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Title: Roland Cashel, Volume I (of 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 "Roland Cashel, Volume I (of II)" ***

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ROLAND CASHEL

By Charles James Lever.

With Illustrations By Phiz,

In Two Volumes. Vol. I.

Boston: Little, Brown, And Company. 1907.



To G. P. B. JAMES, Esq.

Dear James,--You, once upon a time, dedicated to me a tale of deep and
thrilling interest Let me now inscribe to you this volume on the plea
of that classic authority who, in the interchange of armour, “gave Brass
for Gold.”

It is, however, far less to repay the obligation of a debt by giving you
a “Roland”--not for your “Oliver,” but your “Stepmother”--than for the
pleasure of recording one “Fact” in a bulky tome of Fiction, that I now
write your name at the head of this page,--that fact being, the warm
memory I cherish of all our pleasant hours of intercourse, and the
sincere value I place upon the honor of your friendship.

Yours, in all esteem and affection,

CHARLES LEVER.

Palazzo Ximenes, Florence, Oct 20, 1849.



PREFACE.

I first thought of this story--I should say I planned it, if the
expression were not misleading--when living at the Lake of Como. There,
in a lovely little villa--the “Cima”--on the border of the lake, with
that glorious blending of Alpine scenery and garden-like luxuriance
around me, and little or none of interruption or intercourse, I had
abundant time to make acquaintance with my characters and follow
them into innumerable situations, and through adventures far more
extraordinary and exciting than I dared afterwards to recount.

I do not know how it may be with other story-tellers, but I have to own
for myself that the personages of a novel gain over at times a degree
of interest very little inferior to that inspired by living and real
people, and that this is especially the case when I have found myself in
some secluded spot and seeing little of the world. To such an ascendancy
has this deception attained, that more than once I have found myself
trying to explain why this person should have done that, and by what
impulse that other was led into something else. In fact, I have
found that there are conditions of the mind in which purely imaginary
creations assume the characters of actual people, and act positively as
though they were independent of the will that invented them.

Of the strange manner in which imagination can thus assume the mastery,
and for a while at least have command over the mind, I cannot give a
stronger instance within my own experience than the mode in which this
story was first conceived.

When I began I intended that the action should be carried on in the
land where the tale opened. The scene on every side of me had shed its
influence, the air was weighty with the perfume of the lime and the
orange. To days of dazzling brilliancy there succeeded nights of
tropical splendor; with stars of almost preternatural magnitude
streaking the calm lake with long lines of light. To people a scene
like this with the sort of characters that might befit it, was rather a
matter of necessity with me than choice, and it was then that Maritaña
revealed herself to me with a charm of loveliness I have never been able
to repicture. It was there I bethought me of those passionate natures
in which climate and soil and vegetation reproduce themselves, glowing,
ardent, and voluptuous as they are. It was there my fancy loved to stray
among the changeful incidents of lives of wild adventure and wilder
passion; and to imagine the strange discords that could be evoked
between the traits of a land that recalled Paradise and the natures that
were only angelic in the fall.

I cannot trust to my memory to remind me of the sort of tale I meaned to
write. I know there was to have been a perfect avalanche of adventure on
land and on sea. I know that through a stormy period of daily peril and
excitement, the traits of the Northern temperament in Roland himself
were to have asserted their superiority over his more impulsive
comrades; I know he was to have won that girl’s love against a rivalry
that set life in the issue; and I have a vague impression of how such a
character might come by action and experience to develop such traits as
make men the rulers of their fellows.

Several of the situations occur to me, but not a single clew to the
story. There are even now scenes before me of prairie life and lonely
rides in passes of the Pampas; of homes where the civilized man had
never seen a brother nor heard a native tongue. It is in vain I endeavor
to recall anything like a connected narrative. All that I can well
remember is the great hold the characters had taken in my mind; how they
peopled the landscape around me, and followed me wherever I went.

This was in autumn. As winter drew nigh we moved into an Italian
city, much frequented by foreigners, and especially the resort of our
countrymen. The new life of this place and the interest they excited,
so totally unlike all that I had left at my little villa, effected a
complete revolution in my thoughts, utterly routing the belief I had
indulged in as to the characters of my story, and the incidents in which
they displayed themselves. Up to this all my efforts had been, as it
were, to refresh my mind as to a variety of events and people I had once
known, and to try if I could not recall certain situations which had
interested me. Now the spell was broken, all the charm of the illusion
gone, and I awoke to the dreary consciousness of my creatures being mere
shadows, and their actions as unreal as themselves.

There is a sort of intellectual bankruptcy in such awakenings; and
I know of few things so discouraging as this sudden revulsion from
dream-land to the cold _terra firma_ of unadorned fact.

There was little in the city we now lived in to harmonize with
“romance.” It was, in fact, all that realism could accomplish with the
aids of every taste and passion of modern society. That this life of
present-day dissipation should be enacted in scenes where every palace
and every street, every monument, and indeed every name recalled a
glorious past, may not impossibly have heightened the enjoyment of the
drama, but most unquestionably it vulgarized the actors.

Instead of the Orinoco and its lands of feathery palms, I had now
before me the Arno and its gay crowds of loungers, the endless tide of
equipages, and the strong pulse-beat of an existence that even, in the
highways of life, denotes passion and emotion.

What I had of a plan was lost to me from that hour. I was again in the
whirlpool of active existence, and the world around me was deep--triple
deep--in all cases of loving and hating, and plotting and gambling, of
intriguing, countermining, and betraying, as very polite people would
know how to do: occupations to watch, which inspire an intensity of
interest unknown in any other condition of existence.

Out of these impressions thus enforced came all the characters of my
story. Not one was a portrait, though in each and all were traits taken
from life. If I suffered myself on one single occasion to amass too many
of the characteristics of an individual into a sketch, it was in
the picture of the beau of Drumcondera; but there I was drawing from
recollection and not able to correct, as I should otherwise have done,
what might seem too close adherence to a model. I have been told that in
the character of Linton I have exaggerated wickedness beyond all belief.
I am sorry to reply that I made but a faint copy of him who suggested
that personage, and who lives and walks the stage of life as I write.
One or two persons--not more--who know him whose traits furnished the
picture, are well aware that I have neither overdrawn my sketch, nor
exaggerated my drawing.

The Kennyfeck young ladies--I am anxious to say--are not from life, nor
is Lady Kilgoff, though I have heard surmises to the contrary.

These are all the explanations and excuses that occur to me I have
to make of this story. Its graver faults are not within the pale of
apology; and for these I only ask indulgence,--the same indulgence that
has never been denied me.

CHARLES LEVER.

Trieste, 1872.



ROLAND CASHEL.



CHAPTER I. DON PEDRO’S GUESTS.

     And thus they lived ye merrie yeare,
     For they were a jollie crewe
     Of pleasante laddes that knewe no feare,
     And--as little of honestie too.

                           Ballade of Capt. Pike.


Our tale opens on a gorgeous night of Midsummer, at an era so little
remote that to name the precise year could have no interest for the
reader, and in a region which seemed to combine all that is delightful
in climate with whatever is luxuriant and splendid in vegetation. It
was upon the bank of a small river, a tributary of the Oronoco, not
very distant from the picturesque city of Barcelonetta, that a
beautiful villa stood, the elegance of whose architecture and the lavish
magnificence of whose decorations were alike evidence that neither taste
nor wealth were wanting to its proprietor.

In this land, where Nature had been so prodigal of her gifts, the
luxurious appointments of this princely abode seemed to partake of the
character of a fairy palace; and the admixture of objects of high art,
the treasures of Italian galleries and Spanish collections, with the
more vivid realities of the scene, favored this illusion. The fortunate
owner of this paradise was a certain Pedro Rica, who, for something like
fourteen years, had been a resident of Columbia. A widower, with an
only child, then an infant of scarce a year old, he had arrived in that
country, seeking, as he said, by new scenes and new associations, to
erase, so far as might be, the painful memory of his late bereavement.

While he gave it to be understood that he was a Spaniard by birth, some
averred that he was a Mexican; others, that he was a Texan; and one or
two alleged that he was an American of the States,--an assumption that
the ease and fluency of his English went far to corroborate. Of whatever
nation he came, certain it is that a mystery hung over both his native
land and his history; and as he showed little disposition to enlighten
the world on these subjects, as is usual in such cases, his neighbors
took their revenge by inventing a hundred stories about him, each one
only worse than the other. At one time it was said that his wealth was
acquired by piracy; at another, that he absconded from a Texan city,
with a large sum belonging to the government; forgery, breach of trust,
were among the commonest allegations; and the most charitable only
averred that he made his money in the slave-trade.

It is but fair to say that the sole foundation for these various rumors
lay in the stern distance of his manner, and the cold, almost repulsive,
austerity with which he declined all acquaintance with the neighborhood.
These traits, added to the voluptuous splendor of a retinue and a style
of living infinitely above all around, gradually estranged from him
the few who attempted to form an intimacy, and left him to live--as
it seemed he preferred--a life of solitary magnificence; an object of
affected pity to many, but of real envy to all.

As his daughter grew up, he was accustomed to visit the sea-coast each
summer for some weeks, and from these absences he now usually returned
with one or two acquaintances, for the most part officers of the
Columbian navy, with whom he had formed an intimacy at the seaside. Such
acquaintanceship seemed to increase from year to year, till at last
each autumn saw the “Villa de las Noches Entretenidas,” “of the pleasant
nights” crowded with guests, whose wild orgies were in strange contrast
to the former stillness and quietude within those walls.

A more motley and discordant assemblage it would be hard to conceive,
consisting as they did of adventurers from every land of Europe,--the
wild and reckless outcast of every clime and country, the beggared
speculator, the ruined gambler, the duellist with blood upon his hand,
the defaulter with shame upon his forehead; all that good morals reject,
and the law pursues, mingled with others whose faults went no further
than waste or improvidence, or the more venial sin that they came poor
into the world, and were stamped “Adventurers” from the cradle.

A service that never exercised too nice a scrutiny into the habits of
its followers, and whose buccaneer life had all the freedom of piracy,
with the assumption of a recognized class, offered no mean attraction
to the lover of enterprise; and certainly, if the standard of morals was
low, that of daring, reckless adventure was the very opposite.

Amid this pleasant company we must now ask pardon for introducing our
reader, with this saving assurance, that he shall not have long to
commune with such companionship. It was, as we have said, a summer’s
night. A sky all glittering with stars spread its dark blue canopy over
a scene where, amid the banana, the manioc, and the plantain, flowers of
every bright hue were blooming, and fountains gushing; while, through an
atmosphere tremulous with the song of the mocking-bird, fire-flies were
glancing and glittering.

In the deep piazza before the villa was now assembled a numerous party
of men disposed in every attitude of lounging, ease, and abandonment;
they seemed, though perhaps after very different estimates, to be
enjoying the delicious balm and freshness of the night air. They were of
various ages; and although the greater number showed by their dress that
they belonged to the naval service, other signs, not less distinctive,
pronounced that they were drawn from classes of life as varied as they
were numerous; while, here and there, a caballero might be seen attired
in the picturesque costume of the Caraccas, his many colored scarf and
plumed hat aiding, in no inconsiderable degree, the picturesque effect
of a scene Salvator might have painted.

Not only beneath the piazza itself, but on the marble steps, and even
beneath them again, on the close-shaven turf, the party lay, sated as it
were with splendor, and recruiting strength for new dissipations. Some
sat talking in low and whispering voices, as if unwilling, even by a
sound, to break the stilly calm. Others, in perfect silence, seemed to
drink in the soothing influence of that tranquil moment, or smoked
the cigarettos in dreamy indolence; while at intervals, from the leafy
groves, a merry laugh, or the tinkling of a guitar, would mingle with
the bubbling murmur of the fountains, making the very stillness yet more
still as they ceased. Behind the piazza, and opening by several large
windows upon it, could be seen a splendid saloon, resplendent with
wax-lights, and still displaying on the loaded table the remnants of
a sumptuous repast, amid which vessels of gold and vases of flowers
appeared. Here, yet lingered two or three guests,--spirits who set no
store on an entertainment if it did not degenerate into debauch.

A broad alley, flanked by tall hedges of the prickly pear, led from the
villa to a little mound, on which a chestnut-tree stood, the patriarch
of the wood; a splendid tree it was, and worthy of a better destiny than
it now fulfilled, as, lighted up by several lanterns suspended from
the branches, it spread its shade over a large table where a party were
playing at “Monte.”

Even without the suggestive aid of the large heaps of gold beside each
player, and piled in the middle of the table, the grave and steadfast
faces of some, the excited look of others, and the painful intensity of
interest in all, showed that the play was high. Still, although such was
the case, and while the players were men whose hot blood and reckless
lives did but little dispose them to put the curb upon their tempers,
not a word was spoken aloud; nor did a gesture or a look betray the
terrible vacillations of hope and fear the changeful fortune of the game
engendered. Standing near the table, but not mingling in the play, stood
Don Pedro himself, his sallow and melancholy features fixed upon the
game, with an expression that might mean sorrow or deep anxiety, it were
difficult to say which.

Beside him, at a small table littered with papers and writing
materials, sat his steward, or intendant, a German named Geizheimer,
a beetle-browed, white-cheeked, thick-lipped fellow, whose aquiline
features and guttural accents told that lending money at enormous
interest was no uncongenial occupation. Such was his present, and indeed
almost his only duty; for, while Don Pedro seldom or never played,
gaming was the invariable occupation of the guests, whose means to
support it were freely supplied by the steward; the borrowers either
passing a simple note for repayment, or, when the sum was a heavy one,
mortgaging their share in the next prize they should capture. Other
contracts, it was rumored, were occasionally resorted to, but of such we
shall speak anon.

At a short distance from the table, but sufficiently near to observe the
game, stood one on whom nothing short of the passion of play could
have prevented every eye being bent. But so it was; she stood alone and
unmarked, while all the interest was concentrated upon the game. Dressed
in a white tunic, or chemise, fastened round the waist by a gold girdle,
stood Maritaña Rica, her large and lustrous black eyes eagerly turned to
where two youths were standing intensely occupied by the play. Her neck,
arms, and shoulders were bare, in Mexican fashion, and even the mantilla
she wore over her head was less as a protection than as a necessary
accompaniment of a costume which certainly is of the simplest kind.
Except the chemise, she had no other garment, save a jupe of thin
lama-wool, beautifully embroidered and studded with precious stones;
this terminated below the middle of the leg, displaying an ankle and
foot no Grecian statue ever surpassed in beauty.

If the deep brown of her skin almost conveyed the reproach--and such
it is--of Indian blood, a passing glance at the delicate outline of her
features, and, in particular, of her mouth, at once contradicted the
suspicion. The lips were beautifully arched, and, although plump and
rounded, had none of the fulness of the degraded race. These were now
slightly parted, displaying teeth of surprising whiteness, and imparting
in the whole expression a character of speaking animation. Although not
yet sixteen, her figure had all the graceful development of womanhood,
without having entirely lost a certain air of fawn-like elasticity,
which, from time to time, her gestures of impatience displayed.

The two young men on whom her interest seemed fixed, were playing in
partnership, and, in their highly wrought passion, never once looked up
from the board. One, somewhat taller and older by a few years, appeared
to exercise the guidance of their play; and it was easy to see, in the
swollen and knotted veins of his forehead, in the clinched hands, and
in the tremulous lip, the passionate nature of a confirmed gambler. The
younger, whose dress of green velvet, slashed and braided in Mexican
taste, and whose wide-leaved sombrero was decorated with a long sash
of light blue silk, whose deep gold fringe hung upon his shoulder, was
evidently one less enamoured of play, and more than once busied himself
in arranging the details of his costume, of which he seemed somewhat
vain. It was in one of these moments that his eyes met those of Maritaña
fixed steadfastly upon him, and, fascinated by her unmoved stare, he
felt his cheek grow hot, and, whether from a sense of shame or a
still more tender motive, the blush spread over his face and forehead.
Maritaña looked steadily, almost sternly, at him, and then, with a
slight toss of her head, so slight that none save he who had watched her
intently could read its scornful import, she turned away. The youth
did not wait a moment, but, slipping from his place, followed along the
alley he had seen her take.

He who remained, unconscious of his friend’s departure, continued to
mutter about the chances of the game, and speculate on the amount he
would dare to hazard. “She is against us every time, Roland!” said he,
in a low, half-whispering voice. “Fortune will not smile, woo her how
we may! Speak, _amigo mio_, shall we risk all?” As he spoke, he began
counting the piles of glittering gold before him, but his hand trembled,
and the pieces clung to his moist fingers, so that he was too late for
the deal.

“Sixteen hundred,” muttered he to himself. “Ten--twenty--thirty.”

“The bank loses!” cried the croupier, announcing the game.

“Loses!” screamed the young man, in an accent whose piercing agony
startled the whole board,--“loses! because it was the only time I had
no wager. See, Roland, see how true it is; there is a curse upon us.”
 He seized the arm of the person at his side, and clinched it with a
convulsive energy as he spoke.

“_Saperlote!_ my young friend; you ‘ll never change luck by tearing
my old uniform,” growled out a rugged-looking German skipper, who,
commanding a small privateer, affected the rank and style of a naval
officer.

“Oh, is it you, Hans?” said the youth, carelessly; “I thought it had
been one of our own fellows. Only think the bank should lose, because I
made no stake; see now, watch this. Halt!” cried he to the dealer, in
a voice that at once arrested his hand. “You give one no time, sir,
to decide upon his game,” said he, with a savage irascibility, which
continued bad luck had carried to the highest pitch. “Players who risk
their two or three crowns may not object; but, if a man desires to make
a heavy stake; it is but common courtesy to wait a moment. A
thousand doubloons, the red queen--fifteen hundred,” added he,
quickly,--“fifteen, and thirty-five--or eight.” So saying, he pushed
with both hands the great heap of gold pieces into the middle of the
table; and then, with eyes bloodshot and glaring, he watched each card
that fell from the banker’s fingers. When the first row of cards were
dealt, all was in his favor, and, as the banker took up the second pack,
a long-suppressed sigh broke from the gambler’s bosom. It seemed, at
length, as if fortune had grown weary of persecuting him.

“Come, Enrique,” said a handsomely dressed and fine-looking man, who
stood opposite to him, “luck has turned at last; there is nothing but
the queen of spades against you!”

As if by some magic spell he had called the card, the words were not out
when it dropped upon the table. A cry of mingled amazement and horror
burst from the players, whose natures would seem to recognize some
superstitious influence in such marked casualties. As for Enrique, he
stood perfectly still and silent; a horrible smile, the ghastly evidence
of an hysterical effort, sat upon his rigid features, and at length two
or three heavy drops of blood trickled from his nostril and fell upon
his shirt.

“Where’s Roland?” said he, in a faint whisper, to a young man behind
him.

“I saw him with Maritaña, walking towards the three fountains.”

Enrique’s pallid cheek grew scarlet, and, rudely pushing his way through
the crowd, he disappeared from view.

“There goes a man in a good humor to board a prize,” said one of
the bystanders, coolly, and the play proceeded without a moment’s
interruption.

With his broad-leaved hat drawn down upon his brows, and his head sunk
upon his bosom, he traversed the winding walks with the step of one who
knew their every turning; at last he reached a lonely and unfrequented
part of the garden, where the path, leading for some distance along the
margin of a small lake, suddenly turned off towards a flower terrace,
the midst of which “the three fountains” stood.

Instead of taking the shortest way to the spot, Enrique left the walk
and entered a grove of trees, through whose thick shade be proceeded
silently and cautiously. The air was calm and motionless, and none
save one who had received the education of a prairie hunter could have
followed that track so noiselessly. By degrees the wood became open, and
his progress more circumspect, when he suddenly halted.

Directly in front of him, not twenty paces from where he stood, was the
terrace, over which, in the stilly night air, the fountain threw a
light spray-like shower, rustling, as it fell upon the leaves, with a
murmuring sound. Lower down, was a little basin surrounded by a border
of white marble, and beside this two figures were now standing, whom,
by the clear starlight, he could easily recognize to be Roland and
Maritaña.

The former, with folded arms, and head bent down as if in thought,
leaned against a tree, while Maritaña stood beside the fountain,
moving her foot to and fro in the clear water, and, as though entirely
engrossed by her childish pastime, never bestowed a look upon her
companion. At last she ceased suddenly, and turning abruptly round, so
as to stand full in front of him, said, “Well, senhor, am I to hope
our pleasant interview is ended, or am I still to hear more of your
complaints,--those gentle remonstrances which sound, to my ears at
least, more wearisome than words of downright anger?”

“You have not heard me patiently,” said the youth, advancing towards
her, while the slightly shaken tones of his voice contrasted strangely
with the assured and haughty accents in which he spoke.

“Patiently!” echoed she, with a scornful laugh. “And where was this same
goodly gift to be learned? Among the pleasant company we have quitted,
senhor? whose friendships of a night are celebrated by a brawl on
the morrow! From the most exemplary crew of the ‘Esmeralda,’ and, in
particular, the worthy lieutenant, Don Roland da Castel, who, if report
speaks truly, husbands the virtue so rigidly that he cannot spare the
smallest portion to expend upon his friends?”

“If my thrift had extended to other matters,” said the youth, bitterly,
“mayhap I should not have to listen to language like this?”

“What say you, sir?” cried the girl, passionately, as she stamped upon
the ground with a gesture of violent anger. “Do you affect to say that
it matters to me whether you stood there as loaded with gold as on the
morning you brought back that Mexican prize, and played the hero with
such martial modesty; or as poor--as poor--as bad luck at cards can
make you? If I loved you, I ‘d have as little care for one event as the
other!”

“You certainly thought more favorably of me then than now, Maritaña!”
 said Roland, diffidently.

“I know not why you say so!”

“At least you accepted my hand in betrothal--”

“Stay!” cried she, impetuously. “Did I not tell you then, before the
assembled witnesses--before my father--what a mockery this same ceremony
was; that its whole aim and object was to take advantage of that
disgraceful law that can make an unmarried girl a widow, to inherit
the fortune of one she never would have accepted as her husband. Speak,
sir!--and say, did I not tell you this, and more too, that such a bridal
ceremony brought little fortune to the bridegroom; for that already
I had been thrice a widowed bride? Nay, more, you heard me swear as
solemnly, that while I regarded the act as one of deep profanation,
I felt in nowise bound by it. It is idle, then, to speak of our
betrothal!”

“It is true, Maritaña, you said all this; although, perhaps, you had not
now remembered it, had not some other succeeded to that place in your
regard--”

“There, there!” cried she, stopping him impatiently. “I will not listen
again to the bead-roll of your jealousies. People must have loved very
little, or too much, to endure that kind of torture. Besides, why tell
me of these things? You are, they say, a most accomplished hunter, and
can answer me,--if, when in chase of an antelope, a jaguar joins the
sport, you do not turn upon him at once, the worthier and nobler enemy,
and thus, as it were, protect what had been your prey.”

The youth seemed stung to the quick by this pitiless sarcasm; and,
although he made no reply, his hands, convulsively clutched, bespoke
the torrent of agitation within him. “You are right, Maritaña!” said be,
after a pause. “It is idle to talk of our betrothal,--I release you.”

“Release _me!_” said she, laughing contemptuously; “this is a task I
always perform for myself, senhor, and by the shortest method, as
thus.” As she spoke, she struggled to tear from her finger a ring which
resisted all her efforts. At last, by a violent wrench, she succeeded,
and holding it up for a second, till the large diamond glittered like
a star, she threw it into the still fountain at her feet “There, _amigo
mio_, I release you,--never was freedom more willingly accorded!”

“Never was there a slave more weary of his servitude!” said the youth,
bitterly. “If Don Pedro Rica but tear his accursed bond, I should feel
myself my own again.”

“He will scarce refuse you, sir, if the rumor be correct that says
you have lost eleven thousand doubloons at play. The wealthy conqueror
stands on very different ground from _the_ ruined gambler. Go to him
at once! Ask back the paper! Tell him you have neither a heart nor a
fortune to bestow upon his daughter! That, as a gambler, fettered by the
lust for play, you have lost all soul for those hazardous enterprises
that win a girl’s love and a father’s consent.”

She waited for a moment, that he might reply; and then, impatient,
perhaps, at his silence, added, “I did not think, senhor, you esteemed
yourself so rich a prize! Be of good cheer, however! They who are less
cognizant of your deserts will be more eager to secure them.”

With these slighting words she turned away. Roland advanced as if to
follow her, but with a contemptuous gesture of the hand she waved him
back, and he stood like one spell-bound, gazing after her, till she
disappeared in the dark distance.



CHAPTER II. A CHALLENGE--AND HOW IT ENDED.

     La Diche viene quando no se aguarda.

     --Spanish Proverb.

     (Good lack comes when it is not looked for.)


Roland looked for some minutes in the direction by which Maritaña had
gone, and then, with a sudden start, as if of some newly taken resolve,
took the path towards the villa. He had not gone far when, at the turn
of the way, he came in front of Enrique, who, with hasty steps, was
advancing towards him.

“Lost, everything lost!” exclaimed the latter, with a mournful gesture
of his hands.

“All gone!” cried Roland.

“Every crown in the world!”

“Be it so; there is an end of gambling, at least!”

“You bear your losses nobly, senhor!” said Enrique, sneeringly; “and,
before a fitting audience, might claim the merit of an accomplished
gamester. I am, however, most unworthy to witness such fine philosophy.
I recognize in beggary nothing but disgrace!”

“Bear it, then, and the whole load, too!” said Roland, sneeringly. “To
your solicitations only I yielded in taking my place at that accursed
table. I had neither a passion for play, nor the lust for money-getting;
you thought to teach me both, and, peradventure, you have made me
despise them more than ever.”

“What a moralist!” cried Enrique, laughing insolently, “who discovers
that he has cared neither for his mistress nor his money till he has
lost both.”

“What do you mean?” said Roland, trembling with passion.

“I never speak in riddles,” was the cool reply.

“This, then, is meant as insult,” said Roland, approaching closer,
and speaking in a still lower voice; “or is it merely the passion of a
disappointed gambler?”

“And if it were, _amigo mio_,” retorted the other, “what more fitting
stake to set against the anger of a rejected lover?”

“Be it so!” cried Roland, fiercely; “you never caught up a man more
disposed to indulge your humor. Shall it be now?”

“Could not so much courage keep warm till daylight?” said Enrique,
calmly. “Below the fountains there is a very quiet spot.”

“At sunrise?”

“At sunrise,” echoed Enrique, bowing with affected courtesy, till the
streamers from his hat touched the ground.

“Now for my worthy father-in-law elect,” said Roland; “and to see him
before he may hear of this business, or I may find it difficult to
obtain my divorce.” When the youth arrived at the villa, the party were
assembled at supper. The great saloon, crowded with guests and hurrying
menials, was a scene of joyous but reckless conviviality, the loud
laughter and the louder voices of the company striking on Roland’s ear
with a grating discordance he had never experienced before. The sounds
of that festivity he had been wont to recognize as the pleasant evidence
of free and high-souled enjoyment, now jarred heavily on his senses, and
he wondered within himself how long he had lived in such companionship.

Well knowing that the supper-party would not remain long at table, while
high play continued to have its hold upon the guests, he strolled into
one of the shady alleys, watching from time to time for the breaking up
of the entertainment At last some two or three arose, and, preceded by
servants with lighted flambeaux, took the way towards the gaming-table.
They were speedily followed by others, so that in a brief space--except
by the usual group of hard-drinking souls, who ventured upon no stake
save that of health--the room was deserted.

He looked eagerly for Don Pedro, but could not see him, as it was
occasionally his practice to retire to his library long before his
guests sought their repose. Roland made a circuit of the villa, and
soon came to the door of this apartment, which led into a small
flower-garden. Tapping gently here, he received a summons to enter, and
found himself before Don Pedro, who, seated before a table, appeared
deeply immersed in matters of business.

Roland did not need the cold and almost stern reception of his host to
make him feel his intrusion very painfully; and he hastened to express
his extreme regret that he should be compelled by any circumstances
to trespass on leisure so evidently destined for privacy. “But a few
moments’ patient hearing,” continued he, “will show that, to me at
least, the object of this visit did not admit of delay.”

“Be seated, senhor; and, if I may ask it without incivility, be brief,
for I have weighty matters before me.”

“I will endeavor to be so,” said Roland, civilly, and resumed: “This
evening, Don Pedro, has seen the last of twenty-eight thousand Spanish
dollars, which, five weeks since, I carried here along with me. They
were my share, as commander of the ‘Esmeralda,’ when she captured
a Mexican bark, in May last. They were won with hard blows and some
danger; they were squandered in disgrace at the gaming-table.”

“Forgive me,” said Don Pedro: “you can scarcely adhere to your pledge
of brevity if you permit yourself to be led away by moralizing; just say
how this event concerns me, and wherefore the present visit.”

Roland became red with anger and shame, and when he resumed it was in
a voice tremulous with ill-suppressed passion. “I did not come here
for your sympathy, senhor. If the circumstance I have mentioned had no
relation to yourself, you had not seen me here. I say that I have now
lost all that I was possessed of in the world.”

“Again I must interrupt you, Senhor Roland, by saying that these are
details for Geizheimer, not for me. He, as you well know, transacts
all matters of money, and if you desire a loan, or are in want of any
immediate assistance, I ‘m sure you ‘ll find him in every way disposed
to meet your wishes.”

“Thanks, senhor, but I am not inclined for such aid. I will neither
mortgage my blood nor my courage, nor promise three hundred per cent for
the means of a night at the gambling-table.”

“Then pray, sir, how am I to understand your visit? Is it intended for
the sake of retailing to me your want of fortune at play, and charging
me with the results of your want of skill or luck?”

“Far from it, senhor. It is simply to make known that I am ruined; that
I have nothing left me in the world; and that, as one whose fortune has
deserted him, I have come to ask back that bond by which I accepted your
daughter’s hand in betrothal.”

A burst of laughter from Don Pedro here stopped the speaker, who, with
flushed cheek and glaring eyeballs, stared at this sudden outbreak. “Do
you know for what you ask me, senhor?” said Rica, smiling insolently.

“Yes, I ask for what you never could think to enforce,--to make me, a
beggar, the husband of your daughter.”

“Most true; I never thought of such an alliance. I believe you were told
that Columbian law gives these contracts the force of a legal claim,
in the event of survivorship; and you flattered yourself, perhaps too
hastily, that other ties more binding still might grow from it. If
Fortune was as fickle with you here as at the card-table, the fault is
not in me.”

“But of what avail is it now?” said Roland, passionately. “If I died
to-morrow, there is not sufficient substance left to buy a suit of
mourning for my poor widow.”

“She could, perhaps, dispense with outward grief,” said Pedro,
sneeringly.

“I say again,” cried Roland, with increased agitation, “this bond is
not worth the paper it is written on. I leave the service; I sail into
another latitude, and it is invalid,--a mere mockery!”

“Not so fast, sir,” said Pedro, slowly: “there is a redeeming clause,
by which you, on paying seventy thousand doubloons, are released of your
contract, with my concurrence. Mark that well,--with my concurrence it
must be. Now, I have the opinion of learned counsel, in countries where
mayhap your adventurous fancy has already carried you, that this clause
embraces the option which side of the contract I should desire to
enforce.”

“Such may be your law here; I can have little doubt that any infamy may
pass for justice in this favored region,” said Roland; “but I ‘ll never
believe that so base a judgment could be uttered where civilization
prevails. At all events, I ‘ll try the case. I now tell you frankly,
that, tomorrow, I mean to resign my rank and commission in this service;
I mean to quit this country, with no intention ever to revisit it. If
you still choose to retain a contract whose illegality needs no stronger
proof than that it affects to bind one party only, I ‘ll not waste
further time by thinking of it.”

“I will keep it, senhor,” interrupted Pedro, calmly. “I knew a youth,
once, who had as humble an opinion of his fortunes as you have now; and
yet he died,--not in this service, indeed, but in these seas,--and his
fortune well requited the trouble of its claimant.”

“I have no right to trespass longer on you, sir,” said Roland, bowing.
“I wish I could thank you for all your hospitality to me with a more
fitting courtesy; I must confess myself your debtor without hope of
repayment.”

“Have you signified to Don Gomez Noronja your intention to resign?”

“I shall do it within half an hour.”

“You forget that your resignation must be accepted by the Minister; that
no peremptory permission can be accorded by a captain in commission,
save under a guarantee of ten thousand crowns for a captain, and seven
for a lieutenant, the sum to be estreated if the individual quit the
service without leave. This, at least, is law you cannot dispute.”

Roland hung down his head, thunderstruck by an announcement which,
at one swoop, dashed away all his hopes. As he stood silent and
overwhelmed, Don Pedro continued, “You see, sir, that the service
knows how to value its officers, even when they set little store by the
service. Knowing that young men are fickle and fanciful, with caprices
that carry them faster than sound judgment, they have made the enactment
I speak of. And, even were you to give the preliminary notice, where
will you be when the time expires? In what parallel south of Cape Horn?
Among the islands of the Southern Pacific; perhaps upon the coast of
Africa? No, no; take my advice: do not abandon your career; it is one
in which you have already won distinction. Losses at play are easily
repaired in these seas. Our navy--”

“Is nothing better than a system of piracy!” broke in Roland, savagely.
“So long as, in ignorance of its real character, I walked beneath your
flag, the heaviest crime which could be imputed to me was but the folly
of a rash-brained boy. I feel that I know better now; I’ll serve under
it no more.”

“Dangerous words, these, senhor, if reported in the quarter where they
would be noticed.”

Roland turned an indignant glance at him as he uttered this threat,
and with an expression so full of passion that Rica, for a few seconds,
seemed to feel that he had gone too far. “I did but suggest caution,
senhor,” said he, timidly.

“Take care that you practise as well as preach the habit,” muttered
Roland, “or you’ll find that you have exploded your own mine.”

This, which he uttered as he left the room, was in reality nothing more
than a vague menace; but it was understood in a very different sense by
Pedro, who stood pale and trembling with agitation, gazing at the door
by which the youth departed. At last he moved forward, and opening
it, called out, “Senhor Roland! Roland, come back! Let me speak to you
again.” But already he was far beyond hearing, as with all his speed he
hastened down the alley.

Don Pedro’s resolves were soon formed; he rang his bell at once, and,
summoning a servant, asked if Don Gomez Noronja was still at table?

“He has retired to his room, senhor,” was the reply.

A few momenta after, Rica entered the chamber of his guest, where he
remained in close conversation till nigh daybreak. As he reached his own
apartment the sound of horses’ feet and carriage wheels was heard upon
the gravel, and, throwing up the window, Rica called out,--

“Is that Don Enrique?”

“Yes, senhor, taking French leave, as you would call it. A bad return
for a Spanish welcome; but duty leaves no alternative.”

“Are you for the coast, then?”

“With all speed. Our captain received important despatches in the night
We shall be afloat before forty hours. Adios!”

The farewell was cordially re-echoed by Rica, who closed the window,
muttering to himself, “So! all will go well at last.”

While Enrique was making all the speed towards the seashore a light
calèche and four horses could accomplish, Roland was pacing with
impatient steps the little plot of grass where so soon he expected to
find himself in deadly conflict with his enemy.

Never was a man’s mind more suited to the purpose for which he waited.
Dejected, insulted, and ruined in one night, he had little to live for,
and felt far less eager to be revenged of his adversary, than to rid
himself of a hated existence. It was to no purpose that he could say,
and say truly, that he had never cared for any of these things, of which
he now saw himself stripped. His liking for Maritaña had never gone
beyond great admiration for her beauty, and a certain spiteful pleasure
in exciting those bursts of passion over which she exercised not the
slightest control. It was caprice, not love; the delight of a schoolboy
in the power to torment, without the wish to retain. His self-love,
then, it was, was wounded on finding that she, with whose temper he had
sported, could turn so terribly upon himself. The same feeling was
outraged by Enrique, who seemed to know and exult over his defeat. These
sources of bitterness, being all aggravated by the insulting manner of
Don Pedro, made up a mass of indignant and angry feelings which warred
and goaded him almost to madness.

The long-expected dawn broke slowly, and although, a few moments after
sunrise, the whole sky became of a rich rose color, these few moments
seemed like an age to the impatient thoughts of him who thirsted for his
vengeance.

He walked hastily up and down the space, waiting now and again to
listen, and then, disappointed, resumed his path, with some gesture of
impatience. At last he heard footsteps approaching. They came nearer and
nearer; and now he could hear the branches of the trees bend and crack,
as some one forced a passage through them. A swelling feeling about the
heart bespoke the anxiety with which he listened, when a figure
appeared which even at a glance he knew to be not Enrique’s. As the man
approached be took off his hat respectfully and presented a letter.

“From Don Enrique?” said Roland, and then, tearing open the paper, he
read,--

     Amigo Mio,--Not mine the fault that I do not stand before
     you now instead of these few lines; but Noronja has
     received news of these Chilian fellows, and sent me to get
     the craft ready for sea at once. We shall meet, then, in a
     few hours; and, if so, let it be as comrades. The service
     and our own rules forbid a duel so long as we are afloat and
     on duty. Whatever be your humor when next we touch shore
     again, rely upon finding me ready to meet it, either as an
     enemy or as

     Your friend,

     Enrique da Cordova.

A single exclamation of disappointment broke from Roland, but the moment
after all former anger was gone. The old spirit of comrade-affection
began to seek its accustomed channels, and he left the spot, happy to
think how different had been his feeling than if he were quitting it
with the blood of his shipmate on his hands.

Although he now saw that his continuance in the service for the present
was inevitable, he had fully made up his mind to leave it, and, with it,
habits of life whose low excesses had now become intolerable. So long as
the spirit of adventure and daring sustained him, so long the respite of
a few months’ shore life was a season of pleasure and delight; but as by
degrees the real character of his associates became clearer, and he saw
in them men who cared for enterprise no further than for its gain, and
calculated each hazardous exploit by its profit, he felt that he was
now following the career of a bravo who hires out his arm and sells
his courage. This revolted every sentiment of his mind, and, come what
would, he resolved to abandon it. In these day-dreams of a new existence
the memory of two years passed in the Pampas constantly mingled, and he
could not help contrasting the happy and healthful contentment of the
simple hunter with the voluptuous but cankered pleasures of the wealthy
buccaneer. Once more beneath the wooded shades of the tall banana, he
thought how free and peaceful his days would glide by, free from the
rude conflicts he now witnessed, and the miserable jealousies of these
ill-assorted companionships. For some hours he wandered, revolving
thoughts like these; and at length turned his steps towards the villa,
determined, so long as his captain remained, that he would take up his
quarters at Barcelonetta, nor in future accept of the hospitality of Don
Rica’s house. With this intention he was returning to arrange for the
removal of his luggage, when his attention was excited by the loud
cracking of whips, and the shrill cries that accompanied the sounds of
“The post! the post!”

In a moment every window of the villa was thrown open, and beads, in
every species of night-gear, and every stage of sleepy astonishment,
thrust out; for the post, be it observed, was but a monthly phenomenon,
and the arrival of letters was very often the signal for a total
break-up of the whole household.

The long wagon, drawn by four black mules, and driven by a fellow whose
wide-tasselled sombrero and long moustaches seemed to savor more of
the character of a melodrama than real life, stopped before the chief
entrance of the villa, and was immediately surrounded by the guests,
whose hurried wardrobe could only be excused in so mild a climate.

“Anything for me, Truxillo?” cried one, holding up a dollar temptingly
between finger and thumb.

“Where are my cigarettes?”

“And my mantle?”

“And my gun?”

“And the senhora’s embroidered slippers?” cried a maid, as she ransacked
every corner where the packages lay.

The driver, however, paid little attention to these various demands,
but, loosening the bridles of his beasts, he proceeded to wash their
mouths with some water fetched from the fountain, coolly telling the
applicants that they might help themselves, only to spare something for
the people of Barcelonetta, for he knew there was a letter or two for
that place.

“What have we here?” cried one of the guests, as a mass of something
enveloped in a horse-sheet lay rolled up in the foot of the calèche,
where the driver sat.

“Ah, par Dios!” cried the man, laughing, “I had nearly forgotten that
fellow. He is asleep, poor devil! He nearly died of cold in the night!”

“Who is he--what is he?”

“A traveller from beyond San Luis in search of Don Pedro.”

“Of me?” said Don Pedro, whose agitation became, in spite of all his
efforts, visible to every one; at the same instant that, pulling back
the cloak rudely, he gazed at the sleeping stranger,--“I never saw him
before.”

“Come, awake--stir up, senhor!” said the driver, poking the passenger
very unceremoniously with his whip. “We are arrived; this is the Villa
de las Noches Entretenidas; here is Don Pedro himself!”

“The Lord be praised!” said a short, round-faced little man, who, with a
nightcap drawn over his ears, and a huge cravat enveloping his chin, now
struggled to look around him. “At last!” sighed he; “I ‘m sure I almost
gave up all hope of it.” These words were spoken in English; but even
that evidence was not necessary to show that the little plump figure in
drab gaiters and shorts was not a Spaniard.

“Are you Don Peter, sir,--are you really Don Peter?” said he, rubbing
his eyes, and looking hurriedly around to assure himself he was not
dreaming.

“What is your business with me--or have you any?” said Rica, in a voice
barely above a whisper.

“Have I!--Did I come six thousand miles in search of you? Oh, dear! oh,
dear! I can scarcely think it all over, even now. But still there may be
nothing done if he isn’t here.”

“What do you mean?” said Rica, impatiently.

“Mr. Roland Cashel; Roland Cashel, Esq., I should call him now, sir.”

“That ‘s my name!” said the youth, forcing his way through the crowd,
and standing in front of the traveller.

The little man put his hand into a breast-pocket, and drew out a little
book, opening which he began to read, comparing the detail, as he went
on, with the object before him:--

“Six foot and an inch in height, at least, olive-brown complexion, dark
eyes and hair, straight nose, short upper lip, frowns slightly when he
speaks;--just talk a little, will you?”

Cashel could not help smiling at the request; when the other added,
“Shows his teeth greatly when he laughs.”

“Am I a runaway negro from New Orleans that you have taken my portrait
so accurately, sir?”

“Got that at Demerara,” said the little man, putting up the book, “and
must say it was very near indeed!”

“I have been at Demerara,” said Cashel, hoping by the admission to
obtain some further insight into the traveller’s intentions.

“I know that,” said the little man. “I tracked you thence to St Kitts,
then to Antigua. I lost you there, but I got up the scent again in
Honduras, but only for a short time, and had to try Demerara again;
then I dodged down the coast by Pernambuco, but lost you entirely in
June,--some damned Indian expedition, I believe. But I met a fellow
at New Orleans who had seen you at St. Louis, and so I tracked away
south--”

“And, in one word, having found me, what was the cause of so much
solicitude, sir?” said Cashel, who felt by no means comfortable at such
a hot and unwearied pursuit.

“This can all be better said in the house,” interposed Don Rica, who,
relieved of any uneasiness on his own account, had suddenly resumed his
habitual quiet demeanor.

“So I ‘m thinking too!” said the traveller; “but let me first land my
portmanteau; all the papers are there. I have not lost sight of it since
I started.”

The parcels were carefully removed under his own inspection, and,
accompanied by Don Pedro Rica and Roland, the little man entered the
villa.

There could be no greater contrast than that between the calm and
placid bearing Don Pedro had now assumed, and the agitated and anxious
appearance which Cashel exhibited. The very last interview he had
sustained in that same spot still dwelt upon his mind; and when he
declined Don Pedro’s polite request to be seated, and stood with folded
arms before the table, which the traveller had now covered with his
papers, a prisoner awaiting the words of his judgment could not have
endured a more intense feeling of anxiety.

“‘Roland Cashel, born in York, a. d. 18--, son of Godfrey Cashel and
Sarah, his wife,’” read the little man; then murmured to himself,
“Certificate of baptism, signed by Joshua Gorgeous, Prebendary of the
Cathedral; all right, so far. Now we come to the wanderings. Your father
was quartered at Port-au-Prince, in the year 18--, I believe?”

“He was. I was then nine years old,” said Cashel.

“Quite correct; he died there, I understand?”

Cashel assented by a nod.

“Upon which event you joined, or was supposed to join, the ‘Brown Peg,’
a sloop in the African trade, wrecked off Fernando Po same winter?”

“Yes; she was scuttled by the second mate, in a mutiny. But what has
all this secret history of me to mean? Did you come here, sir, to glean
particulars to write my life and adventures?”

“I crave your pardon most humbly, Mr. Cashel,” said the little man, in
a perfect agony of humiliation. “I was only recapitulating a
few collateral circumstances, by way of proof. I was, so to say,
testing--that is, I was--”

“Satisfying yourself as to this gentleman’s identity,” added Don Pedro.

“Exactly so, sir; the very words upon the tip of my tongue,--satisfying
myself that you were the individual alluded to here”--as he spoke,
he drew forth a copy of the “Times” newspaper, whose well-worn and
much-thumbed edges bespoke frequent reference--“in this advertisement,”
 said he, handing the paper to Don Pedro, who at once read aloud,--

     “Reward of £500.--Any person giving such information as may
     lead to the discovery of a young gentleman named Roland
     Cashel, who served for some years on board of various
     merchant vessels in the Levant, the African, and the West
     India trade, and was seen in New Orleans in the autumn of
     18--, will receive the above reward. He was last heard of in
     Mexico, but it is believed that he has since entered the
     Chilian or Columbian service. He is well known in the
     Spanish Main, and in many of the cities on the coast, as the
     Caballero.”

Cashel’s face was one burning surface of scarlet as he heard the words
of an advertisement which, in his ideas, at once associated him with
runaway negroes and escaped felons; and it was with something like
suffocation that he restrained his temper as he asked why, and by whose
authority, he was thus described?

The little man looked amazed and confounded at a question which, it
would seem, he believed his information had long since anticipated.

“Mr. Cashel wishes to know the object of this inquiry,--who sent you
hither, in fact,” said Don Rica, beginning himself to lose patience at
the slowness of the stranger’s apprehension.

“Mr. Kennyfeck, of Dublin, the law agent, sent me.”

“Upon what grounds,--with what purpose?”

“To tell him that the suit is gained; that he is now the rightful owner
of the whole of the Godfrey and Godfrey Browne estates, and lands of Ben
Currig, Tulough Callaghan, Knock Swinery, Kildallooran, Tullimeoran,
Ballycanderigan, with all the manorial rights, privileges, and
perquisites appertaining to,--in a word, sir, for I see your impatience,
to something, a mere trifle, under seventeen thousand per annum, not to
speak of a sum, at present not exactly known, in bank, besides foreign
bonds and securities to a large amount.”

While Mr. Simms recited this, with the practised volubility of one who
had often gone over the same catalogue before, Cashel stood amazed, and
almost stupefied, unable to grasp in his mind the full extent of his
good fortune, but catching, here and there, glimpses of the truth, in
the few circumstances of family history alluded to. Not so, Don Rica;
neither confusion nor hesitation troubled the free working of his acute
faculties, but he sat still, patiently watching the effect of this
intelligence on the youth before him. At length, perceiving that he did
not speak, he himself turned towards the stranger, and said,--

“You are, doubtless, a man of the world, sir, and need no apologies for
my remarking that good news demands a scrutiny not less searching than
its opposite. As the _friend_ of Senhor Cashel,”--here he turned a
glance beneath his heavy brows at the youth, who, however, seemed not
to notice the word,--“as his friend, I repeat, deeply interested in
whatever affects him, I may, perhaps, be permitted to ask the details of
this very remarkable event.”

“If you mean the trial, sir,--or rather the trials, for there were three
at bar, not to mention a suit in equity and a bill of discovery--”

“No, I should be sorry to trespass so far upon you,” interrupted Rica.
“What I meant was something in the shape of an assurance,--something
like satisfactory proof that this narrative, so agreeable to believe,
should have all the foundation we wish it.”

“Nothing easier,” said Mr. Simms, producing an enormous black leather
pocket-book from the breast of his coat, and opening it leisurely on
the table before him. “Here are, I fancy, documents quite sufficient to
answer all your inquiries. This is the memorandum of the verdict taken
at Bath, with the note of the Attorney-General, and the point reserved,
in which motion for a new trial was made.”

“What is this?” asked Cashel, now speaking for the first time, as he
took up a small book of strange shape, and looked curiously at it.

“Check-book of the bank of Fordyce and Grange, Lombard Street,” replied
Simms; “and here, the authority by which you are at liberty to draw on
the firm for the balance already in their hands, amounting to--let me
see “--here he rapidly set down certain figures on the corner of a
piece of paper, and with the speed of lightning performed a sum in
arithmetic--“the sum of one hundred and twenty-three thousand pounds
seven and elevenpence, errors excepted.”

“This sum is mine!” cried Cashel, as his eyes flashed fire, and his dark
cheek grew darker with excitement.

“It is only a moiety of your funded property,” said Simms. “Castellan
and Biggen, the notaries, certify to a much larger amount in the Three
per Cents.”

“And I am at liberty to draw at once for whatever amount I require?”

“Within that sum, certainly. Though, if you desire more, I ‘m sure they
‘ll not refuse your order.”

“Leave us for a moment, sir,” said Cashel, in an accent whose trembling
eagerness bespoke the agitation he labored under. “I have something of
importance to tell this gentleman.”

“If you will step this way, sir,” said Don Rica, politely. “I have
ordered some refreshment in this room, and I believe you will find it
awaiting you.”

Mr. Simms gladly accepted the offered hospitality, and retired. The door
was not well closed, when Don Rica Advanced with extended hands towards
Cashel, and said:

“With all my heart I give you joy; such good fortune as this may,
indeed, obliterate every little cloud that has passed between us, and
make us once more the friends we have ever been.”

Cashel crossed his arms on his breast, and coldly replied, “I thank you.
But a few hours back, and one-half as much kindness would have made a
child of me in feeling. Now it serves only to arouse my indignation and
my Anger.”

“Are you indeed so unjust, so ungenerous as this!” exclaimed Rica, in a
tone whose anguish seemed wrung from the very heart.

“Unjust,--ungenerous! how?” cried Cashel, passionately.

“Both, sir,” said Rica, in a voice of almost commanding severity.
“Unjust to suppose that in thwarting your last resolve to leave a
service in which you have already won fame and honor, I was not your
best and truest friend; that in offering every opposition in my power to
such a hot-headed resolution, I was not consulting your best interests;
ungenerous to imagine that I could feel any other sentiment than delight
at your altered fortunes, I, who gave you all that was dearest and
nearest to me on earth, my child,--my Maritaña.”

Had it not been for the passionate emotion of the last few words,
Cashel’s anger would have suggested a reply not less indignant than his
question; but the sight of the hard, the stern, the unflinching Pedro
Rica, as he now stood,--his face covered by his hands, while his strong
chest heaved and throbbed with convulsive energy,--this was more than
he felt prepared to look on. It was then only by a great effort he could
say, “You seem to forget, Senhor Rica, how differently you interpreted
this same contract but a few hours ago. You told me then--I think I hear
the words still ringing in my ears--that you never thought of such an
alliance; that your calculation took a less flattering estimate of my
relationship.”

“I spoke in anger, Roland,--anger caused by your passionate resolve.
Remember, too, that I preferred holding you to your contract, in
preference to allowing you to redeem it by paying the penalty.”

“Easy alternative,” said Cashel, with a scornful laugh; “you scarcely
expected a beggar, a ruined gambler, could pay seventy thousand
doubloons. But times are changed, sir. I am rich now,--rich enough to
double the sum you stipulated for. Although I well know the contract is
not worth the pen that wrote it, I am willing to recognize it, at least
so far as the forfeit is concerned.”

“My poor child, my darling Maritaña,” said Pedro, but in a voice barely
audible. The words seemed the feeble utterance of a breaking heart.

“Sorrow not for her, senhor,” said Cashel, hastily. “She has no griefs
herself on such a score. It is but a few hours since she told me so.”

Don Pedro was silent; but a mournful shake of the head and a still more
mournful smile seemed to intimate his dissent.

“I tell you, sir, that your own scorn of my alliance was inferior to
hers!” cried Cashel, in a voice of deep exasperation. “She even went so
far as to say that she was a party to the contract only on the condition
of its utter worthlessness. Do not, then, let me hear of regrets for
_her_.”

“And you believe this?”

“I believe what I have myself witnessed.”

“What, then, if you be a witness to the very opposite? What if your ears
reveal to you the evidence as strongly against, as now you deem it in
favor of, your opinion?”

“I do not catch your meaning.”

“I would say, what if from Maritaña’s own lips you heard an avowal of her
affection, would you conceive yourself at liberty to redeem a contract
to which you were only one party, and by mere money--I care not how
large you call the sum--to reject the heart you have made your own?”

“No, no, this cannot be,” cried Cashel, struggling in a conflict of
uncertainty and fear.

“I know my daughter, sir,” said Pedro, with an air of pride he well knew
when and how to assume.

“If I but thought so,” muttered Cashel to himself; and low as the words
were, Rica heard them.

“I ask you for nothing short of your own conviction,--the conviction of
your own ears and eyes. You shall, if you please, remain concealed in
her apartment while I question her on the subject of this attachment. If
you ever supposed me base enough to coerce her judgment, you know _her_
too well to believe it to be possible. But I will not insult myself by
either supposition. I offer you this test of what I have said: accept
it if you will, and with this condition, that you shall then be free to
tear this contract, if you like, but never believe that I can barter the
acknowledged affection of my child, and take money for her misery.”

Cashel was moved by the truth-like energy of the words he heard; the
very aspect of emotion in one he had never seen save calm, cold, and
self-possessed, had its influence on him, and he replied, “I consent.”
 So faintly, however, were the words uttered that he was obliged to
repeat them ere they reached Don Pedro’s ears.

“I will come for you after supper this evening,” said Rica. “Let me find
you in the arbor at the end of the ‘hacienda.’ Till then, _adios_.” So
saying, he motioned to Cashel to follow the stranger. Roland obeyed the
suggestion, and they parted.



CHAPTER III. MR. SIMMS ON LIFE AT THE VILLA

     He told them of men that cared not a d--n
     For the law or the new police,
     And had very few scruples for killing a lamb,
     If they fancied they wanted the fleece.

     Sir Peter’s Lament


When Roland Cashel rejoined Mr. Simms, he found that worthy individual
solacing himself for the privations of prairie travel, by such a
breakfast as only Don Pedro’s larder would produce. Surrounded by
various dishes whose appetizing qualities might have suffered some
impairment from a more accurate knowledge of their contents,--sucking
monkeys and young squirrels among the number,--he tasted and sipped, and
sipped again, till between the seductions of sangaree and Curaçoa punch,
he had produced that pleasing frame of mind when even a less gorgeous
scene than the windows of the villa displayed before him would have
appeared delightful. Whether poor Mr. Simms’s excess--and such we are
compelled to confess it was--could be excused on the score of long
fasting, or the consciousness that he had a right to some indulgence in
the hour of victory, he assuredly revelled in the fullest enjoyment of
this luxurious banquet, and, as Cashel entered the room, had reached the
delicious dreamland of misty consciousness, where his late adventures
and his former life became most pleasingly commingled, and jaguars,
alligators, gambusinos, and rancheros, danced through his brain in
company with Barons of the Exchequer and Masters in Chancery.

Elevated by the scenes of danger he had passed through,--some real, the
far greater number imaginary,--into the dignity of a hero, he preferred
rather to discuss prairie life and scenes in the Havannah, to dwelling
on the topics so nearly interesting to Cashel. Nor was Roland a very
patient listener to digressions, which, at every moment, left the
high-road, and wandered into every absurd by-path of personal history.

“I always thought, sir,” said Simms, “and used to say it everywhere,
too, what a splendid change for you this piece of good fortune would be,
springing at a bound, as a body might say, from a powder-monkey into the
wealth of a peer of the realm; but, egad, when I see the glorious life
you lead hereabouts, such grog, such tipple, capital house, magnificent
country, and, if I may pronounce from the view beneath my window, no
lack of company, too! I begin to feel doubts about it.”

If Cashel was scarcely pleased at the allusions to himself in this
speech, he speedily forgave them in his amusement at the commentary
Simms passed on life at the villa; but yet would willingly have turned
from either theme to that most engrossing one,--the circumstances of
his altered fortune. Simms, however, was above such grovelling subjects;
and, as he sat, glass in hand, gazing out upon the garden, where
strolling parties came and went, and loitering groups lingered in the
shade, he really fancied the scene a perfect paradise.

“Very hard to leave this, you’ll find it!” exclaimed Simms. “I can well
imagine life here must be rare fun. How jolly they do seem down there!”
 said he, with a half-longing look at the strange figures, who now and
then favored him with a salute or a gesture of the hand, as they passed.

“Come, let us join them,” said Cashel, who, despairing of recalling him
to the wished-for topic, was fain to consent to indulge the stranger’s
humor.

“All naval men?” asked Simms, as they issued forth into the lawn.

“Most of them are sailors!” said Cashel, equivocating.

“That’s a fine-looking old fellow beneath the beech-tree, with the long
Turkish pipe in his mouth. He’s captain of a seventy-four, I take it.”

“He’s a Greek merchantman,” whispered Cashel; “don’t look so hard at
him, for he observes you, and is somewhat irascible in temper, if stared
at.”

“Indeed! I should n’t have thought--”

“No matter, do as I tell you; he stabbed a travelling artist the other
day, who fancied he was a fine study, and wished to make a drawing of
his head.”

Simms’s jaw dropped suddenly, and a sickly faintness stole over him,
that even all his late potations could not supply courage enough to hear
such a story unmoved.

“And who is he, sir, yonder?” asked he, as a youth, with no other
clothing than a shirt and trousers, was fencing against a tree,
practising, by bounds and springs, every imaginable species of attack
and assault.

“A young Spaniard from the Basque,” said Cashel, coolly; “he has a duel
to-morrow with some fellow in Barcelonetta, and he ‘s getting his wrist
into play.” Then calling out, he said, “Ah, José, you mean to let blood,
I see!”

“He’s only a student,” said the youth, with an insolent toss of his
head. “But who have we here?”

“A friend and countryman of mine, Mr. Simms,” said Cashel, introducing
the little man, who performed a whole circuit round the young Spaniard
in salutations.

“Come to join us?” asked the youth, surveying him with cool
impertinence. “What in the devil’s name hast thou done that thou
shouldst leave the Old World at thy time of life? Virtuous living or
hypocrisy ought to have become a habit with thee ere now, old boy, eh?”

“He’s only on a visit,” said Cashel, laughing; “he can return to good
society, not like all of us here.”

“Would you infer from that, sir--”

“Keep your temper, José,” said Cashel, with an indescribable assumption
of insolent superiority; “or, if you cannot, keep your courage for the
students, whose broils best suit you.”

“You presume somewhat too far on your skill with the rapier, Senhor
Cashel,” said the other, but in a voice far less elevated than before.

“You can test the presumption at any moment,” said Cashel, insolently;
“now, if you like it.”

“Oh, Mr. Cashel! oh, Mr. Roland! for mercy’s sake, don’t!” exclaimed
Simms.

“Never fear,” interposed Cashel; “that excellent young man has better
principles than you fancy, and never neglects, though he sometimes
forgets, himself.”

So saying, he leisurely passed his arm beneath Simms’s, and led him
forward.

“Good day, Senhor Cashel,” said a tall and well-dressed man, who made
his salutations with a certain air of distinction that induced Simms to
inquire who and what he was.

“A general in the service of one of the minor States of Germany,” said
Cashel; “a man of great professional skill, and, it is said, of great
personal bravery.”

“And in what capacity is he here?”

“A refugee. His sentence to be shot was commuted to imprisonment for
life. He made his escape from Spandau, and came here.”

“What was his crime?”

“Treachery,--the very basest one can well conceive; he commanded the
fort of Bergstein, which the French attacked on their advance in the
second Austrian campaign. The assailants had no heavy artillery, nor
any material for escalade; but they had money, and gold proved a
better battering-train than lead. Plittersdorf--that’s the general’s
name--fired over their heads till he had expended all his ammunition,
and then surrendered, with the garrison, as prisoners of war. The
French, however, exchanged him afterwards, and he very nearly paid the
penalty of his false faith.”

“And now is he shunned,--do people avoid him?”

“How should they? How many here are privileged to look down on a
traitor? Is it the runaway merchant, the defaulting bank clerk, the
filching commissary, that can say shame to one whose crime stands higher
in the scale of offence? The best we can know of any one here is, that
his rascality took an aspiring turn; and yet there are some fellows
one would not like to think ill of. Here comes one such; and as I have
something like business to treat of with him, I ‘ll ask you to wait for
me, on this bench, till I join you.”

Without waiting for any reply, Cashel hastened forward, and taking off
his hat, saluted a sallow-looking man of some eight-and-forty or fifty
years of age, who, in a loose morning-gown, and with a book in his hand,
was strolling along in one of the alleys.

“Ha, lieutenant,” said the other, as, lifting up his eyes, he recognized
Cashel,--“making the most of these short hours of pleasure, eh? You ‘ve
heard the news, I suppose; we shall be soon afloat again.”

“So I’ve heard, captain!” replied Cashel; “but I believe we have taken
our last cruise together.”

“How so, lad? _You_ look well, and in spirits; and as for myself, I
never felt in better humor than to try a bout with our friends on the
western coast.”

“You have no friend, captain, can better like to hear you say so; and as
for me, the chances of fortune have changed. I have discovered that I
need neither risk head nor limbs for gold; a worthy man has arrived here
to-day with tidings that I am the owner of a large estate, and more
money than I shall well know how to squander, and so--”

“And so you ‘ll leave us for the land where men have learned that art?
Quite right, Cashel. At your age a man can accustom himself to any and
everything; at mine--a little later--at mine, for instance, the task is
harder. I remember myself, some years ago, fancying that I should enjoy
prodigiously that life of voluptuous civilization they possess in
the Old World, where men’s wants are met ere they are well felt, and
hundreds--ay, thousands--are toiling and thinking to minister to the
rich man’s pleasures. It so chanced that I took a prize a few weeks
after; she was a Portuguese barque with specie, broad doubloons and gold
bars for the mint at Lisbon, and so I threw up my command and went
over to France and to Paris. The first dash was glorious; all was
new, glittering, and splendid; every sense steeped in a voluptuous
entrancement; thought was out of the question, and one only could wonder
at the barbarism that before seemed to represent life, and sorrow for
years lost and wasted in grosser enjoyment. Then came a reaction, at
first slight, but each day stronger; the headache of the debauch,
the doubt of your mistress’s fidelity, your friend’s truth, your own
enduring good fortune,--all these lie in wait together, and spring out
on you in some gloomy hour, like Malays boarding a vessel at night, and
crowding down from maintop and mizen! There is no withstanding; you must
strike or fly. I took the last alternative, and, leaving my splendid
quarters one morning at daybreak, hastened to Havre. Not a thought of
regret crossed me; so quiet a life seemed to sap my very courage, and
prey upon my vitals; that same night I swung once more in a hammock,
with the rushing water beside my ear, and never again tried those
dissipations that pall from their very excess; for, after all, no
pleasure is lasting which is not dashed with the sense of danger.”

While he was yet speaking, a female figure, closely veiled, passed close
to where they stood, and, without attracting any notice, slipped into
Cashel’s hand a slip of paper. Few as the words it contained were, they
seemed to excite his very deepest emotion, and it was with a faltering
voice he asked the captain by what step he could most speedily obtain
his release from the service?

A tiresome statement of official forms was the answer; but Roland’s
impatience did not hear it out, as he said,--

“And is there no other way,--by gold, for instance?”

A cold shrug of the shoulders met this sally, and the captain said,--

“To corrupt the officials of the Government is called treason by our
laws, and is punishable by death, just like desertion.” \

“Therefore is desertion the better course, as it involves none but one,”
 said Cashel, laughing, as he turned away.



CHAPTER IV. THE KENNYFECK HOUSEHOLD

     Man, being reasonable, must dine out;
     The best of life is but a dinner-party.

     Amphytrion, Canto IV.


It was about half-past six of an autumn evening, just as the gray
twilight was darkening into the gloom that precedes night, that a
servant, dressed in the most decorous black, drew down the window-blinds
of a large and splendidly furnished drawing-room of a house in Merrion
Square, Dublin.

Having arranged certain portly deep-cushioned chairs into the orderly
disorder that invites social groupings, and having disposed various
other articles of furniture according to those notions of domestic
landscape so popular at the present day, he stirred the fire and
withdrew,--all these motions being performed with the noiseless decorum
of a church.

A glance at the apartment, even by the fitful light of the coal-fire,
showed that it was richly, even magnificently, furnished. The
looking-glasses were immense in size, and framed with all that the most
lavish art of the carver could display. The hangings were costly Lyons
silk, the sofas, tables, and cabinets were all exquisite specimens of
modern skill and elegance, while the carpet almost rose above the foot
in the delicate softness of its velvet pile. A harp, a grand pianoforte,
and several richly-bound and gilded volumes strewed about gave evidence
of tastes above the mere voluptuous enjoyment of ease, and in one window
stood an embroidery-frame, with its unfinished labor, from which the
threads depended in that fashion, that showed it had lately occupied the
fair hands of the artist.

This very enviable apartment belonged to Mr. Mountjoy Kennyfeck, the
leading solicitor of Dublin, a man who, for something more than thirty
years, had stood at the head of his walk in the capital, and was reputed
to be one of its most respected and richest citizens. Mrs. Mountjoy
Kennyfeck--neither for our own nor our reader’s convenience dare we omit
the “prénom”--was of a western family considerably above that of her
liege lord and master in matter of genealogy, but whose quarterings had
so far survived the family acres that she was fain to accept the hand
of a wealthy attorney, after having for some years been the belle of her
county, and the admired beauty of Castle balls and drawing-rooms.

It had been at first, indeed, a very hard struggle for the O’Haras to
adopt the style and title of Kennyfeck, and poor Matilda was pitied in
all the moods and tenses for exchanging the riotous feudalism of Mayo
for the decorous quietude and wealthy _insouciance_ of a Dublin mansion;
and the various scions of the house did not scruple to express very
unqualified opinions on the subject of her fall; but Time--that heals
so much--Time and Mr. Kennyfeck’s claret, of which they all drank
most liberally during the visits to town, assuaged the rancor of these
prejudices, and “Matty,” it was hinted, might have done worse; while
some hardy spirit averred that “Kennyfeck, though not one of ourselves,
has a great deal of the gentleman about him, notwithstanding.”

A word of Mr. Kennyfeck himself, and even a word will almost suffice. He
was a very tall, pompous-looking personage, with a retiring forehead
and a large prominent nose; he wore a profusion of powder, and always
dressed in the most scrupulous black; he spoke little, and that slowly;
he laughed never. It was not that he was melancholy or depressed; it
seemed rather that his nature had been fashioned in conformity with the
onerous responsibilities of his pursuit, and that he would have deemed
any exhibition of mirthful emotion unseemly and unbecoming one who, so
to say, was a kind of high priest in the temple of equity. Next to the
Chancellor’s he venerated the decisions of Mrs. Kennyfeck; after Mrs.
Kennyfeck came the Master of the Rolls. This was his brief and simple
faith, and it is astonishing in what simple rules of guidance men amass
vast fortunes, and obtain the highest suffrages of civic honor and
respect!

Mr. Kennyfeck’s family consisted of two daughters: the eldest had been a
beauty for some years, and, even at the period our tale opens, had lost
few of her attractions. She was tall, dark-haired, and dark-eyed, with
an air of what in the Irish capital is called “decided fashion” about
her, but in less competent circles might have been called almost
effrontery. She looked strangers very steadily in the face, spoke with a
voice full, firm, and unabashed,--no matter what the subject, or who the
audience,--and gave her opinions on people and events with a careless
indifference to consequences that many mistook for high genius
rebellious against control.

Olivia, three years younger than her sister, had just come out; and
whether that her beauty--and she was very handsome--required a different
style, or that she saw more clearly “the mistake” in Miss Kennyfeck’s
manner, but she took a path perfectly her own. She was tenderness
itself; a delicacy too susceptible for this work-a-day world pervaded
all she said and did,--a retiring sensitiveness that she knew, as she
plaintively said, would never “let her be loved,” overlaid her nature,
and made her the victim of her own feelings. Her sketches, everlasting
Madonnas dissolved in tears; her music, the most mournful of the
melodies; her reading, the most disastrously ending of modern
poems,--all accorded with this tone, which, after all, scarcely
consorted well with a very blooming cheek, bright hazel eyes, and an air
and carriage that showed a full consciousness of her captivations, and
no small reliance on her capacity to exercise them.

A brief interval after the servant left the room, the door opened, and
Mrs. Kennyfeck entered. She was dressed for dinner, and if not exactly
attired for the reception of a large company, exhibited, in various
details of her costume, unequivocal signs of more than common care. A
massive diamond brooch fastened the front of her dark velvet dress, and
on her fingers several rings of great value glittered. Miss Kennyfeck,
too, who followed her, was, though simply, most becomingly dressed; the
light and floating material of her robe contrasting well with the more
stately folds of the matronly costume of her mother.

“I am surprised they are not here before this,” said Mrs. Kennyfeck,
lying back in the deep recess of a luxurious chair, and placing a screen
between herself and the fire. “Your father said positively on the 5th,
and as the weather has been most favorable, I cannot understand the
delay. The packets arrive at four, I think?”

“Yes, at four, and the carriage left this at three to fetch them.”

“Read the note again,--he writes so very briefly always. I ‘m sure I
wish the dear man would understand that I am not a client, and that a
letter is not exactly all it might be, because it can be charged its
thirteen-and-fourpence, or six-and-eightpence, whatever it is.”

Miss Kennyfeck took an open note from the chimney, and read:--

     Dear Mrs. Kennyfeck,--We have made all the necessary
     arrangements in London, and shall leave on the 2nd,  so as
     to arrive at Merrion Square by the 5th.    Mr. C---- would,
     I believe, rather have remained another day in town; but
     there was no possibility of doing so, as the “Chancellor”
      will sit on Tuesday. Love to the girls, and believe me,
     yours very truly,

     M. Kennyfeck.

Invite Jones and Softly to meet us at dinner.

The clock on the mantelpiece now struck seven; and scarcely had the last
chime died away as a carriage drove up to the door.

“Here they come, I suppose,” said Mrs. Kennyfeck, with a half-sigh.

“No, mamma; it is a hackney-coach. Mr. Jones, or Mr. Softly, perhaps.”

“Oh, dear! I had forgotten them. How absurd it was to ask these people,
and your father not here.”

The door opened, and the servant announced the Rev. Mr. Knox Softly. A
very tall, handsome young man entered, and made a most respectful but
cordial salutation to the ladies. He was in look and mien the _beau
idéal_ of health, strength, and activity, with bright, full blue eyes,
and cheeks rosy as the May. His voice, however, was subdued to the
dulcet accent of a low whisper, and his step, as he crossed the room,
had the stealthy noiselessness of a cat’s approach.

“Mr. Kennyfeck quite restored, I hope, from the fatigue of his journey?”

“We ‘ve not seen him yet,” replied his lady, almost tartly. “He ought to
have been here at four o’clock, and yet it’s past seven.”

“I think I hear a carriage.”

“Another ------,” hackney, Miss Kennyfeck was about to say, when she
stopped herself, and, at the instant, Counsellor Clare Jones was
announced.

This gentleman was a rising light of the Irish bar, who had the
good fortune to attract Mr. Kennyfeck’s attention, and was suddenly
transferred from the dull duties of civil bills and declarations to
business of a more profitable kind. He had been somewhat successful in
his college career,--carried off some minor honors; was a noisy member
of a debating society; wrote leaders for some provincial papers; and
with overbearing powers of impudence, and a good memory, was a very
likely candidate for high forensic honor.

Unlike the first arrival, the Counsellor had few, if any, of the
forms of good society in his manner or address. His costume, too, was
singularly negligent; and as he ran a very dubious hand through a mass
of thick and tangled hair on entering, it was easy to see that the
greatest part of his toilet was then and there performed. The splashed
appearance of his nether garments, and of shoes that might have done
honor to snipe-shooting, also showed that the carriage which brought him
was a mere ceremonial observance, and, as he would himself say, “the act
of conveyance was a surplusage.”

Those who saw him in court pronounced him the most unabashed and cool of
men; but there was certainly a somewhat of haste and impetuosity in his
drawing-room manner that even a weak observer would have ascribed to
awkwardness.

“How do you do, Mrs. Kennyfeck?--how do you do, Miss Kennyfeck?--glad to
see you. Ah! Mr. Softly,--well, I hope? Is he come--has he arrived?”
 A shake of the head replied in the negative. “Very strange; I can’t
understand it. We have a consultation with the Solicitor-General
to-morrow, and a meeting in chambers at four.”

“I should n’t wonder if Mr. Cashel detained papa; he is very young, you
know, and London must be so new and strange to him, poor lad!”

“Yes; but your father would scarce permit it,” said Mrs. Kennyfeck,
smartly. “I rather think it must have been some accidental circumstance;
coaches are constantly upsetting, and post-horses cannot always be had.”

Mr. Knox Softly smiled benignly, as though to say in these suggestions
Mrs. Kennyfeck was displaying a very laudable spirit of uncertainty as
to the course of human events.

“Here ‘s Olivia,” said Mrs. Kennyfeck, as her younger daughter entered.
“Let us hear her impressions,--full of forebodings, I don’t doubt.”

Miss Olivia Kennyfeck performed her salutations to the guests with the
most faultless grace, throwing into her courtesy to the curate a
certain air of filial reverence very pretty to behold, and only a
little objectionable on the score of the gentleman’s youth and personal
attractions; and then, turning to her mother said,--

“You are not uneasy, mamma, I hope? Though, after all, this is about the
period of the equinox.”

“Nonsense, child! packets are never lost nowadays in the Irish Channel.
It’s merely some sudden freak of gayety,--some London distraction
detains them. Will you touch that bell, Mr. Clare Jones? It is better to
order dinner.”

There was something peremptory in the lady’s tone and manner that rather
damped the efforts at small-talk,--never very vigorous or well-sustained
at these ante-dinner moments; nor were any of the party very sorry when
the servant announced that the soup was served.



CHAPTER V. HOW ROLAND BECAME ENTITLED TO THE GODFREY BROWNE PROPERTY.

     The sherry iced,--the company still colder.

     Bell:  Images.


The party who now took their seats at table were not made of those
ingredients whose admixture accomplishes a social meeting. Their
natures, pursuits, and tastes were only sufficiently unlike to suggest
want of agreement, without possessing the broad contrasts that invite
conversation by their own contrariety. Besides this, there was a sense
of constraint over every one, from the absence of the host and his
expected guest; and lastly, the very aspect of a gorgeously decorated
table, with vacant places, has always a chilling influence over those
who sit around. A certain amount of propinquity is as essential to
conversation as good roads and easy distances are a necessary condition
to a visiting neighborhood. If you cannot address him or her who sits
beside you without attracting the attention of the whole table to your
remark, you are equally debarred from the commonplaces that induce
table-talk, or the smart thing that cannot well be said too publicly.

The dinner here proceeded in very stately quietude, nor were the efforts
of Mr. Jones to introduce a conversational spirit at all successful;
indeed, that gifted gentleman would have willingly exchanged the
unexceptionable cookery and admirably conditioned wine before him for
the riotous freedom of a bar mess,--where sour sherry and nisi-prius
jokes abounded, and Father Somebody’s song was sure to give the scene
a conviviality that only yielded its fascination to blind hookey or
spoiled five.

Far otherwise the curate. The angelic smile that sat upon his features
mechanically; his low, soft, liquid voice; his gentle gestures; and even
his little sallies of pleasantry, were in perfect accordance with the
decorous solemnity of a scene where the chink of a cut decanter, or the
tingling sound of a silver dish-cover, were heard above the stillness of
the company.

If, then, Mr. Knox Softly accompanied the ladies to the door, and
followed them out with his eyes with an expression beaming regretfulness
at their departure, the Counsellor, very differently minded, surrounded
himself with an array of the dessert-dishes and decanters, and prepared
to discuss his wine and walnuts to his perfect contentment.

“You have never met this Mr. Roland Cashel, I believe?” said Mr. Softly,
as he filled a very large claret glass and tasted it enjoyably.

“Never,” replied Jones, whose teeth were busily engaged in smashing
almonds and filberts, in open defiance of a tray of silver nutcrackers
before him. “I don’t think he has been in Ireland since a mere child,
and very little in England.”

“Then his recovery of the estate was quite unexpected?”

“Mere accident Kennyfeck came upon the proofs when making some searches
for a collateral claim. The story is very short. This lad’s father,
whose name was Godfrey Cashel, was a poor lieutenant in the 81st, and
quartered at Bath, when he chanced to discover that a rich old bachelor
there, a certain Godfrey Browne, was a distant relation of his
mother. He lost no time in making his acquaintance and explaining the
relationship, which, however, brought him no more substantial benefit
than certain invitations to dinner and whist parties, where the
unfortunate lieutenant lost his half-crowns.

“At length a note came one morning inviting him to breakfast and to
‘transact a little matter of business.’ Poor Godfrey read the words with
every commentary that could flatter his hopes, and set out in better
spirits than he had known for many a year before. What, then, was
his dismay to discover that he was only wanted to witness the old
gentleman’s will!--a very significant proof that he was not to benefit
by its provisions.

“With a very ill-repressed sigh, the poor lieutenant threw a glance over
the half-opened leaves, where leasehold, and copyhold, and freehold, and
every other ‘hold’ figured among funded property, consols, and reduced
annuities,--with money lent on mortgages, shares in various companies,
and What not,--a list only to be equalled by the long catalogue of
those ‘next of kin,’ who, to the number of seventeen, were mentioned as
reversionary heirs.

“‘You are to sign your name here, Mr. Cashel,’ said the solicitor,
pointing to a carefully-scratched portion of the parchment, where
already the initials were pencilled for his guidance.

“‘Faith! and it’s at the other side of the book I’d rather see it,’ said
the lieutenant, with a sigh.

“‘Not, surely, after seventeen others!’ exclaimed the astonished
attorney.

“‘Even so,--a chance is better than nothing.’

“‘What’s that he’s saying?’ interposed the old man, who sat reading his
newspaper at the fire. The matter was soon explained by the attorney,
and when he finished, Cashel added: ‘That’s just it; and I’m to sail for
the Cape on the 4th of next month, and if you ‘ll put me down among the
rest of the fellows, I ‘ll send you the best pipe of Constantia you
ever tasted, as sure as my name is Godfrey Cashel.’

“The old man threw his spectacles up on his forehead, wiped his eyes,
and then, replacing his glasses, took a deliberate survey of the poor
lieutenant who had proposed such a very ‘soft’ bargain. ‘Eh! Clinchet,’
said he to the attorney, ‘can we do this for him?’

“‘Nothing easier, sir; let the gentleman come in last, as residuary
legatee, and it alters nothing.’

“‘I suppose you count on your good luck,’ said old Browne, grinning.

“‘Oh, then, it’s not from my great experience that way.’ said Cashel.
‘I ‘ve been on the “Duke’s list” for promotion seventeen years already,
and, for all I see, not a bit nearer than the first day; but there’s no
reason my poor boy should be such an unfortunate devil. Who knows but
fortune may make amends to him one of these days? Come, sir, is it a
bargain?’

“‘To be sure. I ‘m quite willing; only don’t forget the Constantia. It’s
a wine I like a glass of very well indeed, after my dinner.’

“The remainder is easily told; the lieutenant sailed for the Cape,
and kept his word, even though it cost him a debt that mortgaged his
commission. Old Browne gave a great dinner when the wine arrived, and
the very first name on the list of legatees, his nephew, caught a fever
on his way home from it, and died in three weeks.

“Kennyfeck could tell us, if he were here, what became of each of them
in succession; four were lost, out yachting, at once; but, singular as
it may seem, in nineteen years from the day of that will, every life
lapsed, and, stranger still, without heirs; and the fortune has now
descended to poor Godfrey Cashel’s boy, the lieutenant himself having
died in the West Indies, where he exchanged into a native regiment. That
is the whole story; and probably in a romance one would say that the
thing was exaggerated, so much more strange is truth than fiction.”

“And what kind of education did the young man get?”

“I suppose very little, if any. So long as his father lived, he of
course held the position of an officer’s son,--poor, but in the rank of
gentleman. After that, without parents,--his mother died when he was an
infant,--he was thrown upon the world, and, after various vicissitudes,
became a cabin boy on board of a merchantman; then he was said to be a
mate of a vessel in the African trade employed on the Gold Coast,--just
as probably a slaver; and, last of all, he was lieutenant in the
Columbian navy,--which, I take it, is a very good name for piracy. It
was in the Havannah we got a trace of him, and I assure you, strange as
it may sound, Kennyfeck’s agent had no small difficulty in persuading
him to abandon that very free-and-easy service, to assume the rights and
immunities of a very large property.

“Kennyfeck was to meet him on his arrival in England, about ten days
ago, and they spent a few days in London, and were--But hark! there
comes a carriage now,--yes, I know the step of his horses; here they
are!”



CHAPTER VI. A FRACAS IN THE BETTING-RING.

     Ne’er mind his torn, ill-fashioned doublet,
     Beshrew me! if he ‘s not a pretty man.

     Don Lopez.

The movement and bustle in the hall showed that Mr. Jones’s surmise was
correct; for scarcely had the carriage stopped than the street-door
was flung wide open, and Mr. Pearse, the butler, followed by a strong
detachment of bright-liveried menials, stood bowing their respectful
compliments to their master and his guest. As Mr. Kennyfeck entered the
house, he walked slowly and with difficulty, endeavoring at the same
time to avoid all scrutiny of his appearance as he passed through the
crowded hall; but, although his hat was pressed firmly over his brows,
it could not entirely conceal a very suspiciously tinted margin around
one eye; while the care with which he defended his left arm, and which
he carried in his waistcoat, looked like injury there also.

He, however, made an attempt at a little sprightliness of manner, as,
shaking his companion’s hand with cordial warmth, he said,--

“Welcome to Ireland, Mr. Cashel. I hope I shall very often experience
the happiness of seeing you under this roof.”

The person addressed was a remarkably handsome young man, whose air and
carriage bespoke, however, much more the confidence that results from a
sense of personal gifts, and a bold, daring temperament, than that more
tempered ease which is the consequence of fashionable breeding.

Mr. Kennyfeck’s felicitations on their arrival were scarce uttered ere
Cashel had sufficiently recovered from his surprise at the unexpected
magnificence of the house to make any reply; for, although as yet
advanced no further than the hall, a marble group by Canova, a centre
lamp of costly Sèvres, and some chairs of carved ebony served to
indicate the expensive style of the remainder of the mansion.

While Cashel, then, muttered his acknowledgments, he added to himself,
but in a voice scarcely less loud,--

“Devilish good crib, this, Master Kennyfeck.”

“Pearse,” said the host, “is dinner ready?”

“My mistress and the young ladies have dined, sir; but Mr. Jones and Mr.
Softly are in the parlor.”

“Well, let us have something at once; or, would you prefer, Mr. Cashel,
making any change in your dress first?”

“I say dinner above all things,” said the youth, disencumbering himself
of a great Mexican mantle.

“Perfectly right; quite agree with you,” said Kennyfeck, endeavoring to
assume a little of his guest’s dash; “and here we are. Ah, Jones, how
d’ye do? Mr. Cashel, this is my friend Mr. Jones. Mr. Softly, very
glad to see you. Mr. Softly.--Mr. Cashel. Don’t stir, I beg; keep your
places. We ‘ll have a bit of dinner here, and join you at your wine
afterwards. Meanwhile, I ‘ll just step upstairs, and be back again in a
moment; you’ll excuse me, I ‘m sure.”

“Oh, certainly,” replied Cashel, who appeared as if he could excuse
anything with a better grace than the ceremonious slowness of the
butler’s arrangements.

There was a pause of a few seconds as Mr. Kennyfeck left the room,
broken, at last, by Mr. Jones asking if they had not been detained by
contrary winds.

“No, I think not; I fancy the weather was pretty average kind of
weather. Had we been expected here earlier?”

“Yes; Mrs. Kennyfeck mentioned to me Monday, and afterwards Tuesday, as
the very latest day for your arrival.”

Cashel made no remark; and, soon after, Mr. Pearse’s entrance with the
soup put an end to the conversation. “Mr. Kennyfeck desired me to say,
sir, not to wait for him; he’ll be down presently.”

“What do you call this soup?”

“Mock-turtle, sir.”

“Rather too much Madeira in it for my taste; but that sha’ n’t prevent
my having a glass of wine. Will you permit me, gentlemen?”

The parties bowed policy; but still the intercourse did not progress;
and in the exchanged glances of those at the large table, and the
sidelong looks Cashel occasionally threw towards them, it was easy to
see that neither party had made way with the other.

“I fear Kennyfeck is not going to make his appearance,” said Cashel, as
he seemed to hesitate about proceeding with his dinner.

