it would have implied a doubt of his former judgment,
which was the very last thing that could occur to him. “My decisions
are not reversed,” was his favorite expression; so that nothing was less
probable than that he would again revert to the prisoner or his case.
As for Fossbrooke himself and how to deal with him, that was a weightier
question, and demanded more thought than he could now give it.

As he descended to the drawing-room, the last of the company had just
entered, and dinner was announced. Lady Lendrick and Mr. Balfour were
both absent. It was a grand dinner on that day, in the fullest sense
of that formidable expression. It was very tedious, very splendid, very
costly, and intolerably wearisome and stupid. The guests were overlaid
by the endless round of dishes and the variety of wines, and such as had
not sunk into a drowsy repletion occupied themselves in criticising the
taste of a banquet, which was, after all, a travesty of a foreign dinner
without that perfection of cookery and graceful lightness in the detail
which gives all the elegance and charm to such entertainments. The more
fastidious part of the company saw all the defects; the homelier ones
regretted the absence of meats that they knew, and wines they were
accustomed to. None were pleased,--none at their ease but the host
himself. As for him, seated in the centre of the table, overshadowed
almost by a towering epergne, he felt like a king on his throne. All
around him breathed that air of newness that smacked of youth; and
the table spread with flowers, and an ornamental dessert, seemed to
emblematize that modern civilization which had enabled himself to
throw off the old man and come out into the world crimped, curled, and
carmined, be-wigged and be-waistcoated.

“Eighty-seven! my father and he were contemporaries,” said Lord
Kilgobbin, as they assembled in the drawing-room; “a wonderful man,--a
really wonderful man for his age.”

The Bishop muttered something in concurrence, only adding “Providence”
 to the clause; while Pemberton whispered the Attorney-General that it
was the most painful attack of acute youth he had ever witnessed. As for
Colonel Kimberley, he thought nothing of the Chiefs age, for he had shot
a brown bear up at Rhumnuggher, “the natives knew to be upwards of two
hundred years old, some said three hundred.”

As they took their coffee in groups or knots, Sewell drew his arm within
Pemberton’s and led him through the open sash-door into the garden. “I
know you want a cigar,” said he, “and so do I. Let us take a turn here
and enjoy ourselves. What a bore is a big dinner! I ‘d as soon
assemble all my duns as I ‘d get together all the dreary people of my
acquaintance. It’s a great mistake,--don’t you think so?” said Sewell,
who, for the first time in his life, accosted Pemberton in this tone of
easy familiarity.

“I fancy, however, the Chief likes it,” said the other, cautiously; “he
was particularly lively and witty to-day.”

“These displays cost him dearly. You should see him after the thing
was over. With the paint washed off, palpitating on a sofa steeped with
sulphuric ether, and stimulated with ammonia, one wouldn’t say he’d get
through the night.”

“What a constitution he must have!”

“It’s not that; at least, that’s not the way I read him. My theory is,
it is his temper--that violent, irascible, fervid temper--burning like a
red-hot coal within him, sustains the heat that gives life and vigor
to his nature. If he has a good-humored day,--it’s not a very frequent
occurrence, but it happens now and then,--he grows ten years older. I
made that discovery lately. It seems as though if he could n’t spite the
world, he ‘d have no objection to taking leave of it.”

“That sounds rather severe,” said Pemberton, cautiously; for though he
liked the tone of the other’s conversation, he was not exactly sure it
was quite safe to show his concurrence.

“It’s the fact, however, severe or not. There’s nothing in our relations
to each other that should prevent my speaking my mind about him. My
mother had the bad luck to marry him, and being gifted with a temper not
very unlike his own, they discovered the singular fact that two people
who resemble each other can become perfectly incompatible. I used to
think that she could n’t be matched. I recant, however, and acknowledge
candidly he could ‘give her a distance.’”

Pemberton gave a little laugh, as it were of encouragement to go on, and
the other proceeded.

“My wife understands him best of all. She gives way in everything; all
he says is right, all he opines is wisdom, and it’s astonishing how this
yielding, compliant, submissive spirit breaks him down; he pines under
it, just as a man accustomed to sharp exercise would waste and decay by
a life of confinement. I declare there was one week here we had got him
to a degree of gentleness that was quite edifying, but my mother came
and paid a visit when we were out, and when we returned there he was!
violent, flaring, and vigorous as ever, wild with vanity, and mad to
match himself with the first men of the day.”

While Sewell talked in this open and indiscreet way of the old Judge,
his meaning was to show with what perfect confidence he treated his
companion, and at the same time how fair and natural it would be to
expect frankness in return. The crafty lawyer, however, trained in the
school where all these feints and false parries are the commonest
tricks of fence, never ventured beyond an expression of well-got-up
astonishment, or a laugh of enjoyment at some of Sewell’s smartnesses.

“You want a light?” said Sewell, seeing that the other held his cigar
still unlit in his fingers.

“Thanks. I was forgetting it. The fact is, you kept me so much amused, I
never thought of smoking; nor am I much of a smoker at any time.”

“It ‘s the vice of the idle man, and you are not in that category.
By the way, what a busy time you must have of it now, with all these
commitments?”

“Not so much as one might think. The cases are numerous, but they are
all the same. Indeed, the informations are identical in nearly every
instance. Tim Branegan had two numbers of the ‘Green Flag’ newspaper,
some loose powder in his waistcoat-pocket, and an American drill-book in
the crown of his hat.”

“And is that treason-felony?”

“With a little filling-up it becomes so. In the rank of life these men
belong to, it’s as easy to find a rebel as it would be in Africa to
discover a man with a woolly head.”

“And this present movement is entirely limited to that class?” said
Sewell, carelessly.

“So we thought till a couple of days ago, but we have now arrested one
whose condition is that of a gentleman.”

“With anything like strong evidence against him?”

“I have not seen the informations myself, but Burrowes, who has read
them, calls them highly important; not alone as regards the prisoner,
but a number of people whose loyalty was never so much as suspected.
Now the Viceroy is away, the Chief Secretary on the Continent, and
even Balfour, who can always find out what the Cabinet wishes,--Balfour
absent, we are actually puzzled whether the publicity attending the
prosecution of such a man would not serve rather than damage the rebel
cause, displaying, as it would, that there is a sympathy for this
movement in a quarter far removed from the peasant.”

“Is n’t it strange that the Chief Baron should have, the other evening,
in the course of talk, hit upon such a possibility as this, and said, ‘I
wonder would the Castle lawyers be crafty enough to see that such a case
should not be brought to trial? One man of education, and whose motives
might be ascribed to an exalted, however misdirected, patriotism,’ said
he, ‘would lift this rabble out of the slough of their vulgar movement,
and give it the character of a national rising.’”

“But what would he do? Did he say how he would act?”

“He said something about ‘bail,’ and he used a word I wasn’t familiar
with--like estreating: is there such a word?”

“Yes, yes, there is; but I don’t see how it’s to be done. Would it be
possible to have a talk with him on the matter--informally, of course?”
 “That would betray me, and he would never forgive my having told you his
opinion already,” said Sewell. “No, that is out of the question; but if
you would confide to me the points you want his judgment on, I ‘d manage
to obtain it.”

Pemberton seemed to reflect over this, and walked along some paces in
silence.

“He mentioned a curious thing,” said Sewell, laughingly; “he said that
in Emmett’s affair there were three or four men compromised, whom the
Government were very unwilling to bring to trial, and that they actually
provided the bail for them,--secretly, of course,--and indemnified the
men for their losses on the forfeiture.”

“It couldn’t be done now,” said Pemberton.

“That’s what the Chief said. They could n’t do it now, for they have not
got M’Nally,--whoever M’Nally was.”

Pemberton colored crimson, for M’Nally was the name of the
Solicitor-General of that day, and he knew well that the sarcasm was in
the comparison between that clever lawyer and himself.

“What I meant was, that Crown lawyers have a very different public
to account to in the present day from what they had in those lawless
times,” said Pemberton, with irritation. “I ‘m afraid the Chief Baron,
with all his learning and all his wit, likes to go back to that
period for every one of his illustrations. You heard how he capped the
Archbishop’s allusion to the Prodigal Son to-day?--I don’t think his
Grace liked it--that it requires more tact to provide an escape for a
criminal than to prosecute a guilty man to conviction.”

“That’s so like him!” said Sewell, with a bitter laugh. “Perhaps the
great charm that attaches him to public life is to be able to utter
his flippant impertinences _ex cathedra_. If you could hit upon some
position from which he could fulminate his bolts of sarcasm with effect,
I fancy he ‘d not object to resign the Bench. I heard him once say, ‘I
cannot go to church without a transgression, for I envy the preacher,
who has the congregation at his mercy for an hour.’”

“Ah, he ‘ll not resign,” sighed Pemberton, deeply.

“_I_ don’t know that.”

“At least he ‘ll not do so on any terms they ‘ll make with him.”

“Nor am I so sure of that,” repeated the other, gravely. Sewell waited
for some rejoinder to this speech, of which he hoped his companion would
ask the explanation; but the cautious lawyer said not a word.

“No man with a sensitive, irascible, and vain disposition is to be
turned from his course, whatever it be, by menace or bully,” said
Sewell. “The weak side of these people is their vanity, and to approach
them by that you ought to know and to cultivate those who are about
them. Now, I have no hesitation in saying there were moments--ay, there
were hours--in which, if it had been any interest to me, I could have
got him to resign. He is eminently a man of his word, and, once pledged,
nothing would make him retire from his promise.”

“I declare, after all,” said Pemberton, “if he feels equal to the hard
work of the Court, and likes it, I don’t see why all this pressure
should be put upon him. Do _you?_”

“I am the last man probably to see it,” said Sewell, with an easy laugh.
“His abdication would, of course, not suit _me_, I suppose we had better
stroll back into the house,--they ‘ll miss us.” There was an evident
coldness in the way these last words were spoken, and Sewell meant that
the lawyer should see his irritation.

“Have you ever said anything to Balfour about what we have been talking
of?” said Pemberton, as they moved towards the house.

“I may or I may not. I talk pretty freely on all sorts of things--and,
unfortunately, with an incaution, too, that is not always profitable.”

“Because if you were to show _him_ as clearly as awhile ago you showed
_me_, the mode in which this matter might be negotiated, I have little
doubt--that is, I have reason to suppose--or I might go farther and say
that I know--”

“I ‘ll tell you what _I_ know, Mr. Solicitor, that I would n’t give that
end of a cigar,” and he pitched it from him as he spoke, “to decide the
question either way.” And with this they passed on and mingled with
the company in the drawing-room. “I have hooked you at last, my shrewd
friend; and if I know anything of mankind, I ‘ll see you, or hear from
you, before twelve hours are over.”

“Where have you been, Colonel, with my friend the Solicitor-General?”
 said the Chief Baron.

“Cabinet-making, my Lord,” said Sewell, laughingly.

“Take care, sir,” said the Chief, sternly,--“take care of that pastime.
It has led more than one man to become a Joiner and a Turner!” And a
buzz went through the room as men repeated this _mot_, and people asked
each other, “Is this the man we are calling on to retire as worn-out,
effete, and exhausted?”



CHAPTER XV. CHIEF SECRETARY BALFOUR

Mr. Balfour returned to Ireland a greater man than he left it. He had
been advanced to the post of Chief Secretary, and had taken his seat
in the House as member for Muddle-port. Political life was, therefore,
dawning very graciously upon him, and his ambition was budding with
every prospect of success.

The Secretary’s lodge in the Phoenix Park is somewhat of a pretty
residence, and with its gardens, its shrubberies, and conservatory, seen
on a summer’s day when broad cloud-shadows lie sleeping on the Dublin
mountains, and the fragrant white thorn scents the air, must certainly
be a pleasant change from the din, the crush, and the turmoil of “town”
 at the fag end of a season. English officials call it damp. Indeed, they
have a trick of ascribing this quality to all things Irish; and national
energy, national common-sense, and national loyalty seem to them to
be ever in a diluted form. Even our drollery is not as dry as our
neighbors’.

In this official residence Mr. Balfour was now installed, and while
Fortune seemed to shower her favors so lavishly upon him, the _quid
amarum_ was still there,--his tenure was insecure. The party to which
he belonged had contrived to offend some of its followers and alienate
others, and, without adopting any such decided line as might imply a
change of policy, had excited a general sense of distrust in those who
had once followed it implicitly. In the emergencies of party life, the
manouvre known to soldiers as a “change of front” is often required. The
present Cabinet were in this position. They had been for some sessions
trading on their Protestantism. They had been Churchmen _pur sang_.
Their bishops, their deans, their colonial appointments, had all been
of that orthodox kind that defied slander; and as it is said that a man
with a broad-brimmed hat and drab gaiters may indulge unsuspected in
vices which a more smartly got-up neighbor would bring down reprobation
upon his head for practising, so may a Ministry under the shadow of
Exeter Hall do a variety of things denied to less sacred individuals.
“The Protestant ticket” had carried them safely over two sessions, but
there came now a hitch in which they needed that strange section called
“the Irish party,” a sort of political flying column, sufficiently
uncertain always to need watching, and if not very compact or highly
disciplined, rash and bold enough to be very damaging in moments of
difficulty. Now, as Private Secretary, Balfour had snubbed this party
repeatedly. They had been passed over in promotion, and their claims to
advancement coldly received. The amenities of the Castle--that social
Paradise of all Irish men and women--had been denied them. For them
were no dinners, no mornings at the Lodge, and great were the murmurs
of discontent thereat. A change, however, had come; an English defection
had rendered Irish support of consequence, and Balfour was sent over
to, what in the slang of party is called, conciliate, but which, in less
euphuistic phrase, might be termed to employ a system of general and
outrageous corruption.

Some averred that the Viceroy, indignantly refusing to be a party to
this policy, feigned illness and stayed away; others declared that his
resignation had been tendered and accepted, but that measures of state
required secrecy on the subject; while a third section of guessers
suggested that, when the coarse work of corruption had been accomplished
by the Secretary, his Excellency would arrive to crown the edifice.

At all events, the Ministry stood in need of these “free lances,”
 and Cholmondely Balfour was sent over to secure them. Before all
governmental changes there is a sort of “ground swell” amongst the
knowing men of party that presages the storm; and so, now, scarcely had
Balfour reached the Lodge than a rumor ran that some new turn of policy
was about to be tried, and that what is called the “Irish difficulty”
 was going to be discounted into the English necessity.

The first arrival at the Lodge was Pemberton. He had just been defeated
at his election for Mallow, and ascribed his failure to the lukewarmness
of the Government, and the indifference with which they had treated his
demands for some small patronage for his supporters. Nor was it mere
indifference; there was actual reason to believe that favor was shown to
his opponent, and that Mr. Heffernan, the Catholic barrister of extreme
views, had met the support of more than one of those known to be under
Government influence. There was a story of a letter from the Irish
Office to Father O’Hea, the parish priest. Some averred they had read
it, declaring that the Cabinet only desired to know “the real sentiments
of Ireland, what Irishmen actually wished and wanted,” to meet them.
Now, when a Government official writes to a priest, his party is always
_in extremis_.

Pemberton reached the Lodge feverish, irritated, and uneasy. He had, not
very willingly, surrendered a great practice at the Bar to enter life as
a politician, and now what if the reward of his services should turn out
to be treachery and betrayal? Over and over again had he been told he
was to have the Bench; but the Chief Baron would neither die nor retire,
nor was there any vacancy amongst the other courts. Nor had he done very
well in Parliament; he was hasty and irritable in reply, too
discursive in statement, and, worse than these, not plodding enough nor
sufficiently given to repetition to please the House; for the “assembled
wisdom” is fond of its ease, and very often listens with a drowsy
consciousness that if it did not catch what the orator said aright, it
was sure to hear him say it again later on. He had made no “hit” with
the House, and he was not patient enough nor young enough to toil
quietly on to gain that estimation which he had hoped to snatch at
starting.

Besides all these grounds of discontent, he was vexed at the careless
way in which his party defended him against the attacks of the
Opposition. Nothing, probably, teaches a man his value to his own set
so thoroughly as this test; and he who is ill defended in his absence
generally knows that he may retire without cause of regret. He came out,
therefore, that morning, to see Balfour, and, as the phrase is, “have it
out with him.” Balfour’s instructions from the “other side,” as Irishmen
playfully denominate England, were to get rid of Pemberton as soon as
possible; but, at the same time, with all the caution required, not to
convert an old adherent into an enemy.

Balfour was at breakfast, with an Italian greyhound on a chair beside
him, and a Maltese terrier seated on the table, when Pemberton was
announced. He lounged over his meal, alternating tea with the “Times,”
 and now and then reading scraps of the letters which lay in heaps around
him.

After inviting his guest to partake of something, and hearing that he
had already breakfasted three hours before, Balfour began to give him
all the political gossip of town. This, for the most part, related to
changes and promotions,--how Griffith was to go to the Colonial, and
Haughton to the Foreign Office; that Forbes was to have the Bath, and
make way for Betmore, who was to be Under-Secretary. “Chadwick, you see,
gets nothing. He asked for a com-missionership, and we offered him the
governorship of Bermuda; hence has he gone down below the gangway, and
sits on the seat of the scornful.”

“Your majority was smaller than I looked for on Tuesday night. Couldn’t
you have made a stronger muster?” said Pemberton.

“I don’t know: twenty-eight is not bad. There are so many of our people
in abeyance. There are five fighting petitions against their return, and
as many more seeking re-election, and a few more, like yourself, Pem,
‘out in the cold.’”

“For which gracious situation I have to thank my friends.”

“Indeed! how is that?”

“It is somewhat cool to ask me. Have you not seen the papers lately?
Have you not read the letter that Sir Gray Chadwell addressed to Father
O’Hea of Mallow?”

“Of course I have read it--an admirable letter--a capital letter. I
don’t know where the case of Ireland has been treated with such masterly
knowledge and discrimination.”

“And why have my instructions been always in an opposite sense? Why
have I been given to believe that the Ministry distrusted that party and
feared their bad faith?”

“Have you ever seen Grünzenhoff’s account of the battle of Leipsic?”

“No; nor have I the slightest curiosity to hear how it applies to what
we are talking of.”

“But it does apply. It’s the very neatest apropos I could cite for you.
There was a moment, he says, in that history, when Schwarzenberg was
about to outflank the Saxons, and open a terrific fire of artillery upon
them; and either they saw what fate impended over them, or that the hour
they wished for had come, but they all deserted the ranks of the French
and went over to the Allies.”

“And you fancy that the Catholics are going to side with you?” said
Pemberton, with a sneer.

“It suits both parties to believe it, Pem.”

“The credulity will be all your own, Mr. Balfour. I know my countrymen
better than you do.”

“That’s exactly what they won’t credit at Downing Street, Pem; and I
assure you that my heart is broken defending you in the House. They
are eternally asking about what happened at such an assize, and why the
Crown was not better prepared in such a prosecution; and though I _am_
accounted a ready fellow in reply, it becomes a bore at last. I ‘m sorry
to say it, Pem, but it is a bore.”

“I am glad, Mr. Balfour, exceedingly glad, you should put the issue
between us so clearly; though I own to you that coming here this
morning as the plaintiff, it is not without surprise I find myself on my
defence.”

“What’s this, Banks?” asked Balfour, hastily, as his private secretary
entered with a despatch. “From Crew, sir; it must be his Excellency
sends it.”

Balfour broke it open, and exclaimed: “In cipher too! Go and have it
transcribed at once; you have the key here.”

“Yes, sir; I am familiar with the character, too, and can do it
quickly.” Thus saying, he left the room.

While this brief dialogue was taking place, Pemberton walked up and down
the room, pale and agitated in features, but with a compressed lip and
bent brow, like one nerving himself for coming conflict.

“I hope we ‘re not out,” said Balfour, with a laugh of assumed
indifference. “He rarely employs a cipher; and it must be something of
moment, or he would not do so now.”

“It is a matter of perfect indifference to _me_,” said Pemberton.
“Treated as I have been, I could scarcely say I should regret it.”

“By Jove! the ship must be in a bad way when the officers are taking
to the boats,” said Balfour. “Why, Pem, you don’t really believe we are
going to founder?”

“I told you, sir,” said he, haughtily, “that it was a matter of the most
perfect indifference to me whether you should sink or swim.”

“You are one of the crew, I hope, a’n’t you?”

Pemberton made no reply, and the other went on: “To be sure, it may be
said that an able seaman never has long to look for a ship; and in these
political disasters, it’s only the captains that are really wrecked.”

“One thing is certainly clear,” said Pemberton, with energy, “you have
not much confidence in the craft you sail in.”

“Who has, Pem? Show me the man that has, and I ‘ll show you a consummate
ass. Parliamentary life is a roadstead with shifting sands, and there’s
no going a step without the lead-line; and that’s one reason why the
nation never likes to see one of your countrymen as the pilot,--you
won’t take soundings.”

“There are other reasons, too,” said Pemberton, sternly, “but I have not
come here to discuss this subject. I want to know, once for all, is it
the wish of your party that I should be in the House?”

“Of course it is; how can you doubt it?”

“That being the case, what steps have you taken, or what steps can you
take, to secure me a seat?”

“Why, Pem, don’t you know enough of public life to know that when a
Minister makes an Attorney-General, it is tacitly understood that the
man can secure his return to Parliament? When I order out a chaise and
pair, I don’t expect the innkeeper to tell me I must buy breeches and
boots for the postilion.”

“You deluge me with figures, Mr. Balfour, but they only confuse me. I
am neither a sailor nor a postboy; but I see Mr. Banks wishes to confer
with you--I will retire.”

“Take a turn in the garden, Pern, and I will be with you in a moment.
Are you a smoker?”

“Not in the morning,” said the other, stiffly, and withdrew.

“Mr. Heffernan is here, sir; will you see him?” asked the Secretary.

“Let him wait; whenever I ring the bell you can come and announce him. I
will give my answer then. What of the despatch?”

“It is nearly all copied out, sir. It was longer than I thought.”

“Let me see it now; I will read it at once.”

The Secretary left the room, and soon returned with several sheets of
note-paper in his hand.

“Not all that, Banks?”

“Yes, sir. It was two hundred and eighty-eight signs,--as long as the
Queen’s Speech. It seems very important too.”

“Read,” said Balfour, lighting his cigar.

“To Chief Secretary Balfour, Castle, Dublin.--What are your people
about? What new stupidity is this they have just accomplished? Are there
law advisers at the Castle, or are the cases for prosecution submitted
to the members of the police force? Are you aware, or is it from me you
are to learn, that there is now in the Richmond Jail, under accusation
of “Celtism,” a gentleman of a loyalty the equal of my own? Some
blunder, if not some private personal malignity, procured his arrest,
which, out of regard for me as an old personal friend, he neither
resisted nor disputed, withholding his name to avoid the publicity which
could only have damaged the Government. I am too ill to leave my room,
or would go over at once to rectify this gross and most painful blunder.
If Pemberton is too fine a gentleman for his office, where was Hacket,
or, if not Hacket, Burrowes? Should this case get abroad and reach the
Opposition, there will be a storm in the House you will scarcely like
to face. Take measures--immediate measures--for his release, by bail or
otherwise, remembering, above all, to observe secrecy. I will send you
by post to-night the letter in which F. communicates to me the story of
his capture and imprisonment. Had the mischance befallen any other
than a true gentleman and an old friend, it would have cost us dearly.
Nothing equally painful has occurred to me in my whole official life.

“‘Let the case be a warning to you in more ways than one. Your system of
private information is degenerating into private persecution, and would
at last establish a state of things perfectly intolerable. Beg F. as a
great favor to me, to come over and see me here, and repeat that I am
too ill to travel, or would not have delayed an hour in going to him.
There are few men, if there be one, who would in such a predicament have
postponed all consideration of self to thoughts about his friends
and their interest, and in all this we have had better luck than we
deserved.

“‘Wilmington’”

“Go over it again,” said Balfour, as he lit a cigar, and, placing
a chair for his legs, gave himself up to a patient rehearing of the
despatch. “I wonder who F. can be that he is so anxious about. It _is_
a confounded mess, there’s no doubt of it; and if the papers get hold
of it, we’re done for. Beg Pemberton to come here, and leave us to talk
together.”

“Read that, Pem,” said Balfour, as he smoked on, now and then puffing
a whiff of tobacco at his terrier’s face,--“read that, and tell me what
you say to it.”

Though the lawyer made a great effort to seem calm and self-possessed,
Balfour could see that the hand that held the paper shook as he read
it. As he finished, he laid the document on the table without uttering a
word.

“Well?” cried Balfour, interrogatively,--“well?”

“I take it, if all be as his Excellency says, that this is not the first
case in which an innocent man has been sent to jail. Such things occur
now and then in the model England, and I have never heard that they
formed matter to impeach a Ministry.”

“You heard of this committal, then?”

“No, not till now.”

“Not till now?”

“Not till now. His Excellency, and indeed yourself, Mr. Balfour, seem to
fall into the delusion that a Solicitor-General is a detective officer.
Now, he is not,--nor any more is he a police magistrate. This arrest, I
suppose,--I know nothing about it, but I suppose,--was made on certain
sworn information. The law took its ordinary course; and the man who
would neither tell his name nor give the clew to any one who would
answer for him went to prison. It is unfortunate, certainly; but
they who made this statute forgot to insert a clause that none of
the enumerated penalties should apply to any one who knew or had
acquaintance with the Viceroy for the time being.”

“Yes, as you remark, that was a stupid omission; and now, what ‘s to be
done here?”

“I opine his Excellency gives you ample instructions. You are to repair
to the jail, make your apologies to F.--whoever F. may be,--induce
him to let himself be bailed, and persuade him to go over and pass a
fortnight at Crew Keep. Pray tell him, however, before he goes, that his
being in prison was not in any way owing to the Solicitor-Genera’s being
a fine gentleman.”

“I ‘ll send for the informations,” said Balfour, and rang his bell. “Mr.
Heffernan, sir, by appointment,” said the private secretary, entering
with a card in his hand.

“Oh, I had forgotten. It completely escaped me,” said Balfour, with
a pretended confusion. “Will you once more take a turn in the garden,
Pem?--five minutes will do all I want.”

“If my retirement is to facilitate Mr. Heffernan’s advance, it would be
ungracious to defer it; but give me till to-morrow to think of it.”

“I only spoke of going into the garden, my dear Pem.”

“I will do more,--I will take my leave. Indeed, I have important
business in the Rolls Court.”

“I shall want to see you about this business,” said the other, touching
the despatch.

“I’ll look in on you about five-at the office, and by that time you’ll
have seen Mr. F.”

“Mr. Heffernan could not wait, sir,--he has to open a Record case in the
Queen’s Bench,” said the Secretary, entering, “but he says he will write
to you this evening.”

The Solicitor-General grinned. He fancied that the whole incident had
been a most unfortunate _malapropos_, and that Balfour was sinking under
shame and confusion.

“How I wish Baron Lendrick could be induced to retire!” said Balfour;
“it would save us a world of trouble.”

“The matter has little interest for me personally.”

“Little interest for _you?_--how so?”

“I mean what I say; but I mean also not to be questioned upon the
matter,” said he, proudly. “If, however, you are so very eager about it,
there is a way I believe it might be done.”

“How is that?”

“I had a talk, a half-confidential talk, last night with Sewell on the
subject, and he distinctly gave me to understand it could be negotiated
through _him_.”

“And you believed him?”

“Yes, I believed him. It was the sort of tortuous, crooked transaction
such a man might well move in. Had he told me of something very fine,
very generous or self-devoting, he was about to do, I ‘d have hesitated
to accord him my trustfulness.”

“What it is to be a lawyer!” said Balfour, with affected horror.

“What it must be if a Secretary of State recoils from his perfidy! Oh,
Mr. Balfour, for the short time our official connection may last let
us play fair! I am not so coldblooded, nor are you as crafty, as you
imagine. We are both of us better than we seem.”

“Will you dine here to-day, Pem?”

“Thanks, no; I am engaged.”

“To-morrow, then?--I’ll have Branley and Keppel to meet you.”

“I always get out of town on Saturday night. Pray excuse me.”

“No tempting you, eh?”

“Not in that way, certainly. Good-bye till five o’clock.”



CHAPTER XVI. A STARLIT NIGHT

Late at night of the same day on which the conversation of last chapter
occurred, Sewell was returning to the Priory: he was on foot, having
failed to find a carriage at that late hour, and was depressed and
wretched in mind, for he had lost a large sum at the Club, which he had
no means whatever to meet on the coming morning.

