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Title: Luttrell Of Arran
Author: Lever, Charles James
Language: English
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LUTTRELL OF ARRAN

By Charles James Lever

LONDON: CHAPMAN AND HALL, 193, PICCADILLY.

MDCCCLXV.

TO JOSEPH SHERIDAN LE FANU, ESQ.

He who can write such stories as “Wylder’s Hand” or “Uncle Silas,”
 needs no praise of mine; but I can at least say how warmly I admire his
genius, how heartily I enjoy his genial humour, and how thoroughly I
appreciate his right to his second christian name, and if these be not
claims enough for success, let him be assured there are few men can show
more.

CHARLES LEVER.

Marola, La Spezia, January, 1865.

LUTTRELL OF ARRAN



CHAPTER I. A WILD LANDSCAPE

“One half the world knows not how the other half lives,” says the adage;
and there is a peculiar force in the maxim when applied to certain
remote and little-visited districts in these islands, where the people
are about as unknown to us as though they inhabited some lonely rock in
the South Pacific.

While the great world, not very far off, busies itself with all the
appliances of state and science, amusing its leisure by problems which,
once on a time, would have been reserved for the studies of philosophers
and sages, these poor creatures drag on an existence rather beneath
than above the habits of savage life. Their dwellings, their food, their
clothes, such as generations of their fathers possessed; and neither in
their culture, their aspirations, nor their ways, advanced beyond what
centuries back had seen them.

Of that group of islands off the north-west coast of Ireland called
the Arrans, Innishmore is a striking instance of this neglect and
desolation. Probably within the wide sweep of the British islands there
could not be found a spot more irretrievably given up to poverty and
barbarism. Some circular mud hovels, shaped like beehives, and with a
central aperture for the escape of the smoke, are the dwellings of
an almost naked, famine-stricken people, whose looks, language, and
gestures mark them out for foreigners if they chance to come over to the
mainland. Deriving their scanty subsistence almost entirely from fishing
and kelp-burning, they depend for life upon the chances of the seasons,
in a spot where storms are all but perpetual, and where a day of
comparative calm is a rare event.

Curious enough it is to mark that in this wild, ungenial spot
civilisation had once set foot, and some Christian pilgrims found a
resting-place. There is no certain record of whence or how they first
came, but the Abbey of St. Finbar dates from an early century, and
the strong walls yet attest the size and proportions of the ancient
monastery. Something like forty years ago the islanders learned that the
owner of the island, of whose existence they then heard for the first
time, proposed to come over and live there, and soon afterwards a few
workmen arrived, and, in some weeks, converted the old crypt of the
Abbey into something habitable, adding two small chambers to it, and
building a chimney--a work of art--which, whether meant for defence or
some religious object, was, during its construction, a much-debated
question by the people. The intention to resume a sovereignty which had
lain so long in abeyance would have been a bold measure in such a spot
if it had not been preceded by the assurance that the chief meant to
disturb nothing, dispute nothing of vested interests. They were told
that he who was coming was a man weary of the world and its ways, who
desired simply a spot of earth where he might live in peace, and where,
dying, he might leave his bones with the Luttrells, whose graves for
generations back thronged the narrow aisle of the church. These facts,
and that he had a sickly wife and one child, a boy of a few years old,
were all that they knew of him. If the bare idea of a superior was
distasteful in a community where common misery had taught brotherhood,
the notion was dispelled at sight of the sad, sorrow-stricken man who
landed on an evening of September, and walked from the boat through the
surf beside his wife, as two sailors carried her to shore. He held his
little boy’s hand, refusing the many offers that were made to carry
him, though the foaming water surged at times above the little fellow’s
waist, and made him plunge with childish glee and laughter; that infant
courage and light-heartedness going farther into the hearts of the wild
people than if the father had come to greet them with costly presents!

John Luttrell was not above six-and-thirty, but he looked fifty; his
hair was perfectly white, his blue eyes dimmed and circled with dark
wrinkles, his shoulders stooped, and his look downcast. Of his wife it
could be seen that she had once been handsome, but her wasted figure
and incessant cough showed she was in the last stage of consumption. The
child was a picture of infantile beauty, and that daring boldness which
sits so gracefully on childhood. If he was dressed in the very cheapest
and least costly fashion, to the islanders he seemed attired in
very splendour, and his jacket of dark crimson cloth and a little
feather that he wore in his cap sufficed to win for him the name of the
Prince, which he never lost afterward.

It could not be supposed that such an advent would not create a great
stir and commotion in the little colony; the ways, the looks, the
demeanour, and the requirements of the new comers, furnishing for weeks,
and even months, topics for conversation; but gradually this wore itself
out. Molly Ryan, the one sole domestic servant who accompanied the
Luttrells, being of an uncommunicative temper, contributed no anecdotic
details of in-door life to stimulate interest and keep curiosity alive.
All that they knew of Luttrell was to meet him in his walks, and receive
the short, not over-courteous nod with which he acknowledged their
salutations. Of his wife, they only saw the wasted form that half lay,
half sat at a window; so that all their thoughts were centred in the
child-the Prince--who came familiarly amongst them, uncared for and
unheeded by his own, and free to pass his days with the other children
as they heaped wood upon the kelp fires, or helped the fishermen to dry
their nets upon the shore. In the innocence of their primitive life this
familiarity did not trench upon the respect they felt they owed him.
They did not regard his presence as anything like condescension, they
could not think of it as derogation, but they felt throughout that he
was not one of them, and his golden hair and his tiny hands and feet
were as unmistakable marks of station as though he wore a coronet or
carried a sceptre.

The unbroken melancholy that seemed to mark Luttrell’s life, his
un-communicativeness, his want of interest or sympathy in all that
went on around him, would have inspired, by themselves, a sense of fear
amongst the people; but to these traits were added others that seemed
to augment this terror. His days were passed in search of relics and
antiquarian objects, of which the Abbey possessed a rich store, and to
their simple intelligence these things smacked of magic. To hear the
clink of his spade within the walls of the old church by day, and to see
the lone light in his chamber, where it was rumoured he sat sleepless
throughout the night, were always enough to exact a paternoster and a
benediction from the peasant, whose whole religious training began and
ended with these offices.

Nor was the child destined to escape the influence of this popular
impression. He was rarely at home, and, when there, scarcely noticed or
spoken to. His poor sick mother would draw him to her heart, and as she
pressed his golden locks close to her, her tears would fall fast upon
them, but dreading lest her sorrow should throw a shade over his sunny
happiness, she would try to engage him in some out-of-door pursuit
again--send him off to ask if the fishermen had taken a full haul, or
when some one’s new boat would be ready for launching.

Of the room in which the recluse sat, and wherein he alone ever entered,
a chance peep through the ivy-covered casement offered nothing very
reassuring. It was a narrow, lofty chamber, with a groined roof and
a flagged floor, formed of ancient gravestones, the sculptured sides
downwards. Two large stuffed seals sat guardwise on either side of the
fireplace, over which, on a bracket, was an enormous human skull, an
inscription being attached to it, with the reasons for believing its
size to be gigantic rather than the consequences of diseased growth.
Strange-shaped bones, and arrow-heads, and stone spears and javelins
decorated the walls, with amber ornaments and clasps of metal. A massive
font served as a washstand, and a broken stone cross formed a coat-rack.
In one corner, enclosed by two planks, stood an humble bed, and opposite
the fire was the only chair in the chamber--a rude contrivance, fashioned
from a root of bog-oak, black with centuries of interment.

It was late at night that Luttrell sat here, reading an old volume,
whose parchment cover was stained and discoloured by time. The window
was open, and offered a wide view over the sea, on which a faint
moonlight shone out at times, and whose dull surging plash broke with a
uniform measure on the shore beneath.

Twice had he laid down his book, and, opening the door, stood to listen
for a moment, and then resumed his reading; but it was easy to see that
the pages did not engage his attention, nor was he able, as he sought,
to find occupation in their contents.

At last there came a gentle tap to the door; he arose and opened it. It
was the woman-servant who formed his household, who stood tearful and
trembling before him.

“Well?” said he, in some emotion.

“Father Lowrie is come,” said she, timidly.

He only nodded, as though to say, “Go on.”

“And he’ll give her the rights,” continued she; “but he says he hopes
that you’ll come over to Belmullet on Sunday, and declare at the altar
how it was.”

“Declare what?” cried he; and his voice rose to a key of passionate
eagerness that was almost a shriek. “Declare what?”

“He means, that you’ll tell the people----”

“Send him here to me,” broke in Luttrell, angrily. “I’m not going to
discuss this with you.”

“Sure isn’t he giving her the blessed Sacrament!” said she, indignantly.

“Leave me, then--leave me in peace,” said he, as he turned away and
leaned his head on the chimney-piece; and then, without raising it,
added, “and tell the priest to come to me before he goes away.”

The woman had not gone many minutes, when a heavy step approached the
door, and a strong knock was heard. “Come in!” cried Luttrell, and there
entered a short, slightly-made man, middle-aged and active-looking,
with bright black eyes, and a tall, straight forehead, to whom Luttrell
motioned the only chair as he came forward.

“It’s all over, Sir. She’s in glory!” said he, reverently.

“Without pain?” asked Luttrell.

“A parting pang--no more. She was calm to the last. Indeed, her last
words were to repeat what she had pressed so often upon me.”

“I know--I know!” broke in Luttrell, impatiently. “I never denied it.”

“True, Sir; but you never acknowledged it,” said the priest, hardily.
“When you had the courage to make a peasant girl your wife, you ought to
have had the courage to declare it also.”

“To have taken her to the Court, I hope--to have presented her to
Royalty--to have paraded my shame and my folly before a world whose best
kindness was that it forgot me! Look here, Sir; my wife was brought up
a Catholic; I never interfered with her convictions. If I never spoke to
her on the subject of her faith, it was no small concession from a man
who felt on the matter as I did. I sent for you to administer to her
the rights of her Church, but not to lecture me on my duties or my
obligations. What I ought to do, and when, I have not to learn from a
Roman Catholic priest.”

“And yet, Sir, it is a Catholic priest will force you to do it. There
was no stain on your wife’s fame, and there shall be none upon her
memory.”

“What is the amount of my debt to you, Father Lowrie?” asked Luttrell,
calmly and even courteously.

“Nothing, Sir; not a farthing. Her father was a good friend to me
and mine before ruin overtook him. It wasn’t for money I came here
to-night.”

“Then you leave me your debtor, Sir, and against my will.”

“But you needn’t be, Mr. Luttrell,” said the priest, with eagerness.
“She that has just gone, begged and prayed me with her last breath to
look after her little boy, and to see and watch that he was not brought
up in darkness.”

“I understand you. You were to bring him into your own fold. If you hope
for success for such a scheme, take a likelier moment, father; this is
not your time. Leave me now, I pray you. I have much to attend to.”

“May I hope to have an early opportunity to see and talk with you, Mr.
Luttrell?”

“You shall hear from me, Sir, on the matter, and early,” said Luttrell.
“Your own good feeling will show this is not the moment to press me.”

Abashed by the manner in which these last words were spoken, the father
bowed low and withdrew.

“Well?” cried the servant-woman, as he passed out, “will he do it, your
reverence?”

“Not to-day, anyhow, Molly,” said he, with a sigh.

How Luttrell sorrowed for the loss of his wife was not known. It was
believed that he never passed the threshold of the door where she
lay--never went to take one farewell look of her. He sat moodily in his
room, going out at times to give certain orders about the funeral, which
was to take place on the third day. A messenger had been despatched to
his late wife’s relatives, who lived about seventy miles off, down the
coast of Mayo, and to invite them to attend. Of her immediate family
none remained. Her father was in banishment, the commutation of a
sentence of death. Of her two brothers, one had died on the scaffold,
and another had escaped to America, whither her three sisters had
followed him; so that except her uncle, Peter Hogan, and his family, and
a half-brother of her mother’s, a certain Joe Rafter, who kept a shop at
Lahinch, there were few to follow her to the grave as mourners.

Peter had four sons and several daughters, three of them married. They
were of the class of small farmers, very little above the condition
of the cottier; but they were, as a family, a determined, resolute,
hard-headed race, not a little dreaded in the neighbourhood where they
lived, and well known to be knit together by ties that made an injury to
any one of them a feud that the whole family would avenge.

For years and years Luttrell had not seen nor even heard of them. He
had a vague recollection of having seen Peter Hogan at his marriage, and
once or twice afterwards, but preserved no recollection of him. Nothing
short of an absolute necessity--for as such he felt it--would have
induced him to send for them now; but he knew well how rigid were
popular prejudices, and how impossible it would have been for him
to live amongst a people whose most cherished feelings he would have
outraged, had he omitted the accustomed honours to the dead.

He told his servant Molly to do all that was needful on the occasion--to
provide for those melancholy festivities which the lower Irish adhere
to with a devotion that at once blends their religious ardour with their
intensely strong imaginative power.

“There is but one thing I will not bear,” said he. “They must not come
in upon me. I will see them when they come, and take leave of them
when they go; but they are not to expect me to take any part in their
proceedings. Into this room I will suffer none to enter.”

“And Master Harry,” said the woman, wiping her eyes with her
apron--“what’s to be done with him? ‘Tis two days that he’s there, and
he won’t leave the corpse.”

“It’s a child’s sorrow, and will soon wear itself out.”

“Ay, but it’s killing him!” said she, tenderly--“it’s killing him in the
mean while.”

“He belongs to a tough race,” said he, with a bitter smile, “that
neither sorrow nor shame ever killed. Leave the boy alone, and he’ll
come to himself the sooner.”

The peasant woman felt almost sick in her horror at such a sentiment,
and she moved towards the door to pass out.

“Have you thought of everything, Molly?” asked he, more mildly.

“I think so, Sir. There’s to be twenty-eight at the wake--twenty-nine,
if Mr. Rafter comes; but we don’t expect him--and Father Lowrie would
make thirty; but we’ve plenty for them all.”

“And when will this--this feasting--take place?”

“The night before the funeral, by coorse,” said the woman.

“And they will all leave this the next morning, Molly?”

“Indeed I suppose they will, Sir,” said she, no less offended at the
doubt than at the inhospitable meanness of the question.

“So be it, then!” said he, with a sigh. “I have nothing more to say.”

“You know, Sir,” said she, with a great effort at courage, “that they’ll
expect your Honour will go in for a minute or two--to drink their
healths, and say a few words to them?”

He shook his head in dissent, but said nothing.

“The Hogans is as proud a stock as any in Mayo, Sir,” said she, eagerly,
“and if they thought it was any disrespect to her that was gone----”

“Hold your tongue, woman,” cried he, impatiently. “She was my wife, and
_I_ know better what becomes her memory than these ignorant peasants.
Let there be no more of this;” and he closed the door after her as she
went out, and turned the key in it, in token that he would not brook
more disturbance.



CHAPTER II. A YACHTING PARTY.

In a beautiful little bay on the north-east of Innishmore, land-locked
on all sides but the entrance, a handsome schooner yacht dropped her
anchor just as the sun was setting. Amidst the desolate grandeur of
those wild cliffs, against which the sea surged and plashed till the
very rocks were smooth worn, that graceful little craft, with her tall
and taper spars, and all her trim adjuncts, seemed a strange vision. It
was the contrast of civilisation with barbarism; they were the two poles
of what are most separated in life--wealth and poverty.

The owner was a Baronet, a certain Sir Gervais Vyner--one of those
spoiled children of fortune which England alone rears; for while in
other lands high birth and large fortune confer their distinctive
advantages, they do not tend, as they do with us, to great social
eminence, and even political influence. Vyner had got almost every prize
in this world’s lottery; all, indeed, but one; his only child was a
daughter, and this was the drop that sufficed to turn to bitterness much
of that cupful of enjoyment Fate had offered to his lips. He had seen
a good deal of life--done a little of everything--on the turf--in the
hunting-field--on the floor of the House he had what was called “held
his own.” He was, in fact, one of those accomplished, well-mannered,
well-looking people, who, so long as not pushed by any inordinate
ambition into a position of undue importance, invariably get full credit
for all the abilities they possess, and, what is better still, attract
no ill will for the possessing them. As well as having done everything,
he had been everywhere: up the Mediterranean, up the Baltic, into the
Black Sea, up the St. Lawrence--everywhere but to Ireland--and now, in a
dull autumn, when too late for a distant tour, he had induced his friend
Grenfell to accompany him in a short cruise, with the distinct pledge
that they were not to visit Dublin, or any other of those cognate cities
of which Irishmen are vain, but which to Mr. George Grenfell represented
all that was an outrage on good taste, and an insult to civilisation.
Mr. Grenfell, in one word, entertained for Ireland and the Irish
sentiments that wouldn’t have been thought very complimentary if applied
to Fejee islanders, with certain hopeless forebodings as to the future
than even Fejee itself might have resented as unfair.

Nobody knew why these two men were friends, but they were so. They
seemed utterly unsuited in every way. Vyner loved travel, incident,
adventure, strange lands, and strange people; he liked the very
emergencies, the roughings of the road. Grenfell was a Londoner, who
only tolerated, and not very patiently, whatever was beyond an easy
drive of Hyde Park Corner. Vyner was a man of good birth, and had high
connexions on every side--advantages of which he no more dreamed of
being vain, than of the air he breathed. Mr. Grenfell was a nobody,
with the additional disparagement of being a nobody that every one
knew. Grenfell’s Italian warehouse, Grenfell’s potted meats, his pickled
salmon, his caviare, his shrimps, his olives, and his patent maccaroni,
being European in celebrity, and, though the means by which his father
made an enormous fortune, were miseries which poisoned life, rising
spectre-like before him on every dinner-table, and staring at him in
great capitals in every supplement of the _Times_. He would have changed
his name, but he knew well that it would have availed him nothing. The
disguise would only have invited discovery, and the very mention of him
exacted the explanation, “No more a Seymour nor a Villiers than you are;
the fellow is old Grenfell’s son; ‘Grenfell’s Game Sauce,’ and the rest
of it.” A chance resemblance to a fashionable Earl suggested another
expedient, and Mr. George Grenfell got it about--how, it is not easy to
say--that the noble Lord had greatly admired his mother, and paid her
marked attention at Scarborough. Whatever pleasure Mr. George Grenfell
felt in this theory is not easy to explain; nor have we to explain what
we simply narrate as a fact, without the slightest pretension to account
for.

Such were the two men who travelled together, and the yacht also
contained Vyner’s daughter Ada, a little girl of eight, and her
governess, Mademoiselle Heinzleman, a Hanoverian lady, who claimed a
descent from the Hohenzollerns, and had pride enough for a Hapsburg. If
Vyner and Grenfell were not very much alike in tastes, temperament,
and condition, Grenfell and the German governess were positively
antipathies; nor was their war a secret or a smouldering fire, but a
blaze, to which each brought fuel every day, aiding the combustion by
every appliance of skill and ingenuity.

Vyner loved his daughter passionately--not even the disappointment that
she had not been a boy threw any cloud over his affection--and he took
her with him when and wherever he could; and, indeed, the pleasure of
having her for a companion now made this little home tour one of the
most charming of all his excursions, and in her childish delight at new
scenes and new people he renewed all his own memories of early travel.

“Here you are, Sir,” said Mr. Crab, late a sailing-master in the Royal
Navy, but now in command of _The Meteor_--“here you are;” and he pointed
with his finger to a little bay on the outspread chart that covered the
cabin table. “This is about it! It may be either of these two; each of
them looks north--north by east--and each has this large mountain to the
south’ard and west’ard.”

“‘The north islands of Arran,’ read out Vyner, slowly, from a little
MS. note-book. ‘Innishmore, the largest of them, has several good
anchorages, especially on the eastern side, few inhabitants, and all
miserably poor. There is the ruin of an Abbey, and a holy well of great
reputed antiquity, and a strange relic of ancient superstition called
the Judgment-stone, on which he who lays his hand while denouncing a
wrong done him by another, brings down divine vengeance on either his
enemy or himself, according as his allegation is just or unjust. There
is something similar to be found in the Breton laws----’”

“For mercy’s sake don’t give us more of that tiresome little book,
which, from the day we sailed, has never contributed one single hint
as to where we could find anything to eat, or even water fit to drink,”
 said Grenfell. “Do you mean to go on shore in this barbarous place?”

“Of course I do. Crab intends us to pass two days here; we have sprung
our for’topmast, and must look to it.”

“Blessed invention a yacht! As a means of locomotion, there’s not a
cripple but could beat it; and as a place to live in, to eat, sleep,
wash, and exercise, there’s not a cell in Brixton is not a palace in
comparison.”

“Mademoiselle wish to say good night, Sare Vyner,” said the governess, a
tall, fair-haired lady, with very light eyes, thick lips, and an immense
lower jaw, a type, but not a flattering type, of German physiognomy.

“Let her come by all means;” and in an instant the door burst open, and
with the spring of a young fawn the little girl was fast locked in her
father’s arms.

“Oh, is it not very soon to go to bed, papa dearest?” cried she; “and it
would be so nice to wait a little and see the moon shining on these big
rocks here.”

“What does Mademoiselle Heinzleman say?” asked Vyner, smiling at the
eager face of the child.

The lady appealed to made no other reply than by the production of a
great silver watch with an enormous dial.

“That is a real curiosity,” cried Grenfell. “Is it permissible to ask a
nearer view of that remarkable clock, Miss Heinzleman?”

“Freilich!” said she, not suspecting the slightest trace of raillery in
the request. “It was made at Wurtzburg, by Jacob Schmelling, year time
1736.”

“And intended, probably, for the Town-hall?”

“No, Saar,” replied she, detecting the covert sneer; “intended for him
whose arms it bear, Gottfried von Heinzleman, Burgomeister of Wurtzburg,
a German noble, who neither made sausages nor sold Swiss cheeses.”

“Good night! good night! my own darling!” said Vyner, kissing his child
affectionately. “You shall have a late evening to-morrow, and a walk in
the moonlight too;” and after a hearty embrace from the little girl,
and a respectful curtsey from the governess, returned with a not less
respectful deference on his own part, Vyner closed the door after them,
and resumed his seat.

“What cursed tempers those Germans have,” said Grenfell, trying to seem
careless and easy; “even that good-natured joke about her watch she must
take amiss.”

“Don’t forget, George,” said Vyner, good humouredly, “that in any little
passage of arms between you, you have the strong position, and hers is
the weak one.”

“I wish _she_ would have the kindness to remember that fact, but she
is an aggressive old damsel, and never looks so satisfied as when she
imagines she has said an impertinence.”

“She is an excellent governess, and Ada is very fond of her.”

“So much the worse for Ada.”

“What do you mean by that?” cried Vyner, with an energy that surprised
the other.

“Simply this; that by a man who professes to believe that objects of
beauty are almost as essential to be presented to the eyes of childhood
as maxims of morality, such a choice in a companion for his daughter is
inexplicable. The woman is ugly, her voice discordant and jarring, her
carriage and bearing atrocious--and will you tell me that all these will
fail to make their impression when associated with every tone and every
incident of childhood?”

“You are not in your happiest mood to-night, George. Was the claret
bad?”

“I drank none of it. I took some of that Moselle cup, and it was
tolerably good. By the way, when and how are we to get some ice? Carter
says we have very little left.”

“Perhaps there may be glaciers in the wild region beside us. Ireland and
Iceland have only a consonant between them. What if we go ashore and
have a look at the place?”

A careless shrug of assent was the answer, and soon afterwards the trim
yawl, manned by four stout fellows, skimmed across the smooth bay, and
landed Vyner and his friend on a little rocky promontory that formed a
natural pier.

It was complete desolation on every side of them: the mountain which
rose from the sea was brown and blue with moss and heather, but not
a human habitation, not an animal, marked its side; a few sea-birds
skimmed fearlessly across the water, or stood perched on peaks of rock
close to the travellers, and a large seal heavily plunged into the depth
as they landed; save these, not a sign of anything living could be seen.

“There is something very depressing in this solitude,” said Grenfell; “I
detest these places where a man is thrown back upon himself.”

“Do you know, then, that at this very moment I was speculating on buying
a patch of land here to build a cottage; a cabin of three or four rooms,
where one might house himself if ever he came this way.”

“But why should he come this way? What on earth should turn any man’s
steps twice in this direction?”

“Come, come, George! You’ll not deny that all this is very fine: that
great mountain rising abruptly from the sea, with that narrow belt of
yellow beach below it; those wild fantastic rocks, with their drooping
seaweed; those solemn caves, wherein the rumbling sea rushes to issue
forth again in some distant cleft,--are all objects of grandeur and
beauty, and, for myself, I feel as if I could linger for days amongst
them unwearied.”

“What was that?” cried Grenfell, as they now gained a crest of the
ridge, and could see a wild irregular valley that lay beneath, the
shades of evening deepening into very blackness the lower portions of
the landscape. “Was that thunder, or the roar of the sea? There it is
again!”

They listened for a few moments, and again there came, borne on the
faint land-breeze, a sound that swelled from a feeble wail to a wild
sustained cry, rising and falling till it died away just as it had
begun. It was indescribably touching, and conveyed a sense of deep
sorrow, almost of despair. It might have been the last cry of a sinking
crew as the waves closed above them; and so indeed did it seem to Vyner,
as he said, “If there had been a storm at sea, I’d have sworn that sound
came from a shipwreck.”

“I suppose it is only some other pleasant adjunct of the charming spot
you would select for a villa,” said Grenfell; “perhaps the seals or the
grampuses are musical.”

“Listen to that!” cried Vyner, laying a hand on his arm; “and see!
yonder--far away to the left--there is a light!”

“Well, if there be inhabitants here, I’m not astonished that they cry
over it.”

“Let us find out what it can mean, George.”

“Have you any arms about you? I have left my revolver behind, and have
nothing but this sword-cane.”

“I have not as much, and feel pretty certain we shall not need it. Every
traveller in Ireland, even in the remotest tracts, bear witness to the
kindness which is extended to the stranger.”

“They who come back from the Rocky Mountains are invariably in love with
the Sioux Indians. The testimony that one wants, is from the fellows who
have been scalped.”

“What an intense prejudice you have against all that is Irish!”

“Say, if you like, that I have a prejudice against all mock cordiality,
mock frankness, mock hospitality, and mock intrepidity.”

“Stay, George! you can’t impugn their courage.”

“I don’t want to impugn anything beyond the inordinate pretensions to
be something better, braver, more amiable, and more gifted than all the
rest of the world. I say, Vyner, I have had quite enough of this sort
of walking; my feet are cut to pieces with these sharp stones, and every
second step is into a puddle. Do you mean to go on?”

“Certainly; I am determined to see what that light means.” “Then I turn
back. I’ll send the boat in again, and tell them to hoist a lantern,
which, if the natives have not done for you in the mean while, you’ll
see on the beach.”

“Come along; don’t be lazy.”

“It’s not laziness. I could walk a Parisian Boulevard for these three
hours; what I object to is, the certainty of a cold, and the casualty
of a sprained ankle. A pleasant journey to you;” and, as he spoke, he
turned abruptly round, and began to retrace his steps.

Vyner looked after him; he called after him too, for a moment, but, as
the other never heeded, he lighted a fresh cigar and continued his way.

The light, which seemed to tremble and flicker at first, shone steadily
and brightly as he drew nearer, and at length he hit upon a sort of
pathway which greatly assisted his advance. The way, too, led gradually
downwards, showing that the glen or valley was far deeper than he at
first supposed it. As he went on, the moon, a faint crescent, came out,
and showed him the gable of an old ruin rising above some stunted trees,
through whose foliage, at times, he fancied he saw the glitter of a
light. These lay in a little cleft that opened to the sea, and on the
shore, drawn up, were two boats, on whose sides the cold moonlight shone
clearly.

“So, there are people who live here!” thought he; “perhaps Grenfell was
right. It might have been as well to have come armed!” He hesitated
to go on. Stories of wreckers, tales of wild and lawless men in remote
untravelled lands, rose to his mind and he half doubted if it were
prudent to proceed farther. Half ashamed of his fears, half dreading
the bantering he was sure to meet from Grenfell, he went forward. The
path led to a small river in which stepping-stones were placed, and
crossing this, the foot track became broader and evidently had
been more travelled. The night was now perfectly still and calm, the
moonlight touched the mountain towards its peak, but all beneath was
in sombre blackness, more especially near the old church, whose ruined
gable his eyes, as they grew familiarised with the darkness, could
clearly distinguish. Not a sound of that strange unearthly dirge that
he first heard was audible; all was silent; so silent, indeed, that he
was startled by the sharp crackling of the tall reeds which grew close
to the path and which he occasionally broke as he pressed forward. His
path stopped abruptly at a stone stile, over which he clambered, and
found himself in a little enclosure planted with potatoes, beyond which
was a dense copse of thorns and hazel, so tangled that the path became
very tortuous and winding. On issuing from this, he found himself in
front of a strong glare of light, which issued from a circular window of
the gable several feet above his head; at the same time that he heard a
sort of low monotonous moaning sound, broken at intervals by a swell of
chorus, which he at length detected was the response of people engaged
in prayer. Creeping stealthily around through dockweeds and nettles, he
at last found a narrow loopholed window to which his hands could just
reach, and to which, after a brief effort, he succeed in lifting
himself. The scene on which he now looked never faded from his memory.
In the long narrow aisle of the old Abbey a company of men and women sat
two deep round the walls, the space in the centre being occupied by a
coffin placed on trestles; rude torches of bog-pine stuck in the walls
threw a red and lurid glare over the faces, and lit up their
expressions with a vivid distinctness. At the head of the coffin sat an
old grey-headed man of stern and forbidding look, and an air of savage
determination, which even grief had not softened; and close beside him,
on a low stool, sat a child, who, overcome by sleep as it seemed, had
laid his head on the old man’s knee, and slept profoundly. From this old
man proceeded the low muttering words which the others answered by a
sort of chant, the only interruption to which was when any one of the
surrounders would rise from his place to deposit some small piece of
money on a plate which stood on the coffin, and was meant to contain the
offerings for the priest.

[Illustration: 038]

If the language they spoke in was strange and unintelligible to Vyner’s
ears, it did not the less convey, as the sound of Irish unfailingly
does to all unaccustomed ears, a something terribly energetic and
passionate--every accent was striking, and every tone full of power--but
far more still was he struck by the faces on every side. He had but seen
the Irish of St. Giles’s; the physiognomy he alone knew was that blended
one of sycophancy and dissipation that a degraded and demoralised class
wear. He had never before seen that fierce vigour and concentrated
earnestness which mark the native face. Still less had he any idea what
its expression could become when heightened by religious fervour. There
were fine features, noble foreheads wide and spacious, calm brows, and
deeply-set eyes, in many around, but in all were the lower jaw and the
mouth coarse and depraved-looking. There was no lack of power, it is
true, but it was a power that could easily adapt itself to violence and
cruelty, and when they spoke, so overmastering seemed this impulse of
their natures, that the eyes lost the gentleness they had worn, and
flashed with an angry and vindictive brilliancy.

Drink was served round at intervals, and freely partaken of, and from
the gestures and vehemence of the old man, Vyner conjectured that
something like toasts were responded to. At moments, too, the prayers
for the dead would seem to be forgotten, and brief snatches of
conversation would occur, and even joke and laughter were heard; when
suddenly, and as though to recal them to the solemn rites of the hour, a
voice, always a woman’s, would burst in with a cry, at first faint, but
gradually rising till it became a wild yell, at one particular cadence
of which--just as one has seen a spaniel howl at a certain note--the
rest would seem unable to control themselves, and break in with a rush
of sound that made the old walls ring again. Dreadful as it had seemed
before, it was far more fearful now, as he stood close by, and could
mark, besides, the highly-wrought expressions--the terribly passionate
faces around.

So fascinated was he by the scene--so completely had its terrible
reality impressed him--that Vyner could not leave the spot, and he gazed
till he knew, and for many a long year after could remember, every face
that was there. More than once was he disposed to venture in amongst
them, and ask, as a stranger, the privilege of joining the solemnity,
but fear withheld him; and as the first pinkish streak or dawn appeared,
he crept cautiously down and alighted on the grass.

By the grey half-light he could now see objects around him, and
perceive that the Abbey was a small structure with little architectural
pretensions, though from the character of the masonry of very great
age. At one end, where a square tower of evidently later date stood,
something like an attempt at a dwelling-house existed--at least, two
windows of unequal size appeared, and a low doorway, the timbers of
which had once formed part of a ship. Passing round the angle of this
humble home, he saw a faint streak of light issue from an open casement,
over which a wild honeysuckle had grown, attaching itself to the iron
bars that guarded the window, and almost succeeding in shutting out
the day. Curious for a glance within this strange dwelling-place, Vyner
stole near and peeped in. A tiny oil-lamp on a table was the only light,
but it threw its glare on the face of a man asleep in a deep armchair--a
pale, careworn, melancholy face it was, with a mass of white hair
unkempt hanging partly across it! Vyner passed his hands across his eyes
as though to satisfy himself that he was awake. He looked again; he even
parted the twigs of the honeysuckle to give him more space, and, as he
gazed, the sleeper turned slightly, so that the full features came to
view.

[Illustration: 042]

“Good God! It is Luttrell!” muttered Vyner, as he quietly stole away and
set out for the beach.

Anxious at his long absence, two of his crew had come in search of him,
and in their company he returned to the shore and went on board.



CHAPTER III. AN OLD STORY

It was late in the day when Vyner awoke, and got up. Late as it was, he
found Grenfell at breakfast. Seated under an awning on the deck, before
a table spread with every luxury, that much-to-be-pitied individual
was, if not watering his bread with tears, sipping his chocolate with
chagrin. “He had no newspaper!”--no broad sheet of gossip, with debates,
divorces, bankruptcies, and defalcations--no moral lessons administered
to foreign Kings and Kaisers, to show them how the Press of England had
its eye on them, and would not fail to expose their short-comings to
that great nation, which in the succeeding leader was the text for a
grand pæan over increased revenue and augmented exports.

Grenfell had a very national taste for this sort of reading. It supplied
to him, as to many others, a sort of patent patriotism, which, like his
father’s potted meats, could be carried to any climate, and be always
fresh.

“Is not this a glorious day, George?” said Vyner, as he came on
deck. “There is something positively exhilarating in the fresh and
heath-scented air of that great mountain.”

“I’d rather follow a watering-cart down Piccadilly, if I was on the
look-out for a sensation. How long are we to be moored in this dreary
spot?”

“Not very long. Don’t be impatient, and listen while I recount to you my
adventure of last night.”

“Let me fill my pipe, then. Carter, fetch me my meerschaum. Now for it,”
 said he, as he disposed his legs on an additional chair. “I only hope
the story has no beautiful traits of Irish peasant life, for I own to no
very generous dispositions with regard to these interesting people, when
I see the place they live in.”

Not in the slightest degree moved by the other’s irritability, Vyner
began a narrative of his ramble, told with all the power that a
recent impression could impart of the scene of the wake, and pictured
graphically enough the passion-wrought faces and wild looks of the
mourners.

“I was coming away at last,” said he, “when, on turning an angle of the
old church, I found myself directly in front of a little window, from
which a light issued. I crept close and peeped in, and there, asleep in
a large arm-chair, was a man I once knew well--as well, or even better,
than I know you--a man I had chummed with at Christ Church, and lived
for years with, on terms of close affection. If it were not that his
features were such as never can be forgotten, I might surely have
failed to recognise him, for though my own contemporary, he looked fully
fifty.”

“Who was he?” abruptly broke in Grenfell.

“You shall hear. Luttrell!”

“Luttrell! Luttrell! You don’t mean the fellow who was to have married
your sister-in-law?”

“The same; the first man of his day at Christ Church, the great prizeman
and medallist, ‘the double first,’ and, what many thought more of, the
best-looking fellow in Oxford.”

“I forget the story. He wanted to marry some one, and she wouldn’t have
him. What was it?”

“He wanted to marry my wife,” said Vyner, rather nettled at the cool
carelessness of the other. “She was, however, engaged to me, and
she said, ‘I have a sister so very like me, that we are constantly taken
for each other; come here next week, and you’ll meet her.’ They met,
liked each other, and were contracted to be married. I want to be very
brief, so I shall skip over all but the principal points.”

“Do so,” said the other, dryly.

“Everything went well for a time. All inquiries as to his fortune,
position, connexions, and so forth, were found satisfactory by the
Courtenays, when some busybody whispered to Georgina that there was an
ugly story about him in Ireland, and suggested that she should ask under
what circumstances he had quitted the Irish University and come over to
take his degree at Oxford. Luttrell was considerably agitated when the
question was put to him, though they were alone at the time; and, after a
brief struggle with himself, he said, ‘I’d rather you had not asked
me about this, but I meant to have told you of it myself, one day. The
thing is very simple, and not very serious. The only thing, however, I
exact is, that the confession is to and for yourself alone. You have a
right to know the fact; I have a right, that it be kept a secret.’

“She gave the pledge he required, and he went on to say that there
existed in Ireland a secret society known by the name of United
Irishmen, whose designs were, time and place suiting, to throw off
their allegiance to England, and declare for Irish independence. This
association was so far formidable, that it embraced men of all classes
and conditions, and men of all religious professions, the majority being
Presbyterians. He was one of these, and a very foremost one; drawn into
the league, in reality, rather by the warm enthusiasm of a generous
nature than by any mature consideration of the object or its
consequences. In some contest for a prize at College--a gold medal in
science, I believe--Luttrell’s closest competitor was the son of the
Provost of the University; but, after a three days’ conflict, Luttrell
was victorious. When the day of awarding the honours came, Luttrell
presented himself at the Hall to receive his laurels, but what was his
astonishment to hear, as he entered, that he would be first required
to subscribe a declaration that he was not a member of any secret or
treasonable society.

“‘If you mean,’ cried he to the Proctor, who recited the terms of the
declaration--‘if you mean me to say that I am not an United Irishman,
I will not do so. Give your gold medal to that gentleman yonder,’ added
he, pointing to the son of the Provost; ‘his father’s loyalty deserves
every testimony you can confer on it.’ He left the Hall, took his name
off the books, and quitted Ireland the next day. It was gravely debated
whether an expulsion should not be passed upon him; but, in
consideration of his great collegiate distinction and his youth, the
extreme rigour was spared him, and he was suffered to leave uncensured.

“Either the confession was not what she expected, or that she fancied it
might cover something far more serious beneath it, but Georgina was not
satisfied with the story. She again and again reverted to it. Not a day
that they walked out alone that she would not turn the conversation on
this theme, which, by frequent discussion, Luttrell came at length to
talk of, without any of the reserve he at first maintained. Indeed,
some of this was, in a measure, forced upon him, for she questioned him
closely as to the details of the association, how far it involved him,
and to what extent he was yet bound by its obligations.

“It was in a sort of defence of himself, one day, that he so far forgot
prudence as to declare that the society numbered amongst its members
many men not only high in station, but actually regarded as strong
adherents of the English party. He told how this, that, and the other,
who were seen at every levee of the Castle, and not unfrequently quoted
as guests of the Viceroy’s table, were brothers of this league; and he
indeed mentioned names of distinction and eminence.

“In her eagerness to confute all her father’s opinions on this
matter--for she had told him the whole story from the first--Georgina
hastened off to enumerate the great men who were engaged in this
treason. Two were in Parliament, one was a Law Adviser of the Crown,
another was a Commissioner of Customs, and generally regarded as an
active partisan of the Government. I remember these, but there were many
others of equal note. Mr. Courtenay, who, besides being a ministerial
supporter, had once been private secretary to Lord Castlereagh, divulged
the whole to the Home Secretary. Investigations were instituted, and,
although United Irishism had lost its sting after Emmett’s failure,
all who had once belonged to it were marked men, and black-listed in
consequence.

“I have been told that the consternation which the disclosure created
in Ireland was terrific. Men resigned their commissions of the peace,
pretended ill health, went abroad; lawyers and physicians of eminence
were ashamed to show their faces; and a well-known editor of a violently
‘English’ newspaper disposed of his journal and went to America.

“‘Who is the traitor?’ was now the universal demand; and, indeed, in
the patriotic papers the question stood forth every morning in great
capitals.

“‘Who was the traitor?’ none could positively assert; but the
controversy was carried on without any squeamish delicacy, and if
the papers did not fix on the man, they very freely discussed the
probability or improbability of this or that one.

“‘Why not Luttrell? said one writer in a famous print. ‘His father
betrayed us before.’ This was an allusion to his having voted for the
Union. ‘Why not Luttrell?’ They entered thereupon into some curious
family details, to show how these Luttrells had never been ‘true blue’
to any cause. That, with good abilities and fair prospects, they were
not successful men, just because they couldn’t be honest to their party,
or even to themselves. They were always half way between two opinions,
‘and,’ as the writer said, ‘far more eager to have two roads open to
them than to travel either of them.’ Whether excited by a theme which
had engrossed much of public attention, or incited by some personal
animosity, this editor devoted a portion of each day’s paper to
Luttrell. The result was a hostile message. They met and exchanged
shots, when the newspaper writer at once declared, ‘If Mr. Luttrell will
now disown any connexion with this act of betrayal, I am ready to beg
his pardon for all that I have said of him.’ Luttrell for a moment made
no reply, and then said, ‘Take your pistol, Sir; I have no explanations
to make you.’ At the next fire, Luttrell fell wounded. He was upwards of
two months laid in his bed. I saw him frequently during that time; and
though we talked every day of the Courtenays, I had not the courage
to tell him that they were determined the match should be broken
off. Georgina herself--how, I cannot well say, nor ever clearly
understood--being brought to believe that Luttrell had done what would
for ever exclude him from the society of his equals. I cannot dwell on a
period so full of miserable recollections. I never passed so many hours
of torture as when sitting by that poor fellow’s bedside. I listened to
all his bright projects for a future which in my heart I knew was
closed to him for ever. As his convalescence advanced, my task grew more
difficult. He used to ask every day when he would be permitted to write
to her; he wondered, too, why she had not sent him a few lines, or some
token--as a book, or a flower. He questioned and cross-questioned me
about her daily life; how she felt his misfortune; had she received a
correct account of the incident of the duel; what her family thought and
said; and, last of all, why Mr. Courtenay himself had only called once
or twice, and never asked to come up and see him?

“My own marriage was to take place early in May. It was now April; and
at one time there had been some talk of the two sisters being married on
the same day. It was late in the month; I am not clear about the date,
but I remember it was on a Sunday morning. I was sitting with him, and
he lay propped up on a sofa, to enable him to take his breakfast with
me. ‘I was thinking all last night, Vyner,’ said he--‘and nothing but a
sick man’s selfishness could have prevented my thinking it long ago--how
you must hate me.’

“‘Hate _you_, and why?’

“‘Because but for me and my misfortune you’d have been married by the
sixth or seventh, and now, who knows how long you must wait?’

“I saw at once that the double marriage was running in his mind, and
though my own was fixed for the following Thursday or Friday, I had not
nerve to say so; nor was my embarrassment the less that Mr. Courtenay
had charged me with the task of telling Luttrell that all should be
considered as at an end, and every day used to question me if I had yet
done so.

“‘Now or never,’ thought I, as Luttrell said this; but when I turned and
saw his wasted cheek, still pink with hectic, and his glassy, feverish
eye, I shrunk again from the attempt.

“‘Why did you look at me so pitifully, Vyner?’ said he, eagerly; ‘has
the doctor told you that I shall not rub through?’

“‘Nothing of the kind, man; he says he’ll have you down at Hastings
before a fortnight is over.’

“‘What was it, then? Do I look very fearfully?’

“‘Not even that. You are pulled down, of course. No man looks the better
for eight or ten weeks on a sick-bed.’

“‘Then it is something else,’ said he, thoughtfully; and I made no
answer.

“‘Well,’ said he, with a deep sigh, ‘I have had my forebodings of--I
don’t know what--but of something that was over me all this time back;
and when I lay awake at night, wondering in what shape this disaster
would come, I have ever consoled myself by saying, “Well, Vyner
certainly does not know it; Vyner has no suspicion of it.” If now,
however, I were to be wrong in this; if, in reality, Vyner _did_ know
that a calamity impended me; and if’--here he fixed his bright staring
eyes with their wide pupils full upon me--‘if Vyner knew something, and
only forbore to break it to me because he saw me a poor sickly wasted
creature, whose courage he doubted, all I can say is, he does not know
the stuff the Luttrells are made of.’

“I tried to answer this, but all I could do was to take his hand and
press it between my own. ‘Out with it, like a good fellow,’ cried he,
with an effort to seem gay--‘out with it, and you’ll see whether I am
too vain of my pluck!’

“I turned partly away--at least so far that I could not see his face
nor he mine--and I told him everything. I cannot remember how I began
or ended. I cannot tell what miserable attempts I made to excuse or to
palliate, nor what poor ingenuity I practised to make him believe that
all was for the best. I only know that I would have given worlds that he
should have interrupted me or questioned me; but he never spoke a word,
and when I had concluded he sat there still in silence.

“‘You are a man of honour, Vyner,’ said he, in a low but unshaken voice
that thrilled through my heart. ‘Tell me one thing. On your word as a
gentleman, has--has--she----’ I saw that he was going to say the name,
but stopped himself. ‘Has she been coerced in this affair?’

“‘I believe not. I sincerely believe not. In discussing the matter
before her, she has gradually come to see, or at least to suppose------’

“‘There, there; that will do!’ cried he aloud, and with a full tone that
resembled his voice in health. ‘Let us talk of it no more. I take it
you’ll go abroad after your wedding?’

“I muttered out some stupid common-place, I talked away at random for
some minutes, and at last I said good-by. When I came back the next
morning he was gone. He had been carried on board of a steam-vessel for
some port in the south of Ireland, and left not a line nor a message
behind him. From that hour until last night I never set eyes on him.”

“You have heard of him, I suppose?” asked Grenfell.

“Vaguely and at long intervals. He would seem to have mixed himself
up with the lowest political party in Ireland--men who represent, in a
certain shape, the revolutionary section in France--and though the very
haughtiest aristocrat I think I ever knew, and at one time the most
fastidious ‘fine gentleman,’ there were stories of his having uttered
the most violent denunciations of rank, and inveighed in all the set
terms of the old French Convention against the distinctions of class.
Last of all, I heard that he had married a peasant girl, the daughter
of one of his cottier tenants, and that, lost to all sense of his former
condition, had become a confirmed drunkard.”

“The moral of all which is, that your accomplished sister-in-law had a
most fortunate escape.”

“I’m not so sure of that. I think Luttrell was a man to have made a
great figure in the world. He swept college of its prizes, he could
do anything he tried, and, unlike many other clever men, he had great
powers of application. He had, too, high ability as a public speaker,
and in an age like ours, where oratory does so much, he might have had a
most brilliant career in Parliament.”

“There is nothing more delusive than arguing from a fellow’s school or
collegiate successes to his triumphs in after life. The first are purely
intellectual struggles; but the real battle of life is fought out by
tact, and temper, and courage, and readiness, and fifty other things,
that have no distinct bearing on mind. Your man there would have
failed just as egregiously amongst gentlemen as he has done amongst the
‘canaille’ that he descended to. He had failure written on his passport
when he started in life.”

“I don’t believe it; I can’t believe it.”

“Your sister-in-law, I think, never married?”

“No. She has refused some excellent offers, and has declared she never
will marry.”

“How like a woman all that! She first mars a man’s fortune, and, by way
of a reparation, she destroys her own. That is such feminine logic!”

“Is that a dog they have got in the bow of the launch, yonder?” said
Vyner, directing the captain’s attention to one of the boats of the
yacht that was now pulling briskly out from the land.

“Well, Sir, as well as I can make out, it’s a child,” said he, as he
drew the telescope from the slings, and began to adjust it. “Yes, Sir,
it’s a native they have caught, and a wild-looking specimen too;” and he
handed the glass to Vyner.

“Poor little fellow! He seems dressed in rabbit-skins. Where is Ada? She
must see him.”



CHAPTER IV. ON BOARD.

“It was not an easy matter to get him to come, Sir,” said the sailor in
a whisper to Vyner, as he assisted the boy to get on the deck.

“Where did you find him?”

“Sitting all alone on that rocky point yonder, Sir; he seemed to have
been crying, and we suspect he has run away from home.”

Vyner now turned to look at the child, who all this while stood calm
and composed, amazed, it is true, by all he saw around him, yet never
suffering his curiosity to surprise him into a word of astonishment.
In age from ten to twelve, he was slightly though strongly built, and
carried himself erect as a soldier. The dress which Vyner at first
thought was entirely made of skins was only in reality trimmed
with these, being an attempt to make the clothes he had long worn
sufficiently large for him. His cap alone was of true island make, and
was a conical contrivance of undressed seal-skin, which really had as
savage a look as need be.

“Do you live on this island, my little fellow?” asked Vyner, with a
kindly accent.

“Yes,” said he, calmly, as he looked up full into his face.

“And have you always lived here?”

“So long as I remember.”

“Where do you live?”

“On the other side of the mountain--at St. Finbar’s Abbey.”

“May I ask your name?”

“My name,” said the boy, proudly, “is Harry Grenville Luttrell.”

“Are you a Luttrell?” cried Vyner, as he laid his hand affectionately
on the boy’s shoulders; but the little fellow seemed not to like the
familiarity, and stepped back to escape it.

“Are you the son of John Hamilton Luttrell?”

“Yes. What is your name?”

“Mine,” said the other, repressing a smile--“mine is Gervais Vyner.”

“And do you own this ship?”

“Yes.”

“And why have you come here?”

“Partly by chance--partly through curiosity.”

“And when will you go away?”

“Something will depend on the weather--something on whether we like the
place and find it agreeable to us; but why do you ask? Do you wish we
should go away?”

“The people do! I do not care!”

It is not easy to give an idea of the haughty dignity with which he
spoke the last words. They were like the declaration of one who felt
himself so secure in station, that he could treat the accidents of the
day as mere trifles.

“But why should the people wish it? We are not very likely to molest or
injure them.”

“That much you may leave to themselves,” said the boy, insolently.
“They’ll not let you do it.”

“You seem very proud of your island, my little man! Have you any
brothers or sisters?”

“No--none.”

“None belonging to you but father and mother?”

“I have no mother now,” said he, with an effort to utter the words
unmoved; but the struggle was too much, and he had to turn away his head
as he tried to suppress the sobbing that overcame him.

“I am very, very sorry to have pained you, my boy,” said Vyner, with
kindness. “Come down with me here, and see a little daughter of mine,
who is nearly your own age.”

“I don’t want to see her. I want to go ashore.”

“So you shall, my boy; but you will eat something with us first, and see
the strange place we live in. Come along;” and he took his hand to lead
him forward.

“I could swim to the land if I liked,” said the boy, as he gazed down at
the blue water.

“But you’ll not have to swim, Harry.”

“Why do you call me Harry? I never knew _you_.”

“I have a better claim than you suspect. At least, I used to call your
father John long ago.”

“Don’t do it any more, then,” said he, defiantly.

“And why?”

“He wouldn’t bear it--that is the why! Stand clear, there!” cried he to
one of the sailors on the gangway. “I’m off!” and he prepared himself
for a run ere he jumped overboard, but just at this moment Ada tripped
up the cabin ladder and stood before him. The long yellow ringlets fell
on her shoulders and her neck, and her lustrous blue eyes were wide in
astonishment at the figure in front of her. As for the boy, he gazed at
her as at something of unearthly beauty. It was to his eyes that Queen
of the Fairies who might have soared on a light cloud, or tripped
daintily on the crest of the wide sea waves.

“Here is a playfellow for you, Ada,” said her father, as he led her
towards him.

“It is Robinson Crusoe, papa,” said she, in a whisper.

The boy’s quick ear had, however, caught the words, and he said quickly,
“I wish I was Robinson!” The speech seemed to strike some chord in the
little girl’s heart, for she went freely towards him at once, and said,
“Oh, wasn’t it nice to live in that pretty island, and have everything
one’s own?”

“This island here is mine!” said the boy, proudly.

“Yes, Ada,” said Vyner, “what he, says is quite correct; his father owns
the whole of these islands. But come along into the cabin, Harry; I want
you to see our home, though it is a very narrow one.”

With the gravity of a North American Indian, and with a self-possession
that never broke down under every trial to which curiosity exposed
it, the boy looked at all around him. If Aladdin himself Was not more
wonder-struck at the splendours of the cave, he never for a moment
betrayed his amazement. He ate and drank, too, with the same air of
composure, and bore himself throughout with a quiet dignity that was
remarkable. Ada displayed before him her prettiest toys, her games,
and her picture-books, and was half piqued at the little evidences of
astonishment they created. No suspicion crossed her mind how the colour
that came and went and came again, how the hurried breathing, how the
clammy fingers that trembled as they touched an object, were signs of
emotion far deeper and more intense than all that a cry of wonderment
could evidence.

“I suppose,” said she, at last, when impatience mastered her, “you have
got such masses of these yourself, that you don’t care for them?”

“I--I have nothing--nothing but a crossbow to shoot the seagulls, and a
hatchet, and the hatchet is too heavy for me.”

“But what can you do with a hatchet?” asked she, smiling.

“Split logs, and cut a way through the thicket like fellows on an
uninhabited island; or sometimes I think I’m fighting a bear. I’d like
to fight a young bear!---wouldn’t you?”

“I suspect not. Girls do not fight bears.”

“Ah, I forgot!” said he, blushing deeply; and, ashamed of his blunder,
he bent his head over a picture.

Meanwhile, Vyner and Grenfell were walking the deck and conversing in a
low tone.

“It would be a mistake, Vyner, a great mistake, take my word for it,”
 said the other. “To the man who assumes the incognito, all attempt at
recognition is offensive. Besides, what is it to lead to? You can’t
imagine he’ll want to talk over the past, and for such a man there is no
speculation in the future.”

“But the idea of being on the very island with him, knowing that he was
within a mile of me, and that I never went to see him! It sounds very
heartless, and I feel it would be so.”

“I have nothing to say when you put the question on the ground of a
sentiment. I can only discuss it as a matter of expediency, or the
reverse. You don’t charge a man with the opinions you find in an
anonymous book, because, even supposing they are his, he has not thought
proper to avow them; well, you owe exactly the same deference to him
who lives under an incognito, or retires to some secluded, unfrequented
spot. His object is to escape notice; under what plea do you drag him
forth into the broad noonday?”

“I am certain my wife wouldn’t forgive me if I left without even an
effort to see him.”

“As to that, I can say nothing. I never was married, and I do
not pretend to know what are the ‘cases of conscience’ discussed
connubially.”

“You see, Grenfell,” said the other, confidentially, “we all feel, as
we have a right to feel, that we have done this man a great wrong. There
has not been one single calamity of his life, from the day we broke with
him, that is not traceable to us. His unfortunate line in politics, his
low political associates, the depraved life some assert that he lived,
and, worse than all, his wretched marriage with a poor uneducated
peasant girl.”

“And do you fancy that a morning call from you is the reparation for all
this?”

“Come, come, that is not the fair way to put it. Luttrell and I were
once great friends. I was, I well know, very much his inferior in
knowledge and power, but in worldliness and tact I was more than his
match, and he gave way to me on every question of this sort. It may
be--I’d like to think it might prove the case---that this old sentiment
has not died out of his heart, that, as he used to say long ago, and
people laughed when he said it, ‘Let us hear what Vyner says.’ Now, if
this were so, I might even yet do something, if not for him, for that
fine boy there.”

“Leave that fine boy alone, Vyner, that’s my advice to you. I never saw
a fellow of his years with such an overweaning self-confidence. There
is, I don’t deny it, a certain ‘gentleman’ element in him, but it is
dashed with something which I neither understand, nor could venture to
say what it may lead to; but I repeat, leave him alone.”

Vyner shook his head dissentingly, but did not speak.

“Besides, let us be practical. What could you do for him? You’d not
adopt him, I take it?” Vyner was silent, and he continued: “Well, then,
you’d cut off the one tie he has in life, and not substitute another.
Besides, don’t you remember what old Scott said at the Huxleigh
steeple-chase: ‘I never back the half-bred ‘uns, no matter how well they
look in training.’”

“What a stickler for blood you have become,” said Vyner, laughing; and
it was only as he saw the crimson flush in the other’s cheek that he
bethought him how the remark might have offended.

“Take your own line, then,” said Grenfell, angrily; “it doesn’t signify
to me personally a brass farthing. Our dinner company with old Crab and
the German Fran can scarcely but be improved, even though it be by the
admixture of a little rebellion through it.”

“For all that, you’d like Luttrell immensely if you met him.”

“I like none but men of the world--men who know the people, the places
and the things one is daily connected with--who can take up the game of
society where it left off last night, and have not to read themselves
up in daily life the way fellows read their history out of the _Annual
Register_.”

“Well, I’ll write him a note,” said Vyner, following out his own
thoughts; “I’ll tell him, in a few words, how I chanced to come here,
and I’ll ask if he will receive me, or, better still,-if he’ll come and
dine with us to-morrow.”

“I know the answer you’ll get as well as if I had written it.”

“Well, what will it be?”

“See you hanged first!”

“What is all this going on below? Are you quarrelling, children?” cried
Vyner, as a great uproar burst forth from the cabin.

“Oh no, papa; but Robinson is so droll; he put baby-doll into a boat
and had her shipwrecked, and saved by the little negro; and now they are
going to be married. Just come and see it all.”

“Tell me, Harry,” said Vyner, “what would papa say if I were to write
him a note and say that I have detained you here to dinner, and wouldn’t
let you go?”

“He’d say I could have jumped overboard,” said the boy, reddening at
what he thought was an imputation on his personal prowess.

“I don’t exactly mean by force, my dear boy; I intended to say, by
persuasion.”

Either the view now submitted to him was not very clear, or that it was
combined with other element, but he made no reply.

“I will put it this wise: I’ll say I have made Harry’s acquaintance this
morning-by a lucky accident, and I hope you will not be displeased if he
should stay and dine with us. I have a little girl of his own age who is
delighted to have his company, and I feel certain you will not deprive
her of so agreeable a playfellow.”

“Papa will not know,” said the boy, moodily.

“Not know what, my little man?”

“Papa will not care,” said he; and a slight tremor shook his voice.

“Not care for what?”

“I mean,” said he, resolutely, “that I often go away at daybreak and
never come back till late at night, and papa does not mind it--he never
asks for me.”

As he spoke, Ada drew nigh her father, and clasped his hand in her own,
while her tearful eyes turned alternately from her father to the child,
the sense of her own happy lot, loved and cherished as she was, blending
with a deep pity for one so desolate and friendless.

“That’s the way boys are made independent and bold-hearted,” said Vyner,
hastily. “Men like their sons to be trained up in the free habits they
enjoyed themselves. So, then, my note is not necessary--you can remain
without it?”

“Would you like it?” said he, turning to Ada.

“Oh, how much!” cried she, eagerly.

“Then I’ll stay!” As he spoke, he leaned back in his chair, and, who
knows with what thoughts, sighed faintly, while two heavy tears rolled
slowly down his cheeks. Vyner saw it, but turned away and went on deck.

“I can gather from what that boy has just said,” said he to Gren-fell,
“that his father is almost indifferent about him; he never knows of his
coming or going, nor ever looks for him at meal-times.”

“I should be surprised if it were otherwise,” said Grenfell.
“Demoralisation never works by halves. When a man begins to go down
hill, he never takes any other road. What could remain of your great
scholar and double first man after years of association with brutal
companionship and a peasant for a wife! How could it be possible for
him to retain any one of the habits of his own class amidst the daily
frictions of that vulgar existence!”

“I begin to fear as much myself,” said Vyner, sorrowfully. As he spoke,
he felt Ada’s hand in his own; she drew him to one side, and whispered,
“Harry is crying, papa. He says he must go home, but he won’t tell me
why.”

“Perhaps I can guess, darling. Let me speak with him alone. Vyner went
down into the cabin by himself, but whatever passed between him and the
boy, the result, so far as persuading him to stay, was not successful,
and young Luttrell came on deck along with him.

“Man a boat, there,” said Vyner, “and take this young gentleman on
shore. I will write one line to your father, Harry.”

The two children stood hand in hand while Vyner wrote. They wore each
of them a look of sorrow at parting; but the boy’s face had a flush of
shame as well as sorrow. They never uttered a word, however.

Vyner’s note was in these words:

“My dear Luttrell,--Will you allow an old friend to see you, when he
calls himself?

“Affectionately yours,

“Gervais Vyner.”

He did not show this note to Grenfell, but handed it to the boy at once.

“He won’t take the books, papa,” whispered Ada, “nor anything else I
offered him.”

“He’ll know us all better later on, dearest. Do not embarrass him now by
attention; he is ashamed to refuse, and does not care to accept. If papa
will let you come out to breakfast with us to-morrow, Harry, we shall be
glad to see you; and remember, I look to you to show me where we are to
catch the lobsters.”

“I’ll tell you that now,” said the boy. “You see that great rock yonder.
Well, a little more inland, where the water is about four fathoms, and
perfectly clear, that’s the spot.”

When the boat was announced as ready, the boy took his leave of each in
turn, shaking hands with Vyner, and Ada, and the governess; and then,
advancing towards Grenfell, he stopped, and simply said good-by.

“Good day, Sir,” said Grenfell, stiffly, for he was one of those men
whose egotism even a child could wound. “Is that boy like his father?”
 asked he, as Harry passed over the side.

“Wonderfully like, since his face took that expression of seriousness.”

“Then it is not a good face.”

“Not a good face?”

“Mind, I didn’t say not a handsome face, for it is strikingly regular
and well proportioned, but the expression is furtive and secret.”

“Nothing of the kind. Luttrell was as frank a fellow as ever breathed.
I think, after what I told you, you can see that it was trustfulness
proved his ruin.”

“Isn’t he what your countrymen would call a ‘Wunderkind,’ Mademoiselle?”
 asked Grenfell of the governess.

“No, Saar, he is a much-to-be-pitied, and not the less-for-that-very
dignified youth.”

“How Homeric it makes language to think in German. There he is, Ada,
waving a rag of some sort, in farewell to you.”

Ada kissed her hand several times to him, and then hastened below into
the cabin.

“I have asked Luttrell’s leave to call on him,” said Vyner.

“I thought you would,” was the dry reply.

“I only wrote one line, and made my request in the name of our old
friendship.”

“Well, of course, you are the best judge of your own duties; only, for
my own part, I beg, if I ever should turn hermit, that you’ll not think
yourself bound to have me shaved and trimmed for the honour of dining
some one day at your table.”

“Upon my word, I think it would be a pity to take you out of your cave,
or whatever you call it,” said the governess, with a spiteful laugh.

“There, don’t fight any more till tea-time,” said Vyner, laughingly.

“Who’ll come on shore with me? I’m for a ramble over that purple
mountain yonder.”

“I have the music-lesson.”

“And I have the remainder of that article in the _Quarterly_,” said
Grenfell, “which proves incontestably the utter hopelessness of
Ireland. The writer knows the people well, and describes their faults of
character perfectly.”

A low faint sob caught Vyner’s ear, and, on hurrying below, he found Ada
seated at the table, with her head leaning on her arms.

“What’s the matter, Ada darling?” asked he, gently.

“Oh, papa, it was for his mother he was crying, for though she seldom
spoke to him or noticed him, he used to see her at the window, and now
he’ll never see her more.”

“We must try and comfort him, Ada; the poor boy has a very dreary lot in
life.”

“He says he is happy, papa! and that he only hopes he’ll never have to
leave this lonely island all his life.”

“Did he speak of his father at all?”

“No, papa; only to say that he’d never remember whether he was at home
or abroad, and that it was so pleasant not to have any one who cared
what became of one.”

“And you--did you agree with him?”

“Oh no, no!” cried she, as her eyes swam in tears. “I could have told
him how much better it was to be loved.”

Vyner turned away to hide his own emotion, and then, with an affected
carelessness, said, “Get over this music-lesson now, and whenever you
are free tell Mr. Crab to hoist a bit of white bunting to the peak, and
I’ll come back to fetch you for a walk with me.”

“Is Mr. Grenfell going, papa?”

“No, darling; but why do you ask?”

“Because--because--I’d rather go with you alone. It is always so much
nicer and happier.”

“How is it that Grenfell, with all his smartness, can never hit it off
with any one, young or old, rich or poor?” thought Vyner, as he walked
the deck, deep in thought. “He reads everything, has a smattering of all
subjects, with a good memory and a glib tongue, and yet I believe I
am the only man about town who could tolerate him.” If this were a
reflection that had more than once occurred to his mind, it usually
ended by impressing the conviction that he, Vyner, must have rare
qualities of head and heart, not merely to endure, but actually to
almost like, a companionship for which none other would have had taste
or temper but himself. Now, however--not easy is it to say why--a doubt
flashed across him that his doubting, distrustful, scoffing nature might
prove in the end an evil, just as a certain malaria, not strong enough
to give fever, will ultimately impregnate the blood and undermine the
constitution.

“I don’t think he has done me any mischief as yet,” said he to himself,
with a smile; “but shall I always be able to say as much?”

“You must read this paper--positively you must,” cried Grenfell from the
sofa, where he lay under a luxurious awning. “This fellow writes well;
he shows that the Irish never had any civilisation, nor, except where
it crept in through English influence, has there ever been a vestige of
such in the island.”

“I don’t see I shall be anything the better for believing him!”

“It may save you from that blessed purchase of an Irish property that
brought you down to all this savagery. It may rescue you from the regret
of having a gentleman shot because he was intrepid enough to collect
your rents. That surely is something.”

“But I have determined on the purchase of Derryvaragh,” said Vyner, “if
it only be what descriptions make it.”

“To live here, I hope--to turn Carib--cross yourself when you meet a
priest, and wear a landlord’s scalp at your waist-belt.”

“Nay, nay! I hope for better things, and that the English influences you
spoke of so feelingly will not entirely desert me in my banishment.”

“Don’t imagine that any one will come over here to see you, Vyner, if
you mean that.”

“Not even the trusty Grenfell?” said he, with a half smile.

“Not if you were to give me the fee-simple of the barbarous tract you
covet.”

“I’ll not believe it, George. I’ll back your friendship against all the
bogs that ever engulphed an oak forest. But what is that yonder? Is it a
boat? It seems only a few feet long.”

“It is one of those naval constructions of your charming islanders; and
coming this way, too.”

“The fellow has got a letter, Sir; he has stuck it in his hatband,” said
Mr. Crab.

“An answer from Luttrell,” muttered Vyner. “I wonder will he receive
me?”



CHAPTER V. HOW THE SPOIL WAS DIVIDED

The letter, which was handed on board by a very wild-looking native,
was written on coarse paper, and sealed with the commonest wax. It was
brief, and ran thus:

“Dear Sir,--I cannot imagine that such a meeting as you propose would be
agreeable to either of us; certainly the impression my memory retains
of you, forbids me to believe that you would like to see me as I am, and
where I am. If your desire be, however, prompted by any kind thought of
serving me, let me frankly tell you that I am as much beyond the reach
of such kindness as any man can be who lives and breathes in this weary
world. Leave me, therefore, to myself, and forget me.

“I am grateful for your attentions to my boy, but you will understand
why I cannot permit him to revisit you. I am, faithfully yours,

“John H. Luttrell.”

“Well, did I guess aright?” cried Grenfell, as Vyner stood reading the
letter over for the third time; “is his answer what I predicted?”

“Very nearly so,” said the other, as he handed him the letter to read.

“It is even stronger than I looked for; and he begins ‘Dear Sir.’”

“Yes, and I addressed him ‘My dear Luttrell!’”

“Well; all the good sense of the correspondence is on his side; he sees
naturally enough the worse than uselessness of a meeting. How could it
be other than painful?”

“Still, I am very sorry that he should refuse me.”

“Of course you are; it is just the way a fellow in all the vigour of
health walks down the ward of an hospital, and, as he glances at the
hollow cheeks and sunken eyes on either side, fancies how philanthropic
and good he is to come there and look at them. You wanted to go and
stare at this poor devil out of that sentimental egotism. I’m certain
you never suspected it, but there is the secret of your motive, stripped
of all its fine illusions.”

“How ill you think of every one, and with what pleasure you think it!”

“Not a bit. I never suffer myself to be cheated; but it does not amuse
me in the least to unmask the knavery.”

“Now, having read me so truthfully, will you interpret Luttrell a
little?”

“His note does not want a comment. The man has no wish to have his
poverty and degraded condition spied out. He feels something too low for
friendship, and too high for pity; and he shrinks, and very naturally
shrinks, from a scene in which every look he gave, every word he
uttered, every sigh that he could but half smother, would be recalled to
amuse your wife and your sister-in-law when you reached home again.”

“He never imputed anything of the kind to me,” said Vyner, angrily.

“And why not? Are we in our gossiping moments intent upon anything but
being agreeable, not very mindful of private confidences or indiscreet
avowals? We are only bent upon being good recounters, sensation
novelists, always flattering ourselves the while as to the purity of
our motives and the generosity of our judgments, when we throw into
the narrative such words as the ‘poor fellow,’ the ‘dear creature.’ We
forget the while that the description of the prisoner never affects the
body of the indictment.”

“I declare you are downright intolerable, Grenfell, and if the world
were only half as bad as you’d make it, I’d say Luttrell was the wisest
fellow going to have taken his leave of it.”

“I’d rather sit the comedy out than go home and fret over its
vapidness.” “Well, Mr. Crab,” said Vyner, turning suddenly to where his
captain was waiting to speak with him, “what news of our spar?”

“Nothing very good, Sir. There’s not a bit of timber on the island would
serve our purpose.”

“I suppose we must shift as well as we can till we make the mainland!”

“This fellow here in the boat, Sir,” said a sailor, touching his cap as
he came aft, “says that his master has three or four larch-trees about
the length we want.”

“No, no, Crab,” whispered Vyner; “I don’t think we can do anything in
that quarter.”

“Would he sell us one of them, my man?” cried Grab to the peasant.

“He’d give it to you,” said the man, half doggedly.

“Yes, but we’d rather make a deal for it. Look here, my good fellow; do
you go back and fetch us the longest and stoutest of those poles, and
here’s a guinea for your own trouble. Do you understand me?”

The man eyed the coin curiously, but made no motion to touch it. It was
a metal he had never seen before, nor had he the faintest clue to its
value.

“Would you rather have these, then?” said Crab, taking a handful of
silver from his pocket and offering it to him.

The man drew the back of his hand across his eyes, as if the sight had
dazzled him, and muttered something in Irish.

“Come, say you’ll do it,” said Crab, encouragingly.

“Is there any answer for my master, to his letter, I mean?” said the
man, looking at Vyner.

“No, I think not; wait a moment. No, none,” said Vyner, after a moment
of straggle; and the words were not well uttered, when the fellow pushed
off his boat, and struck out with all his vigour for the shore.

“What a suspicious creature your savage is; that man evidently believed
you meant to bribe him to some deep treachery against his master,” said
Grenfell.

“Do let the poor peasant escape,” cried Vyner, laughingly, while he
hastened below to avoid any further display of the other’s malevolence,
calling out to Mr. Crab to follow him. “Let us get under weigh with the
land breeze this evening,” said he.

“There’s a strong current sets in here, Sir. I’d as soon have daylight
for it, if it’s the same to you.”

“Be it so. To-morrow morning, then, Crab;” and, so saying, he took up a
book, and tried to interest himself with it.

The peasant meanwhile gained the land, and made the best of his way
homeward.

“Tell the master there’s no answer, Molly,” said he, as she stood wiping
the perspiration from her face with her apron at the door of a
long, low-roofed building, into which all the assembled guests were
congregated.

“Indeed, and I won’t, Tim Hennesy,” said she, tartly. “‘Tis enough is on
my own bones to-day, not to be thinking of letters and writings. Go in
and help Dan Neven with that long trunk there, and then bring a hatchet
and a hammer.”

The man obeyed without a word; and, having assisted to deposit a heavy
deal box like a sea-chest in the place assigned it, perceived that
several others of varions sizes and shapes lay around; all of which
formed objects of intense curiosity to the visitors, if one were to
judge from the close scrutiny they underwent, as well as the frequent
tapping by knuckles and sticks, to assist the explorer to a guess at
what was contained within.

A word or two will explain the scene. When Molly Ryan came to inform
her master that the relatives of his late wife intended to sail by the
evening’s tide, and wished to pay their respects to him personally,
before departure, he excused himself on some pretext of illness; but to
cover his want of courtesy, he directed her to tell them that they were
free to take, each of them, some memorial of her that was gone, and
ordered Molly to have all the boxes that contained her effects conveyed
into the long storehouse.

“Let them take what they like, Molly,” said he, abruptly, as though not
wishing to discuss the matter at more length.

“And as much as they like?” asked she.

“Yes, as much as they like,” said he, motioning that he would be left in
peace and undisturbed.

Loud and full were the utterances of praise that this munificence
evoked. “Wasn’t he the real gentleman?” “Wasn’t it the heart’s blood of
a good stock?” “Wasn’t it like one of the ‘ould race,’ that could think
of an act at once so graceful and so liberal?” “After all, it wasn’t
proud he was. It was just a way he had; and ‘poor Shusy, that was
gone,’ was the lucky woman to have been his wife.” “To be sure, it was
a solitary kind of life she led, and without friends or companions; but
she had the best of everything.” Such were the first commentaries. Later
on, gratitude cooled down to a quiet rationalism, and they agreed that
he was only giving away what was no use to him. “He’ll surely not marry
again, and what could he do with cloaks, and shawls, and gowns, that
would only be motheaten if he kept them?”

“These two here is linen,” said Molly, with an air of decision, “and I
suppose you don’t want to see them.”

A murmur of disapproval ran through the meeting. They wanted to see
everything. His Honour’s munificence was not limited. It included all
that was once hers; and a very animated discussion ensued as to what
constituted personal properties.

“Maybe you’d like the crockery too,” said Molly, indignantly, for she
began to feel ashamed of the covetousness.

“Well see everything,” said old Peter Hogan, “and we’ll begin with
this.” So saying, he inserted a chisel beneath one of the pine planks,
and soon displayed to the company a large chest full of house linen. The
articles were neither costly nor remarkable, but they seemed both to the
beholders; and sheets, and napkins, and pillow-cases, and tablecloths
were all scrutinised closely, and unanimously declared to be perfection.

The crockery and glass were next examined, and even more
enthusiastically approved of. Some curious china and some specimens of
old Venetian glass, family relics, that ven connoisseurship might have
valued, really amazed them, and many an epithet in Irish went round as a
cup or a goblet was passed from hand to hand to be admired.

The clothes were the last to be examined, and with all their heightened
expectations the reality surpassed what they looked for. Hats, and
shawls, and silk gowns, scarfs, and bonnets, and ribbons, soon covered
every box and bench around, and covetous eyes sparkled as each longed
for some special prize in this vast lottery. “I remember the day she
wore that brown silk at chapel,” said one. “That’s the blue tabinet she
had on at the christening.” “There’s the elegant, shawl she had on at
the fair at Ennis.” “But look at this--isn’t this a real beauty?” cried
one, who drew forth a bright dress of yellow satin, which seemed never
to have been worn.

“Don’t you think you could pick and choose something to plaze ye, now?”
 said Molly, who was in reality not a little frightened by all this
enthusiasm.

“It is true for you, Molly Ryan,” said Peter. “There’s something for
everybody, and since the company trusts it to me to make the division,
this is what I do. The crockery and glass for Mr. Rafter, the linen for
myself, and the clothes to be divided among the women when we get home.

“So that you’ll take everything,” cried Molly.

“With the blessin’ of Providence ‘tis what I mean,” said he; and a full
chorus of approving voices closed the speech.

“The master said you were to choose what plazed you--”

“And it’s what we’re doing. We are plazed with everything, ‘and why
wouldn’t we?’ Wasn’t she that’s gone our own blood, and didn’t she own
them? The pillow she lay on and the cup she dhrunk out of is more to us
than their weight in goold.”

Another and fuller murmur approved these sentiments.

“And who is to have this?” cried one of the women, as she drew forth
from a small pasteboard box an amber necklace and cross, the one
solitary trinket that belonged to her that was gone. If not in itself an
object of much value, it was priceless to the eyes that now gazed on it,
and each would gladly have relinquished her share to possess it.

“Maybe you’d have the dacency to leave that for his Honour,” said Molly,
reprovingly.

Less, perhaps, in accordance with the sentiment than in jealous
dread lest another should obtain it, each seemed to concur with this
recommendation.

“There’s something in what Molly says,” said old Peter, with the air
of a judge delivering a charge. “If his Honour houlds to a thing of the
kind, it would be hard to refuse it to him; but if he doesn’t, or if it
would only be more grief to be reminding him of what’s gone------
Let me finish what I have to say, Molly,” added he, with some
irritation, as a sneering laugh from her interrupted his speech.

“There’s an old pair of shoes of hers in the room within. I’ll go for
them, and then you’ll have everything,” said she; and she darted an
angry glance around, and left the spot.

“I’ll wear this--this is for me!” cried a little girl, taking the amber
necklace from the case and putting it on. And, a buzz of Astonishment at
the audacity ran around. She was about eleven years of age, but her
dark blue eyes and long lashes made her seem older. It was one of those
beautiful faces which appear to suggest that with years the delicate
loveliness must be lost, so perfect the accordance between the
expression and the feature. She had a mass of golden-brown hair, which
fell in long curls over a neck of perfect whiteness; but even these
traits were less striking than the air of gracefulness that really
implied a condition far above that of her rank in life; and, as she
stood in the midst to be admired, there was a haughty consciousness of
her claim for admiration that was as triumphant in that assembly as ever
was the proud assertion of beauty in a court.

[Illustration: 066]

“It becomes you well, Kitty O’Hara, and you shall have it, too,” cried
old Hogan, who was her grandfather, and whose pride in her took the
shape of the boldest aspirations for her future. “Ain’t I right?” cried
he, appealing to, those around him. “Look at her, and say if she isn’t a
picture!”

With a full burst of assent all broke in at this appeal, and still she
stood there unabashed, almost unmoved, indeed, by the admiring looks and
enthusiastic words around her.

“Isn’t that the making of a lady, ay, and as elegant a lady as ever
stepped?” cried the old man, as his eyes ran over with proud notion.
“And as sure as my name is Peter Hogan, it’s diamonds will be round the
same neck yet! Yes, my darling, yer ould grandfather won’t be to the
fore to see it, but there’s some here that will. Mark the words I’m
saying now; lay them up in your hearts, and see if I’m not telling the
truth. There she stands before you that’ll raise her family, and make a
name for them far and wide.”

While he delivered this boastful speech, the girl turned her eyes from
him, a slight flush deepened the colour of her cheek, and a scarcely
perceptible eagerness showed itself on the parted lips, but her attitude
was unchanged, and a slight nod of the head, in token of assent, was the
only notice she took of his words.

“Yes, come in, my dear,” cried Hogan at this moment--“come in, Master
Harry; there’s none here but your own kith and kin, and here’s a nice
little wife, or a sweetheart, for you.” As he said this, he drew from
the doorway, where he lingered, the boy, who now came forward with a
shamefaced and reluctant look. “There they stand,” said the old man, as
he placed them side by side, “and I defy the world to show me a purtier
couple.”

The boy turned a long and steady look at the girl--something for the
beauty, and something, too, doubtless, there was for the ornaments that
heightened it--and she bore the scrutiny without a shadow of constraint;
but there was even more, for, as he continued to stare at her, she
smiled half superciliously, and said at last, with a faint smile, “I
hope I’m not so ugly that I frighten you!”

There was just that pertness in the speech that stood for wit with the
company, and they laughed loud and heartily at what they fancied to be a
repartee.

“Did ye ever see a purtier--did ye ever see as purty?” cried old Hogan.

“Yes I did, this very evening, on board of that schooner there. There’s
one ten times as handsome, and she is a lady, too.”

Insolent as were the words, the look and manner with which he gave
them were far more so. It was like the speech of a proud noble to his
vassals, who actually derived a sense of pleasure in the measure of
outrage he could dare to mete out to them. The boy turned his haughty
stare around at each in turn, as though to say, “Who is there to gainsay
me?” and then left the place.

“Isn’t that a worthy twig of the ould tree?” cried old Hogan,
passionately. “The world hasn’t done with the Luttrells yet! But I know
well who puts these thoughts in the child’s head. It’s Molly Ryan, and
no other. Taching him, as she calls it, to remember he’s a gentleman.”

The company endorsed all the indignation of the speaker, but, soon
recalled to more practical thoughts, proceeded to nail down the trunks
and boxes, and prepared to carry them down to the seaboard.



CHAPTER VI. ON THE SEA-SHORE AT NIGHT

Towards the evening of the same day a light breeze from the westward
sprang up, and Mr. Crab argued that there was little use in waiting any
longer to refit, and proposed to sail with the tide. By keeping along
close to shore he learned that the ebb would take him well out to sea
before midnight. Vyner, therefore, gare orders that the yacht should
lie-to after she rounded the extreme promontory of the island, and send
in a boat there to take him off, thus giving him one last ramble over a
spot it was scarcely possible he would ever revisit.

He landed early in the evening, and amused himself strolling at will
along the desolate shore. There were objects enough on every hand to
excite interest, whether the visitor had been man of science or man of
taste. Strange sea-plants and shells abounded; lichens of colour the
most novel and varied; rocks, whose layers defied all theories of
stratification, and were convoluted and enclosed one within another
inextricably. Caves, whose stalactites glittered with the gorgeous tints
of Bohemian glass. The very cries of the sea-fowl had a wild unearthly
shriek in them that seemed to suit the solitude, and their fearlessness
showed how little they knew of molestation.

“How peaceful at first, how dreary at last, must be life in such a
spot!” thought Vyner; who, like all men, would pronounce upon the
problem as it addressed itself to _him_. He could understand the repose
of coming suddenly there out of the din and turmoil of the world, and he
could picture to his mind how the soft teaching of that first sentiment
would darken into the impenetrable blackness of unbroken gloom. As he
thus mused, he was sorry that he had written that note to Luttrell. He
had no right to obtrude himself upon one, who, in withdrawing from the
world, declared that he deserved to be unknown. He was half angry with
himself for a step which now appeared so unjustifiable. “After all,”
 thought he, “the man who makes this his home should not fear to have his
door forced; he ought to be able to sleep with his latch ajar, and never
dread an intruder.” Again and again he wished that he had gone his way
without even letting Luttrell know that he had been his neighbour.

As he mused he rambled onward, now, from some rocky point obtaining a
view of the jagged coast line, broken into innumerable bays, some small
enough to be mere fissures, now turning his glance inward, where a
succession of valleys, brown and purple in the evening light, darkened
and deepened beneath him. He could, besides, in the far distance make
out the copse of trees that sheltered the Abbey, and at last detect the
twinkle of a light through the foliage, and then turning seaward, he
could descry the light and airy spars of his little vessel as she slowly
crept along, a light from a stern window showing where he, too, for
the nonce, owned a home on the blue waters of the Atlantic. What a
difference between these two homes! what blissful thoughts, and budding
hopes, and present enjoyments in the one, what unbroken gloom in the
other! “I was wrong to have written, but I wish he had not repulsed me,”
 said he; and still there lingered in his heart a half hope that, if he
were to present himself boldly before Luttrell, he would not reject
him. The dread of Grenfell was too great to make him risk defeat; that
scoffing, sneering spirit, who on the mere fact of thinking ill of every
one, took credit for detecting all individual short-coming, would be so
unforgiving if he had to come and own that he had been twice repulsed!

“No,” thought he, “I ‘ll accept my defeat as it is, and try to think
no more of it;” and then he endeavoured to think of the scene and the
objects around him. From the spur of the mountain, a long, low, shingly
promontory stretched into the sea, at the extremity of which were some
rocks, forming an arm of a large bay that swept boldly inwards, and this
was the spot which, on the map, he had pointed out as a suitable place
for the yacht to lie-to, and wait for him. He now saw, howevar, that in
following out the spit of land, he had diverged largely from the way,
and must retrace his steps for above a mile ere he could reach the
strand, and at the same time, in the half-fading twilight, he could
make out the schooner, under easy sail, heading still farther to the
southward.

Crab had evidently mistaken the headland, and was making for one still
more distant. What was to be done? In coming down to the coast line
he had subjected himself to following out all the jagged and irregular
course of the shore, and yet to venture inland without a guide would
have been the extreme of rashness. There was nothing for it but to make
a signal, if perchance it could be seen; the _Meteor_ was not more
than a mile off, and the project seemed not hopeless. He tied his
handkerchief to his cane, and hastened on towards one of the rocks
before him; as he drew nigher, he saw something which at last he made
out to be the figure of a man, seated with his head supported between
his hands, and gazing steadfastly seaward. Vyner mounted the rock and
waved his signal several times, but in vain; the dark background of the
mountain probably obscured the flag, and prevented its being observed.

“I want to signal the schooner yonder, my good man,” cried he to a
poor-looking creature who sat crouched down close to the water’s edge;
“could you get me some dry leaves or chips together to make a fire?” The
other looked up with a startled air, for he had thought himself alone,
and then rising to his feet, they stood face to face. “My dear old
friend!” cried Vyner, “have we met at last? How glad I am to see you
again.”

“Not this way, surely, not this way,” muttered Luttrell, in a faint and
broken voice.

“To be sure I am, Luttrell. I’ ll call the chance that led me here one
of the happiest of my life, if it brings you back to any of your old
feeling for me.”

“You got my note?” asked the other, in a hoarse voice.

“Yes; and it was no part of my intention to molest you, Luttrell. This
meeting is, I assure you, the merest accident.”

“Let me go, then, Vyner; the shame is killing me; I wouldn’t that you
had seen me thus--in these rags, in all this misery. These are not the
memories I wanted you to carry away with you; but what would you have? I
came here to live like the others.”

“My dear old friend, I wanted to talk of long ago with you; it is not to
reproach you I’ve come. Take my word for it, I feel too acutely all the
wrong you have suffered from mine. I know too well at whose door your
heaviest injuries lie.”

“If I had attempted to be more or better than my neighbours, I couldn’t
have lived here,” cried he, eagerly reverting to his self-defence.

“But why live here, Luttrell? It is not at your age, or with your
abilities, a man retires from the game of life.”

“I have played all my cards, Gervais,” said he, with a wild laugh, “and
never scored a point with them.”

“How many a fellow has had a long run of ill-luck, to be repaid by as
great a share of fortune after.”

“Ay, but I ‘ll not try it! I don’t ask, I don’t wish it. If I were to
win now, I have nothing to do with my winnings.”

“Think of your boy--your fine boy, Luttrell!”

“Ah, Robinson!” cried he, laughing; and Vyner blushed deeply as he
fancied how the child had repeated the nickname. “There’s only one way
he could want such assistance, and if he but live here, he’ll never need
it.”

“Live here! but you cannot mean that he should?”

“Why not? What need is there that he should know of all those fine
prizes that his father strove for and never won, any more than of fine
food, or fine clothes, or fine equipages?”

Vyner shook his head in dissent, and the other went on with increase of
energy.

“My own mistake was, to have borne the thing so long; I might have come
here before my health was broken, my hand unsteady, my foot weak, and
my nerves shattered. I’d have gone out to see you, Vyner,” said he,
suddenly; “but Harry told me you were not alone; you had a friend. Who
is he?”

“Grenfell; you remember a Grenfell at Christ Church?”

“Only Cox and Grenfell’s son, the potted-shrimp man; of course it’s not
he?”

“Yes it is, and a very clever fellow too.”

“There’s what I couldn’t do, Vyner; there you beat me,” cried he, aloud;
“with the peasant, with the mountaineer, with the fisherman, yes, I can
live in daily, hourly companionship. I can eat as coarse food, wear
as coarse clothes, lie down on as mean a bed, talk as penuriously, and
think as humbly, but I couldn’t endure the continual refinement of your
fellow of new-made wealth, nor the pretensions of one who feels that by
money he is to be any one’s equal.”

“How your old pride of family stirs you still, Luttrell.”

“Not so; it is not for myself I am pleading. I am not come of a stock so
distinguished that I can arrogate to myself the defence of my order. The
first of my name who came over here was a Dutch pedlar; some generations
of thrift and industry made us gentlemen. For time does for family what
it does for wine, and just merely by age your poor light Medoc mellows
into very drinkable claret. But how have you made me rattle on in my old
guise! See, they are signalling to you, yonder; that lantern at the peak
has been run up now.”

“I must manage to let them know I’m here; how to make a fire is the
question.”

“There’s abundance of broken wood along here. The fishermen’s boats fare
ill along this coast; we’ll soon gather enough for your purpose.”

As they strayed about collecting the fragments of broken timber, Vyner
pondered over the absence of all move on Luttrell’s part to invite him
to his home. Indeed, in his alacrity to make the signal, he only showed
his eagerness to aid his departure. He wondered, too, how much external
change, and how little real alteration, had taken place in Luttrell. His
old conversational turn was there, though he seemed half ashamed when he
found he had fallen into it.

“I told you we should not be long making a respectable pile,” said
Luttrell. “The wreck furnishing the bonfire is the law of nature. If my
eyes do not deceive me, they have lowered a boat;” as he spoke, he knelt
down to kindle the wood, by using his hat to fan the flame, which, after
smouldering for a moment, sprang up into a clear tongue of fire. “There,
Vyner, they see it; they have thrice lowered the light from the peak.”

“The boat can come in here safely?”

“There’s water for a large ship in this bay. Great facilities exist in
these Islands of Arran, and if trade were ever to turn its steps hither,
I’d direct my attention to wrecking to-morrow. The man who has so
successfully achieved his own ruin, ought to be able to assist others.”

A shout from the beach was now replied to by Vyner, and the stout rowers
pulled in vigorously to the shore.

“I have not shocked you, Vyner,” said Luttrell, “by asking you to see
what would have shocked you--the place I live in. If you were one of
those men to whom mere curiosity affords some pleasure, I’d have shelved
my pride, or my shame, or whatever be the name of it, and said, ‘Come
and look at my den; see to what poor conclusions a life of blunders
leads;’ but you are made of other stuff, and would find no happiness in
my humiliation.”

“Will you not come on board with me, Luttrell, and let us have one long
summer’s night gossip together?”

“I’d scarce refuse if you had been alone; I can’t face your
distinguished friend.”

“You are unjust, quite unjust to him; besides, knowing our old ties,
he’ll leave us to ourselves, and we shall have our talk unmolested. Is
there not in the past something to build on for the future---- Well, for
Harry?”

“I think not. It is not necessary to plot out the life of one bred and
trained as he is. Let the world treat him as it may, he’ll scarcely meet
any hardships he has not had a foretaste of.”

“But what do you intend by him?”

“If he likes idleness, the elegant leisure of my own life, for
instance,” said he, with a mocking laugh, “he’ll have about the amount
of fortune such a mode of living requires. If he be ambitious, or prefer
a course of activity, he can go on board some of these American traders,
or sail with a fishing lugger. Frankly, Vyner, it’s a matter I have not
given much thought to. There is but one part of it, indeed, on which
I can declare I have made up my mind. He is to have no protectors, no
patrons. We are a hard race to deal with, and we often seem ungrateful
when we are merely self-willed.”

“How I wish you’d let me talk all these things over with you,” said
Vyner, in a friendly tone, “not to say that I want your advice on my own
account.”

“Advice, and from me!”

“Even so, Luttrell. I have a project about purchasing some property on
the coast here. Not a very profitable investment, perhaps, but certainly
cheap, and at some long future to become possibly remunerative.”

“Derryvaragh, I suppose?” “Yes, that’s the name.”

“The most picturesque spot in the island; finer than the boasted
Killarney itself, and far and away beyond Windermere and the Scotch
Lakes. I know it well. I have walked the mountains grouse-shooting, and
fished every mile of the river; but what would you do with it when you
called it yours? You dare not assert one single right of property; the
people who live there, and whose fathers have lived there for centuries,
have never acknowledged lord or master. You’ll stock it with sheep, and
send an agent. They’ll eat your mutton, and shoot your agent. You’ll
appeal to the law, and you might as well threaten a New Zealander with
a bill in Chancery. Leave such speculations alone; there are no fortunes
to be made here, nor even fame for having reformed us. All the privilege
your purchase will confer, will be to feed us in times of famine, and be
shot at when prices rise and the nights grow longer.”

“Why, you are more discouraging than Grenfell!”

“I don’t know about Grenfell, but I know that Ireland is not to be
bettered by men like you. It is out of our own rough energies must come
the cure for our own coarse maladies. Go back and build model cottages
in Norfolk, give prizes to your oldest farm labourer, or the mother of
the largest family. Here’s your yawl; good-by.”

“Do step in and come on board with me, Luttrell, if only for an hour or
two.”

“No, I cannot. I’d not stand your friend’s impertinences about Ireland,
besides, and I’d be led into rudenesses, which I’d not forgive myself.
Lady Vyner is not with you?”

“No, she’s in Wales, at Llantlannoch, where I wish you’d let me tell her
you were coming to see her.”

“Who knows!”

“My dear Luttrell, is this a promise?”

“No, not exactly.”

“Will you write to me.”

“I think not.”

“May I write to you?”

“I’d rather you wonld not. You cannot suspect, Vyner, how painful even
these few minutes we have passed together will render the life I go
back to; do not add to that bitterness by what wonld become a ceaseless
sorrow.”

“But Harry. Let Harry come to us; there is an excellent school at
Wrexham.”

“There’s a school on that promontory yonder, where the master, besides
reading and writing, instructs in net-mending, sail-making, caulking,
and fish salting. Your Wrexham fellow couldn’t compete with that.
Good-by.”

With a hurried shake of the hand, and as though nervously irritable at
being stared at by the sailors, Luttrell moved away, and Vyner gazed
after him for a moment, and stepped into the boat.

“Mr. Crab says, Sir, that the weather looks dirty outside,” said the
coxswain; but Vyner did not heed the remark, and sat deeply buried in
his own thoughts.



CHAPTER VII. A COTTAGE IN WALES.