“I should n’t advise you waiting,” cried Jones; “the fish is growing
cold.”

“I suspect Mr. Kennyfeck is fatigued by his journey, sir,” said Mr.
Softly, in his most bland of voices; “I thought I remarked it by his
face.”

“Oh, did you?” said Cashel, with a very peculiar look of knowingness.

“Yes; you are aware, Mr. Cashel,” interrupted Jones, “our friend is n’t
much used to that kind of thing. I suppose it’s some years since he has
had so much knocking about as in these last few days.”

“I fancy so,” said Cashel, with a significant smile that puzzled the
lawyer exceedingly, and he ate on without making a further remark.

The two or three efforts made by Jones and Softly to converse
together were, like nearly all similar attempts at perfect ease and
self-possession, complete failures, and gradually slided down into
monosyllables, and then to silence; when Cashel, who seemed to be
enjoying his venison and Bordeaux with perfect zest, leaned back in his
chair and said, “What kind of place is this same good city of Dublin?
What goes forward here?”

As this question was more directly addressed to Jones, that gentleman
prepared himself, not unwillingly, for an elaborate reply.

“Dublin, Mr. Cashel,” said he, pretty much in the same tone he would
have used in opening an address to a jury,--

“Dublin is a city which, from a great variety of causes, will always
be exposed to every variable and opposing criticism. To begin: it is
provincial--”

“Is it slow?” interrupted Cashel, who had listened to this exordium with
palpable signs of impatience.

“If you mean, has it its share of those habits of dissipation, those
excesses so detrimental alike to health and fortune--”

“No, no; I merely ask what goes on here,--how do people amuse
themselves?” said Cashel, fencing to avoid any very lengthened exposure
of the other’s views.

“They dine, dance, drink tea, talk politics and scandal, like other
folk; but if you ask, what are the distinguishing features of the
society--”

“What kind of sport does the country afford?” interrupted Roland,
somewhat unceremoniously.

“Hunting, shooting, fishing, coursing--”

“What do you mean by hunting,--a fox, is it?”

“Yes, fox-hunting and hare-hunting, too.”

A very insolent laugh was Cashel’s answer, as, turning to Mr. Softly, he
said, “Well, I own, all this does strike me as a very tiresome kind of
life. Do you like Ireland, sir?”

“I feel a deep interest in it,” said the curate, with a most solemn
manner.

“Yes, that’s all very well; but do you like it?”

“Were it not for its darkness,” said Mr. Softly, sighing, “I should say
I liked it.”

“Darkness,” echoed Cashel,--“darkness; why, hang it, you are pretty far
north here. What is the darkness you speak of?”

“I alluded to popery, sir,--to the obscuring mists of superstition and
ignorance,” replied Mr. Softly, with a kind of energetic timidity that
made himself blush.

“Oh--I perceive--yes--I understand,” muttered Cashel, who certainly felt
all the awkwardness of a man caught in a lie.

“We have a very agreeable society among the bar men,” said Jones,
returning to the charge in a new direction; “a great deal of pleasantry
and fun goes on at our messes.”

“Droll fellows, I suppose,” said Cashel, carelessly. “I remember I
knew a lawyer once; he was a mate of a small clipper in the African
trade,--mischievous kind of devil he was too,--always setting the slaves
by the ears, and getting money for settling the differences. They played
him a good trick at last.” Here he laughed heartily at the recollection
for several minutes.

“What was it?” asked Jones, in some curiosity to learn how the bar was
respected on the banks of the Niger.

“They painted him black and sold him at Cuba,” said Cashel, who once
more broke out into laughter at the excellence of the jest.

Jones’s and Softly’s eyes met with a most complete accordance in the
glances exchanged. Meanwhile, Cashel, drawing his chair towards the
larger table, filled his glass and proceeded to smash his walnuts with
all the easy contentment of a man who had dined well.

“I perceive Mr. Kennyfeck is not likely to join us,” said Softly, with a
half suggestive look towards the door.

“Tired, perhaps,” said Jones, affecting what he opined to be the cool
indifference of the highest fashion.

“More than that, I suspect,” said Cashel, with a most unfeigned
carelessness. “Did you remark his eye?”

“Yes!” exclaimed both together. “What could that mean?”

“A slight bit of a scrimmage we had on the way from town; a--”

“Mr. Kennyfeck engaged in a row!” cried Softly, almost incredible at the
tidings.

“Yes. I fancy that is about the best word for it,” said Cashel, sipping
his wine. “I suppose one ought not to mention these kind of things;
but of course they are safe with you. They ‘ll never go further, I am
certain.”

“Oh, never,--not a syllable,” chimed in the two.

“Well, then, on our way here, I learned that there were to be races a
few miles from Coventry, and as I saw our friend Kennyfeck had no fancy
for the sight, I just slipped a few half-crowns into the postboy’s hand,
and told him to drive there instead of taking the Liverpool road. Away
we went at a good pace, and in less than an hour reached the course. I
wish you saw the old gentleman’s face when he awoke from a sound nap,
and saw the grand stand, with its thousand faces, all in a row, and the
cords, the betting-ring, and the whole circumstance of a race-ground. By
good luck, too, the sharp jerk of our pull-up smashed a spring, and so
we had nothing for it but to leave the chaise and wait till it could be
repaired. While my servant was away in search of some kind of a drag or
other, to go about the field,--there was no walking, what with the crowd
and the press of horses, not to speak of the mud that rose over the
ankles,--we pushed on,--that is, I did, with a stout grip of Kennyfeck’s
arm, lest he should escape,--we pushed on, into the ring. Here there was
rare fun going forward, every fellow screaming out his bets, and booking
them as fast as he could. At first, of course, the whole was all ancient
Greek to me. I neither knew what they meant by the ‘favorite,’ or
‘the odds,’ or ‘the field;’ but one somehow always can pick up a thing
quickly, if it be but ‘game,’ and so, by watching here, and listening
there, I managed to get a kind of inkling of the whole affair, and by
dint of some pushing and elbowing, I reached the very centre of the
ring, where the great dons of the course were betting together.

“‘Taurus even against the field,’ cried one.

“‘Taurus against the field,’ shouted another.

“And this same cry was heard on every side.

“‘Give it in fifties,--hundreds if you like better,’ said a young fellow
mounted on a smart-looking pony, to his friend, who appeared to reflect
on the offer. ‘Come, hurry on, man. Let’s have a bet, just to give one
an interest in the race.’ The other shook his head, and the first went
on, ‘What a slow set, to be sure! Is no one willing to back the field,
even? Come, then, here ‘s a hundred pound to any man who ‘ll take the
field against Taurus, for two thousand.’

“‘Let me have your cob,’ said I, ‘and I ‘ll take the bet.’

“He turned round in his saddle, and stared at me as if I were something
more or less than human, while a very general roar of laughing ran
around the entire circle.

“‘Come away, come away at once,’ whispered Kennyfeck, trembling with
fright.

“‘Yes, you had better move off, my friend,’ said a thickset,
rough-looking fellow, in a white coat.

“‘What say you to five thousand, sir; does that suit your book?’ cried
the young fellow to me, in a most insolent tone.

“‘Oh, let him alone, my Lord,’ said another. ‘Take no notice of him.’

“‘I say, Grindle,’ cried a tall thin man with moustaches, ‘who let these
people inside the ring?’

“‘They forces their way, my Lud,’ said a little knocker-kneed creature,
in a coat four times too big for him, ‘and I says to Bill, de--pend upon
it, Bill, them’s the swell mob.’

“The words were scarcely out of the fellow’s mouth when a general cry
of the ‘swell mob’ resounded on every side, and at once they closed upon
us, some pushing, others elbowing, driving, and forcing, so that what
with the dense crowd, and the tight hold Kennyfeck now kept of me, I was
pinioned, and could do nothing. At last, by a vigorous twist, I shook
them off from me, and laid two of the foremost at my feet. This I did
with a Mexican trick I saw they knew nothing about. You first make a
feint at the face, and then, dropping on the knee, seize the fellow by
both legs, and hurl him back on his head,--just stand up, I ‘ll not hurt
you.”

“Thank you,--I understand the description perfectly,” said Mr. Softly,
pale with terror at the proposed experiment.

“Well, the remainder is soon told. They now got in upon us, and of
course I need n’t say we got confoundedly thrashed. Kennyfeck was
tumbled about like a football; every one that had nothing else to do had
a kick at him, and there ‘s no saying how it might have ended had not a
certain Sir George Somebody recognized our poor friend, and rescued him.
I ‘m not quite sure that I was quite myself about this time; Kennyfeck
has some story of my getting on some one’s horse, and riding about the
course in search of the originators of the fray. The end of it, however,
was, we reached Liverpool with sorer bones than was altogether pleasant,
and although, when Kennyfeck went to bed, I went to the theatre, the
noise only increased my headache, and it needed a good night’s sleep to
set me all right again.”

“Mr. Kennyfeck taken for one of the swell mob!” exclaimed Softly, with
a sort of holy horror that seemed to sum up his whole opinion of the
narrative.

“Very bad, was n’t it?” said Cashel, pushing the wine past; “but he’s a
capital fellow,--took the whole thing in such good part, and seems
only anxious that the story should n’t get abroad. Of course I need n’t
repeat my caution on that subject?”

“Oh, certainly not! Shall we join the ladies?” said Mr. Jones, as he
surveyed his whiskers and arranged the tie of his cravat before the
glass.

“I’m quite ready,” said Cashel, who had quietly set down in his own mind
that the ladies of the Kennyfeck family were a kind of female fac-simile
of the stiff-looking old attorney, and, therefore, felt very few qualms
on the subject of his disordered and slovenly appearance.

Scarcely had Cashel entered the drawing-room than he found his hand
grasped in Mr. Kennyfeck’s, when, with a most dulcet acccent, he said,--

“I knew you ‘d forgive me,--I told Mrs. Kennyfeck you’d excuse me
for not joining you at dinner; but I was really so fatigued. Mrs.
Kennyfeck--Mr. Cashel. My daughter, Mr. Cashel. My daughter Olivia.
Well, now, have you dined heartily?--I hope my friends here took care of
you.”

“I thank you. I never dined better,--only sorry not to, have had your
company. We have our apologies to make, Mrs. Kennyfeck, for not being
earlier; but, of course, you ‘ve heard that we did our very utmost.”

“Oh, yes, yes! I explained everything,” interrupted Kennyfeck, most
eager to stop a possible exposure. “Mrs. Kennyfeck knows it all.”

Although Cashel’s manner and address were of a kind to subject him to
the most severe criticism of the ladies of the Kennyfeck family, they
evinced the most laudable spirit in their hospitable and even cordial
reception of him, Mrs. Kennyfeck making room for him to sit on the sofa
beside her,--a post of honor that even the Castle aides-de-camp only
enjoyed by great favor; while the daughters listened with an attention
as flattering to _him_ as it was galling to the other two guests.

Mr. Softly, however, resigned himself to this neglect as to a passing
cloud of forgetfulness, and betook himself to the columns of the
“Morning Post” for consolation, occasionally glancing over the margin
to watch the laughing group around the fire. As for Jones; Mr. Kennyfeck
had withdrawn with that gentleman into a window, where the tactics of
some bill in equity engaged their attention,--manifestly, however, to
the young barrister’s discontent, as his frequent stolen looks towards
the ladies evidenced.

It was the first time that the Kennyfecks had ever deigned to listen
to any one whose claims to a hearing rested on higher grounds than
the light gossip and small-talk of the capital, the small fashionable
chit-chat of a provincial city, and which bears the same resemblance to
the table-talk of the greater metropolis as do larks to ortolans, when
disguised in the same kind of sauce; only those accustomed to the higher
flavor being able to detect the difference. It was, then, with as
much surprise as pleasure that they found themselves listening to the
narratives in which not a single noble or lordly personage figured, nor
one singular incident occurred reflecting on the taste, the wealth, or
the morals of their acquaintance. It was no less a novelty, too, for
Cashel to find any one a listener to descriptions of scenes and habits
in whose familiarity he saw nothing strange or remarkable; so that when
the young ladies, at first attracted by mere curiosity, became gradually
more and more interested in his stories, his flattered vanity gave new
warmth to an enthusiasm always ardent, and he spoke of prairie life
and adventure with a degree of eloquence and power that might have
captivated even less indulgent auditors.

It was, besides, the first time that they ever had seen great wealth
unallied with immense pretension. Cashel, perhaps from character,
or that his accession to fortune was too recent, and his consequent
ignorance of all that money can do, whichever of these the cause, was
certainly the most unassuming young man they had ever met. In comparison
with him, the aides-de-camp were princes of the blood; even Mr. Jones
put forth a degree of pretension on the score of his abilities, which
stood in strong contrast with the unaffected and simple modesty of
Roland Cashel.

It is but fair to all parties to add that dark and flashing eyes, shaded
by long and drooping lashes, a high and massive forehead; a brown,
almost Spanish complexion, whose character was increased by a pair of
short coal-black moustaches,--did not detract from the merit of tales,
which, as they chiefly related to feats of personal daring and
address, were well corroborated by the admirable symmetry and handsome
proportions of the relater.

Story followed story. Now the scene lay in the low and misty swamps
of the Niger, where night resounds with the dull roar of the beasts of
prey, and the heavy plash of the sluggish alligator on the muddy shore;
now, it was in the green wood of the Spice Islands, amid an atmosphere
scented with perfume, and glittering with every gorgeous hue of plumage
and verdure. At one moment he would describe a chase at sea, with all
its high and maddening excitement, as each new vicissitude of success
or failure arose; and then he would present some little quiet picture
of shore life in a land where the boundless resources of Nature supply,
even anticipate, the wants and luxuries of man.

Whatever the interest, and occasionally it rose to a high pitch, that
attended his narratives of danger and daring, the little sketches he
gave from time to time of the domestic life of these far-away people,
seemed to attract the most delighted attention of his fair hearers,
particularly where his narrative touched upon the traits, whether of
beauty, dress, or demeanor, that distinguish the belles of New Spain.

“How difficult,” said Miss Kennyfeck, “I could almost say, how
impossible, to leave a land so abounding in the romance of life, for all
the dull and commonplace realities of European existence.”

“How hard to do so without leaving behind the heart that could feel such
ecstasies,” murmured Olivia, with a half-raised eyelid, and a glance
that made Cashel flush with delight.

“How shall we ever make Ireland compensate you for quitting so lovely a
country!” said Mrs. Kennyfeck, with a smile rarely accorded to anything
lower than a viscount.

“We have a Mexican proverb, madam,” said Cashel, gayly, “which says,
‘Wherever the sun shines, bright eyes shine also.’ But enough of these
tiresome memories, in which my egotism will always involve me. Shall we
have a fandango?”

“I don’t know it; I never saw it danced.”

“Well, the manolo, then.”

“Nor that either,” said both girls, laughing.

“Well, will you learn? I’ll teach you the manolo. It’s very simple. If
you ‘ll play the air, Miss Kennyfeck,--it runs thus.” Here he opened the
pianoforte, and, after a few chords, struck with a masterly finger, he
played a little Spanish dance; but with a spirit of execution, and
in such an exciting character of time and measure, that a general
exclamation of delight broke from the whole room, Mr. Jones himself
forgetting all rivalry, and Mr. Softly laying down his newspaper
to listen, and for a moment carried away by the fascination of the
spirit-stirring melody.

“That is the manolo; come, now, and let me teach you, first the air, and
then the dance.”

“Oh, I never could succeed to give it that character of bold and haughty
defiance it breathes from you,” said Miss Kennyfeck.

“Nay, nay, a man’s hand is always so rude and heavy, it needs the taper
finger of a lady,”--here Cashel bent, and kissed the hand he held,
but with such a deference and respect in the salute, that deprived the
action, so novel to our eyes, of any appearance of a liberty,--“of
a lady,” he resumed, “to impart the ringing brilliancy of the saucy
manolo.”

“Then play it over once more, and I ‘ll try,” said Miss Kennyfeck, who
was a most accomplished musician, and had even already caught up the
greater part of the air.

Cashel obeyed, and again the plaudits followed even more
enthusiastically than the first time. With a precision that called forth
many a hearty “bravo” from Roland, Miss Kennyfeck played over the air,
catching up all the spirit of its transitions from gay to plaintive, and
from tender to a strain bold, daring, and energetic.

“Now for the dance,” exclaimed Cashel, eagerly, as he busied himself
in removing chairs and pushing back sofas. “Will you be kind enough to
assist me with this table?”

Mr. Softly, the gentleman thus addressed, rose to comply, his face
exhibiting a very amusing struggle between shame and astonishment at the
position he occupied. The space cleared, Roland took Olivia’s hand, and
led her forward with an air of exceeding deference.

“Now, Miss Kenny feck, the step is the easiest thing in the world. It
goes so,--one--two; one--two--three; and then change--Exactly, quite
right; you have it perfectly. This is, as it were, an introduction to
the dance; but the same step is preserved throughout, merely changing
its time with the measure.”

It would be as impossible to follow as it would be unfair to weary the
reader with the lesson which now began; and yet we would like to linger
on the theme, as our memory brings up every graceful gesture and every
proud attitude of the fascinating manolo. Representing, as it does, by
pantomimic action a little episode of devotion, in which pursuit and
flight, entreaty, rejection, seductive softness, haughty defiance, timid
fear, and an even insolent boldness alternate and succeed each other,
all the movements which expressive action can command, whether of
figure or feature, are called forth. Now, it is the retiring delicacy of
shrinking, timid loveliness, half hoping, halt fearing, to be pursued;
now the stately defiance of haughty beauty, demanding homage as its due.
At one moment the winning seductiveness that invites pursuit, and then,
sudden as the lightning, the disdain that repels advance.

Not the least interesting part of the present scene was to watch how
Olivia, who at first made each step and gesture with diffidence and
fear, as she went on, became, as it were, seized with the characteristic
spirit of the measure; her features varying with each motive of the
music, her eyes at one instant half closed in dreamy languor, and at the
next flashing in all the brilliancy of conscious beauty. As for Roland,
forgetting, as well he might, all his functions as teacher, he
moved with the enthusiastic spirit of the dance,--his rapturous gaze
displaying the admiration that fettered him; and when at last, as it
were, yielding to long-proved devotion, she gave her hand, it needed
the explanation of its being a Mexican fashion to excuse the ardor with
which he pressed it to his lips.

Mrs. Kennyfeck’s applause, however, was none the less warm; and if
any of the company disapproved, they prudently said nothing,--even Mr.
Softly, who only evidenced his feeling by a somewhat hasty resumption
of the “Morning Post,” while the elder sister, rising from the piano,
whispered, as she passed her sister, “Bad jockey-ship, Livy, dear, to
make fast running so early.”

“And that is the--What d’ye call it, Mr. Cashel?” said Mrs. Kennyfeck.

“The manolo, madam. It is of Italian origin, rather than
Spanish,--Calabrian, I fancy; but, in Mexico, it has become national,
and well suits the changeful temper of our Spanish belles, and the style
of their light and floating costume.”

“Yes, I suspect it has a better effect with short drapery than with the
sweeping folds of our less picturesque dress,” said Miss Kennyfeck,
who, for reasons we must not inquire, took a pleasure in qualifying her
approval.

“I never saw it appear more graceful,” said Cashel, with a blunt
abruptness far more flattering than a studied compliment.

Olivia blushed; Mrs. Kennyfeck looked happy, and the elder sister
bit her lips, and threw up her eyebrows, with an expression we cannot
attempt to render in words.

“May I not have the honor of introducing you to the manolo?” said
Cashel, presenting himself before her with a deep bow.

“Thank you, I prefer being a spectator; besides, we could have no
music,--my sister does not play.”

Olivia blushed; and, in her hasty look, there was an expression of
gently conveyed reproach, as though to say, “This is unfair.”

“Do you like music, Mr. Cashel?” continued Miss Kennyfeck, who saw the
slight cloud of disappointment that crossed Roland’s features. “Oh, I ‘m
certain you do, and I know you sing!”

“Yes,” said Cashel, carelessly, “as every one sings in that merry land
I come from; but I fear the wild carol-lings of a ranchero would scarce
find acceptance in the polished ears of Europe.”

“What are the melodies like, then?” asked Miss Kennyfeck, throwing into
the question a most eager interest.

“You shall hear, if you like,” said Roland, taking up a guitar, and
striking a few full chords with a practised hand. “This is one of the
war-songs;” and without further preface he began. Had he even been less
gifted than he was as to voice and musical taste, there was enough in
the bold and manly energy of his manner, in the fiery daring of his dark
eyes, and the expressive earnestness of his whole bearing, to attract
the admiration of his hearers. But, besides these advantages, he was not
unskilled in the science of music, and even made so poor an instrument a
full and masterly accompaniment, imitating, as few but Spaniards can do,
the distant sound of drums, the dropping fire of cannon, the wild abrupt
changes of battle, and the low plaintive sounds of suffering and defeat;
so that, as he concluded, the whole character of the performance had
ceased to be regarded as a mere musical display, but had the absolute
effect of a powerfully told story.

The Kennyfecks had often been called on in society to award their
praises to amateur performances, in whose applause, be it said, _en
passant_, a grateful sense of their being concluded always contributes
the enthusiasm; but real admiration and pleasure now made them silent,
and as their eyes first turned on the singer and then met, there was a
world of intelligence in that one quiet, fleeting glance that revealed
more of secret thought and feeling than we, as mere chroniclers of
events, dare inquire into.

Whether it was that this silence, prolonged for some seconds, suggested
the move, or that Mr. Jones began to feel how ignoble a part he had been
cast for in the whole evening’s entertainment, but he rose to take
his leave at once, throwing into his manner a certain air of easy
self-sufficiency, with which in the “courts” he had often dismissed
a witness under cross-examination, and by a mere look and gesture
contrived to disparage his testimony.

None, save Miss Kennyfeck, perceived his tactic. She saw it, however,
and, with a readiness all her own, replied by a slight elevation of the
eyebrow. Jones saw his “signal acknowledged,” and went home contented.
Poor man, he was not the first who has been taken into partnership
because his small resources were all “ready,” and who is ejected from
the firm when wider and grander speculations are entered on. I am not
certain either that he will be the last!

Mr. Softly next withdrew, his leave-taking having all the blended
humility and cordiality of his first arrival; and now Mr. Kennyfeck was
awakened out of a very sound nap by his wife saying in his ear, “Will
you ask Mr. Cashel if he ‘ll take a biscuit and a glass of wine before
he retires?”

The proposition was politely declined, and after a very cordial
hand-shaking with all the members of the family, Cashel said his
good-night and retired.



CHAPTER VII. PEEPS BEHIND THE CURTAIN.

     Ich möchte ihn im Schlafrock sehen.

     Der Reisende Teufel.

     (I ‘d like to see him in his robe-de-chambre.)

     (The Travelling Devil.)


There has always appeared to us something of treachery, not to speak of
indelicacy, in the privileges authors are wont to assume in following
their characters into their most secret retirement, watching there
their every movement and gesture, overhearing their confidential
whisperings,--nay, sometimes sapping their very thoughts, for the mere
indulgence of a prying, intrusive curiosity.

For this reason, highly appreciating, as we must do, the admirable wit
of the “Diable Boiteux,” and the pleasant familiar humor of the “Hermite
de la Chaussée d’Antin,” we never could entirely reconcile ourselves to
the means by which such amusing views of life were obtained, while we
entertain grave doubts if we,--that is, the world at large,--have any
right to form our judgments of people from any other evidence than what
is before the public. It appears to us somewhat as if, that following
Romeo or Desdemona into the Green-room, we should be severe upon the
want of keeping which suggested the indulgence of a cigar or a pot of
porter, and angry at the high-flown illusions so grossly routed and
dispelled.

“Act well your part; there all the honour lies,” said the poet moralist;
but it’s rather hard to say that you are to “act” it off as well as on
the stage; and if it be true that no man is a hero to his valet, the
valet should say nothing about it; and this is the very offence we think
novel-writers commit, everlastingly stripping off the decorations and
destroying the illusions they take such trouble to create, for little
else than the vain boastfulness of saying, See, upon what flimsy
materials I can move you to sentiments of grief, laughter, pity, or
contempt. Behold of what vulgar ingredients are made up the highest
aspirations of genius,--the most graceful fascinations of beauty.

Having denounced, by this recorded protest, the practice, and
disclaiming, as we must do, all desire to benefit by its enjoyment, we
desire our reader, particularly if he be of the less worthy gender, to
feel a due sense of the obligation he owes us, if we claim his company
for half an hour on such a voyage of discovery. Step softly, there is no
excuse for noise, as the stair-carpet is thick, and not a sound need be
heard. Gently, as you pass that green door,--that is the bedroom of Mr.
and Mrs. Kennyfeck. We will not linger there, nor invade the sanctity of
those precincts, within which the monotonous tones of Mrs. K. are heard,
revelling in that species of domestic eloquence which, like the liberty
of the press, is oftener pleasant to those who employ, than to those
who receive its judgments. Here for a few minutes let us stay. This is
Roland Cashel’s apartment; and, strange enough, instead of sleeping, he
is up at his table, writing, too,--he, of all men the least epistolary.
There may be no great indication of character in mere handwriting, but
the manner, the gesture, the degree of rapidity of the writer, as seen
at the moment, are all full of individuality. Mark, then, with what
speed his pen moves; not the daisy-cutting sling of the accomplished
rider, but the slashing gallop of the heavy charger. Many a blot, never
an erasure,--so, there it goes,--“Yours ever, Roland Cashel.” And now,
he begins another.

Come, these are no times for squeamishness. Let us anticipate “Sir
James,” and read before he seals it.

     Dublin. My dear Comrade,--We are neither of us very gifted
     letter-writers, but events are always enough to tell, even
     when style be wanting; and here am I, so overwhelmed by the
     rush of new sensations that I know not where to begin, or
     how to tell what has really happened since we parted, nor
     distinguish actual stubborn facts from my own fancies. My
     brief note from Porto Giacomo told you that I had succeeded
     to something like fifteen thousand pounds a year. I believe
     it is rather more, with a good round sum, I don’t know how
     much, in bank; and now, here I am,’ just arrived, but
     marvellously at home, in the house of the worthy fellow that
     has established my claim.

     If I only knew so much of my good luck, I ‘d say it was no
     bad thing to be pleasantly domesticated in a capital
     mansion, with every refinement and luxury at hand, and two
     such girls, the daughters! Oh, _amigo mio_, you’d think
     wondrous little of the Barcelonetta belles, if I could show
     you these damsels! Such tempting shyness; such shrinking,
     playful modesty; and then so frank, without that slap-dash
     abruptness! Never mind,--I own freely that Maritaña is
     lovely; there is not such a mouth--as to a foot--well,
     well. I wish I could take a peep at you all again, just as
     night closes, and she comes out to take her walk upon the
     grass, and hear her singing as she went, or watch her as she
     danced the manolo, which--by the way--one of the girls here
     caught up wonderfully, and in almost an instant too. But the
     manolo, with a long, sweeping, flounced, and furbelowed
     petticoat! Only think of the absurdity! Not but she looked
     exceedingly pretty the while, but how much better had she,
     if one could only have cut half a yard off her drapery!

     Have you received the pistols I sent from London? I hope you
     ‘ll think them handsome,--I know they are true, having tried
     them at thirty-five, and even fifty paces. The yataghan I ‘m
     certain you ‘ll admire; it has the peculiar handle and hilt
     you ‘re fond of. Pray let our friends on the Chilian side
     learn something of the qualities of the blade itself. I have
     been thinking since about the emeralds--and perhaps Maritaña
     may refuse them. If so, do what you will with them so that I
     hear no more of the matter. And now for the bond: release
     me from that tie by all means. It is not that I really feel
     it in the light of a contract,--Maritaña never did; but I
     have it ever on my mind, like a debt. I give you full powers:
     draw upon me for the sum you please, and I promise not to
     dishonor the check. Pedro likes a good bargain, and don’t
     balk him!

     I don’t know what your own views are in that quarter, but I
     tell you frankly that Maritaña has higher and bolder
     aspirations than either you or I were likely to aid her in
     attaining. She is a proud girl, Enrique, and will never care
     for any man that is not able and willing to elevate her into
     a very different sphere from that she moves in. I never
     actually loved her,--I certainly do not do so now,--and yet
     I cannot get her out of my head.

     Before I forget it, let me ask you to pay Ruy Dias two
     hundred doubloons for me. The horse I killed was not worth
     forty; but, these are not times for bargaining, and the
     fellow didn’t want to part with the beast Alconetti--the
     Italian in the Plaza--has something against me,--pay it too;
     and now that I am on the subject of debts, whenever you
     next cruise off Ventillanos, send a party on shore to catch
     the dean, and give him four-and-twenty with a rope’s end,--
     say it is from me; he ‘ll know why, and so shall you, when
     you inform me that it has been cleverly effected.

     Above all, my dear boy, write; I so long to hear about you
     all, and to know all that has happened since I left you.
     Send the old trunks with my uniform to the agents in the
     Havannah; I ‘d like to see them once more. François may
     keep anything else of mine, except what you would like to
     select as a “souvenir.” Don’t let Rica write to me. I feel I
     should have no chance in a correspondence with him; nor
     need I have any, because whatever you say, I agree to,--
     remember that.

     If you can manage about the emeralds, it would be the most
     gratifying news to me. You might tell her that we are so
     certain of never meeting again, and that all is now over
     forever, and so on,--it would have an air of unkindness to
     reject them. Besides, I see no reason why she should! No
     matter; I needn’t multiply reasons, where, if one will not
     suffice, a thousand must fail, and the chances are, if she
     suspect my anxiety on the subject, it will decide her
     against me.    Do it, then, all in your own way.

     Have I said all I wanted? Heaven knows! My head is full; my
     heart, too, is not without its load. I wish you were here. I
     wish it for many reasons. I already begin to suspect you are
     right about the sudden effect a spring into wealth may
     produce; but I hope that all you said on that score may not
     be true. If I thought so, I ‘d--No matter, I ‘ll endeavor to
     show that you are unjust, and that is better.   Yours ever,

     Roland Cashel.

     Don Enrique da Cordova,

     Lieutenant of the Columbian frigate “Esmeralda.” Care of
     Messrs. Eustache et Le Moine, merchants, Havannah.

The next epistle which followed was far more brief. It was thus:--

     Messrs. Vanderhaeghen und Droek, Antwerp.

     Enclosed is an order on Hamerton for seventeen thousand four
     hundred and forty-eight gulden, principal and interest for
     three years, of an unjust demand made by you on me before
     the tribunal of Bruges.

     You failed, even with all the aid of your knavish laws and
     more knavish countrymen, to establish this iniquitous claim,
     and only succeeded in exhibiting yourselves as rogues and
     swindlers,--good burgher-like qualities in your commercial
     city.

     I have now paid what I never owed; but there still remains
     between us an unsettled score. Let my present punctuality
     guarantee the honorable intentions I entertain of settling
     it one day; till when, as you have shown yourselves my
     enemy,

     Believe me to be yours, Roland Cashel.

The order on the banker ran as follows:--

Pay to Vanderhaeghen und Droek, two of the greatest knaves alive,
seventeen thousand four hundred and forty-eight gulden, being the
principal and interest for three years of a dishonest claim made upon
Roland Cashel. To Hamerton and Co., Cheapside.

With all that soothing consciousness we hear is the result of good
actions, Cashel lay down on his bed immediately on concluding this last
epistle, and was fast asleep almost before the superscription was dried.

And now, worthy reader, another peep, and we have done. Ascending
cautiously the stairs, you pass through a little conservatory, at the
end of which a heavy cloth curtain conceals a door. It is that of a
dressing-room, off which, at opposite sides, two bedrooms lie. This same
dressing-room, with its rose-colored curtains and ottoman, its little
toilet-tables of satin-wood, its mirrors framed in alabaster, its
cabinets of buhl, and the book-shelves so coquettishly curtained with
Malines lace, is the common property of the two sisters whom we so
lately introduced to your notice.

There were they wont to sit for hours after the return from a ball,
discussing the people they had met, their dress, their manner, their
foibles and flirtations; criticising with no mean acuteness all the
varied games of match-making mammas and intriguing aunts, and
canvassing the schemes and snares so rife around them. And oh, ye
simple worshippers of muslin-robed innocence! oh, ye devoted slaves
of ringleted loveliness and blooming freshness! bethink ye what wily
projects lie crouching in hearts that would seem the very homes of
careless happiness; what calculations; what devices; how many subtleties
that only beauty wields, or simple man is vanquished by!

It was considerably past midnight as the two girls sat at the fire,
their dressing-gowns and slippered feet showing that they had prepared
for bed; but the long luxuriant hair, as yet uncurled, flowed in heavy
masses on their neck and shoulders. They did not, as usual, converse
freely together; a silence and a kind of constraint sat upon each, and
although Olivia held a book before her, it was less for the purpose of
reading than as a screen against the fire, while her sister sat with
folded arms and gently drooping head, apparently lost in thought. It was
after a very lengthened silence, and in a voice which showed that the
speaker was following up some train of thought, Miss Kennyfeck said,--

“And do you really think him handsome, Olivia?”

“Of whom are you speaking, dear?” said Olivia, with the very softest
accent.

Miss Kennyfeck started; her pale cheeks became slightly red as, with a
most keen irony, she replied, “Could you not guess? Can I mean any one
but Mr. Clare Jones?”

“Oh, he’s a downright fright,” answered the other; “but what could have
made you think of him?”

“I was not thinking of him, nor were you either, sister dear,” said Miss
Kennyfeck, fixing her eyes full upon her; “we were both thinking of the
same person. Come, what use in such subterfuges? Honesty, Livy, may not
be the ‘best policy,’ but it has one great advantage,--it saves a deal
of time; and so I repeat my question, do you think him handsome?”

“If you mean Mr. Cashel, dearest,” said the younger, half bashfully, “I
rather incline to say he is. His eyes are very good; his forehead and
brow--”

“There,--no inventory, I beg,--the man is very well-looking, I dare say,
but I own he strikes me as _tant soit peu sauvage_. Don’t you think so?”

“True, his manners--”

“Why, he has none; the man has a certain rakish, free-and-easy demeanor
that, with somewhat more breeding, would rise as high as ‘tigerism,’ but
now is detestable vulgarity.”

“Oh, dearest, you are severe.”

“I rather suspect that you are partial.”

“I, my dear! not I, in the least. He is not, by any means, the style
of person I like. He can be very amusing, perhaps; he certainly is very
odd, very original.”

“He is very rich, Livy,” said the elder sister, with a most dry gravity.

“That can scarcely be called a fault, still less a misfortune,” replied
Olivia, slyly.

“Well, well, let us have done with aphorisms, and speak openly. If you
are really pleased with his manner and address, say so at once, and I
‘ll promise never to criticise too closely a demeanor which, I vow, does
not impress me highly,--only be candid.”

“But I do not see any occasion for such candor, my dear. He is no more
to me than he is to _you_. I ask no protestations from _you_ about this
Mr. Roland Cashel.”

Miss Kennyfeck bit her lip and seemed to repress a rising temptation to
reply, but was silent for a moment, when she said, in a careless, easy
tone,--

“Do you know, Livy dearest, that this same manolo you danced this
evening is not by any means a graceful performance to look at, at least
when danced with long, sweeping drapery, flapping here and flouncing
there. It may suit those half-dressed Mexican damsels who want to
display a high arched instep and a rounded ankle, and who know that they
are not transgressing the ordinary limits of decorum in the display; but
certainly your friend Mr. Softly did not accord all his approval. Did
you remark him?”

“I did not; I was too much engaged in learning the figure: but Mr.
Softly disapproves of all dancing.”

“Oh, I know he does,” yawned Miss Kennyfeck, as if the very mention
of his name suggested sleep; “the dear man has his own notions of
pleasantry,--little holy jokes about Adam and Eve. There is nothing
so intolerable to me as the insipid playfulness of your young parson,
except, perhaps, the coarse fun of your rising barrister. How I hate Mr.
Clare Jones!”

“He is very underbred.”

“He is worse; the rudest person I ever met,--so familiar.”

“Why will he always insist on shaking hands?”

“Why will he not at least wash his own, occasionally?”

“And then his jests from the Queen’s Bench,--the last _mot_--I’m sure I
often wished it were so literally--of some stupid Chief Justice. Well,
really, in comparison, your savage friend is a mirror of good looks and
good manners.”

“Good night, my dear,” said Olivia, rising, as though to decline a
renewal of the combat.

“Good night,” echoed her sister, bluntly, “and pleasant dreams of
‘Roland the brave, Roland the true;’ the latter quality being the one
more in request at this moment.” And so, humming the well-known air, she
took her candle and retired.



CHAPTER VIII. LOVE v. LAW

     Ay! marry--they have wiles,
     Compared to which, our schemes are honesty.

     The Lawyer’s Daughter.


Notwithstanding all that we hear said against castle-building, how few
among the unbought pleasures of life are so amusing, nor are we certain
that these shadowy speculations--these “white lies” that we tell to our
own conscience--are not so many incentives to noble deeds and generous
actions. These “imaginary conversations” lift us out of the jog-trot
path of daily intercourse, and call up hopes and aspirations that lie
buried under the heavy load of wearisome commonplaces of which life is
made up, and thus permit a man, immersed as he may be in the fatigues
of a profession, or a counting-house, harassed by law, or worried by
the Three per Cents, to be a hero to his own heart at least for a few
minutes once a week.

But if “castle-building” be so pleasurable when a mere visionary scheme,
what is it when it comes associated with all the necessary conditions
for accomplishment,--when not alone the plan and elevation of the
edifice are there, but all the materials and every appliance to realize
the conception?

Just fancy yourself “two or three and twenty,” waking out of a sound and
dreamless sleep, to see the mellow sun of an autumnal morning straining
its rays through the curtains of your bedroom. Conceive the short and
easy struggle by which, banishing all load of cares and duties in which
you were once immersed, you spring, as by a bound, to the joyous fact
that you are the owner of a princely fortune, with health and ardent
spirit, a temper capable of, nay, eager for engagement, a fearless
courage, and a heart unchilled. Think of this, and say, Is not the
first waking half-hour of such thoughts the brightest spot of a whole
existence? Such was the frame of mind in which our hero awoke, and lay
for some time to revel in! We could not, if we would, follow the
complex tissue of day-dreams that wandered over every clime, and in the
luxuriant rapture of power created scenes of pleasure, of ingredients
the most far-fetched and remote. The “actual” demands our attention
more urgently than the “ideal,” so that we are constrained to follow the
unpoetical steps of so ignoble a personage as Mr. Phillis,--Cashel’s new
valet,--who now broke in upon his master’s reveries as he entered with
hot water and the morning papers.

“What have you got there?” cried Cashel, not altogether pleased at the
intrusion.

“The morning papers! Lord Ettlecombe “--his former master, and his
universal type--“always read the ‘Post,’ sir, before he got out of bed.”

“Well, let me see it,” said Cashel, who, already impressed with the
necessity of conforming to a new code, was satisfied to take the law
even from so humble an authority as his own man.

“Yes, sir. Our arrival is announced very handsomely among the
fashionable intelligence, and the ‘Dublin Mail’ has copied the paragraph
stating that we are speedily about to visit our Irish estates.”

“Ah, indeed,” said Cashel, somewhat flattered at his newborn notoriety;
“where is all this?”

“Here, sir, under ‘Movements in High Life’: ‘The Duke of Uxoter to Lord
Debbington’s beautiful villa at Maulish; Sir Harry and Lady Emeline
Morpas, etc.; Rosenorris; Lord Fetcherton--‘No, here we have it,
sir,--‘Mr. Roland Cashel and suite’--Kennyfeck and self, sir--‘from
Mivart’s, for Ireland. We understand that this millionnaire proprietor
is now about to visit his estates in this country, preparatory to taking
up a residence finally amongst us. If report speak truly, he is as
accomplished as wealthy, and will be a very welcome accession to the
ranks of our country gentry.’”

“How strange that these worthy people should affect to know or care
anything about me or my future intentions,” said Cashel, innocently.

“Oh, sir, they really know nothing,--that little thing is mine.”

“Yours,--how yours?”

“Why, I wrote it, sir. When I lived with Sir Giles Heathcote, we always
fired off a certain number of these signal-guns when we came to a new
place. Once the thing was set a-going, the newspaper fellows followed
up the lead themselves. They look upon a well-known name as of the same
value as a fire or a case of larceny. I have known a case of seduction
by a marquis to take the ‘pas’ of the last murder in the Edgware Road.”

“I have no fancy for this species of publicity,” said Cashel, seriously.

“Believe me, sir, there is nothing to be done without it. The Press,
sir, is the fourth estate. They can ignore anything nowadays, from a
speech in Parliament to the last novel; from the young beauty just come
out, to the newly-launched line-of-battle ship. A friend of mine, some
time back, tried the thing to his cost, sir. He invented an admirable
moustache-paste; he even paid a guinea to an Oxford man for a Greek name
for it; well, sir, he would not advertise in the dailies, but only in
bills. Mark the consequence. One of the morning journals, in announcing
the arrival of the Prince of Koemundkuttingen on a visit to Colonel
Sibthorp, mentioned that in the fraternal embrace of these two
distinguished personages their moustaches, anointed with the new patent
adhesive Eukautherostickostecon, became actually so fastened together
(as the fellow said, like two clothes-brushes) that after a quarter of
an hour’s vain struggle they had to be cut asunder. From that moment,
sir, the paste was done up; he sold it as harness stuff the week after,
and left the hair and beard line altogether.”

As Cashel’s dressing proceeded, Mr. Phillis continued to impose upon him
those various hints and suggestions respecting costume for which that
accomplished gentleman’s gentleman was renowned.

“Excuse me, but you are not going to wear that coat, I hope. A morning
dress should always incline to what artists call ‘neutral tints;’ there
should also be nothing striking, nothing that would particularly catch
the eye, except in those peculiar cases where the wearer, adopting a
certain color, not usually seen, adheres strictly to it, Just as we
see my Lord Blenneville with his old coffee-colored cut-away, and Sir
Francis Heming with his light-blue frock; Colonel Mordaunt’s Hessians
are the same kind of thing.”

“This is all mere trifling,” said Casbel, impatiently; “I don’t intend
to dress like the show-figure in a tailor’s shop, to be stared at.”

“Exactly so, sir; that is what I have been saying: any notoriety is
to be avoided where a gentleman has a real position. Now, with a dark
frock, gray trousers, and this plain single-breasted vest, your costume
is correct.”

If Cashel appeared to submit to these dictations with impatience, he
really received them as laws to which he was, in virtue of his station,
to be bound. He had taken Mr. Phillis exactly as he had engaged the
services of a celebrated French cook, as a person to whom a “department”
 was to be intrusted; and feeling that he was about to enter on a world
whose habits of thinking and prejudices were all strange, he resolved
to accept of guidance, with the implicitness that he would have shown in
taking a pilot to navigate him through a newly visited channel. Between
the sense of submission, and a certain feeling of shame at the mock
importance of these considerations, Casbel exhibited many symptoms of
impatience, as Mr. Phillis continued his revelations on dress, and was
sincerely happy when that refined individual, having slowly surveyed
him, pronounced a faint, “Yes, very near it,” and withdrew.

There was a half glimmering suspicion, like a struggling ray of sunlight
stealing through a torn and ragged cloud, breaking on Roland’s mind that
if wealth were to entail a great many requirements, no matter how small
each, of obedience to the world’s prescription, that he, for one, would
prefer his untrammelled freedom to any amount of riches. This was but a
fleeting doubt, which he had no time to dwell upon, for already he was
informed by the butler that Mrs. Kennyfeck was waiting breakfast for
him.

Descending the stairs rapidly, he had just reached the landing opposite
the drawing-room, when he heard the sounds of a guitar accompaniment,
and the sweet silvery tones of a female voice. He listened, and to his
amazement heard that the singer was endeavoring, and with considerable
success, too, to remember his own Mexican air that he had sung the
preceding evening.

Somehow, it struck him he had never thought the melody so pretty
before; there was a tenderness in the plaintive parts he could not have
conceived. Not so the singer; for after a few efforts to imitate one
of Roland’s bolder passages, she drew her finger impatiently across
the chords, and exclaimed, “It is of no use; it is only the caballero
himself can do it.”

“Let him teach you, then!” cried Cashel, as he sprang into the room,
wild with delight.

“Oh, Mr. Cashel, what a start you ‘ve given me!” said Olivia Kennyfeck,
as, covered with blushes, and trembling with agitation, she leaned on
the back of a chair.

“Oh, pray forgive me,” said he, eagerly; “but I was so surprised,
so delighted to hear you recalling that little song, I really forgot
everything else. Have I startled you, then?”

“Oh, no; it’s nothing. I was trying a few chords. I thought I was quite
alone.”

“But you’ll permit me to teach you some of our Mexican songs, won’t you?
I should be so charmed to hear them sung as you could sing them.”

“It is too kind of you,” said she, timidly; “but I am no musician. My
sister is a most skilful performer, but I really know nothing; a simple
ballad and a canzonette are the extent of my efforts.”

“For our prairie songs, it is the feeling supplies all the character.
They are wild, fanciful things, with no higher pretensions than to
recall some trait of the land they belong to; and I should be so
flattered if you would take an interest in the Far West.”

“How you must love it! How you must long to return to it!” said Olivia,
raising her long drooping lashes, and letting her eyes rest, with an
expression of tender melancholy, on Cashel.

What he might have said there is no guessing,--nay, for his sake, and
for hers too, it is better not even to speculate on it; but ere he could
reply, another speaker joined in the colloquy, saying,--

“Good morning, Mr. Cashel. Pray don’t forget, when the lesson is over,
that we are waiting breakfast.” So saying, and with a laugh of saucy
raillery, Miss Kennyfeck passed down the stairs, not remaining to hear
his answer.

“Oh, Mr. Cashel!” exclaimed Olivia, with a tone half reproachful, half
shy, “we shall be scolded,--at least, I shall,” added she. “It is the
unforgivable offence in this house to be late at breakfast.”

Cashel would very willingly have risked all the consequences of delay
for a few minutes longer of their interview; but already she had tripped
on downstairs, and with such speed as to enter the breakfast-parlor a
few seconds before him. Roland was welcomed by the family without the
slightest shade of dissatisfaction at his late appearance, cordial
greetings and friendly inquiries as to how he had rested pouring in on
every side.

“What ‘s to be done with Mr. Cashel to-day? I hope he is not to be
teased by business people and red-tapery,” said Mrs. Kenny feck to her
husband.

“I am afraid,” said the silky attorney, “I am very much afraid I must
trespass on his kindness to accompany me to the Master’s office. There
are some little matters which will not wait.”

“Oh, they must,” said Mrs. Kennyfeck, peremptorily. “Who is the
Master,--Liddard, is n’t it? Well, tell him to put it off; Mr. Cashel
must really have a little peace and quietness after all his fatigues.”

“It will only take an hour, at most, Mrs. Kennyfeck,” remonstrated her
submissive mate.

“Well, that is nothing,” cried Cashel. “I ‘m not in the least tired, and
the day is long enough for everything.”

“Then we have a little affair which we can manage at home here about the
mortgages. I told you--”

“I believe you did,” replied Cashel, laughing; “but I don’t remember a
word of it. It’s about paying some money, isn’t it?”

“Yes, it’s the redemption of two very heavy claims,” exclaimed
Kennyfeck, perfectly shocked at the indifference displayed by the young
man,--“claims for which we are paying five and a half per cent.”

“And it would be better to clear them off?” said Cashel, assuming a show
of interest in the matter he was far from feeling.

“Of course it would. There is a very large sum lying to your credit at
Falkner’s, for which you receive only three per cent.”

“Don’t you perceive how tiresome you are, dear Mr. Kennyfeck?” said his
wife. “Mr. Cashel is bored to death with all this.”

“Oh, no! not in the least, madam. It ought to interest me immensely;
and so all these things will, I ‘m sure. But I was just thinking at what
hour that fellow we met on the packet was to show us those horses he
spoke of?”

“At four,” said Mr. Kennyfeck, with a half-sigh of resignation; “but
you ‘ll have ample time for that. I shall only ask you to attend at the
judge’s chambers after our consultation.”

“Well, you are really intolerable!” cried his wife. “Why cannot you and
Jones, and the rest of you, do all this tiresome nonsense, and leave Mr.
Cashel to us? I want to bring him out to visit two or three people; and
the girls have been planning a canter in the park.”

“The canter, by all means,” said Cashel. “I ‘m sure, my dear Mr.
Kennyfeck, you ‘ll do everything far better without me. I have no
head for anything like business; and so pray, let me accompany the
riding-party.”

“The attendance at the Master’s is peremptory,” sighed the
attorney,--“there is no deferring that; and as to the mortgages, the
funds are falling every hour. I should seriously advise selling out at
once.”

“Well, sell out, in Heaven’s name! Do all and anything you like, and I
promise my most unqualified satisfaction at the result.”

“There, now,” interposed Mrs. Kennyfeck, authoritatively, “don’t worry
any more; you see how tiresome you are!”

And poor Mr. Kennyfeck seemed to see and feel it too; for he hung his
head, and sipped his tea in silence.

“To-day we dine alone, Mr. Cashel,” said Mrs. Kennyfeck; “but to-morrow
I will try to show you some of the Dublin notorieties,--at least, such
as are to be had in the season. On Friday we plan a little country
party into Wicklow, and have promised to keep Saturday free, if the
Blackenburgs want us.”

“What shall we say, then, about Tubberbeg, Mr. Cashel?” said Kennyfeck,
withdrawing him into a window-recess. “We ought to give the answer at
once.”

“Faith! I forgot all about it,” said Cashel. “Is that the fishery you
told me of?”

“Oh, no!” sighed the disconsolate man of law. “It’s the farm on the
terminable lease, at present held by Hugh Corrigan; he asks for a
renewal.”

“Well, let him have it,” said Cashel, bluntly, while his eyes were
turned towards the fire, where the two sisters, with arms entwined,
stood in the most graceful of attitudes.

“Yes, but have you considered the matter maturely?” rejoined Kennyfeck,
laying his hand on Cashel’s arm. “Have you taken into account that he
only pays eight and seven pence per acre,--the Irish acre, too,--and
that a considerable part of that land adjoining the Boat Quay is let, as
building plots for two and sixpence a foot?”

“A devilish pretty foot it is, too,” murmured Cashel, musingly.

“Eh! what?” exclaimed Kennyfeck, perfectly mystified at this response.

“Oh! I meant that I agreed with you,” rejoined the young man, reddening,
and endeavoring to appear deeply interested. “I quite coincide with your
views, sir.”

Kennyfeck seemed surprised at this, for he had not, to his knowledge,
ventured on any opinion.

“Perhaps,” said he, taking breath for a last effort, “if you ‘d kindly
look at the map of the estate, and just see where this farm trenches
on your own limits, you could judge better about the propriety of the
renewal.”

“Oh, with pleasure!” exclaimed Cashel, while he suffered himself to
be led into the study, his face exhibiting very indifferent signs of
satisfaction.

“Shall we assist in the consultation, Mr. Cashel?” said Mrs. Kennyfeck,
smiling in reply to his reluctant look at leaving.

“Oh, by all means!” cried he, enthusiastically; “do come, and give me
your advice. Pray, come.”

“Come, girls,” said the mother, “although I perceive Mr. Kennyfeck is
terribly shocked at the bare thought of our intrusion; but be of
good courage, we only accompany Mr. Cashel to save him from any long
imprisonment.” And so she moved majestically forward, her daughters
following her.

An alchemist would probably have received company in his laboratory, or
a hermit admitted a jovial party in his cell, with less of constraint
and dissatisfaction than did Mr. Kennyfeck watch the approach of his
wife and daughters to the sanctum of his study.

Save at rare intervals, when a disconsolate widow had come to resolve a
question of administration, or a no less forlorn damsel had entered to
consult upon an action for “breach of promise,” St. Kevin himself had
never been less exposed to female intervention. It needed, then, all
his reverence and fear of Mrs. Kennyfeck to sustain the shock to his
feelings, as he saw her seat herself in his office-chair, and look
around with the air of command that he alone used to exhibit in these
regions.

“Now for this same map, Mr. Kennyfeck, and let us bear the question for
which this Privy Council has been convened.”

“This is the map,” said Mr. Kennyfeck, unfolding a large scroll, “and
I believe a single glance will enable Mr. Cashel to perceive that some
little deliberation would be advisable before continuing in possession
a tenant whose holding completely destroys the best feature of the
demesne. This red line here is your boundary towards the Limerick road;
here, stands the house, which, from the first, was a great mistake. It
is built in a hollow without a particle of view; whereas, had it
been placed here, where this cross is marked, the prospect would
have extended over the whole of Scariff Bay, and by the west, down to
Killaloe.”

“Well, what’s to prevent our building it there yet?” interrupted Cashel.
“I think it would be rare fun building a house,--at least if I may
judge from all the amusement I’ve had in constructing one of leaves and
buffalo-hides, in the prairies.”

Mrs. Kennyfeck and her eldest daughter smiled their blandest
approbation, while Olivia murmured in her sister’s ear, “Oh, dear, he is
so very natural, isn’t he?”

“That will be a point for ulterior consideration,” said Mr. Kennyfeck,
who saw the danger of at all wandering from the topic in hand. “Give me
your attention now for one moment, Mr. Cashel. Another inconvenience
in the situation of the present house is, that it stands scarcely a
thousand yards from this red-and-yellow line here.”

“Well, what is that?” inquired Cashel, who already began to feel
interested in the localities.

“This--and pray observe it well, sir--this red-and-yellow line,
enclosing a tract which borders on the Shannon, and runs, as you may
remark, into the very heart of the demesne, this is Tubberbeg, the
farm in question,--not only encroaching upon your limits, but actually
cutting you off from the river,--at least, your access is limited to a
very circuitous road, and which opens upon a very shallow part of the
stream.”

“And who or what is this tenant?” asked Cashel.

“His name is Corrigan, a gentleman by birth, but of a very limited
fortune; he is now an old man, upwards of seventy, I understand.”

“And how came it that he ever obtained possession of a tract so
circumstanced, marring, as you most justly observe, the whole character
of the demesne?”

“That would be a long story, sir; enough, if I mention that his
ancestors were the ancient owners of the entire estate, which was lost
by an act of confiscation in the year forty-five. Some extenuating
circumstances, however, induced the Government to confer upon a younger
branch of the family a lease of this small tract called Tubberbeg, to
distinguish it from Tubbermore, the larger portion; and this lease it is
whose expiration, in a few years, induces the present query.”

“Has Mr. Corrigan children?”

“No; his only child, a daughter, is dead, but a granddaughter lives now
with the old man.”

“Then what is it he asks? Is it a renewal of the lease, on the former
terms?”

“Why, not precisely. I believe he would be willing to-pay more.”

“That’s not what I mean,” replied Cashel, reddening; “I ask, what terms
as to time, he seeks for. Would it content him to have the land for his
own life?”

“Mr. Kennyfeck, you are really very culpable to leave Mr. Cashel to the
decision of matters of this kind,--matters in which his kindliness of
heart and inexperience will always betray him into a forgetfulness of
his own interest. What has Mr. Cashel to think about this old creature’s
ancestors, who were rebels, it appears, or his daughter, or his
granddaughter? Here is a simple question of a farm, which actually makes
the demesne worthless, and which, by a singular piece of good fortune,
is in Mr. Cashel’s power to secure.”

“This is a very correct view, doubtless,” said her meek husband,
submissively, “but we should also remember--”

“We have nothing to remember,” interrupted Mrs. Kenny-feck, stoutly;
“nothing, save his interests, who, as I have observed, is of too
generous a nature to be trusted with such matters.”

“Is there no other farm,--have we nothing on the property he ‘d like as
well as this?” asked Cashel.

“I fear not. The attachment to a place inhabited for centuries by his
ancestry--”

“By his fiddlestick!” struck in Mrs. Kennyfeck; “two and sixpence an
acre difference would be all the necessary compensation. Mr. Kennyfeck,
how can you trifle in this manner, when you know how it will injure the
demesne!”

“Oh, ruin it utterly!” exclaimed Miss Kennyfeck.

“It completely cuts off the beautiful river and those dear islands,”
 said Olivia.

“So it does,” said Cashel, musing.

“I wonder are they wooded? I declare I believe they are. Papa, are these
little scrubby things meant to represent trees?”

“Oaks and chestnut-trees,” responded Mr. Kennyfeck, gravely.

“Oh, how I should love a cottage on that island,--a real Swiss cottage,
with its carved galleries and deep-eaved roof. Who owns these delicious
islands?”

“Mr. Cashel, my dear,” said papa, still bent on examining the map.

“Do I, indeed!” cried Roland, in an ecstasy. “Then you shall have your
wish, Miss Kenny feck. I promise you the prettiest Swiss cottage that
your own taste can devise.”

“Oh, dear, oh, pray forgive me!”

“Oh, Mr. Roland Cashel, don’t think of such a thing! Olivia was merely
speaking at random. How silly, child, you are to talk that way!”

“Really, mamma, I had not the slightest suspicion--I would n’t for the
world have said anything if I thought--”

“Of course not, dear; but pray be guarded. Indeed, I own I never did
hear you make a lapse of the kind before. But you see, Mr. Cashel, you
have really made us forget that we were strangers but yesterday, and you
are paying the penalty of your own exceeding kindness. Forget, then, I
beseech you, this first transgression.”

“I shall assuredly keep my promise, madam,” said Cashel, proudly; “and I
have only to hope Miss Kennyfeck will not offend me by declining so very
humble a present. Now, sir, for our worthy friend Mr. Corrigan.”

“Too fast, a great deal to fast, love,” whispered the elder sister in
the ear of the younger, and who, to the credit of her tact and ingenuity
be it spoken, only gave the most heavenly smile in reply.

“I really am puzzled, sir, what advice to give,” said the attorney,
musing.

“I have no difficulties of this sentimental kind,” said Mrs. Kennyfeck,
with a glance of profound depreciation towards her husband; “and I beg
Mr. Cashel to remember that the opportunity now offered will possibly
never occur again. If the old man is to retain his farm, of course
Mr. Cashel would not think of building a new mansion, which must be
ill-circumstanced; from what I can hear of the present house, it is
equally certain that he would not reside in that.”

“Is it so very bad?” asked Cashel, smiling.

“It was ill-planned originally, added to in, if possible, worse taste,
and then suffered to fall into ruin. It is now something more than
eighty years since it saw any other inhabitant than a caretaker.”

“Well, the picture is certainly not seductive. I rather opine that the
best thing we can do is to throw this old rumbling concern down, at all
events; and now once more,--what shall we do with Mr. Corrigan?”

“I should advise you not giving any reply before you visit the property
yourself. All business matters will be completed here, I trust, by
Saturday. What, then, if we go over on Monday to Tubbermore?”

“Agreed. I have a kind of anxiety to look at the place,--indeed, a mere
glance would decide me if I ever care to return to it again.”

“Then, I perceive, our counsel is of no avail here,” said Mrs.
Kennyfeck, rising, with a very ill-concealed chagrin.

“Nay, madam, don’t say so. You never got so far as to give it,” cried
Cashel.

“Oh, yes, you forget that I said it would be absurd to hesitate about
resuming possession.”

“Unquestionably,” echoed Miss Kennyfeck. “It is merely to indulge an old
man’s caprice at the cost of your own comfort and convenience.”

“But he may cling to the spot, sister dear,” said Olivia, in an accent
only loud enough to be audible by Cashel.

“You are right,” said Roland, in her ear, with a look that spoke his
approval far more eloquently.

Although Miss Kennyfeck had heard nothing that passed, her quickness
detected the looks of intelligence that were so speedily interchanged,
and as she left the room she took occasion to whisper, “Do take advice,
dear; there is no keeping up a pace like that.”



CHAPTER IX. AN EXCITING ADVENTURE

     “Bravo, Toro.”


As it chanced that many of Mr. Kennyfeck’s clients were Western
gentlemen, whose tastes have an unequivocal tendency to all matters
relating to horse-flesh, his stable was not less choicely furnished
than his cellar; for, besides being always able to command the shrewdest
judgments when he decided to make a purchase, many an outstanding
balance of long duration, many a debt significantly pencilled “doubtful”
 or “bad,” in his note-book, was cleared off by some tall, sinewy
steeplechaser from Galway, or some redoubted performer with the
“Blazers.”

So well known was this fact that several needed no other standard of a
neighbor’s circumstances, than whether he had contributed or not to the
Kennyfeck stud. This brief explanation we have been induced to make, to
account for the sporting character of a stable whose proprietor never
was once seen in the saddle. Far otherwise the ladies of the house; the
mother and daughters, but in particular the elder, rode with all the
native grace of Galway; and as they were invariably well mounted, and
their grooms the smartest and best appointed, their “turn-out” was the
admiration of the capital.

It was in vain that the English officials at the Castle, whose
superlative tastes were wont to overshadow mere Irish pretension,
endeavored to compete with these noted equestrians. Secretaries’ wives
and chamberlains’ daughters, however they might domineer in other
matters, were here, at least, surpassed, and it was a conceded fact,
that the Kennyfecks rode better, dressed better, and looked better on
horseback than any other girls in the country. If all the critics as to
horsemanship pronounced the elder unequivocally the superior rider,
mere admirers of gracefulness preferred the younger sister, who,
less courageous and self-possessed, invested her skill with a certain
character of timidity that increased the interest her appearance
excited.

They never rode out without an immense _cortège_ of followers, every
well-looking and well-mounted man about town deeming it his _devoir_ to
join this party, just as the box of the reigning belle at the opera is
besieged by assiduous visitors The very being seen in this train was
a kind of brevet promotion in fashionable esteem, to which each
newly-arrived cornet aspired, and thus the party usually presented
a group of brilliant uniforms and dancing plumes that rivalled in
brilliancy, and far excelled in amusement, the staff of the viceroy
himself.

It would be uufair to suppose that, with all their natural innocence
and artlessness, they were entirely ignorant of the sway they thus
exercised; indeed, such a degree of modesty would have trenched upon the
incredulous, for how could they doubt what commanders of the forces
and deputy-assistant-adjutants assured them, still less question the
veracity of a prince royal, who positively asserted that they “rode
better than Quentin’s daughter”?

It was thus a source of no small excitement among the mounted loungers
of the capital, when the Kennyfecks issued forth on horseback, and not,
as usual, making the tour of the “Square” to collect their forces, they
rode at once down Grafton Street, accompanied by a single cavalier.

“Who have the Kennyfeck girls got with them?” said a
thin-waisted-looking aide-de-camp to a lanky, well-whiskered fellow in a
dragoon undress, at the Castle gate.

“He is new to me--never saw him before. I say, Lucas, who is that tall
fellow on Kennyfeck’s brown horse--do you know him?”

“Don’t know--can’t say,” drawled out a very diminutive hussar cornet.

“He has a look of Merrington,” said another, joining the party.

“Not a bit of it; he’s much larger. I should n’t wonder if he’s one of
the Esterhazys they’ve caught. There is one of them over here--a Paul or
a Nicholas, of the younger branch;--but here ‘s Linton, he ‘ll tell us,
if any man can.”

This speech was addressed to a very dapper, well-dressed man of about
thirty, mounted on a small thoroughbred pony, whose splashed and heaving
flanks bespoke a hasty ride.

“I say, Tom, you met the Kennyfecks,--who was that with them?”

“Don’t you know him, my Lord?” said a sharp, ringing voice; “that’s our
newly-arrived millionnaire,--Roland Cashel, our Tipperary Croesus,--the
man with I won’t say how many hundred thousands a year, and millions in
bank besides.”

“The devil it is--a good-looking fellow, too.”

“Spooney, I should say,” drawled out the hussar, caressing his
moustache.

“One need n’t be as smart a fellow as you, Wheeler, with forty thousand
a year,” said Linton, with a sly glance at the others.

“You don’t suppose, Tom,” said the former speaker, “that the Kennyfecks
have any designs in that quarter,--egad! that would be rather aspiring,
eh?”

“Very unwise in us to permit it, my Lord,” said Linton, in a low tone.
“That’s a dish will bear carving, and let every one have his share.”

My Lord laughed with a low cunning laugh at the suggestion, and nodded
an easy assent.

Meanwhile the Kennyfecks rode slowly on, and crossing Essex Bridge
continued their way at a foot pace towards the park, passing in front of
the Four Courts, where a very large knot of idlers uncovered their heads
in polite salutation as they went.

“That’s Kennyfeck’s newly-discovered client,” cried one; “a great card,
if they can only secure him for one of the girls.”

“I say, did you remark how the eldest had him engaged? She never noticed
any of us.”

“I back Olivia,” said another; “she’s a quiet one, but devilish sly for
all that.”

“Depend upon it,” interposed an older speaker, “the fellow is up to all
that sort of thing.”

“Jones met him at dinner yesterday at Kennyfeck’s, and says he is a
regular soft one, and if the girls don’t run an opposition to each
other, one is sure to win.”

“Why not toss up for him, then? that would be fairer.”

“Ay, and more sisterly, too,” said the elder speaker. “Jones would be
right glad to claim the beaten horse.”

“Jones, indeed,--I can tell you they detest Jones,” said a young fellow.

“They told you so, eh, Hammond?” said another; while a very hearty laugh
at the discomfited youth broke from the remainder.

And now to follow our mounted friends, who, having reached the park,
continued still at a walking pace to thread the greasy paths that
led through that pleasant tract; now hid amid the shade of ancient
thorn-trees, now gaining the open expanse of plain with its bold
background of blue mountains.

From the evident attention bestowed by the two sisters, it was clear
that Cashel was narrating something of interest, for he spoke of an
event which had happened to himself in his prairie life; and this alone,
independent of all else, was enough to make the theme amusing.

“Does this convey any idea of a prairie, Mr. Cashel?” said Miss
Kennyfeck, as they emerged from a grove of beech-trees, and came upon
the wide and stretching plain, so well known to Dubliners as the Fifteen
Acres, but which is, in reality, much greater in extent. “I have always
fancied this great grassy expanse must be like a prairie.”

“About as like as yonder cattle to a herd of wild buffaloes,” replied
Roland, smiling.

“Then what is a prairie like? Do tell us,” said Olivia, eagerly.

“I can scarcely do so, nor, if I were a painter, do I suppose that I
could make a picture of one, because it is less the presence than the
total absence of all features of landscape that constitutes the wild
and lonely solitude of a prairie. But fancy a great plain--gently--very
gently undulating,--not a tree, not a shrub, not a stream to break the
dreary uniformity; sometimes, but even that rarely, a little muddy pond
of rain-water, stagnant and yellow, is met with, but only seen soon
after heavy showers, for the hot sun rapidly absorbs it. The only
vegetation a short yellowed burnt-up grass,--not a wild flower or a
daisy, if you travelled hundreds of hundreds of miles. On you go, days
and days, but the scene never changes. Large cloud shadows rest upon
the barren expanse, and move slowly and sluggishly away, or sometimes a
sharp and pelting shower is borne along, traversing hundreds of miles
in its course; but these are the only traits of motion in the death-like
stillness. At last, perhaps after weeks of wandering, you descry, a long
way off, some dark objects dotting the surface,--these are buffaloes; or
at sunset, when the thin atmosphere makes everything sharp and distinct,
some black spectral shapes seem to glide between you and the red
twilight,--these are Indian hunters, seen miles off, and by some strange
law of nature they are presented to the vision when far, far beyond the
range of sight. Such strange apparitions, the consequence of refraction,
have led to the most absurd superstitions; and all the stories the
Germans tell you of their wild huntsmen are nothing to the tales every
trapper can recount of war parties seen in the air, and tribes of red
men in pursuit of deer and buffaloes, through the clear sky of an autumn
evening.”

“And have you yourself met with these wild children of the desert?” said
Olivia; “have you ever been amongst them?”

“Somewhat longer than I fancied,” replied Roland, smiling. “I was a
prisoner once with the Camanches.”

“Oh, let us hear all about it,--how did it happen?” cried both together.

“It happened absurdly enough, at least you will say so, when I tell you;
but to a prairie-hunter the adventure would seem nothing singular. It
chanced that some years ago I made one of a hunting-party into the Rocky
Mountains, and finally as far as Pueblo Santo, the last station before
entering the hunting-grounds of the Camanches, a very fierce tribe,
and one with whom all the American traders have failed to establish
any relations of friendship or commerce. They care nothing for the
inventions of civilization, and, unlike all other Indians, prefer their
own bows and arrows to firearms.

“We had been now four days within their boundary, and yet never met
one of the tribe. Some averred that they always learned by the scouts
whenever any invasion took place, and retired till they were in
sufficient force to pour down and crush the intruders. Others, who
proved better informed, said that they were hunting in a remote tract,
several days’ journey distant. We were doubly disappointed, for besides
not seeing the Camanches, for which we had a great curiosity, we did not
discover any game. The two or three trails we followed led to nothing,
nor could a hoof-track be seen for miles and miles of prairie. In this
state of discomfiture, we were sitting one evening around our fires, and
debating with ourselves whether to turn back or go on, when, the dispute
waxing warm between those of different opinions, I, who hated all
disagreements of the kind, slipped quietly away, and throwing the bridle
on my horse, I set out for a solitary ramble over the prairie.

“I have the whole scene before me this instant,--the solemn desolation
of that dreary track; for scarcely had I gone a mile over what seemed a
perfectly level plain, when the swelling inequalities of the ground shut
out the watch-fires of my companions, and now there was nothing to be
seen but the vast expanse of land and sky, each colored with the same
dull leaden tint of coming night; no horizon was visible, not a star
appeared, and in the midst of this gray monotony, a stillness prevailed
that smote the heart with something more appalling than mere fear. No
storm that ever I listened to at sea, not the loudest thunder that ever
crashed, or the heaviest sea that ever broke upon a leeward shore at
midnight, ever chilled my blood like that terrible stillness. I thought
that the dreadful roll of an avalanche or the heaving ground-swell of
an earthquake had been easier to bear. I believe I actually prayed for
something like sound to relieve the horrible tension of my nerves, when,
just as if my wish was heard, a low booming sound, like the sea within a
rocky cavern, came borne along on the night wind. Then it lulled again,
and after a time grew louder. This happened two or three times, so
that, half suspecting some self-delusion, I stopped my ears, and then on
removing my hands, I heard the noise increasing till it swelled into one
dull roaring sound, that made the very air vibrate. I thought it must
be an earthquake, of which it is said many occur in these regions, but,
from the dreary uniformity, leave no trace behind.

“I resolved to regain my companions at once; danger is always easier
to confront in company, and so I turned my horse’s head to go back. The
noise was now deafening, and so stunning that the very ground seemed to
give it forth. My poor horse became terrified, his flanks heaved, and he
labored in his stride as if overcome by fatigue. This again induced me
to suspect an earthquake, for I knew by what singular instincts animals
are apprised of its approach. I therefore gave him the spur, and urged
him on with every effort, when suddenly he made a tremendous bound
to one side, and set off with the speed of a racer. Stretched to his
fullest stride, I was perfectly powerless to restrain him; meanwhile,
the loud thundering sounds filled the entire air,--more deafening than
the greatest artillery; the crashing uproar smote my ears, and made my
brain ring with the vibration, and then suddenly the whole plain grew
dark behind and at either side of me, the shadow swept on and on, nearer
and nearer, as the sounds increased, till the black surface seemed, as
it were, about to close around me; and now I perceived that the great
prairie, far as my eyes could stretch, was covered by a herd of wild
buffaloes; struck by some sudden terror, they had taken what is called
‘the Stampedo,’ and set out at full speed. In an instant they
were around me on every side,--a great moving sea of dark-backed
monsters,--roaring in terrible uproar, and tossing their savage heads
wildly to and fro, in all the paroxysm of terror. To return, or even to
extricate myself, was impossible; the dense mass pressed like a wall
at either side of me, and I was borne along in the midst of the heaving
herd, without the slightest hope of rescue. I cannot--you would not ask
me, if even I could--recall the terrors of that dreadful night, which in
its dark hours compassed the agonies of years. Until the moon got up,
I hoped that the herd might pass on, and at last leave me at liberty
behind; but when she rose, and I looked back, I saw the dark sea of
hides, as if covering the whole wide prairie, while the deep thunder
from afar mingled with the louder bellowing of the herd around me.

“I suppose my reeling brain became maddened by the excitement; for even
yet, when by any accident I suffer slight illness, terrible fancies of
that dreadful scene come back; and I have been told that, in my wild
cries and shouts, I seem encouraging and urging on the infuriate herd,
and by my gestures appearing to control and direct their headlong
course. Had it been possible, I believe I should have thrown myself to
the earth and sought death at once, even in this dreadful form, than
live to die the thousand deaths of agony that night inflicted; but this
could not be, and so, as day broke, I was still carried on, not, indeed,
with the same speed as before; weariness weighed on the vast moving
mass, but the pressure of those behind still drove them onward. I
thought the long hours of darkness were terrible; and the appalling
gloom of night added tortures to my sufferings; but the glare of
daylight, the burning sun, and the clouds of dust were still worse. I
remember, too, when exhaustion had nearly spent my last frail energy,
and when my powerless hands, letting fall the bridle, dropped heavily to
my side, that the herd suddenly halted,--halted, as if arrested by some
gigantic hand; and then the pressure became so dreadful that my bones
seemed almost bursting from my flesh, and I screamed aloud in my agony.
After this, I remember little else. The other events of that terrible
ride are like the shadowy spectres of a magic lantern; vague memories
of sufferings, pangs that even yet chill my blood, steal over me, but
unconnected and incoherent, so that when, as I afterwards heard, the
herd dashed into the Camanche encampment, I have no recollection of
anything, except the terror-struck faces of the red men, as they bent
before me, and seemed to worship me as a deity. Yes, this terrible
tribe, who had scarcely ever been known to spare a white man, not
only did not injure, but they treated me with the tenderest care and
attention. A singular incident had favored me. One of the wise men had
foretold some days before that a herd of wild buffaloes, sent by their
god, Anadongu, would speedily appear, and rescue the tribe from the
horrors of impending starvation. The prediction was possibly based upon
some optical delusion, like that I have mentioned. Whatever its origin,
the accomplishment was hailed with ecstasy; and I myself, a poor, almost
dying creature, stained with blood, crushed and speechless, was regarded
as their deliverer and preserver.”

“How long did you remain amongst them?” cried Miss Kennyfeck.

“And how did you escape?” asked Olivia.

“Were they always equally kind?”

“Were you sorry to leave them?” were the questions rapidly poured in ere
Cashel could reply to any one of them.

“I have often heard,” said Miss Kennyfeck, “that the greater mental
ability of the white man is certain to secure him an ascendancy over the
minds of savage tribes, and that, if he be spared at first, he is sure
in the end to become their chief.”

“I believe they actually worship any display of intelligence above their
own,” said Olivia.

“These are exaggerated accounts,” said Cashel, smiling. “Marriage is,
among savage as among civilized nations, a great stepping-stone to
eminence. When a white man is allied with a princess--”

“Oh, how shocking!” cried both together. “I’m sure no person, anything
akin to a gentleman, could dream of such a thing,” said Miss Kennyfeck.

“It happens now and then, notwithstanding,” said Cashel, with a most
provoking gravity.

While the sisters would have been well pleased had Cashel’s personal
revelations continued on this theme, they did not venture to explore so
dangerous a path, and were both silent. Roland, too, appeared buried
in some recollection of the past, for he rode on for some time without
speaking,--a preoccupation on his part which seemed in no wise agreeable
to his fair companions.

“There are the MacFarlines, Livy,” said Miss Kennyfeck; “and Linton, and
Lord Charles, and the rest of them. I declare, I believe they see us,
and are coming this way.”

“What a bore! Is there no means of escape? Mr. Cashel, pray invent one.”

“I beg pardon. What was it you said? I have been dreaming for the last
three minutes.”

“Pleasant dreams I ‘m certain they were,” said Miss Kennyfeck, with a
very significant smile; “evoked, doubtless, by some little memory of
your life among the Cainanches.”

Cashel started and grew red, while his astonishment rendered him
speechless.

“Here they come; how provoking!” exclaimed Livy.

“Who are coming?”

“Some friends of ours, who, strange to say, have the misfortune to
be peculiarly disagreeable to my sister Livy to-day, although I
have certainly seen Lord Charles contrive to make his company less
distasteful at other times.”

“Oh, my dear Caroline, you know perfectly well--” broke in Olivia, with
a tone of unfeigned reproach.

“Let us ride for it, then,” said Miss Kepnyfeck, without permitting her
to finish. “Now, Mr. Cashel, a canter,--a gallop, if you will.”

“Quite ready,” said Cashel, his animation at once returning at the bare
mention; and away they set, down a gentle slope with wooded sides, then
they gained another grassy plain, skirted with trees, at the end of
which a small picturesque cottage stood, the residence of a ranger;
passing this, they arrived at a thick wood, and then slackened their
pace, as all pursuit might be deemed fruitless. This portion of
the park, unlike the rest, seemed devoted to various experiments in
agriculture and gardening. Here were little enclosed plots of Indian
corn and Swedish turnips; here, small plantations of fruit trees. Each
succeeding secretary seemed to have left behind him some trace of his
own favorite system for the improvement of Ireland, and one might recall
the names of long-departed officials in little experimental specimens of
drainage, or fencing, or drill culture around. Less interested by these
patchwork devices, Cashel stood gazing on a beautiful white bull, who
grazed in a little paddock carefully fenced by a strong oak paling.
Although of a small breed, he was a perfect specimen of strength and
proportion, his massive and muscular neck and powerful loins contrasting
with the lanky and tendinous form of the wild animal of the prairies.

The girls had not remarked that Roland, beckoning to his servant,
despatched him at full speed on an errand, for each was loitering about,
amusing herself with some object of the scene.

“What has fascinated you yonder?” said Miss Kennyfeck, riding up to
where Roland still stood in wondering admiration at the noble animal.

“The handsomest bull I ever saw!” cried he, in all the ecstasy of a
‘Torero;’ “who ever beheld such a magnificent fellow? Mark the breadth
of his chest, and the immense fore-arm. See how he lashes his tail
about. No need of bandilleros to rouse your temper.”.

“Is there no danger of the creature springing over the paling?” said
Olivia, drawing closer to Cashel, and looking at him with a most
trustful dependence.

Alas for Roland’s gallantry, he answered the words and not the glance
that accompanied them.

“No; he’d never think of it, if not excited to some excess of passion.
I ‘d not answer for his patience, or our safety either, if really
provoked. See! is not that glorious?” This burst of enthusiasm was
called forth by the bull, seized with some sudden caprice, taking a
circuit of the paddock at full speed, his head now raised majestically
aloft, and now bent to the ground; he snatched some tufts of the grass
as he went, and flung them from him in wild sport.

“Bravo, toro!” cried Cashel, in all the excitement of delight and
admiration. “Viva el toro!” shouted he. “Not a ‘Corrida’ of the Old
World or the New ever saw a braver beast.”

Whether in compliance with his humor, or that she really caught up the
enthusiasm from Cashel, Miss Kennyfeck joined in all his admiration, and
seemed to watch the playful pranks of the great animal with delight.

“How you would enjoy a real ‘toro machia!’” said Cashel, as he turned
towards her, and felt that she was far handsomer than he had ever
believed before. Indeed, the heightened color of exercise, and the
flashing brilliancy of her eyes, made her seem so without the additional
charm derived from sympathy with his humor.

“I should delight in it,” cried she, with enthusiasm. “Oh, if I could
but see one!”

Cashel drew nearer as she spoke, his dark and piercing eyes fixed with a
look of steadfast admiration, when in a low half-whisper he said, “Would
you really like it? Have these wild and desperate games an attraction
for you?”

“Oh, do not ask me,” said she, in the same low voice. “Why should I
confess a wish for that which never can be.”

“How can you say that? Have not far greater and less likely things
happened to almost all of us? Think of me, for instance. Travelling with
the Gambusinos a few months back, and now--now _your_ companion here.”

If there was not a great deal in the mere words themselves, there was
enough in the look of the speaker to make them deeply felt. How
much further Cashel might have adventured, and with what additional
speculations invested the future, is not for us to say; for just then
his groom rode up at speed, holding in his hands a great coil of rope,
to one end of which a small round ball of wood was fastened.

“What is that for, Mr. Cashel?” inquired both the girls together, as
they saw him adjust the coils lightly on his left arm, and poise the
ball in his right hand.

“Cannot you guess what it means?” said Roland, smiling. “Have you never
heard of a lasso?”

“A lasso!” exclaimed both in amazement “You surely could never intend--”

“You shall see,” cried he, as he made three or four casts with the rope
in the air, and caught up the loops again with astonishing dexterity.
“Now only promise me not to be afraid, nor, if possible, let a cry
escape, and I’ll show you some rare sport Just take your places here;
the horses will stand perfectly quiet.” Without waiting for a reply,
he ordered the grooms to remain at either side of the young ladies, and
then dismounting, he forced open the lock and led his horse into the
paddock. This done, he leisurely closed the gate and mounted, every
motion being as free from haste and excitement as if made upon the
high-road. As for the bull, at the noise of the gate on its hinges, he
lifted up his head; but as it were indifferent to the cause, he resumed
his grazing attitude the moment after.

Cashel’s first care seemed to be to reconnoitre the ground; for at
a slow walk he traversed the space in various directions, carefully
examining the footing and watching for any accidental circumstance
that might vary the surface. He then rode up to the paling, where in
unfeigned terror the two girls sat, silently following him in every
motion.

“Now, remember,” said he, smiling, “no fears, no terrors. If you were to
make me nervous, I should probably miss my cast, and the disgrace, not
to speak of anything else, would be dreadful.”

“Oh, we ‘ll behave very well,” said Miss Kennyfeck, trying to assume a
composure that her pale cheek and compressed lips very ill corroborated.
As for Olivia, too terrified for words, she merely looked at him, while
the tears rolled heavily down her cheeks.

“Now, to see if my hand has not forgot its cunning!” said Roland, as
he pressed his horse’s flanks, and, pushing into a half-gallop, made
a circuit around the bull. The scene was a picturesque as well as
an exciting one. The mettlesome horse, on which the rider sat with
consummate ease; in his right hand the loose coils of the lasso, with
which to accustom his horse he flourished and shook around the head
and ears of the animal as he went; while, with head bent down, and
the strong neck slightly retracted, the bull seemed to watch him as he
passed, and at length, slowly turning, continued to fix his eyes
upon the daring intruder. Gradually narrowing his circle, Cashel was
cautiously approaching within a suitable distance for the cast, when the
bull, as it were losing patience, gave one short hoarse cry and made at
him, so sudden the spring, and so infuriate the action, that a scream
from both the sisters together showed how near the danger must have
appeared. Roland, however, had foreseen from the attitude of the beast
what was coming, and by a rapid wheel escaped the charge, and passed
close beside the creature’s flank, unharmed. Twice or thrice the same
manouvre occurred with the same result; and although the horse was
terrified to that degree that his sides were one sheet of foam, the
control of the rider was perfect, and his every gesture bespoke ease and
confidence.

Suddenly the bull stopped, and retiring till his haunches-touched the
paling, he seemed surveying the field, and contemplating another
and more successful mode of attack. The concentrated passion of the
creature’s attitude at this moment was very fine, as with red eyeballs
and frothed lips he stood, slowly and in heavy strokes lashing his
flanks with his long tail.

“Is he tired?” said Miss Kennyfeck, as Cashel stood close to the paling,
and breathed his horse, for what he foresaw might be a sharp encounter.

“No! far from it,” answered Roland; “the fellow has the cunning of an
old ‘Corridor;’ you ‘ll soon see him attack.”

The words were not well uttered, when, with a low deep roar, the bull
bounded forward, not in a straight line, however, but zigzagging from
left to right, and right to left, as if with the intention of pinning
the horseman into a corner. The terrific springs of the great beast, and
his still more terrific cries, appeared to paralyze the horse, who
stood; immovable, nor was it till the savage animal had approached
within a few yards of him, that at last he reared up straight, and then,
as if overcome by terror, dashed off at speed, the bull following.

The scene was now one of almost maddening excitement; for, although the
speed of the horse far exceeded that of his pursuer, the bull, by
taking a small circle, was rapidly gaining on him, and, before the third
circuit of the field was made, was actually almost side by side. Roland
saw all his danger; he knew well that the slightest swerve, a “single
mistake,” would be fatal; but he had been trained to peril, and this was
not the first time he had played for life and won. It was then, just
at the instant when the bull, narrowing his distance, was ready, by
one bound, to drive his horns into the horse’s flank, that the youth
suddenly reined up, and throwing the horse nearly on his haunches,
suffered his pursuer to shoot ahead. The same instant, at least so it
seemed, he rose in his stirrups, and winding the rope three or four
times above his head, hurled it forth. Away went the floating coils
through the air, and with a sharp snap, they caught the animal’s
fore-legs in their fast embrace. Maddened by the restraint, he plunged
forward, but ere he gained the ground, a dexterous pull of the lasso
jerked the legs backwards, and the huge beast fell floundering to the
earth. The stunning force seemed enough to have extinguished life, and
he lay, indeed, motionless for a few seconds, when, by a mighty effort,
he strove to burst his bonds. Roland, meanwhile, after a severe struggle
to induce his horse to approach, abandoned the effort, sprang to the
ground, and by three or four adroit turns of the lasso over the head and
between the horns, completely fettered him, and at each fresh struggle
passing new turns of the rope, he so bound him that the creature lay
panting and powerless, his quivering sides and distended nostrils
breathing the deep rage that possessed him.