It was a rare event with him to take a retrospect of his life; and his
theory was that he owed any success he had ever won to the fact that he
brought to the present--to the actual casualty before him--an amount of
concentration which men who look back or look forward never can command.
Now, however, the past would force itself upon him, and his whole
career, with all its faults and its failures, was before him.

It was a bitter memory, the very bitterest one can imagine, not in
its self-accusation or reproach, but in the thought of all the grand
opportunities he had thrown away, the reckless way in which he had
treated Fortune, believing that she never would fail him. All
his regrets were for the occasions he had suffered to slip by him
unprofitably. He did not waste a thought on those he had ruined, many of
them young fellows starting hopefully, joyously in life. His mind only
dwelt on such as had escaped his snares. Ay, the very fellows to whom he
had lost largely that night, had once been in his power! He remembered
them when they “joined;” he had met them when they landed at Calcutta,
in all their raw inexperience of life, pressing their petty wagers upon
him, and eagerly, almost ignominiously courting acquaintance with the
favored aide-de-camp of the Governor-General.

And there they were now, bronzed, hard-featured, shrewd men of the
world, who had paid for their experience, and knew its worth.

Nothing to be done with _them!_ Indeed, there was little now “to be
done” anywhere. The whole machinery of life was changed. Formerly,
when fellows started in life, they were trustful, uncalculating,
and careless. Now, on the contrary, they were wary, cautious, and
suspectful. Instead of attaching themselves to older men as safe guides
and counsellors, they hung back from them as too skilful and too crafty
to be dealt with. Except Trafford he had not seen one--not one, for many
a day--who could be “chaffed” into a bet, or laughed into play against
his inclination. And what had he made of Trafford? A few hundred pounds
in hand, and those letters which now Fossbrooke had insisted on his
giving up. How invariably it was that same man who came up at every
crisis of his life to thwart and defeat him. And it was a hard, a
cruelly hard, thing to remember that this very man who had been the dupe
of hundreds, who had been rogued and swindled out of all he had, should
still have brought all his faculties to the task of persecuting _him!_

“One might have thought,” said he, with a bitter laugh, “that he had
troubles enough of his own not to have spare time to bestow upon me
and my affairs. He was once, I own indeed, a rich man, with station and
influence, and now he is a beggar. There was a time no society refused
him _entrée_; now it is thought a very gracious thing to know him. Why
will these things occupy him? And this stupid rebellion! I wonder
how far he is compromised, or how far one could manage to have him
compromised, by it? It is doubtless some personal consideration, some
liking for this or that man, that has entangled him in it. If Pemberton
were not so close, he could tell this; but these lawyers are so
reserved, so crafty, they will not even tell what a few hours later the
whole world will read in the public papers.

“If I were to have my choice, it would puzzle me sorely to determine
whether I’d rather be left a fine estate,--four or five thousand a
year,--or be able to send old Fossbrooke to a penal settlement. I am
afraid, sorely afraid, my disinterestedness would gain the day, and that
I ‘d sacrifice my enjoyment to my vengeance! He has done me such a long
list of wrongs, I ‘d like to square the account. It would be a moment
worth living for,--that instant when the word Guilty would drop from the
jury-box, and that I could lean over the dock and exchange a look with
him. I ‘m not so sure he ‘d quail, though; but the shame,--the shame
might unman him!”

He had reached the gate of the avenue as he thus mused, and was about to
insert the key in the lock, when a man arose from a little bench beside
the lodge, and said,--“A fine night, sir; I ‘m glad you ‘re come.”

“Who are you? Stand off!” cried Se well, drawing his revolver, as he
spoke, from his breast-pocket.

“O’Reardon, your honor,--only O’Reardon,” said the fellow, in his
well-known whine.

“And where the devil have you been this fortnight? What rascally
treachery have you been hatching since I saw you? No long stories, my
friend, and no lies. What have you been at?”

“I was never on any other errand than your honor’s service, so help
me--”

“Don’t swear, old fellow, if you want me to believe you. Perjury has a
sort of bird-lime attraction for scoundrels like you; so just keep away
from an oath.”

O’Reardon laughed. “His honor was droll,--he was always droll,--and
though not an Irishman himself, sorrow man living knew them better;” and
with this double compliment to his patron and his country, the fellow
went on to show that he had been on “the tracks of the ould man” since
the day they parted. He had got a “case against him,”--the finest and
fullest ever was seen. Mr. Spencer declared that “better informations
never was sworn;” and on this they arrested him, together with his
diary, his traps, his drawings, his arms, and his bullet-mould. There
were grave reasons for secrecy in the case, and great secrecy was
observed. The examination was in private, and the prisoner was sent to
the Richmond Jail, with a blank for his name.

To the very circumstantial and prolix detail which O’Reardon gave with
all the “onction” of a genuine informer, Sewell listened with a forced
patience. Perhaps the thought of all the indignities that were heaped
upon his enemy compensated him for the wearisomeness of the narrative.
At last he stopped him in his story, and said, “And how much of this
accusation do you believe?”

“All of it,--every word.”

“You mean to say that he is engaged in this rebellion, and a sworn
member of the Celt association?”

“I do. There ‘s more than thirty already off to transportation not so
deep in it as him.”

“And if it should turn out that he is a man of station, and who once
had a great fortune, and that in his whole life he never meddled with
politics,--that he has friends amongst the first families of England,
and has only to ask to have men of rank and position his sureties,--what
then?”

“He ‘ll have to show what he was ‘at’ a year ago when he lodged in my
house at Cullen’s Wood, and would n’t give his name, nor the name of the
young man that was with him, nor ever went out till it was dark night,
and stole away at last with all sorts of tools and combustibles. He ‘ll
have to show that I did n’t give his description up at the Castle, and
get Mr. Balfour’s orders to watch him close; and what’s more, that he
did n’t get a private visit one night from the Lord-Lieutenant himself,
warning him to be off as quick as he could. I heard their words as I
listened at the door.”

“So that, according to your veracious story, Mr. O’Rear-don, the Viceroy
himself is a Celt and a rebel, eh?”

“It’s none of my business to put the things together, and say what shows
this, and what disproves that; that’s for Mr. Hacket and the people
up at the Castle. I ‘m to get the facts,--nothing but the facts,--and
them’s facts that I tell you.”

“You ‘re on a wrong scent this time, O’Reardon; he is no rebel. I wish
he was. I ‘d be better pleased than yourself if we could keep him fast
where he is, and never let him leave it.”

“Well, he’s out now, and it’ll not be so easy to get him ‘in’ again.”

“How do you mean?--out!”

“I mean he’s free. Mr. Balfour came himself with two other gentlemen,
and they took him away in a coach.”

“Where to?”

“That’s more than I know.”

“And why was I not kept informed on these matters? My last orders to you
were to write to me daily.”

“I was shut up myself the morning your honor left town. When I swore the
informations they took me off, and never liberated me till this evening
at eight o’clock.”

“You ‘ll soon find out where he is, won’t you?”

“That I will. I ‘ll know before your honor’s up in the morning.”

“And you ‘ll be able to tell what he’s after,--why he is here at all;
for, mind me, O’Reardon, I tell you again, it’s not rebellion he’s
thinking of.”

“I ‘ll do that too, sir.”

“If we could only get him out of the country,--persuade him that
his best course was to be off. If we could manage to get rid of him,
O’Reardon,--to get rid of him!” and he gave a fierce energy to the last
words.

“_That_ would be easier than the other,” said the fellow, slyly.

“_What_ would be easier?” cried Sewell, hurriedly.

“What your honor said last,” said the fellow, with a knowing leer, as
though the words were better not repeated.

“I don’t think I understand you,--speak out. What is it you mean?”

“Just this, then, that if it was that he was a trouble to any one, or
that he ‘d be better out of the way, it would be the easiest thing in
life to make some of the boys believe he was an informer and they ‘d
soon do for him.”

“Murder him, eh?”

“I would n’t call it murdering if a man was a traitor; nobody could call
that murder.”

“We’ll not discuss that point now;” and as he spoke, they came out from
the shade of the avenue into the open space before the door, at which,
late as it was, a carriage was now standing. “Who can be here at this
hour?” muttered Sewell.

“That’s a doctor’s coach, but I forget his name.”

“Oh! to be sure. It is Dr. Beattie’s carriage. You may leave me now,
O’Reardon; but come up here early to-morrow,--come to my room, and be
sure to bring me some news of what we were talking about.” As the man
moved away, Sewell stood for a moment or two to listen,--he thought he
heard voices in the hall, which, being large and vaulted, had a peculiar
echo. Yes, he heard them now plainly enough, and had barely time to
conceal himself in the copse when Dr. Beattie and Mrs. Sewell descended
the steps, and walked out upon the gravel. They passed so close to where
Sewell stood that he could hear the very rustle of her silk dress as she
walked. It was Beattie spoke, and his voice sounded stern and severe. “I
knew he could not stand it. I said so over and over again. It is not at
his age that men can assume new modes of life, new associates, and new
hours. Instead of augmenting, the wise course would have been to have
diminished the sources of excitement to him. In the society of his
granddaughter, and with the few old friends whose companionship pleased
him, and for whom he exerted himself to make those little harmless
displays of his personal vanity, he might have gone on for years in
comparative health.”

“It was not I that devised these changes, doctor,” broke she in. “I
never asked for these gayeties that you are condemning.”

“These new-fangled fopperies, too!” went on Beattie, as though not
heeding her apology. “I declare to you that they gave me more pain, more
true pain, to witness than any of his wild outbursts of passion. In the
one, the man was real; and in the other, a mere mockery. And what ‘s the
consequence?” added he, fiercely; “he himself feels the unworthy part he
has been playing; instead of being overjoyed at the prospect of seeing
his son again, the thought of it overwhelms him with confusion. He knows
well how he would appear to the honest eyes of poor simple-hearted Tom
Lendrick, whose one only pride in life was his father’s greatness.”

“And he is certainly coming?”

“He has made an exchange for Malta, and will pass through here to see
the Chief,--so he says in his short letter. He expects, too, to find
Lucy here, and to take her out with him. I believe you don’t know Tom
Lendrick?”

“I met him at the Cape. He dined with us twice, if I remember aright;
but he was shy and awkward, and we thought at the time that he had not
taken to us.”

“First acquaintance always chilled him, and his deep humility ever
prevented him making those efforts in conversation which would have
established his true value. Poor fellow, how little he was always
understood! Well, well! I am keeping you out in the night air all this
time--”

“Oh, it is perfectly delicious, doctor. It is like a night in the
tropics, so balmy and so bright.”

“I don’t like to offer rude counsels, but my art sometimes gives a man
scant choice,” said he, after a brief pause. “I’d say, take your husband
away, get him down to that place on the Shannon,--you have it still?
Well, get him down there; he can always amuse himself; he’s fond
of field-sports, and people are sure to be attentive to him in the
neighborhood; and leave the old Judge to fall back into the well-worn
groove of his former life. He’ll soon send for Tom and his daughter,
and they ‘ll fall into his ways, or, what ‘s better, _he_ will fall
into _theirs_,--without either ruining his health or his fortune; plain
speaking all this, Mrs. Sewell, but you asked for frankness, and told me
it would not be ill taken.”

“I don’t think Colonel Sewell would consent to this plan.”

“Would _you?_” asked he, bluntly.

“My consent would not be asked; there’s no need to discuss it.”

“I meant, do you sufficiently concur in it to advise it?”

“I can advise nothing. I advance nothing. I oppose nothing. I had
thought, Dr. Beattie, that your visits to this house might have taught
you the place I occupy, and the consideration I am held in.”

This was ground the doctor would not enter upon, and he adroitly said:
“I think it will be the saving of Colonel Sewell himself. Club gossip
says that he loses heavily every night; and though his means may be
considerable--”

“But they are not,--he has nothing,--not a shilling, except what this
place brings in.”

“All the more reason not to play; but I must not keep you out here all
night. I ‘ll come early in the morning, and hope to find him better.
Remember how essential quiet is to him; let him not be disturbed; no
talking by way of amusing him; pure rest--mind that.”

“If he wishes to see my husband, or asks for him--” “I’d make some
excuse; say he is out. Colonel Se well excites him; he never fully
understood Sir William; and I fear, besides, that he now and then took
a humoristic pleasure in those bursts of temper which it is always only
too easy to provoke.”

“He is very fond of my little boy,--might he go in?” “I think not. I’d
say downright repose and isolation. You yourself can step in noiselessly
from time to time, and only speak if you see that he wishes it; but
on no account mention anything that could awaken interest,--nothing to
arouse or to excite. You saw the fearful state that letter threw him
into to-night, and the paroxysm of rage with which he called for his
will to erase Tom Lendrick’s name. Now in all probability he will have
totally forgotten the whole incident by to-morrow. Good-night.”

After he drove off, she still lingered about the spot where they had
been talking. Whatever interest the subject might have had for her, it
was not through her affections that interest worked, for she hummed an
opera air, “Bianca Luna,” and tried to recall some lines of Alfred de
Musset’s to the “timid planet,” and then sat down upon the steps and
gazed at the stars.

Sewell moved out into the avenue, and, whistling carelessly to announce
his approach, walked up to where she was sitting. “Romantic, certainly!”
 said he. “Whose carriage was that I met driving out?”

“Dr. Beattie’s. He has been here to see Sir William.” “Will he die this
time, or is it only another false start?” “He is seriously ill. Some
news he received from his son gave him a severe shock, and brought on
one of his worst attacks. He has been raving since six o’clock.”

“I should like to know when he has done anything else. I should like to
see the man who ever heard from his lips other than the wildest, crudest
nonsense. The question is, is he going to die?”

“Beattie’s opinion is very unfavorable.”

“Unfavorable! To whom? To _him_ or to _us?_”

“His death could scarcely be favorable to us.”

“That ‘s as it might be. We stand to win on one or two of these twenty
wills he has made; and if he should recover and live on, I don’t
think--indeed I ‘m full sure--I couldn’t bear it much longer; so that,
take it either way, I’d rather he’d die.”

“Beattie wishes his granddaughter were here.”

“Well, send for her. Though, if he is as ill as you say, it won’t be of
much use.”

“He has come through so many of these attacks, and has such great power
of constitution, the doctor still thinks he might rally.”

“And so he will, I’ll be sworn. There’s a vitality in those people who
plague and torment others that ought to get insurance offices to take
them at half premium. Has he asked for _me?_”

“Only in his ravings. He rang his bell violently, and inquired if you
had been at the prison, and asked what tidings you had brought him; and
then he went off to say that all this Celt affair was no rebellion at
all, and that he would prove it. Then he talked of quitting the
Bench and putting on his stuff gown to defend these men against the
Government.”

“Sick or well, sane or insane, it’s always the same story. His only
theme is himself.”

“Beattie was struck with the profound things and the witty things he
said throughout all his rambling. He said that the intellect was never
actually overthrown, that it only tottered.”

“What rot! as if he knew anything about it! These fellows talk of a
man’s brain as if it was the ankle-joint. Was there any question of a
will?”

“Yes. He made Beattie take a will out of his writing-desk; and he erased
the name of Lendrick in every part of it. Beattie and he had some angry
words together, but that was before he was raving; and I heard Sir
William tell him, ‘Sir, you are neither my priest nor my lawyer; and if
your skill as a doctor be only on a par with your tact as a friend, my
recovery is all but hopeless.’”

“That probably was one of the profound or witty things the doctor was so
delighted with.”

“Dr. Beattie took nothing addressed to himself in ill part.”

“No; that’s part of medical education. These fellows begin life as such
‘cads,’ they never attain to the feeling of being gentlemen.”

There was not light enough for Sewell to see the scornful curl of his
wife’s lip at this speech; but in the little short cough by which she
suppressed her temptation to reply, he noted her indignation.

“I know he’s one of your especial favorites, Madam,” said he, harshly;
“but even _that_ gives him no immunity with me.”

“I ‘m sure I could never think it would.”

“No; not even from being aware that one of his chief claims upon the
wife was the unhandsome way he spoke of the husband.”

“He seldom mentions you,” said she, superciliously.

“I am not so scrupulous about him, then; I have not forgotten his
conduct when that fellow got his skull cracked at the Nest. I saw it
all, Madam; but I have a trick of seeing and saying nothing that might
have suggested some alarm to you ere this.”

“You have many tricks, but not one that alarms me,” said she, coldly;
“the wholesome fear of consequences will always be enough to keep you
harmless.”

He almost sprang at her at these words; indeed, he came so close that
his hot breath brushed her face. “It is a favorite taunt of yours to
sneer at my courage,” said he, fiercely; “you may do it once too often.”

She shrugged her shoulders contemptuously, and slowly arose from where
she sat.

“Where are you going?” asked he, roughly.

“Going in.”

“I have many things to say yet; I want to hear more, too, about the old
man’s illness.”

“I have told you all I know. Good-night.”

He turned away without acknowledging her salutation, and strolled into
the grass. What a web of troubles he was involved in, and how hopelessly
he turned from this or that expedient to extricate himself! It was but a
short time before that, as a member of the committee of his Club, he had
succeeded in passing a law by which all play debts should be discharged
within twenty-four hours, on penalty of the defaulter being declared
excluded from the Club. He was a winner at the time; but now luck had
changed: he had lost heavily, and had not the slightest prospect of
being able to meet his losses. “How like my fate!” muttered he, in
intense passion,--“how like my fate! my whole life has been a game I
have played against myself. And that woman, too,”--it was of his wife he
spoke,--“who once helped me through many a strait, assumes now to be too
pure and too virtuous to be my associate, and stands quietly aloof to
see me ruined.”

A long thin streak of light crossed his path as he went; he looked up,
and saw it came from between the shutters of the Chief’s room. “I wonder
how it fares with him!” muttered he. He pondered for some time over
the old man’s case, his chances of recovery, and the spirit in which
convalescence would find him; and then entering the house, he slowly
mounted the stairs, one by one, his heart feeling like a load almost too
heavy to carry. The unbroken stillness of the house seemed to whisper
caution, and he moved along the corridor with noiseless tread till he
came to the door of the Judge’s room. There he stooped and listened.
There were the long-drawn breathings of a heavy sleeper plainly to be
heard, but they sounded stronger and fuller than the respirations of a
sick man. Sewell gently turned the handle of the door and entered. The
suspicion was right. The breathings were those of the hospital nurse,
who, seated in a deep arm-chair, slept profoundly. Sewell stood several
minutes at the door before he ventured further; at last he crept
stealthily forward to the foot of the bed, and, separating the curtains
cautiously, he peeped in. The old man lay with his eyes closed, and his
long shrivelled arms outside the clothes. He continued to talk rapidly,
and by degrees his voice grew stronger and dearer, and had all that
resonance of one speaking in a large assembly. “I have now,” said he,
“shown the inexpediency of this course. I have pointed out where you
have been impolitic; I will next explain where you are illegal. This
Act was made in the 23d year of Henry VI., and although intended only
to apply to cases of action personal, or indictment of trespass--What is
the meaning of this interruption? Let there be silence in the Court. I
will have the tribunal in which I preside respected. The public shall
learn--the representatives of the press--and if there be, as I am told
there are--” His voice grew weaker and weaker, and the last audible
words that escaped him were “judgment for the plaintiff.”

Though his lips still moved rapidly, no sound came forth, but his
hands were continually in motion, and his lean arms twitched with short
convulsive jerks. Sewell now crept quietly round towards the side of the
bed, on which several sheets of paper and writing-materials lay. One of
the sheets alone was written on; it was in the large bold hand of the
old Judge, who even at his advanced age wrote in a vigorous and legible
character. It was headed, “Directions for my funeral,” and began thus:
“As Irishmen may desire to testify their respect for one who, while he
lived, maintained with equal energy the supremacy of the law and the
inviolability of the man, and as my obsequies may in some sort become
an act of national homage, I write these lines to convey my last wishes,
legacies of which my country will be the true executors.

“First, I desire that I may be buried within the nave of St. Patrick’s
Cathedral. The spot I have selected is to the right of Swift’s monument,
under the fifth window, and for this purpose that hideous monument to
Sir Hugh Brabazon may be removed, and my interment will, in this way,
confer a double benefit upon my country. Secondly, as by my will,
dated this twenty-eighth day of October, 18--, I have bequeathed, with
exception of certain small legacies, all my estate, real and personal,
to Dudley Sewell, Esq., late Colonel in her Majesty’s service, it is my
wish that he alone should--” Here the writing finished.

Three several times Sewell read over the lines, and what a thrill of
delight ran through him! It was like a reprieve to a man on the
very steps of the scaffold! The Judge was not rich, probably, but a
considerable sum of money he still might have, and it was money,--cash.
It was not invested in lands or houses or ships; it was all available
for that life that Sewell led, and which alone he liked.

If he could but see this will,--it must be close at hand
somewhere,--what a satisfaction it would be to read over the details by
which at last--at last!--he was to be lifted above the casualties of
a life of struggle! He tried three or four drawers of the large ebony
cabinet in which the Chief used to throw his papers, with the negligence
of a man who could generally rewrite as easily as he could search for
a missing document. There were bills and receipts, notes of trials, and
letters in abundance--but no will. The cumbrous old writing-desk, which
Sir William rarely used, was not in its accustomed place, but stood on
the table in the centre of the room, and the keys beside it. The will
might possibly be there. He drew nigh the bed to assure himself that the
old man was still sleeping, and then he turned towards the nurse, whose
breathings were honest vouchers for insensibility; and thus fortified,
he selected the key--he knew it well--and opened the desk. The very
first paper he chanced upon was the will. It was a large sheet of strong
post-paper, labelled “My last Will and Testament.--W. L.” While Sewell
stood examining the writing, the door creaked gently, and his wife moved
softly and noiselessly into the room. If the sentiment that overcame him
was not shame, it was something in which shame blended with anger. It
was true she knew him well: she knew all the tortuous windings of his
plotting, scheming nature; she knew that no sense of honor, no scruple
of any kind, could ever stand between him and his object. He had done
those things which, worse than deep crimes, lower a man in the eyes of
a woman, and that woman his wife, and that she thus knew and read him he
was well aware; but, strangely enough, there is a world of space between
being discovered through the results of a long inquiry, and being
detected _flagrante delicto_,--taken in the very act, red-handed in
iniquity; and so did this cold-hearted, callous man now feel it.

“What are you doing here?” said she, calmly and slowly, as she came
forward.

“I wanted to see this. I was curious to know how he treated us,” said
he, trembling as he spoke.

She took the paper from his hand, replaced it in the desk, and locked it
up, with the calm determination of one who could not be gainsaid.

“But I have not read it,” whispered he, in a hissing voice.

“Nor need you,” said she, placing the keys under the old man’s pillow.
“I heard you coming here,--I heard you enter the room. I am thankful it
is no worse.”

“What do you mean by no worse?” cried he, seizing her by the wrist, and
staring savagely at her,--“say what you mean, woman!” She made no reply;
but the scornful curl of her lip, and the steady unflinching stare of
her eyes showed that neither his words nor his gesture had terrified
her.

“You shall hear more of this to-morrow,” said he, bending on her a look
of intense hate; and he stole slowly away, while she seated herself at
the bedside, and hid her face in the curtain.



CHAPTER XVII. AN UNGRACIOUS ADIEU

When Dr. Beattie came at seven o’clock in the morning, he found his
patient better. The nurse gave her account, as nurses know well how to
do, of a most favorable night,--told how calmly he slept, how sensibly
he talked, and with what enjoyment he ate the jelly which he had never
tasted.

At all events, he was better; not stronger, perhaps,--there was no time
for that,--but calmer and more composed.

“You must not talk, nor be talked to yet awhile,” said Beattie; “and I
will station Haire here as a sentinel to enforce my orders.”

“Yes, I would like Haire,” whispered the old man, softly. “Let him come
and sit by me.”

“Can I see Mrs. Sewell? or is it too early to ask for her?” inquired the
doctor of a maid.

“She has been up all night, sir, and only just lain down.”

“Don’t disturb her, then. I will write a line to her, and you can give
it when she awakes.”

He went into the library, and wrote: “Sir William is better, but not
out of danger. It is even more important now than before that he have
perfect quiet. I will change the nurse, and meanwhile I desire that you
alone should enter the room till I return.”

“What letter was that the doctor gave you as he went away?” said Sewell,
who during Beattie’s visit had been secretly on the watch over all that
occurred.

“For my mistress, sir,” said the girl, showing the note.

Sewell snatched it impatiently, threw his eyes over it, and gave it
back. “Tell your mistress I want to see her when she is dressed.
It’s nothing to hurry for, but to come down to my room at her own
convenience.”

“Better, but not out of danger! I should think not,” muttered he, as he
strolled out into the garden.

“What is the meaning of stationing old Haire at the bedside? Does
Beattie suspect? But what could he suspect? It would be a very,
convenient thing for me, no doubt, if he would die; but I ‘d scarcely
risk my neck to help him on the way. These things are invariably
discovered; and it would make no difference with the law whether it was
the strong cord of a vigorous life were snapped, or the frail thread
of a wasted existence unravelled. Just so; mere unravelling would do it
here. No need of bold measures. A good vigorous contradiction,--a rude
denial of something he said,--with a sneer at his shattered intellect,
and I ‘d stake my life on it his passion would do the rest. The blood
mounts to his head at the slightest insinuation. I ‘d like to see him
tried with a good round insult. Give me ten minutes alone with him, and
I ‘ll let Beattie come after me with all his bottles; and certainly
no law could make this murder. Bad-tempered men are not to be more
carefully guarded by the State than better-natured ones. It would be
a strange statute that made it penal to anger an irascible fellow. I
wonder if some suspicion of this kind has crossed Beattie’s mind? Is it
for that Haire has been called to keep the watch on deck,--and if so,
who is to replace him? He’ll tire at last,--he must sleep some time; and
what are they to do then? My wife, perhaps. Yes; she would play their
game willingly enough. If she has heard of this will, it will alarm her.
She has always tried to have the children provided for. She dreads--she
‘s not so wrong there--she dreads leaving everything in my power. And
of late she has dared to oppose me openly. My threat of suing for a
divorce, that used to keep her so submissive once, is failing now. Some
one has told her that I could not succeed. I can see in her manner that
her mind is reassured on this score. She could have no difficulty
in filching an opinion,--this house is always full of lawyers; and
certainly nothing in the habits of the place would have imposed any
restraint in discussing it.” And he laughed--actually laughed--at the
conceit thus evoked. “If I had but a little time before me now, I should
work through all my difficulties. Only to think of it! One fortnight,
less perhaps, to arrange my plans, and I might defy the world. This
is Tuesday. By Thursday I shall have to meet those two acceptances for
three hundred and two hundred and fifty. The last, at all events, I
must pay, since Walcott’s name was not in his own handwriting. How
conscientiously a man meets a bill when he has forged the endorsement!”
 And again he laughed at the droll thought. “These troubles swarm around
me,” muttered he, impatiently. “There is Fossbrooke, too. Malevolent
old fool, that will not see how needless it is to ruin me. Can’t he
wait,--can’t he wait? It’s his own prediction that I’m a fellow who
needs no enemy; my own nature will always be Nemesis enough. Who’s
that?--who is there?” cried he, as he heard a rustling in the copse at
his side.

“It’s me, your honor. I came out to get sight of your honor before I
went away,” said O’Reardon, in a sort of slavish cringing tone.

“Away! and where to?”

“They ‘re sending me out of the way, your honor, for a week or two, to
prevent that ould man I arrested charging me with parjury. That’s what
they purtend, sir,” said he, in a lower voice. “But the truth is, that I
know more than they like, ay, and more than they think; for it was in
my house at Cullen’s Wood that the Lord-Liftenant himself came down, one
evening, and sat two hours with this ould man.”

“Keep these sort of tales for other people, Master O’Reardon; they have
no success with me. You are a capital terrier for rat-hunting, but you
cut a sorry figure when you come out as a boar-hound. Do you understand
me?”

“I do, sir, right well. Your honor means that I ought to keep to
informations against common people, and not try my hand against the
gentlemen.”

“You ‘ve hit it perfectly. It’s strange enough how sharp you can be in
some things, and what a cursed fool in others.”

“You never was more right in your life, sir. That’s my character in one
sentence;” and he gave a little plaintive sigh, as though the thought
were a painful one.

“And how do you mean to employ your leisure, Mr. O’Reardon? Men of your
stamp are never thoroughly idle. Will you write your memoirs?”

“Indeed, no, your honor; it might hurt people’s feelings the names I ‘d
have to bring in; and I ‘m just going over to France for the present.”

“To France?”