If we wanted a contrast to the wild desolation of Arran, it wonld be in
the lovely valley of North Wales, where Vyner’s cottage stood. It was a
purchase he had made purely from its picturesque beauty; a spot chanced
upon in a summer’s ramble, and bought at once with that zest which leads
a rich man to secure the gem that has captivated his fancy. It stood
on a little rocky platform that projected from a mountain, and looked
downwards and upwards, through one of those charming valleys which
now widen into luxuriance, and now contract again till they resume the
features of a deep ravine. A river of some size foamed and tumbled over
a rocky bed beneath, and occasionally deepened into some waveless pool,
over which the red-berried ash-trees drooped gracefully, and the dark
copper beeches threw their bronzed shadows. Deep woods clothed the
mountain in front, and over them all rose the rugged summit of Cader
Idris, with its amphitheatre of rock half lost in the clouds.

If as regards loveliness of position, tranquillity, and beauty in all
its details, the cottage of Dinasllyn could scarcely be surpassed. There
was one detracting element which certainly impaired its charm, the “Quid
amarum,” amidst all its excellence. It was a show place. It had been
the scene of some romantic attachment, some half-remembered Abelard and
Heloise, whose pictures yet survived, and of whom there were traditions
of rustic benches where they used to sit; of trees whereon their
initials were carved; of cedars that they had planted. Vyner and his
wife did not at first know, nor estimate, to what a heritage they had
succeeded, nor in the least suspect what an infliction mere purposeless
curiosity, united to plenty of leisure, may become.

The old gardener whom they had taken on with the cottage was not at all
disposed to surrender that perquisite of black mail he had for years
long levied from visitors, nor perhaps did he fancy to abdicate those
functions of “Cicerone” which elevated him in the eyes of his fellows.
If his love-story was not as affecting as Paul and Virginia, it had its
realisms that compensated for some pathos. He could show the dairy where
Chloe made the butter, and the kitchen-garden where Daphnis hoed his
cabbages. There, were the steps cut in the solid rock that led down to
her bath in the river; here the bower she loved so well; here the tree
she planted.

To be obliged to devote a day of every week, or even certain hours of
a day, to the invasion of a set of strangers, induced by ennui, by
curiosity, or, as it may be, by mere imitation, to wander about your
house and stroll through your garden, free to lounge in your easy-chair,
or dispose themselves on your sofas, criticising your pictures, your
prints, your books, and your music, hazarding speculations as to your
tastes and dispositions from the titles of the volumes on your table,
and the names of your newspapers--to feel that, as the clock strikes
a certain hour on a certain morning, all the cherished privacy which
constitutes what we call home, is fled, and that your hall is a public
street, and your drawing-room a piazza, so that you are driven to hide
yourself in your own house, at the peril of being classified among
the curiosities, and perhaps sent off to press with the other details,
satisfactory or the reverse, of the visitors’ experience. These are no
slight evils. They are a heavy tax on all the benefits of possession,
and we have our doubts if even Naboth’s vineyard would be enviable,
if linked with the condition of showing the grounds and displaying the
grapes to vulgar visitors.

When the Vyners purchased the cottage they had been told of the custom,
just as you are told of a certain pathway across the lawn, which was a
mere usurpation, a thing “without a shadow of legality,” “that you have
only to close to-morrow,” but of whose actual torments when you do come
to suppress, no one has ever given the measure. They heard that the
former owner usually set an hour or two apart on a Wednesday or a
Thursday to gratify tourist curiosity; in fact, the celebrity of the
spot had been ingeniously introduced as an element of value--just as the
shade of Pope might be catalogued amongst the merits of Twickenham, and
the memory of Rousseau figure in the inventory of a certain cottage near
Geneva!

Vyner was himself one of those easy, happy natures, which submit without
sacrifice to what affords pleasure to others. His wife saw no hardship
in yielding to a moderate amount of this infliction; the more, since
they only came to the cottage for about six or eight weeks of every
year. It was Georgina Courtenay who resisted the custom as a most
“unwarrantable intrusion, a practical impertinence,” as she called it,
which “reduced a family either to the condition of the cracked china on
the mantelpiece, or the fussy housekeeper who exhibited it.” Georgina
was not a very tolerant nature; with what she disagreed, she made no
compromise, and, like most such people, she found that life gave her
sufficient occasion for conflict.

Vyner’s absence from home, suggested an admirable opportunity “to
suppress this nuisance,” as she phrased it, and she accordingly had a
notice appended to the gate--a copy of which was also duly forwarded
to the village inn--stating that, during the sojourn of the family at
Dinasllyn, the cottage and grounds were not open for the inspection of
strangers. The morning of the famous ordinance was not more anxious to
the household of Charles the Tenth, than was that of the edict to the
family at the cottage. What was to follow the great _coup d’etat_ was
the question. Would each of the vested interests--gardener, gatekeeper,
housekeeper, and butler--submit to see their long-established
perquisites suddenly effaced and extinguished? Would the village folk be
content to lose the profits of strangers, who each year flocked down in
increasing hordes? Would the tourists themselves, who had carried their
romantic sympathies hundreds of miles by land or sea, agree to put up
with a glance at the cottage chimneys by telescope, or a peep through
the iron gate at the trim avenue, whose abrupt turning shut out all
further inspection? If no splashed and booted aides-de-camps rode in
to tell with trembling accents that popular sentiment had taken the
menacing form of a silent and brooding anger, at least there were voices
to declare that at “The Goat” the visitors were highly indignant, and
that one of the strangers at the “Watkin’s Arms” had despatched a copy
of the manifesto, with a commentary, to the _Times_. Indeed, it was in
the public room of this latter establishment that public indignation
found its chief exponent. Visitors from far-off lands, a traveller from
Ireland, a gentleman from the United States, a German naturalist, with
a green tin box and a pair of brown spectacles, were loud in declaring
their sentiments, which amounted to this: that the possessors of any
spot remarkable for its historic associations, of a much-prized marble,
or world-famed picture, were mere trustees for the public, who had
an unimpeachable right to see, gaze on, and admire to their hearts’
content; these being privileges which in no wise detracted from the
positive value of the object so worshipped, since there is no record of
any garden whose perfume could be exhausted by smelling, nor any picture
whose beauties mere sight could have absorbed. These observations, we
are careful to record, were embodied in a very formal-looking document,
signed by about twenty names, and only awaited the selection of a
suitable envoy to be transmitted to the cottage.

It is but a fair tribute to American courage to own that, where so many
held back, reluctant and timid, the Yankee declared his readiness to
go forward. He protested that he would rather like it. “It was just
his grit,” and that he was “main tired of sittin’ there like a wounded
skunk, with his head out of a hole.” Whether from some lurking jealousy
of the stranger, or some ungenerous disbelief in his address, the
company did not accept his offer, or at least show such eagerness in the
acceptance as they might, but broke up into twos and threes, discussing
the event. While these deliberations went forward, a one-horse chaise
drew up to the door, and a writing-desk and a small carpet-bag were
deposited within it by the landlord, who, by a significant look towards
his other guests, seemed to say, “Here’s your opportunity! This is your
man!”

“Who is he? Where is he going?” asked one, calling him aside.

“He’s Mr. M’Kinlay, from London, the family law-agent, going over to the
cottage.”

He had but finished this speech, when a middle-aged man, with a high
complexion, and short grey hair, without whiskers, appeared, conning
over his bill as he came forward.

“You can scarce call it supper, Mr. Pugh,” said he, in an accent
unmistakably Scotch--“the bit of fish, and the leg of a cold
turkey--except that it was eaten at eleven at night. It was just a
snack.”

“It’s only two-and-six, Sir,” said the other, humbly.

“Only! I’d like to know what you’d make it, man. That’s the price of a
right good meal up in town, and not served on a coarse tablecloth, nor
over a sanded floor; and what’s this 1s. 10d.? What’s that?”

“Ale, Sir. Your servant drank it very freely.”

“If it only disagreed with him as it did with me, I’ll make no objection
to his excess. Are these gentlemen waiting to speak to me, for I don’t
think I have the honour--”

[Illustration: 080]

“Yes, Sir,” said a short, apoplectic-looking man, with a bald head;
“we are strangers--strangers casually thrown into acquaintance at
this hotel. We have come here from motives of pleasure, or health, or
indolence---one common object having its attraction for us all--the
far-famed cottage of Dinasllyn. We have learned, however, to our
infinite disappointment, that, by a whim, a mere caprice--for it
is impossible it could be more--of the persons’ who are the present
occupants, the travellers, the tourists I will call them, ate to be
excluded in future, and all access refused to a spot which has its
claims on the sympathies not alone of the Englishman, for I see at my
side a learned professor from Jena, and a distinguished citizen of New
York----”

“Kansas, stranger, Little Rock,” said the Yankee, interrupting, and then
advancing to the front. “Here’s how it is, Sir. Your friends up yonder
ain’t content to have God’s gifts all their own, but they won’t even let
a man look at them. That ain’t nature, and it ain’t sense. We have drawn
up our notions in a brief message. Are you a mindin’ of me, stranger?”

This question was not completely uncalled for, since for some few
seconds Mr. M’Kinlay had turned to the landlord, and was occupied in the
payment of his bill.

“Seventeen shillings and fourpence, leaving eightpence for Thomas, Mr.
Pugh; and remember that your driver is now fully paid, unless I should
stay, to dinner.”

“Are you a mindin’ of _me_, Sir?” said the Yankee, with an energy that
actually made the other start, and sent a deeper crimson to his cheeks.

“I must say, Sir--I will say, that, having no acquaintance with you,
having never seen you till now----

“All your loss, stranger, that’s a fact! You’re not the first man that
regretted he did not know the length of my boot before he put his foot
on my corns. You’ll have to take them papers--do you mind?--you’ll have
to take them papers, and give them to your friends up yonder!”

“I’m neither a postman nor your messenger, Sir,” said M’Kinlay, getting
into the chaise.

“You’ll have to take them papers,” and he laid them on the seat of the
carriage as he spoke, “that’s how it is! And, as sure as my name is
Dodge!--Herodotus Manning Dodge!--you’d better give an account of ‘em
when you drive out of that gate up there, for I’ll wait for you, if it
was till next fall!”

“That’s mighty plain talking, anyhow,” broke in a voice with a very
distinctive accent, “and a man needn’t be much of a gentleman to
understand it.”

“Even a brief visit,” cried out the first speaker.

“Just to see the cedars, or Clorinda’s grotto,” lisped out a female
voice.

But Mr. M’Kinlay did not wait for more, but by an admonitory poke of his
umbrella set his driver off at full speed, and was soon well out of both
eye and earshot.

To say that Mr. M’Kinlay drove away in a towering passion--that he was
excessively angry and indignant, would be the truth, but still not the
whole truth, for he was also terribly frightened. There was in the tall
Yankee’s look, language, and gesture, a something that smacked of the
bush and the hickory-tree--a vague foreshadowing of Lynch law, or no
law--that overpowered him. Such a man, within a reasonable distance of
Scotland Yard, for instance, might not have proved so terrible; but
here he was in the heart of the Welsh mountains, in the very spot of all
others where there was every facility for a deed of violence. “He might
throw me over that cliff, or pitch me into that quarry hole,” muttered
he; and the landscape at the moment offered both the illustrations to
aid his fancy.

It was, then, in a tremor of mingled anger and terror that he drove
up to the gate, and in no patient mood was it that he sat outside the
padlocked portal till a messenger went up to the house with his card
to obtain leave for his admission. The order was speedily given, and he
passed in.

The brief interval of traversing the space between the gate-lodge and
the cottage was passed by Mr. M’Kinlay in arranging his cravat, brushing
the dust from his coat, and, so far as might be, smoothing down any
asperities that should have betrayed themselves in his features; for,
though neither a young man nor a man of the world of fashion, he had his
pretensions, the most cherished one of all which was a design upon the
hand of Miss Georgina Courtenay. Had Miss Courtenay been in the full
blaze of her beauty, as she was some eight or nine years before, Mr.
M’Kinlay would never have dared to lift his eyes to her; had she even
continued to live in town and mingle in that society where she had
always lived and moved, he would not have dreamed of such a presumption.
But Mr. M’Kinlay knew the world. He had seen an exiled Grand-Duke in a
Hansom cab, and had actually met a deposed Prince on a Margate steamer.
In the changeful fortunes of life the “price current” was the only test
of anything. Railroads, and mines, and telegraphic companies rose and
fell with the fluctuations of the market, and marriageable ladies
might come one day to figure in the share list! Miss Georgina, however
ungallant the confession, represented a security at a discount. She had
gone down year by year, and at last ceased to be quoted. And yet “it was
a good thing.” She had, none knew it better--very few so well--she
had eighteen thousand pounds, besides expectations, the latter
very reasonable and promising in their way. Her connexions were
admirable--high enough to give him a very considerable lift socially,
and yet not so elevated as to make his rise that of a mere “parvenu.”
 Professionally, the advantage would be great, and lead to much
parliamentary business, the carrying of local bills, and a deal of very
profitable employment. He flattered himself that in most other respects
there was much the world would deem suitable. He was twelve--well, if
you like, fourteen--years her senior, but then neither were very young,
and when a woman had reached we shall not say what of the thirties, her
marrying was not subjected to the criticisms applied to the blushing
bride of eighteen or twenty. Lastly, he was well off, had a capital
business, a good house in a good street, was “well placed” amongst men
of his class, and altogether favourably regarded by his betters. “She
might do worse,” muttered he, at the end of his rumination, as he
descended from the chaise with an amount of activity in his movements
that showed he had detected the flounce of a muslin dress at the
drawing-room window.

“All well, I hope, Rickards?” said he to the stout butler, who bowed his
welcome in most gracious guise.

“Quite well, Mr. M’Kinlay--and, indeed, you look the same, Sir.”

“Nothing the matter with me, Rickards, that a little rest won’t remedy.
Over-work, over-work is my malady!”

Mr. Rickards sighed responsively; he had heard men speak of the
affection, and the symptoms they mentioned were quite appalling. “Her
Ladyship’s not down yet, but Miss Georgina is in the drawing-room,”
 added he, with great significance of manner. “Step this way, Sir.”

Miss Courtenay was busily engaged searching for a letter in her
writing-desk when the butler announced, in his most emphatic manner, Mr.
M’Kinlay; but she only turned her head round, and, with a weak smile,
said, “Oh, Mr. M’Kinlay! I trust they did not keep you waiting on the
road. You know we have been obliged to have the gate locked.”

“I heard so. Indeed, I have heard of little else since my arrival, Miss
Conrtenay,” said he, not altogether mastering the anger he felt at his
cool reception. “I hope Lady Vyner is well.”

“Yes; as well as she ever is. What a provoking thing it is to mislay a
letter; but I suppose it is an oversight you have never committed. You
have everything in order, docketed, pigeon-holed, and what not.”

“Pardon me, I am the most careless of men. All about me is a chaos of
confusion.”

“Indeed!” said she, with a faint, very faint show of interest, as though
quite unexpectedly aware of some favourable trait in his character. “Who
would have thought it! It is a letter from my niece’s governess I have
lost, and with it all clue to her address.”

“I can, perhaps, supply that,” said Mr. M’Kinlay; “at least, if it be
the town she stopped at while the yacht is being repaired.”

“Exactly so. What’s the name of it?”

“Here it is,” said he, producing a small clasped note-book, from which,
after a brief search, he read, “Mademoiselle Heinzleman’s address will
meanwhile be, ‘Carrick’s Royal Hotel, Westport, Ireland.’”

“What a blessing is red tapery after all!” said she, in a sort of
soliloquy. “If there were not these routine people, what would become of
us?”

“I am charmed that even my blemishes should have rendered you a
service,” said he, with a tingling cheek.

“I don’t think my sister knows you are here,” said she, ignoring all his
remarks.

“I suspect Rickards must have told her,” said he, half stiffly.

“Just as likely not; he is getting so stupid--_so_ old.”

This was a very cruel speech to be so emphasized, for Rickards was only
one year Mr. M’Kinlay’s senior.

“He looks active, alert, and I’d not guess him above forty-six, or
seven.”

“I don’t care for the number of his years, but he is old enough to be
fussy and officious, and he has that atrocious activity which displays
itself with certain middle-aged people by a quick, short step, abrupt
speech, and a grin when they don’t hear you. Oh, don’t you hate that
deaf-man’s smile?”

Mr. M’Kinlay would fain have smiled too, but he feared the category it
would sentence him to.

“I’m afraid you expected to find my brother here, but he’s away; he is
cruising somewhere along the coast of Ireland.”

“I was aware of that. Indeed, I am on my way to join him, and only
diverged at Crewe to come over here, that I might bring him the latest
advices from home.”

“And are you going yachting?” said she, with a sort of surprise that
sent the blood to M’Kinlay’s face and even his forehead.

“No, Miss Courtenay, I trust not, for I detest the sea; but Sir Gervais
wants my advice about this Irish estate he is so full of.”

“Oh! don’t let him buy anything in Ireland. I entreat of you, Mr.
M’Kinlay, not to sanction this. None of us would ever go there, not even
to look at it.”

“I imagine the mischief is done.”

“What do you mean by being done?”

“That the purchase is already made, the agreement ratified, and
everything completed but the actual payment.”

“Well, then, don’t pay; compromise, contest, make difficulties. You
legal people needn’t be told how to raise obstacles. At all events, do
anything rather than have an Irish property.”

“I wish I had one.”

“Well, I wish you had--that is, if you are so bent upon it. But I must
go and tell my sister this distressing news. I don’t know how she’ll
bear it! By the way,” added she, as she reached the door, “I shall find
you here when I come back--you are not going away?”

“Certainly not without seeing Lady Vyner, if she will accord me that
honour,” said he, stiffly.

“Of course she’ll see you,” cried she, and left the room.

Left alone with his reflections, Mr. M’Kinlay had not the pleasantest
company. Had he mistaken all the relations between Miss Courtenay and
himself, or was she changed to him--totally changed? Was it thus that
they met last? He knew that she always had a certain flippant manner,
and that she was eminently what the French call _inconséquent_; but she
was more, far more, now. The allusion to Rickards’s age was a direct
impertinence, and the question as to his yachting tastes was a palpable
sneer at the habits of his daily life.

“The case does not look well--certainly not well,” murmured he, as he
walked the room with his hands behind his back. “Many would throw up
the brief, and say, ‘Take a nonsuit.’ Yes, most men would; but I’ll do
nothing rashly!” And with this wise resolve he took up a book and began
to read; but still the hours rolled on, and no one came. By the clock
over the mantelpiece it was now four. Could it possibly be that it was
two hours and a half since--since she had left him?



CHAPTER VIII. AN OLD BACHELOR’S HOUSE

It is quite true Georgina forgot all about Mr. M’Kinlay. The gardener
had met her on her way, and presented her with a bouquet of Japanese
roses--the real purple roses it was supposed never could be reared out
of a Tycoon’s garden; and so she hastened up to her sister’s room, as
totally oblivious of the man of law as though he had been hundreds of
miles away. They talked pleasantly of flowers--flowers for the china
vase, and flowers for the hair--they laughed at the incongruous blunders
of the people who wore “wrong colours,” and that “drab bonnet” they
had seen last Sunday in church. They next discussed dress, and the
impossibility of wearing anything “decent” on the dusty roads; and,
lastly, they ordered the ponies and the phaeton, and drove out.

How charmingly pleasant are these lives of little cares and of little
duties: where conscience has no burden that would be too weighty for
the strength of childhood--where no torturing anxieties invade, no
tormenting ambitions pursue--where the morning’s stroll through the
garden is the very type of existence, a ramble amidst fragrance, and
fruit, and flowers, with no other call upon exertion than to enjoy! And
what a teachable faculty is that same one of enjoyment. How it develops
itself under good training and favourable opportunities.

These sisters had a very pleasant life, and they knew it; that is, they
no more overlooked the stones in their path than their neighbours; but
they thoroughly understood that Fate had accorded them a very smooth
road, and one right easy to travel. They chatted gaily as they drove
along the side of a brightly eddying river, through a glen of some miles
in extent. The day was one of those mellow ones of August, tempered with
a slight breeze, that gently moved the cloud-shadows on the mountains,
adding at each change some new effect of light and colour. “Let us go
and call on Sir Within,” said Lady Vyner; “it would be a glorious day
to see the old castle, and the mountain behind it.” Her sister agreed at
once; for though the drive was full eight miles, the road was beautiful
all the way, and at its end was a grand old keep, Dalradern Castle, with
a charming old bachelor for its owner, than whom none better understood
how to do the honours of his house. While the sisters push their smart
ponies to a brisk trot, we shall take the opportunity to say a word
of Sir Within Wardle. He was the last of a great Welsh family of large
fortune and ancient name, but who had lived all his life away from
England. He had been in diplomacy since his boyhood; he had joined
an embassy in the Low Countries at the age of sixteen, and lived long
enough to see the whole map of Europe new coloured.

It had been the dream of his existence to “come home”--to return to the
temperate climate and genial air of England--to get back where the trees
were really trees, and where grass was veritably green, and where people
told the truth, and tradesmen were honest. Well, he did get back, but it
was not to find everything as he had pictured it. The temperate climate
rained a good deal. The genial air had a marked tendency to give
bronchitis. The grass was unquestionably green, but so were they who
walked in it, for wet feet were invariable. As to truthfulness in his
own class, he had nothing to complain of; but he thought servants were
pretty much as elsewhere, and as to his tradespeople, there was little
to choose between Fleet-street and the “Graben,” and Piccadilly was not
a whit above the Rue de la Paix!

In fact, there were many things as he had hoped, and not a few
that disappointed him. People, generally, were what he deemed more
narrow-minded; they sat more in judgment over their neighbours than he
liked; they were more inquisitive and less charitable. In his world,
where he had passed fifty odd years, the charming people were admitted
to be charming, though certain delinquencies chargeable to them might
have disparaged their claims to character. It was not held to the
disadvantage of Beauty that discretion should not have united itself
to loveliness, and Wit was just as highly appreciated as though its
possessor had not been more than lucky with the dice-box. Sir Within, be
it remarked, wanted none of these immunities on his own behalf. He had
never been what is called a man of gallantry, never gambled. His great
passion was a splendid house and grand receptions. He liked great
people, crowned heads, and after them coroneted ones. He revered
Grand-Dukes and Serene Highnesses; and it was not by any means
improbable that in his homage to the great lay the secret of that
tolerance on the score of morals that marked him; for, be it said with
respect, Kings and Kaisers have a habit of showing the world that they
soar in a sphere above common proprieties, and can afford to do in
ethics what they can do with the Bourse--go in for a rise or fall, as
the whim seizes them.

To “come back” with tastes like these was a mistake, but to attempt
to justify them was infinitely worse. Sir Within began to lecture
his country neighbours on their hard-heartedness and ungenerosity. He
enumerated scores of people who had taken little scampers into vice, and
come back to live more gorgeously on virtue. What anecdotes he had of
ministers who had cheated at cards! Great men, excellent men in all
other respects, unimpeachable in all their public acts, and pillars of
the State they pertained to.. He told of a society whose very laxity
saved all friction, and which went on smoothly--for it always went
downwards. The consequence may be anticipated. His neighbours--at least
their wives--voted him an old monster of vice, corrupted by half
a century of foreign iniquities. They refused his invitations, and
neglected his advances. His presents of fruit--such fruit too!--were
declined, and his society strictly avoided.

The Vyners, who only came to the neighbourhood for a few weeks in the
year, scarcely knew anything of local feelings, and only heard that he
never went out, and saw little company at home--facts which, when they
came to be acquainted with him, struck them as strange, for he was
eminently one made for society, and seemed to feel the raciest enjoyment
in it. He had all that peculiar go and eagerness in him which pertains
to men who talk well, and feel that they have this power.

Perhaps my reader may have met such a character--not that they exist as
a class--but if he has done so, he will acknowledge that it is a very
charming form of selfishness, and gifted with marvellous powers
of pleasing. At all events, Lady Vyner and her sister delighted in
him--most ungrateful had they been if they had not--for never was
courtesy more polished, never homage more devoted or more respectful.
Royalty could not have been received by him with a greater deference,
and now, as they drove up to the massive entrance of the castle, and
the sharp clatter of the ponies’ feet awoke the echoes of the solemn
court-yard, Sir Within was promptly at his post to help them to descend;
and as the wind blew his long white hair backwards, he stooped to kiss
their hands with all the reverence of a courtier.

“Do you know, dear ladies,” said he, “that I had a vision of this visit?
It was revealed to me--I cannot say how--that you would come over
here to-day, and I told Bernais to prepare the orangery; for,” said I,
“Bernais, I will offer _ces dames_ no luncheon, but will insist on their
taking an early dinner.”

“What a tempting proposal!” said Lady Vyner, looking at Georgina, whose
fiat was always needed to every project.

“I vote for being tempted,” said Georgina, gaily; “but what do I see
there--something new?”

“No, something old, but restored. Don’t you remember the last day you
were here saying that the silence of this old court wanted the pleasant
plash of a fountain? and so I got these disabled nymphs and hamadryads
remounted, and set them to blow their conchs and spout the cataracts as
of yore.”

“How beautiful it all is!”

“Curious enough, the figures are really good. Some worthy ancestor
of mine had purchased this group at Urbino from some ruined Italian
mansion; and, as a work of art, it is almost equal to a Luca della
Robb. The mistake is the era. It is not suited to this old dungeon.
Here we are in the tenth century, and this group is cinque cento. Let me
send it to the cottage. It would be perfect in your garden.”

“Not for worlds. I couldn’t think of it!”

“Don’t think of it, but say ‘Yes.’ Remember, that in villa ornamentation
nothing comes amiss; there are no incongruities.”

“It is impossible, Sir Within--quite impossible.”

“Don’t imagine we have come here as brigands,” said Miss Courtenay,
smiling.

“When you carry away my heart, what matters what is left me?” said he,
sighing.

Miss Courtenay looked down--it was a bashful look, but not a displeased
one--and, somehow, more conscious than the compliment of so old a
gentleman might seem to warrant.

“And so Sir Gervais likes Ireland?” said he, as he introduced them into
the drawing-room.

“So much so, that I fear he has made a purchase of some property there.”

“That is only a mistake when one feels that he must live on the spot
he owns. Some witty Frenchman says: ‘I used to fancy that I owned my
furniture, but I found that it owned me. I was the bondsman of an old
arm-chair, and the actual slave of a chest of drawers!’ You laugh,
ladies, but just see whether this old house or I be the master here.”

“Well, it’s not a very severe bondage after all,” said Georgina,
smiling.

“How pleasantly one discusses another’s captivity! By the way, when
are you all to come and pay me this long-promised visit? Remember, the
longer you defer payment, the larger grows the debt; your week is now a
month.”

“When Sir Gervais comes home, we shall be delighted.”

“Why not be here when he arrives? How much pleasanter he’d find the
house where your presence had imparted that charm that comes of female
influence. You cannot guess how this old room, that I thought so dreary
a while ago, looks positively beautiful now. Yes, Bernais, bring it in.”
 This was said to the servant, who, after appearing at the door, made a
hasty retreat. “It is the _menu_ of our dinner, ladies, and my cook,
M. Piquard, wishes to acquit himself with distinction. See, here is a
query. ‘Is the pheasant to be “aux huitres,” or aux pointes d’asperges?’
Decide.”

“I should say with the asparagus,” said Miss Courtenay.

“And your judgment is correct; the other is a mere compromise to a
supposed English taste. A summer day’s dinner is to the full banquet
of mid-winter what a light ‘aquarelle’ is to an oil picture. You want
grace, delicacy; you require elegance, transparency, softness; not
depth, nor force, nor strong effect.”

“What Sybarites you must deem us!” said Lady Vyner, laughing.

“I am repeating for you to-day a little dinner I once gave the Duchesse
de Sagance. She was much admired at the time by the Archduke Charles of
Austria; but forgive me if I am talking of forbidden themes.”

“Oh, go on, Sir Within! We must implicitly bow to your discretion.”

“Ah, if you do that, I am ruined. You silence me at once!”

“You surely wouldn’t have us say, ‘Be indiscreet?’”

“No; but I’d have you say, ‘Talk to us as if we were all at Vienna, at
Milan, or at Naples.’”

“Neither my sister nor myself ‘pose’ for prudery, Sir Within; but the
world says that you are--what shall I call it?--too--too--do help me to
the word.”

“How can I, when it is to my own blame? Who ever called on a prisoner to
fill up his own indictment?”

“What the world means is, perhaps,” broke in Georgina, “that Sir Within
occasionally forgets his geography, and fancies at the foot of Snowdon
that he is close to Vesuvius.”

“I apprehend you,” said he, smiling; “but confess, that dress is not
more a question of climate than conversation; both one and the other are
lighter in the south of Europe, and what is of more moment, with perfect
safety, too; mark that, Mesdames, with perfect safety.”

“It may be all very well for you, who are acclimatised, to say so,” said
Lady Vyner; “but bear in mind that we only passed one winter at Rome.”

“And did you not like it? What a furious cataract of all manner of
sensations is a first winter at Rome! Grandeur and littleness,
Sublimity and absurdity--the splendid St. Peter’s and the slipshod
priesthood--and, more ridiculous than all, our cockney population
wandering over the Coliseum and Quirinal, not fully certain that they
are getting the real article for their money, or whether Nero and
Tiberius are not dear at the price paid for them. I often wish it were
right for an ex-Envoy to give his note-book, or some extracts from it,
to the world. Impressions of the B. S.--the British Subject, I mean--by
a late Foreign Minister.”

“Very amusing, doubtless; but very spiteful,” said Miss Courtenay.

“Here comes Bernais to announce dinner, and rescue you from my
tartness;” and, giving an arm to each of the ladies, he led them
forward.

Valued reader, is it amongst the number of your experiences to have
“assisted” at a dinner--usually a Russian one--where, without having
found anything pre-eminently good to eat, you are given to understand
that all cost fabulous sums--that the fricassee you scarcely tasted
was brought from the frontier of China, and the fish, that seemed
flavourless, came by estafette from the Caspian? Such, in a certain
way, was Sir Within’s conversation; it sparkled with great people--Kings
glittered, and Queens bespangled it; it was evidently a dear article to
have acquired, but, beyond that, it possessed little value. Yet,
“for all that, and all that,” his guests liked it. To be sure, it was
admirably aided; his “little dinner,” as he modestly styled it, was
a banquet, not in ponderous detail or duration, but in the perfect
selection and the exquisite delicacy of all that composed it.

And did he not relish the success he achieved--the double success of his
cook and of himself! If there be a time when egotism is less odious than
at others, it is when a host expatiates on the pains he has taken
to feed you. The little selfish vaingloriousness of the moment is so
readily pardoned, while the truffle is on your fork, or the ruby claret
half way to your lips.

It was towards the close of the dinner that Sir Within, adroitly turning
the topic from the meats to the guests, was discussing, with some
knowledge of the subject, the people who made the pleasantest dinner
company, and showing how an accomplished host makes the light talkers
do duty at the first course, using them as mere skirmishers, who are to
fall back and be ignored as the great engagement comes on. “I flatter
myself,” said he, “that I can manage most classes of men, though I
own there is one that totally defies me--that is to say, he is so
obstinately self-willed, and so professionally trained to persistence,
that he deems it a triumph. I mean your lawyer!”

“Oh, Laura! what have I done!” exclaimed Georgina, laying her hand on
her sister’s arm, and staring half wildly at her.

“What is it? What is the matter?”

“Was there ever such a blunder--how shall we get over it?”

“What is it, then? tell it!” cried Lady Vyner, eagerly.

“I forgot all about him--utterly--completely forgot!”

“About whom?”

“Mr. M’Kinlay, the lawyer. He arrived this morning, came to the cottage
very early, saying he was on his way to Ireland to meet Gervais, and
only ran over from Crewe to see us; I left him to tell you that he was
there. I had it in my head when I quitted the room, but what drove it
out again, or what occurred to make me forget it, I cannot now imagine.”

In spite of all the annoyance of the incident, Lady Vyner laughed
immoderately, and so did Sir Within, and so, at last, did Miss
Courtenay, and the mirth was kept up by all sorts of fanciful conceits
as to what the lawyer must have thought, said, or done.

“He has driven away in a towering passion; he’s hot-tempered at times, I
know,” said Lady Vyner.

“No, no! you’ll find him very comfortably installed when you get back,”
 said Sir Within. “He’ll be vexed, he’ll be angry, doubtless; but as a
minister plenipotentiary vents his ill-temper in a despatch, your man
of law consigns all his indignation, more practically, to his bill
of costs. What an avalanche of six-and-eightpences will fall on your
forgetfulness.”

“We must hasten to repair the disaster. Sir Within, would you oblige me
by ordering our ponies. I know you’ll forgive our abrupt leave-taking.”

“I shall never forgive the cause of it. Why not let me send a messenger
over to ask him, saying I had insisted on detaining you?”

“Oh, on no account! Besides, he’s a touchy person, and my husband
is most tenacious regarding him. I must hasten back and make my
explanations in person.”

“I don’t know how I am to face him at all!” cried Georgina.

“I’d certainly not try,” said Sir Within.

Vague as the mere words were, they were uttered with a significance
that plainly said, “You might stay where you are;” and Miss Courtenay
evidently so read them, for her cheek reddened as she turned away.

Lady Vyner, however, went on: “I don’t think we shall have any
difficulty about it--at least, I hope not--though what I’m to say, and
how to say it, I cannot imagine.”

“Throw me into the breach,” said Sir Within; “say that, hearing of his
arrival, I begged a visit from you--that I wanted some legal advice--I
required a draft of--what shall I say?--I can scarcely be going to be
married. Let it be a will, then.”

“Oh no, not a will, Sir Within!” said Georgina, with a very soft smile.

“It shall be whatever you decide for it,” said he, assisting her with
her shawl as he spoke.

“Do you ever mean to come over to breakfast with us?” asked Lady Vyner.
“The promise has been made and renewed, I think, a dozen times.”

“May I say next Sunday, then?”

“And you’ll promise to come to church with us afterwards?” cried Lady
Vyner.

He muttered something with a smile to Miss Courtenay, and she turned
away abruptly, but ere she drew down her veil her face betokened the
reverse of displeasure.

Though, as they drove homeward, the unpleasant explanation that lay
before them engaged much of their thoughts, taxing all their address
how to encounter its difficulty, yet, from time to time, Georgina would
return to talk of the house they had just quitted, and the host.

“It is easy enough to see why our straitlaced neighbours do not take
to him,” said she; “he is too much a man of the world--too tolerant and
forgiving for their notions.”

“A little too lax, also, for the proprieties of English life,” added
Lady Vyner.

“For its hypocrisies, if you like, Laura. I’m certain people are pretty
much the same everywhere, though the way they talk about themselves may
be very different.”

“I suspect he has made a conquest, Georgy,” said her sister, laughing;
“or rather, that his magnificent old castle, and his Vandykes, and his
pineries, and his conservatory have----”

“No! that I protest against. His ‘accessories,’ as the French would
call them, are undeniable. It is a house absolutely princely in all its
details; but I think he himself is the gem of the collection. He is so
courteous and so pleasant, so anecdotic, and so full of all manner of
_apropos_, and then so utterly unlike every one else that one knows.”

“I suppose there lies his chief attraction. We have to measure him with
people all whose thoughts and ideas are so essentially homely, and who
must of necessity be eternally talking of themselves--that is, of their
own turnpike, their own turnips, and their own cock pheasants.”

“Is it not strange that he never married?” said Georgina, after a
silence.

“I don’t think so. He’s not a man that would be likely to marry, and
very far from being one that a woman would like to take as a husband.”

“Do you think so--do you really think so?”

“I’m certain of it. All those charming little schemes for our
entertainment that captivated us a while ago, show a degree of care
and attention bestowed on little things which would make life a perfect
servitude. Cannot you imagine him spending his mornings giving audience
to his cook, and listening to the report of his gardener? I fancy I
see him in the midst of a levee of domestics, gravely listening to the
narrative of the last twenty-four hours of his household.”

“So far from that,” said Georgina, warmly, “he told me Bernais did
everything--engaged and discharged servants, changed furniture,
rearranged rooms, and, in fact, managed little daily ‘surprises’ for
him, that, as he said, compensated for much of the solitude in which he
lived.”

“But why does he live in solitude? Why not go back to the life and the
places that habit has endeared to him?”

“He told me to-day that he intended to do so; that he is only waiting
for the visit of a certain relative, Mr. Ladarelle; after which he means
to set out for Italy.”

“Ladarelle is the great banker, and, if I mistake not, his heir.” “Yes.
Sir Within says that they scarcely know each other, and have all that
dislike and distrust that usually separate the man in possession and the
man in expectancy.”

“One can fancy how distasteful his heir must be to a man like Sir Within
Wardle,” said Lady Vyner.

“To any man, sister,” broke in Georgina--“to any man who only knows the
person as the inheritor of his fortune. I declare I think Sir Within
spoke of the Ladarelles with much forbearance, aware, as he is, that
they are coming down here to see in what state of repair the castle is,
and whether the oaks are being thinned more actively than a mere regard
for their welfare would exact.”

“Did Sir Within say that?” asked Lady Vyner, with a laugh. “No; but
_I_ guessed it!” “Well, he supplied the text for your theory?” “In a
measure, perhaps. It was when you went with Groves to look at the large
cactus he told me this, and mentioned that, by a singular provision,
though the estate is strictly entailed, he could charge the property to
any extent with jointure if he married; and perhaps, said he, my worthy
relatives are anxious to satisfy themselves that this event has not, nor
is very likely to occur.”

“Not now, certainly?” said Lady Vyner, with a saucy laugh. “I don’t
know. There are many women well to do, and well off, would marry him.”

“That is to say, there are a considerable number of women who would
sacrifice much for money.”

Miss Courtenay was silent; when she next spoke, it was about the
evening--the air was growing fresh, and the twilight deepening. “I
wonder in what mood we are to find Mr. M’Kinlay--if we are to find him
at all.”

“I own it would be very awkward; but I am such a coward about meeting
him, that I half wish he had gone away, and that we were left to make
our lame excuses in a letter.”

“I have to confess that the matter sits very lightly on _my_
conscience,” said Georgina, “though I am the real delinquent. I don’t
like him, and I shall not be very unhappy if he knows it.”

“Possibly enough, but such a breach of all politeness----”

“My dear Laura, he has met this incident, or something very like it, a
hundred times. Earls and Viscounts have made appointments with him and
forgotten him; he has been left standing on that terrace, or pacing
moodily up that street, for hours long, and, as Sir Within said very
smartly, consoled by the item that would record it in the bill of
costs.”

“Yes, I remember the remark; it struck me as the only bit of vulgarity
about him.”

“Vulgarity! Sir Within Wardle vulgar!”

“Well, I have no other word for it, Georgy. It was the observation that
might readily have come from any ordinary and common-place person, and
sounded unsuitably from the lips of a very polished gentleman.”

“Poor Sir Within! if in a gloomy moment you may be wondering to yourself
what harsh or envious things your wealth, your splendour, and your taste
may have provoked from us, I am certain that you never imagined that the
imputation of being vulgar was one of them!”

Fortunately there was no time to continue a theme so threatening to be
unpleasant, for already they were at the gate lodge, and a loud summons
with the bell had announced their arrival.



CHAPTER IX. MR. M’KINLAY’S TRIALS

Mr. M’Kinlay was awakened from a pleasant nap oyer the “Man of Feeling,”
 which he had persuaded himself he was reading with all the enjoyment
it had once afforded him, by the French clock oyer the mantelpiece
performing a lively waltz, and then striking five!

He started, rubbed his eyes, and looked about him, not very certain for
some minutes where he was. The hum of the bees, the oppressive perfume
of the sweetbriar and the jessamine, and the gentle drip-drip of a
little trickling rivulet over some rock-work, seemed still to steep his
senses in a pleasant dreamy languor, and a sort of terror seized him
that the ladies might possibly have come in, and found him there asleep.
He rang the bell and summoned Rickards at once.

“Where are the ladies?” asked he, eagerly.

“Not come back yet, Sir. It’s very seldom they stay out so long. I can
make nothing of it.”

“You told her Ladyship I was here, didn’t you?”

“I told Miss Georgina, Sir, and of course she told my Lady.”

“What’s your dinner-hour?”

“Always early, Sir, when Sir Gervais is from home. My Lady likes four,
or half-past.”

“And it’s five now!”

“Yes, Sir; a quarter-past five. It’s the strangest thing I ever knew,”
 said he, going to the window, which commanded a view of the road at
several of its windings through the valley. “We have an excellent lake
trout for dinner; but by good luck it’s to be grilled, not boiled, or it
would be ruined utterly.”

“Capital things, those red trout,” said M’Kinlay, to whom, like most
of his craft and way of life, the pleasures of the table offered great
temptations. “Is your cook a good one, Rickards?”

“Only a woman, Sir; but by no means bad. Sir Gervais always takes M.
Honoré with him on board the yacht; but you’ll see, Sir, that she knows
how to roast, and we have a sweet saddle of Welsh mutton to-day, if it’s
not over-done.”

“That’s what I’m afraid of, Rickards,” said the lawyer; and if a sigh
ever denoted sorrow, his did as he spoke. “Is the mutton small?”

“Very small, Sir. Mountain mutton.”

“And of course it will be done to rags! She serves it with
currant-jelly, I snppose?”

“No, Sir, with guava. Sir Gervais prefers it.”

“And what else was there on your bill of fare for to-day?”

“A very simple dinner, Sir. Partridges on toast, a salad of white
truffles, and a roast hare.”

“Quite enough, quite enough. Do you bring your wine down with you!”

“Only the Madeira, Sir. Sir Gervais gets some claret oyer from an Irish
house called Sneyd’s, which he calls very drinkable.”

“So do I, too; very drinkable, indeed; and your Madeira, you say, you
bring with you. I say, Rickards, I think a glass of it and a biscuit
wouldn’t be amiss, if I’m to wait much longer.”

“I was just thinking the same, Sir; and if you’ll step into the
dining-room and take a morsel of game-pie, I’ll fetch the Madeira out of
the sun. It’s fine and mellow by this time.”

“Is this your woman cook’s performance?” said Mr. M’Kinky, as he helped
himself for the second time to the pie.

“Yes, Sir; and she’d do better, too, if it wasn’t that the ladies don’t
like so much jelly. Here’s a fine whole truffle, Sir!”

“She’s a valuable woman--a very valuable woman. Tell her, Rickards, that
I drank her health in a bumper. Yes, up to the brim with it. She shall
have all the honours.”

“Something sweet, Sir? A little cherry tart?”

“Well, a little cherry tart I’ ll not object to. No, no, Rickards, don’t
open champagne for me.”

“It’s in the ice, Sir, and quite ready.”

“Let it stay there. I’m very simple about both eating and drinking. I’d
not have made a bad hermit, if I hadn’t been a lawyer.”

“No, indeed, Sir! I never saw a gentleman so easily pleased. You’re
not like Mr. Grenfell, Sir, that has the bill of fare brought up every
morning to his dressing-room; ay, and M. Honoré himself, too, summoned,
just as if it was before a magistrate, to explain what’s the meaning of
this, and why he doesn’t do the other.”

“Your master permits this?”

“He likes it, Sir; he laughs heartily at it.”

“And the ladies, do they like it?”

“Oh, Mr. Grenfell only comes over to Beau Park when the ladies is away,
Sir, up in town, or at the sea-side.”

“He’s no favourite of theirs, then?”

“I don’t believe they ever saw him, Sir. At all events, he was never
down with us when we were all at home.”

“I suspect I know why,” said M’Kinlay, knowingly.

“Yes, Sir,” replied Rickards, as knowingly, while he took up a jar of
pickled onions from the sideboard, and held it ostentatiously forward.

“You’re right, Rickards, you’ve hit it correctly. One glass more of
that admirable wine. What’s that great ringing at the gate? Is that your
mistress?”

“No, Sir. The lodge people have orders never to keep her waiting; they
always have a look-out when she’s coming. There it is again. If you’ll
excuse me a moment, Sir, I’d better step out and see what it means!”

The permission was graciously accorded, and Mr. M’Kinlay emptied the
last of the Madeira into his glass, discussing with himself whether the
world had anything really more enjoyable to offer than a simple cottage
life, with a good cook, and a capital cellar! Little heed did he give
to the absence of Rickards, nor was he in the least aware that the bland
butler had been above a quarter of an hour away, when he entered flushed
and excited.

“It’s the same as a burglary, Sir, there’s no difference; and it’s by
good luck you are here to declare the law of it!”

“What’s the matter--what has happened, Rickards?”

“They’re in the drawing-room, Sir; they walked in by the open windows;
there was no keeping them out.”

“Who are in the drawing-room?”

“The tourists, Sir,” exclaimed Rickards. “The tourists! The people that
would force their way into Windsor Castle and go through it, if the King
was at his dinner there!”

Strong in a high purpose, and bold with the stout courage of that
glorious Madeira, Mr. M’Kinlay arose. “This is an unparalleled
outrage,” cried he; “follow me, Rickards;” and he took his way to
the drawing-room. Though the noise and tumult bespoke the presence of
several people, there were not above half a dozen in the room. One,
however, a pale, sickly-looking young man, with long hair, which
required everlasting tossing of his head to keep out of his eyes, sat
at the piano, playing the most vigorous chords, while over his shoulder
leaned a blue-eyed, fair, ringletted lady, whose years--past the
forties--rather damaged the evident determination she evinced to be
youthful and volatile.

“Do, Manny, do dearest, there’s a love,” said she, with the faintest
imaginable lisp, “do compothe something. A Fanthasia, on visiting
Dinaslryn. A dhream----”

“Pray be quiet, Celestina!” said he, with a wave of his hand. “You
derange me!”

“Have they got a ‘catalog’ of the gimcracks?” exclaimed a nasal voice
that there was no mistaking. “I a’n’t posted in brass idols and boxwood
saints, but I’d like to have ‘em booked and ticketed.”

“Are you aware, gentlemen and ladies,” said Mr. M’Kinlay, with a voice
meant to awaken the very dullest sense of decorum--“are you aware that
you are in the house of a private gentleman, without any permission or
sanction on his part?”

“Oh, don’t, don’t disturb him, Sir,” broke in the ringletted lady.
“You’ll never forgive yourself if you spoil it;” and she pointed to the
artist, who had now let all his hair fall forward, after the fashion of
a Skye terrier, and sat with his head drooped over the piano, and his
hands suspended above the keys.

“Say what for the whole bilen,” cried the Yankee. “It ain’t much of a
show; but I’ll take it over to New York, and charge only twenty-five
cents for the reserved seats!”

“I repeat, Sir,” exclaimed M’Kinlay, “your presence here, and that of
all your companions, is a most unreasonable intrusion--a breach of all
propriety--one of those violations of decency, which, however practised,
popular, and approved of in a certain country, neither distinguished
for the civilisation of its inhabitants, nor for their sense of
refinement----”

“Is it Ireland you mane, Sir--is it Ireland?” said a short,
carbuncled-nosed little man, with a pair of fiery red eyes. “Say the
word if it is.”

“It is not Ireland, Sir. I respect the Irish. I esteem them.”

“Could you get them to be quiet, Celestina?” said the artist, faintly;
“could you persuade the creatures to be still?”

“Hush, hush!” said she, motioning with both her hands.

A tremendous crash now resounded through the room. It was Mr. Herodotus
M. Dodge, who, in experimenting with his umbrella on a Sèvres jar, to
detect if it were cracked, had smashed it to atoms, covering the whole
floor with the fragments.

“Send for the police! Tell the porter to lock the gate, and fetch the
police!” shouted M’Kinlay. “I trust to show you, Sir, that you’re not
in Fifteenth-street, or Forty-sixth Avenue. I hope to prove to you that
you’re in a land of law and order.”

Overcome by his rage, he followed Rickards out of the room, declaring
that he’d make all England ring with the narrative of this outrage.

The legal mind, overbalanced for an instant, suddenly recovered its
equanimity, and he began to reflect how far he was justified in a
forcible detention. Would “a claim lie” for false imprisonment? Were he
to detain them, too, what should be his charge? Was it a trespass? Had
they been warned off? “Wait a moment, Rickards,” said he; “I must think
a minute or two. There’s a difficulty here. Where a person, passing in
the street, smashes accidentally--it must be accidentally--a pane of
plate-glass, of the value of, let us say five-and-twenty or thirty
guineas, the law only holds him responsible for the damage of an
ordinary window-pane; so that here it will be quite open to the defence
to show that this man imagined he was breaking a common jug, a mere
earthenware pipkin. It is, then, to the trespass we must look. Call the
lodge-keeper; say I wish to have a word with him.”

While Rickards hastened on his errand, Mr. M’Kinlay sat down to ponder
carefully over the case. Your men conversant with great causes in equity
and weighty trials at bar, are nervously fearful of meddling with the
small cases which come before petty tribunals. They really know little
about them, and are almost certain to fail in them; and they feel--very
naturally--ashamed at the sorry figure they must exhibit in such
failures.

“They’re all gone, Sir--they’ve made a regular retreat of it--not one
left.”

“Who--who are gone?”

“Them tourists, Sir. They overtook me as I went down the avenue, and
made George open the gate; and away they are, the whole of ‘em.”

“I’m not sorry for it, Rickards. I declare I’m not sorry. It would cost
more time and more trouble to follow them up than they’re worth; and
I am certain, besides, Sir Gervais wouldn’t have the affair in the
newspapers for ten times the amount of all the damage they’ve done him.
What’s that noise without--who’s coming now?”

“My Lady!” exclaimed Rickards, and hastened out to receive her. Mr.
M’Kinlay could notice that a short dialogue took place between the
ladies and the butler before they entered the door, and that they both
laughed at something he was telling them. Was the story that amused
them of him, or of the invasion? He had not time to consider, when they
entered.

“How d’ye do, Mr. M’Kinlay?” said Lady Vyner, quietly. “We’ve kept you
very long waiting, I fear. You may serve dinner at once, Rickards. Mr.
M’Kinlay will excuse our dining in morning dress, Georgina.”

“I should hope so,” said her sister, with a very saucy toss of the head.

“Your Ladyship will excuse my not remaining to dinner,” said he, with
a marked coldness. “I only wanted to see you, and ask if you had any
commissions for Sir Gervais.”

“No, there’s nothing, I fancy. I wrote yesterday--I think it was
yesterday.”

“Tell him not to meddle with Irish property, and come away from that
country as soon as he can,” said Georgina.

“Say the garden is looking beautiful since the rain,” said Lady Vyner,
rising. “Good-by, and a pleasant journey!”

“Good-by!” said Georgina, giving him the tips of her fingers.

And Mr. M’Kinlay bowed and took his leave, carrying away as he went
very different thoughts of cottage life and its enjoyments from those
he might have felt had he gone when he had finished the last glass of
Madeira.



CHAPTER X. THE SHEBEEN

Just as we see on the confines of some vast savage territory one
solitary settlement that seems to say, “Here civilisation ends, beyond
this the tracts of cultivated man are unknown,” so there stood on the
borders of a solitary lake in Donegal--Lough Anare--a small thatched
house, over whose door an inscription announced “Entertainment for
Man and Beast,” the more pretentious letters of the latter seeming to
indicate that the accommodation for Beast was far more likely to prove a
success than that intended for mere humanity.

What imaginable spirit of enterprise could have induced Mr. O’Rorke to
have established an inn in such a region is not easy to guess. To the
north of Lough Anare lay a vast untravelled, almost roadless district.
Great mountains and deep valleys, wild plains of heather, enclosing
lakes, with islands, sometimes mere rocks, sometimes covered with an
oak scrub--last remnants of primeval forests--succeeded each other
apparently without end. A miserable shealing, usually padlocked on
the outside, was all that betokened habitation, and a living being was
rarely met with. It is true there was scenery which for grandeur and
beauty might have vied with the most vaunted spots on the island.
Mountain gorges far finer than Dunluce, lakes more varied in shape, and
with margins bolder in outline and richer in colour than Killarney,
and coast-line with which the boasted Glengariff could not for a moment
compete, all destined to remain as unknown as if they lay thousands of
miles away in some Indian sea.

A great proportion of this territory was the property of the University
of Dublin--endowment made in the time of Queen Elizabeth, when probably
all lands without the pale had about the same value; some of it
pertained to a wealthy English noble, who, until the accident of a
governmental survey, had never so much as cared to ascertain his limits,
and who made the first use of his knowledge by announcing for sale the
lands of Mac-na-Morroch, Knochlifty, Eilmacooran, and Denyvaragh; in
all, nigh fifty thousand acres of mountain, bog, callow, and lake, whose
great capabilities, whether for sheep-farming, fishing, for the quarries
of marble, or the immense mineral resources, were vouched for by a roll
of scientific names, whose very titular letters enforced conviction. If
the pen of an imaginative writer might have been employed in depicting
the stores of wealth and fortune that lay here entombed, no fancy could
have exaggerated the natural loveliness of the landscape. All that was
wild and grotesque in outline, with all that was most glowing in colour,
were there; and when on the nameless lakes the setting sun added his
glory to the golden purple of their reflected lights, the scene became
one of such gorgeous splendour as Art would not have dared to imitate.

The little inn we have just mentioned stood on a rocky eminence which
projected from the mountain-side, and could be seen for miles off, more
conspicuous, besides, by a large green flag, with a harp in the centre,
which by the patriotism of Mr. O’Rorke flaunted its folds to the wild
mountain breezes, as though enjoying in the solitude an immunity which
the Saxon might have resented elsewhere. Tim O’Rorke was indeed one who
had “suffered for Ireland.” Four several times had he figured in Crown
Prosecutions, and both fine and imprisonment had been his portion. On
the last occasion, however, either that national enthusiasm was cooling
down, or that suspicions of Tim’s honesty were getting abroad, the
subscription for his defence was almost a failure. No imposing names
headed the list, and the sums inscribed were mean and contemptible.
Unable to fee the great bar, to retain which, perhaps, formed the
grandest triumph of his life, O’Rorke decided to defend himself, and
in the course of his defence launched forth into a severe and insulting
castigation of his party, who, after using up his youth and manhood
in their cause, left him, when old and broken and dispirited, to the
merciless cruelty of his enemies. He read aloud in open court the names
of the powerful and wealthy men who at first stood by him, and then,
with a shameless insolence, contrasted them with the ignoble friends who
remained to him. He recited the proud sums once contributed, and, amidst
the laughter of the court, ridiculed the beggarly half-crowns that now
represented Irish patriotism. The verdict was against him, and once more
was he sent back to Kilmainham, to serve out a two years’ sentence, this
time unalienated by the sympathy of any friends, or the kind wishes of
any partisans. His sentence completed, he made two to three efforts
to reinstate himself in public esteem; he established an eating-house
called “The Rebel’s Home,” he instituted an evening paper entitled the
_Pike_, he invented a coat-button marked ‘98, but somehow friends and
enemies had become wearied of him. It was seen that he was one of those
who neither have the power of good nor evil, that he could be of no use
to his own, no injury to others, and the world dropped him--dropped him
as it does its poor and disreputable relatives, taking no heed of his
gaunt looks nor his tattered raiment, and by its tacit indifference
showed that the mass of mankind can behave on certain occasions pretty
much as would an individual man. Tim threatened, stormed, and
reviled; he vowed vengeance and menaced disclosures; he swore that
his revelations would impeach some of the highest in the land, and
he intimated that up to a certain day he was yet appeasable. Threats,
however, were not more successful than entreaties, and Tim, gathering
together a few pounds, under the plea of departure for Australia,
quitted the scene he had so long troubled, and was heard of no more.

For years he had continued to exist in some fashion or other--poaching
the chief source--in the wild spot we have just described; and it was on
the rock in front of his door, with a short pipe in his mouth, that
he now lay stretched, on a fine autumn morning, lazily gazing down the
valley, where at a great distance off he could detect a small speck
upon the road, intimating that rarest of all events, the approach of a
jaunting-car. He threw his glance upwards to see that his flag disported
its folds to the air, and to the sign over his door--“The Vinegar Hill,
by T. O’Rorke, Entertainment for Man and Beast”--to be sure that all was
in order, and he then smoked quietly on and watched the road.

By a landslip which had occurred several years before, and whose effects
had never been remedied, the road was blocked up about a mile from the
little inn, and travellers desirous of its accommodation were obliged
to continue their journey on foot. Whether from the apathy of hope
deferred, or calculating on the delay that must thus intervene, Mr.
O’Rorke saw two persons descend from the car, and, each taking his
carpet-bag, set out to walk, without the slightest movement on his part
to provide for their reception; and this, though he was himself
cook, waiter, and housemaid--all that the inn possessed of master or
attendant.

Mr. O’Rorke’s experience of travellers included but two categories,
each of them rare enough in their visitations. They either came to
shoot grouse or convert the natives. All who were not sportsmen were
missionaries. A certain amount of peril attended both pursuits. The
people were a wild, semi-civilised set, who saw with jealousy a stranger
amongst them, and certain hints, palpable enough not to be mistaken,
intimated to the lovers of sport, as well as the distributers of tracts,
that their pursuits were dangerous ones; and thus, in time, the numbers
decreased year by year, till at last the advent of a traveller was a
rare event.

The two who now ascended the rocky pathway had neither guns nor
fishing-tackle--as little had they of missionaries in their aspect--and
he watched them with a lazy curiosity as they approached.

“Are you Mr. O’Rorke?” cried the first who came forward, who was our
acquaintance Sir Gervais Vyner.

“Yes, my name is O’Rorke.”

“And the owner of this inn, I take it?” asked Grenfell, somewhat
haughtily.

“The same.”

“Is this your usual way of receiving strangers, my friend, or is your
present manner an especial politeness to ourselves?”

“Can you let us have a dinner, and make up a couple of rooms?” broke in
Vyner, hastily. “We should like to stop here a few days.”

“You can see the rooms, whether they’ll do for you or not; such as they
are, you can have them, but I can’t make them better.”

“And for eating, what can you give us?”

“Mutton always--fish and game when there’s the season for them--and
poteen to wash them down.”

“That is the illicit spirit, isn’t it?” asked Grenfell.

“Just as illicit as anything else a man makes of his own produce for his
own use; just as illicit as the bread that is made of his own corn.”

“You’re a politician, I see,” said Grenfell, with a sneering laugh. “I
half suspected it when I saw your green flag there.”

“If I hadn’t been one, and an honest one too, I’d not be here today,”
 said he, with an energy greater than he had shown before. “Have you
anything to say against that flag?”

“Of course he has not. Neither he nor I ever saw it before,” said Vyner.

“Maybe you’ll be more familiar with it yet; maybe the time isn’t far off
when you’ll see it waving over the towers of Dublin Castle!”

“I’m not aware that there are any towers for it to wave over,” said
Grenfell, mockingly.

“I’ll tell you what there are! There are hills and mountains, that our
fathers had as their own; there are plains and valleys, that supported a
race braver and better than the crafty Saxons that overcame them; there
are holy churches, where our faith was taught before we ever heard of
Harry the Eighth and his ten wives!”

“You are giving him more than the Church did,” said Grenfell.

“I don’t care whether they were ten or ten thousand. He is your St.
Peter, and you can’t deny him!”

“I wish I could deny that I don’t like this conversation,” said Vyner.
“My friend and I never came here to discuss questions of politics
or polemics. And now about dinner. Could you let us have it at three
o’clock; it is just eleven now?”

“Yes, it will be ready by three,” said O’Rorke, gravely.

“The place is clean enough inside,” whispered Grenfell, as he came from
within, “but miserably poor. The fellow seems to have expended all his
spare cash in rebellious pictures and disloyal engravings.”

“He is an insupportable bore,” muttered Vyner; “but let us avoid
discussion with him, and keep him at a distance.”

“I like his rabid Irishism, I own,” said Grenfell, “and I intend to post
myself up, as the Yankees say, in rebellious matters before we leave
this.”

“Is that Lough Anare, that sheet of water I see yonder?”

“Yes,” said O’Rorke.

“There’s a ruined tower and the remains of seven churches, I think, on
an island there?”

“You’d like to draw it, perhaps?” asked O’Rorke, with a cunning
curiosity in his eye.

“For the present, I’d rather have a bathe, if I could find a suitable
spot.”

“Keep round to the westward there. It is all rock along that side, and
deep water close to the edge. You’ll find the water cold, if you mind
that.”

“I like it all the better. Of course, George, you’ll not come? You’ll
lie down on the sward here, and doze or dream till I come back.”

“Too happy, if I can make sleep do duty for books or newspapers,” yawned
out Grenfell.

“Do you want a book?” asked O’Rorke.

“Yes, of all things. What can you give me?”

He returned to the house, and brought out about a dozen books. There
were odd volumes of the press, O’Callaghan’s “Celts and Saxons,” and
the Milesian Magazine, profusely illustrated with wood-cuts of English
cruelty in every imaginable shape that human ingenuity could impart to
torture.

“That will show you how we were civilised, and why it takes so long to
do it,” said O’Rorke, pointing to an infamous print, where a celebrated
drummer named Hempenstall, a man of gigantic stature, was represented in
the act of hanging another over his shoulder, the artist having given to
the suffering wretch an expression of such agony as no mere words would
convey.

“This fellow is intolerable,” muttered Vyner, as he turned away, and
descended the rocky path. Grenfell, too, appeared to have had enough
of his patriotic host, for he stretched himself out on the green sward,
drawing his hat over his eyes, and giving it to be seen that he would
not be disturbed.

O’Rorke now retreated to the kitchen to prepare for his guest’s
entertainment, but he started with astonishment as he entered. “What,
Kitty, is this you?” cried he; “when did you come?”

The question was addressed to a little girl of some ten or eleven years
old, who, with her long golden hair loose on her shoulders, and her
cheeks flushed with exercise, looked even handsomer than when first we
saw her in the ruined Abbey at Arran, for it was the same child who had
stood forward to claim the amber necklace as her right.

“My grandfather sent me home,” said she, calmly, as she threw the long
locks back from her forehead, “for he had to stay a day at Murranmore,
and if he’s not here to-morrow morning I’m to go on by myself.”

“And was that all you got by your grand relation, Kitty?” said he,
pointing to the necklace that she still wore.

“And isn’t it enough?” answered she, proudly; “they said at the funeral
that it was worth a king’s ransom.”

“Then they told you a lie, child, that’s all; it wouldn’t bring forty
shillings--if it would thirty--to-morrow.”

“I don’t believe you, Tim O’Rorke,” said she, boldly; “but it’s just
like you to make little of what’s another’s.”

“You have the family tongue if you haven’t their fortune,” said he, with
a laugh. “Are you tired, coming so far?”

“Not a bit; I took the short cut by Lisnacare, and came down where the
waterfall comes in winter, and it saved more than four miles of the
road.”

“Ay, but you might have broken your neck.”

“My neck was safe enough,” said she, saucily.

“Perhaps you could trust your feet if you couldn’t your head,” said he,
mockingly.

“I could trust them both, Tim O’Rorke; and maybe they’d both bring me
farther and higher than yours ever did you.”

“There it is again; it runs in your blood; and there never was one of
your name that hadn’t a saucy answer.”

“Then don’t provoke what you don’t like,” said she, with a quivering
lip, for though quick at reply she was not the less sensitive to rebuke.

“Take a knife and scrape those carrots, and, when you’ve done, wash
those radishes well.”

The girl obeyed without a word, seeming well pleased to be employed.

“Did she leave any money behind her?” asked he, after a pause.

“No, none.”

“And how did he treat you?--was he civil to you all?”

“We never saw him.”

“Not see him!--how was that? Sure he went to the wake?”

“He did not. He sent us ‘lashins’ of everything. There was pork and
potatoes, and roast hens and ducks, and eggs and tea, and sugar and
whisky, and cakes of every kind.”

“But why didn’t he come in amongst you to say that you were welcome, to
wish you a good health, and the time of the year?”

“I don’t know.”

“And your grandfather bore that?”

She made no answer, but her face became crimson.

“I suppose it was all right; he wanted to show you that it was all over
between him and you, and that when she was gone you didn’t belong to him
any more.”

Two heavy tears rolled along the hot and burning cheeks of the child,
but she never spoke.

“Your old grandfather’s well changed, Kitty, from what I knew him once,
or he wouldn’t have borne it so quietly. And what did you get for your
journey?”

“We got all her clothes--elegant fine clothes--and linen--two big boxes
full, and knives and forks, and spoons and plates, that would fill two
dressers as big as that. And this,” and she lifted the amber beads as
she spoke, with a flashing eye--“and this besides.”

“He knew you well; he treated you just the way they treat the wild
Indians in the Rocky Mountains, where they buy all that they have in the
world for an old brass button or a few spangles. In his eyes you were
all poor savages, and no more.”

“I wish I never set foot in your house, Tim O’Rorke,” said she, throwing
down the knife, and stamping her bare foot with anger. “‘Tis never a
good word for man or woman comes out of your mouth, and if it wasn’t so
far to go I’d set off now.”

“You’re the making of a nice one,” said he, with a sneering laugh.

“I’m the making of what will be far above you one day,” said she, and
her large blue eyes dilated, and her nostrils expanded with passion.

“Go down to the well and fill that pitcher,” said he, calmly. And she
took the vessel, and tripped as lightly on the errand as though she had
not come seventeen long miles that same morning.



CHAPTER XI. THE LEGEND OF LUTTRELL AND THE------

Doubtless the fresh free mountain air had its influence, and something,
too, lay in the surprise at the goodness of the fare, but Vyner and
Grenfell sat at the open door after their dinner in the pleasant frame
of mind of those who have dined to their satisfaction, and like to
reflect on it.

“I can almost look with complacency on your idea of an Irish property,
Vyner, when I think of that mutton,” said Grenfell, as he lazily
puffed his cigar, while he lay full stretched on the grass. “With what
consummate tact, too, the fellow avoided all attempts at fine cookery,
and sent us up those trouts plainly fried.”

“This is the only thing I cannot relish--this vile, semi-sweet and smoky
compound. It is detestable!” And he held the whisky to his nose,
and laid it down again. “Are we sure that he cannot command something
better?”

“Here goes to see,” said Grenfell, starting up. “What a crowning
pleasure would a glass of sherry--that Amontillado of yours--be in such
a spot.”

“Fetch me out that map you’ll find on my table,” said Vyner, as the
other moved away, and he lay half dreamily gazing out at the long valley
with its mountain barrier in the distance. It was the thought of space,
of a splendid territory princely in extent, that captivated his mind
with regard to this purchase. All told him that such acquisitions are
seldom profitable, and very often perilous; that whatever changes are to
be wrought must be carried out with patience and infinite caution, and
that the people--the wild natives, who consider the soil as more than
half their own--must be conciliated. But was there ever a man--at least
an imaginative, impulsive man--who did not fancy he was the person to
deal with such difficulties? That by his tact, and skill, and delicate
treatment, the obstacles which had closed the way for others would be
removed; that with an instinctive appreciation of the people, of their
moods of thought, their passions, and their prejudices, _he_ would
discover the road to their hearts, and teach them to trust and confide
in him?

It was in a sort of fool’s paradise of this kind that Vyner lay. He was
a prince in his own wild mountain territory, his sway undisputed, his
rule absolute. He had spread benefits innumerable around him, and the
recipients were happy, and, what is more, were grateful. Some terrible
crime--agrarian outrage, as newspaper literature has it--had come before
the House, and led to a discussion on the question of Irish landlordism,
and he imagined himself rising in his place to declare his own
experiences--“very different, indeed, from those of the Right Honourable
Gentleman who had just sat down.” What a glowing picture of a country he
drew; what happiness, what peace, what prosperity. It was Arcadia,
with a little more rain and a police force. There was no disturbance,
no scarcity, very little sickness, religious differences were unknown,
a universal brotherhood bound man to man, and imparted to the success of
each all the sentiment of a general triumph. “And where, Sir, will you
say, is this happy region--in what favoured country blessed by nature
is this Elysium? and my reply is, in the wild and almost trackless
mountains of Donegal, amidst scenery whose desolate grandeur almost
appals the beholder; where but a few years back the traveller dared not
penetrate above a mile or two from the coast, and where in comparison
the bush in Newfoundland or the thicket in New Zealand had been safe. It
is my proud privilege to declare, Sir, and this I do, not alone before
this House, but in face of the country----”

“That you never saw a prettier face than that,” said Grenfell, leading
forward the little girl by the hand, and placing her before him.

“She is pretty; she is downright beautiful,” said Vyner, warmly. “Where
did you find this queen of the fairies?”

“At the well yonder, trying to place on her head a pitcher not much
smaller than herself. She tells me she is a stranger here, only waiting
for her grandfather to come and fetch her away.”

“And where to?” asked Vyner.

“To Glenvallah.” And she pointed in the direction of the mountains.

“And where have you come from now?”

“From Arran--from the island.”

“What took you to the island, child?”

“I was at my aunt’s wake. It was there I got this.” And she lifted one
of the beads of her necklace with a conscious pride.

“Amber and gold; they become you admirably.”

The child seemed to feel the praise in her inmost heart. It was a eulogy
that took in what she prized most, and she shook back the luxuriant
masses of her hair, the better to display the ornaments she wore.

“And it was your aunt left this to you?” asked Grenfell.

“No; but we had everything amongst us. Grandfather took this, and Tom
Noonan took that, and Mark Tracey got the other, and this--this was
mine.”

“Were you sorry for your aunt?” asked Vyner.

“No, I didn’t care.”

“Not care for your father’s or your mother’s sister?”

“She was my mother’s sister, but we never saw her. She couldn’t come to
us, and he wouldn’t let us come to her.”

“He, I suppose, means her husband?”

The child nodded assent.

“And what was the reason of this; was there a family quarrel?”

“No. It was because he was a gentleman.” “Indeed!” broke in Grenfell.
“How did you know that?”

“Because he never worked, nor did anything for his living. He could
stay all day out on the sea-shore gathering shells, and go home when he
pleased to his meals or his bed.”

“And that is being a gentleman?”

“I think it is; and I wish I was a lady.”

“What was this gentleman’s name?”

“John Hamilton Luttrell--Luttrell of Arran we called him.”

“John Luttrell! And was your aunt his wife, child?” asked Vyner,
eagerly; “and are you the cousin of Harry Luttrell?”

“Yes; but he would not let me say so; he is as proud as his father.”

“He need not be ashamed of such a cousin, I think,” said Vyner, as he
surveyed her; and the child again raised her fingers to her necklace, as
though it was there that lay all her claim to admiration.

“Keep her in talk, George, while I make a sketch of her; she is the very
brightest thing I ever saw in nature.”

“Tell me the names of all these mountains,” said Grenfell; “but first of
all, your own.”

“My name is Kitty; but I like them to call me Katherine--as the priest
does.”

“It is statelier to be Katherine,” said Grenfell, gravely.

And she gave a nod of haughty acknowledgment that almost provoked a
smile from him.

“That mountain is Caub na D’haoul, the Devil’s Nightcap; whenever he
takes it off, there’s a storm at sea; and there’s Kilmacreenon, where
the Bradleys was killed; and that’s Strathmore, where the gold mines
is.”

“And are there really gold mines there?”

“Ay, if one had leave from the devil to work them; but it was only old
Luttrell ever got that, and he paid for it.”

“Tell me the story, child; I never heard it.”

The girl here seated herself on a knoll directly in front of them, and,
with a demure air, and some of that assumed importance she had possibly
seen adopted by story-tellers, she began, in a tone and with a fluency
that showed she was repeating an oft-told tale:

“There was one of the Luttrells once that was very rich, and a great
man every way, but he spent all his money trying to be greater than the
King, for whatever the King did Luttrell would do twice as grand, and
for one great feast the King would give, Luttrell would give two, and
he came at last to be ruined entirely; and of all his fine houses and
lands, nothing was left to him but a little cabin on Strathmore,
where his herd used to live. And there he went and lived as poor as a
labourin’ man; indeed, except that he’d maybe catch a few fish or shoot
something, he had nothing but potatoes all the year round. Well, one
day, as he was wanderin’ about very low and sorrowful, he came to a
great cave on the hill-side, with a little well of clear water inside
it; and he sat down for sake of the shelter, and began to think over
old times, when he had houses, and horses, and fine clothes, and jewels.
‘Who’d ever have thought,’ says he, ‘that it would come to this with me;
that I’d be sittin’ upon a rock, with nothing to drink but water?’ And
he took some up in the hollow of his hand and tasted it; but when he
finished, he saw there was some fine little grains, like dust, in his
hand, and they were bright yellow besides, because they were gold.

“‘If I had plenty of you, I’d be happy yet,’ says he, looking at the
grains.

“‘And what’s easier in life, Mr. Luttrell?’ says a voice; and he starts
and turns round, and there, in a cleft of the rock, was sittin’ a little
dark man, with the brightest eyes that ever was seen, smoking a pipe.
‘What’s easier in life,’ says he, ‘Mr. Luttrell?’

[Illustration: 112]

“‘How do you know my name?’ says he.

“‘Why wouldn’t I? says the other. ‘Sure it isn’t because one is a little
down in the world that he wouldn’t have the right to his own name? I
have had some troubles myself,’ says he, ‘but I don’t forget my name,
for all that.’

“‘And what may it be, if it’s pleasin’ to you?’ says Luttrell.

“‘Maybe I’ll tell it to you,’ says he, ‘when we’re better acquainted.’

“‘Maybe I could guess it now,’ says Luttrell.

“‘Come over and whisper it, then,’ says he, ‘and I’ll tell you if you’re
right.’ And Luttrell did and the other called out, ‘You guessed well;
that’s just it!’ “‘Well,’ says Luttrell, ‘there’s many a change come
over me, but the strangest of all is to think that here I am, sittin’
up and talking to the----’ The other held up his hand to warn him not to
say it, and he went on: ‘And I’m no more afeard of him than if he was an
old friend.’

“‘And why would you, Mr. Luttrell?--and why wouldn’t you think him an
old friend? Can you remember one pleasant day in all your life that I
wasn’t with you some part of it?’”

“Give up that drawing, Vyner, and listen to this,” said Grenfell. “I’ll
make her begin it again for you.”

“I am listening. I’ve heard every word of it,” said Vyner. “Go on,
dear.”

“‘I know what you mean well enough,’ says Luttrell. ‘I know the sort of
bargain you make, but what would be the good of all my riches to me when
I’d lose my soule?’

“‘Isn’t it much trouble you take about your soule, Mr. Luttrell?’ says
he. ‘Doesn’t it keep you awake at night, thinking how you’re to save it?
Ain’t you always correctin’ and chastisin’ yourself for the good of your
soule, not lettin’ yourself drink this or eat that, and warnin’ you,
besides, about many a thing I won’t speak of, eh? Tell me that.’

“‘There’s something in what you say, no doubt of it,’ says Luttrell;
‘but, after all,’ says he, with a wink, ‘I’m not going to give it up as
a bad job, for all that.’

“‘And who asks you?’ says the other. ‘Do you think that a soule more or
less signifies to me? It don’t: I’ve lashins and lavins of them.’

“‘Maybe you have,’ says Luttrell.

“‘Have you any doubt of it, Mr. Luttrell?’ says he. ‘Will you just
mention the name of any one of your friends or family that I can’t give
you some particulars of?’

“‘I’d rather you’d not talk that way,’ says Luttrell; ‘it makes me feel
unpleasant.’

“‘I’m sure,’ says the other, ‘nobody ever said I wasn’t polite, or that
I ever talked of what was not pleasin’ to the company.’

“‘Well,’ says Luttrell, ‘supposin’ that I wanted to be rich, and
supposin’ that I wouldn’t agree to anything that would injure my soule,
and supposin’ that there was, maybe, something that you’d like me to do,
and that wouldn’t hurt me for doin’ it, what would that be?’

“‘If you always was as cute about a bargain, Mr. Luttrell,’ says the
other, ‘you’d not be the poor man you are to-day.’

“‘That’s true, perhaps,’ says he; ‘but, you see, the fellows I made them
with wasn’t as cute as the----’

“‘Don’t,’ says the other, holding up his hand to stop him; ‘it’s never
polite. I told you I didn’t want your soul, for I’m never impatient
about anything; all I want is to give you a good lesson--something that
your family will be long the better of--and you want it much, for you
have, all of you, one great sin.’ “‘We’re fond of drink?’ says Luttrell.
“‘No,’ says he; ‘I don’t mean that.’ “‘It’s gamblin’?’ “‘Nor that.’

“‘It’s a likin’ for the ladies?’ says Luttrell, slyly. “‘I’ve nothing to
say against that, for they’re always well disposed to me,’ says he.

“‘If it’s eatin’, or spendin’ money, or goin’ in debt, or cursin’ or
swearin’, or being fond of fightin’----‘’

“‘It is not,’ says he; ‘them is all natural. It’s your pride,’ says
he--‘your upsettin’ family pride, that won’t let you do this, or say
that. There’s what’s destroyin’ you.’

“‘It’s pretty well out of me now,’ says Luttrell, with a sigh. “‘It is
not,’ says the other. ‘If you had a good dinner of beef, and a tumbler
of strong punch in you, you’d be as impudent this minute as ever you
were.’

“‘Maybe you’re right,’ says Luttrell.

“‘I know I am, Mr. Luttrell. You’re not the first of your family I was
intimate with. You’re an ould stock, and I know ye well.’ “‘And how are
we to be cured?’ says Luttrell. “‘Easy enough,’ says he. ‘When three
generations of ye marry peasants, it will take the pride out of your
bones, and you’ll behave like other people.’

“‘We couldn’t do it,’ says Luttrell. “‘Try,’ says the other.
“‘Impossible!’

“‘So you’d say about livin’ on potatoes, and drinkin’ well water.’
“‘That’s true,’ says Luttrell.

“‘So you’d say about ragged clothes and no shoes to your feet.’”
 Luttrell nodded.

“‘So you’d say about settin’ in a cave and talking over family matters
to--to a stranger,’ says he, with a laugh.

“‘I believe there’s something in it,’ said Luttrell; ‘but sure some of
us might like to turn bachelors.’

“‘Let them, and welcome,’ says he. ‘I don’t want them to do it one after
the other. I’m in no hurry. Take a hundred years--take two, if you like,
for it.’

“‘Done,’ says Lnttrell. ‘When a man shows a fair spirit, I’ll always
meet him in the same. Give me your hand; it’s a bargain.’

“‘I hurt my thumb,’ says he; ‘but take my tail, ‘twill do all the same.’
And though Mr. Luttrell didn’t like it, he shook it stoutly, and only
let it go when it began to burn his fingers. And from that day he was
rich, even till he died; but after his death nobody ever knew where to
find the gold, nor ever will till the devil tells them.”

“And did his family keep the bargain; did they marry the peasants?”
 asked Grenfell.

“Two of them. One before, John Lnttrell of Arran; and another must do
it, and soon too, for they say the two hundred years is near out now.”

“And is it said that the remedy succeeded?” asked Vyner; “are the
Luttrells cured of their family pride?”

“They can’t be till the third marriage takes place; indeed, my
grandfather says they’ll be worse than ever just before they’re cured;
‘for,’ says he, ‘every one that makes a bargain with the devil thinks he
has the best of it.’”

“And that, I suspect, is a mistake, Katherine,” said Vyner.

She threw down her eyes, and seemed lost in thought, making no reply
whatever to his remark.

“I’d have had no dealings with him at all,” said Vyner.

“You are rich, and you don’t need him,” said she, almost fiercely, as
though his words had conveyed a sneer.

“That’s just it, Kitty,” said Grenfell; “or if he did want him it would
be for something different from money.”

She gave a saucy toss of her head, as though to show she agreed with
him, and turned to the table where Vyner was at work with his chalks.

“That’s me,” said she, gravely.

“I like your own face better,” said Vyner.

“So would that little fellow with the pipe that you were telling us of,”
 said Grenfell.

“Let him say so,” said she, with a ringing laugh; and she bounded from
the spot, and skipping from crag to crag flew down the rock, and hurried
down the little path at speed.

“There’s a man coming up the road; don’t you see him waving his hat?”

“It’s an old man,” said Vyner, as he looked through his telescope. “I
snppose her grandfather.”



CHAPTER XII. THE WALK IN THE MOUNTAINS

When Vyner went to sleep that night, it was to dream of all that the
last few days had presented before him. The wild and rocky Arran,
with its ruined Abbey and its lonely occupant; the bright-eyed but
over-thoughtful-looking boy, with all the freshness of childhood and all
the contemplative temperament of a man; then the iron-bound shore and
the semi-savage natives; and last of all the mountain region where he
then was, with that fairy figure more deeply impressed than he had drawn
her, and whom he now fancied to be tripping lightly before him up the
rocky sides of Strathmore.

As he opened his eyes, the view that met them startled him. It was one
of those vast stretches of landscape which painters cannot convey.
They are too wide, too boundless for picture. The plain which lay
outstretched before him, rising and falling like a vast prairie, was
unmarked by habitation--not a hovel, not a hut to be seen. Vast groups
of rocks stood out here and there abruptly, grotesque and strange in
outline, as though giants had been petrified in the act of some great
conflict, the stunted trees that crowned the summits serving as feathers
on the helmets. A great amphitheatre of mountain girded the plain, save
at one spot, the Gap of Glenvallah, through which, as his map told him,
his road on that morning lay.

His object was to see with his own eyes the so much vaunted scenery of
this region, to visit the lonely spot, and talk himself with its wild
natives; he doubted, indeed, if both the solemnity and the savagery had
not been exaggerated. To acquire the property was, after all, only one
of those caprices which rich men can afford themselves. They can buy
some rare and costly relic--some curious manuscript, some singular
specimen of a contested species, a shell, a stone, a fragment of
sculptured marble--to show which once or twice to some critical eye is
all its value; why not then possess in nature what, had it been reduced
to art, and signed Poussin or Salvator, would have been priceless? It
was thus he reasoned: “If this place be but what they have described it,
I shall own a landscape that all the galleries of Europe cannot rival. A
landscape, too, whose varying effects of sun and shadow, of daybreak and
twilight, shall be endless. The greatest of all painters, the sun, shall
throw over the scene his own lights, and the storm shall wash the canvas
and bring out afresh all the most lovely tints of colour.”

Grenfell had promised him overnight to be up and stirring by an early
hour, but when called he refused to rise; he had his lazy fit on him,
he said; he might have called it rather a malady than a paroxysm, for
it was chronic. He declared that the view from the rock before the door
fully satisfied him; he was no glutton about scenery; a little did for
him, and here was a feast. “Besides,” said he, “I have been reading
those atrocious magazines all night, and I mean to devote my day to some
rebel colloquies with my host.”

Perhaps, after all, Vyner was scarcely sorry to set out alone;
Gren-fell’s companionship was of so essentially worldly a character, his
qualities were best exercised when they discussed the men, the things,
and the topics of his day: such a man saw in the wild sublimity of a
mountain scene little else than its desolation, and Vyner bethought him
how often this town-bred gentleman had jarred upon him in moments of
peaceful reverie and errant fancy.

O’Rorke served his breakfast in silence; either he was not in
communicative mood, or he mistrusted his guest. He answered with brevity
the few questions about the road, only adding, “that it was a pity the
gentleman had not mentioned before where he was going, for there was an
old man and his granddaughter had just set out on that very road.”

“The child I saw here yesterday?”

“The same.”

“Have they been long gone? Could I overtake them, think you?”

“Easy enough; they’ve taken some bread and a bottle of milk for their
breakfast, and you’ll come up with them, if you walk briskly, before
they reach the Gap.”

He lost no further time, but strapping on a light knapsack, and armed
with a stout stick, set out at once.

“If it’s a gauger you are, you’d wish yourself back in the place you
came from before night,” said O’Rorke, as he looked after him. Vyner
was a good walker, and trained to the mountains, so that his eye quickly
detected any available short cut, and enabled him at a glance to choose
his path. If there was not actual peril in his position--thus alone and
companionless in a wild region, where any suspicion may attach to
the stranger--there was that amount of adventure that summons a man’s
courage to its post, and tells him that he must look to his own
safety; and who that has felt this sensation, this proud sense of
self-dependence, does not know its ecstasy! Who has not tasted the small
heroism of being alone on the mountain, on the wild heath at midnight,
on the rolling sea with a gathering storm in the distance, and who,
having felt, has not gloried in it?

But to the man who leaves behind a home of every comfort, where all
that can adorn and embellish existence are to be found, the contrast
of present privation with past indulgence has something wonderfully
exciting. He pictures the pleasant drawing-room with its cheerful fire,
and the happy faces round the hearth; he fancies he hears the merry
laugh, the melodious chords of the piano, the swell of some sweet voice,
and then he bends his ear to the rugged plash of the breaking sea, or
the whistling wind as it sweeps through some Alpine “crevasse.” If no
sense of such dangers arose to Vyner’s mind, yet there was enough to
make him feel how different was his present position from anything that
his daily life exacted. The chances that we voluntarily confront have a
wondrous fascination.

From his map he learned that the estate which he wished to purchase
began at the Gap of Inchegora, a solemn gorge visible for many a mile
off! It was indeed a grand portal that same Gap, not fully fifty feet in
width, and more than nine hundred in height--a mere fissure, in fact, as
complete as though made by the stroke of a giant’s scimitar. With
his eyes directed constantly to this spot, he went onward, and came at
length to a little stream, at the margin of which, and under the shelter
of a solitary ash, sat the old peasant and his granddaughter at their
breakfast.

[Illustration: 120]

“I have walked hard to come up with you,” said Vyner. “I wanted to have
your company to the Gap.” The old man touched his hat in acknowledgment
of this speech, and then bent down his head, while the child spoke to
him in Irish.

“‘Tis deaf my grandfather is, Sir, and he didn’t hear you,” said the
girl.

“Tell him I would be glad he’d be my guide as far as Mort-na------”

She laughed merrily at his poor attempt at the name, and said, with a
racy intonation, “Mortnagheela. ‘Tis there we live ourselves.”

The old peasant munched his bread and lifted the bottle twice to his
lips before he answered the girl’s question, and then said, “Ask him is
he a gauger.”

“No,” said Vyner, laughing; “I have not come here to molest any one.
I want nothing more than to look at your big mountains and grand old
cliffs.”

“You’re a surveyor,” said the old man, whose hearing seemed to have not
lost one word Vyner uttered.

“Not even that, my good friend--a mere idler, no more.”

The peasant said something in Irish to the child, and she laughed
heartily at it, looking up the while in Vyner’s face, as though it made
the jest more poignant.

“Well, will you let me bear you company, Katherine?” asked he. As the
girl repeated the question, the old fellow gave a half impatient shrug
of the shoulders, and uttered a few sentences in Irish with a voluble
energy that savoured of passion.

“‘Tis what he says, Sir,” said the child; “that he was in trouble once
before, and found it hard enough to get out of it, and if misfortune was
to come to you, that he’d be blamed for it.”

“So, then, he’d rather have nothing to do with me,” said Vyner, smiling.
“What does he mean by trouble?”

The old man looked up full in his face, and his eyes took an almost
defiant expression as he said, “Isn’t the assizes trouble?--isn’t it
trouble to be four months in gaol waiting for them?--isn’t it trouble to
stand up in the dock, with two sons of your own, and be tried for your
life?”

“Yes, that indeed may be called trouble,” said Vyner, compassionately,
as he sat down on the bank and took out a cigar. “Do you smoke? Will you
have one of these?”

The old man looked at the cigar and shook his head; either he did not
value, or did not understand it.

“That’s the reason I come up here,” resumed the peasant. “I’m a Mayo
man, and so is all belongin’ to me, but after that”--he laid an emphasis
on the last word--“the landlord, ould Tom Luttrell, wouldn’t renew my
lease, and so I come up to this wild place, where, praise be to the
Virgin, there’s no leases nor landlords either.” “How does that happen?
The land surely has an owner?” “If it has, I never saw him, nor _you_
neither. And whoever he is, he knows better than to come here and ax
for his rents.” The bitter laugh with which the old fellow finished his
speech was scarcely short of an insult--indeed, Vyner half winced as
he felt that it might have been meant as a menace to himself. “No,”
 continued he, as though following out the flow of his own thoughts;
“there’s the Gap of Inchegora before us, and through that Gap
tithe-proctor, agent, or bailiff, never passed, and if they did, they’d
never pass back again!”

“And who is supposed to own these lands?” asked Vyner, mildly. “The
College of Dublin has some of them; Lord Landsborough has more; John
Luttrell of Arran says that there’s part of them his; and, for the
matter of that, I might say that the mountain there was mine--and who’s
to contradict me?--or what better am I after saying it?”

Pouring out a cupful of brandy from his flask, Vyner offered it to him,
and this he took with gratitude, his eyes devouring with admiration the
little silver goblet that held it.

“Drink Mr. Luttrell’s health,” said Vyner, pouring out the last of the
liquor into the cup; “he was an old friend of mine long ago.”

“Here’s health to him, and long life, too, if it was any use to him,”
 said the man, doggedly.

“There is truth in what you mean; a life such as he leads now can be of
little pleasure, or profit either.”

“And who brought him to it?” burst in the old man, fiercely, for the
spirit had mounted to his brain, maddening and exciting him. “What was
it but the ould Luttrell pride that ruined every one of them, and
will ruin them yet? He married a decent girl, well brought up, and
good-looking; she wasn’t a lady, but not a lady in the land had a better
heart or a finer temper, but he wouldn’t own her for all that. No, not
a bit of it; there she lived, now with one brother, now with another,
nobody darin’ to call her Mrs. Luttrell, nor even as much as hint she
was married. How we stood it--we never were very patient--I don’t know,
but we did, and more ill luck to us for doing so!” There was a long
pause before he continued: “At last there came that trouble I was
telling you of. When Mr. Crowe was shot, and I was tuk with my two
sons--as innocent every one of us as that little girl there, but what
did that signify?--the Attorney-General said, ‘It’s eight-and-twenty
years I’m coming this circuit, and I never knew a capital felony to be
tried without a Malone in it! I wonder,’ says he, ‘will the time ever
come when this will cease?’ There was eight of us then banished, some in
Botany Bay, and some in America, and, by coorse, it was hard for us
to make up money for the ‘defence’--the more because we spent so much
already on lawyers. Howsomever, we did do it. We got a pound here, and
ten shillings there, and at last gathered twenty-two fourteen-six.
I’ll never forget it, twenty-two fourteen-six--in fact, I used to go
on saying it over to myself, as I sat in my cell, just as if saying it
would make it grow. The attorney, Mr. Roach, who was a good friend of
ours, towld me in secret that there was two or three ugly things in
the case, and that short of ould Mr. Clancy, the King’s counsel, there
warn’t a man could get us off; ‘and less than thirty guineas,’ says
he, ‘won’t bring him down.’ All this time, none of us would ask Sally
Luttrell for a farthin’. We all knew she had nothing of her own, and
we wouldn’t be beholdin’ to Mr. Luttrell. At last, my youngest daughter
couldn’t bear it any longer; she sets off for the house where Sally was
stoppin’, and what she said, or how she did it, we never knew, but the
next morning there came to Mr. Roach’s office a note with the money. It
was an order on French’s Bank, signed with a letter L. When the trial
was come on--it was the third day--the Crown lawyers was pushing hard to
make out a charge of conspiracy, and show that half the country was in
it, and at last declared that they were ready to prove that an immense
sum of money lay in the Bank just to defend all the people that ever
broke the law, or did anything wrong, and that in this case they would
produce a list of subscribers, each of them down for some trifle, every
one of whom had been once at least in that dock with an indictment
against him. Sure enough, however he come by it, he had the list.
And such a set of witnesses as he brought up never was seen afore.
‘Gentlemen of the jury, I only ask you to look at them,’ says he; ‘just
look at them, and you’ll know what sort of a tie binds these people to
the prisoners in the dock.’ Clancy said nothing till it was all over--he
wouldn’t cross-question one--but he holds a bit of paper in his hand,
and says, ‘My Lord,’ says he, ‘it appears to me, that to be poor and
wear ragged clothes in this country is to be outlawed, and that any man
whose condition is not as comfortable as my learned friend’s, must be
declared a rebel to his King and a liar to his Maker. It’s very
hard,’ says he, ‘but as it comes from so high an authority as the
Attorney-General, it must be good law, and I’ll not dispute it.
Fortunately, however, for my unhappy client, his character has not only
made friends for him amongst good men and kind men--it is not only by
his equals in life that his honest nature is known--poor labourers,
humble peasants testify by their hard-earned pittance, freely given, to
their love for an old neighbour and friend. But what good is it? They
are poor, and must be perjured; they are half-famished, and of course
they are infamous. But here, my Lord, is a witness well enough to do to
be respected; he eats, drinks, and dresses in the way the law requires;
he has an estate, and of course a conscience; he keeps an agent, and
therefore he has a sowl to be saved; his sympathies are written down
here at the cost of eleven pounds eight shillings, and--though his
modesty is satisfied with a mere letter L--his name is John Hamilton
Luttrell.’”

As if the strain on his memory to recal the precise words employed, and
to bring back the whole scene, had been too much for him, or as though
the emotions of the past had surged back to overwhelm him, the old
peasant held his hand over his eyes, and sat several minutes without
speaking.

“Did Luttrell come on the table, then?” asked Vyner.

“No, Sir; he was seen in court a short time before, but when he was
called he couldn’t be found; nor from that day out was he ever seen in
the streets of Castlebar. It was that sent him away to the island. His
pride and his shame together.”

“You are less than just to my old friend,” said Vyner, warmly. “To know
what he felt, to understand all the difficulties that he saw before him.
you should be in _his_ place as he was.”

“That’s as much as to say that I ought to be a gentleman before I
condemned him,” said the old fellow, with a look of intense craftiness.
“But the lawyer that defended _me_ didn’t want to be a labourin’ man to
explain what _I_ felt, or what was passin’ in my heart. No, Sir, there’s
things in the world that are just the same to the rich man as to the
poor one, just as sickness and sorrow is. Get up, Kitty, we’re stayin’
too long here; it will be black night before we get home.”

“How many miles do you count it?”

“Twenty-one--long miles, too--the last four of them over shingle, and
steep besides.”

“Shall I find an inn--well, shall I find shelter for the night?” said
he, correcting himself.

“Shelter I could give you myself, but I’d rather you’d look for it
anywhere else. I told you already why.”

“Well, I’m not afraid of your company, and, if you don’t dislike mine,
we’ll travel together.”

The little girl said something with eagerness in Irish, and then turning
to Vyner she took his hand, and said, “Yes, come with us.” And they set
out.