“Ah, Mosquito mio,”--the Toridor’s usual pet name for a young
bull,--“you were an easy victory after all, though I believe with a
little more practice of the game I should only get off second best.”

There was, if we must confess it, a certain little bit of boastfulness
in the speech, the truth being that the struggle, though brief, had
been a sharp one, and so Cashel’s air and look bespoke it, as he led his
horse out of the paddock.

It would be a somewhat nice point--happily, it is not requisite to
decide it--whether Roland was more flattered by the enthusiastic praise
of the elder sister, or touched by the silent but eloquent look with
which Olivia received him.

“What a splendid sight, what a noble achievement!” said Miss Kennyfeck.
“How I thank you for thus giving me, as it were, a peep into Spain, and
letting me feel the glorious enthusiasm a deed of heroism can inspire!”

“Are you certain you are not hurt?” whispered Olivia; “the creature’s
horns certainly grazed you. Oh dear! how terrible it was at one moment!”

“Are you going to leave him in his toils?” said Miss Kennyfeck.

“Oh, certainly,” replied Cashel, laughing; “I commit the pleasant office
of liberating him to other hands.” And so saying, he carelessly mounted
his horse, while they pressed him with a hundred questions and inquiries
about the late combat.

“I shall be amused to hear the reports that will be current to-morrow,”
 said Miss Kennyfeck, “about this affair. I ‘m certain the truth will
be the last to ooze out. My groom says that the creature belongs to the
Lord Lieutenant, and if so, there will be no end to the stories.”

Cashel did not seem as much impressed as the sisters expected at
this announcement, nor at all aware that he had been constructively
affronting the Vice-Majesty of the land, and so he chatted away in
pleasant indifference while they continued their ride towards home.



CHAPTER X. THE COMING DINNER-PARTY DISCUSSED

     How kindness all its spirit lends,
     When we discuss our dearest friends,
     Not meanly faults and follies hiding,
     But frankly owning each backsliding,
     Confessing with polite compassion,
     “They ‘re very bad, but still the fashion.”

     The Mode.


The Kennyfecks were without strangers that day, and Cashel, who was now,
as it were by unanimous election, received into the bosom of the family,
enjoyed for the first time in his life a peep into the science of
dinner-giving, in the discussions occasioned by the approaching banquet.

No sooner were they assembled around the drawing-room fire, than
Mrs. Kennyfeck, whose whole soul was occupied by the one event, took
occasion, as it were by pure accident, to remember that they “were
to have some people to-morrow.” Now, the easy _nonchalance_ of the
reminiscence and the shortness of the invitation would seem to imply
that it was merely one of those slight deviations from daily routine
which adds two or three guests to the family table; and so, indeed, did
it impress Cashel, who little knew that the dinner in question had been
devised, planned, and arranged full three weeks before, and the
company packed with a degree of care and selection that evinced all the
importance of the event.

Time was when the Irish capital enjoyed, and justly, the highest
reputation for all that constitutes social success; when around
the dinner-tables of the city were met men of the highest order of
intelligence, men pleased to exercise, without effort or display, all
the charm of wit and eloquence, and to make society a brilliant reunion
of those gifts which, in the wider sphere of active life, won fame and
honors.

As the race of these bright conversers died out,--for, alas! they
belonged to a past era,--their places were assumed by others of very
dissimilar tastes. Many educated at English universities brought back
with them to Ireland the more reserved and cautious demeanor of the
other country, and thus, if not by their influence, by their mere
presence, threw a degree of constraint over the tone of society, which,
in destroying its freedom, despoiled it of all its charm.

Fashion, that idol of an Englishman’s heart, soon became an Irish deity
too, and it now grew the “ton” to be English, or at least what was
supposed to be such, in dress and manner, in hours, accent, and
demeanor. The attempt was never successful; the reserve and placidity
which sit with gracefulness on the high-bred Englishman, was a stiff,
uncourteous manner in the more cordial and volatile Irishman. His own
demeanor was a tree that would not bear grafting, and the fruit lost all
its raciness by the admixture.

The English officials at the Castle, the little staff of a commander of
the forces, a newly-made bishop, fresh from Oxford, even the officers
of the last arrived dragoon regiment, became, by right of “accent,” the
types of manner and breeding in circles where, in the actual enjoyment
of social qualities, they were manifestly beneath those over whom they
held sway; however, they were stamped at the metropolitan mint, and the
competitors were deemed a mere depreciated currency which a few years
more would cancel forever.

Mrs. Kennyfeck, as a fashionable dinner-giver, of course selected her
company from this more choice section; a fact which deserves to be
recorded, to the credit of her hospitality; for it was a very rare
occurrence indeed, when she found herself invited by any of those
distinguished personages who figured the oftenest at her own table. They
thought, perhaps justly, that their condescension was sufficiently great
to demand no further acknowledgment; and that, as virtue is said to be
its own reward, theirs was abundantly exhibited in the frankness with
which they ate Kennyfeck’s venison, and drank his Burgundy, both of
which were excellent.

Every one dined there, because they knew “they ‘d meet every one.” A
pretender in the world of fashion, unlike a pretender to monarchy, is
sure to have the best company in his _salon_; and so, although you might
have met many at the tables of the first men of the country, who were
there by virtue of their talents or abilities, at Kennyfeck’s the
company was sure to be “select.” They could not afford dilution, lest
they should find themselves at ease!

“Olivia, pray take that newspaper from Mr. Kennyfeck, and let us hear
who he has asked to dinner to-morrow,” said Mrs. Kennyfeck, gracefully
imitating an attitude of Lady Londonderry in the “Book of Beauty.”

Mr. Kennyfeck heard the request, and started; his surprise had not been
greater if the Chancellor had addressed him as “Tom.” It was the
first time in his life that an allusion had ever been made to the bare
possibility of his inviting the company of a grand dinner; a prerogative
he had never so much as dreamed of, and now he actually heard his wife
refer to him, as if he were even a party to the deed.

“Invite! Mrs. Kennyfeck. I ‘m sure I never thought--”

“No matter what you thought,” said his spouse, reddening at his
stupidity. “I wanted to remember who are coming, that we may let Mr.
Cashel learn something of our Dublin folk.”

“Here’s a list, mamma,” said Olivia; “and I believe there are no
apologies. Shall I read it?”

“Do so, child,” said she, but evidently out of humor that the delightful
little display of indifference and ignorance should not have succeeded
better.

“Sir Andrew and Lady Janet MacFarline, of course!” cried Miss Kennyfeck;
“ain’t they first?”

“They are,” replied her sister.

“Sir Andrew, Mr. Cashel,” said Mrs. Kennyfeck, “is a very distinguished
officer,--a K.C.B., and something else besides. He was in all the
Duke’s battles in Spain; a most gallant officer, but a little rough in
manner,--Scotch, you know. Lady Janet was sister to Lord--What is that
lord, Caroline? I always forget.”

“Dumkeeran, mamma.”

“Yes, that’s it She is a charming person, but very proud,--very proud,
indeed; will not visit with the Dublin people. With us, I must say,
I have never seen anything like her kindness; we are absolutely like
sisters. Go on, Olivia.”

“Lord Charles Frobisher.”

“And the Honorable Elliot St. John,” chimed in her sister; “Damon and
Pythias, where a dinner is concerned.” This was said in a whisper.

“They are aides-de-camp to the Lord Lieutenant. Lord Charles is younger
brother to the Duke of Derwent; quite a man of fashion, and so amusing.
Oh, he ‘s delightful!”

“Charming!” duetted the two sisters.

“Mr. St. John is a very nice person too; but one never knows him like
Lord Charles: he is more reserved. Olivia, however, says he has a great
deal in him.”

“Oh, mamma! I ‘m sure I don’t know; I only thought him much more
conversable than he gets credit for.”

“Well, I meant no more,” said her mother, who did not fancy the
gathering gloom on Cashel’s face at this allusion; “read on again,
child.”

“Lord Chief Justice Malone.”

“Oh, Mr. Kennyfeck,” said she, playfully, “this is _your_ doing; I
suspected, from your confusion awhile ago, what you were at.” Then,
turning to Roland, she said, “He is always playing us this trick, Mr.
Cashel; whenever we have a few friends together, he will insist upon
inviting some of his old bar cronies!”

A deep groan from Mr. Kennyfeck at the terrible profanity of thus
styling the chief of the Common Pleas, made every one start; but
even this, like a skilful tactician, Mrs. Kennyfeck turned to her own
advantage.

“Pray don’t sigh that way. He is a most excellent person, a great
lawyer, and, they say, must eventually have the peerage.” She nodded to
Olivia to proceed, who read on.

“The Attorney-General and Mrs. Knivett.”

“Oh, really, Mr. Kennyfeck, this is pushing prerogative; don’t you
think so, Mr. Cashel? Not but, you know, the Attorney-General is a great
personage in this poor country; he is member for--where is it?”

“Baldoyle, mamma.”

“Yes, member for Baldoyle; and she was a Miss Gamett, of Red Gamett, in
Antrim; a most respectable connection; so I think we may forgive him.
Yes, Mr. Kennyfeck, you are, at least, reprieved.”

“Here come the Whites, mamma. I suppose we may reckon on both, though
she, as usual, sends her hopes and fears about being with us at dinner,
but will be delighted to come in the evening.”

“That apology is stereotyped,” broke in Miss Kennyfeck, “as well as the
little simpering speech she makes on entering the drawing-room. ‘So you
see, my dear Mrs. Kennyfeck, there is no resisting you. Colonel
White assured me that your pleasant dinners always set him up for a
month,--he, he, he.’”

If Cashel had not laughed heartily at the lisping imitation, it is
possible Mrs. Kennyfeck might have been displeased; but as the quiz
“took,” she showed no umbrage whatever.

“The Honorable Downie Meek, Under Secretary of State,” read Olivia, with
a little more of emphasis than on the last-mentioned names.

“A person you’ll be charmed with, Mr. Cashel,--so highly informed, so
well bred, so perfectly habituated to move in the very highest circles,”
 said Mrs. Kennyfeck, giving herself, as she spoke, certain graces of
gesture which she deemed illustrative of distinguished fashion.

“A cucumber dressed in oil,” whispered Miss Kennyfeck, who showed more
than once a degree of impatience at these eulogistic descriptions.

“The Dean of Dramcondera, your great favorite, mamma.”

“So he is, my dear. Now, Mr. Cashel, I shall insist upon you liking my
Dean. I call him _my_ Dean, because one day last spring--”

“Mrs. Biles wants to speak to you, ma’am, for a minute,” said the butler
from behind the chair; and although the interruption was anything
but pleasant, yet the summons must be obeyed, for Mrs. Biles was the
housekeeper, and any approach to treating her with indifference or
contempt on the eve of a great dinner would be about as impolitic as
insulting a general who was about to command in a great battle; so that
Mrs. Kennyfeck rose to comply, not even venturing a word of complaint,
lest the formidable functionary should hear of it, and take her revenge
on the made dishes.

“Now for the Dean. Is mamma out of hearing?” said Miss Kennyfeck, who
rejoiced at the casual opportunity of a little portrait-painting in
a different style. “Conceive a tall, pompous man, with large white
features, and a high bald head with a conical top; a sharp, clear, but
unpleasant voice, always uttering grave nonsense, or sublime absurdity.
He was a brilliant light at Oxford, and came over to illumine our
darkness, and if pedantry could only supply the deficiency in the potato
crop, he would be a providence to the land. His affectation is to know
everything, from chuck-farthing to conic sections, and so to diffuse his
information as always to talk science to young ladies, and discuss the
royal game of goose with Lords of the Treasury. His failures in these
attempts at Admirable Crichtonism would abash even confidence great as
his, but that he is surrounded by a little staff of admirers, who fend
off the sneers of the audience, and, like buffers, break the rude shocks
of worldly collision. Socially, he is the tyrant of this capital; for
having learning enough to be more than a match for those he encounters,
and skill enough to give his paradoxes a mock air of authority, he
usurps a degree of dictation and rule that makes society mere slavery.
You ‘ll meet him to-morrow evening, and you’ll see if he does not know
more of Mexico and Savannah life than you do. Take care, I say, that you
venture not into the wilds of the Pampas; for you’ll have his
companionship, not as fellow-traveller, but as guide and instructor. As
for myself, whenever I read in the papers of meetings to petition
Parliament to repeal this or redress that, in the name of ‘Justice to
Ireland,’ I ask, why does nobody pray for the recall of the Dean of
Drumcondera?”

“Here’s mamma,” whispered Olivia, as the drawing-room door opened.

“We’ve done the Dean, mamma,” said Miss Kennyfeck, with calm composure.

“Well, don’t you feel that you love him already? Mr. Cashel, confess
that you participate in all my raptures. Oh dear! I do so admire talent
and genius,” exclaimed Mrs. Kennyfeck, theatrically.

Cashel smiled, and muttered something unintelligible; and Olivia read
on, but with a rapidity that showed the names required no special
notice. “The Craufurds, the Smythes, Mrs. Felix Brown, Lady Emmeline
Grove.”

“Oh, that dear Lady Emmeline! a most gifted creature; she ‘s the
authoress of some sweet poems. She wrote that touching sonnet in the
‘Nobility’s Gallery of Loveliness,’ beginning, ‘Twin Sister of the
Evening Star.’ I’m sure you know it.”

“I ‘m unfortunate enough never to have seen it,” said Cashel.

“Well, you shall see the writer to-morrow evening; I must really take
care that you are acquainted. People will tell you that she is affected,
and takes airs of authorship; but remember her literary success,--think
of her contributions to the ‘Court Journal.’”

“Those sweet flatteries of the nobility that Linton calls court-plaster,
mamma,” said Miss Kennyfeck, laughing maliciously.

“Linton is very abusive,” said her mother, tartly; “he never has a good
word for any one.”

“He used to be a pet of yours, mamma,” insinuated Olivia.

“So he was till he became so intimate with those atrocious Fothergills.”

“Who is he?” said Cashel.

“He’s a son of Sir George Linton.”

“That’s one story, mamma; but as nobody ever saw the aforesaid Sir
George, the presumption is it may be incorrect. The last version is that
he was found, like Moses, the discoverer being Lady Harriet Dropmore,
who, with a humanity never to be forgotten,”--“or forgiven,” whispered
Olivia, “for she has been often taunted with it,”--“took care of the
creature, and had it reared,--nay, better again, she sent it to Rugby
and to Cambridge, got it into Parliament for Elmwood, and has now made
it Master of the Horse in Ireland.”

“He is the most sarcastic person I ever met.”

“It is such an easy talent,” said Miss Kennyfeck; “the worst of wine
makes capital vinegar.”

“Then here follow a set of soldier people,” said Olivia,--“hussars and
Queen’s Bays, and a Captain Tanker of the Royal Navy,--oh, I remember,
he has but one arm,--and then the Pelertons and the Cuffes.”

“Well, are we at the end of our muster-roll?”

“Yes, we have nearly reached the dregs of the cup. I see Mr. Knox
Softly, and the Townleys!”

“Oh, the Townleys! Poor Mrs. Townley, with her yellow turban and red
feathers, that Lord Dunbrock mistook for a _vol-au-vent_ garnished with
shrimps.”

“Caroline!” cried Mrs. Kennyfeck, reprovingly, for her daughter’s
sallies had more than once verged upon the exhaustion of her patience.

“We shall not weary you with any description of the ‘refreshers,’ Mr.
Cashel.”

“Pray who and what are they?” inquired Cashel.

“The ‘refreshers’ are that amiable but undervalued class in society who
are always asked for the evening when the other members of the family
are invited to dine. They are the young lady and young gentleman
class,--the household with ten daughters, and a governess that sings
like, anything but, Persiani. They are briefless barristers, with
smart whiskers; and young men reading for the Church, with moustaches;
infantry officers, old maids, fellows of college, and the gentleman who
tells Irish stories.”

“Caroline, I really must request--”

“But, mamma, Mr. Cashel surely ought to learn the map of the country he
is to live in.”

“I am delighted to acquire my geography so pleasantly,” cried Cashel.
“Pray go on.”

“I am bound over,” said she, smiling; “mamma is looking penknives at me,
so I suppose I must stop. But as to these same ‘refreshers,’ you will
easily distinguish them from the dinner company. The young ladies are
always fresher in their white muslin; they walk about in gangs, and eat
a prodigious deal of bread-and-butter at tea. Well, I have done, mamma,
though I ‘m sure I was not aware of my transgressions.”

“I declare Mr. Kennyfeck is asleep again.--Mr. Kenny-feck, have the
goodness to wake up and say who is to make the whist-table for Lady
Blennerbore.”

“Yes, my Lord,” said Mr. Kennyfeck, waking up and rubbing his eyes,
“we’ll take a verdict for the plaintiff, leaving the points reserved.”

A very general laugh here recalled him to himself, as with extreme
confusion he continued, “I was so fatigued in the Rolls to-day. It was
an argument relative to a trust, Mr. Cashel, which it is of great moment
you should be relieved of.”

“Oh, never trouble your head about it now, sir,” said Cashel,
good-naturedly. “I am quite grieved at the weariness and fatigue my
affairs are costing you.”

“I was asking about Lady Blennerbore’s whist,” interposed Mrs.
Kennyfeck. “Who have you for her party besides the Chief Justice?”

“Major M’Cartney says he can’t afford it, mamma,” said the eldest
daughter, slyly. “She is so very lucky with the honors!”

“Where is Thorpe?” cried Mrs. Kennyfeck, not deigning to notice this
speech,--“he used to like his rubber.”

“He told me,” said Miss Kennyfeck, “that he would n’t play with her
Ladyship any more; that one had some chance formerly, but that since she
has had that touch of the palsy, she does what she likes with the Kings
and Aces.”

“This is atrocious; never let me hear it again,” said the mamma,
indignantly; “at all events, old Mr. Moore Hacket will do.”

“Poor old man, he is so blind that he has to thumb the cards all over
to try and know them by the feel, and then he always washes the King
and Queen’s faces with a snuffy handkerchief, so that the others are
sneezing at every trick they play.”

“Caroline, you permit yourself to take the most improper freedoms; I
desire that we may have no more of this.”

“I rather like old Mr. Hacket,” said the incorrigible assailant; “he
mistook Mr. Pottinger’s bald and polished head for a silver salver, and
laid his teacup on it, the last evening he was here.”

If Cashel could not help smiling at Miss Kennyfeck’s sallies, he felt
it was in rather a strange spirit of hospitality the approaching
entertainment was given, since few of the guests were spared the most
slighting sarcasms, and scarcely for any was there professed the least
friendship or affection. He was, however, very new to “the world,” and
the strange understanding on which its daily intercourse, its social
life of dinners, visits, and _déjeuners_ subsists, was perfectly unknown
to him. He had much to learn; but as his nature was of an inquiring
character, he was as equal as he was well inclined to its task. It was
then, with less enjoyment of the scene for its absurdity, than actually
as an occasion to acquire knowledge of people and modes of living
hitherto unknown, he listened gravely to the present discussion, and sat
with attentive ears to hear who was to take in Lady Janet, and whether
Sir Archy should precede the Chief Justice or not; if a Dragoon Colonel
should take the _pas_ of an Attorney-General, and whether it made the
same difference in an individual’s rank that it did in his comfort, that
he was on the half-pay list When real rank is concerned, few things are
easier than the arrangement of such details; the rules are simple, the
exceptions few, if any; but in a society where the distinctions are
inappreciable, where the designations are purely professional, an
algebraic equation is simpler of solution than such difficulties.

Then came a very animated debate as to the places at table, wherein lay
the extreme difficulty of having every one away from the fire and nobody
in a draught, except, of course, those little valued guests who really
appeared to play the ignoble part of mortar in a great edifice, being
merely the cohesive ingredient that averted friction between more
important materials. Next came the oft-disputed question as to whether
the champagne should be served with the _petits pâtés_, after the fish,
or at a remote stage of the second course, the young ladies being
eager advocates of the former, Mrs. Kennyfeck as firmly denouncing the
practice as a new-fangled thing, that “the Dean” himself said he had
never seen at Christchurch; but the really great debate arose on a still
more knotty point, and one on which it appeared the family had brought
in various bills, without ever discovering the real remedy. It was by
what means--of course, moral force means--it were possible to induce old
Lady Blennerbore to rise from table whenever Mrs. Kennyfeck had decreed
that move to be necessary.

It was really moving to listen to Mrs. Kennyfeck’s narratives of signals
unnoticed and signs unattended to; that even on the very last day her
Ladyship had dined there, Mrs. Kennyfeck had done little else for three
quarters of an hour than half stand and sit down again, to the misery of
herself and the discomfort of her neighbors.

“Poor dear old thing,” said Olivia, “she is so very nearsighted.”

“Not a bit of it,” said her sister; “don’t tell me of bad sight that can
distinguish the decanter of port from the claret, which I have seen her
do some half-dozen times without one blunder.”

“I ‘d certainly stop the supplies,” said Cashel; “wouldn’t that do?”

“Impossible!” said Miss Kennyfeck; “you couldn’t starve the whole
garrison for one refractory subject.”

“Mr. Linton’s plan was a perfect failure, too,” said Mrs. Kennyfeck. “He
thought by the introduction of some topic ladies do not usually discuss
that she would certainly withdraw; on the contrary, her Ladyship called
out to me, ‘I see your impatience, my dear, but I must hear the end
of this naughty story.’ We tried the French plan, too, and made the
gentlemen rise with us; but really they were so rude and ill-tempered
the entire evening after, I ‘ll never venture on it again.”

Here the whole party sighed and were silent, as if the wished-for mode
of relief were as distant as ever.

“Must we really ask those Claridge girls to sing, mamma?” said Miss
Kennyfeck, after a long pause.

“Of course you must. They were taught by Costa, and they are always
asked wherever they go.”

“As a matter of curiosity, Mr. Cashel, the thing is worth hearing.
Paganini’s monocorde was nothing to it, for they ‘ll go through a whole
scena of Donizetti with only one note in their voice. Oh dear! how very
tiresome it all is; the same little scene of pressings and refusals and
entreaties and rejections, and the oft-repeated dispute of the sisters
between ‘Notte divina’ and ‘Non vedro mai,’ ending in that Tyrolese
thing, which is on every organ in the streets, and has not the merit of
the little shaved dog with the hat in his mouth, to make it droll. And
then”--here Miss Kennyfeck caught a side glance of a most rebuking frown
on her mother’s face, so that adroitly addressing herself to Cashel, she
seemed unaware of it,--“and then, when the singing is over, and those
who detest music are taking their revenge by abusing the singers, and
people are endeavoring to patch up the interrupted chattings,--then, I
suppose, we are quite suddenly, without the slightest premeditation, to
suggest a quadrille or carpet-dance. This is to be proposed as a most
new and original idea that never occurred to any one before, and is
certain to be hailed with a warm enthusiasm; all the young ladies
smiling and smirking, and the gentlemen fumbling for their soiled kid
gloves,--clean ones would destroy the merit of the impromptu.”

“I ‘m certain Mr. Cashel’s impression of our society here will
scarcely be flattering, from what he has heard this evening,” said Mrs.
Kennyfeck, rising.

“He’ll see with his own eyes to-morrow night,” said Miss Kennyfeck,
coolly.

“Will you favor me with a little of your time in the morning?” said Mr.
Kennyfeck to Cashel. “I find that I cannot avoid troubling you; there
are several documents for signature, and if you could devote an hour,
or, if possible, two--”

“I am perfectly at your orders,” said Cashel; “the ladies say that they
will not ride, and therefore dispose of me as you like.”

A hearty good-night followed, and the party broke up.



CHAPTER XI. A DRIVE WITH THE LADIES.

     Geld kann vieles in der Welt.

     --Wiener Lied.

     (Money can do much in this world.)

When Cashel descended the stairs to breakfast, he took a peep into the
drawing-room as he went, some slight hope of seeing Olivia, perhaps,
suggesting the step. He was disappointed, however; except a servant
arranging candies in the lustres, the room was empty. The same
fate awaited him in the breakfast-room, where a small table, most
significantly laid for two, showed that a _tête-à-tête_ with his host
was in store for him. No wonder, then, if Mr. Kennyfeck saw something of
impatience in the air of his young guest, whose eyes turned to the door
each time it opened, or were as hastily directed to the garden at each
stir without,--evident signs of thoughts directed in channels different
from the worthy solicitor’s.

Confess, my dear reader,--if you be of the sex to judge of these
matters,--confess it is excessively provoking when you have prepared
your mind, sharpened your wit--perhaps, too, curled your whiskers--with
a latent hope that you are to meet and converse with two very handsome
and sprightly girls, that the interview is converted into a scene with
“Papa.” For ourselves, who acknowledge to have a kind of Catholicism in
these affairs, who like the dear creatures in all the flaunting dash of
a riding-hat and habit, cantering away of a breezy day, with laughing
voice and half-uncurled hair; who delight to see them lounging in
a britzska or lolling in a phaeton; who gaze with rapture on charms
heightened by the blaze of full-dress, and splendid in all the
brilliancy of jewels and flowers,--we own that we have a kind of
fondness, almost amounting to a preference, for the prim coquettishness
of a morning-dress--some light muslin thing, floating and gauzy--showing
the figure to perfection, and in its simplicity suiting well the two
braids of hair so innocently banded on the cheeks. There is something of
conscious power in the quiet garb, a sense of trustfulness; it is
like the warrior advancing without his weapons to a conference that is
exceedingly pleasing, seeming to say, You see that I am not a being of
tulle, and gauze, and point de Bruxelles, of white satin, and turquoise,
and pink camellias, but a creature whose duties may be in the daily
round of life, meant to sit beside on a grassy slope as much as on a
velvet ottoman, to talk with as well as flirt with.

We have no means of knowing if Cashel was of our mind, and whether
these demi-toilette visions were as suggestive to his as they are to our
imagination, but that he bore his disappointment with a very bad grace
we can perfectly answer for, and showed, by his distracted manner
and inattentive air, that the papa’s companionship was a very poor
substitute for the daughters’.

It must be owned, too, that Mr. Kennyfeck was scarcely a brilliant
converser, nor, had he been so, was the matter under consideration of
a kind to develop and display his abilities. The worthy solicitor had
often promised himself the pleasure he now enjoyed of recounting the
whole story of the law proceedings. It was the great event of his
own life, “his Waterloo,” and he dwelt on every detail with a prosy
dalliance that was death to the listener. Legal subtleties, shrewd and
cunning devices of crafty counsellors, all the artful dodges of the
profession, Cashel heard with a scornful indifference or a downright
apathy, and it demanded all Mr. Kennyfeck’s own enthusiasm in the case
to make him persist in a narrative so uninteresting to its only auditor.

“I fear I weary you, Mr. Cashel,” said the solicitor, “with these
details, but I really supposed that you must feel desirous of knowing
not only the exact circumstances of your estate, but of learning the
very singular history by which your claim was substantiated.”

“If I am to be frank,” said Cashel, boldly, “I must tell you that
these things possess not the slightest interest for me. When I was a
gambler--which, unfortunately, I was at one time--whether I won or lost,
I never could endure to discuss the game after it was over. So long as
there was a goal to reach, few men could feel more ardor in the pursuit.
I believe I have the passion for success as strong as my neighbors,
but the struggle over, the prize won, whether by myself or another it
mattered not, it ceased to have any hold upon me. I could address myself
to a new contest, but never look back on the old one.”

“So that,” said Kennyfeck, drawing a long breath to conceal a sigh, “I
am to conclude that this is a topic you would not desire to renew.
Well, I yield of course; only pray how am I to obtain your opinion on
questions concerning your property?”

“My opinions,” said Cashel, “must be mere arbitrary decisions, come to
without any knowledge; that you are well aware of. I know nothing of
this country,--neither its interests, its feelings, nor its tastes. I
know just as little of what wealth will do, and what it will not do.
Tell me, therefore, in a few words, what other men, situated as I am,
would pursue,--what habits they would adopt, how live, and with whom. If
I can conform, without any great sacrifice of personal freedom, I ‘ll do
so, because I know of no slavery so bad as notoriety. Just then give me
your counsel, and I ask, intending to follow it.”

Few men were less able than Mr. Kennyfeck to offer a valuable opinion on
these difficult subjects, but the daily routine of his professional life
had made him acquainted with a certain detail that seemed, to himself at
least, an undeviating rule of procedure. He knew that, to the heir of a
large estate coming of age, a wife and a seat in Parliament were the two
first objects. He had so often been engaged in drawing up settlements
for the one, and raising money for the other contingency, that they
became as associated in his mind with one-and-twenty years of age as
though intended by Nature to denote it.

With some reserve, which we must not scrutinize, he began with the
political object.

“I suppose, sir,” said he, “you will desire to enter Parliament?”

“I should like it,” said Cashel, earnestly, “if a sense of inferiority
would not weigh too heavily on me to compensate for the pleasure. With
an education so neglected as mine, I should run the hazard of either
unjustly depreciating my own judgment, or what is worse, esteeming it at
more than its worth. Now, though I suspect that the interest of politics
would have a great attraction for me, I should always occupy too
humble a station regarding them, to make that interest a high one. Omit
Parliament, then, and what next?”

“The duties of a country gentleman are various and important--the
management of your estates--”

“This I must leave in your hands,” said Cashel, abruptly. “Suggest
something else.”

“Well, of course, these come in a far less important category; but the
style of your living, the maintenance of a house befitting your rank
and property, the reception of your country neighbors,--all these are
duties.”

“I am very ignorant of forms,” said Cashel, haughtily; “but I opine that
if a man spare no money, with a good cook, a good cellar, a good stable,
and _carte blanche_ from the owner to make free with everything, these
duties are not very difficult to perform.”

Had Mr. Kennyfeck known more of such matters, he might have told him
that something was still wanting,--that something which can throw its
perfume of good-breeding and elegance over the humble dinner-party in a
cottage, and yet be absent from the gorgeous splendor of a banquet in
a palace. Mr. Kennyfeck did not know this, so he accorded his fullest
assent to Cashel’s opinion.

“What comes next?” said Roland, impatiently, “for as I am neither
politician nor country gentleman, nor can I make a pursuit of mere
hospitality, I really do not see what career is open to me.”

Mr. Kennyfeck had been on the eve of introducing the topic of marriage,
when this sally suddenly routed the attempt. The man who saw nothing to
occupy him in politics, property, or social intercourse would scarcely
deem a wife an all-sufficient ambition. Mr. Kennyfeck was posed.

“I see, sir, your task is a hard one; it is no less than to try and
conform my savage tastes and habits to civilized usages,--a difficult
thing, I am certain; however, I promise compliance with any ritual for
a while. I have often been told that the possession of fortune in these
countries imposes more restraints in the shape of duties than does
poverty elsewhere. Let me try the problem for myself. Now, dictate, and
I obey.”

“After all,” said Mr. Kennyfeck, taking courage, “few men would deem it
a hard condition in which to find themselves master of above £16,000 a
year, to enter Parliament, to keep a good house, and marry--as every man
in your circumstances may--the person of his choice.”

“Oh! Is matrimony another article of the code?” said Cashel, smiling.
“Well, that is the greatest feature, because the others are things
to abandon, if not found to suit your temper or inclination--but a
wife--that does look somewhat more permanent. No matter, I’ll adventure
all and everything--of course depending on your guidance for the path.”

Mr. Kennyfeck was too happy at these signs of confidence to neglect an
opportunity for strengthening the ties, and commenced a very prudent
harangue upon the necessity of Cashel’s using great caution in his first
steps, and not committing himself by anything like political pledges,
till he had firmly decided which side to adopt. “As to society,” said
he, “of course you will select those who please you most for your
intimates; but in politics there are many considerations very different
from mere liking. Be only guarded, however, in the beginning, and you
risk nothing by waiting.”

“And as to the other count in the indictment,” said Cashel, interrupting
a rather prosy dissertation about political parties,--“as to the other
count--matrimony I mean. I conclude, as the world is so exceedingly kind
as to take a profound interest in all the sayings and doings of a man
with money, that perhaps it is not indifferent regarding so eventful
a step as his marriage. Now, pray, Mr. Kennyfeck, having entered
Parliament, kept open house, hunted, shot, raced, dined, gambled,
duelled, and the rest, to please society, how must I satisfy its
exigencies in this last particular? I mean, is there any particular
style of lady,--tall, short, brunette or fair, dark-eyed or
blue-eyed,--or what, in short, is the person I must marry if I would
avoid transgressing any of those formidable rules which seem to
regulate every action of your lives, and, if I may believe Mr. Phillis,
superintend the very color of your cravat and the shape of your hat?”

“Oh, believe me,” replied Mr. Kennyfeck with a bland persuasiveness,
“fashion is only exigeant in small matters; the really momentous affairs
of life are always at a man’s own disposal. Whoever is fortunate enough
to be Mr. Cashel’s choice, becomes, by the fact, as elevated above
envious criticisms as she will be above the sphere where they alone
prevail.”

“So far that is very flattering. Now for another point. There is an old
shipmate of mine--a young Spanish officer--who has lived rather a rakish
kind of life. I ‘m not quite sure if he has not had a brush or two
with our flag, for he dealt a little in ebony--you understand--the
slave-trade, I mean. How would these fine gentlemen, I should like to
know, receive him? Would they look coldly and distantly at him? I should
naturally wish to see him at my house, but not that he might be offered
anything like slight or insult.”

“I should defer it, certainly. I would recommend you not pressing this
visit, till you have surrounded yourself with a certain set, a party by
whom you will be known and upheld.”

“So then, if I understand you aright, I must obtain a kind of security
for my social good conduct before the world will trust me? Now, this
does seem rather hard, particularly as no man is guilty till he has been
convicted.”

“The bail-bond is little else than a matter of form,” said Mr.
Kennyfeck, smiling, and glad to cap an allusion which his professional
pursuits made easy of comprehension.

“Well,” sighed Cashel, “I’m not quite certain that this same world of
yours and I shall be long friends, if even we begin as such. I have all
my life been somewhat of a rebel, except where authority was lax enough
to make resistance unnecessary. How am I to get on here, hemmed in and
fenced by a hundred restrictions?”

Mr. Kennyfeck could not explain to him that these barriers were less
restrictions against personal liberty than defences against aggression;
so he only murmured some commonplaces about “getting habituated,” and
“time,” and so on, and apologized for what he, in reality, might have
expatiated on as privileges.

“My mistress wishes to know, sir,” said a footman, at this juncture, “if
Mr. Cashel will drive out with her? the carriage is at the door.”

“Delighted!” cried Cashel, looking at the same time most uncourteously
pleased to get away from his tiresome companion.

Cashel found Mrs. Kennyfeck and her daughters seated in a handsome
barouche, whose appointments, bating, perhaps, some little exuberance
in display, were all perfect. The ladies, too, were most becomingly
attired, and the transition from the tittle cobwebbed den of the
solicitor to the free air and pleasant companionship, excited his
spirits to the utmost.

“How bored you must have been by that interview!” said Mrs. Kennyfeck,
as they drove away.

“Why do you say so?” said Cashel, smiling.

“You looked so weary, so thoroughly tired out, when you joined us. I’m
certain Mr. Kennyfeck has been reading aloud all the deeds and documents
of the trial, and reciting the hundred-and-one difficulties which his
surpassing acuteness, poor dear man! could alone overcome.”

“No, indeed you wrong him,” said Roland, with a laugh; “he scarcely
alluded to what he might have reasonably dwelt upon with pride, and what
demands all my gratitude. He was rather giving me, what I so much stand
in need of, a little lecture on my duties and devoirs as a possessor of
fortune; a code, I shame to confess, perfectly strange to me.”

A very significant glance from Mrs. Kennyfeck towards the girls
revealed the full measure of her contempt for the hardihood of poor Mr.
Kennyfeck’s daring; but quickly assuming a smile, she said, “And are we
to be permitted to hear what these excellent counsels were, or are these
what the Admiralty calls ‘secret instructions’?”

“Not in the least. Mr. Kennyfeck sees plainly enough--it is but too
palpable--that I am as ignorant of this new world as he himself would
be, if dropped down suddenly in an Indian encampment, and that as the
thing I detest most in this life is any unnecessary notoriety, I want to
do as far as in me lies, like my neighbors. I own to you that the little
sketch with which he favored me is not too fascinating, but he assures
me that with time and patience and zeal I’ll get over my difficulties,
and make a very tolerable country gentleman.”

“But, my _dear_ Mr. Cashel,” said Mrs. Kennyfeck, with a great emphasis
on the epithet, “why do you think of listening to Mr. Kennyfeck on such
a subject? Poor man, he takes all his notions of men and manners from
the Exchequer and Common Pleas.”

“Papa’s models are all in horse-hair wigs,--fat mummies in ermine!” said
Miss Kennyfeck.

“When Mr. Cashel knows Lord Charles,” said Olivia.

“Or Mr. Linton--”

“Or the Dean,” broke in Mrs. Kennyfeck; “for although a Churchman, his
information on every subject is boundless.”

Miss Kennyfeck gave a sly look towards Cashel, which very probably
entered a dissent to her mamma’s opinion.

“If I were you,” resumed she, tenderly, “I know what I should do; coolly
rejecting all their counsels, I should fashion my life as it pleased
myself to live, well assured that in following my bent I should find
plenty of people only too happy to lend me their companionship. Just
reflect, for a moment, how very agreeable you can make your house,
without in the least compromising any taste or inclination of your own;
without, in fact, occupying your mind on the subject.”

“But the world,” remarked Mrs. Kennyfeck, “must be cared for! It would
not do for one in Mr. Cashel’s station to form his associates only among
those whose agreeability is their recommendation.”

“Then let him know the Dean, mamma,” said Miss Kennyfeck, slyly.

“Yes, my dear,” rejoined Mrs. Kennyfeck, not detecting the sarcasm, “I
cannot fancy one more capable of affording judicious counsel. You spoke
about ordering plate, Mr. Cashel; but of course you will apply to Storr
and Mortimer. Everything is so much better in London; otherwise, here we
are at Leonard’s.”

The carriage drove up, as she spoke, to the door of a very
splendid-looking shop, where in all the attractive display modern taste
has invented, plate and jewellery glittered and dazzled.

“It was part of Mr. Kennyfeck’s counsel this morning,” said Cashel,
“that I should purchase anything I want in Ireland, so far, at least, as
practicable; so, if you will aid me in choosing, we ‘ll take the present
opportunity.”

Mrs. Kennyfeck was overjoyed at the bare mention of such an occasion of
display, and sailed into the shop with an air that spoke plain as words
themselves, “I’m come to make your fortune.” So palpable, indeed, was
the manner of her approach, that the shopman hastily retired to seek
the proprietor of the establishment,--a little pompous man, with a bald
head,--who, having a great number of “bad debts” among his high
clients, had taken to treating great folk with a very cool assumption of
equality.

“Mr. Cashel is come to look about some plate, Mr. Leonard. Let us see
your book of drawings; and have you those models you made for Lord
Kellorane?”

“We have better, ma’am,” said Leonard. “We have the plate itself. If you
will step upstairs. It is all laid out on the tables. The fact is”--here
he dropped his voice--“his lordship’s marriage with Miss Fenchurch is
broken off, and he will not want the plate, and we have his orders to
sell it at once.”

“And is that beautiful pony-phaeton, with the two black Arabians, to
be sold?” asked Miss Kennyfeck, eagerly. “He only drove them once, I
think.”

“Yes, madam, everything: they are all to be auctioned at Dycer’s
to-day.”

“At what hour?” inquired Cashel.

“At three, precisely, sir.”

“Then it wants but five minutes of the time,” said Cashel, looking at
his watch.

“But the plate, sir? Such an opportunity may never occur again,” broke
in Leonard, fearful of seeing his customer depart unprofitably.

“Oh, to be sure. Let us see it,” said Cashel, as he handed Mrs.
Kennyfeck upstairs.

An exclamation of surprise and delight burst from the party at the
magnificent display which greeted them on entering the room. How
splendid--what taste--how very beautiful--so elegant--so massive--so
chaste! and fifty other encomiastic phrases.

“Very fine, indeed, ma’am,” chimed in Leonard; “cost fifteen and
seven-pence the ounce throughout, and now to be sold for thirteen
shillings.”

“What is the price?” said Cashel, in a low whisper.

“There are, if I remember right, sir, but I ‘ll ascertain in a moment,
eight thousand ounces.”

“I want to know the sum in one word,” rejoined Cashel, hastily.

“It will be something like three thousand seven hundred and--”

“Well, say three thousand seven hundred, it is mine.”

“These ice-pails are not included, sir.”

“Well, send them also, and let me know the price. How handsome that
brooch is! Let me see it on your velvet dress, Mrs. Kennyfeck. Yes, that
really looks well. Pray let it remain there.”

“Oh, I could not think of such a thing! It is far too costly. It is the
most splendid--”

“You ‘ll not refuse me, I hope, a first request, madam,” said he, with a
half-offended air.

Mrs. Kennyfeck, really overwhelmed by the splendor of the gift, complied
with a reluctant shame.

“These are the diamonds that were ordered for the bride,” said Leonard,
opening a jewel-casket, and exhibiting a most magnificent suite.

“Oh, how sorry she must be!” cried Miss Kennyfeck, as she surveyed the
glittering mass.

“If she loved him,” murmured Olivia, in a low whisper, as if to
herself, but overheard by Cashel, who kept his eyes towards her with an
expression of deep interest.

“If the gentleman stood in need of such a set,” said Leonard, “I am
empowered to dispose of them at the actual cost. It is old Mr. Fenchurch
who suffers all the loss, and he can very well afford it. As a wedding
present, sir--”

“But I am not going to be married, that I know of,” said Cashel,
smiling.

“Perhaps not this week, sir, or the next,” rejoined the self-sufficient
jeweller; “but, of course, that time will come. Two thousand pounds for
such a suite is positively getting them a present, to break them up and
reset them.”

“How shocking!” cried Miss Kennyfeck.

“Yes, madam; but what is to be done? They only suit large fortunes in
their present form; these, unfortunately, are very rare with us.”

“A quarter past three!” exclaimed Cashel; “we shall be too late.”

“And the diamonds, sir?” said Leonard, following him downstairs.

“Do _you_ think them so handsome?” said Cashel to Olivia, as she walked
at his side.

“Oh, they are most beautiful,” replied she, with a bashful falling of
her eyelids.

“I ‘ll take them also,” whispered Cashel to Leonard, who, for perhaps
the only time for years past, accompanied the party, bareheaded, to
their carriage, and continued bowing till they drove away.

“Dycer’s,” said Mrs. Kennyfeck; “and as fast as you can.”

With all their speed they came too late. The beautiful equipage had been
already disposed of, and was driving from the gate as they drew up.

“How provoking!--how terribly provoking!” exclaimed Mrs. Kennyfeck.

“I declare, I think them handsomer than ever,” said Miss Kennyfeck, as
she surveyed the two well-matched and highly-bred ponies.

“Who bought them?” asked Mrs. Kennyfeck.

“I am the fortunate individual, or rather the unhappy one, who excites
such warm regrets,” said Mr Linton, as he lounged on the door of the
carriage. “I would I were Rothschild, or his son, or his godson, to beg
your acceptance of them.”

“What did you give for them, Mr. Linton?” asked Mrs. Kennyfeck.

“How unfair to ask; and you, too, who understand these things so well.”

“I want to purchase them,” said she, laughing; “that was my reason.”

“To you, then, the price is what I have just paid,--a hundred and
fifty.”

“How cheap!”

“Absolutely for nothing. I bought them on no other account. I really do
not want such an equipage.”

“To be serious, then,” resumed Mrs. Kennyfeck, “we came here with Mr.
Cashel to purchase them, and just arrived a few minutes too late.”

“Quite early enough to allow of my being able to render you a slight
service; without, however, the satisfaction of its having demanded any
effort from me. Will you present me to Mr. Cashel?” The gentlemen bowed
and smiled, and Linton resumed: “If you care for the ponies, Mr. Cashel,
I am delighted to say they are at your service. I really bought them, as
I say, because they were going for nothing.” Cashel did not know how to
return the generosity, but accepted the offer, trusting that time would
open an occasion to repay the favor.

“Shall I send them home to you, or will you drive them?”

“Will you venture to accompany me?” said Cashel, turning to Olivia
Kennyfeck; who, seeing at once the impropriety of a proposal which
Roland’s ignorance of the world alone could have committed, was silent
and confused.

“Are you afraid, my dear?” inquired Mrs. Kennyfeck, to show that all
other objections might be waived.

“Oh no, mamma, if you are not.”

“The ponies are perfectly quiet,” said Linton.

“I ‘m certain nothing will happen,” said Miss Kennyfeck, with a most
significant glance at her sister.

“Take care of her, Mr. Cashel,” said the mamma, as Roland handed the
blushing girl to her place. “I have never trusted her in any one’s
charge before; and if I had not such implicit confidence--” Before the
sentence was finished, the ponies sprang forward in a trot, the equipage
in a moment fled and disappeared from view.

“A fine young fellow he seems to be,” said Linton, as he raised his hat
in adieu; “and so frank, too!” There was a something in his smile that
looked too intelligent, but Mrs. Kennyfeck affected not to notice it, as
she said “Good-bye.”



CHAPTER XII. THE GREAT KENNYFECK DINNER.

     There were lords and ladies,--I saw myself,--
     A duke with his Garter, a knight with his Gaelph.
     “Orders”--as bright as the eye could see,
     The “Golden Fleece,” and the “Saint Esprit;”
      Black Eagles, and Lions, and even a Lamb,
     Such an odd-looking thing--from the great “Nizam;”
      Shamrocks and Thistles there were in a heap,
     And the Legion of Honor from “Louis Philippe,”
      So I asked myself--Does it not seem queer,
     What can bring this goodly company here?

     Mrs. Thorpe’s Fête at Twickenham


Although Mrs. Kennyfeck’s company were invited for seven o’clock, it
was already something more than half-past ere the first guest made
his appearance, and he found himself alone in the drawing-room; Mrs.
Kennyfeck, who was a very shrewd observer of everything in high life,
having remembered that it twice occurred to herself and Mr. K. to have
arrived the first at the Secretary’s “Lodge,” in the Park, and that the
noble hostess did not descend till at least some two or three others had
joined them.

The “first man” to a dinner is the next most miserable thing to the
“last man” at leaving it. The cold air of solitude, the awkwardness of
seeming too eager to be punctual, the certainty, almost inevitable, that
the next person who arrives is perfectly odious to you, and that you
will have to sustain a _tête-à-tête_ with the man of all others you
dislike,--all these are the agreeables of the first man; but he who now
had to sustain them was, happily, indifferent to their tortures. He was
an old, very deaf gentleman, who had figured at the dinner-tables of the
capital for half a century, on no one plea that any one could discover,
save that he was a “Right Honorable.” The privilege of sitting at the
Council had conferred the far pleasanter one of assisting at dinners;
and his political career, if not very ambitious, had been, what few men
can say, unruffled.

He seated himself, then, in a very well-cushioned chair, and with that
easy smile of benevolent meaning which certain deaf people assume as
a counterpoise for the want of colloquial gifts, prepared to be, or at
least to look, a very agreeable old gentleman to the next arrival.
A full quarter of an hour passed over, without anything to break the
decorous stillness of the house; when suddenly the door was thrown wide,
and the butler announced Sir Harvey Upton and Captain Jennings. These
were two hussar officers, who entered with that admirable accompaniment
of clinking sabres, sabretaches, and spurs, so essential to a cavalry
appearance.

“Early, by Jove!” cried one, approaching the mirror over the
chimney-piece, and arranging his moustaches, perfectly unmindful of the
presence of the Right Honorable who sat near it.

“They are growing worse and worse in this house, I think,” cried the
other. “The last time I dined here, we sat down at a quarter to nine.”

“It’s all Linton’s fault,” drawled out the first speaker; “he told a
story about Long Wellesley asking some one for ‘ten.’ and apologizing
for an early dinner, as he had to speak in the House afterwards. Who is
here? Neat steppers, those horses!”

“It is Kilgoff and his new wife,--do you know her?”

“No; she’s not one of those pale girls we used to ride with at
Leamington?”

There was no time for reply, when the names were announced, “Lord and
Lady Kilgoff!” and a very weakly looking old man, with a blue inside
vest, and enormous diamond studs in his shirt, entered, supporting
a very beautiful young woman, whose proud step and glancing eye were
strange contrasts to his feeble and vacant expression. The hussars
exchanged significant but hasty glances, and fell back, while the others
advanced up the room.

“Our excellent hostess,” said my Lord, in a low but distinct voice,
“will soon shame Wilton-Crescent itself in late hours. I fancy it ‘s
nigh eight o’clock.”

“It’s not their fault, poor things,” said she, lying back in a chair and
disposing her magnificent dress into the most becoming folds; “people
will come late do what one may.”

“They may do so, that’s very true; but I would beg to observe, you need
not wait for them.” This was said with a smile towards the hussars,
as though to imply, “There is no reason why you should not express an
opinion, if it agree with mine.”

The baronet immediately bowed, and smiling, so as to show a very white
range of teeth beneath his dark moustache, said, “In part, I agree with
your Lordship, but it requires the high hand of fashion to reform the
abuse.” Here a most insidious glance at her Ladyship most effectually
conveyed the point of his meaning.

Just then, in all the majesty of crimson velvet, Mrs. Kennyfeck
appeared, her comely person heaving under the accumulated splendor
of lace, flowers, and jewelry. Her daughters, more simply but still
handsomely dressed, followed, Mr. Kennyfeck bringing up the rear, in
very evident confusion at having torn his kid gloves,--a misfortune
which he was not clear should be buried in silence, or made the subject
of public apology.

Lady Kilgoff received Mrs. Kennyfeck’s excuses for being late with a
very quiet, gentle smile; but my Lord, less given to forgiveness, held
his watch towards Mr. Kennyfeck, and said, “There ‘s always an excuse
for a man of business, sir, or this would be very reprehensible.”
 Fortunately for all parties the company now poured in faster; every
instant saw some two or three arrive. Indeed, with such speed did they
appear, it seemed as if they had all waited for a movement _en masse_:
judges and generals, with nieces and daughters manifold, country
gentlemen, cliente, the _élite_ of Dublin diners-out, the Whites, the
Rigbys, with their ringleted girls, the young member for Mactark, the
Solicitor-General and Mrs. Knivett, and, at last, escorted by his staff
of curates and small vicars, came “the Dean” himself, conducting a
very learned dissertation on the musical properties of the
“Chickgankazoo,”--a three-stringed instrument of an African tribe,
and which he professed to think “admirably adapted for country
congregations too poor to buy an organ! Any one could play it, Softly
could play it, Mrs. Kennyfeck could--”

“How do you do, Mr. Dean?” said that lady, in her sweetest of voices.

The Dean accepted the offered hand, but, without attending to the
salutation, went on with a very curious argument respecting the vocal
chords in the human throat, which he promised to demonstrate on any thin
lady in the company.

The Chief Secretary’s fortunate arrival, however, rescued the devoted
fair one from the Dean’s scientific ardor; for Mr. Meek was a great
personage in the chief circles of Dublin. Any ordinary manner, in
comparison with Mr. Downie Meek’s, would be as linsey-woolsey to
three-pile velvet! There was a yielding softness, a delicious compliance
about him, which won him the world’s esteem, and pointed him out to
the Cabinet as the very man to be “Secretary for Ireland.” Conciliation
would be a weak word to express the _suave_ but winning gentleness
of his official dealings. The most frank of men, he was unbounded in
professions, and if so elegant a person could have taken a hint from so
humble a source, we should say that he had made his zoological studies
available and imitated the cuttle-fish, since when close penned by
an enemy he could always escape by muddying the water. In this great
dialectic of the Castlereagh school he was perfect, and could become
totally unintelligible at the shortest notice.

After a few almost whispered words to his hostess, Mr. Meek humbly
requested to be presented to Mr. Cashel. Roland, who was then standing
beside Miss Kennyfeck, and listening to a rather amusing catalogue of
the guests, advanced to make the Secretary’s acquaintance. Mr. Downie
Meek’s approaches were perfect, and in the few words he spoke, most
favorably impressed Cashel with his unpretentious, unaffected demeanor.

“Are we waiting for any one, Mr. Kennyfeck?” said his spouse, with a
delicious simplicity of voice.

“Oh, certainly!” exclaimed her less accomplished husband; “Sir Andrew
and Lady Janet MacFarline and Lord Charles Frobisher have not arrived.”

“It appears to me,”--a favorite expression of his Lordship, with a
strong emphasis on the pronoun,--“it appears to me,” said Lord Kilgoff,
“that Sir Andrew MacFarline waits for the tattoo at the Royal Barrack to
dress for dinner;” and he added, somewhat lower, “I made a vow, which I
regret to have broken to-day, never to dine wherever he is invited.”

“Here they come! here they come at last,” cried out several voices
together, as the heavy tread of carriage-horses was heard advancing, and
the loud summons of the footman resounded through the square.

Sir Andrew and Lady Janet MacFarline were announced in Mr. Pearse’s most
impressive manner; and then, after a slight pause, as if to enable the
company to recover themselves from the shock of such august names, Lord
Charles Frobisher and Captain Foster.

Sir Andrew was a tall, raw-boned, high-cheeked old man, with a white
head, red nose, and a very Scotch accent, whose manners, after forty
years’ training, still spoke of the time that he carried a halbert in
the “Black Watch.” Lady Janet was a little, grim-faced, gray-eyed old
lady, with a hunch, who, with a most inveterate peevishness of voice and
a most decided tendency to make people unhappy, was the terror of the
garrison.

“We hae na kept ye waitin’, Mrs. Kannyfack, I humbly hope?” said Sir
Andrew.

“A good forty minutes, Sir Andrew,” broke in Lord Kilgoff, showing his
watch; “but you are always the last.”

“He was not recorded as such in the official despatch from ‘Maida,’ my
Lord,” said Lady Janet, fiercely; “but with some people there is more
virtue in being early at dinner than first up the breach in an assault!”

“The siege will always keep hot, my Lady,” interposed a very
well-whiskered gentleman in a blue coat and two inside waistcoats; “the
soup will not.”

“Ah, Mr. Linton,” said she, holding out two fingers, “why were n’t you
at our picnic?” Then she added, lower:

“Give me your arm in to dinner. I can’t bear that tiresome old man.”
 Linton bowed and seemed delighted, while a scarcely perceptible motion
of the brows conveyed an apology to Miss Kennyfeck.

Dinner was at length announced, and after a little of what Sir Andrew
called “clubbing the battalions,” they descended in a long procession.
Cashel, after vainly essaying to secure either of the Kennyfeck girls as
his companion, being obliged to pair off with Mrs. White, the lady who
always declined, but never failed to come.

It is a singular fact in the physiology of Amphytrionism, that
second-class people can always succeed in a “great dinner,” though they
fail egregiously in all attempts at a small party. We reserve the reason
for another time, to record the fact that Mrs. Kennyfeck’s table was
both costly and splendid. The soups were admirable, the Madeira perfect
in flavor, the pâtés as hot and the champagne as cold, the fish as
fresh and the venison as long kept, the curry as high seasoned and the
pine-apple ice as delicately simple, as the most refined taste could
demand. The material enjoyments were provided with elegance and
abundance, and the guests--the little chagrin of the long waiting
over--all disposed to be chatty and agreeable.

Like a tide first breaking on a low strand, in small and tiny ripples,
then gradually coming bolder in, with courage more assured, and greater
force, the conversation of a dinner usually runs; till at last at the
high flood the great waves tumble madly one upon another, and the wild
chorus of the clashing water wakes up “the spirit of the storm.”

Even without the aid of the “Physiologie du Goût,” people will talk
of eating while they eat; and so the chitchat was _cuisine_ in all its
moods and tenses, each bringing to the common stock some new device
in cookery, and some anecdotes of his travelled experience in
“gourmandise,” and while Mr. Linton and Lord Charles celebrated
the skill of the “Cadran,” or the “Schwan” at Vienna, the Dean was
critically explaining to poor Mrs. Kennyfeck that Homer’s heroes had
probably the most perfect _rôti_ that ever was served, the juices of the
meat being preserved in such large masses.

“Soles, with a ‘gratin’ of fine gingerbread, I saw at Metternich’s,”
 said Mr. Linton, “and they were excellent.”

“I like old Jules Perregaux’s idea better, what he calls his _côtelettes
à la financière_.”

“What are they? I never tasted them.”

“Very good mutton cutlets _en papillotte_, the envelopes being billets
de banque of a thousand francs each.”

“Is it permitted to help one’s self twice, my Lord?”

“I called for the dish again, but found it had been too successful. De
Brigues did a neat thing that way, in a little supper he gave to the
artistes of the Opéra-Comique; the jellies were all served with rings in
them,--turquoise, diamond, emerald, pearl, and so on,--so that the fair
guests had all the excitement of a lottery as the _plat_ came round to
them.”

“The kick-shaws required something o’ that kind to make them endurable,”
 said Sir Andrew, gruffly; “gie me a haggis, or a cockie-leekie.”

“What is that?” said Miss Kennyfeck, who saw with a sharp malice how
angrily Lady Janet looked at the notion of the coming explanation.

“I ‘ll tell ye wi’ pleasure, Miss Kannyfack, hoo to mak’ a
cockie-leekie!”

“Cockie-leekie, _unde derivator_ cockie-leekie?” cried the Dean, who,
having taken a breathing canter through Homer and Horace, was quite
ready for the moderns.

“What, sir?” asked Sir Andrew, not understanding the question.

“I say, what ‘s the derivation of your cockie-leekie,--the etymology of
the phrase?”

“I dinna ken, and I dinna care. It’s mair needfu’ that one kens hoo to
mak’ it than to speer wha gave it the name of cockie-leekie.”

“More properly pronounced, _coq à lécher_,” said the inexorable Dean.
“The dish is a French one.”

“Did ever any one hear the like?” exclaimed Sir Andrew, utterly
confounded by the assertion.

“I confess, Sir Andrew,” said Linton, “it’s rather hard on Scotland.
They say you stole all your ballad-music from Italy, and now they claim
your cookery for France!”

“The record,” said the Attorney-General, across the table, “was tried at
Trim. Your Lordships sat with the Chief Baron.”

“I remember perfectly; we agreed that the King’s Bench ruled right,
and that the minor’s claim was substantiated.” Then turning to Mrs.
Kennyfeck, who out of politeness had affected to take interest in what
she could not even understand a syllable of, he entered into a very
learned dissertation on “heritable property,” and the great difficulties
that lay in the way of defining its limits.

Meanwhile “pipeclay,” as is not unsuitably styled mess-table talk,
passed among the military, with the usual quizzing about regimental
oddities. Brownrigg’s cob, Hanshaw’s whiskers, Talbot’s buggy, and
Carey’s inimitable recipe for punch, the Dean throwing in his negatives
here and there, to show that nothing was “too hot or too heavy” for his
intellectual fingers.

“Bad law! Mr. Chief Justice,” said he, in an authoritative tone. “Doves
in a cot, and coneys in a warren, go to the heir. With respect to
deer--”

“Oh dear, how tiresome!” whispered Mrs. White to Cashel, who most
heartily assented to the exclamation.

“What’s the name o’ that beastie, young gentleman?” said Sir Andrew, who
overheard Cashel recounting some circumstances of Mexican life.

“The chiguire,--the wild hog of the Caraccas,” said Cashel. “They are
a harmless sort of animal, and lead somewhat an unhappy life of it; for
when they escape the crocodile in the river, they are certain to fall
into the jaws of the jaguar on land.”

“Pretty much like a member o’ the Scotch Kirk in Ireland,” said Sir
Andrew, “wi’ Episcopaalians on the tae haun, and Papishes on the tither.
Are thae creatures gude to eat, sir?”

“The flesh is excellent,” broke in the Dean. “They are the
_Cavia-Capybara_ of Linnaeus, and far superior to our European swine.”

“I only know,” said Cashel, abruptly, “that _we_ never eat them, except
when nothing else was to be had. They are rancid and fishy.”

“A mere prejudice, sir,” responded the Dean. “If you taste the chiguire,
to use the vulgar name, and let him lie in steep in a white-wine
vinegar, _en marinade_, as the French say--”

“Where are you to find the white-wine vinegar in the Savannahs?” said
Cashel. “You forget, sir, that we are speaking of a country where a fowl
roasted in its own feathers is a delicacy.”

“Oh, how very singular! Do you mean that you eat it, feathers and all?”
 said Mrs. White.

“No, madam. It’s a prairie dish, which, I assure you, after all, is not
to be despised. The _plat_ is made this way. You take a fowl,--the wild
turkey, when lucky enough to find one,--and cover him all over with soft
red clay; the river clay is the best. You envelop him completely; in
fact, you make a great ball, somewhat the size of a man’s head. This
done, you light a fire, and bake the mass. It requires, probably, five
or six hours to make the clay perfectly hard and dry. When it cracks,
the dish is done. You then break open the shell, to the outside of which
the feathers adhere, and the fowl, deliciously roasted, stands before
you.”

“How very excellent,--_le poulet braisé_ of the French, exactly,” said
Lord Kilgoff.

“How cruel!” “How droll!” “How very shocking!” resounded through the
table; the Dean the only one silent, for it was a theme on which, most
singular to say, he could neither record a denial nor a correction.

“I vote for a picnic,” cried Mrs. White, “and Mr. Cashel shall cook us
his _dinde à la Mexicaine_.”

“An excellent thought,” said several of the younger part of the company.

“A very bad one, in my notion,” said Lord Kilgoff, who had no fancy for
seeing her Ladyship scaling cliffs, and descending steep paths, when his
own frail limbs did not permit of accompanying her. “Picnics are about
as vulgar a pastime as one can imagine. Your dinner is ever a
failure; your wine detestable; your table equipage arrives smashed or
topsy-turvy--” “_Unde_ topsy-turvy?--_unde_, topsy-turvy, Softly?” said
the Dean, turning fiercely on the curate. “Whence topsyturvy? Do you
give it up? Do you, Mr. Attorney? Do you, my Lord? do you give it up,
eh? I thought so! Topsy-turvy, _quasi_, top side t’ other way.”

“It’s vera ingenious,” said Sir Andrew; “but I maun say I see no
neecessity to be always looking back to whare a word gat his birth,
parentage, or eddication.”

“It suggests unpleasant associations,” said Lord Kilgoff, looking
maliciously towards Linton, who was playing too agreeable to her
Ladyship. “The etymology is the key to the true meaning. Sir, many of
those expressions popularly termed bulls--”

“Oh, _apropos_ of bulls,” said Mr. Meek, in his sweetest accent, “did
you hear of a very singular outrage committed yesterday upon the Lord
Lieutenant’s beautiful Swiss bull?”

“Did the Dean pass an hour with him?” whispered Linton to Lady Janet,
who hated the dignitary.

“It must have been done by mesmerism, I fancy,” rejoined Mr. Meek.
“The animal, a most fierce one, was discovered lying in his paddock, so
perfectly fettered, head, horns, and feet, that he could not stir. There
is every reason to connect the outrage with a political meaning; for
in this morning’s paper, ‘The Green Isle,’ there is a letter from Mr.
O’Bleather, with a most significant allusion to the occurrence.
‘The time is not distant,’ says he, ‘when John Bull,’--mark the
phrase,--‘tied, fettered, and trammelled, shall lie prostrate at the
feet of the once victim of his tyranny.’”

“The sedition is most completely proven by the significance of the act,”
 cried out the Chief Justice.

“We have, consequently, offered a reward for the discovery of the
perpetrators of this insolent offence, alike a crime against property,
as an act subversive of the respectful feeling due to the representative
of the sovereign.”

“What is the amount offered?” said Cashel.

“One hundred pounds, for such information as may lead to the conviction
of the person or persons transgressing,” replied the Attorney-General.

“I feel it would be very unfair to suffer the Government to proceed in
an error as to the affair in question; so that I shall claim the reward,
and deliver up the offender,” replied Cashel, smiling.

“Who can it be?” cried Mr. Meek, in astonishment “Myself, sir,” said
Cashel. “If you should proceed by indictment, as you speak of, I hope
the Misses Kennyfeck may not have to figure as ‘aiding and abetting,’
for they were present when I lassoed the animal.”

“Lassoed the Swiss bull!” exclaimed several together.

[Illustration: 162]

“Nothing more simple,” said the Dean, holding up his napkin over Mrs.
Kennyfeck’s head, to the manifest terror of that lady for her yellow
turban. “You take the loop of a long light rope, and, measuring the
distance with your eye, you make the cast, in this manner--”

“Oh dear! oh, Mr. Dean; my bird-of-paradise plume!”

“When you represent a bull, ma’am, you should not have feathers,”
 rejoined the implacable Dean, with a very rough endeavor to restore the
broken plume. “Had you held your head lower down, in the attitude of
a bull’s attack, I should have lassoed you at once, and without
difficulty.”

“Lasso is part of the verb ‘to weary,’ ‘to fatigue,’ ‘to _ennuyer,_ in
fact,” said Mr. Linton, with an admirably-put-on simplicity; and a very
general smile ran through the company.

“When did you see Gosford?” said Meek, addressing one of the hussar
officers, eager to relieve the momentary embarrassment.

“Not for six months; he ‘s in Paris now.” “Does he mention _me_ in his
letter to you?”

“He does,” said the other, but with an evident constraint, and a
side-look as he ended.

“Yes, faith, he forgets nane of us,” said Sir Andrew, with a grin. “He
asks after Kannyfack,--ould sax-and-eightpence, he ca’s you,--and says
he wished you were at Paris, to gie him a dinner at the--what d’ ye
ca’ it?--the Roshy de something. I see he has a word for ye, my Lord
Kilgoff. He wants to know whether my leddie is like to gie ye an heir
to the ancient house o’ Kilgoff, in whilk case he ‘ll no be so fond of
playing écarté wi’ George Lushington, wha has naething to pay wi’ except
post-obits on yer lordship,--he, he, he! Ay, and Charlie, my man,”
 continued he, turning to the aide-de-camp, Lord Charles Frobisher, “he
asks if ye hauld four by honors as often as ye used formerly; he says
there ‘s a fellow at Paris ye could n’t hold a candle to,--he never
deals the adversary a card higher than the nine.”

The whole company, probably in relief to the evident dismay created by
the allusion to Lord Kilgoff, laughed heartily at this sally, and none
more than the good-looking fellow the object of it.

“But what of Meek, sir?--what does he say of Downie?”

“He says vera little about Mister Meek, ava; he only inquires what
changes we have in the poleetical world, and where is that d--d humbug,
Downie Meek?”

Another and a heartier laugh now ran through the room, in which Mr.
Downie Meek cast the most Imploring looks around him.

“Well,” cried he, at last, “that’s not fair; it is really not fair of
Gosford. I appeal to this excellent company if I deserve the title.”

A chorus of negatives went the round, with most energetic assurances of
dissenting from the censure of the letter.

“Come now, Sir Andrew,” said Meek, who for once, losing his balance,
would not even omit him in the number of approving voices,--“come, now,
Sir Andrew, I ask you frankly, am I a humbug?”

“I canna tell,” said the cautious old general, with a sly shake of the
head; “I can only say, sir, be ma saul, ye never humbugged _me!_”

This time the laugh was sincere, and actually shook the table. Mrs.
Kennyfeck, who now saw that Sir Andrew, to use the phrase employed
by his acquaintances, “was up,” determined to withdraw, and made her
telegraphic signals, which soon were answered along the line, save by
Lady Janet, who stubbornly adhered to her glass of claret, with some
faint hope that the lagging decanter might arrive in her neighborhood
time enough for another.

Poor Mrs. Kennyfeck’s devices to catch her eye were all in vain; as
well might some bore of the “House” hope for the Speaker’s when he was
fixedly exchanging glances with “Sir Robert.” She ogled and smiled, but
to no purpose.

“My Leddy,--Leddy Janet,” said Sir Andrew.

“I hear you, sir; I heard you twice already. If you please, my Lord, a
very little,--Mr. Linton, I beg for the water. I believe, Sir Andrew,
you have forgotten Mr. Gosford’s kind remembrances to the Dean.”

“Faith, and so I did, my Leddy. He asks after ye, Mr. Dean, wi’ muckle
kindness and affection, and says he never had a hearty laugh syne the
day ye tried to teach Lady Caroline Jedyard to catch a sheep!”

The Dean looked stern, and Linton asked for the secret.

“It was by hauding the beast atween yer knees, and so when the Dean pit
himself i’ the proper position, wi’ his legs out, and the shepherd drove
the flock towards him, by sair ill-luck it was a ram cam first and he
hoisted his reverence up i’ the air, and then laid him flat on his
back, amaist dead. Ech, sirs! but it was a sair fa’, no’ to speak o’ the
damage done to his black breeches!”

This was too much for Lady Janet’s endurance, and, amid the loud
laughter of some, and the more difficultly suppressed mirth of others,
the ladies arose.

“Yer na going, leddies! I hope that naething I said, Leddy Kilgoff,
Leddy Janet, ech. We mun e’en console ourselves wi’ the claret.” This
was said _sotto_, as the door closed and the party reseated themselves
at the table.

“My Jo Janet _does_ like to bide a wee,” muttered he, half aloud.

“Jo!” cried the Dean, “is derived from the Italian; it’s a term of
endearment in both languages. It’s a corruption of _Gioia mia_.”

“What may that mean?”

“My joy! my life!”

“Eh, that’s it, is it? Ah, sir, these derivatives gat mony a twist and
turn in the way from one land to the tither!” And with this profound bit
of moralizing, he sipped his glass in revery.

The conversation now became more general, fewer personalities arose; and
as the Dean, after a few efforts to correct statements respecting the
“pedigrees of race-horses,” “the odds at hazard,” “the soundings upon
the coral reefs,” “the best harpoons for the sulphur-bottomed whales,”
 only made new failures, he sulked and sat silent, permitting talk to
take its course uninterrupted. The hussar baronet paid marked attention
to Cashel, and invited him to the mess for the day following. Lord
Charles overheard the invitation, and said, “I’ll join the party;” while
Mr. Meek, leaning over the table, in a low whisper begged Cashel to
preserve the whole bull adventure a secret, as the press was really a
most malevolent thing in Ireland!

During the while the Chief Justice slept profoundly, only waking as
the bottle came before him, and then dropping off again. The
Attorney-General, an overworked man of business, spoke little and
guardedly, so that the conversation, principally left to the younger
members of the party, ranged over the accustomed topics of hunting,
shooting, and deer-stalking, varied by allusion, on Cashel’s part, to
sports of far higher, because more dangerous, excitement.

In the pleasant flurry of being attentively listened to,--a new
sensation for Roland,--he arose and ascended to the drawing-room, where
already a numerous party of refteshers had arrived. Here again Cashel
discovered that he was a person of notoriety, and as, notwithstanding
all Mr. Downie Meek’s precaution, the “lasso” story had got abroad, the
most wonderful versions of the incident were repeated on every side.

“How did you say he effected it, Mr. Linton?” said the old deaf Countess
of Dumdrum, making an ear-trumpet of her hand.

“By doing what Mr. Meek won’t do with the Catholics, my Lady,--taking
the bull by the horns.”

“Don’t you think he found conciliation of service besides?” suggested
Mr. Meek, with an angelic simplicity.

“Isn’t he handsome! how graceful! So like a Corsair,--one of Byron’s
heroes. I ‘m dying to know him. Dear me, how those Kennyfeck girls eat
him up. Olivia never takes her eyes off him. He looks so bored, poor
fellow! he ‘s longing to be let alone.” Such were the muttered comments
on the new object of Dublin curiosity, who himself was very far
from suspecting that his personal distinction had less share in his
popularity than his rent-roll and his parchments.

As we are more desirous of recording the impression he himself created,
than of tracing how others appeared to him, we shall make a noiseless
turn of the salons, and, spy-fashion, listen behind the chairs.

“So you don’t think him even good-looking, Lady Kilgoff?” said Mr.
Linton, as he stood half behind her seat.

“Certainly not more than good-looking, and not so much as
nice-looking,--very awkward, and ill at ease he seems.”

“That will wear off when he has the good taste to give up talking to
young ladies, and devote himself to the married ones.”

“Enchanting,--positively enchanting, my dear,” exclaimed Mrs. Leicester
White to a young friend beside her. “That description of the forest,
over which the lianas formed an actual roof, the golden fruit hanging
a hundred feet above the head, was the most gorgeous picture I ever
beheld.”

“I wish you could persuade him,” lisped a young lady with large blue
eyes, and a profusion of yellow hair in ringlets, “to write that little
story of the Zambo for Lady Blumter’s Annual.”

“I say, Charlie,” whispered the baronet to the aide-decamp, “but he’s
wide-awake, that Master Cashel; he’s a very shrewd fellow, you’ll see.”

“Do you mean to couch his eyes, Tom?” said Lord Charles, with his usual
slow, lazy intonation; “what does he say about the races,--will he
come?”

“Oh, he can’t promise, old Kennyfeck has a hold upon him just now about
law business.”

“You will impress upon him, my dear Mr. Kennyfeck,” said Mr. Meek, who
held the lappet of the other’s coat, “that there are positively--so to
say--but two parties in the country,--the Gentleman and the Jacobin.
Whig and Tory, orange and green, have had their day; and the question
is now between those who have something to lose, and those who have
everything to gain.”

“I really could wish that you, who are so far better qualified than I am
to explain--”

“So I will; I intend, my dear sir. Now, when can you dine with me? You
must come this week; next I shall be obliged to be in London. Shall we
say Wednesday? Wednesday be it Above all, take care that he doesn’t even
meet any of that dangerous faction,--those Morgans. They are the very
people to try a game of ascendancy over a young man of great prospects
and large fortune. O’Growl wants a few men of standing to give an air
of substance and respectability to the movement. Lord Witherton will
be most kind to your young friend, but you must press upon him the
necessity of being presented at once. We want to make him a D.L., and if
he enters Parliament, to give him the lieutenancy of the county.”

While all these various criticisms were circulating, and amid an
atmosphere, as it were, impregnated by plots and schemes of every kind,
Cashel stood a very amused spectator of a scene wherein he never knew he
was the chief actor. It would indeed have seemed incredible to him
that he could, by any change of fortune, become an object of interested
speculation to lords, ladies, members of the Government, Church
dignitaries, and others. He was unaware that the man of fortune, with
a hand to offer, a considerable share of the influence property always
gives, livings to bestow, and money to lose, may be a very legitimate
mark for the enterprising schemes of mammas and ministers, suggesting
hopes alike to black-coats and blacklegs.

Perhaps, among the pleasant bits of credulity which we enjoy through
life, there is none sweeter than that implicit faith we repose in the
cordial expressions and flattering opinions bestowed upon us, when
starting in the race, by many who merely, in the jockey phrase,
“standing to win” upon us, have their own, and not _our_ interest before
them in the encouragement they bestow.

The discovery of the cheat is soon made, and we are too prone to revenge
our own over-confidence by a general distrust, from which, again,
experience, later on, rallies us. So that a young man’s course is
usually from over-simplicity to over-shrewdness, and then again to
that negligent half-faith which either, according to the calibre of the
wearer, conceals deep knowledge of life, or hides a mistaken notion of
it. Let us return to Cashel, who now stood at the table, around which
a considerable number of the party were grouped, examining a number of
drawings, which Mr. Pepystell, the fashionable architect, had that day
sent for Roland’s inspection; houses, villas, castles, cottages,
abbeys, shooting-boxes, gate-lodges, Tudor and Saxon, Norman and
Saracenic,--everything that the morbid imagination of architecture run
mad could devise and amalgamate between the chaste elegance of the Greek
and the tinkling absurdity of the Chinese.

“I do so love a cottage _ornée_,” said Mrs. White, taking up a very
beautiful representation of one, where rose-colored curtains, and a
group on a grass-plot, with gay dresses and parasols, entered into the
composite architecture. “To my fancy, that would be a very paradise.”

“Oh, mamma! isn’t that so like dear old Kilgoran!” said a tall, thin
young lady, handing an abbey, as large as Westminster, to another in
widow’s black.

“Oh, Maria! I wonder at your showing me what must bring up such
sad memories!” said the mamma, affectedly, while she pressed her
handkerchief to her eyes.

“If she means her father’s house,” said Lady Janet to Linton, “it’s
about as like a like as--Lord Kilgoff to the Farnese Hercules, or his
wife to any other lady in the peerage.”

“You remember Kilgoran, my Lord,” said the lady in black to the Chief
Justice; “does that remind you of it?”

“Very like,--very like, indeed, madam,” said the old judge, looking at a
rock-work grotto in a fish-pond.

“What’s this?” cried another, taking up a great Saxon fortress,
with bastions and gate-towers and curtains, as gloomy and sombre as
Indian-ink could make it.

“As a residence I think that is far too solemn-looking and sad.”

“What did you say it was, sir?” asked the judge.

“The elevation for the new jail at Naas, my Lord,” replied Linton,
gravely.

“I ‘m very glad to hear it. We have been sadly crippled for room there
latterly.”

“Do you approve of the Panopticon plan, my Lord?” said Mrs. White, who
never omitted a question when a hard word could be introduced.

“It is, madam,--you are perfectly correct,” said the obsequious old
judge,--“very much the same kind of thing as the Pantechnicon.”

“Talking of Panopticon, where ‘s Kilgoff?” whispered Linton to one of
the hussars.

“Don’t you see him yonder, behind the harp? How that poor woman must be
bored by such _espionnage!_”

“If you mean to build a house, sir,” said Lady Janet, addressing Cashel,
with a tone of authority, “don’t, I entreat of you, adopt any of these
absurd outrages upon taste and convenience, but have a good square stone
edifice.”

“Four, or even five stories high,” broke in Linton, gravely.

“Four quite enough,” resumed she, “with a roomy hall, and all the
reception-rooms leading off it. Let your bedrooms--” “Be numerous
enough, at all events,” said Linton again.

“Of course; and so arranged that you can devote one story to families
exclusively.”

“Yes; the _garçons_ should have their dens as remote as possible from
the quieter regions.”

“Have a mass of small sitting-rooms beside the larger salons. In a
country-house there’s nothing like letting people form their own little
coteries.”

“Wouldn’t you have a theatre?” asked Mrs. White.

“There might be, if the circumstances admitted. But with a billiard-room
and a ball-room--”

“And a snug crib for smoking,” whispered one of the military.

“I don’t see any better style of house,” said Linton, gravely, “than
those great hotels one finds on the Rhine, and in Germany generally.
They have ample accommodation, and are so divided that you can have your
own suite of rooms to yourself.”

“Mathews used to keep house after that fashion,” said Lord Kilgoff,
approaching the table. “Every one ordered his own dinner, and eat it
either in his own apartment or in the dining-room. You were invited for
four days, never more.”

“That was a great error; except in that particular, I should recommend
the plan to Mr. Roland Cashel’s consideration.”

“I never heard of it before,” said Cashel; “pray enlighten me on the
subject.”

“A very respectable country gentleman, sir,” said Lord Kilgoff, “who had
the whim to see his company without paying what he deemed the heaviest
penalty,--the fatigue of playing host. He therefore invited his
friends to come and do what they pleased,--eat, drink, drive, ride,
play,--exactly as they fancied; only never to notice him otherwise than
as one of the guests.”

“I like his notion prodigiously,” cried Cashel; “I should be delighted
to imitate him.”

“Nothing easier, sir,” said my Lord, “with Mr. Linton for your prime
minister; the administration is perfectly practicable.”

“Might I venture on such a liberty?”

“Too happy to be president of your council,” said Linton, gayly.

A very entreating kind of look from Olivia Kennyfeck here met Cashel’s
eyes, and he remarked that she left the place beside the table and
walked into the other room; he himself, although dying to follow her,
had no alternative but to remain and continue the conversation.

“The first point, then,” resumed Linton, “is the house. In what state is
your present mansion?”

“A ruin, I believe,” said Cashel.

“How picturesque!” exclaimed Mrs. Leicester White.

“I fancy not, madam,” rejoined Cashel. “I understand it is about the
least prepossessing bit of stone and mortar the country can exhibit.”

“No matter, let us see it; we ‘ll improvise something, and get it ready
for the Christmas holidays,” said Linton. “We have--let us see--we have
about two months for our preparation, and, therefore, no time to lose.
We must premise to the honorable company that our accommodation is of
the simplest; ‘roughing’ shall be the order of the day. Ladies are not
to look for Lyons silk ottomans in their dressing-rooms, nor shall we
promise that our conservatory furnish a fresh bouquet for each fair
guest at breakfast.”

“Two months are four centuries!” said Mrs. White; “we shall accept of no
apologies for any shortcomings, after such an age of time to prepare.”

“You can have your fish from Limerick every day,” said an old
bluff-looking gentleman in a brown wig.

“There ‘s a capital fellow, called Tom Cox, by the way, somewhere
down in that country, who used to paint our scenes for the garrison
theatricals. Could you make him out, he ‘d be so useful,” said one of
the military.

“By all means get up some hurdle-racing,” cried another.

Meanwhile, Roland Cashel approached Olivia Kennyfeck, who was affecting
to seek for some piece of music on the pianoforte.

“Why do you look so sad?” said he, in a low tone, and seeming to assist
her in the search.

“Do I?” said she, with the most graceful look of artless-ness. “I ‘m
sure I did n’t know it.”

“There again, what a deep sigh that was; come, pray tell me, if I dare
to know, what has grieved you?”

“Oh, nothing, nothing whatever. I ‘m sure I never felt in better
spirits. Dear me! Mr. Cashel, how terrified I am, there’s that dreadful
Lady Janet has seen us talking together.”

“Well, and what then?”

“Oh, she is so mischievous, and says such horrid, spite-ful things. It
was she that said it--”

“Said what,--what did she say?” cried he, eagerly.

“Oh, what have I done?” exclaimed she, covering her face with her hands.
“Not for the world would I have said the words. Oh, Mr. Cashel, you, who
are so good and so generous, do not ask me more.”

“I really comprehend nothing of all this,” said Cashel, who now began
to suspect that she had overheard some speech reflecting upon him, and
had, without intending, revealed it; “at the same time, I must say, if I
had the right, I should insist on knowing what you heard.”

“Perhaps he has the right,” muttered she, half aloud, as if speaking
unconsciously; “I believe he has.”

“Yes, yes, be assured of it; what were the words?”

“Oh, I shall die of shame. I ‘ll never be able to speak to you again;
but don’t look angry, promise that you ‘ll forget them, swear you ‘ll
never think of my having told them, and I’ll try.”

“Yes, anything, everything; let me hear them.”

“Well,”--here she hung her head till the long ringlets fell straight
from her fair forehead, and half concealed the blushing cheek, which
each moment grew redder,--“I am so terrified, but you ‘ll forgive
it,--I know you will,--well, she said, looking towards you, ‘I am not
acquainted with this young gentleman yet, but if I should have that
honor soon I ‘ll take the liberty to tell him that the worthy father’s
zeal in his service is ill-requited by his stealing the affections of
his youngest daughter.’” Scarcely were the words uttered, when, as if
the strength that sustained her up to that moment suddenly failed, she
reeled back and sank fainting on a sofa.

Happily for Cashel’s character for propriety, a very general rush of
ladies, old and young, to the spot, prevented him taking her in his arms
and carrying her to the balcony for air; but a universal demand for sal
volatile, aromatic vinegar, open windows, and all the usual restoratives
concealed his agitation, which really was extreme.

“You are quite well now, dearest,” said her mamma, bathing her temples,
and so artistically as to make her pale face seem even more beautiful in
the slight dishevelment of her hair. “It was the heat.”

“Yes, mamma,” muttered she, quite low.

“Hem! I thought so,” whispered Lady Janet to a neighbor. “She was too
warm.”

“I really wish that young ladies would reserve these scenes for fitting
times and places. That open window has brought back my lumbago,” said
Lord Kilgoff.

“The true treatment for syncope,” broke in the Dean, “is not by
stimulants. The want of blood on the brain is produced by mechanical
causes, and you have merely to hold the person up by the legs--”

“Oh, Mr. Dean! Oh, fie!” cried twenty voices together.

“The Dean is only exemplifying his etymology on ‘top side t’other way,’”
 cried Linton.

“Lord Kilgoff’s carriage stops the way,” said a servant. And now, the
first announcement given, a very general air of leave-taking pervaded
the company.