“Yes, sir; Mr. Harman’s tuk heart o’ grace, and is going to sue for a
divorce, and he ‘s sending me over to a place called Boulogne to get up
evidence against the Captain.”

“You like that sort of thing?”

“I neither like it nor dislike it,” said O’Reardon, while his eye
kindled angrily, for he thought that he who scoffed at him should stand
on higher moral ground than Sewell’s.

“You once lived with Captain Peters, I think?”

“Yes, sir; I was his valet for four years. I was with him at Malta and
Corfu when he was in the Rifles.”

“And he treated you well?”

“No man better, that I ‘ll say for him if he was in the dock to-morrow.
He gave me a trunk of his clothes--mufti he called them--and ten pounds
the day I left him.”

“It’s somewhat hard, isn’t it, to go against a man after that? Doesn’t
your fine nature rather revolt at the ingratitude?”

“Well, then, to tell your honor the truth, my ‘fine nature’ never was
rich enough to afford itself that thing your honor calls gratitude. It’s
a sort of thing for my betters.”

“I ‘m sorry to hear you say so, O’Reardon. You almost shock me with such
principles.”

“Well, that’s the way it is, sir. When a man ‘s poor, he has no more
right to fine feelin’s than to fine feeding.”

“Why, you go from bad to worse, O’Reardon. I declare you are positively
corrupting this morning.”

“Am I, sir?” said the fellow, who now eyed him with a calm and steady
defiance, as though he had submitted to all he meant to bear. Sewell
felt this, and though he returned the stare, it was with a far less
courageous spirit. “Well?” cried he at last, as though, no longer able
to endure the situation, he desired to end it at any cost,--“well?”

“I suppose your honor wouldn’t have time to settle with me now?”

“To settle with you! What do you call settle, my good fellow? Our
reckonings are very short ones, or I’m much mistaken. What ‘s this
settlement you talk of?”

“It’s down here in black and white,” said the other, producing a folded
sheet of paper as he spoke. “I put down the payments as I made them, and
the car-hire and a trifle for refreshment; and if your honor objects to
anything, it’s easy to take it off; though, considering I was often on
the watch till daybreak, and had to come in from Howth on foot before
the train started of a morning, a bit to eat and to drink was only
reasonable.”

“Make an end of this long story. What do you call the amount?”

“It’s nothing to be afeard of, your honor, for the whole business,--the
tracking him out, the false keys I had made for his trunk and
writing-case, eight journeys back and forwards, two men to swear that he
asked them to take the Celts’ oath, and the other expenses as set down
in the account. It’s only twenty-seven pound four and eightpence.”

“What?”

“Twenty-seven, four and eight; neither more nor less.”

A very prolonged whistle was Sewell’s sole reply.

“Do you know, O’Reardon,” said he at last, “it gives me a painfully
low opinion of myself to see that, after so many months of close
acquaintance, I should still appear to you to be little short of
an idiot? It is very distressing--I give you my word, it is--very
distressing.”

“Make your mind easy, sir; it is not _that_ I think you at all;” and
the fellow lent an emphasis to the “that” which gave it a most insulting
significance.

“I ‘d like to know,” cried Sewell, as his face crimsoned with anger,
“if you could have dared to offer such a document as this to any man you
didn’t believe to be a fool.”

“The devil a drop of fool’s blood is in either of us,” said O’Reardon,
with an easy air and a low laugh of quiet assurance.

“I am flattered by the companionship, certainly. It almost restores me
to self-esteem to hear your words. I’d like to pay you a compliment in
turn if I only knew how.”

“Just pay me my little bill, your honor, and it will be all mask.”

“I’m not over-much in a joking mood this morning, and I ‘d advise you
to talk of something else. There ‘s a five-pound note for you;” and he
flung the money contemptuously towards him. “Take it, and think yourself
devilish lucky that I don’t have you up for perjury in this business.”

O’Reardon never moved, nor made any sign to show that he noticed the
money at his feet; but, crossing his arms on his chest, he drew himself
haughtily up, and said: “So, then, it’s defying me you ‘d try now? You
‘d have me up for perjury! Well, then, I begin to believe you _are_ a
fool, after all. No, sir, you need n’t put your hand in your waistcoat.
If you have a pistol there, I have another; and, what’s more, I have a
witness in that clump of trees, that only needs the word to stand beside
me. There, now, Colonel, you see you ‘re beat, and beat at your own game
too.”

“D--n you!” cried Sewell, savagely. “Can’t you see that I ‘ve got no
money?”

“If I have n’t money, I ‘ll have money’s worth. Short of twenty pounds I
‘ll not leave this.”

“I tell you again, you might as well ask me for two hundred or two
thousand. I ‘ll be in cash, I hope, by the end of the week--”

“Ay, but I’ll be in France,” broke in O’Reardon.

“I wish you were in------,” mumbled Sewell, as he believed, to himself;
but the other heard him, and dryly said, “No, sir, not yet; it’s manners
to let _you_ go first.”

“I lost heavily two nights ago at the Club,--that’s why I ‘m so hard up;
but I know I must have money by Saturday. By Saturday’s post I ‘ll send
you an order for twenty pounds. Will that content you?”

“No, sir, it will not. I had a bad bout of it last night myself, and
lost every ha’penny Mr. Harman gave me for the journey,--that’s the
reason I ‘m here.”

“But if I have not got it? There, so help me! is every farthing I can
call my own this minute,”--and he drew from his pocket some silver, in
which a single gold coin or two mingled,--“take it, if you like.”

“No, sir; it’s no good to me. Short of twenty pounds, I could n’t start
on the journey.”

“And if I haven’t got it! Am I to go out and rob for you?” cried Sewell,
as his eyes flashed indignantly at him.

“I don’t want you to rob; but it isn’t a house like this hasn’t twenty
pounds in it.”

“You mean,” said Sewell, with a sneering laugh, “that if there ‘s not
cash, there must be plate, jewels, and such-like, and so I ‘m to lay an
embargo on the spoons; but you forget there is a butler who looks after
these things.”

“There might be many a loose thing on your Lady’s table that would do as
well,--a ring or two, or a bracelet that she’s tired of.”

Sewell started,--a sudden thought flashed across him; if he were to kill
the fellow as he stood there, how should he conceal the murder and hide
the corpse? It was quick as a lightning flash, this thought, but the
horror of the consequences so overcame him that a cold sweat broke
out over his body, and he staggered back to a seat, and sank into it
exhausted and almost fainting.

“Don’t take it to heart that way, sir,” said the fellow, gazing at him.
“Will I get you a glass of water?”

“Yes. No--no; I’ll do without it. It’s passing off. Wait here for a
moment; I ‘ll be back presently.” He arose as he spoke, and moved slowly
away. Entering the house, he ascended the stairs and made for his wife’s
room. As he reached the door, he stopped to listen. There was not a
sound to be heard. He turned the handle gently, and looked in. One
shutter was partly open, and a gleam of the breaking daylight crossed
the floor and fell upon the bed on which she lay, dressed, and fast
asleep,--so soundly, indeed, that though the door creaked loudly as
he pushed it wider, she never heard the noise. She had evidently
been sitting up with a sick man, and was now overcome by fatigue. His
intention had been to consult with her,--at least to ask her to assist
him with whatever money she had by her,--and he had entered thus
stealthily not to startle her; for somehow, in the revulsion of his mind
from the late scene of outrage and insult, a sense of respect, if not of
regard, moved him towards her, who, in his cruelest moments, had never
ceased to have a certain influence over him. He looked at her as she
slept; her fine features, at rest, were still beautiful, though deep
traces of sorrow were seen in the darkened orbits and the lines about
that mouth, while three or four glistening white hairs showed themselves
in the brown braid over her temple. Sewell sat down beside the bed, and,
as he looked at her, a whole life passed in review before him, from the
first hour he met her to that sad moment of the present. How badly they
had played their game! how recklessly misused every opportunity
that might have secured their fortune! What had _he_ made of all his
shrewdness and ready wit? And what had _she_ done with all her beauty,
and a fascination as great as even her beauty? It was an evil day that
had brought them together. Each, alone, without the other, might have
achieved any success. There had been no trust, no accord between them.
They wanted the same things, it is true, but they never agreed upon the
road that led to them. As to principles, she had no more of them than
he had; but she had scruples--scruples of delicacy, scruples of
womanhood--which often thwarted and worried him, and ended by making
them enemies; and here was now the end of it! _Her_ beauty was wasted,
and _his_ luck played out, and only ruin before them.

And yet it calmed him to sit there; her softly drawn breathing soothed
his ruffled spirit. He felt it as the fevered man feels the ice-cold
water on his brow,--a transient sense of what it would be to be well
again. Is there that in the contemplation of sleep--image as it is of
the great sleep of all--that subdues all rancor of heart,--all that
spirit of conflict and jar by which men make their lives a very hell of
undying hates, undying regrets?

His heart, that a few moments ago had almost burst with passion, now
felt almost at ease; and in the half-darkened room, the stillness,
and the calm, there stole over him a feeling of repose that was almost
peacefulness. As he bent over her to look at her, her lips moved. She
was dreaming; very softly, indeed, came the sounds, but they seemed as
if entreating. “Yes,” she said,--“yes--all--everything--I consent. I
agree to all, only--Cary--let me have Cary, and I will go.”

Sewell started. His face became crimson in a moment. How was it that
these words scattered all his late musings, as the hurricane tears and
severs the cloud-masses, and sends them riven and shattered through the
sky? He arose and walked over to the table; a gold comb and two jewelled
hair-pins lay on the glass; he clutched them coarsely in his hand, and
moved away. Cautiously and noiselessly he crept down the stairs, and
out into the garden. “Take these, and make your money of them; they are
worth more than your claim; and mind, my good fellow,--mind it well, I
say, or it will be worse for you,--our dealings end here. This is our
last transaction, and our last meeting. I ‘ll never harm you, if you
keep only out of my way. But take care that you never claim me, nor
assume to know me; for I warn you I’ll disown you, if it should bring
you to the gallows. That’s plain speaking, and you understand it.”

“I do, every word of it,” said the fellow, as he buttoned up his coat
and drew his hat over his eyes. “I ‘m taking the ‘fiver,’ too, as it’s
to be our last meetin’. I suppose your honor will shake hands with me
and wish me luck. Well, if you won’t, there’s no harm done. It’s a quare
world, where the people that’s doin’ the same things can’t be friends,
just because one wears fine cloth and the other can only afford
corduroy. Good-bye, sir,--good-bye, any-_how_;” and there was a strange
cadence in the last words no description can well convey.

Sewell stood and looked after him for a moment, then turned into the
house, and threw himself on a sofa, exhausted and worn out.



CHAPTER XVIII. A PLEASANT MEETING

No sooner did Sir Brook find himself once more at liberty than he
went to the post-office for his letters, of which a goodly stock had
accumulated during his absence. A telegram, too, was amongst the number,
despatched by Tom in great haste eight days before. It ran thus:--

“Great news! We have struck silver in the new shaft. Do not sell, do not
even treat till you hear from me. I write by this post.

“Lendrick.”

Had Tom but seen the unmoved calm with which Foss-brooke read this
astounding tidings,--had he only seen the easy indifference with which
the old man threw down the slip of paper after once reading it, and
passed on to a letter of Lord Wilmington from Crew Keep,--his patience
would certainly have been sorely tried. Nor was it from any indifference
to good fortune, still as little from any distrust of the tidings. It
was simply because he had never doubted that the day was coming that
was to see him once more rich., It might be a little later or a little
earlier. It might be that wealth should shower itself upon him in
a gradually increasing measure, or come down in a very deluge of
prosperity. These were things he did not, could not know; but of the
fact--the great Fact itself--he had as firm a belief as he had of
his own existence; and had he died before realizing it, he would
have bequeathed his vast fortune, with blanks for the amount, as
conscientiously as though it were bank stock for which he held the
vouchers.

When most men build castles in the air, they know on what foundations
their edifices are based, and through all their imaginative ardor there
pierces the sharp pang of unreality. Not so with Fossbrooke. It was
simply a question of time with him when the costly palace might become
fit for habitation, and this great faith in himself rescued him from
all that vacillation so common to those who keep a debtor and creditor
account between their hopes and fears. Neither was he at all impatient
because Destiny did not bestir herself and work quicker. The world was
always pleasant, always interesting; and when to-morrow or next day
Fortune might call him to a higher station and other modes of life, he
almost felt he should regret the loss of that amusing existence he now
enjoyed, amongst people all new and all strange to him.

At last he came to Tom Lendrick’s letter,--four closely written pages,
all glowing with triumph. On the day week after Sir B.’s departure, he
wrote:--

“They had come upon a vein of lead so charged with silver as to seem as
though the whole mass were of the more precious metal. All Cagliari
came down to see a block of ore upwards of two hundred-weight, entirely
crusted with silver, and containing in the mass forty per cent. We had
to get a guard from the Podesta, merely to keep off the curious, for
there was no outrage nor any threat of outrage. Indeed, your kind
treatment of our workpeople now begins to bear its fruit, and there was
nothing but good-will and kind feeling for our lucky fortune. The two
Jews, Heenwitz and Voss, of the Contrada Keale, were amongst the first
visitors, and had actually gone down into the shaft before I knew of it.
They at once offered me a large sum for a share in the mine; and when
I told them it was with you they must treat, they proposed to open a
credit of three hundred thousand francs with their house in my favor,
to go on with the working till I heard from you and learned your
intentions. This offer, too, I have declined, till I get your letter.

“This was on Tuesday, but on Thursday we struck pure silver without
a trace of lead, the only alloy being a thin vein of cobalt, like a
ribbon, running through the ore; and which Chiusani says--for he has
worked in Mexico and the Brazils--is proof of a strong vein. The news
spread like wildfire at Cagliari; and I have had such levees of the
money folk! all offering me millions at any, or indeed at no interest,
and actually entreating me to put my hand in their pockets, while they
look away or close their eyes. As for the presents that pour in, we have
no room for them; and you know how dangerous it would be to refuse these
people. It is only a short step with them from a sworn friendship to
the stiletto. The only disturbing element in all this joy is a sort of
official protest from the Delegate of the province against our working
what the Crown may claim as a royalty; but I am instructed that Sardinia
once acquired all royal rights by a fixed payment, and Lucy thinks she
read somewhere the details of the cession. At any rate, she and Contini,
the lawyer, are hard at work making out the reply; and the English
version, which Lucy does, will be forwarded to our Minister at Turin
to-morrow. You ‘d laugh if you saw how she has familiarized herself with
not only all the legal terms, but with all our mining phraseology, and
how acutely she marks the difference between intact royalties and the
claims of the Crown to certain percentages on exempted mines. Contini is
a bachelor, and I am fully persuaded intends to make her an offer of his
legal hand and heart,--that is, if he finds that we are likely to beat
the Crown lawyers. I cannot help thinking he’s a lucky fellow that you
are not here, nor like to be, on the day he makes his proposal.

“As much for peace’s sake as for convenience, I have accepted twenty
thousand francs on loan. I have taken it from the four principal bankers
in Cagliari, in equal sums from each, to prevent jealousy. I hope
this was not wrong. I send you herewith bills for fifteen thousand,
remembering, if I be right, that you borrowed some hundred pounds on the
security of the mine, which you might like now to pay off.” [After some
business details, given at length, and with a degree of amplification
that somewhat wearied Sir Brook to read, he summed up thus: ] “Write to
me therefore at once, and say what course we ought to take regarding our
rights. Could our home lawyers afford you no information of value? Shall
we oppose or shall we compromise? I suspect they wish the latter.

“Are you satisfied that I accepted this loan? I have my own misgivings,
not about the fact, for we wanted money to go on, but as to your
concurrence.

“And when are you coming back? I cannot say how impatient I am for your
return, all the more that you have only written that hurried note
from Dover since you left us. Lucy is in great spirits, takes immense
interest in all we are doing, and does all the Italian correspondence
for me. She wears a little silver hammer, the miner’s hammer, in her
hat; and her popularity with the people is unbounded. You will be
amused, on your return, to find that your sketch on the wall of the
splendid palace that was to crown our successes has acquired two wings
and a great tower; and a third figure, a lady, has been added to the
riding-party that are cantering up the avenue. Lucy says that nothing
but humility (!) could have devised such a house for people so rich as
we are. It certainly was not the sentiment with which hitherto I have
regarded this edifice. I have come to the end of my paper, but I will
not close this till I see if the post should not bring us news of you.

“Your letter has just come. The latter part of it has given us great
uneasiness. It is precisely such a time as a private enemy--if you have
one--would choose to work out a personal grudge. No matter how totally
you feel yourself free from implication in these Irish troubles, do
nothing--positively nothing--without legal advice. It will save you a
world of trouble; not to speak of the comfort you will feel in knowing
that your interests are matter of care and thought to another. Above
all, keep us informed daily by telegraph how and where you are, and what
doing.

“Lucy wants to go off to you to-night, but I have had a slight return
of my fever, a very slight one, and she half fears to leave me. If your
next gives us good news, we shall soon forget this unpleasantness; but,
I repeat, let no day pass without tidings of you.

“The evening report has just come in from the mine,--one hundred and
seventy-eight pounds of pure silver in the last twenty-four hours! I
have taken on forty additional men, and the new smelting-house will be
in full work within a week. If you only were here, I ‘d have nothing
more to wish for.

“I suppose Trafford has written to you. In the short note I got from
him yesterday there is nothing but gratitude to you. He says he owes
everything to your friendship. He means to be in England in a few days,
and of course will go over to you; but write, or rather telegraph.

“Yours ever, T. L.

“I wrote to Colonel Cave this morning to tell him his small venture
with us would not turn out so badly. Our first dividend will be at least
cent, per cent., so that he cannot lose by us. It’s downright jolly to
be able to send off such a despatch.”

The last letter of the heap was from Lady Trafford, and served in a
measure to explain that paragraph in Tom’s epistle which spoke of young
Trafford’s gratitude. It appeared that Lady Trafford’s youngest son,
on whom Sir Hugh had fixed to make the head of the family, had gone to
winter at Madeira, and while there had fallen in love with and married
a Portuguese girl, the daughter of his landlady. The news of this
_mésalliance_ had nearly killed his father, who was only recovering
from a bad attack of gout when the tidings reached him. By good luck,
however, on the very same day came a letter from Fossbrooke, declaring
that no matter what treatment young Trafford might meet with from his
own family, he, Sir Brook, would stand firmly by him, so long as his
honorable and manly conduct and his fidelity to his word to the girl he
loved entitled him to regard and affection.

“In a worldly point of view,” wrote he, “such friendship as mine is a
poor thing. I am a man of nothing, it is true; but I have lived long
enough to know that there are other successes besides wealth and
station. There are such things as self-respect, contentment, and the
love of friends; and I do think my experiences will help him to secure
some share of these.

“There is, however, one entreaty I would prefer, and if there be in your
memory any kind thought of me, you will not refuse my prayer. Your boy
is eager to see you, and shake your hand. Let him come. If you cannot or
will not approve, do not at least condemn what he is about to do. In
his anxiety to obtain your sanction, he has shown all deference to your
authority. This shows he is worthy of your esteem; and if he were to
palter between the hope of all your fortune and the love of this girl,
he would only deserve your contempt. Be proud of him, then, even if you
disinherit him to-morrow. If these be the sentiments of a man who has
nothing, remember, Trafford, that I was not always a beggar; and if I
thought that being rich would alter these opinions, I can only say I
hope I may die as poor as now I write myself.

“There’s a strong prejudice, I know, against being guided by men who
have made such a sorry hand of their own fortunes as I have; but many a
fellow who has been shipwrecked has proved a good sailor; at all events,
he knows what it is to be buffeted by the waves and torn on the rocks.
Now, I have told your son not to be afraid of these, and I think he
trusts me.

“Once more, then, I ask, let me tell Lionel you will receive him; and
believe me faithfully your old friend,

“Bk. Fossbrooke.”


Lady Trafford’s note was short:--

“My dear Sir Brook,--I suppose there is nothing for it but what you say,
and Lionel may come here. We have had nothing but disasters with our
sons. I wish I could dare to hope that this was to be the end of
the calamities. Sir Hugh desires much that you could be here when L.
arrives. Could you conveniently arrange this? His brother’s shocking
marriage, the terrible disappointment to our hopes, and other worries
have almost proved too much for me.

“Is there any truth in the story that Miss L.’s grandfather was
negotiating for a peerage as the condition of his retirement from the
Bench? If so, and that the object could be compassed, it would go far
towards removing some of our objections to the connection. Sir Hugh’s
influence with ‘the Party’ would unquestionably be of use; and though
a law lord does not mean much, it is something. Inform me fully on this
head. It is very strange that Lionel should never have mentioned the
matter, and, indeed, strongly indicates how little trouble he took, or
cared to take, to obviate our natural objections to the match. I suppose
her father is not a practising physician. At all events, he need not be
styled doctor. Oh dear I when I think of it all, and think what an end
my ambitions have come to, I could cry my eyes out. It often strikes me
that people who make most sacrifices for their children are ever repaid
in this fashion. The Dean says these are mysterious dispensations, and
that we must submit to them. I suppose we must, but it certainly is not
without reluctance.

“I thought of asking you to write to Lionel, but I will do so myself,
painful as it is. I feel I am very forgiving to write you in this
strain, seeing how great was the share you took in involving us all
in this unhappy business. At one moment I positively detested--I don’t
suspect yet that I entirely pardon--you, though I may when you come
here, especially if you bring me any good news of this peerage business,
which I look to as our last refuge. Lendrick is a very odd name,--are
there many of them? Of course, it will be well understood that we only
know the immediate relations,--father and brother, I mean. We stand no
cousins, still less uncles or aunts.

“Sir Hugh thinks I ought to write to the old Judge. I opine he would be
flattered by the attention, but I have not yet made up my mind upon it.
Give me some advice on this, and believe me sincerely yours.”

After despatching a telegram to Cagliari, to say he was well and at
large, and would soon be on his way back again, Fossbrooke wrote a few
lines to Lord Wilmington of regret that he could not afford time to
go over and see him, and assuring him that the late incident that had
befallen him was not worth a thought. “He must be a more irritable
fellow than I am,” he wrote, “who would make a personal grievance of a
mere accident, against which, in a time of trouble, it would be hard to
provide. While I say this, I must add that I think the spy system is a
mistake,--that there is an over-eagerness in your officials to procure
committals; and I declare to you I have often had more difficulty to
get out of a crowded evening party than I should have felt in making
my escape from your jail or bridewell, whichever be its name. I
don’t suspect your law-officers are marvels of wisdom, and your Chief
Secretary is an ass.”

To Lady Trafford he wrote a very brief reply. He scarcely thought his
engagements would enable him to make a visit to Holt. “I will, however,
come if I can, chiefly to obtain your full and free pardon, though
for what, beyond rendering you an invaluable service, I am puzzled
to understand; and I repeat, if your son obtain this young lady in
marriage, he will be, after Sir Hugh, the luckiest man of his name and
family.

“As to the peerage, I can tell you nothing. I believe there is rather a
prejudice against sending Irishmen up to the Lords; and it is scarcely
ever done with lawyers. In regard to writing to Baron Lendrick, I hardly
know what to say. He is a man of great ability, but of even greater
vanity, and it should be a cleverly worded epistle that would not ruffle
some one of his thousand sensibilities. If you feel, however, adroit
enough to open the negotiation, do so by ‘all means;’ but don’t make
me responsible for what may come of it if the rejoinder be not to your
taste. For myself, I ‘d rather poke up a grizzly bear with my umbrella
than I ‘d provoke such a man to an exchange of letters.”

To get back to Cagliari as soon as possible, and relieve Tom of
that responsibility which seemed to weigh so heavily upon him, was
Fossbrooke’s first resolve. He must see Sewell at once, and finish the
business; and however unpleasant the step might be, he must seek him at
the Priory, if he could not meet him elsewhere. He wished also to see
Beattie,--he wanted to repay the loan he had made him. The doctor, too,
could tell him how he could obtain an interview with Sewell without any
intrusion upon the Chief Baron.

It was evening before Fossbrooke could make his visit to Beattie, and
the doctor had just sat down to dinner with a gentleman who had arrived
by the mail-packet from England, giving orders that he was not to be
disturbed on any score.

“Will you merely take in my name,” said Sir Brook, “and beg, with my
respects, to learn at what hour to-morrow Dr. Beattie would accord me
a few minutes.” The butler’s hesitation was mildly overcome by the
persuasive touch of a sovereign, and he retired with the message.

Before a minute elapsed, Dr. Beattie came out, napkin in hand, and his
face beaming with delight. “If there was a man in Europe I was wishing
for this moment, it was yourself, Sir Brook,” said he. “Do you know who
is dining with me? Come in and see.--No, no, I ‘ll not be denied.”

A sudden terror crossed Fossbrooke’s mind that his guest might be
Colonel Sewell, and he hung back, muttering some words of apology.

“I tell you,” repeated the doctor, “I’ll take no refusal. It’s the
rarest piece of luck ever befell, to have chanced upon you. Poor
Lendrick is dying for some news of his son and daughter.”

“Lendrick! Dr. Lendrick?”

“To be sure,--who else? When your knock came to the door, I was telling
him that I heard you were in Dublin, and only doubted it because you had
never called on me; but come along, we can say all these things over our
soup. Look whom I have brought you, Tom,” cried Beattie, as he led Sir
Brook into the room,--“here’s Sir Brook Fossbrooke come to join us.” And
the two men grasped hands in heartiest embrace, while Fossbrooke, not
waiting for a word of question, said, “Both well and hearty. I had a
telegram from Tom this morning.”

“How much I owe you!--how much, how much!” was all that Lendrick could
say, and his eyes swam as he said it.

“It is I am the debtor, and well I know what it is worth to be so! Their
loving kindness and affection have rescued me from the one terror of my
life,--the fear of becoming a discontented, incredulous old bachelor.
Heaven bless them for it; their goodness has kept me out of that
danger.”

“And how are they looking? Is Lucy--” He stopped and looked half
ashamed.

“More beautiful than ever,” broke in Fossbrooke. “I think she is taller
than when you last saw her, and perhaps a shade more thoughtful looking;
and Tom is a splendid fellow. I scarcely know what career he could not
follow, nor where he would not seem too good for whatever he was doing.”

“Ah, if I could but tell you how happy you have made me!” muttered
Lendrick. “I ought never to have left them,--never broken up my home. I
did it unwillingly, it is true; but I ought never to have done it.”

“Who knows if it may not turn out for the best, after all? You need
never be separated henceforth. Tom’s last letter to me--I ‘ll bring it
over to you to-morrow--tells me what I well knew must befall us sooner
or later,--that we are rolling in wealth, have silver enough to pave the
streets, and more money than we shall be able to spend--though I once
had rather a knack that way.”

“That’s glorious news!” said Beattie. “It’s _our_ mine, I suppose?”
 added he, laughing.

“To be sure it is; and I have come prepared to buy you out, doctor, or
pay you your first dividend, cent. per cent., whichever you prefer.”

“Let us hear about this mine,” said Beattie.

“I ‘d rather talk to you about the miners, Tom and Lucy,” said
Fossbrooke.

“Yes, yes, tell us of _them_. Do they ever talk of the Nest? Do they
ever think of the happy days we passed there?” cried Lendrick.

“Ay, and more. We have had a project this many a day--we can realize it
now--to buy it out and out. And I ‘m to build a cabin for myself by the
river-side, where the swan’s hut stood, and I ‘m to be asked to dinner
every Sunday.”

“By Jove, I think I’ll run down by the rail for one of those dinners,”
 said Beattie; “but I certainly hope the company will have better
appetites than my guests of to-day.”

“I am too happy to feel hungry,” said Lendrick. “If I only knew that my
poor dear father could live to see us all united,--all together again, I
‘d ask for no more in life.”

“And so he may, Tom; he was better this afternoon, and though weak and
low, perfectly collected and sensible. Mrs. Sewell has been his nurse
to-day, and she seems to manage him cleverly.”

“I saw her at the Cape. She was nicely mannered, and, if I remember
aright, handsome,” said Lendrick, in his half-abstracted way.

“She was beautiful--perfectly beautiful--as a girl: except your own
Lucy, I never saw any one so lovely,” said Fossbrooke, whose voice shook
with emotion as he spoke.

“I wish she had better luck in a husband,” said Beattie. “For all
his graceful address and insinuating ways, I ‘m full sure he’s a bad
fellow.”

Fossbrooke checked himself with a great effort, and merely nodded an
assent to the other’s words.

“How came it, Sir Brook,” asked Beattie, suddenly, “that you should have
been in Dublin so long without once coming to see me?”