CHAPTER XIII. THE PROJECT

It was on the evening of the second day after Vyner’s departure that
Grenfell, never much given to anxieties about others, felt a certain
uneasiness, and sauntered down the glen, wondering what might have
detained him. He had not gone fully a mile, when he saw in the grey
twilight a man approaching; he hailed, and was answered in his friend’s
voice, “All right; it is I.”

“I was going to start the hue and cry, or whatever may represent that
institution here, after you, Vyner. Where have you been all this time?”

“As to the where, my friend, it would require a very different tongue
from yours and mine to say; Russian and Polish names are nothing in
comparison. As to the how I have been, is easier to answer--never
better; though with all due gratitude be it said, I have passed my time
in rather questionable company.”

“At least they recognised the rights of hospitality?”

“Arabs themselves were never more punctilious. My host was the
grandfather of our little friend the fairy queen, a man of nigh eighty,
who had been tried on two capital charges, and ought, I suspect, to have
been convicted on both. His friends, to the number of twenty odd, were
all Whiteboys, Ribbonmen, or whatever other name includes lawbreakers
of the first magnitude; and one, as handsome and frank-featured a
young fellow as ever you saw, who accompanied me to the lake side this
evening, had made his escape from Castlebar gaol when under sentence of
death, and actually went back to the town to witness the execution of
his cousins on the following Saturday, it being, as he said, the only
mark of affection he was able to show them.”

“I make you my compliment, as the French say, on your company. And the
women, what were they like?”

“I saw but two: an old hag that was brought down special to give an
opinion upon me from external traits, and pronounce whether I had the
colour of hair or eyes that indicated a tendency to bear witness against
my neighbour; the other was a sickly creature, bedridden though in the
prime of life, mother of little Katherine.”

“But explain how you could have prolonged your stay amongst such people.
What were you doing? what were you saying?”

“Doing? The whole day we walked the mountains. They led me by paths
known only to themselves over an immense mountain district, showing
me all that was noteworthy, and pointing out effects of scenery and
picturesque spots with a feeling and taste that amazed me. They used
no cant of art, none of that tricky phraseology, it is true, which we
accept as the vernacular of all landscape description; but in their wild
imagery and reckless imagination they gave names to the places which
showed how deeply objects of terror or beauty had appealed to them. Then
at nightfall we gathered close to the turf fire and the potato ‘kish,’ a
wide, open basket, which served as strainer and dish together. There
we supped, talked politics, religion, law, and a little literature--at
least so far as the Life of Freeny and the story of Moll Flanders enter
into biographical letters.”

“How I should like to have drawn a cordon of policemen round the party
and netted the whole.”

“You might like to have planned the campaign, but I’ll be sworn if you
had been favoured with a look at the company you’d never have led the
expedition.”

“What a traveller’s knack it is to exaggerate the war-paint of one’s
Indian friends,” said Grenfell, superciliously. “But here we are with
our supper waiting for us, and even Mr. ‘O’Rorke’s noble feast’ will
contrast favourably with your host’s.”

The meal ended, they seated themselves on the door-sill, looking
out into the still and starry night, and resumed the theme they were
discussing.

“I take it that you said you were a mere tourist rambling for pleasure?”
 asked Grenfell.

“No, I told them I had come down to see the country, with some
intentions to make a purchase. It was not so easy to explain that I was
more eager to acquire a very beautiful and picturesque tract than a
very remunerative one, but they believed me at last--that is, they gave
credit to my sincerity at the cost of my shrewdness.” Grenfell nodded,
as though he agreed with them, and Vyner went on: “We were a full
house when I made my declaration--there were, I should say, six or
seven-and-twenty present--and they concurred in applauding the frankness
with which I spoke to them. A very old man, a venerable figure, whose
high forehead and white beard would have impressed me, perhaps, more
reverentially if I had not been told that he had been flogged by
John Beresford, in the year ‘98, for some cruel outrage he had
committed--this apart--he, however, complimented me highly on my
straightforwardness, and said that if others would do like me there
would be fewer disturbances about land; and the illustration he used
was this: ‘If you go into a fair to buy a horse, and you see a splendid
animal, strong-boned, well-ribbed, and powerful, with every promise of
speed and strength;--you are as well satisfied with his price as with
his perfections, but do your inquiries stop there?--not a bit of it. You
know well that he may be a capital hunter and a noble roadster, but you
want to learn what his temper is. All his fine qualities depend upon
this, for if he be unruly and unmanageable, to what purpose is his power
or his activity? It is precisely the same with a property: you may have
wood and water, arable land and lay, mines and meadows, and, with all
these, there may be a “temper” that renders them worthless. Landlords
won’t believe this; buyers won’t listen to it. They say, “Make out my
title clear and clean, and leave me to deal with it.” Men with money
in the bank, and who, because they can live anywhere, are chained to
nowhere, cannot understand the love of a poor labouring man to some
mud-hovel or some shealing, to a brook where he has paddled in boyhood,
to the mountain that he has seen from his earliest infancy.
They do not, cannot, conceive why poverty should sharpen any
susceptibilities--poverty, that can blunt so many--and they say, “Turn
him out. I’ll find a place for him elsewhere.” But that’s a mistake;
you might as well say you’d replace the child he has followed to the
churchyard. The man, in the very proportion of his destitution, has
bound up his heart with some half-dozen little objects that have, from
time and long usage, grown to be part of him. The monotony that wearies
the rich man is the luxury of the poor. To live where their fathers
lived, to see an unchanged world around them, to have few contrasts of
the present with the past, is their paradise------’”

“Where did you get all this?” broke in Grenfell. “From your friend of
the cat-o’-nine-tails?”

“Exactly. The words of wisdom were all his own, and, unlike the fate of
most wisdom, it was listened to. He showed me, in fact, that though the
Law might give possession, it would not ensure me one of the rights of
property: I might own, but not enjoy; I might have and hold, but neither
sow nor reap; I might walk over and shoot over, but with no privilege
to keep any other from doing the same, and that before I thought of
preserving the game, I should take some measures about preserving
myself. The man who enunciated these principles--for they were
principles--declared them calmly and dispassionately, not as sentiments
that conveyed anger or passion; far from it--he felt all the dignity of
a sage instructing ignorance. He was a great Saquem delivering the laws
of his tribe, and showing what had been their guides and directors
for centuries. I did, indeed, once, only once, venture upon a mild
remonstrance, that there were some things which a landlord possessed
for the betterment of those under him; that he might assist them in
many ways, and be the means of their advancement and prosperity; but he
demurred to this, and so did his followers. Their experience, they said,
did not confirm this: as a class, they had found landlords narrow-minded
and selfish, very ignorant of the people, and very indifferent to them.
They opined that, as an institution, landlordism had not succeeded, and
half hinted that it was a Saxon innovation that was brought over in
days of violence and oppression, and did not suit the conditions of the
country at present.”

“And you listened to these rascals coolly propounding such doctrines?”

“Yes; and so would you have done too, had you been in my place, my dear
George! A minority is never very truculent when the majority could pitch
it over a cliff without the slightest risk of being called to account
for it.”

“It would have pushed my patience hard, though.” “It would have been
your prudence, and not your patience, that you’d have consulted.”

“Well, I’ll not quarrel with the rogues if they have disabused you as to
the pleasures of Irish proprietorship; they’ve done you a good service,
but, I must say, I think their case a more hopeless one, now that I see
lawlessness is a system.”

“I don’t think you would if you talked with them! They were too
argumentative not to be open to conviction; too logical, with all their
prejudices, not to be approachable by reason. I was, all the time we
were talking, so impressed with this, that I could not help imagining
what a race so quick-sighted and intelligent might become when educated
and instructed. Take my word for it, George, Hodge will have no chance
against Paddy if he ever get book-learning.” A mocking laugh was
Grenfell’s answer.

“So satisfied am I of the truth of what I say, that I’m going to give a
proof of it.”

“What, going to set up a school in the wilds of Donegal!” “No. I’m going
to carry away that pretty child, and educate her with Ada.”

“You’ll not do anything so foolish, I trust!” “It is all settled, the
conditions arranged, the terms agreed to. I have given her grandfather
ten pounds for her outfit, some few things she needed, and as much more
to pay their journey over to Wales, for the old fellow, with a caution
that was creditable to him, wished to see the ladies to whom his child
was to be confided, and confer a little with them besides.”

“All your scheme for the property was absolute wisdom compared with
this!” “How so?”

“Where everything is so absurd one cannot decide what to ridicule.
Suppose you succeed--and it is what I by no means grant--what will you
do with her? You’ll give her the tastes, the accomplishments, and the
habits of a lady--to marry her to your gamekeeper or your gardener.
You’ll turn her brain with ten years of luxury--to make the whole of her
after life a dreary servitude. You’ll excite ambition, whose very least
evil will be bitter disappointment; and for what? To gratify a caprice,
to paint the moral of a vapid theory about Irish intelligence. No, no,
Vyner, don’t make such a blunder as this, and a serious blunder too;
for, amongst other pleasant contingencies, Paddy MacHackaway is sure to
call you to account some fine day: why you dared to do this, or omitted
to do that; and with all your respect for his reasoning qualities, he
sometimes expresses his sentiments with a bludgeon.”

“The thing is done, George, if you were to rail at it for a week. It is
done, and cannot be undone, even if I wished it.”

“But why not? What is easier than to send for this old rascal who has
so over-blarneyed you, and compromise the matter? A couple more of those
crisp ten-pounders that I must say you displayed before these creatures
with an unpardonable rashness--”

“Be it so,” broke in Vyner. “But let me tell you that they saw my
pocket-book full of them; they saw on the window-seat, where by chance
I had left it, a purse heavy with gold, and yet these poor fellows were
proof against the temptations; and it was the gaol-breaker himself who
carried my knapsack on my way back, which contained, as he knew, both
purse and pocket-book; so that against their honesty I’ll not listen to
a word.”

“Let them have all the virtues under the sun if you will; call them all
Arcadians. All I ask is that we should have no dealings with them. Send
off O’Rorke; let him bring this old fellow before me, and I’ll answer
for it that I settle the question at once.”

“No, no; my word is pledged, and I’ll not break it.”

“I don’t ask you to break it. What I propose is, that you should be
released from a very ill-judged contract, certain to turn out ill to all
it includes. Let me at least try if what I suggest is not practicable.”

“If the negotiation were to be carried on with men of your own rank and
condition, Grenfell, there is not any one to whom I would with, more
confidence confide it; but forgive me if I say that you’re not the man
to deal with these people.”

“Why not?”

“For a number of reasons. First of all, you are strongly prejudiced
against them; you are disposed to regard them as something little better
than savages----”

“Pardon me, there you are wrong--as not one whit better.”

“That’s enough, then; you shall be no envoy to them from me.”

“Well, I’ll knock under; I’ll agree to your high estimate of them,
intellectually and morally, only with that detractive element of poverty
which makes even clever men submissive, and occasionally squeezes
conscience into a compromise. You tell me they are very amenable to
reason; let me see if I agree with you. You assure me that with all
their seeming impulsiveness and headlong rashness they are eminently
calculating and forecasting. I want to see this. Bethink you what
a grand witness I shall be to the truth of your theory when I am
converted. Come, consent to send for this old fellow; make any pretext
you please for seeing him, so that I may have a quarter of an hour’s
talk with him.”

“To what end? You could scarcely address to him the arguments you have
just used to me----”

“Leave that to my discretion. I suspect, Vyner--mind, it is mere
suspicion--but I suspect that your Celtic friend will be far more
practical and business-like in his dealings with me than with you; that
his shrewdness will show him that I am a common-place man of the world,
not caring, nor indeed believing, in any great regeneration for Ireland,
and that all our intercourse must take the shape of a bargain.”

“I consent,” said Vyner; “but, I own, less from choice than necessity,
for time presses, and I find by a note I have just received that
M’Kinlay, my man of business, has arrived at Westport, and whatever we
decide on must be done at once.”

“If I’m not very much mistaken, Vyner, my negotiation will not take ten
minutes, and perhaps as many pounds, so that you may order whatever it
be that is to carry us hence, and I’ll guarantee to be ready.”

While Vyner hastened to give the necessary orders, Grenfell opened his
writing-desk, from which he took some bank-notes and gold, and thrust
them together in his pocket.



CHAPTER XIV. A DISCUSSION

“When that old man comes,” said Grenfell--“Malone, I think, is the
name--let him come in here. I want to speak to him.”

“He’s outside now, before the door,” said O’Rorke, whose prying looks
showed how eager he felt to know what might be the subject of their
conversation.

“Does he hold any land in this neighbourhood?”

“He’s like the rest,” replied the other, half sullenly; “he lives where
he can, and how he can.”

“What you would call a squatter?” said the Englishman, who smiled at his
own sharpness in employing the word.

“What I wouldn’t call any such thing,” replied O’Rorke, firmly. “No more
than I’d say it was squatting to sit down on my own hearthstone.”

“Which, perhaps, wouldn’t be your own, my good friend, if you were
merely a tenant, and not a solvent one.”

“You may talk that way up in Leinster, or some of the counties that
border on Leinster; but I tell you that you know mighty little of
Ireland if you think that what your newspapers call the ‘Great name
of England’ terrifies any one down here. Just try it. It’s about fifty
miles from this to the Land’s End, and I’ll give you all that distance
to find ten, no, but five men, that you’ll frighten by the threat of
British law or British vengeance--which is about the same thing.”

“I’m sorry to hear it; that is to say, I should be sorry it was true.”

“Well, if you mean to deny, why don’t you prove it? What’s easier than
to tell the carman we’re not going to Westport, we’re going up through
Donegal to count the people that’s in love with the British rule in
Ireland! You shake your head. I don’t wonder, indeed; no shame to you,
that you wouldn’t like the journey. But I’ll tell you what you can do
instead of it,” said he, with a firm and steady voice.

“What’s that?”

“Leave sixpence here, in my hands, and it will treat every well-wisher
of England from this to the Giant’s Causeway! Isn’t that a fine
investment for you?”

Grenfel’s face flashed, his brow darkened, and he tarned to hurl a stern
reproof to this insolence; but he saw in the elated look of the other
all the delight of one who was gradually drawing an adversary into
the lists, and to a combat in which practice had given him a certain
dexterity.

Determined, at all events, to foil this design, the Englishman affected
indifference, looked at his watch, turned over some papers that lay on
the table, and then carelessly said, “Send in Malone here.”

With the dogged air of one disappointed and baffled in his designs,
O’Rorke left the room, and soon after the old man entered, stroking
down his white hair as he came forward, and making his reverences with a
strange mixture of servility and defiance.

“Your name is Malone?” said Grenfell.

“Peter Malone, Sir.”

“Come nearer, Malone. I have heard a good deal about you from my friend,
whom you treated so hospitably up in the mountains, and he has also
spoken to me of a sort of plan--I won’t call it a very wise one--that he
struck out the other night, and which, it appears, you agreed to, about
your granddaughter.” He paused, hoping that the peasant would speak,
but the old man simply bent his two dark and piercing eyes on him, and
nodded. Grenfell went on: “I have pointed out to him some, though very
far from all, of the inconveniences of the scheme, and I have asked his
leave to point them out to you, and from what he has told me of your
good sense and clear-headedness, I suspect I shall not have undertaken
my task in vain.”

“Does he mean that he wants to go back of it?” asked Malone, with a calm
and resolute look.

“Listen to me patiently, and you shall hear all.” It is not necessary I
should weary my reader with a sermon where the text conveys so much. The
chief burden of Grenfell’s argument was what he had addressed to Vyner;
and upon this he expanded freely, laying much stress on the misfortune
that must accrue to any young girl raised to a temporary elevation,
from which she must come down to meet a life of perhaps privation and
hardship. He pictured an existence of luxury on the one hand, and of
poverty on the other, and asked what right had any one to expose another
to such extremes--what preparation could ease and indulgence be to a
life of toil and suffering? “How were the acquirements of the one to be
made applicable to the other?--how,” he asked, “is the young lady--for
she will have become a young lady--to change at once to the condition of
the ill-fed, ill-dressed, hard-worked country girl?”

Had the orator only glanced as he spoke at the features of the listener,
he would have seen what a lamentable blunder his rhetoric had made. At
the mention of the words “young lady,” the whole expression of the old
man’s face altered; his half-sullen obduracy, his rugged sternness,
disappeared, his eyes lighted up; his lips parted, his nostrils dilated,
and his whole face beamed with a joy that was positively triumphant. “Go
on, Sir!--go on!” he cried, as though he yearned for a perfect picture
of what imagination had but sketched an outline.

“You cannot mean, my good man,” said Grenfell, hastily, “that you would
think it any benefit to be placed where you couldn’t remain?--to stand
at a height where you couldn’t balance yourself? It’s not enough that
people can dress well, and talk well, and look well; they must have,
besides, the means to do all these, day after day, without an effort,
without as much as a care or a thought about them. Do you understand
me?”

“Sure, people wasn’t born ladies and gentlemen from the beginnin’ of the
world?”

“No; great families took their rise in great actions. Some by courage,
some by cleverness, some by skill, and some by great industry.”

“Just so!” broke in the old man. “There was always some one to begin
it, and likely enough too in a mighty small way. Dare I ax your honour a
question?”

“Ask freely, my good fellow.”

“Though I suppose your honour will have to go back very far, can you
tell me what was the first of your own great family?”

From the purpose-like energy of the old peasant’s manner, and the steady
and penetrating look of his bright eyes, Grenfell felt certain that the
man had been prompted to put this insult upon him, and in a voice broken
by passion, he said:

“You’ll gain very little by insolence, old man! With my family you have
nothing to do; they were in no wise connected with yours.”

“Be gorra! I knew it,” cried the peasant, slapping his thigh with his
hand. “I’d have taken my oath of it. I was as sure of it as I was of
my skin that you were not a born gentleman. You may be as rich as you
please, and have houses, and lands, and cows, and hones, but there’s not
a dhrop of the real blood in your body! I said it the first minute I
looked at you, and I say it again.”

Pale and quivering with anger, Grenfell could not utter a word. The
savage violence of the peasant came on him so much by surprise, that he
was actually overwhelmed by it; and though he darted on the old fellow a
look of fury, he turned away without speaking, and entered the house.

Vyner had just received tidings that Mr. M’Kinlay had arrived at
Westport to await his instructions, and he was writing a honied line
to despatch by the messenger, to say, that he would return there on the
morrow, when Grenfell entered, and threw himself into a chair.

“I have met with ruffianism in most shapes, Vyner,” cried he, “but so
insolent a scoundrel as that yonder never came across me before.”

“Insolent! Is it possible? What pretext could he have for insolence?”

“I know well, with your infatuation for these people, what a hopeless
task it would be to persuade you that they were not miracles of good
manners, as well as of loyalty and good conduct. I am quite prepared to
hear that I mistook, or misunderstood--that, in short, what I fancied
was insult was Irish _naïveté._”

“But tell me what passed between you; what he said.”

“I will not.”

“Will you not let me judge of what you accuse him?”

“I will not; nay, more, I make it a charge upon you, as you desire our
friendship to continue, that not only you never interrogate me on
this matter, but that you neither question nor permit that man to be
questioned upon it. Such a fellow should have as small a place in one’s
memory as in one’s esteem, and I’d rather forget him.”

“Tell me, at least, what have you done in the negotiation?”

“Nothing. He opines that you have given him a pledge, to which as a
gentleman you are bound, and as he sees neither peril nor inconvenience
to result from converting a peasant child into a mock young lady, I
suppose you have no choice, but must carry out your fine project with
all the success it deserves.”

“I wish you would let me know what passed between you. If there was any
intentional offence I’d certainly not overlook it.”

“I’ll tell you nothing.”

“Shall he ask your pardon?”

“‘He may; but he shall never have it.”

“You are provoking, George, I must say. You are not just to either of
us; for certainly if I were convinced that you were aggrieved to the
extent you suppose----”

“I tell you once again, and for the last time, I will not discuss it;
and as you have promised me not to open the matter with this fellow, it
may be forgotten at once.”

“You really wish this?”

“I insist upon it.”

“That is sufficient.” Vyner took out his pocket-book, and walked to the
door. “Malone,” cried he; and the old man came forward bareheaded and
respectful, without a shade of passion on his face. “Malone, I am not
so fully assured as I felt last night when I first proposed it, that my
plan for your grandchild would be a wise one; at least, reflection has
shown me some difficulties about it----”

“Just tell me, Sir, do you want to draw back?” said the old man,
resolutely, but respectfully.

“It would be better that you heard me out,” said Vyner, severely. “I am
willing to do all that I offered----”

“That will do, Sir. I never doubted the word of a real gentleman.”

“I was going to say, that if, instead of taking your child from you, you
preferred that I should settle a certain sum of money on her, to be her
marriage portion----”

“No, Sir; no, Sir. What you offered or nothing. Make her a lady, as you
said you would, or leave her where she is.”

“I think, my good man, you suffer your hot blood to get the better of
your judgment occasionally, and it would be as well if you would give
yourself some more time for reflection.”

“My blood is just as God gave it to me, neither hotter nor colder;
and what I say now, I’d say to-morrow. Keep your word, or break it,
whichever you plaze!”

“I can very well understand how my friend----” Vyner stopped himself in
time, and, after a second’s pause, proceeded: “You hold me, then, to my
bargain?”

“How can I hould you? You may hould yourself, but _I_ can’t hould you!”

Vyner’s cheek flushed, partly with anger, partly with shame, and he
said: “With this you will buy what clothes your grandchild will require
at present. Do not spend more of it than you like, for these things
shall be looked to by others; and this will pay the cost of your
journey. I have written down the way you are to go, and also the name
and place of my house. My present intention is to be at home within a
fortnight; but if you arrive before that, you will be equally welcome.”

“Very well, Sir,” said the old man, as he deposited the bank-notes in a
leather purse. “I may go now?”

“Yes, you may go. Remember, however, Malone, that if between this and
next Thursday week, you are inclined to think that my last offer is a
better one----”

“No fear of that, your honour!” broke in the old man, with a laugh. “I’m
a poor man and an ignorant man, but I know what’s best for the stock
I come from. It isn’t money we want. It’s the place where we can make
money, and more than money;” and with a jerk of his frieze coat over his
shoulder, the old fellow strode away down the valley.



CHAPTER XV. Mr. M’KINLAY’S MISSION

When Mr. M’Kinlay set out from the cottage in Wales, it was in no
especial good humour towards Miss Courtenay. She had what is vulgarly
called “snubbed him” and this is a process uncommonly painful to a
well-to-do middle-aged gentleman, accustomed to a great deal of daily
respect, and not a little looked up to in his peculiar sphere.

All night long, as he travelled, he pondered over these things, his
irritation growing ever deeper. He recalled every word she had said, and
in his anger even imitated to himself the careless impertinence of her
tone as she said, “And are _you_ going yachting?” just as if such, a
thought was too absurd to be entertained. “And why not, I’d like to
know? Is there anything in my status or position that would make a
pleasure excursion ridiculous in a man like me? I could afford it. I
hope she doesn’t imply I’m too old for it. Age is an ugly subject; she’d
better not cross-examine her witnesses there. And my red tapery! What
a blessing it was that there were creatures to docket, and tie up, and
register, and save superior souls the trouble of remembering anything!
And then her last impertinence, when, after a sneer at Irish property,
she said she wished I had one! I’m much mistaken, Madam,” cried he, half
aloud, “if a little of that same secluded savagery that Ireland affords
wouldn’t do you a world of good--if a couple of years of country life,
with a bog landscape and a rainy sky, wouldn’t prove an admirable
alterative to you! No fine acquaintances, none of those pleasant idlers,
who like to run down for a week to the country, and bring all the gossip
of town along with them, will follow you to Ireland. No fealty, no
affection will cross the Channel and traverse that dreary waste of
morass, dotted with mud-hovels, they call in irony the Green Isle. If
anything could bring you to your senses, Madam, it would be a residence
here.”

Such were Mr. M’Kinlay’s thoughts as the mail lumbered heavily along
through the deeply-rutted roads, and the rain swooped down in torrents.
“I should like to see her yonder,” mattered he, as they passed a dreary
two-storied house that stood alone on the bleak moor they call the
Curragh. “That’s the reformatory I should like to try you with!”

With such benevolent intentions as these did he arrive at Carrick’s
Royal Hotel, in Westport, just as Vyner and Grenfell had reached the
same spot.

“You’ve had an uncomfortable journey of it, I fear, Mr. M’Kinlay,” said
Vyner, as he shook him cordially by the hand. “Nothing but wind and rain
for the last three days. Come in to my room here, I want to speak to you
before you meet any one. I don’t think you know Grenfell,” said he, when
they were alone, “and I should like to prepare you a little for a man
who, with unquestionable abilities, has a number of oddities about
him, and has a most intense pleasure in contradiction. This has been
especially called out by a project of mine, which, perhaps, you will not
fully approve, but, at all events, will accept as a pardonable caprice.”

With this prelude he related his plan about the little girl whom he
destined to make a companion for Ada. He told how he had been struck
by her wonderful beauty, but far more by the signs of remarkable
intelligence she displayed, and the traits of decision and firmness so
rare in a creature of her age. He urged the advantage it would be to
Ada, whose fault was an excess of timidity, to see one of her own age so
bold and fearless. “That intrepid spirit, trained to independence, will
certainly impart some of its nature to my timid and gentle girl,” said
he, “and the companionship will as certainly dispel the tendency to
depression which is the besetting sin of my dear child.”

“Do you mean to adopt her?” asked the lawyer.

“No, not adopt her. I mean to educate her, and bring her up with Ada,
portion her when she is married, or make some provision for her if she
lives single.”

“That is to say, you want some eight or ten years of her life, and are
not overburdened with anxiety as to what comes of her after.”

“Grenfell himself couldn’t have judged me more unfairly, M’Kinlay. I
want to deal honourably and liberally by her, and I want you to counsel
me how to do so.”

“Make a settlement on her, fix upon a sum, appoint trustees, and
arrange that on her coming to a certain age she shall be declared in the
enjoyment of it.”

“I’m quite willing; nay, more, I’ll leave the entire matter in your
hands. You shall decide on the amount--yes, I insist upon it--and shall
make all the other arrangements. I don’t think there will be much more
to detain us here, for I am not so eager about this property as I was
some weeks ago.”

“Have you been over it?”

“Yes, and am delighted with its picturesque beauty. It is infinitely
finer than I expected, and if I believed they’d let me live there for a
few weeks every year, I would even build a house and furnish it.”

“And who doubts it?”

“I do; and so would you, M’Kinlay, if you talked the matter over, as
I did with a committee of the whole House. We discussed the thing very
coolly and impartially; we entered upon the question of landlordism in
all its bearings, what it contained of good, and where it degenerated
into evil; and although they failed to convince me that capital, skill,
and intelligence, backed by an honest desire to do good, were only
unwarrantable interferences with people who wanted none of them, they
assuredly made me believe that the pleasure of possession would be dear
at the price of being shot at, and that the great probability of being
thrown over a precipice rather detracted from one’s enjoyment of wild
scenery.”

“The fellows who talk like this are not the stuff murderers are made of,
Sir Gervais. They like to frighten away purchasers, just as people get
up ghost stories to deter persons from taking a house. If you like the
property----”

“I repeat, I am charmed with it.”

“In that case, don’t lose it. Ireland cannot remain for ever out of the
law. One day or other she must come into civilisation, and these acres,
that are bought for less money than so much land in South Africa or New
Zealand, will be as profitable as an estate in the West Riding.”

Vyner smiled and shook his head. “Have you not been hearing this story
for more than a century back?”

“Let us hear it for a century still, and the investment will pay cent.
per cent. But come, I will tell you of a plan to test this problem
fairly. Make the estate the fortune you intend for this young girl, with
a power of redemption on your part by payment of a certain sum--let us
say half as much more as you are now to pay for it. By the time that
she will have grown up to womanhood you will have had the opportunity of
deciding whether you desire to become an Irish proprietor or not. At
all events, she will have either a good round sum in hand, or an estate
which certainly will be no perilous heritage to her, though it might be
a dangerous possession to you. This, I think, meets every difficulty.”

“Grenfell would tell us that instead of overcoming one obstacle it
raises two,” said Vyner, laughing.

“But why consult him on the matter?”

“Because I shall want him. I should like to make him a trustee; he’s a
hard-headed man of the world, and well adapted for the office.”

“And whom will you name for the other? Has the girl any relative or
connexion of a class sufficiently elevated for the duty?”

“I suspect not; they are all peasants, and of the very poorest kind.
I doubt greatly if there be one amongst the number who could read and
write. Stay!” cried he, suddenly. “An idea just occurs to me, and if the
notion be at all practicable, it solves every difficulty at once. This
child’s aunt, a peasant like the others, was married to a gentleman, an
old friend and college companion of my own. Unfortunate in many ways,
and, of course, lost to the world of society by this unequal match, he
retired to a lonely island on the coast, where he has lived for some
years in a condition and with habits scarcely above the half-savage
creatures about him. He was and is still a man of considerable ability,
although soured and disgusted with a world wherein he met nothing but
failure. I met him last week by mere accident, having landed on the
lonely rock he inhabits. I will not say he was at all pleased with the
recognition, but, in short, we renewed acquaintance, and parted a little
more like friends than we met. If he could be induced to accept this
trust, it would accomplish all that I wish.”

“Has his wife any influence over him?”

“She is dead. She died a few days since.”

“Does he care for and interest himself about those who belonged to her?”

“I have no means of knowing; but I suspect not.”

“Then probably it would be better that you made this proposition to him
without any intimation that you knew of the relationship between him
and this girl; asking him to assist you in carrying out a whim--a mere
caprice?”

“I have been thinking over that. I believe you are right. He might
not feel indisposed to serve these people, though he might shrink from
declaring them his near connexions. At the same time, I feel he may
refuse us on other grounds. He rejects whatever in the remotest way
would lead him back into the world he has quitted. His is a passive sort
of misanthropy,--I believe, the least curable kind.”

“It would be a pity not to secure him; he is the very man, with his
local knowledge and thorough acquaintance with the people, to give your
experiment the fairest chance of success.”

“Well, here goes for the attempt. Let us first have our dinner,
M’Kinlay, and then I’ll write your credentials. You shall go over to
Arran, and use your best powers of persuasion. I’ll tell you by-and-by
all that you ought to know beforehand of your adversary, for adversary
you’ll find him, whatever subject you broach; but I shall call it a
great victory if you succeed.”

“Where is Arran?” asked the lawyer, in some trepidation, for he only
half liked his mission.

“Here it is,” said Vyner, spreading a map over the table, and pointing
to some three or four insignificant dots off the coast of Donegal. “It is
the most northern of these--that one.”

“And how is it to be come at?”

“We must learn all that from the people of the inn here. A fishing
lugger, I take it----”

“I declare, frankly, I have no fancy for the expedition; nor is there,
indeed, any reason for it. A letter will be amply sufficient to explain
your object.”

“Yes, but not to urge and persuade him--not to meet the doubts and
the difficulties he will suggest--not to reassure him about this, and
convince him about that. He’s a clever fellow, M’Kinlay, and one who
will require to examine every phase of a subject before he’ll accept
it.”

“Good Heavens! what a place to go to,” cried the other, as his eyes were
still intently bent upon the little spots on the map.

“The place is most interesting; some remarkable scenery, and a very
curious ruin of an ancient Abbey.”

“Not in my way--not at all in my way, Sir Gervais. I’d rather see a snug
chop-house than the purest specimen of pointed Gothic.”

“Well, it will be an event in your life, at any rate--an incident to
recal (sp) hereafter; and more than all, it will be a service to myself
personally, which I shall not easily forget.”

“If you make a point of it, I’ll certainly go. I have told you that the
adventurous spirit is not my strongest characteristic. Out-of-the-way
places or buildings, or out-of-the-way people, have no interest far me.
They are like a language I don’t know; they may be eloquent and charming
to others, to me they make no appeal; but I’ll go, as you wish it, and
I’ll do my best.”

“And you’ll succeed, too, I know it. Luttrell and you will understand
each other at once. He’ll be pleased with your purpose-like,
straightforward manner, while he’d reject flatly any attempt to
influence or cajole him. He’ll possibly oppose his habitual indolence
and his life of isolation to all plans for exertion or activity,
but you’ll satisfy him that we have no intention to burden him
unnecessarily, and that, in all likelihood he’ll not be called upon for
more than a single act of an executive nature.”

“What are these luggers like? Are they considered safe?”

“The best sea-boats in the world.”

“And the sailors?”

“None better in the kingdom. In fact, on a coast like this----”

Be stopped suddenly, just remembering in time, that by any picturesque
description of an iron-bound shore or an Atlantic swell, he might
effectually deter M’Kinky from all thought of the expedition. “Say
nothing of what we’ve been talking over, at dinner,” said he; “and I
rejoice to say, here comes the waiter to announce it.”

M’Kinlay sighed; he could have eaten with a capital appetite half
an hour ago. It was all gone now. He’d have liked a stiff glass of
brandy-and-Seltzer-water, nothing more.



CHAPTER XVI. THE OLD LEAVES

The little intercourse which Luttrell maintained with the world was
with his agent, a gentleman who had long acted in that capacity for his
family when such an office was profitable, and when portentous tin boxes
on office shelves, with the name of Hamilton Lnttrell on them, told of
title-deeds and estates.

To this gentleman Luttrell had applied to assist him to sell a quantity
of antiquarian objects, the collecting of which had been the pursuit of
many a solitary day, and in cataloguing which he had passed many a long
night. At first, this taste had been adopted as a pastime--a something
to impart an interest to a dreary and purposeless life; but when three
deficient harvests had so far lessened his income that he was driven
to obtain a small loan to live, he resolved to sell his collection, and
applied to his agent to aid him, making one only condition--that the
bargain should not be effected in Ireland, where his name was still well
known, but with some English dealer, who might never have heard of the
Luttrells.

Though the carefully-drawn catalogue which Luttrell forwarded comprised
a variety of rare and curious objects all bearing upon and illustrating
ancient Irish, history, they were, with a very few exceptions, of
little intrinsic value. There were weapons of stone, spear-heads and
javelin-points, massive clubs embossed with sharpened pebbles, bronze
ornaments and clasps, strangely-shapen casques and shields, and swords
of forma that bespoke an antiquity long antecedent to the Roman wars,
with amulets of amber and silver. Some rings and a sword-hilt alone
were gold; this latter carved with marvellous beauty of design and great
artistic excellence.

At last, after many months of utter silence on the matter, he received
the following letter:

“Kildare-street, Dublin.

“Dear Mr. Luttrell,--I am very sorry at the failure of all my attempts
to dispose of your collection. Vangheest, however, in sending me back,
as you wished, the catalogue yesterday, spoke of an American gentleman
who appeared disposed to treat with you. As he is a perfect stranger
to both of us, and the native of a distant country, I saw no reason for
refusing him the permission which he asked, to view the collection, and,
if allowed, confer with you personally.

“I have accordingly given him a few lines of introduction, and he will
present himself to you as Mr. or Captain Herodotus M. Dodge, U. S. I do
not opine you will find him the possessor of much antiquarian lore; but
he is an outspoken, straightforward man, with whom a business matter can
be readily transacted.

“I know how reluctant you are to be intruded upon, but I am
aware--better, perhaps, than yourself--that you want money at this
moment, and I trust you will pardon me for having transgressed your
orders respecting visitors, and made this case an exception to your
rule. If, however, you persist in your determination not to receive a
stranger, a line addressed to Mr. D., at Carrick’s Hotel, will be in
time, any day till the tenth, to prevent his visit.

“Should you deal with Mr. D., you need not give yourself any trouble
about the details of the payment, as his reference to bankers and others
here have perfectly satisfied me as to his respectability.

“Believe me, dear Mr. Luttrell,

“Faithfully yours,

“George Cane, for Cane and Carter.”

Luttrell was very angry at this letter. It was an insufferable liberty
that Cane had taken. Cane should have written--should have asked his
pleasure--should have inquired whether even the certainty of selling the
collection was not overpaid for at the price of this unseemly intrusion.
“There is no inn on the island. This man must be my guest, and with the
variable weather here, who can tell for how long? He may feel, or affect
to feel, interested about the place and its people, and prolong his stay
for days!”

There was, however, one passage in the letter which pained him to the
quick; it was very brief, but, to him, very significant. It ran thus:
“But I am aware--better, perhaps, than you are--that you are in want of
money.”

Now, Messrs. Cane and Carter had been for some time making
advances--small, it is true--to Luttrell, and as well to intimate to him
that he had overdrawn with them, as to imply that they did not desire
a continuance of the practice, his correspondent threw in that
parenthesis--so full of meaning as it was.

There was a time, as late as his own father’s day, when Messrs. Cane
and Company would not have written such a letter. Not a few of the broad
acres of the Luttrells had passed into their hands since that, however.
They had not their country-houses and conservatories in those days; nor
their sons in the “Guards;” nor a daughter married to a Viscount.

How is it that men will often grow more bitter over their fallen
fortunes, when they contrast them with the prosperity of others who have
never injured them? Cane had actually befriended Luttrell in many ways;
in keeping the agency of the small remnant of property that belonged to
him, he was really performing a kind office; but Luttrell could not, for
all this, forgive him for being prosperous.

He sat down to write two notes, one to Mr. Cane, a very sharp reproof,
for a liberty which he ought never to have presumed upon, and which
nothing, in their respective conditions, could warrant or excuse.
“While,” added he, “I am no less surprised at your remark, that you are
even more than myself aware of my need of money. The observation either
implies a sensitive sympathy for which I was not prepared, or a covert
impertinence which I hesitate to accept as credible.

“I will not receive your friend Mr. Dodge, nor shall I again trouble you
with the private and personal interests of

“Your faithful servant,

“John Hamilton Luttrell.”

The second note was even briefer. “Mr. Luttrell begs to inform Mr. H. M.
Dodge that he cannot receive his visit at Arran, nor can he at present
decide to dispose of his collection.”

“How is the wind, Hennesy?” asked he of his boatman.

“Strong from the east, Sir, and comin’ on harder.”

“Could you beat up to Westport, think you? I have two letters of
importance to send.”

“We might, Sir,” said the man, doubtingly, “but its more likely we’d be
blown out to sea.”

“How long is this gale likely to last?”

“It’s the season of these winds, your honour, and we’ll have, maybe,
three weeks or a month of them, now.”

“In that case, you must try it. Take three men with you, and the large
yawl; put some provisions and water on board; perhaps a little ballast,
too.”

“That we will, Sir. She’ll take a ton more, at least, to carry sail in
this weather.”

“Are you afraid to go?” asked Luttrell, and his voice was harsh, and his
manner stern.

“Afraid! devil a bit afraid!” said the man, boldly, and as though the
imputation had made him forget his natural respect.

“I’d not ask you to do what I’d not venture on myself.”

“We all know that well, Sir,” said the boatman, recovering his former
manner. “‘Tis only that, maybe, we’ll be more time about it than your
honour thinks. We’ll have to make a long stretch out beyond Spanish Bay,
perhaps, near ‘the Cobbles.’”

“I don’t care how you do it, but mind that these two letters reach
Westport by Monday night, on Tuesday morning at farthest. This is for
the post, this for the person whose name is on it, and who will be at
Carrick’s Hotel. Give it if you can into his own hands, and say that
there is no answer required.”

“You bade me remind you, Sir, that the next time the boat went over to
Westport, that I was to take Master Harry, and get him measured for some
clothes; but of course you’d not like to send him in this weather.”

“I think not; I think there can be no doubt of that,” cried Luttrell,
half angrily. “It’s not when the strong easterly gales have set in, and
a heavy sea is coming up from the south’ard, that I’d tell you to take a
boy----” He stopped suddenly, and turning fiercely on the sailor, said,
“You think I have courage enough to send you and a boat’s crew out, and
not to send my son. Speak out, and say it. Isn’t that what you mean?”

“It is not, Sir. If you towld me to take the child, I wouldn’t do it.”

“You wouldn’t do it?” cried Luttrell, passionately. “I would not, Sir,
if you never gav’ me another day’s pay.” “Leave the room--leave the
house, and prepare to give up your holding. I’ll want that cabin of
yours this day month. Do you hear me?” “I do, Sir,” said the man, with a
lip pale and quivering. “Send Sam Joyce here.” “He’s only up out of the
fever since Monday, Sir.”

“Tell Maher I want him, then; and mind me, Sir,” added he, as the man
was leaving the room, “no story-telling, no conspiring, for if Dan Maher
refuses to obey my orders, whatever they are, he’ll follow you, and so
shall every man of you, if I leave the island without a family except my
own.”

“Don’t send your child out, anyways,” said the man.

“Leave the room, Sir,” said Luttrell, imperiously; and the man, cowed
and crestfallen, closed the door and withdrew.

As though to carry corroboration to the sailor’s warning, a fierce blast
struck the window at the moment, making the old woodwork rattle, and
threatening to smash it in, while the dark sky grew darker, and seemed
to blend with the leaden-coloured sea.

“I want you to go over to Westport, Maher,” said Luttrell to a
hard-featured, weather-beaten man of about fifty, who now stood wet and
dripping at the door.

“Very well, Sir,” was the answer.

“Take the big yawl, and any crew you please. Whenever all is ready, come
up here for your orders.”

“Very well, Sir,” said the man, and retired.

“Where’s Master Harry, Molly?” cried Luttrell, advancing into the
passage that led toward the kitchen.

“He’s out on the rocks, Sir, watching the sea.”

“Call him in here. I want to speak to him. What are you doing here, Sir?
I told you to leave this.” This stern speech was addressed to Hennesy,
who, with evident signs of sorrow on his face, stood half hid beside the
door.

“I was hopin’ your honour wouldn’t torn me out after nine years’
sarvice, when I never did or said one word to displaze you.”

“Away with you--be off--I have no time to parley with fellows like you.
Come in here, Harry,” and he laid his hand on the boy’s shoulder, and
led him into his room. “I’m sending a boat over to Westport; would you
like to go in her?”

“Wouldn’t I?” said the boy, as his eyes flashed wildly.

“You are in want of clothes, and you could go to Sweeney’s and get
measured for a suit.”

“I do not care for the clothes; but I’d like the sail. Isn’t Tim Hennesy
to go?”

“Hennesy is not to go. Maher is to command the boat.”

“I’d rather have Tim; but I don’t care.”

“Be ready, then, in half an hour.”

“I’m ready now.”

“I mean, get another coat, something warmer, for you’ll be out one night
at least; and put your woollen wrapper round your throat. Molly will
give it to you.”

“There’s thunder!” cried the boy; “I hope it won’t lull the wind. It’s
blowing fiercely now.”

“You’re a good swimmer, ain’t you?”

“I can beat every one but Tim.”

“And what would you do if you were upset?”

“Hold on by the boat, or a spar.”

“Till you were picked up? But if none came to pick you up?”

“Hold on still, till I was near enough to swim.”

“And if you didn’t get near enough?”

“Go down, I suppose,” said the boy, with a laugh. “One can always do
that!”

Luttrell nodded, and after a moment said, “Get ready now, for here’s
Maher coming for orders.”



CHAPTER XVII. THE NOR’-WESTER

The day--a dark and stormy one--was drawing to a close as the yawl got
under weigh. She was manned by a stout crew of five hardy islanders;
for although Maher had selected but three to accompany him, Tim Hennesy
volunteered, and, indeed, jumped on board, as the boat sheered off,
without leave asked or given. Luttrell had parted with his boy in his
habitual impassive way--reminded him that he was under Tom Maher’s
orders, equally on shore as on board--that he trusted to hear a good
account of him on his return, and then said a cold “good-by,” and turned
away.

When Harry, who rarely had so long an interview with his father, left
the room, he felt a sort of relief to think it was over; he had been
neither punished nor scolded, even the warning that was given was very
slight, and uttered in no unkindness.

“Give me a kiss, Molly, and throw an old shoe after me, for luck!” cried
he, gaily, as he reached the door. “We’ve got the big yawl, and though
Tom has put two reefs in the mainsail, won’t I make him shake them out
when we’re well out to sea!”

“I’ll just go and tell the master this minit, then,” said she, eagerly,
“and you’ll see what he’ll say to you.”

“Will you be quiet?” said he, catching hold of her apron to detain her;
“wasn’t I only joking? I’m to be under Tom’s orders, and of course I’ll
obey him.”

There was a waggish drollery in the way he said this that by no means
reassured her, but taking his hand, she walked down to the beach beside
him, telling him to be careful of himself, and do nothing rash, and to
mind what Tom Maher said, and, above all, to remember he was the last of
the family, and if anything was to happen to him there was an end of the
name for ever.

“And don’t you think, Molly, that the world would continue to go round,
even if it lost us, great as we are?”

“Ah, ye’re a young imp! that’s what ye are;” said she, wiping a tear
from her eye as she spoke. “‘Tis wishin’ them well I am, the same
clothes. I’d rather see you in a suit of sealskin, than sent out on such
a day as this, just to be measured by a tailor.”

“You’d dress me worse than Brian O’Lynn, Molly,” said the boy, with a
merry laugh. “Did you ever hear what he did for a watch?”

“Arrah! what do I care what he did.”

“Here it is, and very ingenious, too,” said he:

     “Bryan O’Lynn had no watch to put on,
     So he scooped out a turnip to make him a one,
     He then put a cricket clean under the skin,
     ‘They’ll think it is ticking,’ says Bryan O’Lynn.”

“May I never!” began she, trying to reprove his levity; but as he
stepped into the boat at the same instant, her grief overcame all else,
and she burst into tears. She threw her apron over her face to hide her
emotion; but she suddenly drew it down as a wild cry, half yell, half
cheer, broke from the fishermen on the shore; a squall had struck the
boat just as she got under weigh, and though she lay over, reeling under
the shock, she righted nobly again, and stood out boldly to sea.

“There’s not a finer craft in the King’s navy,” said a very old man, who
had once been a pilot. “I’d not be afeerd to go to ‘Quaybeck’ in her.”

“Come up and taste a dhrop of sperits this wet day,” whispered Molly in
his ear, for his words were a balm to her aching heart.

At first from the window of his lonely room, and then, when the boat
had rounded the point of land, and could be no more seen, from a little
loopholed slit in the tower above him, Luttrell watched her course. Even
with his naked eye he could mark the sheets of spray as they broke over
the bow and flew across her, and see how the strong mast bent like
a whip, although she was reduced to her very shortest sail, and was
standing under a double-reefed mainsail, and a small storm-jib. Not
another boat, not another sail of any kind was to be seen; and there
seemed something heroically daring in that little barque, that one dark
speck, as it rose and plunged, seen and lost alternately in the rolling
sea.

It was only when he tried to look through the telescope, and found that
his hand shook so much that he could not fix the object, that he himself
knew how agitated he was. He drew his hand across his brow and found
it clammy, with a profuse and cold perspiration. By this time it was
so dark that he had to grope his way down the narrow stairs to his room
below. He called for Molly. “Who was that you were talking to? I heard a
strange roice without there.”

“Old Moriarty, the pilot, your honour; I brought him in out of the wet
to dry himself.”

“Send him in here to me,” said Luttrell, who, throwing a root of oak on
the fire, sat down with his back to the door, and where no light should
fall upon his face.

“It’s blowing fresh, Moriarty,” said he, with an affected ease of
manner, as the old man entered and stood nigh the door.

“More than fresh, your honour. It’s blowin’ hard.”

“You say that, because you haven’t been at sea these five-and-twenty
years; but it’s not blowing as it blew the night I came up from Clew,
no, nor the day that we rounded Tory Island.”

“Maybe not; but it’s not at its worst yet,” said the old fellow, who was
ill-pleased at the sneer at his seamanship.

“I don’t know what the fellows here think of such weather, but a crew of
Norway fishermen--ay, or a set of Deal boatmen--would laugh at it.”

“Listen to that now, then,” said the other, “and it’s no laughing
matter;” and as he spoke a fierce gust of wind tore past, carrying the
spray in great sheets, and striking against the walls and windows with a
clap like thunder. “That was a squall to try any boat!”

“Not a boat like the large yawl!”

“If it didn’t throw two tons of water aboard of her, my name isn’t
Moriarty.”

“Master Harry is enjoying it, I’m certain,” said Luttrell, trying to
seem at ease.

“Well! It’s too much for a child,” said the old man, sorrowfully.

“What do you mean by a child? He’s no child, he’s a well-grown boy, and
if he’s eyer to have a man’s heart in him, ought to begin to feel it
now.”

“It was no night to send him out, anyhow; and I say it, though it was
your honour did it!”

“Because you’re an old fool, and you think you can presume upon your
white head and your tottering limbs. Look here; answer me this----”

A fearful thunder roll, followed by a rattling crash like small-arms,
drowned his words. “It _is_ a severe night,” said he, “and if she wasn’t
a fine sea-boat, with a good crew on board her, I’d not feel so easy!”

“Good as she is, it will thry her.”

“What a faint-hearted old dog you are, and you were a pilot once.”

“I was, Sir. I took Sir George Bowyer up the Chesapeak, and Commodore
Warren could tell you whether I know the Baltic Sea.”

“And you are frightened by a night like this!”

“I’m not frightened, Sir; but I’d not send a child out in it, just
for----” He stopped, and tried to fall back behind the door.

“Just for what?” said Luttrell, with a calm and even gentle voice--
“just for what?”

“How do I know, your honour. I was saying more than I could tell.”

“Yes; but let me hear it. What was the reason that you supposed--why do
you think I did it?”

Deceived and even lured on to frankness by the insinuating softness
of his manner, the old man answered: “Well, it was just your honour’s
pride, the ould Luttrell pride, that said, ‘We’ll never send a man where
we won’t go ourselves,’ and it was out of that you’d risk your child’s
life!”

“I accused you of being half a coward a minute ago,” said Luttrell, in
a low deep voice, that vibrated with intense passion, “but I tell you,
you’re a brave man, a very brave man, to dare to speak such words as
these to me! Away with you; be off; and never cross this threshold
again.” He banged the door loudly after the old man, and walked up and
down the narrow room with impatient steps. Hour after hour he strode up
and down with the restless activity of a wild animal in a cage, and as
though by mere motion he could counteract the fever that was consuming
him. He went to the outer door, but he did not dare to open it, such
was the force of the storm; but he listened to the wild sounds of
the hurricane--the thundering roar of the sea, as it mingled with the
hissing crash, as the waves were broken on the rocks. Some old tree,
that had resisted many a gale, seemed at last to have yielded, for the
rustling crash of broken timber could be heard, and the rattling of the
smaller branches as they were carried along by the swooping wind. “What
a night I what a terrible night!” he muttered to himself. There was a
faint light seen through the chinks of the kitchen door; he drew
nigh and peeped in. It was poor Molly on her knees, before a little
earthenware image of the Virgin, to whom she was offering a candle,
while she poured out her heart in prayer. He looked at her, as, with
hands firmly clasped before her, she rocked to and fro in the agony of
her affliction, and noiselessly he stole away and entered his room.

[Illustration: 152]

He opened a map upon the table, and tried to trace out the course the
boat might have taken. There were three distant headlands to clear
before she could reach the open sea. One of these, the Turk’s Head, was
a noted spot for disasters, and dreaded by fishermen even in moderately
fresh, weather. He could not take his eyes from the spot; that little
speck so full of fate to him. To have effaced it from the earth’s
surface at that moment, he would have given all that remained to him in
the world! “Oh, what a destiny!” he cried in his bitterness, “and what
race! Every misfortune, every curse that has fallen upon us, of our own
doing! Nothing worse, nothing so bad, have we ever met in life as our
own stubborn pride, our own vindictive natures.” It required some actual
emergency, some one deeply momentous’ crisis, to bring this proud and
stubborn spirit down to self-accusation; but when the moment _did_ come,
when the dam _was_ opened, the stream rushed forth like the long pent-up
waters of a cataract.

All that he had ever done in life, all the fierce provocations he
had given, all the insults he had uttered, his short-comings too, his
reluctance to make amends when in the wrong, passed spectre-like before
him, and in the misery of his deep humiliation he felt how all his
struggle in life had been with himself.

That long night--and how long it was!--was spent thus. Every wild gust
that shook the window-frames, every thunder-clap that seemed to make the
old ruin rock, recalling him to thoughts of the wild sea on which his
poor child was tossing. “Have they got well out to sea by this time, or
are they beating between the Basket Rocks and the Turk’s Head?” would he
ask himself over and over. “Can they and will they put back if they see
the storm too much for them?” He tried to remember his parting words.
Had he taunted them with reluctance to venture out? Had he reflected on
their courage? He could not now recal (sp) his words, but he hoped and
he prayed that he had not.

The leaden grey of morning began to break at last, and the wind seemed
somewhat to abate, although the sea still rolled in such enormous waves,
and the spray rose over the rocks and fell in showers over the shingle
before the windows. Luttrell strained his eyes through the half-murky
light, but could descry nothing like a sail seaward. He mounted the
stairs of the tower, and stationing himself at the loopholed window,
gazed long and earnestly at the sea. Nothing but waves--a wild,
disordered stretch of rolling water--whose rocking motion almost at last
made his head reel.

The old pilot, with his hat tied firmly on, was standing below, and,
careless of the beating rain, was looking out to sea.

“The gale is lessening, Moriarty,” cried out Luttrell; “it has blown
itself out.”

It was evident the old man had not caught the words aright, for all he
said was, “She’s a fine sea-boat if she did, Sir,” and moved away.

“He thinks it doubtful--he does not believe they have weathered the
storm,” said Luttrell; and he sat down with his head between his hands,
stunned and almost senseless.

There is no such terrible conflict as that of a proud spirit with
misfortune. He who sees nothing in his calamities but his own hard fate
has the dreariest and least hopeful of all battles before him. Now,
though Luttrell was ready to utter his self-accusings aloud, and charge
himself audibly with the faults that had wrecked his life, yet, strange
as it may seem, the spirit of true humility had never entered his heart,
far less any firm resolve to repent.

With all the terrible consequences that his unbridled temper could evoke
before him, he still could not but regard himself as more persecuted
than erring. “I did not make myself,” cried he, impiously. “I no more
implanted the passions that sway than the limbs that move me!
Other men--is not the world full of them?--have been as haughty,
as unyielding, and domineering as myself, and yet have had no such
disasters heaped upon them--far from it. Out of their very faults
has sprung, their fortune. In their pride they have but asserted that
superiority that they knew they possessed.”

While he reasoned thus, his heart, truer to nature than his brain,
trembled at every freshening of the storm, and sickened as the dark
squalls shot across the sea.

Nor was his agony less that he had to control it, and not let those
about him see what he suffered. He sat down to his breakfast at the
accustomed hour, and affected to eat as usual. Indeed, he rebuked Molly
for some passing carelessness, and sent her away almost choked with
tears, “as if,” as she sobbed to herself--“as if she was a dog. To know
whether the milk ‘took the fire’ or not! Musha! any man but himself
wouldn’t know whether it was milk or salt water was afore him.”

It was his habit to pass the morning in reading. He would not appear to
deviate from this custom, but sat down to his books as usual.

No sooner, however, was all still and quiet around him than he stole
up to the tower, and stationed himself at the narrow window that looked
over the sea.

The wind had greatly abated, and the sea also gone down, but there was
still the heavy roll and the deafening crash upon the shore, that follow
a storm. “The hurricane is passing westward,” muttered Luttrell; “it has
done its work here!” And a bitter scorn curled his lips as he spoke. He
was calling upon his pride to sustain him. It was a hollow ally in his
time of trouble; for, as he gazed and gazed, his eyes _would_ grow dim
with tears, and his heavy heart would sigh, as though to bursting.

As the day wore on, and the hour came when he was habitually about, he
strolled down to the beach, pretending to pick up shells, or gather sea
anemones, as he was wont. The fishermen saluted him respectfully as he
passed, and his heart throbbed painfully as he saw, or fancied he saw, a
something of compassionate meaning in their faces. “Do they believe, can
they think that it is all over, and that I am childless?” thought he.
“Do they know that I am desolate?” A pang shot through him at this, that
made him grasp his heart with his hand to suppress the agony.

He rallied after a minute or so, and walked on. He had just reached the
summit of the little bay, when a sort of cheer or cry from those behind,
startled him. He turned and saw that the fishermen were gathered in
a group upon one of the rocks, all looking and pointing seaward; with
seeming indolence of gait, while his anxiety was almost suffocating him,
he lounged lazily towards them.

“What are the fellows looking at?” said he to the old pilot, who, with
some difficulty, had just scrambled down from the rock.

“A large lugger, your honour, coming up broad.”

“And is a fishing-boat so strange a thing in these waters?”

“She’s out of the fishin’ grounds altogether, your honour; for she’s one
of the Westport boats. I know her by the dip of her bowsprit.”

“And if she is, what does it signify to us?” asked Luttrell, sternly.

“Only that she’s bearin’ up for the island, your honour, and it’s not
often one of them comes here.”

“The seldomer the better,” said Luttrell, gloomily. “When the fellows
find there are no grog-shops here, they turn to mischief, break down our
fences, lop our trees, and make free with our potatoes. I’ll have to
do one of these days what I have so often threatened--warn all these
fellows off, and suffer none to land here.”

Perhaps the old pilot thought that other and very different feelings
might at that moment have had the sway over him, for he looked away, and
shook his head mournfully.

“She has a flag at the peak,” cried one of the men from the rock.

“She has what?” asked Luttrell, impatiently.

“She has the half-black, half-white ensign, your honour.”

“Your own flag at the peak,” said the pilot.

“More of their insolence, I suppose,” said Luttrell; “because they have
a hamper or a parcel on board for me, perhaps.”

“I don’t think it’s that, Sir,” said the other, moodily.

“What is it, then?” cried he, harshly.

“‘Tis, maybe, your honour, that they have some news of----” he was
going to say “Master Harry,” but the ghastly paleness of Luttrell’s face
appalled and stopped him.

“News of what, did you say?”

“Of the big yawl, Sir; they, maybe, saw her at sea.”

“And if they had, would that give them a right to hoist the Luttrell
flag? We are low enough in the world, Heaven knows!” he cried; “but we
are not come to that pass yet, when every grocer of Westport can carry
our crest or our colours.” This burst of mock anger was but to cover a
rush of real terror; for he was trembling from head to foot, his sight
was dimmed, and his brain turning. He felt the coward, too, in his
heart, and did not dare to face the old man again. So, turning abruptly
away, he went back to the house.

“My fate will soon be decided now,” said he, as he tottered into his
room, and sat down, burying his face in his hands.

The group of fishermen on the rock grew larger and larger, till at last
above thirty were clustered on the point, all eagerly watching, and as
earnestly discussing every motion of the lugger. It was soon clear that
her course was guided by some one who knew the navigation well, for
instead of holding on straight for the bay, where she was to cast
anchor, she headed to a point far above it, thus showing that her
steersman was aware of the strong shore current that had force enough to
sweep her considerably out of her course. Meanwhile, they had ample time
to discuss her tonnage, her build, her qualities for freight and speed,
and her goodness as a sea-boat. “I wonder did she see the yawl?” said
one at length, for, with a strange and scarcely accountable terror, none
would approach the theme that was uppermost in every heart. The word
once uttered, all burst in at once, “‘Tis with news of her she’s come!
She saw her ‘put in’ to Belmullet, or to Westport, or she saw her
sheltering, perhaps, under the high cliffs of the coast, ‘lying to,’
till the gale lightened.” None would say more than this.

“Hurrah!” cried one at last, with a joyful cheer, that made every heart
bound, “I see Master Harry; he’s steerin’!”

“So he is!” shouted another; “he’s settin’ up on the weather gunwale,
and his head bare, too. I see his hair flyin’ wild about him.”

“Go up and tell the master.”

“Faix, I’m afeerd; I never spoke to him in my life.”

“Will you, Owen Riley?”

“Sorra step I’ll go; he turned me out of the place for saying that the
cobble wanted a coat of pitch, and she sank under me, after. Let ould
Moriarty go.”

“So I will. ‘Tis good news I’ll have to bring him, and that never hurt
the messenger.” And so saying, the old pilot hastened, as fast as his
strength would permit, to the house.

The door was open, and he passed in. He sought for Molly in the kitchen,
but poor Molly was away on the beach, following the course the lugger
seemed to take, and hoping to be up at the point she might select to
anchor at. The old man drew cautiously nigh Luttrell’s door, and tapped
at it, respectfully.

“Who’s there? Come in; come in at once,” cried Luttrell, in a harsh
voice. “What have you to say? Say it out.”

“‘Tis to tell your honour that Master Harry----”

“What of him? What of him?” screamed Luttrell; and he seized the old man
by the shoulders, and shook him violently.

“He’s steerin the lugger, your honour, and all safe.”

A cry, and a wild burst of laughter, broke from the overburdened heart,
and Luttrell threw himself across the table and sobbed aloud.

Overcome with terror at such a show of feeling in one he had deemed dead
to every emotion, the old man tried to move away unseen; but just as he
had closed the door behind him, Luttrell screamed out, “Come back. You
saw him--you saw him yourself?”

“No, Sir; but better eyes than mine did, and they could see that he had
no cap on his head.”

“And they were sure it was he?”

“There’s no mistakin’ him among a thousand!”

“If they deceived me--if this was false----” he stopped and wiped the
cold sweat from his forehead. “There, I see her now. She’s rounding
to--she’s going to anchor. I have been poorly of late, Moriarty,” said
he, in a low, subdued tone; “things fret and worry me, that I’d not let
annoy me if I were stronger. Men of _your_ stamp fancy there can never
be much amiss with men of _mine_, because we have enough to eat and
drink. What’s that noise without? Who is talking there?”

The door opened suddenly, and Harry, with flushed face and wildly
disordered hair, and with clothes all wet and dripping, stood before his
father. He made no motion to embrace, nor even approach him, but stood
within the door respectful, but not abashed, and as if waiting for leave
to advance farther.

Luttrell’s cheek trembled, and changed colour twice, but, subduing
his emotion with a great effort, he said, in a tone of affected
indifference, “You had rough weather--did you make Westport?”

“No, Sir; we lost the boat.”

“Lost the boat! how was that?”

“She filled; at least, she took so much water that she would not answer
her helm, and then she heeled over and went down.”

“Down all at once?”

“Yes; I had barely time to cut away our ensign from the peak. I thought
I’d save the Luttrell colours, and so I did.”

“Were you far from land at the time?”

“About fifteen miles; as good as fifty, for the wind was strong off
shore, and such a sea!”

“And what did you do?”

“We had plenty of spars. There were oars, and stretchers, and four large
planks of the flooring, all floating about, and each of us laid hold of
something.”

“By my sowle you’re a brave boy!” cried the old pilot, who could
restrain himself no longer.

Luttrell turned a fierce look on the old man, and pointed to the door,
and the poor fisherman slunk away overwhelmed with shame.

“So we’ve lost our best boat, and all her tackle,” said Luttrell,
moodily; “a heavy loss.”

“It is!” said the boy, gravely; “but the fellows that picked us up say,
that they don’t know how we held on so long with an undecked boat. They
were watching us for an hour before we went over.”

“Who were they?”

“Westport men; they were taking that man over here you gave us the
letter for--a Yankee fellow.”

“What do you mean by a Yankee, Sir?”

“Tom Crab called him so to me, that’s all I know; but he’s a good
fellow, and gave me some brandy when he pulled me on board; and I near
he rubbed me till I got quite warm.”

“Where is he now?”

“He’s helping them to carry that sick man up here, and I don’t think
he’s so sick as they say. I’m sure it’s just fright, and no more; for
every time the boat went about in stays, he’d raise his head and give a
groan.”

“Of whom are you talking?”

“I don’t know his name, Sir; but they tell me he wants to see you very
much. There he goes; they’ve got him in that blanket, and are bringing
him here.”

“Where will I put the sick gentleman, Sir?” said Molly, coming in; “may
I make a bed in the store-room?”

“Do so,” said Luttrell, briefly; “and for the other, give him the room
that was your mistress’s; and do you, Harry, go out and be civil and
attentive to these people. I will see them myself later on. They must
put up with rough fare, but they came self-invited.”



CHAPTER XVIII. A SKIPPER.

Luttrell had just made up his mind that he would inform the American
visitor he would receive him, when Harry entered, leading the stranger
by the hand. “That’s papa,” said the boy, and retired.

“I hope I see you in very good health, Sir,” said Mr. Dodge, advancing
boldly, and shaking Luttrell’s hand in a hearty, vigorous manner.
“You live in a pretty lonesome spot here, and as the man said to the
whip-snake in the spout, ‘You ain’t easy to get at.’”

“Perhaps that was one of the reasons that led me to choose it, Sir,”
 said Luttrell, stiffly, “and had you got my note, you’d have seen that I
never intended you should incur the inconvenience of coming to it.”

“Well, Sir, it warn’t pleasant; I’ll tell no lie, it warn’t pleasant!
I’m a seafearin’ man, Sir, and I’ve been one all my life; but such a
harbour to get out of, and such a port to get into, and such a craft to
do it in, I never seed in all my born days.”

“You compel me to repeat my regrets, Sir. I am, indeed, sincerely sorry
for your fruitless journey.”

“Well, it warn’t all time lost--we picked up that crew, and that lad of
yours. He’s a fine ‘buoy,’ Sir; I know ‘buoys’ well, and I say it again,
he’ll be a smart man.”

Luttrell bowed a cold and haughty acknowledgment.

“He ain’t a bit like you, not a bit; there’s no pride, no stand off
about _him_; he’s a raal frank, straight-ahead one. I seed it before he
was well aboard. It was all I could do to keep him from swimming after
his cap--a darned old sealskin thing it was--but he said it was his best
one, and he’d not get another in a hurry.”

“His frankness deserved all your praise, Sir, it went to the extent of
exposing his father’s poverty.”

“And if it did--what o’ that? You ain’t ashamed of it, are you? Look at
me, Sir; I have a matter of seventy thousand dollars in the Tennessee
Bank, and a trifle more in Ohio scrip, and I own every timber in the
barque _Prettyman Quincey Squashy_ four hundred and odd tons, a clipper
to sail, and a whale for freight, and I ain’t proud, nor no ways blown
up to burstin’ for that!”

“I am delighted to know of your prosperity, Sir, for your sake,” said
Luttrell, coldly.

“Mind,” said the other, who accepted the words in their most flattering
sense, “I didn’t say it was all got with my hands in my ‘pants-’
pockets. I had a darn’d deal of smart work for it. I was up among the
Injians for four years, I was over the Rocky Mountains trappin’, I was
a cook aboard a South Sea whaler, and”--here he winked one eye, and gave
Luttrell a good-humoured poke with his finger--“and I did a little in
Ebony off the Samsoo River, you understand; unwholesome work it was,
with the baracoons always flooded, and the alligators flopping through
the mud, and stirring up foul air and fever. Ugh!” he cried, with a wry
face, “you’d see an ugly sort of a blotch on your cheek at night, and
before the same hour next evening the ground sharks would be a fitin’
over you. You haven’t got anything to drink, have you?”

“I can, unfortunately, offer you nothing but our mountain whisky; it is
home-made, however, and not bad.”

While Luttrell took a bottle and some glasses from a small cupboard in
the wall, Mr. Dodge employed himself in a leisurely examination of the
chamber and its furniture. “May I never!” exclaimed he, “if it ain’t
a droll sort of crib. Why, Stranger, I’d not live here three months
without making something better to sit on, and handier to eat off, than
these. Just you give me a hatchet, and a hammer, and a handful of nails,
to-morrow morning early, and see if I won’t.”

“I am afraid my furniture deserves all the ill you can say of it,” said
Luttrell, with a faint smile.

“That ain’t a chair--it’s not like a chair.”

“I will not defend it, certainly.”

“And yet it shows why you Britishers never can, by any possibility, be a
great people--no, Sir, never.”

“I am really curious to hear that explanation.”

“Well, Sir,” said he, tossing off a fresh tumbler of undiluted whisky,
“you’re a goin’ to hear it--but ‘don’t be impatient,’ as the bush
squirrel said to the young mouse, ‘I’ve got your mother in my mouth,
but I’ll eat you presently.’ Here’s how it is. When you was makin’
that chair, you had in your mind some old-fashioned, ramshackle,
nine-cornered machine you had seen of your father’s, or your
grandfather’s, and nothin’ would persuade you but to imitate that. It
was wisdom of your ancestors--but we never had no ancestors. We didn’t
begin the world with fifty cranks in our head about how some helpless
old critter ten centuries back would ha’ tried to do this, or to mend
that. There’s the difference between us, Sir; and mind my words, when
we’ve got a ten-inch gun that’ll send a shot from Long Island to the
Battery Point, you Britishers will be a going back to bows and arrows,
and a paintin’your bodies blue, like your ancestors.”

[Illustration: 162]

“The picture is not flattering,” said Luttrell, gravely. “And now, Sir,
let us talk of something more nearly interesting to us. I am informed
by my correspondent that you have seen the catalogue of my small
collection, and desire to examine the objects themselves.”

“If that’s a home brew, Stranger, it does you more credit than the
chair,” said Mr. Dodge, smacking his lips after his third tumbler of
whisky.

“I am proud to have anything worth offering you, Sir.”

“If you’ve a barrel or two; of that spirit to dispose of, we’ll deal,
Sir, that’s a fact;” and Mr. Dodge emptied the bottle into his glass.

“I’m not certain whether my resources extend so far, but if they do, the
whisky is much at your service, and I will feel honoured if you accept
it.”

“Now for the gimcracks--let’s see ‘em,” said Mr. Dodge, as though eager
to show how promptly he could respond to a graceful or generous action.

“Some of the gimcracks are here before you,” said Luttrell, making
a rather awkward attempt to smile, as he repeated the word. “This
curiously misshapen attempt at a figure is, I have every reason to
believe, an image of the idol ‘Crom,’ the object of worship to the Irish
in the days of Paganism. You see he holds in his hand a sort of weapon
like a fork.”

“It ain’t a brand, and it ain’t a fork! The Choctaws have idols that
beat that critter hollow, and they stick eyes in them of a red stone
that sparkles when there’s light on it. What’s this?”

“An ancient Irish spear, or javelin.”

“It’s a whale harpoon, and a rare bad one to boot; the spike ain’t well
fastened, and no lead on the butt-end. Here’s a bowie-knife, ain’t it?”

“It’s the sword of an Irish chieftain, and was found in the tomb of
Thady O’Shaughlen, Prince of the Kiel, and the lands of Maroon; the
inscription that you see here----”

“I see nothing but scratches, made belike with an old nail or a
dinner-fork--they ain’t letters.”

“This inscription signifies ‘I am.’”

“Well, I’m blessed if I believe them’s old--they’re rubbish, Stranger,
jist rubbish--and as for the big dish----”

“It is a shield--a more perfect specimen is not extant. It was the
battle-shield of Brian Ogh-na-Tiernach; he was killed in the great
battle of Gongal-a-Murrah, which some historians have confounded with
the battle of Claddahmore.”

Perfectly insensible to the sneers, or the not less offensive ridicule
expressed by the American, Luttrell went on displaying object after
object with all the zeal of one who gloried in his pursuit, and
delighted in his success as an antiquarian. He drew forth rare scraps of
manuscript, some worn and tattered fragments discoloured by age, and
to all seeming undecipherable; he read out names of kings and saints,
valiant chieftains, and holy martyrs, whom he mentioned with a voice
tremulous with veneration; and he showed signet-rings and amulets they
had worn, as a priest might have displayed the most sacred relics.

“Look here, Stranger,” said the Yankee, as he threw himself into the
old chair, and stretched out his legs to the fullest extent, “there’s
a museum in my native town of Halkanopolis, and I want to make ‘em a
present; it’s to be somethin’ nobody ever seed the like of afore, nor
ever will again. I du think this gatherin’ here is pretty nigh that
ticket! And now, I say, what will you take for the whole bilin’ as it
stands?”

“You have not seen one-tenth of the collection as yet!” cried Luttrell,
whose zeal as an antiquarian was far greater than his eagerness as a
vendor. “There’s the great book of the Three Curses.”

“We can do the swearin’ and cursin’ pretty well without a book where I
come from,” said the Yankee, with a grin.

“Diarmid’s Token, as it is called. This curious gem, with its setting of
pure gold, was formerly believed to be a protection against witchcraft.”

“In my country, Britisher, it’s the witches would want the amulet! We’re
a pretty hard set down there, and can take care of ourselves without any
help from charms. Come, now--let’s deal; what’s the whole figure, in one
word?”

“You are unjust to both of us,” said Luttrell. “You neither know what I
want to sell, or yourself to buy. Let me go on and show you some curious
relics of a later period; they may have more interest for you, perhaps.”

“Not a hickory shaving’s difference, whether you showed me a trowel
that helped to build Babel, or a snuff-box of Queen Bess. If you want to
please me, talk of dollars, Stranger, hard dollars.”

Luttrell’s face flushed with a passing anger; this reducing him to the
position of a tradesman, first displaying and then pricing his wares,
sorely tried a temper that was never proof against much pressure. The
purpose-like cold face of the American, however, showed him that the man
meant no covert impertinence by his demand; but was simply desirous of
finishing a bargain as speedily as might be.

“I am sorry, Sir,” said he, at length, “that you will not let me lay
before you even the few objects that I prize the most; however, as you
give me no choice in the matter, and as circumstances render me anxious
to part with my collection, I obey you. I estimated the whole at three
hundred pounds. My agent informed me that, in London, two hundred was
deemed the value, and I never got a higher offer than a hundred and
fifty, which I refused, but which I will now take, if offered me.”

The American took a very scrubby note-book from his pocket, and made a
short calculation with a pencil.

“Well!” said he, in a drawling, dreary sort of way, “it ain’t much. I
suppose you was years over it?”

“Yes,” said Luttrell, taken suddenly off his guard, “they occupied me
many very sad days and nights. They were labours that lightened sorrow,
and took me away from cares that were eating into my heart.”

“Ah! and how much better you’d have been, stranger, if you’d ha’ been
doin’ something genuine useful, something to make yourself and others
more comfortable, and not a grubbin’ after old shoe-buckles and saints’
shinbones. Well, you don’t think so! No matter; that’s our way o’
lookin’ at it. Now to business. There’s just one thing in these diggins
that has tuk my fancy. It’s the only thing here that I’d give a red cent
for, on my own account; but I do like it wonderful. I don’t suppose
you’ll let me have it to buy, but if you’ll jist give a loan of it,
we’ll say for a year or two--two years--I’ll close the deal, and give
you your first price, fifteen hundred dollars.”

Luttrell’s dark face lighted up at the prospect of relief from much
embarrassment, and his eyes ranged over the room to see what it possibly
could be that had captivated his strange visitor’s fancy. A few gaffs,
a single-barrel gun, and some fishing-taekle, were in one corner, and a
pair of high sealskin boots in another, and a rough wolflike “lurcher”
 lay under the table--could it be any of these? It was scarcely credible,
and yet the American had seen none other--he had walked straight from
the landing-place to the Abbey. “What signifies what it is?” said
Luttrell to himself. “It is the caprice of an unlettered fellow, who
would, perhaps, care more for a tobacco-pouch than for my ‘Book of the
Four Gospels.’”

“I have no doubt that I shall accept your offer, and gladly accept it”
 said Luttrell; “but it would gratify me if you were to say what it is
that you desire to possess.”

“It’s then just as likely you’d refuse me.”

“And I mistake you much if, in such a case, you’d hold me to my
bargain!”

For the first time the American’s features brightened; the dull leaden
cheek coloured, and the firm-set thin lip curved into a pleasant smile
as he said, “You’re right there, Britisher--you’re right there. I’d not
ha’ clinched the nail, if I saw it was goin’ to fester you! Here’s how
it is, then,” and he drew a long breath to give him courage--“here’s how
it is--I want your ‘buoy.’”

“My what?”

“Your buoy; your son!”

“You want my son,” said Luttrell, drawing himself up, and looking with
an air of haughty insolence. “Have you forgotten, Sir, which side of the
Atlantic you are standing on, and that you are no longer in a land where
men deal in their fellow-men? Or is it that, presuming on what poverty
you have seen here, you dare to insult me with a proposal your own mean
whites would have resented with a bowie-knife?”

“You’d ha’ been a rare chap on a stump, Britisher, that’s a fact!” said
the Yankee, coolly. “Your words come rushin’ out like water out of a
pump; but they don’t squash me, for all that. Hairy Dodge--Dan Webster
always called me Hairy, the short for Herodotus--Hairy Dodge is a hard
grit, and it’s not every millstone can grind him.”

“Will you do me the favour, Sir, to accept the very humble hospitality
I can offer,” said Luttrell, proudly, “and let there be no more question
of any business between us? I think I heard mention of a sick friend who
accompanied you.”

“He ain’t a friend of mine. It was a critter I met at the inn, and who
wanted to come over here to see you, and so we agreed we’d take the
lugger between us.”

“He is ill, I am told.”

“Jist fright--nothing but fright! The first sea that took the boat on
the quarter, he cried out ‘Lord a mercy on us!’ ‘Oh, are ye there?’ says
I; ‘are ye a prayin’ for that sort o’ thing?’ and, surely, he did go
at it, till he grew too sick for anything but groans. There was no use
reasonin’ with him, for all he said was, ‘Put me ashore where you like,
and I’ll give you five hundred pounds.’ He got up to a thousand; and
once, when the peak halyards gave way, and the sail came clattering
down, he raised the bid to half his whole fortune.”

“So that there is no actual malady in the case?”

“Nothin’ o’ the kind. It’s jist fright--mere fright! How you’re ever to
get him off this to the mainland again, is clean beyond me. He’ll not
go, that’s certain, if he can help it.”

“I must look to him, and see that, so far as our very poor accommodation
serves, he wants nothing. You’ll excuse me, I trust, Sir.”

Luttrell spoke in a cold and formal tone, hoping, that his visitor,
seeing no prospect of any transaction between them, would now take his
leave. Mr. Dodge, however, either did not deem the battle lost, or he
saw no reason to retire from the field, for he disposed himself once
more in the old chair, and taking out a cigar about as long as a modern
parasol, prepared to smoke.

“You haven’t any objection to this sort o’ thing?” he asked, coolly, as
he lit it.

“None whatever. I’d say, Make yourself at home, Sir, if it were not that
this humble house of mine is so little like a home.”

“It will look jollier in the evening, when there’s a good fire on the
hearth, and a strong brew of that pleasant spirit smokin’ afore us;”
 and Mr. Dodge vouchsafed a strange sort of grin, which was the nearest
approach he could make to a laugh, and Luttrell, stung by the notion
that another was assuming to do the honours of _his_ house, and to
himself too, retired hastily without speaking.



CHAPTER XIX. THE LAWYER “ABROAD.”

To reach the “store-room” where Mr. M’Kinlay lay--for of course it is
needless to inform our readers he was the much-terrified voyager alluded
to--Luttrell was obliged to pass through the kitchen, and in so doing,
beheld a scene which had never before presented itself to his eyes in
that spot. Molly Ryan, feeling all the importance of the occasion, and
well knowing that her master would never remember to give her any orders
on the subject, had issued a general requisition for supplies all over
the island, which was so quickly, and well responded to, that the place
looked less like a room in a dwelling-house than a great mart for all
sorts of provisions.

Great baskets of fish stood on every side--fish of the strangest and
most uncouth forms, many of them, and with names as uncouth. There
were varieties of ugliness among them to gratify the most ‘exacting
naturalist, flat-headed, many-toothed, monsters, with bony projections
all over them, and dorsal fins like hand-saws. Even the cognate
creatures wore an especial wildness in that wild spot, and lobsters
looked fiercer, and crabs more crabbed, while oysters, least aggressive
of all floating things, had a ragged and rocky exterior that seemed to
defy all attempt at penetration. Besides, there were hampers of eggs,
and “creels” of potatoes, and such other garden produce as the simple
cultivation permitted. While, meekly in one corner, and awaiting his
fate with that air of conscious martyrdom which distinguishes the race,
stood a very lean sheep, fastened by a hay-rope to the leg of a dresser.

[Illustration: 169]

But the object which more than others attracted Luttrell’s attention,
was a pale, sallow-faced man, who sat next the fire on a low seat, all
propped up by pillows, and his legs enveloped in a blanket; his wan and
singular appearance being considerably heightened by the feathers of a
goose having lighted on him, giving him half the look of some enormous
fowl in the act of being plucked. This addition to his picturesqueness
was contributed by Harry, who, engaged in plucking a goose at the
opposite side of the fire, sent all the down and feathers in that
direction. Harry himself, without shoes or stockings, indeed with
nothing but a flannel shirt and trousers, was entertaining the stranger?
and giving him, so far as he could, an insight into the life and habits
of the islanders.

It is perhaps fortunate for me that it is not part of my task to record
the contributions to history which Harry Luttrell afforded the stranger;
they were not, possibly, divested of a little aid from that fancy which
narrators are sometimes led to indulge in, and certainly Mr. M’Kinlay
felt on hearing them, that terrible as were the perils of the voyage,
the dangers that beset his place of refuge seemed infinitely more
terrible. A few traditionary maxims were all that they knew of law, of
religion they knew still less; in a word, the stranger learned that he
was in the midst of a people who cared no more for British rule than
they did for the sway of the Grand Llama; and in a place where, if it
were very difficult to live, few things were so easy as to get rid of
life.

So intensely interested was M’Kinlay in the boy’s narrative, that
he never noticed Luttrell, who entered the kitchen, and made his way
towards him. Luttrell himself was so preoccupied with one thought, that
he hardly acknowledged the salutations of the people who made way for
him to pass. The thought that engaged him was this: that the man before
him was the bearer of a writ against him. That the law, which in his
fastness he had so long defied or evaded, had at last tracked him home,
and though he knew that, were this to be the case, nothing could be
easier for him than to conceal himself in the island--there were spots
there, where, had it been safe to have followed, no search could have
discovered him--yet, in the passionate boldness which prompted him
always to meet the coming peril half way, he now sought out this man,
whatever might be his mission, to confront him.

Who can tell, besides, what an insolent pride he felt in being able to
say to the emissary of the law, “Go back to those who sent you, and tell
them that you saw and spoke to Luttrell of Arran, but that you did not
dare to lay a hand upon him, nor utter the stupid formula of your craft,
because one single word from him would have settled your doom for ever;
that he did not avoid nor evade you; that he received you courteously,
and, so far as he could, hospitably; but, with the proud consciousness
that _he_ was more the master of _your_ fate than were you of _his_,
and that the wisest thing you could do was to forget the errand you
came upon, and go back as you came.” With some such thoughts as these
Luttrell now came forward and stood before the stranger, and for some
seconds each looked in silence at the other.

“Are you Mr. Luttrell of Arran?” asked M’Kinlay, in a low feeble tone.

“I am accustomed to believe, Sir, that a stranger usually announces
his own name and quality first, when presenting himself in the house of
another,” said Luttrell, slowly and gravely.

“I ask pardon; my name is Robert M’Kinlay, Sir, of Purniyal’s Inn, and
28, Regents-terrace, London, conveyancer.”

“And I am John Hamilton Luttrell of Arran. Now that we know each other,
are there any matters we can treat of, or is this meeting to have merely
the character of a pleasant ‘rencontre?’”

“It was business brought me here, Mr. Luttrell!” said M’Kinlay, with a
groan of such intense sincerity that Luttrell almost smiled at it.

“Whenever you feel equal to treat of it, you’ll find me at your
service,” said Luttrell.

“Could it be now, Mr. Luttrell--could it be now?” cried M’Kinlay, with
eagerness.

“It shall be this minute, if you desire it.”

Unwrapping the blanket from around him, and disposing it not very
gracefully, perhaps, over his shoulders, Mr. M’Kinlay scrambled rather
than walked after Luttrell to his room.

“Ah, Sir!” cried he, as he entered, “if I had but the shadow of a
suspicion of what the expedition was before me, I’d have refused flatly;
ay, Sir, if I had to throw up the agency for it the day after.”

“I am truly sorry, Sir, your impressions of this place should be so
unfavourable.”

Mr. M’Kinlay was too full of his disastrous experiences to listen to
excuses, and he went on: “People cross the Atlantic every week and don’t
suffer one-half what I did since I left Westport. I vow I think they
might round the Cape with less actual danger; and when we tacked about
and ran down to take up the creatures that were upset, one of our
sailors--no, indeed, but two of them--declared that it was at the
imminent risk of our own lives we were doing it; that if something
held on, or didn’t hold on, I forget which, and that if we were to get
entangled in the wreck--but I can’t describe it, only I remember that
the American--the greatest savage I ever met in my life--took a pistol
out of his pocket, and swore he’d shoot the man at the helm if he didn’t
bear up for the wreck. He swore--I’ll never forget his awful oaths,
doubly terrible at such a moment--that he saw a boy, or, as he called
it, ‘a buoy,’ on a spar waving his cap to us, and he said, ‘I’ll go down
to him if we upset beside him.’ Yes, Sir, it sounds incredible that
a man so dead to any sentiment of humanity could exist, and who could
declare that he’d imperil five lives, and his own too, just out of--what
shall I call it?--a whim, a caprice, a fancy, and for what?--for some
fishermen, some starving creatures whose miserable lives ought to make
death a release, and a boy that possibly, until your kind cook gave him
leave to sit at the kitchen fire, had no home to go to to dry himself.”

Luttrell’s face grew almost purple, and then, of a sudden, ashy pale.
To suppress the passionate impulse that worked within him, made him feel
sick almost to fainting, but he did suppress it, and with an immense
effort of self-control said, “And the American, you say, was resolved
that he’d save the boy.”

“Ah! at any cost! indeed, he had the cruelty to say to myself, ‘If the
boat goes over, mind that you keep up, to windward, or to leeward, or
somewhere, I don’t know where, for I was well aware that it was down I
should go. ‘You can swim,’ said he, ‘I suppose?’ ‘Not a stroke,’ said
I. ‘It don’t matter,’ said he, ‘you can grip on all the same.’ Yes, Sir,
that was his unfeeling remark. ‘You can grip on all the same.’”

“But he declared that the boy he _would_ save!” cried Luttrell, with a
scornful toss of his head at the other’s prolixity.

“That he did; I am willing to make oath of it, let the consequences be
what they may to him.”

“He never told _me_ of that,” said Luttrell, thoughtfully.

“I should think not, Sir; it’s not very likely that a man will parade
his own inhumanity, and declare how he risked five valuable lives to
save a few savage creatures, who might as well be drowned at sea as die
of starvation on shore.”

“You are severe, Sir. You judge us somewhat hardly. With all our
barbarism, we have our uses, and, more too, we have ties and affections
pretty much like our betters.” Though there was far more sadness than
sarcasm in the way Luttrell said these words, Mr. M’Kinlay winced under
the reproof they conveyed, and hastily blurted out his excuses.

“You cannot suppose I could have meant to include you, Sir. You couldn’t
imagine that in speaking of these poor ignorant creatures, I had the
slightest intention----”

“I never suspect an insult where it is possible to believe such was not
intended, Sir,” said Luttrell, haughtily. “But I don’t think that we are
here now to discuss the fishermen of Arran, or their claim to be deemed
civilised.”

“You are right--you are quite right, Mr. Luttrell. I ask pardon for all
this digression, the more since it was entirely personal; but a man’s
first shipwreck takes a wonderful hold on his imagination;” and the
lawyer laughed with one of those practised laughs, which, by setting
others off, frequently cut short an unpleasant discussion. Luttrell was,
however, impassive in his gravity; if anything, he looked more stern
than before. “I have come here,” resumed M’Kinlay, “at the request of my
friend and client, Sir Gervais Vyner. This letter is my introduction to
you.”

Luttrell took it, read the address, turned it round, and looked at the
seal, and then laid it down upon the table. He heaved a long sigh,
too, but it was a sigh of relief, for he had had sore misgivings as
to M’Kinlay’s visit, and visions of law and its dire consequences in
various ways had been flitting before his eyes.

“I opine that the letter will explain the object of my coming here more
briefly than I could.”

“Do me the favour to tell it in words, Sir,” said Luttrell, coldly; and
the other bowed and began.

Our reader may not be as patient a listener as was Luttrell, nor,
indeed, need he hear Mr. M’Kinlay’s account of a mission with which he
is already familiar; enough, then, if we say that he was listened to
for above an hour in perfect silence, not one word of remark, not a
question, not even a gesture interrupted the flow of the narrative, and
although at some moments the lawyer grew pathetic over peasant hardships
and privations, and at others was jocose over their drolleries, Luttrell
neither vouchsafed any show of sentiment or of mirth, but heard him
throughout, as might the Chancellor have heard a pleading in Equity.
Vyner had cautioned M’Kinlay not to divulge the name of the girl in
whose behalf Luttrell was entreated to act, until he had given some
pledge of his willingness to accept the trust. He knew well the proud
susceptibility of the man, and how instantaneously he would reject what
savoured of an advantage to those connected with him, not to speak of
the additional pain he would feel in knowing that these peasants had
been paraded as his near relatives, and so Vyner had said, “Keep the
name of the girl in the background, and even when asked for it, do not
appear aware of her being his connexion. Leave it entirely to him to
avow it or not, as he pleases. Remember,” said he, as he parted with
him, “you will have to treat with not only a very acute, ready-witted
man, but one of the most sensitive and easily irritated temperaments in
the universe.”

In fact, so profuse had Vyner been of his directions, his counsels, and
his warnings, that he frightened M’Kinlay considerably, impressing him
with a very wholesome fear of the man he was to deal with. “I’ll let him
pick out the facts from the brief itself,” thought he, as he handed the
letter. “I’ll not open the case by a speech.” This clever tactic was,
however, routed at once by Luttrell, as he said, “Let me hear the
statement from yourself, Sir. I will give it all my attention.”

Thus called upon, he spoke, and, apart from those little digressionary
excursions into the pathetic and the humorous, he spoke well. He owned,
that though Vyner’s desire to be an Irish proprietor met a certain
encouragement from himself, that he looked with little favour on the
other project, and less even of hope.

Indeed, of this plan, not being a father himself, he spoke less
confidently. “But, after all,” said he, smiling, “they are one and the
other but a rich man’s fancy. He can afford an unprofitable investment,
and a somewhat costly experiment.”

In all he said, Mr. M’Kinlay took pains to show that Sir Gervais was
acting under his own judgment; that he, M’Kinlay, was a cool, calm,
long-headed man of the world, and only looked on these matters as a
case he “was to carry,” not criticise; a question he was to consign to
parchment, and not ratify by an opinion.

Perhaps, he was a little prolix in his excuses and exculpation, dwelling
somewhat needlessly on the guarded prudence he had himself maintained
throughout the affair, for Luttrell at last said, and rather abruptly,
“Come to _me_ now, Sir. Let me hear what part is assigned to me in these
matters, for assuredly I cannot guess it.”

“My friend and client wishes you to be a trustee in this case; that you
will act for the young girl on whom he purposes to make the settlement,
and, in fact, consent to a sort of guardianship with respect to her.”

Luttrell gave a smile--it was a smile of much meaning, and full of
inexpressible sadness. “What a strange choice to have made,” said he,
mournfully. “When a captain loses a frigate, the Admiralty are usually
slow to give him another; at all events, they don’t pass over scores
of able and fortunate officers to fix upon this one unlucky fellow,
to entrust him with a new ship. Now this is precisely what your friend
would do. With a large and wide acquaintance, surrounded with friends,
as few men are, esteemed and loved by many, he goes out of his way to
seek for one whose very name carries disaster with it. If, instead of
conferring a benefit upon this poor child, he owed her a deep grudge,
then, and then only, I could understand his choice of me! Do you know,
Sir,” and here his voice became loud and full and ringing--“do you
know, Sir, it would be difficult to find a man who has accumulated more
failures on his head than he who now stands before you, and these not
from what we usually call fate, or bad luck, or misfortune, but simply
and purely from an intractable temper, a nature that refused to be
taught by its own hard experiences, and a certain stubborn spirit that
ever took more pleasure in breasting the flood, than others took in
swimming with the full tide of fortune. It takes very little knowledge
of life to teach a man one lesson--which is, to avoid such men as me!
They whose qualities ensure failure are truly ‘unlucky! Tell Sir Gervais
Vyner it is not out of apathy or indolence that I refuse him, it is
simply because, when he makes _me_ the partner of his enterprise, it
ensures disaster for it.”

Mr. M’Kinlay replied to this passionate outburst as lamely as men
usually do to such like appeals; that is, he strung platitudes and
common-places together, which, happily for him, the other never deigned
to pay the slightest attention to.

One only observation did reach Luttrell’s ears. It was a remark to which
the speaker imparted little force; for when he made it, he had come to
the end of his persuasive resources, and was in the position of those
gunners who, when their ammunition is expended, charge the piece with
the nearest rubbish they can lay hands upon. The remark was to this
purpose: that, simple as the act seems, the choice of a trustee is one
of the most puzzling things in the world, and nothing is often more
embarrassing than being refused by one upon whom, without ever directly
asking, we have confidently counted for that office.

Luttrell started; he suddenly bethought him of Harry. What would be more
forlorn or friendless in the world than that poor boy’s lot, if he were
left fatherless? Except Vyner, was there one he could ask to befriend
him? Indeed, whenever the contingency crossed his mind, and the thought
of death presented itself full before him, he at once reverted to the
hope that Vyner would not refuse this his last request. If, however, by
declining what was now asked of him any coldness or estrangement ensued,
he could not, of course, make this demand. “I shall have forfeited
all my claim upon him,” said he to himself, “if I deny him this small
service, and perhaps he will not understand, and, at all events, not
give any weight to the scruples I have detailed. He may say these are
but the gloomy fancies of a solitary, cheerless life.”--“Yes,” said he,
on the closing a discussion with himself and now speaking the result
aloud--“Yes. It shall be a bargain between us. Let Vyner be the guardian
of my boy, and I will accept this charge; and, to show what confidence
I place in his generosity, I shall accede at once; and when you get back
to England, you will tell him the compact I have made with him.”

“I do not feel myself in a position, Mr. Luttrell, to make a formal
pledge on the part of Sir Gervais Vyner,” began M’Kinlay----

“I shall not ask you, Sir,” broke in Luttrell, proudly; “we have been
friends some five-and-twenty years, without any assistance from lawyers,
and it is possible we may continue the attachment without their aid.
Tell me now of this trust, for I am ashamed to say how little attention
I have given the subject hitherto.”