“Won’t you have some more muffling?--nothing round _your_ throat?--a
little negus, my Lord, before venturing into the night air.”--“How
early!”--“How late!”--“What a pleasant evening!”--“What a fine
night!”--“May I offer you my arm?--mind that step--goodbye,
good-bye--don’t forget to-morrow.”--“Your shawl S is blue--that’s Lady
Janet’s.”--“Which is your hat?”--

“That’s not mine. Thanks--don’t take so much trouble.”--“Not your
carriage, it is the next but one--mind the draught.”--A hundred
good-nights, and they are gone! So ends a dinner-party, and of all
the company not a vestige is seen, save the blaze of the low-burned
wax-lights, the faded flowers, the deranged furniture, and the jaded
looks of those whose faces wreathed in smiles for six mortal hours seek
at last the hard-bought and well-earned indulgence of a hearty yawn!



CHAPTER XIII. TUBBER-BEG.

     He was, the world said, a jovial fellow,
     Who ne’er was known at Fortune to repine;
     Increasing years had rendered him more mellow,
     And age improved him--as it did his wine.

     Sir Gavin Gwynne.

The Shannon, after expanding into that noble sheet of water called
Lough Derg, suddenly turns to the southward, and enters the valley of
Killaloe, one of the most beautiful tracts of country which Ireland,
so rich in river scenery, can boast. The transition from the wide lake,
with its sombre background of gray mountain and rocky islands, bleak
and bare, to the cultivated aspect of this favored spot, is like that
experienced in passing from beneath the gloom of lowering thunder-clouds
into light and joyous sunshine. Rich waving woods of every tint and hue
of foliage, with here and there some spreading lawns of deepest green,
clothe the mountains on either side, while in bright eddies the rapid
river glides in between, circling and winding as in playful wantonness,
till in the far distance it is seen passing beneath the ancient bridge
of Killaloe, whose cathedral towers stand out against the sky.

On first emerging from the lake, the river takes an abrupt bend, round
a rocky point, and then, sweeping back again in a bold curve, forms a
little bay of deep and tranquil water, descending towards which the rich
meadows are seen, dotted with groups of ancient forest trees, and backed
by a dense skirting of timber. At one spot, where the steep declivity
of the ground scarce affords footing for the tall ash-trees, stands a
little cottage, at the extremity of which is an old square tower; this
is Tubber-beg.

As you sail down the river you catch but one fleeting glance at the
cottage, and when you look again it is gone! The projecting headlands,
with the tall trees, have hidden it, and you almost fancy that you have
not seen it. If you enter the little bay, however, and, leaving the
strong current, run into the deep water under shore, you arrive at a
spot which your memory will retain for many a day after.

In front of the cottage, and descending by a series of terraces to which
art has but little contributed, are a number of flower-plots, whose
delicious odors float over the still water, while in every gorgeous hue
are seen the camellia, the oleander, and the cactus, with the tulip, the
ranunculus, and the carnation,--all flourishing in a luxuriance which
care and the favored aspect of this sheltered nook combine to
effect. Behind and around, on either side, the dark-leaved holly, the
laurustinus, and the arbutus are seen in all the profusion of leaf and
blossom a mild, moist air secures, and forming a framework in which
stands the cottage itself, its deep thatched eave, and porch of
rustic-work trellised and festooned with creeping plants, almost
blending its color with the surrounding foliage. Through the open
windows a peep within displays the handsomely disposed rooms, abounding
in all the evidences of cultivated taste and refinement. Books in
several of the modern languages are scattered on the table, music,
drawings of the surrounding scenery, in water-color or pencil,--all that
can betoken minds carefully trained and exercised, and by their very
diversity showing in what a world of self-stored resources their
possessors must live; the easel, the embroidery-frame, the chess-board,
the half-finished manuscript, the newly copied music, the very sprig of
fern which marks the page in the little volume on botany,--slight things
in themselves, but revealing so much of daily life!

If the cottage be an almost ideal representation of rustic elegance and
simplicity, its situation is still more remarkable for beauty; for while
Art has developed all the resources of the ground, Nature, in her own
boundless profusion, has assembled here almost every ingredient of
the picturesque, and as if to impart a sense of life and motion to the
stilly calm, a tumbling sheet of water gushes down between the rocks,
and in bounding leaps descends towards the Shannon, of which it is a
tributary.

A narrow path, defended by a little railing of rustic-work, separates
the end of the cottage from the deep gorge of the waterfall; but through
the open window the eye can peer down into the boiling abyss of spray
and foam beneath, and catch a glimpse of the bridge which, formed of a
fallen ash-tree, spans the torrent.

Traversed in every direction by paths, some galleried along the face,
others cut in the substance of the rock, you can pass hours in rambling
among these wild and leafy solitudes, now lost in shade, now emerging
again, to see the great river gliding along, the white sails dotting its
calm surface.

Well did Mr. Kennyfeck observe to Roland Cashel that it was the most
beautiful feature of his whole demesne, and that its possession by
another not only cut him off from the Shannon in its handsomest
part, but actually deprived the place of all pretension to extent and
grandeur. The spreading woods of Tubbermore were, as it seemed, the
background to the cottage scene, and possessed no character to show that
they were the property of the greater proprietor.

The house itself was not likely to vindicate the claim the locality
denied. It was built with a total disregard to aspect or architecture.
It was a large four-storied edifice, to which, by way of taking off from
the unpicturesque height, two wings had been planned: one of these only
was finished; the other, half built, had been suffered to fall into
ruin. At the back, a high brick wall enclosed a space intended for a
garden, but never put into cultivation, and now a mere nursery of tall
docks and thistles, whose gigantic size almost overtopped the wall.
All the dirt and slovenliness of a cottier habitant--for the house was
occupied by what is misnamed “a caretaker”--were seen on every hand. One
of the great rooms held the family; its fellow, on the opposite side of
the hall, contained a cow and two pigs; cabbage-stalks and half-rotting
potato-tops steamed their pestilential vapors beneath the windows;
while half-naked children added the discord, the only thing wanting
to complete the sum of miserable, squalid discomfort, so sadly general
among the peasantry.

If one needed an illustration of the evils of absenteeism, a better
could not be found than in the ruinous, damp, discolored building, with
its falling roof and broken windows. The wide and spreading lawn, thick
grown with thistles; the trees broken or barked by cattle; the
gates that hung by a single hinge, or were broken up piecemeal for
firing,--all evidenced the sad state of neglectful indifference by which
property is wrecked and a country ruined! Nor was the figure then seated
on the broken doorstep an unfitting accompaniment to such a scene,--a
man somewhat past the middle period of life, whose ragged, tattered
dress bespoke great poverty, his worn hat drawn down over his eyes so
as partly to conceal a countenance by no means prepossessing; beside him
lay a long old-fashioned musket, the stock mended by some rude country
hand. This was Tom Keane, the “caretaker,” who, in all the indolent
enjoyment of office, sat smoking his “dudeen,” and calmly surveying the
process by which a young heifer was cropping the yearling shoots of an
ash-tree.

Twice was his name called by a woman’s voice from within the house
before he took any notice of it.

“Arrah, Tom, are ye asleep?” said she, coming to the door, and showing a
figure whose wretchedness was even greater than his own; while a certain
delicacy of feature, an expression of a mild and pleasing character,
still lingered on a face where want and privation had set many a mark.
“Tom, alanah!” said she, in a tone of coaxing softness, “sure it’s time
to go down to the post-office. Ye know how anxious the ould man is for a
letter.”

“Ay, and he has rayson, too,” said Tom, without stirring.

“And Miss Mary herself was up here yesterday evening to bid you go
early, and, if there was a letter, to bring it in all haste.”

“And what for need I make haste?” said the man, sulkily. “Is it any
matther to me whether he gets one or no? Will _I_ be richer or poorer?
Poorer!” added he, with a savage laugh; “be gorra! that wud be hard,
anyhow. That’s a comfort old Oorrigan hasn’t. If they turn him out of
the place, then he’ll know what it is to be poor!”

“Oh, Tom, acushla! don’t say _that_, and he so good to us, and the
young lady that was so kind when the childer had the measles, comin’
twice--no, but three times a day, with everything she could think of.”

“Wasn’t it to please herself? Who axed her?” said Tom, savagely.

“Oh, dear! oh, dear!” sighed the woman. “Them’s the hard words,--‘to
please herself!’”

“Ay, just so! When ye know them people as well as me, you ‘ll say the
same. That’s what they like,--to make themselves great among the poor;
giving a trifle here, and a penny there; making gruel for this one, and
tay for that; marchin’ in as if they owned the house, and turning up
their noses at everything they see. ‘Why don’t you sweep before the
door, Nancy?’--‘Has the pig any right to be eating there out of the
kish with the childer?’--‘Ye ought to send that child to school’--and,
‘What’s your husband doing?’--That’s the cry with them. ‘What’s your
husband doing? Is he getting the wheat in, or is he at the potatoes?’
Tear and ages!” cried he, with a wild energy, “what does any one of
themselves do from morning till night, that they ‘re to come spyin’
after a poor man, to ax ‘Is he workin’ like a naygur?’ But we ‘ll teach
them something yet,--a lesson they ‘re long wanting. Listen to this.”

He took, as he spoke, a soiled and ragged newspaper from his pocket, and
after seeking some minutes for the place, he read, in a broken voice:--

“‘The days to come’--ay, here it is--‘The days to come.--Let the poor
man remember that there is a future before him that, if he have but
courage and boldness, will pay for the past. Turn about’s fair play, my
lords and gentlemen! You ‘ve had the pack in your own hands long enough,
and dealt yourselves all the trumps. Now, give us the cards for a while.
You say our fingers are dirty; so they are, with work and toil, black
and dirty! but not as black as your own hearts. Hurrah! for a new deal
on a bran-new table: Ireland the stakes, and the players her own stout
sons!’ Them’s fine sintiments,” said he, putting up the paper. “Fine
sintiments! and the sooner we thry them the better. That’s the real
song,” said he, reciting with energy,--

     “‘Oh! the days to come, the days to come,
     When Erin shall have her own, boys!
     When we ‘ll pay the debts our fathers owed,
     And reap what they have sown, boys!’”

He sprang to his feet as he concluded, shouldering his musket, strode
out as if in a marching step, and repeating to himself, as he went, the
last line of the song. About half an hour’s brisk walking brought him to
a low wicket which opened on the high road, a little distance from
which stood the small village of Derraheeny, the post-town of the
neighborhood. The little crowd which usually assembled at the passing of
the coach had already dispersed, when Tom Keane presented himself at the
window, and asked, in a tone of voice subdued almost to softness,--

“Have you anything for Mr. Corrigan this morning, ma’am?”

“Yes; there are two letters and a newspaper,” replied a sharp voice from
within. “One-and-fourpence to pay.”

“She did n’t give me any money, ma’am, but Miss Mary said--”

“You can take them,” interrupted the post-mistress, hastily handing them
out, and slamming the little window to at the same instant.

“There’s more of it!” muttered Tom; “and if it was for _me_ the letters
was, I might sell my cow before I ‘d get trust for the price of them!”
 And with this reflection he plodded moodily homeward. Scarcely, however,
had he entered the thick plantation than he seated himself beneath a
tree, and proceeded to take a careful and strict scrutiny of the two
letters; carefully spelling over each address, and poising them in his
hands, as if the weight could assist his guesses as to the contents.
“That’s Mr. Kennyfeck’s big seal. I know it well,” said he, gazing on
the pretentious coat-of-arms which emblazoned the attorney’s letter.
“I can make nothing of the other at all. ‘Cornelius Corrigan, Esq.,
Tubber-beg, Derraheeny,’--sorra more!” It was in vain that he held it
open, lozenge fashion, to peep within; but one page only was written,
and he could not see that. Kennyfeck’s letter was enclosed in an
envelope, so that here, too, he was balked, and at last was fain to
slip the newspaper from its cover,--a last resource to learn
something underhand! The newspaper did not contain anything peculiarly
interesting, save in a single paragraph, which announced the intention
of Roland Cashel, Esq., of Tubbermore Castle, to contest the county at
the approaching general election. “We are informed,” said the writer,
“on competent authority, that this gentleman intends to make the
ancestral seat his chief residence in future, and that already
preparations are making to render this princely mansion in every respect
worthy of the vast fortune of its proprietor.”

“Faith, and the ‘princely mansion’ requires a thing or two to make it
all perfect,” said Tom, with a sardonic laugh; while in a lower tone he
muttered,--“maybe, for all the time he ‘ll stay there, it’s not worth
his while to spend the money on it.” Having re-read the paragraph, he
carefully replaced the paper in its cover, and continued his way, not,
however, towards his own home, but entering a little woodland path that
led direct towards the Shannon. After passing a short distance, he came
to a little low edge of beech and birch, through which a neat rustic
gate led and opened upon a closely shaven lawn. The neatly gravelled
walk, the flower-beds, the delicious perfume that was diffused on every
side, the occasional peeps at the eddying river, and the cottage itself
seen at intervals between the evergreens that studded the lawn, were
wide contrasts to the ruinous desolation of the “Great House;” and as
if unwilling to feel their influence, Tom pulled his hat deeper over his
brows, and never looked at either side as he advanced. The part of
the cottage towards which he was approaching contained a long veranda,
supported by pillars of rustic-work, within which, opening by three
large windows, was the principal drawing-room. Here, now, at a small
writing-table, sat a young girl, whose white dress admirably set off the
graceful outline of her figure, seen within the half-darkened room; her
features were pale, but beautifully regular, and the masses of her hair,
black as night, which she wore twisted on the back of the head, like a
cameo, gave a character of classic elegance and simplicity to the whole.

[Illustration: 181]

Without, and under the veranda, an old man, tall, and slightly bowed
in the shoulders, walked slowly up and down. It needed not the careful
nicety of his long queue., the spotless whiteness of his cambric shirt
and vest, nor the perfection of his nicely fitting nankeen pantaloons,
to bespeak him a gentleman of the past day. There was a certain _suave_
gentleness in his bland look, an air of easy courtesy in his every
motion, a kind of well-bred mannerism in the very carriage of his
gold-headed cane, that told of a time when the graces of deportment were
a study, and when our modern careless freedom had been deemed the very
acme of rudeness. He was dictating, as was his wont each morning, some
reminiscence of his early life, when he had served in the Body-Guard of
Louis XVI., and where he had borne his part in the stormy scenes of that
eventful era. The memory of that most benevolent monarch, the
fascinations of that queen whom to serve was to idolize, had sufficed to
soften the hardships of a life which, from year to year, pressed more
heavily, and were at last, after many a straggle, impressing their lines
upon a brow where age alone had never written grief.

On the morning in question, instead of rapidly pouring forth his
recollections, which usually came in groups, pressing one upon the
other, he hesitated often, sometimes forgetting “where he was,” in his
narrative, and more than once ceasing to speak altogether; he walked in
revery, and seeming deeply preoccupied.

His granddaughter had noticed this change; but cautiously abstaining
from anything that might betray her consciousness, she sat, pen in hand,
waiting, her lustrous eyes watching each gesture with an intensity of
interest that amounted to actual suffering.

“I fear, Mary,” said he, with an effort to smile, “we must give it up
for to-day. The present is too strong for the past, just as sorrow is
always an overmatch for joy. Watching for the post has routed all my
thoughts, and I can think of nothing but what tidings may reach me from
Dublin.”

“You have no fears, sir,” said she, rising, and drawing her arm within
his, “that your application could be rejected. You ask nothing unusual
or unreasonable,--a brief renewal of a lease where you have expended a
fortune.”

“True, true, dear child. Let us, however, not look on the case with our
eyes alone, but see it as others may.. But here comes Tom.--Well, what
news, Tom; are there letters?”

“Yes, sir, here’s two; there’s one-and-fourpence to be paid.”

“Let me see them,” cried the old man, impatiently, as he snatched them,
and hastily re-entered the house.

“Is Cathleen better to-day?” said the young lady, addressing the
peasant.

“Yes, miss, glory be to God, she’s betther. Thanks to yourself and Him.
Oh, then, it’s of yer beautiful face she does be dramin’ every night.
Says she, ‘It’s Miss Mary, I think, is singing to me, when I hear the
birds in my sleep.’”

“Poor child, give her this little book for me, and say I ‘ll come up and
see her this evening, if I can. Mrs. Moore will send her the broth; I
hope she ‘ll soon be able to eat something. Good-bye, Tom.”

A deep-drawn heavy sigh from within the cottage here made her abruptly
conclude the interview and hasten in. The door of her grandfather’s
little dressing-room was, however, locked; and after a noiseless effort
to turn the handle, she withdrew to the drawing-room to wait in deep
anxiety for his coming.

The old man sat with his head supported on both hands, gazing
steadfastly at two open letters which lay on the table before him; had
they contained a sentence of death, his aspect could scarce have been
more sad and sorrow-struck. One was from Mr. Kennyfeck, and ran thus:

     Dear Mr. Corrigan,--I have had a brief conversation with Mr.
     Roland Cashel on the subject of your renewal, and I am
     grieved to say that he does not seem disposed to accede to
     your wishes. Entertaining, as he does, the intention to make
     Tubbermore his chief residence in Ireland, his desire is, I
     believe, to connect the farm in your holding with the
     demesne. This will at once explain that it is not a question
     of demanding a higher rent from you, but simply of carrying
     out a plan for the enlargement and improvement of the
     grounds pertaining to the “Hall.”

     The matter, is, however, by no means decided upon; nor will
     it be, in all probability, before you have an opportunity of
     meeting Mr. Cashel personally. His present intention is to
     visit your neighborhood next week.

     I am, dear sir, truly yours,

     M. Kennyfeck. Cornelius Corrigan, Esq., Tubber-beg Cottage.

The second letter was as follows:--

     “Simpkins and Green have the honor to forward for
     acceptance the enclosed bill for two hundred and seventeen
     pounds, at three months, Mr. Heneage Leicester, of New
     Orleans, on Mr. Corrigan.

     “They are authorized also to state that Mr. Leicester’s
     affairs have suffered considerably from the consequence of
     the commercial distress at N. O., and his personal property
     has been totally lost by the earthquake which took place on
     the 11th and 12th ultimo. He therefore trusts to Mr. C------
     ‘s efforts to contribute to his aid by a greater exertion
     than usual, and will draw upon him for two sums of one
     hundred, at dates of six and nine months, which he hopes may
     suit his convenience, and be duly honored. Mr. Leicester
     continues to hope that he may be able to visit Europe in the
     spring, where his great anxiety to see his daughter will
     call him.”

“The ruin is now complete,” said the old man. “I have struggled for
years with poverty and privation to ward off this hour; but, like
destiny, it will not be averted! Despoiled of fortune; turned from the
home where I have lived from my childhood; bereft of all! I could bear
up still if she were left to me; but now, he threatens to take _her_, my
child, my hope, my life! And the world will stand by him, and say,
‘He is her father!’ He, that broke the mother’s heart,--my own darling
girl!--and now comes to rob me--a poor helpless old man--of all my
companionship and my pride. Alas, alas! the pride, perhaps, deserves the
chastisement. Poor Mary, how will she ever learn to look on him with
a daughter’s affection?--What a life will hers be! and this
deception,--how will it, how can it ever be explained? I have always
said that he was dead.”

Such, in broken half-sentences, were the words he spoke, while
thick-coming sobs almost choked his utterance.

“This cannot be helped,” said he, taking up the pen and writing his name
across the bill. “So much I can meet by selling our little furniture
here; we shall need it no more, for we have no longer a home. Where to,
then?”

He shook his hands in mournful despair, and walked towards the window.
Mary was standing outside, in the little flower-garden, assisting the
old gardener to fasten some stray tendrils of a japonica between two
trees.

“We must try and shelter this window, Ned,” said she, “from the morning
sun. It comes in too strongly here in papa’s library. By next summer, I
hope to see a thick trellis of leaves across the whole casement.”

“By next summer,” repeated the old man, from within, with a trembling
voice; “and who will be here to see it?”

“This little hedge, too, must be overgrown with that creeping plant we
got from America, the white liana. I want the beech to be completely hid
beneath the blossoms, and they come out in May.”

“In May!” said the poor old man, with an accent of inexpressible
sadness, as though the very promise of spring had unfolded a deep vista
of years of suffering. “But why care for the home, if she, who made its
sunshine, is taken from me? What matters it where I linger on, or how,
the last few hours of a life, bereft of its only enjoyment,--she, that
in my old age renewed all the memories of my early and my happy days.”

He sat down and covered his face with his hands; and when he withdrew
them, the whole character and expression of the countenance had changed:
a dull, meaningless look had replaced the mild and cheerful beam of his
soft blue eyes; the cheeks were flattened, and the mouth, so ready with
its gentle smile, now remained partly open, and slightly drawn to one
side. He made an effort to speak, but a thickened guttural utterance
rendered the words scarcely intelligible. He approached the window and
beckoned with his hand. The next instant, pale with terror, but still
composed and seeming calm, Mary was beside him.

“You are not well, dear papa,” she said, with a great effort to appear
at ease. “You must lie down--here will do--on this sofa; I ‘ll close
the curtain, and send over for Tiernay,--he said he should be back from
Limerick this morning.”

A gentle pressure of her hand to his lips, and a faint smile, seemed to
assent.

She opened the window, and whispered a few words to the gardener; and
then, closing it noiselessly, drew the curtain, and sat down on a low
stool beside the sofa where he lay.

So still and motionless did he remain that she thought he
slept,--indeed, the long-drawn breathing, and the repose of his
attitude, betokened sleep.

Mary did not venture to move, but sat, one hand clasped in his, the
other resting on his forehead, still and silent.

The darkened room, the unbroken silence, the figure of him in whom was
centred her every thought and hope, lying sick before her, sank with
a dreary weight upon her heart; and in the gloom of her sorrow dark
foreboding of future evil arose, vague terrors of trials, new and
hard to bear! That strange prescience, which never is wanting in great
afflictions, and seems itself a Heaven-sent warning to prepare for the
coming blow, revealed a time of sore trouble and calamity before her.
“Let him be but spared to me,” she cried, in her heart-uttered prayer,
“and let me be so fashioned in spirit and temper that I may minister to
him through every hour,--cheering, consoling, and encouraging; giving of
_my_ youth its gift of hopefulness and trust, and borrowing of _his_ age
its serenity and resignation. But oh that I may not be left solitary and
alone, unfriended and unsupported!” A gush of tears, the first she shed,
here burst forth, and, in the transport of her grief, brought calm to
her mind once more.

A low tap at the window, and a voice in whisper aroused her. “It is the
doctor, miss,--Dr. Tiernay,” said the gardener.

A motion to admit him was all her reply, and with noiseless step the
physician entered and approached the sofa. He felt the pulse, and
listened to the respiration of the sick man; and then, withdrawing
the curtain so as to let the light fall upon his features, steadily
contemplated their expression. As he looked, his own countenance grew
graver and sadder; and it was with an air of deep solemnity that he took
Mary’s hand and led her from the room.

With a weight like lead upon her heart Mary moved away. “When did it
happen?” whispered he, when he had closed the door behind them.

“Happen!” gasped she, in agony; “what do you mean?”

“I meant when--this--occurred,” replied he, faltering; “was he in his
usual health this morning?”

“Yes, perfectly,--a little less composed; anxious about his letters;
uneasy at the delay,--but no more.”

“You do not know if he received any unpleasant tidings, or heard
anything to distress him?”

“He may have done so,” answered she, sadly, “for he locked his door and
read over his letters by himself. When I saw him next, he was standing
at the window, and beckoning to me.”

A gentle tap at the door here interrupted the colloquy, and the old
housekeeper whispered, “The master, miss, wants to spake with the
doctor; he’s better now.”

“Oh, let me see him,” cried Mary, springing towards the door. But Dr.
Tiernay interposed gently, and said, “No, this might prove dangerous;
remain here till I have seen and spoken with him.” Mary assented by a
gesture, and sat down without speaking.

“Sit down, Tiernay,” said the sick man, as the doctor came to his
bedside,--“sit down, and let me speak while I have strength. Everything
is against us, Tiernay. We are not to get the renewal; this young Mr.
Cashel wants the cottage,--we must turn out. I’ll have to do so, even
before the gale-day; but what matter about me! It ‘s that poor child
I ‘m thinking of--” Here he stopped, and was some minutes before he could
resume. “There,--read that; that will tell you all.”

Tiernay took the crumpled letter, which the old man had all this while
held firmly in his closed grasp, and read it.

“Well, that ‘s bad news, is n’t it?” said Corrigan. “Not the bill,--I
don’t mean that; but _he ‘s_ coming back; do you see the threat?--he’s
coming back again.”

“How can he?” said the doctor. “The man committed a forgery. How will he
dare to return here and place his neck in a halter?”

“You forget whose evidence alone can convict him,--mine; the name he
forged was mine, the sum he took was mine,--nearly all I had in the
world; but he has nothing to fear from me, whatever I may have to dread
from _him_.”

“How can he have any terror for _you!_”

“He can take _her_ away,--not from me, for she ‘ll soon be separated by
a stronger hand than his; but I can’t bear to think that she ‘ll be in
his power. Tiernay, this is what is cutting into my heart now as I lie
here, and leaves me no rest to think of the brief minutes before me.
Tell me, is there no way to avoid this? Think of something, my old
friend,--take this weight off my dying heart, and my last breath will
bless you.”

“Are there any relations, or friends?”

“None, not one; I ‘m the last of the tree,--the one old rotten branch
left. I was thinking of a nunnery, Tiernay, one of those convents in
France or the Low Countries; but even there, if he found her out, he
could legally demand her to be restored to him,--and he would find her,
ay, that he would! There never was a thing yet that man could n’t do
when he set his heart on it; and the more the obstacles, the greater his
wish. I heard him say it with his own lips, that he never had any fancy
for my poor Lucy till he overheard her one day saying that ‘she never
hated any one till she knew him.’ From that hour, he swore to himself
she should be his wife! Heaven knows if the hate was not better bestowed
than the love; and yet, she did love him to the last,--ay, even, after
cruelty and desertion, ay, after his supposed death; when she heard that
he married another, and was living in splendor at Cadiz, ay,--Tiernay!
after all that, she told me on her death-bed, she loved him still!”

“I think the nunnery is the best resource,” said the doctor, recalling
the sick man from a theme where his emotions were already too powerfully
excited.

“I believe it is,” said the old man, with more of energy than before;
“and I feel almost as if Providence would give me strength and health
to take her there myself, and see her safe before I die. Feel that pulse
now: isn’t it stronger?”

“You are better, much better already,” said the doctor; “and now, keep
quiet and composed. Don’t speak--if it was possible, I ‘d say, don’t
think--for a few hours. The worst is nigh over.”

“I thought so, Tiernay. I felt it was what old Joe Henchy used to call
‘a runaway knock.’” And, with a faint smile, the old man pressed his
hand, and said, “Good-bye.”

Scarcely, however, had the doctor reached the door, when he called him
back.

“Tiernay,” said he, “it’s of no use telling me to lie still, and keep
quiet, and the rest of it. I continue, asleep or awake, to think over
what’s coming. There is but one way to give me peace,--give me some
hope. I ‘ll tell you now how that is to be done; but, first of all, can
you spare three days from home?”

“To be sure I can; a week, if it would serve you. Where am I to go?”

“To Dublin, Tiernay. You ‘ll have to go up there, and see this young
man, Cashel, yourself, and speak to him for me. Tell him nothing of our
present distress or poverty, but just let him see who it is that he
is turning out of the lands where their fathers lived for hundreds of
years. Tell him that the Corrigans is the oldest stock in the whole
country; that the time was, from the old square tower on Garraguin, you
could n’t see a spot of ground that was n’t our own! Tell him,”--and,
as he spoke, his flashing eye and heightened color showed how the theme
agitated and excited him,--“tell him that if he turns us from hearth
and home, it is not as if it was like some poor cotter--” He paused, his
lips trembled, and the big tears burst from his eyes and rolled heavily
down his face. “Oh! God forgive me for saying the words!” cried he, in
an accent of deep agony. “Why wouldn’t the humblest peasant that ever
crouched to his meal of potatoes, beside the little turf fire of his
cabin, love his home as well as the best blood in the land? No, no, Mat,
it’s little kindness we ‘d deserve on such a plea as that.”

“There, there, don’t agitate yourself. I know what you mean, and what
you’d like me to say.”

“You do not,” rejoined the old man, querulously, “for I have n’t said it
yet. Nor I can’t think of it now. Ah, Mat,” here his voice softened once
more into its habitual key, “that was a cruel thought of me a while ago;
and faith, Mr. Cashel might well suspect, if he heard it, that I was n’t
one of the old good blood of the Corrigans, that could talk that way of
the poor; but so it is. There is n’t a bad trait in a man’s heart that
is not the twin-brother of his selfishness. And now I’ll say no more;
do the best you can for us, that’s all. I was going to bid you tell him
that we have an old claim on the whole estate that some of the lawyers
say is good,--that the Crown have taken off the confiscation in the
time of my great father, Phil Corrigan; but sure he would n’t mind
that,--besides, that’s not the way to ask a favor.”

“You must n’t go on talking this way; see how hot your hand is!”

“Well, maybe it will be cold enough soon! There is another thing, Mat.
You must call on Murphy, with the bill of sale of the furniture and the
books, and get money to meet these bills. There they are; I indorsed
them this morning. Tell Green it’s no use sending me the other bills; I
‘ll not have means to take them up, and it would be only disgracing my
name for nothing to write it on them. I ‘ll be longing to see you back
again, Mat, and hear your tidings; so God bless you, and send you safe
home to us.”

“I ‘ll set off to-night,” said the doctor, rising, and shaking his hand.
“Your attack is passed over, and there’s no more danger, if you ‘ll keep
quiet.”

“There’s another thing, Mat,” said the sick man, smiling faintly, and
with a strange meaning. “Call at 28 Drogheda Street, and ask the people
to show you the room Con Corrigan fought the duel in with Colonel
Battley. It was only twelve feet long and ten wide, a little place off
the drawing-room, and the colonel would n’t even consent that we should
stand in the corners. Look and see if the bullet is in the wall still.
The old marquis used to have it fresh painted red every year, on the
anniversary of the day. Oh, dear, oh, dear, but they were the strange
times, then! ay, and pleasant times too.” And with such reflections on
the past, he fell off into a dreamy half-consciousness, during which
Tiernay stole from the room and left him alone.

Faint and trembling with agitation, Mary Leicester was standing all this
while at the door of the sick chamber. “Did I hear aright, Doctor?” said
she; “was that his voice that sounded so cheerfully?”

“Yes, my dear Miss Mary, the peril is by; but be cautious. Let him not
speak so much, even with you. This is a sweet quiet spot,--Heaven grant
he may long enjoy it!”

Mary’s lips muttered some words in audibly, and they parted. She sat
down alone, in the little porch under the eave. The day was a delicious
one in autumn, calm, mellow, and peaceful; a breeze, too faint to ripple
the river, stirred the flowers and shook forth their odor. The cottage,
the leafy shade, through which the tempered sunlight fell in fanciful
shapes upon the gravel, the many colored blossoms of the rich garden,
the clear and tranquil river, the hum of the distant waterfall,--they
were all such sights and sounds as breathe of home and home’s happiness;
and so had she felt them to be till an unknown fear found entrance into
her heart and spread its darkness there. What a terrible sensation comes
with a first sorrow!



CHAPTER XIV. MR. LINTON REVEALS HIS DESIGNS.

     With fame and fortune on the cast,
     He never rose a winner,
     And learned to know himself, at last,
     “A miserable sinner.”

     Bell.

It was about ten days or a fortnight after the great Kennyfeck dinner,
when all the gossip about its pretension, dulness, and bad taste had
died away, and the worthy guests so bored by the festivity began to
wonder “when they would give another,” that a gentleman sat at breakfast
in one of those large, dingy-looking, low-ceilinged apartments which are
the choice abodes of the viceregal staff in the Castle of Dublin. The
tawdry and time-discolored gildings, the worn and faded silk hangings,
the portraits of bygone state councillors and commanders-in-chief,
grievously riddled by rapier-points and pistol-shots, were not without
an emblematic meaning of the past glories of that seat of Government,
now so sadly fallen from its once high and palmy state.

Although still a young man, the present occupant of the chamber appeared
middle-aged, so much had dissipation and excess done the work of time on
his constitution. A jaded, wearied look, a sleepy, indolent expression
of the eye, certain hard lines about the angles of the mouth, betokened
one who played a high game with life, and rarely arose a winner.
Although his whole appearance bespoke birth and blood rather than
intellect or ability, there was enough in his high and squarely shaped
head, his deep dark eye, and his firm, sharply cut mouth, to augur that
incapacity could not be reckoned among the causes of any failures he
incurred in his career. He was, in every respect, the _beau idéal_
of that strange solecism in our social code, “the younger son.” His
brother, the Duke of Derwent, had eighty thousand a year. _He_ had
exactly three hundred. His Grace owned three houses, which might well
be called palaces, besides a grouse lodge in the Highlands, a yachting
station at Cowes, and a villa at Hyères in France. My Lord was but too
happy to be the possessor of the three cobwebbed chambers of a viceregal
aide-decamp, and enjoy the pay of his troop without joining his
regiment.

Yet these two men were reared exactly alike! As much habituated to
every requirement and luxury of wealth as his elder brother, the younger
suddenly discovered that, once beyond the shadow of his father’s house,
all his worldly resources were something more than what the cook, and
something less than the valet, received. He had been taught one valuable
lesson, however, which was, that as the State loves a rich aristocracy,
it burdens itself with the maintenance of all those who might prove a
drain on its resources, and that it is ever careful to provide for the
Lord Georges and Lord Charleses of its noble houses. To this provision
he believed he had a legal claim,--at all events, he knew it to be a
right uncontested by those less highly born.

The system which excludes men from the career of commerce, in
compensation opens the billiard-room, the whist-table, and the
betting-ring; and many a high capacity has been exercised in such
spheres as these, whose resources might have won honor and distinction
in very different fields of enterprise. Whether Lord Charles Frobisher
knew this, and felt that there was better in him, or whether his
successes were below his hopes, certain is it, he was a depressed,
dejected man, who lounged through life in a languid indolence, caring
for nothing, not even himself.

There was some story of an unfortunate attachment, some love affair with
a very beautiful but portionless cousin, who married a marquis, to which
many ascribed the prevailing melancholy of his character; but they who
remembered him as a schoolboy said he was always shy and reserved,
and saw nothing strange in his bearing as a man. The breakfast-table,
covered with all that could stimulate appetite, and yet withal untasted,
was not a bad emblem of one who, with many a gift to win an upward way,
yet lived on in all the tawdry insignificance of a court aide-de-camp.
A very weak glass of claret and water, with a piece of dry toast, formed
his meal; and even these stood on the corner of a writing-table, at
which he sat, rising sometimes to look out of the window, or pace the
room with slow, uncertain steps. Before him lay an unfinished letter,
which, to judge from the slow progress it made, and the frequent
interruptions to its course, seemed to occasion some difficulty in the
composition; and yet the same epistle began “My dear Sydney,” and was
addressed to his brother. Here it is:--

     My dear Sydney,--I suppose, from not hearing from you some
     weeks back, that my last, which I addressed to the
     Clarendon, has never reached you, nor is it of any
     consequence. It would be too late now to ask you about
     Scott’s horses. Cobham told us how you stood yourself, and
     that was enough to guide the poor devils here with their
     ponies and fifties. We all got a squeeze on the “mare.” I
     hear you won seven thousand besides the stakes. I hope the
     report may be true. Is Raucus in training for the Spring
     Meeting, or not? If so, let me have some trifle on him in
     your own book.

     I perceive you voted on Brougham’s amendment against our
     people; I conclude you were right, but it will make them
     very stubborn with me about the exchange.     N------has
     already remarked upon what he calls the “intolerable
     independence of some noble lords.” I wish I knew the clew to
     your proceeding: are you at liberty to give it? I did not
     answer the question in your last letter.--Of course I am
     tired of Ireland; but as the alternatives are a “compound
     in Calcutta, or the Government House, Quebec,” I may as well
     remain where I am. I don’t know that a staff-officer, like
     Madeira, improves by a sea-voyage.

     You say nothing of Georgina, so that I hope her chest is
     better, and that Nice may not be necessary. I believe, if
     climate were needed, you would find Lisbon, or rather
     Cintra, better than any part of Italy, and possessed of one
     great advantage,--few of our rambling countrymen.    N------
     commended your haunch so highly, and took such pains to
     record his praises, that I suspect he looks for a repetition
     of the favor. If you _are_ shooting bucks, perhaps you would
     send him a quarter.

Two sentences, half finished and erased, here showed that the writer
experienced a difficulty in continuing. Indeed, his flurried manner as
he resumed the letter proved it. At last he went on:--

     I hate asking favors, my dear Sydney, but there is one
     which, if not positively repugnant to you to grant, will
     much oblige me. There is a young millionnaire here, a Mr.
     Cashel, wishes to be a member of your Yacht Club; and as I
     have given a promise to make interest in his behalf with
     you, it would be conferring a great obligation on me were I
     to make the request successfully. So far as I can learn,
     there is no reason against his admission, and, as regards
     property, many reasons in his favor. If you can do this for
     me, then, you will render me a considerable service.

     Of course I do not intend to fix any acquaintanceship upon
     you, nor in any other way, save the bean in the ballot-box,
     and a civil word in proposing, inflict you with what Rigby
     calls “Protective Duties.” I should have been spaced in
     giving you this trouble but for Tom Linton, who, with his
     accustomed good nature at other men’s cost, suggested the
     step to Cashel, and told him, besides, that my brother was
     vice-admiral of the yacht fleet.

     If Emily wants a match for the chestnut pony, I know of one
     here perfect in every respect, and to be had very cheap. Let
     me know about this soon, and also the club matter, as I have
     promised to visit Cashel at his country-house; and in case
     of refusal on your part, this would be unpleasant Thanks for
     your invitation for Christmas, which I cannot accept of.
     Hope and Eversham are both on leave, so that I must remain
     here.   N------continues to ask you here; but my advice is,
     as it has ever been, not to come. The climate detestable,--
     the houses dull and dirty; no shooting, nor any hunting,--
     at least with such horses as you are accustomed to ride.

     I am glad you took my counsel about the mortgage. There is
     no property here worth seventeen years’ purchase, in the
     present aspect of politics. Love to Jane and the girls, and
     believe me ever yours,

     Charles Frobisher.

The task completed, he turned to the morning papers, which, with a
mass of tradesmen’s bills, notes, and cards of invitation, littered the
table. He had not read long, when a deep-drawn yawn from the further end
of the room aroused him, and Frobisher arose and walked towards a sofa,
on which was stretched a man somewhat about the middle of life, but
whose bright eye and fresh complexion showed little touch of time. His
dress, slightly disordered, was a dinner costume, and rather inclined
towards over-particularity; at least, the jewelled buttons of his vest
and shirt evinced a taste for display that seemed not ill to consort
with the easy effrontery of his look.

Taking his watch from his pocket, he held it to his ear, saying, “There
is an accomplishment, Charley, I ‘ve never been able to acquire,--to
wind my watch at supper-time. What hour is it?”

“Two,” said the other, laconically.

“By Jove! how I must have slept Have you been to bed?”

“Of course. But, I ‘d swear, with less success than you have had on that
old sofa. I scarcely closed my eyes for ten minutes together.”

“That downy sleep only comes of a good conscience and a heart at ease
with itself,” said the other. “You young gentlemen, who lead bad lives,
know very little about the balmy repose of the tranquil mind.”

“Have you forgotten that you were to ride out with Lady Cecilia this
morning?” said Frobisher, abruptly.

“Not a bit of it. I even dreamed we were cantering together along the
sands, where I was amusing her ladyship with some choice _morceaux_ of
scandal from that set in society she professes to hold in such horror
that she will not receive them at court, but for whose daily sayings and
doings she has the keenest zest.”

“Foster is gone with her,” rejoined Lord Charles, “and I suspect she is
just as well pleased. Before this he has told her everything about our
late sitting, and the play, and the rest of it!”

“Of course he has; and she is dying to ask Mr. Softly, the young
chaplain’s advice, whether rooting us all out would not be a ‘good
work.’”

“Since when have you become so squeamish about card-playing, Mr.
Linton?”

“I? Not in the least! I ‘m only afraid that some of my friends may
turn to be so when they hear of my successes. You know what happened to
Wycherley when he got that knack of always turning up a king? Some one
asked Buxton what was to be done about it. ‘Is it certain?’ said he.
‘Perfectly certain; we have seen him do it a hundred times!’ ‘Then back
him,’ said old Ruxton; ‘that’s my advice to you.’” As he said this
he drew a chair towards the table and proceeded to fill out a cup of
chocolate. “Where do you get these anchovies, Charley? Burke has got
some, but not half the size.”

“They are ordered for the household. Lawson can tell you all about
‘em,” said the other, carelessly. “But, I say, what bets did you book on
Laplander?”

“Took him against the field for seven hundred even.”

“A bad bet, then,--I call it a very bad bet.”

“So should I, if I did n’t know Erebus is dead lame.”

“I’ve seen a horse run to win with a contracted heel before now,” said
Lord Charles, with a most knowing look.

“So have I; but not on stony ground. No, no, you may depend upon it.”

“I don’t want to depend upon it,” said the other, snappishly. “I shall
not venture five pounds on the race. I remember once something of an
implicit reliance on a piece of information of the kind.”

“Well! you know how that happened. I gave Hilyard’s valet fifty pounds
to get a peep at his master’s betting-book, and the fellow told Hilyard,
who immediately made up a book express, and let us all in for a smart
sum. I am sure I was the heaviest loser in the affair.”

“So you ought, too. The contrivance was a very rascally one, and
deserved its penalty.”

“The expression is not parliamentary, my Lord,” said Linton, with a
slight flushing of the cheek, “and so I must call you to order.”

“Is Turcoman to run?” asked Lord Charles, negligently.

“No. I have persuaded Cashel to buy him, and he has taken him out of
training.”

“Well, you really go very straightforward in your work, Linton. I must
say you are as plucky a rogue as I ‘ve ever heard of. Pray, now, how do
you manage to keep up your influence over that youth? He always appears
to me to be a rash-headed, wilful kind of fellow there would be no
guiding.”

“Simply, by always keeping him in occupation. There are people like
spavined horses, and one must always get them warm in their work, and
they never show the blemish. Now, I have been eternally alongside of
Cashel. One day buying horses,--another, pictures,--another time it
was furniture, carriages, saddlery,--till we have filled that great old
house of the ex-Chancellor’s with an assemblage of objects, living and
inanimate, it would take a month to chronicle.”

“Some kind friend may open his eye to all this one of these days, Master
Linton; and then--”

“By that time,” said Linton, “his clairvoyance will be too late. Like
many a man I ‘ve known, he ‘ll be a capital judge of claret when his
cellar has been emptied.”

“You were a large winner last night, Linton?”

“Twelve hundred and fifty. It might have been double the amount, but I
‘ve taken a hint from Splasher’s Physiology. He says nothing encourages
a plethora like small bleedings. And you, Charley; what did _you_ do?”

“Sixty pounds!” replied he, shortly. “I never venture out of my depth.”

“And you mean to infer that I do, my Lord,” said Linton, trying to
smile, while evidently piqued by the remark. “Well, I plead guilty to
the charge. I have a notion in my head that seven feet of water drowns
a man just as effectually as seven hundred fathoms in the blue Atlantic.
Now _you_ know, as well as I, that neither of us could afford to lose
sixty pounds thrice running; so let us not talk of venturing out of
our depth, which, I take it, would be to paddle in very shallow water
indeed.”

For an instant it seemed as if Lord Charles would have given an angry
reply to this sally; but, as hastily checking the emotion, he walked to
the window, and appeared to be lost in thought, while Linton continued
his breakfast with all the zest of a hungry man.

“I’ll give up play altogether,” said Frobisher. “That I’ve resolved
upon. This will go abroad, rely upon it Some of the papers will get
hold of it, and we shall see some startling paragraphs about ‘Recent
Discoveries in the Vice-regal Household,’--‘Nefarious System of High
Play at the Castle,’ and so on. Now it ‘s all very well for you,
who neither care who ‘s in or out, or hold any appointment here; but
remember, there are others--myself for instance--who have no fancy for
this kind of publicity.”

“In the first place,” interrupted Linton, “there is no danger; and in
the second, if there were, it’s right well remunerated. Your appointment
here, with all its contingent advantages, of which, not to excite your
blushes, we shall say nothing, is some three or four hundred a year.
Now, a lucky evening and courage to back the luck--a quality, by the
way, I never yet found in one Englishman in a hundred--is worth this
twice or thrice told. Besides, remember, that this wild bull of the
prairies has come of himself into our hunting-grounds. If _we_ don’t
harpoon him, somebody else will. A beast of such fat on the haunches is
not going to escape scot free; and lastly, by falling into good hands,
he shall have the advantage of being cut up artistically, and not mauled
and mangled by the rude fingers of the ignorant Faith, as for myself, I
think I richly merit all the spoils I shall obtain!”

“As how, pray?” asked Lord Charles, languidly.

“In the first place, to speak of the present, I have ridden out with
him, sat beside him on the box of his drag; he is seen with me in
public, and has been heard to call me ‘Linton’ on the ride at Dycer’s.
My tradespeople have become his tradespeople. The tailor who reserved
his master stroke of genius for me now shares his favors with him. In
fact, Charley, we are one. Secondly, as regards the future, see from
what perils I shall rescue him. He shall not marry Livy Kennyfeck;
he shall not go into Parliament for the Liberal interest, nor for any
interest, if I can help it; he shall not muddle away a fine fortune in
fattening Durham bulls and Berkshire boars; neither shall he excel in
rearing mangel-wurzel or beet-root. I ‘ll teach him to have a soul above
subsoiling, and a spirit above green crops. He shall not fall into the
hands of Downie Meek, and barter his birthright for a Whig baronetcy;
neither shall he be the victim of right honorable artifices, and marry a
Lady Juliana or Cecilia. In fine, I ‘ll secure him from public meetings
and agricultural societies, twaddling dinners, horticultural breakfasts,
the Irish Academy, and Mrs. White.”

“These are great deservings indeed,” said Lord Charles, affectedly.

“So they are,” said the other; “nor do I believe there is another man
about town could pilot the channel but myself. It is only reasonable,
then, if I save the craft, that I should claim the salvage. Now, the
next point is, will you be one of the crew? I’ll take you with pleasure,
but there’s no impressment All I ask is secrecy, whether you say yea or
nay.”

“Let me hear what the service is to be like.”

“Well, we shall first of all cruise; confound metaphors,--let us talk
plainly. Cashel has given me a _carte blanche_ to fill his house with
guests and good things. The company and the _cuisine_ are both to be
among my attributions, and I intend that we should do the thing right
royally. Selection and exclusiveness are, of course, out of the
question. There are so many cock-tails to run,--there can be no
disqualification. Our savage friend, in fact, insists on asking
everybody he sees, and we are lucky if we escape the infantry and the
junior bar. Here’s the list,--a goodly catalogue truly, and such a
_macédoine_ of incongruities has been rarely assembled, even at old
Kennyfeck’s dinner-table.”

“Why, I see few others than the people we met there t’ other day.”

“Not many; but please to remember that even a country house has limits,
and that some of the guests, at least, must have separate rooms. To be
serious, Charley, I have misused the King’s press damnably; we have such
a party as few have ever witnessed. There are the Kilgoffs, the Whites,
the Hamiltons, along with the Clan Kennyfeck, the Ridleys, and Mathew
Hannigan, Esquire, of Bally-Hanni-gan, the new Member of Parliament for
Dunrone, and the last convert to the soothing doctrines of Downie Meek.”

“Is Downie coming?” lisped the aide-de-camp.

“Ay, and his daughter, too. He wrote one of his velvety epistles,
setting forth the prayer of his petition in favor of ‘a little girl yet
only in the nursery.’”

“Yes, yes; I know all that. Well, I ‘m not sorry. I like Jemmy. She is
a confounded deal better than her father, and is a capital weight to put
on a young horse, and a very neat hand too. Who next? Not the Dean, I
hope.”

“No; we divided on the Dean, and carried his exclusion by a large
majority. Mrs. Kennyfeck was, I believe, alone in the lobby.”

“Glad of that! No one can expect an Irish visit in the country without
rain, and he ‘s an awful fellow to be caged with, when out-o’-door work
is impracticable.”

“Then there are the Latrobes and the Heatherbys; in fact, the whole
set, with a Polish fellow, of course a Count,--Deuroominski; a literary
tourist, brought by Mrs. White, called Howie; and a small little dark
man one used to see two seasons ago, that sings the melodies and tells
Irish legends,--I forget the name.”

“Promiscuous and varied, certainly; and what is the order of the course?
Are there to be games, rural sports, fireworks, soaped pigs, and other
like intellectualities?”

“Precisely; a kind of coming-of-age thing on a grand scale. I have
engaged Somerton’s _chef_; he has just left his place. Gunter sends
over one of his people; and Dubos, of the Cadran Bleu, is to forward two
hampers per week from Paris. Hicksley is also to provide all requisites
for private theatricals. In fact, nearly everything has been attended
to, save the horse department; I wish you ‘d take that under your
protectorate; we shall want any number of screws for saddle and harness,
with drags, breaks, and machines of all kinds, to drive about in. Do,
pray, be master of the horse.”

“Thanks; but I hate and detest trouble of all kinds. So far as selling
you two of my own,--a wall-eye and a bone-spavin included,--I consent.”

“Agreed. Everything in your stable carries a sidesaddle; that I know, so
name your figure.”

“A hundred; they ‘d bring close on fifty at Dycer’s any day; so I am not
exorbitant, as these are election times.”

“There ‘s the ticket, then,” said Linton, taking out a check-book and
filling up a leaf for the sum, which he tore out and presented to Lord
Charles.

“What! has he really so far installed you as to--” “As to give blank
checks,” said the other, holding up the book in evidence, where “Roland
Cashel” was written on a vast number of pages. “I never knew the
glorious sense of generosity before, Charley. I have heard a great deal
about liberal sentiments, and all that kind o’ thing; but now, for the
first time, do I feel the real enjoyment of indulgence. To understand
this liberty aright, however, a man must have a squeeze,--such a squeeze
as I have experienced myself once or twice in life; and then, my boy,
as the song says,”--here, with a bold rattling air, he sang to a popular
melody,--

     “When of luck you ‘ve no card up,
     And feel yourself ‘hard up,’
     And cannot imagine a method to win;
     When ‘friends’ take to shy you,
     And Jews to deny you,
     How pleasant to dip in another man’s tin!

     “Not seeking or craving
     Some pettyful saving,
     You draw as you like upon Drummond or Gwynne,
     And, while pleasure pursuing
     You know there ‘s no ruing
     The cost that comes out of another man’s tin.

“Eh, Charley! that’s the toast we ‘Chevaliers Modernes’ should drink
before the health of the royal family.”

“The royal family!” sneered Frobisher; “I never observed that loyalty
was a very remarkable trait in your character.”

“The greater injustice yours, then,” said Linton. “I conceived a very
early attachment to monarchy, on learning the importance of the king at
écarte.”

“I should have thought the knave had more of your sympathy,” said the
other.

“Inasmuch as he follows the queen, I suppose,” said Linton,
good-humoredly, laughing. “But come, don’t look so grave, old fellow;
had I been a political _intrigant_, and devoted these goodly talents of
mine to small state rogueries in committees and adjourned debates, I’d
have been somebody in these dull times of aspiring mediocrity; but as my
ambitions have never soared beyond the possession of what may carry
on the war of life, irrespective of its graver honors, you
moralists--Heaven bless the mark!--rather regard me distrustfully.
Now, let me tell you a secret, and it’s one worth the knowing. There’s
nothing so fatal to a man’s success in life as ‘a little character;’
a really great one may dispense with every kind of ability and
acquirement. Get your name once up in our English public, and you
may talk, preach, and write the most rank nonsense with a very long
impunity; but a little character, like a small swimming bladder, only
buoys you up long enough to reach deep water and be drowned. To journey
the road of life with this is to ‘carry weight’ Take my advice,--I
give it in all sincerity; you are as poor a man as myself; there are
thousands of luxuries you can afford yourself, but this is too costly
an indulgence for a small fortune. Your ‘little character’ is a kind of
cankering conscience, not strong enough to keep you out of wickedness,
but sufficiently active to make you miserable afterwards. An everlasting
suggester of small scruples, it leaves a man no time for anything but
petty expedients and devices, and you hang suspended all your life
between desire and denial, without the comfort of the one or the credit
of the other.”

“Is the sermon over?” said Lord Charles, rather affectedly than really
feeling tired of the “tirade,” “or are you only rehearsing the homily
before you preach it to Roland Cashel?”

“Quite wrong there, my Lord,” said Linton, with the same imperturbable
temper. “Cashel is rich enough to afford himself any caprice, even a
good name, if he like it You and I take ours as we do railway tickets,
any number that’s given us!” And with this speech, delivered in an air
of perfect quietude, but still emphatically slow, he settled his hat on
before the glass, arranged his whiskers, and walked away.

Lord Charles, for a second, seemed disposed to make an angry reply, but,
correcting the impulse, he walked to the window in silence. “I have half
a mind to spoil your game, my worthy friend,” muttered he, as the other
passed across the court-yard; “one word to Cashel would do it To be sure
it is exploding the mine with one’s own hand to the fusee; that’s to be
thought of.” And, so saying, he lay down on the sofa to ruminate.



CHAPTER XV. AT THE GAMING TABLE.

     “Not half so skilled in means and ways,
     The ‘hungry Greek’ of classic days
     His cards with far less cunning plays
     Than eke our modern sharper!”

When Linton had determined within himself to make Cashel “his own,” his
first care was to withdraw him from the daily society of the Kennyfecks,
by whose familiar intercourse a great share of influence was already
enjoyed over their young guest. This was not so easy a task as he had
at first imagined. Cashel had tasted of the pleasant fascination of
easy intimacy with two young and pretty girls, eagerly bent on being
agreeable to him. He was in all the full enjoyment of that rare union,
the pleasure of being at home and yet an honored guest; and it was only
when Linton suggested that late hours and irregular habits were but
little in accordance with the decorous propriety of a family, that
Cashel yielded, and consented to remove his residence to a great
furnished house in “Stephen’s Green,” where some bygone Chancellor once
held his state.

Linton well knew that if “Necessity” be the mother of invention,
“Propinquity” is the father of love; that there is nothing so suggestive
of the tender passion as that lackadaisical state to which lounging at
home contributes, and the chance meetings with a pretty girl. The little
intercourse on the stairs going down to breakfast, the dalliance in the
conservatory, the chit-chat before dinner, are far more formidable than
all the formal meetings under the blaze of wax-lights, and amid the
crush of white satin.

“If I leave him much longer among them,” said he to himself, “he ‘ll
marry one of these girls; and then adieu to all influence over him!
No more écarté,--no more indiscriminate purchases of everything I
propose,--no more giving ‘the odds against the field.’ A wife and
a wife’s family are heavy recognizances against a bachelor friend’s
counsels.”

Cashel was really sorry to leave the house where his time had passed
so pleasantly. The very alternation of his interest regarding the two
sisters had kept his mind in a state of pleasant incertitude, now
seeing something to prefer in this, now in that, while at the same time
suggesting on their part greater efforts to please and amuse him. If Mr.
Kennyfeck deemed Cashel’s removal a very natural step, and one which
his position in some sort demanded, not so his wife. She inveighed
powerfully against the dangerous intimacy of Linton, and the ruinous
consequences such an ascendancy would lead to. “You should tell Mr.
Cashel who this man is,” said she, imperiously.

“But that is exactly what nobody knows,” meekly responded Mr. Kennyfeck.

“Pshaw! every one knows all about him. You can tell him how he
ruined young Rushbrook, and in less than two years left him without a
shilling.”

Mr. Kennyfeck shook his head, as though to say that the evidence was by
no means conclusive on that count.

“Yes, you may affect not to believe it,” said she, angrily, “but did
n’t George Lawson see the check for eight thousand paid to Linton at La
touche’s bank, and that was one evening’s work.”

“There was a great deal of high play, I ‘ve heard, among them.”

“Oh, indeed! you’ve heard that much,” said she, scornfully; “probably,
too, you’ve heard how Linton paid seventy thousand pounds for part of
the Dangwood estate,--he that had not sixpence three months previous. I
tell you, Mr. Kennyfeck, that you have labored to very little purpose
to establish this young man’s claim if you are to stand by and see
his property portioned among sharpers. There! don’t start and look so
frightened; there ‘s nobody listening, and if there were, too, I don’t
care. I tell you, Mr. Kennyfeck, that if it weren’t for your foolish
insufficiency Cashel would propose for Olivia. Yes! the thing is plain
as possible. He fell in love with her the very night he arrived; every
one saw it. Jane Lyons told me how it was remarked the day the company
dined here. Leonard told all over Dublin how she chose the diamonds,
and that Cashel distinctly referred to her before buying them. Then
they were seen together driving through the streets. What more would you
have? And now you suffer all this to be undone for the selfish objects
of Mr. Linton; but I tell you, Mr. Kennyfeck, if you ‘re a fool, I am
not!”

“But really I don’t see--”

“You don’t see! I’m sure you do not. You’d see, however, if it were a
case for an action in the courts,--a vulgar appeal to twelve greasy
jurors,--you ‘d see then. There is quite enough for a shabby verdict!
But I regard the affair very differently, and I tell you frankly, if
I see Cashel draw off in his attentions, I ‘ll send for my cousin
O’Gorman. I believe you can assure your young client that he ‘ll find
there’s no joking with him.”

Now this was the “most unkindest cut of all;” for if report spoke truly,
Mr. Kennyfeck had himself experienced from that gentleman a species
of moral force impulsion which left the most unpleasant reminiscences
behind.

“I beseech you to remember, Mrs. Kennyfeck, that this agency is one of
the best in Ireland.”

“So much the more reason to have the principal your son-in-law.”

“I ‘d have you to reflect how little success coercion is like to have
with a person of Mr. Cashel’s temper.”

“Peter is the best shot in Ballinasloe,” rejoined Mrs. Kennyfeck,
sententiously.

Mr. Kennyfeck nodded a full assent, but seemed to hazard a doubt as to
the efficiency of such skill.

“I repeat, sir, I’ll send for him. Peter knows pretty well what ought
to be done in such matters, and it’s a comfort to think there is
some spirit on one side of the family, at least.” Whether to afford
a practical illustration, albeit negatively, or that he dreaded a
continuance of the controversy, Mr. Kennyfeck feigned a business
appointment, and retired, leaving his spouse to ponder over her threat,
and resolve with herself as to the advantage of Peter’s alliance.

While this conjugal discussion engaged papa and mamma, Cashel was
endeavoring to explain to the fair daughters the reasons for his
departure, affecting to see that the multiplicity of his engagements
and duties required a step which he owned was far from agreeable to his
feelings.

“I suspected how soon you would weary of us,” said Olivia, in a half
whisper.

“We ought to have remembered, Livy,” said the elder sister, “how little
would our claims upon Mr. Cashel appear when confronted with those of a
higher station in the world.”

“I assure you, you wrong both yourselves and me. I never--”

“Oh, I ‘m certain you never imagined this step. I can well believe that
if it were not for advice--not very disinterested, perhaps--you would
have still condescended to regard this as your home.”

“If I suspected that this removal would in the least affect the
sentiments I entertain for my kind friends here, or in any way alter
those I trust they feel for me, I ‘d never have adopted, or, having
adopted, never execute it.”

“We are really very much to blame, Mr. Cashel,” said Olivia bashfully,
“in suffering our feelings to sway you on a matter like this. It was
only too kind of you to come here at first; and perhaps even yet you
will come occasionally to see us.”

“Yes, Mr. Cashel, Livy is right; we are very selfish in our wishes,
and very inconsiderate besides. Your position in the world requires a
certain mode of living, a certain class of acquaintances, which are
not ours. It is far better, then, that we should resign ourselves to an
interruption, than wait for an actual broach of intimacy.”

Cashel was totally at a loss to see how his mere change of residence
could possibly imply a whole train of altered feelings and relations,
and was about to express his astonishment on that score when Linton’s
phaeton drove up to the door, according to an appointment they had made
the day before, to breakfast with the officers of a regiment quartered a
short distance from town.

“There is your _friend_, Mr. Cashel,” said Miss Kennyfeck, with a marked
emphasis on the word. Cashel muttered something about a rendezvous, and
took up his hat, when a servant entered to request he would favor Mr.
Kennyfeck with a brief interview before going out.

“Are we to see you at dinner to-day?” said Olivia, languidly.

“I hope so. Mrs. Kennyfeck has been kind enough to ask me, and I hope to
have the pleasure.”

“Will Mr. Linton give leave?” said Miss Kennyfeck, laughing; and then,
seeing a cloud on Cashel’s brow, added, “I meant, if you had made no
appointment with him.”

“I ‘m self-willed enough to follow my own bent generally,” said he,
abruptly, and left the room.

“You owe that gentleman a heavy grudge, Livy,” said Miss Kennyfeck, as
she approached the window and looked out.

“Who do you mean, dear?”

“Mr. Linton. Were it not for him, I half think you might have
succeeded.”

“I really cannot comprehend you,” said the younger, with well-assumed
astonishment.

“Of course not, my dear. Still, it was a difficult game, even if left
all to yourself. He was always likely to smash the tackle at the moment
when almost caught. There, don’t look so puzzled, dear; I was only
following out a little reverie,--that’s all.”

Meanwhile Cashel hastily descended the stairs, not over good-humoredly
commenting on Mr. Kennyfeck’s ill-chosen moment for a business
conversation. “I can only stay a few minutes, or rather seconds,” cried
he, as he opened the door of the study; and then checked himself as he
perceived a short, stout elderly man, of venerable appearance, who rose
respectfully from his chair as he came in.

“Doctor Tiernay, Mr. Cashel,” said Kennyfeck, presenting the stranger.
“I have taken the liberty to delay you, sir, since it would be a great
convenience if you could accord this gentleman a brief hearing at
present; he has come above a hundred miles to crave it, and must leave
Dublin by the afternoon mail.”

“Without it be Mr. Cashel’s pleasure to detain me,” said the doctor,
submissively.

“He is a tenant of your Tubbermore estate, sir,” resumed Kennyfeck, “a
very near neighbor.”

“I regret that I am pressed for time at this moment, sir,” said Cashel,
drawing on his gloves impatiently; “but I believe it is the less
consequence, inasmuch as I really know nothing--absolutely nothing--and
you, Mr. Kennyfeck, know everything about that property, and are by far
the best person to hear and decide upon this gentleman’s proposition,
whatever it be.”

“It is a case that must be decided by yourself, sir,” said the doctor.
“It is neither a matter of law nor right, but a simple question of
whether you will do an act of great kindness to the oldest tenant on
your property,--a man who, now overtaken by years and sickness, may not
perhaps be alive at my return to hear of your benevolence.”

“It is about this renewal, sir,” interposed Kennyfeck, who saw Cashel’s
increasing impatience to be away. “Mr. Corrigan’s lease expires on the
25th.”

“He is now struck by paralysis,” interrupted the doctor; “and his only
prayer is to be suffered to die beneath the roof where he has lived for
fifty years.”

“A tenant at will,” interposed Kennyfeck.

“Gracious Heaven! how could he suppose I should dream of dispossessing
him?” cried Cashel. “Of course, sir, the house is his own so long as
he pleases to hold it. Tell him so. Mr. Kennyfeck will tell him from me
that he need not give the matter another thought. I am sincerely grieved
that it should have already caused him so much anxiety.”

“Ah, sir,” cried the doctor, while two very dubious drops twinkled in
his eyes, “you are indeed worthy of the good fortune that has befallen
you. My poor old friend will bless you, with a prouder heart in his
belief in human nature than even his gratitude could suggest. Farewell,
sir, and may you long live to be as happy as you know how to make
others.”

With an impulse of irrepressible warmth the old man seized Cashel’s
hand in both his own, and pressed it cordially, when the door suddenly
opened, and Linton, dressed in a riding costume, appeared.

“What, Roland, at business so early. Do you know you ‘re an hour behind
time?”

“I do; but I couldn’t help it In fact, this was unexpected--”

“It was an act of benevolence, sir, detained Mr. Cashel,” interrupted
the doctor. “I believe no appointment can be broken with a safer
apology.”

“Ho! ho!” said Linton, throwing up his eyebrows, as if he suspected a
snare to his friend’s simplicity. “Which of the missions to convert the
blacks, or what family of continuous twins are you patronizing?”

“Good-bye, sir,” said the doctor, turning towards Cashel. “I’d ask your
pardon for the liberty I have already taken with you, if I were not
about to transgress again.” Here he looked Linton fully in the face.
“Mr. Cashel has done a kind and worthy action this morning, sir; but
if he does many more such, and keep your company, he is not only a good
man, but the strongest principled one I ever met with.”

As the last word was uttered, the door closed after him, and he was
gone.

“So then, I ‘m the Mephistopheles to your Faust,” said Linton, laughing
heartily; “but what piece of credulous benevolence has cost you this
panegyric and me this censure?”

“Oh, a mere trifle,” said Cashel, preparing to leave,--“a simple grant
of renewal to an old tenant on my estate.”

“Only that,” said Linton, affecting the coolest indifference, while by
a keen glance at Kennyfeck he revealed a profound consciousness of his
friend’s simplicity.

“Nothing more, upon my honor; that little cottage of Tubber-beg.”

“Not that fishing lodge beside the river, in an angle of your own
demesne?” asked Linton, eagerly.

“The same. Why, what of it?”

“Nothing, save that your magnanimity is but one-sided, since only so
late as Thursday last, when we looked over the map together, you gave me
that cottage until such time as you should include the farm within the
demesne.”

“By Jupiter, and so I did!” exclaimed Cashel, while a flush of shame
covered his face and forehead; “what a confounded memory I have! What is
to be done?”

“Oh, never fret about it,” said Linton, taking his arm, and leading him
away; “the thing is easily settled. What do I want with the cottage? The
old gentleman is, doubtless, a far more rural personage than I should
prove. Let us not forget Aubrey’s breakfast, which, if we wait much
longer, will be a luncheon. The ladies well, Mr. Kennyfeck?” This was
the first time he had noticed that gentleman.

“Quite well, Mr. Linton,” said he, bowing politely.

“Pray present my respects. By the way, you don’t want a side-saddle
horse, do you?”

“I thank you, we are supplied.”

“Whata pity! I ‘ve got such a gray, with that swinging low cantering
action Miss Kennyfeck likes; she rides so well! I wish she ‘d try him.”

A shake of the head and a bland smile intimated a mild refusal.

“Inexorable father! Come, Cashel, you shall make the _amende_ for having
given away my cottage; you must buy Reginald and make him a present to
the lady.”

“Agreed,” said Cashel; “send him over to-day; he’s mine, or rather Miss
Kennyfeck’s. Nay, sir, really I will not be opposed. Mr. Kennyfeck, I
insist.”

The worthy attorney yielded, but not without reluctance, and saw them
depart, with grave misgivings that the old doctor’s sentiment was truly
spoken, and that Linton’s companionship was a most unhappy accident.

“I must get into Parliament,” said Linton, as he seated himself beside
Cashel in the phaeton, “if it were only to quote you as one of that
much-belied class, the Irish landlord. The man who grants renewals of
his best land on terms contracted three hundred years ago is very much
wanted just now. What a sensation it would create in the House when
they cry, ‘Name, name,’ and I reply that I am under a positive personal
injunction not to name, and then Sharman Crawford, or one of that set,
rises and avers that he believed the honorable and learned gentleman’s
statement to be perfectly unfounded. Amid a deluge of ‘Ohs!’ I stand up
and boldly declare that further reserve is no longer possible, and that
the gentleman whom I am so proud to call my friend is Roland Cashel,
Esq., of Tubbennore. There ‘s immortality for you, for that evening
at any rate. You ‘ll be toasted at Bellamy’s at supper, and by the
white-headed old gentlemen who sit in the window at the Carlton.”

“You’ll not hint that I had already made a present of the lands when I
displayed so much munificence,” said Cashel, smiling.

“Not a syllable; but I’ll tell the secret to the Opposition, if you ever
grow restive,” said Linton, with a laugh, in which, had Roland studied
Lavater, he might have read a valuable lesson.

“_A propos_ of Parliament, Kennyfeck persists in boring me about it, and
that Mr. Downie Meek seems to have it at heart that I am to represent
something or somebody, well knowing, the while, that I cannot possibly
be supposed to understand anything of the interests whereon I should be
called to vote and legislate.”

“That ‘s not so much consequence,” said Linton; “you ‘d find a very
strong section of the House very like yourself, but the thing would
bore you; you would neither like the fatigue nor the slavery of it; and,
positively, there is no excitement, save for the half-dozen who really
contest the race. Meek, and others of the same stamp, will tell you that
property should be represented in the Legislature. I agree fully with
the sentiment, so it should. So also should a man’s rents be collected,
but that’s no reason he should be his own agent, when he can find
another, far more capable, ready for office.--Touch that off-side horse,
he ‘ll skulk his collar when he can.--Now, if you have county or borough
influence going a begging, send in your nominee, any fellow who ‘ll suit
your views, and express your opinions,--myself, for instance,” said
he, laughing, “for want of a better.--Those manes don’t lie right; that
near-sider’s falls on the wrong side of the neck.--The great secret for
any man situated as you are is to avoid all complications, political,
social, and matrimonial. You have a glorious open country before you, if
there be no cross-riding to spoil your run.”

“Well, I am not above taking advice,” said Cashel; “but really I must
own that, from the little I’ve seen of the matter, it seems harder to go
through life with a good fortune than without a shilling. I know that,
as a poor man, very lately--”

“Come, come, you know very little of what poverty means; you ‘ve been
leading a gay life in a land where men do by one bold enterprise the
work which costs years of slow toil in our tamer regions. Now, I should
have liked that kind of thing myself. Ay, you may smile, that a man
who devotes a large share of each day to the tie of his cravat, and the
immaculate elegance of his boots, should venture to talk of prairie
life and adventure. Take care! By Jove! I thought you were into that
apple-stall.”

“Never say it twice,” cried Cashel, gayly. “I ‘m beginning to feel
confoundedly tired of this life here; and, if I don’t find that it
improves on acquaintance, I ‘ll take a run down west, just to refresh my
spirits. Will you come with me?”

“With my whole heart I join the proposal; but you are not serious; I
know you are merely jesting in all this.”

“Perfectly serious. I am decidedly weary of seven o’clock dinners and
morning calls. But here we are.”

As he spoke, they drove into the barrack-yard, where groups of lounging
officers, in every variety of undress, were seen in all the insipid
enjoyment of that cigar-smoking existence which forms the first article
in our military code of education.

The gallant --th Light Dragoons were a “fast regiment,” and the inventors
of that new locomotive on the road to ruin called a “mess breakfast,”--a
meal where champagne flows with a profusion rarely seen at dinner, and
by which men begin the day in a frame of mind that would not be very
decorous even when concluding it. Cashel, being an honored guest, drank
wine with every one, not to speak of participating in various little
bibatory trios and quartets, so that when the entertainment drew to a
close he was very far from that self-possession and command which, with
all his high spirits, seldom deserted him.

A tremendous fall of rain, that showed no prospect of ceasing, had just
set in, so that the party agreed to repair to the major’s rooms, and
make a pool at écarté. After some talking about play in general, and
some quizzing about not being able to bet a sum such as Cashel would
care to play for, the game began.

Notwithstanding the apologies, the play was high, so much so, that
Cashel, never a very shrewd observer, could not help remarking that
several of the players could not conceal the anxiety the game inspired.

Roland himself joined less from inclination than fellowship, and far
better pleased to be at liberty to chat with some of the others than to
be seated at the table, he arose each time he lost, well content to pay
for freedom by his gold. His natural indifference, added to a perfect
carelessness about money, induced him to accept any bet that was
offered, and these were freely proposed, since, in play _parlance_, “the
run was against him;” so that, ere the trumpet-call announced the time
to dress for the mess, he had lost heavily.

“You have no idea how much you have lost?” said Linton, in a low voice,
and with a gravity of manner almost reproachful.

“Not the slightest,” said Cashel, laughing.

“I can tell you, then, for I have totted it up. This morning’s work has
cost you seven thousand some hundred pounds.”

“Indeed!” said Cashel, a flush rather of shame than displeasure mantling
on his features. “I’ll give it up in future.”

“No, no! not till you’ve had your revenge,” whispered Linton. “We ‘ll
stay for the mess, and have at them again. The night is terrific, and no
possibility of leaving.”

The mess followed, and although play was to succeed it, the party drank
freely, and sat long over their wine; even Linton himself seemed to
linger at the table, and leave it with regret.

As for Cashel, for the first time in his life he wished to play. No
desire for money-getting, no mean passion for gain, suggested the wish,
it was simply a piqued vanity at being beaten; a sense of indignity that
his inferiority should seem to be implied, even in so trifling a matter,
urged him on, and he was one of the first to vote for a return to
écarté.

Except Linton, there was not probably one who could be called a good
player in the party; but luck, which has more than the mastery over
skill, supplied the place of knowledge, and Cashel was the only heavy
loser of the whole assembly. Stung by continued failure, too, he betted
madly and foolishly, so that as the day was breaking, and the stir in
the barrack-yard announced the approaching parade, his losses reached
more than double what they had been in the morning.

“I say, lads!” said the major, as they all arose from the table, “one
word before you go.” So saying, he turned the key in the door, and stood
with his back against it. “Before any one leaves the room, each must
promise on his honor not to mention a syllable of this night’s business.
We all know that we have been playing far higher stakes than ever we’ve
been in the habit of. The report, if it get abroad, would ruin the
regiment.”

“Oh, we all promise not a word shall be said about it,” cried out
several voices together. “There’s the second trumpet!” So saying,
they hastened pell-mell to dress for the parade, while Cashel, taking
Linton’s arm, set out homewards.

“I say, Tom!” said Roland, after they had walked on for some time in
silence, “I am somewhat ashamed of this exploit of mine, and would not
for a great deal that Kennyfeck should know it. Is there no way of
getting this money by loan?--for if I draw now--”

“Make your mind quite easy; I’ll arrange that for you. Don’t worry
yourself about it. It’s a bore, of course, to lose a round sum like
that; but you can afford it, my boy, that’s one comfort. If it had been
me, by Jove, the half of it would have drained the well!” This said, he
hastily changed the topic, and they walked along chatting of everything
save the late party.



CHAPTER XVI. WHAT ROLAND OVERHEARD AT THE MONEY LENDER’S

     The money that “at play” is spent
     Must oft be raised at “cent per cent.”

     The Mode.

“Good night, or rather good morrow,” said Linton, as he stood with
Cashel on the steps of his newly taken residence.

Cashel made no reply; his thoughts were recurring to the scene of the
late debauch, and in some pangs of self-reproach he was recalling the
heavy sum he had lost. “You spoke of my being able to raise this money,
Linton, without Kennyfeck’s knowing; for I am really ashamed of the
affair. Tell me how can it be done?”

“Nothing easier.”

“Nay, but when? for, if I must confess it, I can think of nothing else
till it be arranged.”

“What a timid conscience yours must be,” said Linton, laughing, “that
cannot sleep lest the ghosts of his I. O.’s should haunt him.”

“The fact is so, nevertheless. The very gloomy moments of my life have
been associated with play transactions. This shall be the last.”

“What folly! You suffer mere passing impressions to wear deep into
your nature,--you that should be a man of nerve and vigor. What can
it possibly signify that you have thrown away a few hundreds, or a few
thousands either?”

“Very little as regards the money, I own; but I’m not certain how long
my indifference respecting play might last. I am not sure how long
I could endure being beaten--for that is the sense losing
suggests--without a desire to conquer in turn. Now up to this I have
played to oblige others, without interest or excitement of any kind.
What if I should change and become a gambler from choice?”

“Why, if you propound the question with that solemn air, you’ll almost
frighten me into believing it would be something very terrible; but if
you ask me simply what would be the result of your growing fond of play,
I ‘ll tell you fairly, it’s a pleasure gained,--one of the few resources
which only a rich man can afford with impunity, so much the more
fascinating that it can be indulged in such perfect accordance with
every humor of a man’s mind. If you are so inclined, you play low, and
coquet with fortune, or if lavishly given, you throw the reins loose and
go free. Now it seems to me that nothing could better suit the careless,
open-handed freedom of your habits than the vacillations of high play.
It’s the only way that even for a moment you can taste the sensation of
being hard pressed, while in the high flood of luck you can feel that
gushing sense of power that somehow seems to be the secret soul of
gold!”

“Men must lose with a very different look upon their features before I
can win with the ecstasy you speak of,” cried Cashel. “But where are we
straying to,--what part of the town have we got into?”

“This is the cattle-market,” said Linton, “and I have brought you here
because I saw you ‘d not close your eyes till that silly affair was
settled; and here we are now at Dan Hoare’s counting-house, the man of
all others to aid us. Follow me; I ought to know the stairs well, in
daylight or dark.”

Cautiously following his guide, Cashel mounted a half-rotten, creaky
stair, which passed up between two damp and mildewed walls, and entered
a small chamber whose one window looked out in a dirty court. The only
furniture consisted of two deal chairs and a table, on which various
inscriptions made by penknives betokened the patience and zeal of former
visitors.

Linton passed on to the end of the chamber, where was a narrow door, but
suddenly halted as his eye caught a little slip of paper attached to a
sliding panel, and which bore the word “Engaged.” “Ha!” cried he, “one
here already! You see, early as it is, Dan is at work, discounting and
protesting as usual. By the way, I have forgot one essential: he never
gives a stamp, and so I must provide one. Wait for me here; there is
a place in the neighborhood where they can be had, and I ‘ll be back
presently.”

Cashel sat himself down in the cheerless little den, thinking of the
many who might have waited there before, in so many frames of anxiety
and torturing suspense. His own memory could recall a somewhat similar
character in Geiz-heimer, and while he was thus remembering some
features of the past he fell into a reverie, forgetting time and place
together, the sound of voices from the adjoining room serving rather
to lull than arouse his attention. At last a word caught his ear. He
started suddenly, and, looking about him for a second, experienced
almost a difficulty to remember where he was. Could it be possible, or
was it mere fancy? but he believed he heard his name mentioned by some
one within that room. Less caring to know how or by whom the name was
spoken than if the fact were actually so, he leaned forward on his
chair, and bent his ear to listen, when he heard, in a voice louder than
had been used before, the following words:--

“It may be all as you say, sir; I won’t pretend to throw a doubt upon
your words; but, as a mere man of business, I may be permitted to say
that this promise, however satisfactory to your friend’s feelings, is
not worth a sixpence in law. Corrigan asks for a renewal of his lease,
and the other says, ‘Keep your holding,--don’t disturb yourself,’--and
there he is, a tenant at will. Now, for the purposes you have in view
towards me, that pledge goes for nothing. I cannot renew these bills
upon such frail security. If the old man cannot find means to meet them,
Leicester must, that’s all.”

“Leicester is a villain!” cried another and a deeper voice, whose tones
seemed not quite strange to Roland’s ears. “He has ruined my poor old
friend; he will soon leave him houseless, and he threatens to leave him
almost friendless too.”

“He told me,” said the other, “he should certainly claim his daughter,
and means to return next summer for that purpose.”

“I almost hope poor Con will never live to see that day,” said the
former, with a heavy sigh.

“Well, to return to our own affair, sir, I tell you frankly, I don’t
consider Cashel’s promise deserving of any consideration. He doubtless
means to keep it; that’s the very most anybody can say about it. But
remember what a life he is leading: he has drawn about thirty thousand
out of Latrobe’s hands in three months,--no one knows for what. He has
got among a set of men who play high, and cannot pay if they lose. Now,
his estate is a good one; but it can’t last forever. My notion is that
the young fellow will end as he began, and become a buccaneer once
more.”

“He has a long course to run ere that comes,” said the other.

“Not so long as you fancy. There are demands upon him from quarters you
little suspect, or that, for the moment, he little suspects himself. It
would surprise you to hear that he is in Leicester’s hands too.”

“Roland Cashel--Mr. Cashel--in Leicester’s hands! How do you mean?”

Just at this instant Linton’s foot was heard ascending the stairs, and
Cashel, whose eagerness to hear the remainder became a perfect torture
of anxiety, was forced to lose the opportunity.

“What a hunt I have had!” said Linton, as he entered, flushed and
weary-looking. “Our amount is rather above the ordinary mark, and
I found it almost impossible to procure the stamps. Are you tired
waiting?”

“No,--nothing to speak of,” said Cashel, confusedly.

“Well, I fancy our friend here has had much more than his share of an
audience. I’ll see, and unearth him.”

And so saying, Linton knocked with his cane at the door. A low murmuring
of voices succeeded, the sound of feet followed, and soon after the door
was opened, and a small, thin, pale-faced man in black appeared.

“Good morning, Mr. Hoare. Here have we been playing antechamber to your
serene highness for full an hour. This is Mr. Roland Cashel, Mr. Hoare,
who wishes to make your acquaintance.”

The little man turned his quick gray eyes towards Cashel with a most
scrutinizing keenness; but, as suddenly withdrawing them, invited both
to enter.

“Be seated, gentlemen. Pardon the humble accommodation of this place.
Take a chair, Mr. Linton.”

“We want tin, Mr. Hoare,” said Linton, slapping his boot with his
cane,--“that most universal and vulgar want My friend here desires to
raise a sum without having recourse to his agent, and I believe no man
can aid in a little secret-service transaction like yourself.”

“Is the sum a large one, sir?” said Hoare, addressing Cashel.

“I cannot tell you exactly,” said Cashel, in some confusion at the
confession of his ignorance. “I fancy it must be close on ten or twelve
thousand pounds.”

“More like twenty!” cried Linton, coolly. Then, turning to Hoare, he
went on: “My friend here is, happily for him, very little skilled in
affairs of this kind, and, as his security is about the best that can be
offered, he need not buy his experience very dearly. Now just tell us,
frankly, how, when, and on what terms he can have this money.”

“Money is scarce just now, sir,” said Hoare; “but as to securities, Mr.
Cashel’s bills are quite sufficient. There is no necessity for any
legal expenses whatever. I need not say that the transaction shall be
perfectly secret: in fact, I’ll keep the bills in my own hands till
due.”

“There, that’s the man I told you he was,” cried Linton. “A Croesus
in generosity as in gold. I would I were your son, or your son-in-law,
Hoare.”

“Too much honor, Mr. Linton,” said the money-lender, whose slight flush
did not betoken a concurrence in his own words. “Now to business,”
 continued he, addressing Cashel. “If you favor me with your name on four
bills for five thousand each, and the accompanying charges for interest,
discount, commission, and so on, I ‘ll engage that you have this money
within the week.”

“Could it not be to-morrow? I should like greatly to have the whole off
my mind; and as I mean not to play again--”

“Pooh, pooh,” said Linton, stopping an explanation he was by no means
pleased Hoare should hear; “time enough for resolutions, and time enough
for payment too. By the end of the week, Hoare, will do perfectly. You
can bring the bills with you to my quarters, say on Saturday morning,
and we ‘ll drive over to Mr. Cashel’s.”

[Illustration: 222]

“Very well. I ‘ll be punctual. At eleven on Saturday expect me. May I
bring that little thing of yours for two hundred pounds with it, Mr.
Linton?”

“Of course you may not. Where do you expect me to find money for the
debts of last year? My dear Hoare, I have no more memory for such things
than I have for the sorrows of childhood.”

“Ah, very well, sir, we’ll keep it over,” said Hoare, smiling.

“Let him bring it,” whispered Cashel, “and include it in one of my
bills. There’s nothing so worrying as an overhanging debt.”

“Do you think so?” replied Linton. “Bless me, I never felt that. A life
without duns is like a sky without a cloud, very agreeable for a short
time, but soon becoming wearisome from very monotony. You grow as sick
of uninterrupted blue as ever you did of impending rain and storm. Let
me have the landscape effect of light and shadow over existence. The
brilliant bits are then ten times as glorious in color, and the dark
shadows of one’s mortgages only heighten the warmth of the picture. Ask
Hoare, there, _he’ll_ tell you. I actually cherish my debts.”

“Very true, sir; you cannot bear to part with them either.”

“Well said, old Moses; the ‘interest’ they inspire is too strong for
one’s feelings. But hark! I hear some fresh arrivals without. Another
boat-load of the d----d has crossed the Styx.”

“Thanks for the simile, sir,” said Hoare, smiling faintly,--“on
Saturday.”

“On Saturday,” repeated Linton.