“Are you very discreet?--may I be sure that neither of you will ever
accidentally let drop a word of what I shall tell you?”

“You may rely upon my secrecy, and upon Tom Lendrick’s ignorance, for
there he is now in one of his reveries, thinking of his children in all
probability; and I ‘ll guarantee you to any amount, that he ‘ll not hear
one word you say for the next half-hour.”

“The fact is, they took me up for a rebel,--some one with more zeal than
discrimination fancied I looked like a ‘Celt,’ as these fellows call
themselves; and my mode of life, and my packet of lead ore, and some
other things of little value, completed the case against me, and they
sent me to jail.”

“To jail!”

“Yes; to a place called Richmond Bridewell, where I passed some seven
or eight days, by no means unpleasantly. It was very quiet, very secure
against intrusion. I had a capital room, and very fair food. Indeed I
‘m not sure that I did not leave it with a certain regret; but as I had
written to my old friend Lord Wilmington, to apprise him of the mistake,
and to warn him against the consequences such a blunder might occasion
if it befell one less well disposed towards him than myself, I had
nothing for it but to take a friendly farewell of my jailer and go.”

“I declare few men would have treated the incident so temperately.”

“Wilmington’s father was my fag at Eton, let me see--no, I ‘ll not
see--how long ago; and Wilmington himself used to come and spend his
summer vacations with me when I had that Wiltshire place; and I was very
fond of the boy, and as he liked my partridge-shooting, we grew to be
fast friends; but why are we talking of these old histories when it is
the present that should engage us? I would only caution you once again
against letting the story get abroad: there are fellows would like to
make a House of Commons row out of it, and I ‘d not stand it. Is the
doctor sleeping?” added he, in a whisper, as Lendrick sat with closed
eyes and clasped hands, mute and motionless.

“No,” said Beattie; “it is his way when he is very happy. He is going
over to himself all you have been telling him of his children, and he
neither sees nor hears aught around him.”

“I was going to tell him another piece of news that would probably
please him,” said Sir Brook, in the same low tone. “I have nearly
completed arrangements for the purchase of the Nest; by this day week I
hope it will be Lucy’s.”

“Oh! do tell him that. I know of nothing that would delight him as much.
Lendrick,” said he, touching his arm, “here is something you would like
to hear.”

“No, no!” muttered he, softly. “Life is too short for these things. No
more separations,--no more; we must live together, come what may;” and
he stretched out his hands on either side of him, as though to grasp his
children.

“It is a pity to awaken him from such a dream,” said Fossbrooke,
cautiously; “let us steal over to the window and not disturb him.”

They crept cautiously away to a window-bench, and talked till late into
the night.



CHAPTER XIX. MAN TO MAN

As Sewell awoke, it was already evening. Fatigue and anxiety together
had so overcome him that he slept like one drugged by a narcotic; nor
did he very quickly recall on awakening how and wherefore he had not
been to bed. His servant had left two letters on his table while he
slept, and these served to remind him of some at least of the troubles
that last oppressed him. One was from his law-agent, regretting that he
could not obtain for him the loan he solicited on any terms whatever,
and mildly suggesting that he trusted the Colonel would be prepared to
meet certain acceptances which would fall due in the coming week.
The other was from a friend whom he had often assisted in moments of
difficulty, and ran:--

“Dear S.,--I lost two hundred last night at pool, and, what’s worse,
can’t pay it. That infernal rule of yours about prompt payment will
smash us both,--but it’s so like you! You never had a run of luck yet
that you didn’t do something that turned against you afterwards. Your
clever rule about the selling-stakes cost me the best mare I ever had;
and now this blessed stroke of your genius leaves me in doubt whether to
blow my brains out or start for Boulogne. As Tom Beecher said, you are
a ‘deuced deal too ‘cute to prosper.’ If I have to cross the water, I
suspect you might as well come with me.--Yours,

“Dick Vaughan.”

Sewell tore the note up into the smallest fragments, muttering savagely
to himself the while. “I’ll be bound,” said he, “the cur is half
consoled for his mishap by seeing how much worse ruin has befallen
_me_,--What is it, Watkin? What do you want?” cried he to his servant,
who came hastily into the room.

“His Lordship has taken a bad turn, sir, and Mrs. Sewell wants to see
you immediately.”

“All right! Say I’m coming. Who knows,” muttered he, “but there’s a
chance for me yet?” He turned into his dressing-room and bathed his
temples and his head with cold water, and, refreshed at once, he
ascended the stairs.

“Another attack has come on. He was sleeping calmly,” said Mrs. Sewell
as she met him, “when he awoke with a start, and broke out into wild
raving. I have sent for Beattie; but what is to be done meanwhile?”

“I ‘m no doctor; I can’t tell you.”

“Haire thinks the ice ought to be applied; the nurse says-a blister or
mustard to the back of the neck.”

“Is he really in danger?--that’s the question.”

“I believe so. I never saw him so ill.”

“You think he’s dying?” said he, fiercely, as though he would not brook
any sort of equivocation; but the coarseness of his manner revolted
her, and she turned away without reply. “There’s no time to be lost,”
 muttered Sewell, as he hastened downstairs. “Tell George I want the
carriage to the door immediately,” said he; and then, entering his own
room, he opened his writing-desk, and, after some search, came upon a
packet, which he sealed and addressed.

“Are you going for Beattie?” asked Mrs. Sewell, as she appeared at the
door; “for Haire says it would be better to fetch some one--any one--at
once.”

“I have ordered the carriage. I ‘ll get Lysaght or Adams-if I should not
find Beattie; and mind, if Beattie come while I am away, detain him, and
don’t let him leave this till I return. Do you mind me?”

“Yes; I ‘ll tell him what you say.”

“Ay, but you must insist upon his doing it. There will be all sorts of
stories if he should die--”

“Stories? what do you mean by stories?” cried she, in alarm.

“Rumors of neglect, of want of proper care of him, and such-like, which
would be most insulting. At all events, I am resolved Beattie should be
here at the last; and take care that he does not leave. I ‘ll call at
my mother’s too; she ought to come back with me. We have to deal with a
scandal-loving world, and let us leave them as little to fall foul of
as may be.” All this was said hurriedly, as he bustled about the room,
fussy and impatient, and with an eagerness to be off which certainly
surprised her.

“You know where to find these doctors,--you have their addresses?” asked
she.

“George knows all about them.”

“And William does, at all events.”

“I’m not taking William. I don’t want a footman with a brougham. It is
a light carriage and speedy cattle that are needed at this moment; and
here they come. Now, mind that you keep Beattie till I come back; and
if there be any inquiries, simply say the Chief Baron is the same as
yesterday.”

“Had I not better consult Dr. Beattie?”

“You will do as I tell you, Madam,” said he, sternly. “You have heard
my directions; take care that you follow them. To Mr. Lysaght’s,
George--no, first to Dr. Beattie’s, Merrion Square,” cried he, as he
stepped into the carriage, “and drive fast.”

“Yes, sir,” said the coachman, and started at once. He had not proceeded
more than half-way down the avenue, however, when Sewell, leaning out of
the window, said, “Don’t go into town, George; make for the Park by the
shortest cut you can, the Secretary’s Lodge.”

“All right, sir; the beasts are fresh. We ‘ll be there in thirty
minutes.” True to his word, within the half-hour the horses, white with
sweat and flanking like racero, stood at the door of the Secretary’s
Lodge. Four or five private carriages and some cabs were also at the
door, signs of a dinner-party which had not yet broken up.

“Take this card in to Mr. Balfour, Mr. Wells,” said he to the butler,
who was an old acquaintance, “and say I want one minute in private
with him,--strictly private, mind. I ‘ll step into the library here and
wait.”

“What’s up, Sewell? Are you in a new scrape, eh?” said Balfour,
entering, slightly flushed with wine and conversation, and half put out
by the interruption.

“Not much of a scrape,--can you give me five minutes?”

“Wells said one minute, and that’s why I came. The Castledowns and Eyres
and the Ashes are here, and the Langrish girls, and Dick Upton.”

“A very choice company, for robbing you of which even for a moment I owe
every apology, but still my excuse is a good one. Are you as anxious to
promote your Solicitor-General as you were a week or two ago?”

“If you mean Pemberton, I wish he was--on the Bench, or in Abraham’s
bosom--I don’t much care which, for he is the most confounded bore in
Christendom. Do you come to tell me that you’ll poison him?”

“No; but I can promote him.”

“Why--how--in what way?”

“I told you a few days ago that I could manage to make the old man
give in his resignation; that it required some tact and address, and
especially the absence of everything like menace or compulsion.”

“Well, well, well--have you done it--is it a fact?”

“It is.”

“I mean, an indisputable, irrevocable fact,--something not to be denied
or escaped from?”

“Just so; a fact not to be denied or escaped from.”

“It must come through me, Sewell, mind that. I took charge of the
negotiation two years ago, and no one shall step in and rob me of my
credit. I have had all the worry and fatigue of the transaction, and I
insist, if there be any glory in success, it shall be mine.”

“You shall have all the glory, as you call it. What I aspire to is
infinitely less brilliant.”

“You want a place--hard enough to find one--at least to find something
worth having. You ‘ll want something as good as the Registrarship, eh?”

“No; I’ll not pester you with my claims. I’m not in love with official
life. I doubt if I am well fitted for it.”

“You want a seat in the House,--is that it?”

“Not exactly,” said Sewell, laughing; “though there is a good stroke of
business to be done in private bills and railway grants. My want is the
simplest of all wants,--money.”

“Money! But how am I to give you money? Out of what fund is it to come?
You don’t imagine we live in the old days of secret-service funds, with
unlimited corruption to back us, do you?”

“I suspect that the source from which it is to come is a matter of
perfect indifference to me. You can easily squeeze me into the estimates
as a special envoy, or a Crown Prosecution, or a present to the Emperor
of Morocco.”

“Nothing of the kind. You are totally in error. All these fine days are
past and gone. They go over us now like a schedule in bankruptcy; and it
would be easier to make you a colonial bishop than give you fifty pounds
out of the Consolidated Fund.”

“Well, I ‘d not object to the Episcopate if there was some good shooting
in the diocese.”

“I ‘ve no time for chaff,” said Balfour, impatiently. “I am leaving my
company too long, besides. Just come over here to-morrow to breakfast,
and we ‘ll talk the whole thing over.”

“No, I ‘ll not come to breakfast; I breakfast in bed: and if we are to
come to any settlement of this matter, it shall be here and now.”

“Very peremptory all this, considering that the question is not of
_your_ retirement.”

“Quite true. It is not _my_ retirement we have to discuss, but it is,
whether I shall choose to hand you the Chief Baron’s, which I hold
here,”--and he produced the packet as he spoke,--“or go back and induce
him to reconsider and withdraw it. Is not that a very intelligible way
to put the case, Balfour? Did you expect such a business-like tone from
an idle dog like _me?_”

“And I am to believe that the document in your hand contains the Chief
Baron’s resignation?”

“You are to believe it or not,--that’s at your option. It is the fact,
at all events.”

“And what power have you to withhold it, when he has determined to
tender it?”

“About the same power I have to do this,” said Sewell, as, taking up a
sheet of note-paper from the table, he tore it into fragments, and threw
them into the fire. “I think you might see that the same influence by
which I induced him to write this would serve to make him withhold it.
The Judge condescends to think me a rather shrewd man of the world, and
takes my advice occasionally.”

“Well, but--another point,” broke in Balfour, hurriedly. “What if he
should recall this to-morrow or the day after? What if he were to say
that on reconsideration he felt unwilling to retire? It is clear we
could not well coerce him.”

“You know very little of the man when you suggest such a possibility. He
‘d as soon think of suicide as doubt any decision he had once formally
announced to the world. The last thing that would ever occur to him
would be to disparage his infallibility.”

“I declare I am quite ashamed of being away so long; could n’t you come
down to the office to-morrow, at your own hour, and talk the whole thing
over quietly?”

“Impossible. I ‘ll be very frank with you. I lost a pot of money last
night to Langton, and have n’t got it to pay him. I tried twenty
places during the day, and failed. I tossed over a score of so-called
securities, not worth sixpence in a time of pressure, and I came upon
this, which has been in my hands since Monday last, and I thought,
Now Balfour would n’t exactly give me five hundred pounds for it, but
there’s no reason in life that he might not obtain that sum for me in
some quarter. Do you see?”

“I see,--that is, I see everything but the five hundred.”

“If you don’t, then you’ll never see this,” said Sewell, replacing it in
his pocket.

“You won’t comprehend that I’ve no fund to go to; that there ‘s no bank
to back me through such a transaction. Just be a little reasonable,
and you ‘ll see that I can’t do this out of my own pocket. It is true I
could press your claim on the party. I could say, what I am quite ready
to say, that we owe the whole arrangement to _you_, and that, especially
as it will cost you the loss of your Registrarship, you must not be
forgotten.”

“There’s the mistake, my dear fellow. I don’t want that. I don’t want
to be made supervisor of mad-houses, or overlooker of light-ships.
Until office hours are comprised between five and six o’clock of the
afternoon, and some of the cost of sealing-wax taken out in sandwiches,
I don’t mean to re-enter public life. I stand out for cash payment. I
hope that’s intelligible.”

“Oh, perfectly so; but as impossible as intelligible.”

“Then, in that case, there ‘s no more to be said. All apologies for
having taken you so long from your friends. Good-night.”

“Good-night,” said Balfour. “I ‘m sorry we can’t come to some
arrangement. Good-night.”

“As this document will now never see the light, and as all action in the
matter will be arrested,” said Sewell, gravely, “I rely upon your never
mentioning our present interview.”

“I declare I don’t see why I am precluded from speaking of it to my
friends,--confidentially, of course.”

“You had better not.”

“Better not! better in what sense? As regards the public interests, or
my personal ones?”

“I simply repeat, you had better not.” He put on his hat as he spoke,
and without a word of leave-taking moved towards the door.

“Stop one moment,--a thought has just struck me. You like a sporting
offer. I ‘ll bet you twenty pounds even, you ‘ll not let me read the
contents of that paper; and I ‘ll lay you long odds--two hundred to one,
in pounds--that you don’t give it to me.”

“You certainly _do_ like a good thing, Balfour. In plain words, you
offer me two hundred and twenty. I ‘ll be shot if I see why they should
have higgled so long about letting the Jews into Parliament when fellows
like _you_ have seats there.”

“Be good enough to remember,” said Balfour, with an easy smile, “that I
‘m the only bidder, and if the article be not knocked down to me there’s
no auction.”

“I was certain I’d hear that from you! I never yet knew a fellow do a
stingy thing, that he had n’t a shabbier reason to sustain it.”

“Come, come, there’s no need of this. You can say no to my offer without
a rudeness to myself.”

“Ay, that’s all true, if one only had temper for it, but I have n’t; and
I have my doubts that even _you_ would if you were to be tried as sorely
as I am.”

“I never do get angry; a man shows his hand when he loses his temper,
and the fellow who keeps cool can always look at the other’s cards.”

“Wise precepts, and worth coming out here to listen to,” said Sewell,
whose thoughts were evidently directed elsewhere. “I take your offer;
I only make one condition,--you keep the negotiation a secret, or only
impart it where it will be kept secret.”

“I think that’s all fair. I agree to that. Now for the document”

“There it is,” said Sewell, as he threw the packet on the table, while
he seated himself in a deep chair, and crossed his arms on his chest.

Balfour opened the paper and began to read, but soon burst forth
with--“How like him--how like him!--‘Less oppressed, indeed, by years
than sustained by the conscious sense of long services to the State.’ I
think I hear him declaiming it.

“This is not bad: ‘While at times afflicted by the thought, that to the
great principles of the law, of which I had made this Court the temple
and the sanctuary, there will now succeed the vague decisions and
imperfect judgments of less learned expositors of justice, I am
comforted by remembering that I leave behind me some records worthy of
memory,--traditions that will not easily die.’”

“That’s the modest note; hear him when he sounds the indignant chord,”
 said Sewell.

“Ay, here we have it: ‘If I have delayed, my Lord, in tendering to
you this my resignation, it is that I have waited till, the scurrilous
tongues of slander silenced, and the smaller, but not less malevolent,
whisperings of jealousy subdued, I might descend from the Bench amidst
the affectionate regrets of those who regard me as the last survivor of
that race which made Ireland a nation.’ The liquor is genuine,” cried
Balfour, laughing. “There’s no disputing it, you have won your money.”

“I should think so,” was Sewell’s cool reply. “He has the same knack in
that sort of thing that the girl in the well-known shop in Seville has
in twisting a cigarette.”

Balfour took out his keys to open his writing-desk, and, pondering for
a moment or two, at last said, “I wish any man would tell me why I am
going to give you this money,--do you know, Sewell?”

“Because you promised it, I suppose.”

“Yes; but why should I have promised it? What can it possibly signify to
me which of our lawyers presides in Her Majesty’s Irish Exchequer? I ‘m
sure you ‘d not give ten pounds to insure this man or that, in or out of
the Cabinet.”

“Not ten shillings. They ‘re all dark horses to me, and if you offered
me the choice of the lot, I ‘d not know which to take; but I always
heard that you political fellows cared so much for your party, and
took your successes and failures so much to heart, that there was no
sacrifice you were not ready to make to insure your winning.”

“We now and then do run a dead-heat, and one would really give something
to come in first; but what’s that?--I declare there ‘s a carriage
driving off--some one has gone. I ‘ll have to swear that some alarming
news has come from the South. Good-night--I must be off.”

“Don’t forget the cash before you go.”

“Oh, to be sure, here you are--crisp and clean, ain’t they? I got them
this morning, and certainly never intended to part with them on such an
errand.”

Sewell folded up the notes with a grim smile, and said, “I only wish I
had a few more big-wigs to dispose of,--you should have them cheap; as
Stag and Mantle say, ‘articles no longer in great vogue.’”

“There’s another departure!” cried Balfour. “I shall be in great
disgrace!” and hurried away without a “goodbye.”



CHAPTER XX. ON THE DOOR-STEPS AT NIGHT

It was late at night when Sewell arrived at the Priory. He had
had another disastrous night of play, and had scattered his
“acknowledgments” for various sums on every side. Indeed, he had not the
vaguest idea of how much he had lost. Disputes and hot discussions, too,
almost verging on personal quarrels, dashed with all their irritating
influences the gloom of his bad luck; and he felt, as he arose to go
home, that he had not even that sorry consolation of the unfortunate
gambler,--the pitying sympathy of the looker-on.

Over and over, as he went, he asked himself what Fate could possibly
intend by this persistent persecution of him? Other fellows had their
“innings” now and then. Their fortune came checkered with its bright and
dark days. He never emerged, not even passingly, from his ill-luck. “I
suppose,” muttered he, “the whole is meant to tempt me--but to what? I
need very little temptation if the bait be only money. Let me but see
gold enough, and my resistance will not be very formidable. I ‘ll not
risk my neck; short of that I ‘m ready for anything.” Thus thinking, he
plodded onward through the dark night, vaguely wishing at times that no
morning was ever to break, and that existence might prolong itself out
to one long dark autumn night, silent and starless.

As he reached the hall-door, he found his wife seated on the steps as on
a former night. It had become a favorite spot with her to taste the cool
refreshing night-air, and rally her from the feverish closeness of the
sick-room.

“How is he? Is it over yet?” cried he, as he came up.

“He is better; he slept calmly for some hours, and woke much refreshed.”

“I could have sworn it!” burst he in, vehemently. “It is the one way
Fate could have rescued me, and it is denied me. I believe there is a
curse on me! Eh--what?”

“I did n’t speak,” said she, meekly.

“You muttered, though. I heard you mumble something below your breath,
as if you agreed with what I said. Say it out, Madam, if you think it.”

She heaved a weary sigh, but said nothing.

“Has Beattie been here?” asked he, hastily.

“Yes; he stayed for above an hour, but was obliged to go at last to
visit another patient. He brought Dr. Lendrick out with him; he arrived
this evening.”

“Lendrick! Do you mean the man from the Cape?”

“Yes.”

“That completes it!” burst he, as he flung his arms wildly up. “I was
just wondering what other malignant piece of spite Fortune could play
me, and there it is! Had you any talk with this man?”

“Yes; he remained with me all the time Dr. Beattie was upstairs.”

“And what was his tone? Has he come back to turn us out?--that of course
he has--but does he avow it?”

“He shows no such intentions. He asked whether you held much to the
Nest, if it was a place that you liked, or if you could relinquish it
without any regret?”

“Why so?”

“Because Sir Brook Fossbrooke has just purchased it.”

“What nonsense! you know as well as I do that he could n’t purchase a
dog-kennel. That property was valued at sixteen thousand pounds four
years ago,--it is worth twenty now; and you talk to me of this beggar
buying it!”

“I tell you what he told me, and it was this: Some mine that Sir Brook
owned in Sardinia has turned out to be all silver, and in consequence
he has suddenly become immensely rich,--so rich, indeed, that he has
already determined to settle this estate on Lucy Lendrick; and intends,
if he can induce Lord Drumcarran to part with ‘The Forest,’ to add it to
the grounds.”

Sewell grasped his hair with both hands, and ground his teeth together
with passion as he listened.

“You believe this story, I suppose?” said he at last.

“Yes; why should I not believe it?”

“I don’t believe a word of it. I see the drift--I saw the drift of it
before you had told me ten words. This tale is got up to lull us into
security, and to quiet our suspicions. Lendrick knows well the alarm his
unexpected return is likely to give us, and to allay our anxieties they
have coined this narrative, as though to imply they will be rich enough
not to care to molest us, nor stand between us and this old man’s money.
Don’t you see that?”

“I do not. It did not occur to me before, and I do not admit it now.”

“I ought not to have asked you. I ought to have remembered what old
Fossbrooke once called ‘the beautiful trustfulness of your nature.’”

“If had it once, it has left me many a long day ago!”

“But I deny that you ever had it. You had the woman’s trick of affecting
to believe, and thus making out what you assumed to think, to be a
pledge given by another,--a bit of female craft that you all trade on so
long as you are young and good-looking?”

“And what supplies the place of this ingenious device when we are
neither young nor good-looking?”

“I don’t know, for the simple reason that I never much interested myself
in the sex after that period.”

“That’s a very sad thing for us. I declare I never had an idea how much
we ‘re to be pitied before.”

“You would be to be pitied if you knew how we all think of you;” and he
spoke with a spiteful malignity almost demoniac.

“It’s better, then, for each of us that we should not know this. The
trustfulness that you sneer at does us good service, after all.”

“And it was this story of the mine that induced Lendrick to come home
from the Cape, wasn’t it?”

“No; he only heard of the mine since he arrived here.”

“I thought,” rejoined he, with a sneer, “that he ought to have resigned
his appointment on account of this sudden wealth, all the more because
I have known that he intended to come back this many a day. And what is
Fossbrooke going to do for you? Is there a diamond necklace ordered? or
is it one of the brats he is going to adopt?”

“By the way, I have been robbed; some one has carried off my gold comb
and some pins; they were on my dressing-table last night. Jane saw them
when I went into my room.”

“Now ‘s your time to replace the loss! It’s the sort of tale old
Fossbrooke always responded to.”

She made no answer; and for several minutes each sat in silence. “One
thing is pretty evident,” said he at last, as he made figures with his
cane on the ground,--“we ‘ll have to troop off, whether the Lendricks
come here or not. The place will not be tenable once they are in the
vicinity.”

“I don’t know.”

“You don’t know! Do you mean that the doctor and his daughter will
stand the French cook here, and the dinners, and let the old man make a
blessed fool of himself, as he has been doing for the last eight or
ten months past? or do you pretend that if we were to go back to the
leg-of-mutton days, and old Haire for company, that it would be worth
holding on to? _I_ don’t; and I tell you frankly that I intend to demand
my passports, as the Ministers say, and be off.”

“But _I_ can’t ‘be off.’ I have no such alternative!”

“The worse luck yours, or rather the worse skill; for if you had played
your hand better, it would not have been thus with you. By the way, what
about Trafford? I take it he ‘ll marry this girl now.”

“I have not heard,” said she, pinching her lips, and speaking with a
forced composure.

“If I were you, I ‘d make myself Lucy’s confidante, get up the match,
and go and live with them. These are the really happy _ménages_. If
there be such a thing as bliss, perfect bliss, in this world, it is
where a wife has a dear friend in the house with her, who listens to all
her sorrows, and helps her to manage the tyrant that inflicts them.
It was a great mistake of ours not to have known this in early life.
Marriage was meant to be a triangle.”

“If you go, as you speak of going, have you any objection to my
addressing myself to Sir Brook for some assistance?”

“None whatever. I think it the most natural thing in life; he was your
guardian, and you have a right to ask what has become of your fortune.”

“He might refer me to _you_ for the information.”

“Very unmannerly if he should, and very ungallant, too, for an old
admirer. I ‘m certain if I were to be--what is the phrase?--removed,
yes, removed--he ‘d marry you. Talk of three-volume novels and virtue
rewarded, after that.”

“You have been playing to-night,” said she, gravely.

“Yes.”

“And lost?”

“Lost heavily.”

“I thought so. Your courtesies to me have been the measure of your bad
luck for many a day. I have often felt that ‘four by honors’ has saved
me from a bad headache.”

“Then there has been more sympathy between us than I ever suspected,”
 said he, rising, and stretching himself; and after a moment or two
added, “Must I call on this Dr. Lendrick?--will he expect me to visit
him?”

“Perhaps so,” said she, carelessly; “he asked after you.”

“Indeed!--did he ask after Trafford too? Do you remember the day at the
Governor’s dinner he mistook you for Trafford’s wife, and explained his
mistake by the familiarity of his manner to you in the garden? It was
the best bit of awkwardness I ever witnessed.”

“I suppose you felt it so?”

“_I_--_I_ felt it so! I suspect not! I don’t believe there was a man at
table enjoyed the blunder as heartily.”

“I wish--how I wish!” said she, clasping her hands together.

“Well--what?”

“I wish I could be a man for one brief half-hour!” cried she; and her
voice rang with a mild but clear resonance, that made it seem louder
than it really was.

“And then?” said he, mockingly.

“Oh, do not ask me more!” cried she, as she bent down and hid her face
in her hands.

“I think I _will_ call on Lendrick,” said he, after a moment. “It may
not be exactly the sort of task a man would best like; but I opine, if
he is about to give his daughter in marriage to this fellow, he ought
to know more about him. Now _I_ can tell him something, and my wife can
tell him more. There’s no indiscretion in saying so much, is there?”

She made no reply; and after a pause he went on: “If Trafford had n’t
been a shabby dog, he ‘d not have higgled about buying up those letters.
Cane & Kincaid offered them to him for a thousand pounds. I suspect he
‘d like to have the offer repeated now, but he shall not. He believes,
or affects to believe, that, for my own sake, I ‘ll not make a public
scandal; he doesn’t know his man when he thinks this. _You_, Madam,
might have taught him better, eh?” Still no reply, and he continued:
“There ‘s not a man living despises public opinion as I do. If you are
rich you trample on it, if poor it tramples on _you_; but so long as
a fellow braves the world, and declares that he shrinks from
nothing,--evades nothing,--neither turns right nor left to avoid its
judgments,--the coward world gives away and lets him pass. _I ‘ll_ let
them see that I don’t care a straw for my own life, when at the price of
it I can blow up a magazine.”

“No, no, no!” muttered she, in a low but clear tone.

“What do you mean by No, no?” cried he, in a voice of passion.

“I mean that you care a great deal for your own life, and a great
deal for your own personal safety; and that if your tyranny to a poor,
crushed, weak woman has any bounds, it is from your fear, your abject
fear, that in her desperation she might seek a protector, and find him.”

“I told you once before, Madam, men don’t like this sort of
protectorate. The old bullying days are gone by. Modern decorum ‘takes
it out’ in damages.” She sat still and silent; and after waiting some
time, he said, in a calm, unmoved voice, “These little interchanges
of courtesy do no good to either of us; they haven’t even the poor
attraction of novelty; so, as my friend Mr. O’Reardon says, let us ‘be
practical.’ I had hoped that the old gentleman upstairs was going to do
the polite thing, and die; but it appears now he has changed his mind
about it. This, to say the least of it, is very inconvenient to me. My
embarrassments are such that I shall be obliged to leave the country;
my only difficulty is, I have no money. Are you attending? Are you
listening to me?”

“Yes, I hear you,” said she, in a faint whisper.

“_You_, I know, cannot help me; neither can my mother. Of course the
old Judge is out of the question. As for the fellows at the Club, I
am deeply in debt to many of them; and Kincaid only reminds me of his
unsettled bill of costs when I ask for a loan. A blank look-out, on the
whole; isn’t it?”