It was a pleasure to Mr. M’Kinlay to leave diplomacy, and get back
again into those pleasant pasturages where duties are “recited,” and
obligations laid down, with all the rules of action stated, and with
the rigid cautions impressed, due stress being stamped at every step on
separate responsibility, and reiterated warning given, how “each acted
for himself, and not one for the other,” till Luttrell’s less practised
brain actually whirled with the repetitions and reiterations; nor was
he more comforted by learning that on certain difficulties, not at
all improbable, arising, he would have to recur to the law courts for
guidance--a gloomy prospect which all Mr. M’Kinlay’s fluent readiness
could not dispel, as he said, “A mere matter of form, I assure you, and
only requiring a short bill in Equity, and a hearing before the Master.”

“There, there, that will do,” cried he, at last; “don’t terrify me any
more. A surgeon never made his operation less painful by describing
every step of it beforehand to the patient; but, Sir, I accede; and now
forgive me if I leave you for one moment; I have a word to say to your
fellow-traveller, whom I see out yonder.”

The American was seated on a rock, smoking, and Harry beside him, when
Luttrell drew nigh.

“Come here, Harry,” cried he to the boy; “I want to speak to you.”

“Oh, papa,” said the boy, as he came up, “if you only heard all the
pleasant stories he has! There’s nowhere he hasn’t been. In countries
where the trees are covered with fruit, and monkeys and peacocks all
over them; in lands where there are mines of gold, and silver, and
diamonds, all for the taking; in seas, too, where you look down and see
great reefs that look like rocks, but are really precious stones. And
now he was telling me of a beautiful island, far, far away, so rich in
flowers and spices, that you can know for more than a hundred miles off
when you are coming to it.”

“Has he asked you to go away with him, Harry?”

“No, papa.”

“But you would like to do so? Speak out, boy; tell me frankly. Do you
wish it?”

“Would he take me, papa?” asked he, timidly.

“Yes.”

“And would you let me?” and he spoke with even a fainter voice, and
greater anxiety in his look.

“First answer me my question, Harry. Do you wish to go?”

“Yes, papa, greatly.”

Luttrell turned away his head and drew his hand across his eyes, and for
several minutes did not look round again. When he did, it was to see the
boy standing calm, firm, and erect before him. Not a trace of emotion on
his features, as his eyes confronted his own.

“I suppose you are right,” said Luttrell, half speaking to himself. “I
suppose you are right. It is very dreary here!”

“And there are no wild beasts to hunt, nor red men to fight, nor
beautiful birds to catch, papa; nor any gold----”

“No, boy! There is not any gold, assuredly. But, remember, Harry,
how many there are here who never saw gold, never heard of it; brave
fellows, too, who are not afraid to scale the straightest cliff, nor
venture out on the stormiest sea.”

“And for what, papa? For a curlew’s nest, or a hamper of fish; and he,
yonder, tells me, that one good voyage of his barque would buy out all
the islands here for ever.”

“So, then, you have eaten of the apple already,” cried he, with a bitter
laugh. “Well, as he has tempted, he may take you. Send him to me.”

The boy almost flew in his speed back, and gulping out a word or two,
pointed to his father.

“Are you of the same mind, now, that you were an hour or two back? Do
you wish to have that boy of mine on board your ship?” asked Luttrell.

“I’ll give you a thousand dollars for him down, Sir, and you shall keep
the gimcracks.”

“You may take him. There must be no money-dealings between us now,
Sir--I will sell you nothing. Come into the house with me; a very, few
minutes will be sufficient.”

As they walked side by side towards the house, the American, with a
quaint brevity, told all that Luttrell could have desired to know
of him. He and his craft, the _Quincey Squash_, were well known at
Liverpool and London, he was sole owner, and traded in everything,
from “lumber” to Leghorn bonnets; he went everywhere, and ventured in
everything; in fact, he liked an “assorted cargo of notions” better than
a single freight. “I won’t say he’ll come back a rich man to you, Sir,
in five years, but you may call me a Creole if he don’t know a bit of
life. Just look here,” said he, as he opened a pocket-map and spread it
over the table, “there’s ten years of my life marked out on that chart;
these lines--some of ‘em pretty long ones--is my voyages.” Captain--for
we must now give him his accustomed title--Captain Dodge spoke fluently,
and vaingloriously, too, of all he had travelled, and all he had seen;
of how he had traded for ivory on the Gold Coast, and for furs up at
Hudson’s Bay; how he had panted in the tropics, and shivered at
Behring’s Straits. If a little proud of his successes against Malays
and Moors, it was not quite certain that he “had not done” a little mild
buccaneering occasionally, when “freights were low and trade was heavy.”
 Not that Luttrell gathered much of what he narrated, for a strange
confusion was in his brain, and as he gazed at the chart and tried to
follow the lines, a dimness obscured his sight, and he had to turn away
and wipe his eyes.

“Wud your honour like the dinner now?” whispered Molly Ryan from the
door; “the strange gentleman that was sick is dyin’ of hunger.”

“Yes, we’re quite ready,” said Luttrell; and taking a key from a nail,
he betook himself to a little closet which formed his cellar. A few
bottles of port, and two or three of Burgundy--remnants of a stock which
once had been famous--were all that survived, but he took them forth,
saying, “I am unlikely to play the host again, let us make festival for
the last time.”



CHAPTER XX. THE SUPPER AT ARRAN

With all the ardour of an Irish menial to do honour to her master’s
hospitality, Molly Ryan had taken the unwonted step of laying out the
dinner in the “sacristy” of the Abbey, which Luttrell had once on a time
intended to have converted into a grand gallery for all his rare and
curious objects, and from which he soon desisted, deterred by the cost.

It was a long, narrow, vaulted chamber, with four pointed windows in
one wall, and blank niches to correspond to them in the other. If in
the cold unflattering light of day it would have presented an air of
cheerless gloom and destitution, not so did it look now, as a great fire
of turf blazed and glowed on the ample hearth, and the light of four
huge pine-torches flared red from the niches, and threw a warm and
mellow glare over everything; while the board was spread with
an abundance which would have been utterly wasteful, if some
five-and-twenty sailors and fishermen without were not to revel at
second-hand, and feed on what fell from the master’s table.

Luttrell had heard nothing--knew nothing of this arrangement, and when
he was told in a whisper that the dinner was ready in the sacristy,
his brow darkened, and his cheek flushed with anger. “We need not have
starved them with cold as well as hunger,” muttered he, sternly, to the
woman; but she knew better than to await his reproaches, and hastened
away to the kitchen.

“To you who have seen where I live, gentlemen,” said he to his guests,
“it will be unnecessary to apologise for how I live; I can but say how
much I regret it for _your_ sakes, custom has made it easy to myself.”
 With this he led the way along a little narrow passage, and then
crossing a court-yard, entered the sacristy. If M’Kinlay and the Yankee
stared with amazement at the ample preparations to regale them, and
the fine old hall--for such it looked--in which they were displayed,
Luttrell could scarcely master his astonishment at what he saw, and
nothing short of that “dignity which doth hedge” a host as well as “a
king,” could have prevented him from openly expressing his surprise.
Molly whispered a word in his ear, to which as hastily he said,
“Certainly, of course,” and just as the guests took their seats, Harry,
dressed in what remained to him of his best, came forward, and stood
near the table. “Sit opposite to me, Harry; the foot of the table is the
fitting place for the heir of the house, is it not, Mr. M’Kinlay?”

“And is this your son, Sir; is this young gentleman the--the----”

“The boy you picked up at sea,” resumed Luttrell, courteously, “and who
will be proud to renew his acquaintance with you more pleasantly than it
opened.”

“Well, young ‘um, you have got a jollier colour on your cheeks now than
when we saw you bobbing behind that bit of broken jib-boom! You was
blue, that’s a fact, but I’m a raw Eastern if you was bluer than the
lawyer!”

Poor Mr. M’Kinlay! scarcely had one shame overcome him when came the
terror of another; for now, for the first time, did he recognise in the
Yankee the terrible tourist of the Welsh mountains. A vague something
wonld cross him as he lay in the lugger, sea-sick and miserable, that
the horrid voice, and the horrid look, and the horrid gesture of his
fellow-traveller, were not encountered for the first time; but he was
too full of his own sorrows to waste a thought on such speculations, and
it was only now, as they sat at the same board, eating of the same dish,
and hob-nobbing together, that the measure of his conviction became
full. “He doesn’t know--he cannot know me!” muttered he, “and I have
only one blunder to atone for, but who could have thought it was his
son!” He turned to engage Harry in conversation, to inquire into his
habits, his tastes, and his amusements, but the boy, fascinated by
the Yankee’s discourse, could not bear to lose a word of it.
Dodge--“Gen’ral” he called himself, as he spoke of those days--Gen’ral
Dodge had served in many of the wars of the South American Republic; he
had been with Bolivar, and against him; he had made and lost his fortune
three successive times, had taken part in a buccaneer expedition
to Mexico, was imprisoned and condemned to death, and saved by an
earthquake that left the gaol and one quarter of Santa Fé in ruins. As
to his shipwrecks and adventures with pirates, his hunting exploits,
his raids either with Indians or against them, they were legion; and
certainly, to these narratives he imparted a “gusto” and an expression
which gave them a marvellous power, occasionally corroborated as they
were by material evidence, as when he showed where he had lost the thumb
and two fingers of his left hand, the terrible cicatrix in the back of
his head from an Indian’s attempt to scalp him, and the mark of a bullet
which had traversed his body from the neck to the opposite collar-bone.
There was no disbelieving a man whose every joint and limb could come
into court as his witnesses, not to say that he was one of those men
whom few love to contradict. If he were, at some times, rather boastful
on the score of his courage and daring, he was, at others, equally frank
as to his short-comings in honesty, and he told with an astonishing
frankness of some acts which, had they not been committed in unsettled
and semi-civilised lands, would worthily have been requited by the
galleys.

“Well, Old Ramskin!” said he, addressing M’Kinlay; for while he talked
he drank freely, and was already in his third bottle of Burgundy, warmed
up with occasional “flashes” of brandy--“well, Old Ramskin, I guess
you’d rather be perched on a tall stool in your counting-house than up
on a rock, watching for an Indian scout party; but, mark me, it’s all
prejudice, and for my part I’d rather put a ball in a red-skin than I’d
torture a white man with law and parchments.” He here diversified his
personal recollections by some anecdotes of lawyers, and of the esteem
in which their fellow-citizens hold them “Far West,” the whole winding
up with a declaration that such creatures “warn’t in natur,” and only
grew out of a rank, rotten, and stagnant condition of society, which,
when only stirred by any healthy breeze of public opinion, either “left
‘em or Lynched ‘em.” He turned round for the approval of his host to
this sentiment, and now saw, for the first time, that he had quitted the
table.

“If you had not been so energetic in your censures of my profession,
Sir;” said M’Kinlay, “you might have heard Mr. Luttrell asking us to
excuse his absence for a few minutes while he spoke to his son.”

Perhaps the American felt this rebuke as a sharp one, for he sat in
silence for some minutes, when he said, “Am I to have the pleasure of
your company to-night when I weigh anchor?”

“Yes; I intend to leave when you do.”

“Your business is done, then?”

“It is.”

“And mine, too,” said the American; and each looked at the other, to see
who first would divulge his secret.

“I have made arrangements for the guardianship of his son, whom, by
the way, I never suspected to be the boy we picked up at sea,” said
M’Kinlay, thus endeavouring, by a half-confidence, to obtain the whole
of the American’s.

“He’ll not want such guardianship, I promise you, when he lives a few
years with me.”

“With you! What do you mean?”

“Just what I say, stranger; that he’s coming aboard the _Squash_, bound
now for the Isthmus; and, I repeat it, five years with Hairy Dodge will
turn him out a long sight cuter than if he passed his ‘prenticeship
even with yourself.”

“It is a strange notion of Mr. Luttrel’s--a very strange notion.”

The American raised himself up in his seat, and looked as if he were
about to resent the speech, but he repressed the temptation, and merely
said, “We’re going to have lighter weather than we came over in, and a
fine bright night besides.”

“I hope so, with all my heart,” said the other; and now each sat and
sipped his wine in silence.

Leaving them thus, let us turn one moment to Luttrell, as he stood at
the window of his room, with his boy beside him. There was neither lamp
nor candle, but a strong moonlight streamed into the chamber, and their
shadows were distinctly marked upon the floor.

“Why is Molly crying so bitterly, papa? Sure I’m not going away for
ever!” said Harry.

“I hope not--I think not; but when people part some are always
faint-hearted about the chances of meeting again.”

“But you are not, papa?”

Luttrell did not answer for a few seconds. “Are you quite sure, Harry,
that this life is what you like? I mean,” said he, correcting himself
quickly--“I mean, would you not rather live here till you were a man,
and make Arran your home, as it is mine now?”

“No, papa. I’d like to see the countries that the Captain told of, and
see some of the things he did, and then come back very rich, and build
a fine castle here, and a great pier out in the sea, and have the finest
cutter that ever sailed.”

“But, before all this can come to pass, bethink you what a hard life is
before you--what days of storm and nights of weariness. You may
be hardly used, and have none to pity you--be ill, and not have one to
speak kindly to you. Are you ready for all this, Harry?”

“I suppose I must bear it if I want to be a man;” and he drew himself up
proudly as he spoke.

“You’ll have to remember, too, Sir, that you are a gentleman,” said
Luttrell, almost sternly; “that there are scores of mean and shabby
things the fellows around may-do, a Luttrell must not stoop to. Keep
your word when you once pledge it; insult no man willingly; fight him
who insults you; and never, if it be your fortune to command others,
never say ‘Go,’ in a moment of danger, but ‘Come.’”

“I’ll not forget that,” said the boy, seriously.

“Keep this purse, Harry. It was one your mother knitted, many years
ago. The few guineas that are in it spend when and how you like; only
remember that when gone they cannot easily be replaced by me. And now
give me a kiss, for they must see us part easily.”

The boy sprang into his arms, and held him fast in his embrace, while
he kissed him over and over; and Luttrell parted the hair upon his
forehead, kissing him tenderly there, as he muttered a few words beneath
his breath.

“There, go back to them, Harry, and tell them I will join them
presently.”

As Harry left the room, Luttrell lighted his lamp, and sat down at his
table to write. It was to Vyner he addressed himself, and intended to be
as brief as might be--very little, indeed, more than the intimation
that he had accepted the trust proposed to him, and begged in turn Vyner
would do as much by him, and consent to be the guardian of his boy,
should he be left fatherless.

“I ask this with all the more confidence,” wrote he, “that your kind
interest in poor Harry is so fresh in my mind, and all your generous
offers to befriend him are the only cheering thoughts that occur to me
in this, one of the gloomiest moments of my life.

“An American trading captain, led hither by an accident, has captivated
the boy’s imagination by stories of travel and adventure, and I have
consented to let Harry go with him. To remain here and live as I have
done was open to him; he could have succeeded me in this wild spot
without the bitterness of feeling the fall that led to it; but, in the
restless spirit of our race, he might some day or other have emerged,
and I dreaded to imagine what a semi-savage Luttrell would be; strong of
limb, vigorous, daring, and ignorant, with pride of blood and poverty
to stimulate him. What is there he might not have done in a fancied
retribution against a world that had crushed his race and ruined his
family--for such were the lessons he has been learning from his cradle.
the only teachings he has ever had!

“The hardships of life at sea will be better training than these. The
boy is very like me. I would sorrow over it, Vyner, if I did not count
on that resemblance for your love to him. In one respect, however, we
are not like. Harry _can_ forgive an injury. Who knows, however, what he
might become were he to grow up in daily contact with me; for I dreaded
to mark how each year seemed to develop the Luttrell more and more in
his nature. Now, pride of birth with prosperity may lead to intolerance
and oppression, but leash it with poverty and it will conduce to
violence, perhaps to crime.

“Before the mast he will see things differently. Night-watches and hard
junk are stern teachers. To rescue him from my influence, to save him
from me, I send him away, and leave myself childless. I can scarcely
expect that you will be able to follow me in these reasonings. How
could you, happy as you are in every accident of your life, blessed in
everything that gives value to existence? I feel I shall never see
him again; but I feel, too, just as confidently, that at some day or
other--distant it may be--you and he will meet and talk of me, speaking
in love and affection, forgiving much, pitying all.

“Say nothing of this guardianship to your wife, lest it should lead her
to speak of me; or, at all events, wait till I am gone. Talk of me then
they may, for there is no voice so eloquent to defend as the wind that
sighs through the long grass over our graves!

“I have made a will, not very formally, perhaps, but there is none
likely to contest it. What a grand immunity there is in beggary! and
Cane and Co. will, I apprehend, if called upon, vouch for me in that
character. There are several lawsuits which have dragged on their slow
course for two generations of us. I believe I myself continued the
contests rather as obligations of honour than aught else. Harry was
not trained with such principles, however, and I shall leave to your
discretion whether our claims be abandoned or maintained.

“Last, but far from least of all, the family to which Harry’s mother
belonged contains many very bold, restless, and I might say dangerous,
men. One of the reasons of my retirement to this lonely spot was the
security I possessed in the midst of my own wild islanders against
demands not always urged with moderation. They are not likely to forget
the near relationship to my boy, if they can make it a source of profit;
or, failing that, to convert it to a matter of menace. On every account,
therefore, I entreat that he may not come back here, or, if so, but
passingly.

“I hope he will never sell these islands; they would be a sorry
commodity in the market, and they are the oldest possessions of our name
in this kingdom. When Henry the Second sent John de Luttrell as Envoy
to Rome but where am I straying to? The shouts that ring without tell me
that all is ready for their departure, and in a few moments more I shall
be alone in the world. Think of me sometimes, dear friend, even if the
thought come in your happy hours to dash its joys with sadness; but do
not speak of, last of all, do not write to,

“Yours, while he lives,

“John Hamilton Luttrell.

“I am half ashamed to add one other request; but if my cheeks grow red
as I write, my heart will be the calmer when it is written. Be a friend
to my boy in all ways that your kindness, your sympathy, your counsel
can dictate. Guide, direct, encourage, or, if need be, reprove him; but
never, whatever you do, aid him with your purse. It is on this condition
alone I commit him to you. Remember!”

“They are growing impatient, papa,” said the boy, entering the room half
timidly. “It is nigh flood, and we shall want all the ebb to take us
round the Caskets.”

“And are _you_ so impatient to be off, Harry?” said he, in a low soft
voice; “do you wish to leave me, Harry?”

“Not if you would have me stay, papa; but I thought, I used to think at
least--that----”

“That we made but little companionship together, you would say,” said
Luttrell, mildly; “that we lived too much apart. Well, it is true,” said
he, with a deep sigh, “quite true.” He paused for a moment, and then,
with a sort of effort, and in a changed voice, continued: “If I should
be no more here when you come back, Harry, do not let this old place
fall to ruin. It has sheltered me during many a year of sorrow, and
sorrow has a very attaching quality!”

“Papa, I will not go. I will not leave you!” said the boy, falling on
his neck, and kissing him over and over.

[Illustration: 187]

“You must be manly, Sir,” said Luttrell, rising and disengaging himself
from the boy’s embrace. “When men promise, they are bound to keep their
word.”

The tone, the look, the gesture, fully as much as the stern words
themselves, recalled Harry to himself, and he drew his hand roughly
across his eyes, and stepping back, stationed himself, as he was wont,
to hear his father’s commands.

“I have written to Sir Gervais Vyner the letter you see here, asking
him to be your guardian in case I should die before your return. I have
reason to hope he will not refuse me. If he accept, you will obey him
in all things. You would obey me, at all events. Whenever you return to
England, seek him out, and learn to know him as the last friend I had
left me.”

“I will, Sir.”

The calm and resolute tone of the boy seemed for an instant almost to
overcome the father, who stood and stared steadfastly at him.

“I have told Sir Gervais,” he continued, “that he will find you
honourable, truthful, and brave; see that my words be borne out. And I
have besought him to give you all that his friendship can bestow; but
on no account--mind this, boy--on no account assist you with money. You
hear me, Harry?”

“I do, Sir. I will not forget your words.”

“If you should have any immediate call for money, I have told your
Captain I will repay him for what he will advance you; be thrifty, for I
have but little to live on, as you will discover one of these days when
it is all your own.”

“My dear Sir,” broke in Mr. M’Kinlay, as he bustled into the room, all
coated and muffled for the journey. “Will you pardon me if I say we
shall lose the tide if we delay. This young gentleman’s luggage is
all onboard, and if there be no very urgent reason for deferring our
departure, I should take it as a favour to say good-by.”

“There is nothing unreasonable in your haste, Sir,” said Luttrell, with
a faint smile. “This is a place where few would care to dally. I have
been saying a few words to my son, before he leaves me. This is the
cause of your delay.”

“My dear Sir, I offer a thousand apologies, and beg to retire at once.”

“They are all said, Sir. Harry and I have nothing more of any
consequence to talk over. If Sir Gervais had not been here himself, Mr.
M’Kinlay, I’d have asked you to paint us somewhat less savage than we
are. Oh, here comes the Captain.”

“I say, youngster,” cried Dodge, entering, “if you ain’t bent on kissin’
the ugliest population I ever saw since I left the Feejees, just step
out by the back of the house, and make the best of your way down to the
shore. Good day, Sir. You shall have news of us. Let me see; it will be
a matter of six months, or so. But I’ll have a sharp look out after the
‘buoy,’ and he’ll do well, you’ll see. Don’t you be surprised if you
see him a comin’ in some fine morning with a green monkey or a far-caped
baboon. Cheer up, Sir! Don’t let the buoy see you down-hearted,”
 whispered he. “Come along, Harry! Be lively, my lad; out of that window,
and let me find you aboard when I get down.”

“Be kind to him!” muttered Luttrell, as he drew his hand hastily across
his eyes.

“Lord love ye! I’m the kindest critter that ever breathed. The whole
time I was with the Choctaws, I never scalped an enemy. I couldn’t bear
it; and whenever I cut a fellow’s head off, I turned him right round,
so that I shouldn’t see his face. Soft-hearted, warn’t it? But that’s
my natur’. There, I hear them heaving short; so good-by, for the last
time.”

“Harry, Harry----one word----”

“He’s gone, poor fellow; don’t break down his courage. Good-by. Don’t
call him back.”

“Be it so,” said Luttrell, as he sunk down into his chair, and covered
his face with his hands. For a while all was still; then suddenly a wild
cheer, a cry, in which the wail of sorrow was blended with the swell
of the deep voices crying out; and Luttrell arose, and flung open his
window. The lugger was under weigh. The dark shadow of her full canvas
moved slowly along, growing fainter and fainter, at least to eyes that
were now dimmed with tears; and when he turned away to wipe them, she
was gone.



CHAPTER XXI. A WELCOME HOME

To welcome Sir Gervais Vyner home, the ladies had invited Sir Within
Wardle to dinner--one of those privileged little family meetings, to
be of which one must be an honoured guest--and so, indeed, did the old
Baronet with his fine tact understand it; for he was very skilful in
comprehending all those situations which make the so-to-say diplomacy of
daily life.

He knew that he was admitted to that very pleasant brevet rank, the
friend of the family, before whom everything can be said and talked
over; and he showed by innumerable little traits how he valued his
promotion, and, with a subtlety all his own, talked of himself and his
own affairs with an easy confidence that seemed to say, “Here we are,
all in secret committee; we may speak as freely as we like.”

The dinner was a very pleasant one. Vyner gave an amusing account of his
Irish experiences, spoke of everything and every one but Luttrell, for
his was a name that was never mentioned amongst them. Indeed, in the
wrong the Courtenays had done him, was the seal that closed their lips;
for, while we can talk, and talk fluently, of those who have injured us,
of such as we have ourselves injured, we are dumb.

Sir Within saw, with the old craft of his trade, that there was a
reserve; he smelt it like a secret treaty, but it did not touch him, and
he was indifferent about it. He joined with the ladies warmly in their
depreciation of Ireland as a residence, and laughingly concurred in
their insistance that they were never to be asked to go there.

As to the project of adopting the little peasant-girl, they made it
the subject of much pleasant banter; for, of course, Vyner was
totally unable to reply to one-tenth of the questions which the matter
suggested.

“We will suppose she is very pretty: and, what is still harder to
believe, we will suppose that she’ll grow up prettier, what is to come
of it; what do you intend her to be?” said Georgina.

“Yes,” said Sir Within, “let us look a little to what Italians call _e
poi?_”

“When well brought up, and well educated, she might surely be a
governess,” said Lady Vyner, coming to her husband’s rescue.

“And was it worth while to withdraw her from the drudgery she knew, to
enter upon a slavery that she never heard of?” asked Georgina.

“To tell truth,” said Vyner, “I must confess I was thinking more of the
benefit to Ada, the advantage she would have in a joyous, high-spirited
creature of her own age, that might make her hours of Lessons more full
of emulation, and her play hours pleasanter.”

Sir Within bowed a courteous assent to a speech principally addressed to
himself.

“And,” continued Sir Gervais, bolder for this encouragement, “and, as
to forecasting what is to happen to any of us, even if we be alive,
some ten or twelve years hence, I really own I don’t think it is called.
for.”

“I’m not sure of that,” said Sir Within. “I have made up my mind to live
about five-and-thirty years more, and even speculated on the how I am to
live it.”

“Do let us hear your plan,” said Georgina, with a slight flush of
eagerness in her face.

“I have two,” said he; “and as there is not a little to be said for
each, I hesitate between them.”

“We cannot pretend to be of any use in counselling you, unfortunately,”
 said Lady Vyner; “but if there be anything which what you slightingly
call ‘woman’s wit’ can add to your own reasonings, we offer it freely.”

“I am deeply, infinitely gratified; your kindness is most acceptable. My
first plan is one with whose details I am but too conversant. It is to
live an old bachelor!”

The ladies looked at each other, and then looked down. They did not
very well see what was to be said, and they said nothing, though, by his
silence, he seemed to expect a remark.

“Well,” said Vyner, trying to break the awkward pause, “you at least
know its resources, and what such a mode of life can offer.”

“A good deal,” resumed Sir Within. “A well-cultivated selfishness has
very great resources, if one has only sufficient means to indulge them.
You can, what is called, live well, consult the climate that suits you,
frequent the society you like, know the people that you care to know,
buy the picture, the horse, the statue that takes your fancy. You can do
anything, and be anything but one.” “And what is that?”

“Be happy--that is denied you! I am not, of course, speculating on
any supreme bliss. I leave all these divine notions to novelists and
play-writers; but I speak of that moderate share of daily contentment
which we in our mundane humility call happiness; this you cannot have.”

“But, if I mistake not, you have given all the ingredients of it in your
late description,” said Georgina.

“And the Chinese cook got all the ingredients to make a plum-pudding,
but he forgot to tie the bag that held them; so is it the old bachelor’s
life has no completeness; it wants what the French call ‘l’ensemble.’”

“Then why not tie the bag, Sir Within?” asked Lady Vyner, laughing.

The old diplomatist’s eyes sparkled with a wicked drollery, and his
mouth curved into a half-malicious smile, when Sir Gervais quietly said,
“She means, why not marry?”

“Ah, marry!” exclaimed he, throwing up his eyebrows with an air that
said, “here is a totally new field before us!” and then, as quickly
recovering, he said, “Yes, certainly. There is marriage! But, somehow,
I always think on this subject of a remark Charles de Rochefoucauld once
made me. He said he was laid up once with an attack of gout in a château
near Nancy, without a single friend or acquaintance, and, to beguile
the weary hours, he used to play chess with himself, so that at last
he fancied he was very fond of the game. When he came up to Paris
afterwards, he engaged a person to come every day and play with him; but
to his horror he discovered that he could no longer win when he pleased,
and he gave up the pursuit and never resumed it. This is, perhaps, one
of the discoveries men like myself make when they marry.”

“Not if they marry wisely, Sir Within,” said Lady Vyner.

“I declare,” broke in Georgina, hastily, “I think Sir Within is right.
Telling a person to marry wisely, is saying, ‘Go and win that thirty
thousand pounds in the lottery.’”

“At all events,” said Vyner, “you’ll never do it, if you don’t take a
ticket.”

“But to do that,” said Lady Vyner, laughingly, “one ought to dream of a
lucky number, or consult a sorceress at least.”

“Ah! if you would but be the sorceress, Lady Vyner,” exclaimed he, with
a mingled seriousness and drollery.

“And tell you, I suppose, when you ought to venture?”

“Just so.”

“Am I so certain that you’d respect my divination--a prophet can’t
afford to be slighted.”

“I promise,” said he; and rising from his seat, he extended his right.
hand in imitation of a famous incident of the period, and exclaimed, “Je
jure!”

“It is then agreed,” said she, quietly, but with a slight show of
humour. “If it should be ever revealed to me--intimated to my inner
consciousness is the phrase, I believe--that a particular person was
Heaven-sent for your especial happiness, I’ll immediately go and tell
you.”

“And I’ll marry her.”

“Her consent is, of course, not in question whatever,” said Georgina;
“but I think so gallant a person as Sir Within might have mentioned it.”

“So I should, if Lady Vyner hadn’t said she was Heaven-sent. When the
whole thing became destiny, it was only obedience was called for.”

“You’re a lucky fellow,” cried Vyner, “if you’re not married off before
Easter. There’s nothing so dangerous as giving a commission of this kind
to a woman.”

“Sir Within knows he can trust me; he knows that I feel all the
responsibility of my charge. It is very possible that I may be too
exacting--too difficult----”

“I pray you do so,” cried he, with much eagerness.

“Do you see how he wants to get off?” said Vyner; “like certain
capricious ladies, he’d like to see all the wares in the shop, and buy
nothing.”

“I fancy it’s pretty much what he has done already,” said Georgina, in a
half whisper; but the butler put an end to the discussion by announcing
that Mr. M’Kinlay had just arrived.

“Shall we go into the drawing-room?” said Georgina to her sister.

“If you like; but he’ll certainly come in to tea,” was the answer.

“Well, it is at least a reprieve,” said she, with a dreary sigh; and
they retired.

As they left by one door, Mr. M’Kinlay entered the room by the other.
After a cordial greeting, Sir Gervais presented him to Sir Within, and
began to question him about his journey.

“Well, Sir Gervais,” said he, after a long-drawn breath, “it is no
exaggeration if I say, that I have not another client in the world for
whom I would undergo the same fatigues, not to say dangers.”

“My friend Mr. M’Kinlay has been on an excursion of some peril, and much
hardship,” said Sir Vyner to Sir Within.

“Ah! In Canada, I presume.”

“No, Sir,” resumed M’Kinlay, “far worse--infinitely worse than Canada.”

“You speak of Newfoundland, perhaps?”

“Excuse me, Sir, I mean Ireland, and not merely Ireland itself--though
I believe a glutton in barbarism might satiate himself there--but,
worse again, Sir--I have been over to visit some islands, wretched
rocks without vegetation--well would it be, could I say without
inhabitants--off the west coast, and in, actually in the wild Atlantic
Ocean!”

“The Arran Islands,” interposed Vyner, who saw that Sir Within was
doubtful of the geography.

“Yes, Sir; had they called them the Barren Islands there would have been
some fitness in the designation.” Mr. M’Kinlay appeared the better of
his very email drollery, and drank off a bumper of claret, which also
seemed to do him good.

“And was the estate you wished to purchase in these wild regions?” asked
Sir Within.

“No; my friend’s mission to Arran was only remotely connected with the
purchase. In fact, he went in search of an old friend of mine, whose
assistance I needed, and whose caprice it was to retire to that desolate
spot, and leave a world in which he might have made a very conspicuous
figure. I am not art liberty to tell his name, though, perhaps, you
might never have heard it before. M’Kinlay will, however, give us an
account of his reception, and all that he saw there.”

“My troubles began,” said Mr. M’Kinlay, “almost immediately after we
parted. You remember that on our last evening, at Westport it was,
that the waiter informed me a gentleman then in the house had engaged
a lugger to take him over to Innishmore, the very island I wanted to
reach. I commissioned the man to arrange if he could with the gentleman
to accept me as a fellow-traveller. It was settled accordingly, that
we were to sail with the ebb tide at eight o’clock the next morning.
My first shock, on reaching the pier, was to see what they called the
lugger. She was a half-decked tub! I say tub, for her whole length was
certainly not double her breadth. She was tarred all over, her sails
were patched, her ropes knotted, and for ballast, she had some blocks of
granite in a bed of shingle which shifted even as she lay surging in the
harbour. They--the sailors, I mean--answered my few questions so rudely,
and with so much ferocity of look and demeanour, that I was actually
afraid to refuse going on board, lest they should take it as offence,
though I would willingly have given five guineas to be excused
the expedition, and wait for a more responsible-looking craft. My
fellow-traveller, too, a very rough-looking, and evidently seafaring
man, settled the point, as seeing my hesitation, he said, ‘Well, Sir,
ain’t the boat good enough for you? Why don’t you step aboard? The faces
of the bystanders quickly decided me, and I went down the plank praying
for my safety, and cursing the day I ever saw Ireland.”

Our reader would possibly not thank us to follow Mr. M’Kinlay in his
narrative, which, indeed, only contained sorrows common to many besides
himself--the terrors of being shipwrecked added to the miseries of
sea-sickness. He told how, through all his agonies, he overheard the
discussions that overwhelmed him with terror, whether they could “carry”
 this, or “take in that;” if such a thing would “hold,” or such another
“give way;” and lastly, whether it were better to bear away for Cork or
Bantry, or stand out to open sea, and--Heaven knows where! “Terrors that
will keep me,” cried he, “in nightmares for the rest of my life!”

“At last--it was all that was wanting to fill the measure of my fears--I
heard a sailor say, ‘There! she’s over at last!’ Who’s over?’ cried I.

“‘The fishing-boat that was down to leeward, Sir,’ answered he. ‘They’re
au lost.’

“‘Lucky for them,’ said I to myself, ‘if it’s over so soon. This
prolonged agony is a thousand deaths.’ ‘They’re on the spars; I see
them!’ cried my fellow-traveller; ‘slack off.’ I forget what he said,
but it was to slack off something, and run down for them. This atrocious
proposal rallied me back to strength again, and I opposed it with an
energy, indeed with a virulence, that actually astonished myself.
I asked by what right he took the command of the lugger, and why he
presumed to peril my life--valuable to a number of people--for God knows
what or whom. I vowed the most terrific consequences when we come on
shore again, and declared I would have him indicted for a constructive
manslaughter, if not worse. I grew bolder as I saw that the sailors,
fully alive to our danger, were disposed to take part with me against
him, when the fellow--one of the greatest desperadoes I ever met, and,
as I afterwards found out, a Yankee pirate and slaver--drew a pistol
from his breast and presented it at the helmsman, saying, ‘Down your
helm, or I’ll shoot you!’ and as the man obeyed, he turned to me and
said, ‘If I hear another word out of your mouth, I’ll put an ounce ball
in you, as sure as my name is’---- I think he said ‘Hairy.’ I believe I
fainted; at least, I only was aware of what was going on around me as I
saw them dragging on board a half-drowned boy, with a flag in his hand,
who turned out to be the son of Mr. Lut----”

“There, there, M’Kinlay,” burst in Vyner, “all this agitates you far too
much--don’t go on, I’ll not permit you. To-morrow, after a good sleep,
and a hearty breakfast, I’ll make you finish your story; but positively
I’ll not listen to another word, now.” The hastily thrown glance of
displeasure showed the lawyer that this was a command, and he hung his
head and muttered out an awkward concurrence. “Won’t you take more wine,
Sir Within?”

“No more, thank you. Your capital Bordeaux has made me already exceed my
usual quantity.”

“Let us ask the ladies, then, for a cup of tea,” said Vyner, as he
opened the door; and, as M’Kinlay passed out, he whispered, “I just
caught you in time!”

The ladies received Mr. M’Kinlay with that sort of cool politeness which
is cruel enough when extended to the person one sees every day, but has
a touch of sarcasm in it when accorded to him who has just come off a
long journey.

Now, in the larger gatherings of the world, social preferences are
scarcely felt, but they can be very painful things in the small, close
circle of a family party.

“You have been to Ireland, Mr. M’Kinlay--I hope you were pleased
with your tour? Won’t you have some tea?” said Lady Vyner, with the same
amount of interest in each question.

“Mr. M’Kinlay must have proved a most amusing guest,” said Georgina,
in a low voice, to Sir Within, “or we should have seen you in the
drawing-room somewhat earlier.”

“I felt it an age,” said he, with a little bow and a smile, intended to
be of intense captivation.

“But still you remained,” said she, with a sort of pique.

“_Ma foi!_ What was to be done? The excellent man got into a story of
his adventures, a narrative of a shipwreck which had not--as I was cruel
enough to regret--befallen him, and which, I verily believe, might have
lasted all night, if, by some lucky chance, he had not approached so
near a topic of some delicacy, or reserve, that your brother-in-law
closed ‘the séance,’ and stopped him; and to this accident I owe my
freedom.”

“I wonder what it could have been!”

“I cannot give you the faintest clue to it. Indeed, I can’t fashion to
my imagination what are called family secrets--very possibly because I
never had a family.”

Though Georgina maintained the conversation for some time longer,
keeping up that little game of meaningless remark and reply which
suffices for tea-table talk, her whole mind was bent upon what could
possibly be the mystery he alluded to. Taking the opportunity of a
moment when Sir Within was addressing a remark to Lady Vyner, she moved
half carelessly away towards the fireplace, where Mr. M’Kinlay sipped
his tea in solitude, Sir Gervais being deep in the columns of an evening
paper.

“I suppose you are very tired, Mr. M’Kinlay?” said she; and simple as
were the words, they were uttered with one of those charming smiles,
that sweet captivation of look and intonation, which are the spells by
which fine ladies work their miracles on lesser mortals; and, as she
spoke, she seated herself on a sofa, gracefully drawing aside the folds
of her ample dress, to convey the intimation that there was still place
for another.

While Mr. M’Kinlay looked rather longingly at the vacant place,
wondering whether he might dare to take it, a second gesture, making the
seat beside her still more conspicuous, encouraged him, and he sat down,
pretty much with the mixed elation and astonishment he might have
felt had the Lord Chancellor invited him to a place beside him on the
woolsack.

“I am so sorry not to have heard your account--the most interesting
account, my brother tells me--of your late journey,” began she; “and
really, though the recital must bring back very acute pain, I am selfish
enough to ask you to brave it.”

“I am more than repaid for all, Miss Courtenay, in the kind interest you
vouchsafe to bestow on me.”

After which she smiled graciously, and seemed a little--a very
little--flurried, as though the speech savoured of gallantry, and then,
with a regained serenity, she went on, “You narrowly escaped shipwreck,
I think?”

“So narrowly, that I believe every varying emotion that can herald in
the sad catastrophe passed through me, and I felt every pang, except the
last of all.”

“How dreadful! Where did it happen?”

“Off the west coast of Ireland, Miss Courtenay. Off what mariners
declare to be the most perilous lee-shore in Europe, if not in the
world; and in an open boat too, at least but half decked, and on a day
of such storm that, except ourselves and the unlucky yawl that was lost,
not another sail was to be seen.”

“And were the crew lost?”

“No; it was in saving them, as they chung to the floating spars, that we
were so near perishing ourselves.”

“But you _did_ save them?”

“Every one. It was a daring act; so daring that, landsman as I was,
I deemed it almost foolhardy. Indeed, our crew at first resisted, and
wouldn’t do it.”

“It was nobly done, be assured, Mr. M’Kinlay; these are occasions well
bought at all their cost of danger. Not only is a man higher for them in
his own esteem, but that to all who know him, who respect, who----” She
hesitated, and, in a flurried sort of way, suddenly said, “And where did
you land them?”

“We landed them on the island,” said he, with an almost triumphant
air--“we brought them back to their own homes--dreary enough in all
conscience; but they never knew better.”

“How is the place called?”

“Innishmore, the most northern of the Arran Islands,” said he, in a
whisper, and looking uneasily over at Sir Gerrais, to see that he was
not overheard.

“Is the place interesting, or picturesque, or are there any objects
of interest?” said she, carelessly, and to let him recover his former
composure.

“None whatever,” continued he, in the same cautious voice; “mere
barbarism, and such poverty as I never witnessed before. In the house
where we were received--the only thing worthy the name of a house in the
place--the few articles of furniture were made of the remnants thrown
on shore from shipwrecks; and we had on the dinner-table earthenware
pipkins, tin cups, glasses, and wooden measures indiscriminately. While,
as if to heighten the incongruity, a flagon of silver, which had once
been gilt too, figured in the midst, and displayed a very strange
crest--a heart rent in two, with the motto, _La Zutte réelle_, a
heraldic version of the name.”

“Luttrell,” whispered she, still lower. “What is his christian name?”

“John Hamilton. But, my dear Miss Courtenay, where have you been leading
me all this time? These are all secrets; at least, Sir Gervais enjoined
me especially not to speak of where I had been, nor with whom. I am
aware it was out of respect for the feelings of this unfortunate
man, who, however little trace there remained of it, has once been a
gentleman and a man of some fortune.”

“If you never tell my brother that you have revealed this to me, I
promise you I’ll not speak of it,” said she; and, with all her effort to
appear calm, her agitation nearly overcame her.

“You may depend upon _me_, Miss Courtenay.”

“Nor to my sister,” muttered she, still dwelling on her own thoughts.

“Certainly not. It was a great indiscretion--that is, it would have been
a great indiscretion to have mentioned this to any one less--less----”

While he was searching his brain for an epithet, she arose and walked
to a window, and Mr. M’Kinlay, rather shocked at his own impetuous
frankness, sat thinking over all that he had said.

“Come, Sir Within,” cried Vyner, “here’s my friend M’Kinlay, a capital
whist player. What say you to a rubber? and Georgina, will you join us?”

“Not to-night, Gervais. Laura will take my place.”

Lady Vyner acceded good naturedly, with many excuses for all her
ignorance of the game, and while Sir Within and Vyner held a little
amicable contest for her as a partner, Georgina drew again nigh to where
M’Kinlay was standing.

“Did he look very old and broken? asked she, in a low but shaken voice.

“Terribly broken.”

“What age would you guess him to be?”

“Fifty-four, or five; perhaps older.”

“Absurd!” cried she, peevishly; “he’s not forty.”

“I spoke of what he seemed to be; his hair is perfectly white, he stoops
considerably, and looks, in fact, the remains of a shattered, broken
man, who never at any time was a strong one.”

An insolent curl moved her mouth, but she bit her lips, and with an
effort said, “Did you see his wife?”

“He is a widower; except the little boy that we rescued from the wreck,
he has none belonging to him.”

“Come along, M’Kinlay, we are waiting for you,” cried Sir Gervais; and
the lawyer moved away, while Georgina, with a motion of her finger to
her lips, to enjoin secresy, turned and left the room.



CHAPTER XXII. SOME WORDS AT PARTING

It was as the Vyners sat at breakfast the following morning, that the
servant announced the arrival of an old countryman and a little girl,
who had just come by the stage.

“Oh! may I go, papa, may I go and see her?” cried Ada, eagerly; but Sir
Gervais had stooped across to whisper something to his wife, and the
governess, deeming the moment favourable to exert her authority, moved
away at once with her charge.

“The peasant child that we told you of, Sir Within,” said Lady Vyner,
“has arrived, and it is a rare piece of fortune you are here, for we
shall steal a travelling opinion out of you.”

“In what way may I hope to be of use?”

“In telling us what you think of her. I mean, of her temper, character,
disposition; in short, how you, with that great tact you possess in
reading people, interpret her.”

“You flatter me much, Lady Vyner; but any skill I may possess in these
respects is rather applicable to people in our own rank of life, where
conventionalities have a great share; now in hiding, now in disclosing
traits of character. As to the simple child of nature, I suspect I shall
find myself all at fault.”

“But you are a phrenologist, too?” said Sir Gervais.

“A believer, certainly, but no accomplished professor of the science.”

“I declare it is very nervous work to be in company with a magician,
who reads one like an open volume,” said Georgina. “What do you say, Mr.
M’Kinlay, if we take a walk in the garden, while these learned chemists
perform their analyses?”

Mr. M’Kinlay’s eyes sparkled with delight, though he had to stammer out
his excuses: He was going to start off for town; he must meet the “up
mail” somewhere, and his conveyance was already waiting at the gate.

“Then I’ll stroll down the avenue with you,” said she, rising. “I’ll go
for my bonnet.”

“Let me have the draft as early as you can, M’Kinlay,” whispered Sir
Gervais, as he drew the lawyer into a window-recess. “I don’t think
Luttrell will like acting with Grenfell, and I would ask my friend, Sir
Within here, to be the other trustee.”

“No; he certainly did not seem to like Grenfell, though he owned he did
not know him.”

“Then, as to his own boy, I’ll write to him myself; it will be more
friendly. Of course, all these matters are between ourselves.”

“Of course.”

“I mean strictly so; because Lady Vyner’s family and the Luttrells have
had some differences, years and years ago. Too long a story to tell
you now, and scarcely worth telling at any time; however, it was one
of those unfinished games--you understand--where each party accuses the
other of unfair play, and there are no quarrels less reparable. I say
this much simply to show you the need of all your caution, and how the
name ‘Luttrell,’ must never escape you.”

Mr. M’Kinlay would like, to have declared at once that the imprudence
had been committed, and that the warning had come too late; but it
required more time than he then had at his disposal to show by what
a mere slip it had occurred, and at the same time how innocuously the
tidings had fallen. Lastly, there was his pride as a business man in the
way--the same sort of infallibility which makes Popes and Bank cashiers
a little less and more than all humanity--so he simply bowed and smiled,
and muttered a something that implied a perfect acquiescence. And now he
took his leave, Lady Vyner graciously hoping soon to see him again; and
Sir Within, with a courtesy that had often delighted Arch-Duchesses,
declaring the infinite pleasure it would afford him to see him at
Dalradern, with which successes triumphant, he shook Vyner’s hand, and
hastened out to meet Miss Courtenay.

It is a very strange thing to mark how certain men, trained and
inured to emergencies of no mean order--the lawyer and the doctor, for
instance--who can await with unshaken courage the moment in which duty
will summon them to efforts on whose issue another’s life is hanging,--I
say, it is a strange thing to mark how such men are unnerved and
flurried by that small by-play of society which fine ladies go through
without a sensation or an emotion. The little commonplace, attentions,
the weak flatteries, the small coquetteries that are the every-day
incidents of such a sphere, strike them as all full of a direct
application, a peculiar significance, when addressed to themselves; and
thus was it Mr. M’Kinlay issued forth, imbued with a strong conviction
that he had just taken leave of a charming family, endowed with many
graceful gifts, amongst which conspicuously shone the discernment they
showed in understanding himself.

“I see it,” muttered he below his breath--“I see it before me. There
will come a day when I shall cross this threshold on still safer
grounds. When Sir Gervais will be Vyner, and even----”

“I trust I have not kept you waiting?” said the very sweetest of voices,
as Miss Courtenay, drawing her shawl around her, came forward. “I
sincerely hope I have not perilled your journey; but I went to fetch you
a rose. Here it is. Is it not pretty? They are the true Japanese roses,
but they have no odour.”

Mr. M’Kinlay was in ecstasy; he declared that the flower was perfection;
there never was such grace of outline, such delicacy of colouring, such
elegance of form; and he protested that there was a faint, a very faint,
but delicious perfume also.

Georgina laughed, one of those sweet-ringing little laughs beauties
practise--just as great pianists do those seemingly hap-hazard chords
they throw off, as in careless mood they find themselves before a
piano--and they now walked along, side by side, towards the gate.

“You don’t know in what a position of difficulty my indiscretion of
yesterday evening has placed me, Miss Courtenay,” said he. “Here has
been Sir Gervais enjoining me to the strictest secresy.”

“You may trust me to the fullest extent; and tell me, what was your
business with Lutrell?”

“You shall know all. Indeed, I have no desire to keep secrets from you.”
 It was somewhat of a hazardous speech, particularly in the way it was
uttered; but she received it with a very sweet smile, and he went on:
“My journey had for its object to see this Mr. Luttrell, and induce him
to accept a trusteeship to a deed.”

“For this child?”

“Yes; the same.”

“But she is his daughter, is she not?”

“No; he had but one child, the boy I spoke of.”

“Who told you so? Luttrell himself, perhaps, or some of his people. At
all events, do you believe it?”

He was a good deal startled by the sharp, quick, peremptory tone she now
spoke in, so like her wonted manner, but so widely unlike her late mood
of captivating softness, and for a second or two he did not answer.

“Tell me frankly, do you believe it?” cried she.

“I see no reason to disbelieve it,” was his reply.

“Is the boy older than this girl?” asked she, quickly.

“I should say so. Yes, certainly. I think so, at least.”

“And I am almost as certain he is not,” said she, in the same determined
tone. “Now for another point. My brother Vyner is about to make a
settlement on this girl; is it not so?”

“Yes; I have instructions to prepare a deed.”

“And do you believe--is it a thing that your experience warrants you to
believe--that he contemplates this for the child of Heaven knows whom,
found Heaven knows where? Tell me that!”

“It is strange, no doubt, and it surprised me greatly, and at first I
couldn’t credit it.”

“Nor you don’t now! No, no, Mr. M’Kinlay, ‘don’t be a churl of your
confidence. This girl is a Luttrell; confess it?”

“On my honour, I believe she is not.”

“Then I take it they are cleverer folk than I thought them, for they
seem to have deceived you.”

“We shall not do it, Sir, in the time,” cried the postilion from his
saddle, “unless we start at once.”

“Yes, yes, I am coming. If you would write to me, Miss Courtenay, any of
your doubts--if you would allow me to write to you.”

“What for, Sir? I have no doubts. I don’t certainly see how all this
came about; nor--not having Mr. Grenfell’s acquaintance, who was with my
brother--am I likely to find out; but I know quite as much as I care to
know.”

“You suspect--I see what you suspect,” said Mr. M’Kinlay, hoping by one
clever dash to achieve the full measure of her confidence.

“What is it I suspect?” asked she, with an air of innocent curiosity.

“You suspect,” said he, slowly, while he looked intently into her eyes
at the time--“you suspect that Sir Gervais means by adopting this child
to make some sort of a reparation to Luttrell.”

“A what, Sir?” said she, opening her eyes to almost twice the usual
size, while her nostrils dilated with passion. “What did you dare to
mean by that word?”

“My dear Miss Courtenay, I am miserable, the most wretched of men, if I
have offended you.”

“There’s eleven now striking, Sir, and we may as well send the horses
back,” cried the postilion, sulkily.

“There, Sir, you hear what he says; pray don’t be late on my account.
Good-by. I hope you’ll have no more disasters. Good-by.”

For a moment he thought to hasten after her, and try to make his peace;
but great interests called him back to town, and, besides, he might in
his confusion only make bad worse. It was a matter of much thought, and
so, with a deep sigh, he stepped into the chaise and drove away, with a
far heavier heart than he had carried from the porch of the cottage.

“I must have called a wrong witness,” muttered he, “there’s no doubt of
it; _she_ belonged to ‘the other side.’”



CHAPTER XXIII. MALONE IN GOOD COMPANY

[Illustration: 205]

When Georgina returned to the drawing-room, she found her sister seated
on a sofa, with Sir Within beside her, and in front of them stood
a girl, whose appearance certainly answered ill to the high-flown
descriptions Sir Gervais had given them of her beauty.

With the evident intention of making a favourable first impression, her
grandfather had dressed her up in some faded relics of Mrs. Luttrel’s
wardrobe: a blue silk dress, flounced and trimmed, reaching to her feet,
while a bonnet of some extinct shape shadowed her face and concealed her
hair, and a pair of satin boots, so large that they curved up, Turkish
fashion, towards the toes, gave her the look rather of some wandering
circus performer, than of a peasant child.

“Je la trouve affreusement laide!” said Lady Vyner, as her sister came
forward and examined herewith a quiet and steady stare through her
eye-glass.

“She is certainly nothing like the sketch he made, and still less like
the description he gave of her,” said Georgina, in French. “What do you
say, Sir Within?”

“There is something--not exactly beauty--about her,” said he, in the
same language, “but something that, cultivated and developed, might
possibly be attractive. Her eyes have a strange colour in them: they
are grey, but they are of that grey that gets a tinge of amethyst when
excited.”

While they thus spoke, the girl had turned from one to the other,
listening attentively, and as eagerly watching the expressions of the
listeners’ faces, to gather what she might of their meaning.

“Your name is Kitty--Kitty O’Hara, I think?” said Lady Vyner. “A very
good name, too, is O’Hara!”

“Yes, my Lady. There is an O’Hara lives at Craig-na-Manna, in his own
castle.”

“Are you related to him?” asked Georgina, gravely.

“No, my Lady.”

“Distantly, perhaps, you might be?”

“Perhaps we might; at all events, he never said so!”

“And you think, probably, it was more for him to own the relationship
than for you to claim it?”

The girl was silent, and looked thoughtful; and Lady Vyner said, “I
don’t think she understood you, Georgy?”

“Yes I did, my Lady; but I didn’t know what to say.”

“At all events,” said Georgina, “you don’t call each other cousins.”

The child nodded.

“And yet, Kitty, if I don’t mistake greatly, you’d like well enough to
have some grand relations--fine, rich people living in their own great
castle?”

“Yes, I’d like that!” said the girl. And her cheek glowed, while her
eyes deepened into the colour the old Baronet described.

“And if we were to be to you as these same cousins, Batty,” said Lady
Vyner, good naturedly, “do you think you could love us, and be happy
with us?”

The girl turned her head and surveyed the room with a quiet leisurely
look, and, though it was full of objects new and strange, she did not
let her gaze dwell too long on any one in particular; and, in a quiet,
steady tone, said, “I’d like to live here!”

“Yes; but you have only answered half of her Ladyship’s question,” said
Sir Within. “She asked, ‘Could you love her?’”

The girl turned her eyes full on Georgina, and, after a steady stare,
she looked in Lady Vyner’s face, and said, “I could love _you_!” The
emphasis plainly indicating what she meant.

“I think there can be very little mistake there,” said Georgina, in
French. “I, at least, have not captivated her at first sight.”

“Ma foi, she is more savage than I thought her,” said Sir Within, in the
same language.

“No,” said she, quickly catching, at the sound of the word, “I am not
a savage!” And there was a fierce energy in the way she spoke actually
startling.

“My dear child,” said he, gently, “I did not call you so.”

“And if he had,” interposed Miss Courtenay, “gentlemen are not
accustomed to be rebuked by such as you!”

The girl’s face grew scarlet; she clenched her hands together, and the
joints cracked as the fingers strained and twisted in her grasp.

“You have much to learn, Kitty,” said Lady Vyner; “but if you are a good
child, gentle and obedient, we will try and teach you.”

The child curtseyed her thanks.

“Take off that odious bonnet, Georgy, and let us see her better.”

The girl stared with amazement at hearing her head-dress so criticised,
and followed it with her eyes wistfully.

“Yes; she is much better now.”

“What splendid hair!” said Sir Within, in French.

“You have got pretty hair, he says,” said Georgina.

“This is prettier,” said the child, as she lifted the amber beads of her
necklace and displayed them proudly.

“They are very pretty too, and real amber.”

“Amber and gold,” said the girl, proudly.

“Now she looks like the picture of her,” said Lady Vyner, in French;
“she positively is pretty. The horrid dress disfigured her altogether.”

Sir Gervais entered the room hastily at this moment, and whispered a few
words in his wife’s ear, concluding aloud: “Let her go to Ada; she is
in the garden. You can go this way, Kitty,” said he, opening one of the
French windows; “cross over the grass to that little wooden gate yonder,
and the path will bring you to the garden. You’ll find a young lady
there, who would like to know you.”

“May I have my bonnet?” asked she, wistfully.

“No; go without it. You’ll be freer!”

“I must ask you to let me show you this old man. He has submitted me to
a cross-examination so sharp and searching for the last half-hour, that
I really want a little rest.”

Whatever absurdity the pretension of dress had thrown around the girl,
nothing of the same kind was observable in the appearance of the
old man, who, in his long coat of bluish grey frieze, and with his
snow-white hair falling on his shoulders, stood before them. His air,
too, was thoroughly respectful; but neither abashed by the presence in
which he found himself, nor, stranger still for an Irish peasant, at all
excited to any show, of curiosity by the rich objects about.

“Well, Malone,” said Vyner, with the frank familiar tone that so well
became him, “I believe we have now gone over everything that we have to
say to each other, and, at all events, as you will stop here today----”

“No, your honour; with your honour’s leave, I’ll go off now. It’s best
for the child, and, indeed, for myself!” And a heavy sigh followed the
last word.

“You are afraid, then, she will fret after you,” said Georgina, fixing a
full and steady gaze on the old man’s face.

“She might, my Lady,” said he, calmly.

“Nothing more natural; who would blame her?” broke in Lady Vyner. “But
might it not be as well for you to wait and see how she likes her new
life here?”

“She is sure to like it, my Lady.”

“I suspect she is!” said Georgina, quickly. And the old man turned and
looked at her with a keen, sharp glance; it almost seemed to ask, “How
do you know this?”

Vyner broke the somewhat awkward pause that ensued, by saying, “As
I shall be your landlord, Malone, in a few days, you will have many
opportunities of communicating with me, and I am sure, until your
granddaughter can write with her own hand, either of these ladies will
be kind enough to send you news of her.”

The old man made a gesture of gratitude, and stood still without
speaking. At length he sighed deeply, and seemed engaged in some process
of recollection, for he counted over to himself something, marking each
event on his fingers.

“I do think, Malone,” said Vyner, with much kindness of voice and
manner, “it would be well to remain here to-day at least. You yourself
will go back more satisfied as you see in what sort of place and with
what people you have left your child.”

“No, thank your honour; I’ll go this morning. It is best. There’s only
one thing more I have to say, but to be sure it’s the great one of all.”

“Then it is a matter of money,” said Georgina, in a low tone; but low as
it was the old fellow, who often affected deafness, caught it at once,
and with a look of great resentment fixed his eyes on her.

“I half suspect,” said Vyner, “we have not forgotten anything. I have
told you how she will be treated and looked on, how educated and cared
for.”

“And how dressed,” added Lady Vyner.

“I have, so far as I know, too, provided for the contingency of her
wishing to return home again, or for such a wish on the part of her
friends; and I have satisfied you that her opinions in matters of
religion shall be respected, and that she shall have, whenever it is
possible, the advantage of conferring with a priest of her own Church.
Now, do you remember anything else we ought to take into account?”

“Yes, your honour,” said the old man, resolutely. “I want to know, if it
was to happen, from any rayson, that your honour or the ladies wished
to send her back again, after she was, maybe, two years or three years
here, when she was accustomed to be treated like a lady, and felt like
one--I want to know where she’s to go, or who to?”

“There is much good sense in that question,” said Sir Within, in French;
and he now arose to look closer at the old countryman.

“I think, Malone, we have already provided for that.”

“No, your honour. You said how it would be if Kitty wanted to go back
herself, or if I sent for her; and how, too, it would be if, when she
was grown up and fit to be married, that she ought to have consent from
your honour, or the guardians that your honour wud give her in charge
to. But now I want to know how it would be if, after the child was used
to fine ways of livin’, she was to be sent away--without any fault of
hers, maybe, but just because--no matter for what rayson”--here his eyes
glanced rapidly at Georgina--“I’d like to ax, what’s to become of her
then?”

“I scarcely think we can go so far as to provide for every casualty
in life; but it will perhaps satisfy you to know that she’ll have two
guardians to watch over her interests. One of them is this gentleman
here.”

“And who’s the other?” asked Malone, curiously.

“The other? The other is not yet formally declared, but you will be
fully satisfied with him, that much I guarantee.”

Malone did not give much attention to this speech, his whole interest
seeming now to concentrate in the person of him who was to be the girl’s
guardian.

“Is your honour married?” asked he at length of Sir Within.

“I have not that happiness,” said the old diplomatist, with a grace of
manner that he might have displayed to a sovereign.

“There it is again,” sighed Malone; “she’ll have nowhere to go to if
she’s turned out. Has his honour a house near this?”

“Yes. I shall be happy to show it to you,” said Sir Within, politely.

“I declare, Malone, if I’m ever in want of a guardian, I’ll look you up.
I never heard of your equal in foresight,” said Georgina, laughing.

“Wouldn’t I need to be, my Lady? Who has the child to look to barrin’
myself? And maybe, then, she wouldn’t have even me. I’m seventy-eight
last April; and his honour there isn’t very young either.”

“Trop vrai, ma foi,” said Sir Within, trying to laugh gaily, but
reddening to his forehead as he turned away.

“You must have more patience than I, Gervais, to prolong this
discussion,” said Georgina, angrily. “I vow I’d anticipate the old man’s
objection, and pack them off both together this very morning.”

Every syllable of this was overheard by Malone, though he affected not
to hear it, and stood a perfect picture of immobility.

Sir Gervais, who up to this was rather amused by the casuistical turn of
the peasant’s mind, now seemed rather to lose temper, and said, “Such
an arrangement as we contemplated, Malone, requires a little exercise
of good faith on both sides; if you believe that you cannot extend that
trust in us so far as we expect from you, I really think the best and
easiest way would be to do as this young lady says--end our contract at
once.”

Not in the least startled by the peremptory tone which Vyner had
now for the first time used towards him, the old man folded his hands
with an air of resignation, and stood without uttering a word.

“Did you hear what Sir Gerrais said to you?” asked Georgina, after a
pause of some seconds. “Yes, my Lady.”

“And what answer have you to make?” asked she again, more imperatively.

“‘Tis your Ladyship is right,” began Malone, in a voice greatly subdued,
and with almost a slight whining intonation through it; “‘tis your
Ladyship is right. His honour is too good and too patient with me.
But what am I but a poor ignorant labourin’ man, that never had any
edication nor larnin’ at all? And if I be thinkin’ of more than I ought,
it’s because I know no better.”

“Well, what will you do?” said Vyner, hastily, for there was a servility
in the man’s manner that revolted him, and he was impatient to conclude.

“I’ll tell you what I’ll do, if your honour lets me,” said Malone,
resolutely, “I’ll go and speak to Kitty. She’s cute enough, young as she
is, and whatever she says I’ll abide by.”

“Do so; take your own way altogether, my good man; and be assured that
whichever decision you come to will not in any degree affect our future
dealings together.”

“That is, your honour won’t turn me out of my houldin’.”

“Nothing of the kind.”

“He never suspected you would,” said Georgina, but in a very cautious
whisper, which this time escaped Malone.

“I’ll not be ten minutes, your honour,” said he, as he moved towards the
door.

“Take as much time as you please.”

“He’ll not part with her, I see that,” said Lady Vyner, as the man
withdrew.

Georgina gave a saucy laugh, and said, “He never so much as dreamed of
taking her away; his whole mind was bent upon a hard bargain; and now
that he has got the best terms he could, he’ll close the contract.”

“You don’t believe too implicitly in humanity,” said Sir Within,
smiling.

“I believe in men only when they are gentlemen,” said she; and there
was a very gracious glance as she spoke, which totally effaced all
unpleasant memory of the past.



CHAPTER XXIV. A QUIET TALK IN A GARDEN.

Much as the magnificence and comfort in-doors had astonished Malone, he
was far more captivated by the beauty of the garden. Here were a vast
variety of objects which he could thoroughly appreciate. The luxuriant
vegetation, the fruit-trees bending under their fruit, the proffusion of
rare and rich flowers, the trim order of the whole, that neatness which
the inexperienced eye has seldom beheld, nor can, even when seeing,
credit, struck him at every step; and then there were plants utterly
new and strange to him--pines and pomegranates, and enormous gourds,
streaked and variegated in gorgeous colours, and over and through all a
certain pervading odour that distilled a sense of drowsy enjoyment very
captivating. Never, perhaps, in his whole life, had he so fully brought
home to him the glorious prerogative of wealth, that marvellous
power that culls from life, one by one, every attribute that is
pleasure-giving, and surrounds daily existence with whatever can charm
or beguile.

When he heard from the gardener that Sir Gervais seldom or never came
there, he almost started, and some vague and shadowy doubt shot across
his mind that rich men might not be so triumphantly blessed as he had
just believed them.

“Sure,” he muttered, “if he doesn’t see this he can’t enjoy it, and
if he sees it so often that he doesn’t mind, it’s the same thing. I
wondher, now, would that be possible, and would there ever come a time
to myself when I wouldn’t think this was Paradise.”

He was musing in this wise, when a merry burst of childish laughter
startled him, and at the same instant a little girl bounded over a
melon-frame and ran towards him. He drew aside, and took off his hat
with respectful deference, when suddenly the child stopped, and burst
into a ringing laugh, as she said, “Why, grandfather, don’t you know
me?”

Nor even then did he know her, such a marvellous change had been wrought
in her by one of Ada’s dresses, and a blue ribbon that fastened her hair
behind, and fell floating down her back with the rich golden tresses.

“Sure it isn’t Kitty?” cried he, shading his eyes with his hand.

“And why wouldn’t it be Kitty?” replied she, tartly, and piqued
that her own attractions were not above all adventitious aid. “Is it a
white frock makes me so grand that ye wouldn’t know me again?”

“May I never,” cried he, “but I thought you was a young lady.”

“Well, and what’s the differ, I wonder? If I look like one, couldn’t I
be one?”

“Ay, and do it well, too!” said he, while his eyes glistened with a look
of triumph. “Come here, Kitty, darlin’,” said he, taking her hand, and
leading her along at his side, “I want to spake a word to you. Now,
Kitty, though you’re only a child, as one may say, you’ve more wit in
your head nor many a grown woman, and if you hadn’t, it’s the heavy
heart I’d have this day leavin’ you among strangers.”

“Don’t fret about that, grandfather; it’s an elegant fine place to be
in. Wait till I show you the dairy, that’s grander inside than ever I
seen a house in Ireland; and if you saw the cowhouse, the beasts has
straps with buckles round their necks, and boords under their feet, just
like Christians, only betther.”

“A long sight betther nor Christians!” muttered he, half savagely.
Then recovering, he went on: “You see, here’s how it is. ‘Twas out of
a ‘conceit’--a sort of fancy--they took you, and out of the same, my
honey, they may leave you some fine mornin’ when you’ve got ways that
would be hard to give up, and used to twenty things you couldn’t do
without; and I was tellin’ them that, and askin’ how it would be if that
day was to come?”

“Ah,” cried she, with an impatient toss of her head, “I wish you hadn’t
put such thoughts into their heads at all. Sure, ain’t I here now?
Haven’t they tuk me away from my home, and where would I go if they
turned me out? You want to make it asy for them, grandfather, isn’t that
it?”

“Faix, I believe you’re right, Kitty.”

“Sure, I know I am. And why would they send me away if I didn’t displase
them, and you’ll see that I’ll not do that.”

“Are you sure and certain of that?”

“As sure as I’m here. Don’t fret about it, grandfather.”

“Ay, but darlin’, what will plase one wouldn’t, may be, be plasin’ to
another; there’s the mistress and her sister--and they’re not a bit
like each other--and there’s the master and that ould man with the goold
chain round his neck--he’s your guardian.”

“Oh, is he?” cried she; “see what he gave me--he took it off his
watch-chain. He said, ‘There’s a little sweetheart for you.’” And she
drew from her bosom her handkerchief, in which she had carefully
rolled up a small figure of a man in armour, of fine gold and delicate
workmanship. “And the little girl here--Ada, they call her--tells me
that he is far richer than her papa, and has a house ten times grander.”

“That’s lucky, anyhow,” said the old man, musing. “Well, honey, when I
found that I couldn’t do any better, I said I’d go and talk to yourself,
and see whether you were set upon stayin’ with all your heart, or if
you’d like to go back again.”

“Is it back to Derryvaragh?”

“Yes; where else?”

“Catch me at it, Peter Malone, that’s all! Catch me goin’ to eat
potatoes and lie on straw, work in the fields and go barefoot, when I
can be a lady, and have everything I can think of.”

“I wonder will ye ever larn it?”

“Larn what?”

“To be a lady--I mane a raal lady--that nobody, no matter how cute they
were, could find you out.”

“Give me two years, Peter Malone, just two years--maybe not so much,
but I’d like to be sure--and if I don’t, I’ll promise you to go back to.
Derryvaragh, and never lave it again.”

“Faix, I think you’d win!”

“Sure, I know it.”

And there was a fierce energy in her look that said far more than her
words.

“Oh, Kitty, darlin’, I wondher will I live to see it?”

Apparently, this consummation was not which held chief sway over her
mind, for she was now busy making a wreath of flowers for her head.

“Won’t the gardener be angry, darlin’, at your pluckin’ the roses and the
big pinks?”

“Let him, if he dare. Miss Ada told him a while ago that I was to go
everywhere, and take anything just like herself; and I can eat the
fruit, the apples, and the pears, and the grapes that you see there, but
I wouldn’t because Ada didn’t,” said she, gravely.

“You’ll do, Kitty--you’ll do,” said the old man; and his eyes swam with
tears of affection and joy.

“You begin to think so now, grandfather,” said she, archly.

“And so I may go in now and tell them that you’ll stay.”

“You may go in, Peter Malone, and tell them that I won’t go, and that’s
better.”

The old man stepped back, and, turning her round full in front of him,
stood in wondering admiration of her for some seconds.

“Well?” said she, pertly, as if interrogating his opinion of
her--“well?”

But his emotion was too strong for words, and the heavy tears coursed
after each other down his wrinkled cheeks.

“It’s harder for me to leave you, Kitty, darlin’, than I thought it
would be, and I know, too, I’ll feel it worse when I go back.”

“No you won’t, grandfather,” said she, caressingly. “You’ll be thinking
of me and the fine life I’m leadin’ here, and the fine times that’s
before me.”

“Do you think so, honey?” asked he, in a half-sobbing tone--“do you
think so?”

“I know it, grandfather--I know it, so don’t cry any more; and, whenever
your heart is low, just think of what’s coming. That’s what I do. I
always begin to think of what’s coming!”

“And when that time comes, Kitty ‘Alannah,’ will you ever renumber yer
ould grandfather, who won’t be to ‘the fore’ to see it?”

“And why won’t he be?”

“Because, darlin’, I’m nigh eighty years of age, and I can’t expect to
see above a year or two, at farthest. Come here, and give me a kiss, ma
Cushleen! and cut off a bit of your hair for me to have as a keepsake,
and put next my heart in my coffin.”

“No, grandfather; take this, it will do as well”--and she handed him
the little golden trinket--“for I can’t cut my hair, after hearin’ the
gentlemen sayin’ how beautiful it is!”

The old man, however, motioned away the gift with one hand, while he
drew the other across his eyes.

“Is there anything you think of now, Kitty,” said he, with an effort to
appear calm, “for I must be goin’?”

“Give my love to them all beyant,” said she, gravely, “and say if
there’s a thing I could do for them, I’ll do it, but don’t let them be
comin’ after me!”

A sickly paleness spread over the old man’s face, and his lips trembled
as he muttered, “No fear of that! They’ll not trouble you! Good-by!” And
he stooped and kissed her.

When he had walked a few paces away, he turned, and, with hands
fervently clasped above his head, uttered a blessing in Irish.

“God speed you, grandfather, and send you safe home!” cried she. And,
skipping over a flower-bed, was lost to his view, though he could hear
her happy voice as she went away singing.

“The devil a doubt of it,” muttered the old man, “them’s the ones that
bate the world; and, if she doesn’t come in first in the race, by my
soule, it isn’t the weight of her heart will keep her back!”

“Well, Malone!” cried Sir Gervais, as they met at the garden-gate, “have
you been able to make up your mind?”

“Yes, your honour; Kitty says she’ll stay.” Sir Gervais paused for a
moment, then said:

“Because we have been talking the matter over amongst ourselves, Malone,
and we have thought that, as possibly your expectations might be greater
than were likely to be realised, our best way might be to make you some
compensation for all the trouble we have given you, and part the same
good friends that we met. I therefore came to say, that if you like your
present holding, that little farm----”

“No, your honour, no,” broke he in, eagerly; “her heart’s in the place
now, and it would be as much as her life’s worth to tear her away from
it.”

“If that be so, there’s no more to be said; but remember, that we gave
you a choice, and you took it.”

“What does he mean to do?” asked Georgina, as she now came up the path.

“To leave her here,” answered Vyner.

“Of course. I never had a doubt of it. My good man, I’m much mistaken
if your granddaughter and I will not understand each other very quickly.
What do you think?”

“It is little trouble it will give your Ladyship to know all that’s
inside a poor ignorant little child like that!” said he, with an intense
servility of manner. “But her heart is true, and her conscience clean,
and I’m lavin’ you as good a child as ever broke bread this day!”

“So that if the tree doesn’t bear the fruit it ought, the blame will lie
with the gardener; isn’t that what you mean?” asked she, keenly.

“God help me! I’m only a poor man, and your Ladyship is too hard on me,”
 said he, uncovering his snow-white head, and bowing deeply and humbly.

“After all,” whispered she in Vyner’s ear, “there has really been
nothing determined about the matter in dispute. None of us know what is
to be done, if the contingency he spoke of should arise.”

They walked away, arm in arm, in close conference together, but when
they returned, after a half-hour or so, to the place, Malone was gone.
The porter said he had come to the lodge for his bundle, wished him a
good-by, and departed.



CHAPTER XXV. THE TWO PUPILS

Days went over, and the time arrived for the Vyners to leave their Welsh
cottage and take up their abode for the winter in their more commodious
old family house, when a letter came from Rome stating that Lady Vyner’s
mother, Mrs. Courtenay, was very ill there, and begging to see her
daughters as soon as might be.

After considerable debate, it was resolved that the children should be
left behind with the governess, Sir Within pledging himself to watch
over them most attentively, and send constant reports of Ada to her
family. Mademoiselle Heinzleman had already spoken very favourably of
Kitty, or Kate, as she was henceforth to be called; not only of her
disposition and temper, but of her capacity and her intense desire to
learn, and the Vyners now deemed her presence a most fortunate event.
Nor were they so far wrong. Ada was in every quality of gentleness
and obedience all that the most anxious love could ask: she had the
traits--very distinctive traits are they, too--of those who have been
from earliest infancy only conversant with one school of manners, and
that the best. All the examples she had seen were such as teach
habits of deference, the wish to oblige, the readiness to postpone
self-interest, and a general disposition to please without
obtrusiveness--ways which spread a very enjoyable atmosphere over daily
life, and gild the current of existence to those with whom the stream
runs smoothly.

She was a very pretty child too. She had eyes of deep blue, which seemed
deeper for their long black lashes; her hair was of that rich auburn
which sets off a fair skin to greatest advantage; her profile was almost
faultless in regularity, and so would have been her full face if an
over-shortness of the upper lip had not marred the effect by giving a
habit of slightly separating the lips when silent, and thus imparting a
look of weakness to her features which the well-formed brow and forehead
contradicted.

She was clever, but more timid than clever, and with such a distrust of
her ability as to make her abashed at the slightest demand upon it. This
timidity had been deepened by solitude--she being an only child--into
something like melancholy, and her temperament when Kate O’Hara first
came was certainly sad-coloured.

It was like the working of a charm, the change which now came over
her whole nature. Not merely that emulation had taken the place of
indolence, and zeal usurped the post of apathy, but she became active,
lively, and energetic. The occupations which had used to weary became
interesting, and instead of the lassitude that had weighed her down she
seemed to feel a zest and enjoyment in the mere fact of existence. And
it is probably the very nearest approach to happiness of which our life
here below is capable, when the sunshine of the outer world is felt
within our own hearts, and we are glad with the gladness of all around
us.

Mademoiselle Heinzleman’s great test of all goodness was assiduity.
In her appreciation all the cardinal virtues resolved themselves into
industry, and she was inclined to believe that heaven itself might be
achieved by early rising and hard work. If she was greatly gratified,
then, at the change produced in her pupil, she was proportionately
grateful to the cause of it. But Kate had other qualities which soon
attracted the governess and drew her towards her. She possessed
that intense thirst for knowledge, so marked a trait in the Irish
peasant-nature. She had that sense of power so associated with
acquirement as the strongest feature in her character, and in this way
she had not--at least she seemed not to have--a predilection for this
study or for that; all was new, fascinating, and engaging.

It was as with Aladdin in the mine, all were gems, and she gathered
without thinking of their value; so did she pursue with the same
eagerness whatever was to be learned. What will not industry, with even
moderate capacity, achieve? But hers were faculties of a high order; she
had a rapid perception, considerable reasoning power, and a good memory;
but above all was the ability she possessed of concentrating her whole
thoughts upon the matter before her.

She delighted, too, in praise; not the common eulogy that she had
learned this or that well, but such praise as pointed to some future
eminence as the price of all this labour; and when her governess told
her of a time when she would be so glad to possess this acquirement, or
to have mastered that difficulty, she would draw herself up, and with
head erect and flashing eye, look a perfect picture of gratified pride.

It would have been difficult for a teacher not to feel pride in such
a pupil. It was such a reflected triumph to see how rapidly she could
master every task, how easily she met every difficulty; and so it was
that the governess, in her report, though laying all due stress on
Ada’s charming traits of disposition and temper, speaking actually with
affection of her guileless, gentle nature, grew almost rapturous when
she spoke of Kate’s capacity and progress. She went into the theme with
ardour, and was carried away by it much more than she knew or imagined.
It was a sort of defence of herself she was making, all unconsciously--a
defence of her system, which, as applied to Ada, had not been always
a success. This correspondence was invariably carried on with Miss
Courtenay, who, for some time, contented herself with merely dwelling on
what related to her niece, and only passingly, if at all, spoke of Kate.

At last, pushed, as it were, by Mademoiselle Heinzleman’s insistance,
and vexed at a pertinacity which no silence could repress, she wrote a
letter, so full of reprimand that the governess was actually overwhelmed
as she read it.

“I have your four last letters before me,” wrote she, “and it would be
difficult for a stranger on reading them to declare which of the two
pupils under your care was your especial charge, and which a merely
adventitious element. Not so if the question were to be, Which of the
two engrossed all your interest and engaged all your sympathy? We read,
it is true, of dear Ada’s temper, her kindness, her generosity, and
her gentleness--traits which we all recognise, and many of which, we
surmise, must have been sorely tried, but of which you can speak with
a most fitting and scholastic moderation. Far otherwise, however, does
your pen run on when Kate O’Hara is the theme. You are not, perhaps,
aware that you are actually eloquent on thia subject. You never weary of
telling us of her marvellous progress; how she already begins to speak
French; how she imitates those mysterious pothooks your countrymen
persist in using as writing; how she plays her scales, and what a
talent she has for drawing. Do you forget the while that these are very
secondary matters of interest to us all here? Do you forget that in her
companionship with my niece our whole object was the spring which might
be derived from her healthy peasant-nature and light-heartedness? To
convert this child into a miracle of accomplishment could serve no
purpose of ours, and assuredly would conduce to no advantage of her own.
On this latter point you have only to ask yourself, What will become of
all these attainments when she goes back--as she will go back--to her
life of poverty and privation? Will her piano make her better company
for the pig? Will her French reconcile her to the miseries of a mud
cabin?

“She is the child of a poor cottier, a creature so humble that even here
in this benighted State we have nothing his equal in indigence; and she
will one day or other have to go back to the condition that my brother,
with I fear a very mistaken kindness, took her from. You will see,
therefore, how misjudging is the interest you are now bestowing. It is,
however, the injustice to my niece which more nearly concerns me; and
with this object I inform you that if I am not satisfied as to the total
change in your system, I shall certainly be prepared to recommend to
my brother one of two courses: a change in Ada’s governess, or the
dismissal of Ada’s companion. It is but fair to you to say I prefer the
latter.

“Remember, my dear Mademoiselle Heinzleman, this is a purely
confidential communication. I have not confided to my sister either my
fears or my hopes. The experiment was one I did not augur well from. It
has turned out even worse than I expected. Indeed, if Ada was not the
very best and sweetest of natures, she could not but resent the unfair
preference shown to one so inferior to her in all but those traits which
win favour from a schoolmistress. My mother’s health precludes all
hope of our soon returning to England; indeed, we have even thought of
sending for Ada to come here, and it is the dread of this climate,
so pernicious to young people, offers the chief obstacle to the plan.
Meanwhile, I feel forced to write what I have done, and to lay before
you in all sincerity my complaint and its remedy.

“Evening.

“I have re-read your letter, and it seems to me that you might very
judiciously remark yourself to Sir Gervais on the inexpediency of any
continuance of Kate O’Hara’s presence. Her genius, soaring as it does
above poor Ada’s, makes all emulation impossible. The pilot balloon,
that is so soon out of sight, can offer no guidance--don’t forget that!
Suppose you said to my brother that there was no longer any necessity
to continue the stimulus of emulation--that it might become a
rivalry--perhaps worse. Say something--anything of this kind--only send
her home again, not forgetting the while that you can do now without
injury what, later on, will cost a cruelty.

“I can feel for the pain a teacher may experience in parting with a
prize pupil, whose proficiency might one day become a triumph; but
remember, my dear Mademoiselle, that poor, dear, simple Ada, to whom
genius is denied, is, or ought to be, your first care here, and that the
gifted peasant-girl might turn out to have other qualities of a firework
besides the brilliancy.

“I will, so fer as in me lies, relieve you from some of the
embarrassments that the course I advise might provoke. I will request
my brother to desire Mr. M’Kinlay to run down and pay you a few hours’
visit, and you can easily explain the situation to him, and suggest what
I here point out as the remedy.

“Of course, it is needless to repeat this letter is strictly and
essentially confidential, and not to be imparted to any one.

“I might have counselled you to have taken the advice of Sir Within
Wardle, of whose kindness and attention we are most sensible, if you
had not told me of the extraordinary ‘influence’--it is your own word,
Mademoiselle, or I should not even have ventured to use it in such
connexion--‘the influence’ this young girl exercises over Sir Within.
As the observation so completely passes my power of comprehension, for
I really--and I hope without needless stupidity--cannot understand how
a girl of her class, bringing up, and age--age, above all--could exert
what you designate as ‘influence’--I must beg you will be more explicit
in your next.

“You are perfectly right in refusing all presents for either of the
girls, and I should have thought Sir Within had more tact than to
proffer them. I am also very much against you going to Dalradern Castle
for Christmas, though Sir Gervais, up to this, does not agree with me.
If this girl should not be sent away before the new year, I think you
might advantageously remark to my brother that the visit would be a
great interruption to all study, and a serious breach of that home
discipline it has been your object to impose. And now, my dear
Mademoiselle, accept all I have here said not only in your confidence,
but in your friendship, and even where I appear to you nervously alive
to small perils, give me credit for having thought and reflected much
over them before I inflicted on you this long letter.

“Discourage your prodigy, check her influence, and believe me, very
sincerely your friend,

“Georgina Courtenay.

“P.S.--What can Sir W. mean by passing his winter in the Welsh
mountains, after giving orders to have his villa near Genoa prepared for
his reception? Find out this, particularly if there be a secret in it.”

Mademoiselle Heinzleman received this letter as she was taking her
half-hour’s walk in the garden after breakfast--one of the very few
recreations she indulged in--while her pupils prepared their books and
papers for the day.

Anything like remonstrance was so totally new to her, that she read
the letter with a mingled amazement and anger, and, though she read and
re-read, in the hope of finding her first impression was an exaggerated
one, the truth was that each perusal only deepened the impression, and
made the pain more intense.

It was not that her German pride only was wounded, but her dignity as
a teacher--just as national an instinct as the pride of birth--and
she muttered very mysterious gutturals to herself, as she went, about
resigning her trust and retiring. This was, perhaps, too rash a step; at
least, it required time to think of. Two hundred a year, and a position
surrounded with many advantages! The other alternative was easier to
send away Kate. A pity, perhaps, but, after all, as Miss Courtenay said,
possibly a mercy. Who could tell? Mr. M’Kinlay might help her by his
counsel. She liked him, and thought well of him. Kate, that was making
such progress--that could already make out some of Schiller’s ballads!
What a pity it was! And to think of her touch on the piano, so firm and
yet so delicate! How tenderly she let the notes drop in one of those
simple melodies from Spohr she was learning! Ach Gott! and what taste in
drawing!

Again she opened the letter, and at the last page muttered to herself:
“I don’t remember that I said ‘influence.’ I’m almost sure I said that
she interested Sir Within. I know I meant to say that she pleased
him; that he was delighted to hear her sing her little Lied, dance her
Tarantella, or her wild Irish jig, or listen to some of those strange
legends, which she tells with a blended seriousness and drollery that is
quite captivating. At all events, if I said ‘influence,’ I can correct
the word, and say that Sir Within comes over to see us two or three
times a week, and it is plain enough that it is little Kate’s gaiety
attracts him. What sorrow to the dear children if they are not to pass
their Christmas at the Castle!”

A light, elastic step on the gravel startled her. It was Kate who was
coming; not the Kate we once saw in the old ruins of St. Finbar, but a
young lady, with an air calm and collected, with some conscious sense
of power, her head high, her look assured, her step firm even in its
lightness.

“Sir Within is in the drawing-room, Mademoiselle,” said she, with a
slight curtsey, as she stood before her. “He says that this is St.
Gudule’s day, and a holiday everywhere, and he hopes you will be kind
enough to take us over to the Castle for dinner.”

“Nein! No,” said she, peremptorily. “‘Wir haben keine solche Heilige,’
I mean,” said she, correcting the harsh speech. “These saints are not in
our calendar. I will speak to him myself. You may stay in the garden for
a quarter of an hour. I will send Ada to you.”

While the young girl fell back, abashed at the refusal, and even more
by the manner with which it was done, the governess smoothed her brow as
well as she might to meet the distinguished visitor, but in so doing,
as she drew her handkerchief from her pocket, she dropped the letter she
had been reading on the walk.

“I wonder why she is so cross with me?” said Kate, as she looked after
her; “if there’s a secret in it, I must learn it.”

While Kate O’Hara sauntered carelessly along her foot struck the letter,
and it fell open. She stooped and picked it up, and was at once struck
by the peculiar odour of jasmine on the paper, which was a favourite
with Miss Courtenay. She turned to the address, “Mademoiselle de
Heinzleman”--the de, too, was a courtesy Miss Courtenay affected--and
so Kate stood still contemplating the document, and weighing it in
her hand, as she muttered, “It does really feel heavy enough to be
mischievous.” Her training had taught her to respect as inviolable the
letter of another; she had over and over marked the deference paid to
a seal, and seen even Ada’s letters from her playfellows handed to her
unbroken, and she knew that to transgress in such a matter ranked in
morals with a falsehood. She had no thought, then, of any dereliction,
when in placing the fallen pages together within the envelope, her
eye caught the words “Kitty O’Hara,” and lower down, “child of a poor
cottier.” The temptation, stimulated by a passion fell as strong as
curiosity, mastered her, and carrying away the letter into a secluded
alley, she read it from end to end. There was much to gratify her
vanity in it; there was the admission--and from no favouring witness
either--that she had capacity of a high order, and a zeal to master
whatever she desired to learn. But far above the pleasure these words
afforded was the last paragraph, that which spoke of her “influence”
 over Sir Within Wardle. “Could this really be true? Had the little
attentions he showed her a deeper significance? Did he really interest
himself for her? Was it her lonely, friendless condition touched him?
Was it that the same feeling, so harshly expressed by Miss Courtenay,
the revulsion that yet awaited her, that moved him?” There was an
ecstasy in the thought that filled her whole heart with joy. Sir Within
was very rich--a great personage, too. The Vyners themselves spoke of
him always with a certain deference. What a triumph if she had won him
over to befriend her!

These thoughts flew quickly through her mind, and as quickly she
bethought her of the letter, and what was now to be done with it. She
would have liked much to keep it, to have it by her to read and re-read,
and study, and weigh. This was of course impossible. To take it to
Mademoiselle would be to incur the risk of her suspecting she had read
it. In an instant, she determined to lay it back again where she had
found it, on the walk, and let chance determine what became of it.
Her resolution was scarcely carried out, when she heard Mademoiselle
Heinzleman’s voice calling her.

“I have dropped a letter, Kate. I have mislaid it, or it has fallen
out of my pocket. Come and help me to look for it,” said she, in deep
confusion.

“Is this it, Mademoiselle?” said Kitty, artlessly, as she picked it up
from the gravel.

“How lucky--how very fortunate!” exclaimed she, eagerly, as she clutched
it. “There, you may have your holiday to-day, Kate. Go and tell Ada
I shall not ask her to learn those verses; or wait”--she suddenly
remembered that Sir Within was still in the drawing-room--“wait here,
and I’ll tell her myself.”

Kate bowed, and smiled her thanks, and, once again alone, sat down to
ruminate an her fortune.



CHAPTER XXVI. THE DINNER IN THE SCHOOLROOM

Sir Within could not persuade Mademoiselle to accept his invitation for
herself and her pupils to dinner, and was about to take his leave, when
Ada suddenly said, “Why not dine with us, Sir Within?”

“Fi! donc, Mademoiselle!” broke in the governess. “How could you think
of such a thing? Sir Within Wardle sit down to a schoolroom dinner!”

“But why need it be a schoolroom dinner, Mademoiselle Heinzleman? Why
not tell cook that we mean to have company to-day, and make Bickards
wait on us, and tell George to wear his gloves, just as if papa were at
home?”

“Oh” broke in Sir Within, “I have seen quite enough--more than
enough--of all that, dear Ada; but if I could be permitted to join your
own little daily dinner of the schoolroom, as you call it, that would
really be a treat to me.”

“I invite you, then!” said Ada. “Mademoiselle owes me a favour for that
wonderful German theme I wrote, and I take this as my reward. We dine at
three, Sir Within, and, I warn you, on mutton-broth and mutton something
else; but Kate and I will make ourselves as fine as we may, and be as
entertaining as possible.”

While the two girls scampered off, laughing merrily at the discomfiture
of the governess, that respectable lady remained to offer profuse
apologies to Sir Within for the liberty, childish though it was, that
had been taken with him, and to excuse herself from any imputation of
participating in it.

She little knew, indeed, with what honest sincerity he had accepted the
proposal. Of the great game of life, as played by fine people, he had
seen it to satiety. He was thoroughly wearied of all the pleasures of
the table, as he was of all the captivations which witty conveners
and clever talkers can throw over society. Perhaps, from his personal
experience, he knew how artificial such displays are--how studied the
à propos, how carefully in ambush the impromptu--and that he longed for
the hearty, healthful enjoyment of young, fresh, joyous natures, just as
one might turn from the oppressive odours of a perfumer’s shop to taste
with ecstasy the fresh flowers of a garden. It was, therefore, as he
expressed it to the governess, a perfect fête to him to assist at that
little dinner, and he was deeply honoured by the invitation.

Mademoiselle was charmed with the old Baronet’s politeness. It was
ceremonious enough even for Germany, he smiled so blandly and bowed so
reverently, and often it was like a memory of the Fatherland just to
listen to him; and, indeed, it was reassuring to her to hear from him
that he had once been a Minister at the Court of a Herzog, and had
acquired his “moden” in this true and legitimate fashion. And thus
did they discuss for hours “aesthetic,” and idealism, and sympathy,
mysterious affinity, impulsive destiny, together with all the realisms
which the Butter-brod life of Germany can bring together, so that when
she arose to dress for dinner, she could not help muttering to herself,
as she went, that he was “a deeply skilled in the human heart-and-far
acquainted with the mind’s operations--but not the less on that account
a fresh-with-a-youthful sincerity-endowed man.”

The dinner, though not served in the schoolroom, was just as simple as
Ada promised, and she laughingly asked Sir Within if he preferred his
beer frothed or still, such being the only choice of liquor afforded
him.

“Mademoiselle is shocked at the way we treat you,” said she, laughing,
“but I have told her that your condescension would be ill repaid if we
made any attempt to lessen its cost, and it must be a ‘rice-pudding day’
in your life.”

And how charmingly they talked, these two girls! Ada doing the honours
as a hostess, and Kate, as the favoured friend, who aided her to
entertain an honoured guest. They told him, too, how the fresh bouquet
that decked the table had been made by themselves to mark the sense they
had of his presence, and that the coffee had been prepared by their own
hands.

“Now, do say, Sir Within, that dining with Royal Highnesses and Supreme
Somethings is but a second-rate pleasure compared to an Irish stew in
a schoolroom, and a chat round a fire that has been lighted with
Bonnycastle’s Algebra. Yes, Mademoiselle,” Kate said, “I had to make
light of simple equations for once! I was thinking of that story of the
merchant, who lighted his fire with the King’s bond when his Majesty
deigned to dine with him. I puzzled my head to remember which of our
books lay nearest our heart, and I hesitated long between Ollendorff and
Bonnycastle.”

“And what decided you?” asked Sir Within.

“What so often decides a doubt--convenience. Bonnycastle had the worst
binding, and was easier to burn.”

“If you so burn to study algebra, Mademoiselle,” said the governess, who
had misunderstood the whole conversation, “you must first show yourself
more ‘eifrig’--how you call zeal?--for your arithmetic.”

“You shall have full liberty, when you pay me a visit, to burn all the
volumes on such subjects you find,” said Sir Within.

“Oh, I’d go through the whole library,” cried Kate, eagerly, “if I could
only find one such as Garret O’Moore did.”

“I never heard of his fortune.”

“Nor I. Do tell it, Kate.”

“Mademoiselle has forbidden all my legends,” said she, calmly.

“I’m sure,” said Sir Within, “she will recal the injunction for this
time.”

“It is very short,” said Kate; and then with infinite archness, turning
to the governess, added, “and it has a moral.”

The governess nodded a grave permission, and the other began:

“There was once on a time a great family in the west of Ireland called
the O’Moores, who, by years of extravagance, spent everything they had
in the world, leaving the last of the name, a young man, so utterly
destitute, that he had scarcely food to eat, and not a servant to wait
on him. He lived in a lonely old house, of which the furniture had been
sold off, bit by bit, and nothing remained but a library of old books,
which the neighbours did not care for.”