Cashel lingered as he left the room; a longing desire to speak one
word, to ask one question of Hoare--who was this Leicester of whom he
spoke?--was uppermost in his mind, and yet he did not dare to own he had
heard the words. He could have wished, too, to communicate his thoughts
to Linton, but a secret fear told him that perhaps the mystery might be
one he would not wish revealed.

“Why so thoughtful, Roland?” said Linton, after traversing some streets
in silence. “My friend Hoare has not terrified you?”

“No, I was not thinking of him,” said Cashel. “What kind of a character
does he bear?”

“Pretty much that of all his class. Sharp enough, when sharpness is
called for, and seemingly liberal if liberality pays better. To me he
has been ever generous. Why, Heaven knows; I suppose the secret will out
one of these days. I’m sure I don’t ask for it.”

Linton’s flippancy, for the first time, was distasteful to Cashel. If
the school in which he was bred taught little remorse about the sin of
incurring debt, it inculcated, however, a manly self-reliance to
clear off the encumbrance by some personal effort, and he by no means
sympathized with the cool indifference of Linton’s philosophy. Linton,
always shrewd enough to know when he had not “made a hit,” at once
turned the conversation into another channel, by asking at what time
Cashel proposed to receive his visitors at Tubbermore.

“Is the honor seriously intended me?” said Cashel, “or is it merely a
piece of fashionable quizzing, this promised visit, for I own I scarcely
supposed so many fine people would like to encounter the hard usage of
such an old ruin as I hear this must be.”

“You’ll have them to a certainty. I doubt if there will be a single
apology. I know at this instant the most urgent solicitations have been
employed to procure invitations.”

“With all my heart, then,” cried Cashel; “only remember the order of
the course depends on you. I know nothing of how they ought to be
entertained or amused. Take the whole affair into your own hands, and I
shall concur in everything.”

“Originality is always better than imitation, but still, if one cannot
strike out a totally new line, what do you think of taking old Mathews
of Johnstown for our model, and invite all our guests with free
permission to dine, breakfast, and sup at what hour and in what parties
they please? This combines the unbridled freedom of an inn with the
hospitality of a country house. Groups form as fancy dictates. New
combinations spring up each day,--no fatigue, no _ennui_, can ensue with
such endless changes in companionship, and you yourself, instead of the
fatiguing duties of a host, are at liberty, like any of your guests, to
join this party or that.”

“I like the notion immensely. How would our friends take it, for that is
the point?”

“It would be popular with every one, for it will suit your people, who
know and like to mix with every set in society, and at the same time
gratify your ‘exclusives,’ who can form their own little coteries with
all the jealous selection they love. Besides, it avoids another and a
great difficulty. Had you received in ordinary fashion, you must have
asked some lady friend to have done the honors for you. This would have
been a matter of the greatest embarrassment. The Kennyfecks have not
rank enough; old Lady Janet would have frightened every one away; Mrs.
White would have filled the house with her own ‘blues,’ and banished
every one else; and as for Lady Kilgoff, who, besides being a very
pretty woman and well-mannered, has an exceedingly fascinating way with
strangers, ‘my Lord’ is so jealous, so absurdly, madly jealous, that
she dare not ask after the success of a shooting-party without his
suspecting an allegorical allusion to Cupid and his shafts.”

“Well, then, let us resolve to receive ‘en Mathews;’ and now, when shall
we name the day?”

“Let us wait till the result of the division be known in Parliament. A
change of ministers is hinted at, and if it were to occur, you’ll have
every one hastening away to his county for the new election; by Saturday
we shall learn everything, and that will be time enough.”

“In any case, I had better set off and see what can be done to put the
house in a fit state to receive them.”

“Leave all that to me. I ‘ll take Popham, the architect, down with me,
and you need never trouble your head about the matter. It’s quite clear
people who accept an invitation like the present must put up with a
hundred small penalties on convenience. The liberty of such a house
always repays whatever is wanting on the score of ceremonial and order,
and your fine guests, who would perhaps give themselves airs towards the
Kennyfecks and their set if meeting them elsewhere, will here affect, at
least, a tone of good-natured equality, just as in revolutionary times
people shake hands with their hairdresser.”

“But how to amuse or even occupy them! that is a great puzzle to me.”

“Leave them perfectly to their own devices. In fun there should be
always free-trade. Protection ruins it. But all this is Egyptian to you,
so go to bed and sleep soundly, and leave the cares of state to me.

     “On me the glory or disgrace,
     The pride of triumph or the shame of fall.”

“Then I ‘ll think no more of the matter,” said Cashel; “and so good-by.”

“Now for a twenty-four hours’ sleep,” said Linton, “and then once more
to roll the stone of life, which, by the way, gives the lie to the old
adage, for unquestionably it does ‘gather moss’ as we grow older.”



CHAPTER XVII. SCANNING THE POLITICAL HORIZON.

     Confound their politics!

     --National Anthem.


Linton was very far from indulging that dreamy inactivity of which he
spoke. Plans and schemes of various kinds occupied his thoughts too
intently to admit of slumber. Indeed, his theory was, that, if a man
could not dream of some happy mode of advancing his fortune, sleep was a
fearful inroad upon his worldly career.

He at once hastened home to read his letters and newspapers, and so
important did their intelligence seem, that he only delayed to change
his dress and eat a hurried breakfast, when he repaired to the Castle,
where a few minutes previously the secretary, Mr. Downie Meek, had
arrived from his lodge in the Park.

“Safe once more, Meek,” said he, entering the official chamber, where,
immersed in printed returns, petitions, and remonstrances, sat the busy
secretary.

“Ah, Linton! you are the _bien venu_. We are to have another heat for
the race, though I own it scarcely looks promising.”

“Particularly as you are going to carry weight,” said Linton, laughing.
“It’s true, I suppose, that the Irish party have joined you?”

“There was no help for it,” said the secretary, with a despondent
gesture of the eyebrows; “we had no alternative save accepting the
greasy voices, or go out. Some deemed the former the better course, but
others remembered the story of the Brahmin, who engaged to teach the ass
to speak in ten years, or else forfeit his own head.”

“And perfectly right,” interrupted Linton. “The Brahmin had only three
chances in his favor. Now, your king may die too, and you have any
number of asses to be got rid of.”

“Let us be serious, Tom. What are our prospects at a general election?
Are the landed gentry growing afraid of the O’Gorman party, or are they
still hanging back, resentful of Peel’s desertion?”

“They are very conservative,--that is, they want to keep their
properties and pay the least possible taxation. Be cautious, however,
and you have them all your own. The Irish party being now with you,
begin by some marked favor to the Protestant Church. Hear me out. This
will alarm the Romanists, and cause a kind of split amongst them. Such
as have, or expect to have place, will stand by you; the others will
show fight. You have then an opportunity of proclaiming yourselves a
strong Protestant Cabinet, and the ultras, who hate Peel, will at least
affect to believe you. While the country is thus agitated, go to the
elections. Your friends, amid so many unsettled opinions, cannot be
expected to take pledges, or, better still, they cannot accept any,
subject to various contingencies never to arise.”

“I am sorely afraid of this splitting up the forces,” said Meek,
doubtfully.

“It’s your true game, depend upon it,” said Linton. “These Irish allies
are unwieldy--when numerous. I remember once calling on Tom Scott, the
trainer, one day, and while we went through the stables I could not
help remarking the fine family of boys he had. ‘Yes, sir,’ said Tom,
modestly, ‘they ‘re good-looking chaps, and smart ones. God Almighty
keep ‘em little, sir!’”

“Ah, very true,” sighed Meek; “God Almighty keep ‘em little!”

“Then,” resumed Linton, “you have never played out that golden game of
Irish legislation, which consists in enacting a law, and always ruling
against it. Decide for the education system, but promote the men who
oppose it. Condemn the public conduct of certain parties, and then
let them figure as baronets, or lieutenants of counties, in the next
‘Gazette,’ and, to crown all, seek out every now and then some red-hot
supporter of Government, and degrade him from the bench of magistrates
for maladministration! This, which in England would seem rather chaotic
legislation, will to Irish intelligence smack like even-handed justice.”

“We have a bad press,” said Meek, peevishly.

“No matter, it has the less influence. Believe me, it will be an evil
day for you Downing Street gentlemen when Ireland possesses a really
able and independent press,--when, avoiding topics of mere irritating
tendency, men address themselves to the actual wants of the country,
exemplifying, as they disclose them, the inaptitude and folly of English
legislation. Don’t wait for that day, Meek. In all likelihood it
is distant enough, but in any case don’t hasten its coming by your
prayers.”

“You mustn’t broach these doctrines out of doors, Tom,” said Meek, in
a soft, caressing tone; “there is a horrid cant getting up just now
against English rule, and in favor of native manufactures.”

“Which be they, Meek? I never heard of them. Maynooth is the only
factory I know of in the land, and a brisk trade it has, home and
colonial.”

“You know as well as any man the benefits we have conferred on this
country.”

“Yes, it demands no great tax on memory to repeat them. You found
a starving peasantry of a couple of millions, and, being unable or
incompetent to aid them, you ruined the gentry to keep them company.
You saw a mangy, miserable dog with famine in his flank and death in his
eye, and, answering his appeal to your compassion, you cut an inch off
his tail and told him to eat it.”

“You are too bad, Tom--a great deal too bad. What are you looking for?”

“Nothing at present,” was the cool reply.

“What in prospective, then?”

“I should like to be the Secretary for Ireland, Meek, whenever they
shelve you among the other unredeemed pledges in that pawn-office, the
Board of Trade.”

Meek affected a laugh, but not over successfully, while to turn the
conversation, he said, “_A propos_ to your friend Cashel, I have not
been able to show him any attentions, so occupied have I been with one
thing and another. Let us make a dinner for him.”

“No, no, he does n’t care for such things. Come and Join his
house-warming on the Shannon; that will be far better.”

“I mean it, but I should like also to see him here. He knows the
Kilgoffs, doesn’t he?”

“Slightly. By the way, what are you going to do with my Lord? He wants,
like Sancho, to be governor of an island.”

“What an old bore! without brains, fortune, or influence.”

“He has a very pretty wife, Meek. Don’t you think the Foreign Office
would recognize _that_ claim?”

“So they send him out of this, I am content. But to return to what we
were talking about. Shall we say Friday? or will Saturday suit you? and
we’ll make up a small party.”

“I fear not. I mean to leave the town by the end of the week.”

“Not for any time?”

“A few days only, and then I shall be at your orders. Meanwhile, leave
Cashel to himself; he has got some suspicions--Heaven knows whence or
how--that his borough influence makes him a very important card just
now; therefore don’t notice him, starve him out, and you ‘ll have him
come forth with a white flag one of these days. I know him well, and the
chances are that, if he were to attribute any of your civilities to the
score of your calculation respecting his political influence, he would
at once become your most determined opponent.”

“But his borough--”

“Let him represent it himself, Meek, and it’s the next best thing to
disfranchisement.”

“He would not be likely to accept any advice from us?” asked Meek, half
timidly.

“To a certainty he would not, although proffered in your own most
insinuating manner. Come, Meek, no nonsense; you must look out for
a seat for your _protégé_ Clare Jones, elsewhere; though I tell you
frankly he is not worth the trouble.”

“I declare you are all wrong, Linton--quite wrong; I was thinking
whether from motives of delicacy you would not like to press your own
claim, which _we_ might, with so much propriety.”

“Thanks,” said Linton; while a sly twinkle of his eye showed that he
did not care to disguise the spirit of mistrust with which he heard the
speech. “Thanks; _you_ are too generous, and I am too modest, so let us
not think more of the matter.”

“What is Cashel’s real fortune?” said Meek, not sorry to turn the
conversation into a less dangerous channel; “one hears so many absurd
and extravagant reports, it is hard to know what to believe.”

“Kennyfeck calls it fourteen thousand a year above all charges and cost
of collection.”

“And your own opinion?”

Linton shrugged his shoulders carelessly, and said, “There or
thereabouts. I fancy that his ready money has been greatly overrated.
But why do you ask? Your people wouldn’t give him a peerage, would
they?”

“Not now, of course,” said Meek, hesitating.

“Nor at any time, I trust,” said Linton, authoritatively. “The man does
not know how to behave as a plain country gentleman; why increase his
embarrassments by making him a Lord? Besides, you should take care in
these new creations who are your peeresses, or one of these days you ‘ll
have old Kennyfeck fancying that he is a noble himself.”

“There is no danger to be apprehended in that quarter?” asked Meek, with
some trepidation of manner.

“Yes, but there is, though, and very considerable, too. He has been
living in the house with those girls,--clever and shrewd girls, too. He
is more at his ease there than elsewhere. They listen patiently to
his tiresome prairie stories, and are indulgent to all his little
‘escapades’--as a ‘ranchero;’ in a word, he is a hero there, and never
leaves the threshold without losing some of the charms of the illusion.”

“And you saw all this?”

“Yes.”

“And suffered it?”

“Yes. What would you have me do? Had there been only one girl in the
case--I might have married her. But it is only in botany, or the bay of
that name, that the English permit polygamy.”

“I am very sorry to hear this,” said Meek, gravely.

“I am very sorry to have it to tell, Meek,” said the other.

“He might marry so well!” muttered Meek, half in soliloquy.

“To be sure he might; and in good hands--I mean in those of a man who
sees his way in life--cut a very fair figure, too. But it won’t do
to appear in London with a second or third rate woman, whose only
recommendation is the prettiness that has fascinated ‘Castle balls’ in
Dublin.”

“Let us talk over this again, Linton,” said Meek, arranging his papers,
and affecting to be busied.

“With all my heart; indeed, it was a subject I intended to speak to you
about. I have a little theory thereanent myself.”

“Have you, indeed?” said Meek, looking up with animation.

“Yes, but it needs your counsel--perhaps something more, I should
say--but another time--good-bye, goodbye.” And without waiting to say
or hear more, Linton lounged out of the room, leaving the secretary,
thoughtful and serious, behind him.



CHAPTER XVIII. UNDER THE GREEN-WOOD TREE.

     Nor lives the heart so cold and dark
     But in its depths some lingering spark
     Of love is cherished there!

     The Outlaw.

When Tom Linton parted with Mr. Meek he repaired to the club in Kildare
Street to listen to the gossip on the rumored dissolution of Parliament,
and pick up what he could of the prevailing tone among the country
gentry.

His appearance was eagerly hailed by many, who regarded him as generally
well informed on all the changes and turns of party warfare; but, as
he professed the most complete ignorance of everything, and seemed to
devour with greedy curiosity the most commonplace announcements, he was
speedily deserted and suffered to pursue his work of inquiry perfectly
unmolested. Not that indeed there was much to learn; the tone of banter
and raillery with which, from want of all real political influence, men
in Ireland accustom themselves to discuss grave questions, concealing
their real sentiments, or investing them with a ludicrous exaggeration,
oftentimes foiled even the shrewd perception of Tom Linton.

He did, however, learn so much as showed him, that all the ordinary
landmarks of party being lost, men were beginning to find themselves at
liberty to adopt any leadership which pleased them, without suffering
the stain of desertion. They thought themselves betrayed by each of the
great political chiefs in turn, and began to fancy that the best course
for them in future would be to make specific terms for any support they
should accord. Suggestions to this end thrown out in all the bantering
gayety of Irish manner might mean anything, or nothing, and so Linton
well knew, as he listened to them.

He had taken his place at a whist-table, that he might, while seemingly
preoccupied, hear what was said around him, and although no error of
play, nor a single mistake in the game, marked the different direction
of his attention, he contrived to learn much of the opinion prevalent in
certain circles.

“That is the luckiest fellow in Europe,” said one of his late
antagonists; “as usual he rises the only winner.”

“You can scarcely call it luck,” said another; “he is a first-rate
player, and always so cool.”

Meanwhile, Linton, mounting his horse, rode slowly along the streets
till he arrived at Bilton’s Hotel, where a handsome britzska was
standing, whose large up-standing horses and richly-mounted harnessing
gave token of London rather than of Dublin taste.

“Is her Ladyship going out, Halpin?” said he to the footman.

“Her Ladyship ordered the carriage for four precisely, sir.”

Linton mused for a second or two, and then asked if Lord Kilgoff were at
home, and not waiting for a reply, passed on.

No sooner, however, had he reached the landing-place, and was beyond the
observation of the servant, than he halted and appeared to reflect At
last, as if having made his resolve, he turned to descend the stairs,
when the drawing-room door opened and Lord Kilgoff appeared.

“The very man I wanted. Linton, come here,” cried he, re-entering the
room.

“I was just on my way to you, my Lord,” said Linton, with well-affected
eagerness.

“Are they out, Linton, are they ‘out’?” said he, in breathless
impatience.

“No, my Lord. I’ve seen Meek; they’re safe for the present. A coalition
has been formed with O’Morgan and his party, which secures a working
majority of forty-five or fifty.”

“This is certain, Linton; may I rely upon it?”

“You may, my Lord, with confidence.”

“Then I suppose the moment has come when my adhesion would be most
well-timed. It’s a grave question, Tom; everything depends on it. If I
join them and they go out--”

“Why, your Lordship goes out too, without ever having the satisfaction
of being ‘in.’”

“Not if they gave me the mission to Florence, Tom. They never remove the
smaller legations in any change of parties.”

“But you could not help resigning, my Lord; you should follow your
friends,” said Linton, with an assumed air of high principle.

“Not a bit of it; I ‘d hold on. I see no reason whatever for such a
course. I have made a rough draft of a letter which Hindley should show
to Peel. See here, this is the important passage. I presuppose that I
had already given Hindley my resignation to hand in to Aberdeen, but
that yielding to his arguments, who refuses to deliver it, I have
reconsidered the matter. Now, listen: ‘You say that my functions are
not of a nature to admit any line of partisanship, and that a man
of honorable views can serve his country under a Whig or Tory
administration, irrespective of his own preference for one or the other.
I feel this to be true. I know that, in my own official career, I
have always forgotten the peculiar politics of my masters; but another
question arises,--how shall I be judged by others? for while I confess
to you that I entertain for Peel’s capacity a respect I have never been
able to feel for the Whig leaders, yet family prejudices, connections, a
hundred minor circumstances, some purely accidental, threw me among
the ranks of that party, and a sense of consistency kept me where very
probably unbiassed judgment had never suffered me to remain.’”

“Amazingly good! very well done, indeed!” said Linton, in whose dubious
smile younger eyes than Lord Kilgoff’s might have read the most insolent
expression of contempt; not, indeed, at the hypocrisy, but at the poor
attempt to give it color. “There could be no thought of removing a man
with such sentiments.”

“I think not, Linton. It would be a gross and flagrant case of official
tyranny to do so,--a case for inquiry in the House,--a motion to produce
the correspondence--”

“Better not, my Lord,” said Linton, dryly; “that is an admirable letter
addressed to your friend, Lord Hindley; but in a blue book it won’t read
so well. Take my advice: hold on if you can, go if you must, but don’t
ask questions, at all events.”

“Perhaps you are right, Tom,” said Kilgoff, musing.

“Now for another point, my Lord; this visit to Mr. Cashel--”

“I ‘ve declined it,” said Lord Kilgoff, reddening, and with a look of
extreme irritation. “The note is there sealed on the table, and shall be
sent within an hour.”

“I am not at liberty to ask your reasons, my Lord,” said Linton, gravely
and respectfully, “but I am certainly free to state my own, why I think
you ought most positively to go there.”

“You may, certainly,” said Lord Kilgoff, rising impatiently, and pacing
the room; “I shall not interrupt you, but I shall also pledge myself not
to let them influence me in the slightest degree. My mind is made up,
sir.”

“Then I shall speak with more freedom,” said Linton, boldly; “because,
having no pretension to change your sentiments, I am merely desirous to
record my own.”

Lord Kilgoff made no reply, but continued his walk, while Linton
resumed:--

“Now I see your impatience, my Lord, and will not trespass on it. Here,
in three words, is my case. The borough of Drumkeeran returns a member
to Parliament; Hebden, who represents it, is about to accept the
Hundreds; Cashel owns the town.”

“And if he does, sir, what signifies it to me?” broke in Lord Kilgoff;
“I have not the slightest influence over that gentleman’s opinions.
He was rude enough to give me a very flat contradiction in the only
discussion we ever held together. I venture to assert, from what I have
seen of him, that any direction of his course in Parliament would be
totally impossible. He is self-willed, obstinate, and opinionated.”

“Granted, my Lord; he is the very calibre to run through his own, and
ruin any other man’s fortune.”

“Well, sir, and this is the person whose services you think it worth my
while obtaining?”

“I never said so, my Lord.”

“What! did n’t I hear you this moment--”

“No, you heard me say that the borough is his, but you never heard me
say that he ought to be its member. For that honor I had another in
my eye,--one over whom your Lordship’s influence has never yet been
doubted.”

“Whom do you mean?”

“Tom Linton, my Lord; a very unworthy, but a most devoted partisan of
your Lordship’s.”

“What! Tom--_you_ in Parliament?”

“Even so, my Lord,” said Linton, for once in his life--perhaps, the only
time--that a flash of angry meaning colored his calm features. “I
am sorry that the notion should so palpably wake your Lordship’s
amazement.”

“No--no--no! I did n’t mean that. I was only surprised. In fact, you
took me unawares--we were talking of Cashel.”

“Precisely, my Lord; we were discussing the probable career of a person
so eminently gifted with statesmanlike qualities; then, how could I
possibly hope for patience when introducing to your notice abilities so
humble as my own?”

“But is it possible--is this practicable, Linton?”

“With your assistance it is certain. The influence of your Lordship’s
rank would give such weight to your opinions, that if you were only to
say to him, ‘Send Linton into Parliament as your member,’ the thing is
done.”

“I have my doubts.”

“I have none whatever--I know the man well. He is dying to conform to
anything that he supposes to be the discipline of his class. Tell him he
ought, and he never resists.”

“I have resolved on not paying this visit,” said Kilgoff, after a brief
pause; “reasons of sufficient weight determined me.”

“Oh, my Lord, pardon the freedom, but I must say that they had need be
strong reasons to weigh against all the advantages I can show from the
opposite course.”

“They are, sir, very strong reasons, nor do I deem it necessary to
advert to them again; enough that I esteem them sufficient.”

“Of course, my Lord, I never dreamed of calling them in question; they
must needs be cogent arguments which counterpoise the opposite scale--a
high diplomatic career--a representative peerage--this there could be no
doubt of.”

“How do you mean?” broke in Kilgoff, abruptly.

“Simply that this young man becomes your trump card, if you only please
to take him up. As yet he has resisted the advances made by Downie Meek
and his set, because of my watchfulness; but sooner or later some
party will catch him, and when one thinks how few men with a large
unencumbered fortune we possess here, with a great county interest, two
boroughs, for he owns Knockgarvan as well, the prize is really worth
having, particularly as it only needs the stretching out the hand to
take.”

Lord Kilgoff mused and seemed to ponder over the words. He entertained
small doubts of his “friend” Linton’s capacity; but he had very
considerable suspicions of his principles, and it is a strange fact that
people willing to commit very gross breaches of fair dealing themselves
are exceedingly scrupulous respecting the fair fame of their associates
in iniquity, so admirably accommodating is a worldly conscience!

“Well, sir,” said he, at length, “the price--name the price. What are we
to pay for the article?--that is the question.”

“I have said, my Lord, it is to be had for asking. Your Lordship has
only to take the territory, as our naval men do the chance islands they
meet with in the Southern Pacific. Land and plant your flag--_voilà
tout!_”

“But you have heard me observe already,” said he, in a querulous tone,
“that I dislike the prospect of this visit--that in fact it would be
exceedingly disagreeable to me.”

“Then I have nothing more to say, my Lord,” said Linton, coolly, while
he took up his hat and gloves. “I can only congratulate you on the
excellence of your political prospects, which can dispense with a strong
alliance to be had so easily.”

“Our measures of value are very different, Mr. Linton,” said Lord
Kilgoff, proudly. “Still, to prove that this is no caprice on my
part,”--here he stopped abruptly, while his heightened color showed the
degree of embarrassment he labored under,--“to show you that I have--in
order to explain my motives--” Here he took a cautious glance around the
room, walked to the door, opened and shut it again, and then drawing his
arm within Linton’s, led him towards a window. For a second or two he
seemed undecided, and at last, by a great effort, he whispered a few
words in Linton’s ear.

Had any third party been there to watch the effect of the whispered
confidence, he might easily have read in the speaking brilliancy of
Linton’s eyes, and in his assured look, that it was of a nature to give
him the greatest pleasure. But scarce had his Lordship done speaking,
when these signs of pleasure gave way to a cold, almost stern air of
morality, and he said, “But surely, my Lord, it were far better to leave
her Ladyship to deal with such insolent pretension--”

“Hush, not so loud; speak lower. So I should, Linton, but women never
will see anything in these airs of puppyism. They persist in thinking,
or saying, at least, that they are mere modern fashionable manners, and
this endurance on their part gives encouragement. And then, when there
happens to be some disparity of years--Lady Kilgoff _is_ my junior--the
censorious world seizes on the shadow of a scandal; in fact, sir, I
will not consent to afford matter for newspaper asterisks or figurative
description.”

“Your Lordship never had a better opportunity of giving open defiance to
both. These airs of Cashel are, as you remark, mere puppyism, assumed to
get credit for a certain fashionable character for levity. To avoid him
would be to acknowledge that there was danger in his society. I don’t
go so far as to say that he would assert as much, but most assuredly the
world would for him. I think I hear the ready comments on your absence:
‘Were not the Kilgoffs expected here?’ ‘Oh, they were invited, but Lord
Kilgoff was afraid to venture. Cashel had been paying attentions.’ In a
word, every species of impertinence that malevolence and envy can fancy
would be fabricated. Your Lordship knows the world far better than I do;
and knows, besides, the heavy price a man pays for being the possessor
of a high capacity and a handsome wife: these are two insults that the
less fortunate in life never do, or never can forgive.”

“Well, what is it you counsel?”

“To meet these calumnies in the face; small slanders, like weak fires,
are to be trampled out; to tamper with such, is to fan the flame which
at last will scorch you. Besides, to take another view of the matter:
her Ladyship is young, and has been much admired; how will she accept
this seclusion? I don’t speak of the present case; besides, I suppose
that this country visit would bore her beyond measure. But how will
she regard it in other instances? Is it not an implied fear on your
Lordship’s part? you, who have really nothing to dread in competition
with any man. I only know, if I were in your place, how I should
actually seize the very opportunity of openly flouting such calumnious
rumor; never was there an occasion to do so on cheaper terms. This
Roland Cashel is an underbred boy.”

“There is a great deal in what you say, Linton. But as jealousy is a
feeling of which I have never had any experience, I was only anxious on
Lady Kilgoff’s account, that the thoughtless gayety of a very young and
handsome woman should not expose her to the sarcastic insinuations of an
impertinent world. She _is_ gay in manner; there _is_ an air of lively
imagination--”

“No more than what the French call ‘_amabilité_,’ my Lord, which,
like the famed armor of Milan is not the less defensive that it is so
beautiful in all its details.”

“Well, then, I ‘ll not send the note,” said Lord Kilgoff, as he took
up the letter, and tearing it, threw the fragments into the fire; “of
course, Linton, this conversation is strictly confidential?”

“Your Lordship has never found me unworthy of such a trust.”

“Never; nor, I must say, would it be for your advantage to become so.”

Linton bit his lip, and for a second or two seemed burning to make a
rejoinder; but overcoming the temptation, assumed his careless smile,
and said,--

“I leave you, my Lord, greatly gratified that chance led me to pay this
visit. I sincerely believe, that in the counsels I have offered, I have
at least been able to be of service to you.”

Lord Kilgoff presented his hand in acknowledgment of the speech, but it
was accorded with an air which seemed to say, “Well, here is a receipt
in full for your devotedness.”

Linton took it in the same spirit, and left the room, as though deeply
impressed with all the honor he enjoyed in such a noble friendship.

Hastening down the stairs, he sprang into the saddle of his horse, and
cantering up the street, turned towards the road which leads to the
Phoenix Park. It was about the hour when the equipages were wont to
throng that promenade, but Linton did not seem desirous of joining that
gay crowd, for he took a cross-path through the fields, and after a
sharp ride of half-an-hour, reached a low paling which skirted the park
on the eastward; here, at a small cottage kept by one of the rangers, a
little door led in, passing through which he found himself in one of the
long green alleys of that beautiful tract. A boy, who seemed to be
ready waiting, now took his horse, and Linton entered the wood and
disappeared. He did not proceed far, however, within the shady copse,
for after going a short distance he perceived a carriage standing in the
lane, by the door of which a footman waited, with a shawl upon his arm.
The coachman, with his whip posed, sat talking with his fellow-servant,
so that Linton saw that the carriage had no occupant.

He now hastened along, and speedily emerging at a little grassy opening
of the wood, came in sight of a lady walking at some distance in front.
The fashionable air and splendid dress, which might have suited the
most brilliant promenade of a great city, seemed strange in such a lone,
unvisited spot. Linton lost no time in overtaking her, only diminishing
his speed as he came closer, when, with his hat removed, and in an
attitude of the most humble deference, he said,--

“Pray let me stand excused if I am somewhat behind my time; the fault
was not my own.”

“Oh, say nothing about it,” said a soft musical voice, and Lady Kilgoff
turned an easy smile towards him. “‘Qui s’excuse, s’accuse,’ says the
French proverb, and I never dreamt of the accusation. Is it not a lovely
day here?”

[Illustration: 213]

Linton was too much piqued to answer at once, but recovering, he said,
“Without seeking to apologize for an absence that was not felt, let me
return to the subject. I assure your Ladyship that I had been detained
by Lord Kilgoff, who was pleased to bestow a more than ordinary share of
his confidence upon me, and even condescended to ask my counsel.”

“How flattering! Which you gave, I hope, with all the sincerity for
which you are famous.”

Linton tried to smile, but not very successfully.

“What, then, was this wonderful mystery? Not the representative peerage,
I trust; I ‘m sure I hope that question is at rest forever.”

“You are quite safe there,--he never mentioned it.”

“Oh, then it was his diplomatic ambition,--ain’t I right? Ah, I knew it;
I knew it How very silly, or how very wicked you must be, Mr. Linton,
to encourage these daydreams,--you who have not the excuse of
hallucinations, who read the book of life as it is written, without
fanciful interpretations!”

“I certainly must disclaim your paneygric. I had one hallucination,
if so you term it,--it was that you wished, ardently wished, for the
position which a foreign ‘mission’ bestows. A very natural wish, I
freely own, in one so worthy in every way to grace and adorn it.”

“Well, so I did some time back, but I ‘ve changed my mind. I don’t think
I should like it; I have been reconsidering the subject.”

“And your Ladyship inclines now rather to seclusion and rural pleasures;
how fortunate that I should have been able to serve your interests there
also.”

“What do you mean?” said she, with a stare, while a deep scarlet
suffused her cheek.

“I alluded to a country visit which you fancied might be made so
agreeably, but which his Lordship had the bad taste to regard less
favorably.”

“Well, sir, you did not presume to give any opinion?”

“I really did. I had all the hardihood to brave Lord Kilgoff’s
most fixed resolves. You were aware that he declined Mr. Cashel’s
invitation?”

She nodded, and he went on,--

“Probably, too, knowing the reasons for that refusal?”

“No, sir; the matter was indifferent to me, so I never troubled my head
about it. My Lord said we shouldn’t go, and I said, ‘Very well,’ and
there it ended.”

Now, although this was spoken with a most admirably feigned
indifference, Linton was too shrewd an observer not to penetrate the
deception.

“I am doubly unlucky this day,” said he, at last, “first to employ all
my artifices to plan a ministerial success to which you are actually
averse, and secondly, to carry a point to which you are indifferent.”

“Dare I ask, if the question be not an indiscreet one, what peculiar
interest Mr. Linton can have, either in our acceptance or refusal of
this invitation?”

“Have I not said that I believed you desired it?” replied he, with a
most meaning look.

“Indeed you read inclinations most skilfully, only that you interpret
them by anticipation.”

“This is too much,” said Linton, in a voice whose passionate earnestness
showed that all dissimulation was at an end, “far too much! The genteel
comedy that we play before the world, madam, might be laid aside for a
few moments here. When I asked for this interview, and you consented to
give it--”

“It was on the express stipulation that you should treat me as you do
in society, sir,” broke she in--“that there should be no attempt to fall
back upon an intimacy which can never be resumed.”

“When I promised, I intended to have kept my word, Laura,” said he,
in deep dejection; “I believed I could have stifled the passion
that consumes me, and talked to you in the words of sincere, devoted
friendship, but I cannot. Old memories of once happiness, brought up too
vividly by seeing you, as I used to see you, when in many a country walk
we sauntered on, dreaming of the time when, mine, by every tie of right,
as by affection--”

“How you requited that affection, Linton!” said she, in a tone whose
deep reproach seemed actually to stun him. Then suddenly changing to an
air of disdainful anger, she continued: “You are a bold man, Linton.
I thought it would be too much for even _your_ hardihood to recur to a
theme so full of humiliation for yourself; but I know your theory, sir:
you think there is a kind of heroism in exaggerated baseness, and that
it is no less great to transcend men in crime than in virtue. You dare
to speak of an affection that you betrayed and bartered for money.”

“I made you a peeress, madam. When you were Laura Gardiner, you couldn’t
have spoken to me as now you speak.”

“If I consented to the vile contract, it was that, when I discovered
your baseness, any refuge was preferable to being the wife of one like
you!”

“A most complimentary assurance, not only to myself, but his Lordship,”
 said Linton, with an insolent smile.

“Now, hear me,” said she, not noticing the taunt, but speaking with a
voice of deep collected earnestness. “It is in vain to build upon time
or perseverance--the allies you trust so deeply--to renew the ties
broken forever. If I had no other higher and more sustaining motive, my
knowledge of you would be enough to rescue me from this danger. I know
you well, Linton. You have often told me what an enemy you could be.
This, at least, I believe of all that you have ever sworn! I have a full
faith, too, in your ingenuity and skill; and yet I would rather brave
both--ay, both hate and craft--than trust to what you call your honor.”

“You do indeed know me well, Laura,” said he, in a voice broken and
faltering, “or you never had dared to speak such words to me. There is
not one breathing could have uttered them and not pay the penalty, save
yourself. I feel in my inmost heart how deeply I have wronged you, but
is not my whole life an atonement for the wrong? Am I not heartbroken
and wretched, without a hope or a future? What greater punishment did
any one ever incur than to live in the daily sight and contemplation of
a bliss that his own folly or madness have forever denied him; and yet,
to that same suffering do I cling, as the last tie that binds me to
existence. To see you in the world, to watch you, to mark the
effect your grace and beauty are making on all around you--how every
fascination calls up its tribute of admiration--how with each day some
new excellence develops itself, till you seem inexhaustible in all the
traits of graceful womanhood, this has been the cherished happiness of
my life! It was to this end I labored to induce the acceptance of that
invitation that once more, beneath the same roof, I should see you for
days long. Your own heart must confess how I have never before the world
forgotten the distance that separates us. There is, then, no fear that
I should resign every joy that yet remains to me for any momentary
indulgence of speaking to you as my heart feels. No, no, Laura, you have
nothing to dread either from my hate or my love.”

“To what end, then, was it that you asked me to meet you here to-day?”
 said she, in a voice in which a touch of compassionate sorrow was
blended.

“Simply to entreat, that if I should succeed in persuading his Lordship
to accept this visit, you would throw no obstacle in the way on your
side.”

“And if I consent, shall I have no cause to rue my compliance?”

“So far as depends on me, none, on my honor!”

It had been better for Linton’s cause that he had omitted the last
words, at least: as Laura turned away her head, a curl of insolent
meaning was on her lip, but she did not speak, and they now walked
along, side by side, in silence.

“You will go, then?” said he, at last, in a low whisper.

“Yes,” said she, faintly.

Linton stole a glance at her unperceived, and suddenly the sparkle of
his eyes and the elation of his whole expression showed the transport of
pleasure he experienced.

“Now for one word of caution,” said Linton, as, drawing closer to her
side, he assumed the tone of sincere friendship. “Lord Kilgoff has just
revealed to me, in deep confidence, that he has been much offended by
certain attentions shown to you by this Mr. Cashel, and which were of
so marked a nature that he was almost determined never to admit his
intimacy in future. Had his Lordship known you as well as I do, he might
have spared himself this anxiety. I believe such savage excellence as
his has few attractions for you; nor, save the admiration that all must
yield you, has the youth taste or feeling to appreciate your excellence.
However, ‘my Lord’ is jealous; let it be your care, by knowledge of the
fact, not to incur anything to sustain the suspicion.”

“How very absurd all this is! Do you know that Mr. Cashel did not
condescend to pay me the poor compliment of a special invitation to his
house, but asked my Lord to come, and hoped I would accompany him; just
as people invite their humbler acquaintances, hoping that only half the
request may be accorded.”

“He is underbred even to barbarism,” said Linton.

“He seems a most good-natured creature, and full of generosity.”

“Overwealth has sometimes that air. When the glass is brimful, none but
the steadiest hand can carry, without spilling, the wine.”

“He does not appear even to make the effort. They tell me he has
squandered some thousands already, making presents to every one who will
accept them.”

“He gave me this cane,” said Linton, superciliously, exhibiting a little
riding cane, which he had taken himself out of Cashel’s hand, and was of
no value whatever. “Not any great evidence of exaggerated generosity,”
 said he. “As to his house, however, I trust its honors may be well done;
he has given me _carte blanche_, and I must only try and not disgrace my
prerogative.”

“How very late it is--nearly seven,” said Lady Kilgoff, looking at her
watch.

“Shall I see your Ladyship to your carriage?” said Linton.

“I think not,” said she, blushing slightly; “as I left it unaccompanied,
so I shall return to it Good-bye.”

She held out her hand as she spoke, but slightly averted her head, so
that Linton could not mark the expression of her features. As it was, he
pressed the gloved fingers to his lips, but, when doing so, contrived
to unclasp her bracelet,--a singularly rich one, and a present from Lord
Kilgoff on the day of her marriage. This he let fall noiselessly on the
grass, and murmured, in a low voice, “Goodbye.”

Lady Kilgoff, hastily wrapping her shawl about her, left the spot.
Linton watched her till he had seen her seated in the carriage, and
continued to gaze after it, as it drove rapidly away, and so intently
occupied by his thoughts, that he did not notice the approach of a
horseman, who came up at a walking pace behind him.

“Eh, Tom!” cried out Lord Charles Frobisher, “this is flying at high
game!”

“You are mistaken, Charley,” said he, in some confusion. “This ‘meeting
under the green-wood tree’ was nothing less than a love affair.”

“Oh, hang your morality, Mr. Joseph; it’s rather good fun to see the
‘insolent beauty’ of the season capitulating.”

“Wrong again,” said Linton, affecting a laugh. “Everton is in a scrape,
and his wife wants me to get him out of the way--”

“Nonsense, man, I saw the carriage; there is no need of mystifying here.
Besides, it’s no affair of mine--I’m sure I wish it were! But come, what
are the odds on Hitchley’s colt--are seven to two taken?”

“Don’t bet,” said Linton, knowingly; “there is something ‘wrong’ in that
stable, and I have n’t found out the secret.”

“What a deep fellow you are, Tom.”

“Nothing of the kind, Charley. If I were, you ‘d never have discovered
it. Your only deep fellow is he that the world deems shallow--your
light-hearted, rattling knave, whose imputed thoughtlessness covers
every breach of faith, and makes his veriest schemes seem purely
accident. But, once get the repute of being a clever or a smart fellow,
and success is tenfold more difficult. The world, then, only plays with
you as one does with a sharper, betting small stakes, and keeping a
steady eye on the cards. Your own sleepy eye, Charley, your languid,
careless look, are a better provision than most men give their younger
children.”

Lord Charles lifted his long eyelashes lazily, and, for a second,
something like a sparkle lit up his cold, dark eye, but it was gone in a
moment, and his habitually lethargic expression once more returned. “You
heard that we were nearly ‘out,’ I suppose?” said he, after a pause.

“Yes. This is the second time that I bought Downie Meek’s
carriage-horses on the rumor of a change of administration.”

“And sold them back again at double the price, when he found that the
ministry were safe!”

“To be sure; was n’t it a ‘good hedge’ for him to be Secretary for
Ireland at the cost of a hundred or so?”

“You ‘ll get the name of spreading the false intelligence, Tom, if you
always profit so much by it.”

“With all my heart. I wish sincerely some good-natured fellow would lay
to my charge a little roguery that I had no share in. I have experienced
all manner and shades of sensations, but injured innocence, that would
really be new to me.”

“Well,” sighed Lord Charles, with a yawn, “I suppose we have only a
short time before us here. The end of the session will scarcely see us
in office.”

“About that: by keeping all hands at the pumps we may float the ship
into harbor, but no more.”

“And what ‘s to become of us?” said the _aide-de-camp_, with a deep
depression in his accent.

“The usual lot of a crew paid off,” cried Linton, laughing; “look out
for a new craft in commission, and go to sea again. As for you, Charley,
you can either marry something in the printed calico line, with a
hundred and fifty thousand, or, if you prefer it, exchange into a light
cavalry corps at Suntanterabund.”

“And you?” said Lord Charles, with something almost of sternness.

“I? Oh, as for me, I have many alternatives. I can remain a Whig, and
demand office from the Tories--a claim Peel has never resisted; I can
turn Repealer, and be pensioned by something in the Colonies; I can be
a waiter on Providence, and live on all parties by turns. In fact,
Charley, there never was a better age for your ‘adventurer’ than this
year of our Lord 18--. All the geography of party has been erased, and
it is open to every man to lay down new territorial limits.”

“But for any case of the kind you should have a seat in Parliament”

“So I mean it, my boy. I intend to represent,--I’m sure I forget the
name of my constituency,--in the next assemblage of the collective
wisdom.”

“How do you manage the qualification?” said the _aide-de-camp_, slyly.

“The man who gives the borough must take care of that; it’s no affair of
mine,” said Linton, carelessly. “I only supply the politics.”

“And what are they to be?”

“_Cela dépend_. You might as well ask me what dress I ‘ll wear in the
changeable climate of an Irish July.”

“Then you ‘ll take no pledges?”

“To be sure I will; every one asked of me. I only stipulate to accompany
each with a crotchet of my own, so that, like the gentleman who emptied
his snuff-box over the peas, I ‘ll leave the dish uneatable by any but
myself.”

“Well, good-bye, Tom,” said Lord Charles, laughing. “If you only be
as loyal in love as you promise to be in politics, our fair friend is
scarcely fortunate.” And so saying, he cantered slowly away.

“Poor fellow!” said Linton, contemptuously, “your little bit of
principle haunts you like a superstition.” And with this reflection, he
stepped out briskly to where the boy was standing with his horse.

“Oh, Mr. Linton, darlin’, only sixpence! and I here this two hours?”
 said the ragged urchin, with a cunning leer, half roguery, half shame.

“And where could you have earned sixpence, you scoundrel, in that time?”
 cried Linton, affecting anger.

“Faix, I ‘d have earned half a crown if I ‘d got up on the beast and
rode down to Bilton’s,” said the fellow, grinning.

“You ‘d have had your skull cracked with this cane, the next time I met
you, for your pains,” said the other, really enraged, while he chucked a
shilling at him.

“Success to your honor,--all’s right,” said the boy. And touching his
cap, he scampered off into the wood, and disappeared.

“You shall have a sea voyage, my friend,” said Linton, looking after
him; “a young gentleman with such powers of observation would have a
fine opening in our colonies.” And away he rode towards town, his brain
revolving many a complex scheme and lucky stratagem, but still with
ready smile acknowledging each salutation of his friends, and conveying
the impression of being one whose easy nature was unruffled by a care.



CHAPTER XIX. THE DOMESTIC DETECTIVE CONSULTED.

     Of “sweet fifteen” no mortal e’er afraid is,
     Your real “man traps” are old maiden ladies.

     The Legacy.

It was late of that same afternoon ere Cashel awoke. Mr. Phillis had
twice adventured into the room on tiptoe, and as stealthily retired, and
was now, for the third time, about to retreat, when Roland called him
back.

“Beg pardon, sir; but Mrs. Kennyfeck’s footman has been here twice for
the answer to this note.”

“Let me see it,” said Cashel, taking a highly-perfumed epistle, whose
tinted paper, seal, and superscription were all in the perfection of
epistolary coquetry.

     Dear Mr. Cashel,--Mamma desires me to convey her reproaches
     for your shocking forgetfulness of yesterday, when, after
     promising to dine here, you never appeared. She will,
     however, not only forgive the past, but be grateful for the
     present, if you will come to us to-day at seven.

     Believe me, very truly yours,

     Olivia Kennyfeck.

Simple and commonplace as the words were, Cashel read them over more
than once.

I know not if any of my male readers can corroborate me, but I have
always thought there is some mysterious attraction in even the most
every-day epistle of a young and pretty woman. The commonest social
forms assume a different meaning, and we read the four letters which
spell “dear” in an acceptation very remote from what they inspire when
written by one’s law agent; and then, the concluding “yours truly,”
 or “faithfully yours,” or better again, “ever yours,”--what suggestive
little words they are! how insinuating in their portraiture of a tie
which possibly might, but does not actually, bind the parties.

If my readers concur not in these sympathies; I have great satisfaction
in saying that Roland Cashel did. He not only sat gazing at the few
lines, but he looked so long at them as to half believe that the first
word was a superlative; then, suddenly rousing himself he asked the
hour. It was already past six. He had only time, then, for a verbal,
“With pleasure,” and to dress for dinner.

It seemed like a reproach on his late mode of living, the pile of
unopened letters, which in imposing mass Mr. Phillis had arrayed on
his master’s dressing-table. They contained specimens of everything
epistolary which falls to the lot of those favored children of fortune
who, having “much to give,” are great favorites with the world. There
were dear little pressing invitations signed by the lady of the house,
and indited in all the caligraphy of the governess. There were begging
letters from clergymen with large families, men who gave so “many
hostages to fortune,” that they actually ruined themselves in their
own “recognizances.” Flatteries, which, if not written on tinted
paper, might have made it blush to bear them, mixed up with tradesmen’s
assurances of fidelity and punctuality, and bashful apologies for the
indelicacy of any allusion to money.

Oh, it is a very sweet world this of ours, and amiable withal! save that
the angelic smile it bestows on one part of the creation has a sorry
counterpart in the sardonic grin with which it regards the other. Our
friend Cashel was in the former category, and he tossed over the letters
carelessly, rarely breaking a seal, and, even then, satisfied with a
mere glance at the contents, or the name of the writer, when he suddenly
caught sight of a large square-shaped epistle, marked “Sea-letter.” It
was in a hand he well knew, that of his old comrade Enrique; and burning
with anxiety to hear of him, he threw himself into a chair, and broke
the seal.

The very first words which met his eye shocked him.

     “St. Kitt’s, Jamaica.

     “Ay, Roland, even so. St. Kitt’s, Jamaica! heavily ironed
     in a cell at the top of a strong tower over the sea, with an
     armed sentry at my door, I write this! a prisoner fettered
     and chained,--I, that could not brook the very orders of
     discipline! Well, well, it is only cowardice to repine.
     Truth is, _amigo_, I ‘ve had no luck since you left us. It
     was doubtless yours that sustained me so long, and when
     _you_ withdrew from the firm, I became bankrupt, and yet,
     this is pretty much what we used once, in merry mood, to
     predict for each other, ‘the loop and the leap.’

     “How shall I tell you so briefly as neither to weary you to
     read, nor myself to write it, my last sad misfortune? I say
     the last, because the bad luck took a run against me. First,
     I lost everything I possessed at play,--the very pistols you
     sent me, I staked and lost. Worse still, Roland,--and faith
     I don’t think I could make the confession, if a few hours,
     or a few days more, were not to hide my shame in a felon’s
     grave,--I played the jewels you sent here for Maritaña. She
     refused them with words of bitterness and anger. Partly from
     the irritated feeling of the moment, partly from the curse
     of a gambler’s spirit,--the hope to weary out the malice of
     fortune,--I threw them on the monte-table. Of course I lost.
     It was soon after this Barcelonetta was laid in ruin by a
     shock of earthquake, the greatest ever experienced here. The
     ‘Quadro’ is a mere mass of chaotic rubbish. The ‘Puerta
     Mayor,’ with all its statues, is ingulfed, and an arm of the
     sea now washes up and over the beautiful gardens where the
     Governor gave his _fête_. The villa, too, rent from roof to
     basement, is a ruin; vast yawning gulfs intersect the
     parterres everywhere; the fountains are dried up; the
     trees blasted by lightning; and a red-brown surface of
     ashes strewn over the beauteous turf where we used to stroll
     by moonlight. The old tree that sheltered our monte-table
     stands uninjured, as if in mockery over our disasters!
     Maritaña’s hammock was slung beneath the branches, and there
     she lay, careless of--nay, I could almost say, if the words
     did not seem too strange for truth, actually pleased by--the
     dreadful event. I went to take leave of her; it was the last
     night we were to spend on shore. I little knew it was to be
     the last time we should ever meet. Pedro passed the night
     among the ruins of the villa, endeavoring to recover papers
     and valuables amid that disastrous mass. Geizheimer was
     always with him, and as Noronja and the rest soon fell off
     to sleep, wearied by a day of great fatigue, I sat alone
     beside her hammock till day was breaking. Oh, would that
     night could have lasted for years, so sweetly tranquil were
     the starlit hours, so calm and yet so full of hopeful
     promise. What brilliant pictures of ambition did she, that
     young, untaught girl, present to my eyes,--how teach me to
     long for a cause whose rewards were higher, and greater, and
     nobler than the prizes of this wayward life. I would have
     spoken of my affection, my deep-felt, long-cherished love,
     but, with a half-scornful laugh, she stopped me, saying, ‘Is
     this leafy shade so like a fair lady’s boudoir that you can
     persuade yourself to trifle thus, or is your own position so
     dazzling that you deem the offer to share it a flattery?’”

“I ‘m afraid, sir,” said Mr. Phillis, here obtruding his head into the
room, “that you ‘ll be very late. It is already more than half-past
seven o’clock.”

“So it is!” exclaimed Cashel, starting up, while he muttered something
not exceedingly complimentary to his host’s engagement. “Is the carriage
ready?” And without staying to hear the reply, hurried downstairs, the
open letter still in his hand.

Scarcely seated in the carriage, Cashel resumed the reading of the
letter. Eager to trace the circumstances which led to his friend’s
captivity, he hastily ran his eyes over the lines till he came to the
following:--

     “There could be no doubt of it. The ‘Esmeralda,’ our noble
     frigate, was not in the service of the Republic, but by some
     infamous treaty between Pedro and Narochez, the minister,
     was permitted to carry the flag of Columbia. We were
     slavers, buccaneers, pirates,--not sailors of a state. When,
     therefore, the British war-brig ‘Scorpion’ sent a gun
     across our bows, with an order to lie to, and we replied by
     showing our main-deck ports open, and our long eighteens all
     ready, the challenge could not be mistaken. We were near
     enough to hear the cheering, and it seemed, too, they heard
     ours; we wanted but you, Roland, among us to have made our
     excitement madness!”

The carriage drew up at Kennyfeck’s door as Cashel had read thus far,
and in a state of mind bordering on fever he entered the hall and passed
up the stairs. The clock struck eight as he presented himself in the
drawing-room, where the family were assembled, the number increased by
two strangers, who were introduced to Roland as Mrs. Kennyfeck’s sister,
Miss O’Hara, an elderly maiden lady, with a light brown wig; and a
raw-boned, much-freckled young man, Peter O’Gorman, her nephew.

Nothing could be more cordial than the reception of the Kennyfecks; they
affected not to think that it was so late, vowed that the clock was
too fast, were certain that Mr. Cashel’s watch was right; in fact, his
presence was a receipt in full for all the anxieties of delay, and so
they made him feel it.

There was a little quizzing of Roland, as they seated themselves at
table, over his forgetfulness of the day before, but so good-humoredly
as not to occasion, even to himself, the slightest embarrassment.

“At breakfast at the barrack!” repeated Miss Kennyfeck after him. “What
a formidable affair, if it always lasts twenty-four hours.”

“What do you mean? How do you know that?” asked Roland, half in shame,
half in surprise, at this knowledge of his movements.

“Not to speak of the brilliant conversation, heightened by all the
excitement of wit, champagne, and hazard,--dreadful competitors with
such tiresome society as ours,” said Olivia.

“Never mind them, Mr. Cashel,” broke in Miss O’Hara, in a mellifluous
Doric; “‘tis jealous they are, because you like the officers better than
themselves.”

A most energetic dissent was entered by Cashel to this supposition, who
nevertheless felt grateful for the advocacy of the old lady.

“When I was in the Cape Coast Fencibles,” broke in Peter, with an accent
that would have induced one to believe Africa was on the Shannon, “we
used to sit up all night,--it was so hot in the day; but we always
called it breakfast, for you see--”

“And when are we to visit your pictures, Mr. Cashel?” said Mrs.
Kennyfeck, whose efforts to suppress Peter were not merely vocal, as
that injured individual’s shins might attest.

“That depends entirely on you, madam,” said Roland, bowing. “I have only
to say, the earlier the more agreeable to me.”

“He has such a beautiful collection,” said Mrs. Kennyfeck, turning to
her sister.

“Indeed, then, I delight in pictures,” said “Aunt Fanny,” as her nieces
called her. “I went the other day to Mount Bennett, to see a portrait
painted by Rousseau.”

“By Rubens, I suppose you mean, aunt,” interposed Miss Kennyfeck,
tartly.

“So it may be, my dear, I never know the names right; but it was a dark
old man, with a hairy cap and a long gray beard, as like Father Morris
Heffernan as ever it could stare.”

“Is your new Carlo Dolce so very like Olivia?” interposed Mrs.
Kennyfeck, who was sadly hampered by her country relatives and their
reminiscences.

“So very like, madam, that I beg you to accept it as a portrait,”
 replied Roland.

“Upon my word, then, young gentleman, you ‘re not so fond of a pretty
face as you might be,” broke in Aunt Fanny, “or you would n’t be
so ready to give it away.” A very hearty laugh at the old lady’s
eccentricity relieved Cashel from all necessity of explanation.

“The old masters are so good,” said Mrs. Kennyfeck; “I delight in their
fine, vigorous touch.”

“Why don’t they put more clothes on their figures,” said Aunt Fanny,
“even a warm climate is no excuse for the way the creatures went about.”

“If you saw them in Hickweretickanookee,” said Peter, “King John never
wore anything but a cocked-hat and a pair of short black gaiters the
missionary gave him for learning the Lord’s Prayer.”

“I hear that Lady Janet said Cary would be an excellent study for Helen
M’Gregor,” said Mrs. Kennyfeck. “It was scarcely civil, however.”

“It was more,--downright rude,” said Cashel, reddening; “but Miss
Kennyfeck can afford to pay the penalty beauty always yields to its
opposite.”

“There, my dear, that’s a compliment,” said Aunt Fanny, “and don’t be
displeased. I say, darling, did n’t he say a while ago you were like
somebody at Carlow?”

“A Carlo Dolce, aunt,” broke in both sisters, laughing; and so the
dinner proceeded amid commonplaces, relieved occasionally from their
flatness by the absurdities of Aunt Fanny, who seemed as good-naturedly
proof against ridicule, as she was likely to evoke it.

Peter was the first to rise from table, as he was anxious to go to “the
play,” and the ladies soon retired to the drawing-room, Mrs. Kennyfeck
slyly whispering, as she passed behind Roland’s chair, an entreaty that
he would not long delay in following them. Cashel’s anxiety to close his
_tête-à-tête_ arose from another cause,--his burning anxiety to
finish Enrique’s letter; while Kennyfeck himself seemed beating about,
uncertain how to open subjects he desired to have discussed. After a
long pause, he said,--

“I was speaking to Pepystell yesterday, and he is of opinion that
there is no use in preserving any part of the old structure at
Tubbermore,--the great difficulty of adapting a new character of
architecture to the old would not repay the cost.”

Cashel nodded a careless assent, and, after a pause, Kennyfeck
resumed:--

“It might be of some convenience at present, however, to let the
building stand as it is. A residence of one kind or other you will want,
particularly as the elections are approaching.”

Another nod in silence was all the reply.

“Pepystells estimate is large,--don’t you think so?”

He nodded again.

“Nearly seventy thousand pounds! And that does not include the gate
tower, which seems a point for after consideration.”

“I remember,” muttered Cashel, in a voice that implied anything rather
than a mind attentive to the subject before it.

“Now, it would be as well,” said Mr. Kennyfeck, drawing a long breath,
and, as it were, preparing himself for a great effort, “to put a
little order into our affairs. Your first year or two will be costly
ones,--building expenses, equipage, horses, furniture, election charges.
Much of your capital is vested in foreign securities, which it would be
injurious to sell at this moment. Don’t you think”--here he changed
his voice to an almost insinuating softness--“don’t you think that by
devoting a certain portion of your income,--say a third, or one-half,
perhaps,--for the present, to meet these charges--” He paused, for he
saw from Cashel’s occupied look that he was not attending to his words.

“Well--continue,” said Roland, affecting to wait for his conclusion.

“I was about to ask, sir,” said Kennyfeck, boldly, “what sum would you
deem sufficient for your yearly expenditure?”

“What is the amount of my income?” asked Cashel, bluntly.

“In good years, something above sixteen thousand pounds; in bad ones,
somewhat less than twelve.”

“Well, then,--you have the scale of my expenditure at once.”

“Not your whole income?” exclaimed Kennyfeck, astonished.

“Even so. I see no earthly reason for hoarding. I do not find that
squandering money is any very high enjoyment; I am certain scraping and
saving it would afford me still less pleasure.”

“But there are always casualties demanding extraordinary expense,--a
contested election, for instance.”

“I ‘ll not try it,--I don’t intend to enter Parliament.”

“When you marry--”

“Perhaps I shall not do that either.”

“Well, sums lost at play,--the turf has pressed on many a strong
pocket.”

“Play has no fascination for me; I can give it up: I may almost say I
have done so.”

“Not without paying a heavy penalty, however,” said Kennyfeck, whose
animation showed that he had at last approached the territory he was so
long in search of.

“How do you mean?” said Cashel, blushing deeply, as he began to fear
that by some accident his secret visit to the money-lender had reached
Kennyfeck’s ears.

“Your drafts on Latrobe, sir, whose account I have received to-day, are
very heavy.”

“Oh, is that all?” said Cashel, carelessly.

“All! all!” repeated Kennyfeck; then, suddenly correcting himself,
he added, “I am almost certain, sir, that your generous habits have
over-mastered your prudence. Are you aware of having drawn fifty
thousand pounds?”

“No, I really was not,” replied Cashel, smiling more at the attorney’s
look of consternation than anything else. “I fancied about half as much.
Pray tell me some of the items. No, no! not from book; that looks too
formal,--just from memory.”

“Well, there are horses without number,--one bought with all his
engagements for the Oaks, which amount to a forfeiture of four thousand
pounds.”

“I remember that,--a piece of Linton’s blundering; but he lost more
heavily himself, poor fellow, our steed Lanz-knecht having turned out a
dead failure.”

“Then there is something about a villa at Cowes, which I am certain you
never saw.”

“No; but I have a drawing of it somewhere--a pretty thing under a cliff,
with a beautiful bay of deep water, and good anchorage. Linton knows all
about it.”

“Twelve thousand pounds is a large sum to give without ever seeing the
purchase.”

“So it is; but go on.”

“I cannot remember one-half; but there is plate and jewels; sums
advanced for building; subscriptions to everything and everybody; a
heavy amount transmitted to the Havannah.”

“Very true; and that reminds me of a letter which I received at the very
moment I was leaving home. Have I your leave to finish the reading? It
is from an old and valued comrade.”

“Of course,--don’t think of me for an instant,” said Kennyfeck, scarcely
able to repress an open acknowledgment of his amazement at the
coolness which could turn from so interesting a topic to the, doubtless
commonplace, narrative of some Mexican sailor.

Cashel was, meanwhile, searching every pocket for the letter, which he
well remembered, after reading in the carriage, to have crushed in his
hand as he ascended the stairs. “I have dropped this letter,” said he,
in a voice of great agitation. “May I ask if your servants have found
it?”

The bell was rung, and the butler at once interrogated. He had seen
nothing, neither had the footman. They both remembered, however that Mr.
Phillis had accompanied his master to the foot of the stairs to receive
some directions, and then left him to return with the carriage.

“So, then, Phillis must have found it,” said Cashel, rising hastily;
and, without a word of apology or excuse, he bade his host a hurried
good evening, and left the room.

“Won’t you have the carriage? Will you not stay for a cup of tea?” cried
Mr. Kennyfeck, hastening after him. But the hall-door had already banged
heavily behind him, and he was gone. When Cashel reached his house, it
was to endure increased anxiety; for Mr. Phillis had gone out, and, like
a true gentleman’s gentleman, none of the other servants knew anything
of his haunts, or when he would return. Leaving Cashel, then, to the
tortures of a suspense which his fervid nature made almost intolerable,
we shall return for a brief space to the house he had just quitted, and
to the drawing-room, where, in momentary expectation of his appearance,
the ladies sat, maintaining that species of “staccato” conversation
which can afford interruption with least inconvenience. It is our duty
to add, that we bring the reader back here less with any direct object
as to what is actually going forward, than to make him better acquainted
with the new arrival.

Had Miss O’Hara been the mere quiet, easy-going, simple-minded elderly
maiden she seemed to Cashel’s eyes, the step on our part had not been
needed; she might, like some other characters of our tale, have been
suffered to glide by as ghosts or stage-supernumeraries do, unquestioned
and undetained; but she possessed qualities of a kind to demand somewhat
more consideration. Aunt Fanny, to give her the title by which she
was best known, was, in reality, a person of the keenest insight
into others,--reading people at sight, and endowed with a species of
intuitive perception of all the possible motives which lead to any
action. Residing totally in a small town in the west of Ireland, she
rarely visited the capital, and was now, in fact, brought up “special”
 by her sister, Mrs. Kennyfeck, who desired to have her advice and
counsel on the prospect of securing Cashel for one or other of her
daughters. It was so far a wise step, that in such a conjuncture no
higher opinion could have been obtained.

“It was like getting a private hint from the Chancellor about a cause in
equity.” This was Mr. Kennyfeck’s own illustration.

Aunt Fanny was then there in the guise of a domestic detective, to watch
proceedings and report on them,--a function which simplifies the due
conduct of a case, be it in love or law, beyond anything.

“How agreeable your papa must be this evening, my dear!” said Mrs.
Kennyfeck, as with a glance at the clock on the mantelpiece she
recognized that it was near ten.

[Illustration: 261]

“I ‘m sure he is deep in one of his interminable law arguments, which
always makes Mr. Cashel so sleepy and so stupid, that he never recovers
for the rest of the evening.”

“He ought to find the drawing-room all the pleasanter for the contrast,”
 remarked Miss O’Hara, dryly. “I like to see young men--mind me well,
young men, it does n’t do with old ones--thoroughly bored before they
come among the ladies. The sudden change to the tea, and the wax-lights,
and the bright eyes, are trying stimulants. Let them, however, be what
they call ‘pleasant’ below-stair, and they are sure to come up flushed
and excited, well satisfied with the host’s claret, and only anxious to
order the carriage. What o’clock is it now?”

“A quarter-past ten, aunt.”

“Too late; full three-quarters too late,” ejaculated she, with the tone
of an oracle. “There is nothing your father could have to say should
have detained him till now. Play that little Mexican thing again, my
dear; and, Livy, love, leave the door a little open; don’t you find the
heat of this room intolerable?”

The young ladies obeyed, and meanwhile Aunt Fanny, drawing her chair
closer to her sister’s, said, in a low tone,--

“Well, explain the matter more clearly. Did he give her the diamonds?”

“No; that is the strangest of all,” responded Mrs. Kennyfeck. “He just
told Leonard to send them home, and we never heard more about them.”

Aunt Fanny shook her head.

“You know, he asked Olivia, as they were going downstairs, what she
thought of them; and she replied, ‘They ‘re beautiful.’”

“How did she say it, though; was it like a mere casual remark, or did
she make it with feeling?”

“With feeling,” echoed Mrs. Kennyfeck, pursing up her lips.

“Well?”

“Well! he just said, ‘I’ll take them,’ and there was an end of it.”

Aunt Fanny seemed to reflect, and, after some time, said,--

“Now, as to the horse, when did he make her a present of that?”

“It was to Caroline he gave the horse; sure I told you already.”

“Very true, so you did; a bad feature of the case, too! She ought to
have declined it somehow.”

“So she would,” broke in Mrs. Kennyfeck; “but, you perceive, it was very
doubtful, at the time, which of the girls he preferred.”

“And you tell me this Mr. Linton has such influence over him.”

“The most absolute. It is only a few weeks since they became acquainted,
and now they are inseparable.”

“What is he like,--Linton himself?”

Mrs. Kennyfeck gave a most significant signal, by closing up her lips,
and slowly nodding her head,--a gesture that seemed well understood.

“Does Kennyfeck know nothing of his affairs; has he no private history
of the man, which might be useful to us?”

“Don’t think of that, my dear,” rejoined Mrs. Kennyfeck, knowingly; “but
here they come at last.” This was said with reference to the sound of
footsteps on the stairs, which gradually approached, and at last Mr.
Kennyfeck made his appearance in the drawing-room.

“Where is Mr. Cashel,--is he gone?” asked Mrs. Kennyfeck, in an accent
of unusual anxiety.

“He went away above an hour ago. He wanted to see a letter, or to write
one, or to look for one he had lost,--I forget which.”

“I’m certain you do!” observed Mrs. Kennyfeck, with an expression of
unequivocal contempt. “I am perfectly certain we need not look to you
for either information or assistance.”

Poor Mr. Kennyfeck was dumfoundered. The very words were riddles to
him, and he turned to each person about him in silent entreaty for
explanation; but none came.

“What had you been conversing about?” asked Aunt Fanny, in that
encouraging tone lawyers sometimes use to draw out a reluctant or
bashful witness.

“Of his money affairs, Miss O’Hara; and I am grieved to say that the
subject had so little interest for him, that he started up and left me
on suddenly remembering something about a letter.”

“Which something you have totally forgotten,” remarked Mrs. Kennyfeck,
tartly.

“And yet it would be a most important fact for us,” observed Aunt Fanny,
with judicial solemnity; “a letter, whether to read or to write, of such
pressing necessity, implies much.”

“Come, Livy, dear,” said Miss Kennyfeck, rising from the pianoforte, and
addressing her sister, who sat reading on the sofa, “_my_ canzonette and
_your_ beautiful attitude are so much sweetness thrown away. He’s gone
without even a thought of either! There, there, don’t look so innocently
vacant,--you understand me perfectly.”

A very gentle smile was all the younger sister’s reply as she left the
room.

“Depend upon it, my dear,” said Miss O’Hara to Mrs. Kennyfeck, “that
young man had made some unhappy connection; that’s the secret of this
letter, and when they get into a scrape of the kind it puts marriage out
of their heads altogether. It was the same with Captain Morris,”--here
she whispered still lower, the only audible words being, “without my
ever suspecting,--one evening--a low creature--never set eyes upon--ah,
man, man!” And with this exclamation aloud, Aunt Fanny took her candle
and retired.

About a minute after, however, she re-entered the drawing-room, and
advancing close to her sister, said, with all the solemnity of deep
thought,--

“Peter is no good in this case, my dear; send him home at once. That man
will ‘blaze’ for the asking.” And with a nod of immense significance she
finally withdrew.



CHAPTER XX. HOW ENRIQUE’S LETTER WAS LOST AND FOUND.

     “Arcades ambo!”

     Blackguards both!


In the window of a very pretty cottage-room overlooking the Liffey, and
that romantic drive so well known to Dub-liners as the “low road” to
Lucan, sat Tom Linton. He was enjoying a cigar and a glass of weak
negus, as a man may enjoy such luxuries seated in the easiest of chairs,
looking out upon one of the sweetest of woodland landscapes, and feeling
the while that the whole was “his own.” If conscientious scruples
had been any part of that gentleman’s life philosophy, he might have
suffered some misgivings, seeing that the cottage itself, its furniture,
the plate, the very horses in the stable and the grooms about it,
had been won at the hazard-table, and from one whose beggary ended in
suicide. But Linton did not dwell on such things, and if they did for
an instant cross his mind, he dismissed them at once with a contemptuous
pity for the man who could not build up a fortune by the arts with which
he had lost one. He had not begun the world himself with much principle,
and all his experiences went to prove that even less would suffice, and
that for the purposes of the station he occupied, and the society he
frequented, it was only necessary that he should not transgress in his
dealings with men of a certain rank and condition; so that while every
transaction with people of class and fashion should be strictly on
“the square,” he was at perfect liberty to practise any number of sharp
things with all beneath them. It was the old axiom of knight-errantry
adapted to our own century, which made every weapon fair used against
the plebeian!

From a pleasant revery over some late successes and some future ones in
anticipation, he was aroused by a gentle tap at the door.

“Come in,” said he; “I think I guess who it is,--Phillis, eh?”

“Yes, sir, you’re quite correct,” said that individual, advancing from
the misty twilight of the room, which was only partly lighted by a
single alabaster lamp. “I thought I’d find you at home, sir, and I knew
this letter might interest you. He dropped it when going up the stairs
at Kennyfeck’s, and could scarcely have read it through.”

“Sit down, George--sit down, man--what will you take? I see you ‘ve had
a fast drive; if that was your car I heard on the road, your pace was
tremendous. What shall it be--claret--sherry--brandy-and-water?”

“If you please, sir, sherry. I have lost all palate for Bordeaux since I
came to Mr. Cashel. We get abominable wine from Cullan.”

“So I remarked myself; but this must be looked to. Come, try that; it’s
some of Gordon’s, and he would not send a bad bottle to me.”

“I ‘m very certain of that, sir. It is excellent.”

“Now then for the epistle.” So saying, he lighted a taper and prepared
to read.. “Jamaica,--oh, a shipmate’s letter!”

“A curious one, too, sir, as you ‘ll say when you read it.”

Linton, without reply, began to read, nor did he break silence till he
finished, when, laying down the paper, he said, “And this very fellow
who writes this he actually spoke of inviting to Ireland,--to stay some
time at his house,--to be introduced, in fact, to his acquaintances as a
personal friend.”

“It’s very sad, sir,” sighed Phillis. “I have long been of opinion that
I must leave him. The appointments, it is true, are good; perquisites,
too, very handsome; but the future, Mr. Linton,--what a future it will
be!”

“It need not be a very near one, at all events,” said Linton, smiling;
“you’ve read this?”

“Just threw an eye over it, sir!”

“Well, you see that your excellent master has been little better than a
pirate or a slaver.”

“Very shocking, indeed, sir!”

“Of course this must not go abroad, George.”

“It would ruin me utterly, sir.”

“To be sure it would. No nobleman, nor any gentleman of rank or fashion,
could think of engaging your services after such an appointment.
Happily, George, you may not require such, if you only mind your hits.
Your master can afford to make your fortune, and never know himself the
poorer. Come, how go on matters latterly at No. 50?”

“Pretty much as usual, sir; two dinner-parties last week.”

“I know all about them, though I affected to be engaged and did n’t dine
there. What I want is to hear of these Kennyfecks,--do they come much
after him?”

“Only once, sir, when they came to see the house and stopped to
luncheon.”

“Well, was he particular in his attentions to either of the daughters?”

“Very attentive, indeed, sir, to the younger. She dropped her
handkerchief in the gallery, and ran back for it, and so did he, sir.”

“You followed, of course?”

“I did, sir, and she was blushing very much as I came in, and I heard
her say something about ‘forgiving him,’ and then they left the room.”

“And what of Kennyfeck,--has he had any conversations with him on
business?”

“None, sir; I have strictly followed your orders, and never admitted
him.”

“Lord Charles Frobisher was a large winner t’other night?” said Linton,
after a pause.

“Yes, sir, so I heard them say at supper, and Mr. Cashel first gave a
check and then changed his mind, and I saw him hand over a heavy sum in
notes.”

“Indeed!” muttered Linton to himself; “and my worthy friend Charley did
not confess this to me. Have you taken care that the people don’t send
in their bills and accounts, as I mentioned?”

“Yes, sir; with few exceptions, nothing of the kind comes.”

“What brought that Mr. Clare Jones so frequently of late?”

“He came twice in Mr. Downie Meek’s carriage, sir, but sat all the while
outside, while Mr. Meek was with my master; the third day, however, he
was sent for to come in, and spent nearly an hour in the study.”

“Well, what took place?”

“I could only hear part of the conversation, sir, as I feared I might be
sent for. The subject was a seat in Parliament, which Mr. Cashel owns,
and that Mr. Meek is desirous of procuring for Jones.”

“Ha! ha! my little Judas! is that your game? Go on, George, this
interests me.”

“I have little more to tell, sir, for Mr. Meek always speaks so low, and
my master scarcely said anything.”

“And Jones?”

“He merely remarked on the identity of his political principles with
those of the present Government.”

“Of course; the fellow began as a Radical, and then turned Tory, and now
is a Whig. Blue and yellow when mixed always make green. But how did it
end?”

“As well as I could perceive, sir, without any promise. My master was to
deliberate and send his answer.”

“Let neither have access to him till you hear from me again,--mark
that.”

“You shall be obeyed, sir.”

“Did Lord Kilgoff call?”

“Twice, sir; but my master was out. I followed your directions, however,
and said that her Ladyship was with him, and he seemed much provoked at
not finding him at home.”

“Well, how did he take it,--did he make any remark?”

“A half smile, sir; nothing more.”

“But said nothing?”

“Not a word, sir.”

Linton arose and walked the room in deep meditation; at last he said,--

“You had better let him have those letters we held back the last two
days, to-day. He’ll not think deeply over his losses on the Derby while
dwelling on this missing letter.”

“I don’t suspect his losses, sir, will cause much uneasiness on any
score; money occupies very little of his thoughts.”

“True; but here the sum is a very heavy one. I made the book myself, and
stood to win thirty thousand pounds; but, no matter,--it can’t be helped
now,--better luck another time. Now, another point. It strikes me of
late that he seems bored somewhat by the kind of life he is leading, and
that these carouses at the messes are becoming just as distasteful to
him as the heavy dinner-parties with the Dean and the rest of them. Is
that your opinion?”

“Perfectly, sir. He even said as much to me t’other evening, when he
came back from a late supper. He is always wishing for the yacht to
come over,--speaks every now and then of taking a run over to London and
Paris; in fact, sir, he _is_ bored here. There is no disguising it.”

“I feared as much, George; I suspected, many a day ago, he would not be
long satisfied with the provincial boards. But this must not be; once
away from Dublin, he is lost to us forever. I know, and so do you know,
the hands he would fall into in town. Better let him get back to his old
prairie haunts, for a while, than that.”

“Not so very unlikely, sir. He sits poring over maps and charts for
hours together, and scans the new coast survey like a man bent on
exploring the scenes for himself. It is hard to say what is best to do
with him.”

“I’ll tell you what he must not be permitted to do with himself: he must
not leave Ireland; he must not marry; he must not enter Parliament; and,
for the moment, to employ his thoughts and banish _ennui_, we ‘ll get up
the house-warming at Tubbermore. I mean to set off thither to-morrow.”

“Without Mr. Cashel, sir?”

“Of course; be it your care that matters are well looked to in my
absence, and as Kennyfeck’s house is safer than the barracks, he may
dine there as often as he pleases. Keep a watch on Jones,--not that I
think he ‘ll be very dangerous; see after Lord Charles, whether he may
try to profit by my absence; and, above all, write me a bulletin each
day.”

Mr. Phillis promised a strict obedience to orders, and rose to retire,
pleading the necessity of his being at home when his master returned.

“What of this letter, sir? Shall I contrive to place it in his pocket,
and discover it as he is undressing? He never suspects anything or
anybody.”

“No, George,--I ‘ll keep it; it may turn out useful to us one of these
days; there’s no knowing when or how. I ‘m curious, too, to see how
he will act with reference to it,--whether he will venture on any
confidence towards me. I suspect not; he never alludes to his
bygones. The only terror his mind is capable of would seem the fear of
fashionable contempt. If he ever lose this, he’s lost to us forever.”
 This was said rather in soliloquy than addressed to Phillis, who did not
appear to catch the meaning of the remark. “You’ll leave this note
on his table, and take care he sees it. It is to remind him of an
appointment here to-morrow with Hoare, the money-lender, at eleven
o’clock punctually.”

Phillis took the note, and after a very respectful leave-taking,
withdrew.

“Yes,” said Linton, musing, as he leaned against the window, “all goes
fairly so far. Mr. Phillis may live to see himself once more a merchant
tailor in Cheapside, and Tom Linton, under the buckler of his M.P., defy
duns and bums, and be again a denizen of the only city worth living in.”

He then reseated himself in an easy-chair, and prepared to con over the
letter, to which he had only given a passing attention. The narrative
of Enrique, full of exciting details and hair-breadth ‘scapes, was,
however, far less an object of interest to Linton than the consideration
how far a character like this might be made use of for the purpose of
threat and intimidation over Cashel.

His reflections ran somewhat thus: “The day may come--is, perhaps, even
now nigh--when Cashel shall reject my influence and ascendency. There
never has been anything which could even counterfeit friendship between
us,--close intimacy has been all. To maintain that hold over him so
necessary to my fortunes, I must be in a position to menace. Roland
himself has opened the way to this by his own reserve. The very
concealment he has practised implies fear;--otherwise, why, in all the
openness of our familiar intercourse, never have mentioned Enrique’s
name; still more, never once alluded to this Maritaña? It is clear
enough with what shame he looks back on the past. Let mine be the task
to increase that feeling, and build up the fear of the world’s ridicule,
till he shall be the slave of every whisper that syllables his name! The
higher his path in society, the greater the depth to which disclosures
may consign him; and what disclosures so certainly ruinous as to connect
him with the lawless marauders of the Spanish main,--the slaver and
the pirate? His dear friend, a felon, taken in open fight by a British
cruiser! Maritaña, too, may serve us; her name as mistress--or, if need
be, as wife--will effectually oppose any matrimonial speculations here.
So far this letter has been a rare piece of fortune!”

For some moments he walked the room with excited and animated looks, the
alternating shades of pleasure and its opposite flitting rapidly across
his strong features. At last he broke out in words: “Ay, Cashel, I am as
suddenly enriched as yourself,--but with a different heritage. Yours was
Gold; mine, Revenge! And there are many to whom I could pay the old debt
home. There’s Forster, with his story of Ascot, and his black-ball at
Graham’s!--a double debt, with years of heavy interest upon it; there’s
Howard, too, that closed his book at Tattersall’s, after tearing out the
leaf that had my name! Frobisher himself daring his petty insolence at
every turn!--all these cry for acquittance, and shall have it There are
few men of my own standing, that with moneyed means at my command, I
could not ruin! and, ungallant as the boast may be, some fair ladies,
too! How I have longed for the day, how I have schemed and plotted for
it! and now it comes almost unlooked for.

“Another month or two of this wasteful extravagance, and Cashel will be
deeply, seriously embarrassed. Kennyfeck will suggest retrenchment and
economy; that shall be met with an insidious doubt of the good man’s
honesty. And how easy to impeach it! The schemes of his wife and
daughter will aid the accusation. Roland shall, meanwhile, learn the
discomfort of being ‘hard up.’ The importunity--nay, the insolence--of
duns shall assail him at every post and every hour. From this there is
but one bold, short step,--and take it he must,--make me his agent. That
done, all the rest is easy. Embarrassment and injurious reports will
soon drive him from the country, and from an estate he shall never
revisit as his own! So far,--the first act of the drama! The second
discovers Tom Linton the owner of Tubbermore, and the host of Lord and
Lady Kilgoff, who have condescendingly agreed to pass the Easter recess
with him. Mr. Linton has made a very splendid maiden speech, which,
however, puzzles the ministers and the ‘Times;’ and, if he were not a
man perfectly indifferent to place, would expose him to the imputation
of courting it.

“And Laura all this while!” said he, in a voice whose accents trembled
with intense feeling, “can she forgive the past? Will old memories
revive old affections, or will they rot into hatred? Well,” cried he,
sternly, “whichever way they turn, I ‘m prepared.”

There was a tone of triumphant meaning in his last words that seemed to
thrill through his frame, and as he threw himself back upon his seat,
and gazed out upon the starry sky, his features wore the look of proud
and insolent defiance. “So is it,” said he, after a pause; “one must be
alone--friendless, and alone--in life, to dare the world so fearlessly.”
 He filled a goblet of sherry, and as he drank it off, cried, “Courage!
Tom Linton against ‘the field!’”



CHAPTER XXI. THE CONSPIRATORS DISTURBED

     Eternal friendship let us swear,
     In fraud at least--“nous serons frères.”

     Robert Macaire.


Cashel passed a night of feverish anxiety. Enrique’s uncertain fate was
never out of his thoughts; and if for a moment he dropped off to sleep,
he immediately awoke with a sudden start,--some fancied cry for help,
some heart-uttered appeal to him for assistance breaking in upon his
weary slumber.

How ardently did he wish for some one friend to whom he might confide
his difficulty, and from whom receive advice and counsel. Linton’s
shrewdness and knowledge of life pointed him out as the fittest; but
how to reveal to his fashionable friend the secrets of that buccaneering
life he had himself so lately quitted? How expose himself to the dreaded
depreciation a “fine gentleman” might visit on a career passed amid
slavers and pirates? A month or two previous, he could not have
understood such scruples; but already the frivolities and excesses of
daily habit had thrown an air of savage rudeness over the memory of his
Western existence, and he had not the courage to brave the comments it
might suggest To this false shame had Linton brought him, acting on
a naturally sensitive nature, by those insidious and imperceptible
counsels which represent the world--meaning, thereby, that portion of it
who are in the purple and fine linen category--as the last appeal in all
cases, not alone of a man’s breeding and pretensions, but of his honor
and independence.

It was not without many a severe struggle, and many a heartfelt
repining, Cashel felt himself surrender the free action of his natural
independence to the petty and formal restrictions of a code like this.
But there was an innate dread of notoriety, a sensitive shrinking from
remark, that made him actually timid about transgressing whatever he
was told to be an ordinance of fashion. To dress in a particular way;
to frequent certain places; to be known to certain people; to go out
at certain hours; and so on,--were become to his mind as the actual
requirements of his station, and often did he regret the hour when he
had parted with his untrammelled freedom to live a life of routine and
monotony.

Shrinking, then, from any confidence in Linton, he next thought of
Kennyfeck; and, although not placing a high value on his skill and
correctness in such a difficulty, he resolved, at all hazards, to
consult him on the course to be followed. He had been often told how
gladly Government favors the possessor of fortune and influence. “Now,”
 thought he, “is the time to test the problem. All of mine is at their
service, if they but liberate my poor comrade.”

So saying to himself, he had just reached the hall, when the sound of
wheels approached the door. A carriage drew up, and Linton, followed by
Mr. Hoare, the money-lender, descended.

“Oh, I had entirely forgotten this affair,” cried Cashel, as he met
them; “can we not fix another day?”

“Impossible, sir; I leave town to-night.”

“Another hour to-day, then?” said Cashel, impatiently.

“This will be very difficult, sir. I have some very pressing
engagements, all of which were formed subject to your convenience in
this business.”

“But while you are discussing the postponement, you could finish the
whole affair,” cried Linton, drawing his arm within Cashel’s, and
leading him along towards the library. “By Jove! it does give a man a
sublime idea of wealth, to be sure,” said he, laughing, “to see the
cool indifference with which you can propose to defer an interview
that brings you some fifteen thousand pounds. As for me, I ‘d make the
Viceroy himself play ‘ante-chamber,’ if little Hoare paid me a visit.”

“Well, be it so; only let us despatch,” said Cashel, “for I am anxious
to catch Kennyfeck before he goes down to court.”

“I ‘ll not detain you many minutes, sir,” said Hoare, drawing forth a
very capacious black leather pocket-book, and opening it on the
table. “There are the bills, drawn as agreed upon,--at three and six
months,--here is a statement of the charges for interest, commission,
and--”

“I am quite satisfied it is all right,” said Cashel, pushing the paper
carelessly from him. “I have borrowed money once or twice in my life,
and always thought anything liberal which did not exceed cent per cent.”

“We are content with much less, sir, as you will perceive,” said Hoare,
smiling. “Six per cent interest, one-half commission--”

“Yes, yes; it is all perfectly correct,” broke in Cashel. “I sign my
name here--and here?”

“And here, also, sir. There is also a policy of insurance on your life.”

“What does that mean?”

“Oh, a usual kind of security in these cases,” said Linton; “because if
you were to die before the bills came due--”

“I see it all; whatever you please,” said Cashel, taking up his hat and
gloves. “Now, will you pardon me for taking a very abrupt leave?”

“You are forgetting a very material point, sir,” said Hoare; “this is an
order on Frend and Beggan for the money.”