She muttered something like assent, and he went on. “I have gone through
a good many such storms before, but none fully as bad as this; because
there are certain things which in a few days must come out--ugly little
disclosures--one or two there will be. I inadvertently sold that beech
timber to two different fellows, and took the money too.”

She lifted up her face, and stared at him without speaking.

“Fact, I assure you! I have a confoundedly bad memory; it has got
me into scores of scrapes all through life. Then, this very evening,
thinking that the Chief could n’t rub through, I made a stupid wager
with Balfour that the seat on the Bench would be vacant within a week;
and finished my bad run of luck by losing--I can’t say how much, but
very heavily, indeed--at the Club.”

A low faint sigh escaped her, but not a word.

“As to bills renewed, protested, and to be protested,” said he, in the
same easy tone, “they are legion. These take their course, and are no
worse than any other man’s bills; I don’t fret myself about _them_. As
in the old days of chivalry one never cared how scurvily he treated the
‘villeins,’ so he behaved like a knight to his equals; so nowadays a
man must book up at Tattersall’s though he cheat his tailor. I like the
theory too; it keeps ‘the ball rolling,’ if it does nothing else.”

All this he rattled out as though his own fluency gave him a sort of
Dutch courage; and who knows, too,--for there is a fund of vanity in
these men,--if he was not vain of showing with what levity he could
treat dangers that might have made the stoutest heart afraid?

“Taking the ‘tottle of the whole’ of these,--as old Joe Hume used to
say,--it’s an ugly balance!”

“What do you mean to do?” said she, quietly.

“Bolt, I suppose. I see nothing else for it.”

“And will that meet the difficulty?”

“No, but it will secure _me_; secure me from arrest, and the other
unpleasant consequences that might follow arrest. To do this, however, I
need money, and I have not five pounds--no, nor, I verily believe, five
shillings--in the world.”

“There are a few trinkets of mine upstairs. I never wear them--”

“Not worth fifty pounds, the whole lot; nor would one get half fifty for
them in a moment of pressure.”

“We have some plate--”

“We had, but I sold it three weeks ago; and that reminds me there was a
rum old tea-urn got somehow mixed up with our things, and I sold it too,
though it has Lendrick’s crest upon it. You ‘ll have to get it back some
of these days,--I told the fellow not to break it up till he heard from
you.”

“Then what is to be done?” said she, eagerly.

“That’s the question; travelling is the one thing that can’t be done on
tick.”

“If you were to go down to the Nest--”

“But our tenure expires on the seventeenth, just one fortnight
hence,--not to say that I couldn’t call myself safe there one hour. No,
no; I must manage to get abroad, and instantly, that I may escape from
my present troubles; but I must strike out some way of life,--something
that will keep me.”

She sat still and almost stupefied, trying to see an escape from these
difficulties, but actually overwhelmed by the number and the nature of
them.

“I told you awhile ago that I did not believe one word of this story
of the mine, and the untold wealth that has fallen to old Fossbrooke:
_you_, however, do believe it; you affirm the tale as if you had seen
and touched the ingots; so that you need have no reluctance to ask him
to help you.”

“You do not object to this course, then?” asked she, eagerly.

“How can I object? If I clutch at a plank when I’m drowning, I don’t
let go because it may have nails in it. Tell him that you want to buy me
off, to get rid of me; that by a couple of hundred pounds,--I wish he ‘d
make it five,--you can insure my leaving the country, and that my debts
here will prevent my coming back again. It’s the sort of compact he ‘ll
fully concur in; and you can throw in, as if accidentally, how useless
it is for him to go on persecuting me, that his confounded memory for
old scores has kept my head under water all my life; and hint that those
letters of Trafford’s he insists on having--”

“_He_ insists on having!”

“To be sure he does; I thought I had told you what brought him over
here! The old meddling humbug, in his grand benevolence vein, wants to
smooth down the difficulties between Lucy Lendrick and Trafford, one of
which was thought to be the fellow’s attachment to _you_. Don’t
blush; take it as coolly as I do. I ‘m not sure whether reading the
correspondence aloud isn’t the best way to dispel this illusion. You can
say that better than I can.”

“Trafford never wrote one line to me of which I should be afraid or
ashamed to see in print.”

“These are matters of taste. There are scores of women like publicity,
and would rather be notorieties for scandal than models of unnoticed
virtue, so we ‘ll not discuss that. There, there; don’t look so
supremely indignant and contemptuous. That expression became you well
enough at three-and-twenty; but ten years, ten long years of not the
very smoothest existence, leave their marks!”

She shook her head mournfully, but in silence.

“At all events,” resumed he, “declare that you object to the letters
being in other hands than your own; and as to a certain paper of
mine,--a perfectly worthless document, as he well knows,--let him give
it to you or burn it in your presence.”

She pushed her hair back from her temples, and pressed her hands to
either side of her head, as though endeavoring to collect her thoughts,
and rally herself to an effort of calm determination’.

“How much of this is true?” said she, at last.

“What do you mean?” said he, sternly.

“I mean this,” said she, resolutely,--“that I want to know, if you
should get this money, is it really your intention to go abroad?”

“You want a pledge from me on this?” said he, with a jeering laugh.
“You are not willing to stoop to all this humiliation without having the
price of it afterwards? Is not that your meaning?”

Her lips moved, but no sound was audible.

“All fair and reasonable,” said he, calmly. “It’s not every woman in
the world would have the pluck to tell her husband how much meanness
she would submit to simply to get rid of him; but you were always
courageous, that I will say,--you have courage enough.”

“I had need of it.”

“Go on, Madam, finish your speech. I know what you would say. ‘You had
need of courage for two;’ that was the courteous speech that trembled on
your lip. The only thing that beats your courage is your candor! Well, I
must content myself with humbler qualities. I cannot accompany you into
these high flights of excellence, but I can go away; and that, after
all, is something. Get me this money, and I will go,--I promise you
faithfully,--go, and not come back.”

“The children,” said she, and stopped.

“Madam!” said he, with a mock-heroic air, “I am not a brute! I respect
your maternal feelings, and would no more think of robbing you of your
children--”

“There,--there, that will do. Where is Sir Brook to be found,--where
does he live?”

“I have his address written down,--here it is,” said he,--“the last
cottage on the southern side of Howth. There is a porch to the door,
which, it would seem, is distinctive, as well as three chimneys; my
informant was as descriptive as Figaro. You had better keep this piece
of paper as a reminder; and the trains deposit you at less than half a
mile from the place.”

“I will go early to-morrow morning. Shall I find you here on my return?”

“Of that you may be certain. I can’t venture to leave the house all day;
I ‘m not sure there will not be a writ out against me.”

She arose and seemed about to say something,--hesitated for a moment or
two, and then slowly entered the house, and disappeared.



CHAPTER XXI. GOING OUT

In a small dinner-room of the Viceregal Lodge, in the Phoenix Park, the
Viceroy sat at dinner with Sir Brook Fossbrooke. He had arrived in great
haste, and incognito, from England, to make preparations for his final
departure from Ireland; for his party had been beaten in the House, and
expected that, in the last debate on the measure before them, they would
be driven to resign office. Lord Wilmington had no personal regrets on
the subject. With high station and a large fortune, Ireland, to him,
meant little else than estrangement from the habits and places that he
liked, with the exposure to that species of comment and remark which
the Press so unsparingly bestows on all public men in England. He had
accepted office to please his party; and though naturally sorry for
their defeat, there was a secret selfish satisfaction at being able to
go back to a life more congenial to him that more than consoled him for
the ministerial reverse.

It is difficult for the small world of place-hunters and office-seekers
to understand this indifference; but I have little doubt that it exists
largely amongst men of high position and great fortune, and imparts to
their manner that seeming dignity in adversity which we humble folk are
so prone to believe the especial gift of the “order.”

Cholmondely Balfour did not take matters so coolly; he had been summoned
over by telegram to take his part in the “third reading,” and went away
with the depressing feeling that his official sun was about to set,
and all the delightful insolences of a “department” were about to be
withdrawn from him.

Balfour had a brief interview with the Viceroy before he started, and
hurriedly informed him how events stood in Ireland. Nor was it without a
sense of indignation that he saw how little his Excellency cared for the
defeat of his party, and how much more eager he seemed to see his old
friend Fossbrooke, and thank him for his conduct, than listen to the
details of the critical questions of the hour.

“And this is his address, you say?” said Lord Wilmington, as he held a
card in his hand. “I must send off to him at once.”

“It’s all Bentley’s fault,” said Balfour, full of the House and the
debate. “If that fellow were drowning, and had only breath for it, he ‘d
move an amendment! And it’s so provoking, now we had got so splendidly
through our prosecutions, and were winning the Catholics round to us
besides; not to say that I have at last managed to induce Lendrick to
resign, and we have a Judgeship to bestow.” In a few hurried words he
recounted his negotiation with Sewell, placing in the Viceroy’s hand the
document of the resignation.

Lord Wilmington’s thoughts were fully as much on his old friend
Fossbrooke all this time as on questions of office, and not a little
disconcerted the Secretary by muttering, “I hope the dear old fellow
bears me no ill-will. I would not for worlds that he should think me
unmindful of him.”

And now they sat over their wine together, talking pleasantly of
bygone times and old friends,--many lost to them by death, and some by
distance.

“I take it,” said Fossbrooke, after a pause, “that you are not sorry to
get back to England.”

Lord Wilmington smiled, but said nothing.

“You never could have cared much for the pomp and state of this office,
and I suppose beyond these there is little in it.”

“You have hit it exactly. There is nothing to be done here,--nothing.
The shortness of the period that is given to any man to rule this
country, and the insecurity of his tenure, even for that time, compel
him to govern by a party; and the result is, we go on alternately
pitting one faction against the other, till we end by marshalling the
nation into two camps instead of massing them into one people. Then
there is another difficulty. In Ireland the question is not so much what
you do as by whom you do it. It is the men, not the measures, that are
thought of. There is not an infringement on personal freedom I could
not carry out, if you only let me employ for its enactment some popular
demagogue. Give me a good patriot in Ireland, and I ‘ll engage to crush
every liberty in the island.”

“I don’t envy you your office, then,” said Fossbrooke, gravely.

“Of course you don’t; and between ourselves, Fossbrooke, I ‘m not
heartbroken by the thought of laying it down. I suspect, too, that after
a spell of Irish official life every statesman ought to lie fallow for
a while: he grows so shifty and so unscrupulous here, he is not fit for
home work.”

“And how soon do you leave?”

“Let me see,” said he, pondering. “We shall be beaten to-night or
to-morrow night at farthest. They ‘ll take a day to talk it over,
and another to see the Queen; and allowing three days more for the
negotiations back and forward, I think I may say we shall be out by this
day week. A week of worry and annoyance it will be!”

“How so?”

“All the hungry come to be fed at the last hour. They know well that an
outgoing administration is always bent on filling up everything in their
gift. You make a clean sweep of the larder before you give up the key
to the new housekeeper; and one is scarcely so inquisitive as to the
capacity of the new office-holder as he would be if, remaining in power,
he had to avail himself of his services. For instance, Pemberton may
not be the best man for Chief Baron, but we mean to bequeath him in that
condition to our successors.”

“And what becomes of Sir William Lendrick?”

“He resigns.”

“With his peerage?”

“Nothing of the kind; he gets nothing. I ‘m not quite clear how the
matter was brought about. I heard a very garbled, confused story from
Balfour. As well as I could gather, the old man intrusted his step-son,
Sewell, with the resignation, probably to enable him to make some terms
for himself; and Sewell--a shifty sort of fellow, it would seem--held it
back--the Judge being ill, and unable to act--till he found that things
looked ticklish. We might go out,--the Chief Baron might die,--Heaven
knows what might occur. At all events he closed the negotiation, and
placed the document in Balfour’s hands, only pledging him not to act
upon it for eight-and-forty hours.”

“This interests me deeply. I know the man Sewell well, and I know that
no transaction in which he is mixed up can be clean-handed.”

“I have heard of him as a man of doubtful character.”

“Quite the reverse; he is the most indubitable scoundrel alive. I need
not tell you that I have seen a great deal of life, and not always of
its best or most reputable side. Well, this fellow has more bad in
him, and less good, than any one I have ever met. The world has scores,
thousands, of unprincipled dogs, who, when their own interests are
served, are tolerably indifferent about the rest of humanity. They have
even, at times, their little moods of generosity, in which they will
help a fellow blackguard, and actually do things that seem good-natured.
Not so Sewell. Swimming for his life, he ‘d like to drown the fellow
that swam alongside of him.”

“It is hard to believe in such a character,” said the other.

“So it is! I stood out long--ay, for years--against the conviction; but
he has brought me round to it at last, and I don’t think I can forgive
the fellow for destroying in me a long-treasured belief that no heart
was so depraved as to be without its relieving trait.”

“I never heard you speak so hardly before of any one, Fossbrooke.”

“Nor shall you ever again, for I will never mention this man more.
These fellows jar upon one’s nature, and set it out of tune towards all
humanity.”

“It is strange how a shrewd old lawyer like the Chief Baron could have
taken such a man into his confidence.”

“Not so strange as it seems at first blush. Your men of the world--and
Sewell is eminently one of these--wield an immense influence over
others immeasurably their superiors in intellect, just by force of that
practical skill which intercourse with life confers. Think for a moment
how often Sewell might refer some judgment or opinion of the old Chief
to that tribunal they call ‘Society,’ of whose ways of thought, or whose
prejudices, Lendrick knows as much as he knows of the domestic habits of
the Tonga Islanders. Now Sewell was made to acquire this influence, and
to employ it.”

“That would account for his being intrusted with this,” said the
Viceroy, drawing from his breast-pocket the packet Balfour had given
him. “This is Sir William’s long-waited-for resignation.”

“The address is in Sewell’s writing. I know the hand well.”

“Balfour assured me that he was well acquainted with the Chief Baron’s
writing, and could vouch for the authenticity of the document. Here
it is.” As he said this, he opened the envelope, and drew forth a
half-sheet of post paper, and handed it to Fossbrooke.

“Ay, this is veritable. I know the hand, too, and the style confirms
it.” He pondered for some seconds over the paper, turned it, looked
at the back of it, examining it all closely and carefully, and then,
holding it out at arm’s length, he said, “You know these things far
better than I do, and you can say if this be the sort of document a man
would send on such an occasion.”

“You don’t mean that it is a forgery”

“No, not that; nor is it because a forgery would be an act Sewell would
hold back from, I merely ask if this looks like what it purports to be?
Would Sir William Lendrick, in performing so solemn an act, take a half
sheet of paper,--the first that offered, it would seem,--for see, here
are some words scribbled on the back,--and send in his resignation
blurred, blotted, and corrected like this?”

“I read it very hurriedly. Balfour gave it to me as I landed, and I only
ran my eyes over it; let me see it again. Yes, yes,” muttered he,
“there is much in what you say; all these smudges and alterations are
suspicious. It looks like a draft of a despatch.”

“And so it is. I ‘ll wager my head on it,--just a draft.”

“I see what you mean. It was a draft abstracted by Sewell, and forwarded
under this envelope.”

“Precisely. The Chief Baron, I am told, is a hot, hasty, passionate man,
with moments of rash, impetuous action; in one of these he sat down and
wrote this, as Italians say, ‘per sfogarsi.’ Warm-tempered men blow off
their extra steam in this wise, and then go on their way like the rest
of us. He wrote this, and, having written it, felt he had acquitted a
debt he owed his own indignation.”

“It looks amazingly like it; and now I remember in a confused sort of
way something about a bet Balfour lost; a hundred--I am not sure it was
not two hundred--”

“There, there,” said Fossbrooke, laughing, “I recognize my honorable
friend at once. I see the whole, as if it were revealed to me. He grows
bolder as he goes on. Formerly his rascalities were what brokers call
‘time bargains,’ and not to be settled for till the end of the month,
but now he only asks a day’s immunity.”

“A man must be a consummate scoundrel who would do this.”

“And so he is,--a fellow who stops at nothing. Oh, if the world only
knew how many brigands wore diamond shirt-buttons, there would be as
much terror in going into a drawing-room as people now feel about a tour
in Greece. You will let me have this document for a few hours?”

“To be sure, Fossbrooke. I know well I may rely on your discretion; but
what do you mean to do with it?”

“Let the Chief Baron see it, if he’s well enough; if not, I ‘ll show
it to Beattie, his doctor, and ask his opinion of it. Dr. Lendrick, Sir
William’s son, is also here, and he will probably be able to say if my
suspicions are well founded.”

“It seems odd enough to me, Fossy, to hear _you_ talk of your
suspicions! How hardly the world must have gone with you since we met to
inflict you with suspicions! You never had one long ago.”

“And shall I tell you how I came by them, Wilmington?” said he,
laughing. “I have grown rich again,--there ‘s the whole secret. There’s
no such corrupter as affluence. My mine has turned out a perfect Potosi,
and here am I ready to think every man a knave and a rascal, and the
whole world in a conspiracy to cheat me!”

“And is this fact about the mine?--tell me all about it.”

And Fossbrooke now related the story of his good fortune, dwelling
passingly on the days of hardship that preceded it; but frankly avowing
that it was a consummation of which he never for a moment doubted. “I
knew it,” said he; “and I was not impatient. The world is always an
amusing drama, and though one may not be ‘cast’ for a high part, he
can still ‘come on’ occasionally, and at all events he can enjoy the
performance.”

“And is this fortune to go like the others, Fossy?” said the Viceroy,
laughing.

“Have I not told you how much wiser I have grown, that I trust no one? I
‘m not sure that I ‘ll not set up as a moneylender.”

“So you were forty years ago, Fossy, to my own knowledge; but I don’t
suspect you found it very profitable.”

“Have I not had my fifty--ay, my five hundred--per cent in my racy
enjoyment of life? One cannot be paid in meal and malt too; and _I_ have
‘commuted,’ as they call it, and ‘taken out’ in cordiality what others
prefer in cash. I do not believe there is a corner of the globe where I
could not find some one to give me a cordial welcome.”

“And what are your plans?”

“I have fully a thousand; my first, however, is to purchase that place
on the Shannon, where, if you remember, we met once,--the Swan’s Nest. I
want to settle my friends the Lendricks in their old home. I shall have
to build myself a crib near them. But before I turn squatter I ‘ll have
a run over to Canada. I have a large tract there near Huron, and they
have built a village on me, and now are asking me for a church and a
schoolhouse and an hospital. It was but a week ago they might as well
have asked me for the moon! I must see Ceylon too, and my coffee-fields.
I am dying to be ‘bon Prince’ again and lower my rents. ‘There’s
arrant snobbery,’ some one told me t’ other day, ‘in that same love of
popularity;’ but they ‘ll have to give it even a worse name before they
disgust me with it. I shall have to visit Cagliari also, and relieve Tom
Lendrick, who would like, I have no doubt, to take that ‘three months in
Paris’ which young fellows call ‘going over to see their friends.’”

“You are a happy fellow, Brook; perhaps the happiest I ever knew.”

“I’ll sell my secret for it cheap,” said Fossbrooke, laughing. “It is,
never to go grubbing for mean motives in this life; never tormenting
yourself what this might mean or that other might portend, but take the
world for what it seems, or what it wishes you to believe it. Take it
with its company face on, and never ask to see any one in _déshabille_
but old and dear friends. Life has two sides, and some men spin the
coin so as always to make the wrong face of the medal come uppermost.
I learned the opposite plan when I was very young, and I have not
forgotten it. Good-night now; I promised Beattie to look in on him
before midnight, and it’s not far off, I see.”

“We shall have a day or two of you, I hope, at Crew before you leave
England.”

“When I have purchased my estate and married off my young people, I ‘ll
certainly make you a visit.”



CHAPTER XXII. AT HOWTH

On the same evening that Fossbrooke was dining with the Viceroy,
Trafford arrived in Dublin, and set out at once for the little cottage
at Howth to surprise his old friend by his sudden appearance. Tom
Lendrick had given him so accurate a description of the spot that he
had no difficulty in finding it. If somewhat disappointed at first on
learning that Sir Brook had dined in town, and might not return till a
late hour, his mind was so full of all he had to say and to do that he
was not sorry to have some few hours to himself for quiet and tranquil
thought. He had come direct from Malta without going to Holt, and
therefore was still mainly ignorant of the sentiments of his family
towards him, knowing nothing beyond the fact that Sir Brook had induced
his father to see him. Even that was something. He did not look to be
restored to his place as the future head of the house, but he wanted
recognition and forgiveness,--the first for Lucy’s sake more than his
own. The thought was too painful that his wife--and he was determined
she should be his wife--should not be kindly received and welcomed by
his family. “I ask nothing beyond this,” would he say over and over to
himself. “Let us be as poor as we may, but let them treat us as kindred,
and not regard us as outcasts. I bargain for no more.” He believed
himself thoroughly and implicitly when he said this. He was not
conscious with what force two other and very different influences
swayed him. He wished his father, and still more his mother, should see
Lucy,--not alone see her beauty and gracefulness, but should see the
charm of her manner, the fascination which her bright temperament threw
around her. “Why, her very voice is a spell!” cried he, aloud, as he
pictured her before him. And then, too, he nourished a sense of pride in
thinking how Lucy would be struck by the sight of Holt,--one of the most
perfect specimens of old Saxon architecture in the kingdom; for though
a long line of descendants had added largely, and incongruously too, to
the building, the stern and squat old towers, the low broad battlements
and square casements, were there, better blazons of birth and blood than
all the gilded decorations of a herald’s college.

He honestly believed he would have liked to show her Holt as a true
type of an ancient keep, bold, bluff, and stern-looking, but with an
unmistakable look of power, recalling a time when there were lords and
serfs, and when a Trafford was as much a despot as the Czar himself. He
positively was not aware how far personal pride and vanity influenced
this desire on his part, nor how far he was moved by the secret pleasure
his heart would feel at Lucy’s wondering admiration.

“If I cannot say, This is your home, this is your own, I can at least
say, It is from the race who have lived here for centuries he who loves
you is descended. We are no ‘new rich,’ who have to fall back upon our
wealth for the consideration we count upon. We were men of mark before
the Normans were even heard of.” All these, I say, he felt, but knew
not. That Lucy was one to care for such things he was well aware. She
was intensely Irish in her reverence for birth and descent, and had that
love of the traditionary which is at once the charm and the weakness of
the Celtic nature. Trafford sat thinking over these things, and thinking
over what might be his future. It was clear enough he could not remain
in the army; his pay, barely sufficient for his support at present,
would never suffice when he had a wife. He had some debts too; not very
heavy, indeed, but onerous enough when their payment must be made out of
the sale of his commission. How often had he done over that weary sum
of subtraction! Not that repetition made matters better to him; for
somehow, though he never could manage to make more of the sale of his
majority, he could still, unhappily for him, continually go on recalling
some debt or other that he had omitted to jot down,--an unlucky “fifty”
 to Jones which had escaped him till now; and then there was Sewell! The
power of the unknown is incommensurable; and so it is, there is that in
a vague threat that terrifies the stoutest heart. Just before he left
Malta he had received a letter from a man whose name was not known to
him in these terms:--

“Sir,--It has come to my knowledge professionally, that proceedings will
shortly be instituted against you in the Divorce Court at the suit of
Colonel Sewell, on the ground of certain letters written by you.
These letters, now in the hands of Messrs. Cane & Kincaid, solicitors,
Dominick Street, Dublin, may be obtained by you on payment of one
thousand pounds, and the costs incurred up to this date. If it be your
desire to escape the scandal and publicity of this action, and the much
heavier damages that will inevitably result, you may do so by addressing
yourself to

“Your very obedient and faithful servant,

“James Maher,

“Attorney-at-Law, Kildare Place.”


He had had no time to reply to this unpleasant epistle before he
started, even had he known what reply to make, all that he resolved
on being to do nothing till he saw Sir Brook. He had opened his
writing-desk to find Lucy’s last letter to him, and by ill luck it was
this ill-omened document first came to his hand. Fortune will play us
these pranks. She will change the glass we meant to drink out of, and
give us a bitter draught at the moment that we dreamed of nectar! “If
I ‘m to give this thousand pounds,” muttered he, moodily, “I may find
myself with about eight hundred in the world! for I take it these costs
he speaks of will be no trifle! I shall need some boldness to go and
tell this to Sir William Lendrick when I ask him for his granddaughter.”
 Here again he bethought him of Sir Brook, and reassured himself that
with his aid even this difficulty might be conquered. He arose to ask
if it were certain that Sir Brook would return home that night, and
discovered that he was alone in the cottage, the fisherman and his wife
who lived there having gone down to the shore to gather the seaweed left
by the retreating tide. Trafford knew nothing of Fossbrooke’s recent
good fortune. The letters which conveyed that news reached Malta after
he had left, and his journey to England was prompted by impatience to
decide his fate at once, either by some arrangement with his family
which might enable him to remain in the army, or, failing all hope of
that, by the sale of his commission. “If Tom Lendrick can face the hard
life of a miner, why should not I?” would he say. “I am as well able to
rough it as any man. Fellows as tenderly nurtured as myself go out
to the gold-diggings and smash quartz, and what is there in me that I
should shrink from this labor?” There was a grim sort of humor in the
way he repeated to himself the imaginary calls of his comrades. “Where
‘s Sir Lionel Traf-ford? Will some one send the distinguished baronet
down here with his shovel?” “Lucy, too, has seen the life of hard work
and stern privation. She showed no faintheartedness at its hardships;
far from it. I never saw her look happier nor cheerier. To look at her,
one would say that she liked its wild adventure, its very uncommonness.
I ‘ll be sworn if we ‘ll not be as happy--happier, perhaps, than if we
had rank and riches. As Sir Brook says, it all depends upon himself in
what spirit a man meets his fortune. Whether you confront life or death,
there are but two ways,--that of the brave man or the coward.

“How I wish he were come! How impatient I am to know what success he has
had with my father! My own mind is made up. The question is, Shall I
be able to persuade others to regard the future as I do? Will Lucy’s
friends let her accept a beggar? No, not that! He who is able and
willing to work need not be a beggar. Was that a tap at the door? Come
in.” As he spoke, the door slowly opened, and a lady entered; her veil,
closely drawn and folded, completely concealed her face, and a large
shawl wrapped her figure from shoulders to feet.

As she stood for an instant silent, Trafford arose and said, “I suppose
you wished to see Sir Brook Fossbrooke; but he is from home, and will
not return till a late hour.”

“Don’t you remember me, Lionel?” said she, drawing back her veil, while
she leaned against the wall for support.

“Good heavens! Mrs. Sewell!” and he sprang forward and led her to a
seat. “I never thought to see you here,” said he, merely uttering words
at random in his astonishment.

“When did you come?” asked she, faintly.

“About an hour ago.”

“True? Is this true?”

“On my honor. Why do you ask? Why should you doubt it?”

“Simply to know how long you could have been here without coming to me.”
 These words were uttered in a voice slightly tremulous, and full of a
tender significance. Trafford’s cheeks grew scarlet, and for a moment he
seemed unable to reply. At last he said, in a confused way: “I came by
the mail-packet, and at once drove out here. I was anxious to see Sir
Brook. And you?”

“I came here also to see him.”

“He has been in some trouble lately,” said Trafford, trying to lead the
conversation into an indifferent channel. “By some absurd mistake they
arrested him as a Celt.”

“How long do you remain here, Lionel?” asked she, totally unmindful of
his speech.

“My leave is for a month, but the journey takes off half of it.”

“Am I much changed, Lionel, since you saw me last? You can scarcely
know. Come over and sit beside me.”

Trafford drew his chair close to hers. “Well,” said she, pushing back
her bonnet, and by the action letting her rich and glossy hair fall
in great masses over her back, “you have not answered me? How am I
looking?”

“You were always beautiful, and fully as much so now as ever.”

“But I am thinner, Lionel. See my poor hands, how they are wasted. These
are not the plump fingers you used to hold for hours in your own,--all
that dreary time you were so ill;” and as she spoke, she laid her hand,
as if unconsciously, over his.

“You were so good to me,” muttered he,--“so good and so kind.”

“And you have wellnigh forgotten it all,” said she, sighing heavily.

“Forgotten it! far from it. I never think of you but with gratitude.”

She drew her hand hastily away, and averted her head at the same time
with a quick movement.

“Were it not for your tender care and watchfulness, I know well I could
never have recovered from that severe illness. I cannot forget, I do
not want to forget, the thousand little ways in which you assuaged my
suffering, nor the still more touching kindness with which you bore my
impatience. I often live it all over again, believe me, Mrs. Sewell.”