“Algebras and Ollendorff’s, I suppose,” whispered Sir Within; and she
smiled and went on:

“In despair at not finding a purchaser, and pinched by the cold of the
long winter’s nights, he used to bring an armful of them every night
into his room to make his fire. He had not, naturally, much taste for
books or learning, but it grieved him sorely to do this; he felt it like
a sort of sacrilege, but he felt the piercing cold more, and so he gave
in. Well, one night, as he brought in his store, and was turning over
the leaves--which he always did before setting fire to them--he came
upon a little square volume, with the strangest letters ever he saw;
they looked like letters upside down, and gone mad, and some of them
were red, and some black, and some golden, and between every page of
print there was a sheet of white paper without anything on it. O’Moore
examined it well, and at last concluded it must have been some old
monkish chronicle, and that the blank pages were left for commentaries
on it. At all events, it could have no interest for him, as he couldn’t
read it, and so he put it down on the hearth till he wanted it to burn.

“It was close on midnight, and nothing but a few dying embers were on
the hearth, and no other light in the dreary room, when he took up the
old chronicle, and tearing it in two, threw one half on the fire.

[Illustration: 228]

The moment he did so the flame sprang up bright as silver, lighting
up the whole room, so that he could see even the old cobwebs on the
ceiling, that had not been seen for yean and years, and at the same time
a delicious music filled the air, and the sounds of children’s voices
singing beautifully; but, strangest of all, in the very middle of the
bright fire that now filled the whole hearth, there sat a little man
with a scarlet cloak on him, and a scarlet hat and a white feather in
it, and he smiled very graciously at O’Moore, and beckoned him over to
him, but O’Moore was so frightened and so overcome he couldn’t stir.
At last, as the flames got lower, the Tittle man’s gestures grew more
energetic, and O’ Moore crept down on his knees, and said, “‘Do you want
anything with me, Sir?’”

“‘Yes, Garret,’ said the little man,: ‘I want to be your friend, and to
save you from ruin like the rest of your family. You were wrong to burn
that book.’

“‘But I couldn’t read it,’ said Garret; ‘what use was it to me?’

“‘It was your own life, Garret O’Moore,’ said the little man, ‘and take
care that you keep the part you have there, and study it carefully. It
would have been, better for you if you had kept the whole of it.’

“And with that the flame sprang brightly up for a second or two, and
then went black out, so that O’Moore had to grope about to find tinder
to strike a light. He lit the only bit of candle he had, and began to
examine the part of the book that remained, and what did he find but
on every blank page there was a line--sometimes two--written as if to
explain the substance of the printed page, and all in such a way as to
show it was somebody’s life, and adventures--as, for instance: ‘Takes
to the sea--goes to America--joins an expedition to the Far West--on
the plantations--marries--wife dies---off to China--marries again.’ I
needn’t go on: everything that was ever to happen to him was written
there till he was forty-five years of age, the rest was burned; but it
was all fortunate--all, to the very end. He grew to be very rich, and
prospered in everything, for whenever he was faint-hearted or depressed,
he always said, ‘It wasn’t by being low and weak of heart that I begun
this career of good fortune, and I must be stout and of high courage if
I mean to go on with it.’ And he grew so rich that he bought back all
the old acres of the O’Moores, and they have a hand rescuing a book from
the flames on their arms till this day.”

“And the moral?--where’s the moral?” asked the governess.

“The moral, the moral!” said Kate, dubiously. “Well, I’m not exactly
sure where it is, but I suppose it is this; that it’s far better to go
to sea as a sailor than to sit down and burn your father’s library.”

“I have a notion, my dear Kate, that you yourself would like well to
have a peep into destiny--am I wrong?”

“I would, Sir.”

“And you, Ada?”

“Why should _she?_” broke in Kate, eagerly; and then, as though shocked
at her impetuosity, she went on, in a lower voice: “Ada makes her voyage
in a three-decker, _I_ am only clinging to a plank.”

“No, no, dearest,” said Ada, tenderly; “don’t say that.”

“Mademoiselle is looking at her watch,” said Sir Within, “and I must
accept the signal.” And though she protested, elaborately too, that it
was a mere habit with her, he arose to ring for his carriage. “I am not
going without the sketch you promised me, Ada,” said he--“the pencil
sketch of the old fountain.”

“Oh, Kate’s is infinitely better. I am ashamed to see mine after it.”

“Why not let me have both?”

“Yes,” said the governess, “that will be best. I’ll go and fetch them.”

Ada stood for a moment irresolute, and then muttering, “Mine is really
too bad,” hastened out of the room after Mademoiselle Heinzle-man.

“You are less merry than usual, Kate,” said Sir Within, as he took her
hand and looked at her with interest. “What is the reason?”

A faint, scarce perceptible motion of her brow was all she made in
answer.

“Have you not been well?”

“Yes, Sir. I am quite well.”

“Have you had news that has distressed you?”

“Where from?” asked she, hurriedly.

“From your friends--from home.”

“Don’t you know, Sir, that I have neither!”

“I meant, my dear child--I meant to say, that perhaps you had heard or
learned something that gave you pain.”

“Yes, Sir,” broke she in, “that is it. Oh, if I could tell you----”

“Why not write it to me, dear child?”

“My writing is coarse and large, and I misspell words; and, besides, it
is such a slow way to tell what one’s heart is full of--and then I’d do
it so badly,” faltered she out with pain.

“Suppose, then, I were to settle some early day for you all to come over
to Dalradern; you could surely find a moment to tell me then?”

“Yes, Sir--yes,” cried she; and, seizing his hand, she kissed it
passionately three or four times.

“Here they are,” said Ada, merrily--“here they are! And if Kate’s does
ample justice to your beautiful fountain, mine has the merit of showing
how ugly it might have been. Isn’t this hideous?”

After a few little pleasant common-places, Sir Within turned to
Mademoiselle Heinzleman, and said: “I have rather an interesting book
at Dalradern; at least, it would certainly have its interest for
you, Mademoiselle. It is a copy of ‘Clavigo,’ with Herder’s marginal
suggestions. Goethe had sent it to him for his opinion, and Herder
returned it marked and annotated. You will do me an infinite favour to
accept it.”

“Ach Gott!” said the governess, perfectly overwhelmed with the thought
of such a treasure.

“Well, then, if the weather be fine on Tuesday, Mademoiselle, will you
and my young friends here come over and dine with me? We shall say
three o’clock for dinner, so that you need not be late on the road. My
carriage will be here to fetch you at any hour you appoint.”

A joyous burst of delight from Ada, and a glance of intense gratitude
from Kate, accompanied the more formal acceptance of the governess; and
if Sir Within had but heard one tithe of the flattering things that were
said of him, as he drove away, even his heart, seared as it was, would
have been touched.

Kate, indeed, said least; but when Ada, turning abruptly to her, asked,
“Don’t you love him?” a slight colour tinged her cheek, as she said, “I
think he’s very kind, and very generous, and very-------”

“Go on, dear--go on,” cried Ada, throwing her arm around her--“finish;
and very what?”

“I was going to say an impertinence,” whispered she, “and I’ll not.”

“Nine o’clock, young ladies, and still in the drawing-room!” exclaimed
the governess, in a tone of reproach. “These are habits of dissipation,
indeed--come away. Ach Gott! der Clavigo!” muttered she, with clasped
hands. And the girls were hardly able to restrain a burst of laughter at
the fervour of her voice and manner.



CHAPTER XXVII. KITTY

The wished-for Tuesday came at last, and with a fortune not always so
favouring, brought with it a glorious morning, one of those bright,
sharp, clear days, with a deep blue sky and frosty air, and with that
sense of elasticity in the atmosphere which imparts itself to the
spirits, and makes mere existence enjoyment. The girls were in ecstasy;
they had set their hearts so much on this visit, that they would not let
themselves trust to the signs of the weather on the night before, but
were constantly running out to ask George the gardener, if that circle
round the moon meant anything?--why were the stars so blue?--and why did
they twinkle so much?--and was it a sign of fine weather that the river
should be heard so clearly? Rickards, too, was importuned to consult the
barometer, and impart his experiences of what might be expected from
its indications. The gardener augured favourably, was pronounced
intelligent, and tipped by Ada in secret. Rickards shook his head at
the aspect of the mercury, and was called a “conceited old ass” for his
pains. Not either of them treated with different measure than is meted
by the public to those great organs of information which are supposed to
be their guides, but are just as often their flatterers, for the little
world of the family is marvellously like the great world of the nation.

“What a splendid day, Kate. How beautiful the waterfall will look,
coming down in showers of diamonds, and how crisp and sharp the copper
beech and the big ilex-trees over it. Oh, winter, if this be winter, is
really the time for scenery! What makes you so grave, dear? I am wild
with spirits to-day.”

“And so should I if I were you.”

“How can you say that,” said Ada, as she threw her arm around the
other’s waist. “How can you, Kate, when you know how much cleverer you
are, and quicker at everything--how you leave me behind at all I have
been working at for years!”

“And never to need that same cleverness is worth it all, I am told!”

“How so? I don’t understand you.”

“I mean, that you are better off--better dealt with by Fortune to be a
born lady than I, if I had all the gifts and all the powers you would
bestow upon me.”

“This is one of your dark days, as you call them,” said Ada,
reproachfully; “and you mean to make it one of mine, too, and I was _so_
happy.”

“This, perhaps, is another of my gifts,” said she, with a mocking laugh,
“and yet I was brought here to make you merry and light-hearted! Yes,
dear, I overheard Mr. Grenfell tell your papa that his plan was a
mistake, and that all ‘low-bred ones’--that was the name he gave
us--lost the little spirit they had when you fed them, and only grew
lazy.”

“Oh, Kate, for shame!”

“The shame is not mine; it was _he_ said it.”

“How sad you make me by saying these things.”

“Well, but we must own, Ada, he was right! I was--no, I won’t say
happier, but fifty times as merry and light-hearted before I came here;
and though gathering brushwood isn’t as picturesque as making a bouquet,
I am almost sure I sang over the one, and only sighed over the other.”

Ada turned away her head and wiped the tears from her cheeks.

“Isn’t it a hopeful thing to try and make people happy?”

“But papa surely wished, and he believed that you would be happy,” said
Ada, with something almost reproachful in her manner.

“All because he hadn’t read that little German fable of the Two
Fairies--the one who always did something and failed, and the other who
always promised and promised; watering the little plant of Hope, as he
calls it, and making believe that the fruit would be, one day, so sweet
and so luscious as no lips had ever tasted before. And it’s strange,
Ada,” added she, in a graver tone--“it’s strange, but when I was out
upon the mountains watching the goats, rambling all day alone in the
deep heather, how I used to think and think! O dear! what wonderful
things did I not think would one day come to pass--how rich I should be,
how great, and, best of all, how beautiful! How kings and great people
would flatter me, and make me grand presents; and how haughty I should
be to some, and how gracious to others--perhaps very humble people; and
how I’d amaze every one with all I knew, and they’d say, ‘Where did she
learn this? How did she ever come to know that?’”

“And would that be happiness, Kate?”

“Would it not?”

“Then why not have the same dreams now?”

“Because I cannot--because they won’t come--because life is too
full--because, as we eat before we are hungry, and lie down before
we are tired, one’s thoughts never go high enough to soar above the
pleasures that are around them. At least, I suppose that’s the reason;
but I don’t care whether it is or not; there’s the carriage--I hear it
coming. And now for such a jolly day in that glorious old garden, with
the fountains and the statues, and

     All the fine things in rock-work and crockery,
     That make of poor Katun a solemn old mockery.

Do you know the rest?”

“No, I don’t. I never heard it.”

“It goes on, a something about

     Flowers, the first gardener ne’er had in his Eden,
     And dells so secluded, they ne’er saw the sun,
     And sweet summer-houses so pleasant to read in,
     With bright little jets-d’eau of eau-de-Cologne.

Isn’t that a Snob’s Paradise?--that’s what it’s called, Ada.” And away
she went, singing a “Tyrol, tra la, la lira!” with a voice that seemed
to ring with joy.

Ada called to her to come back; but she never heeded, and fled down the
garden and was soon lost to view. Meanwhile, the carriage had reached
the door, and as Ada rushed forward to greet it, she stepped back with
dismay, for, instead of Sir Within’s spruce britschka, it was an old
post-chaise, from which descended the well wrapt-up figure of Mr.
M’Kinlay.

“Delighted to see you, Miss Ada; how you’ve grown since I was
here--quite a young woman, I declare!” The last words were in soliloquy,
for Ada, not aware that he had seen her, had betaken herself to flight
to acquaint Mademoiselle of his arrival.

“Glad to see you again, Sir, in these parts,” said Rickards, as he
caught up the smallest item of the luggage by way of assisting the
traveller. “You had a pleasant journey, I hope, Sir?”

“So-so, Rickards--only so-so. It’s not the time of year one would choose
to come down amongst the Welsh mountains; bitterly cold it was this
morning early.”

“We’ll soon warm you, Sir; come into the dining-room. You haven’t had
breakfast, I’m sure.”

“Nothing--not as much as a cup of tea--since four o’clock yesterday.”

“Dear me, Sir, I don’t know how you bear it. It’s what I remarked to Sir
Gervais. I said, ‘There’s Mr. M’Kinlay, Sir,’ said I, ‘he goes through
more than any young gentleman in the grouse season.’”

“Well, I’m not so very old, Rickards--eh?”

“Old! I should think not, Sir--in the very prime of life; and I declare,
of an evening, Sir, with your white waistcoat on, I’d not guess you to
be more than--let me see----”

“Never mind the figure. Ah, this is comfortable; capital old room, and a
good old-fashioned fire-place.”

While the lawyer held his half-frozen hands to the fire, Rickards drew
a little table close to the hearth, and, with the dexterity of his
calling, arranged the breakfast-things. “A hot steak in one moment,
Sir, and a devilled kidney or two. Excuse me, Sir, but I’d say a little
mulled claret would be better than tea; mulled, Sir, with just one
table-spoonful of old brandy in it--Mr. Grenfell’s receipt.”

“No man should know better, Rickards.”

“Ah, Sir, always sharp--always ready you are, to be sure!” And Rickards
had to wipe his eyes as he laughed at the repartee.

“And how do you get on here, Rickards?” said M’Kinlay, in a tone
evidently meant to invite perfect confidence, and as evidently so
interpreted, for, though the door was closed, Rickards went over and
laid his hand on it, to assure himself of the fact, and then returned to
the fireplace.

“Pretty well, Sir, pretty well. The governess will be meddling--these
sort of people can’t keep from it--about the house expenses, and so on;
but I don’t stand it, nohow. I just say, ‘This is the way we always do,
Mam’sel. It’s just thirty-eight years I’m with the master’s father and
himself.’ Isn’t that a pictur’ of a steak, Mr. M’Kinlay? Did you ever
see sweeter fat than that, and the gravy in it, Sir? Mrs. Byles knows
_you_, Sir, and does her best. You remember that game-pie, Sir, the last
time you was here?”

“I think I do, and you told her what I said of it; but I don’t like what
you say of the governess. She is meddlesome--interferes, eh?”

“Everywhere, Sir, wherever she can. With George about the hothouse
plants and the melon-frames, with Mrs. Byles about the preserves, a
thing my lady never so much as spoke of; and t’other day, Sir, what
d’ye think she does, but comes and says to me, ‘Mr. Rickards, you have a
cellar-book, haven’t you?’ Yes, ma’am,’ says I; ‘and if the young
ladies wants it in the schoolroom to larn out of, I’ll bring it in with
pleasure.’ Wasn’t that pretty home, Sir, eh?”

“And what did she say to that?”

“She whisked about this way”--here Mr. Rickards made a bold
pirouette--“and said something in high Dutch that I feel sure wasn’t a
blessing.”

“Tell me one thing, Rickards,” said the lawyer, in a lower tone, and
with the air of a complete confidant. “What’s this little game she’s
playing about that Irish girl, writing to my lady that she’s a genius,
that she can do this, that, and t’other, and that you’ve only to show
her a book, and she knows it from cover to cover?”

“And don’t you see what it is, Sir?” said Rickards, with one eye
knowingly closed; “don’t you see it, Sir?”

“No, Rickards, I do not.”

“It’s all the way that little sarpent has of comin’ round her. Of all
the creatures ever I seen, I never knew her equal for cunning. It ain’t
any use knowing she’s a fox--not a bit of it, Sir--she’ll get round you
all the same. It’s not an easy thing to get to the blind side of Mrs.
Byles, I promise you. She’s a very knowledgeable woman, lived eleven
years under a man-cook at Lord Wandsford’s, and knows jellies, and made
French dishes as well as Monsieur Honoré himself. Well, Sir, that imp
there winds her round her finger like a piece of packthread. She goes
and says, ‘Byles’--she doesn’t as much as Mrs. Byles her, the way my
lady would--but ‘Byles,’ says she, ‘if ever I come to be a great lady
and very rich, I’ll have you to keep my house, and you shall have your
own nice sittin’-room, and your own maid to wait on you, and a hundred a
year settled on you for your life.’ I vow it’s a fact, Sir, wherever she
heard of such a thing, but she said ‘settled on you for life;’ and
then, Sir, she’ll sit down and help her with the strawberry-jam, or the
brandy-peaches, or whatever it is, and Mrs. Byles says there wouldn’t be
her equal in all England, if she only took to be a still-room maid.”

“And can she humbug Mr. Rickards? Tell me that,” asked the lawyer, with
the leer of an old cross-examiner.

“Well, I do think, Sir, she can’t do that. It’s not every one as could.”

“No, Rickards; you and I know how to sleep with one eye open. But what
does she mean by all this cunning--what does she intend by it?”

“There’s what I can’t come at, nohow, Sir; for, as I say, what’s the
good of plotting when you have everything at your hand? She hasn’t no
need for it, Mr. M’Kinlay. She has the same treatment here as Miss Ada
herself--it was the master’s orders.”

“It puzzles me, Rickards: I own it puzzles me,” said the lawyer, as,
with his hands deep! in his pockets, he took a turn or two in the room.

“They say, Sir, it’s the way of them Irish,” said Rickards, with the air
of a man enunciating a profound sentiment; but M’Kinlay either did not
hear, or did not value the remark, for, after a pause, he said, “Its
just possible, after all, Rickards, that it’s only a way she has. Don’t
you think so?”

“I do not, Sir,” replied he, stoutly. “If there wasn’t more than that in
it, she wouldn’t go on as I have seen her do, when she thought she was
all alone.”

“How so? What do you mean?”

“Well, you see, Sir, there’s a laurel hedge in the garden, that goes
along by the wall where the peach-trees are, and that’s her favourite
walk, and I’ve watched her when she was there by herself, and it was as
good as any play to see her.”

“In what respect?”

“She’d be making believe all sorts of things to herself--how that she
was a fine lady showing the grounds to a party of visitors, telling them
how she intended to build something here and throw down something there,
what trees she’d plant in one place, and what an opening for a view
she’d made in another. You’d not believe your ears if you heard how
glibly she’d run on about plants and shrubs and flowers. And then
suddenly she’d change, and pretend to call her maid, and tell her to
fetch her another shawl or her gloves; or she’d say, ‘Tell George I
shall not ride to-day, perhaps I’ll drive out in the evening.’ And
that’s the way she’d go on till she heard the governess coming, and
then, just as quick as lightning, you’d hear her in her own voice again,
as artless as any young creature you ever listened to.”

“I see--I see,” said M’Kinlay, with a sententious air and look, as though
he read the whole case, and saw her entire disposition revealed before
him like a plan. “A shrewd minx in her own way, but a very small way it
is. Now, Rickards, perhaps you’d tell Miss Heinzleman that I’m here--of
course, not a word about what we’ve been talking over.”

“You couldn’t think it, Sir.”

“Not for a moment, Rickards. I could trust to your discretion like my
own.”

When Mr. M’Kinlay was left alone, he drew forth some letters from his
pocket, and sought out one in a small envelope, the address of which
was in a lady’s writing. It was a yery brief note from Miss Courtenay
to himself, expressing her wish that he could find it convenient to run
down, if only for a day, to Wales, and counsel Mademoiselle Heinzleman
on a point of some difficulty respecting one of her pupils. The letter
was evidently written in terms to be shown to a third party, and implied
a case in which the writer’s interest was deep and strong, but wherein
she implicitly trusted to the good judgment of her friend, Mr. M’Kinlay,
for the result.

“You will hear,” wrote she, “from Mademoiselle Heinzleman the scruples
she has communicated to myself and learn from her that all the
advantages derivable from my brother-in-law’s project have been already
realised, but that henceforth difficulties alone may be apprehended, so
that your consideration will be drawn at once to the question whether
this companionship is further necessary, or indeed advisable.” She went
on to state that if Sir Gervais had not told her Mr. M’Kinlay would be
obliged to go down to the cottage for certain law papers he required,
she would have scarcely ventured on imposing the present charge upon
him, but that she felt assured, in the great regard he had always
expressed for the family, of his ready forgiveness.

A small loose slip, marked “Strictly private and confidential,” was
enclosed within the note, the words of which ran thus: “You will see
that you must imply to Mademoiselle H. that she has written to me, in
the terms and the spirit of _my_ letter to _her_, and in this way pledge
her to whatever course you mean to adopt. This will be easy, for she is
a fool.

“I cannot believe that all the interest she assumes to take in K.
is prompted by the girl’s qualities, or her aptitude to learn, and I
gravely suspect she has my brother-in-law’s instructions on this head.
This plot, for plot it is, I am determined to thwart, and at any cost.
The girl must be got rid of, sent to a school, or if no better way
offer, sent home again. See that you manage this in such a way as will
not compromise yourself, nor endanger you in the esteem of

“G. C.”

This last line he re-read before he enclosed the slip in his
pocket-book, muttered to himself the words, “endanger you in the esteem
of Georgina Courtenay.”

“I wonder what she means by all this?” muttered he, as he folded the
loose slip and placed it within the recess of his pocket-book. “The
whole scheme of educating this girl was never a very wise one, but
it need not have called up such formidable animosity as this. Ah,
Mademoiselle, I am charmed to see you looking so well; this mountain air
agrees with you,” said he, as the governess entered. “I have come down
to search for some documents Sir Gervais tells me I shall find in his
desk, here, and will ask you to let me be your guest for twenty-four
hours.”

Mademoiselle professed the pleasure his visit would confer, and in
an interchange of compliments some time was passed; at length, Mr.
M’Kinlay, as if suddenly remembering himself, said, “By the way here is
a note I have just received from Miss Courtenay; I think you may as well
read it yourself.”

The lawyer watched her face keenly as she read over the letter, and saw
clearly enough, in the puzzled expression of her features, that she was
trying to recal what she could have written in her last letter to Rome.

“Sonderbar, es ist sonderbar: it is strange, very strange,” muttered
she, evidently lost in doubt, “for in my letter of this morning from
Lady Vyner, she says that we shall probably soon be sent for to Italy,
for that her mother has a great longing to see Ada; and yet there is no
hint whatever about Kate.”

“Does she mention that she expects Miss O’Hara to accompany you?” asked
he.

“She does not say so; her words are, ‘Do not feel startled if my next
letter will call you to us, for her grandmother is most anxious to see
Ada;’ and then she goes on to say what different routes there are, and
where Sir Gervais could meet us.”

“I think I understand the reserve,” said Mr. M’Kinlay, with an air of
much wisdom; “her Ladyship addresses herself to one question solely, and
leaves all outside of it to be dealt with by others. It is for us--for
you, Mademoiselle, and I, to think of what is to be done with Miss
O’Hara.”

“What is there to be done but take her with us?--without, indeed, you
were to send her home again,” said she, with some agitation in her
voice.

“That is the whole question, Mademoiselle; we must think over it
carefully, and, first of all, I must examine certain papers here, which
will explain what are the legal claims of this young lady, and who are
her guardians; for I remember, though Mr. Grenfell was to have acted,
and, indeed, his name was written in pencil, Sir Gervais changed his
mind, and thought of another trustee. For all these matters I shall want
a little time, and perhaps it will not be asking too great a favour if
I were to beg, to let me have my whole day to myself in the library, and
the churlish privilege of being alone.”

The governess acceded politely to his proposal, not sorry, perhaps, to
have a short interval to herself for consideration over the question
before her, and still better pleased, too, that the girls were not
destined to lose the long wished-for delight of a day at Dalradern.



CHAPTER XXVIII. SIR WITHIN “AT HOME.”

If the two young girls whose visit Sir Within Wardle was expecting
had been Princesses of a Royal House, he could scarcely have made more
preparations for their reception. Who knows if he did not, indeed, feign
to himself that his castle was on that morning to be honoured by the
presence of those who move among lesser humanities, as suns do among
inferior orbs? It would have certainly been one of those illusions
natural to such a man; he loved that great world, and he loved all that
revived it in his memory; and so when he gave orders that all the state
furniture of the castle should be uncovered, the handsomest rooms thrown
open, and the servants in their dress liveries, the probability is, that
the fête he was giving was an offering secretly dedicated to himself.

In the old court-yard, beautiful plants, magnolias, camellias, and rare
geraniums were arranged, regardless that the nipping cold of a sharp
winter’s day was to consign so many of them to an early death; and
over the fountain and the statues around it, beautiful orchids were
draped--delicate tendrils torn from the genial air of the conservatory,
to waste a few hours of beauty ere they drooped for ever.

Sir Within heard the remonstrances of his afflicted gardener with the
bland dignity he would have listened to a diplomatic “reclamation;”
 and then instantly assured him that his representations should have due
weight on the next similar occasion, but, for the present, his commands
were absolute. The comments of a household disturbed on a pretext so
humble may be easily imagined. The vested interests of major-domo, and
butler, and housekeeper, are not institutions to be lightly dealt with,
and many indeed were the unflattering commentaries bestowed on the
intelligence and understanding of him who had turned the house out of
the windows for a couple of “school-girls.” But guesses that actually
rose to the impertinence of impeachment of his sanity were uttered, when
the old Baronet came down stairs, wearing his ribbon and his star.

And it was thus attired that he received them as they drove into the
court, and alighted at the foot of the grand staircase.

“You see, young ladies,” said he, with a courtly smile, “that I deem the
honour of your visit no small distinction. That old river-god yonder
and myself have put on our smartest coats; and it is only to be hoped
neither of us will be the worse for our ‘Bath.’”

Ada smiled graciously and bowed her thanks; but Kate, with a sparkle
in her eye, muttered, in his hearing too, “How neatly said!” a little
compliment that fluttered the old man, bringing back days when a happy
_mot_ was a success only second to a victory.

“As you have never been here before, you must allow me to be your
‘Cicerone;’ and I’ll be a more merciful one than Mrs. Simcox, my
housekeeper, who really would not spare you one of my ancestors since
the Conquest. These grim people, then, at either side of us are Withins
or Wardles; nine generations of excellent mortals are gazing on us; that
dark one yonder, Sir Hugh, was standard-bearer to Henry the Second; and
that fair-faced damsel yonder, was maid of honour to Queen Elizabeth,
and betrothed to her cousin, Sir Walter Raleigh, whom she threw off in
a fit of jealousy; the massive ring that she wears on her finger is
described in the chronicle, as ‘an auncient seale of Sir Walter with his
armes.”

“So that,” said Kate, “we may infer that at the time of the portrait she
was yet betrothed.”

Sir Within was pleased at a remark that seemed to show interest in his
description; and henceforth, unconsciously indeed, directed most of his
attention to her.

“We had not many warriors amongst us,” continued he. “Most of my
ancestors were statesmen or penmen. The thin, hard-visaged man yonder,
however, was killed at Dettingen; that sweet-faced girl--she looks a
mere girl--was his wife.”

“His wife! I thought she was his daughter,” said Ada, with some
disappointment in her voice.

“Why not his wife?” interposed Kate; “he looks a very gallant
gentleman.”

Sir Within smiled, and turned on her a look of most meaning admiration.

“I perceive,” said he, in a low tone, “that neither wrinkles nor a grey
beard can hide chivalry from _your_ eyes. He was, indeed, a gallant
gentleman. Mademoiselle,” said he, turning to the governess, “you will,
I hope, pardon all this display of family pretension, the more, since it
is the last of the race inflicts it.”

A faint sigh--so faint, that if Kate, who uttered it, had not been
beside him, he could not have heard it--fell on the old Baronet’s ear,
and, in a flutter of strange emotion, he passed rapidly on, and gained
the landing-place. From room to room they strolled leisurely on.
Pictures, statues, antique cabinets, and rare china, arresting attention
at every moment.

There were, indeed, objects to have attracted more critical observers;
but in their eager delight at all they saw, their fresh enthusiasm,
their frank outspoken enjoyment, Sir Within reaped a satisfaction far
and away beyond all the most finished connoisseurship would have yielded
him.

He showed them his armoury--mailed suits of every time and country, from
the rudely-shaped corslets of Northern Europe, to the chased and inlaid
workmanship of Milan and Seville; and with these were weapons of Eastern
fashion, a scimitar whose scabbard was of gold, and a helmet of solid
silver amongst them; and, last of all, he introduced them into a small
low-ceilinged chamber, with a massive door of iron concealed behind one
of oak. This he called his “Gem-room;” and here were gathered together
a variety of beautiful things, ranging from ancient coins and medals to
the most costly ornaments in jewellery: jewelled watches, bon-bon boxes
of the time of Louis XIV., enamelled miniatures in frames of brilliants,
and decorations of various foreign orders, which, though not at liberty
to wear, he treasured as relics of infinite worth. Kate hung over these
like one entranced. The costly splendour seemed so completely to have
captivated her, that she heard scarcely a word around her, and appeared
like one fascinated by an object too engrossing to admit a thought, save
of itself.

“Shall I own that I like those grand landscapes we saw in the second
drawing-room better than all these gorgeous things,” said Ada. “That
beautiful Salvator Rosa, with the warm sunset on the sea-shore, and the
fishermen drying their nets--may I go back and look at it?”

“By all means,” said Sir Within. “Remember, that all here is at your
disposal. I want first of all to show Mademoiselle my library, and then,
while I am giving some orders to my household, you shall be free of
me--free to ramble about where you like. Will you come with us, Kate?”
 said he, as he prepared to leave the room.

“Not if I may remain here. I’d like to pass days in this little
chamber.”

“Remain, then, of course; and now, Mademoiselle, if you will accompany
me, I will show you my books.”

Scarcely had the door closed, and Kate found herself alone, than she
opened one of the glass-cases in which some of the costliest trinkets
lay. There was a splendid cameo brooch of Madame de Valois, with her
crest in diamonds at top. This Kate gazed at long and thought-folly, and
at last fastened on her breast, walking to the glass to see its effect.
She half started as she looked; and, whether in astonishment at seeing
herself the wearer of such magnificence, or that some other and far
deeper sentiment worked within her, her eyes became intensely brilliant,
and her cheek crimson. She harried back, and drew forth a massive
necklace of emeralds and brilliants. It was labelled, “A present from
the Emperor to Marie Antoinette on the birth of the Dauphin.” She
clasped it round her throat, her fingers trembling with excitement,
and her heart beating almost audibly. “Oh!” cried she, as she looked
at herself again in the mirror; and how eloquent was the cry--the whole
outburst of a nature carried away by intense delight and the sentiment
of an all-engrossing self-admiration, for indeed she did look
surpassingly lovely, the momentary excitement combining with the lustre
of the jewels to light up her whole face into a radiant and splendid
beauty.

She took out next a large fan actually weighted with precious stones,
and opening this, she seated herself in front of the glass, to survey
herself at her ease. Lying back languidly in the deep old chair, the
hand which held the fan indolently drooped over the arm of the chair,
while with the other she played with the massive drop of the emerald
necklace, she looked exceedingly beautiful. Her own ecstasy had
heightened her colour and given a brilliant depth to the expression of
her eyes, while a faint, scarcely detectable quiver in her lip showed
how intense was her enjoyment of the moment. Even as she gazed, a gentle
dreamy sentiment stole over her, visions, Heaven knows of what future
triumphs, of days when others should offer their homage to that
loveliness, when sculptors would mould and poets sing that beauty; for
in its power upon herself she knew that it was Beauty, and so as she
looked her eyelids drooped, her breathing grew longer and longer, her
cheek, save in one pink cloud, became pale, and she fell off asleep.
Once or twice her lips murmured a word or two, but too faintly to be
caught. She smiled, too, that sweet smile of happy sleep, when softly
creeping thoughts steal over the mind, as the light air of evening
steals across a lake.

[Illustration: 244]

For nearly an hour did she lie thus, when Sir Within came in search of
her. His habitual light step and cautious gait never disturbed her,
and there he stood gazing on her, amazed, almost enraptured. “Where was
there a Titian or a Raphael like that!” was his first thought; for,
with the instinct of his life, it was to Art he at once referred her.
“Was there ever drawing or colour could compare to it!” Through the
stained glass window one ray of golden glory pierced and fell upon her
hair and brow, and he remembered how he had seen the same “effect” in
a “Memling,” but still immeasurably inferior to this. What would he not
have given that Danneker or Canova could have seen her thus and modelled
her! Greek art itself had nothing finer in form, and as to her face, she
was infinitely more beautiful than anything the antique presented. How
was it that in all his hitherto admiration of her he had never before
recognised such surpassing beauty? Was it that excitement disturbed the
calm loveliness, and gave too much mobility to these traits? or was it
that, in her versatile, capricious way, she had never given him time for
admiration? As for the gems, he did not remark them for a long while,
and when he did, it was to feel how much more _she_ adorned _them_ than
they contributed to her loveliness.

“I must bring Ada here,” muttered he to himself. “How she will be
charmed with the picture.” He turned to steal away, and then, with the
thoughtful instinct of his order, he moved noiselessly across the room,
and turned the looking-glass to the wall. It was a small trait, but in
it there spoke the old diplomatist. On gaining the drawing-room he heard
that the governess and Ada had gone out to see the conservatory, so Sir
Within hurried back to the Gem-room, not fully determined whether to
awaken Kate or suffer her to sleep on. Remembering suddenly that if
discovered all jewelled and bedecked the young girl would feel overcome
with a sense of shame, he resolved not to disturb her. Still he wished
to take a last look, and stole noiselessly back to the chamber.

Her position had changed since he left the room, the fan had fallen
from her hand to the floor, and by a slight, very slight, motion of the
eyelids he could mark that her sleep was no longer untroubled. “Poor
girl,” muttered he, “I must not leave her to dream of sorrow;” and
laying his hand softly on the back of hers, he said, in a low whisper,
“Kate, were you dreaming, my child?”

She raised her eyelids slowly, lazily, and looked calmly at him without
a word.

“What was your dream, Kate?” said he, gently, as he bent over her.

“Was it a dream?” murmured she, softly. “I wish it had not been a
dream.”

“And what was it, then?” said he, as taking a chair he sat down beside
her--“tell me of it all.”

“I thought a great queen, who had no child of her own, had adopted
me, and said I should be her daughter, and in proof of it she took a
beautiful collar from her throat and fastened it on mine.”

“You see so much is true,” said he, pointing to the massive emerald drop
that hung upon her neck.

Kate’s cheek flushed a deep crimson as her eyes glanced rapidly over the
room, and her mind seemed in an instant to recover itself. “I
hope you are not angry with me,” stammered she, in deep confusion. “I
know I have been very foolish--will you forgive me?” As she came to the
last words she dropped upon her knees, and, bending forward, hid her
head between his hands.

“My sweet child, there is not anything to forgive. As to those trinkets,
I never believed they were so handsome till I saw them on you.”

“It was wrong--very wrong; but I was alone, and I thought no one would
ever see me. If I was sure you had forgiven me----”

“Be sure, my dear child,” said he, as he smoothed back her golden hair,
caressing the beautiful head with his wasted fingers, “and now that I
have assured you of this, tell me what it was you wished to speak of to
me. You had a trouble, you said--what was it, Kate?”

“May I tell you of it?” asked she, lifting her eyes for the first time
towards him, and gazing upwards through her tears.

“To be sure you may, child, and with the certainty that you speak to one
who loves you.”

“But I do not know how I can tell it--that is, how you are to believe
what I shall tell you, when I am not able to say why and how I know the
truth of what I shall say.”

“More likely is it, child, I shall not ask that question, but take your
word for it all.”

“Yes, that is true; it is what you would do. I ought to have seen that,”
 muttered she, half aloud. “Are we certain to be alone here? Can I tell
you now?”

“Certainly. They are off to see the gardens. None will interrupt us: say
on.”

“Mind,” said she, eagerly, “you are not to ask me anything.” “I agree.
Go on.” “At the same time, you shall be free to find out from others
whether I have misled you or not.” “Go on, my dear child, and do not
torment yourself with needless cares. I want to hear what it is that
grieves you, and if I can remove your sorrow.”

“You can at least counsel me--guide me.”

“It is my right and my duty to do so. I am one of your guardians, Kate,”
 said he, encouragingly.

“Do you remember the morning I came from Ireland, the morning of my
arrival at the Cottage?” “Perfectly.”

“Do you remember my grandfather hesitating whether he would let me stay,
till some promise was given him that I should not be sent away out of a
whim, or a fancy, or at least some pledge as to what should be done with
me?” “I remember it all.”

“Well, he was right to have foreseen it. The time _has_ come. Mind your
promise--do not question me--but I know that they mean to send me----
I cannot--I will not call it home,” cried she, fiercely. “Home means
shelter--friends--safety. Which of these does it offer _me?_”

“Be calm, my dear child; be calm and tell me all that you know. What
reason have they for this change?”

“Ada is to go to Italy, to see her grandmother, who is ill. I am no
longer wanted, and to be sent away.” “This is very unlike them. It is
incredible.” “I knew you’d say so,” said she, with a heightened colour,
and a sparkling eye. “_They_ of course could do no wrong, but perhaps
I can convince you. You know Mr. M’Kinlay, he is now at the Cottage, he
has come down about this. Oh!” burst she out with a wild cry, while the
tears ran down her cheeks--“oh, how bold my sorrow makes me, that I can
speak this way to you. But save me! oh save me from this degradation! It
is not the poverty of that life I dread, so much as the taunts upon me
for my failure; the daily scoffs I shall have to meet from those who
hoped to build their fortunes on my success. Tell me, then, where I may
go to earn my bread, so it be not there. I could be a servant. I have
seen girls as young as me at service. I could take care of little
children, and could teach them, too. Will you help me? Will you help
me,” cried she, sobbing, “and see if I will not deserve it?”

“Be comforted, my poor child. I have told you already you have a right
to my assistance, and you shall have it.”

She bent down and kissed his hand, and pressed her cheek upon it. “Tell
me, Kate, do you desire to go abroad with Ada?” “Not now,” said she, in
a faint voice. “I did, but I do so no longer.”

“And on no account to return to Ireland.” “On none,” said she,
resolutely.

“Then I will think the matter over. I will send for Mr. M’Kinlay
to-morrow, and doubtless he will make some communication to me.” “But
do not forget, Sir, that you must not betray me.” “I will take care of
that, Kate; but come, my dear child, bathe these eyes of yours, and come
into the air. They will wonder, besides, if they do not see you. Let us
go and find them. Your heart may be at rest, now. Is it not so?”

“I have your promise, Sir?”

“You have, child.”

“Oh! am I not happy again!” said she, throwing back her long hair upon
her neck, and turning towards him her eyes beaming with gratitude, and
bright with triumph. “I have spent two nights of misery, but they are
well repaid by the joy I feel now.”

“There. You look like yourself already,” said he. “Come, and we’ll
search for them.”

“What am I thinking of!” cried she, suddenly. “I was forgetting these;”
 and she unclasped the necklace, and took off the brooch, depositing them
carefully in their places.

“You shall wear them again one of these days, Kate,” said he, with a
look of pensive meaning.

“They only served me to build castles with,” said she, gaily, “and the
words you have spoken will help me to raise much finer ones. I am ready
now, Sir.”

“Of all the days of your life,” whispered Ada to Kate, as they drove
home that evening, “was this the happiest?”

“It was,” said the other, thoughtfully.

“And mine, too. I had not one dark thought till I saw evening coming
on, and felt how soon it was to end. But I have such happy news for you,
dear Kate, only I am not at liberty to tell it--something that is going
to happen--somewhere we are about to go.”

“Do not tell me more, or I shall become too curious to hear all.”

“But you would be so glad, so overjoyed to hear it.”

“One can always wait patiently for good tidings, the wise people say.
Where did you get your violets in mid-winter?”

“Where _you_ got your roses, Kate,” said the other, laughing. “I never
saw such pink cheeks as you had when you came into the garden.”

“I had fallen asleep,” said Kate, blushing slightly. “Whenever I am
very, very happy, I grow sleepy.”



CHAPTER XXIX. MR. M’KINLAY IS PUZZLED.

Mr. M’Kinlay was at his breakfast the next day when he received the
following letter from Sir Gervais Vyner:

“Rome, Palazzo Altieri.

“My dear M’Kinlay,--Lady Vyner’s mother insists on seeing Ada out here,
and will not listen to anything, either on the score of the season or
the long journey. I cannot myself venture to be absent for more than a
few days at a time; and I must entreat of you to give Mademoiselle and
my daughter a safe convoy as far as Marseilles, where I shall meet you.
I know well how very inconvenient it may prove to you, just as term is
about to open, so pray make me deeply your debtor for the service _in
all ways_. My sister-in-law informs me--but so vaguely that I cannot
appreciate the reasons--that Mademoiselle H. does not advise Miss O’Hara
should accompany them. It will be for you to learn the grounds of this
counsel, and, if you concur with them, to make a suitable arrangement
for that young lady’s maintenance and education in England, unless,
indeed, her friends require her to return home. To whatever you decide,
let money be no obstacle. There are good schools at Brighton, I believe.
If her friends prefer a French education, Madame Gosselin’s, Rue Neuve,
St. Augustin, Paris, is well spoken of. See Sir Within Wardle on the
subject, who, besides being her guardian, is well qualified to direct
your steps.

“I cannot tell you how much I am provoked by what I must call this
failure in a favourite project, nor is my annoyance the less that I am
not permitted to know how, when, or why the failure has been occasioned.
All that Miss Courtenay will tell me is, ‘She must not come out to
Italy,’ and that I shall be the first to agree to the wisdom of this
decision when I shall hear the reasons for it. Of course all this is
between ourselves, and with Sir Within you will limit yourself to the
fact that her education will be more carefully provided for by remaining
north of the Alps--a truth he will, I am certain, recognise.

“Be sure, however, to get to the bottom of this, I may call it--mystery,
for up to this I have regarded Ada’s progress in learning, and great
improvement in spirits, as entirely owing to this very companionship.

“Drop me a line to say if you can start on Monday or Tuesday, and at the
Pavilion Hotel you will either find me on your arrival, or a note to
say when to expect me. Tell Sir Within from me, that I will accept any
trouble he shall take with Miss O’H. as a direct personal favour. I am
not at all satisfied with the part we are taking towards this girl; nor
shall I be easy until I hear from you that all is arranged to her own
liking, and the perfect satisfaction of her family. I think, indeed, you
should write to Mr. L., at Arran; his concurrence ought to be secured,
as a formality; and he’ll not refuse it, if not linked to something
troublesome or inconvenient.

“I shall be curious to hear your personal report of Miss O’Hara, so take
care to fit yourself for a very searching cross-examination from

“Yours faithfully,

“Gervais Vyner.

“I hear that the people have just thrown down the walls of my new lodge
in Derryvaragh, and vowed that they’ll not permit any one to build
there. Are they mad? Can they not see that a proprietor, if he ever
should come there, must be of use to them, and that all the benefit
would be _theirs?_ Grenfell laughs at me, and says he predicted it all.
Perhaps he did: at all events, I shall not be deterred from going on,
though neither of my Irish experiences have as yet redounded to my
vainglory.

“I have not the shadow of a reason for suspecting it, still you would
confer a favour on me if you could assure me, of your own knowledge,
that nothing weightier than a caprice has induced Mademoiselle to
recommend that Miss O’H. should not come out here with my daughter.

“All of this letter is to be regarded private and confidential.”

Scarcely had M’Kinlay finished the reading of this letter, than a
servant presented him with a small note, sealed with a very large
impress of the Wardle arms, and bearing a conspicuous W. W. on the outer
corner. Its contents ran thus:

“My dear Mr. M’Kinlay,--Will you allow me to profit by the fortunate
accident of your presence in these regions to bespeak the honour and
pleasure of your company at a _tête-à-tête_ dinner with me to-day? My
carriage will await your orders; and if perfectly in accordance with
your convenience, I would beg that they may be to take you over here
by an early hour--say four o’clock--as I am desirous of obtaining the
benefit of your advice.

“I am very sincerely yours,

“Within Wardle.”

“How provoking!” cried Mr. M’Kinlay; “and I meant to have caught the
night-mail at Wrexham.”

Now Mr. M’Kinlay was not either provoked or disappointed. It had never
been his intention to have left the Cottage till the day after; and as
to a dinner invitation to Dalradern, and with “the contingent remainder”
 of a consultation, it was in every respect the direct opposite of all
that is provoking. Here he was alone. None heard, him as he said these
words. This hypocrisy was not addressed to any surrounders. It was the
soliloquy of a man who liked self-flattery, and, strange as it may
seem, there are scores of people who mix these sweet little draughts
for themselves and toss them off in secresy, like solitary drinkers, and
then go out into the world refreshed and stimulated by their dram.

“I cannot take his agency, if that’s what he is at,” said Mr. M’Kinlay,
as he stood with his back to the fire and fingered the seals of his
watch; “I am overworked already--sorely overworked. Clients, now-a-days,
I find, have got the habit of employing their lawyers in a variety of
ways quite foreign to their callings.” This was a hit at Sir Gervais for
his request to take Ada abroad. “A practice highly to be condemned, and,
in fact, to be put down. It is not dignified; and I doubt if even it
be profitable,”--his tone was now strong and severe. “A fine old place,
Dalradern,” muttered he, as his eyes fell upon a little engraving of
the castle at the top of the note--such vignettes were rarer at that day
than at the present--“I think, really, I will give myself a holiday and
dine with him. I thought him a bit of a fop--an old fop, too--when I met
him here; but he may ‘cut up’ better under his own roof.”

“Rickards,” said he, as that bland personage entered to remove the
breakfast-things, “I am not going to dine here to-day.”

“Lor, Sir! You an’t a going so soon?”

“No. To-morrow, perhaps--indeed, I should say to-morrow certainly; but
to-day I must dine at Dalradern.”

“Well, Sir, you’ll tell me when you comes home if he’s better than Mrs.
Byles for his side-dishes; for I’ll never believe it, Sir, till I have
it from a knowledgeable gentleman like yourself. Not that I think,
Sir, they will play off any of their new-fangled tricks on you--putting
cheese into the soup, and powdered sugar over the peas.”

“I have seen both in Paris,” said M’Kinlay, gravely.

“And frogs too, Sir, and snails; and Jacob, that was out in Italy with
the saddle-horses, says, he seen fifteen shillings given for a hedgehog,
when lamb got too big.”

“Let Mademoiselle Heinzleman know that I should be glad to speak to
her,” said the lawyer, who, feeling that he was going to dine out, could
afford to be distant.

“Yes, Sir, I’ll tell her;” and Rickards stirred the fire, and drew down
a blind here, and drew up another there, and fidgeted about in that
professionally desultory manner his order so well understand. When he
got to the door, however, he stepped back, and in a low confidential
whisper said, “It’s the ‘Ock, Sir, the ‘Ock, at Dalradem, that beats us;
eighty odd years in bottle, and worth three guineas a flask.” He
sighed as he went out, for the confession cost him dear. It was like
a Government whip admitting that his party must be beaten on the next
division!

Mr. M’Kinlay was deep in a second perusal of Sir Gervais Vyner’s letter
when Mademoiselle Heinzleman entered. “I have a few lines from Sir
Gervais here, Mademoiselle,” said he, pompously, for the invitation to
Dalradem was still fresh in his mind. “He wishes me, if it be at all
possible, to accompany you and Miss Vyner as far as, let me see”--and he
opened the letter--“as far as Marseilles. I own, with whatever pride I
should accept the charge, however charmed I should naturally feel at the
prospect of a journey in such company----”

“Es macht nichts. I mean, Sare,” said she, impetuously, “with Franz, the
courier, we can travel very well all alone.”

“If you will permit me, Mademoiselle,” said he, haughtily, to finish
my phrase, “you will find that, notwithstanding my many and pressing
engagements, and the incessant demands which the opening of term makes
upon my time, it is my intention not to refuse this--this, I shall call
it favour--for it is favour--to my respected client. Can you be ready by
Monday?”

“We are Wednesday now! Yes; but of Mademoiselle Kate, what of her? Does
she come with us?”

“I opine not,” said he, gravely.

“And where she go to?” said she, with an eagerness which occasionally
marred the accuracy of her expression.

“Sir Gervais has suggested that we may take one of two courses,
Mademoiselle,” said he, and probably something in the phrase reminded
M’Kinlay of a well-known statesman, for he unconsciously extended an
arm, and with the other lifted his coat-skirt behind him, “or, it is
even possible, adopt a third.”

“This means, she is not to come with us, Sir.”

Mr. M’Kinlay bowed his concurrence. “You see, Mademoiselle,” said he,
authoritatively, “it was a mistake from the beginning, and though I
warned Sir Gervais that it must be a mistake, he would have his way; he
thought she would be a means of creating emulation.”

“So she has, Sir.”

“I mean, wholesome emulation; the generous rivalry--the--the--in fact,
that she would excite Miss Vyner to a more vigorous prosecution of her
studies, without that discouragement that follows a conscious--what
shall I call it--not inferiority?”

“Yes, inferiority.”

“This, I am aware, Mademoiselle, was your view; the letter I hold here
from Miss Courtenay shows me the very painful impression your
opinion has produced; nor am I astonished at the warmth--and there is
warmth--with which she observes: ‘Mademoiselle H. is under a delusion if
she imagines that my brother-in-law was about to establish a nursery for
prodigies. If the pigeon turns out to be an eagle, the sooner it is out
of the dovecot the better.’ Very neatly and very smartly put. ‘If the
pigeon-------’”

“Enough of the pigeon, Sare. Where is she to go? who will take her in
charge?”

“I have not fully decided on the point, Mademoiselle, but by this
evening I hope to have determined upon it; for the present, I have only
to apprise you that Miss O’Hara is not to go to Italy, and that whatever
arrangement should be necessary for her---either to remain in England,
or to return to her family, will be made as promptly possible.”

“And who will take her in charge, Sare?” said she, repeating the former
question.

Mr. M’Kinlay laid his hand over the region of his heart, and bowed; but
whether he meant that he himself would undertake the guardianship of the
young lady, or that the matter was a secret enclosed in his own breast,
is not at all easy to say.

“May I speak to her about this?”

“Not until I shall see you again; but you may take all such measures as
may prepare her for her sudden departure.”

Mr. M’Kinlay was, throughout the brief interview, more despotic than
gallant. He was not quite satisfied that the mission was one in perfect
accordance with his high professional dignity, and so to relieve
himself from any self-reproach, he threw a dash of severity through his
condescension.

“I suppose,” said he, superbly--“I suppose she has clothes?”

Mademoiselle stared at this, but did not reply.

“I am somewhat unaccustomed, as you may perceive, Mademoiselle, to these
sort of affairs; I know nothing of young ladies’ wardrobes. I simply
asked, was she in a position to travel, if called on, at a brief
notice?”

“My poor Kate! my poor Kate!” was all that the governess could utter.

“I must say, Mademoiselle,” said he, pompously, “that, looking to what
she originally came from, and taking into account the care and cost
bestowed upon her, I do not perceive this to be a case that calls for
any deep commiseration.”

“Poor child! poor child!” stammered she out; and, unable to control her
emotion, she arose and left the room.

“Rickards was right; that artful minx has won them all over. It is high
time to send her back to her own country, and, from the brief experience
I have had of it, I’ll venture to say all her captivations there will
not make many victims. Three o’clock already,” said he, with surprise,
“and I had meant to be at Dalradern early.” He rung and ordered the
carriage. It had been at the door for above an hour. Strange how the
morning should have slipped over; had it been real business, what a
deal he could have transacted in the time; but these little “peddling
negotiations,” so he called them, ran away with a man’s time before he
was aware of it. As he passed through the hall, he saw, through a partly
open door, the two girls--they were seated at a table, with their heads
bent over a map.

“Yea,” said Ada, “this is the way papa mentions; here is Marseilles,
and here, if the sea be rough, is the road we shall have to travel, all
along the coast, by Nice and Genoa. Oh, don’t you wish it may be bad
weather, Kate?”

M’Kinlay bent his head, but could not catch the words she spoke.

“And I used to fancy you would like it all more than even I did myself,”
 said Ada, in a tone of reproach.

“It is your lot to enjoy everything, and to have everything to enjoy,”
 said Kate; “and mine is--no matter what it is--let us have a stroll in
the garden.”

M’Kinlay had just time to move on ere they arose, and, passing out, he
got into the carriage and drove away.



CHAPTER XXX. SCANDAL.

It was half-past four as Mr. M’Kinlay drove into the court-yard at
Dalradern. Sir Within’s note had said four o’clock, an early dinner, and
Sir Within himself could be seen, at an oriel window, watch in hand, as
the carriage passed under the arched entrance. Now, though it was part
of Mr. M’Kinlay’s usual tactics never to “cheapen himself,” he felt he
might by possibility have erred on the opposite side on this occasion,
and he prepared to make some excuses for his delay, the letters he had
read, the replies he was forced to make, and such like.

The old Baronet heard these apologies with a most polished urbanity, he
bowed a continual acquiescence, and then ordered dinner.

“I had hoped for a little daylight, Mr. M’Kinlay,” said he, “to have
shown you some of my pictures, which are only worth seeing when they
have got sun on them. Are you fond of the arts?”

“Passionately, Sir Within; devotedly, if a man so ignorant may dare to
say so.”

“Then, I must only hope for better fortune on another occasion, and that
you will give me an entire morning, if you will not graciously make me a
visit of some days.”

“Oh, Sir.”

“I think,” continued he--“I think I could requite you. My Van Eyks are
accounted the best of any private collection; and one at least of my
Albert Durers will bear comparison with any in the Munich Gallery.”

M’Kinlay muttered something that sounded as if he were firmly persuaded
of the fact.

“I know,” added Sir Within, “this sounds a little boastful; but when I
shall have told you how I came by this picture--it is called the Queen’s
Martyrdom, and represents the Queen Beatrice of Bohemia on a balcony
while her lover is going to the scaffold: the king, her husband,
has ordered her to throw to him the garland or wreath, which was the
privilege of nobles to wear in their last moments--and, I say, when I
tell you the history of the picture, you will, perhaps, acquit me of
vainglory; and also, when you see it, you will render me a greater
service by deciding whether the headsman has not been painted by
Cranach. How I wish we had a little daylight, that I might show it to
you!”

How grateful was M’Kinlay to the sun for his setting on that evening;
never was darkness more welcome, even to him who prayed for night--or
Blucher; and, secretly vowing to himself that no casualty should ever
catch him there before candlelight, he listened with a bland attention,
and pledged his word to any amount of connoisseurship required of him.
Still he hoped that this might not be “the case”--the especial case--on
which Sir Within had summoned him to give counsel; for, besides being
absurd, it would be worse--it would be unprofitable. It was a pleasant
interruption to this “art conversation” when dinner was announced. Now
did Mr. M’Kinlay find himself more at home when appealed to for
his judgment on brown sherry, and the appropriate period at which
“Amontillado” could be introduced; but he soon discovered he was in the
presence of a master. Dinner-giving was the science of his craft, and
Sir Within belonged to that especial school who have always maintained
that Brillat Savarin is more to be relied upon than Grotius, and M. Ude
a far abler ally than Puffendorf. It was the old envoy’s pleasure on
this occasion to put forth much of his strength; both the dinner and the
wine were exquisite, and when the entertainment closed with some choice
“Hermitage,” which had been an imperial present, the lawyer declared
that it was not a dinner to which he had been invited, but a banquet.

“You must run down in your next vacation, my dear Mr. M’Kinlay, and give
me a week. I don’t know if you are a sportsman?”

“Not in the least, Sir. I neither shoot, ride, nor fish.”

“Nor do I, and yet I like a country life, as a sort of interlude in
existence.”

“With a house like this, Sir Within, what life can compare with it?”

“One can at least have tranquillity,” sighed Sir Within, with an air
that made it difficult to say whether he considered it a blessing or the
reverse.

“There ought to be a good neighbourhood, too, I should say. I passed
some handsome places as I came along.”

“Yes, there are people on every hand, excellent people, I have not a
doubt; but they neither suit me, nor _I them_. Their ways are not mine,
nor are their ideas, their instincts, nor their prejudices. The world,
my dear Mr. M’Kinlay, is, unfortunately, wider than a Welsh county,
though they will not believe it here.”

“You mean, then, Sir Within, that they are local, and narrow-minded in
their notions?”

“I don’t like to say that, any more than I like to hear myself called
a libertine; but I suppose, after all, it is what we both come to.” The
air of self-accusation made the old envoy perfectly triumphant, and, as
he passed his hand across his brow and smiled blandly, he seemed to
be recalling to mind innumerable successes of the past. “To say truth,
diplomacy is not the school for dévots.”

“I should think not, indeed, Sir,” said M’Kinlay.

“And that is what these worthy folk cannot or will not see. Wounds and
scars are the necessary incidents of a soldier’s life; but people will
not admit that there are moral injuries which form the accidents of a
minister’s life, and to which he must expose himself as fearlessly
as any soldier that ever marched to battle. What do these excellent
creatures here--who have never experienced a more exciting scene than
a cattle-show, nor faced a more captivating incident than a Bishop’s
visitation--know of the trials, the seductions--the irresistible
seductions of the great world? Ah, Mr. M’Kinlay, I could lay bare a very
strange chapter of humanity, were I to tell even one-fourth of my own
experiences.”

“And an instructive one too, I should say, Sir.”

“In one sense, yes; certainly instructive. You see, Mr. M’Kinlay, with
respect to life, it is thus: Men in your profession become conversant
with all the material embarrassments and difficulties of families; they
know of that crushing bond, or that ruinous mortgage, of the secret loan
at fifty per cent., or the drain of hush-money to stop a disclosure,
just as the doctor knows of the threatened paralysis or the
spreading aneurism; but we men of the world--men of the world _par
excellence_--read humanity in its moral aspect; we study its conflicts,
its trials, its weakness, and its fall--I say fall, because such is the
one and inevitable end of every struggle.”

“This is a sad view, a very sad view,” said M’Kinlay, who, probably to
fortify himself against the depression he felt, drank freely of a strong
Burgundy.

“Not so in one respect. It makes us more tolerant, more charitable.
There is nothing ascetic in our judgment of people--we deplore, but we
forgive.”

“Fine, Sir, very fine--a noble sentiment!” said the lawyer, whose
utterance was not by any means so accurate as it had been an hour
before.

“Of that relentless persecution of women, for instance, such as you
practise it here in England, the great world knows positively nothing.
In your blind vindictiveness you think of nothing but penalties, and you
seem to walk over the battle-field of life with no other object or care
than to search for the wounded and hold them up to shame and torture. Is
it not so?”

“I am sure you are right. We are all fal--fal--la--hie, not a doubt of
it,” muttered M’Kinlay to himself.

“And remember,” continued Sir Within, “it is precisely the higher
organisations, the more finely-attuned temperaments, that are most
exposed, and which, from the very excellence of their nature, demand our
deepest care and solicitude. With what pains, for instance, would you
put together the smashed fragments of a bit of rare Sèvres, concealing
the junctures and hiding the flaws, while you would not waste a moment
on a piece of vulgar crockery.”

“Pitch it out o’ window at once!” said M’Kinlay, with an almost savage
energy.

“So it is. It is with this precious material, finely formed, beautiful
in shape, and exquisite in colour, the world has to deal; and how
natural that it should treat it with every solicitude and every
tenderness. But the analogy holds further. Every connoisseur will tell
you that the cracked or fissured porcelain is scarcely diminished in
value by its fracture; that when skilfully repaired it actually is
almost, if not altogether, worth what it was before.”

M’Kinlay nodded; he was not quite clear how the conversation had turned
upon porcelain, but the wine was exquisite, and he was content.
“These opinions of mine meet little mercy down here, Mr. M’Kinlay; my
neighbours call them Frenchified immoralities, and fifty other hard
names; and as for myself, they do not scruple to aver that I am an old
rake, come back to live on the recollection of his vices. I except,
of course, our friends the Vyners--they judge, and they treat me
differently; they are a charming family.”

“Charming!” echoed the lawyer, and seeming by his action to drink their
health to himself.

“You know the old line, ‘He jests at wounds that never felt a scar;’ and
so have I ever found that it is only amongst those who have suffered one
meets true sympathy. What is this curious story”--here he dropped into a
low, confidential voice--“about Miss C.? It is a by-gone now-a-days; but
how was it? She was to have married a man who had a wife living; or,
she did marry him, and discovered it as they were leaving the church? I
forget exactly how it went--I mean the story--for I know nothing as to
the fact.”

M’Kinlay listened, and through the dull fog of his besotted faculties a
faint nickering of light seemed struggling to pierce. The misanthrope at
Arran--the once friend, now banished for ever--the name that never was
to be uttered--the mystery to be kept from all--and then Georgina’s own
sudden outburst of passion on the evening they parted, when he blundered
out something about a reparation to Luttrell.

All this, at first confusedly, but by degrees more clearly, passed in
review before him, and he thought he had dropped upon a very black page
of family history. Though the wine of which he had drank freely had
addled, it had not overcome him, and, with the old instincts of his
calling, he remembered how all important it is, when extracting
evidence, to appear in fall possession of all the facts.

“How, in the name of wonder, Sir Within,” said he, after a long
pause--“how did it ever chance that this story reached you?”

“Mr. M’Kinlay, my profession, like your own, has its secret sources of
information, and, like you, we hear a great deal, and we believe very
little of it.”

“In the present case,” said M’Kinlay, growing clearer every minute, “I
take it you believe nothing.”

“How old is Miss O’Hara!” asked Sir William, quietly.

“Oh, Sir Within, you surely don’t mean to----”

“To what, Mr. M’Kinlay--what is it that I cannot possibly intend?” said
he, smiling.

“You would not imply that--that there was anything there?” said he,
blundering into an ambiguity that might not commit him irretrievably.

“Haven’t I told you, my dear Mr. M’Kinlay,” said he, with an air of easy
familiarity, “that if I am somewhat sceptical, I am very charitable? I
can believe a great deal, but I can forgive everything.” “And you really
do believe this?” asked M’Kinlay. “Something of it; about as much as
Mr. M’Kinlay believes Kate O’Hara is---- Let me see,” muttered he, half
aloud; “I was at Stuttgard; it was the winter Prince Paul died; we had a
court-mourning, and there were no festivities. The Legations received
a few intimates, and we exchanged all the contents of our letters--that
was sixteen or seventeen years ago; the young lady, I take it, is not
far from fifteen.” “Good Heavens, Sir Within, you want to establish a
distinct link between this story and the age of the young girl!”

“That is too legal a view, Mr. M’Kinlay; we diplomatists deal in another
fashion--we speculate, we never specify. We always act as if everything
were possible, and nothing certain; and in our very uncertainty lies our
greatest security.”

“At all events, you don’t believe one word of this story?” “When a
gentleman so intimately connected with all the secret details of a
family history as you are, instead of showing me where and how I am in
error, limits himself to an appeal to my incredulity, my reply is,
his case is a weak one. She is a most promising creature; she was here
yesterday, and I declare I feel half ashamed of myself for thinking her
more attractive than my dear old favourite, Ada. What are you going to
do about her?”

The suddenness of this question startled M’Kinlay not much, if at all
“Did the old Baronet know of the Vyners’ plans?--was he in reality
more deeply in their confidence than himself?”--was the lawyer’s first
thought. It was clear enough he knew something, whatever that something
might mean. To fence with such a master of his weapon would be a
lamentable blunder, and M’Kinlay determined on frankness.

“It is the very subject on which I want to consult you, Sir Within.
The case is a nice one, and requires nice treatment. The Vyners have
determined she is not to go out to Italy.”

“Do they give their reason?”

“No, not exactly a reason. They think--that is, Miss Courtenay
thinks--all this is, of course, in strict confidence, Sir Within?”

The old minister bowed an acquiescence, with his hand on his heart.

“As I was observing, then,” resumed M’Kinlay, “Miss Courtenay thinks
that the united education scheme has not been a success; that Miss
O’Hara has contrived, somehow, to usurp more than her share; that
from natural quickness, perhaps, in learning, a greater aptitude
for acquirement, she has not merely outstripped but discouraged Miss
Vyner----”

The incredulous surprise that sat on the old Baronet’s face stopped
M’Kinlay in his explanation, and he said: “You don’t appear to believe
in this, Sir Within?”

“Don’t you think, Sir,” said the old envoy, “that sitting here
_tête-à-tête_ as we do now, we could afford to be candid and frank with
each other? Does it not strike you that you and I are very like men who
could trust each other?”

There was a fine shade of flattery in the collocation that touched the
lawyer. It was not every day that he saw himself “brigaded” in such
company, and he reddened slightly as he accepted the compliment.

“Let us, then,” resumed the old minister--“let us leave to one side all
mention of these young ladies’ peculiar talents and capacities; come to
the practical fact that, for reasons into which we are not to inquire,
they are to be separated. What do you mean to do by Miss O’Hara?”

Mr. M’Kinlay paused for a few seconds, and then, with the air of one who
could not subdue himself to any caution, said: “Whatever you suggest,
Sir Within--anything that you advise. You see, Sir,” said he, turning
down the corner of Vyner’s letter, and handing it to him to read,
“this is what he says: ‘Tell Sir Within from me, that I will accept any
trouble he shall take with Miss O’H. as a direct personal favour.’”

Sir Within bowed. It was not the first time he had been shown a
“strictly confidential despatch” that meant nothing.

“I think--that is, I suspect--I apprehend the situation,” said he.
“The Vyners want to stand in the ‘_statu quo ante_;’ they have made a
mistake, and they see it. Now, what does Mr. M’Kinlay suggest?”

“I’d send her back, Sir Within.”

“Back! Where? To whom?”

“To her friends.”

“To her friends! My dear Mr. M’Kinlay, I thought we had disposed of all
that part of the case. Let us be frank--it _does_ save so much time; for
friends, read Mr. Luttrell. Now, what if he say, ‘No; you have taken her
away, and by your teaching and training unfitted her for such a life as
she must lead here; I cannot receive her?’”

“I did not mean Mr. Luttrell; I really spoke of the girl’s family----”

“You are a treasure of discretion, Sir,” said Sir Within; “but permit me
to observe, that the excess of caution often delays a negotiation. _You_
say that she cannot go to Italy, and _I_ say she can as little return
to Ireland--at least, without Mr. Luttrell’s acquiescence. Now for the
third course?”

“This school Sir Gervais speaks of in Paris,” said M’Kinlay, fumbling
for the passage in the letter, for he was now so confused and puzzled
that he was very far from feeling calm. “Here is the address--Madame
Gosselin, Rue Neuve, St. Augustin, Paris. Sir Gervais thought that--with
of course your approval--this would be the best course we could take.
She would be well treated, well educated, cared for, and eventually
qualified to be a governess--if she should not chance to marry.”

“Yes, yes,” said Sir Within, slowly, as he pondered over the other’s
words, “there is much in what you say, and the remarkable fact is, that
_they do_, very often, make admirable wives.”

Who were the “they” he referred to, as a category, M’Kinlay did not dare
to inquire, but assented by a smile and a bow.

“Curious it is,” said the old man, reflectively, “to mark how
generations alternate, as if it were decreed that the world should
not make any distinct progress, but oscillate between vice and
virtue--virtue and vice. The respectable father and the scampish son
being the counterpoise for the rakish mamma and the discreet daughter.”

To what such a reflection could be thought to apply, Mr. M’Kinlay
had not the vaguest conception; but it is only fair to add, that his
faculties were never throughout the interview at their clearest.

“My chief difficulty is this, Sir,” said the lawyer, rising to an effort
that might show he had an opinion and a will of his own; “Sir Gervais
requests me to convey his daughter as far as Marseilles; he names an
early day to meet us there, so that really there is very little time--I
may say no time, if we must start by Monday next.”

Sir Within made no reply, and the other went on.

“Suppose I take this girl over to Paris with us, and the school should
be full, and no vacancy to be had? Suppose they might object--I have
heard of such things--to receive as a pupil one who had not made any
preliminary inquiries?”

“Your position might become one of great embarrassment, Mr. M’Kinlay,
and to relieve you so far as in me lies, I would propose that until you
have taken the necessary steps to ensure Miss O’Hara’s reception, she
should remain under the charge of my housekeeper here, Mrs. Simcox. She
is a most excellent person, and kindness itself. When you have satisfied
yourself by seeing Madame Gosselin at Paris, as to all matters of
detail, I shall very probably have had time to receive a reply to the
letter I will write to my co-trustee, Mr. Luttrell, and everything can
be thus arranged in all due form.”

“I like all of your plans, Sir, but the last step. I have confessed to
you that Sir Gervais Vyner had strictly enjoined me not to mention Mr.
Luttrell’s name.”

“You also mentioned to me, if I mistake not, that the young girl’s
friends, whoever they might be supposed to be, were to be consulted as
to any future arrangements regarding her. Now, do you seriously mean to
tell me that you are going to address yourself to the old peasant, who
assumed to be her grandfather, and who frankly owned he couldn’t read?”

“I do think, Sir Within, that old Malone--that is the man’s name--ought
to be informed, and, indeed, consulted as to any step we take.”

“A model of discreet reserve you certainly are!” said Sir Within,
smiling graciously. “You will write to him, therefore, and say that
Miss Kate O’Hara is, for the time being, under the roof of one of her
guardians, Sir Within Wardle, preparatory to her being sent to a school
at Paris. You may, if you think it advisable, ask him for a formal
acquiescence to our plan, and if he should desire it, add, he may come
over here and see her. I suspect, Mr. M’Kinlay, we cannot possibly be
called on to carry out the illusion of relationship beyond this.”

“But he is her grandfather; I assure you he is.”

“I believe whatever Mr. M’Kinlay asks me to believe. With the inner
convictions which jar against my credulity, you shall have no cause of
complaint, Sir; they are, and they shall be, inoperative. To prove this,
I will beg of you to enclose ten pounds on my part to this old peasant,
in case he should like to come over here.”

“I am sure Sir Gervais will be deeply obliged by all your kindness in
this matter.”

“It is my pleasure and my duty both.”

“What a rare piece of fortune it was for her, that made you her
guardian.”

“Only one of them, remember, and that I am now acting, per force,
without my colleague. I own, Mr. M’Kinlay, I am red tapist enough not to
like all this usurped authority, but you have tied me up to secresy.”

“Not I, Sir Within. It was Sir Gervais who insisted on this.”

“I respect his wishes, for perhaps I appreciate their necessity. You
see some sort of objection to my plan, Mr. M’Kinlay?” said the old
diplomatist, with a cunning twinkle of the eye. “What is it?”

“None, Sir, none whatever,” said the lawyer, rapidly.

“Yes, yes, you do; be candid, my dear Mr. M’Kinlay. What we say to each
other here will never figure in a Blue-book.”

“I did not see a positive objection, Sir Within; I only saw what might
be an embarrassment.”

“In what shape?”

“I am completely in your hands, Sir Within Wardle; but such is my
confidence in you, I will not withhold anything. Here is the difficulty
I speak of: Miss Courtenay, who never favoured the project about this
girl, likes it now less than ever, and I do not feel quite certain that
she will be satisfied with any arrangement short of sending her back to
the obscurity she came from.”

“I can understand and appreciate that wish on her part, but then there
is no need that I should suspect it, Mr. M’Kinlay. The habits of my
profession have taught me to bear many things in mind without seeming to
act upon the knowledge. Now, the shelter that I purpose to afford this
young lady need not excite any mistrust. You will tell Sir Gervais that
the arrangement met with your approval. That it was, in your opinion,
the best of the alternatives that offered, and that Sir Within Wardle
has, on the present occasion, a double happiness afforded him--he
obliges friends whom he values highly, and he consults his own personal
gratification.”

In the last few words the old envoy had resumed a tone familiar to him
in the days when he dictated despatches to a secretary, and sent off
formal documents to be read aloud to dignitaries great and potent as
himself; and Mr. M’Kinlay was duly impressed thereat.

“In all that relates to Mr. Luttrell I am to rely upon you, Sir,” said
Sir Within, and Mr. M’Kinlay bowed his acquiescence. “I am certain that
you smile at my excess of formality,” continued the old minister. “These
particularities are second nature to us;” and it was clear as he said
“us,” that he meant an order whose ways and habits it would be a
heresy to dispute. “If you will not take more wine, let us go into the
drawing-room. A drawing-room without ladies, Mr. M’Kinlay,” said he,
with a sigh; “but, perhaps, one of these days--who knows?--we may be
fortunate enough to receive you here more gracefully.”

Mr. M’Kinlay, in any ordinary presence, would have responded by one of
those little jocose pleasantries which are supposed to be fitting on
such occasions; he had tact enough, however, to perceive that Sir Within
would not have been the man for a familiarity of this sort, so he merely
smiled, and bowed a polite concurrence with the speech.

“It will be as well, perhaps, if I wrote a few lines to Mademoiselle
Heinzleman, and also to Miss O’Hara herself, and if you will excuse me
for a few minutes, I will do so.”

The old minister despatched his two notes very speedily, and, with
profuse assurances of his “highest consideration,” he took leave of the
lawyer, and sat down to ruminate over their late conversation, and the
step he had just taken.

Mr. M’Kinlay, too, meditated as he drove homewards, but not with all
that clearness of intellect he could usually bestow upon a knotty point.
Like most men in his predicament, to be puzzled was to be angered, and
so did he inveigh to himself against “that crotchety old humbug, with
his mare’s nest of a secret marriage.” Not but there was-a “something
somewhere,” which he, M’Kinlay, would certainly investigate before he
was many weeks older. “Miss Georgina’s manner to me used to undergo very
strange vacillations--very strange ones indeed. Yes, there was something
‘in it’--surely something.”

While Kate O’Hara was still sleeping the next morning, Ada hurried into
her room, and threw her arms around her, sobbing bitterly, as the hot
tears ran down her cheeks. “Oh, Kate, my own dear, darling Kate, what is
this dreadful thing I have just heard? Lisette has just told me that she
is not to pack your clothes--that you are not coming with me abroad.”

Kate raised herself on one arm, and pushed back her hair from her
brow, her large eyes wearing for an instant the meaningless look of one
suddenly awakened from sleep.

“Do you hear me--do you know what I am saying, dearest?” asked Ada, as
she kissed her, and drew her towards her.

“Tell it me again,” said she, in a low, distinct voice.

“Lisette says that Mademoiselle has orders--from whom I cannot say--that
you are to remain in England, to go to a school, or to live with a
governess, or to return to Ireland, or something; but whatever it is,
that we are to be separated.” And again her grief burst forth and choked
her words.

“I knew this would come one day,” said Kate, slowly, but without any
touch of emotion. “It was a caprice that took me, and it is a caprice
that deserts me.”

“Oh, don’t say that, Kate, of my own dear papa, who loves you almost as
he loves me!”

“I can have nothing but words of gratitude for him, Ada, and for your
mother.”

“You mean, then----”

“No matter what I mean, my sweet Ada. It may be, after all, a mercy.
Who is to say whether, after another year of this sort of life, its
delicious happiness should have so grown into my nature that it would
tear my very heart-strings to free myself from its coils? Even now,
there were days when I forgot I was a peasant girl, without home, or
friends, or fortune.”

“Oh, Kate, you will break my heart if you speak this way!”

“Well, then, to talk more cheerfully. Will not that pretty hat yonder,
with the long blue feather, look wondrous picturesque, as I follow the
goats up the steep sides of Inchegora? and will not that gauzy scarf be
a rare muffle as I gather the seaweed below the cliffs of Bengore?”

“Kate, Kate!” sobbed Ada, “how cruel you are! You know, too, that dear
papa does not mean this. It is not to hardship and privation he would
send you.”

“But there are reverses, Ada, a hundred times worse than any change of
food or dress. There are changes of condition that seem to rend one’s
very identity. Here, I had respect, attention, deference, and now, I go,
Heaven knows where, to render these tributes to Heaven knows whom. Tell
me of yourself, my sweet Ada. It is a far brighter theme to dwell on.”

“No, no; not if I must part with you,” said she, sobbing; “but you
will write to me, my own darling Kate? We shall write to each other
continually till we meet again?”

“If I may. If I be permitted,” said Kate, gravely.

“What do you--what can you mean?” cried Ada, wildly. “You speak as
though some secret enemy were at work to injure you here, where you have
found none but friends who love you.”

“Don’t you know, my dear Ada, that love, like money, has a graduated
coinage, and that what would be a trifle to the rich man, would make
the wealth of a poor one? The love your friends bear me is meted out
by station; mind, dearest, I’m not complaining of this. Let us talk of
Italy, rather; how happy you ought to be there!”

“If I but had you, my own dearest----”

“There, I hear Mademoiselle coming. Bathe your eyes, dear Ada; or,
better still, run away before she sees you.”

Ada took this last counsel; but scarcely had she left by one door, than
Mademoiselle entered by another.



CHAPTER XXXI. DERRYVARAGH

A dreary day of December it was, and the rain was pouring heavily,
pitilessly down in the dark gorge of Derryvaragh. The roar of mountain
rivulets, swollen to torrents, filled the air, and the crashing sounds
of falling timber blended with the noise of troubled waters. Beautiful
as that landscape would be on a day of bright sunshine, it seemed now
the dreariest scene the eye could rest on. The clouds lay low on the
mountain-sides, thickening the gloom that spread around, while yellow
currents of water crossed and re-crossed on every side, rending the
earth, and laying bare the roots of tall trees.

From a window in O’Rorke’s inn, O’Rorke himself and old Malone watched
the devastation and ruin of the flood; for even there, in that
wild region forgotten of men, there were little patches of
cultivation--potato-gardens and small fields of oats or rye--but through
which now the turbid water tore madly, not leaving a trace of vegetation
as it went.

“And so you saw the last of it?” said O’Rorke, as he lit his pipe and
sat down at the window.

“I did; there wasn’t one stone on another as I came by. The walls were
shaky enough before, and all the mortar washed out of them, so that when
the stream came down in force, all fell down with a crash like thunder;
and when I turned round, there was nothing standing as high as your
knee, and in five minutes even that was swept away, and now it’s as bare
as this floore.”

“Now, mind my words, Peter Malone; as sure as you stand there, all the
newspapers will be full of ‘Another Outrage--More Irish Barbarism and
Stupidity.’ That will be the heading in big letters; and then underneath
it will go on: ‘The beautiful Lodge that Sir Gervais Vyner had recently
built in the Gap of Derryvaragh was last night razed to the ground by a
party of people who seem determined that Ireland should never rise out
of the misery into which the ignorance of her natives have placed her.’
That’s what they’ll say, and then the _Times_ will take it up, and we’ll
have the old story about benefactor on one side, and brutality on the
other; and how, for five hundred years’ and more, England was trying to
civilise us, and that we’re as great savages now--ay, or worse--than at
first.”

Malone clasped his worn hands together, and muttered a deep curse in
Irish below his breath.

“And all our own fault,” continued O’Rorke, oratorically. “‘Who would be
free, themselves must strike the blow.’ I said that on Essex Bridge to
the Lord-Lieutenant himself; and look at me now--is it here, or is it
this way, a patriot ought to be?”

“Isn’t it the same with us all?” said Malone, sternly. “Didn’t they take
my grandchild away from me--the light of my eyes--and then desart her?”

“No such thing--she’s better off than ever she was. She’s living with
a man that never was in Ireland, and, mind what I say, Peter Malone,
them’s the only kind of English you ever get any good out of.”

“What do you mane?”

“I mane that when one or two of us go over there, we’re sure to be
thought cute and intelligint; and the Saxon says, ‘Isn’t it wonderful
what a clever people they are?’ But if he comes here himself, and sees
nothing but misery and starvation, he cries ont, ‘They’re hopeless
craytures--they live with the pig.’”

“And why wouldn’t we, if we had one?”

“Well, well, well,” muttered the other, who never minded nor heeded the
interruption, “maybe the time is coming, maybe the great day is near.
Don’t you know the song of the ‘Shamroge in my Hat?’”

“I ne’er heerd it.”

     “The little I care for Emancipation,
     The little I want such laws as that;
     What I ask is, Ould Ireland to be a nation,
     And myself with a shamroge in my hat.”

“I wonder will the letter come to-day,” said the old man, with a weary
sigh; “my heart is heavy waiting for it.”

“If she sent you a ten-pound note, Peter Malone, whenever she wrote,
there would be some sense and reason in your wishing for a letter; but,
so well as I remember the one scrap of a letter she sent you, there was
neither money nor money’s worth in it.”

“It was betther than goold to my heart,” said Malone, with a deep
feeling in his voice and look.

“Well, there, it’s coming now; there’s Patsey holding up a letter in his
hand. Do you see him at the ford, there?”

“I don’t see him, my eyes are so weak; but are ye sure of it, Tim
O’Rorke? Don’t decave me, for the love of the blessed Virgin.”

“I’m not deceiving you; there’s the boy coming along as fast as he can.”

“Ay, but the letter?”

“He flourished it a minute ago, this way, for he saw me at the window.”

“Open the window and maybe, he’d show it again,” said the old man,
trembling with eagerness.

“Faix! I’ll not let the rain in! It’s a nice day to have the windows
open. You’re eaten up with your selfishness, Peter Malone!”

“Maybe I am, maybe I am,” muttered the old peasant, as he sat down, and
hid his face between his hands.

“And who knows where the letter will be from? Maybe its Vyner is going
to turn you out of your holding.”

“So he may,” sighed the other, meekly.

“Maybe it’s the agents callin’ on you to pay up for the time you were in
it. Do you think that would be convanient, eh?”

“I don’t care, if they did.”

“I wouldn’t wonder if it was trouble you were getting in about throwing
down the walls of the Lodge. The police, they say, made a report about
it.”

“So they may; let them do their worst.”

“Go round to the back. Do you think I’ll open the front doore of a
day like this?” screamed out O’Rorke to the messenger, who now stood
without.

While he went to unbar the door, Old Malone dropped on his knees, and
with clasped hands and uplifted eyes muttered a few words of prayer;
they were in Irish, but their intense passion and fervour were but
increased by the strong-sounding syllables of that strange tongue.

“There it is--from herself,” said O’Rorke, throwing down the letter on
the table. “Her own handwriting; ‘Mr. Peter Malone, to the care of Mr.
O’Rorke, Vinegar Hill, Cush-ma-greena, Ireland.’”

“The heavens be your bed, for the good news, Tim O’Rorke! May the Virgin
watch over you for the glad heart you’ve given me this day.”

“Wait till we see the inside of it, first. Give it to me till I open
it.” But the old man could not part with it so easily, but held it
pressed hard to his lips.

“Give it here,” said the other, snatching it rudely; “maybe you’ll not
be so fond of it, when you know the contents.”

The old man rocked to and fro in his agitation as O’Rorke broke the
seal; the very sound of the wax, as it smashed, seemed to send a pang
through him, as he saw the rough, unfeeling way the other handled that
precious thing.

“It’s long enough, anyhow, Peter--one, two, three pages,” said he,
turning them leisurely over. “Am I to read it all?”

“Every word of it, Tim O’Rorke.”

“Here goes, then:

[Illustration: 271]

“‘March 27,18--.

Dalradem Castle, N. Wales.

“‘My dear old Grandfather,--I sit down to write you a very long
letter---’”

“God bless her! God bless the darlin’!” said the old man, interrupting;
“show me the words, Tim--show them to me.”

“Indeed I will not do any such thing. It’s just as much as I’ll do is to
read it out--‘a very long letter, and I hope and trust it will serve
for a very long time, and save me, besides, from the annoyance of your
friend and secretary, Mr. O’Rorke.’ Listen to this, Peter Malone,--‘from
your secretary, Mr. O’Rorke, who, I suppose, having no treason to occupy
him, is good enough to bestow his leisure upon me.’ Did you ever hear
more impudence than that in all your born days? Did you believe she’d be
bowld enough to insult the man that condescended to serve her?”

“She’s young, she’s young, Tim! Would you have her as wise as you and
me? The crayture!”

“I’d have her with a civil tongue in her head. I’d have her respect and
regard and rev’rahce her superiors--and I’m one of them!”

“Go on; read more,” muttered the old man.

“It’s not so easy, with a throat on fire, and a tongue swelled with
passion. I tell you, Peter Malone, I know that girl well, and what’s
more, she never deceived me! It’s like yesterday to me, the day she
stood up here to my own face and said, ‘I wish I never set foot in your
house, Tim O’Rorke.’ Yes, there’s the very words she used.”

“Wasn’t she a child, a poor little child?” said Malone, in a humble,
almost supplicating voice.

“She was a child in years, but she had the daring of a woman, that no
man would ever frighten.”

“Read on, avick, read on, and God bless you,” said the other, wiping
away the big drops that stood on his brow.

O’Rorke read on: “‘I know, grandfather, it is very natural you should
like to hear of me----’”

A deep sigh and low muttered prayer broke here from the old man.

“‘--to hear of me: but when once assured that I was well and happy, I
hoped and believed you would cease to make such inquiries as fill O’R.’s
letters----’”

“What does she mean?” broke in Malone.

“Listen, and maybe you’ll hear;” and he read:

“‘--for it cannot possibly be a matter of interest to you to hear that
I read books you never saw, speak with people you never met, and talk
of things, places, and persons that are all just as strange to you as if
you were walking on a different earth from this.’”

“Read that again.”

“I will not. ‘Tis as much as I can to say it once. Listen:

“‘You ask, Am I happy? and I answer, If I am not, is it in your power to
make me so? You want to know, Do I like the life I lead? and I ask you,
If it should be that I did not like it, do you think I’d like to go back
to rags, misery, and starvation? Do you believe that I can forget the
cold, cutting wind, and the rain, and the snow-drift of Strathmore,
or that I don’t remember the long days I shivered on the cliffs of
Kilmacreenon? They all come back to me, grandfather, in my dreams, and
many a morning I awake, sobbing over miseries, that, no matter what may
be my fortune, have left a dark spot on my heart for life!’”

“The darlin’ jewel! I hope not,” muttered Malone, as his lips trembled
with emotion. “Read on, O’Rorke.”

“‘Take it for granted, that you need never fret about me.’ That’s true,
anyhow, Peter; and she means it to say, ‘Don’t bother yourself about one
that will never trouble her head about _you!_’”

“Go on with the readin’,” grumbled out Malone.

“‘Though I cannot answer one-fourth of your questions, I will tell you
so much: I am better off here than at Sir Q. V.’s. I am my own
mistress; and, better still, the mistress of all here. Sir Within leaves
everything at my orders. I drive out, and dress, and ride, and walk,
just as I please. We see no company whatever, but there is so much to
do, I am never lonely. I have masters if I wish for them--sometimes I
do--and I learn many things, such as riding, driving, &c, which people
never do well if they only have picked up by chance opportunity. You
ask, What is to be the end of all this? or, as Mr. O’Rorke says, What
will ye make of it? I reply, I don’t know, and I don’t much trouble
my head about it; because I _do_ know, Peter Malone, that if I am
not interrupted and interfered with, all will go well with me, though
certainly I can neither tell how, or where, or why. Another thing is
equally clear: neither of us, dear grandfather, can be of much use to
the other.’”

“What’s that?” cried the old man; “read it again.”

“‘Neither of us can be of much use to the other.’ That’s plain talking,
anyhow, Peter. She’s a young lady that makes herself understood, I must
say that!”

“I never ‘dragged’ on her for a farthin’,” said Malone, with a mournful
sigh.

“Lucky for you, Peter; lucky for you!”

“Nor I wouldn’t, if I was starvin’!” said he, with a fierce energy.

“Lucky for you, I say again!”

“You mane, that she wouldn’t help me, Tim O’Rorke. You mane, that she’d
turn her back on her ould grandfather. That’s as it may be. God knows
best what’s in people’s hearts! I can’t tell, nor you either; but this
I can tell, and I can swear to it: That for all the good she could do
me--ten, ay, fifty times told--I’d not disgrace her, nor bring her to
the shame of saying, ‘That ould man there in the ragged frieze coat and
the patched shoes, that’s my mother’s father!’”

“If it’s to your humility you’re trusting, Peter, my man,” said the
other, scoffingly, “you’ve made a great mistake in your granddaughter;
but let us finish the reading. Where was it I left off? Yes, here,
‘Neither of us of much use to the other. You want to know what
intercourse exists between the Vyners and myself----’ The Vyners! Ain’t
we grand!” cried O’Rorke. “The Vyners! I wonder she don’t say, ‘between
the Vyners and the O’Haras!’”

“Go on, will you?” said Malone, impatiently.

“‘--It is soon told--there is none; and what’s more, Sir Within no
longer hears from or writes to them. Although, therefore, my own
connexion with this family has ceased, there is no reason why this
should influence yours; and I would, above all things, avoid, if I were
you, letting _my_ fortunes interfere with _your_ own. You can, and with
truth, declare that you had nothing whatever to do with any step I have
taken; that I went my own way, and never asked you for the road. My
guardian, Sir Within, wrote, it is true, to Mr. Luttrell of Arran, but
received no answer. It will be my duty to write to him in a few days,
and not improbably with the same result.

“‘You seem anxious to know if I have grown tall, and whether I am still
like what I was as a child. I believe I may say, Yes, to both questions;
but I shall send you, one of these days, a sketch from a picture of me,
which the painter will this year exhibit at the Academy. It is called a
great likeness. And last of all, you ask after my soul. I am sorry,
dear grandfather, that I cannot be as certain of giving you as precise
intelligence on this point as I have done on some others. It may satisfy
you, however, perhaps, if I say I have not become a Protestant----’”

“God bless her for that!” said Malone, fervently.

“‘--although our excellent housekeeper here, Mrs. Simcox, assures me
that such a change would be greatly to my advantage, in this world and
in that to come; but if her knowledge of the former is the measure of
what she knows of the latter, I shall require other counsel before I
read my recantation.’”

“What does she mean by that?” asked Malone.

“‘‘Tis another way of saying, ‘I won’t play a card till I see the money
down on the table.’”

“How can that be? Which of us knows what’s going to happen here or in
the next world?”

“Maybe the Protestants does! Perhaps that’s the reason they’re always so
dark and downcast now.”

Malone shook his head in despair; the problem was too much for him, and
he said, “Read on.”

“‘That I am not without the consolations of the Church you will be glad
to hear, as I tell you that a French priest, the Abbé Gerard, dines here
every Sunday, and sings with me in the evening.’”

“Sings with her. What makes them sing?”

“Religion, of coorse,” said O’Rorke, with a grin of derision. “Listen to
me, Peter Malone,” cried he, in a stern voice; “when people is well off
in the world, they no more think of going to heaven the way you and I
do, than they’d think of travellin’ a journey on a low-backed car.”

“Go on with the reading,” muttered Malone.

“I have read enough of it, Peter Malone. You are cute enough to see by
this time what a fine-hearted, generous, loving creature you have for
a granddaughter. At all events, the dose you’ve taken now, ought to
be enough for a day. So put up the physic”--here he handed him the
letter--“and whenever you feel in want of a little more, come back, and
I’ll measure it out for you!”

“You’re a hard man, you’re a hard man, Mr. O’Rorke,” said the old
fellow, as he kissed the letter twice fervently, and then placed it in
his bosom.

“I’m a hard man because I read you out her own words, just as she wrote
them.”

“You’re a hard man, or you’d not want to crush one as old and feeble as
me!” And so saying, he went his way.



CHAPTER XXXII. MR. M’KINLAY IN ITALY

As there are periods in life, quiet and tranquil periods, in which the
mind reverts to the past, and dwells on bygones, so in story-telling
there are little intervals in which a brief retrospect is pardonable,
and it is to one of these I would now ask my reader’s attention.

There was not anything very eventful in Mr. M’Kinlay’s journey across
Europe with Ada and her governess. They met with no other adventures
than occur to all travellers by land or by water; but on arriving at
Marseilles, a letter from Lady Vyner apprised them that Sir Gervais
was slightly indisposed, and requested Mr. M’Kinlay would complete his
kindness by giving them his company and protection as far as Genoa, at
a short distance from which city, and in one of those little sheltered
nooks of the Riviera, they had now established themselves in a villa.

It is but truthful to own, that the lawyer did not comply with this
request either willingly or gracefully. He never liked the Continent, he
was an indifferent linguist, he detested the cookery, and fancied
that the wines poisoned him. Mademoiselle Heinzleman, too, was fussy,
meddling, and officious, presuming, at least he thought so, on being in
an element more her own. And as for Ada, grief at separating from Kate
had made her so indifferent and apathetic, that she neither enjoyed the
journey or took any interest in the new scenes and objects around her.
Mr. M’Kinlay, therefore, was in no mood to proceed farther; he was tired
of it all. But, besides this, he was not quite certain that he had done
the right thing by placing Kate O’Hara at Dalradern; or that in so doing
he had carried out the very vague instructions of Miss Courtenay. Not
that the lawyer saw his way at all in the whole affair. The absurd
suspicions of the old envoy about some secret contract, or marriage,
or some mysterious bond, he could afford to deride; but, unhappily,
he could not as easily forget, and some doubts--very ungenerous and
ungallant doubts they were--would cross his mind, that Miss Georgina
Courtenay’s favour to himself, in some way or other, depended on the
changeful fortunes of some other “issue,” of which he knew nothing. “She
means to accept me if she can get nothing better,” was the phrase that
he found on his lips when he awoke, and heard himself muttering as he
dropped off asleep at night; and, after all, the consideration was
not either reassuring or flattering. Middle-aged gentlemen, even with
incipient baldness and indolent “proclivities,” do not fancy being
consigned to the category of “last resorts.” They fancy--Heaven help
them!--that they have their claims on regard, esteem, and something
stronger too; and doubtless the delusion has its influence in fighting
off, for a year or two, the inevitable admission that they have dropped
out of the “van” into that veteran battalion which furnishes no more
guards of honour at the Temple of Venus, nor even a sentinel at the
gate. Very ungallant little sums in arithmetic, too, used he to work
about Georgina’s age; and it would seem strange to younger men the
anxiety he felt to give her a year or two more than she had a right to.
“I’m not sure she’s not nearer thirty-five than thirty-two,” muttered
he, ill naturedly, to himself. “Rickards said, one night, she was older
than her sister, though the old rascal took care to come and tell me
in the morning that it was a mistake.” And then, by subtracting this
thirty-five from another arbitrary sum, he obtained a result apparently
satisfactory, being, as he termed it, the proper difference of age
between man and wife! Why will not men, in their zeal for truth, take
“evidence for the defence” occasionally, and ask a woman’s opinion on.
this subject?