“Very true. The fact is, gentlemen, my head is none of the clearest
to-day. Good-bye--good-bye.”

“Ten to one all that haste is to keep some appointment with one of
Kennyfeck’s daughters,” said Hoare, as he shook the sand over the
freshly-signed bills, when the heavy bang of the hall-door announced
Cashel’s departure.

“I fancy not,” said Linton, musing; “I believe I can guess the secret.”

“What am I to do with these, Mr. Linton?” said the other, not heeding
the last observation, as he took two pieces of paper from the pocket of
his book.

“What are they?” said Linton, stretching at full length on a sofa.

“Two bills, with the endorsement of Thomas Linton.”

“Then are two ten-shilling stamps spoiled and good for nothing,” replied
Linton, “which, without that respectable signature, might have helped to
ruin somebody worth ruining.”

“‘One will be due on Saturday, the twelfth. The other--”

“Don’t trouble yourself about the dates, Hoare. I ‘ll renew as often as
you please--I ‘ll do anything but pay.”

“Come, sir, I’ll make a generous proposition: I have made a good
morning’s work. You shall have them both for a hundred.”

“Thanks for the liberality,” said Linton, laughing. “You bought them for
fifty.”

“I know that very well; but remember, you were a very depreciated
stock at that time. Now, you are at a premium. I hear you have been a
considerable winner from our friend here.”

“Then you are misinformed. I have won less than the others,--far less
than I might have done. The fact is, Hoare, I have been playing a back
game,--what jockeys call, holding my stride.”

“Well, take care you don’t wait too long,” said Hoare, sententiously.

“How do you mean?” said Linton, sitting up, and showing more animation
than he had exhibited before.

“You have your secret--I have mine,” replied Hoare, dryly, as he
replaced the bills in his pocket-book and clasped it.

“What if we exchange prisoners, Hoare?”

“It would be like most of your compacts, Mr. Linton, all the odds in
your own favor.”

“I doubt whether any man makes such compacts with _you_,” replied
Linton; “but why higgle this way? ‘Remember,’ as Peacham says, ‘that we
could hang one another;’ and there is an ugly adage about what happens
when people such as you and I ‘fall out.’”

“So there is; and, strange enough, I was just thinking of it. Come, what
is _your_ secret?”

“Read that,” said Linton, placing Enrique’s letter in his hand, while he
sat down, directly in front, to watch the effect it might produce.

Hoare read slowly and attentively; some passages he re-read three or
four times; and then, laying down the letter, he seemed to reflect on
its contents.

“You scarcely thought what kind of company our friend used to keep
formerly?” asked Linton, sneeringly.

“I knew all about that tolerably well. I was rather puzzling myself a
little about this Pedro Rica; that same trick of capturing the slavers,
and then selling the slaves, is worthy of one I could mention, not to
speak of the double treachery of informing against his comrades, and
sending the English frigate after them.”

“A deep hand he must be,” remarked Linton, coolly.

“A very deep one; but what is Cashel likely to do here?”

“Nothing; he has no clew whatever to the business; the letter itself he
had not time to read through, when he dropped it, and--”

“I understand--perfectly. This accounts for his agitation. Well, I must
say, _my_ secret is the better of the two, and, as usual, you have made
a good bargain.”

“Not better than _your_ morning’s work here, Hoare; confess that”

“Ah, there will not be many more such harvests to reap,” said he,
sighing.

“How so? his fortune is scarcely breached as yet”

“He spends money fast,” said Hoare, gravely; “even now, see what sums
he has squandered; think of the presents he has lavished,--diamonds,
horses--”

“As to the Kennyfeck affair, it was better than getting into a
matrimonial scrape, which I fancy I have rescued him from.”

“Oh, no, nothing of the kind. Pirate as he is, he would n’t venture on
that.”

“Why so?--what do you mean?”

“Simply, that he is married already; at least, that species of betrothal
which goes for marriage in his free and easy country.”

“Married!” exclaimed Linton, in utter amazement; “and he never even
hinted in the most distant manner to this.”

“And yet the obligation is sufficiently binding, according to Columbian
law, to give his widow the benefit of all property he might die
possessed of in that Republic.”

“And he knows this himself?”

“So well, that he has already proposed a very large sum as forfeit to
break the contract.”

“And this has been refused?”

“Yes. The girl’s father has thought it better to follow your own plan,
and make ‘a waiting race,’ well knowing, that if Cashel does not return
to claim her as his wife,--or that, which is not improbable, she may
marry more advantageously,--he will always be ready to pay the forfeit.”

“May I learn his name?”

“No!”

“Nor his daughter’s--the Christian name, I mean.”

“To what end? It would be a mere idle curiosity, for I should exact a
pledge of your never divulging it.”

“Of course,” said Linton, carelessly. “It was, as you say, a mere idle
wish. Was this a love affair, then, for it has a most commercial air?”

“I really don’t know that; I fancy that they were both very young, and
very ignorant of what they were pledging, and just as indifferent to the
consequences.”

“She was handsome, this--”

“Maritaña is beautiful, they say,” said Hoare, who inadvertently let
slip the name he had refused to divulge.

Linton’s quick ear caught it at once, but as rapidly affected not to
notice it, as he said,--

“But I really do not see as yet how this affects what we were just
speaking of?”

“It will do so, however--and ere long. These people, who were immensely
rich some time back, are now, by one of the convulsions so frequent
in those countries, reduced to absolute poverty. They will, doubtless,
follow Cashel here, and seek a fulfilment of his contract. I need not
tell you, Mr. Linton, what must ensue on such a demand; it would be
hard to say whether acceptance or refusal would be worse. In a word,
the father-in-law is a man of such a character, there is only one thing
would be more ruinous than his enmity, and that is, any alliance with
him. Let him but arrive in this country, and every gentleman of station
and class will fall back from Cashel’s intimacy; and even those--I ‘ll
not mention names,” said he, smiling--“who could gloss over some of
their prejudices with gold-leaf, will soon discover that a shrewder eye
than Cashel’s will be on them, and that all attempts to profit by his
easiness of temper and reckless nature will be met by one who has never
yet been foiled in a game of artifice and deceit.”

“Then I perceive we have a very short tether,” said Linton, gravely;
“when may this worthy gentleman be-looked for?”

“At any moment. I believe early in spring, however, will be the time.”

“Well, that gives us a few months; during which I must contrive to get
in for this borough of Derraheeny--But hark! is that a carriage at
the door?--yes, by Jove! the Kennyfecks. I remember, he had asked them
to-day to come and see his pictures. I say, Hoare, step out by the
back way; we must not be caught together here. I ‘ll make my escape
afterwards.”

Already the thundering knock of the footman resounded through lie house,
and Hoare, not losing a moment, left the library, and hastened through
the garden at the rear of the house; while Linton, seizing some writing
materials, hurried upstairs, and established himself in a small boudoir
off one of the drawing-rooms, carefully letting down the Venetians as he
entered, and leaving the chamber but half lighted; this done, he drew a
screen in front of him, and waited patiently.



CHAPTER XXII. VISIT TO THE “CASHEL PICTURE GALLERY.”

     Ignored the schools of France and Spain,
     And of the Netherlands not surer,
     He knew not Cuyp from Claude Lorraine,
     Nor Dow from Albert Durer.

     Bell: Images.

Scarcely had the Kennyfecks’ carriage driven from the door when the
stately equipage of the MacFarlines drew up, which was soon after
followed by the very small pony phaeton of Mrs. Leicester White,
that lady herself driving, and having for her companion a large
high-shouldered, spectacled gentleman, whose glances, at once inquiring
and critical, pronounced him as one of her numerous _protégés_ in art,
science, or letters.

This visit to the “Cashel Gallery,” as she somewhat grandiloquently
designated the collection, had been a thing of her own planning; first,
because Mrs. White was an adept in that skilful diplomacy which so
happily makes plans for pleasure at other people’s houses--and oh, what
numbers there are!--delightful, charming people as the world calls them!
whose gift goes no further than this, that they keep a registry of their
friends’ accommodation, and know to a nicety the season to dine here,
to sup there, to picnic at one place, and to “spend the day”--horrible
expression of a more horrible fact--at another. But Mrs. White had also
another object in view on the present occasion, which was, to introduce
her companion, Mr. Elias Howie, to her Dublin acquaintance.

Mr. Elias Howie was one of a peculiar class, which this age, so fertile
in inventions, has engendered, a publishers’ man-of-all-work, ready for
everything, from statistics to satire, and equally prepared to expound
prophecy, or write squibs for “Punch.”

Not that lodgings were not inhabited in Grub Street before our day,
but that it remained for the glory of this century to see that numerous
horde of tourist authors held in leash by fashionable booksellers,
and every now and then let slip over some country, to which plague,
pestilence, or famine, had given a newer and more terrible interest
In this novel walk of literature Mr. Howie was one of the chief
proficients; he was the creator of that new school of travel which,
writing expressly for London readers, refers everything to the standard
of “town;” and whether it be a trait of Icelandic life, or some remnant
of old-world existence in the far East, all must be brought for trial to
the bar of “Seven Dials,” or stand to plead in the dock of Pall Mall
or Piccadilly. Whatever errors or misconceptions he might fall into
respecting his subjects, he made none regarding his readers. He knew
them by heart,--their leanings, their weakness, and their
prejudices; and how pleasantly could he flatter their town-bred
self-sufficiency,--how slyly insinuate their vast superiority over all
other citizens, insidiously assuring them that the Thames at Richmond
was infinitely finer than the Rhine or the Danube, and that a trip to
Margate was richer in repayal than a visit to the Bosphorus! Ireland
was, just at the time we speak of, a splendid field for his peculiar
talents. The misery-mongers had had their day. The world was somewhat
weary of Landlordism, Pauperism, and Protestantism, and all the other
“isms” of that unhappy country.

There was nothing that had not been said over the overgrown Church
establishment, the devouring Middleman, Cottier misery, and Celtic
barbarism; people grew weary of hearing about a nation so endowed with
capabilities, and which yet did nothing, and rather than puzzle their
heads any further, they voted Ireland a “bore.” It was just then that
“this inspired Cockney” determined to try a new phase of the subject,
and this was not to counsel nor console, not to lament over nor bewail
our varied mass of errors and misfortunes, but to laugh at us. To hunt
out as many incongruities--many real enough, some fictitious--as he
could find; to unveil all that he could discover of social anomaly; and,
without any reference to, or any knowledge of, the people, to bring them
up for judgment before his less volatile and more happily circumstanced
countrymen, certain of the verdict he sought for--a hearty laugh. His
mission was to make “Punch” out of Ireland, and none more capable than
he for the office.

A word of Mr. Howie in the flesh, and we have done. He was large and
heavily built, but neither muscular nor athletic; his frame and all his
gestures indicated weakness and uncertainty. His head was capacious, but
not remarkable for what phrenologists call moral development; while
the sinister expression of his eyes--half submissive, half
satirical--suggested doubts of his sincerity. There was nothing honest
about him but his mouth; this was large, full, thick-lipped, and
sensual,--the mouth of one who loved to dine well, and yet felt that
his agreeability was an ample receipt in full for the best entertainment
that ever graced Black wall or the “Frères.”

It is a heavy infliction that we story-tellers are compelled to lay
upon our readers and ourselves, thus to interrupt our narrative by a
lengthened description of a character not essentially belonging to our
story; we had rather, far rather, been enabled to imitate Mrs. White, as
she advanced into the circle in the drawing-room, saying, “Mr. Cashel,
allow me to present to your favorable notice my distinguished friend,
Mr. Howie. Lady Janet MacFarline, Mr. Howie,--” sotto,--“the author of
‘Snooks in the Holy Land,’ the wittiest thing of the day; Sir Andrew
will be delighted with him--has been all over the scenes of the
Peninsular war. Mrs. Kennyfeck, Mr. Howie.”

Mr. Howie made his round of salutations, and although by his awkwardness
tacitly acknowledging that they were palpably more habituated to the
world’s ways than himself, yet inwardly consoled by remarking certain
little traits of manner and accent sufficiently provincial to be
treasured up, and become very droll in print or a copper etching.

“It’s a vara new pleasure ye are able to confer upon your friends, Mr.
Cashel,” said Sir Andrew, “to show them so fine a collection o’
pictures in Ireland, whar, methinks, the arts ha’ no enjoyed too mickle
encouragement.”

“I confess,” said Cashel, modestly, “I am but ill qualified to extend
the kind of patronage that would be serviceable, had I even the means;
I have not the slightest pretension to knowledge or judgment. The few I
have purchased have been as articles of furniture, pleasant to look at,
without any pretension to high excellence.”

“Just as Admiral Dalrymple paid ten pounds for a dunghill when he turned
farmer,” whispered Mr. Howie in Mrs. White’s ear, “and then said, ‘he
had only bought it because some one said it was a good thing; but that,
now, he ‘d give any man “twenty” to tell him what to do with it,’”

Mrs. White burst into a loud fit of laughter, exclaiming:

“Oh, how clever, how good! Pray, Mr. Howie, tell Lady Janet--tell Mr.
Cashel that.”

“Oh, madam!” cried the terrified tourist, who had not discovered before
the very shallow discrimination of his gifted acquaintance.

“If it is so vara good,” said Sir Andrew, “we maun insist on hearin’
it.”

“No, no! nothing of the kind,” interposed Howie; “besides, the
observation was only intended for Mrs. White’s ear.”

“Very true,” said that lady, affecting a look of consciousness.

“The odious woman,” whispered Miss Kennyfeck to her sister; “see how
delighted she looks to be compromised.”

“If we had Linton,” said Cashel, politely offering his arm to Lady
Janet, as he led her into the so-called gallery, “he could explain
everything for us. We have, however, a kind of catalogue here. This
large landscape is said to be by Both.”

“If she be a coo,” said Sir Andrew, “I maun say it’s the first time I
ever seen ane wi’ the head ower the tail.”

“Nonsense,” said Lady Janet; “don’t ye perceive that the animal is
fore-shortened, and is represented looking backwards?”

“I ken nothing aboot that; she may be shortened in the fore-parts, an’
ye say, and that may be some peculiar breed, but what brings her head
ower her rump?”

Sir Andrew was left to finish his criticism alone, the company moving
on to a portrait assigned to Vandyck, as Diedrich von Aevenghem,
Burgomaster of Antwerp.

“A fine head!” exclaimed Mrs. White, authoritatively; “don’t you think
so, Mr. Howie?”

“A very choice specimen of the great master, for which, doubtless, you
gave a large sum.”

“Four hundred, if I remember aright,” said Cashel.

“I think he maught hae a clean face for that money,” broke in Sir
Andrew.

“What do you mean, sir?” said Miss Kennyfeck, insidiously, and delighted
at the misery Lady Janet endured from his remarks.

“Don’t ye mind the smut he has on ane cheek?”

“It’s the shadow of his nose, Sir Andrew,” broke in Lady Janet, with a
sharpness of rebuke there was no misunderstanding.

“Eh, my leddy, so it may, but ye need na bite mine off, for a’ that!”
 And so saying, the discomfited veteran fell back in high dudgeon.

The party now broke into the twos and threes invariable on such
occasions, and While Mrs. Kennyfeck and her elder daughter paid their
most devoted attentions to Lady Janet, Mrs. White and the author paired
off, leaving Olivia Kennyfeck to the guidance of Cashel.

“So you ‘ll positively not tell me what it is that preys on your mind
this morning?” said she, in the most insinuating of soft accents.

Cashel shook his head mournfully, and said,--

“Why should I tell you of what it is impossible you could give me
any counsel in, while your sympathy would only cause uneasiness to
yourself?”

“But you forget our compact,” said she, archly; “there was to be perfect
confidence on both sides, was there not?”

“Certainly. Now, when shall we begin?”

“Have you not begun already?”

“I fancy not. Do you remember two evenings ago, when I came suddenly
into the drawing-room and found you pencil in hand, and you, instead of
at once showing me what you had been sketching, shut the portfolio, and
carried it off, despite all my entreaties--nay, all my just demands?”

“Oh, but,” said she, smiling, “confidence is one thing--confession is
another.”

“Too subtle distinctions for me,” cried Cashel. “I foolishly supposed
that there was to be an unreserved--”

“Speak lower, for mercy sake!--don’t you perceive Lady Janet trying to
hear everything you say?” This was said in a soft whisper, while she
added aloud, “I think you said it was a Correggio, Mr. Cashel,” as they
stood before a very lightly-clad Magdalen, who seemed endeavoring to
make up for the deficiency of her costume by draping across her bosom
the voluptuous masses of her golden hair.

“I think a Correggio,” said Cashel, confused at the sudden artifice;
“but who has the catalogue?--oh, Sir Andrew; tell us about number
fifty-eight.”

“Fefty-eight, fefty-eight?” mumbled Sir Andrew a number of times to
himself, and then, having found the number, he approached the picture
and surveyed it attentively.

“Well, sir, what is it called?” said Olivia.

“It’s vara singular,” said Sir Andrew, still gazing at the canvas, “but
doubtless Correggio knew weel what he was aboot. This,” said he, “is a
picture of Sain John the Baaptist in a raiment of caamel’s hair.”

No sense of propriety was proof against this announcement; a laugh, loud
and general, burst forth, during which Lady Janet, snatching the book
indignantly from his hands, cried,--

“You were looking at sixty-eight, Sir Andrew, not fifty-eight; and you
have made yourself perfectly ridiculous.”

“By my saul, I believe so,” muttered the old gentleman, in deep anger.
“I ‘ve been looking at ‘saxty-eight’ ower long already!”

Fortunately, this sarcasm was not heard by her against whom it was
directed, and they who did hear it were fain to suppress their laughter
as well as they were able. The party was now increased by the arrival of
the Dean and his “ancient,” Mr. Softly, to the manifest delight of Mrs.
Kennyfeck, who at once exclaimed,--

“Ah, we shall now hear something really instructive.”

[Illustration: 288]

The erudite churchman, after a very abrupt notice of the company,
started at speed without losing a moment.

His attention being caught by some curious tableaux of the interior
of the great Pyramid, he immediately commenced an explanation of the
various figures, the costumes and weapons, which he said were all
masonic, showing that Pharaoh wore an apron exactly like the Duke of
Sussex, and that every emblem of the “arch” was to be found among the
great of Ancient Egypt.

While thus employed, Mr. Howie, seated in a corner, was busily sketching
the whole party for an illustration to his new book on Ireland, and once
more Cashel and his companion found themselves, of course by the merest
accident, standing opposite the same picture in a little boudoir off
the large gallery. The subject was a scene from Faust, where Marguerite,
leaning on her lover’s arm, is walking in a garden by moonlight, and
seeking by a mode of divination common in Germany to ascertain his
truth, which is by plucking one by one the petals of a flower, saying
alternately, “He loves me, he loves me not;” and then, by the result of
the last-plucked leaf, deciding which fate is accomplished. Cashel first
explained the meaning of the trial, and then taking a rose from one of
the flower vases, he said,--

“Let me see if you can understand my teaching; you have only to say, ‘Er
liebt mich,’ and, ‘Er liebt mich nicht.’”

“But how can I?” said she, with a look of beaming innocence, “if there
be none who--”

“No matter,” said Cashel; “besides, is it not possible you could be
loved, and yet never know it? Now for the ordeal.”

“Er liebt mich nicht,” said Olivia, with a low, silvery voice, as she
plucked the first petal off, and threw it on the floor.

“You begin inauspiciously, and, I must say, unfairly, too,” said Cashel.
“The first augury is in favor of love.”

“Er liebt mich,” said she, tremulously, and the leaf broke in her
fingers. “Ha!” sighed she, “what does that imply? Is it, that he only
loves by half his heart?”

“That cannot be,” said Cashel; “it is rather that you treated his
affection harshly.”

“Should it not bear a little?--ought it to give way at once?”

“Nor will it,” said he, more earnestly, “if you deal but fairly. Come, I
will teach you a still more simple, and yet unerring test.”

A heavy sigh from behind the Chinese screen made both the speakers
start; and while Olivia, pale with terror, sank into a chair, Cashel
hastened to see what had caused the alarm.

“Linton, upon my life!” exclaimed he, in a low whisper, as, on tiptoe,
he returned to the place beside her.

“Oh, Mr. Cashel; oh dear, Mr. Cashel--”

“Dearest Olivia--”

“Heigho!” broke in Linton; and Roland and his companion slipped
noiselessly from the room, and, unperceived, mixed with the general
company, who sat in rapt attention while the Dean explained that
painting was nothing more nor less than an optical delusion,--a theory
which seemed to delight Mrs. Kennyfeck in the same proportion that it
puzzled her. Fortunately, the announcement that luncheon was on the
table cut short the dissertation, and the party descended, all more or
less content to make material enjoyments succeed to intellectual ones.

“Well,” whispered Miss Kennyfeck to her sister, as they descended the
stairs, “did he?”

An almost inaudible “No” was the reply.

“Your eyes are very red for nothing, my dear,” rejoined the elder.

“I dinna ken, sir,” said Sir Andrew to Softly, as he made use of his arm
for support,--“I dinna ken how ye understand your theory aboot optical
delusions, but I maun say, it seems to me a vara strange way for men o’
your cloth to pass the mornin’ starin’ at naked weemen,--creatures, too,
that if they ever leeved at all, must ha’ led the maist abondoned lives.
I take it that Diana herself was ne better than a cuttie; do ye mark hoo
she does no scruple to show a bra pair of legs--”

“With respect to the Heathen Mythology,” broke in Softly, in a voice he
hoped might subdue the discussion.

“Don’t tell me aboot the hay thins, sir; flesh and bluid is a’ the same,
whatever Kirk it follows.”

Before they were seated at table, Linton had joined them, explaining, in
the most natural way in the world, that, having sat down to write in the
boudoir, he had fallen fast asleep, and was only awakened by Mr. Phillis
having accidentally discovered him. A look of quick intelligence
passed between Cashel and Olivia at this narrative; the young lady
soon appeared to have recovered from her former embarrassment, and the
luncheon proceeded pleasantly to all parties. Mr. Howie enjoyed himself
to the utmost, not only by the reflection that a hearty luncheon at two
would save an hotel dinner at six, but that the Dean and Sir Andrew were
two originals, worth five pound apiece even for “Punch.” As to Cashel, a
glance at the author’s note-book would show how he impressed that gifted
personage: “R. C.: a snob--rich--and gullible; his pictures, all the
household gods at Christie’s, the Vandyck, late a sign of the Marquis
of Granby, at Windsor. Mem.: not over safe to quiz him.” “But we ‘ll see
later on.” “Visit him at his country-seat, ‘if poss.’”

“Who is our spectacled friend?” said Linton, as they drove away from the
door.

“Some distinguished author, whose name I have forgotten.”

“Shrewd looking fellow,--think I have seen him at Ascot. What brings him
over here?”

“To write a book, I fancy.”

“What a bore. This is the age of detectives, with a vengeance. Well,
don’t let him in again, that’s all. By Jove! it’s easier, now-a-days, to
escape the Queen’s Bench than the ‘Illustrated News.’”

“A note from Mr. Kennyfeck, sir,” said Mr. Phillis, “and the man waits
for an answer.”

Linton, taking up a book, affected to read, but in reality placed
himself so as to watch Cashel’s features as he perused the letter, whose
size and shape pronounced to be something unusual. Hurriedly mumbling
over a rather tedious exordium on the various views the writer had taken
of a subject, Cashel’s eyes suddenly flashed as he drew forth a small
printed paragraph, cut from the column of a newspaper, and which went
thus:--

     “It will be, doubtless, in our readers’ recollection how a
     short time back an armed slaver, sailing under the flag of
     Columbia, was taken, after a most severe and sanguinary
     engagement, by H.M. brig ‘Hornet.’ The commander, a young
     Spaniard of singularly handsome exterior, and with all the
     bearing and appearance of a rank very different from his
     mode of life, was carried off and confined in St. Kitts’
     till such time as he could be brought to trial.
     Representations from the Government of the Republic were,
     however, made, and a claim preferred for indemnity, not only
     for the loss of the vessel and property, but for the loss of
     life and other injury incurred on the capture. While this
     singular demand was under investigation, the young Spaniard
     alluded to contrived to break his bonds and escape: the
     only mode of doing which was by a leap into the sea from the
     parapet of the fortress, a height, we are informed, of nigh
     one hundred feet. They who are acquainted with the locality
     assert that if he even survived the desperate leap, he must
     inevitably have fallen a victim to the sharks who frequent
     the bay to catch the bodies of all who die in the prison,
     and who, it would appear, are thus unceremoniously disposed
     of. This supposition would seem, however, in some respect,
     contradicted by the circumstance that a Venezuelan cruiser,
     which hung about the shore for the two preceding days,
     sailed on the very night of his escape, and, in all
     probability, with him on board.”

“I could swear he is safe!” cried Cashel, in an ecstasy of enthusiasm;
“he’s a glorious fellow.”

“Who is that?” said Linton, looking up; “any one I know?”

“No, indeed!” said Cashel. Then suddenly checking himself in a speech
whose opening accents were far from flattering, he added, “One you never
even heard of.”

He once more addressed himself to the letter, which, however, merely
contained some not very brilliant commentaries of Mr. Kennyfeck over the
preceding extract, and which, after enumerating a great many modes of
investigating the event, concluded with the only thing like common sense
in the whole, by recommending a strict silence and secrecy about it all.

Cashel was closing the epistle, when he caught on the turn-down the
following lines;--

“Mr. Linton has written to me about something like a legal transfer
of the cottage and lands of Tubberbeg, which he mentions your having
presented to him. What reply am I to return to this? I stated that you
had already assured Mr. Corrigan, the present tenant, of an undisturbed
possession of the tenure, but Mr. L. interrupted my explanation by
saying that he only desired an assignment of the property, such as would
give a parliamentary qualification, and that all pledges made to Mr. C.
he would regard as equally binding on himself.”

Cashel’s first impulse, when he had read thus far, was to show Linton
the paragraph, and frankly ask him what he wished to be done; indeed,
he had already advanced towards him with that object, when he checked
himself. “It might seem ungracious to ask any explanation. There had
been already a moment of awkwardness about that same cottage, and Linton
had behaved so well; and, of course, only asking him for the possession
as a means of qualifying, Corrigan need never hear of it Besides, he
could make Linton a present of much greater real value as soon as the
circumstances of the estate became better known.” Such and such-like
reasonings passed hastily through his brain; and as all his resolves
were quickly formed, and as quickly acted on, he sat down and wrote:

     Dear Mr. Kennyfeck,--Many thanks for the information of your
     note, which has served to allay all my anxiety for a valued
     friend. As to Linton, you will have the goodness to satisfy
     him in every particular, and make all and every legal title
     he desires to the cottage and grounds of Tubberbeg. Although
     he is now at my side while I write, I have not alluded to
     the subject, feeling the awkwardness of touching on a theme
     so delicate. Say, however, for me, that Corrigan is not to
     be disturbed, nor any pledge I have made towards him--no
     matter how liberally construed by him--to be, in any
     respect, infringed.--Yours, in great haste,

“Why you are quite a man of business to-day, Cashel, with your
correspondence and letter-writing; and I ‘m sorry for it, for I wanted
to have a bit of serious talk with you,--that is, if it do not bore
you.”

“Not in the least. I was, I own it, nervous and uneasy this morning;
now, however, my mind is at ease, and I am quite ready for anything.”

“Well, then, without preamble, are you still of the same mind about
Parliament, because the time is hastening on when you ought to come to
some decision on the matter?”

“I have never bestowed a thought on the matter since,” said Cashel.
“The truth is, when I hear people talk politics in society, I am only
astonished at their seeming bigotry and one-sidedness; and when I
read newspapers of opposite opinions, I am equally confounded at the
excellent arguments they display for diametrically contradictory lines
of action, so that my political education makes but little progress.”

“What you say is perfectly just,” said Linton, appearing to reflect
profoundly. “A man of real independence--not the mere independence of
fortune, but the far higher independence of personal character--has
much to endure in our tangled and complex system of legislation. As for
yourself, for instance, who can afford to despise patronage, who have
neither sons to advance in the Navy, nor nephews in the Foreign Office,
who neither want the Bath nor a baronetcy, who would be as sick of the
flatteries as you would be disgusted with the servility of party--why
you should submit to the dust and heat, the turmoil and fatigue of
a session, I can’t think. And how you would be bored,--bored by the
ceaseless reiterations night after night, the same arguments growing
gradually weaker as the echo grew fainter; bored by the bits of ‘Horace’
got off by heart to wind up with; bored by the bad jests of witty
members; bored by Peel’s candor, and Palmerston’s petulance; by Cobden’s
unblushing effrontery, and Hume’s tiresome placidity. You ‘d never know
a happy day nor a joyous hour till you accepted the Chiltern Hundreds,
and cut them all. No; the better course for you would be, choose a
nominee for your borough; select a man in whom you have confidence.
Think of some one over whom your influence would be complete, who would
have no other aim than in following out your suggestions; some one, in
fact, who unites sufficient ability with personal friendship. What d’ ye
think of Kennyfeck?”

“Poor Kennyfeck,” said Cashel, laughing, “he’d never think of such a
thing.”

“I don’t know,” said Linton, musing; “it might not suit him, but his
wife would like it prodigiously.”

“Shall I propose it, then?” said Cashel.

“Better not, perhaps,” said Linton, appearing to reflect; “his income,
which is a right good one, is professional. This, of course, he ‘d
forfeit by accepting a seat in the House. Besides, really, the poor
man would make no way. No, we must think of some one else. Do you like
White?”

“Leicester White? I detest the man, and the wife too.”

“Well, there’s Frobisher, a fellow of good name and family. I ‘d not go
bail for his preferring your interests to his own, but as times go, you
might chance upon worse. Will you have Frobisher?”

“I have no objection,” said Cashel, carelessly; “would he like it
himself?”

“Would he like anything that might help him to a step in the regiment,
or place him in a position to sell himself, you, and the borough
constituency, to the highest bidder?” said Linton, irritated at Cashel’s
half assent.

“Well, if these be his principles,” cried Cashel, laughing, “I think
we ‘d better put him aside.”

“You ‘re right; he ‘d never do,” said Linton, recovering all his
self-possession; “what you want is a man sufficiently unconnected with
ties of family or party, to see in you his patron and his object, and
who, with cleverness enough to enunciate the views you desire to see
prevail, has also the strong bond of personal regard to make him always
even more the friend than the follower.”

“I only know of one man who realizes all this combination,” said Cashel,
smiling, “and _he_ would n’t answer.”

“Who is he,--and why?” asked Linton, in vain endeavoring to look easy
and unconcerned.

“Tom Linton is the man, and his invincible laziness the ‘why.’ Isn’t
that true?”

“By George, Cashel, if you ‘re content with the first part of the
assertion, I ‘ll pledge myself to remedy the latter. I own, frankly, it
is a career for which I have no predilection; if I had, I should have
been ‘in’ many years ago. I have all my life held very cheap your great
political leaders, both as regards capacity and character, and I have
ever fancied that I should have had some success in the lists; but I
have always loved ease, and that best of ease, independence. If you
think, however, that I can worthily represent you in Parliament, and
that you could safely trust to my discretion the knotty question of
political war, say the word, my boy, and I ‘ll fling my ‘far niente’
habits to the wind, and you shall have all the merit of developing the
promising member for--what’s the name of it?”

“Derraheeny.”

“Exactly--the honorable and learned--for Derraheeny. I rather like the
title.”

“Well, Linton, if you are really serious--”

“Most assuredly, serious; and more, to prove it, I shall ask you to
clench our bargain at once. It is not enough that you make me your
nominee, but you must also render me eligible to become so.”

“I don’t clearly comprehend--”

“I ‘ll enlighten you. Our venerable constitution, perfectly irrespective
of the Tom Lintons of this world--a race which, by the way, never dies
out, probably because they have avoided intermarriage--has decided that
a man must possess something besides his wits to be qualified as ‘Member
of Parliament;’ a strange law, because the aforesaid wits are all that
the Honorable House has any reason to lay claim to. This same something
which guarantees that a man has a legislative capacity, amounts to some
hundreds a year. Don’t be impatient, and come out with any piece of rash
generosity; I don’t want you to make a present of an estate--only to
lend me one! To be qualified, either as a candidate for the House or a
gentleman rider, one only needs a friend,--a well-to-do friend, who ‘ll
say, ‘He’s all right.’”

“I ‘m quite ready to vouch for you, Tom, but you ‘ll have to take the
affair into your own management.”

“Oh, it’s easy enough. That same cottage and the farm which we spoke of
the other day, Kennyfeck can make out a kind of conveyance, or whatever
the instrument is called, by which it acknowledges me for its owner,
vice Roland Cashel, Esquire. This, properly sealed, signed, and so
on, will defy the most searching Committee that ever pried into any
gentleman’s private circumstances.”

“Then explain it all to Kennyfeck, and say that I wish it done at once.”

“Nay, Cashel, pardon me. My ugliest enemy will not call me punctilious,
but I must stand upon a bit of ceremony here. This must be ordered by
yourself. You are doing a gracious thing,--a devilish kind thing,--it
must not be done by halves. Were I to communicate this to Kennyfeck,
he ‘ll unquestionably obey the direction, but most certainly he ‘d say to
the first man he met, ‘See how Linton has managed to trick Cashel out of
a very considerable slice of landed property.’ He ‘d not take much
trouble to state the nature of our compact; he ‘d rather blink the whole
arrangement, altogether, and make the thing seem a direct gift. Now, I
have too much pride on your account, and my own too, to stand this.”

“Well, well, it shall be as you like; only I trow I disagree with you
about old Kennyfeck: he ‘s a fine straight-hearted fellow--he’s--”

“He ‘s an attorney, Cashel. These fellows can no more comprehend a
transfer of property without a trial at bar, or a suit in Equity, than
an Irish second can understand a falling out without one of the parties
being brought home on a door. Besides, he has rather a grudge against
me. I never told you,--indeed, I never meant to tell you,--but I can
have no secrets from you. You know the youngest girl, Olivia?”

“Yes, go on,” said Cashel, red and pale by turns.

“Well, I flirted a good deal last winter with her. Upon my life, I did
not intend it to have gone so far; I suppose it must have gone far,
though, because she became desperately in love. She is very pretty,
certainly, and a really good little girl,--_mais, que voulez-vous?_ If
I tie a fly on my hook I can’t afford to see a flounder or a perch walk
off with it; it’s the speckled monster of the stream I fish for. They
ought to have known that themselves,--I ‘ve no doubt they did, too; but
they were determined, as they say here, to die ‘innocent,’ and so one
fine morning I was just going to join the hounds at Finglas, when old
Kennyfeck, very trimly dressed, and looking unutterable importance,
entered my lodgings. There’s a formula for these kind of explanations--I
‘ve gone through seven of these myself, and I ‘ll swear that every papa
has opened the conference with a solemn appeal to Heaven ‘that he never
was aware of the attentions shown his daughter, nor the state of his
dear child’s affections, till last evening.’ They always assure you,
besides, that if they could give a million and a half as dowry, you are
the very man--the actual one individual--they would have selected; so
that on an average most young ladies have met with at least half-a-dozen
parties whom the fathers have pronounced to be, separately, the one most
valued. Kennyfeck behaved, I must say, admirably. His wife would have a
Galway cousin sent for, and a duel; some other kind friend suggested to
have me waylaid and thrashed. He calmly heard me for about ten minutes,
and then taking up his hat and gloves, said, ‘Take your rule,’ and so it
ended. I dined there the next Sunday,--yes, that’s part of my system: I
never permit people to nourish small grudges, and go about abusing me
to my acquaintances. If they _will_ do that, I overwhelm them by their
duplicity, as I am seen constantly in their intimacy, and remarkable for
always speaking well of them, so that the world will certainly give it
against them. The gist of all this tiresome story is, that Kennyfeck
and the ladies would, if occasion served, pay off the old debt to me;
therefore, beware if you hear me canvassed in that quarter!” Linton,
like many other cunning people, very often lapsed into little
confessions of the tactics by which he played his game in the world,
and although Cashel was not by any means a dangerous confidant to such
disclosures, he now marked with feelings not all akin to satisfaction
this acknowledgment of his friend’s skill.

“You ‘d never have shown your face there again, I ‘ll wager a hundred!”
 said Linton, reading in the black look of Roland’s countenance an
expression he did not fancy.

“You are right. I should have deemed it unfair to impose on the young
lady a part so full of awkwardness as every meeting must necessitate.”

“That comes of your innocence about women, my dear friend; they have
face for anything. It is not hypocrisy, it is not that they do not feel,
and feel deeply, but their sense of command, their instinct of what is
becoming, is a thousand times finer than ours; and I am certain
that when we take all manner of care to, what is called, spare their
feelings, we are in reality only sparing them a cherished opportunity of
exercising a control over those feelings which we foolishly suppose to
be as ungovernable as our own.”

Either not agreeing with the sentiment, or unable to cope with its
subtlety, Cashel sat some time without speaking. From Olivia Kennyfeck
his thoughts reverted to one in every respect unlike her,--the daring,
impetuous Maritaña.

He wondered within himself whether _her_ bold, impassioned nature
could be comprehended within Linton’s category, and a secret sense of
rejoicing thrilled through him as he replied to himself in the negative.

“I ‘d wager a trifle, Roland, from that easy smile you wear, that your
memory has called up one example, at least, unfavorable to my theory.
Eh! I have guessed aright Come then, out with it, man,--who is this
peerless paragon of pure ingenuous truth?--who is she whose nature is
the transparent crystal where fair thoughts are enshrined? No denizen
of our misty northland, I’ll be sworn, but some fair Mexican, with as
little disguise as drapery. Confess, I say--there is a confession, I ‘ll
be sworn--and so make a clean breast of it.”

It struck Cashel, while Linton was speaking, how effectually Maritaña
herself, by one proud look, one haughty gesture, would have silenced
such flippant raillery; and he could not help feeling it a kind of
treason to their old friendship that he should listen to it in patient
endurance.

“Listen to me, amigo mio,” said he, in a tone of earnest passion that
seemed almost estranged from his nature latterly,--“listen to me while
I tell you that in those faraway countries, whose people you regard with
such contemptuous pity, there are women--ay, young girls--whose daring
spirit would shame the courage of many of those fine gentlemen we spend
our lives with; and I, for one, have so much of the Indian in me, as to
think that courage is the first of virtues.”

“I cannot help fancying,” said Linton, with an almost imperceptible
raillery, “that there are other qualities would please me as well in a
wife or a mistress.”

“I have no doubt of it--and suit you better, too,” said Cashel,
savagely; then hastily correcting himself for his rude speech, he added,
“I believe, in good earnest, that you would as little sympathize
with that land and its people as I do with this. Ay, if you want a
confession, there’s one for you. I’m longing to be back once more among
the vast prairies of the West, galloping free after the dark-backed
bisons, and strolling along in the silent forests. The enervation of
this life wearies and depresses me; worse than all, I feel that, with a
little more of it, I shall lose all energy and zest for that activity
of body, which, to men like myself, supplies the place of thought,--a
little more of it, and I shall sink into that languid routine where
dissipation supplies the only excitement.”

“This is a mere passing caprice; a man who has wealth--”

“There it is,” cried Cashel, interrupting him impetuously; “that is the
eternal burden of your song. As if wealth, in forestalling the necessity
for labor, did not, at the same time, deprive life of all the zeal of
enterprise. When I have stepped into my boat to board a Chilian frigate,
I have had a prouder throbbing at my heart than ever the sight of that
banker’s check-book has given me. There’s many a Gambusino in the Rocky
Mountains a happier--ay, and a finer fellow, too, than the gayest of
those gallants that ever squandered the gold _he_ quarried! But why go
on?--we are speaking in unknown tongues to each other.”

The tone of irritation into which, as it seems unconsciously, Cashel had
fallen, was not lost on the keen perception of Linton, and he was not
sorry to feign a pretext for closing an interview whose continuance
might be unpleasant.

“I was thinking of a hurried trip down to Tubbermore,” said he, rising;
“we shall have these guests of yours in open rebellion, if we don’t
affect at least something like preparation for their reception. I’ll
take Perystell along with me, and we’ll see what can be done to get the
old house in trim.”

“Thanks,” said Cashel, as he walked up and down, his thoughts seeming
engaged on some other theme.

“I ‘ll write to you a report of the actual condition of the fortress,”
 said Linton, assuming all his habitual easy freedom of manner, “and
then, if you think of anything to suggest, you’ll let me hear.”

“Yes, I ‘ll write,” said Cashel, still musing on his own thoughts.

“I see pretty plainly,” cried Linton, laughing, “there’s no earthly use
in asking you questions just now, your brain being otherwise occupied,
and so, good-bye.”

“Good-bye--good-bye,” said Cashel, endeavoring, but not with a very good
grace to shake off his pre-occupation while he shook hands with him; and
Linton descended the stairs, humming an opera air, with all the seeming
light-heartedness of a very careless nature.

Cashel, meanwhile, sat down, and, with his head resting on his hand,
pondered over their late interview. There were two circumstances which
both puzzled and distressed him. How came it that Linton should have
written this note to Kennyfeck on a subject which only seemed to
have actually suggested itself in the course of this their very last
conversation? Had he already planned the whole campaign respecting the
seat in Parliament and the qualification, and was his apparently chance
allusion to those topics a thing studied and devised beforehand? This,
if true, would argue very ill for his friend’s candor and fair dealing;
and yet, how explain it otherwise? Was there any other seat open to him
for which to need a qualification? If so, he had never spoken of it. It
was the first time in his life that Cashel had conceived a suspicion of
one whom he had regarded in the light of friend, and only they who have
undergone a similar trial can understand the poignant suffering of the
feeling; and yet, palpable as the cause of such a doubt was, he
had never entertained it had not Linton spoken disparagingly of the
Kennyfecks! This is a curious trait of human nature, but one worth
consideration; and while leaving it to the elucidation the penetration
of each reader may suggest, we only reiterate the fact, that while
Cashel could, without an effort, have forgiven the duplicity practised
on himself, the levity Linton employed respecting Olivia engendered
doubts of his honor too grave to be easily combated.

As for Linton scarcely had he quitted Cashel, than he hastened to call
on Kennyfeck; he had written the note already alluded to, to leave
at the house should the solicitor be from home; but having left it by
accident on the writing-table, his servant, discovering it to be sealed
and addressed, had, without further question, left it at Kennyfeck’s
house. As Linton went along, he searched his pockets for the epistle,
but consoled himself by remembering how he had left it at home.

A few moments later found him at Kennyfeck’s door. The attorney was at
home, and, without any announcement, Linton entered the study where he
sat.

“I was this instant writing to you, sir,” said Kennyfeck, rising,
and placing a seat for him; “Mr Cashel, on being informed of the wish
expressed in your note--”

“Of what note?” said Linton, in a voice of, for him, very unusual
agitation.

“This note--here, sir,--dated--no, by-the-by, it is not dated, but
brought by your servant two hours ago.”

Linton took the paper, glanced his eye over it, and then, in mingled
chagrin and forgetfulness, tore it, and threw the fragments into the
fire.

“There is some mistake about this,” said he, slowly, and giving himself
time to consider what turn he should lend it.

“This is Mr. Cashel’s reply, sir,” said Kennyfeck, after pausing some
moments, but in vain for the explanation.

Linton eagerly caught the letter and read it through, and whatever
scruples or fear he might have conceived for any other man’s, it seemed
as if he had little dread of Cashel’s penetration, for his assured and
easy smile at once showed that he had regained his wonted tranquillity.

“You will then take the necessary steps, without delay, Kennyfeck,”
 said he. “The elections cannot be very distant, and it is better to be
prepared.” As he spoke, he threw the letter back upon the table, but in
a moment afterwards, while taking off his gloves, managed to seize it
and convey it to his pocket. “You know far better than I do, Kennyfeck,”
 resumed he, “how sharp the lawyers can be in picking out any flaw
respecting title and so forth; for this reason, be careful that this
document shall be as regular and binding as need be.”

“It shall be submitted for counsel’s opinion this evening, sir--”

“Not to Jones, then; I don’t fancy that gentleman, although I know he
has some of your confidence; send it to Hammond.”

“As you please, sir.”

“Another point. You’ll not insert any clause respecting the tenant in
possession; it would only be hampering us with another defence against
some legal subtlety or other.”

“Mr. Cashel does not desire this, sir?”

“Of course not--you understand what the whole thing means. Well, I must
say good-bye; you ‘ll have all ready by the time I return to town. My
respects to the drawing-room. Adieu.

“That was bad blunder about the note,” muttered Linton, as he walked
along towards home, “and might have lost the game, if the antagonist had
any skill whatever.”



CHAPTER XXIII. LINTON VISITS HIS ESTATE.

     Let’s see the field, and mark it well,
     For, here, will be the battle.

     Ottocar.


“Does this path lead to the house, friend?” said a gentleman whose dress
bespoke recent travel, to the haggard, discontented figure of a man who,
seated on a stone beside a low and broken wicket, was lazily filling
his pipe, and occasionally throwing stealthy glances at the stranger.
A. short nod of the head was the reply. “You belong to the place, I
suppose?”

“Maybe I do; and what then?”

“Simply that, as I am desirous of going thither, I should be glad of
your showing me the way.”

“Troth, an’ there’s little to see when you get there,” rejoined the
other, sarcastically. “What are you by trade, if it’s not displeasin’ to
ye?”

“That’s the very question I was about to ask you,” said Linton, for it
was himself; “you appear to have a very easy mode of life, whatever it
be, since you are so indifferent about earning half-a-crown.”

Tom Keane arose from his seat, and made an awkward attempt at saluting,
as he said,--

“‘Tis the dusk o’the evening prevented me seeing yer honer, or I
wouldn’t be so bowld. This is the way to the Hall sure enough.”

“This place has been greatly neglected of late,” said Linton, as they
walked along side by side, and endeavoring, by a tone of familiarity, to
set his companion at ease.

“Troth, it is neglected, and always was as long as I remember. I was
reared in it, and I never knew it other; thistles and docks as big as
your leg, everywhere, and the grass choked up with moss.”

“How came it to be so completely left to ruin?”

“Anan!” muttered he, as if not well comprehending the question, but,
in reality, a mere device employed to give him more time to scan the
stranger, and guess at his probable object.

“I was asking,” said Linton, “how it happened that a fine old place like
this was suffered to go to wreck and ruin?”

“Faix, it’s ould enough, anyhow,” said the other, with a coarse laugh.

“And large too.”

“Yer honer was here afore?” said Tom, stealthily glancing at him under
his brows. “I ‘m thinking I remember yer honer’s faytures. You would n’t
be the gentleman that came down with Mr. Duffy?”

“No; this is my first visit to these parts; now, where does this little
road lead? It seems to be better cared for than the rest, and the gate,
too, is neatly kept.”

“That goes down to the cottage, sir--Tubber-beg, as they call it. Yer
honer isn’t Mr. Cashel himself?” said Tom, reverentially taking off his
tattered hat, and attempting an air of courtesy, which sat marvellously
ill upon him.

“I have not that good luck, my friend.”

“‘T is good luck ye may call it,” sighed Tom; “a good luck that does n’t
fall to many; but, maybe, ye don’t want it; maybe yer honer--”

“And who lives in the cottage of Tubber-beg?” said Linton, interrupting.

“One Corrigan, sir; an old man and his granddaughter.”

“Good kind of people, are they?”

“Ayeh! there’s worse, and there ‘s betther! They ‘re as proud as
Lucifer, and poor as naygurs.”

“And this is the Hall itself?” exclaimed Linton, as he stopped directly
in front of the old dilapidated building, whose deformities were only
exaggerated by the patchy effect of a faint moonlight.

“Ay, there it is,” grinned Tom, “and no beauty either; and ugly as it
looks without, it’s worse within! There ‘a cracks in the walls ye could
put your hand through, and the windows is rotten, where they stand.”

“It is not very tempting, certainly, as a residence,” said Linton,
smiling.

“Ah, but if ye heerd the rats, the way they do be racin’ and huntin’
each other at night, and the wind bellowsin’ down the chimbleys, such
screechin’ and yellin’ as it keeps, and then the slates rattlin’, till
ye’d think the ould roof was comin’ off altogether,--be my soul, there’s
many a man would n’t take the property and sleep a night in that house.”

“One would do a great deal, notwithstanding, for a fine estate like
this,” said Linton, dryly.

There was something, either in the words or the accent, that touched Tom
Keane’s sympathy for the speaker; some strange suspicion perhaps, that
he was one whose fortune, like his own, was not beyond the casualties
and chances of life, and it was with a species of coarse friendship that
he said, “Ah, if we had it between us, we ‘d do well.”

“Right well; no need to ask for better,” said Linton, with a heartiness
of assent that made the other perfectly at ease. “I’m curious to have a
look at the inside of the place; I suppose there is no hindrance?”

“None in life! I live below, and, faix, there’s no living anywhere
else, for most of the stairs is burned, and, as I towld ye, the rats has
upstairs all to themselves. Nancy, give us a light,” cried he, passing
into the dark and spacious hall, “I’m going to show a gentleman the
curiosities. I ax you honer’s pardon, the place is n’t so clean as it
might be.”

Linton gave one peep into the long and gloomy chamber, where the whole
family were huddled together in all the wretchedness and disorder of a
cabin, and at once drew back.

“The cows is on the other side,” said the man, “and, beyond, there’s
four rooms was never plastered; and there, where you see the straw,
that’s the billiard-room, and inside of it again, there’s a place for
play-actin’, and, more by token, there’s a quare thing there.”

“What’s that?” asked Linton, whose curiosity was excited by the remark.

“Come, and I ‘ll show yer honer.”

So saying, he led on through a narrow corridor, and, passing through two
or three dilapidated, ruined chambers, they entered a large and spacious
apartment, whose sloping floor at once showed Linton that they were
standing on the stage of a theatre.

Tom Keane held up the flickering light, that the other might see the
torn and tattered remnants of the decorations, and the fragments of
scenes, as they flapped to and fro. “It’s a dhroll place, anyhow,” said
he, “and there’s scarce a bit of it hasn’t a trap-door, or some other
contrivance of the like; but here’s one stranger than all; this is what
I towld yer honer about.” He walked, as he spoke, to the back wall
of the building, where, on the surface of the plaster, a rude scene,
representing a wood, was painted, at one side of which a massive pile of
rock, overgrown with creepers, stood. “Now, ye ‘d never guess what was
there,” said Tom, holding the candle in different situations to exhibit
the scene; “and, indeed, I found it by chance myself; see this,”--and he
pressed a small but scarcely perceptible knob of brass in the wall,
and at once, what appeared to be the surface of the rock, slid back,
discovering a dark space behind. “Come on, now, after me,” continued
he. Linton followed, and they ascended a narrow stair constructed in the
substance of the wall, and barely sufficient to admit one person.

Arriving at the top, after a few seconds’ delay, Tom opened a small
door, and they stood in a large and well-proportioned room, where some
worm-eaten bed-furniture yet remained. The door had been once, as a
small, fragment of glass showed, the frame of a large mirror, and must
have been quite beyond the reach of ordinary powers of detection.

“That was a cunning way to steal down among the play acthers,” said
Keane, grinning, while Linton, with the greatest attention, remarked the
position of the door and its secret fastening.

“I suppose no one but yourself knows of this stair?” said Linton.

“Sorra one, sir, except, maybe, some of the smugglers that used to
come here long ago from the mouth of the Shannon. This was one of their
hiding-places.”

“Well, if this old mansion comes ever to be inhabited, one might have
rare fun by means of that passage; so be sure, you keep the secret well.
Let that be a padlock on your lips.” And, so saying, he took a sovereign
from his purse and gave it to him. “Your name is--”

“Tom, yer honer--Tom Keane; and, by this and by that, I’m ready to do
yer honer’s bidding from this hour out--”

“Well, we shall be good friends, I see,” interrupted Linton; “you may,
perhaps, be useful to me, and I can also be able to serve you. Now,
which is the regular entrance to this chamber?”

“There, sir; it’s the last door as ye see in the long passage. Them is
all bedrooms alone there, but it’s not safe to walk down, for the floor
is rotten.”

Linton noted down in a memory far from defective the circumstances of
the chamber, and then followed his guide through the remainder of the
house, which in every quarter presented the same picture of ruin and
decay.

“The bit of candle is near out,” said Tom, “but sure there is n’t much
more to be seen; there’s rooms there was never opened, and more on the
other side, the same. The place is as big as a barrack, and here we are
once more on the grand stair.”

For once, the name was not ill applied, as, constructed of Portland
stone, and railed with massive banisters of iron, it presented features
of solidity and endurance, in marked contrast to the other portions of
the edifice. Linton cast one more glance around the gloomy entrance, and
sallied forth into the free air. “I ‘ll see you to-morrow, Tom,” said
he, “and we’ll have some talk together. Good night.”

“Good night, and good luck to yer honer; but won’t you let me see your
honer out of the grounds,--as far as the big gate, at least?”

“Thanks; I know the road perfectly already, and I rather like a lonely
stroll of a fine night like this.”

Tom, accordingly, reiterated his good wishes, and Linton was suffered
to pursue his way unaccompanied. Increasing his speed as he arrived at a
turn of the road, he took the path which led off the main approach, and
led down by the river-side to the cottage of Tubber-beg. There was a
feeling of strong interest which prompted him to see this cottage, which
now he might call his own; and as he went, he regarded the little clumps
of ornamental planting, the well-kept walks, the neat palings, the
quaint benches beneath the trees, with very different feelings from
those he had bestowed on the last-visited scene. Nor was he insensible
to the landscape beauty which certain vistas opened, and, seen even by
the faint light of a new moon, were still rich promises of picturesque
situation.

Suddenly, and without any anticipation, he found himself on turning a
little copse of evergreens, in front of the cottage, and almost
beneath the shadow of its deep porch. Whatever his previous feelings of
self-interest in every detail around, they were speedily routed by the
scene before him.

In a large and well furnished drawing-room, where a single lamp was
shining, sat an old man in an easy-chair, his features, his attitude,
and his whole bearing indicating the traces of recent illness. Beside
him, on a low stool almost at his feet, was a young girl of singular
beauty,--the plastic grace of her figure, the easy motion of the
head, as from time to time she raised it to throw upwards a look of
affectionate reverence, and the long, loose masses of her hair, which,
accidentally unfastened, fell on either shoulder, making rather one
of those ideals which a Raphael can conceive than a mere creature of
every-day existence. Although late autumn, the windows lay open to the
ground, for, as yet, no touch of coming winter had visited this secluded
and favored spot. In the still quiet of the night, _her_ voice, for she
alone spoke, could be heard; at first, the mere murmur of the accents
reached Linton’s ears, but even from them he could gather the tone of
cheering and encouragement in which she spoke. At length he heard her
say, in a voice of almost tremulous enthusiasm, “It was so like you,
dear papa, not to tell this Mr. Cashel that you had yourself a claim,
and, as many think, a rightful one, to this same estate, and thus not
trouble the stream of his munificence.”

“Nay, child, it had been as impolitic as unworthy to do so,” said the
old man; “he who stoops to receive a favor should detract nothing from
the generous sentiment of the granter.”

“For my part, I would tell him,” said she, eagerly, “that his noble
conduct has forever barred my prosecuting such a claim, and that if,
to-morrow, the fairest proofs of my right should reach me, I’d throw
them in the fire.”

“To get credit for such self-sacrifice, Mary, one must be independent
of all hypothesis; one must do, and not merely promise. Now, it would
be hard to expect Mr. Cashel to feel the same conviction I do, that this
confiscation was repealed by letters under the hand of Majesty itself.
The Brownes, through whom Cashel inherits, were the stewards of my
ancestors, entrusted with all their secret affairs, and cognizant of
all their family matters. From the humble position of dependents, they
suddenly sprang into wealth and fortune, and ended by purchasing the
very estate they once lived on as day-laborers,--sold as it was, like
all confiscated estates, for a mere fraction of its value.”

“Oh, base ingratitude!”

“Worse still; it is said, and with great reason to believe it true, that
Hammond Browne, who was sent over to London by my great grandfather to
negotiate with the Government, actually received the free pardon and the
release of the confiscation, but concealed and made away with both, and,
to prevent my grandfather being driven to further pursuit, gave him the
lease of this cottage on the low terms we continue to hold it.”

A low, faint cough from the old man warned his granddaughter of the
dangers of the night air, and she arose and closed the windows. They
still continued their conversation, but Linton, unable to hear more,
returned to his inn, deeply reflecting over the strange disclosures he
had overheard.



CHAPTER XXIV. BREAKFAST WITH MR. CORRIGAN.

     How cold is treachery.

     _Play_.


“Who can Mr. Linton be, my dear?” said old Mr. Corrigan, as he sat at
breakfast the next day, and pondered oyer the card which, with a polite
request for an interview, the servant had just delivered. “I cannot
remember the name, if I ever heard it before; but should we not invite
him to join us at breakfast?”

“Where is he, Simon?” asked Miss Leicester.

“At the door, miss, and a very nice-looking gentleman as ever I saw.”

“Say that I have been ill, Simon, and cannot walk to the door, and beg
he’ll be kind enough to come in to breakfast.”

With a manner where ease and deference were admirably blended, Linton
entered the room, and apologizing for his intrusion, said, “I have come
down here, sir, on a little business matter for my friend Roland
Cashel, and I could not think of returning to town without making
the acquaintance of one for whom my friend has already conceived the
strongest feeling of interest and regard. It will be the first question
I shall hear when I get back, ‘Well, what of Mr. Corrigan, and how is
he?’”

While making this speech, which he delivered in a tone of perfect
frankness, he seemed never to have noticed the presence of Miss
Leicester, who had retired a little as he entered the room, and now, on
being introduced to her, made his acknowledgments with a grave courtesy.

“And so our young landlord is thinking of taking up his residence
amongst us?” said Corrigan, as Linton assumed his place at the
breakfast-table.

“For a few weeks he purposes to do so, but I question greatly if the
tranquil pleasures and homely duties of a country life will continue
long to attract him; he is very young, and the world so new to him, that
he will scarcely settle down anywhere, or to anything, for some time to
come.”

“Experience is a capital thing, no doubt, Mr. Linton; but I ‘d rather
trust the generous impulses of a good-hearted youth in a country like
this, long neglected by its gentry. Let him once take an interest in the
place and the people, and I’ll vouch for the rest. Is he a sportsman?”

“He _was_, when in Mexico; but buffalo and antelope hunting are very
different from what this country offers.”

“Does he read?--is he studious?” said Mary.

“Not even a newspaper, Miss Leicester. He is a fine, high-spirited,
dashing fellow, and if good-nature and honorable intentions could
compensate for defective education and training, he would be perfect.”

“They’ll go very far, depend on it, Mr. Linton. In these days, a man of
wealth can buy almost anything. Good sense, judgment, skill, are all in
the market; but a generous nature and a warm heart are God’s gifts, and
can neither be grafted nor transplanted.”

“You’ll like him, I’m certain, Mr. Corrigan.”

“I know I shall. I have reason for the anticipation; Tiernay told me
the handsome words he used when according me a favor--and here comes
the doctor himself.” And as he spoke, Dr. Tiernay entered the room,
his flushed face and hurried breathing bespeaking a hasty walk.
“Good-morrow, Tiernay. Mr. Linton, let me present our doctor; not
the least among our local advantages, as you can tell your friend Mr.
Cashel.”

“We’ve met before, sir,” said Tiernay, scanning, with a steady gaze,
the countenance which, wreathed in smiles, seemed to invite rather than
dread recognition.

“I am happy to be remembered, Dr. Tiernay,” said Linton, “although I
fancy our meeting was too brief for much acquaintance; but we’ll know
each other better, I trust, hereafter.”

“No need, sir,” whispered Tiernay, as he passed close to his side; “I
believe we read each other perfectly already.”

Linton smiled, and bowed, as though accepting the speech in some
complimentary sense, and turned toward Miss Leicester, who was busily
arranging some dried plants in a volume.

“These are not specimens of this neighborhood?” said Linton, taking up
some heaths which are seldom found save in Alpine regions.

“Yes, sir,” interrupted Tiernay, “you ‘ll be surprised to find here
productions which would not seem native to these wilds.”

“If you take an interest in such things,” said old Corrigan, “you can’t
have a better guide than my granddaughter and Tiernay; they know every
crag and glen for twenty miles round; all I bargain for is, don’t be
late back for dinner. You ‘ll give us your company, I hope, sir, at
six?”

Linton assented, with a cordial pleasure that delighted his inviter;
and Mary, so happy to see the gratified expression of her grandfather’s
face, looked gratefully at the stranger for his polite compliance.

“A word with you, sir,” whispered Tiernay in Linton’s ear; and he passed
out into the little flower-garden, saying, as he went, “I ‘ll show Mr.
Linton the grounds, Miss Mary, and you shall not have to neglect your
household cares.”

Linton followed him without speaking, nor was a word interchanged
between them till they had left the cottage a considerable distance
behind them. “Well, sir,” said Linton, coming to a halt, and speaking in
a voice of cold and steadfast purpose, “how far do you propose that I am
to bear you company?”

“Only till we are beyond the danger of being overheard,” said Tiernay,
turning round. “Here will do perfectly. You will doubtless say, sir,
that in asking you for an explanation of why I see you in this cottage,
that I am exceeding the bounds of what right and duty alone impose.”

“You anticipate me precisely,” said Linton, sarcastically, “and to save
you the embarrassment of so obviously impertinent a proceeding, I beg to
say that I shall neither afford you the slightest satisfaction on this
or any other subject of inquiry. Now, sir, what next?”

“Do you forget the occasion of our first meeting?” said the doctor, who
actually was abashed beneath the practised effrontery of his adversary.

“Not in the least, sir. You permitted yourself on that occasion to take
a liberty, which from your age and other circumstances I consented to
pass unnoticed. I shall not always vouch for the same patient endurance
on my part; and so pray be cautious how you provoke it.”

“It was at that meeting,” said the doctor, with passionate earnestness,
“that I heard you endeavor to dissuade your friend from a favorable
consideration of that man’s claim, whose hospitality you now accept of.
It was with an insolent sneer at Mr. Cashers simplicity--”

“Pray stop, sir; not too far, I beseech you. The whole affair, into
which by some extraordinary self-delusion you consider yourself
privileged to obtrude, is very simple. This cottage and the grounds
appertaining to it are mine. This old gentleman, for whom I entertain
the highest respect, is _my_ tenant. The legal proof of what I say,
I promise to submit to you within the week; and it was to rescue Mr.
Cashel from the inconsistency of pledging himself to what was beyond his
powers of performance, that I interfered. _Your_ very ill-advised zeal
prevented this; and rather than increase the awkwardness of a painful
situation, I endured a very unprovoked and impertinent remark. Now, sir,
you have the full explanation of my conduct, and my opinion of yours;
and I see no reason to continue the interview.” So saying, Linton
touched his hat and turned back towards the cottage.



CHAPTER XXV. TUBBERMORE TRANSFORMED.

     Ay, sir, the knave is a deep one.

     Old Play.


To save our reader the tedious task of following Mr. Linton’s movements,
however necessary to our story some insight into them may be, we take
the shorter, and therefore pleasanter course, of submitting one of his
own brief notes to Roland Cashel, written some three days after his
arrival at Tubbermore:--

     “Still here, my dear Cashel, still in this Tipperary
     Siberia, where our devotion to your service has called and
     still retains us,--and what difficulties and dangers have
     been ours! What a land!--and what a people! Of a truth, I
     no longer envy the rich, landed proprietor, as, in my
     ignorance, I used to do some weeks back. To begin: Your
     Château de Tubbermore, which seems a cross between a jail
     and a county hospital without, and is a downright ruin
     within, stands in a park of thistles and docks whose
     luxuriant growth are a contemptuous reflection upon your
     trees, which positively don’t grow at all. So ingeniously
     placed is this desirable residence, that although the
     country, the river, and the mountains, offer some fine
     landscape effects, not a vestige of any of them can be seen
     from your windows. Your dining-room, late a nursery for an
     interesting family of small pigs, looks out upon the
     stables, picturesque as they are in fissured walls and
     tumbling rafters; and one of the drawing-rooms--they call
     it the blue room, a tint so likely to be caught up by the
     spectators--opens upon a garden,--but what a garden! Fruit-
     trees, there are none--stay, I am unjust, two have been left
     standing to give support to a clothes-line, where the
     amiable household of your care-taker, Mr. Cane, are
     pictorially represented by various garments, crescendo from
     the tunic of tender years to the full-grown ‘toga.’ But why
     enumerate small details? Let me rather deal in negatives,
     and tell you there is not a whole pane of glass in the
     entire building, not a grate, few doors, little flooring,
     and actually no roof. The slates, where there are such, are
     so loose that the wind rattles among them like the keys of a
     gigantic piano, and usually ends with a grand Freischutz
     effect, which uncovers a room or two. The walls are
     everywhere so rotten, that if you would break a loop-hole,
     you throw down enough to drive a ‘break’ through; and as
     for the chimneys, the jackdaw may plead the Statute of
     Limitations, and defy to surrender a possession which
     certainly dates from the past century! Perystell is in
     despair; he goes about sticking his thumb through the
     rotting timbers, and knocking down partitions with a tick of
     his foot, and exclaiming against the ignorance of the last
     age of architects, who, I take it, were pretty much like
     their successors, save in the thefts committed from Greek
     and Roman models. This is not tempting, nor the remedy for
     it easy. Stone and mortar are as great luxuries here as ice-
     cream at Calcutta; there are no workmen, or the few are
     merely artificers in mud. Timber is an exotic, glass and
     iron are traditions; so that if you desire to be an Irish
     country gentleman, your pursuit of territorial ascendancy
     has all the merit of difficulty. Now, _que faire?_ Shall we
     restore, or, rather, rebuild, or shall we put forty pounds
     of Dartford gunpowder in one of the cellars, and blow the
     whole concern to him who must have devised it? Such is the
     course I should certainly adopt myself, and only feel regret
     at the ignoble service of the honest explosive.

     “Perystell, like all his tribe, is a pedant, and begins by
     asking for two years, and I won’t say how many thousand
     pounds. My reply is, ‘Months and hundreds, _vice_ years and
     thousands’--and so we are at issue. I know your anxiety to
     receive the people you have invited, and I feel how
     fruitless it would be to tell you with what apologies I, if
     in your place, should put them off; so pray instruct me how
     to act. Shall I commission Perystell to go to work in all
     form, and meanwhile make a portion of the edifice habitable?
     or shall I--and I rather admire the plan--get a corps of
     stage artificers from Drury Lane, and dress up the house as
     they run up a provincial theatre? I know you don’t care
     about cost, which, after all, is the only real objection to
     the scheme; and if you incline to my suggestion about the
     fireworks for a finish, it will be perfectly appropriate.

     “‘My own cottage’--so far, at least, as I could see of it
     without intruding on the present occupant--is very pretty:
     roses, and honeysuckle, and jasmines, and such-like
     ruralities, actually enveloping it. It is well placed, too,
     in a snug little nook, sheltered from the north, and with a
     peep at the river in front,--just the sort of place where
     baffled ambition and disappointment would retire to; and
     where, doubtless, some of these days, Tom Linton, not being
     selected by her Majesty as Chief Secretary for the Home
     Office, will be announced in the papers to have withdrawn
     from public life, ‘to prosecute the more congenial career of
     literature.’ There is a delicious little boudoir, too,--such
     is it at present, you or I would make it a smoking crib,--
     looking over the Shannon, and with a fine bold mountain,
     well wooded, beyond. I should like a gossip with you in that
     bay-window, in the mellow hour, when confidence, which hates
     candles, is at its full.

     “Have I told you everything? I scarcely know, my head is so
     full of roof-trees, rafters, joists, gables, and parapets.
     Halt! I was forgetting a pretty--that is not the word--a
     handsome girl, daughter or granddaughter of our tenant, Mr.
     Corrigan, one of those saintly, virginal heads Raphael
     painted, with finely pencilled eyebrows, delicate beyond
     expression above; severe, in the cold, un-impassioned
     character of the mouth and lips; clever, too, or, what
     comes to nearly the same, odd and eccentric, being educated
     by an old St. Omer priest who taught her Latin, French,
     Italian, with a dash of theology, and, better than all, to
     sing Provençal songs to her own accompaniment on the piano.
     You ‘ll say, with such companionship, Siberia is not so bad
     after all, nor would it, perhaps, if we had nothing else to
     think of. Besides, she is as proud as an Austrian
     archduchess, has the blood of, God knows how many, kings--
     Irish, of course--in her veins, and looks upon me, Saxon
     that I am, as a mountain-ash might do on a mushroom.”

There was no erasure but one, and that very slight, and seeming
unimportant; he had written Tubber-beg at the top of the letter, and,
perceiving it, had changed it to Tubber-more, the fact being that he had
already established himself as an inmate of the “Cottage,” and a
guest of Mr. Corrigan. We need not dwell on the arts by which Linton
accomplished this object, to which, indeed, Mr. Corrigan’s hospitable
habits contributed no difficulty. The “doctor” alone could have
interposed any obstacle; and he, knowing the extent of Linton’s power,
did not dare to do so, contenting himself to watch narrowly all his
proceedings, and warn his friend whenever warning could no longer be
delayed.

Without enjoying the advantages of a careful education, Linton’s
natural quickness counterfeited knowledge so well that few, in every-day
intercourse, could detect the imposition. He never read a book through,
but he skimmed some thousands, and was thoroughly familiar with
that process so popular in our Universities, and technically termed
“cramming” an author. In this way, there were few subjects on which he
could not speak fairly,--a faculty to which considerable fluency and
an easy play of fancy lent great assistance. His great craft, however,
was--and whatever may be said on the subject, it would seem the peculiar
gift of certain organizations--that he was able, in an inconceivably
short time, to worm himself into the confidence of almost all with whom
he came in contact. His natural good sense, his singularly clear views,
his ever ready sympathy, but, more than all, the dexterity with which
he could affect acquaintance with topics he was all but totally ignorant
of, pointed him out as the very person to hear the secrets of a family.

Mr. Corrigan was not one to exact any great efforts of Linton’s tact
in this walk; his long isolation from the world, Joined to a character
naturally frank, made him communicative and open; and before Linton had
passed a week under his roof, he had heard all the circumstances of the
old forfeiture, and the traditionary belief of the family that it had
been withdrawn under a special order of the King in council.

“You are quite right,” said Linton, one night, as this theme bad
been discussed for some hours, “never to have alluded to this in any
correspondence with Cashel. His hasty and excitable temper would have
construed the whole into a threat; and there is no saying how he might
have resented it.”

“I did not speak of it for a very different reason,” said old Corrigan,
proudly; “I had just accepted a favor--and a great one--at his hands,
and I would not tarnish the lustre of his noble conduct by even the
possibility of self-interest.”

Linton was silent; a struggle of some kind seemed working within him,
but he did not speak, and at last sauntered from the room, and passed
out into the little garden in front.

He had not gone far, when he heard a light footstep on the gravel behind
him. He turned, and saw Mary Leicester.

“I have followed you, Mr. Linton,” said she, in a voice whose agitation
was perceptible, “because I thought it possible that some time or other,
in your close intimacy with Mr. Cashel, you might allude to this topic,
and I know what distress such a communication would occasion to my
grandfather. Our claim--if the word be not inapplicable--can never be
revived; for myself, there is no condition of privation I would not
rather meet, than encounter the harassing vicissitudes of a struggle
which should embitter my poor dear grandfather’s few years on earth. The
very mention of the theme is sure to render him irritable and unhappy.
Promise me, then, to avoid the subject as much as possible here, and
never to advert to it elsewhere.”

“Should I not be doing you a gross injustice by such a pledge?” said
Linton, mildly.

“I can endure that; I cannot support the alternative. Make me this
promise.”

“I make it, truly and solemnly; would it were in my power to pledge
myself to aught of real service to Miss. Leicester.”

“There is one such,” said Mary, after a pause, “and yet I am ashamed
to ask it,--ashamed of the presumption it would imply,--and yet I feel
acquitted to my own heart.”

“What is it?--only tell me how I can serve you,” said Linton,
passionately.

“I have scarce courage for the avowal,” said she, in a low, faint voice.
“It is not that my self-love can be wounded by any judgment that may be
pronounced; it is rather that I dread failure for itself. In a word,
Mr. Linton, certain circumstances of fortune have pressed upon my
grandfather’s resources, some of which I am aware of--of others
ignorant. So much, however, do I know, that the comforts, so necessary
to his age and habits, have diminished one by one, each year seeing some
new privations, where increasing infirmity would demand more ease.
In this emergency, I have thought of an effort--you will smile at the
folly, perhaps, but be lenient for the motive--I have endeavored to make
some of the many reminiscences of his own early years contribute to his
old age, and have written certain short sketches of the time when, as a
youth, he served as a soldier of the body-guard of Louis XVI. I know
how utterly valueless they are in a literary point of view, but I have
thought that, as true pictures of a time now probably passed away never
to return again, they might have their interest Such is my secret.
My entreaty is, to ask of you to look at them, and, if not utterly
unworthy, to assist me regarding their publication.”

“I not only promise this, but I can pledge myself to the success,” said
Linton; “such recitals of life and manners as I have listened to from
Mr. Corrigan would be invaluable; we know so little in England--”

“Nay, let me stop you; they are written in French. My hope is to procure
their insertion in some French journal, as is the custom now-a-days.
Here they are,” said she, handing him a packet with a trembling hand. “I
have but to say, that if they be all I fear them, you will be too true a
friend to peril me by a rejection.” And without waiting for a reply, she
hurried back to the house.

Many minutes had not elapsed ere Linton found himself in his room,
with the open manuscript before him. It was quite true, he had not in
anticipation conceived a very high idea of Miss Leicester’s efforts,
because his habit, like that of a great number of shrewd people, was to
regard all amateur performances as very inferior, and that only they who
give themselves wholly up to any pursuit attain even mediocrity. He had
not, however, read many pages ere he was struck by the evidence of
high ability. The style was everywhere simple, chaste, and elegant; the
illustrations natural and graceful; and the dialogue, when, occurring,
marked by all the epigrammatic smartness which characterized the era.

The sketches also had the merit of life-pictures,--real characters
of the day, being drawn with a vigor that only actual knowledge could
impart. All these excellences Linton could perceive and estimate; but
there were many very far above his power of appreciation. As it was, he
read on, fascinated by the interest the scenes inspired, nor ceased till
the last page was completed, when, throwing himself on his bed, he fell
soon asleep, and dreamed of Mary Leicester.

His very first care, on waking, was to resume the manuscript, and see
how far the impression first made might be corroborated by afterthought.
It was while reading, that the post had just arrived, bringing,
among other letters, one in Phillis’s hand, which was, though brief,
significant:--

     Sir,--There is no time to be lost.   The K.’s are here every
     day, and Lord C------ spends every morning here till three
     or four O’C.

     Mr. Meek has written to ask for Mr. C.’s interest in the
     borough; what answer given, not known. Mr. C. would seem to
     be again pressed for money. He was here twice yesterday. The
     rumor is that Mr. C. will marry Miss O. K. immediately.
     Pearse overheard Mr. K. warning Mr. C. against Mr. Linton as
     a very dangerous intimate. Ld. C. F. said, when sitting here
     yesterday, “I have known Master Tom some years, and never
     knew the man he did not help to ruin with whom he had any
     influence.” Mr. C. said something about being on his guard,
     and “suspecting;” but the exact words were not heard. Lord
     K. and Lady breakfasted with Mr. C. to-day, and stayed till
     two. Lady K. swept down with her dress a Sevres jar in the
     boudoir; heard Mr. C. say that he would not give the
     fragments for the most precious vase in the Tuileries. Lord
     K. asked what he said, and her Ladyship replied that Mr.
     C.’s vase was unhappily the fellow of one in the Tuileries,
     and looked confused at the accident. Mr. Linton is warned to
     lose no time, as Mr. C. is hourly falling deeper into other
     influences, and every day something occurs to injure Mr. L’s
     interest.   Honored sir, in duty yours,
     P.

     N.B.--The yacht came into harbor from Cowes last night.

The same day which brought this secret despatch saw one from Linton
to Cashel, saying, that by the aid of four hundred workmen in various
crafts, unceasing toil, and unwearied zeal, Tubbermore would be ready
to receive his guests by the following Wednesday. A steamer, hired
specially, had brought over from London nearly everything which
constitutes the internal arrangement of a house; and as money had been
spent without control, difficulties melted away into mere momentary
embarrassments,--impossibilities, there were none. The letter contained
a long list of commissions for Cashel to execute, given, however, with
no other object than to occupy his time for the remaining few days in
town as much as possible. This written and sent off, Linton addressed
himself to his task of preparation with an energy few could surpass,
and while the trades-people were stimulated by increased pay to greater
efforts, and the work was carried on through the night by torchlight;
the whole demesne swarmed with laborers by whom roads were cut, paths
gravelled, fences levelled, flower-plots devised; even the garden--that
labyrinth of giant weeds--was reduced to order, till in the hourly
changing aspect of the place it was hard not to recognize the wand of
enchantment It was, indeed, like magic to see how fountains sprang up,
and threw their sprayey showers over the new-planted shrubs; new paths
led away into dense groves of trees; windows, so late half walled up,
now opened upon smooth, shaven turf, or disclosed a reach of swelling
landscape; and chambers, that a few days back were the gloomy abode of
the bat and the night-owl, became of a sudden cheerful and lightsome.

Stuccoed ceilings, mirror-panelled windows, gilded cornices, and carved
architraves--all of which would imply time and long labor--were there
at once and on the moment, for the good fairy who did these things
knows not failure,--the banker’s check-book. From the great hall to the
uppermost chamber the aspect of all bespoke comfort. The elegances of
life, Linton well knew, are like all other refinements,--not capable of
being “improvised,” but the daily comforts are. The meaner objects which
make up the sum of hourly want,--the lazy ottoman, the downy-pillowed
fauteuils, the little squabs that sit in windows to provoke flirtations
and inspire confidences; the tempting little writing-tables that suggest
pen and ink; the billiard-table, opening on the flower-garden, so
redolent of sweet odors that you feel exonerated for the shame of an
in-door occupation; the pianos and guitars and harps scattered about in
various places, as though to be ever ready to the touch; the books and
prints and portfolios that give excuse to the lounging mood, and text
for that indolent chitchat so pleasant of a morning,--all these, and a
thousand other things, seen through the long perspective of a handsome
suite of rooms, do make up that sum, for which our own dear epithet,
“comfort,” has no foreign equivalent.

We have been often compelled, in this veracious history, to reflect with
harshness on certain traits of Mr. Linton’s morality. Let us make him
the small _amende_ in our power to say, that in his present functions he
was unsurpassable; and here, for the moment, we leave him.



CHAPTER XXVI. BAD GENERALSHIP

     “They alle agrede to disagree,
     A moste united Familie!”


Great was the excitement and bustle in the Kennyfeck family on the
arrival of a brief note from Roland Cashel, setting forth that the house
at Tubbermore was at length in a state to receive his guests, who were
invited for the following Wednesday.

Although this visit had rarely been alluded to in Cashel’s presence, it
was a very frequent topic of the family in secret committee, and many
were the fears inspired by long postponement that the event would
never come off. Each, indeed, looked forward to it with very different
feelings. Independent of all more purely personal views, Mrs. Kennyfeck
speculated on the immense increase of importance she should obtain
socially, in the fact of being domesticated in the same house with
a commander of the forces and his lady, not to speak of secretaries,
_aides-de-camp_, and Heaven knows what other functionaries. The young
ladies had prospective visions of another order; and poor Kennyfeck
fancied himself a kind of agricultural Metternich, who was about, at the
mere suggestion of his will, to lay down new territorial limits on the
estate, and cut and carve the boundaries at his pleasure.

Aunt Fanny, alone, was not warmed by the enthusiasm around her; first
of all, there were grave doubts if she could accompany the others, as
no precise invitation had ever been accorded to her; and although Mrs.
Kennyfeck stoutly averred “she was as good as asked,” the elder daughter
plainly hinted at the possible awkwardness of such a step, Olivia
preserving between the two a docile neutrality.

“I ‘m sorry for _your_ sake, my dear,” said Miss O’Hara to Olivia, with
an accent almost tart, “because I thought I might be useful.”

“It is very provoking for all our sakes,” said Miss Kennyfeck, as though
quietly suffering the judgment to be pronounced; “we should have been so
happy all together.”

“If your father was any good, he ‘d manage it at once,” said Mrs. K.,
with a resentful glance towards poor Mr. Kennyfeck, who, with spectacles
on his forehead, and the newspaper on his knee, fancied he was thinking.

“We should have some very impertinent remark upon it, I’m certain,” said
Miss K., who, for reasons we must leave to the reader’s own acuteness,
was greatly averse to her aunt accompanying them, “so many of one
family! I know how Linton will speak of it.”

“Let him, if he dare; I wonder whose exertions placed Cashel himself
in the position he enjoys,” said Mrs. Kennyfeck, angrily, and darting
a look of profound contempt at her husband, recognizing, doubtless, the
axiom of the ignoble means through which Providence occasionally effects
our destinies.

“I can remain here, mamma, for that matter,” said Olivia, in a voice of
angelic innocence.

“Sweet--artless creature,” whispered her sister, “not to know how all
our devices are exercised for her.”

“It ‘s really too provoking, Fanny,” said Mrs. Kennyfeck; “you were just
beginning to acquire that kind of influence over him which would be so
serviceable, and once in the country, where so many opportunities for
joining him in his walks would occur, I calculated immensely on your
assistance.”

“Well, my dear, it can’t be helped,” sighed Aunt Fanny.

“Could n’t we allude to it to-day, when Cashel calls, and say something
about your going away to the country and our regrets at parting, and so
on? Olivia, you might do that very easily.”

“It wouldn’t do for Olivia,” said Aunt Fanny, very sententiously.

“Quite right, aunt,” chimed in Miss Kennyfeck; “that would be like old
Admiral Martin, who shot away all his ammunition firing salutes.”

“Mr. Kennyfeck!” said his spouse, with a voice of command; “I vow he
is deafer every day--Mr. Kennyfeck, you must call on Mr. Cashel this
morning, and say that we really cannot think of inflicting him with an
entire family; that you and I alone--or you and Olivia--”

“No--no, Mr. Kennyfeck and Caroline,” interposed Aunt Fanny, “say that.”

“Thanks for the preference,” said Miss Kennyfeck, with a short nod, “I
am to play lightning-conductor; isn’t it so?”

“Or shall I propose going alone?” interposed Mr. Kennyfeck, in all the
solemnity of self-importance.

“Is n’t he too bad?” exclaimed his wife, turning to the others; “did
you ever conceive there could be anything as dull as that man? We cannot
trust you with any part of the transaction.”

“Here comes Mr. Cashel himself,” said Miss Kennyfeck; as a phaeton drove
rapidly to the door, and Cashel, accompanied by a friend, descended.

“Not a word of what we were speaking, Mr. Kennyfeck!” said his wife,
sternly, for she reposed slight reliance on his tact.

“Who is with him?” whispered Olivia to her sister; but not heeding the
question, Miss Kennyfeck said,--

“Take _my_ advice, Livy, and get rid of your duenna. You ‘ll play your
own game better.”

Before there was time for rejoinder, Lord Charles Frobisher and Cashel
entered the drawing-room.

“You received my note, I hope, Mrs. Kennyfeck,” said Roland, as he
accepted her cordially offered hand. “I only this morning got Linton’s
last bulletin, and immediately wrote off to tell you.”

“That _is_ significant,” whispered Miss Kennyfeck to Olivia. “To give
_us_ the earliest intelligence.”

“I trust the announcement is not too abrupt.”

“Of course not,--our only scruple is, the largeness of our party. We are
really shocked at the notion of inflicting an entire family upon you.”

“Beware the Bear,” whispered Lord C., in a very adroit
undertone,--“don’t invite the aunt.”

“My poor house will only be the more honored,” said Cashel, bowing, and
sorely puzzled how to act.

“You’ll have a very numerous muster, Cashel, I fancy,” said Lord
Charles, aloud; “not to speak of the invited, but those ‘Umbræ,’ as the
Romans call them, who follow in the suite of such fascinating people as
Mrs. White.”

“Not one too many, if there be but room for them; my anxiety is, that my
personal friends should not be worst off, and I have come to beg, if not
inconvenient, that you would start from this on Tuesday.”

“Do you contract to bring us all down?” said Frobisher. “I really think
you ought; the geography of that district is not very familiar to most
of us. What says Miss Kennyfeck?”

“I like everything that promises pleasure and amusement.”

“What says her sister?” whispered Cashel to Olivia.

“How do you mean to travel, Mr. Cashel?” said she, in a tone which might
be construed into perfect artlessness or the most intense interest.