“You used to call me Lucy,” said she, in a faint whisper.

“Did I--did I dare?”

“Yes, you dared. You dared even more than that, Lionel. You dared to
speak to me, to write to me, as only he can write or speak who offers
a woman his whole heart. I know the manly code on these matters is that
when a married woman listens even once to such addresses, she admits
the plea on which her love is sought; but I believed--yes, Lionel,
I believed--that yours was a different nature. I knew--my heart told
me--that you pitied me.”

“That I did,” said he, with a quivering lip.

“You pitied me because you saw the whole sad story of my life. You saw
the cruel outrages, the insults I was exposed to! Poor Lionel’!” and she
caught his hand as she spoke, “how severely did it often try your temper
to endure what you witnessed!”

Trafford bit his lip in silence, and she went on more eagerly: “I needed
not defenders. I could have had scores of them. There was not a man who
came to the house would not have been proud to be my champion. You know
if this be a boast. You know how I was surrounded. For the very least of
those caresess I bestowed upon you on your sick-bed, there was not one
who would not have risked his life. Is this true?”

“I believe it,” muttered he.

“And why did I bear all this,” cried she, wildly,--“why did I endure,
not alone and in the secrecy of my own home, but before the world,--in
the crowd of a drawing-room,--outrage that wounds a woman’s pride worse
than a brought-home crime? Why did I live under it all? Just for this,
that the one man who should have avenged me was sick, if not dying; and
that if _he_ could not defend me, I would have no other. You said you
pitied me,” said she, leaning her head against his shoulder. “Do you
pity me still?”

“With all my heart I pity you.”

“I knew it,--I was sure of it!” said she, with a voice vibrating with a
sort of triumph. “I always said you would come back,--that you had
not, could not, forget me,--that you would no more desert me than a man
deserts the comrade that has been shipwrecked with him. You see that I
did not wrong you, Lionel.”

Trafford covered his face with both his hands, but never uttered a word,
while she went on: “Your friends, indeed, if that be the name for them,
insisted that I was mistaken in you! How often have I had to hear such
speeches as ‘Trafford always looks to himself.’ ‘Trafford will never
entangle himself deeply for any one;’ and then they would recount some
little story of a heartless desertion here, or some betrayal there, as
though your life--your whole life--was made up of these treacheries; and
I had to listen to these as to the idle gossip one hears in the world
and takes no account of! Would you believe it, Lionel, it was only last
week I was making a morning call at my mother-in-law’s, and I heard that
you were coming home to England to be married! Perhaps I was ill that
day--I had enough to have made me ill--perhaps more wretched than
usual--perhaps, who knows, the startling suddenness of the news--I
cannot say how, but so overcome was I by indignation that I cried out,
‘It is untrue,--every syllable of it untrue.’ I meant to have stopped
there, but somehow I went on to say--Heaven knows what--that I would
not sit by and hear you slandered--that you were a man of unblemished
honor--in a word, Lionel, I silenced your detractors; but in doing so,
I sacrificed myself; and as one by one each visitor rose to
withdraw,--they were all women,--they made me some little apology for
whatever pain they had given me, and in such a tone of mock sorrow
and real sarcasm that as the last left the room, I fell into a fit of
hysterics that lasted for hours. ‘Oh, Lucy, what have you done!’ were
the first words I heard, and it was _his_ mother who spoke them. Ay,
Lionel, they were bitter words to hear! Not but that she pitied me. Yes,
women have pity on each other in such miseries. She was very kind to me,
and came back with me to the Priory, and stayed all the evening with me,
and we talked of _you!_ Yes, Lionel, she forgave me. She said she had
long foreseen what it must come to--that no woman had ever borne what I
had--that over and over again she had warned him, conjuring him, if not
for his own sake, for the children’s--Oh, Lionel, I cannot go on!” burst
she out, sobbing bitterly, as she fell at his feet, and rested her head
on his knees. He carried her tenderly in his arms and placed her on a
sofa, and she lay there to all seeming insensible and unconscious. He
was bending anxiously over her as she lifted her eyelids and gazed at
him,--a long steadfast look it was, as though it would read his very
heart within him. “Well,” asked she,--“well?”

“Are you better?” asked he, in a kind voice.

“When you have answered _my_ question, I will answer yours,” said she,
in a tone almost stern.

“You have not asked me anything, Lucy,” said he, tremulously.

“And do you want me to say I doubt you?” cried she, with almost
a scream. “Do you want me to humble myself to ask, Am I to be
forsaken?--in plain words, Is there one word of truth in this story of
the marriage? Why don’t you answer me? Speak out, sir, and deny it, as
you would deny the charge that called you a swindler or a coward. What!
are you silent? Is it the fear of what is to come after that appalls
you? But I absolve you from the charge, Trafford. You shall not be
burdened by me. My mother-in-law will take me. She has offered me a
home, and I have accepted it. There, now, you are released of that
terror. Say that this tale of the marriage is a lie,--a foul lie,--a lie
invented to outrage and insult me; say that, Lionel--just bow your
head, my own--What! It is not a lie, then?” said she, in a low, distinct
voice,--“and it is I that have been deceived, and you are--all that they
called you.”

“Listen to me, Lucy.”

“How dare you, sir?--by what right do you presume to call me Lucy? Are
you such a coward as to take this freedom because my husband is not here
to resent it? Do not touch me, sir. That old man, in whose house I am,
would strike you to the ground if you insulted me. It was to see him I
came here,--to see him, and not you. I came here with a message from
my husband to Sir Brook Fossbrooke--and not to listen to the insulting
addresses of Major Trafford. Let me go, sir; and at your peril touch me
with a finger. Look at yourself in that glass yonder,--look at yourself,
and you will see why I despise you.” And with this she arose and passed
out, while with a warning gesture of her hand she motioned that he
should not follow her.



CHAPTER XXIII. TO REPORT

It was long after midnight when Mrs. Sewell reached the Priory. She
dismissed her cab at the gate lodge, and was slowly walking up the
avenue when Sewell met her.

“I was beginning to think you did n’t mean to come back at all,” cried
he, in a voice of mingled taunt and irritation,--“it is close on one
o’clock.”

“He had dined in town, and I had to wait till he returned,” said she, in
a low, faint tone.

“You saw him, however?”

“Yes, we met at the station.”

“Well, what success?”

“He gave me some money,--he promised me more.”

“How much has he given you?” cried he, eagerly.

“Two hundred, I think; at least I thought he said there was two
hundred,--he gave me his pocket-book. Let me reach the house, and have a
glass of water before you question me more. I am tired,--very tired.”

“You seem weak, too; have you eaten nothing?”

“No, nothing.”

“There is some supper on the table. We have had guests here. Old
Lendrick and his daughter came up with Beattie. They are not above half
an hour gone. They thought to see the old man, but Beattie found him so
excited and irritable he advised them to defer the visit.”

“Did you see them?”

“Yes; I passed the evening with them most amicably. The girl is
wonderfully good-looking; and she has got rid of that shy, half-furtive
way she had formerly, and looks at one steadfastly, and with such a pair
of eyes too! I had no notion she was so beautiful.”

“Were they cordial in manner,--friendly?”

“I suppose they were. Dr. Lendrick was embarrassed and timid, and with
that fidgety uneasiness as if he wanted to be anywhere else than where
he was; but she was affable enough,--asked affectionately about you and
the children, and hoped to see you to-morrow.”

She made no reply, but, hastening her steps, walked on till she entered
the house, when, passing into a small room off the hall, she threw off
her bonnet, and, with a deep-drawn sigh, said, “I am dead tired; get me
some water.”

“You had better have wine.”

“No, water. I am feverish. My head is throbbing painfully.”

“You want food and support. Come into the dining-room and eat something.
I ‘ll keep you company, too, for I could n’t eat while those people
were here. I felt, all the time, that they had come to turn us out; and,
indeed, Beat-tie, with a delicate tact quite his own, half avowed it, as
he said, ‘It is a pity there is not light enough for you to see your
old flower-garden, Lucy, for I know you are impatient to be back in it
again.’”

“I ‘ll try and eat something,” said Mrs. Sewell, rising, and with weary
steps moving into the dining-room.

Sewell placed a chair for her at the table, helped her, and filled her
glass, and, telling the servant that he need not wait, sat down opposite
her. “From what Beattie said I gather,” said he, “that the Chief is
out of danger, the crisis of the attack is over, and he has only to be
cautious to come through. Is n’t it like our luck?”

“Hush!--take care.”

“No fear. They can’t hear even when they try; these double doors puzzle
them. You are not eating.”

“I cannot eat; give me another glass of wine.”

“Yes, that will do you good; it’s the old thirty-four. I took it out in
honor of Lendrick, but he is a water-drinker. I ‘m sure I wish Beattie
were. I grudged the rascal every glass of that glorious claret which he
threw down with such gusto, telling me the while that it was infinitely
finer than when he last tasted it.”

“I feel better now, but I want rest and sleep. You can wait for all I
have to tell you till to-morrow,--can’t you?”

“If I must, there ‘s no help for it; but considering that my whole
future in a measure hangs upon it, I ‘d rather hear it now.”

“I am well nigh worn out,” said she, plaintively; and she held out her
glass to be filled once more; “but I ‘ll try and tell you.”

Supporting her head on both her hands, and with her eyes half closed,
she went on in a low monotonous tone, like that of one reading from
a book: “We met at the station, and had but a few minutes to confer
together. I told him I had been at his house; that I came to see him,
and ask his assistance; that you had got into trouble, and would have to
leave the country, and were without means to go. He seemed, I thought,
to be aware of all this, and asked me, ‘Was it only now that I had
learned or knew of this necessity?’ He also asked if it were at your
instance, and by your wish, that I had come to him? I said, Yes; you had
sent me.” Sewell started as if something sharp had pierced him, and she
went on: “There was nothing for it but the truth; and, besides, I know
him well, and if he had once detected me in an attempt to deceive him,
he would not have forgiven it. He then said, ‘It is not to the wife I
will speak harshly of the husband, but what assurance have I that he
will go out of the country?’ I said, ‘You had no choice between that and
jail. ‘He nodded assent, and muttered, ‘A jail--and worse; and _you_,’
said he, ‘what is to become of you?’ I told him ‘I did not know; that
perhaps Lady Lendrick would take me and the children.’”

“He did not offer you a home with himself?” said Sewell, with a
diabolical grin.

“No,” said she, calmly; “but he objected to our being separated. He said
that it was to sacrifice our children, and we had no right to do this;
and that, come what might, we ought to live together. He spoke much on
this, and asked me more than once if our hard-bought experiences had not
taught us to be more patient, more forgiving towards each other.”

“I hope you told him that I was a miracle of tolerance, and that I bore
with a saintly submission what more irritable mortals were wont to go
half mad about,--did you tell him this?”

“Yes; I said you had a very practical way of dealing with life, and
never resented an unprofitable insult.”

“How safe a man’s honor always is in a good wife’s keeping!” said
he, with a savage laugh. “I hope your candor encouraged him to more
frankness; he must have felt at ease after that?”

“Still he persisted in saying there must be no separation.”

“That was hard upon you; did you not tell him that was hard upon _you?_”

“No; I avoided mixing myself up in the discussion. I had come to treat
for you, and you alone.”

“But you might have said that he had no right to impose upon you a life
of--what shall I call it?--incompatibility or cruelty.”

“I did not; I told him I would repeat to you whatever he told me as
nearly as I could. He then said: ‘Go abroad and live together in some
cheap place, where you can find means to educate the children. I,’ said
he, ‘will take the cost of that, and allow you five hundred a year for
your own expenses. If I am satisfied with your husband’s conduct, and
well assured of his reformation, I will increase this allowance. ’”

“He said nothing about you nor _your_ reformation,--did he?”

“Not a word.”

“How much will he make it if we separate?”

“He did not say. Indeed, he seemed to make our living together the
condition of aiding us.”

“And if he knew of anything harder or harsher he ‘d have added it. Why,
he has gone about the world these dozen years back telling every one
what a brute and blackguard you had for a husband; that, short of
murder, I had gone through every crime towards you. Where was it I beat
you with a hunting-whip?”

“At Rangoon,” said she, calmly.

“And where did I turn you into the streets at midnight?”

“At Winchester.”

“Exactly; these were the very lies--the infernal lies--he has been
circulating for years; and now he says, ‘If you have not yet found
out how suited you are to each other, how admirably your tastes and
dispositions agree, it’s quite time you should do so. Go back and live
together, and if one of you does not poison the other, I ‘ll give you a
small annuity.’”

“Five hundred a year is very liberal,” said she, coldly.

“I could manage on it for myself alone, but it ‘s meant to support a
family. It ‘s beggary, neither more nor less.”

“We have no claim upon him.”

“No claim! What! no claim on your godfather, your guardian, not to say
the impassioned and devoted admirer who followed you over India just
to look at you, and spent a little fortune in getting portraits of you!
Why, the man must be a downright impostor if he does not put half his
fortune at your feet!”

“I ought to tell you that he annexed certain conditions to any help
he tendered us. ‘They were matters,’ he said, ‘could best be treated
between you and himself; that I did not, nor need not, know any of
them.’”

“I know what he alluded to.”

“Last of all, he said you must give him your answer promptly, for he
would not be long in this country.”

“As to that, time is fully as pressing to me as to him. The only
question is, Can we make no better terms with him?”

“You mean more money?”.

“Of course I mean more money. Could you make him say one thousand, or at
least eight hundred, instead of five?”

“It would not be a pleasant mission,” said she, with a bitter smile.

“I suppose not; a ruined man’s wife need not look for many ‘pleasant
missions,’ as you call them. This same one of to-day was not
over-gratifying.”

“Less even than you are aware,” said she, slowly.

“Oh, I can very well imagine the tone and manner of the old fellow;
how much of rebuke and severity he could throw into his voice; and how
minutely and painstakingly he would dwell upon all that could humiliate
you.”

“No; you are quite wrong. There was not a word of reproach, not a
syllable of blame; his manner was full of gentle and pitying kindness,
and when he tried to comfort and cheer me, it was like the affection of
a father.”

“Where, then, was this great trial and suffering of which you have just
said I could take no full measure?”

“I was thinking of what occurred before I met Sir Brook,” said she,
looking up, and with her eyes now widely opened, and a nostril distended
as she spoke. “I was thinking of an incident of the morning. I have
told you that when I reached the cottage where Sir Brook lived, I found
that he was absent, and would not return till a late hour. Tired with my
long walk from the station, I wished to sit down and rest before I had
determined what to do, whether to await his arrival or go back to town.
I saw the door open, I entered the little sitting-room, and found myself
face to face with Major Trafford.”

“Lionel Trafford?”

“Yes; he had come by that morning’s packet from England, and gone
straight out to see his friend.”

“He was alone, was he?”

“Alone! there was no one in the house but ourselves.”

Sewell shrugged his shoulders, and said, “Go on.”

The insult of his gesture sent the blood to her face and forehead, and
for an instant she seemed too much overcome by anger to speak.

“Am I to tell you what this man said to me? Is _that_ what you mean?”
 said she, in a voice that almost hissed with passion.

“Better not, perhaps,” replied he, calmly, “if the very recollection
overcame you so completely.”

“That is to say, it is better I should bear the insult how I may than
reveal it to one who will not resent it.”

“When you say resent, do you intend I should call him out?--fight him?”

“If I were the husband instead of the wife, it is what I should
do,--ay,” cried she, wildly, “and thank Fortune that gave me the
chance.”

“I don’t think I’m going to show any such gratitude,” said he, with a
cold grin. “If he made love to you, I take it he fancied you had given
him some encouragement When you showed him that he was mistaken, he
met his punishment. A woman always knows how to make a man look like a
confounded fool at such a moment.”

“And is that enough?”

“Is _what_ enough?”

“I ask, is it enough to make him look like a confounded fool? Will
_that_ soothe a wife’s insulted pride, or avenge a husband’s injured
honor?”

“I don’t know much of the wife’s part; but as to the husband’s share
in the matter, if I had to fight every fellow who made up to you, my
wedding garment ought to have been a suit of chain-armor.”

“A husband need not fight for his wife’s flirtations; be-. sides, he can
make her give these up if he likes. There are insults, however, that a
man”--; and she said the word with a fierce emphasis--“resents with the
same instinct that makes him defend his life.”

“I know well enough what he ‘d say; he ‘d say that there was nothing
serious in it, that he was merely indulging in that sort of larking
talk one offers to a pretty woman who does not seem to dislike it. The
chances are he ‘d turn the tables a bit, and say that you rather led him
on than repressed him.”

“And would these pleas diminish your desire to have his heart’s blood?”
 cried she, wild with passion and indignation together.

“Having his heart’s blood is very fine, if I was sure--quite sure--he
might not have mine. The fellow is a splendid shot.”

“I thought so. I could have sworn it,” cried she, with a taunting laugh.

“I admit no man my superior with a pistol,” said Sewell, stung far more
by her laughter than her words; “but what have I to gain if I shoot him?
His family would prosecute me to a certainty; and it went devilish close
with that last fellow who was tried at Newgate.”

“If you care so little for my honor, sir, I ‘ll show you how cheaply I
can regard yours. I will go back to Sir Brook to-morrow, and return
him his money. I will tell him, besides, that I am married to one
so hopelessly lost to every sentiment and feeling, not merely of the
gentleman, but of the man, that it is needless to try to help him; and
that I will accept nothing for him,--not a shilling; that he may deal
with you on those other matters he spoke of as he pleases; that it will
be no favor shown me when he spares you. There, sir, I leave you now to
compute whether a little courage would not have served you better than
all your cunning.”

“You do not leave this room till you give me that pocket-book,” said he,
rising, and placing his back to the door.

“I foresaw this, sir,” said she, laughing quietly, “and took care to
deposit the money in a safe place before I came here. You are welcome to
every farthing I have about me.”

“Your scheme is too glaring, too palpable by half. There is a vulgar
shamelessness in the way you ‘make your book,’ standing to win whichever
of us should kill the other. I read it at a glance,” said he, as
he threw himself into a chair; “but I ‘ll not help to make you an
interesting widow. Are you going? Good-night.”

She moved towards the door? and just as she reached it he arose and
said, “On what pretext could I ask this man to meet me? What do I charge
him with? How could I word my note to him?”

“Let _me_ write it,” said she, with a bitter laugh. “You will only have
to copy it.”

“And if I consent will you do all the rest? Will you go to
Fossbrooke and ask him for the increased allowance?”

“I will.”

“Will you do your best--your very best--to obtain it? Will you use all
the power and influence you have over him to dissuade him from any act
that might injure _me?_ Will you get his pledge that he will not molest
me in any way?”

“I will promise to do all that I can with him.” “And when must this come
off,--this meeting, I mean?”

“At once, of course. You ought to leave this by the early packet for
Bangor. Harding or Vaughan--any one--will go with you. Trafford can
follow you by the midday mail, as your note will have reached him
early.”

“You seem to have a capital head for these sort of things; you arrange
all to perfection,” said he, with a sneer.

“I had need of it, as I have to think for two;” and the sarcasm stung
him to the quick. “I will go to your room and write the note. I shall
find paper and ink there?”

“Yes; everything. I’ll carry these candles for you;” and he arose and
preceded her to his study. “I wish he would not mix old Fossbrooke in
the affair. I hope he’ll not name him as his friend.”

“I have already thought of that,” said she, as she sat down at the
table and began to write. After a few seconds she said, “This will do, I
think:--

“‘Sir,--I have just learned from my wife how grossly insulting was your
conduct towards her yesterday, on the occasion of her calling at Sir
Brook Fossbrooke’s house. The shame and distress in which she returned
here would fully warrant any chastisement I might inflict upon you; but
for the sake of the cloth you wear, I offer you the alternative which I
would extend to a man of honor, and desire you will meet me at once with
a friend. I shall leave by the morning packet for Holyhead, and be found
at the chief hotel, Bangor, where, waiting your pleasure, I am your
obedient servant.

“‘I hope it is needless to say that my wife’s former guardian, Sir B.
F., should not be chosen to act for you on this occasion.’”

“I don’t think I’d say that about personal chastisement. People don’t
horsewhip nowadays.”

“So much the worse. I would leave it there, however. It will insult him
like a blow.”

“Oh, he’s ready enough,--he’ll not need poking to rouse his pluck. I’ll
say that for him.”

“And yet I half suspect he ‘ll write some blundering sort of apology;
some attempt to show that I was mistaken. I know--I know it as well as
if I saw it--he ‘ll not fire at you.”

“What makes you think that?” “He could n’t. It would be impossible for
him.” “I ‘m not so sure of that. There’s something very provocative in
the sight of a pistol muzzle staring at one a few paces off. _I’d_ fire
at my father if I saw him going to shoot at me.”

“I think _you_ would,” said she, dryly. “Sit down and copy that note. We
must send it by a messenger at once.”

“I don’t think you put it strongly enough about old Foss-brooke. I ‘d
have said distinctly,--I object to his acting on account of his close
and intimate connection with my wife’s family.”

“No, no; leave it all as it stands. If we begin to change, we shall
never have an end of the alterations.”

“If I believed he would not fire at me, I’d not shoot him,” said Sewell,
biting the end of his pen.

“He ‘ll not fire the first time; but if you go on to a second shot, I’m
certain he will aim at you.”

“I’ll try and not give him this chance, then,” said he, laughing.
“Remember,” added he, “I’m promising to cross the Channel, and I have
not a pound in my pocket.”

“Write that, and I ‘ll go fetch you the money,” said she, leaving the
room; and, passing out through the hall and the front door, she put her
arm and hand into a large marble vase, several of which stood on the
terrace, and drew forth the pocket-book which Sir Brook had given her,
and which she had secretly deposited there as she entered the house.

“There, that’s done,” said he, handing her his note as she came in.

“Put it in an envelope and address it. And now, where are you to find
Harding, or whoever you mean to take with you?”

“That’s easy enough; they ‘ll be at supper at the Club by this time.
I’ll go in at once. But the money?”

“Here it is. I have not counted it; he gave me the pocket-book as you
see.”

“There’s more than he said. There are two hundred and eighty-five
pounds. He must be in funds.”

“Don’t lose time. It is very late already,--nigh two o’clock; these men
will have left the Club, possibly?”

“No, no; they play on till daybreak. I suppose I’d better put my traps
in a portmanteau at once, and not require to come back here.”

“I ‘ll do all that for you.”

“How amiable a wife can be at the mere prospect of getting rid of her
husband!”

“You will send me a telegram?”

“Very likely. Good-bye. Adieu.”

“_Adieu et bonne chance_,” said she, gayly.

“That means a good aim, I suppose,” said he, laughing.

She nodded pleasantly, kissed her hand to him, and he was gone.



CHAPTER XXIV. A MOMENT OF CONFIDENCE

Mrs. Sewell’s maid made two ineffectual efforts to awaken her mistress
on the following morning, for agitation had drugged her like a narcotic,
and she slept the dull, heavy sleep of one overpowered by opium. “Why,
Jane, it is nigh twelve o’clock,” said she, looking at her watch. “Why
did you let me sleep so late?”

“Indeed, ma’am, I did my best to rouse you. I opened the shutters, and I
splashed the water into your bath, and made noise enough, I ‘m sure, but
you did n’t mind it all; and I brought up the doctor to see if there was
anything the matter with you, and he felt your pulse, and put his hand
on your heart, and said, No, it was just overfatigue; that you had been
sitting up too much of late, and hadn’t strength for it.”

“Where ‘s Colonel Sewell?” asked she, hurriedly.

“He’s gone off to the country, ma’am; leastways, he went away early this
morning, and George thinks it was to Killaloe.”

“Is Dr. Beattie here?”

“Yes, ma’am; they all breakfasted with the children at nine o’clock.”

“Whom do you mean by all?”

“Mr. Lendrick, ma’am, and Miss Lucy. I hear as how they are coming back
to live here. They were up all the morning in his Lordship’s room, and
there was much laughing, as if it was a wedding.”

“Whose wedding? What were you saying about a wedding?”

“Nothing, ma’am; only that they were as merry,--that’s all.”

“Sir William must be better, then?”

“Yes, ma’am,--quite out of danger; and he ‘s to have a partridge for
dinner, and the doctor says he ‘ll be downstairs and all right before
this day week; and I ‘m sure it will be a real pleasure to see him
lookin’ like himself again, for he told Mr. Cheetor to take them wigs
away, and all the pomatum-pots, and that he ‘d have the shower-bath that
he always took long ago. It’s a fine day for Mr. Cheetor, for he has
given him I don’t know how many colored scarfs, and at least a dozen
new waistcoats, all good as the day they were made; and he says he won’t
wear anything but black, like long ago; and, indeed, some say that old
Rives, the butler as was, will be taken back, and the house be the way
it used to be formerly. I wonder, ma’am, if the Colonel will let it
be,--they say below stairs that he won’t.”

“I’m sure Colonel Sewell cares very little on the subject. Do you know
if they are going to dine here to-day?”

“Yes, ma’am, they are. Miss Lucy said the butler was to take your orders
as to what hour you ‘d like dinner.”

“Considerate, certainly,” said she, with a faint smile.

“And I heard Mr. Lendrick say, ‘I think you ‘d better go up yourself,
Lucy, and see Mrs. Sewell, and ask if we inconvenience her in any way;’
but the doctor said, ‘You need not; she will be charmed to meet you.’”

“He knows me perfectly, Jane,” said she, calmly. “Is Miss Lucy so very
handsome? Colonel Sewell called her beautiful.”

“Indeed, I don’t think so, ma’am. Mr. Cheetor and me thought she was too
robusteous for a young lady; and she’s freckled, too, quite dreadful.
The picture of her below in the study’s a deal more pretty; but perhaps
she was delicate in health when it was done.”

“That would make a great difference, Jane.”

“Yes, ma’am, it always do; every one is much genteeler-looking when they
‘re poorly. Not but old Mr. Haire said she was far more beautiful than
ever.”

“And is he here too?”

“Yes, ma’am. It was he that pushed Miss Lucy down into the arm-chair,
and said, ‘Take your old place there, darling, and pour out the tea, and
we’ll forget that you were ever away at all.’”

“How pretty and how playful! The poor children must have felt themselves
quite old in such juvenile company.”

“They was very happy, ma’am. Miss Cary sat in Miss Lucy’s lap all the
time, and seemed to like her greatly.”

“There’s nothing worse for children than taking them out of their daily
habits. I ‘m astonished Mrs. Groves should let them go and breakfast
below-stairs without orders from me.”

“It’s what Miss Lucy said, ma’am. ‘Are we quite sure Mrs. Sewell would
like it?’”

“She need never have asked the question; or if she did, she might have
waited for the answer. Mrs. Sewell could have told her that she totally
disapproved of any one interfering with the habits of her children.”

“And then old Mr. Haire said, ‘Even if she should not like it, when she
knows all the pleasure it has given us, she will forgive it.’”

“What a charming disposition I must have, Jane, without my knowing it!”

“Yes, ma’am,” said the girl, with a pursed-up mouth, as though she would
not trust herself to expatiate on the theme.

“Did Colonel Sewell take Capper with him?”

“No, ma’am; Mr. Capper is below. The Colonel gave him a week’s leave,
and he’s going a-fishing with some other gentlemen down into Wicklow.”

“I suspect, Jane, that you people below-stairs have the pleasantest life
of all. You have little to trouble you. When you take a holiday, you can
enjoy it with all your hearts.”

“The gentlemen does, I believe, ma’am; but we don’t. We can’t go
a-pleasuring like them; and if it a’n’t a picnic, or a thing of the kind
that’s arranged for us, we have nothing for it but a walk to church and
back, or a visit to one of our friends.”

“So that you know what it is to be bored!” said she, sighing
drearily,--“I mean to be very tired of life, and sick of everything and
everybody.”

“Not quite so bad as that, ma’am; put out, ma’am, and provoked at
times,--not in despair, like.”

“I wish I was a housemaid.”

“A housemaid, ma’am!” cried the girl, in almost horror.

“Well, a lady’s-maid. I mean, I’d like a life where my heaviest sorrow
would be a refused leave to go out, or a sharp word or two for an
ill-ironed collar. See who is that at the door; there’s some one tapping
there the last two minutes.”

“It’s Miss Lucy, ma’am; she wants to know if she may come in?”