They arrived at last at the Villa Balbi, a grand old palace on the
sea-side, where ruin and splendour were blended up together, and
statues, and fountains, and frescoes struggled for the mastery over a
rank growth of vegetation, that seemed to threaten enclosing the whole
place in a leafy embrace. Into the deep arches that supported the
terrace, the blue Mediterranean flowed with that noiseless motion of
this all but tideless sea. All was silent as they drove up to the gate,
for they had not been expected before the morrow-. Scarcely was the door
opened than Ada sprung out and disappeared up the stairs, followed as
well as she might by the governess. Mr. M’Kinlay was then left alone,
or, at least, with no other companionship than some three or four
servants, whose attempts at English were by no means successful.

“Ah, Miller, I’m glad to see _your_ face at last,” said the lawyer,
as Sir Gervais’s valet pushed his way through the crowd; “how are all
here?”

“Sir Gervais has had a bad night, Sir, and we were expecting the doctor
every moment. Indeed, when I heard your carriage, I thought it was he
had come.”

“Not seriously ill, I hope?”

“Not that, perhaps, Sir; but the doctor calls it a very slow fever, and
requiring great care and perfect quiet. He is not to know when Miss Ada
arrives.”

“And the ladies, are they well?”

“My Lady’s greatly tired and fatigued, Sir, of course; but Miss
Courtenay is well. She was just giving directions about your room, Sir.
She said, ‘If Mr. M’Kinlay should be afraid of this fever, you can take
him down to the fattore’s house, and make him up a room there.’”

“Is it a fever then, Miller, a real fever?”

“They call it so, Sir.”

“This is all that’s wanting,” muttered M’Kinlay to himself. “I only
need to catch some confounded disorder, now, to make this the most happy
exploit of my whole life! Where is this house you speak of?”

“At the foot of the hill, Sir, where you saw the clump of evergreen
oaks.”

“Why, it was a dirty-looking hovel, with Indian corn hung all over it.”

“Well, Sir, it ain’t very clean to look at, but it’s not so bad inside,
and you can be sure of a comfortable bed.”

“I don’t see why I am to stop at all. I have seen Miss Ada safe to her
own door; I really cannot perceive that anything more is required of
me,” said he to himself, as he walked up and down the terrace.

“You’d like to eat something, perhaps, Sir? Supper is ready whenever you
wish it.”

“Yes, I’ll eat a morsel; I was very hungry half an hour ago, but all
this tidings of illness and infection has driven away my appetite. A
vast roomy old place this appears,” said he, as he followed the serrant
across a hall spacious as a public square, into a salon large enough to
be a church.

“We have five like this, Sir; and on the other floor there is one still
larger and loftier.”

“How long are you here?” said the lawyer, abruptly, for he was not at
all in love with the mansion.

“We shall be two months here on Tuesday, and her Ladyship likes it so
much, Sir Gervais means to buy it.”

“Well, I hope I shall not be much more than two hours in it. Let me have
something to eat, and order fresh horses at the post.”

“You’ll see my Lady, I suppose, Sir?”

“Of course, if she can receive me; but I will just send up a line on my
card to say that my departure at once is imperatively necessary.”

Few as the words were that were required to convey this message, Mr.
M’Kinlay could scarcely write them in a legible way. He was nervously
afraid of an illness; but the thought of a foreign malady--a fever of
some outlandish type--was a terror as great as the attack of a savage
animal, of whose instinct and ways he knew nothing. All the speculations
which had filled his head as he came along the road, were routed at
once. Love-making and marriage were all very well, but they might be
purchased too dearly. A dowry that was only to be won by facing a
fever, was a sorry speculation. No! he would have none of such
dangerous ambitions. He had gone through enough already--he had braved
shipwreck--and if needs were that he must resign the agency, better that
than resign life itself.

Not even the appetising supper that was now spread before him, could
dispel these gloomy thoughts. He was half afraid to eat, and he could
not be sure that wine was safe under the present circumstances.

“My Lady hoped to see you in the morning, Sir,” said the valet. “She has
just lain down, having been up last night with Sir Gervais.”

“I am extremely sorry! I am greatly distressed! But it is impossible
for me to defer my departure. I will explain it all by a letter. Just
unstrap that writing-desk, and I will write a few lines. You ordered the
horses, I hope?”

“Yes, Sir; they will be at the door by ten o’clock.”

“Miss Courtenay knows I am here, I suppose?” said M’Kinlay, in a tone of
well put-on indifference, as he opened his writing-desk and arranged his
papers.

“I don’t know, indeed, Sir; but she has the governess in her room with
her, and perhaps she has heard it from her.”

Mr. M’Kinlay bit his lip with impatience; he was vexed, and he was
angry. Nor altogether was it unreasonable; he had come a long journey,
at considerable inconvenience, and at a time he could be ill-spared
from his clients; he had undergone fatigue and annoyance--the sort of
annoyance which, to men who dislike the Continent, is not a trifling
matter--and here he was now, about to set out again without so much as
a word of thanks, not even a word of acknowledgment. What were they, or
what was he, to justify such treatment? This was the somewhat irritating
query to which all his self-examination reverted. “Am I a lacquey!”
 cried he, as he threw down his pen in a passionate outburst that
completely overcame him. “I suppose they think I am a lacquey!” and he
pushed back from the table in disgust.

“Miss Courtenay, Sir, would be pleased to see you in the drawing-room,
Sir, whenever it was convenient,” said a thin-looking damsel of
unmistakably English mould.

“I will wait upon her now,” said Mr. M’Kinlay, with the severe accents
of an injured and indignant man. In fact, he spoke like one whose coming
might be supposed to evoke sentiments of trepidation, if not of awe; and
yet, after he had uttered the words, he fussed and pottered amongst
his papers, arranging and settling, and undoing, in a way that to any
shrewder observer than the Abigail, would have discovered a mind not by
any means so bent upon peremptory action as he had assumed to bespeak.

“Will you show me the way?” said he, at last, as he locked up the
writing-desk, and now followed her through room after room, till the
girl stopped at a door and knocked gently. No answer was returned, and
she repeated the summons, on which the maid opened the door, saying, “If
you’ll step inside, Sir, I’ll tell my mistress you are here;” and Mr.
M’Kinlay entered into what his first footstep informed him was a lady’s
boudoir. It was a small room, opening on a terrace by two windows, which
were thrown wide, filling the chamber with the odour of orange-flowers
to a degree positively oppressive. An alabaster lamp was the only light,
and served merely to throw a sort of faint sunset-glow over the room,
which seemed filled with cabinet pictures and statuettes, and had an
easel in one corner with an unfinished sketch in oils upon it. The
perfume of orange and magnolia was so overcoming that the lawyer moved
out upon the terrace, which descended by a flight of marble steps into
the sea. He sat down on these to inhale the fresh night air, for already
his head was beginning to feel confused and addled by the strong odours.

He had not been many minutes there, when he heard the rustle of a lady’s
dress close to him, and before he could arise, Miss Courtenay moved
forward and sat down beside him.

“How are you, Mr. M’Kinlay?” said she, giving him her hand cordially. “I
have come to thank you for all your care of Ada, and your kindness to us
all.”

These very simple words were delivered with a most winning grace of look
and manner. No wonder if he forgot all his irritation of a few moments
before; no wonder if in the very unexpectedness of this pleasure, he
felt somewhat confused; and it but needed that starlight hour, that
perfumed air, that murmuring sea, and the light gauzy veil, which in
Genoese mode Georgina wore in her hair, and which now floated carelessly
half across his arm, to make Mr. M’Kinlay think this one of the happiest
moments of his life.

After a few questions about the journey and its incidents, she went on
to tell him of themselves, in that tone of easy confidence people use
with their nearest friends. “It was a somewhat sad house,” she said, “he
had come to. Gervais”--she called him Gervais--“had caught one of those
low fevers of the country, and her mother was still very poorly. Her
sister, however, had benefited by the climate, and this it was that
decided them on remaining abroad. You knew, of course, that Gervais
intends to buy this villa?”

“No; he had not heard of it.”

“Nor that he has given up his seat in the House, and retired from public
life?”

“Nor that either had he heard.”

“Well, of course he means to tell you all now that he has got you out
here. You will be such a comfort to him, Mr. M’Kinlay; he was longing to
see an old friend again.”

Mr. M’Kinlay’s ears tingled with delight, and his heart throbbed high
with hope, but he could only mutter out something that sounded like
acknowledgment.

“He has so much to ask you about, besides,” she went on. “Mamma wants
him to let his Wiltshire house for some years, and so retrench a little,
for you know he has been rather extravagant lately.”

“I have ventured on an occasional remonstrance myself, though not
without feeling what a liberty I was taking.”

“A liberty! Surely, my dear Mr. M’Kinky, the kind solicitude of
friendship is not a liberty. Then there have been some mines--lead or
copper, I forget which, and I don’t well remember whether in South Wales
or Sardinia--but they have not turned out well.”

“Very badly, indeed, Miss Courtenay; the shares are at thirty-two, and
falling still.”

“Yes; he will have to talk over all these things with you; but not for
some days, of course, for he is very weak and low.”

“You don’t seem to know, then,” said he, with a smile, “that I am going
off to-night; my horses are ordered for ten o’clock.”

“Impossible! Why, we have not seen you yet; surely, Mr. M’Kinlay, you
couldn’t leave this without seeing Gervais and my sister?” There was a
reproachful tenderness in her look, and mingled expression of wounded
sensibility and shame at its being confessed, that gave some trouble
to the lawyer’s heart; for there rankled in that crafty old heart some
memories of the conversation at Dalradern; and, in his distrust-fulness,
he would ask himself, “What does this mean?”

“Come, Mr. M’Kinlay, say this is only a threat; do confess it was only
meant to terrify.”

“Oh, Miss Georgina, you cannot attach such interest to my presence here,
as to speak of my departure in terms like these!”

“I don’t know how others think of these things,” said she, with a sort
of pouting air, “but, for my own part, I cling very closely to old
friendships.”

[Illustration: 283]

Had Mr. M’Kinlay been some twenty years younger, he would, doubtless,
have seized on the moment to make a declaration. The conjuncture
promised well, and he would not have lost it; but Mr. M’Kinlay had
arrived at the time of life in which men are more prone to speculate
on the consequences of failure than on the results of success, and
when they never address them to jump over the narrowest ditch without a
thought of the terrible splashing they shall get if they fall in, and,
worse even than the wetting, the unsympathising comments of a malicious
public.

“What is Mr. M’Kinlay pondering over so deeply?” said Georgina, as she
turned her eyes full upon him; and very effective eyes they were at such
a range.

“I can scarcely tell; that is, I don’t well know now to tell,” said he,
trying to screw up his courage.

“Mr. M’Kinlay has a secret, I’m certain,” said she, with a winning
coquetry she was quite mistress of.

That look she gave--it-was a long-dwelling look as though she had half
forgotten, to take away her eyes, for ladies will sometimes fire after
the enemy has struck--was too much for Mr. M’Kinlay; he forgot all
his prudential reserves, and said, “Has not every one his secret, Miss
Courtenay?”

“I suppose so,” said she, carelessly.

“Has not Miss Courtenay got one?” said he, leaning, forward, and trying
to catch her eyes; but she had dropped them too suddenly for him.

“Not that I’m aware of,” said she; and if he had been gifted with a nice
ear, he would have perceived: that a slight vibration marked the words
as they fell.

“By the way,” said M’Kinlay--a most unlucky à propos--“have I your
perfect approval in my arrangement for that young Irish lady--or
girl--Miss O’Hara?”

Now the words “by the way,” had so completely touched her to the quick,
that for an instant her face became crimson.

“If you will first of all tell me what the arrangements are,” said she,
with a forced calm, “perhaps I may be able to say if I like them.”

“Has Mademoiselle not told you anything?”

“Mademoiselle has told me, simply, that Mr. M’Kinlay assumed the whole
responsibility of the case, and neither counselled with her nor divulged
his intentions.”

“Ah, that was not quite fair; I really must say, that Mademoiselle did
not represent me as I think I merit. It was a sort of case perfectly
new to me. It was not very easy to see one’s way. I could not make out
whether you would all be better pleased by some costly arrangement for
the girl, or by having her sent straight back to where she came from.
The mystery that hung over----” he paused and stammered; he had said
what he had not intended, and he blundered in his attempt to recal it.
“I mean,” added he, “that mystery that the old diplomatist insists on
connecting with her.”

“As how?” said Georgina, in a low, soft voice, intensely insinuating in
its cadence--“as how?”

“It’s not very easy to say how, so much of what he said was vague, so
much hypothetical; and, indeed, so much that seemed----” He stopped,
confused, and puzzled how to go on.

“So that you had a long conversation together on this topic?”

“An entire evening. I dined with him alone, and we spoke of very little
else as we sat over our wine.”

“I wish you could remember what he said. Don’t you think you could recal
some at least of it?”

“I can’t say that I could, and for this reason: that he kept always
interpolating little traits of what he knew of life, and all his vast
and varied experiences of human nature. These sort of men are rather
given to this.”

“Are they?” asked she; and it was not easy to say whether her accents
implied a simple curiosity, or a dreamy indifference. Mr. M’Kinlay
accepted them in the former sense, and with some pomposity continued:

“Yes; I have frequently remarked this tone in them, as well as the
tendency to see twice as much in everything as it really contains.”

“Indeed!” said she, and now her voice unmistakably indicated one who
listened with eager attention to the words of wisdom. “Did he show this
tendency on the occasion you speak of?”

“Markedly, most markedly. It is very strange that I cannot give you
a more accurate account of our interview; but he addled my head about
pictures and early art; and then, though always temperate, his wine was
exquisite. In fact, I carried away a most confused impression of all
that took place between us.”

“You remember, however, the arrangements that were settled on, What were
they?”

“The great point of all, the one you insisted on, I was, I may say,
peremptory upon.”

“Which was that?”

“That she should not come abroad; as I said to Sir Within: ‘We must
negotiate on this basis; here is Miss Courtenay’s letter, these are
her words;’ and I showed him the turn-down, only the turndown, of your
note.”

Had there been light enough to remark it, Mr. M’Kinlay would have seen
that Miss Courtenay’s face became deadly pale, and her lips trembled
with repressed anger.

“Well, and then?” said she, with a faint voice.

“He cut the Gordian knot at once, my dear Miss Courtenay,” continued he,
in a sort of sprightly tone; “he said, ‘There need be no difficulty in
the matter. I can act here _ex-officio_;’ he meant by that he was her
guardian. ‘I will write to her,’ said he, ‘and if she prefers to remain
here----’”

“Remain where?” gasped she out, with a great effort to seem calm and
composed.

“At Dalradern Castle, at his own house; if she likes this better than a
Paris pension, or an Irish cabin, it is quite at her service.”

“But, of course, you replied the thing was impossible; such an
arrangement couldn’t be. It would be indelicate, improper, indecent?”

“I didn’t say all that; but I hinted that as Sir Within was a bachelor,
there were difficulties----”

“Difficulties, Sir! What do you mean by difficulties? Is it possible
that one evening’s companionship with a person hardened by a long life
of ‘libertinage’ can have so warped your moral sense as to render you
blind to so obvious a shame as this?”

“He said his housekeeper----”

“His housekeeper! Am I to believe, Sir, that you listened to all this
with the patience with which you repeat it now, and that no feeling of
propriety roused you to an indignant rejection of such a scheme? Was his
Claret or his Burgundy so insinuating as this?”

“When he said housekeeper----”

“Pray, Sir, do not push my endurance beyond all limits. I have given a
very wide margin for the influence of Sir Within’s fascinations;
but, bear in mind, that the magnetism of his wit and his wine has not
extended to me.”

“If you want to imply, Miss Courtenay, that I was not in a condition to
judge of----.”

“Mr. M’Kinlay, I say nothing at any time by implication. People are
prone to call me too outspoken. What I say and what I mean to say
is this, that I cannot imagine a person of your intelligence calmly
listening to and concurring in such a project.”

“I am free to own I disliked it, and I distrusted it; the few words
that your brother’s butler, Rickards, said about this girl’s craft and
subtlety, the artful way she got round people, the study she made of the
tempers and tastes of those about her----”

“And with all this before you, with this knowledge fresh as it was in
your mind, you quietly sit down to agree to a plan which opens to these
very qualities a most dangerous field of exercise. What do you mean by
it? What do you intend? I can’t suppose,” said she, with a sneer, “you
contemplated her being Lady Wardle?”

“I certainly did not,” said he, with a sickly smile.

“Well, Sir, you have placed yourself in a position for malevolent people
to impute worse to you. Will you just tell me, who ever heard of such a
thing? Is there any country, any society ever tolerated it? This girl is
close on sixteen.”

“He asked particularly about her age,” said M’Kinlay, who was now so
confused, that he knew not well what he said.

And, simple as the words were, they seemed to pierce to her very heart,
for she sprang to her feet, and in a voice trembling with passion, said:

“I sincerely trust that you manage the material questions confided to
you with more ability and tact than you do matters of social interest,
and I can only say, Sir, it is the last occasion of this kind on which
you will be troubled with any commission from me.”

“I believed I was strictly carrying out your intentions. You said she
must not come abroad.”

“But I never said----” she stopped, and the crimson flush rose on her
face and covered her whole forehead. “Now mind me, Mr. M’Kinlay, and
remember, I do not intend that you should twice mistake my meaning,
my wish was, and is, that this girl should go back to the place, the
people, and the condition from which my brother, in a very ill-judging
hour, took her. I believed, and I believe, that her presence in any, the
most remote, connexion with our family, is fraught with inconvenience,
or worse--do you understand me so far?”

“I do,” said he, slowly.

“Well, with this strong conviction on my mind, I desire that she should
be sent home again; and I tell Mr. M’Kinlay now, that any favour he
cares for or values at my hands, depends on the success with which he
carries out this wish.”

“But how is this possible? What can I do?”

“That is for your consideration, Sir; you entangled the skein, you must
try if you cannot undo it. Lawyers, I have always heard, have resources
at their command common mortals never have dreamed of. You may discover
that Sir Within has no right to exercise this guardianship. You might
find out,” she smiled dubiously as she uttered the words, “that the
girl’s friends disapproved of this protection,--very humble people
occasionally are right-minded on these points,--you might find--how can
I tell what your ingenuity could not find--excellent reasons that she
should go back to Ireland and to the obscurity she should never have
quitted. I don’t doubt it may be hard to do this; but until I learn that
it is impossible, I will never consent to withdraw from Mr. M’Kinlay
that confidence with which his character and his abilities have ever
inspired me.”

“If the desire to win your favour Miss Courtenay----”

“No, no, Mr. M’Kinlay, that is not enough! We women are very practical,
if we are not very logical; we ask for success from those who aspire to
our good esteem.”

“To meet a difficulty, the first thing is to see where is the hitch!”
 said he, thoughtfully.

“I don’t believe that I apprehend you here. What is it that you mean?”

“I mean, Miss Courtenay, that it is only by learning very accurately
what are the reasons for this girl’s removal--what urgent necessity,
in fact, requires it--that I shall be likely to hit upon the means to
affect it.”

“Suppose it to be a caprice--a mere caprice!”

“In that case, I should be powerless.”

“I don’t mean an actual caprice,” said she, hurriedly, for she saw
her error; “but a sort of apprehension that this initial mistake of
my brother’s would lead to worse. Great unhappiness has been caused to
families by these connexions; the Irish are a very vindictive people,
Sir, if they thought, as they might think, some years hence, that we
should have discovered our blunder before. In short, Sir, I will not
turn special pleader to show what I wish and I insist on.”

“Do you think, if I were to remain here to-morrow, Sir Gervais would be
able to see me.”

“It is most improbable; I am certain the doctors would not consent to
it.”

“Nor even the next day, perhaps?”

“Just as unlikely; everything like business is strictly forbidden to
him.”

“Then I do not see why I should not start at once--now!”

“If I am to accept this as zeal to serve me,” said she, in a very sweet
accent, “I thank you sincerely.”

“Ah, Miss Courtenay, could you only guess with what ardour I would
apply myself to win your favour! If you had known how the very faintest
promise of that favour----”

“Mr. M’Kinlay,” said she, stopping him, and bestowing a very captivating
smile on him, “Mr. M’Kinlay belongs to a profession that never
stipulates for its reward!”

“Enough, my dear Miss Courtenay,” said he, and, in his enthusiasm, he
actually seized her hand and kissed it.

“Good-by,” said she, with a sort of maidenly impatience; “let me hear
from you soon.” And she left him.

That same night saw Mr. M’Kinlay wearily rumbling along the same way
he had lately travelled, very tired and very road-sick; but still there
burned in his heart a small flame of hope, a tiny light indeed, not
unlike one of the little lamps which from time to time he saw on the
wayside, throwing their sickly glare over some humble shrine.

Ah, M’Kinlay! if you could but have seen the hurried impatience with
which a cambric handkerchief was employed to efface, as it were, all
trace of that rapturous embrace, it might have rescued you from some
vain fancies, even though it made the road all the wearier and the
drearier.

A very few words more will complete our account of a retrospect that
has already grown longer than we wished. Mr. M’Kinlay’s first care on
reaching town, was to address a very carefully-worded and respectful
letter to Sir Within Wardle, stating that as the Vyner family had
not fully approved of what he, M’K., had done with regard to the
arrangements for Miss O’Hara, he hoped Sir Within would graciously name
an early day to receive him, and explain what were the plans which they
had fixed on for this young person, and by what means they purposed to
relieve him from a charge which could not be other than embarrassing.

The following was the reply he received by return of post:

“Dear Sir,--Sir Within Wardle has handed me your note, and directed
me to answer it. Perhaps this fact alone, and of itself, will be
a sufficient reply. It will at least serve to show that while I am
honoured by his entire confidence, I am not the cause of any such
embarrassment as you feelingly deplore.

“Sir Within sees nothing in his present arrangements which call for the
advice you are so kind as to offer, nor does he feel warranted in giving
you the inconvenience of a journey, whose results would be unprofitable.
Apart from this discussion, a visit from you would be always acceptable.

“Believe me, dear Sir, with every sense of esteem and respect, yours,

“Kate O’Hara.”

This short epistle, written in a bold but well-formed handwriting,
and sealed with the initials of the writer, M’Kinlay forwarded by the
night-mail to Miss Courtenay, and in due course received the following
three lines:

“Dear Sir,--It will not be necessary in future to impose any further
trouble on you in this matter. Sir Within Wardle, the young lady, and
yourself, are all admirable representatives of the orders you severally
pertain to.

“And I am, your faithful servant,

“Georgina Courtenay.”



CHAPTER XXXIII. SIR WITHIN AND HIS WARD

How time has slipped over since we were last here, in the midst of the
Welsh mountains! It is more than a year, but still wonderfully little
has gone on in that interval. The larch-trees at Dalradern have added
some palms to their stature, but the venerable oaks and elms disdain to
show by change the influence of so brief a period, and, in the same
way, it is in Kate alone--that plant of rapid growth--that we have much
alteration to mark.

What a change has been wrought in her! It is not merely that she has
grown into a tall and graceful girl, but that one by one the little
traits of her peasant origin have faded away, and she looks, and seems,
and carries herself with all the air of a high-born beauty. In her lofty
brow, her calm features, her manner, in which a quiet dignity
blends with a girlish grace, and, above all, in her voice singularly
sweet-toned as it was, might be read every sign of that station men
distinctively call the “best.”

Masters and professors of every kind had surrounded her, but she had a
sort of indolent activity in her disposition, which tended little to the
work of learning, while her quickness enabled her to pick up smatterings
of many things. But, as she said herself, Sir Within was her best
teacher. The old minister’s tact, his social readiness, his instinctive
seizure of the nice points of every situation,--these were the gifts
that had a special attraction for her; and while she was envying him
the charm of a manner that could captivate all, from the highest to the
humblest, she had actually acquired the gift and made it her own.

To recognise in her the traits on which he most prided himself, to see
in that lovely girl his pupil in the arts of society, to mark in her a
copyist of himself in the little tricks of manner and effect, was
the greatest of all flatteries; and he never wearied of watching her
repeating himself before him in a form so captivating and so graceful.

Although he had lost--and it was a loss he deplored--the friendly
intercourse with the Vyners, and although the neighbourhood more
strictly than ever quarantined him now, no representations nor
remonstrances could prevail upon him to send Kate to a school, or to
place her under other protection than his own. Innumerable were the
governesses who had come down to take charge of her; none, however,
remained long. Some alleged it was the solitude that oppressed them;
others averred that their pupil would submit to no discipline but such
as she liked, and that not alone the studies she would pursue, but even
the hours she would devote to them, should be at her own choosing.

And one or two took higher ground, and declared that the establishment
which contained an old bachelor and a very beautiful ward, was not in a
position to confront the criticisms of the world.

To such as have not known, or met with the class Sir Within pertained
to, it will perhaps seem incredible that the old rake actually felt
flattered by this attack on his reputation. All that he had ever known
of life was passed amongst people of admirable manners and very lax
morals. They were the best bred, the best informed, the best dressed,
and the pleasantest in the universe. Nowhere was life so easy and
agreeable as in their company; every one was kind, considerate, and
obliging; not a hard word was ever dropped. Who could be uncharitable
where all was tolerated? Who could be severe where everything was
pardoned?

It was by a very easy induction that he was led to believe that a
certain laxity on the score of morals was an essential element of
good breeding, and that nothing was so low in tone as that “eternal
scrutiny,” as he called it, into one’s neighbours’ habits, which would
make of a gentleman very little other than a detective.

When he heard, therefore, that a certain Mademoiselle La Grange had
taken her departure on these exceptional grounds, he actually chuckled
with delighted vanity.

“So ‘Ma Mie’”--this was his pet name for Kate--“they tell me that
Mademoiselle has gone off this morning,” said he, “no longer able to
tolerate a house where there is no mistress.”

“The note she left behind her went fully into the matter,” said Kate.
“It was not alone that you were unmarried, but that you were a very
well-known monster of vice.”

“Vrai! vrai!” cried he, with ecstasy; “monstre épouvantable!”

“And, to confirm it, she added, that no one came here; that the
neighbours avoided the house, as the abode of a plague; and even
sight-seers would not gratify the craving of their curiosity at the cost
of their propriety.”

“Did she say all that?”

“Yes; she said it very neatly, too; as prettily and as tersely as such
impertinence can be put in nice French.”

“And this is the ninth departure, is it not, Ma Mie, on these high
grounds of morality?”

“No, Sir; only the fifth. Two alleged loneliness, one accused the damp,
and one protested against _my_ temper!”

“What had you done, then?”

“Everything that was cross and ill natured. It was the unlucky week that
Cid Hamet staked himself.”

“I remember; there were two days you would not come down to dinner on
pretence of headache, and you told me afterwards it was all ill humour.”

“Because I always tell you everything,” said she, with a smile so
captivatingly beautiful, that it lit up her fave as the sun lights up a
landscape.

“I am sorry, too,” said he, after a short silence, “that Mademoiselle
should have gone away at this moment, for I am expecting visitors.”

“Visitors, Sir?”

“Yes, child; two distant, very distant relatives of mine are coming
to-day; less, indeed, to see me than the place I live in. They are my
heirs, Ma Mie; and the world says, no sort of people are less palatable
to the man in possession, and, I take it, the world is right in the
matter. When one thinks how he dislikes the man who keeps the newspaper
too long at the club, it may be imagined how he is hated who keeps
another out of an estate; and the sense of being so hated engenders
something that is not friendship!”

“I think I can understand that feeling!” said she, thoughtfully.

“Every one knows,” continued he, “that when he is gone, the objects
which he has loved and cherished--I mean the material objects, for I am
talking as an old bachelor--will survive to give pleasure to others; but
somehow he fancies--at least, _I_ fancy--that the new incumbent will
not know the full luxury of the shade under that sycamore where we sat
yesterday to watch the fish in the pond; that he’ll never appreciate
that Claude as I do, when I let a fresh blaze of sunlight on the
opposite wall, and see it in a soft reflected light; and as to the
delight of riding through these old wooded alleys as I feel it, he’ll
not have you for a companion--eh, ma belle et bonne?”

She turned away her head. Was it shame, or sorrow, or both? Who knows?
“What are your friends like?” asked she, suddenly.

“They are very like each other, and not like anything or any one else I
ever met. They are, first of all, descendants of an old Huguenot family
of excellent blood. Their ancestors settled here, and, like most others,
they prospered. One became a Peer, but died without an heir, and the
title became extinct. The present head of the house is this person I
expect here to-day, with his son. He is a banker, as his son is. They
are very rich, and very eager to be richer. Report says that they are
not very generous or free-handed. My own experience can neither refute
nor confirm the rumour. Their London house was very handsome when I saw
it, and when I dined there everything bespoke the habits of wealth; but
they had a sort of air of business in their reception, a look of doing
something that was to redound to the bank, that I didn’t like. The
company, too, was of that mixed character that showed they were less
familiars than clients.”

“How intensely acute to detect all this at once!”

“I am nothing, Ma Mie, positively nothing, if I am not ‘fin.’ It is the
spirit of my old calling that survives in me. Nay, I even thought, in
the distributions of the host’s attentions to his friends, I could name
the men who stood with a goodly balance to their account, and point out
those who were being, what is called, accommodated.”

“Oh, this is too much!” said she, laughing; but there was nothing in her
tone or look that implied a shade of incredulity.

“Well, you are to see them both to-day; they will be here to dinner.” He
said this with a half-suppressed sigh, for the visit promised him very
little that was agreeable.

He was essentially a man of conventionalities, and there were some
difficulties in the present case that embarrassed him. First, he should
be unable to have any dinner company to meet his visitors. He had long
ceased to have intercourse with his country neighbours, and, of course,
none would think of “calling” on his friends. This was provoking enough,
but a greater trouble remained behind it. Kate’s presence! How was he
to account for that? Who was she? Why was she there? Who, and what, and
where were her friends? Would not the Ladarelles at once connect the
estrangement in which he lived from all society with the fact of
this girl being beneath his roof? Would they not at once jump to the
conclusion, It is this scandal has deterred all from visiting him?
Now, it is just possible that something in this allegation against his
morality might have tickled the morbid vanity of the old rake, who loved
to think that youth and vice were convertible terms, and he even smirked
as he imagined himself called on for his defence. Still, in his element
of gentleman, there survived the shame of the part that would be
assigned to Kate by such an imputation, and it is but justice to him
to say that he felt this acutely. Had there been time for such an
arrangement, he would have procured a governess, and sent her away
to some sea-side spot. As it was, he thought of taking the Vyners’s
Cottage, and placing her there under the charge of Mrs. Simcox. This
would have been easy, as the Cottage had been advertised to let for some
time back; but, as ill luck would, have, it, some one had just arrived
there, whether as friend or tenant, none knew.

It was true, he might keep her unseen for, the few days the visit would
last. The Castle was ample enough to secure a retreat which should be
inviolable; but there were difficulties, too, about; this, not easily to
be met.

He could not implicitly rely on the discretion of servants, especially
of servants who found themselves in, the presence of the coming heir, of
him who should be “king hereafter;” and again, he was not quite sure how
she herself would meet a proposition that assigned her so equivocal a
position. She was very proud, and on one or two occasions he had seen
her display a spirit that no old gentleman of his stamp would possibly
expose himself to from a young girl, if he could help it. There was,
then, nothing left but to present her as his ward, a word so wide
in acceptance, that he trusted it might defy scrutiny, and with this
resolve, though not without misgivings, he went about giving his orders,
and directing the arrangements to receive his guests.

Even this office had its shade of sadness, pleasant as it is at ordinary
times to prepare for those who come to enliven solitude or break a
monotony, which even of itself savours of gloom; the task is not so
agreeable if undertaken for those who come to inspect what will be their
own hereafter; what, even as they survey, they seem half inclined to
grasp; what, while they look at, they speculate on the changes they will
effect in, thinking of that day when he, who now does the honours, shall
have left the stage, and they themselves become the actors.

Kate, however, accompanied him everywhere, aiding by her counsels and
assisting by her suggestions, and serving in this way to dispel much
of that depression which the task imposed. It was, as they both were
returning from one of the gardens, that a keeper came forward with a
dead pheasant in his hand.

[Illustration: 295]

“A hen! Michael, a hen!” cried Sir Within, with displeasure.

“Yes, Sir, and a very fine one. It was the gentleman who has just come
to Dinasllyn shot her this morning. I met him coming up here to excuse
himself to you, and say how sorry he was. He gave me this card, and
hoped you’d not be displeased at it.”

“What’s the name? I have not got my glass, Kate.”

“Mr. George Grenfell, Sir, Dover-street.”

“Grenfell, Grenfell--never heard of any Grenfells but Cox and Grenfell,
the Piccadilly people, eh?”

Kate gave no answer, but still held the card, with her eyes fixed upon
it.

“Sad thing to shoot a hen--very sad thing--and a remarkably fine bird;
quite young, quite young,” muttered Sir Within to himself. “Could
scarcely be the game sauce Grenfell, I think, eh, Kate? This apology
smacks of the gentleman. What was he like, Michael?”

“A fine-looking man, Sir, standing as tall as me; and about thirty-six
or thirty-eight, perhaps. He had a nice spaniel with him, Sir, one of
the Woburn breed; I know ‘em well.”

“I’m sorry he shot that hen. Ain’t you, Kate?”

But Kate was deep in thought, and did not hear him.



CHAPTER XXXIV. SIR WITHIN’S GUESTS

A short, somewhat plump, dark-eyed young man, with a low but wide
forehead, and a well-formed but rather thick-lipped mouth, lay in his
dressing-gown on the sofa smoking, and at intervals conversing with
a smart-looking valet. These were Mr. Adolphus Ladarelle, and his
man Fisk. The time--a little past midnight; the place--a bedroom in
Dalradern Castle.

“The governor gone to bed yet, Fisk?”

“No, Sir; he’s still talking with the old gent. They seemed to have had
high words of it awhile ago, but they’ve got quiet again.”

“The governor came down expressly for that! He likes a bit of a breeze,
too, and I believe it does him good.”

“Well, indeed I think you’re right, Sir! I never seed him in such health
as after that trial where Mr. Hythe, the cashier, was sentenced to
fourteen years. It was just like putting so much to the master’s own
life.”

Whether the prospect of such longevity was so agreeable to the young
gentleman, I cannot say, but he winced a little under the remark, and
said, half moodily: “This old cove here ought to be thinking of that
same journey. It’s slow work waiting for the death of a man, after he
passes seventy-four or five. The assurance offices know that much.”

“It’s to be all yours, Master Dolly, ain’t it?” asked the man, in a
coaxing sort of tone.

“Every stone of it, and every stick that the old boy doesn’t manage to
cut down in the mean while.”

“You’ll never live here, Master Dolly? You’d not stand this lonesome
place a week!”

“I don’t think I should, Tom. I might come down for the shooting, and
bring some fellows with me, or I might run down for a few weeks ‘on the
sly.’ By the way, have you found out who she is?”

“No, Sir; they’re as close as wax. Mrs. Simcox, I see, knows all about
it, but she won’t say a word beyond the ‘young lady as is my master’s
ward.’”

“Is she French or English?”

“Can’t say, Sir; but I suspect she’s French.”

“Is she his daughter?”

“At times I do think she is; but she ain’t like him, Sir, not a bit!”

“But why can’t you find out where she came from when she came here, who
and what her friends, if she has any?”

“It’s clear impossible, Sir. They has all got orders to know nothing,
and it’s nothing they know.”

“Did you try them with a ‘tip,’ Tom?”

“No use, Sir. In a town-house you can always do that, but these
savages--they are just savages--in the country, think they are bound to
their masters, body and soul.”

“What a mistake, Tom,” said the other, with a twinkle of the eye.

“Well, Sir, it’s a mistake when a man does not love his master;” and Mr.
Fisk turned away and drew his hand across his eyes.

The grin upon young Mr. Ladarelle’s face was not a very flattering
commentary on this show of feeling, but he did not speak for some
minutes. At last he said: “He presented her to my governor as
Mademoiselle O’Hara, saying, ‘My ward;’ and she received us as calmly
as if she owned the place. That’s what puzzles _me_, Tom--her cool
self-possession.”

“It ain’t nat’ral, Sir; it ain’t, indeed!”

“It is the sort of manner a man’s wife might have, and not even that if
she were very young. It was as good as a play to see how she treated the
governor as if he had never been here before, and that everything was
new to him!”

Mr. Fisk rubbed his hands and laughed heartily at this joke.

“And as for myself, she scarcely condescended to acknowledge me.”

“Warn’t that too imperent, Sir?”

“It was not gracious, at all events, but we’ll know more of each other
before the week is over. You’ll see.”

“That’s pretty sartain, Sir.”

“Not but I’d rather you could have found out something like a clue to
her first of all.”

“Well, indeed, Sir, there wasn’t no way of doin’ it. I even went down to
the stable-yard and saw her own boxes. She has two as neat nags as ever
you’d see in the Park, and I tried it on with her groom--Bill Richey
they call him--and there was nothing to be done, Sir. He had just one
answer for everything; and when I said, ‘Can she ride?’ ‘Ride! why
wouldn’t she!’ ‘Has she these two for her own use?’ says I. ‘Why
wouldn’t she!’ says the fellow again. ‘So I suppose,’ says I, ‘she’s got
lots of tin?’ ‘Why wouldn’t she have lots of it?’ said he, in the same
voice. I don’t know whether he was more rogue or fool, Sir, but it was
no good saying any more to him.”

Young Ladarelle arose, and with his hands thrust low in his pockets, and
his head slightly bent forward, walked the room in deep thought. “Cool
as he is, he’d scarcely have presented her to the governor if there was
a screw loose,” muttered he; “he’s too much a man of the world for that.
And yet, what can it be?”

“There must be something in it, that’s certain, Sir; for none of the
neighbours visit here, and Sir Within don’t go out anywhere.”

“How did you learn that?”

“From the gardener, Sir. He was saying what a cruel shame it was to see
the fruit rotting under the trees; and that last September he gave a
basketful of pine-apples to the pigs, for that none of the people round
would take presents when Sir Within sent them. ‘That’s all on account of
her,’ says I, with a wink, for I thought I had him landed. ‘I don’t well
know,’ says he, ‘what it’s on account of, but here’s the master comin’
up, and maybe he’ll tell you!’ And I had just time to cut away before he
seen me.”

“All that we know, then, is, that there’s a mystery in it. Well,”
 muttered he, “I couldn’t ask a prettier skein to unravel. She is very
beautiful! Are they late or early here, Tom?” asked he, after a pause.

“They be just as they please, Sir. The housekeeper told me there’s
breakfast from ten to one every morning, and dinner is served for six
people every day, though only them two selves sits down to it; but the
old gent says, perhaps some one might drop in. He says that every day of
the year, Sir; but they never drop in. Maybe he knows why!”

“Call me at eleven or twelve. I don’t care if it be one; for the day
will be long enough here, after that.”

“They tell me it’s a very pretty place, Sir, and plenty to see.”

“I know every inch of it. I used to be here after my Rugby half, and I
don’t want to recal those days, I promise you.”

“They’ve got some nice saddle-horses, too, Sir.”

“So they may; and they may ride them, too.”

“And the lake is alive with carp, I hear.”

“I’ll not diminish their number; I’ll promise them so much. I must stay
here as long as the governor does, which, fortunately for me, cannot be
many days; but tobacco and patience will see me through it.”

“I always said it, Sir: ‘When Master Dolly comes to his fortune, it’s
not an old gaol he’ll sit down to pass his life in!’”

“It’s one of the finest and oldest places in the kingdom,” said the
young man, angrily, “though perhaps a London cad might prefer Charing
Cross to it.”

“No other orders, Sir?” said Mr. Fisk, curtly.

“No; you may go. Call me at nine--d’ye hear--at nine; and I’ll breakfast
at ten.” And now was Mr. Adolphus Ladarelle alone with his own thoughts.

Though he had rebuked so promptly and so sharply the flippant
impertinence of his servant, the young gentleman was by no means
persuaded that a sojourn at Dalradern was likely to prove lively or
agreeable. He thought Sir Within a bore, and he felt--very unmistakably
felt--that the old Baronet regarded himself as a snob. The very way in
which the old diplomatist seasoned his talk for his guests, the mode
in which he brought all things to the meridian of Piccadilly, showed
clearly the estimation in which he held them; and though the elder
Ladarelle, whose head carried weightier cares, had no room for such
thoughts, the young man brooded over and disliked them.

“By what reprisals should he resent this covert impertinence?” was the
question that very often recurred to him. Should he affect to undervalue
the place, and all the art treasures? Should he throw out dark hints
of how much these tasteful toys might realise at a sale? Should he
speculate vaguely on what the Castle would become, if, instead of a
show-house, it were to be made what he would call habitable? Or, last of
all, what tone should he assume towards Mademoiselle--should he slight
her, or make love to her? In these self-discussions he fell asleep at
last.

Long before any of his guests were awake the next morning, Sir Within
had called for his writing-desk. It was a passion of his to ask for
his writing materials before he was up. It smacked of old times, when,
remembering something that might very well have been forgotten, he would
dash off a few smart lines to a minister or a secretary, “with reference
to the brief conversation with which your Excellency honoured me
yesterday.” He was an adept in little notes; he knew how to throw off
those small evasive terms which pass for epigrams, and give a sort of
glitter to a style that was about as real as a theatrical costume.

He had suddenly bethought him of a case for the exercise of his high
gift. It was to address a few neat lines to his recently-arrived
neighbour at the Cottage, and ask him that day to dinner. To convert
that gentleman’s polite attention in sending up to the Castle the
pheasant he had shot by mistake, into an excuse for the liberty of
inviting him without a previous exchange of visits, constituted exactly
the amount of difficulty he could surmount. It was a low-wall, and he
could leap it splendidly. It must be owned that he succeeded. His note
was courteous without familiarity. It was a faint foreshadowing of the
pleasure the writer had promised himself in the acquaintance of one so
thoroughly imbued with the nicest notions of good breeding.

“I hope,” he wrote in conclusion, “you will not, by refusing me this
honour, rebuke the liberty by which I have presumed to aspire to
it;” and with this he signed himself, with every sense of his most
distinguished consideration, “Within Wildrington Wardle.”

The reply was prompt--a most cordial acceptance. Sir Within scanned the
terms of the note, the handwriting, the paper, the signature, and the
seal. He was satisfied with everything. The writer was unquestionably a
man of the world, and, in the old envoy’s estimation, that meant all,
or nearly all, that one could desire in friend or acquaintance; one,
in short, who knew how to subordinate passions, feelings, emotions, all
selfishness, and all personal objects to the laws of a well-regulated
conventionality; and who neither did, nor attempted to do, anything but
what Society had done already, and declared might be done again.

How far Mr. George Grenfell realised this high estimate, it is not our
purpose to inquire; we turn rather to what we are far more sure of, the
delight with which he read Sir Within’s invitation.

Grenfell was well known about town to members of two or three good
clubs, where he had a certain amount of influence with very young men.
He was an excellent whist-player, and very useful on a wine committee;
an admirable judge of a horse, though not remarkable as a rider. He knew
everybody, but, somehow, he went nowhere. There were people--very good
people, too, as the world calls them--would gladly have had his society
at their tables in town, or in their houses at Christmas; but Grenfell
saw that, if once launched amongst these, he must abandon all ambition
of everything higher; extrication would be impossible; and so, with
a self-denial which only a high purpose ever inspires, he refused
invitations, here, and rejected advances, there, waiting on for the time
when the great world would awaken to the conviction of his merits, and
say, This is the very man we wanted!

Now, the great world was not so prompt in making this discovery as it
might have been, and Mr. Grenfell was getting on in years, and not fully
as hopeful as when his hair had been thicker and his beard bushier. He
had begun, not exactly to sulk, but what the French call to “bouder”--a
sort of male pouting--and he thought of going abroad, or going into
Parliament, or doing something or other which would give him a new start
in life; and it was to ruminate over these plans he had written to his
friend Vyner, to say, “Let me, or lend me--I don’t care which--your
Welsh Cottage for a month or two;” and by return of post came the
answer, saying, “It is yours as long as you like it;” and thus was he
there.

Sir Within’s note pleased him much. The old envoy was, it is true, a
bygone, and a thing of the past: still he was one of those Brahmins
whose priesthood always is accredited, and Grenfell knew, that to walk
into the Travellers’ arm in arm with him, would be a great step in
advance; for there was no set or knot of men so unapproachable by the
outsiders, as that small clique of religionists who scourge themselves
with red tape, and worship the great god “F. O.!”

“In asking for the Cottage,” Grenfell had said, “I should like to have
an introduction of some sort to your quondam neighbour, Wardle, who,
though too profligate for his neighbours, will not, I apprehend,
endanger my morals. Let me have, therefore, a few lines to accredit
me, as one likely to suit his humour.” To this Vyner replied, not very
clearly: “The intimacy they had used to have with Sir Within had ceased;
they held no correspondence now. It was a long story, and would not be
worth the telling, nor very intelligible, perhaps, when told; but it was
enough to say, that even should they meet now personally, it was by no
means sure if they would recognise or address each other. You will use
this knowledge for your guidance in case you ever come to know him, and
which I hope you may, for he is a very delightful acquaintance, and full
of those attentions which render a neighbourhood pleasant. I do not
say so that you may repeat it; but simply as an admission of what is
due--that I deeply regret our estrangement, though I am not certain that
it was avoidable.” This, which Grenfell deemed somewhat contradictory,
served, at all events, to show that he could not make Sir Within’s
acquaintance through this channel, and he was overjoyed when another and
a more direct opening presented itself.

“The hen pheasant I thought would do it,” muttered Grenfell, as he read
the note. “A punster would say, I had shot up into his acquaintance.”



CHAPTER XXXV. A WALK BEFORE DINNER

Poor Sir Within! What a change is all this for you! Instead of that
pleasant little pottering about from terrace to garden, and from
garden to gallery; now in ecstasy over some grand effect of light on a
favourite picture, some rich promise of beauty in an opening flower,
or, better than either, a chance peep at the fair “ward” as she
flitted past, a vision of beauty she well knew how to exaggerate by
infrequency--for it was her especial habit to be rarely, if ever, seen
of a morning--now, he had to devote himself to his guest, the elder
Ladarelle, and not even in the office of Cicerone or guide over the
grounds and the woods, but as the apologist of this, and the explainer
of that. It had been settled by law that a certain sum should be
expended each year on the demesne at the wise discretion of the life
tenant, and now came the moment in which this same wisdom was to
be arraigned, and all its tasteful exercise brought to the cold and
terrible test of what is called permanency. The rock-work grottos,
the temples, the rustic bridges, and cane pagodas--all that Horace
Walpoleism, in fact, by which the area of domesticity can be so enlarged
as to embrace the field, the garden, and the shrubbery--all this, with
its varied luxury, and elegance, and beauty, and bad taste, was so
repugnant to the mind of the old banker, that he regarded the whole as a
tawdry and tasteless extravagance. Structures in stone and iron he
could understand. He wanted permanency; and though the old envoy, with
a little faint jest, begged to insinuate that he asked more than was
supposed to be accorded by the laws of nature, the stern intelligence
of the other rejected the pleasantry, and vaguely hinted at a “bill in
equity.”

“None of these, Sir, not one of them, would be ‘allowed,’” was the
phrase he repeated again and again. “The discretionary power vested in
_you_ to-day, or in me, as it might be, to-morrow----”

“I ask pardon,” broke in the minister; “it is not my present intention
to impose the burden upon you so soon. I hope still to live a little
longer, with the kind permission of my friends and successors.”

“Humph!” muttered the other, and turned away his head.

“There was an arrangement, however, which I submitted to you four years
ago. I am ready--not very willingly, perhaps--but still ready to return
to it.”

“You mean, to commute the life-interest into a sum for immediate
surrender of the estate? I remember, we did discuss it formerly. Your
demand was, I think, sixty thousand pounds--equal to very close on six
years’ income?”

“Yes; that was the sum fixed on.”

“Well, suppose we were to entertain the question now. What proposal are
you prepared to make, Sir Within?”

“I am ready to repeat my former offer, Sir.”

“Made four years and five months ago?”

“Precisely,” said Sir Within, colouring deeply.

“Four years and a half, Sir Within, at your age or at mine, are a very
considerable space of time.”

“I do not deny it, Sir; but I feel in the enjoyment of excellent health.
I rise at the same hour, and eat my meals as heartily as I did then;
with every regret for the inconvenience I’m occasioning, I still profess
to believe that my chances of life are pretty much as they were.”

“Actuaries are the only people to entertain these points. Indeed,
friends should not discuss them.”

“Our friendship has stood the test of very delicate details so
beautifully this morning, that I see no reason why we should not take
all the benefit we can get out of it.”

The fine sarcasm with which he spoke was thoroughly understood, though
unnoticed, by the other, who went on:

“When I mentioned actuaries, I merely meant to say that demands of
this kind are not arbitrary or capricious--that they are based on laws
established by long and abstruse calculations.”

“Perhaps it is my fancy to imagine myself an exceptional case,” said Sir
Within, with a faint smile.

“They would take little count of this. They would say, ‘Here is a man
aged----’” he paused for the other to fill up the blank.

“Let us say one hundred,” said Sir Within, bowing.

“Who has lived long in warm climates----”

“Participating freely in the dissipations of his class and order,” said
Sir Within, throwing back his head, and looking as though, with all the
daring of this avowal, he defied scrutiny.

“They’d not say forty thousand. I have my doubts if they’d give you
five-and-thirty,” said the banker, curtly.

“And under these circumstances, I should consider it my duty to break
off the negotiation, and retire from the conference.”

“Let us suppose, for talk sake, the arrangement possible. I conclude you
would not insist upon that other matter--the settlement clause, I mean.
You remember that Sir Hugh Rivers decided it was not to be maintained in
law?”

“The Attorney-General, with due submission, Sir, never saw the original
document; he saw the draft, which was subsequently cancelled, and
if there be any point upon which I will waive nothing--positively
nothing--it is this.”

“When a man insists so positively on his right to make a settlement, it
is no unfair presumption to infer that he means to marry.”

“The supposition might certainly be entertained,” said the old envoy,
bowing with the courtesy he would have observed in a ministerial
conference.

“For _that_”--and the banker laid a most marked and peculiar emphasis on
the word--“for that, most assuredly, I was not prepared.”

“Nor can I say,” continued the other, “that I deemed it any part of my
duty to submit such a possibility to your consideration.”

“Perhaps not, Sir Within; there was no absolute reason why you should.
You are, of course, the only judge of what concerns your own interests,
or--or----”

“Or happiness?”

“I didn’t say happiness, simply because I thought it was the very
consideration that you were about to omit.”

Sir Within smiled very blandly; he arranged the frill of his shirt--he
wore a frilled shirt--and, taking forth a splendidly jewelled box, he
offered a pinch to his companion. It was the diplomatic mode of saying
that a conference was closed; but Mr. Ladarelle did not understand this
nicety.

“After all, Sir Within, neither you nor I are men who can affect to defy
the world. What the world thinks and says of us, we cannot undervalue.”

“The world, at _my_ age, is the six, perhaps eight, people I could get
to dine with me.”

“No, no, Sir, don’t say that--you can’t say that. The world is to you,
as to all men who have taken a large part in public affairs, the wide
circle of those who bring to their judgment on their fellow-men a vast
acquaintance with motives, and interests, and reasons; and, besides
all these, with conventionalities and decorums. They form the jury who
decide on, not alone the good morals of their contemporaries, but on
their good taste.”

“Perhaps it might be my fortune to offer them a most undeniable proof
of mine,” said the old man, intentionally mistaking what the other had
said.

“Take care, Sir Within! Take care. You might be like that case at
Guildford t’other day, where the judge said, ‘There is nothing so
serious in the indictment against you as your own defence.’”

“I believe you said you never took snuff,” said the envoy, tapping the
gorgeous box he still held in his fingers. “That clump of oaks you see
yonder,” continued he, pointing with his finger, “shuts out one of the
most beautiful bits of landscape I ever saw, and I have only waited for
your presence here, to decide on cutting them down.”

“I will not consent to fell timber, Sir, for the sake of landscape. I am
certain Adolphus would agree with me.”

They now walked on, side by side, in silence. How beautiful that
wood alley was! How calmly sweet the leafy shade, how deliciously the
blackbird carolled from its depths, and how soft the smooth turf beneath
their feet, and yet how little they heeded or cared for it all! The
banker spoke first: “If you had been prepared to propose terms on which
it was possible to treat, Sir Within, my son, I know--as for myself,
the plan has no attractions for me--but my son, I know, would have felt
disposed to meet you; but when you start on the basis that an interval
of five years, or something akin to it, makes no inroad whatever on
a man’s life, and then, possibly aided by that theory, hint at the
likelihood of having to charge the estate with settlement----”

“My dear Mr. Ladarelle, forgive my interrupting you. All this is very
painful, and, what is worse, unprofitable. I remember a remark of the
charming old Duke of Anhalt to his neighbouring sovereign, the Prince of
Hohen Alttingen: ‘My dear Prince,’ said he, ‘whatever our ministers can
and ought to discuss together, will always prove a most unseemly topic
for us;’ so be assured, Sir, that what our lawyers can wrangle over, we
will do much better if we leave to them.”

“You know best, I am certain, Sir. I feel it is your province to
understand these cases; but I own it would never have occurred to me
to take a stupid old German potentate as an authority on a matter
of business. May I ask what is that edifice yonder, like a piece of
confectionary?”

“It is my aviary, which I shall be proud to-show you.” “Excuse me, I
know nothing about birds.”

“I shall not insist, for it is the season when they lose their plumage.”

“By Jove! Sir, if this system of expense be carried on, I suspect that
some of ourselves will be just as devoid of feathers. That gimcrack
cost, I should say, seven or eight hundred pounds?”

“You have guessed too low! It will, when finished--for the frescos are
not completed--amount to very close on two thousand.”

“For linnets and piping bullfinches!”

“Pardon me, Sir; for nothing of the kind. For the blue sparrows of Java,
for the crimson owl of Ceylon, for the azure-winged mocking-bird, and
the scarlet bustard.”

“Let us see what the Master will say to this fine catalogue, when it is
presented to him as part of works of permanent value--that’s the phrase,
Sir, permanent and substantial improvements--which scarcely contemplated
cockatoos and canaries. And what do I see yonder? Is that the Lord
Mayor’s state barge, that you have bought in at second hand?”

“That is a little gondola--a caprice of my ward’s, Sir, and not to be
questioned in any way.”

It was the first time since they met that any allusion to Kate had been
dropped between them, and already the old envoy’s voice showed by its
vibration that the theme was one not to be lightly adverted to.

“The young lady’s tastes, it would seem, incline to splendour, but
possibly her fortune warrants it.”

“I am certain that her tastes befit her condition,” said the other, with
a tone of open defiance.

“I have no doubt of it, not the least doubt of it; I would only observe,
that a person so very attractive----”

“Well, Sir, go on; finish what you were about to say.”

“Certainly not, Sir Within, when the expression with which you hear me
declares that I am taking too great a liberty.”

“It is too late for apology, Sir. You have already transgressed.”

“I never intended an apology, Sir Within, for I took care not to incur
what might require one. When I saw, or fancied I saw, that my remarks,
well meant as they were, might not be as acceptable as I desired, I
forbore from completing them; that is all.”

“And you did well, Sir!” said the other, haughtily, while, with a proud
wave of his hand, he seemed to say the subject must be dropped.

“I mean to return to town to-morrow,” said Mr. Ladarelle, after a
pause; “but my son, with your kind permission, will be a burden on your
hospitality for a few days longer.”

“I am proud to have his company,” said the old minister, with a
courteous bow; but the other, not noticing it, went on: “He wants to see
that mill. Hoare says, that without some arrangement about the supply of
water, he must insist upon an abatement; that your Neptunes, and Dryads,
and river-gods, consume far more than goes over his wheel; and though,
perhaps, it is a little premature on our part to enter upon this matter,
yet, as the man has a lease renewable at his pleasure----”

“With your gracious leave, it is on a question of wine, and not of
water, I will ask your opinion. I have got some very old Steinberger,
which I purpose to have your judgment on, and as I hear the first bell
ringing, probably we have not much time to lose. This is the shortest
way back to the house.”

The banker made no reply; he plodded on moodily towards the Castle, and
mounted the stairs to his dressing-room, neither pleased with his host
nor himself, nor, indeed, with the rest of the world.

It is very probable that Sir Within retired to dress for dinner far more
deeply wounded and far more irritated by this interview than his guest.
With persons as plain spoken as Mr. Ladarelle, Sir Within had held very
little intercourse in life. He had always played the game with those of
the most refined and the most susceptible politeness. Men who would no
more have committed a rudeness than a murder, and it was no mean trial
of his nerves to be told, not merely that he was old, but that he was of
that age in which life was something more than precarious. The ex-envoy
felt, in fact, as he might have felt had some one ordered his carriage
before the time he himself had told his coachman to come; thus
intimating, it is possible, from reasons not entered upon or discussed,
that he might think proper to leave earlier than he had contemplated. He
changed colour so often, that he had to supply a little extra rouge to
his cheek; and his nerves were so shaken, that he could not descend to
the drawing-room without a little dram of Maraschino and ether.

He found Kate alone in the drawing-room as he entered. She was most
becomingly dressed, and wore a sprig of lily of the valley in her hair,
which became her vastly.

“How well you look, Ma Mie,” said he, as he surveyed her through his
glass; “and how glad I should be if our guests were more deserving of us
both. _You_, however, cannot help being beautiful.”

“And you _will_ be witty, whether you like it or not, my dear guardian,”
 said she, with a bewitching smile.

“C’est plus fort que moi! Kate. The old Duc de Nevers said to me, when
I was a very young man, ‘Mon cher Wardle, always talk your very best,
no matter what the theme, or with whom. Never give yourself the indolent
habit of careless expression. There is no such thing in conversation as
dishabille.’”

“Indeed, Sir!”

“Yes, ma chere; to be epigrammatic, your faculties must be always in
exercise. To let off those brilliant fireworks which astonish the world
as wit, the match must be kept ever a-light, the hand ready.”

“Mr. George Grenfell!” said the servant, throwing wide the door, and,
after about two seconds’ interval, that former acquaintance of our
reader entered the room, and was met by Sir Within with a blended polish
and cordiality.

“This is a kindness, Mr. Grenfell, that promises well for our future
neighbourhood. I am most grateful to you for accepting my short-time
invitation. My ward, Mademoiselle O’Hara.”

He introduced her, as he had done to the Ladarelles the day before, as
Mademoiselle; why, it would not have been so easy to say; perhaps to
mystify, perhaps to avoid a difficulty, perhaps to create one; for Sir
Within was a diplomatist, and one of these reasons to such a man is own
brother of the other.

Grenfell was evidently struck by her beauty; but there was something
besides admiration in his gaze; he was surprised, and more than
surprised; the traits were not altogether new to him, though the
expression, lofty--haughty, even--unquestionably was. As for Kate, she
had seen too few faces in life to have forgotten any one of them. They
were like the books she had read, too remarkable not to be remembered.
She knew him, and knew well the very hour and the very spot in which
first she saw him.

Either Grenfell had not heard the name, O’Hara, well, or had not
connected it with the past; very possibly, he had not heard it ever
before, for it suggested nothing to him; still her features continued
to puzzle him; through all, however, was he enough man of the world to
conceal any show of this; and, as he sat down beside the sofa where she
sat, opened the usual common-places of first acquaintance. He spoke of
the country and its charming scenery, especially around Dalradern, which
was all new to him; “for I am ashamed,” added he, “to own, I know more
of Switzerland than I do of Wales. Perhaps in this, Mademoiselle is a
defaulter like myself?”

Here was a question adroitly insinuated, to induce what might lead to
some disclosure as to whence she came, or where she had been.

“I am very fond of mountains,” said she, as if mistaking his question.

“Ladies are the less selfish in their love of scenery,” resumed he,
with a little smile, “that they do not connect mountains with grouse
shooting. Now, I’m afraid a man in his admiration for the hill-side and
the heather, has some lurking dreams about deer-stalking, and in the
highland ‘tarn’ his thoughts invariably run on ten-pound trout.”

“That is the practical side by which men assert their superiority, I
believe; but perhaps they mistake occasionally; I suspect they do, at
least.”

“You mean, that women have the quality also?”

“I fancy that women are not so prone to parade this egotism,” said she,
with a slight flashing of the eye.

“That may mean something very severe,” said he, laughing.

“In which case, I could not have said what I intended.”

Though this was said apologetically, there was a saucy defiance in her
look that declared anything rather than apology.

“Your remark,” said he, “reminds me of an Irish squire I heard of, who,
wanting to get rid of the charge in his pistol, fired it out of the
window into a crowd, saying, ‘I hope it won’t hurt any of you!’ Have you
been in Ireland, Mademoiselle?”

“I have seen next to nothing of Ireland; far too little to have caught
up, as you infer, any traits of her nationality.”

There was not the slightest tremor in her voice, nor change in her
colour as she spoke, though Grenfell watched her with more--far
more--intentness than he was aware of, or would have permitted himself
to bestow, if he had known it.

“I know very little of the green island myself,” said he. “I once made a
yachting excursion with a friend to the West--the same friend to whom I
am now indebted for the honour of knowing you.”

Kate’s cheek grew crimson; she had mistaken the meaning of his words,
and fancied that they referred to his meeting her first in Vyner’s
company, and not to his possession of Vyner’s Cottage.

“Will you let me present my friends--Mr. Ladarelle, Mr. Adolphus
Ladarelle, Mr. Grenfell?” said Sir Within, at this critical moment, “and
then, if you will give Mademoiselle your arm, we will go to dinner.”

It required all the practised tact and consummate skill in such matters
of Sir Within’s to carry through that day’s dinner.

Kate scarcely spoke at all, the elder Ladarelle very little; the younger
was evidently bent on finding out who Grenfell was, what were his clubs,
his houses, and his associates; and Grenfell, not at all unused to such
assaults of curiosity, repelled them by a cold and distant politeness,
which gave little aid to table-talk. So that on the old envoy was thrown
all the burden of the entertainment.

Where men imagine that in supplying the material wants of humanity they
have amply fulfilled the part between host and guest, and that when the
viands are good, and the wine exquisite, the whole responsibility is
satisfied, it will seem that Sir Within’s fears and anxieties were not
all reasonable; but this was not his theory. At a grand dinner, a state
occasion, a certain dulness was a part of the solemnity, and full-dress
liveries and gold dishes were the natural accompaniments of dreariness
and display; but a little dinner meant a choice party, a selected
few, bound to bring with them their faculties at the brightest;
not sharpening their wits at the moment of exercise, like an unruly
orchestra tuning their instruments when they should be playing, but
ready to start off at score. What a blank disappointment was here! The
few sallies that relieved the dulness came from the younger Ladarelle,
and were neither attic in themselves, or quite unquestionable in point
of taste; and when they arose to take their coffee, the feeling was
rather gratification that so much of weariness had been got over, and a
hope that there was not much more to come.

“I shall want you to sing, Ma Mie; I see you won’t talk,” whispered Sir
Within to Kate, as he drew near her.

“No, Sir, I have a headache. I shall go and lie down.”

“That is about as much of her company as she has vouchsafed us since we
have been here,” said Ladarelle the younger to Grenfell, as they stood
together in a window.

“Is she haughty?”

“I don’t know.”

“Vain, I should take her to be, eh?”

“I don’t know.”

“Who is she?” whispered Grenfell, in the confidential tone he knew how
to assume with younger men.

“I don’t know that, either,” said Ladarelle. “The old fellow says his
ward; but I’d not be surprised if one of these days he should say his
wife.”

“Why, he’s seventy.”

“Seventy-six--seventy-six! but he’d like to fancy he was
eight-and-thirty.”

“A natural sort of self-delusion in its way,” said Grenfell, carelessly.
“He’d be wrong to marry, though.”

“I believe you; and very hard on me, too.”

“How do you mean on you?”

“Because the estate comes to me; but he can charge it with a settlement
if he marries; that’s what I call hard. Don’t you?”

Grenfell had no time to resolve the question, for Sir Within had already
come over to propose a rubber at whist, a party to which, as an old
member of Graham’s, his appetite was not whetted as young Ladarelle
whispered, “I wish you joy of your whist; old Wardle revokes, and my
father never pays if he loses!”

“Come over and dine with me to-morrow,” said Grenfell; “it will not be
more dreary than this.”



CHAPTER XXXVI. A NEW FRIENDSHIP

“What a snug place you have here; it’s as pretty as paint, too,” said
Mr. Adolphus Ladarelle, as he lounged into the Cottage, a few minutes
after the time named for dinner.

“It is not mine; I am only here on sufferance. It belongs to Sir Gervais
Vyner,” said Grenfell.

“Not the Vyner who sat for Holstead?”

“The same.”

“And the man who bought Cloudsley’s yacht _Carinthia_, and then
exchanged her for the _Meteor_, that won the Cowes cup two years ago?”
 continued Grenfell, who was watching the altered expression of the
other’s face, as he learned that he was the guest of one so closely
allied in intimacy with one of the leaders of fashion; for though the
Ladarelles were rich people, and well placed in society, Vyner moved in
a set, and associated with a class, quite apart from, and above them.

“I never met Vyner,” said Ladarelle, carelessly.

“He is the man I am most intimate with in the world. We chummed together
at Cambridge, travelled together, and would have stood side by side in
public life together, if I had not been too indolent to fag at official
drudgery. But here comes dinner;” and taking his guest’s arm, he led him
away literally captive--so completely was he overcome by the news that
he was dining with the great Sir Gervais Vyner’s dearest friend and
oldest companion.

Now, though the Ladarelles were not in that class to which Grenfell
aspired, and with whom he hoped one day to see himself, they were on
the direct road to it. They occupied what represented an intermediate
territory, through which he must pass; and he set himself patiently to
cultivate their good opinion--secretly cherishing the hope that a time
would come when he could afford to be indifferent to it.

The dinner was exquisite; and young Ladarelle enjoyed, not alone the
good cheer, but the freedom of being alone with one to whom he could
talk without any reserve.

“You don’t half know what a charity you’ve done,” said he, “in asking
me here to-day. That dreary old place was killing me. My governor is not
what people call jolly. Old Sir Within is about the greatest prig I ever
met; and as for the ward, she is either insufferably impertinent, or
downright under bred.”

“She is exceedingly beautiful, however,” said Grenfell, smiling.

“At times--yes; I’ll not dispute that. But she has a something half
supercilious, half silly, occasionally, that I don’t like. Do you think
her clever?”

“I have no means of knowing.. I never met her till yesterday. Old Wardle
declares that there never was her equal--that she learns whatever
she likes, without any labour; but it’s easy enough to understand
infatuation at his age, and he _does_ seem to admire her vastly,” said
Grenfell, slowly.

“I’d say the old fellow was madly in love with her, if the idea was not
too absurd; not that it would be a laughing matter for me, though--very
far from it.”

“How do you mean?”

“I told you last night, that if he were to marry, he can charge the
estate with a settlement. But that’s not the whole of it. Sir Hugh
Rivers says that, if he should have a direct heir! O, yes--it’s all very
fine laughing; but the world has seen some such cases.”

“Very true,” said Grenfell; “and we all know what Lord Stowell said of
them.”

“I know nothing about Lord Stowell; but I know this, that it’s no
pleasant thing to think there’s a flaw in what one was once sure of. I
used to fancy myself as much the owner of Dalradern as though Sir Within
Wardle was only a tenant.”

“I scarcely think, if I was in your place, I’d fret myself about the
contingency you speak of,” said Grenfell.

“I’ll not go so far as to say I fret about it. I don’t exactly do that;
but it worries me in certain ways.”

“I understand,” said Grenfell; “it makes the Jews more difficult to deal
with--more captious about post obits.”

“You have it exactly. That fellow Joel--I can’t imagine how he came at
it--said to me, t’other day, ‘I don’t like my security, Mr. Dolly; it
ain’t what I used to think it was.’ And what do you think I’m paying him
all the time?”

“Ten--perhaps fifteen--per cent.”

“Guess again.”

“Twenty?--surely not more than twenty-five?”

“Forty--ay, forty per cent.! And when I was let in so heavily last May
on ‘Grampus,’ I stood for the whole of Cloudsley’s lot, old Joel
refused to renew under sixty per cent.! He even threatened he’d go up
to Leadenhall-street and have a talk with my governor.” “Which might not
have been pleasant.”

“I believe you. The governor has only to know that I’ve been betting in
the ring to scratch my name out of the bank to-morrow, and cut me
off root and branch. You haven’t an idea what these old ‘dons’ in the
banking world think of what they call ‘the house.’ When my father speaks
of ‘the house,’ he means something that represents the honour of all the
Ladarelles--not alone since Adam, but the unborn partners that are to
discount and keep deposits for centuries to come. Maybe you have not
mixed with these sort of people?”

“Very little; but I have heard tell of their prejudices,” said
Gren-fell, with the very faintest tinge of colour in his cheek as he
spoke.

“That’s just what my governor is. After the bank comes the monarchy with
him; so that you see I must be cautious.”

“I know something of Master Joel. It is rather his interest to stand
well with me; and, if you like, I will just give him a gentle hint to
keep quiet, and not create any disturbance.”

“Oh, would you? By Jove! I’ll take it as a great service to me. The fact
is, I’ve been going it rather fast. Hawkshaw ‘let me in’ pretty heavily
on ‘Caithness,’ and then Blunden, as you know, levanted; so that our
last settling day was rather a dark morning to me.”

“Have you any other creditors than Joel?”

“Nothing very heavy. I owe Davis----”

“Grog?”

“Yes--Grog Davis. I owe him about two thousand; but he never presses.
Grog’s a gentleman in that respect. It’s only when a fellow ‘hums’ and
‘hahs’ about whether the thing was all square or not; that’s what Grog
won’t stand a moment. He’ll insist on his money then; and, what’s more,
he’ll have a shot at you, too, if he can get it.”

“Yes, but he’ll have his money first. I never heard of Grog Davis
shooting at a solvent debtor yet.”

“You know him, that’s plain enough,” said Dolly, laughing.

“Who could have been about town the last ten or fifteen years and not
known him? I rather like him, too.”

“So do I,” cried Ladarelle, eagerly, and as though it relieved his heart
of a weight to make the confession. “Say what they will of Grog Davis,
he’s a fellow to do a right good-natured thing; and as for advice,
there’s not a man in the clubs I’d as soon go to as to him.”

“He has a deal of worldly wit, that’s certain.”

“Ay, and he has more. He knows the exact way to treat every one.
I’ve seen him go up and take the Duke of Dullworth by the arm just as
familiarly as you’d take me.”

“Yes, when the Duke wanted him; he might do that.”

Dolly paused for some minutes, and seemed to reflect. He was, indeed,
reflecting and considering with himself whether he would make a clean
breast of it, and tell Grenfell all--everything that he had on his mind,
and everything that he had done in consequence. At length, he appeared
to have formed his decision; and, pushing his glass from before him, he
leaned his arm on the table, and addressed Grenfell in a voice of most
confidential meaning.

“I wrote to Grog since _I_ came here,” said he, significantly. “I told
him all about old Wardle, and as much as I could make out about his
ward. It wasn’t much; but I added whatever I suspected, and I asked what
he thought of it. He answered me by the same post.”

“And what did he say?” asked Grenfell, for the other had come to a dead
stop.

“I only got the letter as I stepped into the carriage, and glanced my
eye over it. Shall I read it for you? It’s very short.”

“Read it, then, by all means.”

“Here it is,” said he, producing a very square-shaped sheet of paper,
with a large seal of coarse wax attached, evidence that it had not been
encased in an envelope:

“‘Dear Dol! That’s his way, he’d be intimate with his Royal Highness.
‘Dear Dol, your note was writ like one of the queries to _Bell’s Life_,
and in the same spirit I answer it. The old cove means to marry her----’
Eh, what?”

“I did not speak--go on.”

“‘The old cove means to marry her, and cut you out of the estate, just
as Tom Barkely wag done by Rixley Drummond--only that Tom was offered
the girl first, and wouldn’t have her.’”

“He’s all right there. Tom Barkely’s obstinacy cost him about sixteen
thousand a year, and sent him out to India as a major in a marching
regiment,” said Grenfell. “Go on.”

“‘This is my opinion,’ he puts two n’s to opinion, and it makes it read
all the more stubborn, ‘and as for the remedy, Master Dolly, all I can
say is, there ain’t two ways about it--there ain’t two ways about it,”
 repeated Ladarelle, slowly, and as though weighing each word as he
uttered it. “Now, will you tell me, what does he mean by that?”

“Read it over again.”

“‘This is my opinion; and as for the remedy, Master Dolly, there ain’t
too ways about it.--Yours, C. D.’”

Grenfell took the letter from the other’s hand, and pored over it in
silence for several minutes; then, leisurely folding it, he laid it down
on the table.

“How do you understand him?” asked Ladarelle again.

“It’s not very easy to understand what he says here; though, if the
words had been spoken instead of written, I suspect I could have come at
the meaning.”

“‘There ain’t two ways about it,’” repeated Dolly, moodily, “and why not
say which is the one way? That would be more to the purpose.”

“It’s one of two things, evidently; either you are to get rid of Sir
Within, or his ward. Grog is not a very scrupulous fellow; but though he
would poison a horse he had laid heavily against for the Derby, I don’t
think he’d go so far in the case of an old diplomatist. It remains
then to be seen what is to be done with the ward; he probably means you
should carry her off yourself.”

“Perhaps she wouldn’t come: if she has designs on Sir Within, it’s
almost certain she would not.”

Grenfell made no answer, but sat lost in thought for some minutes, when
he said: “Yes; that’s what Grog advises: his calculation is, that this
old man’s infatuation, which, uninterfered with, would have led him into
a foolish marriage, will, if it be crossed and thwarted, as certainly
break him down and kill him.”

“Men don’t die of these things!”

“Not men like you and me, certainly; but there is a time of life when
existence is held on a very frail tenure; and, at that time, a mere hope
extinguished serves to crush vitality.”

“And do you really think he’d take it so much to heart?”

“I know too little of him to give an opinion. When I have seen him
some half-dozen times more, and seen, besides, something of his manner
towards her, I might risk a guess, perhaps.”

“If I was quite sure that I ‘stood in’ for the double event--that is, to
stop her marriage and succeed to the estate at once--I almost think I’d
do it.”

“‘Yes,” said Grenfell, after another pause, “this must be what Grog
alludes to, as the one way of dealing with the matter.”

“She’d insist on marriage, I suppose?” said Dolly, in a sort of sulky
tone.

“Of course she would.”

“That’s a bit of a bore. I had not calculated on such a step for these
six or eight years yet. Then there’s another thing to be thought of: my
governor, who naturally will not see the necessity of the step, is sure
to be outrageous at it. All that he will recognise will be the very
thing he most despises in the world--a love match.”

“Could he not be brought to see a much more valid reason for this match?
Don’t you think the matter could be placed before him in such a light
that he must accept that view?”

“No. I know him better. I could tell you at once what he’d say.” “And
what would it be?”

“He’d say: If she must be got out of the way and married off, get
some hard-up Sub who can’t pay his mess debts, or wants to lodge a few
hundreds for the next vacancy; or find some Irish squire. My governor
always thinks an Irishman is ready for anything but paying his debts.
He’d marry her for a couple of thousand down. That’s what my governor
would hit on, without taking five minutes to think of it.”

“What if _she_ would not consent to such an arrangement?” “That’s as it
might be. You’ll not find my governor giving any one credit for a strong
will but himself. He reasons out every question his own way, and never
suspects the mere possibility of opposition.”

“That may do in the bank, perhaps, where none can gainsay him.”

“He’ll tell you, it does just as well in the world at large; and he’ll
point to himself as the best proof of the system.”

“I should like to hear your father discuss the question with the young
lady herself; she, I take it, has a will of her own, also; and the
matter would probably be well debated.” “She’d have no chance with my
governor!”

“I’m not so sure of that. I have a suspicion that she could hold her own
in an argument that touched her interest.”

“You know more of her than I do. She spoke to _you_, to _me_ she barely
condescended a few words. No more wine: thanks. I must be thinking of
the road. I have got old Sir Within’s horses, and the coachman tells me
they have never been out after sunset for the last four years, and if
they get cold now it may cost him his place.”

“Why not come over and stop here, it might bore you less than yonder?”

“I should be delighted; I could ask nothing better; but I am supposed to
be down here on business. My governor is not at all satisfied with
the way things are going on. He says Sir Within has cut down too much
timber, and he has taken renewals for leases he had no right to grant,
and what with his tanks, and fish-ponds, and river-gods, he has left two
mills without a drop of water.”

“Tell him, with my compliments, Sir Within Wardle will do worse than all
these.”

“You mean about that girl?”

“Yes.”

“That’s what Grog says, but I dare not quote _him_ to the governor. Tell
me, would you have any objection to my telling him that this was _your_
opinion?”

“I have not the honour of being known to your father, and a mere surmise
of mine would carry no weight with it.”

“I don’t know that. I fancy he rather took a liking to you last night.
What did you do at whist?”

“Lost a few half-crowns.”

“Ah, that accounts for it all! He said at breakfast this morning,
that though you held only indifferent cards, you played with perfect
composure, and it was quite a pleasure to play with you. With a few
nights’ ill luck you’ll stand high in his favour, I promise you.”

“It is a cheap friendship after all,” said Grenfell, laughing.

“Yes. You may have it for five pounds, but I doubt greatly if you could
re-sell it for as many shillings.”

“Make use of my favour, therefore, while it lasts, and if nothing
prevent, come and dine here the day after to-morrow,” said Grenfell.

“Agreed. Here come the fat coach-horses; see how they heave their
flanks, only coming round from the stable-yard. I tell you, Grenfell,”
 said he in a whisper, “there will be a great sale of stock at Dahradern
one of these days; and there’s a lot I’ll certainly not give orders to
have bought in. Good night--good night.”



CHAPTER XXXVII. A WOODLAND RIDE

It was only at intervals that the sun’s rays pierced the leafy shade of
a long valley in the woods of Dalradern, where Sir Within and his ward
were riding. The tall beech-trees, which stood like the columns of a
gigantic cathedral, were met and interwoven above so densely, that
the light struggled with difficulty through the foliage, and fell in
fanciful patches on the smooth turf beneath.

With noiseless tread the horses moved over that even turf, so that, when
the riders were not speaking, not a sound broke the stillness, except
the rich carol of the blackbird, or the deep-voiced cooing of the
wood-pigeon.

Sir Within rode his strong dark-brown short-legged cob, a beast of grave
and dignified deportment, never startled nor surprised by the fretful
and uneasy performances of the mettlesome animal at his side, and whose
natural hot temper was alternately chafed and caressed at the fancy
of his rider; for it was her pleasure to be eternally correcting some
imaginary fault, or teaching some new accomplishment. Now, it was his
neck that wanted plasticity; now, he bore a little too heavily on the
hand; now, the off-shoulder was a thought too prominent in his canter;
or, more vexatious than these, he _would_ respond to a touch of the spur
by a sharp switch of the tail--a breach of good breeding she could not
tolerate.

Firmly seated on an animal that defied all sympathy in these mettlesome
feats, Sir Within had ample time to admire the exquisite grace with
which she rode. It was indeed the very perfection of the accord between
horse and rider, which makes the spectator unable to say to which of the
two he yields the palm of excellence. No bound nor spring ever took
her unawares; and when the animal seemed half mad with excitement, the
graceful caress she stooped to bestow appeared to subdue him like a
charm.

“Why are you so grave, my dear Gardy? You told me you should be yourself
again when that tiresome man was gone, and now he’s off-thank Heaven
for it!--but you look so depressed and dispirited as if you had not yet
tasted the relief.”

“True, Ma Mie, quite true. I have not quite convinced myself that we are
free of him. His son, however, remains, and is to stay till next week.”

“Yes, but how little we see of him. Your kind neighbour, Mr. Grenfell,
has him almost every day at dinner.”

“For which I owe him all my gratitude.”

“I take it, Mr. Grenfell invites him to please himself. He is very
lonely yonder at the Cottage. He says he has made no acquaintances, and
I suppose that even Mr. Adolphus Ladarelle is better than solitude--not
that I should think so myself.”

“But you show that too plainly, Ma Mie. There are no feelings we
ought so strictly to control, so far as the manifestations go, as our
distastes to people in society.”

“I think he hates _me_.”

“That would be impossible, child. He may be afraid of your wit; he may
not like to encounter your repartee; he may feel, and not unreasonably,
that he does not stand high in your favour, and this may impart a degree
of constraint to his manner.”

“I have not seen the constraint, Sir, but I have the dislike, and it was
so perfectly mutual, I was glad of it.”

“Another mistake, Ma Chere, and a great mistake. The people who really
like us need no caressing. The blandishments should be all reserved for
the doubtful--just as we administer cordials to the weak.”

“I do my best, Sir, but I own I do not approach it with a good grace. Do
you really wish me to become a favourite with this young gentleman?”

“Nay, Ma Mie, you go too far. Your nature is like a pendulum, that
swings if it be but breathed on. I did not say so much as that. I simply
meant, that I should prefer if he were to carry away from us a pleasant
impression of his visit. His father and I have had some discussions of
a kind I cannot easily forget. In a long life of affairs, I have not met
one, no, not one, who carries the virtue of candour to the pitch of
my respected relative, or who imparts home truths with a more telling
sincerity.”

“Well, Sir, if I understand you aright, I am to captivate Mr. Ladarelle,
but not to fall in love with him.”

“Mademoiselle,” said he, gravely, “there was not such a word as
love dropped in the entire discussion. I have told you that with the
relations which subsist between the elder Mr. Ladarelle and myself it
would be as well if a kindlier sentiment connected me with the young
man. We shall probably have matters to discuss to which each of us ought
to bring all the courtesy in his power.”

“Who cut down the large elm, Gardy?” cried she, suddenly pointing to a
clearing in the wood, where a gigantic trunk had just been felled.

“It was I, Ma Chere. I ordered it; intending to make a vista yonder,
so that we should see the great tower; but Mr. Ladarelle has stopped me
with a protest, and as I abhor a lawsuit, I think I shall submit.”

“Just watch how the Cid will take the timber; he’s glorious oyer a
stump!”

“Kate--my dear Kate--it’s too high; don’t do it. Come back, I entreat; I
order you to come back!” cried he, as she dashed into the open, and with
her horse beautifully in hand, cantered him at the tree. Perhaps it was
in the seeming carelessness of her hand--for horses have an instinct
rarely deceptive as to the intention of the rider--perhaps a mere
caprice, but the Cid swerved as he came up and refused the leap.

The bare thought of such rebellion raised the girl’s temper at once. She
wheeled him suddenly round, and rode back about fifty yards, and then
facing him once more in the direction of the tree, she dashed towards it
in speed.

“I command you--I order you to come back!” screamed Sir Within; but she
heeded nothing, heard nothing. The horse, now irritated and snorting
with passion, came too close before he rose to the leap, and though
he sprung madly into the air, he touched--a mere touch with his
fore-leg--and came tumbling over, headforemost, to the opposite side,
with his rider beneath him.

[Illustration: 322]

Sir Within had covered his eyes with one hand, not to see her take the
leap, and he remained thus for a few seconds, waiting to hear her voice
and the tramp of her horse as she joined him. At last he removed his
hand and looked around. She was not to be seen. He cried her name--he
screamed it in his agony.

“This way!” cried she; “I’m not hurt--don’t be frightened--come and help
me!”

Dismounting, he made through the tall ferns and the felled branches
and soon gained the spot, from which the horse had only now arisen, and
stood trembling over the fallen figure of the girl. “Oh, my life--my
darling--my heart’s dearest,” cried he, kneeling down beside her; “tell
me you are not crushed--not injured!”

“Only stunned, Gardy, nothing more. It was all my own fault. I rode him
at speed; he had no time to gather himself, and the martingale----” As
she spoke, her voice grew weak, she leaned her head on his shoulder and
fainted.

How did the deep woods resound to that poor old man’s prayers and cries
for help! He shouted--he screamed--he implored; he offered untold gold
to him who should come to his aid. He pledged to give half of all he
had in the world to any who should succour her. It was by a caprice of
Kate’s that they rode without a groom, and he inveighed against his own
folly now for the compliance. Madly mingling self-reproaches with his
cries for assistance, he grew at length hoarse and so faint with his
efforts, that he could with difficulty sustain her weight. Just then was
it that she rallied, and with a playful smile said, “Dear Gardy, just
pass your hand over Cid’s knee. I hope it is not touched!”

“What do I care for the horse; are you safe, my own darling--are you not
hurt?”

“Not in the least--I think not; my ankle is a little stiff--a mere
sprain--no more. This shoulder too---- There, don’t touch it, only
help me up. Yes, of course, I mean to mount again--do tell me if his
knee is all right?”

“Only think--without help--without a servant--not a creature near us,”
 muttered he.

“Very dreadful,” said she, with an arch smile; “quite compromising, I
declare.”

“Oh, I have no heart for a jest now!” said he, with a heavy sigh, as he
assisted her to rise.

“My sweet little horse,” said she, patting him and throwing her arm
round his neck. “I did treat you very ill--very ill indeed. It was soft
spongy ground, too, and not fair in any way, and you were not in the
least to blame. Do you know, Gardy, it was a mere bit of bark that
caught his foot; for, after all, it is not above four feet high, is it?”

“I don’t know--I don’t care how high it is. It very nigh cost you your
life, and cost _me_ more than I wish to tell;” and he muttered these
last words beneath his breath.

“You have never helped me to mount, I think, Gardy! Mind, now, don’t
touch Cid’s bridle; he won’t bear it. Just give me a slight lift--that’s
it; thanks. Oh, how nice to be on the saddle again. If you wouldn’t
think very ill of me, I’d ask a favour?”

“Anything in the whole world, Ma Mie; what is it?”

“Then, like a dear kind Gardy, let me ride him at it again; I’ll do it
so quietly--”

“Not for a dukedom--not if you went on your knees to beg it. I declare,
you can have but little feeling in your heart to ask it. Nay, I
didn’t mean to say that, my sweet child; my head is wandering, and I
know not what I say.”

“I hope you’ll not tell of my disaster, Gardy,” said she, as they rode
slowly along towards home. “A fall brings one down at once to the level
of all the people who do nothing but fall. Don’t smile; I mean simply
what I say as applied to matters of horseflesh, not morals, and promise
you’ll not tell of me.”

“The doctor must hear of it, certainly.”

“No, Gardy, I’ll have no doctor.”

“I insist upon it--you shall--and you must, Kate. Surely, when I say it
is for my happiness, you will not refuse me.”

She made no answer, but passing her reins to her right hand, she laid
her left hand over his, and so they rode on without a word on either
side.

“Is it not strange that a crush and a tumble over a big tree should make
one so very--very happy; but I declare to you, Gardy, I never knew my
heart so full of delight as at this moment. Tell me, what’s the meaning
of it?”

“Gratitude for your escape, Ma Mie; the thankfulness that even the most
thoughtless feel for preservation through danger.”

“No, it’s not that; the sort of ecstacy I feel is something quite
different from all this. It has nothing to do with peril, and just as
little with gratitude. It has more in it of pride--that’s not the word,
but it will do--of pride, then, that you made so much account of me.”

“For a moment I thought I had lost you!” said he, and his voice
trembled, and his very cheek shook with emotion as he spoke.

“And would the loss have been a deep sorrow--a very deep sorrow?”

He pressed her hand to his heart, and said in a low voice, “The
deepest--the heaviest that could befal me!”

“Was it not worth a fall to learn this?” said she, laughingly.

“Nay, rather will it not teach you to take more care of a life of such
consequence to others?”

“Don’t say others, Gardy--say one other, and I am content.” As she
said this, she drew her hand hurriedly away, for they were already
approaching the great entrance, on the terrace of which Grenfell and
young Ladarelle were talking and laughing. “Mind, Sir, not a word of my
accident!” And with this she sprang to the ground before he could offer
his hand, and, hurrying up the steps, disappeared within the building.

“Won’t you ask Grenfell to stop to dinner, Sir?” whispered Dolly, as Sir
Within, after a few cold common-places, was about to pass on.

“Not to-day.”

“But I have half done it already, Sir. It was a great liberty on my
part, but I blundered into it.”

“Will you give us your company at dinner to-morrow, Mr. Grenfell?”
 said Sir Within, without the hesitation of a moment.

Grenfell accepted, and, as Sir Within moved on, turning to Dolly, he
said, “Did you remark his agitation--did you notice the embarrassment of
his look and manner? Take my word for it, he has made her an offer.”

“Do you know it was passing through my mind the very same thought; for
as they turned the angle of the copse yonder, I saw her snatch her hand
from him.”

“Come back and dine with me. Common delicacy forbids you to spoil a
_tête-à-tête_.”

“I can’t take the thing as coolly as you do, Grenfell. It’s no laughing
matter to me.”

“Don’t laugh then, that’s all. There can be no reason, however, that you
should not dine; so step in, and let’s be off.”

“I suspect you are right,” said Dolly, as they drove away. “The old fool
has capped his folly. I whispered to him to ask you to dine.”

“I heard you, and I marked the eager way he put it off till tomorrow.
His confusion got the better of all his tact, and showed me plainly
enough that something had occurred to excite him greatly.”

“She passed in, too, without ever looking up; she never bowed to us--did
you notice that?”

“I saw it all, and I said to myself that Master Dolly’s next dealings
with Joel will entail heavy sacrifices.”

“It’s not done yet,” said Ladarelle, with an affected boldness.

“No, nor need be for some weeks to come; but let us talk no more of it
till we have dined. Vyner sent me his cellar-key this morning, and we’ll
see if his old wine cannot suggest some good counsel.”



CHAPTER XXXVIII. SCHEMING

They sat late over their wine, and telling the servants to go to bed,
Grenfell ordered that he should not be called before noon on the next
day.

According to custom, his serrant had left his letters by his bedside,
and then retired noiselessly, and without disturbing him. It was already
late in the afternoon when Grenfell awoke. The first note he opened was
a short one from Sir Within, begging to excuse himself from the expected
happiness of receiving Mr. Grenfell that day at dinner, as a sudden
attack of his old enemy the gout had just laid him up in bed. “If I have
only my usual fortune,” added he, “my seizure will be a brief one, and I
may soon again reckon on the pleasure of seeing you here.”

The tidings of the illness was corroborated by Grenfell’s valet, who saw
the doctor travelling to Dalradern with all the speed of post-horses.

The thought of a courtship that ushered in a fit of the gout was just
the sort of drollery that suited Grenfell’s taste, and as he lay he
laughed in derision of the old man and his schemes of future happiness.
He fancied himself telling the story at his club, and he dwelt on the
opportunity it would afford to talk of “Wardle” as his friend--one
whose eccentricities he had therefore a perfect right to dish-up for the
amusement of all others.

“Take this,” said he, giving the note to his servant, “to Mr.
Ladarelle’s room;” and, fancying to himself the varied moods with which
that young gentleman would con over the intelligence, he lay back again
in his bed.

There was no friendship--there was no reason for any--in the apparent
interest he had taken in Ladarelle. It was not of the slightest moment
to him which of the two, if either, should marry Kate O’Hara, save as to
with whom he should stand best, and be most likely to be well received
by in the future. Were she to marry Sir Within, the house would, in all
likelihood, be closed to him. The old minister was too well versed in
worldly matters not to cut off all the traditions of the past. He’s sure
either to introduce her into life under the auspices of some of his own
high connexions, or to live totally estranged from all society. “In
either case, they are lost to me. Should she be married to Ladarelle,
I--as the depositary of all that was secret in the transaction--I must
needs have my influence. The house will of necessity be open to me, and
I shall make of it what I please.” By this last reflection Grenfell
summed up what his experience of life had largely supplied him
with--that is, an inordinate liking for those establishments in which a
large fortune is allied with something which disqualifies the possessors
from taking their rightful position in society. In his estimation, there
were no such pleasant houses as those where there was a “screw loose,”
 either in the conduct, the character, or the antecedents of the owners.

These houses were a sort of asylum for that large nomade population of
highly amusing qualities and no characters, the men who had not “done”
 everything, but “done” everybody, and of women still more dubious. In
these houses the style of living was usually splendid. Wit has a sort of
natural affinity for good cookery, and Beauty knows all the value of the
“costly setting” which splendour confers. Last of all, there was that
perfect liberty--the freedom from all the discipline of correcter
establishments--which gave to every guest some prerogative of a
master. You came as you liked, went as you liked, and very often, too,
introduced whom you liked. What more could a man do if he were the
rightful owner? Now, Grenfell was free of many such houses, but in none
was he supreme. There was not one wherein his authority was dominant and
his word a law. This he ambitioned; he craved impatiently for the time
he could say to the men in his club, “I’ll take you down with me to
Ladarelle’s--_I_’ll show you some real cock shooting--I’ll give you a
day or two at Dalradern.” Would not that be fame--distinction--triumph?
Ladarelle, too, was a man made by nature for such a part--careless,
extravagant, sensual, fond of amusement, without caring in the least for
the characters of those who contributed towards it, and inherently
vain and open to the coarsest flattery. With him, therefore, Grenfell
anticipated little trouble; with her he was by no means so sure. She
puzzled him, and she seemed determined not to afford him any opportunity
of knowing more of her. Her avoidance of him was plain and unmistakable.