“With you--if you permit,” said Cashel, in a low voice. “I have been
thinking of asking Mrs. Kennyfeck if she would like to go down by sea,
and sail up the Shannon. My yacht has just arrived.”

“Mamma cannot bear the water, or it would be delightful,” said Olivia.

“Cannot we manage a lady patroness, then?” said Cashel; “would Miss
O’Hara kindly consent?”

“Aunt Fanny, Mr. Cashel wishes to speak to you.”

“Gare la tante!” said Frobisher, between his teeth.

“We were speaking--or rather, I was expressing a hope,” said Cashel,
diffidently, “that a yacht excursion round the southern coast, and so up
the Shannon, might not be an inappropriate way of reaching Tubbermore.
Would Miss O’Hara feel any objection to be of the party?”

“With Caroline and me,” said Olivia, innocently.

Miss O’Hara smiled, and shook her head doubtfully.

“It is very tempting, Mr. Cashel,--too tempting, indeed; but it requires
consideration. May I speak a word with you?” And so saying, she withdrew
with Cashel into a window recess.

The interview was brief; but as they returned to the circle, Cashel was
heard to say,--

“I am really the worst man in the world to solve such difficulties, for
in my ignorance of all forms, I incur the risk of undervaluing them; but
if you thought by my inviting Lord and Lady Kilgoff--”

“Oh, by no means. My sister would never consent to that. But I will just
confer with her for an instant.”

“If the Kilgoff s are asked, it spoils all,” said Mrs. Kennyfeck, in
reply to a whispered communication of her sister.

“I’ll manage that,” said Aunt Fanny; “I half hinted you did n’t like the
companionship for the girls.”

“He’ll invite Mrs. Leicester White, or Lady Janet, perhaps.”

“He sha’n’t. I ‘ll take the whole upon myself.”

“You _have_ done it, I see,” said Frobisher, coming close to Cashel,
and affecting to examine his watch-guard; “and I warned you,
notwithstanding.”

“What could I do?” said Cashel, hopelessly.

“What you must do later on,” said Lord Charles, coolly; “cut the whole
concern altogether.”

“Have you invited the Dean, Mr. Cashel?” interposed Mrs. Kennyfeck.

“I really cannot inform you, madam. There has been so much
confusion--Linton promising to do everything, and ask everybody; but the
omission--if such--”

“Should be left where it is,” muttered Frobisher.

“How long should we probably be on the voyage, Mr. Cashel?” asked Miss
O’Hara.

“Three--four--or five days--perhaps more.”

“I ‘ll give you a month’s sail, and back ‘Time’ after all,” said Lord
Charles.

“Oh, that is out of the question; we couldn’t think of such an
excursion,” said Aunt Fanny.

Olivia cast a most imploring look on her aunt, and was silent.

“Another point, Mr. Cashel,” said Miss O’Hara, speaking in a very low
whisper; “my sister, who is so particular about her girls,--you know how
they have been brought up, so rigidly, and so carefully,--she is afraid
of that kind of intimacy that might possibly grow up between them
and--and--” Here she came to a full stop. “Did n’t I hear you speak of
Lady Kilgoff?”

“Yes; I thought her exactly the kind of person you ‘d like to have.”

“Oh, she is charming--most delightful; but she is a woman of the world,
Mr. Cashel.” said Aunt Fanny, shaking her head.

“Indeed!” muttered Roland, not in the least guessing the drift of the
remark.

“No, no, Mr. Cashel, that would never do. These sweet children have
no knowledge of such people, further than the common intercourse of
society. Lady Kilgoff and Mrs. White--”

“Is she another?”

“She is another, Mr. Cashel,” said Aunt Fanny oracularly.

“Then I see nothing for it but limiting the party to myself and my yacht
commander,--Lieutenant Sickleton of the Navy,--and I believe we have as
little of the world about us as any one could desire.”

It was full a minute or two before Miss O’Hara could satisfy herself
that this speech was not uttered ironically; but the good-natured and
frank look of the speaker at last dispelled the fear, and she said,--

“Well, if you really ask my opinion, I’d say, you are right. For our
parts--that is, for the girls and myself, I mean--we should like it all
the better, and if you would n’t find us too tiresome companions--”

Miss O’Hara was interrupted here by Mrs. Kennyfeck, who, with
considerable agitation in her manner said, “I must beg pardon for
disturbing your agreeable _tête-à-tête_, Mr. Cashel, but I wish to say
one word to my sister.”

As they retired together, Frobisher came up, and, drawing his arm within
Roland’s, led him to a window: “I say, old fellow, you are going too
fast here; hold in a bit, I advise you.”

“How do you mean?--what have I done?”

“It’s no affair of mine, you know, and you may say I’m devilish
impertinent to mix myself up in it, but I don’t like to see a fellow
‘sold,’ notwithstanding.”

“Pray be explicit and frank; what is it?”

“Well, if you ‘ll not take it ill--”

“I promise I shall not--go on.”

“Do you mean to marry that little girl yonder, with the blue flower in
her hair?”

“I cannot say that I do, or that I do not,” said Roland, getting very
red.

“Then, you ‘re making a very bad book, that’s all.”

“Oh, you ‘re quite mistaken; I don’t suspect her of the slightest
feeling towards me--”

“What has that to say to it, my dear fellow?” interrupted Frobisher. “I
did n’t imply that she was in love with you! I wanted to warn you about
the mess you ‘re getting into,--the family fracas; the explanation
asking; the sermonizing; the letter-writing; the tears, reproaches,
distractions,--ay, and the damages, too!--devilish heavy they’d be
against one like you, with plenty of ‘ready.’ Hush! they ‘re coming.”

Miss O’Hara advanced towards Cashel, and Frobisher retired; her mien
and carriage were, however, statelier and more imposing, with less
of cordiality than before. “We cannot agree upon the details of
this excursion, I find, sir; my sister’s scruples, Mr. Kennyfeck’s
doubts,--the difficulties, in short, of every kind, are such, that I
fear we must relinquish it.”

Cashel bowed deeply, without uttering a word; the insinuations of
Frobisher were added in his mind to the suspicion that some secret game
was being played against him, and his manly nature was insulted by the
doubt.

Aunt Fanny, perhaps, perceived she had gone too far, for, reassuming her
former smile, she said, “Not that we despair of one day or other taking
a pleasure-trip in your beautiful vessel.”

“You do me too much honor by expressing such a hope,” said Cashel,
gravely; and then turning to Frobisher, added, “Will you drive me down
to Kingstown? I want to go on board for a few minutes.”

“We see you at seven o’clock I hope?” said Mrs. Kennyfeck, in a whisper.

“I regret to have made an engagement for to-day, madam,” replied
Cashel, stiffly. “Good-morning, ladies. Very sorry, Miss O’Hara, our sea
intentions have been a failure. Let me hope for better luck on land.”

“Will you not be here this evening?” said Olivia, as he passed close
to her, and there was in the swimming eye and tremulous voice enough
to have melted a harder heart than Roland’s; but this time he was proof
against all blandishments, and with a very cold negative, he departed.

“There is hope for you yet, old fellow,” said Lord Charles, as he walked
downstairs beside him; “you did that extremely well.”

Now, although Roland was far from knowing what he had done, or how to
merit the praises, he was too well pleased with the momentary repose the
flattery afforded to question further. Meanwhile, a very excited scene
took place in the house they had just quitted, and to which, for a brief
space, we must return.

On a sofa in one corner of the room sat Olivia Kennyfeck, pale and
trembling, her eyes tearful, and her whole air bespeaking grief and
agitation. At the window close by stood Miss Kennyfeck, the calm
composure of her face, the ease of her attitude, the very types of
internal quiet. She looked out, up the square, and playing on the
woodwork of the window an imaginary pianoforte air, while in the back
drawing-room sat Mrs. Kennyfeck and Miss O’Hara, side by side on a sofa,
their excited looks and heightened complexions attesting the animation
of the controversy, for such in reality it was.

“I thought you would go too far--I knew you would,” said Mrs. Kennyfeck,
with an angry gesture of the hand.

“What do you mean by too far?” rejoined her sister. “Is it in the
face of a letter like this that you would permit him to continue his
attentions, and, worse still, let the girls go off for an excursion of
maybe a week or two? Read that.”

“The letter is anonymous, and may be untrue from end to end.”

“Then why not let me test its truth by some allusion to its contents?”

“And banish him from the house ever after,” rejoined Mrs. Kennyfeck,
bitterly. “No, no, Fanny, you mistake him very much; he isn’t like one
of your old County Clare admirers, that can be huffed to-day, and asked
to dinner to-morrow,--not that, indeed, you showed much judgment in your
management even of them.”

This allusion to Aunt Fanny’s spinsterhood was too palpable to pass
unnoticed, and she arose from the sofa with a face of outraged temper.

“It might be a question, my dear, between us, which had the least
success,--I, who never got a husband, or you, who married that one.”

If Mr. Kennyfeck had intended by a tableau to have pointed the moral
of this allusion, he could not have succeeded better, as he sat bolt
upright in his chair, endeavoring through the murky cloud of his crude
ideas to catch one ray of light upon all he witnessed; he looked the
very ideal of hopeless stupidity. Miss O’Hara, like a skilful general,
left the field under the smoke of her last fire, and Mrs. Kennyfeck sat
alone, with what Homer would call “a heart-consuming rage,” to meditate
on the past.



CHAPTER XXVII. LIEUTENANT SICKLETON’S PATENT PUMP.

     The mariner’s chart
     He knew by heart,
     And every current, rock, and shore,
     From the drifting sand
     Off Newfoundland,
     To the son-split cliffs of Singapore.

     Captain Pike.


Lord Charles Frobisher was never a very talkative companion, and as
Cashel’s present mood was not communicative, they drove along, scarcely
interchanging a sentence, till the harbor of Kingstown came in sight,
and with it the gay pennons that fluttered from the mast of Roland’s
schooner.

“I suppose that is your yacht,--the large craft yonder?”

“I hope so,” said Cashel, enthusiastically; “she sits the water like a
duck, and has a fine rakish look about her.”

“So, then, you never saw her before?”

“Never. I purchased her from description, taking her crew, commander,
and all, just as she sailed into Southampton from Zante, a month ago.
They sent me a drawing of her, her measurement, tonnage, and draught
of water, as also the log of her run in the Mediterranean;--yes, that’s
she, I can recognize the water-line from the sketch.”

“Is your visit on board going to be a long one?” drawled out Lord
Charles, languidly; “for I own I am not the least aquatic, and were it
not for lobsters and whitebait I vote the sea a humbug.”

“Then I ‘ll say good-bye,” said Cashel. “That blue water, that curling
ripple, and the fluttering of that bunting, have set me a-thinking about
a hundred things.”

“You ‘ll dine with us at seven, won’t you?”

“No, I ‘ll dine on board, or not dine at all,” said he, as he sprang
from the carriage, and, waving his hand in adieu, made his way to the
harbor. Taking the first boat that offered, Cashel rowed out to the
yacht, just in time to catch Lieutenant Sickleton, who, in full
yacht costume, was about to wait on his principal. He was a bluff,
good-natured, blunt fellow, who, having neither patronage nor interest
in the service, had left the wardroom for the easier, but less
ambitious, life of a yacht commander; a thoroughly good seaman, and
brave as a lion, he saw himself reduced to a position almost menial from
hard and galling necessity. He had twice been to Alexandria with touring
lords, who, while treating him well in all essentials, yet mingled so
much of condescension in their courtesy as to be all but unendurable. He
had gone to America with a young Oxford man, the son of a great London
brewer, whose overbearing insolence he had been obliged to repel by
a threat of personal consequences. He had taken an invalid family to
Madeira, and a ruined duke to Greece, and was now, with the yacht
and its company, transferred to Cashel’s hands, not knowing--scarce
caring--with whom or where his future destinies were to be cast.

The Freemasonry of the sea has a stronger tie than the mere use of
technicals. Cashel was not ten minutes on board ere Sickleton and he
were like old acquaintances. The “Lucciola” was, in Skeleton’s ideas,
the best thing that ever ran on a keel; there was nothing she could n’t
do,--fair weather or foul. She could outsail a Yankee smack in a gale
off the coast of Labrador, or beat a felucca in the light winds off the
Gulf of Genoa. If these tidings were delightful to Cashel’s ears,--the
most exciting and heart-stirring he had listened to for many a day,--the
gratification was no less to Sickleton that he was about to sail with
one who really loved the sea, and thoroughly understood and could value
the qualities of his noble craft.

From the vessel, they turned the conversation to all the possible places
the world’s map afforded for a cruise. Sickleton’s experiences were
chiefly Eastern,--he knew the Mediterranean as well as he did the Downs;
while Cashel’s could vie with him in both coasts of the great Spanish
peninsula, and all the various channels of the West India islands.
For hours they sat discussing soundings, the trade winds, and
shore currents, with all the bearings of land points, bluffs, and
lighthouses. In talk, they visited half the globe; now staggering under
a half-reefed topsail in the Bay of Biscay, now swimming along, with
winged and stretching sails, under the blue cliffs of Baia.

“I ‘m sure I don’t know how you ever could lead a shore life,” said
Sickleton, as Cashel described with warm enthusiasm some passages of his
rover’s existence.

“Nor do I understand how I have borne it so long,” said Cashel;
“its dissipations weary, its deceits provoke me. I have lost--if not
all--great part of that buoyancy which mingled peril and pleasure
create, and I suppose, in a month or two more, I should be about as
apathetic, as indolent, and as selfish as any fine gentleman ought to
be. Ah, if we had a war!”

“That’s it,--that’s what I say every day and every night: if we had
a war, the world would be worth living, in or dying for. Fellows like
myself, for instance, are never thought of in a peace; but they ‘look
us all out,’--just as they do a storm-jib, when it comes on to blow. No
laughing a man out of position, then,--no, faith!”

“How do you mean?” said Cashel, who saw in the intense expression of the
speaker how much the words covered.

“Just what happened to myself,--that’s all,” said Sickleton; “but if you
like to hear how,--the story is n’t long, or any way remarkable,--we ‘ll
have a bit of luncheon here, and I’ll tell it to you.”

Cashel willingly assented, and very quickly a most appetizing meal made
its appearance in the cabin, to which Sickleton did the honors most
creditably.

“I ‘m impatient for that anecdote you promised me,” said Cashel, as the
dessert made its appearance, and they sat in all the pleasant enjoyment
of social ease.

“You shall hear it,--though, as I said before, it’s not much of a story
either; nor should I tell it, if I did n’t see that you feel a sort of
interest about myself--unhappily, its hero.”

“I ‘ll not weary you by telling you the story that thousands can repeat,
of a service without patronage, no sooner afloat than paid off again,
and no chance of employment, save in a ten-gun brig off the coast of
Guinea, and I suppose you know what that is?”

Cashel nodded, and Sickleton went on:--

“Well, I passed as lieutenant, and went through my yellow fever in the
Niger very creditably. I was the only one of a ship’s company in the
gun-room on the way back to England, after a two years’ cruise; I
suppose because life was less an object to me than the other fellows,
who had mothers, and sisters, and so on. So it was, I brought the old
‘Amphion’ safe into dock, and was passed off to wander about the world,
with something under forty pounds in my pocket, and a ‘good-service
letter’ from the Admiralty--a document that costs a man some trouble
to gain, but that would not get you a third-class place in the rail to
Croydon, when you have it. What was I to do?--I had no interest for the
Coast-Guard. I tried to become keeper of a lighthouse, but failed. It
was no use to try and be a clerk--there were plenty of fellows, better
qualified than myself, walking the streets supperless. So I set myself a
thinking if I could n’t do something for ‘the service’ that might get
me into notice, and make the ‘Lords’ take me up. There was one chap made
his fortune by ‘round sterns,’ though they were known in the Dutch Navy
for two centuries. There was another invented a life-boat; a third, a
new floating buoy--and so on. Now I ‘m sure I passed many a sleepless
night thinking of something that might aid me; at one time it was a
new mode of reefing topsails in a gale; at another it was a change in
signalizing the distant ships of a squadron; now an anchor for rocky
bottoms; now a contrivance for lowering quarter-boats in a heavy
sea--till at last, by dint of downright thought and perseverance, I did
fall upon a lucky notion. I invented a new hand-pump, applicable
for launches and gun-boats,--a thing greatly wanted, very simple of
contrivance, and easy to work. It was a blessed moment, to be sure, when
my mind, instead of wandering over everything from the round top to the
taffrail, at last settled down on this same pump!

“It was not mere labor and study this invention caused me. No! it
swallowed up nearly every shilling of my little hoard. I was obliged to
make a model, and what with lead and zinc, and solder and leather, and
caoutchouc and copper, I was very soon left without ‘tin;’ but I had
hope, and hope makes up for half rations! At last, my pump was perfect;
the next thing was to make it known. There was no use in trying this
through any unprofessional channels. Landsmen think that as they pay for
the navy, they need not bother their heads about it further. ‘My lords,’
I knew well, would n’t mind me, because my father was n’t in Parliament,
and so I thought of one of those magazines that devote themselves to
the interests of the two services, and I wrote a paper accordingly,
and accompanied it by a kind of diagram of my pump. I waited for
a month--two--three months--but heard nothing, saw nothing of my
invention. I wrote, but could get no answer; I called, but could see
no editor; and at last was meditating some personal vengeance, when I
received a note. It was then much after midsummer, few people in town,
and the magazines were printing anything--as no one reads them in the
dog-days--stating that if Lieutenant Sickleton would procure a woodcut
of his pump, the paper descriptive of it should appear in the next
number. That was a civil way of asking me for five pounds; but help
there was none, and so I complied.

“At length I read in the list of the contents, ‘Lieutenant Sickleton’s
New Hand Pump, with an Illustration’--and my heart bounded at the words.
It was the nineteenth article--near the end of the number. I forget what
the others were--something, of course, about Waterloo, and Albuera, and
the Albert chako, and such-like stuff. My pump, I knew, put it where
they would, was _the_ paper of the month. This feeling was a little
abated on finding that, as I walked down Fleet Street on the day
of publication, I did n’t perceive any sign of public notice or
recognition; no one said as I passed, ‘That’s Sickleton, the fellow who
invented the new pump.’ I remembered, however, that if my _pump_ was
known, _I_ was not as yet, and that though the portrait of my invention
had become fame, my own was still in obscurity.

“I betook myself to the office of the journal, expecting there at least
to find that enthusiastic reception the knowledge of my merits must
secure, but hang me, if one of the clerks--as to the editor, there was
no seeing him--took the slightest trouble about me. I told him, with, I
trust, a pardonable swelling of the bosom, that I was ‘Sickleton.’ I
did n’t say the famous Sickleton, and I thought I was modest in the
omission; but he was n’t in the least struck by the announcement, and I
quitted the place in disgust.

“Worse than all, when I came to read over my paper, I found, by the
errors of the press, that the whole diagram was spoiled. The letters had
been misplaced, and the fiend himself, if he wanted it, couldn’t work
my pump. You see that C D represented the angular crank, F was the
stop-cock, and T the trigger that closed the piston. Hang me, if they
did n’t make F the trigger, and instead of B being the cistern, it was
made the jet; so that when you began to work, all the water squirted
through the sluices at OPQ over the operator. I went nearly mad. I wrote
a furious letter to the editor; I wrote another to the ‘Times;’ I wrote
to the ‘Globe,’ the ‘Post,’ and the ‘Herald.’ I explained, I elucidated,
I asked for the Englishman’s birthright, as they call it--‘Justice’--but
no use! In fact, my reclamations could only be inserted as
advertisements, and would cost me about a hundred pounds to publish.
So I sat down to grieve over my invention, and curse the hour I ever
thought of serving my country.

“It was about six months after this--I had been living on some relations
nearly as poor as myself--when I one day received an order to ‘wait at
the Admiralty the next morning.’ I went, but without hope or interest.
I could n’t guess why I was sent for, but no touch of expectancy made me
anxious for the result.

“I waited from eleven till four in the ante-room; and at last, after
some fifty had had audiences, Lieutenant Sickleton was called. The time
was I would have trembled at such an interview to the very marrow of my
bones. Disappointment, however, had nerved me now, and I stood as much
at ease and composed as I sit here.

“‘You are Mr. Sickleton?’ said the First Lord, who was a ‘Tartar.’

“‘Yes, my Lord.’

“‘You invented a kind of pump--a hand-pump for launches and small craft,
I think?’

“‘Yes, my Lord.’

“‘You have a model of the invention, too?’

“‘Yes, my Lord.’

“‘Can you describe the principle of your discovery? is there anything
which, for its novelty, demands the peculiar attention of the
Admiralty?’

“‘Yes--at least I think so, my Lord,’ said I, the last embers of hope
beginning to flicker into a faint flame within. ‘The whole is so simple,
that I can, with your permission, make it perfectly intelligible even
here. There is a small double-acting piston--’

“‘Confound the fellow! don’t let him bore us, now,’ said Admiral M------
in a whisper quite loud enough for me to overhear it. ‘If it amuse his
Majesty, that’s enough. Tell him what’s wanted, and let him go.’

“‘Oh, very well,’ said the First Lord, who seemed terribly afraid of his
colleague. ‘It is the king’s wish, Mr. Sickleton, that your invention
should be tested under his Majesty’s personal inspection, and you are
therefore commanded to present yourself at Windsor on Monday next, with
your model, at eleven o’clock. It is not very cumbrous, I suppose?’

“‘No, my Lord. It only weighs four and a half hundredweight.’

“‘Pretty well for a model; but here is an order for a wagon. You
‘ll present this at Woolwich.’ He bowed and turned his back, and I
retreated.

“Sharp to the hour of eleven I found myself at Windsor on the following
Monday. It was past two, however, before his Majesty could see me. There
were audiences and foreign ambassadors, papers to read, commissions to
sign--in fact, when two o’clock came, the king had only got through a
part of his day’s work, and then it was luncheon-time. This was over
about three; and at last his Majesty, with the First Lord, two admirals,
and an old post-captain, who, by the way, had once put me in irons
for not saluting his Majesty’s guard when coming up to the watch at
midnight, appeared on the terrace.

“The place selected for the trial was a neat little parterre outside one
of the small drawing-rooms. There was a fountain supplied by two running
streams, and this I was to experiment upon with my new pump. It was
trying enough to stand there before such a presence; but the uppermost
thought in my mind was about my invention, and I almost forgot the
exalted rank of my audience.

“After due presentation to his Majesty, and a few common-place questions
about where I had served, and how long, and so on, the king said, ‘Come
now, sir. Let us see the pump at work, for we haven’t much time to
lose.’

“I immediately adjusted the apparatus, and when all was ready, I looked
about in some dismay, for I saw no one to assist the working. There were
present, besides the king and the three naval officers, only two fellows
in full-dress liveries, a devilish sight more pompous-looking than the
king or the First Lord. What was to be done? It was a dilemma I had
never anticipated; and in my dire distress, I stepped back and whispered
a word to old Admiral Beaufort, who was the kindest-looking of the
party.

“‘What is he saying?--what does he want?’ said the king, who partly
overheard the whisper.

“‘Mr. Sickleton remarks, your Majesty, that he will need assistance to
exhibit his invention--that he requires some one to work the pump.’

“‘Then why did n’t he bring hands with him?’ said the king, testily. ‘I
suppose the machine is not self-acting, and that he knew that before he
came here.’

“I thought I ‘d have fainted at this rebuke from the lips of royalty
itself, and so I stammered out some miserable excuse about not
knowing if I were empowered to have brought aid--my ignorance of court
etiquette--in fact, I blundered--and so far, that the king cut me short
by saying, ‘Take those people there, sir, and don’t delay us;’ pointing
to the two gentlemen in cocked hats, bags, and swords, that looked as if
they could have danced on my grave with delight.

“In a flurry--compared to which a fever was composure--I instructed my
two new assistants in the duty, and stationing myself with the hose to
direct the operation of the jet, I gave the word to begin. Well! instead
of a great dash of water spurting out some fifty feet in height, and
fizzing through the air like a rocket, there came a trickling, miserable
dribble, that puddled at my very feet! I thought the sucker was
clogged--the piston stopped--the valves impeded--twenty things did I
fancy--but the sober truth was, these gilded rascals would n’t do more
than touch the crank with the tips of their fingers, and barely put
sufficient force in the pressure to move the arm up and down. ‘Work it
harder--put more strength to it,’ I whispered, in mortal fear to be
overheard, but they never minded me in the least Indeed, I almost think
one fellow winked his eye ironically when I addressed him.

“‘Eh--what!’ said the king, after ten minutes of an exhibition that were
to me ten years at the galleys, ‘these pumps do next to nothing. They
make noise enough, but don’t bring up any water at all.’

“The First Lord shook his head in assent. Old Beaufort made me a sign to
give up the trial, and the post-captain blurted out, in a half-whisper,
something about a ‘blundering son of a dog’s wife’ that nearly drove me
mad.

“‘I say, Sickleton,’ said the king, ‘your invention’s not worth the
solder it cost you. You couldn’t sprinkle the geraniums yonder in three
weeks with it.’

“‘It’s all the fault of these d----d buffers, please your Majesty,’ said
I, driven clean out of my senses by failure and disgrace--and, to be
sure, as hearty a roar of laughter followed as ever I listened to in
my life--‘if they ‘d only bear a hand and work the crank as I showed
them--’ As I spoke, I leaned over and took hold of the crank myself,
letting the hose rest on my shoulder.

“With two vigorous pulls I filled the pistons full, and, at the third,
rush went the stream with the force of a Congrève--not, indeed, over the
trees, as I expected, but full in the face of the First Lord; scarcely
was his cry uttered, when a fourth dash laid him full upon his back,
drenched from head to foot, and nearly senseless from the shock. The
king screamed with laughing--the admiral shouted--the old post-captain
swore--and I, not knowing one word of all that was happening behind my
back, worked away for the bare life, till the two footmen, at a signal
from the admiral, laid hold of me by main force, and dragged me away,
the perspiration dripping from my forehead, and my uniform all in rags
by the exertion.

[Illustration: 346]

“‘Get away as fast as you can, sir,’ whispered old B., ‘and thank God
if your day’s work only puts you at the end of the list.’ I followed the
counsel--I don’t know how--I never could recollect one event from that
moment till I awoke the next morning at my aunt’s cottage at Blackwall,
and saw my coat in tatters, and the one epaulette hanging by a thread;
then I remembered my blessed invention, and I think I showed good pluck
by not going clean out of my mind.”

There was an earnestness in poor Sickleton’s manner that effectually
repressed any mirth on Cashel’s part--indeed, his sense of the ludicrous
gave way before his feeling of sorrow for the hard fortune of the man
without a friend. In the partial civilization of the far west, personal
prowess and energy were always enough to secure any man’s success; but
here, each day’s experience taught him how much was to be laid to the
score of family--of fortune--name--address--and the thousand other
accessories of fortune. He had just begun to express his wonder that
Sickleton had never tried life in the New World, when the mate appeared
at the cabin-door to say that a shore boat was rowing out to the yacht.

A movement of impatience broke from Sickleton. “More of ‘em, I suppose,”
 cried he; “we’ve had such a lot of sight-seers this morning, since we
dropped anchor! most of them affecting to be intimate friends of yours,
and all so well acquainted with your habits of life, that I should have
become perfectly informed on every particular of your private history
only by listening.”

“The chances are,” broke in Cashel, “I did not personally know a man
amongst them.”

“I half suspect as much. They spoke far too confidently to be authentic.
One would have it you were half ruined already, and had got the yacht
over to clear away, and be off. Another, that you were going to be
married to a lady with an immense fortune,--a rumor contradicted by a
third saying it was an attorney’s daughter without a shilling.”

“There’s a lady, I see, sir, coming on board,” said the mate, putting in
his head once more.

“I ‘d swear there was,” growled Sickleton.

“You give them luncheon, I hope?” said Cashel, smiling at the other’s
impatience.

“Yes; we’ve had something like an ordinary here, today, and as I heard
that to-morrow would be busier still, I have had my boat going backwards
and forwards all the morning to prepare.”

“I am desired to show you this card, sir,” said the mate, handing one to
Sickleton, who passed it to Cashel.

“Lord Kilgoff--indeed!” said he, surprised, and at once hastened to the
deck.

“Mr. Cashel himself here!” exclaimed my Lady, from the stern of a small
boat alongside; and after an exchange of friendly recognition, the party
ascended the gangway. “This was a pleasure we scarcely looked for, to
meet you here,” said his Lordship, blandly. “We had just taken our drive
down to the harbor, when accidentally hearing your yacht had arrived,
Lady Kilgoff grew desirous to see it.”

“A yacht in harbor is a horse in stable,” said Cashel. “Will you permit
me to give you a cruise?”

“I should like nothing in the world so well.”

“It is late--almost six o’clock,” said Lord Kilgoff, looking at his
watch.

“And if it be,” said my Lady, coaxingly, “you know Dr. Grover
recommended you the sea air and sea excursions. I declare you look
better already, don’t you think so, Mr. Cashel?” “I protest I do,” said
Cashel, thus appealed to; “and if you will only pardon the deficiencies
of a floating cuisine, and dine here--”

“How delightful!” broke in my Lady, not suffering even time for an
apology.

“It appeared to me there was a haunch of venison hanging over the stern
when we came on board?” said my Lord, with his glass to his eye.

“Yes, my Lord,” said Sickleton, touching his hat in salutation; “I’ve
had it there for two hours every day since Tuesday week.”

“And is the wind, and the tide, and everything else as it should be, Mr.
Cashel?” said Lady Kilgoff.

“Everything--when you have only uttered your consent,” said he,
gallantly.

“What is this, sir?” said my Lord, as, having requested something to
drink, Sickleton poured him out a large glassful of scarcely frothing
liquid.

“Dry champagne, my Lord. Moot’s.”

“And very excellent too. Really, Laura, I am very sorry it should be so
late, and we were to have dined with Meek at seven--”

“But only alone--no party, remember that,” said she, persuasively; “how
easy to send the carriage back with an apology.”

Cashel looked his thanks, but without speaking.

“Take those red partridges out of ice,” said Sickleton, from the cook’s
galley, “and let us have those Ostend oysters to-day.”

“I yield,” said my Lord. “Mr. Cashel must take all the consequences of
my breach of faith upon himself.”

“I promise to do so, my Lord.”

“A pen and ink, and some paper, Mr. Cashel,” said her Ladyship.

“Will you permit me to show you the way?” said he, handing her down into
the little cabin, whose arrangement was all in the perfection of modern
taste and elegance.

“How beautiful!” cried she. “Oh! Mr. Cashel, I really do envy you the
possession of this fairy ship. You don’t know how passionately I love
the sea.”

“There are but few things I could hear you say with so much pleasure
to me,” said Cashel, gazing with a strange feeling of emotion at the
brilliant color and heightened expression of her handsome features.

“There! that is finished,” said she, closing the hastily-written note.
“Now, Mr. Cashel, we are yours.” However much of course the words were
in themselves, her eyes met Cashel’s as she spoke them, and as suddenly
fell; while he, taking the letter, left the cabin without speaking--a
world of curious conjecture warring in his heart.



CHAPTER XXVIII. A SPLIT IN THE KENNYFECK CABINET

     Like “cat and dog!” not so! _their_ strife
     They carried on like “man and wife.”

     Family Jars.


It may easily have escaped our reader’s memory, that on Roland Cashel’s
hasty departure from Mr. Kennyfeck’s, the seeds of a very serious schism
had been sown in that respectable family, Mrs. Kennyfeck being firmly
persuaded that her liege lord had grossly mismanaged his influence over
the young proprietor; the girls as resolutely opposed to each other; and
all, with a most laudable unanimity, agreed in thinking that Aunt Fanny
“had spoiled everything,” and that but for her odious interference there
never would have arisen the slightest coolness between them and their
distinguished acquaintance.

“I may lose the agency!” said Mr. Kennyfeck, with a sigh of afflicting
sincerity.

“I should n’t wonder if he avoids the house,” quoth his wife.

“He evidently rejects all attempts at domination,” said Miss Kennyfeck,
with a glance at her aunt. Olivia said nothing; but it was not difficult
to see that her thoughts were full of the theme. Meanwhile, Miss O’Hara,
in all the dignity of injured rectitude, sat seemingly unconscious of
the popular feeling against her, repeating from time to time the ominous
words, “We shall see--we shall see;” a species of prophetic warning
that, come what may, can always assert its accomplishment.

With such elements of discord and discontent, the breakfast proceeded
gradually, and the broken attempts at talk had subsided into a sullen
silence, when the butler entered to say that Mr. Phillis begged to speak
a few words with Mr. Kennyfeck.

“Let him come in here,” said Mrs. Kennyfeck, as her husband was rising
to leave the room. “I think, if there are to be no more blunders, we had
better be present at the conference.”

“Show him in, Pearse,” said Mr. Kennyfeck, in a meek voice; and the
gentleman’s gentleman entered, in all that easy self-sufficiency so
peculiar to his class.

“What is it, Mr. Phillis?” said Mrs. Kennyfeck, in a commanding tone,
meant to convey the information of “where the Court sat,” and to whom he
should address his pleading.

“It’s a little matter on which I wanted advice, ma’am, for I am really
puzzled bow to act. You know, ma’am, that we are expecting large company
at our place in the country--Tubb--something--”

“Tubbermore,” interposed Mr. Kennyfeck.

“Yes, sir, Tubbermore. Well, there have been at least twenty messages
this morning from different families, who want to know the best way of
going, and when Mr. Cashel means to go himself, and where post-horses
are to be had, and how they are to get forward where there are none, and
so on.”

“Is your master not the person to dictate the answer to these queries?”
 said Mrs. Kennyfeck, with her grandest air.

“Of course, ma’am, but he’s not here.”

“Where is he, then?” asked she, eagerly.

“He’s gone, ma’am; he went last night.”

“Gone! gone where?” said Mrs. Kennyfeck, with an eagerness no artifice
could cover.

“It’s hard to say, ma’am; but he went down to Kingstown last night, and
sailed in the yacht; and from the preparations and sea stores taken from
the hotel, it would seem like a long cruise.”

“And did he not mention anything of his intention to _you_ Mr. Phillis?”
 said Mrs. Kennyfeck, with a flattering emphasis on the pronoun.

“A few lines in pencil, ma’am, dated from the harbor, was all I
received. Here they are.” And he handed a piece of note-paper across the
table. The contents ran thus:--

     Phillis, send word to Sir Harvey Upton’s that I sha’n’t dine
     there to-morrow. Give the bearer of this my dressing-case,
     and clothes for some days, and have the fourgon ready packed
     to start for Tubbermore on receiving my next orders.

     R. C.--Kingstown Harbor.

“And who brought this note?” said Mrs. Kennyfeck, who fancied she was
conducting the inquiry in true judicial form.

“One of the yacht sailors, ma’am; he came up on Lord Kilgoff s
carriage.”

“On Lord Kilgoff’s carriage--how did that happen?”

“The carriage came into town, ma’am, to bring some things my Lady sent
for; at least, so the sailor told me.”

“And were Lord and Lady Kilgoff on board the yacht?”

“Yes, ma’am; they both sailed in her last night.”

As though drawn by some irresistible influence, every eye was now turned
to Aunt Fanny, who, up to this, had listened to Mr. Phillis with a
breathless attention, and if looks could be translated, every glance
thus thrown said plainly, “This is _your_ doing.”

“Are you certain that the yacht has not returned to Kingstown?” said
Miss O’Hara.

“Perfectly, ma’am. It blew a storm last night, and the sailors about the
harbor told me it was a great chance that any small vessel could outlive
the gale.”

Olivia Kennyfeck became deadly pale at these words, and whispered
something in her sister’s ear.

“Of course,” replied the other, aloud; then turning to Phillis, said,
“Had they a pilot with them?”

“I believe so, miss, but there are so many contradictory reports,
one don’t know what to credit; some say that Lord Kilgoff was greatly
opposed to the cruise, but that her Ladyship insisted, and that, in
fact, they got under weigh at last without my Lord’s knowing, and while
they were at dinner.”

“It was a fearful night!” said Mr. Kennyfeck, whose mind was entirely
engrossed by the one idea.

“Take him into the next room, and I’ll join you presently,” said Mrs.
Kennyfeck to her husband, for that keen-sighted lady had remarked the
intense interest with which Mr. Phillis listened to every remark made
around him.

“Here’s a pretty piece of business!” cried she, as the door closed after
her husband and the valet; “and certainly, I must say, we ‘ve no one to
thank for it but you, Fanny!”

“Unquestionably not,” echoed Miss Kennyfeck. “Aunt Fanny has the entire
merit of this catastrophe.”

“It is most cruel,” sighed Olivia, as she wiped the tears from her eyes,
and bent upon her stern relative a glance of most reproachful sadness.

“Are you all mad?” said the assailed individual, her courage and her
color rising together. “How can you pretend to connect me with this
disgraceful proceeding? Here’s a case as clearly prearranged as ever was
heard of.”

“Impossible!” cried Mrs. Kennyfeck; “did n’t he invite us only yesterday
to go down to Tubbermore by sea?”

“And didn’t you yourself offer the only impediment?” said Miss
Kennyfeck.

“You are very cruel, aunt,” sobbed Olivia.

“You’ll drive me out of my senses,” said Miss O’Hara; and certainly her
look did not belie her words. “I endeavor to rescue you from the snares
of a young debauchee, who, as you well know, has a wife still living--”

“There, I hope you are content now,” said Mrs. Kennyfeck, as Olivia fell
fainting into her arms; and the window was thrown open, and all were
busied in employing the wonted restoratives for such attacks. Meanwhile,
hostilities were continued, but in a less rigorous fashion. “You know
you’ve ruined everything--you know well how your officious meddling has
destroyed this poor child’s fortune; rub her temples, Cary.”

“I know that he is a dissipated, abandoned wretch, that would desert her
to-morrow as he has done that unhappy--”

“Hush, she is coming to. You want to kill her.”

“Humph!” muttered Aunt Fanny; “this scene might be very effective with
the young gentleman, but is quite thrown away upon me.”

“Aunt, aunt!” cried Miss Kennyfeck, reprovingly.

“If we had just followed our own counsels, we should have this very hour
been on the way to Tubbermore, perhaps never to leave it!”

Aunt Fanny shook her head.

“Yes. You may affect to doubt and hesitate, and all that, but where
is the wonderful condescension in a Mr. Cashel proposing for the
grand-niece of Roger Miles O’Hara, of Kilmurray O’Hara of Mayo, the
second cousin of Lawrence O’Hara Kelly, that ought to be Lord Bally
Kelly?”

“Fairly enough, if that was all,” slipped in Miss O’Hara, hoping to
escape from all danger by climbing up the genealogical tree whereon her
sister was perched.

“If that was all!” repeated Mrs. Kennyfeck, indignantly, catching at the
last words, “and what more is wanting, I ‘d be glad to ask? But, to be
sure, it was rather a mistake to call to our counsels, in such a case,
one that never could succeed in her own.”

This terrible taunt at Miss O’Hara’s celibacy didn’t go unpunished,
for, throwing all attempts at conciliation behind her, she rose, with
flashing eyes and trembling lips.

“So, it is you that tell me this,” said she--“_you_ that dare to sneer
at _my_ being unmarried--you, that were fain to take up with a Dublin
attorney--poor Tom Kennyfeck--the hack of the quarter sessions, serving
latitats and tithe notices over the country in his old gig--Indeed,
girls, I ‘m sorry to speak that way of your father, but it ‘s well
known--”

A loud shriek interrupted the speech, and Mrs. Kennyfeck, in strong
hysterics, took her place beside Olivia.

“It will do her good, my dear,” said Aunt Fanny to her niece, as she
chafed the hands and bathed the temples of her mother. “I was only
telling the truth; she’d never have married your father if Major Kennedy
had n’t jilted her; and good luck it was he did, for he had two other
wives living at the time--just as your friend, Mr. Cashel, wanted to do
with your sister.”

“Aunt--aunt--I entreat you to have done. Haven’t you made mischief
enough?”

“Eaten up with vanity and self-conceit,” resumed the old lady, not
heeding the interruption. “A French cook and a coach-and-four,--nothing
less! Let her scream, child--sure, I know it’s good for her--it
stretches the lungs.”

“Leave me--leave the room!” cried Miss Kennyfeck, whose efforts at
calmness were rendered fruitless by the torrent of her aunt’s eloquence.

“Indeed I will, my dear: I’ll leave the house, too. Sorry I am that I
ever set foot in it. What with the noise and the racket night and day,
it’s more like a lunatic asylum than a respectable residence.”

“Send her away--send her away!” screamed Mrs. Kennyfeck, with a cry of
horror.

“Do, aunt--do leave the room.”

“I’m going--I’m going, young lady; but I suppose I may drink my cup of
tea first--it’s the last I ‘ll ever taste in the same house;” and she
reseated herself at the table with a most provoking composure. “I came
here,” resumed she, “for no advantage of mine. I leave you without
regret, because I see how your poor fool of a father, and your vain,
conceited mother--”

“Aunt, you are really too bad. Have you no feeling?”

“That’s just what comes of it,” said she, stirring her tea tranquilly.
“You set up for people of fashion, and you don’t know that people of
fashion are twice as shrewd and ‘cute as yourself. Faith, my dear,
they’d buy and sell you, every one. What are they at all day, but
roguery and schemes of one kind or other, and then after ‘doing’ you,
home they go, and laugh at your mother’s vulgarity!”

A fresh torrent of cries from Mrs. Kennyfeck seemed to show that
unconsciousness was not among her symptoms, and Miss Kennyfeck now
hastened from the room to summon her father to her aid.

“Well, you’ve come to turn me out, I suppose?” said Aunt Fanny, as the
old gentleman entered in a state of perplexity that might have evoked
the compassion of a less determined enemy.

“My dear Miss Fanny--”

“None of your four courts blarney with me, sir; I’m ready to go--I ‘ll
leave by the coach to-night. I conclude you ‘ll have the decency to pay
for my place, and my dinner too, for I ‘ll go to Dawson’s Hotel this
minute. Tell your mother, and that poor dawdle there, your sister, that
they ‘d be thankful they’d have followed my advice. The rate you’re
living, old gentleman, might even frighten you. There’s more waste in
your kitchen than in Lord Clondooney’s.

“As for yourself, Caroline, you ‘re the best of the lot; but your
tongue, darling!--your tongue!” And here she made a gesture of far more
expressive force than any mere words could give.

“Is she gone?” said Mrs. Kennyfeck, as a slight lull succeeded.

“Yes, mamma,” whispered Miss Kennyfeck; “but speak low, for Mr. Phillis
is in the hall.”

“I’ll never see her again--I’ll never set eyes on her,” muttered Mrs.
Kennyfeck.

“I shouldn’t wonder, mamma, if that anonymous letter was written by
herself,” said Caroline. “She never forgave Mr. Cashel for not specially
inviting her; and this, I’m almost sure, was the way she took to revenge
herself.”

“So it was,” cried Mrs. Kennyfeck, eagerly seizing at the notion. “Hush,
take care Livy doesn’t hear you.”

“As for the yacht expedition, it was just the kind of thing Lady Kilgoff
was ready for. She is dying to be talked of.”

“And that poor, weak creature, Cashel, will be so flattered by the soft
words of a peeress, he’ll be intolerable ever after.”

“Aunt Fanny--Aunt Fanny!” sighed Miss Kennyfeck, with a mournful
cadence.

“If I only was sure--that is, perfectly certain--that she wrote that
letter about Cashel--But here comes your father--take Olivia, and leave
me alone.”

Miss Kennyfeck assisted her sister from the sofa, and led her in silence
from the room, while Mr. Kennyfeck sat down, with folded hands and bent
down head, a perfect picture of dismay and bewilderment.

“Well,” said his wife, after a reasonable interval of patient
expectation that he would speak--“well, what have you to say for
yourself now, sir?”

The poor solicitor, who never suspected that he was under any
indictment, looked up with an expression of almost comic innocence.

“Did you hear me, Mr. Kennyfeck, or is it you want to pass off your
dulness for deafness? Did you hear me, I say?”

“Yes, I heard--but I really do not know--that is, I am unaware how--I
cannot see--”

“Oh, the old story,” sighed she--“injured innocence! Well, sir, I was
asking you if you felt gratified with our present prospects? Linton’s
intimacy was bad enough, but the Kilgoff friendship is absolute, utter
ruin. That crafty, old, undermining peer, as proud as poor, will soon
ensnare him; and my Lady, with her new airs of a viscountess, only
anxious to qualify for London by losing her character before she appears
there!”

“As to the agency--”

“The agency!” echoed she, indignantly, “do your thoughts never by any
chance, sir, take a higher flight than five per cent.?--are you always
dreaming of your little petty gains at rent-day? I told you, sir, how
the patron might be converted into a son-in-law--did I not?”

“You did, indeed, and I’m certain I never threw any impediment in the
way of it.”

“You never threw any impediment in the way of your child’s succeeding
to a fortune of sixteen thousand a year! You really are an exemplary
father.”

“I ‘d have forwarded it, if I only knew how.”

“How good of you! I suppose you ‘d have drawn up the settlements if
ordered. But so it is--all my efforts through life have been thwarted by
you! I have labored and toiled day and night to place my children in the
sphere that their birth, on one side at least, would entitle them to,
and you know it.”

Now this Mr. Kennyfeck really did not know. In his dull fatuity he
always imagined that he was the honey-gatherer of the domestic hive, and
that Mrs. Kennyfeck had in her own person monopolized the functions of
queen bee and wasp together.

“Your low, pettifogging ambition never soared above a Softly or a Clare
Jones for your daughters, while I was planning alliances that would have
placed them among the best in the land--and how have I been rewarded?
Indifference, coolness, perhaps contempt!” Here a flood of tears, that
had remained dammed up since the last torrent, burst forth in convulsive
sobs. “Ungrateful man, who ought never to have forgotten the sacrifice
I made in marrying him--the rupture with every member of my family--the
severance of every tie that united me to my own.”

She ceased, and here, be it remembered, Mrs. Kennyfeck seemed to address
herself to some invisible jury empanelled to try Mr. Kennyfeck on a
serious charge.

“He came like a serpent into the bosom of our peaceful circle, and with
the arts that his crafty calling but too well supplied, seduced my young
affections.”

Mr. Kennyfeck started. It had never before occurred to him that Don Juan
was among his range of parts.

“False and unfeeling both,” resumed she. “Luring with promises never
intended for performance, you took me from a home, the very sanctuary of
peace!”

Mr. Kennyfeck wiped his forehead in perplexity; his recollection of the
home in question was different. Sanctuary it might have been, but it
was against the officers of the law and the sheriff, and so far as a
well-fastened hall door and barricaded windows went, the epithet did not
seem quite unsuitable.

“Ah!” sighed she--for it is right to remark that Mrs. Kennyfeck was a
mistress of that domestic harmony which consists in every modulation,
from the grand adagio of indignant accusation to the rattling andante
of open abuse--“had I listened to those older and wiser than I, and who
foretold the destiny that awaited me, I had never seen this unhappy day!
No, sir! I had not lived to see myself outraged and insulted, and my
only sister turned out of the house like a discarded menial.”

Had Mr. Kennyfeck been informed that for courteously making way for a
Bencher in the Hall he was stripped of his gown and degraded from his
professional rank, he could not have been more thoroughly amazed and
thunderstruck.

He actually gasped with excess of astonishment, and, if breath had been
left him, would have spoken; but so it was, the very force of the charge
stunned him, and he could not utter a word.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Kennyfeck, who in the ardor of combat had imitated
certain Spanish sailors, who in the enthusiasm of a sea-fight loaded
their cannons with whatever came next to hand, was actually shocked by
the effect of her own fire. For the grandeur of a peroration she had
taken a flying leap over all truth, and would gladly have been safe back
again at the other side of the fence.

For an instant not a word dropped from either side, and it was clear
that he who spoke first had gained the victory. This was the lady.

“Go, sir”--and she wiped her eyes with that calm dignity by which a
scolding wife seems to call up all Christian forgiveness of herself, and
stand acquitted before her own conscience--“go, sir, and find out what
these people that Cashel has invited mean to do; and if it be their
intention to repair to Tubbermore, let us lose no time in setting out;
and if we are to go, Mr. Kennyfeck, let as do so as becomes us.”

Mr. Kennyfeck stifled a rising sigh--for he knew what the words
denoted--and departed; while Mrs. Kennyfeck, with her heart lightened
of a heavy load, rose to join her daughters, and discuss dress and
“toilette,” the great commissariat of the approaching campaign.



CHAPTER XXIX. STORM AND WRECK.

     Tut, never mind the swell, love,
     The sails may sweep the brine;
     But the craft will steer as well, love,
     With your soft hand in mine.

     The Cruise.


It was upon a delicious evening, a little before sunset, that a yacht
worked out of the harbor of Kingstown, all her canvas spread to catch
the light air of wind, which scarcely ruffled the glassy surface of the
Bay. The craft, with her snow-white sails, her tall and taper spars, her
gay bunting from gaff and peak, was all that the scene wanted to
render it a perfect picture; and so, to all seeming, thought the many
spectators who crowded the pier and the shore, and gazed with admiration
at the graceful vessel, as she glided silently above her own image in
the water.

Various were the comments and criticisms from those who surveyed her
course; some, in wondering conjecture whither she was bound; others, not
a whit better informed, boldly affecting some secret knowledge of her
destination, and even, by such pretty pretension, assuming airs of
superiority.

“She belongs to that rich young fellow, Roland Cashel,” said one of
these, “who, by the way, is getting through his fortune tolerably fast.
The story goes, that he has spent two hundred thousand already, and is
borrowing at immense interest.”

“Was n’t he a smuggler, or a privateer’s-man, or something of the kind?”

“No; he made all the money in the slave trade.”

“I always heard that he succeeded to a landed estate,” softly insinuated
a modest-looking old gentleman.

“Not at all, sir. Such, I am aware, was the common belief; the fact,
however, is, that he had invested large sums in land, and was then able
to escape the scrutiny many would have instituted regarding the origin
of his wealth.”

“Who is it he is always riding with about town--a handsome girl, on a
brown horse?”

“On a gray, you mean.”

“No, a brown, with a bang tail.”

“No, no, it’s a gray. She’s a daughter of Tom Kennyfeck, the attorney.”

“The gentleman is right,” interposed a third. “I ‘ve seen him very often
with a lady mounted on a brown thorough-bred.”

“Oh! that’s Lady Kilgoff, the handsomest woman in Ireland.”

“She was much better-looking two years ago,” simpered out an ensign,
affectedly. “I used to dance with her and her sister at the race balls
of Ashby.”

The group immediately fell back, in tacit acknowledgment of the claim of
one so aristocratically associated.

“Didn’t you know her, Hipsley?” lisped out the ensign to a brother
officer, who was admiring a very green baby on the arm of a very
blooming nursery-maid. “You knew the Craycrofts, didn’t you?”

“Lady Kilgoff’s maiden name, sir, was Gardiner,” said the timid old
gentleman who spoke before.

The ensign stuck his glass in one eye, and gazed at him for a second or
two, with consummate effrontery, and then, in a voice intended for the
most cutting drollery, said,--

“Are, you certain it was n’t ‘Snooks’?”--a rejoinder so infinitely
amusing that the bystanders laughed immoderately, and the bashful man
retired, overwhelmed in confusion.

“They ‘re off for a good long cruise,” said one, looking through his
pocket telescope at the yacht, which now was steering to the southward,
with a fresher breeze.

“I suspect so. They took on board five or six hampers from the hotel,
just before they sailed.”

A very warm controversy now arose as to where the yacht was bound for,
and who were the parties who went on board of her in the harbor; points
which, in the absence of all real knowledge, admitted of a most animated
debate. Meanwhile, an old weather-beaten sailor, in a pilot coat,
continued to gaze alternately from the sky to the sea, and back again,
and at last murmured to himself,--

“They ‘ll catch it before midnight, if they don’t haul their wind, and
get into shelter.”

Some drifting clouds, dropping slight rain as they passed, soon after
cleared the pier of its loiterers, and night fell, dark and starless,
while the wind freshened, and the sea fretted and chafed upon the rocks,
and even sent its spray high against the strong lighthouse.

Let us now quit the shore, and bear company with the party on board,
who, having dined sumptuously, sat sipping their coffee on deck, while
the swift craft skimmed the calm waters of the bay, and unfolded in
her course the beautiful panorama of the shore--the bold steep bluff of
Brayhead, the curved strand of Killiney, the two “Sugar Loaves” rising
from the bosom of dark woods, and, in the distance, the higher chain of
the Wicklow mountains, while on the opposite side Howth seemed like a
blue island studding the clear surface of the bay. Lord Kilgoff and Mr.
Sickleton paid but passing attention to the bright picture around.
A learned discussion on naval matters, wherein my Lord took the
opportunity of storing his mind with a goodly stock of technicals, to
be used at some future occasion, occupied them altogether, leaving her
Ladyship and Roland Cashel to the undisturbed enjoyment of the scene and
its associations.

They paid the highest tribute the picturesque can exact--they sat in
silence watching the changing tints, which from red faded to violet,
then gray, and at last grew dark with closing night, while the wind
freshening sent the sea rushing swiftly past, and made their light craft
heave and pitch heavily.

“We are returning to Kingstown, I trust?” said my Lord to Sickleton,
who had left him for a moment, to give orders about shortening sail. “It
appears to me like a threatening night.”

“It looks dirty, my Lord,” said Sickleton, dryly, as he walked aft with
the pilot, and conferred with him in a low tone.

“Are we making for Kingstown, Mr. Cashel?” said my Lord, in a voice he
was not able to divest of anxiety.

“I believe not,” said Cashel, rising, and approaching the compass. “No,
we are lying down channel straight as we can go.”

“Ay, and very well for us that we can do it,” growled out the pilot. “If
we make the Hook Light before we tack, I shall say we ‘re lucky.”

“Does he mean there is any danger, Mr. Cashel?” said Lady Kilgoff, but
in a voice devoid of tremor.

“None whatever; but I am sadly distressed at having carried you out so
far, since I find that in the present state of the tide, and with the
wind still driving more to the north, we cannot bear up for Kingstown,
but must run along the shore.”

“Think nothing of that,” said she, gayly; “real peril I have no fancy
for--a mere inconvenience is of no moment whatever; but”--here she
dropped her voice very low--“say something to my Lord--give him some
encouragement.”

“It blows fresh, my Lord, and if it were not for the trespass on your
comfort, I should almost rejoice at the occasion of showing you my
yacht’s qualities as a sailing-boat.”

“I should prefer taking your word for them, sir,” said Lord Kilgoff,
tartly; “a pleasure-trip is one thing, a night in a small vessel exposed
to a heavy gale is another.”

“You ‘re right, my Lord,” said the pilot, who heard but a part of the
observation; “it will be a gale before morning.”

“Luff! luff, there!” shouted Sickleton; and at the same instant a heavy
sea thundered against the bow and broke over the fore part of the vessel
with a crashing sound.

“I think when we see the lighthouse of Kingstown so near us,” said Lord
Kilgoff, “there ought to be no great difficulty in returning.”

“That’s not the harbor-light you see yonder--that’s the Kish, my
Lord,” said the pilot “Keep her up, my man, keep her up, the wind is
freshening.”

“Will you indeed forgive me for this disastrous turn of our cruise?”
 said Cashel, as he fastened his boat-cloak around Lady Kilgoff’s throat,
after several vain efforts to induce her to go below.

“If you only prevent my Lord from scolding, I shall enjoy it immensely,”
 said she, in a half whisper.

“I trust, Lady Kilgoff,” said his Lordship, approaching, and steadying
himself by the bulwarks, “that this night’a experience will induce you
to distrust your own judgment when in opposition to mine. I foresaw the
whole of it. It is now blowing a fierce gale--”

“Not a bit of it, my Lord,” interposed the pilot, bluntly; “but it will
blow great guns ‘fore daybreak, or I ‘m mistaken.”

“And where shall we be then?” asked my Lord, querulously.

“Rayther hard to tell,” said the pilot, laughing. “If she be as good a
sea-boat as they say, and that we don’t carry away any of our spars, we
may run for Cove. I take it--”

“For Cove! Gracious mercy! and if she be not as good a vessel as it is
said she is, sir, what then, pray?”

The pilot made no reply, but gave orders to set the jib, as she was
laboring too much by the head.

The wind increased, and with it the sea, which, dividing at the bow,
fell in great cataracts over the vessel, sweeping along the entire deck
at every plunge she gave.

“I wish she were a little deeper in the water,” whispered Sickleton to
Cashel. “We have n’t within fifteen tons of our ballast on board. But
she ‘s a sweet craft, ain’t she? Keep her, there--steady, man.”

“We could n’t stand round in stays, and bear up for the harbor?”
 asked Cashel, on whom Lord Kilgoff’s face of misery had made a strong
impression.

“Impossible! At least the pilot, who knows this coast well, says there
is a shore current here runs eight knots.”

“What shall we do with him? He ‘ll scarce live through the night.”

“Let us get him down below, and, once snug in a berth, he ‘ll fall
asleep, and forget everything.”

Cashel shook his head doubtfully, but determined to try the plan at all
hazards.

“Would my Lord be persuaded to lie down, do you think?” said Roland,
approaching Lady Kilgoff, who, enveloped in the folds of the heavy
boat-cloak, sat calm and collected near the wheel.

“Is there danger?” asked she, hurriedly.

“Not the least; but he seems so ill, and every sea rushes-over him as he
stands.”

“You should go down, my dear Lord,” said she, addressing him; “Mr.
Cashel is afraid you ‘ll catch cold here?”

“Ah, is he indeed?” said Lord Kilgoff, in a snappish asperity. “He is
too good to bestow a thought upon me.”

“I am only anxious, my Lord, that you should n’t suffer from your
complaisance so unhappily rewarded.”

“Very kind, exceedingly kind, sir. It is, as you say, most unhappy--a
perfect storm, a hurricane. Gracious mercy! what’s that?”

This exclamation was caused by a loud smash, like the report of a
cannon-shot, and at the same moment the taper topmast fell crashing
down, with all its cordage clattering round it. The confusion of the
accident, the shouting of voices, the thundering splash of the sea, as,
the peak having fallen, the craft had lost the steadying influence of
the mainsail, all seemed to threaten immediate danger. Cashel was about
to spring forward and assist in cutting away the entangled rigging, when
he felt his hand firmly grasped by another, whose taper fingers left no
doubt to whom it belonged.

“Don’t be alarmed--it is nothing,” whispered he encouragingly; “the
mishap is repaired in a second.”

“You ‘ll not leave me,” said she, in a low tone, which thrilled through
every fibre of his heart. He pressed her hand more closely, and tried,
but in vain, to catch a glimpse at her face.

Meanwhile the disordered rigging had been repaired, and two men under
Sickleton’s direction, lifting the drooping and scarce conscious peer
from the deck, carried him down below.

If the old instincts of Roland Cashel’s sailor life would have rendered
the scene interesting to him, watching as he did the way his craft
“behaved,” and marking well the fine qualities she possessed as a
sea-boat, there was another and far more intense feeling then occupying
him as he stood close beside that swathed and muffled figure, who, pale
and silent, marked by some gesture, from time to time, her dependence
upon him. To Roland, the rattle of the gale, the hissing sea, the
strained and creaking cordage, all, not only brought back old memories
of his once life, but effectually seemed to dispel the colder mood of
mind which admixture with the world of fashion had impressed upon him.
He was again, if not in reality, in heart and spirit, the bold buccaneer
that walked the Western seas, bursting with life, and eager for
adventure. Every plunge that sent the bowsprit down, every squall that
bent the taper mast, and laid the vessel half-seas under, inspirited and
excited him, not the less that the wild storm called forth every form of
encouragement to her, who vibrated between actual terror and a strange
sense of delight.

Roland lay at her feet, partly as a barrier against the surging water
that, breaking over the bow, swept the entire deck, partly that he might
mark those beauteous features, on which the binnacle light occasionally
cast its glare.

“It is fine,” murmured she, in a low, soft voice, “and I almost feel
as if my own terrors should serve to heighten the sense of ecstasy. I
tremble while I delight in it.”

There was an expression of intense excitement in her eyes as she spoke,
and her pale features for an instant flushed, as Roland’s look met hers.

“How I glory in your words,” cried he, wild with enthusiasm; “I feel
like one who suddenly awakes to life out of some long and dreary
sleep,--rather this is the sleep, this is itself the vision in which
I lie, here, beneath your smile, while we are borne onward through the
hissing foam. Oh, would it but last--would that this dark and starless
night could be for years, and that we might thus cleave the black waters
on and on!”

“And whither to?” asked she, in a whisper scarcely breathed.

“Whither to?” echoed he; “what matters it, while we journey thus? The
sun-tipped icebergs of the North Sea, or the rosy mountains of the Spice
Island; the balmy shores of Quito, or the bleak coast of Labrador--all
are alike to me.”

“A large vessel under the lee!” sang out a voice from the bow, and the
cry was repeated still louder, while the pilot shouted, “Show a light
at the mast-head; put your helm hard up!” The double command was scarce
obeyed, when a huge black mass heaved past them, her great yards almost
seeming to grate the cordage. The looming size of the immense object
that towered overhead, and the death-like stillness of the yacht’s crew
till the danger was past, thrilled with a cold terror through her, and
instinctively she grasped Roland’s hand more closely. The gale had now
become furious, and as the light spars were barely able to sustain
even the little canvas spread, the sea swept over the vessel as she lay
storm-tossed and scarce navigable. The hatches were fastened down, the
boats strongly secured, and every precaution of seamanship adopted; and
so long as these were in performance, and a certain activity and bustle
prevailed, so long did Lady Kilgoff’s courage appear to support her; but
when all was done, and the men resumed their places in watchful silence,
and her mind was left to the contemplation of the raging hurricane
alone, she seemed to sink, and, with a faint, low sigh, glided from the
seat and fell fainting to the deck.

“You cannot take her below,” said Sickleton, as Cashel, raising her in
his arms, was about to carry her to the cabin; “we dare not open the
hatches. See, there it comes again!” and, as he spoke, a great wave
broke over the vessel’s quarter and fell in torrents over the deck,
washing, as it receded, several loose spars overboard. By the aid of
coats and cloaks innumerable, Cashel at last succeeded in enveloping the
fair form beside him, and supporting her head upon his arm as he sat,
he saw, to his unspeakable delight, that she soon dropped into a calm
sleep.

“This is a disastrous bit of pleasuring,” said Sickleton, as he stood
holding on by one of the braces; “who could have supposed such a gale
was brewing?”

“Well, well,” replied Cashel, “if it comes no worse--”

“If it does, we can’t stand through it, that’s all,” said the
lieutenant, dryly. “The old pilot says we shall have to make a tack
to keep clear of the Hook; but what boat can sail on a wind with a
storm-jib and three-reefed topsail?”

“She behaves nobly,” said Roland, as he gazed at the sleeping form, to
guard which seemed all his care.

Sickleton mistook the remark, and said, “Ay, that I knew she would; but
the sea is tremendous for a small craft, and see how close we have the
land under our lee--that black mass yonder.”

“I ‘d give all I own in the world that she were safe on shore,” murmured
Cashel, not heeding the other’s observation; “I cannot forgive myself
for having induced her to venture out.”

The lieutenant made no reply, but peered for a few seconds through the
skylight of the cabin. “My Lord is lying like a dead man,” said he;
“fright and sea-sickness together have nearly done for him, and yet
it was only two hours back he thought he ‘d make a good figure at the
Admiralty. There,” continued he, “day is breaking yonder; we shall soon
know our fate; if the gale freshens after sunrise, it is all up with
us.”

“Run the craft in shore and I ‘ll engage to save her,” said Cashel,
eagerly. “I’m a strong swimmer in surf; I rescued a Malabar girl once,
and in a sea nearly as heavy as this.”

Sickleton smiled incredulously, and turned away.

“It is freshening, by Jove!” said he, as a squall struck the vessel, and
laid her almost on her beam ends, while every plank shivered as though
she were rending in pieces.

“It’s coming stronger, sir,” said the pilot, as he shook the sea from
his rough coat and bent his gaze steadfastly towards the east; “I ‘d
rather not see that red sunrise. Keep her away, man, keep her away!”

“Shall we try it?” muttered Sickleton, to some whispered observations of
the other.

“We may as well,” rejoined the pilot; “she ‘ll never hold steerage way
with her present canvas, and if she won’t bear the mainsail we must go
on shore, and no help for it.”

“Bear a hand there, boys!” cried Sickleton; “shake out the mainsail!”

“You ‘ll carry away the mast,” cried Cashel, as he heard the order.

“It ‘s like enough,” growled the pilot, “but yonder’s the lee-shore.”

“I could save her--I ‘m certain I could save her,” said Cashel.

“He’s thinking of the lady,” said the pilot to Sickleton; and the
contemptuous tone showed how humbly he estimated him.

“Breakers ahead!--shoal water!” shouted a voice from the bow.

“‘Bout ship!” cried Sickleton; “stand by sheets and tacks there--down
helm! Are ye ready, men?” And the next moment the obedient vessel spun
round, and was cleaving the water on another tack.

“What is it? where am I? is this a dream?” said Lady Kilgoff, as she
moved back the hair from her eyes, and looked up at Cashel, who for
hours had never moved or stirred.

“To _me_ it has been a delicious dream,” said Cashel, as he met her
glance; “and if it were not that you may feel alarmed, it would be still
such.”

“What a terrible sea! Where are we?”

“Not far from shore,” said Cashel, encouragingly.

“A devilish deal too near it, though,” muttered the pilot, under his
breath.

“Oh, I remember all now. Where is my Lord, Mr. Cashel? Is he ill?”

“He ‘s gone below--he is sleeping, I believe. It has been a wild night
for _you_; and you ‘ve passed it here on the deck.”

“Here?” said she, looking up and blushing, for she still lay supported
against Roland, and one of his hands held the boat-cloak across her.

“Yes, here,” said Cashel, with a voice and manner that made the color
mount to her cheeks and as suddenly desert them again.

Meanwhile the lieutenant had gone below, and reappeared with a chart,
over which he and the pilot now bent in the deepest consideration.

“Then that must have been the ‘Calf’ Light we saw to the eastward,” said
Sickleton, pointing to the map.

“I ‘d say so too,” replied the other, “if such a run did n’t seem
impossible; but we only tripped our anchor last night before sunset.”

“Ten hours, though!--one can do a deal in ten hours!” said the
lieutenant.

“It may be worth as many years sometimes!” said Cashel, in a whisper to
her at his side.

“Breakers right ahead!” shouted the man at the bow.

“We ‘re among the ‘Barrels!’” cried, the pilot; “back the topsail! down
mainsail!--”

But it was too late! Like a sea-bird rising to its flight, the light
craft bounded forward, till her shining copper glanced above the waves,
and then, with a spring, dashed onward, amid the foam and spray that
rose like a mist around her. The frothy shower flew over the deck, while
the hissing water spurted up on every side with a crashing, splintering
sound. The keel came down, and while a loud cry broke forth, “She ‘s
struck!” the mast snapped suddenly across, and fell with its draped
rigging into the sea.

“Stand by! cut away the boats!” shouted Sickleton; and seizing a
hatchet, gave the example himself, while Cashel, lifting the now
lifeless form of Lady Kilgoff, placed her in the boat. The confusion and
terror became now extreme. The breaking sea had already forced its way
through the vessel’s bottom, and issued in a clear jet of blue water
from the hatchways. The first boat launched was rapidly crowded, and
scarcely had it touched the water than it was swamped. For an instant
the struggling figures were seen battling with the waves, but in a
moment after they were gone!

Mainly through Sickleton and Cashel’s exertions, the second boat was got
ready, and just about to be launched, when Roland turned to seek Lord
Kilgoff, whom, up to that moment, he had entirely forgotten. Scarcely
had he reached the binnacle, when the old man, pale and almost dead with
terror, stood before him. “Is she safe, sir?--is my Lady safe?” cried
he, tremulously.

“Quite so; come along, there ‘s not a moment to lose.”

“Oh, Mr. Cashel, do not leave me!” cried Lady Kilgoff, as the boat was
lifted from its place, and swung by the halyards from side to side.

“You cannot surely resist that appeal, sir,” said Lord Kilgoff, his
withered and worn features flushed with a pang of sudden anger.

“I must see to _your_ safety, my Lord, or none else is likely to do it,”
 said Cashel, sternly; and as he spoke he lifted the old man and placed
him in the boat. “Stay where you are, Sickleton,” cried he to
the lieutenant; “I ‘ll cut her adrift. So there! my boys, all
together--larboard now.” And as the vessel heaved over to the surge,
the boat was launched. A shrill cry of terror was heard above the raging
storm; for Cashel, in his eagerness to secure the others’ safety, had
perilled his own, and now the boiling surf rushed between the yacht and
the boat, defying every effort to approach.

“Never fear for me,” said Roland, boldly; “the distance is short, and I
‘ve swum in many a heavier surf.” And he swung himself, as he spoke, by
a loose stay into the sea. Nobly breasting the mad waves, he was seen at
intervals, now borne on the white-crested billows, now deep down in the
dark trough of waters. His Indian teaching had taught him, too, to dive
at times through the coming surf, and thus escape its force, and so
did he emerge from the great mass of waters that seemed almost to have
buried him. Bending to the oars, the boat’s crew pulled manfully through
the tide, and at last gaining a little bay, floated into calm water,
just as Cashel had got a footing on a reef of rock, a short distance
from land.

“Safe!” cried he, as he drew his wearied limbs up the little craggy
eminence, from which he could see the yacht still storm-lashed and
heaving, and follow with his eyes the boat, as with bounding speed she
made for shore.

No sooner had Sickleton safely landed his freight than he put out again
to rescue those in the yacht, while Cashel, bruised, bleeding, and torn,
made his way slowly to the little hut where Lord and Lady Kilgoff had
taken shelter.

His entrance was little noticed. The cabin was full of country people
and fishermen,--some earnestly proffering advice and counsel, others
as eagerly questioning all about the recent calamity. In a great
straw chair, beside the fire, sat Lord Kilgoff, his head resting on a
country-woman’s shoulder, while another bathed his temples to restore
animation.

“Where is she?” said Cashel, passionately; and the tone and look of the
speaker turned attention towards him.

“‘T is her husband,” whispered the woman of the house, courtesying
respectfully to the youth, who, in all the torn disorder of his dress,
looked the gentleman; and with that she drew him into an inner room,
where upon a low settle lay the pale and scarce breathing form of Lady
Kilgoff.

“Don’t be afeared, yer honer, she ‘ll be betther in a minute or two. She
has more courage than her father there,” and she pointed to the outside
room where Lord Kilgoff sat. “Indeed, the first word she spoke was about
yerself.”

Cashel made a gesture to be silent, and sat down beside the settle, his
gaze fixed on the features, which, in their calm loveliness, had never
seemed more beautiful.

The stillness that now reigned in the little cabin, only broken by the
low whisperings without, the calm tranquillity so suddenly succeeding to
the terrible convulsion, the crowd of sensations pressing on the brain,
and, above all, the immense fatigue he had gone through, brought on such
a sense of stupor that Cashel fell heavily on the floor, and with his
head leaning against the settle, fell into a sound sleep.

Before evening had closed in most of the party had recovered from their
fatigues, and sat grouped in various attitudes round the blazing fire of
the cabin. In a deep, old-fashioned straw chair, reclined, rather than
sat, Lady Kilgoff; a slightly feverish flush lent a brilliancy to her
otherwise pale features, deepening the expression of her full soft eyes,
and giving a more animated character to the placid beauty of her face.
Her hair, in all the loose freedom of its uncared for state, fell in
great voluptuous masses along her neck and shoulders, while part of a
finely-turned arm peeped out beneath the folds of the wide scarlet
cloak which the fisherman’s wife had lent her in lieu of her own costly
“Cashmere.”

[Illustration: 374]

Next to her sat Roland; and although dressed in the rough jacket of a
sailor, his throat encircled by a rude cravat of colored worsted,
he seemed in the very costume to have regained some of his long-lost
joyousness, and, notwithstanding the sad event of the night, to be in
a very ecstasy of high spirits. Sickleton, too, seemed like one who
regarded the whole adventure as a circumstance too common-place for
much thought, and busied himself writing letters to various persons at
Cashel’s dictation, sorely puzzled from time to time to follow out the
thread of an intention, which Roland’s devotion to the lady at his side
more than once interrupted.

The most disconsolate and woe-begone of all was the poor peer, who,
propped up by cushions, sat with unmeaning gaze steadily riveted on the
fire. There was something so horribly absurd, too, in the costume in
which he was clad, that converted all pity into a sense of ridicule.
A great wide pea-jacket encircled his shrunken, wasted figure to the
knees, where the thin attenuated legs appeared, clad in blue worsted
stockings, whose wide folds fell in a hundred wrinkles around them; a
woollen cap of red and orange stripes covered his head, giving a most
grotesque expression to the small and fine-cut features of his face.
If Lady Kilgoff and Cashel had not been too much interested on other
topics, they could not have failed to discover, in the occasional
stealthy glances that Sickleton cast on the old lord, that the costume
had been a thing of his own devising, and that the rakish air of the
nightcap, set sideways on the head, was owing to the sailor’s inveterate
fondness for a joke, no matter how ill-timed the moment or ill-suited
the subject of it.

Behind them, and in a wider circle, sat the fisherman and his family,
the occasional flash of the fire lighting up the gloom where they
sat, and showing, as in a Rembrandt, the strong and vigorous lines of
features where health and hardship were united--the whole forming in the
light and shadow a perfect subject for a painter.

From the first moment of the mishap, Lord Kilgoff had sunk into a state
of almost child-like imbecility, neither remembering where he was, nor
taking interest in anything, an occasional fractious or impatient remark
at some parsing inconvenience being all the evidence he gave of
thought. It devolved, therefore, upon Cashel to make every arrangement
necessary,--an assumption on his part which his natural respect and
delicacy made no small difficulty. As for Lady Kilgoff, she appeared
implicitly to yield to his judgment on every point; and when Roland
suggested that, instead of returning to Dublin and all its inevitable
rumors, they should at once proceed to Tubbermore, she assented at once,
and most willingly.

It was with this object, then, that Sickleton sat, pen in hand, making
notes of Cashel’s directions, and from time to time writing at his
dictation to various tradesmen whose services he stood in need of.
It would certainly have called for a clearer head, and a calmer than
Roland’s, to have conducted the conversation with the lady and the
command to the gentleman, who sat at either side of him. Many a sad
blunder did he make, and more than once did the reply intended for her
Ladyship find its way into the epistle of the lieutenant, nor did the
mistake appear till a reading of the document announced it. At these, a
burst of laughter was sure to break forth, and then my Lord would look
up, and, passing his fingers across his temples, seem trying to recall
his lost and wandering faculties--efforts that the changeful play of
his features showed to be alternately failing and succeeding, as reason,
tide-like, ebbed and flowed within his brain.

It was as Sickleton wrote down at Cashel’s direction the order for a
considerable sum of money to be distributed among the crew of the yacht,
that Lord Kilgoff, catching as it were in a momentary lucidness the
meaning of the words, said aloud, “This is not munificence, sir. I
tell you this is the wasteful extravagance of the buccaneer, not the
generosity of a true gentleman.”

The other suddenly started at the words, and while Lady Kilgoff’s deep
flush of passion and Cashel’s look of astonishment exhibited their
feelings, Sickleton’s hearty laugh showed the racy enjoyment deficient
delicacy can always reap from an awkward dilemma.

“But, my Lord, you mistake Mr. Cashel,” said Lady Kilgoff, eagerly
bending forward as she spoke. “His noble gift is to compensate
these brave fellows for a loss, as well as reward them for an act of
devotion.--How silly in me to reason with him! see, Mr. Cashel, his mind
is quite shaken by this calamity.”

“Your defence compensates a hundred such reproofs,” said Cashel, with
warmth. “Well, Mr. Sickleton,” said he, anxious to quit a painful topic,
“what of this schooner yacht you spoke of awhile ago?”

“The handsomest craft that ever swam,” said the lieutenant, delighted
to discuss a favorite theme. “Lord Wellingham has married, and they say
won’t keep her any longer. You ‘ll get her for ten thousand, and the
story is she cost about fourteen.”

“But perhaps Mr. Cashel may soon follow her noble owner’s example,” said
Lady Kilgoff, smiling, and with a subdued look towards Roland.

“Don’t give him bad counsel, my Lady.”

“It really does seem to me a kind of inveteracy thus to talk of buying a
new yacht within a few hours after losing one.”

“Like a widower looking out for a new wife, I suppose,” said the
lieutenant, laughing.

“No, sir, I beg to correct you,” broke in my Lord, with a snappishness
that made the bearers start; “her Ladyship is not yet a widow, although
her levity might seem to imply it.”

“My Lord, I must protest against this sarcastic humor,” said she, with
a mild dignity. “Our terrible catastrophe may have disturbed your right
judgment, but I pray select another theme for misconstruction. Mr.
Cashel, I will wish you a good-night. In the difficulty in which I
am placed, I can only say that my perfect confidence in your counsel
satisfies me it will be such as you ought to give and I to follow.”

“Yes, sir, of course; when the lady says, ‘Follow,’ I hope you know a
gentleman’s devoir better than to disobey.” These words were uttered
by the old man with a sneering impertinence that augured no absence of
mind; but ere the door closed upon Lady Kilgoff his face had again put
on its former dull and vacant stare, and it was clear that the momentary
intelligence was past and over.

“Now, Sickleton,” said Cashel, as if at length able to give his mind to
the details before him, “you will haste to Dublin; send us the carriages
with all the speed you can muster; pack off her Ladyship’s maid and the
wardrobe, and don’t forget that dressing-case at Seward’s. I should like
to have her crest upon it, but there’s no time for that--besides, we
should only have more scandal in Dublin when it got abroad. Then for
Kennyfeck: tell him I have no money, and stand much in need of it, for,
as my Lord says, mine are buccaneer’s habits; and lastly, run over to
Cowes and secure the yacht--we must have her. I’m much mistaken, or our
friends here will take a cruise with us among the Greek Islands one of
these days.”

“Treacherous navigation, too!” said Sickleton, with a dryness that
seemed to imply more than the mere words.

“What if it be, man! they say there’s nothing much worse anywhere than
the line of coast here beside us.”

“Well, and have n’t we suffered enough to make us credit the report?”
 He paused, and then dropping his voice to a low and cautious whisper,
added, “Not but that I shall call you lucky if all the danger has ended
with the loss of the vessel.”

“How? What do you mean?” asked Cashel, in atone of great eagerness.

“Cannot you guess?” said the other, with an imperturbable coolness.

“No, on my honor, I have n’t a thought whither your words point.”

“Then, faith, the peril is fifty times greater and nearer than I
suspected,” cried he, warmly. “When a man cracks on all that he can
carry, and more than is safe, you at least give him credit for knowing
the channel, and understanding its bearings; but when he tells you that
he neither knows the course nor the soundings, why you set him down as
mad.”

“I shall not be very far removed from that condition if you’ll not
condescend to explain yourself more freely,” said Cashel, with some
irritation of manner. “Where is this danger? and what is it?”

Sickleton looked at him for a second or two, then at the old peer; and,
at last, with a scarcely perceptible movement of his head, motioned
towards the door by which Lady Kilgoff had just passed out.

“You surely cannot mean--you do not suppose--”

“No matter what I suppose; all I say is, there are worse breakers ahead
of you just now than the ‘Lucciola’ had last night; haul your wind, and
draw off while you have time. Besides, look yonder,”--and he pointed
with a jerk of his thumb to Lord Kilgoff, who still sat with stolid gaze
fixed upon the red embers of the fire,--“that would be a victory with
but little honor!”

Cashel started to his feet, and, passing his hand over his forehead,
seemed, as it were, trying to disabuse his mind of some painful
illusion. His features, flushed and animated an instant before, had
grown almost livid in pallor; and he stood, with one hand leaning on the
chair from which he had risen, like one recovering from a fainting
fit At last, and with a voice husky and hoarse from emotion, he said,
“Sickleton, if I had thought this--if, I say, I even believed what you
hint at possible--”

“Pooh! pooh!” broke in the other; “why anchor in three fathoms when
you ‘ve deep water beside you? You ‘ll not hug a lee-shore with a fresh
breeze on your quarter; and all I ask is, that you ‘d not risk the loss
of that noble craft merely that you may spoil the wreck.”

Cashel grasped the rough seaman’s hand in both his own, and shook it
with warmth.

“I can only say this,” said the bluff lieutenant, rising, “if such be
the object of your cruises, you must seek another shipmate than Bob
Sickleton; and so good-night.”

“Are you going?” said Cashel, with a sorrowful voice. “I wish you were
not about to leave thus.”

“I have given you your bearings; that ought to be enough for you.
Good-night, once more.” And with this the honest-hearted lieutenant
threw his boat-cloak around him, and sallied forth to the door, before
which a chaise was in waiting to convey him to Dublin.

As for Roland, his agitated and excited mind banished all desire for
sleep, and he wandered out upon the beach, where, resolving many a good
intention for the future, he walked to and fro till day was breaking.



CHAPTER XXX. MISS LEICESTER’S DREAM AND ITS FULFILMENT

     Old walls have mouths as well as ears.

     The Convent: a Play.

To us of the present day, who see what Genii are guineas, fairy tales
are mere allegories. Your true sorcerer is a credit “on Coutts,”
 and anything may be esteemed within his power who reckons by tens of
thousands.

Tom Linton was experimenting on this problem somewhat largely at
Tubbermore, where the old, misshapen, ugly house had undergone such
a series of transformations inside and out that the oldest inhabitant
might have failed to recognize it. Roman cement and stucco--those
cosmetics of architecture--had given to the front a most plausible air;
and what with a great flagged terrace beneath and a balustrade parapet
above, the whole had put on a wonderful look of solidity and importance.
French windows and plate-glass, stuccoed architraves and richly
traceried balconies, from which access was had to various terraces and
flower-plats, contributed an appearance of lightness to the building;
and what was lost in architectural elegance, was fully recompensed by
convenience and facility of enjoyment.

Within, the arrangements were excellent, and, as regarded the object
in view, perfect; various suites of apartments, so separated as to be
actually like residences, abounded throughout, so that the guests might
either indulge their solitude undisturbed, or mix in the wide circle of
the general company. For the latter, a magnificent suite of rooms led
along the entire basement story. Here, considering the shortness of the
time and the difficulties encountered, Linton’s skill was pre-eminently
distinguished. Painting was too slow a process for such an emergency,
and accordingly the walls were hung with rich silks and stuffs from the
looms of Lyons, draped in a hundred graceful fashions, while the floors,
laid down in the rough, were concealed by the massive texture of Persian
carpets, the most costly ever brought to this country. The air of
comfort and “livableness”--if we may coin a word--depicted on every
side, took away the reproach of ostentatious splendor, which perhaps
might have been applied to rich decorations and gorgeous details in a
mere country house. And this was managed with no mean skill; and he must
have been a stern critic who could have canvassed too rigidly the merit
of appliances so manifestly provided for his own enjoyment. Books
and pictures--the Penates of domesticity--were there, and everything
possible was done to give a semblance of long habitation to that which
but a few weeks back had been a dreary ruin.

A critical eye might have detected in many instances the evidences of a
more refined taste than Mr. Linton’s, and so was it Miss Leicester had
frequently aided him by her advice and suggestions, and every day, when
the weather permitted, saw old Mr. Corrigan and his granddaughter repair
to Tubbermore, whose progress they watched with a degree of interest
only felt by those whose retirement admits few sources of amusement
There was a secret cause of pride, too, in seeing the old residence of
the family--marred as had been its proportions by frequent and tasteless
additions--resume something of its once grandeur. Mary, whose earliest
lessons in infancy had been the tales of her powerful ancestors, who
lorded over an almost princely tract, entered heart and soul into
a course which favored so many of fancy’s pleasantest fictions. Her
greatest delight, however, was in the restoration of one part of the
building, which all former innovators had apparently despaired of, and
left as a species of storehouse for every kind of lumber. This was a
great square tower, with an adjoining chapel, the floor of which was
formed by the tombstones of her earliest ancestors. One compartment of
a stained-glass window showed “the helmet and torch,” the arms of the
O’Regans, from which the family, by a corruption, took the name of
Corrigan; and various other mementos abounded to prove the high station
they had once supported.

Strongly imbued with a knowledge of the tales and customs of the period,
Mary restored the chapel to all the emblazoned splendor of the sixteenth
century. The rich carvings that modern research has discovered and
carried away from the châteaux of the Low Countries were adapted to the
place, and speedily the interior put on an air of highly preserved and
cherished antiquity.

The tower adjoining was also converted into a great chamber of
audience,--a “Ritter-Saal,”--hung round with weapons of the chase and
war, while great buffets displayed a wealth of antique plate and china,
of gem-wrought cups and massive flagons, that lent a lustre to its
otherwise too stern appearance. Lighted by a range of stained windows
far from the ground, the tempered sunlight cast a mellow glance on every
object; and here, in the silence of the noon, when the workmen had gone
to dinner, Mary used to sit alone, some strange spell fascinating her
to a spot where echoes had once awoke to the tramp of her own kinsmen’s
footsteps.