Mrs. Sewell looked in the glass before which she was sitting, and as
speedily passed her hands across her brow, and by the action seeming to
chase away the stern expression of her eyes; then, rising up with a face
all smiles, she rushed to the door and clasped Lucy in her arms, kissing
her again and again, as she said, “I never dreamed of such happiness as
this; but why didn’t you come and awaken me? Why did you rob me of one
precious moment of your presence?”

“I knew how tired and worn-out you were. Grandpapa has told me of all
your unwearying kindness.”

“Come over to the light, child, and let me see you well. I ‘m wildly
jealous of you, I must own, but I ‘ll try to be fair and judge you
honestly. My husband says you are the loveliest creature he ever saw;
and I declare I ‘m afraid he spoke truly. What have you done with your
eyes? they are far darker than they used to be; and this hair,--you need
not tell me it’s all your own, child. Gold could not buy it. Yes, Jane,
you are right, she _is_ perfectly beautiful.”

“Oh, do not turn my head with vanity,” said Lucy, blushing.

“I wish I could,--I wish I could do anything to lessen any of your
fascinations. Do you know it’s very hard--very hard indeed--to forgive
any one being so beautiful, and hardest of all for _me_ to do so?”

“Why for you?” said Lucy, anxiously.

“I’ll tell you another time,” said she, in a half-whisper, and with
a significant glance at her maid, who, with the officiousness of her
order, was taking far more than ordinary trouble to put things to
rights. “There, Jane,” said her mistress, at last, “all that opening and
shutting of drawers is driving me distracted; leave everything as it is,
and let us have quiet. Go and fetch me a cup of chocolate.”

“Nothing else, ma’am?”

“Nothing; and ask if there are any letters for me. It’s a dreadful
house, Lucy, for sending one’s letters astray. The Chief used to have
scores of little scented notes sent up to him that were meant for me,
and I used to get masses of formal-looking documents that should have
gone to him; but everything is irregular here. There was no master, and,
worse, no mistress; but I ‘ll hope, as they tell me here, that there
will soon be one.”

“I don’t know,--I have not heard.”

“What a diplomatic damsel it is! Why, child, can’t you be frank, and say
if you are coming back to live here?”

“I never suspected that I was in question at all; if I had, I ‘d have
told you, as I tell you now, there is not the most remote probability
of such an event. We are going back to live at the Nest. Sir Brook has
bought it, and made it over to papa or myself,--I don’t know which, but
it means the same in the sense I care for, that we are to be together
again.”

“How delightful! I declare, child, my envy of you goes on increasing
every minute. I never was able to captivate any man, old or young, who
would buy a beautiful house and give it to me. Of all the fortunate
creatures I ever heard or read of, you are the luckiest.”

“Perhaps I am. Indeed I own as much to myself when I bethink me how
little I have contributed to my own good fortune.”

“And I,” said she, with a heavy sigh, “about the most unlucky! I suppose
I started in life with almost as fair a promise as your own. Not so
handsome, I admit. I had neither these long lashes nor that wonderful
hair, that gives you a look of one of those Venetian beauties Giorgione
used to paint; still less that lovely mouth, which I envy you more
even than your eyes or your skin; but I was good-looking enough to be
admired, and I was admired, and some of my admirers were very great folk
indeed; but I rejected them all and married Sewell! I need not tell
you what came of that. Poor papa foresaw it all. I believe it helped to
break his heart; it might have broken mine too, if I happened to have
one. There, don’t look horrified, darling. I was n’t born without one;
but what with vanity and distrust, a reckless ambition to make a figure
in the world, and a few other like good qualities, I made of the heart
that ought to have been the home of anything that was worthy in my
nature, a scene of plot and intrigue, till at last I imagine it wore
itself out, just as people do who have to follow uncongenial labor. It
was like a lady set down to pick oakum! Why don’t you laugh, dear, at my
absurd simile?”

“Because you frighten me,” said Lucy, almost shuddering.

“I ‘m certain,” resumed the other, “I was very like yourself when I
was married. I had been very carefully brought up,--had excellent
governesses, and was trained in all the admirable discipline of a
well-ordered family. All I knew of life was the good side. I saw people
at church on Sundays, and fancied that they wore the same tranquil and
virtuous faces throughout the week. Above all things I was trustful and
confiding. Colonel Sewell soon uprooted such delusions. He believed in
nothing nor in any one. If he had any theory at all of life, it was that
the world consisted of wolves and lambs, and that one must make an early
choice which flock he would belong to. I ‘m ashamed to own what a zest
it gave to existence to feel that the whole thing was a great game in
which, by the exercise of skill and cleverness, one might be almost sure
to win. He soon made me as impassioned a gambler as himself, as ready to
risk anything--everything--on the issue. But I have made you quite ill,
child, with this dark revelation; you are pale as death.”

“No, I am only frightened,--frightened and grieved.”

“Don’t grieve for me,” said the other, haughtily. “There is nothing I
could n’t more easily forgive than pity. But let me turn from my odious
self and talk of you. I want you to tell me everything about your own
fortune, where you have been all this time, what seeing and doing, and
what is the vista in front of you?”

Lucy gave a full account of Cagliari and their life there, narrating
how blank their first hopes had been, and what a glorious fortune had
crowned them at last. “I ‘m afraid to say what the mine returns at
present; and they say it is a mere nothing to what it may yield when
improved means of working are employed, new shafts sunk, and steam power
engaged.”

“Don’t get technical, darling; I’ll take your word for Sir Brook’s
wealth; only tell me what he means to do with it. You know he gambled
away one large fortune already, and squandered another, nobody knows
how. Has he gained anything by these experiences to do better with the
third?”

“I have only heard of his acts of munificence or generosity,” said Lucy,
gravely.

“What a reproachful face to put on, and for so little!” said the other,
laughing. “You don’t think that when I said he gambled I thought the
worse of him.”

“Perhaps not; but you meant that _I_ should.”

“You are too sharp in your casuistry; but you have been living with only
men latterly, and the strong-minded race always impart some of their
hardness to the women who associate with them. You’ll have to come down
to silly creatures like me, Lucy, to regain your softness.”

“I shall be delighted if you let me keep your company.”

“We will be sisters, darling, if you will only be frank with me.”

“Prove me if you like; ask me anything you will, and see if I will not
answer you freely.”

“Have you told me all your Cagliari life,--all?”

“I think so; all at least that was worth telling.”

“You had a shipwreck on your island, we heard here; are such events so
frequent that they make slight impression?”

“I was but speaking of ourselves and our fortunes,” said Lucy; “my
narrative was all selfish.” “Come,--I never beat about the bush,--tell
me one thing,--it’s a very abrupt way to ask, but perhaps it’s the best
way,--are you going to be married?”

“I don’t know,” said she; and her face and neck became crimson in a
moment.

“You don’t know! Do you mean that you ‘re like one of those young ladies
in the foreign convents who are sent for to accept a husband whenever
the papas and mammas have agreed upon the terms?”

“Not that; but I mean that I am not sure whether grandpapa will give his
consent, and without it papa will not either.”

“And why should not grandpapa say yes? Major Traf-ford,--we need n’t
talk riddles to each other,--Major Trafford has a good position, a good
name, and will have a good estate; are not these the three gifts the
mothers of England go in pursuit of?”

“His family, I suspect, wish him to look higher; at all events, they
don’t like the idea of an Irish daughter-in-law.”

“More fools they! Irish women of the better class are more ready to
respond to good treatment, and less given to resent bad usage, than any
I ever met.”

“Then I have just heard since I came over that Lady Trafford has written
to grandpapa in a tone of such condescension and gentle sorrow that
it has driven him half crazy. Indeed, his continual inference from the
letter is, ‘What must the son of such a woman be!’”

“That’s most unfair!”

“So they have all told him,--papa, and Beattie, and even Mr. Haire, who
met Lionel one morning at Beattie’s.”

“Perhaps I might be of service here; what a blush, child! dear me, you
are crimson, far too deep for beauty. How I have fluttered the dear
little bird! but I ‘m not going to rob its nest, or steal its mate away.
All I meant was, that I could exactly contribute that sort of worldly
testimony to the goodness of the match that old people like and ask for.
You must never talk to them about affections, nor so much as allude
to tastes or tempers; never expatiate on anything that cannot be
communicated by parchment, and attested by proper witnesses. Whatever is
not subject to stamp-duty, they set down as mere moonshine.”

While she thus ran on, Lucy’s thoughts never strayed from a certain
letter which had once thrown a dark shadow over her, and even yet left a
gloomy memory behind it. The rapidity with which Mrs. Sewell spoke, too,
had less the air of one carried away by the strong current of feeling
than of a speaker who was uttering everything, anything, to relieve her
own overburdened mind.

“You look very grave, Lucy,” went she on. “I suspect I know what’s
passing in that little brain. You are doubting if I should be the
fittest person to employ on the negotiation; come, now, confess it.”

“You have guessed aright,” said Lucy, gravely.

“But all that ‘s past and over, child. The whole is a mere memory now,
if even so much. Men have a trick of thinking, once they have interested
a woman on their behalf, that the sentiment survives all changes of time
and circumstance, and that they can come back after years and claim the
deposit; but it is a great mistake, as _he_ has found by this time. But
don’t let this make you unhappy, dear; there never was less cause for
unhappiness. It is just of these sort of men the model husbands are
made. The male heart is a very tough piece of anatomy, and requires a
good deal of manipulation to make it tender, and, as you will learn
one day, it is far better all this should be done before marriage than
after.--Well, Jane, I did begin to think you had forgotten about the
chocolate. It is about an hour since I asked for it.”

“Indeed, ma’am, it was Mr. Cheetor’s fault; he was a shooting rabbits
with another gentleman.”

“There, there, spare me Mr. Cheetor’s diversions, and fetch me some
sugar.”

“Mr. Lendrick and another gentleman, ma’am, is below, and wants to see
Miss Lucy.”

“A young gentleman, Jane?” asked Mrs. Sewell, while her eyes flashed
with a sudden fierce brilliancy.

“No, ma’am, an old gentleman, with a white beard, very tall and stern to
look at.”

“We don’t care for descriptions of old gentlemen, Jane. Do we, Lucy?
Must you go, darling?”

“Yes; papa perhaps wants me.”

“Come back to me soon, pet. Now that we have no false barriers between
us, we can talk in fullest confidence.”

Lucy hurried away, but no sooner had she reached the corridor than she
burst into tears.



CHAPTER XXV. THE TELEGRAM.

When Lacy reached the drawing-room, she found her father and Sir Brook
deep in conversation in one of the window-recesses, and actually unaware
of her entrance till she stood beside them.

“No,” cried Lendrick, eagerly; “I can’t follow these men in their
knaveries. I don’t see the drift of them, and I lose the clew to the
whole machinery.”

“The drift is easy enough to understand,” said Foss-brooke. “A man wants
to escape from his embarrassments, and has little scruple as to the
means.”

“But the certainty of being found out--”

“There is no greater fallacy than that. Do you imagine that one-tenth of
the cheats that men practise on the world are ever brought to light? Or
do you fancy that all the rogues are in jail, and all the people who
are abroad and free are honest men? Far from it. Many an inspector that
comes to taste the prison soup and question the governor, ought to have
more than an experimental course of the dietary; and many a juryman sits
on the case of a creature far better and purer than himself. But here
comes one will give our thoughts a pleasanter channel to run in. How
well you look, Lucy! I am glad to see the sunny skies of Sardinia have
n’t blanched your cheeks.”

“Such a scheme as Sir Brook has discovered!--such an ignoble plot
against my poor dear father!” said Lendrick. “Tell her--tell her the
whole of it.”

In a very few words Sir Brook recounted the story of Sewell’s interview
with Balfour, and the incident of the stolen draft of the Judge’s
writing bartered for money.

“It would have killed my father. The shock would have killed him,” said
Lendrick. “And it was this man,--this Sewell,--who possessed his entire
confidence of late,--actually wielded complete influence over him. The
whole time I sat with my father, he did nothing but quote him,--Sewell
said so, Sewell told me, or Sewell suspected such a thing; and always
with some little added comment on his keen sharp intellect, his clear
views of life, and his consummate knowledge of men. It was by the
picture Sewell drew of Lady Trafford that my father was led to derive
his impression of her letter. Sewell taught him to detect a covert
impertinence and a sneer where none was intended. I read the letter
myself, and it was only objectionable on the score of its vanity.
She thought herself a very great personage writing to another great
personage.”

“Just so,” said Fossbrooke. “It was right royal throughout. It might
have begun ‘_Madame ma soeur_.’ And as I knew something of the writer, I
thought it a marvel of delicacy and discretion.”

“My father, unfortunately, deemed it a piece of intolerable pretension
and offensive condescension, and he burned to be well enough to reply to
it.”

“Which is exactly what we must not permit. If they once get to a regular
interchange of letters, there is nothing they will not say to each
other. No, no; my plan is the best of all. Lionel made a most favorable
impression the only time Sir William saw him. Beattie shall bring him
up here again as soon as the Chief can be about: the rest will follow
naturally. Lucy agrees with me, I see.”

How Sir Brook knew this is not so easy to say, as Lucy had turned her
head away persistently all the time he was speaking, and still continued
in that attitude.

“It cannot be to-night, however, and possibly not tomorrow night,” said
Fossbrooke, musing; and though Lucy turned quickly and eagerly towards
him to explain his words, he was silent for some minutes, when at length
he said, “Lionel started this morning by daybreak, and for England.
It must have been a sudden thought. He left me a few lines, in pencil,
which went thus,--‘I take the early mail to Holyhead, but mean to be
back to-morrow, or at farthest the day after. No time for more.’”

“If the space were not brief that he assigns for his absence, I ‘d say
he had certainly gone to see his father,” said Lendrick.

“It’s not at all unlikely that his mother may have arranged to meet him
in Wales,” said Sir Brook. “She is a fussy, meddlesome woman, who likes
to be, or to think herself, the prime mover in everything. I remember
when Hugh Trafford--a young fellow at that time--was offered a Junior
Lordship of the Treasury, it was she who called on the Premier, Lord
Dornington, to explain why he could not accept office. Nothing but
great abilities or great vices enable a man to rise above the crushing
qualities of such a wife. Trafford had neither, and the world has always
voted him a nonentity.”

“There, Lucy,” said Lendrick, laughing,--“there at least is one danger
you must avoid in married life.”

“Lucy needs no teachings of mine,” said Sir Brook. “Her own instincts
are worth all my experiences twice told. But who is this coming up to
the door?”

“Oh, that is Mr. Haire, a dear friend of grandpapa’s.” And Lucy ran to
meet him, returning soon after to the room, leaning on his arm.

Lendrick and Haire were very old friends, and esteemed each other
sincerely; and though on the one occasion on which Sir Brook and Haire
had met, Fossbrooke had been the object of the Chief’s violence and
passion, his dignity and good temper had raised him highly in Haire’s
estimation, and made him glad to meet him again.

“You are half surprised to see me under this roof, sir,” said Sir Brook,
referring to their former meeting; “but there are feelings with me
stronger than resentments.”

“And when my poor father knows how much he is indebted to your generous
kindness,” broke in Lendrick, “he will be the first to ask your
forgiveness.”

“That he will. Of all the men I ever met, he is the readiest to redress
a wrong he has done,” cried Haire, warmly. “If the world only knew
him as I know him! But his whole life long he has been trying to make
himself appear stern and cold-hearted and pitiless, with, all the while,
a nature overflowing with kindness.”

“The man who has attached to himself such a friendship as yours,” said
Fossbrooke, warmly, “cannot but have good qualities.”

“_My friendship!_” said Haire, blushing deeply; “what a poor tribute to
such a man as he is! Do you know, sir,” and here he lowered his voice
till it became a confidential whisper,--“do you know, sir, that since
the great days of the country,--since the time of Burke, we have had
nothing to compare with the Chief Baron. Plunkett used to wish he had
his law, and Bushe envied his scholarship, and Lysaght often declared
that a collection of Lendrick’s epigrams and witty sayings would be the
pleasantest reading of the day. And such is our public press, that it
is for the quality in which he was least eminent they are readiest to
praise him. You would n’t believe it, sir. They call him a ‘master of
sarcastic eloquence.’ Why, sir, there was a tenderness in him that would
not have let him descend to sarcasm. He could rebuke, censure, condemn
if you will; but his large heart had not room for a sneer.”

“You well deserve all the love he bears you,” said Len-drick, grasping
his hand and pressing it affectionately.

“How could I deserve it? Such a man’s friendship is above all the merits
of one like me. Why, sir, it is honor and distinction before the world.
I would not barter his regard for me to have a seat beside him on the
Bench. By the way,” added he, cautiously, “let him not see the papers
this morning. They are at it again about his retirement. They say that
Lord Wilmington had actually arranged the conditions, and that the Chief
had consented to everything; and now they are beaten. You have heard, I
suppose, the Ministry are out?”

“No; were they Whigs?” asked Lendrick, innocently.

Haire and Fossbrooke laughed heartily at the poor doctor’s indifference
to party, and tried to explain to him something of the struggle between
rival factions, but his mind was full of home events, and had no place
for more. “Tell Haire,” said he at last,--“tell Haire the story of
the letter of resignation; none so fit as he to break the tale to my
father.”

Fossbrooke took from his pocket a piece of paper, and handed it to
Haire, saying, “Do you know that handwriting?”

“To be sure I do! It is the Chief’s.”

“Does it seem a very formal document?”

Haire scanned the back of it, and then scrutinized it all over for a few
seconds. “Nothing of the kind. It’s the sort of thing I have seen him
write scores of times. He is always throwing off these sketches. I
have seen him write the preamble to a fancied Act of Parliament,--a
peroration to an imaginary speech; and as to farewells to the Bar,
I think I have a dozen of them,--and one, and not the worst, is in
doggerel.”

Though, wherever Haire’s experiences were his guides, he could manage
to comprehend a question fairly enough, yet where these failed him, or
wherever the events introduced into the scene characters at all new
or strange, he became puzzled at once, and actually lost himself while
endeavoring to trace out motives for actions, not one of which had ever
occurred to him to perform.

Through this inability on his part, Sir Brook was not very successful in
conveying to him the details of the stolen document; nor could Haire be
brought to see that the Government officials were the dupes of Sewell’s
artifice as much as, or even more than, the Chief himself.

“I think you must tell the story yourself, Sir Brook; I feel I shall
make a sad mess of it if you leave it to me,” said he, at last; “and I
know, if I began to blunder, he ‘d overwhelm me with questions how this
was so, and why that had not been otherwise, till my mind would get into
a helpless confusion, and he’d send me off in utter despair.”

“I have no objection whatever, if Sir William will receive me. Indeed,
Lord Wilmington charged me to make the communication in person, if
permitted to do so.”

“I ‘ll say that,” said Haire, in a joyful tone, for already he saw a
difficulty overcome. “I ‘ll say it was at his Excellency’s desire
you came;” and he hurried away to fulfil his mission. He came almost
immediately in’ radiant delight. “He is most eager to see you, Sir
Brook; and, just as I said, impatient to make you every _amende_, and
ask your forgiveness. He looks more like himself than I have seen him
for many a day.”

While Sir Brook accompanied Haire to the Judge’s room, Lendrick took
his daughter’s arm within his own, saying, “Now for a stroll through the
wood, Lucy. It has been one of my day-dreams this whole year past.”

Leaving the father and daughter to commune together undisturbed, let us
turn for a moment to Mrs. Sewell, who, with feverish anxiety, continued
to watch from her window for the arrival of a telegraph messenger. It
was already two o’clock. The mail-packet for Ireland would have reached
Holyhead by ten, and there was therefore ample time to have heard what
had occurred afterwards.

From the servant who had carried Sewell’s letter to Traf-ford, she had
learned that Trafford had set out almost immediately after receiving
it; the man heard the order given to the coachman to drive to Richmond
Barracks. From this she gathered he had gone to obtain the assistance
of a friend. Her first fear was that Trafford, whose courage was beyond
question, would have refused the meeting, standing on the ground that no
just cause of quarrel existed. This he would certainly have done had
he consulted Fossbrooke, who would, besides, have seen the part her own
desire for vengeance played in the whole affair. It was with this view
that she made Sewell insert the request that Fossbrooke might not know
of the intended meeting. Her mind, therefore, was at rest on two points.
Trafford had not refused the challenge, nor had he spoken of it to
Fossbrooke.

But what had taken place since? that was the question. Had they met,
and with what result? If she did not dare to frame a wish how the event
might come off, she held fast by the thought that, happen what might,
Trafford never could marry Lucy Lendrick after such a meeting. The
mere exchange of shots would place a whole hemisphere between the two
families, while the very nature of the accusation would be enough to
arouse the jealousy and insult the pride of such a girl as Lucy. Come,
therefore, what might, the marriage is at an end.

If Sewell were to fall! She shuddered to think what the world would say
of her! One judgment there would be no gainsaying. Her husband certainly
believed her false, and with his life he paid for the conviction. But
would she be better off if Trafford were the victim? That would depend
on how Sewell behaved. She would be entirely at his mercy,--whether he
determined to separate from her or not. _His_ mercy, seemed a sorry hope
to cling to. Hopeless as this alternative looked, she never relented,
even for an instant, as to what she had done; and the thought that Lucy
should not be Trafford’s wife repaid her for all and everything.

While she thus waited in all the feverish torture of suspense, her mind
travelled over innumerable contingencies of the case, in every one of
which her own position was one of shame and sorrow; and she knew not
whether she would deem it worse to be regarded as the repentant wife,
taken back by a forgiving pitying husband, or the woman thrown off and
deserted! “I suppose I must accept either of those lots, and my only
consolation will be my vengeance.”

“How absurd!” broke she out, “are they who imagine that one only wants
to be avenged on those who hate us! It is the wrongs done by people who
are indifferent to us, and who in search of their own objects bestow no
thought upon us,--these are the ills that cannot be forgiven. I never
hated a human being--and there have been some who have earned my
hate--as I hate this girl; and just as I feel the injustice of the
sentiment, so does it eat deeper and deeper into my heart.”

“A despatch, ma’am,” said her maid, as she laid a paper on the table and
withdrew. Mrs. Sewell clutched it eagerly, but her hand trembled so she
could not break the envelope. To think that her whole fate lay there,
within that fold of paper, so overcame her that she actually sickened
with fear as she looked on it.

“Whatever is done, is done,” muttered she, as she broke open the cover.
There were but two lines; they ran thus:--

“Holyhead, 12 o’clock.

“Have thought better of it. It would be absurd to meet him. I start for
town at once, and shall be at Boulogne to-morrow.

“Dudley.”

She sat pondering over these words till the paper became blurred and
blotted by her tears as they rolled heavily along her cheeks, and
dropped with a distinct sound. She was not conscious that she wept.
It was not grief that moved her; it was the blankness of despair,--the
sense of hopelessness that comes over the heart when life no longer
offers a plan or a project, but presents a weariful road to be
travelled, uncheered and dreary.

Till she had read these lines it never occurred to her that such a line
of action was possible. But now that she saw them there before her, her
whole astonishment was that she had not anticipated this conduct on his
part. “I might have guessed it; I might have been sure of it,” muttered
she. “The interval was too long; there were twelve mortal hours for
reflection. Cowards think acutely,--at least, they say that in their
calculations they embrace more casualties than brave men. And so he has
‘thought better of it,’--a strange phrase. ‘Absurd to meet him!’ but not
absurd to run away. How oddly men reason when they are terrified! And
so my great scheme has failed, all for want of a little courage, which
I could have supplied, if called on; and now comes my hour of defeat, if
not worse,--my hour of exposure. I am not brave enough to confront it.
I must leave this; but where to go is the question. I suppose Boulogne,
since it is there I shall join my husband;” and she laughed hysterically
as she said it.



CHAPTER XXVI. A FAMILY PARTY

While the interview between Sir Brook and the Chief Baron lasted,--and
it was a long time,--the anxiety of those below-stairs was great to
know how matters were proceeding. Had the two old men, who differed so
strongly in many respects, found out that there was that in each which
could command the respect and esteem of the other, and had they gained
that common ground where it was certain there were many things they
would agree upon?

“I should say,” cried Beattie, “they have become excellent friends
before this. The Chief reads men quickly, and Fossbrooke’s nature is
written in a fine bold hand, easy to read and impossible to mistake.”

“There, there,” burst in Haire,--“they are laughing, and laughing
heartily too. It does me good to hear the Chief’s laugh.”

Lendrick looked gratefully at the old man whose devotion was so
unvarying. “Here comes Cheetor,--what has he to say?”

“My Lord will dine below-stairs to-day, gentlemen,” said the butler;
“he hopes you have no engagements which will prevent your meeting him at
dinner.”

“If we had, we ‘d soon throw them over,” burst out Haire. “This is the
pleasantest news I have heard this half-year.”

“Fossbrooke has done it. I knew he would,” said Beattie; “he’s just
the man to suit your father, Tom. While the Chief can talk of events,
Fossbrooke knows people, and they are sure to make capital company for
each other.”

“There’s another laugh! Oh, if one only could hear him now,” said Haire;
“he must be in prime heart this morning. I wonder if Sir Brook will
remember the good things he is saying.”

“I ‘m not quite so sure about this notion of dining below-stairs,” said
Beattie, cautiously; “he may be over-taxing his strength.”

“Let him alone, Beattie; leave him to himself,” said Haire. “No man ever
knew how to make his will his ally as he does. He told me so himself.”

“And in these words?” said Beattie, slyly.

“Yes, in those very words.”

“Why, Haire, you are almost as useful to him as Bozzy was to Johnson.”

Haire only caught the last name, and, thinking it referred to a judge on
the Irish bench, cried out, “Don’t compare him with Johnston, sir; you
might as well liken him to _me!_”

“I must go and find Lucy,” said Lendrick. “I think she ought to go and
show Mrs. Sewell how anxious we all are to prove our respect and regard
for her in this unhappy moment; the poor thing will need it.”

“She has gone away already. She has removed to Lady Lendrick’s house in
Merrion Square; and I think very wisely,” said Beattie.

“There ‘s some Burgundy below,--Chambertin, I think it is,--and Cheetor
won’t know where to find it,” said Haire. “I’ll go down to the cellar
myself; the Chief will be charmed to see it on the table.”

“So shall I,” chimed in Beattie. “It is ten years or more since I saw a
bottle of it, and I half feared it had been finished.”

“You are wrong,” broke in Haire. “It will be nineteen years on the 10th
of June next. I ‘ll tell you the occasion. It was when your father,
Tom, had given up the Solicitor-Generalship, and none of us knew who
was going to be made Chief Baron. Plunkett was dining here that day, and
when he tasted the Burgundy he said, ‘This deserves a toast,
gentlemen,’ said he. ‘I cannot ask you to drink to the health of the
Solicitor-General, for I believe there is no Solicitor-General; nor
can I ask you to pledge the Chief Baron of the Exchequer, for I believe
there is no Chief Baron; but I can give you a toast about which there
can be no mistake nor misgiving,--I give you the ornament of the Irish
Bar.’ I think, I hear the cheers yet. The servants caught them up, too,
in the hall, and the house rang with a hip-hurrah till it trembled.”

“Well done, Bozzy!” said Beattie. “I’m glad that my want of memory
should have recalled so glorious a recollection.”

At last Fossbrooke’s heavy tread was heard descending the stairs, and
they all rushed to the door to meet him.

“It is all right!” cried he. “The Chief Baron has taken the whole event
in an admirable spirit, and, like a truly generous man, he dwells on
every proof of regard and esteem that has been shown him, and forgets
the wrongs that others would have done him.”

“The shock, then, did not harm him?” asked Lendrick, eagerly.

“Far from it; he said he felt revived and renovated. Yes, Beattie, he
told me I had done him more good than all your phials. His phrase was,
‘_Your_ bitters, sir, leave no bad flavor behind them.’ I am proud to
think I made a favorable impression upon him; for he permitted me not
only to state my own views, but to correct some of his. He agrees now to
everything. He even went so far as to say that he will employ his first
half-hour of strength in writing to Lady Trafford; and he charges you,
Beattie, to invite Lionel Trafford to come and pass some days here.”

“_Viva!_” cried Haire; “this is grand news.”

“He asks, also, if Tom could not come over for the wedding, which he
trusts may not be long deferred,--as he said with a laugh, ‘At _my_ time
of life, Sir Brook, it is best to leave as little as possible to _Nisi
Prius._’”

“You must tell me all these again, Sir Brook, or I shall inevitably
forget them,” whispered Haire in his ear.