“Perhaps she fears, perhaps she distrusts me,” thought he. “I’ll take
the earliest moment to assure her she need do neither, but may make me
her friend implicitly.” He understood a good deal by that same word,
which in ordinary life is not imputed to friendship. In fact, by
friendship, he--as a great many others do--simply meant conspiracy.
Thinking and reflecting in this vein, he lay, when the door opened, and
young Ladarelle, in dressing-gown and slippers, entered.

“What’s the meaning of all this, Grenfell?” said he. “My fellow, Fisk,
who is just come over, says that Sir Within is perfectly well; he was in
the stable-yard this morning at seven o’clock, and that it is the ward,
Mademoiselle herself, is ill.”

“He won’t have us at dinner, that’s all I know,” said Grenfell, yawning
carelessly.

“He says nothing whatever about me; scarcely civil, I think, considering
I am supposed to be his guest.”

“I’ll give you a dinner. You’ll pay me with interest one of these days,
when you come to that estate.”

“That I will.”

“Do you know, as I lay here this last hour, I have been plotting out the
sort of life a man could cut out for himself in a place like this. You
are the sort of fellow to have the very pleasantest house in England.”

“I should like to try.”

“If you try, you’ll win. Shall I tell you, Master Dolly, the quality
which first attracted me towards you?”

“What was it?”

“It was this. You are one of the very few young fellows I ever met who
was not infected with a slavish worship of the titled classes. How,
being a Cambridge man, you escaped it, I don’t know; but you have
escaped it.”

“You’re right there,” said Dolly; but the colour that mounted so
suddenly to his cheek, seemed to imply a certain confusion in making the
assertion. “You know we had a peerage once in the family, and it is
a hobby of my governor’s to try and revive it. He offered the present
people to contest any two of the Opposition seats, and proposed to
myself to go into the House; but I told him flatly, I’d rather get into
Graham’s than into Parliament.”

“A much harder thing to do!”

“You’re in Graham’s, ain’t you?”

“Yes; and so shall you be next ballot, if you really wish for it!”

“What a trump you are! Do you know, Grenfell, I can’t make it out at all
that I never met you before?”

“I’m some twelve or fifteen years your senior,” said the other, and a
slight twitching of the mouth showed a certain irritation as he spoke;
“a few years separates men as essentially as a whole hemisphere.”

“I suppose so.”

“Town life, too, moves in such a routine, that when a man comes to
my age, he no more makes a new acquaintance than he acquires a new
sensation.”

“And, stranger still,” continued Dolly, with that persistence that
pertains to ill breeding, “I never so much as heard of you.”

“I feel ashamed of my obscurity!” said Grenfell, and his pale cheek
became mottled with red.

“No, it ain’t that. I meant only to say that I never heard of any
Grenfells but the Piccadilly fellows, Cox and Grenfells! ‘None genuine
but signed by us.’ Ha, ha, ha!” and Dolly laughed at his drollery, and
the other joined in the mirth quite sufficiently not to attract any
especial attention. “Not relatives, I presume?” added Dolly, still
laughing.

“Delighted if they were!” said Grenfell, with a sickly smile. “I don’t
think the dividends would smell of curry powder!”

“That’s what Cecil St. John says: ‘Let the greatest scoundrel in England
only leave me his money, and I’ll honour his memory.’ Do you know St.
John?”

“One of my most intimate friends.”

“I am dying to know him! Grog Davis says he’s the only man that ever
took the wind out of _his_ sails.”

“I’ll have him to dinner when I go up to town, and get you to meet him,”
 said Grenfell. “It must be on a Sunday, though, for Cecil shuns all
others, which he calls dun-days, to distinguish from Sundays.”

“I’d like to wipe off every shilling he owes. I’d like to set a fellow
like that clear with the world.”

“I’ll tell him you said so. It will go a very long way towards acquiring
his esteem.”

“Well, I declare it’s a thing I’d do, if I had my property. I’ve heard
wonderful stories about him.”

“And he could tell you still more wonderful ones himself. He’s one
of those men”--here Grenfell’s voice became authoritative and
collected--“one of those men who, if he saw himself in such a position
as yours, would no more doubt as to what he would do, than he would
hesitate taking a fair fence in a fox-hunt.”

“And what would he do _in my_ place?”

“He’d reason out the thing, somewhat in this way: ‘If I suffer the old
cove to marry this girl, he’ll either hamper the estate with a heavy
settlement, or, mayhap, alienate it altogether. I’ll marry her myself,
or, if she’ll not consent, I’ll carry her off. Abduction looks very big
in the law-books, but it’s a light offence, except where the woman is
intractable.’”

“And, would you carry her off?”

“St. John would, I’ll take my oath on it!”

“And not marry her?”

“That’s as it might be, and if she insisted; for he has three other
wives still living.”

“But, is the thing possible?”

“Possible! Why, it’s done every week of the year in Ireland.”

“Ay, but we’re not in Ireland, unfortunately.”

“That’s true; neither are we in France; but it was a French cook dressed
that ‘supreme’ we ate yesterday.”

“I see what you mean,” said he, pondering slowly over the other’s words.
“You think one might get fellows who understand how this sort of thing
is to be done?”

“If I don’t mistake greatly, I know where to-go for the very man you
want. In an excursion I once made with Vyner in the west of Ireland,
we rambled into a wild district of Donegal, where in a lonely region we
chanced on a little inn. It is a flattery to call it an inn. It was a
small thatched cabin standing by itself in the midst of the mountains;
there was not another habitation, I’m certain, within ten miles of it.
The fellow who kept it was as rank a rebel as ever graced the gallows;
and made no secret of his treason either, but owned it boldly and
impudently. I had more than one discussion with him, and learned that
the rascal had all the shrewdness and low cunning that pertains to that
class of his countrymen. He had not, however, been well treated by his
party, and he was not at all indisposed to betray them if he could see
his way to secure his own advantage by it. At all events, it was clear
to me, that for a case which required craft, daring, and no interference
of scruples of any kind, this fellow was eminently suited; and I have
often thought, if I needed a man for an enterprise where the law must be
broken, and the penalty incurred a gaol and a long imprisonment, I’d go
and look up my friend in Donegal as the man for the occasion--not to
say that his house would be the very place to afford a refuge beyond all
risk of discovery.”

Ladarelle listened with deep attention throughout, and when Gren-fell
had finished, said: “What do you mean by a refuge beyond all discovery?”

“Simply, that for some short time, marry or not, you must be able to
baffle pursuit, and for such a purpose I’d back this spot in the wilds
of Donegal against the kingdom.”

“Suppose we were to fail?”

“We can’t fail; she goes willingly--or, if not, unwillingly; but failure
is out of the question. Your object is, that she should not be Lady
Wardle, is it not so?”

“Yes, undoubtedly.”

“And to secure this, it is worth while incurring some risk?”

“Certainly; but I should like to know the extent of that risk.”

“I’m no lawyer, and can’t tell you what class of misdemeanor the law
makes it; not to say that the offence is one which differs according to
the judge who tries it; but the question to which you will haye to look
is this: If the girl be satisfied that she is really married, however
grieved the old man may be, he will never disturb that fact. He’ll shut
himself up in his castle, and let his beard grow. A great shock at his
age lasts for the remainder of life, and he’ll nurse his grief till it
lays him in the grave.”

“Then there must be a marriage?”

“Some sort of marriage, Irish or Scotch, they have them of all sorts and
complexions; but English law smashes them, just to show these poor Celts
in what a barbarism they are living, and that even their most solemn
contracts are a farce, if not ratified by us here.”

“So that I could marry again if I wished it?”

“Of course you could. Why, scores of fellows about town have gone
through that sort of humbug. Don’t you know Lawson--Jim Lawson? Well,
he married his sister’s governess before he married Lady Lucy King; and
they wanted to make a fuss about it; but it was proved that it was only
a lark on his part, though _she_ was quite serious about it; and the
priest, too, was only in deacon’s orders, or it was after canonical
hours, and it was all irregular, even to the ring on her finger, which
Harry Bushe said was copper, and so the Lords smashed it, as they always
do these Irish things, and Jimmy married the other woman.”

“I wish there was to be no marriage at all.”

“Perhaps you do; perhaps you’d like it better if old Sir Within would
have the politeness to die off and give you no further trouble?”

“Ah, if he would!”

“But, as he won’t--as he is firmly bent not merely on living longer, but
actually taking measures to make himself an unpleasant memory when he
does go, I suspect you ought to look sharp to your own interests, Master
Dolly. But, after all, I find myself pressing like an advocate in a case
where the very utmost I ought to do should be to advise as a friend. You
know by this time all I think on this matter. It is for you to follow
the advice or reject it. Meanwhile, I mean to get up and have a walk
before dinner.”

“Just one thing more--as to this Irish fellow you speak of. Would he
take all the risks--the legal risks--if he were well paid for it?”

“I think it’s very likely he would. I don’t think he’ll bind himself
to go to the drop exactly; but I take it he’ll not boggle about a
reasonable term of imprisonment, and perhaps ‘hard labour.’”

“Will you write for him, then?”

“Not without you are fully determined to employ him. If you pledge me
your word to this, I will write.”

“If I pay him----”

“No, no, I’ll have none of that! These Irish fellows, even in their most
questionable dealings, have a point of honour-sense about them, that
makes them very dangerous men to deal with. Let them only suspect any
intention of a slight, and their old Spanish blood, I suppose it is,
takes fire at once.”

“Let me have a night to think it over.”

“Take a week, take a month, if Sir Within will give it to you. You are
your own master, and need not ask for time from any one.”

“I’d like to reflect well on it. It is too serious a thing to do without
good consideration.”

“Do so by all means, and begin at once, for I want to ring for my
servant and have my bath.”

“I wish you’d have a little more patience; one can’t decide on a thing
of this sort in five minutes.”

“Who asks you, my dear fellow--who presses you? I only beg to be allowed
to get up and dress myself, and a not very unreasonable request, seeing
that it is close on five o’clock, and you have been here since three.”

“Well, I’ll do it, come what may of it. I’ll do it.”

“Take the night to consider it.”

“No, I am resolved on it. I’ll do it.”

“Very well; we are too late for the post to-night, but I’ll write to
this man after dinner, and by that time you will have fully made up
your mind. Now go, or I’ll begin to regret the day and the hour I ever
thought of giving you counsel.”

“You are the most impatient fellow I ever met in my life,” said
Ladarelle, as he arose reluctantly, and with unwilling steps sauntered
out of the room.



CHAPTER XXXIX. WITH DOCTORS

On the evening of the same day, Sir Within sat alone in his grand
old dining-room. The servants had withdrawn and left him in solitary
splendour, for the massive plate glittered on the sideboard, and the
blaze of many wax-lights illuminated the three or four great pictures of
Rubens’ on the walls, and sparkled over the richly-cut glass that
figured amongst the desert, and there, amidst all, sat that old
man--pale, wan, and careworn--to all seeming several years older than
one short week ago. A small table at his side was littered with letters
and law papers; but though he had gone for them to his study, he never
noticed them, so deeply was his mind bent on other thoughts. At last he
looked at his watch, and then arising, he rang the bell.

“Doctor Price is still above stairs?” said he, in a tone of inquiry.

“Yes, Sir Within.”

“And you are quite certain you told him to come to me before he left the
Castle?”

“Yes, Sir Within.”

“That will do,” said he, with a sigh.

Scarcely had the servant closed the door than he re-opened it to
announce Doctor Price, a small pock-marked sharp-featured man, with an
intensely keen eye, and a thin compressed mouth.

“Well, Doctor, well?” said Sir Within, as he came forward towards him
with a manner of great anxiety.

“Well, Sir Within Wardle, it is as I suspected, a case of concussion;
there’s no organic mischief--no lesion.”

“What’s a lesion?”

“There is no fracture, nor any pressure, so far as I can detect; but
there is very grave injury of another sort. There is concussion of the
brain.”

“And is there danger--be frank, Doctor, is there danger?”

“Certainly there is danger; but I would not pronounce it to be imminent
danger.”

“London has some men of great eminence, which of them all would you
select to consult with on such a case? I am certain that you would wish
a consultation.”

“I have no objection to one, Sir Within, and I would name Sir Henry
Morland, as the first man in his profession.”

“Then write for him, Sir--write at once. Here, in this room, here”--and
he opened a door into a small cabinet--“you will find everything you
want.”

“Certainly; I obey your instructions. I will write immediately; but say
in what terms. The young lady is your ward--am I to style her by that
title or by her name?”

Sir Within blushed, but it was more in anger than shame; the barest
approach to any question of Kate’s position jarred upon his feelings
like an insinuation, and he fixed a steadfast stare on the Doctor before
he replied, to assure himself that there was no covert impertinence in
the request. Apparently he was satisfied, for in a calm voice he said,
“It will be unnecessary to say more than that his presence is requested
by Sir Within Wildrington Wardle at Dalradem Castle, and with all the
speed possible.”

While the Doctor was writing, Sir Within walked to and fro with short
and hurried steps, his mouth twitched from time to time, and a nervous
motion of his fingers betrayed the immense agitation that possessed him,
and against which he struggled hard to subdue all outward signs. Had the
occasion been a ministerial conference--had the event been one in which
a bold front was called for, to cover a weak position, or affront a
coming peril--the old envoy would have borne himself well and bravely;
no one could have worn an easier look in a trying emergency, or better
baffled the searching that would try to detect a secret misgiving.
But where was all this subtlety now? Of what did it avail him? He bent
before this blow as humbly as a school-girl, and soon even abandoned the
attempt to dissimulate, and wrung his hands in passionate sorrow as he
went.

“Will that do, then, Sir Within?” asked the Doctor, as he handed him the
note he had just written.

“I have not my glass,” said he, hurriedly, while his fingers held it;
“but of course it is all right. You will instruct me as to the fee--you
will do whatever is necessary, and you will also, I trust, remain here.
I wish you not to leave the Castle.”

“Impossible, Sir Within. Sir Godfrey Wynne is very ill, and I have a
very anxious case at Glassnwyd.”

“But none of them, I will venture to say, so needful of watching as
this. You have just told me how precarious these cases are. Remember,
Sir, I have some claims upon you.”

“The very greatest, Sir Within. But for your munificent donation, I
should never have been physician to the Wrexham Hospital.”

“I did not mean that,” said Sir Within, flushing scarlet; “I did not
allude to that. I spoke of old family claims in your father’s time.
Dalradem was always his staunch supporter.”

“I know it well, Sir; but a doctor owes allegiance to the very humblest
of those who need him.”

“A doctor, I presume, is bound to accord the patient whatever of his
time he can pay for?”

“Not to the detriment of others who are ill, Sir Within.”

“I know of no other than those under this roof, Doctor Price. I insist,
therefore, that you remain here.”

“I will return before evening, Sir Within.”

“If you leave this now, Sir, you need not return.”

“Let me entreat you to moderate your warmth, and hear me.”

“Sir, I accept no lessons on the mode in which I should comport myself.
My education is not, I would hope, yet to be made in this respect. You
stay now, or you never re-cross this threshold.”

“Then I most respectfully take my leave, Sir.”

As he moved towards the door, Sir Within placed himself against it.

“This is conduct, Sir,” cried he, passionately, “for which I was in no
way prepared. It is the first time in my life I have been a physician
refuse his services to those who had the right to call for, and the
ability to requite them. I will not suffer it.”

The Doctor moved his head mournfully, and muttered a few low and
indistinct words.

“No, Sir, I want no apologies. I will not listen to excuses!” cried Sir
Within, whose cheek was in a flame, and his eye flashing with anger. “I
have done my best--my very best--to misunderstand your ‘meaning; I have
tried my utmost to persuade myself that this was no intentional slight;
but, apparently, Sir, you insist that I should know it, and feel it.”

“You distress me greatly, Sir Within--and all the more, that I really
cannot follow you in what you imply.”

“I never imply, Sir--I declare--I assert!” and his voice was, now
shrill with passion. “It is no insinuation I make--it is an open
declaration--that it is in what scandalous tongues have dared to allege
against this young lady’s residence under my roof is the sole pretext
you have to refuse your services here. Don’t deny it, Sir; I read it
in your confusion half an hour ago. You intend to build a character for
high morality on this event. You know this county better than I do, and
you are a better judge how far your strict virtue will be remunerative;
or perhaps you fancy that I will condescend to an explanation with you.”

“No, no, Sir Within. You are too unjust--quite too unjust in all this.”

The old Baronet never heard the interruption, but went on:

“But, Sir, if I have scorned to make explanations to the first gentry
of my neighbourhood, it is not likely I will descend to them for the
satisfaction of a village doctor. Go, Sir--go! but at your peril one
word to gratify the slanderous temper of your clients; for if I hear
that you have dared to insinuate, however faintly--”

The Doctor did not wait for him to finish, but hurried down the stairs,
crossed the hall, and hastened to the stable-yard; and in a very few
minutes the sharp sound of his horse’s feet on the ground declared that
he was off at speed.

Sir Within had sunk into the chair beside the door from which the Doctor
had just issued, powerless and overcome. The outburst of passion, what
had been but one exit of an overwhelming sorrow, had run its course,
and now he sat there wretched and forlorn. Of his late altercation he
remembered positively nothing. Something had occurred--something that
excited and agitated him. The Doctor had said, or somebody had said, he
knew not what; but it shadowed forth a sort of reflection on him--for
Heaven knows what; and he wiped the cold perspiration from his brow, and
tried to collect himself. At last he arose and rang the bell.

“Will you tell Doctor Price I should like to speak to him,” said he, in
his usual bland tone.

“The Doctor is gone, Sir Within; he left the Castle half an hour ago.”

He nodded; and the servant retired. After a little while he rang again.

“Let Doctor Price know I wish to see him before he goes away,” said he,
in a faint voice.

“The Doctor left the Castle some time back, Sir Within,” said the man,
in some astonishment.

“Ah!--very true--I remember: that will do.” Once more alone, he tried
to remember what had just occurred--but he could not; and, with weary
steps, he mounted the stairs slowly towards the corridor where the sick
chamber stood.

“She is sleeping, Sir Within,” said the nurse, who sat outside the
door to enforce silence--“sleeping, but dreaming and wandering on
continually; and such strange things, too, she says.”

“What does she talk of, nurse?” said he, scarcely conscious of what he
asked.

“She be talking, Sir, of being a-gathering seaweed on the rocks, and
crying out to some one to take care--that the tide is gaining fast. ‘It
will be soon in on us!’ she cries every moment; ‘make haste, Patsey,
or we’ll lose it all?’ And then she’ll wring her hair, as if there was
water in it, and tie it up short afterwards on the back of her head. I
never see a young lady go on the same way before!”

“Wandering?--mere wandering?” said Sir Within, faintly. “Of course it
be, Sir Within; but ain’t it a strange sort of wandering for one bred
and brought up as she was?”

“When people rave, they rave,” said Sir Within, curtly. “Yes, Sir, so
they does; but people born to every comfort and the like seldom talks
of going out to look for firewood, or to bring home the goats from the
mountains; and that poor sweet dear there won’t think of anything else.”

“You are a fool, ma’am, or you would never think of attaching importance
to what a patient raves about in a fever. I wonder Doctor Price could
not have found a more competent person.” And with this rebuke he
retraced his steps, and sought his own room.

As he sat there, a servant entered with a note Doctor Price’s servant
had just brought. He tore it open impatiently, and read:

“Dear Sir,--I have accidentally heard that Sir Henry Morland will be at
Wrexham this evening. If it be your wish to see him at Dalradern, pray
inform me by the bearer.

“Very respectfully your Servant,

“Pritchard Price.”

Sir Within at once addressed a most curt and conciliatory note to Doctor
Price, requesting to see him and his colleague as soon as would suit his
convenience. That there was something for which an apology was needed,
he knew; but what it was, how it occurred, or why it occurred, was
totally beyond him; his note, however, was polite in every respect, and
its conclusion actually friendly. Doctor Price, however, did not make
his appearance, but towards midnight a post-chaise drove into the
court-yard, and the great town Physician entered the castle. He was a
short, stout-built, heavy-browed man, stern, and almost peremptory
in his manner, reserving all his mind for his patient, and scarcely
condescending to notice the friends of the sick person.

“Who is it?” asked he bluntly of Sir Within, as the old envoy politely
handed him a chair.

“My ward, Sir Henry, a young lady not fully seventeen.”

“Humph! I did not know you were married.”

“I am not married, Sir. I was not aware that we were discussing that
question.”

“Let me speak with your sister, then?”

“I have no sister, Sir.”

“I don’t care what the relative is--cousin, aunt, grandmother--if not
too old.”

“I reject, Sir, I have no female relative here to whom I can refer you.
I shall send for my housekeeper, however, who is a most intelligent
person;” and he rang the bell hurriedly.

“And this ward--strange thing a ward in the house of an unmarried
man--what’s her name?”

“Miss O’Hara.”

“O’Hara! O’Hara! One of the Antrim family?”

“No, Sir; no connexion even.”

“Oh, this is the housekeeper! Show me your patient, and tell me
about the case as we go along;” and abruptly returning Sir Within’s
salutation, he left the room, and proceeded up-stairs. “Yes, yes,” he
muttered, as the housekeeper recounted the symptoms. “Yes; I know
all that: but I want to hear how it began. Was there any shock--any
accident? None? Mere fatigue--a long ride--over-exertion--a very hot
day! Yes, yes, quite common--answers at first collectively, and then
goes off raving--that’s enough!”

The rough ungracious man, abrupt of speech, and actually rude in manner,
became gentle as a woman as he stole up to the bedside and laid his hand
on the hot and burning forehead. She raised her hand, tremulous with
fever, and placed it upon his, and said: “Yes; the pain is there!”

“Let us see if we cannot cure it,” said he softly, as he sat down beside
the bed.

She turned her large lustrous eyes upon him--brightened as they were
in the glow of fever--and stared at him steadfastly and long. He was
counting her pulse, and she watched his lips as they faintly stirred, as
though she could read her fate in their motion.

“Well?” cried she--“well?”

“Well, you are about to get better, my dear child; the fever is
decreasing, and your head freer.”

“Yes,” said she, hurriedly, “the horrid fancies that torment me are
passing away, and I can think now. Who are you?” asked she, after a
pause.

“I am your doctor.”

“But your name? I never saw you before.”

“I know that! This is my first visit to you. My name is Morland.”

“Morland--Morland--I have read that name in the newspapers. Sir William,
or Sir something.”

“Sir Henry Morland.”

“Physician to the King, I declare,” said she, raising herself on one arm
to look at him; “and you have come here, all this way, to see me!”

“And very well worth my while it was. It is not every day I chance upon
so interesting a patient.”

“How kind you are--how pleasant your voice is; it soothes me to listen
to it.”

“But we must not talk any more now, my child.”

“O yes, let us talk, it is so delightful; tell me of all the fine people
you see daily. Do you speak to them as kindly as to me, or are you more
reserved and distant? Do tell me.”

“I will tell you all about these things another time, when it will be
safer for you to hear them. You must have perfect rest and quiet now.”

“It would quiet me far more to listen to you than to let me think on and
on, as I have been doing. You are going away already?”

“I cannot help it, my child; I have many others waiting for me to see
them.”

“But you wouldn’t hurry away from me in this fashion if I were a great
person?”

“Pardon me; you are a very great person to _me_.”

“How so? Tell me what you mean; do tell me,” cried she; and she started
up and caught his hand with both her own. “I must know what that means.”

“Listen to me, my child,” and he spoke in a graver, almost a stern
manner; “I can only do the work of my daily life by being very despotic.
I have replied to more questions of yours now, than I should have
answered to a Royal Highness. Good-by.”

“Good-by!” said she, and pressed his hand to her hot lips. “Good-by;
don’t forget me.”

As the Doctor, followed by Mrs. Simcox, left the room, he stood for a
moment in the corridor, deep in thought. “Her mind is collected now,”
 said he, at last; “there is only excitement; there is no aberration.”

“She has those intervals every now and then, Sir, and she’ll speak
as sensibly as any one; and, indeed, it’s hard to say when she is not
talking rational, for she is odd and strange when she’s well.”

“Yes, I see that; she is no ordinary person.”

“And no later than last night, Sir, when we imagined that she was
talking a mere gibberish of her own, our second housemaid, that was in
the room, went over and answered her, and there they talked together for
more than a quarter of an hour, Sir; and I asked Molly what it was,
and she said it was Irish. So, when the girl came into the room this
morning, I told her to talk it again; but, would you believe it, Sir,
our young lady began to laugh, and asked what the creature meant by that
nonsense. She did not know one word, Sir, Molly was saying, any more
than ourselves.”

The Doctor nodded assentingly, as though such a case was familiar
to him, and passed on. At the foot of the stairs he found Sir Within
waiting for him.

“I will talk to Price,” said Sir Henry; “I shall see him to-night, and
to-morrow I will take another opportunity of seeing her before I return
to town.

“Are you hopeful as to the result?” asked Sir Within, with much anxiety
in his look.

“She has youth in her favour,” said he, as he buttoned up his overcoat.

“And you think well of her case, then?”

“I did not say so, Sir; I don’t think any man would go so far; for it
will be tedious, and consequently precarious. And there are now and then
recoveries that can scarcely be called benefits. How many miles do you
call it to Wrexham?”

“You speak of the effects upon the brain--the permanent effects?” said
Sir Within, with trembling eagerness.

“Brain or membranes, I don’t think it signifies much which. And
Wrexham--how far is it?”

“Your postboy will tell you, Sir; this case is of much more moment to
me.”

Sir Henry turned a full steady look on the old envoy, as though he were
contemplating an order of being wholly new and strange to him; and then
turning to the housekeeper, who still stood at his side, said: “Stop the
ice--apply mere cold water; don’t talk to her, and no more Irish--take
care of that--no more Irish. Good night, Sir Within;” and stepping
hastily down the steps, he entered his carriage and drove away.

“What did he mean by that last direction, no more Irish, Mrs. Simcox?”
 asked Sir Within.

“La, Sir, it was about a thing that happened last night;” and she
recounted the incident, at somewhat greater length than we have given
it.

“Send the girl to me,” said Sir Within, as she finished; “let me speak
to her in the library.”

The interview lasted about half an hour, and at the end of it Molly
was seen to hasten to her room, pack her clothes, and descend to the
stable-yard, where a conveyance was in waiting for her.

“This is a hasty way to leave us, Molly,” said one of her
fellow-servants, as she mounted the cart.

“It’s my mother that was sick, and sent for me,” said the girl.
“Drive on,” added she to the groom, for Sir Within was leaning on the
window-sill, overhead, and watching the scene.

Sir Henry arrived the next morning to find Kate worse than he had left
her; and, though greatly pressed for time, he remained nigh an hour in
consultation with Doctor Price, who had accompanied him. There was more
fever, and far more of excitement than on the day before, and she talked
incessantly to herself, occasionally giving way to bursts of laughter.

“How grave you both look this morning,” said she, with a derisive smile,
as they arose to leave her bedside. “I think I can guess what’s passing
in your mind.” Morland shook his head in dissent, and she went on:
“Of course you would be reluctant to say it, but the simple truth is,
Doctor, you think me very, very ill.”

“So far, you are right,” said he, gently.

“Yes, but you suspect more. You believe that I am dying.”

“You have many things in your favour, my dear child. You have youth,
you have strength, and you have what is sometimes worth them both--good
courage.”

“You do me justice, Doctor, I have plenty of courage, more even than you
know of; and I have another thing,” added she, while her eyes flashed
wildly and her lip shook with agitation--“I have no great desire to
live!”

“Come, come, young lady,” broke in Price, “it is not at your age that
one is weary of the world.”

“I never said I was,” cried she, impatiently; and then, turning from him
as though he were not one to understand her aright, she addressed the
other. “May I speak to you alone?”

“Certainly; my friend here will have no objection, I’m sure.”

“None whatever,” said Doctor Price, as he moved towards the door.

“And you, Simcox, you must go too; and take Nelly with you.”

“La, Miss----”

“Do as you are told,” said the Doctor, peremptorily.

“And now we are alone, child,” said he, as having closed the door, he
returned to the bedside.

“Sit down, sit there,” said she, pointing to the chair, “and wait a
moment till I collect myself. I don’t like that man; his voice jars
on--there is so much in a voice. Yours, for instance, soothes me.” He
smiled kindly on her, and she continued: “I was not always so captious,
but illness makes one very fretful. Ain’t it so?”

“Naturally.”

“I must be very ill, then, if irritability be the measure. Do you
know”--and here she spoke with immense rapidity, and with a jarring
vibration in her voice--“do you know that there are times, mere moments,
in which it needs all my self-control not to scream aloud? Yes, I feel
as though I would give life itself to cry out--to fling this weary load
off my poor heart, and tell all--all!”

“You must be calm, young lady, or I shall think I have done amiss in
permitting this interview.”

“Don’t call me young lady. The other, that man I dislike, called me
young lady. You must call me Kate.” He only smiled, and she took his
hand in her own burning hand, and said, in a coaxing, caressing tone,
“Say Kate--Kate!”

“I am very proud that you let me call you Kate.”

“Yes, that’s it; and you say it softly, as it should be spoken. It’s a
pretty name, is it not? No, don’t look on me pitifully. If it be even as
you fear, there is no cause for sorrow. Answer me one thing,” said she,
half sternly, “but answer truly. Shall I die of this? There, there! I
do not want any more. You think I shall; but I know better. Ay, Doctor,
there’s a keener instinct, stronger than all your skill, and it tell’s
me I have years and years before me; years of such trouble, too, it
would be a mercy I were taken now!”

“Calm yourself, my child. I like your self-confidence; but be calm.”

“And am I not calm? Count my pulse;” and she bared her arm and held it
towards him. “It _is_ a pretty arm? then say so, frankly. What harm can
flattery do me now?”

“I must leave you, my dear child. I have a long journey before me, and
much hard work at the end of it. I am sorry, very sorry to go. Don’t
shake your head, Kate, it is the simple truth.”

“Then why not stay?”

“I have told you, child, that many others are expecting me.”

“Yes, great people, titled people, people of condition, as they are
called; as if we, too, had not our condition. Don’t you hate that word?
Don’t you hate every vulgar sneer at the low-born?”

“I like your generosity----”

“My generosity!” cried she, with a wild hysteric laugh--“my generosity!
Oh, yes; my generosity has a touch of genius in it. It reveals to me the
unseen, the untasted! For, what can I know of such people?”

Her brows were knitted fast as she uttered the last words, and her lips
were drawn tight, as though she spoke under the pressure of some intense
constraint.

“There, there!” said he, rising. “I knew all this talking was injurious,
and I am much to blame for having permitted it.”

“And you _are_ going?”

“I must; I have no choice in the matter.”

“Well, give me a minute more. Sit down again, and I will not detain you
more than a minute or two. When I asked to speak with you alone, Doctor,
it was to beg of you to make my will. You need not be afraid that it
will take long. I have only one legacy and one heir. Now, mind what I
shall say to you. It may happen--I myself think it will happen--that
I shall get better of this fever. Much of my raving--what they call my
raving--was such wandering as passes through my head any day; so that
it may easily be I have never been so ill as I seemed to be, and all
the wonderful stories Mrs. Simcox told you in the window last night--my
strange fancies about my bare feet bleeding with the sharp stones--no
matter, fact or fancy, it was in my head before this. You are attending
to me?”

“I am.”

“I was afraid you thought that this explanation was only ‘wandering’ of
another sort; but I see you do not. I see you follow me.”

He nodded.

“If, however, _your_ skill be better than my second sight--if I can call
it so--I have a task for you to do. When it shall be all over, before
I am buried, you will take care but wait, let us do it regularly.” She
raised herself on one arm as she spoke, and with the other hand she
pointed to a small writing-table at the farther part of the room. “Open
that desk, and take out an envelope. It ought to be black-edged for the
occasion,” said she, with a sad smile, “but I don’t think it matters
much. Yes, that one will do very well. Write now the address I shall
give you: Mr. Peter Malone.’ Show it to me--is it large and plain? No;
take another. It must be clear, bold writing. I think I ought to write
it myself--of course I ought, and I will.”

“All this excitement is wrong.”

“Then don’t prolong it. Give me the pen and that book to write on.
I declare it is _you_ that are nervous, Doctor. What makes your hand
shake?”

“If I am nervous, it is because I feel much self-reproach for all
this--this----”

“This--what?” asked she, smiling. “Do give it a name. I am sure you are
not angry at my detaining you. You are too kind and too considerate to
reckon minutes against one who may have so few of them; and then, as to
this task I impose on you,” and she smiled again--“do confess you never
heard of so short a will. There, it is all written now. Read it out,
that I may see if it be legible.”

“‘Mr. Peter Malone, to the care of Mr. T. O’Rorke, Vinegar Hill,
Cush-ma-Creena, Ireland.’”

“Your pronunciation is not quite faultless, Doctor; but, luckily, you
will not be the postman. Mind, now, this is to be posted so soon as all
is over. No, no--not as it is. I have not yet enclosed my legacy.
Take that scissors you see yonder. Open the shutter--a little more
still--yes, that will do. Now come here. Cut off the longest and the
brightest lock you can find here,” and she unbound her golden hair, and
sent it floating in heavy masses over her shoulders and her back, and
even her face. “Don’t spare it. I mean my last legacy to be munificent.
There!” said she, taking the long tress from his fingers, “how soft and
silky it is--see, too, if it has not that golden radiance the Venetian
painters raved about! The old man to whom that envelope is addressed
once asked me to give him a lock of my hair; he begged for it very
eagerly, as a parting gift, and I refused him. I can give it now--yes, I
can give it now! Ask me nothing--I will tell nothing. I thought to have
told you all--the whole long, dreary story--but I cannot. There, you are
impatient to be away. I release you; only remember, that if I do not die
you are to return that paper to me. Do you understand me?”

[Illustration: 346]

“Perfectly, and will obey you to the letter, my dear child, if you will
not give me this tress as my fee for having cured you. Perhaps I have as
good a claim to it as that other to whom you would bequeath it.”

“No, no, no!” cried she, impetuously. “You never cared for me, you
never could care for me, as he does; but keep it if you will. Good-by,
good-by! One instant more. There is another old man to whom I would send
a message.”

“Your guardian?”

A scornful curl of her lip and an impatient gesture of her head stopped
him.

“Tell Sir Within that I was very grateful to him. He did much to make my
life a very happy one, and yet I am so glad to leave it! Speak kindly to
him and comfort him; tell him, if you will, that if he would continue to
love me, it were best I should die; for if I were to live, Doctor”--and
here her eyes grew full and wide, and her gaze steadfast--“if I were to
live, I should lose that love.”

The wild look she gave, the strange vibration of her voice, and her
words themselves, warned the Doctor that a period of excitement was
approaching, and he drew the curtain and moved away.



CHAPTER XL. A SUDDEN REVERSE

“You see it is as well I acted with more forethought, and did not
send for our Irish friend,” said Grenfell, as he sat at breakfast with
Ladarelle. “We shall probably not want him.”

“I suspect not,” said the other; “the last news of her was
unfavourable.”

Grenfell stole a look at the speaker, and, quick as the glance was, it
bespoke a mingled aversion and contempt. The men who have arrived at
middle age, either to form a poor opinion of their fellows, or to feign
it--it is hard exactly to say which--feel a sort of detestation for
younger men who entertain the same sentiments. Whether it be that
to have reached that cynicism has cost years of patient study and
endurance, and that they are indignant at the pretension that would
assume to have acquired the knowledge without the labour, or that,
and this more probable, they really do not fully trust their own
heartlessness--whatever the cause, I can answer for the effect; and
that cold, ungenial man now looked upon his younger companion with a
sense of little less than disgust.

“So that her death would not shock you?” said Grenfell, as he stirred
his tea, without looking up.

“I don’t exactly say that. She’s a fine girl, young, and very good
looking.”

“Beautiful.”

“Well, beautiful if you like, though I’ll show scores just as handsome
any day in Rotten Row. But the question is, Does she, or does she not,
stand between me and a fine estate? You yourself thought that opinion of
Palmer’s went against me.”

“No doubt of it. Palmer concurs with the Attorney-General; indeed, he
seems astonished that any other view was ever taken, as he says, ‘No
provision of a will can override the law.’”

“Which means, that the old cove may marry; and his heir, if he have one,
may inherit the property?”

“Just so.”

“And then, in the face of that, you ask me if her life is of such
consequence to me?”

“No; I asked if her death would shock you?” “I don’t well know what
you mean by being shocked! If there was a suspicion abroad that I
had poisoned her, to get her out of the way, then perhaps I might be
shocked.”

“Shocked at the imputation, not the consequences?” “I can’t split
hairs--I never could. If you want subtle distinctions and fine-drawn
differences, you must try elsewhere. What I want to say is simply this:
I have no ill will to the girl; I wish no harm to her; but I’d rather
she wasn’t _there_.” “By _there_, you mean, alive?”

“Well, if there was no other alternative--yes, I do mean that. I’m
certain old Wardle would never look out for another, and the great
probability is, he’d not trouble us much longer; and, as Tom Scott
says, by ‘nobbling’ one horse, you get rid of the whole stable. You look
greatly disgusted, are you horrified at my wickedness, Grenfell?”

“No,” said he, slowly. “I have met a fair number of young fellows like
you, and who fancied, that to know life they must begin at the lowest of
it; the great misfortune was, that they never emerged from it after.”

“That’s severe, I take it,” said Ladarelle, as he lighted a cigarette
and began to smoke.

“Feigning virtue will never make a saint,” said Grenfell, rising from
the table; “but mock wickedness will always end by making a man a
rascal!” He left the room as he spoke, and sauntered out unto the lawn;
and now Ladarelle began to commune with himself--what notice he ought
to take, if any, of these words. Were they to be considered as a moral
sentiment of general application, or were they addressed specially
to himself? The context favoured this latter supposition; but then
he uttered them as a great truth; he had a trick of that sort of
“preaching,” and the moment the word preaching crossed him, his anger
was dispelled, for who minded preaching? Who was ever the better or the
worse for it? Who ever deemed its denunciations personal?

The entrance of his man, Mr. Fisk, cut short his reflections, for he
had sent him over to Dalradern, with his compliments, to ask after
Mademoiselle O’Hara.

“Sir Within’s respects, Sir, the young lady is better; passed a good
night, and seems much refreshed.”

“Here’s news, Grenfell,” cried Ladarelle, opening the window, and
calling out to Grenfell--“here’s news; she has had a good night, and is
better.”

Grenfell, however, had just received his letters from the post, and was
already too deeply engrossed by one of them to mind him.

“I say, come here, and listen to the bulletin,” cried Ladarelle again;
but Grenfell, without deigning the slightest notice to his words, thrust
his letters into his pocket and walked hastily away.

The letter he had opened was from Vyner, and even in the first few lines
had so far engaged his interest, that, to read it undisturbed, he set
out to gain a little summer-house on a small island--a spot to which
Ladarelle could not follow, as there was but one boat on the lake.

Having reached his sanctuary, he took forth the epistle, which, from
Vyner, was an unusually long one, and began to read. It is not necessary
that I should ask the reader’s attention to the whole of it. It opened
by an apology for not having written before:

“I am ashamed to think, my dear Grenfell, how many of your questions
remain unanswered; but as the Cardinal’s private secretary wrote to
express the grief his Eminence felt at being obliged to die instead of
dine out, so I must ask your patience for not replying to you, as I was
occupied in being ruined. It is a big word, George, but not too big for
the fact. When I gave up politics, for want of something to do, I took
up speculation. A very clever rascal--I only found out the rascality
later--with whom I made acquaintance at Genoa, induced me to make some
railroad ventures, which all turned out successes. From these he led me
on to others of a larger kind in Sardinia, and ultimately in Morocco. A
great London banking firm was associated with the enterprise, which, of
course, gave the air of stability to the operations, and as there was
nothing unfair--nothing gambling in the scheme--nothing, in fact, that
passed the limits of legitimate commercial enterprise, at the same time
that there was everything to interest And amuse, I entered into it with
all that ardour for which more than once your prudent temperament has
rebuked me. I have no patience to go over the story; besides that the
catastrophe tells it all. The original tempter--his name is
Gennet--has fled, the great bankers have failed, and I am--I have
ascertained--engaged to the full amount of all I have in the world--that
is, nothing remains to us but my wife’s settlement to live on. A great
blow this; I am staggering under it still. It was precisely the sort of
misfortune I had thought myself exempt from, because I never cared much
about money-getting; I was richer than I really needed to be; but, as
the Spanish proverb says, ‘The devil never goes out to fish with only
one sort of bait in his boat.’ I imagined I was going to be a great
philanthropist. If I was to get lead from the Moors, I was to give them
civilisation, culture, Heaven knows what cravings after good things
here and hereafter. Don’t laugh, George; I give you my word of honour I
believed it. Mr. Ridley Gennet was a great artist, and from the hour he
waved his wand over me, I never really awoke ‘till I was beggared.’ Now,
I do believe that you yourself, with all the craft you boast of, would
not have come scathless out of his hands. These fellows are consummately
clever, and in nothing more than in the quick reading of the characters
they are placed in contact with. You can answer for it that I never was
a gambler. I have played, it is true; but with no zest, no passion
for play. That man, however, knew more of me than I did of myself; he
detected a sort of combative spirit in my nature, which gives results
very much like the love of play. It prompts to a rash self-confidence
and a dogged resolution not to be beaten--no matter how heavy the odds
against one. I say, he saw this, and he determined to make use of it.
There was a time at which, at the loss of about twenty-eight or thirty
thousand pounds, I might have freed myself of every liability; and,
indeed, I was more than half inclined to do it; but the devil, in
this fellow’s shape, hinted something about being poor-spirited and
craven-hearted; said something about men who bore reverses ill, and
only spread canvas when the wind was all astern; and that, in fact, the
people who carried the day in life were exactly those who never would
accept defeat. All he said met a ready concurrence from my own heart,
and in I went after my thirty thousand, which soon became eighty.
Even then I might have escaped--a heavy loser, of course, but not
crushed--but he persuaded me that the concern was the finest
enterprise in Europe, if emancipated from the influence of two powerful
shareholders--men who, since they had joined us, had gone deeply into
other speculations, whose prospects would be severely damaged by our
success. One of these was La Marque, the Parisian banker, and a great
promoter of the ‘Crédit Mobilier;’ the other an English contractor,
whose name I may mention one of these days. They were, he said, to be
bought out, and then I should stand the representative of four-sixths
of the whole scheme. It reads like infatuation now that I go calmly over
it; but I acceded. I commissioned Gennet to treat with these gentlemen,
and gave him blank bills for the sums. For a while all seemed to go
on admirably. La Marque himself wrote to me; he owned that his other
engagements had not left him at liberty to develop the resources of
our company to their full extent, and confessed that there were certain
changes in the management that must lead to great advantage. With,
however, what I thought at the time a most scrupulous honour--though I
have come to regard it differently--he hinted to me that while Mr. G.’s
position in the ‘world of affairs’ was above all reproach, the fact
of his conducting a transaction with blank acceptances was totally
irregular and unbusiness-like; and he begged that I would give him a
regular assurance, in a form which he enclosed, that I authenticated
G.’s position, and held myself responsible, not merely commercially,
but as a man of honour, for such engagements as he should contract in my
name. I made a few trifling alterations in the wording of this document,
and sent it back with my signature. On the third day after, the London
firm smashed, and on the evening that brought the news, G. bolted, and
has not since been heard of.

“Since then, every post from England tells me of the steps at which my
ruin advances. M’Kinlay, overwhelmed, I think, by the calamity, acts
with less than his usual skill and cleverness, and continues to
insist that I must repudiate my pledge to La Marque, whom he calls a
confederate of G.’s; and, indeed, declares that if we could but secure
that fellow’s person, we should save a large remnant of the property.
These are _his_ views; they are not _mine_. I cannot consent to remedy
my folly at the cost of my character; and though I have agreed to the
despatch of detectives to hunt Gennet, I will not, by any act, dishonour
my signature.

“It is at this stage we are now arrived. Whether I am to be drowned by
six inches over my head, or six fathoms, is not, I opine, a matter of
much consequence. Lady Vyner knows it all, and bears it--as I knew she
would--nobly. Her sister, too, has shown a fine spirit. Of course, we
have kept so much as we can of the calamity from Mrs. Courtenay; but
she is more cast down than any of us. As for Ada, she sustains us all. I
declare I never knew her before; and if it were not that the misfortune
is to outlive me, I’d say it was worth being ruined to discover the
boundless wealth of that dear girl’s heart.

“I could fill pages with little traits of her thoughtful affection,
evincing a nature, too, that actually seemed to need an opportunity to
show it was made for higher and better things than to float along in an
existence of indulgence.

“You are impatient to hear how practical we can be. Well, you shall.
We have given up our grand palazzo, and retired to a little place about
twenty miles off, near Chiavari, where we found a small house to suit
us. We have sent off all the servants but three. I doubt if we shall
keep old Morris; but it would break his heart to discharge him with the
others. I have despatched my horses to be sold at Turin. The yacht is
already disposed of. Not bad this in four days, besides writing about a
hundred and fifty letters, and giving solemn audience to Mr. Pengrove,
of the detective force, come out specially to get from me a detailed
description of G.’s person, size, dress, accent, and manner. I vow, till
I had the happiness of this gentleman’s acquaintance, I never knew by
how many traits a human creature could stamp his identity; and the
way in which he pushed his inquiries, as to matters utterly beyond the
realms of all the disguises in use, perfectly amazed me.

“It was not, perhaps, a very acute question of mine, but it dropped from
me half unawares. I asked whether he thought G. had fled to America
or Australia? He replied, ‘No, sir; he never had any dealings in those
parts. When men bolt, they always follow out some previously-formed
train of circumstances; he’ll be somewhere on the African coast--I mean
to try Tunis first.’

“You know now, my dear George, more than I really meant to inflict on
you of our sad story; but I was, in a measure, forced into some details.
First of all, one’s friends ought to be in a position to contradict
false rumours, and I take it I shall have my share of them; and
secondly, you may be disturbed in your present tenure, for the Cottage
as well as the Castle goes to the creditors.

“There is, however, a small business matter in which I must have more
than your advice--I want your assistance. You may remember that when, on
our Irish tour----”

There comes here a sudden stop in the epistle, but, in a hurried and
tremulous hand, it was continued in this wise:

“Another great misfortune! Poor Luttrell’s boy is drowned. My wife has
just brought me the news. A despatch boat of the Italian navy has picked
up at sea an English sailor on a spar, the last of the crew of the
American barque _Squashy_ commanded by a Captain Dodge. They were
attacked by pirates when becalmed off the Riff coast, and the Yankee,
rather than surrender, blew up the ship. This man remembers nothing
beyond his having leaped overboard when he saw the captain make for the
magazine. He was, indeed, insensible when picked up, and even yet his
mind wanders at times. So far as his memory would serve he has given the
names of the crew, and Luttrell’s was amongst them. He said, too, that
he saw Luttrell leaning against the tiller-wheel, with his arms folded,
and looking quite calm, a moment or two before he jumped over. The
Italian steamer returned to the place and cruised for an entire day, in
the hope of saving some others, but none were met with, and there is no
doubt now that all have perished. I thought only an hour ago that there
were few in the world as unfortunate as myself; but what is my loss
compared to poor Luttrell’s? If I could possibly leave home now, it
would be to go over to Ireland and see him. What is to be done? Can you
suggest how the tidings could be best broken to him? Would you undertake
the charge yourself? If not, M’Kinlay must do it, though, for every
reason, I prefer you. I know, my dear Grenfell, that you shrink from
painful tasks, but it is _my_ load that you will bear on this occasion,
and it will strengthen you to remember that you are helping a friend in
his great hour of need.

“If you are not able to go, and if M’Kinlay should also be unable,
forward the enclosed note to Luttrell.

“I have just seen Martin the sailor. He has told us much about young
Luttrell, who seems to have been actually beloved on board the ship; his
courage, his daring, his coolness, and his unfailing high spirits, made
him the idol of the crew; and this fellow declares, that if Luttrell’s
advice had been listened to, the ship might have been saved; but the
American lost his head; and, swearing that the pirates should never have
a timber of her, rushed below with a portfire, and blew her up.

“I am ashamed to send off all the selfish details that fill the
first part of this letter. In the presence of such a calamity as poor
Luttrell’s, _my_ sorrows are unworthy and contemptible; but who knows
when I could have the time or the temper to go over my dreary story
again? and so you shall have it as it is.

“I am not able to read over again what I have written, so that I am not
sure whether I have answered all your questions. You will, I am sure,
however, forgive me much at such a season; for, though I had screwed
up my courage to meet my own disasters, I had no reserve of pluck to
sustain me against this sad blow of Luttrell’s.

“Do not refuse me, George, this service; believe me, the poor fellow is
worthy of all the kindness you can show him. More than ever do I feel
the wrong that we have done him, since every misfortune of his life has
sprung from it.

“I must finish to catch the post. I enclose you a copy of the deposition
of the seaman made before the consul at Genoa, and an extract from the
log of _St. Genaro_, the despatch-boat. If you do go--indeed, in any
case--write to me at once, and believe me, meanwhile,

“Your faithful friend,

“Gervais Vyner.

“A hearty letter from Lord B. has just come. He says he has just heard
of my smash, and offers me my choice of something at home, or in the
Colonies. Time enough to think of this; for the present, we shall have
to live on about what my guardian allowed me at Christ-church. Address,
La Boschetta, Chiavari.”

With much attention, Grenfell read this letter to the end, and then
re-read it, pondering over certain parts as he went. He was certainly
grieved as much as he could well be for any misfortune not his own.

He liked Vyner as well as it was in his nature to like any one; not,
indeed, for his fine and generous qualities, his manliness, and his
rectitude--he liked him simply because Vyner had always stood by _him_.
Vyner had sustained him in a set, which, but for such backing, would not
have accepted him. Every real step he had made in life had been through
Vyner’s assistance; and he well knew that Vyner’s fall would extend its
influence to himself.

Then came other thoughts: “He should have to leave the Cottage, where
he had hoped to have remained for the cock shooting at least, perhaps
a little longer; for this same Welsh life was a great economy. He was
living for ‘half nothing;’ no rent, no servants to pay; horses, a fine
garden, a capital cellar, all at his disposal. What, in the name of all
foolishness, could make a man with double what he could spend, go and
squander the whole in rotten speculations? He says he did not want to be
richer! What _did_ he want then? How can men tell such lies to their own
hearts? Of course, he intended to be a Rothschild. It was some cursed
thirsting after enormous wealth--wealth, that was to be expressed by
figures on paper--not felt, not enjoyed, nor lived up to; _that_ was the
whole sum and substance of the temptation. Why not have the honesty to
say so? As for Luttrell, I only wonder how he can think of _him_ at such
a time. I imagine, if I were to awake some fine morning to hear I was
a beggar, I should take all the other calamities of the world with a
marvellous philosophy. It’s a bore to be drowned, particularly if there
was no necessity for it; but the young fellow had the worst of it; and
after all, I don’t see that he had a great deal to live for. The island
that formed his patrimony would certainly never have seduced _me_ into
any inordinate desire to prolong existence. Perhaps I must go there. It
is a great annoyance. I hate the journey, and I hate the duty; but to
refuse would, in all probability, offend Vyner. It is just the time men
are unreasonably thin-skinned, fancying that all the world has turned
its back on them, because they have sent off their French cook. Vulgar
nonsense! Perhaps Vyner would not take that view; but his women would,
I’m certain!”

Now, Mr. Grenfell knew nothing whatever of “the women” in question,
and that was the precise reason that he included them in his spiteful
censure.

“And then to fancy that his money-seeking was philanthropy! Was there
ever delusion like it! Your virtuous people have such a habit of
self-esteem; they actually believe the thing must be right, because they
do it.”

Grumbling sorely over that “Irish journey,” he sauntered back to
the house, in the porch of which Ladarelle was standing, with an open
letter in his hand.

“I say,” cried he, “here’s a go! The house of Fletcher and David, one of
the oldest in London, smashed!”

“I know it,” said Grenfell, dryly.

“Then you know, perhaps, how your friend, Sir Gervais Vyner, has let
them in for nigh a quarter of a million?”

“I know more; for I know that _you_ know nothing of the matter; but,
to turn to something that concerns ourselves. I must start by the mail
train to-night for Holyhead.”

“Which means, that I must evacuate my quarters. I must say, you give
your tenants short notice to quit.”

“Stay, by all means. All I have to say is, that I cannot keep you
company. Rickards will take excellent care of you till I come back.”

“Which will be----?”

“I can’t name the day; but I hope it will be an early one.”

“A mysterious journey--eh?”

“No; but one which it is not at all necessary to take an opinion upon.”

“By the way, you wrote the letter to that Irish fellow the other
evening--what did you do with it?”

“It is on the writing-table.”

“And I suppose I may make use of it, if I need it?”

“Yes; it’s a matter that other things have driven out of my head; but
the letter is yours, if you wish.”

“And you will stand by me, I hope, if I get into a scrape?”

“Don’t count on me. I’m a capricious fellow, and whenever a thing does
not come off at once, I never can vouch for the spirit in which I may
resume it.”

“That’s hearty, at all events!”

“No; but it is unmistakable.--Rickards, hurry the cook, if he will let
you, and order the carriage for eight o’clock.”

“And posters for me for Dalradern at the same hour,” said Ladarelle.
“Grog is worth a score of such fellows!” muttered he below his breath,
as he strolled to his room. “Grog would never strike out a plan, and
leave a man in the lurch afterwards.”

When they met at dinner, Grenfell took care that the conversation should
be as general as possible, never by a chance alluding to any subject of
personal interest to either of them; and, as the clock struck eight, and
he heard the tramp of the horses on the gravel, he arose and said:

“Don’t forget to say all sorts of things to Sir Within for me, and to
Mademoiselle, too, when she is visible. Good-by, and ‘bonne chance!’”

“Good-by! I wish I could have had a few words with you before you
started. I wish you would have told me something more definite about the
plan. I wish----” What he continued to wish is not on record, for once
more Grenfell uttered his good-by, and the next moment he was gone.



CHAPTER XLI. THE DARK TIDINGS

It was a dull, lowering October day, sky and sea alike lead-coloured,
when the boat that bore Grenfell rounded the southern point of Arran,
and opened a view of the island in all its extent. His first visit there
had not left any favourable impressions of the place, though then he saw
it in sunshine, warm-tinted and softened; now all was hard, bleak, and
cold, and the ruined Abbey stood out amongst the leafless trees, like
the ghost of a civilisation long dead and buried.

“There he is himself, Sir,” said the steersman to Grenfell, as he
pointed to a lone rock on the extreme point of a promontory. “You’d
think he was paid for sitting there, to watch all the vessels that go
north about to America. He can see every craft, big and little, from
Belmullet to Craig’s Creek.”

“And does he stay there in bad weather?”

“I never missed him any day I came by, no matter how hard it blew.”

“It’s a dreary look-out.”

“Indeed it is, your honour! more by token, when a man has a comfortable
house and a good fire to sit at, as Mr. Luttrell has, if he liked it.”

“Perhaps he thinks it less lonely to sit there than to mope over his
hearth by himself. He lives all alone, I believe?”

“He does, Sir; and it’s what he likes best. I took a party of gentlemen
over from Westport last summer; they wanted to see the curiosities of
the place, and look at the old Abbey, and they sent me up with a civil
message, to say what they came for and who they were--one of them was a
lord--and what d’ye think, Sir? instead of being glad to see the face of
a Christian, and having a bit of chat over what was doing beyond there,
he says to me, ‘Barny Moore,’ says he, ‘you want to make a trade,’ says
he, ‘of showing me like a wild baste; but I know your landlord, Mr.
Creagh, and as sure as my name’s John Luttrell,’ says he, I’ll have you
turned out of your holding; so just take your friends and yourself off
the way you came!’ And when I told the gentlemen, they took it mighty
good humoured, and only said, ‘After all, if a man comes so far as this
for quietness, it’s rather hard if he wouldn’t get it;’ and we went
off that night. I’m tellin’ your honour this,” added he, in a low,
confidential tone, “because, if he asks you what boat you came in, you
would say it was Tom M’Caffray’s--that man there in the bow--he’s from
Kilrush, and a stranger; for I wouldn’t put it past John Luttrell to do
me harm, if I crossed him.”

“But, is he not certain to see you?”

“No, Sir; not if I don’t put myself in his way. Look now, Sir, look,
he’s off already?”

“Off! whereto?”

“To the Abbey, Sir, to bar himself in. He saw that the yawl was coming
in to anchor, and he’ll not look back now till he’s safe in his own four
walls.”

“But I want to speak with him--is it likely he’ll refuse to see me?”

“Just as-like as not. May I never! but he’s running, he’s so afeard
we’ll be on shore before he gets in.”

At no time had Grenfell been much in love with his mission; he was still
less pleased with it as he stepped on the shingly shore, and turned to
make his way over a pathless waste to the Abbey. He walked slowly along,
conning over to himself what he had got to do, and how he should do it.
“At all events,” thought he, “the more boorish and uncivil the man may
be, the less demand will be made on me for courtesy. If he be rude, I
can be concise; nor need I have any hesitation in showing him that
I never volunteered for this expedition, and only came because Vyner
begged me to come.”

He had seen no one since he left the boat, and even now, as he arrived
close to the house, no living thing appeared. He walked round on one
side. It was the side of the old aisle, and there was no door to be
found. He turned to the other, and found his progress interrupted by a
low hedge, looking over which he fancied he saw an entrance. He stepped,
therefore, over the enclosure; but, by the noise of the smashing twigs a
dog was aroused, a wild, wolfish-looking animal, that rushed fiercely at
him with a yelping bark. Grenfell stood fast, and prepared to defend
himself with a strong stick, when suddenly a harsh voice cried out,
“Morrah! come back, Morrah! Don’t strike the dog, Sir, or he’ll tear you
to pieces!” And then a tall, thin man, much stooped in the shoulders,
and miserably dressed, came forward, and motioned the dog to retire.

“Is he savage?” said Grenfell.

“Not savage enough to keep off intruders, it seems,” was the uncourteous

reply. “Is your business with me, Sir?”

“If I speak to Mr. Luttrell, it is.”

“My name is Luttrell.”

“Mine is Grenfell; but I may be better known as the friend of your old
friend, Sir Gervais Vyner.”

“Grenfell--Grenfell! to be sure. I know the name--we all know it,” said
Luttrell, with a sort of sneer. “Is Vyner come--is he with you?”

“No, Sir,” said Grenfell, smarting under the sting of what he felt to
be an insult. “It is because he could not come that he asked me to see
you.”

Luttrell made no reply, but stood waiting for the other to continue.

“I have come on a gloomy errand, Mr. Luttrell, and wish you would
prepare yourself to hear very, very sad news.”

“What do you call prepare?” cried Luttrell, in a voice almost a shriek.
“I know of nothing that prepares a man for misfortune except its
frequency,” muttered he, in a low tone. “What is it? Is it of Harry--of
my boy?”

Grenfell nodded.

“Wait,” said Luttrell, pressing his hand over his brow. “Let me go in.
No, Sir; I can walk without help.” He grasped the door-post as he spoke,
and stumbling onward, clutching the different objects as he went, gained
a chair, and sank into it. “Tell me now,” said he, in a faint whisper.

“Be calm, Mr. Luttrell,” said Grenfell, gently. “I have no need to say,
take courage.”

Luttrell stared vacantly at him, his lips parted, and his whole
expression that of one who was stunned and overcome. “Go on,” said he,
in a hoarse whisper--“go on.”

“Compose yourself first,” said Grenfell.

“Is Harry--is he dead?”

Grenfell made a faint motion of his head.

“There--leave me--let me be alone!” said Luttrell, pointing to the door;
and his words were spoken in a stern and imperative tone.

Grenfell waited for a few seconds, and then withdrew noiselessly, and
strolled out into the open air.

“A dreary mission and a drearier spot!” said he, as he sauntered along,
turning his eyes from the mountain, half hid in mist, to the lowering
sea. “One would imagine that he who lived here must have little love of
life, or little care how others fared in it.” After walking about a mile
he sat down on a rock, and began to consider what further remained for
him to do. To pass an entire day in such a place was more than he could
endure; and, perhaps, more than Luttrell himself would wish. Vyner’s
letter and its enclosures would convey all the sorrowful details of the
calamity; and, doubtless, Luttrell was a man who would not expose his
grief, but give free course to it in secret.

He resolved, therefore, that he would go back to the Abbey, and, with a
few lines from himself, enclose these papers to Luttrell, stating that
he would not leave the island, which it was his intention to have done
that night, if Luttrell desired to see him again, and at the same
time adding, that he possessed no other information but such as these
documents afforded. This he did, to avoid, if it could be, another
interview. In a word, he wanted to finish all that he had to do as
speedily as might be, and yet omit nothing that decorum required. He
knew how Vyner would question and cross-question him, besides; and he
desired, that as he had taken the trouble to come, he should appear to
have acquitted himself creditably.

“The room is ready for your honour,” said Molly, as Grenfell appeared
again at the door; “and the master said that your honour would order
dinner whenever you liked, and excuse himself to-day, by rayson he
wasn’t well.”

“Thank you,” said Grenfell; “I will step in and write a few words to
your master, and you will bring me the answer here.”

Half a dozen lines sufficed for all he had to say, and, enclosing the
other documents, he sat down to await the reply.

In less time than he expected, the door opened. Luttrell himself
appeared. Wretched and careworn as he seemed before, a dozen years of
suffering could scarcely have made more impress on him than that last
hour: clammy sweat covered his brow and cheeks, and his white lips
trembled unceasingly; but in nothing was the change greater than in his
eye. All its proud defiance was gone; the fierce energy had passed away,
and its look was now one of weariness and exhaustion. He sat down in
front of Grenfell, and for a minute or so did not speak. At last he
said:

“You will wish to get back--to get away from this dreary place; do not
remain on _my_ account. Tell Vyner I will try and go over to him. He’s
in Wales, isn’t he?”

“No; he is in Italy.”

“In Italy! I cannot go so far,” said he, with a deep sigh.

“I was not willing to obtrude other sorrows in the midst of your own
heavier one; but you will hear the news in a day or two, perhaps, that
our poor friend Vyner has lost everything he had in the world.”

“Is his daughter dead?” gasped out Luttrell, eagerly.

“No; I spoke of his fortune; his whole estate is gone.”

“That is sad, very sad,” sighed Luttrell; “but not the saddest! One may
be poor and hope; one may be sick, almost to the last, and hope; one may
be bereft of friends, and yet think that better days will come; but
to be childless--to be robbed of that which was to have treasured your
memory when you passed away, and think lovingly on you years after you
were dust--this is the great, the great affliction!” As he spoke, the
large tears rolled down his face, and his lank cheeks trembled. “None
will know this better than Vyner,” said he, after a pause.

“You do him no more than justice; he thought little of his own
misfortune in presence of yours.”

“It was like him.”

“May I read you his own words?”

“No; it is enough that I know his heart. Go back, and say I thank him.
It was thoughtful of him at such a time to remember me; few but
himself could have done it!” He paused for a few seconds, and then in a
stronger, fuller voice continued: “Tell him to send this sailor to me;
he may live here, if he will. At all events, he shall not want, wherever
he goes. Vyner will ask you how I bore this blow, Sir. I trust to you
to say the strict truth, that I bore it well. Is that not so?” Grenfell
bowed his head slightly. “Bore it,” continued Luttrell, “as a man may,
who now can defy Fortune, and say, ‘See, you have laid your heaviest
load on me, and I do not even stagger under it!’ Remember, Sir, that you
tell Vyner that. That I listened to the darkest news a man can hear, and
never so much as winced. There is no fever in that hand, Sir; touch it!”

“I had rather that you would not make this effort, Mr. Luttrell. I had
far rather tell my friend that your grief was taking the course that
nature meant for it.”

“Sir!” said Luttrell, haughtily, “it is not to-day that misfortune and
I have made acquaintance. Sorrow has sat at my hearth-stone--my one
companion--for many a year! I knew no other guest, and had any other
come, I would not have known how to receive him! Look around you and
say, is it to such a place as this a man comes if the world has gone
well with him?”

“It is not yet too late----”

“Yes, it is, Sir; far too late,” broke in Luttrell, impatiently. “I know
my own nature better than you ever knew it. Forgive me, if I am rude.
Misery has robbed me of all--even the manners of a gentleman. It would
be only a mockery to offer you such hospitality as I have here, but if,
before leaving, you would eat something----”

Grenfell made some hurried excuses; he had eaten on board the boat--he
was not hungry---and he was impatient to get back in time for the
morning mail.

“Of course, no one could wish to tarry here,” said Luttrell. “Tell Vyner
I will try and write to him, if not soon, when I can. Good-by, Sir! You
have been very kind to me, and I thank you.”

Grenfell shook his cold hand and turned away, more moved, perhaps, than
if he had witnessed a greater show of sorrow. Scarcely, however, had
he closed the door after him, than a dull, heavy sound startled him. He
opened the door softly, and saw that Luttrell had fallen on the ground,
and with his hands over his face lay sobbing in all the bitterness of
intense grief. Grenfell retired noiselessly and unseen. It was a sorrow
that none should witness; and, worldling as he was, he felt it. He
stopped twice on his way down to the shore, uncertain whether he ought
not to go back, and try to comfort that desolate man. But how comfort
him? How speak of hope to one who mocked all hope, and actually seemed
to cling to his misery?

“They cry out against the worldling, and rail at his egotism, and the
rest of it,” muttered he; “but the selfishness that withdraws from all
contact with others, is a hundred times worse! Had that man lived in
town, and had his club to stroll down to, the morning papers would have
shown him that he was not more unlucky than his fellows, and that a
large proportion of his acquaintances carried crape on their hats,
whether they had sorrow in their hearts or not.”

It was with a mind relieved that he reached Holyhead the next day, and
set out for the Cottage. Vyner had begged him to secure certain papers
and letters of his that were there; and for this purpose he turned off
on his way to town to visit Dinasllyn for the last time.

“The young gentleman went away the night you left, Sir,” said Rickards,
without being questioned; “but he came over this morning to ask if you
had returned.”

“What news of the young lady who was so ill at Dalradern?”

“Out of danger, Sir. The London doctor was the saving of her life, Sir;
he has ordered her to the sea-side as soon as she is fit to move, and
Sir Within sent off Carter yesterday to Milford Haven, to take the
handsomest house he can find there, and never think of the cost.”

“Rich men can do these things, Rickards!”

“Yes, Sir. Sir Within and my master haven’t to ask what’s the price when
an article strikes their fancy.”

Grenfell looked to see if the remark was intended to explode a mine, or
a mere chance shot. The stolid face of the butler reassured him in an
instant, and he said, “I shall want candles in the library, and you will
call me to-morrow early--say seven.”

When Grenfell had covered the library table with papers and parchments
innumerable, title-deeds of centuries old, and grants from the Crown
to Vyner’s ancestors in different reigns, he could not restrain a
passionate invective against the man who had, out of mere levity,
forfeited a noble fortune.

Contemptible as young Ladarelle was--mean, low-lived, and vulgar--the
fellow’s ambition to be rich, the desire to have the power that wealth
confers, raised him in Grenfell’s esteem above “that weak-minded
enthusiast “--so he called him--who must needs beggar himself, because
he had nothing to do.

He emptied drawer after drawer, burning, as Vyner had bade him, rolls
of letters, parliamentary papers, and such-like, till, in tossing over
heaps of rubbish, he came upon a piece of stout card-board, and on
turning it about saw the sketch Vyner had made of the Irish peasant
child in Donegal. Who was it so like? Surely he knew that expression,
the peculiar look of the eyes, sad and thoughtful, and yet defiant? He
went over in his mind one after another of those town-bred beauties he
had met in the season, when, suddenly, he exclaimed, “What a fool I have
been all this time. It is the girl at Dalradern, the ‘ward,’”--here he
laughed in derision--“the ‘ward’ of Sir Within Wardle. Ay, and she knew
_me_, too, I could swear. All her evasive answers about Ireland show
it.” He turned hastily to Vyner’s letter, and surmised that it was to
this very point he was coming, when the news of young Luttrell’s death
was brought him. “What can be her position now, and how came she beneath
that old man’s roof? With what craft and what boldness she played her
game! The girl who has head enough for that, has cleverness to know that
I am not a man to be despised. She should have made me her friend
at once. Who could counsel her so well, or tell her the shoals and
quicksands before her? She ought to have done this, and she shall, too.
I will go over to-morrow to Dalradern; I will take her this sketch; we
shall see if it will not be a bond of friendship between us.”

When, true to the pledge he had made with himself, he went oyer to
Dalradern the next morning, it was to discover that Sir Within and
his ward had taken their departure two hours before. The servants were
busily engaged in dismantling the rooms, and preparing to close the
Castle against all visitors.

To his inquiries, ingenious enough, he could get no satisfactory answer
as to the direction they had gone, or to what time their absence might
be protracted, and Grenfell, disappointed and baffled, returned to the
Cottage to pass his last evening, ere he quitted it for ever.



CHAPTER XLII. THE SANDS AT SUNSET

Towards the close of a day in the late autumn, when the declining sun
was throwing a long column of golden light over the sea, a little group
was gathered on the shore at Ostend, the last, it seemed, of all
the summer visitors who had repaired there for the season. The group
consisted of a young girl, whose attitude, as she lay reclined in a
bath-chair, bespoke extreme debility, and an old man who stood at her
side, directing her attention, as his gestures indicated, to different
objects in the landscape.

[Illustration: 365]

Two servants in livery, and a somewhat demurely-dressed maid, stood at a
little distance off, in deferential attendance on the others.

Greatly changed, indeed paler and thinner, with dark circles round the
eyes, and a faint hectic spot on each cheek, Kate O’Hara looked even
more beautiful than ever; the extreme delicacy of every lineament, the
faultless regularity of outline, were as conspicuous now, as before was
that brightness which she derived from expression. If her eyes had no
longer their look of haughty and defiant meaning, they seemed to
have acquired a greater depth of colour and an expression of intense
softness, and her lips, so ready once to curl into mockery at a moment,
now appeared as if they faintly stirred with a smile, as some fancy
crossed her.

She was dressed in deep mourning, which heightened still more the
statue-like character of her features. What a contrast to this placid
loveliness was the careworn, feverish look of the old man at her side!
Sir Within had aged by years within a few weeks, and in the anxious
expression of his face, and his quick uneasy glances around him, might
be read the fretful conflict of hope and fear within him.

While he continued to speak, and describe the features of the scene
before them, though she smiled at times, or assented by a slight gesture
of the head, her mind was wandering--far, far away--to other thoughts
and other places, and her fingers played feverishly with a letter, which
she opened and closed up again time after time.

“I am afraid, Ma Mie,” said he, with a tone of half reproach, “that your
letter there has usurped all your interest, and my eloquence as Cicerone
gone quite for nothing.”

“No, Gardy, I heard you with much pleasure. What did you say that rock
was called?”

“That rock, Mademoiselle,” said he, dryly, “is a wreck, and I was vain
enough to have believed that my narrative of the incident had moved
you.”

“I am so weak, Gardy, so very weak,” said she, plaintively, as she laid
her hand on the back of his, “that I follow anything with difficulty.”

“My sweet child, how cruel of me to forget it. Are we lingering too long
on these sands?”

“Oh no; let us stay here some time longer. I want to see the sun go
down, it is so long since I saw a sunset.”

He drew her shawl around her carefully, and sheltered her with his
umbrella against the scarcely breathing wind.

“How kind you are, how good,” said she, softly; and then, with a playful
lightness, added, “how courtier-like, too.”

“Why courtier-like, Ma Mie?” said he.

“Is it not like a courtier,” said she, “to treat a peasant-girl as
if she were a princess? You would not even ask me when I saw my last
sunset, lest I should have to tell you that it was as I stood barefooted
on the beach, the tangled seaweed dripping over me.”

“How can you like to pain me by talking of these things?”

“But we must talk of them, Gardy. You know we think of them; and this
letter--this letter,” said she, tapping it with her finger impatiently,
“must be answered one day.”

“And there is but one answer to give, Kate,” said he, sharply. “I will
not consent. He who now assumes the uncle----”

“He _is_ my uncle, Sir,” said she, haughtily. “It is scarcely generous
to deny me whatever good blood I can lay claim to.”

“My child, my dear child, if you but knew how I love whatever loves you,
you would not have uttered this reproach.”

“My mother’s sister’s husband is surely my uncle,” said she, coldly, and
not heeding his protestation. “I never heard that a mésalliance could
cancel the ties of kindred.”

“None ever said so, Kate.”

“You said as much, Sir; you said, ‘assumes the uncle!’”

“I meant in a different sense, my dear child. I meant, that he wanted to
impose an authority which mere relationship would not give him.”

“Read his letter again, Sir--pray read it.”

“No, my child; it has given me too much pain already.”

“I think you are not just to him, Gardy,” said she caressingly. “May I
read it to you? Well, a part of it?”

“Once more, no, Kate. His argument is, that as he is now childless, he
has the right to claim your love and affection, to replace what he has
lost; that, as your nearest of kin, you cannot refuse him; and that,
if you do--mark the insinuation--the reasons will be, perhaps, based on
considerations apart from all affection.”

“I think he had the right to say that,” said she, firmly.

“There was one thing, however, he had no right to say,” said the
old man, haughtily; “that to continue to reside under my roof was to
challenge the opinion of a world never slow to be censorious.”

“And there, again, I think he was not wrong.”

“Then you love me no longer, Kate!” said he, with intense emotion.

“Not love you--not love you! Then, what do I love? Is it nothing to know
that every happiness I have I owe to you--that all the enjoyment of
a life more bright than a fairy tale, comes from you? That from your
generous indulgence I have learned to think mere existence something
like ecstasy, and awake each day as to a fête?”

“Say on, dearest, say on; your words thrill through me like a gentle
music.”

“He does not offer me these; but he says, ‘Come to what you shall call
your home, and never blush to say so.’”

“It is too insolent!”

“He says, ‘As my daughter by adoption, you shall bear my name.’ I am to
be a Luttrell--Kate Luttrell of Arran!”

“And for this poor name you would barter all my love, all my affection,
all my hope?”

“It is a great and noble name, Sir! There were Lords of Arran called
Luttrell in the thirteenth century!”

“You have told me of them,” said he, peevishly.

“Too proud and too haughty to accept titles, Sir.”

“I have a name that the first in the land would not scorn,” said he,
in a voice of blended pride and anger; “and my fortune is certainly the
equal of a barren rock in the Atlantic.”

“You are not my uncle, Sir,” said she, softly.

“No, Kate; but----” He stopped, the colour fled from his cheek, and he
seemed unable to continue. “Has any tender love for you equalled mine?”

“Stop there!” said she, fiercely; “my favour is not put up to auction,
and to fall to the highest bidder. When you have said that my uncle is
poor, you have said all that can be laid to his charge.” She closed her
eyes, and, seeming to speak to herself, murmured: “The poorer, the more
need has he of affection.”

“I see it all--all!” said he, bitterly. “You wish to leave me.”

She made no answer, but sat staring vacantly over the sea.

“Better to say so, my child--better to own that this life has ceased
to give you pleasure. But if you told me, Kate, that you would like to
travel, to see other countries, to mix with the world, and partake of
the enjoyments----”

“How--as what?” said she, impatiently. “It was but a few months ago you
received some strangers at your house, and have you forgotten how they
treated me? And do you believe, Sir, that the world will have more
reserve than the guests under your roof? Who is she? is not answered so
easily as one may think. It would take blood to wash out the stain of
‘What is she?’”

The old man walked rapidly up and down; he wiped the drops that stood on
his brow, and muttered uneasily to himself: “and why not? To whom have
I to render an account? Who shall dare to question me? Am I to be turned
from my path by a sneer and a sarcasm? Is the ribald gossiping of a club
to be of more weight with me than my whole happiness?”

She watched the conflict, and saw every struggle that shook him;
she could even mark the vacillating fortunes of the fight--when he
conquered, and when he fell back, discomfited and beaten.

“Tell me, Kate,” said he, at last, as he approached her, “is there
any condition you can propose by which I may secure myself against
desertion?”

“There would be no desertion, Gardy. You could come and see me in my
new home. I would do my utmost to hide its poverty. Who knows if my
ingenious devices might not amuse you. My uncle, too, might permit
me--no, perhaps not that----” said she, stopping, in some confusion.

“What is it he wouldn’t permit, Kate?”

“I don’t know; I was talking to myself, I believe, and I feel weary
and feverish too. Gardy, let us not speak more of this now; it oppresses
me. And see! there goes down the sun, and I have not enjoyed all its
gorgeous colour over the waters.”

“I wish you would tell me what Mr. Luttrell might not permit.”

“He’d not permit me to stay out on the sea-shore till the evening dew
had fallen,” said she, laughing. “Tell them to take me back.”

“Yes, darling, we have lingered here too long. It was my fault.”

And now the little procession moved slowly across the sands towards the
town; passing through small mean-looking streets, they gained the place
where their hotel stood. Groups of idlers were about--townsfolk and
a few strangers--who made way for them to pass. Some respectfully
enough--the show of rank suffices at times to exact this--others, more
venturesome, stared at the beautiful girl, and then looked at the worn
and feeble figure who walked beside her. That they were English was
plain enough, and was taken as a reason to comment on them without
reserve.

Sir Within turned looks of anger and defiance around him; he gave them
to understand that he could overhear their insolence, and he sought with
his eyes through the crowd to see one--even one--sufficiently like a
gentleman, to hold him responsible for the impertinence.

“Neither wife nor daughter, I’ll wager a ‘cent-sous’ piece,” said one,
as they passed under the arched doorway.

Sir Within stepped back, when Kate said, suddenly, “I mean to walk
up-stairs, give me your arm, Sir;” and as they moved slowly on, she
whispered, “How can it be helped, Gardy?” and then, with a laugh, added,
“it is a maxim of your own, that it is the unmannerly people take care
of the public morals.”

It was a subtle flattery to quote himself, which Sir Within thoroughly
appreciated, and as he took leave of her at the door of her room he was
almost calm again.



CHAPTER XLIII. THE INSULT.

When Kate had gained her room she locked the door, and throwing off her
shawl and bonnet, sat down before the glass; her hair fell heavily down
in the rude carelessness with which she flung her bonnet from her, and
now, with a faint tinge of colour in her cheek--the flush of a passing
excitement--she looked very beautiful.

“So,” said she, smiling at her image, “it is the old story, ‘Qu’en dira
le Monde?’ The dear old man was very, very fond. He admired me very
much; I pleased him--I amused him--I made his life somewhat brighter
than he would have found it rambling amongst his Titians and Peruginos;
but, with all that, he couldn’t face the terrible question, What
will the world say? Ma foi, Mademoiselle Kate, the confession is not
flattering to you! Most people would call me very inexpert that I had
not made that grand old place my own before this. I had the field all
to myself--no rivalry, no interference--and certainly it was a great
opportunity. Perhaps I was too much occupied in enjoying my happiness;
perhaps I took no note of time; and, perhaps, if I ever thought at all,
I thought I could win the game whenever I liked, and now I awake to
discover that there is something that he fears more than he loves me;
and that the dear old dowager world, that shakes down reputations with a
nod and blasts pretensions with a stare, will declare a strict blockade
against the distinguished Sir Within Wardle and that girl--lucky if
they do not say, ‘that creature’--he married. Ought he not to have had
a spirit above this? Ought he not to have been able to say, ‘I am rich
enough to buy this bauble, and if the wearing it gives me pleasure, I
can forget your sarcasms? I like the life she can throw around me; which
of you all could give such colour to my existence?’ He might have said
this, but he did not. He heard me talk of a new home, and a new name,
and he would not offer me his own. He saw and felt bitterly, too, how my
position compromised me. I took care he should see it, but no thought of
separation crossed him, or, if it did, stronger than all was the dread
query, ‘Qu’en dira le Monde?’

[Illustration: 373]

“There are things one cannot believe possible till they have happened;
and, even then, some strange uncertainty pervades the mind that they
have not been read aright. This is one of them. No one could have
persuaded me this morning that this prize was not mine whenever I cared
to claim it. What a fall to my pride! How little must I feel myself,
that after all these years of subtle flattery, I might as well have
been with the Vyners--living with creatures of my own nature--giving
affection and getting it--cultivating the heart in the rich soil of
human hopes and fears, and loves, and trials, and not wearing a mask
till it had stiffened into my very features. And he refused me--yes,
refused me; for there was no maiden bashfulness in the terms of my
offer. I said, I go back to be the niece, or I stay to be the wife; and
his reply was, ‘Qu’en dira le Monde?’ I suppose he was right--I am sure
he was; but I hate him for it--how I hate him!” She arose and walked the
room with long and measured steps for a while in silence, and then burst
out: “What would I not give to be revenged for this? Some vengeances
there are he would feel bitterly. Should he meet me in the world--the
great world, for instance--the wife of some one, his equal, see me
courted, and feted, and flattered; hear of me at all times and all
places, and learn that this ‘Monde’--that is his god--had adopted me
amongst his spoiled children, I think I know the dark despair that would
gather around him as he muttered to himself, ‘And she might have been
mine--she had been mine for the asking--she offered herself;’ ay, he
might say so, if he wished to add insult to my memory; ‘and I only
replied, “The world would not bear it!” How I hate him! How I hate him!
If I cannot be revenged as I wish, I will be revenged as I can. I shall
leave him--go at once. He has passed his last of those blissful days,
as he loves to call them; and he shall, awake to see his life in all the
weariness of desertion. Not a look, nor a sound; not a laugh, not a
song to cheer him. With every spot full of memories of me, he shall be
haunted by a happiness that will never return to him. I know that in his
misery he will ask me to forgive the past and be his wife; and if the
alternative were to be the wretchedness I sprung from, I’d go back to
it!

“I do not know--in all likelihood I shall never know--what this heart
of mine could feel of love, but I know its power of hatred, and so shall
Sir Within, though it may cost me dear to buy it.

“Your repentance may come as early as you please, it shall avail you
nothing. It may be even now; I almost thought I heard his foot on the
stair; and I know not whether I would not rather it came now, or after
months of heart-suffering and sorrow. I was slighted--he weighed the
beauty that he admired, and the love he thought he had gained, against
the mockeries of some score of people whose very faces he has
forgotten, and ‘Qu’en dira le Monde’ had more power over him than all my
tenderness, all my wit, and all my beauty.

“Is it not strange that, with all his boasted keenness to read people’s
natures, he should know so little of mine? To think that I could stand
there and see the struggle between his pride of station and what he
would call ‘his passion’--that I could tamely wait and see how I was
weighed in the balance and found wanting--that I could bear all this
unmoved, and then return to my daily life, without an attempt to resent
it?

“It is true, till this letter came from my uncle, there was no pressure
upon him. None in the wide world was more friendless than myself. His
life might have gone on as heretofore, and if a thought of me or of my
fate invaded, he might have dismissed it with the excuse that he could
mention me in his will; he could have bequeathed me enough to make me a
desirable match for the land-steward or the gardener!

“How I bless my Uncle Luttrell for his remembrance of me! It is like a
reprieve arriving when the victim was on the scaffold. He shall see with
what gladness I accept his offer. If the conditions had been ten times
as hard, I would not quarrel with one of them. Now, then, to answer
him, and that done, Sir Within, you run no danger of that scandal-loving
world you dread so much! For if you came with the offer of all your
fortune to my feet, I’d spurn you!”

She opened her writing-desk, and sat down before it. She then took out
Luttrell’s letter, and read it carefully over. I must take care that
my answer be as calm and as unimpassioned as his own note. He makes
no protestation of affection--neither shall I. He says nothing of any
pleasure that he anticipates from my companionship--I will be as guarded
as himself.” She paused for a moment or two, and then wrote:

“My dear Uncle,--Though your letter found me weak and low, after a
severe illness, its purport has given me strength to answer you at once.
I accept.

“It would be agreeable to me if I could close this letter with these
words, and not impose any further thought of myself upon you; but it is
better, perhaps, if I tell you now and for ever that you may discharge
your mind of all fears as to what you call the sacrifices I shall have
to make. I hope to show you that all the indulgences in which I have
lived make no part of my real nature. You have one boon to confer on me
worth all that wealth and splendour could offer--your name. By making me
a Luttrell, you fill the full measure of my ambition.

“For whatever share of your confidence and affection you may vouchsafe
me, I will try to be worthy; but I will not importune for either, but
patiently endeavour to deserve them. My life has not hitherto taught
many lessons of utility. I hope duty will be a better teacher than
self-indulgence. Lastly, have no fears that my presence under your roof
will draw closer around you the ties and the claims of those humble
people with whom I am connected. I know as little of them as you do.
They certainly fill no place in my affection; nor have I the pretence
to think I have any share in theirs. One old man alone have I any
recollection of--my mother’s father--and if I may judge by the past, he
will continue to be more influenced by what tends to my advantage, than
what might minister to the indulgence of his own pride. He neither
came to see me at Sir Gervais Vyner’s, nor Dalradern; and though I have
written to him once or twice, he never sought to impose himself as
a burden upon me. Of course, it will be for you to say if this
correspondence should be discontinued.

“You will see in these pledges, that I give in all frankness, how much
it will be my ambition to be worthy of the noble name you allow me to
bear.

“There is no necessity to remit me any money. I have ample means to pay
for my journey; and as there are circumstances which I can tell you
of more easily than I can write, requiring that I should leave this at
once, I will do so immediately after posting the present letter. I will
go direct to the hotel you speak of at Holyhead, and remain there till
your messenger arrives to meet me.

“You distress me, my dear uncle, when you suggest that I should mention
any articles that I might require to be added to your household for my
comfort or convenience. Do not forget, I beg, that I was not born to
these luxuries, and that they only attach to me as the accidents of a
station which I relinquish with delight, when I know that it gives me
the right to sign myself,

“Your loving Niece,

“Kate Luttrell.”



CHAPTER XLIV. THE FLIGHT

The day was just breaking as Kate, carrying a small bundle in her hand,
issued noiselessly from the deep porch of the hotel, and hastened to the
pier.

The steam-boat was about to start, and she was the last to reach the
deck, as the vessel moved off. It was a raw and gusty morning, and the
passengers had all sought shelter below, so that she was free to seek a
spot to herself unmolested and unobserved.

As she turned her farewell look at the sands, where she had walked on
the evening before, she could not believe that one night--one short
night--had merely filled the interval. Why, it seemed as if half a
lifetime had been crowded into the space. Within those few hours how
much had happened! A grand dream of ambition scattered to the winds--a
dream that for many a day had filled her whole thoughts, working its way
into every crevice of her mind, and so colouring all her fancies that
she had not even a caprice untinged by it! To be the mistress of that
old feudal castle--to own its vast halls and its tall towers--to gaze on
the deep-bosomed woods that stretched for miles away, and feel that
they were her own! To know that at last she had gained a station and a
position that none dared dispute; “For,” as she would say, “the world
may say its worst of that old man’s folly; they may ridicule and deride
him. Of me they can but say that I played boldly, and won the great
stake I played for.” And now, the game was over, and she had lost!
“What a reverse was this! Yesterday, surrounded with wealth, cared for,
watched, courted, my slightest wish consulted, how fair the prospect
looked! And now, alone, and more friendless than the meanest around me!
And was the fault mine? How hard to tell. Was it that I gave him too
much of my confidence, or too little? Was my mistake to let him dwell
too much on the ways and opinions of that great world that he loved so
well? Should I not have tried rather to disparage than exalt it? And
should I not have sought to inspire him with a desire for a quiet,
tranquil existence--such a life as he might have dreamed to lead in
those deep old woods around his home? To the last,” cried she, to
herself--“to the last, I never could believe that he would consent to
lose me! Perhaps he never thought it would come to this. Perhaps he
fancied that I could not face that wretchedness from which I came.
Perhaps he might have thought that I myself was not one to relinquish
so good a game, and rise from the table at the first reverse. But what a
reverse! To be so near the winning-post, and yet lose the race! And how
will he bear it? Will he sink under the blow, or will that old pride of
blood of which he boasts so much come to his aid and carry him through
it? How I wish--oh, what would I not give to see him, as he tears open
my last letter, and sees all his presents returned to him! Ah, if he
could but feel with what a pang I parted with them! If he but knew the
tears the leave-taking cost me! If he but saw me as I took off that
necklace I was never to wear again, feeling like one who was laying
down her beauty to go forth into the world without a charm, he might,
perchance, hope to win me back again. And would that be possible? My
heart says no. My heart tells me, that before I can think of a fortune
to achieve, there is an insult to avenge. He slighted me--yes, he
slighted me! There was a price too high for all my love, and he let me
see it. There was his fault--he let me see it! It was my dream for many
a year to show the humble folk from whom I came what my ambition and my
capacity could make me; and I thought of myself as the proud mistress of
Dalradern without a pang for all the misery the victory would cost me.
Now the victory has escaped me, and I go back, so far as my own efforts
are concerned, defeated! What next--ay, what next?”

As the day wore on, every incident of her ordinary life rose before her.
Nine o’clock. It was the hour the carriage came to take her to her bath.
She bethought her of all the obsequious attention of her maid, that
quiet watchfulness of cunning service, the mindful observance that
supplies a want and yet obtrudes no thought of it. The very bustle
of her arrival at the bathing-place had its own flattery. The eager
attention, the zealous anxiety of the servants, that showed how, in
her presence, all others were for the time forgotten. She knew well--is
beauty ever deficient in the knowledge?--that many came each morning
only to catch a glimpse of her. Her practised eye had taught her, even
as she passed, to note what amount of tribute each rendered to her
loveliness; and she could mark the wondering veneration here, the
almost rapturous gaze of this one, and not unfrequently the jealous
depreciation of that other.

Eleven o’clock. She was at breakfast with Sir Within, and he was asking
her for all the little events of the morning. And what were these? A
bantering narrative of her own triumphs--how well she had looked--how
tastefully she was dressed--how spitefully the women had criticised the
lovely hat she swam in, and which she gave to some poor girl as she came
out of the water--a trifle that had cost some “louis” a few days before.

It was noon--the hour the mail arrived from Brussels--and Sir Within
would come to present her with the rich bouquet of rare flowers,
despatched each morning from the capital. It was a piece of homage
he delighted to pay, and she was wont to accept it with a sort of
queen-like condescension. “What a strange life of dreamy indulgence--of
enjoyments multiplied too fast to taste--of luxuries so lavished as
almost to be a burden--and how unreal it was all!” so thought she, as
they drew near the tall chalk cliffs of the English coast, and the
deck grew crowded with those who were eagerly impatient to quit their
prison-house.

For the first time for a long while did she find herself unnoticed and
unattended to; none of that watchful, obsequious attention that used
to track her steps was there. Now, people hurried hither and thither,
collecting their scattered effects, and preparing to land. Not one to
care for her, who only yesterday was waited on like royalty!

“Is this your trunk, Miss?” asked a porter.

“No; this is mine,” said she, pointing to a bundle.

“Shall I carry it for you, my dear?” said a vulgar-looking and
over-dressed young fellow, who had put his glass in his eye to stare at
her.

She muttered but one word, but that it was enough seemed clear, as his
companion said, “I declare I think you deserved it!”

“It has begun already,” said she to herself, as she walked slowly along
towards the town. “The bitter conflict with the world, of which I have
only heard hitherto, I now must face. By this time he knows it; he knows
that he is desolate, and that he shall never see me more. All the misery
is not, therefore, mine; nor is mine the greater. I have youth, and can
hope; he cannot hope; he can but grieve on to the last. Well, let him go
to that world he loves so dearly, and ask it to console him. It will say
by its thousand tongues, ‘You have done well, Sir Within. Why should you
have allied yourself with a low-born peasant-girl? How could her beauty
have reconciled you to her want of refinement, her ignorance, her coarse
breeding?’ Ah, what an answer could his heart give, if he but dared to
utter it; for he could tell them I was their equal in all their vaunted
captivations! Will he have the courage to do this? Or, will he seek
comfort in the falsehood that belies me?”

In thoughts like these, ever revolving around herself and her altered
fortunes, she journeyed on, and by the third day arrived at Holyhead.
The rendezvous was given at a small inn outside the town called “The
Kid,” and directions for her reception had been already forwarded there.
Two days elapsed before her uncle’s messenger arrived--two days that
seemed to extend to as many years! How did her ever-active mind go over
in that space all her past life, from the cruel sorrows of her early
days, to the pampered existence she had led at Dalradern? She fancied
what she might have been, if she had never left her lowly station, but
grown up amongst the hardships and privations of her humble condition.
She canvassed in her mind the way in which she might have either
conformed to that life, or struggled against it. “I cannot believe,”
 said she, with a saucy laugh, as she stood and looked at herself in the
glass, “that these arms were meant to carry sea-wrack, or that these
feet were fashioned to clamber shoeless up the rocks! And yet, if
destiny had fixed me there, how should I have escaped? I cannot tell,
any more than I can tell what is yet before me! And what a fascination
there is in this uncertainty! What a wondrous influence has the unknown!
How eventful does the slightest action become, when it may lead to that
which can determine a life’s fortune! Even now, how much is in my power!
I might go back, throw myself at that old man’s feet, and tell him that
it was in vain I tried it--I could not leave him. I might kneel there
till he raised me, and when he did so, I should be his wife, a titled
lady, and mistress of that grand old castle! Could I do this? No: no
more than I could go and beg the Vyners to have pity on me and take me
back; that my heart clung to the happiness I had learned to feel amongst
them; and that I would rather serve them as a menial than live away from
them. Better to die than this. And, what will this life at Arran be?
This uncle, too, I dread him; and yet, I long to see him. I want to hear
him call me by his own name, and acknowledge me as a Luttrell. Oh, if
he had but done this before--before I had travelled this weary road of
deception and falsehood! Who knows? Who knows?”

“Are you the young lady, Miss, that’s expecting an elderly gentleman?”
 said the housemaid, entering hastily.

“Where from? How did he come?” cried Elate, eagerly; for her first
thought was, it might be Sir Within.

“He came by the Irish packet, Miss.”

“Yes that is quite right. If he asks for Miss Luttrell, you may say I am
ready to see him.”