“Tell me, Mr. Linton,” said she, as he entered suddenly, and found her
seated in her favorite place, “what part of the chapel adjoins the wall
we see yonder?”

“That,” said Linton, musing for a second,--“that, if I mistake not, must
be what you styled the crypt; the--”

“Exactly!” cried she, with animation. “The crypt is somewhat lower than
this chamber, two steps or so?”

“About as much.”

“How strange, how very strange!” she said, half to herself.

“What is strange!” said Linton, smiling at the intense preoccupation of
her features.

“You will laugh outright,” said she, “if I tell you. It was a dream I
had last night about this chamber.”

“Pray let me hear it,” said Linton, seating himself, and affecting a
deep interest “I own to a most implicit confidence in dreams.”

“Which is more than I do,” said she, laughing. “This has, however, so
much of truth about it, as the locality is concerned, and thus far it
is curious. Are you certain that you never told me before that the crypt
lay outside of that wall?”

“Perfectly; since I only learned as much myself about an hour ago.”

“How singular!”

“Come, do not torture my curiosity further. Let us have your dream.”

“It was very short. I dreamed that I was sitting here musing and
thinking over the lives and fortunes of some of those who once dwelt
within these walls, and comparing their destiny with that of their
descendants, only admitted, as it were, on sufferance, when suddenly a
door opened slowly there,--there, in the very midst of that wall,--and
I could see down into the crypt, and the chapel beyond it. On the altar
there were candles lighted, and I thought the figure of a man crossed
and recrossed below the steps, as if settling and arranging the books
and cushions; and, at last, he turned round, and I perceived that he
carried in his hands a small and strongly clasped box, and, as he came
towards me, he seemed to hold this out for me to take; but, as I did not
move or stir, he laid it down within the doorway, and, as he did so,
the wall gradually closed up again, and no vestige of the door could
be seen. Nay, so perfectly unshaken did all appear that I remember
remarking a cobweb that stretched from the frame of a picture, and
hung over the spot where the door seemed to be; and there,” cried she,
starting up,--“there, Mr. Linton, as I live, there is the cobweb!”

“Which, without doubt, you observed yesterday,” said Linton, “and in
your sleep the vision of our neglect was renewed.”

“No, no; I never saw it before. I am confident that I never noticed it
yesterday. I am sorry I revealed my dream to you,” said she, perceiving
that, in spite of all his tact, incredulity had lent a look of pitying
compassion to his features.

“On the contrary, I beg of you to believe in all my interest for your
recital; nay, I’ll prove it too.”

“How so?” said she, eagerly.

“Simply enough. I ‘ll give orders at once to have a door made here, and
then we shall see if the view you describe of the crypt and the chapel
can be seen from this point.”

“Why don’t you add, and of the figure with the casket, too?” said she,
smiling; “for I see you regard them all as alike veracious.”

“In any case,” cried Linton, “if he lay down the treasure--and treasure
it must be--here in the doorway, I ‘ll take care that the walls do not
swallow it up again; we shall be able to find it in the morning.”

“And will you really have this done?”

“I ‘ll give the orders this very day.”

“I must not be so silly,” said she, after a pause; “the whole is too
absurd. No, Mr. Linton, do not, I beg of you, do not take any notice of
my folly.”

“At all events,” said Linton, “your dream is a most happy inspiration;
a door here will be a great improvement, and if the vista takes in the
chapel, so much the better. Remember, too,” added he, in a lower and
more feeling voice,--“remember what I have told you so often, that
whatever we do here has, so to say, no other reward than the pleasure it
gives me the doing. Our great patron has about as much gratefulness
in his composition as taste. He will neither feel thankful for our
exertions, nor sensible of their success, and is just as likely to
desecrate yon Ritter-Saal, by making it his smoking-room.”

“If I thought so,” said she, proudly, and then stopped suddenly. “But
how can it concern me? I have only to wonder how you can accept of an
intimacy so distasteful.”

This, in its very abruptness, was a home-thrust; and so much did Linton
feel it that he reddened, at first with shame, and then with anger at
his want of composure.

“There are many circumstances in life, Miss Leicester,” said he,
gravely, “which demand heavy sacrifices of personal feeling; and happy
if sometimes the recompense come in seeing that our self-devotion has
worked well for others! I may one day explain myself more fully on this
head.”

Before Mary could answer, a messenger came to say that her grandfather
was waiting to return with her to the cottage, and she bid Linton
good-bye with a degree of interest for him she had never felt before.
Linton stood in a window and watched her as she went, nor did his eye
quit the graceful form till it disappeared in the covering of the trees.
“Yes,” said he to himself, “I have struck the right chord at last! She
neither is to be dazzled by the splendor nor excited by the ambitions of
the great world. The key to the mystery of her nature lies in the
very fact of her position in life,--the indignant struggle against a
condition she feels beneath her; she can sympathize with this. She is
just the very girl, too, to awaken Laura’s jealousy, so brilliantly
handsome, so much of elegance in mien and deportment Ay! the game will
win; I may stake all upon it. Who is that?” said he, starting suddenly,
as a door banged behind him, and he saw Tom Keane, who had been a silent
listener to his soliloquy. Linton well knew that, shrewd as the man was,
the words could have conveyed little or nothing to his intelligence, and
carelessly asked what had the post brought.

“A heap of letters, yer honer,” said he, laying the heavily loaded bag
on the table. “I never see so many come to the town afore.”

As Linton unlocked the bag and emptied its contents before him, his face
suddenly grew dark and angry, for none of the letters, as he turned them
over, were for himself; they were all addressed Roland Cashel, Esq., and
marked “private.” At last he saw one with his own name, and, motioning
to Keane to leave him undisturbed, he sat down to read it. It came from
his correspondent, Mr. Phillis, and was of the briefest:

     Sir,--All has gone wrong. R. C. sailed last night on a
     yachting excursion with Lord and Lady K., some say for
     Wales, others for the Isle of Wight. The truth I cannot
     ascertain. The persons invited to Tubbennore are all
     preparing to set out, but eagerly asking where C. is to be
     found. There has been something like a breach at K.’s, and I
     fancy it is about Lady Kilgoffs going in the yacht, which,
     although seeming accident, must have been planned
     previously. If you had been here the matter might have taken
     another turn, as C. appears very tired of K.’s agency, and
     the difficulty of obtaining money from him.

     I have received a few lines from C., dated from “the
     harbor,” to order a “fourgon” to be got ready; but I shall
     pretend not to have received the note, and leave this, if
     you desire it, for Tubbermore on hearing from you.

     Yours, in duty,

     R. Phillis.

Linton crashed the note passionately in his fingers, and with a cheek
almost purple, and swollen knotted veins about the forehead and temples,
he hastily walked to and fro in the apartment. “So, madam,” said he, “is
this, then, the reason of your compliance? Was this the source of that
yielding to my wishes that induced you to come here? And to dare this
towards _me!_” A fiendish laugh burst from him as he said, “Silly fool;
so long as you played fair, the advantage was all on your own side. Try
to cheat, and you ‘ll see who’s the victor! And that cub, too,” added
he, with a hoarse passion, “who ventures a rivalry with me! Hate has an
inspiration that never deceives; from the first moment I saw him I felt
that for him.”

“You say you wanted the masons, sir,” said Keane, opening the door,
where he had been endeavoring, but ineffectually, to catch the clew of
Linton’s words.

“Yes, let them come here,” said he, with his ordinary composure. “You
are to break a door there,” said he, as the men entered, “and I wish
to have it done with all speed. You ‘ll work all night, and be doubly
paid.” As he spoke, he sauntered out to muse over the late tidings he
had received, and plan within himself the coming campaign.

Thus loitering and reflecting, time slipped by and evening drew near.

“We must have a light here,” said one of the masons. “This room is never
very bright, and now it is almost dark as night. But what have we here?”
 And at the moment his hammer sent forth a ringing sound as if it had
struck upon metal.

“What can it be?” said the other; “it seems like a plate of iron.”

Linton now drew nigh, as he overheard these words, and stationing
himself at a small window, beheld the two men as they labored to detach
what seemed a heavy stone in the wall.

“It’s not a plate of iron, but a box,” cried one.

“Hush,” said the other, cautioning silence; “if it’s money there ‘s in
it, let us consider a bit where we ‘ll hide it.”

“It sounds empty, anyhow,” said the first, as the metal rang clearly
out under the hammer. Meanwhile Linton stood overwhelmed at the strange
connection between the dream and the discovery. “It is a box, and here’s
the key fastened to it by a chain,” cried the former speaker. He had
scarcely succeeded in removing the box from the wall, when Linton was
standing, unseen and noiseless, behind him.

“We ‘ll share it fair, whatever it is,” said the second.

“Of course,” said the other. “Let us see what there is to-share.” And
so he threw back the lid, and beheld, to his great dismay, nothing but a
roll of parchment fastened by a strap of what had once been red leather,
but which crumbled away as he touched it.

“‘T is Latin,” said the first, who seemed the more intelligent of the
two, after a vain effort to decipher the heavily engrossed line at the
top.

“You are right,” said Linton; and the two men started with terror on
seeing him so near. “It is Latin, boys; it was the custom of the
monks to bury their prayers in that way once, and to beg whoever might
discover the document to say so many masses for the writer’s soul; and
Protestant though I be, I do not think badly of the practice. Let us
find out the name.” And thus saying, he took up the roll and perused it
steadily. For a long time the evening darkness, the difficulty of the
letters, and the style of the record, impeded him; but as he read on,
the color came and went in his cheek, his hand trembled with agitation,
and had there been light enough to have noted him well, even the workmen
must have perceived the excitement under which he labored.

“Yes,” said he, at last, “it is exactly as I said; it was written by a
monk. This was an old convent once, and Father Angelo asks our prayers
for his eternal repose, which assuredly he shall have, heretic that I
am! Here, boys, here’s a pound-note for you; Father Rush will tell you
how to use it for the best. Get a light and go on with your work, and if
you don’t like to spend the money in masses, say nothing about the box,
and I ‘ll not betray your secret.”

[Illustration: 388]

A dry laugh and a significant leer of the eye showed that he had
accurately read his hearers’ inmost thoughts, and Linton sat down as
if to await their return; but no sooner had they left the spot than he
hastened with all speed to the inn, to con over his newly discovered
treasure, and satisfy himself as to its importance and authenticity.

Drawing close the curtains of his windows, and locking the door of his
room, like one who would be alone, he again opened the casket, and took
out the scroll. With bent-down head and steady gaze, he perused it from
end to end, and then sat with riveted eyes fixed upon the signature and
massive seal which were appended to the foot of the document. “That this
should have been revealed in a dream,” said he, at length, “is almost
enough to shake one’s faith in the whole! Am I myself awake, and is it
real what I see before me?” He walked the room with uncertain steps,
then opened wide the window, then closed it again, once more took up
the paper and studied it. In fact, it was clear to see that a sceptical
nature, the very habit of doubt, had indisposed him to believe in even
that which his very senses corroborated.

“What would I give for some lawyer’s craft at this moment!” said he,
as the drops of perspiration stood upon his forehead, and his clenched
hands were clasped together in strong emotion; “what would I give for
the keenness that could pierce through every line of this, and see it
free of flaw--ay, that is the point! And then, Master Roland,”--here his
voice grew full and round,--“and then we should see who is the master
and who the dependent, if with a word--with one word--I could unmake
you, and from the insolence of your sudden wealth bring you down once
more to your fitting station! Never did Fortune stand by me like this!
Let me, however, not lose the game from over-strength; caution is
needed here. Before Corri-gan shall know himself the rightful owner of
Tubbermore, he must be satisfied to see Tom Linton his son-in-law. A
glorious hit that deals vengeance on every hand. Ay, my lady, we shall
acquit our debt to _you_ also!” From the heat of overwhelming passion
he again turned to the document which lay open on the table. “What if it
were only a copy? But this is scarce possible; the signatures look real,
and the seal cannot be counterfeit. Whom could I trust to inspect it?
With whom dare I place it for a day, or even an hour? No! I ‘ll never
suffer it out of my own keeping! I know not if the power to strike is
not the very acme of revenge!”

As he walked the room in deepest agitation he chanced for an instant
to catch a glimpse of Tubbermore, which, in the bright light of a
newly-risen moon, could be seen above the trees.

“So then it may chance that I have not expended my labor in vain,
and that this same house may be yet my own. Mine!” cried he, in
ecstasy,--“mine those swelling woods, that princely park; the high
position which wealth bestows, and the power that I could speedily
accomplish in political life. There may be many who have more ambition
to strive for: I ‘ll swear there are few men living have more grudges to
pay off.”

And with this speech, uttered in an accent of withering hate and
scorn, he again returned to gaze at the open parchment. The document,
surmounted by the royal arms, and engrossed in a stiff old-fashioned
hand, was a free pardon accorded by his Majesty George the Second to
Miles Hardress Corrigan, and a full and unqualified restoration to his
once forfeited estates. Certain legal formalities were also enjoined to
be taken, and certain oaths to be made, as the recognition of this act
of his sovereign’s grace.

Such was the important document on which now he gazed, reading and
re-reading it, till every word became riveted on his memory.



CHAPTER XXXI. THE GUESTS BEGIN TO ARRIVE.

     “Hark they come! they come!”


An unusual bustle and commotion in the little inn awoke Linton early
on the following morning. These were caused by the arrival of a host of
cooks, coachmen, grooms, footmen, and scullions, with a due proportion
of the other sex, all engaged in London, and despatched--“as per
order”--to form the household of Tubbermore.

As Linton proceeded with his dressing, he overheard the multifarious
complaints and lamentations of this town-reared population over the dirt
and destitution of their newly adopted land,--criticisms which, as
they scrupled not to detail aloud, evoked rejoinders not a whit more
complimentary to the Saxon; the hostess of the Goat--being an energetic
disciple of that great authority who has pronounced both the land and
its people as the paragons of creation--leading the van of the attack,
and certainly making up for any deficiencies in her cause by the force
of her eloquence.

“Arrah! who wanted ye here at all?” said she, addressing the circle,
stunned into silence by her volubility. “Who axed ye? Was it to plaze
us, or to fill yer pockets with the goold of ould Ireland, ye kem? Oh,
murther! murther!--is n’t it the sin and the shame to think how the
craytures is eatin’ us up! Faix! maybe ye ‘ll be sorry enough for it
yet. There’s more than one amongst you would like to be safe home again,
afore long! A set of lazy thieves, no less. The heavens be my bed, but I
never thought I ‘d see the day they ‘d be bringing a ‘naygur’ to Ireland
to teach us music!”

This singular apostrophe, which seemed to fill the measure of her woe,
so far attracted Linton’s curiosity to comprehend it, that he opened the
window and looked out, and at once discovered, by the direction of the
eyes of the circle, the object of the sarcasm. He was a well-built man,
of a dark swarthy complexion and immense beard and mustache, who sat on
a stone bench before the door, occupied in arranging the strings of his
guitar. The air of unmoved tranquillity showed that he did not suspect
himself to be the butt of any sarcasm, and he pursued his task with a
composure that vouched for his ignorance of the language.

[Illustration: 392]

“Who is our friend?” said Linton, addressing the coachman, and pointing
to the musician.

“We calls him Robinson Crusoe, sir,” replied the other; “we took him up
on the road from Limerick. We never seed him afore.”

“So, then, he doesn’t belong to our force. I really had begun to fear
that Mr. Gunter had pushed enlistment too far.”

Meanwhile the stranger, attracted by the voice, looked up, and seeing
Linton, immediately removed his cap, with an air of quiet courtesy that
was not lost upon the shrewd observer to whom it was tendered.

“You are a sailor, I perceive?” said Tom, as he walked out in front of
the inn. The other shook his head dubiously.

“I was asking,” said Linton, changing his language to French, “if you
had been a sailor?”

“Yes, sir,” replied he, again removing his cap, “a sailor from Trieste.”

“And how came you here?”

“Our vessel was lost off the Blasquets, sir, on Wednesday night. We
were bound for Bristol with fruit from Sicily, and caught in a gale; we
struck, and all were lost, except myself and another, now in hospital in
the large city yonder.”

“Were you a petty officer, or a common seaman?” said linton, who had
been scanning with keen eye the well-knit frame and graceful ease of the
speaker.

“A common sailor, sir,” rejoined he, modestly.

“And how comes it that you are a musician, friend?” asked Linton,
shrewdly.

“Every one is in my country, sir--at least, with such humble skill as I
possess.”

“What good fortune it was to have saved your guitar from shipwreck!”
 rejoined Linton, with an incredulous twinkle of his gray eyes.

“I did not do so, sir,” said the sailor, who either did not, or would
not, notice the sarcasm. “My good friends here”--pointing to the
servants--“bought this for me in the last town we came through.”

Linton again fixed his eyes upon him; it was evident that he was
hesitating between belief and an habitual sense of distrust, that
extended to everything and everybody. At last he said,--

“And what led you hither, my friend?”

“Chance,” said the man, shrugging his shoulders. “I could have no
preferences for one road over another--all were strange--all unknown
to me. I hoped with the aid of my guitar, to get some clothes once more
together, and then to find some vessel bound for the Adriatic.”

“What can you do besides that?” said Linton, “for it strikes me a fellow
with thews and sinews like yours was scarcely intended to thrum catgut.”

“I can do most things where a steady eye, and a strong; hand, and
a quick foot are needed. I ‘ve been a hunter in the forests of
Dalmatia--herded the half-wild cattle on the Campagna at Rome--sailed a
felucca in the worst Levanters of the gulf--and to swim in a high sea,
or to ride an unbroken horse, I’ll yield to but one man living.”

“And who may he be?” said Linton, aroused at the southern enthusiasm so
suddenly excited.

“A countryman of mine,” said the sailor, sententiously; “his name is not
known to you.”

“How sad such gifts as these should have so little recompense in our
days,” said Linton, with an affected sincerity. “There was a time, in
your own country, too, when a fellow like yourself would not have had
long to seek for a patron.”

The Italian’s cheek grew deeper in its flush, and his dark eyes seemed
almost to kindle beneath the shaggy brows; then correcting, as it
seemed, the passionate impulse, he said: “Ay, true enough, sir; there
were many who had the gold to squander, who had not the hand to strike,
and, as you say, fellows like me were high in the market.”

“And no great hardship in it, either,” said Linton. “There is a justice
surer and quicker than the law, which I, for one, think right well of.”

Either not following the import of the speech, or not caring to concur
in it, the Italian did not reply.

“I have a notion that we may find out some employment for you here,”
 said Linton. “What name are we to call you?”

“Giovanni,” said the sailor, after a moment’s hesitation, which did not
escape the shrewdness of his questioner.

“Giovanni be it,” said Linton, easily; “as good as another.”

“Just so,” rejoined the Italian, with a hardihood that seemed to sit
easily upon him.

“I think, friend,” said Linton, drawing nearer to him--and, although the
foreign language in which he spoke effectually prevented the others from
understanding what passed, instantly his voice dropped into a lower and
more confidential tone--“I think, friend, we shall soon understand each
other well. You are in want of a protector; I may yet stand in need of
an attached and zealous fellow. I read people quickly, and it seems to
me that we are well met. Stay here, then; we shall soon have a large
company arriving, and I ‘ll try and find out some exercise for your
abilities.”

The Italian’s dark eyes flashed and twinkled as though his subtle nature
had already enlarged upon the shadowy suggestions of the other, and he
made a significant gesture of assent.

“Remember, now, in whose service you are,” said Linton, taking out his
purse, and seeking among its contents for the precise piece of coin he
wanted--“remember, that I am not the master here, but one who has to the
full as much power, and that I can prove a strong friend, and, some say,
a very dangerous enemy. Here is the earnest of our bargain,” said he,
handing him a guinea in gold; “from this hour I count upon you.”

The Italian nodded twice, and pocketing the money with a cool audacity
that told that such contracts were easily comprehended by him, touched
his cap, and sauntered away, as though to follow out some path of his
own choosing. Linton looked after him for a moment, but the next
his attention was taken off by seeing that Mr. Corrigan and his
granddaughter were advancing hastily towards him.

“So you have really accepted my suggestion,” said Mary, with a flush
of pleasure on her cheek; “the door has been opened, and the vista is
exactly as my dream revealed it.”

“In all save the chief ingredient,” replied Linton, laugh-. ing; “we
want the monk and the casket.”

“Hush!” said she, cautiously; “grandpapa is a firm believer in all
dreams and visions, and would not hear them spoken of irreverently.”

“Assuredly, I never was less in the mind to do so,” replied Linton, with
a degree of earnestness that made Mary smile, little suspecting at the
time to what his speech owed its fervor.

“We’ve come to take a last look at the ‘Hall,’ Mr. Linton,” said the old
man. “Tom Keane tells me that your gay company will soon arrive; indeed,
rumor says that some have already reached Limerick, and will be here
to-morrow.”

“This is more than I knew of,” said Linton; “but here comes the
redoubted Tom himself, and with a full letter-bag, too.” Hastily
unlocking the leather sack, Tom Linton emptied its contents upon a
grassy bench, where the party seated themselves to learn the news.
“There are no secrets here,” said Linton, tossing over the letters,
with nearly all of whose handwriting he was familiar; “help me, Miss
Leicester, I beg, to get through my task. Pray break some of the seals,
and tell us who our dear friends are whose presence is so soon to charm
and enliven us. And will you, too, sir, bear your part?” Thus invited,
old Mr. Corrjgan put on his spectacles, and slowly prepared to assist in
the labor.

“That’s the Dean’s hand, Miss Leicester--the Dean of Drumcondera. I hope
he ‘s not coming; I ‘m sure he was never invited.”

“He regrets he cannot be with you this week, but will certainly come
next, and take the liberty of presenting his distinguished friend,
the Hofrath von Dunnersleben, professor of Oriental Literature at
Hochenkanperhausen.”

“This is painting the lily with a vengeance; ‘color on color’ is bad
heraldry, but what shall we say of the taste that brings ‘bore upon
bore’?”

“‘Mrs. Leicester White has prevailed upon Mr. Howie to defer his
departure from Ireland--’”

“This is too bad,” interrupted Linton. “What fortune have you, sir? I
hope better tidings than Miss Leicester.”

“This is a strange kind of scrawl enough,” said the old man; “it
runs thus:--‘Dear Tom, we are starting for your wild regions this
evening--two drags and a mail phaeton. I have sent Gipsy and the white
fetlocked colt by Hericks, and will bring Tom Edwards with me. The
mare looks well, but fleshy; you must look to it that we haven’t heavy
ground--’”

“Oh, I know who that’s from,” said Linton, hastily taking the letter
from Corrigan’s hand; “it’s Lord Charles Frobisher,--a silly fellow,
that never thinks of anything but horse-racing and training.”

“He would seem to speculate on something of the kind here,” said
Corrigan; “at least, it looks very like premeditation, this sending off
grooms and racers.”

“He does so everywhere he goes,” said Linton, affecting to laugh; “a
surgeon would no more travel without his lancets, than Charley without
some chance of a ‘match;’ but what’s this?

“Dear Mr. Cashel,--I and my little girl are already _en route_ for
your hospitable castle, too happy to assist in the celebration of your
house-warming--”

“Oh, that’s Meek,” said Linton. “And now for this rugged little hand
here.

“Lady Janet and Sir Andrew MacFarline--”

“Strange style,--the lady first,” interposed Miss Leicester.

“She is always so,” said Linton, continuing the perusal--

--“will reach Tubbermore by Tuesday, and have only to request that their
apartments may not have a north aspect, as Lady J. has still a heavy
cold hanging over her. Sir A.’s man, Flint, will arrange the rooms
himself and, with Mr. Cashel’s permission, give directions about double
doors--if there be none.

“Sir A. has taken the liberty of mentioning to Gordon that the sherry
is far too hot and acrid, and hopes Mr. Cashel will pardon his having
ordered some dozens of ‘Amontillado’ for trial. Lady J. asks, as a
favor, that plants and flowers may be banished from the house during her
brief stay, Dr. Grimes positively forbidding all herbaceous odors; and
if the cook could make the ‘cuisine’ particularly simple, it would also
oblige her, as Dr. G. says she ought not to be exposed to the irritation
of tempting viands, even to see them at table.

“Lady J. hopes that the society will be cheerful without dissipation,
and gay without debauch; above all, she stipulates for early hours, and
trusts that by eleven, at latest, the house will have retired to rest.
Lady Janet has no objection to meeting any one Mr. Cashel may honor with
his invitation, but leaves it to Mr. C.’s discretion not to abuse this
liberality. Were she to particularize, she should merely suggest that
the Kennyfecks, except perhaps the elder girl, are odious--Mrs. White a
perfect horror--the Meeks something too atrocious--and that rather
than meet the Kilgoffs and their set, Lady J. would almost prefer to
relinquish all her much-anticipated pleasure. Mr. Linton can be,
and very often is, gentlemanlike and amusing, but ‘Lintonism,’ as
occasionally practised, is intolerable.

“Lady Janet has ventured on these remarks, far less for her own
convenience than in the discharge of what she feels to be a duty to
a very young and inexperienced man, whose unsuspecting nature will
inevitably expose him to the very insidious attacks of selfishness,
cunning, and to that species of dictation that sooner or later ends in
debasing and degrading him who permits himself to be its subject.

“Janet MacFarline.”

“What a chaste specimen of disinterestedness her Ladyship’s own letter,”
 said Mary. “Is she a near relative, or a very old friend of Mr. Cashel’s
family?”

“Neither; a mere acquaintance, undistinguished by anything like even a
passing preference.”

“She is a Lady Janet,” interposed old Corrigan, “and it is surprising
what charms of influence pertain to those segments of great families,
as they descend a scale in society, and live among the untitled of the
world; besides that, whatever they want in power, they ‘take out’ in
pretension, and it does quite as well.”

“She is ‘mauvaise langue,’” said Linton; “and there are few qualities
obtain such sway in society. But who comes here in such haste? It is Tom
Keane. Well, Tom, what has happened--is the Hall on fire?”

“No, sir; but the company ‘s comin’ rowlin’ in as fast as ‘pays’
down the big avenue, and into the coort; there was three coaches all
together, and I see two more near the gate.”

“Then we shall leave you to your cares of host,” said Corrigan, rising;
“but don’t forget that when affairs of state permit, we shall be
delighted to see you at the cottage.”

“Oh, by all means, Mr. Linton. I have acquired the most intense
curiosity to hear about your fine company and their doings--pray
compassionate my inquisitiveness.”

“But will you not join us sometimes?” said Linton; “can I not persuade
you to make part of our little company? for I trust we shall be able to
have some society worth showing you.”

The old man shook his head and made a gesture of refusal.

“Nay,” said he, “I am so unfitted for such scenes, and so grown out of
the world’s ways, that I am going to play hermit, and be churlish enough
to lock the wicket that leads down to the cottage during the stay of
your visitors--not against _you_, however. You’ll always find the key at
the foot of the holly-tree.”

“Thanks--I’ll not forget it,” said Linton; and he took a cordial leave
of his friends, and returned to the house, wondering as he went who were
the punctual guests whose coming had anticipated his expectations.

He was not long in doubt upon this point, as he perceived Mr. Phillis,
who, standing on the terrace before the chief entrance, was giving
directions to the people about, in a tone of no small authority.

“What, Phillis! has your master arrived?” cried Linton, in astonishment.

“Oh, Mr. Linton!” cried the other, obsequiously, as hat in hand he made
his approaches, “there has been such a business since I wrote--”

“Is he here? Is he come?” asked Linton, impatiently.

“No, sir, not yet; nor can he arrive before to-morrow evening. You
received my letter, I suppose, about the result of the yachting-party
and Lady Kilgoff?”

“No! I know not one word about it,” said Linton, with a firmness that
showed how well he could repress any trace of anxiety or excitement.
“Come this way, out of the hearing of these people, and tell me
everything from the beginning.”

Phillis obeyed, and walked along beside him, eagerly narrating the whole
story of Cashel’s departure, to the moment when the yacht foundered, and
the party were shipwrecked off the coast of Wexford.

“Well, go on,” said Linton, as the other came to a full stop. “What
then?”

“A few lines came from Mr. Cashel, sir, with orders for certain things
to be sent down to a little village on the coast, and directions for me
to proceed at once to Tubbermore and await his arrival.”

Linton did not speak for some minutes, and seemed totally occupied with
his own reflections, when by hazard he caught the words “her Ladyship
doing exactly as she pleases--”

“With whom?” asked he, sternly.

“With Mr. Cashel, sir; for it seems that notwithstanding all the terror
and danger of the late mishap, Mr. Sickleton has been despatched to
Cowes to purchase the ‘Queen of the Harem,’ Lord Wellingham’s new yacht,
and this at Lady Kilgoff’s special instigation. Mr. Sickleton slept one
night at our house in town, and I took a look at his papers; there was
nothing of any consequence, however, except a memorandum about ‘Charts
for the Mediterranean,’ which looks suspicious.”

“I thought, Phillis, I had warned you about the Kilgoff intimacy. I
thought I had impressed you with the necessity of keeping them from
him.”

“So you had, sir; and, to the very utmost of my power, I did so; but
here was a mere accident that foiled all my care and watchfulness.”

“As accidents ever do,” muttered Linton, with suppressed passion. “The
game of life, like every other game, is less to skill than chance! Well,
when can they be here?”

“To-morrow afternoon, sir, if not delayed by something unforeseen;
though this is not at all unlikely, seeing the difficulty of getting
posters. There are from thirty to forty horses engaged at every stage.”

“Whom have we here?” cried Linton, as a large travelling-carriage
suddenly swept round the drive, and entered the court.

“Sir Andrew MacFarline’s baggage, sir; I passed them at the last change.
One would say, from the preparations, that they speculate on a somewhat
lengthy visit. What rooms are we to assign them, sir?”

“The four that look north over the billiard-room and the hall; they are
the coldest and most cheerless in the house. Your master will occupy the
apartments now mine; see, here is the plan of the house; Lord and Lady
Kilgoff have 4, 5, and 6. These that are not marked you may distribute
how you will. My quarters are those two, beyond the library.”

Linton was here interrupted by the advance of a tall, stiff-looking
old fellow, who, carrying his hand to his hat in military guise, stood
straight before him, saying, in a very broad accent, “The gen’ral’s mon,
sir, an’t please ye.”

“Well, friend, and what then?” replied Linton, half testily.

“I ‘ve my leddy’s orders, sir, to tak’ up a good position, and a warm
ane, in the hoos yonder, and if it’s no askin’ too much, I ‘d like to
speer the premises first.”

“Mr. Phillis, look after this, if you please,” said Linton, turning
away; “and remember my directions.”

“Come with me, friend,” said Phillis; “your mistress, I suppose, does
not like cold apartments?”

“Be ma saul, if she finds them so, she ‘ll mak’ the rest of the hoos
over warm for the others,” said he, with a sardonic grin, that left
small doubt of his sincere conviction.

“And your master?” said Phillis, in that interrogatory tone which
invites a confidence.

“The gen’ral ‘s too auld a soldier no to respec deescepline,” said he,
dryly.

“Oh, that’s it, Sanders.”

“Ma name’s Bob Flint, and no Saunders,--gunner and driver i’ the Royal
Artillery,” said the other, drawing himself up proudly; “an’ if we are
to be mair acquaint, it’s just as well ye ‘d mind that same.”

As Bob Flint possessed that indescribable something which would seem, by
an instinct, to save its owner from impertinences, Mr. Phillis did not
venture upon any renewed familiarity, but led the way into the house in
silence.

“That’s a bra’ cookin’ place ye’ve got yonder,” said Bob, as he stopped
for a second at the door of the great kitchen, where already the cooks
were busied in the various preparations; “but I’m no so certain my leddy
wad like to see a bra’ giggot scooped out in tha’ fashion just to mak’
room for a wheen black potatoes inside o’ it;”--the operation alluded
to so sarcastically being the stuffing of a shoulder of mutton with
truffles, in Provencal mode.

“I suppose her Ladyship will be satisfied with criticising what comes
to table,” said Phillis, “without descending to the kitchen to make
objections.”

“If she does, then,” said Flint, “she’s mair ceevil to ye here than she
was in the last hoos we spent a fortnight, whar she discharged twa maids
for no making the beds as she’d taw’d them, forbye getting the coachman
turned off because the carriage horses held their tails ower high for
her fancy.”

“We’ll scarce put up with that here,” said Phillis, with offended
dignity.

“I dinna ken,” said Bob, thoughtfully; “she made her ain nephew carry
a pound o’ dips from the chandler’s, just, as she said, to scratch his
pride a bit. I ‘d ha’ ye mind a wee hoo ye please her fancy. You ‘re a
bonnie mon, but she’ll think leetle aboot sending ye packing.”

Mr. Phillis did not deign a reply to this speech, but led the way to the
suite destined for her Ladyship’s accommodation.



CHAPTER XXXII. HOW THE VISITORS FARED

     They come--they come!

     --Harold.


Linton passed the greater part of the night in letter-writing.
Combinations were thickening around him, and it demanded all the
watchful activity he could command to prevent himself being overtaken
by events. To a confidential lawyer he submitted a case respecting
Corrigan’s title, but so hypothetically and with such reserve that
it betrayed no knowledge of his secret--for he trusted no man. Mary
Leicester’s manuscript was his next care, and this he intrusted to a
former acquaintance connected with the French press, entreating his
influence to obtain it the honor of publication, and, instead of
remuneration, asking for some flattering acknowledgment of its merits.
His last occupation was to write his address to the constituency of his
borough, where high-sounding phrases and generous professions took the
place of any awkward avowals of political opinion. This finished, and
wearied by the long-sustained exertion, he threw himself on his bed. His
head, however, was far too deeply engaged to permit of sleep. The plot
was thickening rapidly--events, whose course he hoped to shape at his
leisure, were hurrying on, and although few men could summon to their
aid more of cold calculation in a moment of difficulty, his wonted calm
was now disturbed by one circumstance--this being, as he called it to
himself--Laura’s treachery. No men bear breaches of faith so ill as they
who practise them with the world. To most persons the yacht voyage would
have seemed, too, a chance occurrence, where an accidental intimacy was
formed, to wane and die out with the circumstance that created it. Not
so did _he_ regard it. He read a prearranged plan in every step she had
taken--he saw in her game the woman’s vanity to wield an influence over
one for whom so many contended--he knew, too, how in the great world an
“_éclat_” can always cover an “indiscretion”--and that, in the society
of that metropolis to which she aspired, the reputation of chaperoning
the rich Roland Cashel would be of incalculable service.

If Linton had often foiled deeper snares, here a deep personal wrong
disturbed his powers of judgment, and irritated him beyond all calm
prudential thoughts. Revenge upon her, the only one he had ever cared
for, was now his uppermost thought, and left little place for any other.

Wearied and worn out, he fell asleep at last, but only to be suddenly
awakened by the rattling of wheels and the quick tramp of horses on the
gravel beneath his window. The one absorbing idea pervading his mind,
he started up, muttering, “_She_ is here.” As he opened his window
and looked down, he at once perceived his mistake--Mrs. Kennyfeck’s
well-known voice was heard, giving directions about her luggage--and
Linton closed the casement, half relieved and half disappointed.

For a brief space the house seemed astir. Mrs. Kennyfeck made her way
along the corridor in a mingled commentary on the handsome decorations
of the mansion and Mr. Kennyfeck’s stupidity, who had put Archbold’s
“Criminal Practice” into her bag instead of Debrett’s “Peerage,”
 while Linton could overbear a little quizzing conversation between the
daughters, wherein the elder reproached her sister for not having
the politeness to bid them “welcome.” The slight commotion gradually
subsided, all became still, but only for a brief space. Again the same
sound of crashing wheels was heard, and once more Linton flung open
his window and peered out into the darkness. It was now raining
tremendously, and the wind howling in long and dreary cadences.

“What a climate!” exclaimed a voice Linton knew to be Downie Meek’s. His
plaint ran thus:--

“I often said they should pension off the Irish Secretary after three
years, as they do the Chief Justice of Gambia.”

“It will make the ground very heavy for running, I fear,” said the deep
full tone of a speaker who assisted a lady to alight.

“How you are always thinking of the turf, Lord Charles!” said she, as he
rather carried than aided her to the shelter of the porch.

Linton did not wait for the reply, but shut the window, and again lay
down.

In that half-waking state, where sleep and fatigue contest the ground
with watchfulness, Linton continued to hear the sound of several
arrivals, and the indistinct impressions became commingled till all were
lost in heavy slumber. So is it. Childhood itself, in all its guileless
freedom, enjoys no sounder, deeper sleep than he whose head is full
of wily schemes and subtle plots, when once exhausted nature gains the
victory.

So profound was that dreamless state in which he lay, that he was never
once aware that the door by which his chamber communicated with the
adjoining one had been opened, while a select committee were debating
about the disposition of the furniture, in total ignorance that he made
part of it.

“Why couldn’t Sir Andrew take that small room, and leave this for me? I
like an alcove vastly,” said Lady Janet, as, candle in hand, she took a
survey of the chamber.

“Yes, my leddy,” responded Flint, who, loaded with cloaks, mantles, and
shawls, looked like an ambulating wardrobe.

“You can make him a kind of camp-bed there; he’ll do very well.”

“Yes, my leddy.”

“And don’t suffer that impertinent Mr. Phillis to poke his head in here
and interfere with our arrangements. These appear to me to be the best
rooms here, and I ‘ll take them.”

“Yes, my leddy.”

“Where’s Sir Andrew?”

“He’s takin’ a wee drap warm, my leddy, in the butler’s room; he was
ower wat in the ‘dickey’ behind.”

“It rained smartly, but I ‘m sure the country wanted it,” dryly observed
Lady Janet.--“Well, sir, _you_ here again?” This sharp interrogatory was
addressed to Mr. Phillis, who, after a vain search for her Ladyship over
half the house, at length discovered her.

“You are not aware, my Lady,” said he, in a tone of obsequious
deference, that nearly cost him an apoplexy, “that these rooms are
reserved for my master.”

“Well, sir; and am I to understand that a guest’s accommodation is a
matter of less importance than a valet’s caprice? for as Mr. Cashel
never was here himself, and consequently never could have made a choice,
I believe I am not wrong in the source of the selection.”

“It was Mr. Linton, my Lady, who made the arrangement.”

“And who is Mr. Linton, sir, who ventures to give orders here?--I ask
you, who is Mr. Linton?” As there was something excessively puzzling to
Mr. Phillis in this brief interrogatory, and as Lady Janet perceived as
much, she repeated the phrase in a still louder and more authoritative
tone, till, in the fulness of the accents, they fell upon the ears
of him who, if not best able to give the answer, was, at least, most
interested in its nature.

He started, and sat up; and although, from the position of his bed in
a deep alcove he was himself screened from observation, the others were
palpable enough to his eyes.

“Yes,” cried Lady Janet, for the third time, “I ask, who is Mr. Linton?”

“Upon my life, your Ladyship has almost made me doubt if there be such a
person,” said Tom, protruding his head through the curtains.

“I vow he’s in the bed yonder!” said Lady Janet, starting back. “Flint,
I think you are really too bad; this is all your doing, or yours, sir,”
 turning to Phillis with a face of anger.

“Yes, my Leddy, it’s a’ his meddlin’.”

“Eh, Leddy Janet, what’s this?” said Sir Andrew, suddenly joining the
party, after a very dangerous excursion along dark corridors and back
stairs.

“We’ve strayed into Mr. Linton’s room, I find,” said she, gathering up
various small articles she had on entering thrown on the table. “I must
only reserve my apologies for a more fitting time and place, and wish
him ‘good-night.’”

“I’ve even dune something o’ the same wi’ Mrs. Kannyfack,” said Sir
Andrew. “She was in bed, though, and so I made my retreat undiscovered.”

“I regret, Lady Janet,” said Linton, politely, “that my present toilet
does not permit me to show you to your apartment, but if you will allow
Mr. Phillis--”

“Dinna get up, man,” broke in Sir Andrew, as he half pushed the invading
party out of the door; “we’ll find it vara weel, I ‘ve na doubt.” And
in a confused hubbub of excuses and grumblings they withdrew, leaving
Linton once more to court slumber, if he could.

“I beg pardon, sir,” said Phillis, popping in his head the minute after,
“but Mr. Downie Meek’ has taken the rooms you meant for Lady Janet;
they’ve pillaged all the chambers at either side for easy-chairs and
cushions to--”

“With all my heart; let them settle the question between them, or leave
it to arbitration. Shut the door, pray.”

“Mrs. White, too, and a large party are in the library, and I don’t know
where to show them into.”

“Anywhere but here, Phillis. Good-night; there’s a good man,
good-night.”

“They ‘re all asking for you, sir; just tell me what to say.”

“Merely that I have passed a shocking night, and request I may not be
disturbed till late in the afternoon.”

Phillis retired with a groan, and soon a confused hum of many voices
could be heard along the corridor, in every accent of irritation and
remonstrance. Self-reproaches on the mistaken and abused confidence
which had led the visitors to journey so many miles to “such a place;”
 mutual condolences over misfortune; abuse of the whole establishment,
and “that insufferable puppy the valet” in particular, went round, till
at last, like a storm that bad spent its fury, a lull succeeded; one by
one the grumblers slipped away, and just as day was breaking, the house
was buried in the soundest sleep.

About an hour later, when the fresh-risen son was glistening and
glittering among the leaves, lightly tipped with the hoar-frost of an
autumnal morning, a handsomely-appointed travelling-carriage, with four
posters, drove rapidly up to the door, and an active-looking figure,
springing from the box, applied himself to the bell with a vigorous
hand, and the next minute, flinging open the carriage-door, said,
“Welcome,--at last, I am able to say,--welcome to Tub-bermore.”

A graceful person, wrapped in a large shawl, emerged, and, leaning
on his arm, entered the house; but in a moment he returned to assist
another and a far more helpless traveller, an old and feeble man, who
suffered himself to be carried, rather than walked, into the hall.

“This is Tubbermore, my Lord,” said the lady, bending down, and with a
hand slightly touching his shoulder seeming to awake his attention.

“Yes--thank you--perfectly well,” said he, in a low soft voice, while a
smile of courteous but vacant meaning stole over his sickly features.

“Not over-fatigued, my Lord?” said Roland, kindly.

“No, sir--we saw the ‘Lightship’ quite near us.”

“Still thinking of that dreadful night,” said her Ladyship, as she
arranged two braids of her fair brown hair more becomingly on her
forehead; and then turning to a very comely personage, who performed
a series of courtesies, like minute guns, at intervals, added, “If
you please, then, we’ll retire to our apartment. Your housekeeper, I
suppose, Mr. Cashel?”

“I conclude so,” said Roland; “but I am equally a stranger here with
yourself.”

“Mrs. Moss, at your service, sir,” said the housekeeper, with another
courtesy.

“Mrs. Moss, then,” said Roland, in an undertone, “I have only to remark
that Lord and Lady Kilgoff must want for nothing here.”

“I understand, sir,” said Mrs. Moss; and whether the words, or the look
that accompanied them, should bear the blame, but they certainly made
Cashel look half angry, half ashamed.

“Then good-night--or good-morrow, I believe it should be,” said Lady
Kilgoff. “I’m sure, in charity, we should not keep you from your bed a
minute longer. You had a severe night outside.”

“Good-night--good-night, my Lord,” said Cashel; and the handsome form of
the lady moved proudly on, while the servant assisted the poor decrepid
husband slowly after.

Roland looked after them for an instant, and whether from some curiosity
to see the possessions which called him master, or that he felt
indisposed to sleep, he passed out into the lawn and stood some minutes
gazing at the strange and somewhat incongruous pile before him.

Perhaps something of disappointment mingled with his thoughts--perhaps
it was only that strange revulsion which succeeds to all long-excited
expectation, when the moment of satisfying it has come, and speculation
is at an end forever--but he was turning away, in half sadness, when he
caught sight of a hand waving to him a salute from one of the windows.
He had just time to answer the gesture, when the shutter was closed.
There was one other saw the motion, and noted well the chamber from
whence it came. Linton, awoke by the arrival of the carriage, had
watched every step that followed, and now sat, with half-drawn curtains,
eagerly marking everything that might minister to his jealous anger.

As for Cashel, he sauntered on into the wood, his mind wandering on
themes separated by nearly half the world from where his steps were
straying.



CHAPTER XXXIII. ROLAND’S INTRODUCTION TO MR. CORRIGAN

     And while the scene around them smiled,
     With pleasant talk the way beguiled.

     Haile: Rambles.


As Roland Cashel strolled along alone, he could not divest himself of
a certain feeling of disappointment, that, up to the present, at least,
all his wealth had so little contributed to realize those illusions he
had so often fancied. The plots, the wiles and cunning schemes by which
he had been surrounded, were gradually revealing themselves to his
senses, and he was rapidly nearing the fatal “bourne” which separates
credulity from distrust.

If we have passed over the events which succeeded the loss of the yacht
with some appearance of scant ceremony to our reader, it is because,
though in themselves not totally devoid of interest, they formed a
species of episode which only in one respect bore reference to the
current of our story. It is not necessary, no more than it would be
gratifying, to us to inquire with what precise intentions Lady Kilgoff
had sought to distinguish Roland by marks of preference. Enough, if we
say that he was neither puppy enough to ascribe the feeling to anything
but a caprice, nor was he sufficiently hackneyed in the world’s ways to
suspect it could mean more.

That he was flattered by the notice, and fascinated by the charms of
a very lovely and agreeable woman, whose dependence upon him each day
increasing drew closer the ties of intimacy, is neither strange nor
uncommon, no more than that she, shrewdly remarking the bounds of
respectful deference by which he ever governed his acquaintance, should
use greater freedoms and less restricted familiarity with him, than
had he been one of those fashionable young men about town with whom the
repute of a conquest would be a triumph.

It is very difficult to say on what terms they lived in each other’s
society. It were easier, perhaps, to describe it by negatives, and say
that assuredly if it were not love, the feeling between them was just
as little that which subsists between brother and sister. There was an
almost unbounded confidence--an unlimited trust--much asking of advice,
and, in fact, as many of my readers will say, fully as much peril as
need be.

From her, Cashel first learned to see the stratagems and schemes by
which his daily life was beset. Too proud to bestow more than a mere
passing allusion to the Kennyfecks, she directed the whole force of her
attack upon that far more dangerous group in whose society Roland had
lately lived. For a time she abstained altogether from even a chance
reference to Linton; but at length, as their intimacy ripened, she
avowed her fear of him in all its fulness. When men will build up the
edifice of distrust, it is wonderful with what ingenuity they will
gather all the scattered materials of doubt, with what skill arrange and
combine them! A hundred little circumstances of a suspicious nature
now rushed to Roland’s memory, and his own conscience corroborated
the history she drew of the possible mode by which Linton acquired an
influence over him.

That Linton had been the “evil genius” of many, Cashel had often heard
before, but always from the lips of men; and it is astonishing, whether
the source be pride, or something less stubborn, but the warning which
we reject so cavalierly from our fellows, comes with a wondrous force of
conviction from the gentler sex.

For the heavy sums he had lost at play, for all the wasteful outlay of
his money, Cashel cared little; but for the humiliating sense of being
a “dupe” and a “tool,” his outraged pride suffered deeply; and when Lady
Kilgoff drew a picture, half real, half imaginary, of the game which his
subtle associate was playing, Roland could scarce restrain himself from
openly declaring a rupture, and, if need be, a quarrel with him.

It needed all her persuasions to oppose this course; and, indeed, if she
had not made use of one unanswerable argument, could she have succeeded.
This was the inevitable injury Linton could inflict upon _her_, by
ascribing the breach to her influence. It would be easy enough, from
such materials as late events suggested, to compose a history that would
ruin her. Lord Kilgoff’s lamentable imbecility, the result of that fatal
night of danger; Cashel’s assiduous care of her; her own most natural
dependence upon him,--all these, touched on with a woman’s tact and
delicacy, she urged, and at last obtained his pledge that he would leave
to time and opportunity the mode of terminating an intimacy he had begun
to think of with abhorrence.

If there be certain minds to whom the very air they breathe is doubt,
there are others to whom distrust is absolute misery. Of these latter
Cashel was one. Nature had made him frank and free-spoken, and the
circumstances of his early life had encouraged the habit. To nourish a
grudge would have been as repulsive to his sense of honor as it would be
opposed to all the habits of his buccaneering life. To settle a dispute
with the sword was invariably the appeal among his old comrades; and
such arbitraments are those which certainly leave the fewest traces of
lingering malice behind them. To cherish and store up a secret wrong,
and wait in patience for the day of reckoning, had something of the
Indian about it that, in Roland’s eyes, augmented its atrocity.

Oppressed with thoughts like these, and associating every vexation he
suffered as in some way connected with that wealth whose possession he
fancied was to satisfy every wish and every ambition, he sauntered on,
little disposed to derive pleasure from the presence of those external
objects which fortune had made his own.

“When I was poor,” thought he, “I had warm and attached friends, ready
to exult in my successes, and sympathize with me in my sorrows. If I had
enemies, they were brave fellows, as willing to defend their cause with
the sword as myself. None flattered or frowned on him who was richer
than the rest. No subtle schemes lay in wait for him whose unsuspecting
frankness exposed him to deception; we were _bons camarades_, at least,”
 said he, aloud, “and from what I have seen of the great world, I ‘ve
lived to prize the distinction.”

From this revery he was suddenly recalled by observing, directly in
front of him, an elderly gentleman, who, in a stooping posture, seemed
to seek for something among the dry leaves and branches beside a low
wicket.

“This is the first fruit of our gay neighborhood,” said the old man,
testily, as he poked the dead leaves with his cane; “we ‘re lucky if
they leave us without more serious inconvenience.”

“Can I assist you in your search?--have you lost something?” said
Cashel, approaching.

“There is a key--the key of the wicket--hid somewhere hereabouts,
young man,” said the other, who, scarcely bestowing a look upon Roland,
continued his investigation as busily as before.

Cashel, undaunted by the somewhat ungracious reception, now aided him in
his search, while the other continued: “I ‘ve known this path for nigh
forty years, and never remember this wicket to have been locked before.
But so it is. My old friend is afraid of the invasion of this noisy
neighborhood, and has taken to lock and key to keep them out. The key he
promised to hide at the foot of this tree.”

“And here it is,” said Cashel, as he unlocked the wicket and flung it
wide.

“Many thanks for your help, but you have a better reward than my
gratitude, in eyes some five-and-thirty years younger,” said the old
man, with the same half-testy voice as before. “Perhaps you ‘d like to
see the grounds here, yourself; come along. The place is small, but far
better kept than the great demesne, I assure you; just as many an humble
household is more orderly than many a proud retinue.”

Roland was rather pleased by the quaint oddity of his new companion, of
whom he thought, but could not remember where, he had seen the features
before.

“You are a stranger in these parts, I conclude?” said the old man.

“Yes. I only arrived here about an hour ago, and have seen nothing save
the path from the Hall to this spot.”

“There ‘s little more worth the seeing on yonder side of the paling,
sir. A great bleak expanse, with stunted trees and a tasteless mansion,
full of, I take it, very dubious company; but perhaps you are one of
them?”

“I confess as much,” said Roland, laughing; “but as I have not seen
them, don’t be afraid I ‘ll take up the cudgels for my associates.”

“Labor lost if you did,” said the other, bluntly. “I only know of them
what the newspapers tell us; but their names are enough.”

“Are they all in the same category, then?” asked Cashel, smiling.

“Pigeons or hawks; dupes or swindlers,--an ugly alternative to choose
from.”

“You are candid, certainly, friend,” said Cashel, half angrily; “but
don’t you fancy there is rather too much of frankness in saying this to
one who has already said he is of the party?”

“Just as he likes to take it,” said the old man, bluntly. “The wise man
takes warning where the fool takes umbrage. There ‘s a fine view
for you--see! there’s a glorious bit of landscape,” cried he,
enthusiastically, as they came to an opening of the wood and beheld the
wide expanse of Lough Deny, with its dotted islands and ruined tower.

Roland stood still, silently gazing on the scene, whose beauty was
heightened by all the strong effect of light and shade.

“I see you have an eye for landscape,” said the old man, as he watched
the expression of Cashel’s features.

“I ‘ve been a lover of scenery in lands where the pursuit was well
rewarded,” said Roland, thoughtfully.

“That you may; but never in a country where the contemplation called for
more thought than in this before you. See, yonder, where the lazy smoke
rises heavily from the mountain side, high up there amid the fern and
the tall heath, that is a human dwelling,--there lives some cottier a
life of poverty as uncheered and unpitied as though he made no part of
the great family of man. For miles and miles of that dreary mountain
some small speck may be traced where men live and grow old and die out,
unthought of and uncared for by all beside. This misery would seem at
its full, if now and then seasons of sickness did not show how fever and
ague can augment the sad calamities of daily life. There are men--ay,
and old men too--who never have seen bread for years, I say, save when
some gamekeeper has broken it to feed the greyhounds in a coursing
party.”

“And whose the fault of all this?” said Cashel, eagerly.

“It is easy to see, sir,” said the other, “that you are no landed
proprietor, for not only you had not asked the question, but you had not
shown so much emotion when putting it So it is,” muttered he to himself.
“It is so ever. They have most sympathy with the poor who have least the
power to help them.”

“But I ask again, whose the fault of such a system?” cried Cashel.

“Ask your host yonder, and you ‘ll soon have an answer to your question.
You ‘ll hear enough of landlords’ calamities,--wrecking tenantry, people
in barbarism, irreclaimably bad, sunk in crime, black in ingratitude.
Ask the peasant, and he ‘ll tell you of clearances,--whole families
turned out to starve and die in the highways; the iron pressure of the
agent in the dreary season of famine and fever. Ask the priest, and
he will say, it is the galling tyranny of the ‘rich man’s church’
establishment consuming the substance, but restoring nothing to the
people. Ask the rector, and he ‘ll prove it is popery,--the debasing
slavery of the very blackest of all superstitions; and so on. Each
throws upon another the load which he refuses to bear his share of,
and the end is, we have a reckless gentry and a ruined people; all the
embittering hatred of a controversy, and little of the active working of
Christian charity. Good-bye, sir. I ask pardon for inflicting something
like a sermon upon you. Good-bye.”

“And yet,” said Cashel, “you have only made me anxious to hear more from
you. May I ask if we are likely to meet again, and where?”

“If you should chance to be sick during your visit here, and send for
the doctor, it’s likely they ‘ll fetch me, as there is no other here.”

Cashel started, for he at once remembered that the speaker was Dr.
Tiernay, the friend of his tenant, Mr. Corrigan. As the doctor did not
recognize him, however, Roland resolved to keep his secret as long as he
could.

“There, sir,” said Cashel, “I see some friends accosting you. I ‘ll say
good-bye.”

“Too late to do so now,” said the other, half sulkily. “Mr. Corrigan
would feel it a slight if you turned back, when his table was spread for
a meal. You ‘ll have to breakfast here.”

Before Roland could answer, Mr. Corrigan came forward from beneath the
porch, and, with a hand to each, bid them welcome.

“I was telling this gentleman,” said Tiernay, “that he is too far within
your boundaries for retreat. He was about to turn back.”

“Nay, nay,” said the old man, smiling; “an old fellow like you or me may
do a churlish thing, but a young man’s nature is fresher and warmer. I
tell you, Tiernay, you ‘re quite wrong; this gentleman will breakfast
here.”

“With pleasure,” said Cashel, cordially, and entered the cottage.



CHAPTER XXXIV. ROLAND “HEARS SOMETHING TO HIS ADVANTAGE.”

     Ay, sir, I saw him ‘hind the arras.

     Sir Gavin.


Cashel would have devoted more attention to the tasteful arrangement of
the drawing-room into which they were ushered, if he had not been struck
with the handsome and graceful form of a young girl, who from time to
time passed before his eyes in an inner chamber, engaged in the
office of preparing breakfast, and whom he at once recognized as the
granddaughter of whom Linton wrote.

“We were talking of poor Ireland,” said Tiernay, “and all her sorrows.”

“I’ll engage you were,” cried Corrigan, laughing, “and I ‘ll swear you
did not make a mournful topic a whit less gloomy by your way of treating
it--And that’s what he calls entertaining a stranger, sir,--like a
bankrupt merchant amusing a party by a sight of his schedule. Now, I ‘ll
wager a trifle my young friend would rather hear where a brace of cocks
was to be found, or the sight of a neat grass country to ride over after
the fox-hounds,--and I can do both one and the other. But here comes
Mary,--my granddaughter, Miss Leicester, sir.”

Mary saluted the stranger with an easy gracefulness, and she shook the
doctor’s hand cordially.

“You are a little late, doctor,” said she, as she led the way into the
breakfast-room.

“That was in part owing to that rogue Keane, who has taken to locking
the gate of the avenue, by way of seeming regular, and some one else has
done the same with the wicket here. Now, as for fifty years back all the
cows of the country have strayed through the one, and all the beggars
through the other, I don’t know what ‘s to come of it.”

“I suppose the great house is filling?” said Mary, to withdraw him from
a grumbling theme; “we heard the noise of several arrivals this morning
early.”

“This gentleman can inform you best upon all that,” said Tiernay; “he
himself is one of the company.”

“But I am ignorant of everything,” said Cashel; “I only arrived here a
little after daybreak, and, not caring to sleep, I strolled out, when my
good fortune threw me into your way.”

“Your friends are likely to have fine weather, and I am glad of it,”
 said Corrigan. “This country, pretty enough in sunshine, looks bleak and
dreary when the sky is lowering; but I ‘ve no doubt _you’d_ rather have

     ‘A southerly wind and a cloudy sky,’

as the song says, than the brightest morning that ever welcomed a lark.
Are you fond of hunting?”

“I like every kind of sport where horse, or gun, or hound can enter; but
I ‘ve seen most of such pastimes in distant countries, where the game is
different from here, and the character of the people just as unlike.”

“‘I have hunted the wild boar myself,” said old Corrigan, proudly, “in
the royal forests at Meudon and Fontainebleau.”

“I speak of the antelope and the jaguar, the dark leopard of Guiana, or
the brown bison of the Andes.”

“That is indeed a manly pastime!” said Mary, enthusiastically.

“It is so,” said Cashel, warmed by the encouragement of her remark,
“more even for the endurance and persevering energy it demands than for
its peril. The long days of toil in search of game, the nights of waking
watchfulness, and then the strange characters and adventures among which
you are thrown, all make up a kind of life so unlike the daily world.”

“There is, as you say, something highly exciting in all that,” said
Corrigan; “but, to my thinking, hunting is a royal pastime, and loses
half of its prestige when deprived of the pomp and circumstance of
its courtly following. When I think of the old forest echoing to the
tantarara of the _cor de chasse_, the scarlet-clad _piqueurs_ with
lance and cutlass, the train of courtiers mounted on their high-mettled
steeds, displaying all the address of the _salon_, and all the skill of
the chase, to him who was the centre of the group,--the king himself--”

“Are you not forgetting the fairest part of the pageants papa?” broke in
Mary.

“No, my dear, that group usually waited to join us as we returned. Then,
when the ‘_Retour de la Chasse_’ rang out from every horn, and the whole
wood re-echoed with the triumphant sounds, then might be seen the
queen and her ladies advancing to meet us. I think I see her yet, the
fair-haired queen, the noblest and most beautiful in all that lovely
circle, mounted on her spotted Arabian, who bore himself proudly beneath
his precious burden. Ah! too truly did Burke say, ‘the Age of Chivalry
was past,’ or never had such sorrows gone unavenged. Young gentleman,
I know not whether you have already conceived strong opinions upon
politics, and whether you incline to one or other of the great parties
that divide the kingdom, but one thing I would beseech you,--be a
Monarchist. There is a steadfast perseverance in clinging to the
legitimate Sovereign. Like the very observance of truth itself, shake
the conviction once, and there is no limit to scepticism.”

“Humph!” muttered Tiernay, half aloud. “Considering how royalty treated
your ancestors, your ardor in their favor might be cooled a little.”

“What’s Tiernay saying?” said the old man.

“Grumbling, as usual, papa,” said Mary, laughing, and not willing to
repeat the remark.

“Trying to give a man a bias in politics,” said the doctor,
sarcastically, “is absurd, except you accompany the advice with a place.
A man’s political opinions are born with him, and he has as much to do
with the choice of his own Christian name as whether he ‘ll be a Whig or
a Tory.”

“Never mind him, sir,” said Corrigan to Cashel; “one might travesty the
well-known epigram, and say of him that he never said a kind thing, nor
did a rude one, in his life.”

“The greater fool he, then,” mattered Tiernay, “for the world likes him
best who does the exact opposite; and here comes one to illustrate my
theory. There, I see him yonder; so I ‘ll step into the library and look
over the newspaper.”

“He cannot endure a very agreeable neighbor of ours,--a Mr. Linton,”
 said Corrigan, as the doctor retired,--“and makes so little secret of
his dislike that I am always glad when they avoid a meeting.”

“Mr. Linton is certainly more generous,” said Mary, “for he enjoys the
doctor’s eccentricity without taking offence at his rude humor.”

“Good-breeding can be almost a virtue,” said the old man, with a smile.

“It has this disadvantage, however,” said Cashel: “it deceives men who,
like myself, have little knowledge of life, to expect far more from
politeness than it is ever meant to imply,--just as on the Lima shore,
when we carried off a gold Madonna, we were never satisfied if we missed
the diamond eyes of the image.”

The old man and his granddaughter almost started at the strange
illustration; but their attention was now called off by the approach of
Linton, whom they met as he reached the porch.

“Come here a moment, sir,” said the doctor, addressing Cashel, from the
little boudoir; “here are some weapons of very old date found among
the ruins beside where we stand.” And Roland had just time to quit the
breakfast-room before Linton entered it.

“The menagerie fills fast,” said Linton, as he advanced gayly into the
apartment: “some of our principal lions have come; more are expected;
and all the small cages have got their occupants.”

“I am dying of curiosity,” said Mary. “Tell us everything about
everybody. Who have arrived?”

“We have everything of a household save the host. He is absent; and,
stranger than all, no one knows where.”

“How singular!” exclaimed Corrigan.

“Is it not? He arrived this morning with the Kilgoffs, and has not
since been heard of. I left his amiable guests at the breakfast-table
conversing on his absence, and endeavoring to account for it under every
variety of ‘shocking accident’ one reads of in the morning papers. The
more delicately minded were even discussing, in whispers, how long it
would be decent to stay in a house if the owner committed suicide.”

“This is too shocking,” said Mary.

“And yet there are men who do these things! Talleyrand it was, I
believe, who said that the fellow who shot himself showed a great want
of _savoir vivre_. Well, to come back: we have the Kilgoffs, whom I have
not seen as yet; the Meeks, father and daughter; the MacFarlines; Mrs.
White and her familiar, a distinguished author; the whole Kennyfeck
tribe; Frobisher; some five or six cavalry subalterns; and a large mob
of strange-looking people, of both sexes, making up what in racing slang
is called the ‘ruck’ of the party.”

“Will it not tax your ingenuity, Mr. Linton, to amuse, or even to
preserve concord among such a heterogeneous multitude?” said Mary.

“I shall amuse them by keeping them at feud with each other, and, when
they weary of that, let them have a grand attack of the whole line upon
their worthy host and entertainer. Indeed, already signs of rebellious
ingratitude have displayed themselves. You must know that there has
been a kind of petty scandal going about respecting Lady Kilgoff and Mr.
Cashel.”

“My dear sir,” said Mr. Corrigan, gravely, but with much courtesy, “when
my granddaughter asked you for the latest news of your gay household,
she did so in all the inconsiderate ignorance her habits and age may
warrant; but neither she nor I cared to hear more of your guests than
they ought to have reported of them, or should be repeated to the ears
of a young lady.”

“I accept the rebuke with less pain,” said Linton, smiling easily,
“because it is, in part at least, unmerited. If you had permitted me
to continue, you should have seen as much.” Then, turning to Miss
Leicester, he added: “You spoke of amusement, and you ‘ll acknowledge
we are not idle. Lord Charles Frobisher is already marking out a
race-course; Meek is exploring the political leaning of the borough; the
Kennyfecks are trying their voices together in every room of the house;
and Lady Janet has every _casserole_ in the kitchen engaged in the
preparation of various vegetable abominations which she and Sir Andrew
take before breakfast; and what with the taking down and putting up of
beds, the tuning of pianofortes, sol-fa-ing here, bells ringing there,
cracking of tandem whips, firing off percussion-caps, screaming to
grooms out of window, and slamming of doors, Babel was a scene of
peaceful retirement in comparison. As this, too, is but the beginning,
pray forgive me if my visits here be more frequent and enduring than
ever.”

“Your picture of the company is certainly not flattering,” said Mary.

“Up to their merits, notwithstanding; but how could it be otherwise? To
make a house pleasant, to bring agreeable people together,--to assemble
those particles whose aggregate solidifies into that compact mass called
society,--is far harder than is generally believed; vulgar folk attempt
it by getting some celebrity to visit them. But what a failure that
is! One lion will no more make a party than one swallow a summer. New
people, like our friend Cashel, try it by asking everybody. They hope,
by firing a heavy charge, that some of the shot will hit. Another
mistake! He little knows how many jealousies, rivalries, and small
animosities are now at breakfast together at his house, and how ready
they are, when no other game offers, to make him the object of all their
apite and scandal.”

“But why?” said Mary. “Is not his hospitality as princely as it is
generously offered? Can they cavil with anything in either the reception
itself or the manner of it?”

“As that part of the entertainment entered into _my_ functions, Miss
Leicester, I should say, certainly not. The whole has been well ‘got
up.’ I can answer for everything save Cashel himself; as Curran said, ‘I
can elevate all save the host.’ He is irreclaimably _en arrière_,--half
dandy, half Delaware, affecting the man of fashion, but, at heart, a
prairie hunter.”

“Hold, sir!” cried Cashel, entering suddenly, his face crimson with
passion. “By what right do you presume to speak of me in this wise?”

“Ha! ha! ha!” broke out Linton, as he fell into a chair in a burst of
admirably feigned laughter. “I told you, Miss Leicester, how it would
be; did I not say I should unearth the fox? Ah! Roland, confess it; you
were completely taken in.”

Cashel stared around for an explanation, and in the astonishment of each
countenance he fancied he read a condemnation of his conduct All
his impulses were quick as thought, and so he blushed deeply for his
passionate outbreak, as he said,--

“I ask pardon of you, sir, and this lady for my unseemly anger.
This gentleman certainly deserves no apology from me. Confound it,
Master Tom, but assuredly you don’t fire blank cartridge to startle your
game.”

“No use to tickle lions with straws,” said Linton; and the insinuated
flattery succeeded.

“Let me now bid you welcome to my cottage, Mr. Cashel,” said Corrigan;
“although this incognito visit was an accident, I feel happy to see you
here.”

“Thank you, thank you,” replied Cashel. “I shall be even more grateful
still if you permit me to join in Linton’s petition, and occasionally
escape from the noisy festivities of the Hall, and come here.”

While Corrigan and Cashel continued to interchange mutual assurances of
esteem and regard, Linton walked to a window with Miss Leicester.

“We had no conception that our guest was Mr. Cashel,” said Mary; “he
met Dr. Tiernay accidentally in the park, and came along with him to
breakfast.”

“And did not the doctor remember him?” said Linton, shrewdly.

“Oh, no; he may probably recollect something of having met him before,
three weeks hence, but he is so absent!”

“I thought Roland would have taken the quizzing better,” said Linton,
thoughtfully. “There ‘s no knowing any man, or--woman either. _You_
perceived what I was at, certainly.”

“No, indeed. I was as much deceived as Mr. Cashel. I thought, to be
sure, that you were unusually severe, but I never suspected the object.”

“How droll! Well, I am a better actor than I fancied,” said Linton,
laughing; then added, in a lower tone, “Not that the lesson should be
lost upon him; for, in sober earnest, there was much truth in it.”

“We were greatly pleased with him,” said Mary, “and now, knowing who he
is, and what temptations such a young man has to over-estimate himself,
are even more struck by his unassuming quietude.”

Linton only smiled, but it was a smile of most compassionate pity.

“I conclude that you mean to show yourself to your company, then, Mr.
Cashel?” said he, turning suddenly about.

“I’m ready,” said Roland. “I’d go, however, with an easier conscience if
Mr. Corrigan would only promise me to come and see us there sometimes.”

“I’m a very old fellow, Mr. Cashel, and have almost outlived the habits
of society; but if any one’s invitation shall bring me beyond these
walls, it shall be yours.”

“I must be content with that,” said Roland, as he shook the proffered
hand; and then, with a cordial farewell to Miss Leicester, took Linton’s
arm, and retired.



CHAPTER XXXV. MISS JEMIMA MEEK.

     If you show him in Hyde Park--Lauk! how they will stare!
     Though a very smart figure in Bloomsbury Square,

     The Snob.


Cashel’s was not a nature to dwell upon a grievance, and he would have,
at once and forever, forgotten the late scene with Linton if it were
not coupled in his mind with suspicions derived from various different
sources. This made him silent and reserved as he walked along, and so
palpably inattentive to all his companion’s efforts at agreeability that
Linton at last said, “Well, Cashel, if you can dispense with sleep, you
certainly seem to take the compensation in dreaming. Here have I been
retailing for you the choicest bits of gossip and small-talk, not only
without the slightest gratitude, but even without common attention on
your part!”

“Very true,” said Cashel; “the reproach is quite just, and no man can be
more agreeable at the expense of his friends than yourself.”

“Still harping on my daughter, eh?” cried Linton. “I never thought you
the man to misconstrue a jest; but if you really are offended with my
folly--”

“If I really were offended,” said Cashel, almost sternly, “I should not
leave it to be inferred from my manner.”

“That I am sure of,” cried Linton, assuming an air of frankness; “and
now, since all that silly affair is forgotten--”

“I did not say so much,” interrupted Cashel. “I cannot forget it; and
that is the very reason I am annoyed with myself, with you, and with all
the world.”

“Pooh! nonsense, man; you were not used to be so thin-skinned. Let us
talk of something else. Here are all our gay friends assembled: how are
we to occupy and amuse them?”

Cashel made no reply, but walked on, seemingly lost in thought.

“By the way,” said Linton, “you’ve told me nothing of your adventures.
Haven’t you had something very like a shipwreck?”

“The yacht is lost,” said Cashel, dryly.

“Actually lost!” echoed the other, with well-assumed astonishment. “How
fortunate not to have had the Kennyfeck party on board, as I believe you
expected.”

“I had the Kilgoffs, however,” rejoined Roland.

“The Kilgoffs! you amaze me. How did my Lord ever consent to trust his
most precious self on such an enterprise?”

Cashel shrugged his shoulders, without uttering a word in reply.

“But come, do condescend to be a little more communicative. How, and
when, and where did the mishap occur?”

“She foundered on the southern coast some time after midnight on the
15th. The crew and passengers escaped by the boats, and the craft went
to pieces.”

“And the Kilgoffs, how did they behave in the moment of peril?”

“My Lord seemed insensible to all around; Lady Kilgoff with a dignified
courage quite admirable.”

“Indeed!” said Linton, slowly, while he fixed his eyes on Cashel’s face,
where an expression of increased animation now displayed itself.

“She has a fine generous nature,” continued Cashel, not heeding the
remark. “It is one of the saddest things to think of, how she has been
mated.”

“She is a peeress,” said Linton, curtly.

“And what of that? Do your aristocratic distinctions close the heart
against every high and noble sentiment, or can they compensate for the
absence of every tie that attaches one to life? Is not some poor Indian
girl who follows her wild ranchero husband through the dark valleys of
Guiana, not only a happier, but a better wife than your proud peeress?”

Linton shook his head and smiled, but did not reply.

“I see how my old prejudices shock you,” said Cashel. “I only grieve to
think how many of them have left me; for I am sick--sick at heart--of
your gay and polished world. I am weary of its double-dealing, and
tired of its gilded falsehood. Since I have been a rich man, I have seen
nothing but the servile flattery of sycophancy, or the insidious snares
of deeper iniquity. There is no equality for one like myself. The
high-born wealthy would treat me as a _parvenu_, the vulgar rich only
reflect back my own errors in broader deformity. I have known no other
use of wealth than to squander it to please others; I have played high,
and lost deeply; I have purchased a hundred things simply because some
others wished to sell them; I have entertained and sat among my company,
waiting to catch and resent the covert insult that men pass upon such as
me; and will you tell me--you, who know the world well--that such a life
repays one?”

“Now, let me write the credit side of the account,” said Linton,
laughing, and affecting a manner of easy jocularity. “You are young,
healthy, and high-spirited, with courage for anything, and more money
than even recklessness can get rid of; you are the most popular fellow
among men, and the greatest favorite of the other sex, going; you get
credit for everything you do, and a hundred others that men know you
could, but have not done; you have warm, attached friends,--I can
answer for one, at least, who ‘ll lay down his life for you.” He paused,
expecting some recognition, but Cashel made no sign, and he resumed:
“You have only to propose some object to your ambition, whether it be
rank, place, or a high alliance, to feel that you are a favorite with
fortune.”

“And is it by knowing beforehand that one is sure to win that gambling
fascinates?” said Roland, slowly.

“If you only knew how the dark presage of failure deters the unlucky
man, you ‘d scarce ask the question!” rejoined Linton, with an accent
of sorrow, by which he hoped to awaken sympathy. The stroke failed,
however, for Cashel took no notice of it.

“There goes one whose philosophy of life is simple enough,” said Linton,
as he stopped at a break in the holly hedge, beside which they were
walking, and pointed to Lord Charles, who, mounted on a blood-horse,
was leading the way for a lady, equally well carried, over some
sporting-looking fences.

“I say, Jim,” cried Frobisher, “let her go a little free at them; she ‘s
always too hot when you hold her back.”

“You don’t know, perhaps, that Jim is the lady,” whispered Linton, and
withdrawing for secrecy behind the cover of the hedge. “Jim,” continued
Linton, “is the familiar for Jemima. She’s Meek’s daughter, and the
wildest romp--”

“By Jove! how well she cleared it. Here she comes back again,” cried
Cashel, in all the excitement of a favorite sport.

“That ‘s all very pretty, Jim,” called out Frobisher, “but let me
observe it’s a very Brummagem style of thing, after all. I want you to
ride up to your fence with your mare in hand, touch her lightly on the
flank, and pop her over quietly.”

“She is too fiery for all that,” said the girl, as she held in the
mettlesome animal, and endeavored to calm her by patting her neck.

“How gracefully she sits her saddle,” muttered Cashel; and the
praise might have been forgiven from even a less ardent admirer of
equestrianism, for she was a young, fresh-looking girl, with large hazel
eyes, and a profusion of bright auburn hair which floated and flaunted
in every graceful wave around her neck and shoulders. She possessed,
besides, that inestimable advantage as a rider which perfect
fearlessness supplies, and seemed to be inspired with every eager
impulse of the bounding animal beneath her.

As Cashel continued to look, she had taken the mare a canter round a
large grass field, and was evidently endeavoring, by a light hand and
a soothing, caressing voice, to calm down her temper; stooping, as she
went, in the saddle to pat the animal’s shoulder, and almost bending her
own auburn curls to the counter.

“She is perfect!” cried Roland, in a very ecstasy. “See that, Linton!
Mark how she sways herself in her saddle!”

“That comes of wearing no stays,” said Linton, dryly, as he proceeded to
light a cigar.

“Now she’s at it. Here she comes!” cried Cashel almost breathless with
anxiety; for the mare, chafed by the delay, no sooner was turned towards
the fence once more, than she stretched out and dashed wildly at it.

It was a moment of intense interest, for the speed was far too great
to clear a high leap with safety; the fear was, however, but momentary,
for, with a tremendous bound, the mare cleared the fence, and, after
a couple of minutes’ cantering, stood with heaving flanks and swelling
nostril beside the other horse.

“You see my misfortune, I suppose?” said the girl, addressing Frobisher.

“No. She ‘s not cut about the legs?” said he, as he bent down in his
saddle and took a most searching survey of the animal.

“No, the hack is all right But don’t you perceive that bit of blue cloth
flaunting yonder on the hedge?--that is part of my habit. See what a
tremendous rent is here; I declare, Charley, it is scarcely decent” And
to illustrate the remark, she wheeled her horse round so as to show the
fringed and jagged end of her riding-habit, beneath which a very finely
turned ankle and foot were now seen.

“Then why don’t you wear trousers, like everybody else?” said Frobisher,
gruffly, and scarce bestowing even a passing glance at the well-arched
instep.

“Because I never get time to dress like any one else. You order me out
like one of your Newmarket boys,” replied she, pettishly.

“By Jove! I wish any one of them had got your hand.”

“To say nothing of the foot, Charley,” said she, roguishly, and
endeavoring to arrange her torn drapery to the best advantage.

[Illustration: 432]

“No; that may do to astonish our friend Cashel, and make ‘my lady’
jealous. By the way, Jim, I don’t see why you should n’t ‘enter for the
plate’ as well as the Kennyfeck girls.”

“I like _you_ better, Charley,” said she, curveting her horse, and
passaging him alternately from side to side.

“This is the second time to-day I have played the eavesdropper
unconsciously,” said Roland, in a whisper, “and with the proverbial
fortune of the listener in both cases.” And with these words he moved
on, leaving Linton still standing opposite the opening of the hedge.

Cashel had not advanced many paces beneath the shelter of the tall
hollies, when Frobisher accidentally caught sight of Linton, and called
out, “Ha, Tom,--found you at last! Where have you been hiding the whole
morning?--you that should, at least, represent our host here.”

Linton muttered something, while, by a gesture, he endeavored to caution
Frobisher, and apprise him of Cashel’s vicinity. The fretful motion of
hie horse, however, prevented his seeing the signal, and he resumed,--

“One of my people tells me that Cashel came with the Kilgoffs this
morning. I say, Tom, you’ll have to look sharp in that quarter. Son,
there--quiet, Gustave--gently, man!”

“He’s too fat, I think. You always have your cattle too heavy,” said
Linton, hoping to change the topic.

“He carries flesh well. But what is it I had to tell you? Oh, I remember
now,--about the yacht club. I have just got a letter from Derwent, in
which he says the thing is impossible. His remark is more true than
courteous. He says, ‘It’s all very well in such a place as Ireland to
know such people, but that it won’t do in England; besides that, if
Cashel does wish to get among men of the world, he ought to join some
light cavalry corps for a year or so, and stand plucking by Stanhope,
and Dashfield, and the rest of them. They ‘ll bring him out if he ‘ll
only pay handsomely.’--Soh, there, man,--do be quiet, will you?--The
end of it is, that Derwent will not put his name up. I must say it’s a
disappointment to me; but, as a younger brother, I have only to smile
and submit.”

While Lord Charles was retailing this piece of information in no very
measured tone, and only interrupted by the occasional impatience of his
horse, Linton’s eyes were fixed on Cashel, who, at the first mention of
his own name, increased his speed, so as to suggest the fond hope that
some, at least, of this unwelcome intelligence might have escaped him.

“You’ll have to break the thing to him, Tom,” resumed Lord Charles. “You
know him better than any of us, and how the matter can be best touched
upon.”

“Not the slightest necessity for that, _now_,” said Linton, with a low,
deliberate voice.

“Why so?”

“Because you have just done so yourself. If you had only paid the least
attention to my signal, you ‘d have seen that Cashel was only a few
yards in front of me during the entire of your agreeable revelations.”

“By Jove!” exclaimed Frobisher, as his head dropped forward in
overwhelming confusion; “what is to be done?”

“Rather difficult to say, if he heard all,” said Linton, coolly.

“You ‘d say it was a quiz, Tom. _You ‘d_ pretend that you saw him all
the while, and only did the thing for joke’s sake, eh?”

“Possibly enough I might,” replied Linton; “but _you_ could n’t.”

“How very awkward, to be sure!” exclaimed Frobisher. “I say, Jim, I wish
you ‘d make up to Cashel a bit, and get us out of this scrape. There’s
Tom ready to aid and abet you, if only to take him out of the Kilgoffs’
way.”

“There never was a more propitious moment, Miss Meek,’” said Linton,
passing through the hedge, and approaching close to her. “He’s a great
prize,--the best estate in Ireland.”

“The nicest stable of horses in the whole country,” echoed Frobisher.

“A good-looking fellow, too; only wanting a little training to make
presentable anywhere.”

“That white barb, with the flea-bitten flank, would carry you to
perfection, Jim.”

“He ‘ll be a peer one of these days, if he is only patient enough not to
commit himself in politics.”

“And such a hunting country for _you_,” said Frobisher, in ecstasy.

“I tell you I don’t care for him; I never did,” said the girl, as a
flush of half-angry meaning colored her almost childish features.

“But don’t you care to be mistress of fifteen thousand a year, and the
finest stud in Ireland?”

“Mayhap a countess,” said Linton, quietly. “Your papa would soon manage
that.”

“I ‘d rather be mistress of myself, and this brown mare, Joan,
here,--that’s all I know; and I’ll have nothing to do with any of your
plots and schemes,” said she, in a voice whose utterance was that of
emotion.

“That’s it,” said Frobisher, in a low tone to Linton; “there’s no
getting them, at that age, with a particle of brains.”

“They make up surprisingly for it afterwards,” replied Linton, dryly.

“So you ‘ll not consent, Jim?” said Frobisher, in a half-coaxing manner
to the young girl, who, with averted head, sat in mingled sorrow and
displeasure. “Well, don’t be pettish about it; I ‘m sure I thought it
very generous in me, considering--”

She looked round at this moment, and her large eyes were bent upon him
with a look which their very tears made passionately meaning.

“Considering what a neat finger you have on a young horse,” said he. And
she turned abruptly away, and, as if to hide her emotion, spurred her
mare into a bounding canter.

“Take care, Charley, take care what you ‘re doing,” said Linton, with a
look of consummate shrewdness.

Frobisher looked after her for a minute or two, and then seemed to drop
into a revery, for he made no reply whatever.

“Let the matter stop where it is,” said Linton, quietly, as if replying
to some acknowledgment of the other; “let it stop there, I say, and one
of these days, when she marries,--as she unquestionably will do, through
papa Downie’s means,--somebody of influence, she ‘ll be a steadfast,
warm friend, never forgetting, nor ever wishing to forget, her
childhood’s companion. Go a little further, however, and you ‘ll just
have an equally determined enemy. I know a little of both sides of the
question,” added he, meditatively, “and it needs slight reflection which
to prefer.”

“How are you going to amuse us here, Mr. Linton?” said she, cantering up
at this moment; “for it seems to me, as old Lord Kilgoff says, that we
are like to have a very dull house. People are ordering dinner for their
own small parties as unsocially as though they were at the Crown Inn, at
Brighton.”

“Yes, by the by,” said Frobisher, “I want to ask you about that. Don’t
you think it were better to dash a little bit of ‘communism’ through
your administration?”

“I intend to send in my resignation as premier, now that the head of the
State has arrived,” said Linton, smiling dubiously.

“I perceive,” said Frobisher, shrewdly, “you expect that the Government
will go to pieces, if you leave it.”

“The truth is, Charley,” said he, dropping his voice to a low whisper,
and leaning his hand on the horse’s mane, “our friend Roland is rather
too far in the category ‘savage’ for long endurance; he grows capricious
and self-opinionated. The thin plating comes off, and shows the
buccaneer at every slight abrasion.”

“What of that?” said Frobisher, languidly; “his book on Coutts’ is
unexceptionable. Come, Tom, you are the only man here who has a head for
these things. Do exert yourself and set something a-going.”

“Well, what shall it be?” said he, gayly. “Shall we get the country
people together, and have hack races? Shall we assemble the squires, and
have a ball? Shall we start private theatricals? What says Miss Meek?”

“I vote for all three. Pray do, Mr. Linton,--you, who are so clever, and
can do everything,--make us gay. If we only go on as we have begun, the
house will be like a model prison,--on the separate and silent system.”

“As you wish it,” said Linton, bowing with assumed gallantry; “and now
to work at once.” So saying, he turned towards the house, the others
riding at either side of him.

“What shall we do about Derwent’s letter, Tom?” asked Frobisher.

“Never speak of it; the chances are that he has heard enough to satisfy
the most gluttonous curiosity. Besides, he has lost his yacht.” Here he
dropped his voice to a low muttering, as he said, “And may soon have a
heavier loss!”

“Is his pace too fast?” said Frobisher, who caught up the meaning,
although not the words.

Linton made no reply, for his thoughts were on another track; then,
suddenly catching himself, he said, “Come, and let us have a look at the
stables; I’ve not seen our stud yet.” And they turned off from the main
approach and entered the wood once more.


END OF VOL. I.





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