“And shall I tell you, Lendrick, what I liked best in all I saw of him?”
 said Sir Brook, as he slipped his arm within the other’s, and drew him
towards a window. “It was the way he said to me, as I rose to leave
the room, ‘One word more, Sir Brook. We are all very happy, and, in
consequence, very selfish. Let us not forget that there is one sad heart
here,--that there is one upstairs there who can take no part in all this
joy. What shall we, what can we, do for her?’ I knew whom he meant at
once,--poor Mrs. Sewell; and I was glad to tell him that I had already
thought of her. ‘She will join her husband,’ said I, ‘and I will take
care that they have wherewithal to live on.’

“‘I must share in whatever you do for her, Sir Brook,’ said your father;
‘she has many attractive qualities; she has some lovable ones. Who is to
say what such a nature might not have been, if spared the contamination
of such a husband?’

“I’m afraid I shocked, if I did not actually hurt him, by the way I
grasped his hands in my gratitude for this speech. I know I said, ‘God
bless you for those words!’ and I hurried out of the room.”

“Ah, _you_ know him, sir!--_you_ read him aright! And how few there are
who do it!” cried Haire, warmly.

The old Judge was too weak to appear in the drawing-room; but when the
company entered the dining-room, they found him seated at the table,
and, though pale and wasted, with a bright eye and a clear, fresh look.

“I declare,” said he, as they took their places, “this repays one for
illness. No, Lucy,--opposite me, my dear. Yes, Tom, of course; that is
your place,--your old place;” and he smiled benignly as he said it. “Is
there not a place too many, Lucy?”

“Yes, grandpapa. It was for Mrs. Sewell, but she sent me a line to say
she had promised Lady Lendrick to dine with her.”

The old Chief’s eyes met Fossbrooke’s, and in the glances they exchanged
there was much meaning.

“I cannot eat, Sir Brook, till we have had a glass of wine together.
Beattie may look as reproachfully as he likes, but it shall be a bumper.
This old room has great traditions,” he went on. “Curran and Avonmore
and Parsons, and others scarce their inferiors, held their tournaments
here.”

“I have my doubts if they had a happier party round the board than we
have to-night,” said Haire.

“We only want Tom,” said Dr. Lendrick. “If we had poor Tom with us, it
would be perfect.”

“I think I know of another too,” whispered Beattie in Lucy’s ear. “Don’t
you?”

“What soft nonsense is Beattie saying, Lucy? It has made you blush,”
 said the Chief. “It was all my fault, child, to have placed you in such
bad company. I ought to have had you at my side here; but I wanted to
look at you.”

Leaving them thus in happy pleasantry and enjoyment, let us turn for a
moment to a very different scene,--to a drawing-room in Merrion Square,
where at that same hour Lady Lendrick and Mrs. Sewell sat in close
conference.

Mrs. Sewell had related the whole story of the intended duel, and its
finale, and was now explaining to her mother-in-law how impossible it
would be for her to continue any longer to live under the Chief Baron’s
roof, if even--which she deemed unlikely--he would still desire it.

“He ‘ll not turn you out, dear,--of that I am quite certain. I suspect I
am the only one in the world he would treat in that fashion.”

“I must not incur the risk.”

“Dear me, have you not been running risks all your life, Lucy? Besides,
what else have you open to you?”

“Join my husband, I suppose, whenever he sends for me,--whenever he says
he has a home to receive me.” “Dudley, I ‘m certain, will do his best,”
 said Lady Lendrick, stiffly. “It is not very easy for a poor man to make
these arrangements in a moment. But, with all his faults,--and even his
mother must own that he has many faults,--yet I have never known him to
bear malice.” “Certainly, Madam, you are justified in your panegyric by
his conduct on the present occasion; he has, indeed, displayed a most
forgiving nature.”

“You mean by not fighting Trafford, I suppose; but come now, Lucy, we
are here alone, and can talk freely to each other; why should he fight
him?”

“I will not follow you, Lady Lendrick, into that inquiry, nor give you
any pretext for saying to me what your candor is evidently eager for.
I will only repeat that the one thing I ever knew Colonel Sewell pardon
was the outrage that no gentleman ever endures.”

“He fought once before, and was greatly condemned for it.”

“I suppose you know why, Madam. I take it you have no need I should tell
you the Agra story, with all its shameful details?”

“I don’t want to hear it; and if I did I would certainly hesitate to
listen to it from one so deeply and painfully implicated as yourself.”

“Lady Lendrick, I will have no insinuations,” said she, haughtily. “When
I came here, it never occurred to me I was to be insulted.”

“Sit down again, Lucy, and don’t be angry with me,” said Lady Lendrick,
pressing her back into her chair. “Your position is a very painful
one,--let us not make it worse by irritation; and to avoid all
possibility of this, we will not look back at all, but only regard the
future.”

“That may be more easy for _you_ to do than for _me_”

“Easy or not easy, Lucy, we have no alternative; we cannot change the
past.”

“No, no, no! I know that,--I know that,” cried she, bitterly, as her
clasped hands dropped upon her knee.

“For that reason then, Lucy, forget it, ignore it. I have no need to
tell you, my dear, that my own life has not been a very happy one, and
if I venture to give advice, it is not without having had my share of
sorrows. You say you cannot go back to the Priory?”

“No; that is impossible.”

“Unpleasant it would certainly be, and all the more so with these
marriage festivities. The wedding, I suppose, will take place there?”

“I don’t know; I have not heard;” and she tried to say this with an easy
indifference.

“Trafford is disinherited, is he not?--passed over in the entail, or
something or other?”

“I don’t know,” she muttered out; but this time her confusion was not to
be concealed.

“And will this old man they talk of--this Sir Brook somebody--make such
a settlement on them as they can live on?”

“I know nothing about it at all.”

“I wonder, Lucy dear, it never occurred to you to fascinate Dives
yourself. What nice crumbs these would have been for Algy and Cary!”

“You forget, Madam, what a jealous husband I have!” and her eyes now
darted a glance of almost wild malignity.

“Poor Dudley, how many faults we shall find in you if we come to discuss
you!”

“Let us not discuss Colonel Sewell, Madam; it will be better for all of
us. A thought has just occurred; it was a thing I was quite forgetting.
May I send one of your servants with a note, for which he will wait the
answer?”

“Certainly. You will find paper and pens there.”

The note was barely a few lines, and addressed to George Kincaid, Esq.,
Ely Place. “You are to wait for the answer, Richard,” said she, as she
gave it to the servant.

“Do you expect he will let you have some money, Lucy?” asked Lady
Lendrick, as she heard the name.

“No; it was about something else I wrote. I’m quite sure he would not
have given me money if I asked for it.”

“I wish _I_ could, my dear Lucy; but I am miserably poor. Sir William,
who was once the very soul of punctuality, has grown of late most
neglectful. My last quarter is over-due two months. I must own all this
has taken place since Dudley went to live at the Priory. I hear the
expenses were something fabulous.”

“There was a great deal of waste; a great deal of mock splendor and real
discomfort.”

“Is it true the wine bill was fifteen hundred pounds for the last year?”

“I think I heard it was something to that amount.”

“And four hundred for cigars?”

“No; that included pipes, and amber mouthpieces, and meerschaums for
presents,--it rained presents!”

“And did Sir William make no remark or remonstrance about this?”

“I believe not. I rather think I heard that he liked it. They persuaded
him that all these indiscretions, like his new wigs, and his rouge, and
his embroidered waistcoats, made him quite juvenile, and that nothing
made a man so youthful as living beyond his income.”

“It is easy enough to see how I was left in arrear; and _you_, dear,
were you forgotten all this while and left without a shilling?”

“Oh, no; I could make as many debts as I pleased; and I pleased to make
them, too, as they will discover one of these days. I never asked the
price of anything, and therefore I enjoyed unlimited credit. If you
remark, shopkeepers never dun the people who simply say, ‘Send that
home.’--How quickly you did your message, Richard! Have you brought an
answer? Give it to me at once.”

She broke open the note with eager impatience, but it fell from her
fingers as she read it, and she lay back almost fainting in her chair.

“Are you ill, dear,--are you faint?” asked Lady Len-drick.

“No; I ‘m quite well again. I was only provoked,--put out;” and she
stooped and took up the letter. “I wrote to Mr. Kincaid to give me
certain papers which were in his hands, and which I know Colonel Sewell
would wish to have in his own keeping, and he writes me this:--

“Dear Madam,--I am sorry that it is not in my power to comply with the
request of your note, inasmuch as the letters referred to were this
morning handed over to Sir Brook Fossbrooke on his producing an order
from Colonel Sewell to that intent.--I am, Madam, your most obedient
servant,

“George Kincaid.”

“They were letters, then?”

“Yes, Lady Lendrick, they were letters,” said she, dryly, as she arose
and walked to the window, to hide an agitation she could no longer
subdue. After a few minutes she turned round and said, “You will let me
stay here to-night?”

“Certainly, dear; of course I will.”

“But the children must be sent for,--I can’t suffer them to remain
there. Will you send for them?”

“Yes; I ‘ll tell Rose to take the carriage and bring them over here.”

“This is very kind of you; I am most grateful. We shall not be a burden
beyond to-morrow.”

“What do you mean to do?”

“To join my husband, as I told you awhile ago. Sir Brook Fossbrooke made
that the condition of his assisting us.”

“What does he call assisting you?”

“Supporting us,--feeding, housing, clothing us; we shall have nothing
but what he will give us.”

“That is very generous, indeed.”

“Yes; it is generous,--more generous than you dream of, for we did not
always treat him very well; but _that_ also is a bygone, and I ‘ll not
return to it.”

“Come down and have some dinner,--it has been on the table this
half-hour; it will be nigh cold by this.”

“Yes; I am quite ready. I’d like to eat, too, if I could. What a great
resource it is to men in their dark hours that they can drink and smoke!
I think I could do both to-day if I thought they would help me to a
little insensibility.”



CHAPTER XXVII. PROJECTS.

Trafford arrived from England on the evening after, and hastened off to
Howth, where he found Sir Brook deeply engaged over the maps and plans
of his new estate; for already the preliminaries had so far advanced
that he could count upon it as his own.

“Look here, Trafford,” he cried, “and see what a noble extension
we shall give to the old grounds of the Nest. The whole of this
wood--eleven hundred and seventy acres--comes in, and this mountain down
to that stream there is ours, as well as all these meadow-lands between
the mountain and the Shannon,--one of the most picturesque estates it
will be in the kingdom. If I were to have my own way, I ‘d rebuild the
house. With such foliage--fine old timber much of it--there ‘s
nothing would look better than one of those Venetian villas, those
half-castellated buildings one sees at the foot of the mountains of
Conigliano; and they are grand spacious places to live in, with wide
stairs, and great corridors, and terraces everywhere. I see, however,
Lendrick’s heart clings to his old cottage, and we must let him have his
way.”

“What is this here?” asked Trafford, drawing out from the mass of papers
the plan of a very pretty but very diminutive cottage.

“That’s to be mine. This window you see here will project over the
river, and that little terrace will be carried on arches all along the
river bank. I have designed everything, even to the furniture. You shall
see a model cottage, Trafford; not one of those gingerbread things to be
shown to strangers by ticket on Tuesdays or Saturdays, with a care-taker
to be tipped, and a book to be scribbled full of vulgar praises of the
proprietor, or doggerel ecstasies over some day of picnicking. But come
and report yourself,--where have you been, and what have you done since
I saw you?”

“I have a long budget for you. First of all, read that;” and he handed
Sir Brook Sewell’s letter.

“What! do you mean to say that you met him?”

“No; I rejoice to say I have escaped that mischance; but you shall hear
everything, and in as few words as I can tell it. I have already told
you of Mrs. Sewell’s visit here, and I have not a word to add to that
recital. I simply would say that I pledge my honor to the strict truth
of everything I have told you. You may imagine, then, with what surprise
I was awoke from my sleep to read that note. My first impression was to
write him a full and explicit denial of what he laid to my charge; but
as I read the letter over a third and even a fourth time, I thought I
saw that he had written it on some sort of compulsion,--that, in
fact, he had been instigated to the step, which was one he but partly
concurred in. I do not like to say more on this head.”

“You need not. Go on.”

“I then deemed that the best thing to do was to let him have his shot,
after which my explanation would come more forcibly; and as I had
determined not to fire at him, he would be forced to see that he could
not persist in his quarrel.”

“There you mistook your man,” cried Sir Brook, fiercely.

“I don’t think so; but you shall hear. We must have crossed over in the
same packet, but we never met. Stanhope, who went with me, thought he
saw him on the landing-slip at Holyhead, but was not quite sure. At
all events, we reached the inn at the Head, and had just sat down to
luncheon, when the waiter brought in this note, asking which of us was
Major Trafford. Here it is:--

“‘Pray accept my excuses for having given you a rough sea passage;
but, on second thoughts, I have satisfied myself that there is no valid
reason why I should try to blow your brains out, “_et pour si peu de
chose_.” As I can say without any vanity that I am a better pistol-shot
than you, I have the less hesitation in taking a step which, as a man
of honor and courage, you will certainly not misconstrue. With this
assurance, and the not less strong conviction that my conduct will be
safely treated in any representation you make of this affair, I am your
humble and faithful servant,

“‘Dudley Sewell.’

“I don’t think I was ever so grateful to any man in the world as I
felt to him on reading his note, since, let the event take what turn it
might, it rendered my position with the Lendricks a most perilous one.
I made Stanhope drink his health, which I own he did with a very bad
grace, telling me at the same time what good luck it was for me that
_he_ had been my friend on the occasion, for that any man but himself
would have thought me a regular poltroon. I was too happy to care for
his sarcasms, such a load had been removed from my heart, and such
terrible forebodings too.

“I started almost immediately for Holt, and got there by midnight.
All were in bed, and my arrival was only known when I came down to
breakfast. My welcome was all I could wish for. My father was looking
well, and in great spirits. The new Ministry have offered him his choice
of a Lordship of the Admiralty, or something else--I forget what; and
just because he has a fine independent fortune and loves his ease, he is
more than inclined to take office, one of his chief reasons being ‘how
useful he could be to me.’ I must own to you frankly that the prospect
of all these new honors to the family rather frightened than flattered
me, for I thought I saw in them the seeds of more strenuous opposition
to my marriage; but I was greatly relieved when my mother--who you may
remember had been all my difficulty hitherto--privately assured me that
she had brought my father round to her opinion, and that he was
quite satisfied--I am afraid her word was reconciled, but no
matter--reconciled to the match. I could see that you must have
been frightening her terribly by some menaced exposure of the family
pretensions, for she said over and over again, ‘Why is Sir Brook so
angry with me? Can’t you manage to put him in better temper with us? I
have scarcely had courage to open his letters of late. I never got such
lectures in my life.’ And what a horrid memory you seem to have! She
says she ‘d be afraid to see you. At all events, you have done me
good service. They agree to everything; and we are to go on a visit to
Holt,--such, at least, I believe to be the object of the letter which my
mother has written to Lucy.”

“All this is excellent news, and we ‘ll announce it to-night at the
Priory. As for the Sewell episode, we must not speak of it. The old
Judge has at last found out the character of the man to whose confidence
he committed himself, but his pride will prevent his ever mentioning his
name.”

“Is there any rumor afloat as to the Chief’s advancement to the
Peerage?”

“None,--so far as I have heard.”

“I ‘ll tell you why I ask. There is an old maiden aunt of mine, a sister
of my father, who told me, in strictest confidence, that my father had
brought back from town the news that Baron Lendrick was to be created a
Peer; that it was somewhat of a party move to enable the present people
to prosecute the charge against the late Government of injustice
towards the Judge, as well as of a very shameful intrigue to obtain his
retirement. Now, if the story were true, or if my mother believed it
to be true, it would perfectly account for her satisfaction with the
marriage, and for my father’s ‘resignation’!”

“I had hoped her consent was given on better grounds, but it may be as
you say. Since I have turned miner, Trafford,” added he, laughing, “I
am always well content if I discover a grain of silver in a bushel of
dross, and let us take the world in the same patient way.”

“When do you intend to go to the Priory?”

“I thought of going this evening. I meant to devote the morning to these
maps and drawings, so that I might master the details before I should
show them to my friends at night.”

“Couldn’t that be deferred? I mean, is there anything against your going
over at once? I ‘ll own to you I am very uneasy lest some incorrect
version of this affair with Sewell should get abroad. Even without any
malevolence there is plenty of mischief done by mere blundering, and I
would rather anticipate than follow such disclosures.”

“I perceive,” said Sir Brook, musingly, as with longing eyes he looked
over the colored plans and charts which strewed the table, and had for
him all the charm of a romance.

“Then,” resumed Trafford, “Lucy should have my mother’s letter. It might
be that she ought to reply to it at once.”

“Yes, I perceive,” mused Sir Brook again.

“I ‘m sure, besides, it would be very politic in you to keep up the good
relations you have so cleverly established with the Chief; he holds so
much to every show of attention, and is so flattered by every mark of
polite consideration for him.”

“And for all these good reasons,” said Sir Brook, slowly, “you would
say, we should set out at once. Arriving there, let us say, for
luncheon, and being begged to stay and dine,--which we certainly
should,--we might remain till, not impossibly, midnight.”

Perhaps it was the pleasure of such a prospect sent the blood to
Trafford’s face, for he blushed very deeply as he said, “I don’t think,
sir, I have much fault to find with your arrangement.”

“And yet the real reason for the plan remains unstated,” said
Fossbrooke, looking him steadfastly in the face, “so true is what
the Spanish proverb says, ‘Love has more perfidies than war.’ Why not
frankly say you are impatient to see your sweetheart, sir? I would to
Heaven the case were my own, and I ‘d not be afraid nor ashamed to avow
it; but I yield to the plea, and let us be off there at once.”



CHAPTER XXVIII. THE END OF ALL

The following paragraph appeared in the Irish, and was speedily copied
into some of the English papers: “An intrigue, which involves the
character of more than one individual of rank, and whose object was to
compel the Chief Baron of her Majesty’s Exchequer in Ireland to resign
his seat on the Bench, has at length been discovered, and, it is said,
will soon be made matter of Parliamentary explanation. We hope, for the
reputation of our public men, that the details which have reached us of
the transaction may not be substantiated; but the matter is one which
demands, and must have, the fullest and most searching inquiry.”

“So, sir,” said the old Chief to Haire, who had read this passage to him
aloud as they sat at breakfast, “they would make political capital of
my case, and, without any thought for me or for my feelings, convert the
conduct displayed towards me into a means of attacking a fallen party.
What says Sir Brook Fossbrooke to this? or how would he act were he in
my place?”

“Just as you mean to act now,” said Fossbrooke, promptly.

“And how may that be, sir?”

“By refusing all assistance to such party warfare; at least, my Lord
Chief Baron, it is thus that I read your character.”

“You do me justice, sir; and it is my misfortune that I have not earlier
had the inestimable benefit of your friendship. I trust,” added he,
haughtily, “I have too much pride to be made the mere tool of a party
squabble; and, fortunately, I have the means to show this. Here, sir, is
a letter I have just received from the Prime Minister. Read it,--read it
aloud, Haire and my son will like to hear its contents also.”

“Downing Street, Tuesday evening.

“My dear Lord Chief Baron,--It is with much pleasure I have to
communicate to you that my colleagues unanimously agree with me in the
propriety of submitting your name to the Queen for the Peerage. Your
long and distinguished services and your great abilities will confer
honor on any station; and your high character will give additional
lustre to those qualities which have marked you out for her Majesty’s
choice. I am both proud and delighted, my Lord, that it has fallen to my
lot to be the bearer of these tidings to you; and with every assurance
of my great respect and esteem, I am, most sincerely yours,

“Ellerton.”

“At last,” cried Haire,--“at last! But I always knew that it would
come.”

“And what answer have you returned?” cried Lendrick, eagerly.

“Such an answer as will gladden your heart, Tom. I have declined the
proffered distinction.”

“Declined it! Great God! and why?” cried Haire.

“Because I have passed that period in which I could accommodate myself
to a new station, and show the world that I was not inferior to my
acquired dignity. This for my first reason; and for my second, I have a
son whose humility would only be afflicted if such greatness were forced
upon him. Ay, Tom, I have thought of all it would cost you, my poor
fellow, and I have spared you.”

“I thank you with my whole heart,” cried Lendrick, and he pressed the
old man’s hand to his lips.

“And what says Lucy?” said the Judge. “Are you shocked at this epidemic
of humility amongst us, child? Or does your woman’s heart rebel against
all our craven fears about a higher station?”

“I am content, sir; and I don’t think Tom, the miner, will fret that he
wears a leather cap instead of a coronet.”

“I have no patience with any of you,” muttered Haire. “The world will
never believe you have refused such a splendid offer. The correspondence
will not get abroad.”

“I trust it will not, sir,” said the Chief. “What I have done I have
done with regard to myself and my own circumstances, neither meaning
to be an example nor a warning. The world has no more concern with the
matter than with what we shall have for dinner to-day.”

“And yet,” said Sir Brook, with a dry ripple at the angle of his
mouth, “I think it is a case where one might forgive the indiscreet
friend”--here he glanced at Haire--“who incautiously gave the details to
a newspaper.”

“Indiscreet or not, I’ll do it,” said Haire, resolutely.

“What, sir!” cried the Chief, with mock sternness of eye and
manner,--“what, sir! if I even forbade you?”

“Ay, even so. If you told me you’d shut your door against me, and never
see me here again, I ‘d do it.”

“Look at that man, Sir Brook,” said the Judge, with well-feigned
indignation; “he was my schoolfellow, my chum in college, my colleague
at the Bar, and my friend everywhere, and see how he turns on me in my
hour of adversity!”

“If there be adversity, it is of your own making,” said Haire. “It is
that you won’t accept the prize when you have won it.”

“I see it all now,” cried the Chief, laughing, “and stupid enough of
me not to see it before. Haire has been a bully all his life; he is the
very terror of the Hall; he has bullied sergeants and silk gowns, judges
and masters in equity, and his heart is set upon bullying a peer of the
realm. Now, if I will not become a lord, he loses this chance; he stands
to win or lose on me. Out with it, Haire; make a clean confession, and
own, have I not hit the blot?”

“Well,” said Haire, with a sigh, “I have been called sly, sarcastic,
witty, and what not, but I never thought to hear that I was a bully, or
could be a terror to any one.”

The comic earnestness of this speech threw them all into a roar of
laughing, in which even Haire himself joined at last.

“Where is Lucy?” cried the old Judge. “I want her to testify how this
man has tyrannized over me.”

“Lucy has gone into the garden to read a letter Trafford brought her.”
 Sir Brook did not add that Trafford had gone with her to assist in the
interpretation.

“I have told Lord Ellerton,” said the Chief, referring once more to the
Minister’s letter, “that I will not lend myself in any way to the attack
on the late Government. The intrigue which they planned towards me could
not have ever succeeded if they had not found a traitor in the garrison;
but of him I will speak no more. The old Greek adage was, ‘Call no man
happy till he dies.’ I would say, he is nearer happiness when he has
refused some object that has been the goal of all his life, than he is
ever like to be under other circumstances.”

Tom looked at his father with wistful eyes, as though he owed him
gratitude for the speech.

“When it is the second horse claims the cup, Haire,” cried the old
Judge, with a burst of his instinctive vanity, “it is because the first
is disqualified by previous victories. And now let us talk of those
whose happiness can be promoted without the intrigues of a Cabinet or a
debate in the House. Sir Brook tells me that Lady Trafford has made her
submission. She is at last willing to see that in an alliance with us
there is no need to call condescension to her aid.”

“Trafford’s account is most satisfactory,” said Foss-brooke, “and I
trust the letter of which he was the bearer from his mother will amply
corroborate all he says.”

“I like the young man,” said the Judge, with that sort of authoritative
tone that seems to say, The cause is decided,--the verdict is given.

“There’s always good stuff in a fellow when he is not afraid of
poverty,” said Fossbrooke. “There are scores of men will rough it for
a sporting tour on the Prairies or a three months’ lion-shooting on the
Gaboon; but let me see the fellow bred to affluence and accustomed to
luxury, who will relinquish both, and address himself to the hard work
of life rather than give up the affection of a girl he loves. That’s the
man for me.”

“I have great trust in him,” said Lendrick, thoughtfully.

“All the Bench has pronounced but one,” cried the Chief. “What says our
brother Haire?”

“I ‘m no great judge of men. I ‘m no great judge of anything,” muttered
Haire; “but I don’t think one need be a sphinx to read that he is a
right good fellow, and worthy of the dearest girl in Christendom.”

“Well summed up, sir; and now call in the prisoner.”

Fossbrooke slipped from the room, but was speedily back again. “His
sentence has been already pronounced outside, my Lord, and he only begs
for a speedy execution.”

“It is always more merciful,” said the Chief, with mock solemnity; “but
could we not have Tom over here? I want to have you all around me.”

“I ‘ll telegraph to him to come,” said Fossbrooke. “I was thinking of it
all the morning.”

About three weeks after this, Chief Baron Lendrick opened the Commission
at Limerick, and received from the grand jury of the county a most
complimentary address on his reappearance upon the Bench, to which he
made a suitable and dignified reply. Even the newspapers which had so
often censured the tenacity with which he held to office, and inveighed
against the spectacle of an old and feeble man in the discharge of
laborious and severe duties, were now obliged to own that his speech was
vigorous and eloquent; and though allusion had been faintly made in the
address to the high honor to which the Crown had desired to advance him
and the splendid reward which was placed within his reach, yet, with
a marked delicacy, had he forborne from any reference to this passage
other than his thankfulness at being so far restored to health that he
could come back again to those functions, the discharge of which formed
the pride and the happiness of his life.

“Never,” said the journal which was once his most bitter opponent,
“has the Chief Baron exhibited his unquestionable powers of thought and
expression more favorably than on this occasion. There were no artifices
of rhetoric, no tricks of phrase, none of those conceits by which so
often he used to mar the wisdom of his very finest displays; he was
natural for once, and they who listened to him might well have regretted
that it was not in this mood he had always spoken. _Si sic omnia_,--and
the press had never registered his defects nor railed at his vanities.

“The celebrated Sir Brook Fossbrooke, so notorious in the palmy days of
the Regency, sat on the Bench beside his Lordship, and received a very
flattering share of the cheers which greeted the party as they drove
away to Killaloe, to be present at the wedding of Miss Lendrick, which
takes place to-morrow.”

Much-valued reader, has it ever occurred to you, towards the close of a
long, possibly not very interesting discourse, to experience a sort of
irreverent impatience when the preacher, appearing to take what rowing
men call “second wind,” starts off afresh, and seems to threaten you
with fully the equal of what he has already given? At such a moment it
is far from unlikely that all the best teachings of that sermon are not
producing upon you their full effect of edification, and that, even as
you sat, you meditated ignoble thoughts of stealing away.

I am far from desiring to expose either you or myself to this painful
position. I want to part good friends with you; and if there may have
been anything in my discourse worth carrying away, I would not willingly
associate it with weariness at the last. And yet I am very loath to say
good-bye. Authors are, _par excellence_, button-holders, and they cannot
relinquish their grasp on the victim whose lapel they have caught. Now
I would like to tell you of that wedding at the Swan’s Nest. You ‘d read
it if in the “Morning Post,” but I’m afraid you’d skip it from _me_. I
‘d like to recount the events of that breakfast, the present Sir Brook
made the bride, and the charming little speech with which the Chief
proposed her health. I ‘d like to describe to you the uproar and
joyous confusion when Tom, whose costume bore little trace of a wedding
garment, fought his way through the servants into the breakfast-room.

And I ‘d like to grow moral and descriptive, and a bit pathetic perhaps,
over the parting between Lucy and her father; and, last of all, I ‘d
like to add a few words about him who gives his name to this story, and
tell how he set off once more on his wanderings, no one well knowing
whither bent, but how, on reaching Boulogne, he saw from the steamer’s
deck, as he landed, the portly figure of Lady Lendrick walking beside
her beautiful daughter-in-law, Sewell bringing up the rear, with
a little child holding his hand on either side,--a sweet picture,
combining, to Boulogne appreciation, the united charm of fashion,
beauty, and domestic felicity; and finally, how, stealing by back
streets to the hotel where these people stopped, he deposited to their
address a somewhat weighty packet, which made them all very happy, or at
least very merry, that evening as they opened it and induced Sewell to
order a bottle of Cliquot, if not, as he said, “to drink the old buck’s
health,” at least to wish him many returns of the same good dispositions
of that morning.

If, however, you are disposed to accept the will for the deed, I need
say no more. They who have deserved some share of happiness in this tale
are likely to have it. They who have little merited will have to meet a
world which, neither over cruel nor over generous, has a rough justice
that generally gives people their deserts.

THE END.





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