In a minute or two after she had given this order, the girl again opened
the door, saying:

“Mr. Coles, Miss;” and introduced a florid, fussy-looking little man,
with a manner compounded of courtesy and command.

“You may leave the room, young woman,” said he to the maid; and then,
approaching Kate, added, “I have the honour to speak to Miss Luttrell?”

She bowed a quiet assent, and he went on:

“I’m chief managing-clerk of Cane and Co., Miss Luttrell, from whom
I received instructions to wait on you here, and accompany you to
Westport, where Mr. John Luttrell will have a boat ready for you.”

He delivered this speech with a something half-peremptory, as though he
either suspected some amount of resistance to his authority, or imagined
that his credentials might be questioned.

“Have you no letter for me, Sir?” asked she, calmly.

“There was a letter from Mr. Luttrell to Mr. George Cane, Miss Luttrell,
explaining why he was not himself able to come over and meet you.”

“Was he ill, Sir?”

“No, not exactly ill, Miss Luttrell, though he is never what one can
call well.”

“I am astonished he did not write to me,” said she, in a low, thoughtful
tone.

“He is not much given to writing, Miss Luttrell, at any time, and of
late we have rarely heard from him beyond a line or two. Indeed, with
respect to my present journey, all he says is, ‘Send some one in your
confidence over to Holyhead by the first packet to inquire for Miss
Luttrell, or Miss O’Hara--she may be known by either name--and conduct
her to Elridge’s Hotel, Westport. The young lady is to be treated with
all consideration.’ These are his words, Miss, and I hope to follow
them.”

“It is very kind,” said she slowly, and half to herself.

“It’s a Frenchified sort of phrase, ‘all consideration,’ but I take its
meaning to be, with every deference to your wishes--how you would like
to travel, and where to stop. Mr. George, however, told me to add, ‘If
Miss Luttrell desires to make any purchases, or requires anything in
town, she is to have full liberty to obtain it.’ He did not mention
to what amount, but of course he intended the exercise of a certain
discretion.”

“I want nothing, Sir.”

“That is what Mrs. Coles remarked to me: If the young lady only saw the
place she was going to, she’d not think of shopping.”

Kate made no answer.

“Not but, as Mrs. Coles observed, some good substantial winter
clothing--that capital stuff they make now for Lower Canada--would be an
excellent thing to take. You are aware, Miss, it is a perpetual winter
there?”

A short nod, that might mean anything, was all her reply.

“And above all, Miss Luttrell,” continued he, unabashed by her cold
manner--“above all, a few books! Mr. L., from what I hear, has none
that would suit a young lady’s reading. His studies, it seems, are of an
antiquarian order; some say--of course people _will_ say so--he dips
a little into magic and the black art.” Perhaps, after all, it was the
study most appropriate to the place.

“I suppose it is a lonesome spot?” said she, with a faint sigh, and not
well heeding what she said.

“Desolate is the name for it--desolate and deserted! I only know it by
the map; but, I declare to you, I’d not pass a week on it to own the fee
simple.”

“And yet I am going there of my own free will, Sir,” said she, with a
strangely meaning smile.

“That’s exactly what puzzles Mrs. C. and myself,” said he, bluntly;
“and, indeed, my wife went so far as to say, ‘Has the dear young
creature nobody to tell her what the place is like? Has she no friend to
warn her against the life she is going to?’”

“Tell her from me, Sir, that I know it all. I saw it when I was a child,
and my memory is a tenacious one. And tell her, too, that bleak and
dreary as it is, I look forward to it with a longing desire, as an
escape from a world of which, even the very little I have seen, has not
enamoured me. And now, Sir, enough of me and my fortunes, let us talk
of the road. Whenever you are sufficiently rested to begin your journey,
you will find me ready.”

“You’ll stop probably a day in Dublin?”

“Not an hour, Sir, if I can get on. Can we leave this to-night?”

“Yes; I have ordered the carriages to take us to the pier at nine, and a
cart for your luggage.”

“My luggage is there, Sir,” said she, pointing to the bundle, and
smiling at the astonishment his face betrayed; “and when you tell your
wife that, Sir, she will, perhaps, see I am better fitted for Arran than
she suspected.”

Albeit the daily life of Mr. Coles gave little scope to the faculty, he
was by nature of an inquiring disposition, not to add that he well knew
to what a rigid cross-examination he would be subjected on his return to
his wife, not merely as to the look, manner, and mien of the young lady,
but as to what account she gave of herself, where she came from, and,
more important still, why she came.

It was his fancy, too, to imagine that he was especially adroit in
extracting confidences; a belief, be it observed, very generally held
by people whose palpable and pushing curiosity invariably revolts a
stranger, and disposes him to extreme reserve.

As they walked the deck of the steamer together, then, with a calm
sea and a stilly night, he deemed the moment favourable to open his
investigations.

“Ah, yes!” said he, as though addressing some interlocutor within his
own bosom--“ah, yes! she will indeed feel it a terrible contrast. None
of the pleasures, none of the habits of her former life; none of the
joys of the family, and none of the endearments of a home!”

“Of whom were you speaking, Sir?” asked she, with a faint smile.

“Dear me I dear me I what a man I am! That’s a habit my wife has been
trying to break me of these fifteen years, Miss Luttrell; as she says:
‘Coles, take care that you never commit a murder, or you’re sure to tell
it to the first person you meet.’ And so is it when anything occurs to
engage my deepest interest--my strongest sympathy; it’s no use; do what
I will, out it will come in spite of me.”

“And I, Sir,” said she, with a slow and measured utterance, “am exactly
the reverse. I no more think of speaking my thoughts aloud, than I
should dream of imparting my family secrets, if I had any, to the first
stranger whose impertinent curiosity might dispose him to penetrate
them.”

“Indeed!” cried he, reddening with shame.

“Quite true, I assure you, Sir; and now I will wish you a goodnight, for
it grows chilly here.”



CHAPTER XLV. ON ARRAN

Kate was awoke from a deep sleep by the noise of the boat coming to
anchor. She started up, and looked around her, unable for several
seconds to recal where she was. Behind the little land-locked bay the
tall mountains rose, wild and fanciful, on every side; the dark sky
studded with stars above, and the still darker sea beneath, still and
waveless; and then the shore, where lights moved rapidly hither and
thither; making up a picture strangely interesting to one to whom that
lone rock was to be a home, that dreary spot in the wild ocean her whole
world.

There were a great many people on the shore awaiting her, partly out of
curiosity, in part out of respect, and Molly Ryan had come down to say
that his honour was not well enough to meet her, but he hoped in the
morning he would be able. “You’re to be the same as himself here,” he
says; “and every word you say is to be minded as if it was his own.”

“I almost think I remember you; your face, and your voice too, seem to
me as though I knew them before.”

“So you may, Miss. You saw me here at the mistress’s wake, but don’t let
on to the master, for he doesn’t like that any of us should think you
was ever here afore. This is the path here, Miss; it’s a rough bit for
your tender feet.”

“Have we much farther to go, Molly? I am rather tired to-day.”

“No, Miss; a few minutes more will bring us to the Abbey; but sure we’d
send for a chair and carry you----”

“No, no; on no account. It is only to-night I feel fatigued. My uncle’s
illness is nothing serious, I hope?”

“‘Tis more grief than sickness, Miss. It’s sorrow is killin’ him. Any
one that saw him last year wouldn’t know him now; his hair is white as
snow, and his voice is weak as a child’s. Here we are now--here’s the
gate. It isn’t much of a garden, nobody minds it; and yonder, where you
see the light, that’s his honour’s room, beside the big tower there,
and you are to have the two rooms that my mistress lived in.” And, still
speaking, she led the way through a low arched passage into a small
clean-looking chamber, within which lay another with a neatly-arranged
bed, and a few attempts at comfortable furniture. “We did our best,
Miss, Sam and myself,” said Molly; “but we hadn’t much time, for we only
knew you was coming on Tuesday night.”

“It is all yery nice and clean, Molly. Your name is Molly, isn’t it?”

“Yes, Miss,” said she, curtseying, and deeply gratified.

“I want nothing better!” said Kate, as she sat down on the bed and took
off her bonnet.

“If you don’t need me now, Miss, I’ll go and bring you your tea; it’s
all ready in the kitchen.”

“Very well, Molly; leave it for me in the outer room, and I’ll take it
when I am inclined.”

Molly saw that she desired to be alone, and withdrew without a word; and
Kate, now free of all restraint, buried her face in the pillow and
wept bitterly. Never, till the very spot was before her--till the dark
shadows of the rugged rocks crossed her path, and the wild solitude of
the dreary island appealed to her, by the poor appearance of the people,
their savage looks, and their destitution--never till then had she fully
realised to her mind all the force of the step she had taken. “What have
I done! What have I done!” sobbed she, hysterically, over and over.
“Why have I left all that makes life an ecstasy to come and drag out an
existence of misery and gloom! Is this the fruit of all my ambition? Is
this the prize for which I have left myself, without one affection or
one sentiment, sacrificing all to that station I had set before me as
a goal? I’ll not bear it. I’ll not endure it. Time enough to come
here when my hopes are bankrupt, and my fortune shipwrecked. I have
youth--and, better, I have beauty. Shall I stay here till a blight has
fallen on both? Why, the very misery I came from as a child was less
dreary and desolate than this! There was at least companionship there!
There was sympathy, for there was fellow-suffering. But here! what is
there here, but a tomb in which life is to waste out, and the creature
feel himself the corpse before he dies?” She started up and looked
around her, turning her eyes from one object to the other in the room.
“And it is for this splendour, for all this costly magnificence, I am to
surrender the love of those humble people, who, after all, loved me for
myself! It was of _me_ they thought, for me they prayed, for my
success they implored the saints; and it is for this”--and she gazed
contemptuously on the lowly decorations of the chamber--“I am to give
them up for ever, and refuse even to see them! The proud old Sir Within
never proposed so hard a bargain! He did not dare to tell me I should
deny my own. To be sure,” cried she, with a scornful laugh, “I was
forgetting a material part of the price. I am a Luttrell--Kate Lnttrell
of Arran--and I shall be one day, perhaps, mistress of this grand
ancestral seat, the Abbey of St. Finbar! Would that I could share the
grandeur with them at once, and lie down there in that old aisle as
dreamless as my noble kinsfolk!”

In alternate bursts of sorrow oyer the past, and scornful ridicule of
the present, she passed the greater part of the night; and at last,
exhausted and weary with the conflict, she leaned her head on the side
of her bed, and, kneeling as she was, fell off to sleep. When she awoke,
it was bright day, the sea-breeze playing softly through a honeysuckle
that covered the open window, filled the room with a pleasant perfume,
and cooled her heated brow. She looked out on the scarcely ruffled bay,
and saw the fishing-boats standing out to sea, while on the shore all
were busy launching or stowing away tackle; the very children aiding
where they could, carrying down baskets, or such small gear as their
strength could master. It was life, and movement, and cheerfulness
too--for so the voices sounded in the thin morning air--not a tone of
complaint, not one utterance that indicated discontent, and the very
cheer which accompanied the sliding craft as she rushed down to the
sea seemed to come from hearts that were above repining. The scene was
better to her than all her self-arguings. There they were, the very
class she sprang from; the men and women like her own nearest kindred;
the very children recalling the days when she played barefooted on the
beach, and chased the retiring waves back into the sea. They were there,
toiling ever on, no hope of any day of better fortune, no thought of
any other rest than the last long sleep of all, and why should _she_
complain? That late life of luxury and splendour was not without its
drawbacks. The incessant watchfulness it exacted, lest in some unguarded
moment she should forget the part she was playing--and part it was--the
ever-present need of that insidious flattery by which she maintained
her influence over Sir Within, and, above all, the dread of her
humble origin being discovered, and becoming the table-talk of the
servants’-hall. These were a heavy price to pay for a life of luxurious
indulgence.

“Here, at least,” cried she, “I shall be real. I am the niece and the
adopted daughter of the lord of the soil; none can gainsay or deny me;
a Luttrell of Arran, I can assert myself against the world; poverty is
only an infliction when side by side with affluence; we are the great
and the rich here! Let me only forget the past, and this life can be
enjoyable enough. I used to fancy, long ago, as I walked the garden
alone at Dinasllyn, that no condition of life would ever find me
unprepared to meet. Here is a case to prove my theory, and now to be an
Arran islander.”

As she said, she began to arrange her room, and place the different
articles in it more to her own taste. Her care was to make her little
chamber as comfortable as she could. She was rather an adept in this
sort of achievement--at least, she thought she could impart to a room a
character distinctly her own, giving it its “cachet” of homeliness, or
comfort, or elegance, or simplicity, as she wished it. The noise of her
preparations brought Molly to her aid, and she despatched the amazed
countrywoman to bring her an armful of the purple heath that covered the
mountain near, and as many wild flowers as she could find.

“To-morrow, Molly,” said she, “I will go in search of them myself, but
to-day I must put things to rights here. Now, Molly,” said she, as they
both were busied in filling two large jugs with the best flowers they
could find, “remember that I’m an old maid.”

“Lawk, Miss, indeed you arn’t!”

“Well, never mind, I mean to be just as particular, just as severe as
one; and remember, that wherever I put a table, or a chest of drawers,
or even a cup with a flower in it, you must never displace it. No matter
how careless I may seem, leave everything here as you find it.”

“That’s the master’s own way, Miss; his honour would go mad if I touched
a book he was readin’.”

It was a very pleasant flattery that the poor woman thus unconsciously
insinuated, nor could anything have been more in time, for Kate was
longing to identify herself with the Luttrells, to be one of them in
their ways, and their very prejudices.

Scarcely had Molly left the room than a light tap came to the door, and
a weak voice asked:

“May I come in?”

Kate hastened to open it, but she was anticipated, and her uncle slowly
entered, and stood before her.

“My dear, dear uncle,” cried she, taking his hand, and pressing it to
her lips.

He pressed her in his arms, and kissed her forehead twice, and then,
with a hand on either shoulder, held her for a moment at arms’ length,
while he looked at her. Hers was not a nature to flinch under such a
scrutiny, and yet she blushed at last under the steadiness of his gaze.

“Let us sit down,” said he, at length; and he handed her to a seat with
much courtesy. “Had I seen you, Miss Luttrell----”

“Oh, Sir, say Kate--call me Kate,” cried she, eagerly.

“Had I seen you before, Kate,” continued he--and there was a touch
of feeling as he spoke the name--“I do not think I could have dared to
ask you to come here!”

“Oh, dear uncle! have I so disappointed you?”

“You have amazed me, Kate. I was not prepared to see you as you are. I
speak not of your beauty, my child; I was prepared for that. It is your
air, your bearing, that look, that reminds me of long, long ago. It is
years since I saw a lady, my dear Kate, and the sight of you has brought
up memories I had believed were dead and buried.”

“Then I do not displease you, uncle?”

“I am angry with myself, child. I should never have brought you to this
barbarism.”

“You have given me a home, Sir,” said she, fondly; but he only sighed,
and she went on: “A home and a name!”

“A name! Yes,” said he, proudly, “a name that well befits you, but a
home--how unworthy of you! What ignorance in me not to know that you
would be like this!” And again he gazed at her with intense admiration.
“But see, my child, to what this life of grovelling monotony conduces.
Because I had not seen you and heard your voice, I could not picture
to my poor besotted mind that, besides beauty, you should have that
gracefulness the world deems higher than even beauty. Nay, Kate, I am no
flatterer; and, moreover, I will not speak of this again.”

“I will try to make you satisfied that you did well to send for me,
Sir,” said she, meekly; and her heart felt almost bursting with delight
at the words of praise she had just heard.

“How did you induce them to part with you?” asked he, calmly.

“I gave no choice in the matter, Sir. I showed your letter to Sir Within
Wardle, and he would not hear of my leaving. I tried to discuss the
matter, and he only grew impatient. I hinted at what your letter had
vaguely insinuated--a certain awkwardness in my position--and this made
him downright angry. We parted, and I went to my room. Once alone, I
took counsel with myself. The result was, that I wrote that letter which
you received, and I came away the same morning I wrote it.”

“Alone?”

“Yes, Sir, alone.”

“And without a leave-taking?”

“Even so, Sir. It was the only way in which I could have come, and I had
made up my mind to it.”.

“Here was something of the Luttrell there!” said he, turning his eyes
full upon her features, which now had caught an expression of calm and
resolute meaning. “You will become the name, Kate!”

“It shall be my endeavour, Sir.”

“And yet,” added he, after a pause, “you were very happy there. Tell me
the sort of life you used to lead.”

“One day will serve for all, uncle; they were exactly alike. My mornings
were all my own. If my masters came, I studied, or I dismissed them as I
pleased; if I felt indisposed to read, I sung; if I did not like music,
I drew; if I did not care for drawing landscape, I caricatured my
master, and made a doggrel poem on his indignation. In a word, I trifled
over the day till luncheon. After that I rode in the woods, alone if I
could, sometimes with Sir Within; often I had time to do both. Then
came dressing--a long affair--for I was expected to be fine enough for
company each day, though we saw no one. After that, most wearisome of
all the day, came dinner--two hours and a half---services of which we
never ate; wines we did not care to drink, but all repeated regularly; a
solemn mock banquet, my guardian--so I called him--loved immensely, and
would have prolonged, if he but knew how, till midnight. Evening brought
our one guest, a French Abbé, with whom I sung or played chess till I
could engage Sir Within and himself in a discussion about Mirabeau or
St. Just, when I would slip away and be free. Then, if the night were
moonlit, I would drive out in the Park, or have a row on the Lake;
if dark, I would have the conservatory lighted, set the fountains a
playing, and drive the gardener distracted by ‘awakening’ all his
drowsy plants. In a word, I could do what I pleased, and I pleased to
do whatever struck me at the moment. I ordered all that I liked from
Town--books, dress, objects of art, prints--and was just as weary of
them all before I saw them as after they had palled upon me. It was a
life of intense indulgence, and I’m not sure, if one could but fight
off occasional ennui, that it wasn’t the happiest thing could be made
of existence, for it was very dreamy withal, very full of innumerable
futures, all rose-coloured, all beautiful.”

“And what are you to make of this?” asked Luttrell, almost sternly, as
he moved his arm around to indicate the new realm about her. “Here there
is no luxury, no wealth, none of the refinement that comes of wealth,
not one of the resources that fill the time of cultivated leisure; all
is hardship, privation, self-denial. Go abroad, too, beyond the walls
of this poor old ruin, and it will be to witness misery and destitution
greater still.”

“I am going to try if I shall not like the real conflict better than the
mock combat,” said she, calmly.

“What a change will be your life here, my poor child--what a change!
Let it not, however, be worse than it need be. So far as this poor place
will permit, be your own mistress--live in your own fashion--keep your
own hours--come to me only when you like, never from any sense of duty.
I am too inured to solitude to want companionship, though I can be
grateful when it is offered me. I have a few books--some of them may
interest you; my pursuits, too--what once were my pursuits!” said
he, with a sigh, “might amuse you. At all events,” added he, rising,
“try--try if you can bear it; it need not be your prison if you cannot!”

He again kissed her forehead, and, motioning a good-by with his hand,
moved slowly away.

“Perhaps I shall acquit myself better than he thinks,” said she to
herself. “Perhaps--who knows if I may not find some place or thing to
interest me here? It is very grand ‘savagery,’ and if one wanted to test
their powers of defying the world in every shape, this is the spot. What
is this you have brought me to eat, Molly?”

“It’s a bit of fried skate, Miss, and I’m sorry it’s no better, but the
potatoes is beautiful.”

“Then let me have them, and some milk. No milk--is that so?”

“There’s only one cow, Miss, on the island, and she’s only milked in the
evening; but St. Finbar’s Well is the finest water ever was tasted.”

“To your good health, then, and St. Finbar’s!” said she, lifting
a goblet to her lips. “You are right, Molly; it is ice-cold and
delicious!” And now, as she began her meal, she went on inquiring which
of the men about the place would be most likely as a gardener, what
things could be got to grow, on which side came the worst winds, and
where any shelter could be found. “Perhaps I shall have to take to
fishing, Molly,” said she, laughing, “for something I must do.”

“You could make the nets, anyhow, Miss,” said Molly, in admiration of
the white and graceful hands, and thinking what ought to be their most
congenial labour.

“I can row a boat well, Molly,” said Kate, proudly.

“Whatever you’d do, you’d do well, God bless you!” cried the other;
for in that hearty delight in beauty, so natural to the Irish peasant
nature, she imagined her to be perfection, and the honest creature
turned, ere she left the room, to give her a look of admiration little
short of rapture.



CHAPTER XLVI. THE STRANGER AT THE WELL.

Before a couple of weeks passed over, Kate had contrived to divide her
days so regularly, to establish for herself a certain routine of
little duties, that the time slipped by--as time ever will do in
monotony--unfelt. The season was the autumn, and the wild hills and
mountains were gorgeous in all the brilliant colour of the ever varied
heaths. In the little clefts and valleys, too, where shelter favoured,
foxgloves and purple mallows grew with a rare luxuriance, while on every
side was met the arbutus, its crimson berries hanging in festoons over
rock and crag. The sudden, unexpected sight of the sea, penetrating
by many a fissure, as it were, between the mountains, gave unceasing
interest to the wild landscape, and over the pathless moors that she
strayed, not a living thing to be seen, was the sense of being the first
wayfarer who had ever trod these wastes.

As Kate wandered whole days alone, over and over again came the doubt
across her, which was it--the brilliant past, with all its splendour and
luxury, or the solitary present--was the dream? Surely they could
not both be real! Was the bygone a fancy built out of some gorgeous
fragments of things read, heard, or imagined, or was this--this actual
scene around her--a vision that was to move past, and leave her to awake
to all her former splendour?

Great as the revulsion was to her former life, it was in nothing greater
than in the difference between her uncle’s cold, sad, distant manner,
for so after the first meeting had it become, and the ever watchful
anxiety, the courteous attention to her slightest wish, of Sir Within.

She never ceased canvassing with herself how he had borne her desertion;
whether he had sunk under it into a hopeless despondency, or called upon
his pride to sustain him above any show of indignation. Reading it as
the world must read it, there never was such ingratitude; but then the
world could never know the provocation, nor ever know by what personal
sacrifice she had avenged the slight passed upon her. “My story,” said
she, “can never be told; his, he may tell how it suite him.”

At moments, a sort of romantic exaltation and a sense of freedom would
make her believe that she had done well to exchange the splendid bondage
of the past for the untrammelled liberty of the present; and then, at
other times, the terrible contrast would so overcome her, that she would
sit and cry as if her heart was breaking.

“Would my ‘old Gardy’ pity or exult over me if he saw me now? What would
he, who would not suffer me to tread on an uncarpeted step, say if he
saw me alone, and poorly clad, clambering up these rugged cliffs to
reach some point, where, for an instant, I may forget myself? Surely he
would not triumph over my fall!

“Such a life as this is meant to expiate great crimes. Men are sent to
wild and desolate islands in the ocean, to wear out days of hopeless
misery, because they have warred against their fellows. But what have I
done? whom have I injured? Others had friends to love and to guide them;
I had none. The very worst that can be alleged against me is, that I was
rash and headstrong--too prone to resent; and what has it cost me!

“My uncle said, indeed, this need not be my prison if I could not endure
its privations. But what did that mean--what alternative did he point
to? Was it that I was to go lower still, and fall back upon all the
wretchedness I sprang from? That, never! The barren glory of calling
myself a Luttrell may be a sorry price for forfeited luxury and
splendour; but I have it, and I will hold it. I am a Luttrell now, and
one day, perhaps, these dreary hills shall own me their mistress.”

In some such thoughts as these, crossed and recrossed by regrets and
half-shadowed hopes, she was returning one night to the Abbey, when
Molly met her. There was such evident anxiety and eagerness in the
woman’s face, that Kate quickly asked her:

“What is it? What has happened?”

“Nothing, Miss, nothing at all. ‘Tis only a man is come. He’s down at
the Holy Well, and wants to speak to you.”

“Who is he? What is he?”

“I never seen him before, Miss, but he comes from beyant there”--she
motioned towards the main land of Ireland--“and says that you know him
well.”

“Have you told my uncle of him?”

“No, Miss, for the man said I was to tell no living soul but yourself,
and to tell you quick too, for he was in a hurry, and wanted to get away
with the evening’s tide, and his boat was more than a mile off.”

“Molly Byan,” said the girl, calmly, almost sternly, “you heard the
orders that my uncle gave. You heard him tell me that I was not to see,
nor speak to, nor hold any intercourse with any of those belonging to my
mother’s family. Is this man one of them?”

“No, Miss. ‘Tis what I asked him. ‘Tis the very first question I put to
him. And he said, ‘I’m no more to them than you are, Mrs. Ryan,’ says
he; ‘and what’s more,’ says he, ‘if it’s any comfort to you to know it,
I don’t even come from this part of Ireland; so you may make yourself
easy about that,’ says he. I was puttin’ more questions to him, and he
stopped me, and said, ‘You’re just wasting precious time,’ says he, ‘and
if she comes back and finds it too late’--‘she meant yourself Miss--’
she won’t forgive you in a hurry for what you’ve done, for I can’t come
here again.’”

“You are sure and certain that he was not one of those I spoke of?”

“I know them all well, Miss--barrin’ the three that was transported--and
he’s not any of them I ever saw before.”

“But he might exactly be one of those who _was_ transported, and
certainly if I knew that I’d not see him.”

“He swore to me he wasn’t, Miss; and, what’s more, he said that what he
came about wasn’t his own business at all, but concerned _you_. That’s
his whistle now--he gave, one awhile ago--and he said, ‘When I give
three,’ says he, ‘I’m gone, for i’ll not lose the tide, whether she
comes or not.’”

“Go back to the house, Molly. I’ll go down and speak to him.”

“Wouldn’t you let me follow you, Miss, to be near in case of anything?”

“No, Molly. I’m not a coward; and I know, besides, that no man who meant
harm to me would ever come ever here to attempt it.”

“At any rate, he’d never go back again!” said the woman, fiercely.
“Don’t be long, Miss, or I’ll be uneasy.”

Kate now turned aside, and hastened down a little steep path which led
to the Holy Well. The well itself was a sort of shrine built over a
little spring, and shaded by a clump of dwindled oak-trees--almost the
only ones in the island. As Kate drew nigh, she saw a man walking up
and down beneath the trees, with the quick short step that implied
impatience. It was her gift never to forget a face, and in one glance
she recognised one she had not seen for years--O’Rorke of Vinegar Hill.

[Illustration; 394]

“I thought you’d never come;” cried he, as she descended the steps that
led down to the well. “I have been waiting here about an hour!”

He held out his hand to shake hands with her, but she drew back, and
crossing her shawl in front of her, showed that she declined this
greeting.

“Are you too proud to shake hands with me?” asked he, insolently.

“Whatever you have to say to me can be said just as well without.”

“What if I wouldn’t say it, then, Kitty O’Hara? What if I was to go back
the way I came, and leave you to rue the day you insulted me? Do you
know, young woman, that it wasn’t on my own account I came here, that it
was to serve others?”

“They chose a bad messenger if they thought you’d be a welcome one.”

“May I never see glory if I’m not tempted to turn away and leave you
without telling one word I come for. Where’s John Luttrell? for I think
I’ll tell it to himself.”

“My uncle is at the Abbey, if you want him!”

“Your uncle!” said he, jeeringly. “Why wasn’t he your uncle when you
were up at Cush-ma-Creena, without a shoe, to your foot, or enough rags
to cover you well? You were bare up to this, when I saw you last.” And
he put his hand to his knee.

“It was a national costume!” said she, with a quiet laugh, “and a
patriot like Mr. O’Rorke should not find fault with it.”

“Be gorra, it was your own self said that! and it was a lie they tould
when they said you were altered!” And almost as if by magic the fellow’s
ill-temper gave way, and he laughed heartily. “Listen to me now, Miss
O’Hara, or Miss Luttrell, or whatever you call yourself.”

“My name is Luttrell,” said she, calmly.

“Well, Luttrell, then; it’s the same to me. As I told you already, I
came here more on _your_ account than my own; and here’s what brought
me. You know that lodge, or cottage, or whatever they call it, that
Vyner built up here in the glen? Well, there’s creditors of his now
wanting to get possession of it.”

“Creditors of Sir Gervais Vyner? Impossible!”

“Possible, or impossible, it’s true, that I can vouch for, for I saw
the bailiffs that came down with the notices. At any rate, your old
grandfather thought that after Vyner himself _he_ had the best right
to the house and the bit of land, for Vyner told him one day that he’d
settle it on you for a marriage portion, and there was others by when he
said it, so your grandfather went up and told Tom Crowe, the attorney,
how it was, and Tom said, ‘Keep it open, Malone,’ says he--‘keep it open
till we see what’s to be done in it. Don’t let the other creditors get a
hold of the place till I get an opinion for you.’ And on that, old Peter
goes back and gets a few boys together, and they go down to the glen
just in time to see the sub-sheriff, Barty Lambert, riding up the
lawn, with six or eight men after him. The minute Lambert saw your
grandfather, he cried out, ‘Here’s Peter “the Smasher;” save yourselves,
boys!’ And he rode his horse at a wall, jumped it, and made off as
hard as he could. Two of the others followed, but the rest stood their
ground. Old Peter then stepped out, and ordered them to lay down their
arms, and give up the writ, and whatever other papers they had. Some
were for this, and some against; and Peter, wanting to finish the
business at once, stepped up to Joe Maher, the sub-sheriff’s man, and
said: ‘Joe,’ says he, ‘I made you ate a process once before, wax and
all, and maybe I’d have to do the same now. Give it up this minute,
or------’ Just then Maher drew out a pistol, but before he could level
it old Peter was in on him, and they grappled each other, and a terrible
struggle it was, for the others never interfered, but left them to fight
it out fair! At last the pistol went off, and the ball passed through
old Peter’s cheek; but if it did, it didn’t prevent him getting over
Joe’s breast as he fell, and beating his head against the ground, till
he rolled over him himself out of weakness and fatigue; and when Peter
came to himself--Maher didn’t, for he was dead!”

“Dead!” exclaimed she--“murdered!”

“Not a bit murdered, but killed fair! Anyhow, the others ran away,
and old Peter, as soon as he was able, made off too, and got into the
mountains, and now the police is after him, and a reward of fifty pounds
offered for him, as if he was a wild beast. British law and justice, my
darling; the beautiful code of laws that was made to civilise Ireland
four centuries ago, and hasn’t done much to talk about up to this!”

“This is a very dreadful story,” said she, after some time of silence.
“And what is to become of this poor old man?”

“That depends on you, Miss Kate--Luttrell,” added he, after a brief
struggle with himself.

“On _me?_ How can it depend upon _me?_”

“Here’s how it is, then. If they catch Peter, what between the character
he has already, and what’s known of his sons, they’ll make short work
of it he’ll ‘swing,’ as sure as you are there this minute. So there’s
nothing for it but to get him away to America by any of the ships coming
round from the north, and it would be easy enough for him to get on
board; but what’s not so easy, Miss Kate, is to pay his passage. He
hasn’t one shilling in the world. The boys got together last night, and
all they could make up was eleven and fourpence; there it is, and a pawn
ticket for an old pistol, that nobody would give half-a-crown for----”

“But what can I do?” broke she in, passionately. “What can I do?”

“Help him with a few pounds. Give it or lend it; but let him have enough
to make his escape, and not go to the ‘drop’ for want of a little help.”

“There is not one belonging to him poorer than me,” began she. “Why do
you shake your head? Do you disbelieve me?”

“I do; that’s just it.”

“Shall I swear it--shall I take my oath to you, that except the trifle
that remains to me of what I had to pay my journey here, I have not one
farthing in the world?”

“Then what’s the fine story of the great castle where you were living,
and the grand clothes and the jewels you used to wear? Do you mean to
tell me that you left them all behind, when you came away?”

“It is true. I did so.”

“And came off with nothing?”

She nodded, and he stared at her, partly in astonishment, and partly
with some show of admiration; for even to his nature this conduct of
hers displayed a degree of character that might be capable of great
sacrifices.

“And so,” said he, after a pause, “you can do nothing for him?”

“What can I do?” asked she, almost imploringly.

“I’ll tell you,” said he, calmly. “Go up to John Lnttrell, and say, My
grandfather is hiding from the police; they have a warrant out against
him, and if he’s taken he’s sure to be condemned; and we know what mercy
a Malone will meet at the assizes of Donegal. Tell him--it’s just the
one thing he’ll care for--that it wouldn’t be pleasant for him to be
summoned as a witness to character, and have to declare in open court
that he married the prisoner’s daughter. Say a ten-pound note, or even
five, is a cheap price to pay for escaping all this disgrace and shame;
and tell him, besides, when old Peter goes, you’ve seen the last of the
family. He’ll think a good deal of that, I promise you----”

“Stop,” said she, boldly. “You know nothing of the temper of the man you
talk of; but it is enough that I tell you he has got no money. Listen to
me, O’Rorke. It was but yesterday he sent off a little ornament his wife
nsed to wear to have it sold, to pay a county rate they were threatening
to distrain for----”

“Where did you get all your law?” said he, jeeringly; but, not heeding
the gibe, she went on, “I would have offered him the few shillings I
had, but I was ashamed and afraid.”

“How much is it?”

“A little more than two pounds. You shall have it; but remember, I can
do no more. I have nothing I could sell--not a ring, nor a brooch; not
even a pin.”

“It’s better than nothing,” muttered he, surlily, below his breath. “Let
me have it.”

“It is up at the Abbey. Wait, and I’ll fetch it. I’ll not be an
instant.” And before he could answer she was gone. In less time than
seemed possible she was back again, breathless and agitated. “Here it
is,” said she, placing the money in his hand. “If you should see him,
tell him how grieved I am to be of such little service to him, and give
him this silk handkerchief; tell him I used to wear it round my neck,
and that I sent a kiss to him in it--poor fellow! I almost wish I was
with him,” muttered she, as she turned away her head, for the hot tears
filled her eyes--she felt weak and sick.

“I’m afraid this will do little good,” said O’Rorke, looking at the
money in his open palm.

“And yet I can do no more!” said she, with deep sorrow.

“Wouldn’t you venture to tell your uncle how it is? Sure he might see
that the disgrace, if this old man is caught and brought to trial, will
spread to himself?”

“I dare not--I will not,” said she, firmly.

“Then I suppose the story is true, though old Peter wouldn’t believe it,
that John Luttrell made you sign a paper never to see nor speak to one
of your own again?”

“I signed no paper, Sir, nor ever was asked to sign any. What pledges I
have given my uncle are not to be discussed with you.”

“Well, you don’t deny it, that’s clear.”

“Have you anything more that you wish to say to me?” asked she,
controlling every show of temper.

“No--not a word,” said he, turning to go away. “Only, if I see old
Peter--it’s not unlike that I may--he’ll be asking me how tall you are,
and how you’re looking. Will you just come out from under the shade of
that tree and let me have a fair look at you?”

Kate took off her bonnet and threw her shawl from her, and stood forward
with an air as composed and assured as might be.

“Shall I tell you what I’ll say to him?” said O’Rorke, with an impudent
half grin on his face.

“You need not, Sir. It has no interest whatever for me. Good-by!” She
took up her shawl as she spoke, and walked slowly away.

O’Rorke looked after her; the mocking expression of his features changed
to a look of almost hatred, and he muttered some angry words between his
teeth. “I read you right, Miss Katty, when you weren’t much higher than
my knee. I read you right! You may have plenty in love with you, but by
my conscience you’ll never have Tim O’Rorke.”



CHAPTER XLVII. HOW KATE WAS TASKED

For several days after this scene, Kate thought of nothing but her
old grandfather, whether he still wandered an outcast through the wild
mountains of Donegal, or had succeeded in making his escape to America.
At moments her anxieties became so intense, from fears lest she herself
might prove blamable if his escape could not be effected, that she was
almost resolved to go to her uncle and reveal all to him. Luttrell’s
manner had, however, been unusually cold and reserved for some time
back, and she had not courage to take this step. Indeed, whole days
would now pass with nothing but a mere greeting between them, and at
length, one entire day went over without her seeing him at all. It was
said that he was very busy, had received a number of letters by the
post, and was engaged a great part of the night in answering them. On
the morning that followed this day, Kate was preparing the little basket
in which she carried her luncheon with her to the hills, whenever she
meditated a longer excursion than usual, when her uncle entered hastily,
and with evident signs of agitation in his face.

“I have had disagreeable tidings, Kate,” said he, with a forced calm of
manner and voice. “I would have kept them from you if I could, but it is
not possible. Some weeks ago there was a resistance to the sheriff by
a party of country people, led on by that old man--no stranger to such
conflicts--Malone. There was a fight, and a man, the sheriff’s bailiff,
was killed. There was no doubt who killed him. It was Malone. He made
his escape, however, into West Donegal, waiting, as it was supposed,
till, by some ship passing--North about--he could reach America. The
police, however, got possession of his plan, secured a revenue-cutter,
and, lying in wait, arrested him in the very act of getting on board.
Another struggle ensued here, and Malone fought with such desperation,
that one of the men is badly wounded, and another drowned, for the small
boat was upset in the conflict, and it is said that, had not Malone’s
arm been broke by a pistol-shot, he might yet have escaped by swimming
around the ship, which was in full trim to have made sail when he should
get on board. They captured him, however, and he is now in gaol; he will
be tried at the next assizes, and of his fate there can be no doubt.”

“Condemned?” said she, in a low roice.

“Yes,” he continued, “that he must be executed is also clear. The very
name he bears is an indictment against him. The fellow, however, is full
of the impression that everything he has done was in self-defence; he
maintains that he merely resisted a personal attack, and he has the
madness, in the face of all the convictions that have befallen his
family, to declare that he belongs to a most irreproachable set of
people, long known and respected in this neighbourhood, and he has the
daring effrontery--here in my hand is the letter that conveys it--to
require that I should come forward to vouch for his character and
acknowledge the relationship between us. Nor is this all,” added he,
in a voice husky with passion; “he demands--it is no prayer, no
entreaty--he demands from me a sum sufficient to defray the costs of his
defence. He asserts that though he himself is ready to take his chance,
and, if need be, brave the worst the law can do to him, it might not
suit Luttrell of Arran to sit under a two hours’ cross-examination,
and have his whole life laid bare for the amusement of the world. You
cannot, without knowing the man, believe how seriously these threats are
uttered; he is the most recklessly daring fellow I ever knew, and I can
well conceive what questions he will suggest to his counsel to put to me
if I once appear on the table. To-night I am to give my answer. The
man he sends over here to receive it is the most offensive messenger he
could have found had he searched Europe from one end to the other. He is
a fellow named O’Rorke, who once before placed me in a position almost
similar to what I am now threatened with, and drove me to seek the
shelter of this desolate spot. On that occasion, however, I escaped the
indignity of personal exposure, and of that open shame that rise now
before me. The demand is precise and clear. Twenty pounds down, fifty on
the day before the trial comes on, and my name to a bill for fifty
more if the jury bring in a verdict of not guilty. For this he pledges
himself--these are his words--‘never to be any longer a charge to me nor
mine.’ I am well aware that the letter I hold here is not his own, for
he cannot write, but I can trace through certain expressions--and,
above all, certain repetitions--phrases inserted at his instance.” “Am I
spoken of, Sir? Does he allude to me at all?” “Never; not once. Indeed,
he even says, ‘I hope that whatever you decide to do in this business
will be your honour’s own mind and nobody else’s, for I write this in
confidence between man and man, and only want Yes or No between us.’”

“And what will you do, Sir? Have you come to any resolve?” “Yes, I have
made up my mind as to what is to be done immediately. I have examined
my agent’s accounts, and I find that by the eighth of next month I shall
have to my credit about seventy pounds. The assizes are fixed for the
twelfth. I will give an order for half of this sum at once. Cane will
pay it, I have no doubt, when he sees my necessity. I will also engage
to pay the remainder on the eighth, the day I shall receive it; but on
one condition, Kate--only one condition--which is, that no matter what
course the defence may take, I am not to be summoned as a witness. No
one knows better than Malone himself how valueless would any testimony
of mine be to him; he knows, besides, what detriment it would be to
him if I should be cross-examined; the man’s character will not
bear sifting, and he is insane to provoke it. If, however, he should
persist--and such is the fellow’s nature that it is likely he will--in
his own plan, we must leave this.”

“Leave this! And for where, Sir?”

“How can I tell? I only know that I mean to save myself from this shame
at any cost. A few days would carry us over to Holland or to France.
In either of these I should be safe. I have written to my agent, and
consented to all his conditions as to the sale of a certain small estate
I possess in Mayo. We must seek out a new banishment, Kate. You will say
it can scarcely be drearier than the old one; but you don’t know, you
could not know how sorrow endears a spot, and ties it to the heart of
him who lives only to mourn! These rugged cliffs, these pathless moors,
these barren hills, and sea-lashed promontories, have been my friends
for years--the only friends who have never changed to me. Let me now,
however, think only of the present. This man is to be here to-night. It
is more than likely he will be able to answer me at once, and declare
whether Malone will accept my conditions.”

“What think you, uncle, if I were to speak with him? Might it not be
possible I could make some terms which you wouldn’t have patience to
treat about?”

“I thought of that, too, Kate, but the man is one of a class you have
not met for many a year. It is not that he is not a gentleman, but he is
not a peasant. You cannot appeal to him on the claim of honour, and as
little on the plea of generosity. He is a cold, harsh, unfeeling fellow,
distrustful and false. How could you deal with such a man?”

“A woman will always deal better with a man like this than a fellow-man,
if only from the fact that he will be less on his guard before her,
and more disposed to think little of her intelligence. Let me try it,
uncle.”

“You have half persuaded me; but still, Kate, what terms could you
propose that I cannot offer myself?”

“True, Sir; but I could press them in a way that your pride might not
stoop to, and so let me try.”

He paused to consider, and she went on:

“Yes, dear uncle, trust the whole of this negotiation to me; it will be
a task far too painful for you. Let me speak to him. Remember that the
links that bind me to the class he belongs to have only been loosened
a year or two back. I have a closer view of such men’s natures than you
could ever have, and in recognising this he will be franker with me.”

“If you really think----”

“I think and I know it, uncle.”

“Take this then, Kate,” said he, handing her his purse. “It is all the
ready money I have. It may help you to deal with him, Kate. I have told
you everything. Do the best you can for us.” These words he muttered as
if to himself, and then turned away and left the room.

Kate spread the money on the table before her, and sat down, supporting
her head between her hands, and gazing steadfastly at the pieces. “To
think,” said she, bitterly--“to think that a few more or a few less of
these shall tilt the scale of our fortune, and decide not alone whether
we be happy or wretched, but whether we hold a high head in life or
stand in a felon’s dock! And what scores of them have I not squandered
in foolish wastefulness!--sums that any one of them now might rescue
this poor old man from a dreadful fate; and set him at liberty. Has not
my whole life been just as spendthrift--have I not wasted every gift I
possessed, and ended just where I begun?”

“The master sent me,” cried Molly, entering, “to say that there’s a boat
comin’ in now, and, maybe, one you know would be aboord of her.”

“Very well, Molly. If a stranger should land and ask for his honour or
myself, show him in here.”



CHAPTER XLVIII. HOW THE TASK TRIED HER

Kate dressed herself with more than usual care--simply, indeed, but with
a degree of attention to becomingness that was truly remarkable. Twice
did she alter the arrangement of her hair, and more than once did she
try what coloured ribbon would best suit the style she had chosen. A
man might have passed without notice the little details by which she
heightened the charms that were nature to her, but a woman would quickly
have detected small traits of coquetry in the loose falling curls that
fell upon her neck, and the open sleeve that displayed her finely-turned
arm; nor would the sprig of dark purple heath she wore in her bosom have
escaped the critical eye, well knowing how its sombre colouring “brought
out” the transparent brilliancy of the fair skin beneath it.

She had but completed her studied but simple toilet, when Molly ushered
into the room “The strange man, Miss, that wants to see the master.”

“And that is only to see the mistress, I’m told,” added Mr. O’Rorke, as
he seated himself, and laid his hat on the floor beside him. It was then
that Kate entered, and as the fellow arose to greet her, his looks
of admiring wonder sufficiently told what success had waited on her
efforts.

“My uncle is not well enough to see you,” said she, as she sat down,
“but he has told me everything that he would say, and I have ventured to
assure him that, as you and I are somewhat old friends, we should soon
come to an understanding together; the more, as we can have but the same
wish in the object before us.”

“May I never! but you’re grown an elegant woman,” cried O’Rorke.
“‘Tisn’t out of flattery I say it, but I don’t think there’s your equal
in Dublin.”

“I’m very proud of your approval,” said she, with a faint smile, but
with the most perfect composure.

“And it’s honest--all honest,” added he. “It isn’t as if you was made
up with paint, and false hair, and fine lace, and stiff silk. There you
are, as simple as the turnpike man’s daughter, and, by the harp of old
Ireland, I’ll back you against any beauty in St. James’s this day.”

“My dear Mr. O’Rorke, it’s not quite fair to turn my head in this
fashion. Don’t forget that these are the sort of things I’m not
accustomed to hear in this place.”

“By my conscience, then, you’ll hear them in many another place before
you die. Listen to me now, Miss Luttrell. It’s a shame and a scandal to
them that could help it that you’re not at the Court of France this day.
I’m talking good sense when I say you’d make a sensation there such as
they never knew since that old blaguard Louis the Fourteenth gathered
all the beauties in the world round him instead of pictures and statues.
More by token, he wasn’t wrong; flesh and blood beats white marble and
canvas easily.”

“I suspect I see what sort of a king Mr. O’Rorke would have been!” said
she, archly.

“Liberty, first of all, darling,” said he, recalled by the personal
appeal to the stock theme of his life; “‘tis the birthright of the man
as he steps on his native earth; ‘tis the first whisper of the
human heart, whether in the frozen regions of eternal snow, or the
sun-scorched plains of the tropics. ‘Tis for sacred liberty our fathers
fought for seven centuries, and we’ll fight seven more.

     Erin go Bragh is a nation’s cry,
     ‘Tis millions that sing it in chorus,
     And to that tone, before we die,
     We’ll chase the Saxon before us.

“Oh dear! oh dear!” cried he, wiping his brow. “Why did you set me off
so? I took an oath on Saturday last that I’d think of nothing but old
Peter till the trial was over, and here I am talking of Erin’s woes just
as if I was at Burgh Quay, and O’Connell in the chair.”

“Let us talk of Peter, then. I am longing to hear of him.”

“It’s a short story. They caught him at sea, in an open boat; he was
making for a brig bound for Newfoundland. They caught him, but they had
a fight for it, and they got the worst of it, too. Old Peter wasn’t a
man to be taken with his arms crossed. But it was all the worse, for Tom
Crowe says the last business will go harder with him than the first, and
Tom says what’s true. They’d rather hang Peter Malone than any other ten
men in the west of Ireland. This is the fifth time they’ve had him in
the dock; but to be sure he had a fine bar the last trial. He had Daniel
O’Connell and Dick Sheil.”

“And who will defend him now?” asked she, eagerly.

“That’s what your Uncle Luttrell must answer, Miss Kate; he is the only
one can reply to that question.”

“Listen to me now attentively, and I will explain to you my uncle’s
position; a very few words will suffice, and you are not a man to
require more than are necessary. He has by great effort and at heavy
sacrifice got a small sum of money----”

“What do you call a small sum?” broke he in. “Is it a hundred?”

“No; not fifty!”

A long whistle was O’Rorke’s reply, as he arose and took up his hat.

“You had better hear me out,” said she, calmly. “This sum I have
here--it is thirty-five pounds; he empowers me to place it in your hands
to-day, with the promise of as much more the day before the assizes
open.”

“And why not at once? Why not now?”

“You shall hear. He desires and demands, in return for this aid, that
he be not summoned as a witness on the trial. To call him would be a
needless exposure--a mere valueless cruelty.”

“It would not,” cried the other, fiercely. “It’s not at this time of
day any one has to know the effect of putting a gentleman in the
witness-box, when it is a poor labouring man is in the dock. Let John
Luttrell come into court, and, after sitting beside the Chief Baron on
the Bench, get up on the table and take his oath that he has known Peter
Malone, the prisoner, for more than twenty years, as a hardworking,
quiet, decent man, trying to bring up his family respectably, and,
indeed, with such a desire to better their condition in life, that he,
John Luttrell of Arran, was not ashamed to make one of that same Peter
Malone’s daughters his wife, so well brought up, so well educated were
they----”

“Stop! this cannot be. I tell you it is impossible.”

“And why is it impossible? Is it true what I’m saying? Was Peter
Malone’s daughter John Hamilton Luttrell’s wife or not? There’s the
whole question. And what sort of a man or a gentleman is he that is
ashamed to own his wife?”

“Do not speak so loud; and now listen to me. My uncle, for his own good
reasons, will not face the exposure of a public trial and the insolence
of the Crown lawyers, who would not hesitate to rake up long buried
accusations against him, and revive sorrows which even in their decay
embitter his life. He will not endure this, and he is right.”

“Right to deny a man his chance of life!”

“You know well--none better--how little my uncle’s testimony could serve
this poor man. His case is too serious for that.”

“I won’t go over that again,” said he, impatiently. “I haven’t any time
to throw away in arguments. If you put the whole seventy pounds down
on the table it wouldn’t do! No, it would not. It will take thirty, to
begin with, to get Billy Sloane out of the country, and he it is the
Crown relies on for the first charge; he saw old Peter strike the
bailiff first. M’Nulty is the cheapest of the ‘silk gowns,’ and he won’t
come under fifty, and a retainer of ten more. The _Westport Star_ wants
ten pounds to put in the article threatening the jury, if they don’t
bring in a verdict of ‘Not Guilty,’ because, as Mr. Potter says, ‘Word
it as carefully as you like, it’s a contempt of Court, and may send me
for a year to gaol.’ Make money of that, Miss Kitty. Thirty and fifty is
eighty, and ten more, ninety, and ten to the newspaper is a hundred; and
after that there’s the costs to Tom Crowe, and the expenses of the case,
not to speak of the daily livin’ in the gaol, that’s something terrible.
There’s not a pint of sperite doesn’t cost three shillings!”

“But if we have no more?--if we have given every farthing we can raise?”

“‘Tis a nice confession for an estated gentleman, for the man that
writes himself Luttrell of Arran, that, to save his father, or
father-in-law, from the death of a felon, he could only scrape together
seventy pounds!”

“You have only to look around you, and see how we are living, to see
that it is the truth.”

“Many a miser that won’t give himself bread passes the night counting
over his guineas.”

“He is no miser, Sir,” said she, indignantly, for all her self-control
failed her at this point. “If he were not a generous gentleman, he would
never have made the proposal I have now told you of.”

“Tell the generous gentleman, then, to keep his money, young _lady_,”
 and he laid a sarcastic emphasis on the word. “Tell him I’ll not touch
a shilling of it. And I’ll tell you more that you may tell him; say that
he’ll want it all, to buy himself a new suit of clothes to make a decent
appearance when he’s summoned to come forward at the trial.”

“You’d no more dare to utter this insolence to his face, than you’d
brave the anger of his people here when they heard he was insulted;
and take my word for it, Tim O’Rorke, I’m only hesitating this moment
whether I’ll not tell them.”

As she spoke, she flung wide the window, and looked out upon the shore
beneath, where some thirty wild islanders were listlessly lounging and
waiting for the tide to ebb.

O’Rorke grew lividly pale at a threat so significant. If there was
anything that had a greater terror for him than another, it was a
popular vengeance.

“Well, Sir, do you like the prospect from this window?” asked she. “Come
here, and tell me if it is not interesting.”

“It’s wild enough, if you mean that,” said he, with a forced effort to
seem calm.

“Tim O’Rorke,” said she, laying her hand on his arm, and looking at him
with an expression of kindly meaning, “it is not in their trouble that
friends should fall out. I know what affection you have for my poor old
grandfather----”

“So, then, you own him?” cried he, scoffingly.

“When did I disown him?”

“Maybe not; but it’s the first time since I entered this room that you
called him by that name.”

She flushed up; but after a moment, repressing her anger, she said:

“Let us think only of him whose life is in peril. What do you
advise?--what do you wish?”

“I have no more to say, Miss Kate. I have told you what the defence will
cost, I have told you that we have nobody to look to but yourselves, and
_you_ have just told me that it’s a broken reed we’re leaning on, and
now I don’t think there’s much more to be said by either of us.”

She leaned her forehead against the wall, and seemed deeply lost in
thought.

“I mustn’t lose the tide, any way,” said he, taking up his hat and
stick, and laying them on the table. “I may as well put old Peter out
of pain, for anxiety is the greatest of all pain, and tell him that John
Luttrell won’t help him.”

“Not will not--say that he cannot help him!”

“‘Tis little difference it makes whether it’s the will or the way is
wanting when a drowning man cries out, and nobody gives him a hand.
And yet,” added he, “it will be hard to persuade old Peter that his
daughter’s husband could be so cold hearted. I’m thinking you ought to
write a line or two with your own hand, and say that it was no fault of
mine that I didn’t bring better news back with me.”

She made him no answer, and, after a pause, he went on:

“There’s his money, Miss--give it back to him; much good may it do him.
He has the comfort of thinking, that if he didn’t get a fortune with his
wife, her relations never cost him much, either.” He moved away towards
the door. “Good-by, Miss Kate. Tell your uncle that Peter’s case is the
third on the list, and he’ll be time enough if he leaves home on the
9th--that will be Tuesday week.”

She turned hastily round, and overtook him as he laid his hand on the
lock of the door:

“One word--only one word more, O’Rorke!” cried she, impassionedly.

“I have told you faithfully what my uncle charged me with. I swear to
you, before Heaven, I do not know of any help he can offer except this.
Now, if there is any way that you can think of to serve this poor old
man, say so, and I swear to you again, if it depends on me, I’ll do it!”

“Would it be too late to write to Vyner?” asked he, half doggedly.

“Utterly. He is in Italy. Besides, my uncle tells me he is in some great
trouble himself about money.”

“What of that other--I forget his name--where you were living last?”

“Sir Within Wardle. Impossible!--impossible!”

“And why?”

“I cannot tell you. But I may say this, that I’d rather beg in the
street than I’d stoop to ask him.”

“Isn’t he rich?”

“Immensely rich.”

“And he is generous and free of his money, you always said?”

“I never heard of one more so.”

“There’s the two things we want--money, and the man that will give it.
Sit down there, and write these lines to him: ‘My grandfather is to be
tried this assizes on a charge of wilful murder. I have no money to pay
for his defence. Will you help me?’”

“Oh no, no! I could not!--I could not!” cried she, covering her face
with both her hands.

“Why, it’s only this minute you were ready to swear to me that you’d do
anything in the world to save him, and now that I’ve hit on this, you
cry out, ‘No--no!’ as if I was proposing something to shame and disgrace
you.”

“Shame and disgrace, indeed!” burst she out, as a sickly colour came
over her, and she looked like one recovering after a fainting-fit.

“Well, I’m no judge of these things,” muttered he, “but I’d like to know
what it is that would be harder to feel than the sight of an old man of
eighty-two going to the gallows!”

She gave a sharp cry, and held her head with both hands, as if some
sudden sharp pang shot through her: “Do not--do not, Tim O’Rorke I I
can’t bear it!” she screamed out, in a voice of wild, harsh meaning.

“I’ll never ask you again,” said he, slowly; “but maybe the day will
come when you’ll be sorry that I did not! Good-by.”

She made no answer, but sat with her face hid in her hands, and turned
towards the wall.

“Good-by, Miss Kate,” repeated he once more; and, opening the door
slowly, he went out, and closed it after him. <

She never stirred nor raised her head, till, by a rustling sound of the
branches at the window, she was startled, and looked up. It was O’Rorke,
who was leaning on the sill of the window, and looking in.

“Would you give me a scrap of something you were wearing--a bit of
ribbon, or the like, I know you’re not fond of cutting off your hair--to
give the old man? He’d rather have it than a crown jewel----”

“Take this!” cried she, snatching up a scissors, and cutting off the
long and silky lock that fell in a curl upon her neck; and, turning to
the table, she folded it neatly in a piece of paper. She took up her
pen, too, but the thought that he could not read deterred her; for what
she would have written she could not bear that other eyes than his own
should trace, and she sat thinking for some minutes, when suddenly,
through what train of thought impelled it is not easy to say, she cried
out, “Yes, I will do it! Come back--wait a moment--or, better still,
leave me to myself an instant, and I shall be ready.”

He left the window, and she sat down at the table. Without a moment’s
hesitation or reflection she wrote thus:

“St. Finbar’s, Arran.

“Sir,--I make no attempt to deprecate your anger, or palliate the wrong
I have done you. My offence is one that only a free pardon could coyer,
and I do not dare to entreat for this. It is for something more, and
less than forgiveness, I have now to ask you.

“My grandfather, a man of eighty, is in gaol, about to be tried on a
charge of felony; he declares his innocence, but, having no means to pay
counsel, despairs of establishing the fact. My uncle cannot help him;
will you?

“When I think of the time that I had not to speak a wish till I saw it
gratified, I sicken over the ingratitude which drives me to approach you
as a suppliant, while I promise never again to address you.

“The bearer of the present note will take charge of your answer, should
you deign to reply to your unhappy, because unworthy,

“Kate Luttrell.”

“Are you ready with the letter?” asked O’Rorke, as he leaned his arms on
the window-sill and looked into the room.

“Yes,” said she, folding and addressing it. “You will set out
immediately, and deliver this into the hands of Sir Within Wardle, at
Dalradern Castle. It is about fourteen miles from Wrexham. Mind!
into his own hands, for I am not sure how or by whom he may now be
surrounded. As little can I guess what sort of a reply he may give; he
may reject my entreaty; he may even refuse to answer it. He would have
every right to do either. Let it be your care to note him closely as he
reads my letter, and mark what effect it produces. I shall question you,
when you come back, on the minutest details of your meeting--of all that
he says, of his manner, of his looks; whether he speaks of me, and how.
You know well, few better, how to acquit yourself in such a scene, and
be sure that you address your sharpest wits to it. If he be ill and
cannot write, tell him that he may trust you with a verbal answer. _I_
have not said so in my note, but _you_ may, and he will believe you; he
reads men quickly, and he will see that you are in my confidence. If
he asks you about me and my life here, answer freely whatever your own
judgment prompts; he may question you about the place I live in, tell
him what it is like.”

“Don’t give me any more directions, if you don’t want me to forget some
of them; only tell me one thing. If he asks me as to what amount might
be required for the defence, am I to say the highest figure or the
lowest?”

“You are to adhere to the strict truth, O’Rorke, and for this reason, if
for no other, that you will be in the presence of a man well accustomed
to deal with craftier men than yourself, and that all your attempts at
deception would go for nothing.”

“And if he says, ‘Why don’t Mr. Luttrell come forward to help one of his
own near relations?’”

“He will not ask this.”

“And why wouldn’t he?”

“Because he is a gentleman, Sir.”

“Oh, that’s the reason,” said O’Rorke, sneeringly. “Well, I think by
this time I know as much about him as I am likely to do till I see him,
so I’ll be going.”

“Have you any money for this journey?”

“Of course I haven’t. I suppose I’ll need five pounds to come and go.”

“Take ten,” said she, pushing the notes towards him. “I will try and
settle matters with my uncle later.”

“By St. Peter! you ought to have been born a lady with a fine estate,”
 cried he, rapturously. “You have a grand way of doing things, anyhow!”

She smiled at the flattery; it was not at all displeasing to her, and
she held out her hand to him as she said “Good-by.”

“You’ll see me here by Saturday next, if I’m alive.”

“May it be with good news,” said she, waving a good-by. “My love to old
grandfather.” Scarcely was the last word uttered, when Luttrell opened
the door stealthily, and peeped in.

“How long this interview has lasted, Kate,” said he; “what have you
done?”

“You must wait till next Saturday, uncle, for my answer, and I hope it
will content you.”

“Why not tell me now?”

“Because I could not tell you enough, Sir.”

“I am not wont to be treated as a child whose fortunes are to be in the
keeping of others!” said he, sternly. “When Saturday comes, it may be to
hear that which I cannot approve of--which I will not accept.”

“Yes, Sir, you will,” said she, calmly. “You charged me to do my best,
and when I shall have done so you will not discredit me.”



CHAPTER XLIX. MR. O’RORKE ABROAD

Albeit Mr. O’Rorke had no partiality for the Saxon, he did not dislike
his English tour. It was an occasion for much enjoyment in the present,
with a prospect of considerable expatiation over in the future. He
travelled--and it is a mode which occasionally enhances the enjoyments
of travel--at another’s expense; and he indulged in many little luxuries
not known to his daily life.

It was towards the close of a glorious day, mellow in all the richness
of autumn, that he first caught sight of the great massive towers and
battlemented walls of Dalradern Castle. The setting sun had just fallen
on the windows, and the vast frontage was illuminated with a golden
glory that relieved the stern severity of the heavy masonry, and gave
warmth and colour to its cold and stately feudalism.

“And she left this for that rock--that miserable rock in the ocean,”
 cried he. “What could possess her to do it? She was no fool, that was
clear enough. It was no fool could have made herself what she was; and
what else than folly could make any one exchange that princely place for
the wild and dreary desolation of Arran? There’s more in this than one
sees on the surface,” thought O’Rorke. “It’s not in human nature
to believe that she did not enjoy the grand life such a house must
supply--the very aspect of it suggested everything that wealth could
compass, and it could not be that she did not attach herself to its
enjoyments. No; there must have been a reason, or something that she
thought was a reason, for it. Ay, and that same reason, whatever it
was, must have been the source of her great unwillingness to address Sir
Within. She left him in anger, that’s plain enough; and about what
could it be? Had she wearied him? Had her temper, or her caprice, or her
extravagance, tired out his patience? Was it that the self-indulgence of
the spoiled child had at last revolted the very spirit that had
spoiled her? or was it”--and, to O’Rorke’s thinking, this seemed
not improbable--“Sir Within had made her some proposals, not merely
offensive to her dignity, but an outrage to her ambition? If I know
you, Miss Katty,” said he, aloud, “you never lived in that grand house
without dreaming of the time you’d be the mistress of it. And what made
you give up the game? That’s what I’d like to know, and it’s what I’ll
try to find out before I leave this.”

As he drew nearer the castle, the stately grandeur of the place
impressed him still more. Never had he seen such magnificent
timber--never before had he witnessed that marvellous order and
propriety which give even to a vast park all the elegance of a garden.
The clumps of flowery shrubs, in spots that few would probably ever
visit--rare trees in out-of-the-way places--seemed to show what immense
resources existed where so much that was valuable could be squandered
uncared for.

One of the keepers, by whom he was accompanied from the gate-lodge,
discoursed to him freely as they went along, telling of the hundreds
of acres enclosed within the demesne, the extensive gardens and
pleasure-grounds, to keep which in order required quite a regiment of
labourers, “and all,” as the man added, “for an old man that sits all
day at a window, and only comes out of an evening to take the air on a
terrace. Never sees any one, nor goes anywhere; and won’t even dine with
his young relation, Mr. Ladarelle, who is down here for the shooting.”

O’Rorke skirmished cautiously, of course, to ascertain whether the man
could tell him anything of Kate, but he found that he had only lately
entered the service, and never heard of her. He had heard, however, that
Sir Within was greatly changed of late; some heavy blow, of what sort he
knew not, had befallen him, and he now neither rode out nor drove, did
not care to enter the garden, and, in fact, seemed weary of his life,
and indifferent to everything.

“There he is now, on the terrace, taking his evening walk. I mustn’t
go any farther with you; but when you pass the two large oaks yonder,
you’ll see the great entrance, ring the bell, and some one will come to
you.”

O’Rorke went on his way, but had not gone far when he was overtaken by a
servant in livery, who, bare-headed and almost breathless from running,
demanded angrily “What he was doing there?”

“I have a letter for your master that I wish to deliver at once,”
 replied he, firmly.

“Give it here, and wait for your answer round there, by the stables.”

“No such thing, my smart fellow; I am to deliver my letter into your
master’s hand, and I will give it to no other.”

“You’re more likely, then, to take it back with you,” said the other,
jeeringly, and turned away.

“Tell your master that my letter comes from Ireland,” cried O’Rorke
after him, “and that it is one won’t brook delay.” But whether the
fellow heard him or not, he could not say.

In less time, however, than he believed it possible for the man to have
given his message, came a demure-looking man in black from the castle,
who beckoned him to come forward.

“Are you the bearer of a letter from Ireland?” asked he.

“Yes. It is to be given to Sir Within Wardle’s own hand.”

“Come along with me, then.”

O’Rorke was too much excited by the thought of the presence he was
about to stand in, to note more than generally the spacious hall and
the immense marble stairs that led from it. The lofty corridor, whose
windows of stained glass threw a rose-coloured glow over walls and
pavement, together with the rich perfume of flowers, made his head feel
confused and addled.

As the servant ushered him on the terrace, he whispered, “Go forward,”
 and then retired. O’Rorke advanced to where Sir Within was now seated,
one arm leaning on the table beside him.

“You said you came from Ireland,” asked he, in a weak voice; “is it from
Arran?”

“It is, Sir.”

“Thank Heaven!” muttered he to himself. “Give me your letter. Go down
yonder”--and he pointed to the extreme end of the terrace--“I shall call
you when I want you.”

When O’Rorke reached the end of the terrace, he turned a cautious,
furtive look towards the old man, who still sat with the unopened letter
in his hand, and did not move. At last he broke the seal, but such
seemed the agitation of his feelings that he could scarcely read it,
for he twice laid it on the table and hid his face between his hands.
Suddenly he looked up and beckoned O’Rorke towards him, and said:

“Tell me, my good man, do you know the contents of this letter?”

“I know what it’s about, Sir.”

“Were you with her when she wrote it?”

“I was.”

“Was it of her own will--at the suggestion of her own thoughts? I mean,
did she write this willingly, and without a struggle?”

“That she didn’t! She wrote it just because that without it her old
grandfather wouldn’t have even a chance for his life! She wrote it,
crying bitterly all the time, and sobbing as if her heart was breaking.”

The old man turned away his head, but with his hand motioned to the
other to cease speaking. Either O’Rorke, however, did not understand the
gesture, or he unheeded it. He went on:

“‘I’d rather,’ says she, ‘see my right hand cut off, than see it write
these lines,’ says she.”

“There! there!” burst in Sir Within, “that will do--that is enough--say
no more of this!”

But O’Rorke, intent on finding out what had been the relations between
them, and why they had been severed, in spite of all admonition,
continued:

“‘Sure, Miss Kate,” says I, “it is not one that was once so kind and so
generous to you will see you in trouble for a trifle like this, for of
course it would be a trifle to your honour!’”

“And yet she felt it a humiliation to ask me,” said he, despondingly.

“She did, indeed! ‘For,’ says she, ‘he may refuse me.’”

“No, no; she never thought that; she knew me better than to believe it.”

“Well, indeed, Sir, it was what I thought myself, and I said in my own
mind, ‘It’s more ashamed she is than afeard.’”

“Ashamed of what?” cried Sir Within, passionately. “What has shame to do
with it?”

The subtle peasant saw through what a channel the misconception came,
and, still bent on tracing out the mysterious tie between them, said:

“After all, Sir, for a young lady, and a handsome one too, to ask a
great favour of a gentleman not belonging to her, kith or kin, is a
thing that bad tongues would make the worst of if they got hold of it.”

Sir Within’s sallow cheek flushed up, and in a broken voice he said:

“Bad tongues are only tyrants to those who cannot brave them. Miss Kate
Luttrell is not of their number. You shall soon see if these same bad
tongues have any terrors for me.”

“I’m a poor man, but I wasn’t so always,” said O’Rorke, “and I know well
that it was slander and lying crushed _me_.”

The diversion was intended to have awakened some curiosity as to his
former condition, but Sir Within was perfectly indifferent on the
subject. All the interest the messenger had in _his_ eyes came from the
fact that he came from _her_, that he had seen her, and was near her
when she wrote.

“This island--I only know it by the map,” said Sir Within, trying to
talk in an easy, unconcerned strain--“it is very poor, I believe?”

“You might say wretched, and be nearer the mark.” “Is it celebrated for
sport? Is the shooting or the fishing the great attraction?”

“There’s no shooting, nor any fishing but the deep sea fishery; and more
men are lost in that than there are fortunes made of it.”

“And what could have induced Mr. Luttrell to take up his abode in such a
spot?”

“The same thing that sends men off to America, and Australia, and New
Zealand; the same thing that makes a man eat black bread when he can’t
get white; the same thing that---But what’s the use of telling you about
the symptoms, when you never so much as heard of the disease?”

“Miss Luttrell’s life must be a very lonely one,” said Sir “Within, with
every effort to talk in a tone of unconcern.

“‘Tis the wonder of wonders how she bears it. I asked the woman that
lives with them how she passed her time and what she did, and she said,
‘She takes up everything for a week or ten days, and goes at it as if
her life depended on it.’ One time it was gathering plants, and sprigs
of heath, and moss, and the like--even seaweed she’d bring home--going
after them up crags and cliffs that a goat couldn’t climb. Then she’d
give up that and take to gardening, and work all day long; then it was
making fishing-nets; then it was keeping a school, and teaching the
fishermen’s children; she even tried to teach them to sing, till a
sudden thought struck her that they ought to have a lifeboat on the
island, and she sat to writing to all the people that she could think of
to send a plan of one, meaning, I suppose”--here he grinned--“to make it
herself afterwards.”

[Illustration: 417]

Sir Within listened eagerly to’ all this, and then asked:

“And her uncle--does he aid her in these projects?”

“He! It’s little he troubles himself about her! Why, it’s often three
days that they don’t even meet! They never take their meals together.
It’s a wonder of kindness from him the day that he’ll tap the window of
her room with his knuckles and say ‘Good morning,’ and when she’d get up
to open the window to answer him, he’d be gone!”

“How desolate---how dreary!” muttered the old man. “Does this wearisome
life prey upon her? Is she altered in appearance--thinner or paler?”

“I’ll tell you how she looks, and there’s not a man in Ireland
understands a woman’s face better than him before you, and here’s what
it means in three words. It means scorn for a world that could let the
like of her wither and waste on that lonely rock, for it’s not alone
beauty she has, but she has grace and elegance, and a way of charming
about her that’s more than beauty, and there’s a something in her
voice--what it is I don’t know, but it goes on thrilling into you after
she has done speaking, till you just feel that a spell was working in
you, and making you a slave.”

“And _you_ have felt this?” said the old man, as though involuntarily
demanding an avowal that would have set the seal of confirmation on her
magic.

And the cunning Celt felt all the force of the sarcasm, while it did not
suit his purpose to confess it. And yet it needed great self-control to
suppress his rising anger, and keep him from declaring that in a matter
of sentiment, or on a question of female captivation, he, Tim O’Rorke,
Patriot, Martyr, and Paddy as he was, yielded to no man.

“Would you kindly ring that bell beside you, Mr.--Mr.----”

“O’Rorke, Sir.”

“Mr. O’Rorke, I am diffident about my pronunciation of Irish
names,” added the old diplomatist, cautiously veiling the sin of his
forgetfulness. A servant speedily appeared, and Sir Within ordered him
to take every care for “this gentleman’s accommodation.” “I shall be
able to prepare my reply to this letter to-night, Mr. O’Rorke, and
you will be free to leave this at any hour that may suit you in the
morning.”

O’Rorke retired from the presence, well satisfied with himself, and with
the way he had acquitted himself.

“Would you like to have the papers, Sir, or would you prefer seeing the
gallery, while supper is getting ready?” asked the obsequious servant.

“I’ll take a look at your pictures. I have a few myself,” said Mr.
O’Rorke; which was perfectly true, though they were not in the first
taste as objects of art, being certain coloured prints of Hempenstall,
the walking gallows, the capture of Lord Edward Fitzgerald, and a few
similar subjects from the year ‘98, in which, certes, the countenances
bestowed on the Royalists essentially distinguished them in the most
crowded mêlées from all honest patriots.

Leaving Mr. O’Rorke, then, to examine at his leisure Sir Within’s
varied treasures, we make no excuse to our reader for not recording the
criticism he passed upon them.



CHAPTER L. TWO OF A TRADE.

Whether an uneasy consciousness that he might not be able to display a
proper spirit of connoisseurship before that bland, soft-spoken domestic
who accompanied him through the picture-gallery, and who, doubtless,
had enjoyed various opportunities of imbibing critical notions on art,
disposed Mr. O’Rorke--or whether he deemed that his own enjoyment of
the splendour would be higher if unwitnessed, is not given to us to
pronounce; but so it was, that he dismissed his guide very soon, and
declared that he preferred to ramble about quite alone. The well-trained
servant bowed and withdrew, and Mr. O’Rorke was left to revel at will
amidst the magnificence of Dalradern.

There were art treasures there to have fixed the attention and
captivated the gaze of more cultivated admirers; but these attracted
less of his notice than the splendid furniture, the inlaid tables, the
richly-encrusted cabinets, the gorgeously gilded “consoles,” which,
as he surveyed, he appraised, till he actually lost himself in the
arithmetic of his valuation. Nor was this mere unprofitable speculation;
far from it. Mr. O’Rorke was a most practical individual, and the point
to which his calculation led him was this: How much depletion will
all this plethora admit of? What amount of money may be a fair sum to
extract from a man of such boundless wealth? “I’d have let him off for
a hundred pounds,” said he to himself, “as I came up the avenue, and
I wouldn’t take three now, to give him a receipt in full!” In the true
spirit of a brigand, he estimated that his prisoner’s ransom should be
assessed by the measure of his fortune.

Wandering on from room to room, still amazed at the extent and splendour
he surveyed, he opened a door, and suddenly found himself in a large
room brilliantly lighted, and with a table copiously covered with fruit
and wine. As he stood, astonished at the sight, a voice cried out,
“Holloa, whose that? What do you want?” And though O’Rorke would
willingly have retreated, he was so much embarrassed by his intrusion
that he could not move.

“Who the--are you?” cried out the voice again. And now O’Rorke perceived
that a young man was half sitting, half lying in the recess of a very
deep chair, beside the fire, with his legs resting on another chair. “I
say,” cried he, again, “what brings you here?” And as it was young
Ladarelle that spoke, the reader may possibly imagine that the tone was
not over conciliatory.

Retreat was now out of the question, not to say that Mr. O’Rorke had
regained his self-possession, and was once more assured and collected.
Advancing, therefore, till he came in front of the other, he made
his apologies for the accident of his intrusion, and explained how he
happened to be there.

“And where’s the letter you say you brought?” broke in Ladarelle,
hurriedly.

“I gave it to Sir Within Wardle; he has it now.”

“Where did it come from? Who wrote it?”

“It came from Ireland, and from a part of Ireland that, maybe, you never
heard of.”

“And the writer--who was he?”

“That’s no business of _mine_,” said O’Rorke; but he contrived to give
the words the significance that would mean, “Nor of _yours_ either.”

“I think I can guess without your help, my worthy friend; and I have
suspected it would come to this for many a day. What relation are you to
her?”

“Your honour must explain yourself better, if you want a clear answer,”
 replied he, in some confusion.

“Don’t fence with me, my fine fellow. I’m more than your match at that
game. I see the whole thing with half an eye. She wants to come back!”

As he said the last words he sat up straight in the chair, and darted a
searching, stern look at the other.

“Faix, this is all riddles to _me_,” said O’Rorke, folding his hands,
and looking his very utmost to seem like one puzzled and confused.

“What a-------fool you are,” cried Ladarelle, passionately, “not to see
that you may as well tell me now, what, before two hours are over, I
shall know for nothing; out with it, what was in the letter.”

“How can I tell what’s in a sealed letter,” said O’Rorke, sulkily, for
he was not very patient under this mode of interrogation.

“You know who wrote it, at all events?”

“I’ll tell you what I know!” said O’Rorke, resolutely. “That I’ll not
answer any more questions, and that I’ll leave this room now.”

As he turned towards the door, Ladarelle sprang up and said, “You
mistake me, my good fellow, if you think I want all this for nothing.
If you knew a little more of me, you’d see I was a pleasanter fellow to
deal with than my old relation yonder. What is your name?”

“My name,” said he, with a sort of dogged pride--“_my_ name is O’Rorke.”

“Timothy O’Rorke? Ain’t I right?”

“You are indeed, however you knew it.”

“You shall soon see. I have had a letter for you in my writing-desk
for many a long day. ‘Timothy O’Rorke, Vinegar Hill, Cush--something or
other, Ireland.’”

“And who wrote it, Sir?” said O’Rorke, approaching him, and speaking in
a low, anxious voice.

“I’ll be more frank with you than you are with me. I’ll give you the
letter, O’Rorke.”

“But tell me who wrote it?”

“One who was your well wisher, and who told me I might trust you.”

There was never a more puzzling reply than this, for Mr. O’Rorke well
knew that there were few who thought well of him, and fewer who trusted
him.

“Sit down. Take a glass of wine. Drink this.” And as he spoke he filled
a large goblet with sherry.

O’Rorke drained it, and looked happier.

“Take another,” said Ladarelle, as he filled it out, and O’Rorke
complied, smacking his lips with satisfaction as he finished.

“When you have read the letter I’ll give you this evening, O’Rorke,
you’ll see that we are two men who will readily understand each other.
My friend Grenfell said----”

“Was it Mr. Grenfell wrote it?” broke in O’Rorke.

“It was. You remember him, then? He was afraid you might have forgotten
his name.”

“That’s what I never did yet.”

“All right, then. What he said was, ‘Show O’Rorke that you mean to deal
liberally with him. Let him see that you don’t want to drive a hard
bargain, and he’ll stand by you like a man.’”

“When he said that, he knew me well.”

“He said that you were a fine-hearted, plucky fellow, who had not the
success he deserved in life.”

“And he said true; and he might have said that others made a
stepping-stone of me, and left me to my fate when they passed over me!”

The door opened at this moment, and the bland butler announced that the
“Gentleman’s supper was served.”

“Come in here, Mr. O’Rorke, when you have finished, and Til give you a
cigar. I want to hear more about the snipe shooting,” said Ladarelle,
carelessly; and, without noticing the other’s leave-takings, he returned
to his easy-chair and his musings.

“I wonder which of the two is best to deal with,” muttered O’Rorke to
himself, and on this text he speculated as he ate his meal. It was a
very grand moment of his existence certainly: he was served on silver,
fed by a French cook, and waited on by two servants--one being the
black-coated gentleman, whose duty seemed to be in anticipating Mr.
O’Rorke’s desires for food or drink, and whose marvellous instincts were
never mistaken. “Port, always port,” said he, holding up his glass. “It
is the wine that I generally drink at home.”

[Illustration: 424]

“This is Fourteen, Sir; and considered very good,” said the butler,
obsequiously; for humble as the guest appeared, his master’s orders were
to treat him with every deference and attention.

“Fourteen or fifteen, I don’t care which,” said O’Rorke, not aware to
what the date referred; “but the wine pleases me, and I’ll have another
bottle of it.”

He prolonged his beatitude till midnight, and though Mr. Fisk came twice
to suggest that Mr. Ladarelle would like to see him, O’Rorke’s answer
was, each time, “The day for business, the evening for relaxation;
them’s my sentiments, young man.”

At last a more peremptory message arrived, that Mr. Ladarelle wanted him
at once, and O’Rorke, with a promptitude that astonished the messenger,
arose, and cooling his brow and bathing his temples with a wet napkin,
seemed in an instant to restore himself to his habitual calm.

“Where is he?” asked he.

“In his dressing-room. I’ll show you the way,” said Fisk. “I don’t think
you’ll find him in a pleasant humour, though. You’ve tried his patience
a bit.”

“Not so easy to get speech of you, Mr. O’Rorke,” said Ladarelle, when
they were alone. “This is about the third or fourth time I have sent to
say I wanted you.”

“The port, Sir, the port! It was impossible to leave it. Indeed, I don’t
know how I tore myself away at last.”

“It will be your own fault if you haven’t a bin of it in your cellar at
home.”

“How so?”

“I mean that as this old place and all belonging to it must one day be
mine, it will be no very difficult matter to me to recompense the man
who has done me a service.”

“And are you the heir, Sir?” asked O’Rorke, for the first time his voice
indicating a tone of deference.

“Yes, it all comes to me; but my old relative is bent on trying my
patience. What would you say his age was?”

“He’s not far off eighty.”

“He wants six or seven years of it. Indeed, until the other day he did
not look seventy. He broke down all at once.”

“That’s the way they all do,” said O’Rorke, sententiously.

“Yes, but now and then they make a rally, Master O’Rorke, and that’s
what I don’t fancy; do you understand me?”

In the piercing look that accompanied these words there seemed no common
significance, and O’Rorke, drawing closer to the speaker, dropped his
voice to a mere whisper, and said, “Do you want to get rid of him?”

“I’d be much obliged to him if he would die,” said the other, with a
laugh.

“Of course--of course--that’s what I mean,” said O’Rorke, who now began
to suspect he was going too fast.

“I’ll be frank with you, O’Rorke, because I want you; but, first of all,
there’s the letter I had for you.” And he pitched the document across
the table.

O’Rorke drew the candle towards him, and perused the paper slowly and
carefully..

“Well!” said Ladarelle, when he had finished--“well! what do you say to
that?”

“I say two things to it,” said O’Rorke, calmly. “The first is, what am I
to do? and the second is, what am I to get for it?”

“What you are to do is this: you are to serve my interests, and help me
in every way in your power.”

“Am I to break the law?” burst in O’Rorke.

“No--at least, no very serious breach.”

“Nothing against that old man up there?” And he made a strange and
significant gesture, implying violence.

“No, no, nothing of the kind. You don’t think me such a fool as to risk
a halter out of mere impatience. I’ll run neither you nor myself into
such danger as that. When I said you were to serve me, it was in such
ways as a man may help another by zeal, activity, ready-wittedness, and
now and then, perhaps, throwing overboard a few scruples, and proving
his friendship by straining his conscience.”

“Well, I won’t haggle about that. My conscience is a mighty polite
conscience, and never drops in on me without an invitation!”

“The man I want--the very man. Grenfell told me you were,” said

Ladarelle, taking his hand, and shaking it cordially. “Now let me see if
you can be as frank with me as I have been with you, O’Rorke. What was
this letter that you brought here this evening? Was it from _her?_”

“It was.”

“From herself--by her own hand?”

“By her own hand!”

“Are you perfectly sure of that?”

“I saw her write it.”

Ladarelle took a turn up and down the room after this without speaking.
At last he broke out: “And this is the high spirit and the pride they’ve
been cramming me with! This is the girl they affected to say would die
of hunger rather than ask forgiveness!”

“And they knew her well that said it. It’s just what she’d do!”

“How can you say that now? Here she is begging to be taken back again!”

“Who says so?”

“Was not that the meaning of the letter?”

“It was not--the devil a bit of it! I know well what was in it, though
I didn’t read it. It was to ask Sir Within Wardle to send her some money
to pay for the defence of her grandfather, that’s to be tried for murder
next Tuesday week. It nearly broke her heart to stoop to it, but I made
her do it. She called it a shame and a disgrace, and the tears ran down
her face; and, by my soul, it’s not a trifle would make the same young
lady cry!”

“After all, the intention is to open a way to come back here?”

“I don’t believe it.”

“I suspect, Master O’Rorke, this is rather a pleasanter place to live in
than the Arran Islands.”

“So it is; there’s no doubt of that! But she is young, and thinks more
about her pride than her profit--not to say that she comes of a stock
that’s as haughty in their own wild way as ever a peer in the land.”

“There never was a better bait to catch that old man there than this
same pride. She has just hit upon the key to move him. What did he say
when he read the letter?”

“He couldn’t speak for a while, but kept wiping his eyes and trembling
all over.”

“And then?”

“And then he said, ‘Stop here to-night, Mr. O’Rorke, and I’ll have your
answer ready for you in the morning.’”

“And shall I tell you what it will be? It will be to implore her to come
back here. She can have her own terms now; she may be My Lady.”

“Do you mean his wife?”

“I do.”

O’Rorke gave a long whistle, and stood a perfect picture of amazement
and wonder.

“That _was_ playing for a big stake! May I never! if I thought she was
bowld enough for that. That she was. And how she missed it, to this hour
I never knew. But whatever happened between them was, one evening, on
the strand at a sea-side place abroad. That much I learned from her
maid, who was in my pay; and it must have been serious, for she left the
house that night, and never returned; and, what is more, never wrote one
line to him till this letter that you carried here yesterday.”

So astounded was O’Rorke by what he heard, that for some minutes he
scarcely followed what Ladarelle was saying.

“So that,” continued Ladarelle, “it may not be impossible that he had
the hardihood to make her some such proposal.”

“Do you mean without marriage?” broke in O’Rorke, suddenly catching the
clue. “Do you mean that?”

The other nodded.

“No, by all that’s holy!” cried O’Rorke. “That he never did! You might
trick her, you might cheat her--and it wouldn’t be so easy to do it,
either--but, take my word for it, the man that would insult her, and get
off free, isn’t yet born!”

“What could she do, except go off?” said Ladarelle, scoffingly.

“That’s not the stuff they’re made of where she comes from, young man.”

And, in his eagerness, he for a moment forgot all respect and deference;
nor did the other seem to resent the liberty, for he only smiled as he
heard it, and then said:

“All I have been telling you now is merely to prepare you for what I
want you to do, and mind, if you stand by me faithfully and well, your
fortune is made. I ask no man’s help without being ready and willing to
pay for it--to pay handsomely, too! Is that intelligible?”

“Quite intelligible.”

“Now, the short and long of the story is this: If this old fool were
to marry that girl, he could encumber my estate--for it is mine--with
a jointure, and I have no fancy to pay some twelve or fifteen hundred a
year--perhaps more--to Biddy somebody, and have, besides, a lawsuit for
plate, or pictures, or china, or jewels, that she claimed as matter of
gift--and all this, that an old worn-out rake should end his life with
an act of absurdity!”

“And he could leave her fifteen hundred a year for ever,” muttered
O’Rorke, thoughtfully.

“Nothing of the kind. For her life only; and even that, I believe, we
might break by law--at least, Palmer says so.”.

All this Ladarelle said hastily, for he half suspected he had made a
grievous blunder in pointing out the wealth to which she would succeed
as Sir Within’s widow.

“I see--I see!” muttered O’Rorke, thoughtfully; which simply meant that
there was a great deal to be said for each side of the question.

“What are you thinking of?” said Ladarelle at last, losing patience at
his prolonged silence.

“I’m just wondering to myself if she ever knew how near she was to being
My Lady.”

“How near, or how far off, you mean!”

“No, I don’t! I just mean what I said--how near. You don’t know her as
well as I do, that’s clear!” Another long pause followed these words,
and each followed out his own train of thought. At length, Ladarelle,
not at all satisfied, as it seemed, with his own diplomacy, said,
half-impatiently: “My friend Grenfell said, if there was any one who
would understand how to deal with this matter, you were the man; and it
was with that view he gave me the letter you have just read.”

“Oh! there’s many a way to deal with it,” said O’Rorke, who was not
insensible to the flattery. “That is to say, if she was anything else
but the girl she is, there would be no trouble at all in it.”

“You want me to believe that she is something very uncommon, and that
she knows the world, like a woman of fashion.”

“I know nothing about women of fashion, but I never saw man or woman yet
was ‘cuter than Katty O’Hara, or Luttrell, as she calls herself now.”

“She did not play her cards here so cunningly, that’s plain,” said
Ladarelle, with a sneer. “Maybe I can guess why.”

“What is your guess, then?”

“Something happened that wounded her pride! If anything did _that_,
she’d forget herself and her advantage--ay, her very life--and she’d
think of nothing but being revenged. That’s the blood that’s in her!”

“So that her pride is her weak point?”

“You have it now! That’s it. I think she’d rather have died than
write that letter the other morning, and if the answer isn’t what she
expects, I don’t think she’ll get over it! Without,” added he, quickly,
“it would drive her to some vengeance or other, if she was to see the
way to any.”

“I begin to understand her,” said Ladarelle, thoughtfully. “The devil
a bit of you! And if you were to think of it for twenty years, you
wouldn’t understand her! She beats _me_, and I don’t suspect that _you_
do.”

This was one of those thrusts it was very hard to bear without wincing,
but Ladarelle turned away, and concealed the pain he felt.

“It is evident, then, Mr. O’Rorke, that you don’t feel yourself her
match?”

“I didn’t say that; but it would be no disgrace if I _did_ say it,” was
the cautious answer.

“Mr. Grenfell assured me, that with a man like yourself to aid me, I
need not be afraid of any difficulty. Do you feel as if he said too much
for you, or has he promised more than you like to fulfil? You see, by
what I have told you, that I should be very sorry to see that girl
here again, or know that she was likely to regain any part of her old
influence over my relative. Now, though her present letter does not
touch either of these points, it opens a correspondence; don’t you
perceive that?”

“Go on,” said O’Rorke, half sulkily, for a sort of doubt was creeping
over him that possibly his services ought to be retained by the other
party.

“And if they once begin writing letters, and if she only be as ready
with her pen as you say she is with her tongue, there’s nothing to
prevent her being back here this day week, on any terms she pleases.”

“Faix, and there are worse places! May I never! if I’d wonder that she’d
like to be mistress of it.”

For the second time had Ladarelle blundered in his negotiation, and he
was vexed and angry as he perceived it.

“That’s not all so plain and easy, Mr. O’Rorke, as you imagine. When old
men make fools of themselves, the law occasionally takes them at their
word, and pronounces them insane. So long as Sir Within’s eccentricities
were harmless, we bore them, but I’ll not promise our patience for
serious injury.”

If O’Rorke was not convinced by this threat, he was sufficiently
staggered by it to become more thoughtful, and at last he said: “And
what is it you’d propose to do?”

“I’d rather put that question to _you_,” said Ladarelle, softly. “You
have the case before you, what’s your remedy?”

“If she was any other girl, I’d say give her a couple of hundred pounds,
and get her married and out of the way.”

“And why not do so here?”

“Because it would be no use; that’s the why.”

“Is she not a peasant? Are not all belonging to her people in the very
humblest station; and not blessed with the best possible reputations?”

“They’re poor enough, if that’s what you mean; and they’re the very sort
of men that would make mighty short work of you, if you were to harm one
belonging to them.”

“I promise you faithfully I’ll not go to reside in the neighbourhood,”
 said Ladarelle, with a laugh.

“I’ve known them track a man to America before now.”

“Come, come, Mr. O’Rorke, your countrymen may be as like Red Indians as
you please, but they have no terrors for _me_.”

“So much the better; but I’ve seen just as big men as yourself afraid of
them.”

The quiet coolness of this speech sent a far stronger sense of fear
through the other’s heart than any words of menace could have done, and
it required a great effort on his part to seem collected.

“You say she cannot be bought over, O’Rorke; now, what other line is
open to us?”

O’Rorke made no reply, but seemed lost in thought.

“What if she were to believe that Sir Within wouldn’t receive her
letter, or read it, and sent back a cold, unfeeling answer?” Still no
answer passed his lips. “If,” continued Ladarelle, “you were to return
and say you had failed, what would she do then? She’d never write to him
again, I suppose?”

“Never, that you may depend upon, but it wouldn’t be so easy to make her
believe it.”

“That might be managed. First of all, tell me how she would take the
tidings.”

“I don’t know. I could not even guess.”

“At all events, she’d not write to him again?”

“For that I’ll answer. I believe I could take my oath on it.”

“Now, then, the game is easy enough,” said Ladarelle, with a more
assured tone. “You are to have Sir Within’s answer to-morrow. When you
get it, set out for Wrexham, where I’ll meet you. We’ll open it and read
it. If it be a simple acceptance of her note, and a mere compliance with
her request, I’ll re-seal it with his crest, and you shall take it on
to her; but if, as I suspect, the old man will make an effort to renew
their former relations, and throw out any bait to induce her to come
back here----”

“Well, what then?” asked O’Rorke, after waiting a few seconds for the
other to continue.

“In that case we must lay our heads together, O’Rorke, and see what’s
best to be done.”

“And the old man that’s in gaol, and that’s to be tried on the 19th,
what’s to be done about him?”

“I’ll think of that.”

“He hasn’t a great chance anyway, but if there’s no defence, it’s all up
with him.”

“I’ll think of that.”

“Then there’s myself,” said O’Rorke, drawing his figure up to his full
height, as though the subject was one that entailed no painful modesty.
“What about _me?_”

“I have thought of that already. Put that in your pocket, for the
present”--and he pressed a note into his hand--“and when to-morrow comes
you shall name your own conditions. Only stand by me to the end--mind
that.”

O’Rorke opened the bank-note leisurely, and muttered the word “Twenty;”
 and certainly nothing in the accent showed enthusiastic gratitude.

“I can give you an order on my banker to-morrow,” said Ladarelle,
hurriedly, “but I am rather low in cash here, just now; and I repeat
it--your own terms, O’Rorke, your own terms.”

“I suppose so,” was the dry rejoinder.

“It’s not everybody would make you the same proposal.”

“It’s not everybody has so much need of me as you have.”

Ladarelle tried to laugh as he wished him good night, but the attempt
was a poor one, and all he could say, as they parted, was:

“Wrexham--the Boar’s Head--the inn on the left hand as you enter the
town. I’ll be on the look-out for you myself.”

O’Rorke nodded and withdrew.

“Vulgar scoundrel! I wish I had never spoken to him!” said Ladarelle,
as soon as the door closed. “This is all Grenfell’s doing; he has just
shoved me into the hands of a fellow that will only serve me till he
finds a higher bidder. What a fool I have been to open myself to him;
and he sees it well! And as for the ready-wittedness and expediency, I
wonder where they are! Why, the rascal had not a single suggestion to
offer; he kept on harping about the difficulties, and never a word did
he drop as to how to meet them.”

And, with a hearty malediction on him, Ladarelle concluded his
meditation, and went off to sleep.



CHAPTER LI. THE BOAR’S HEAD

Ladarelle stood at a window of the Boar’s Head which commanded a view of
the road into the town, and waited, watch in hand, for O’Rorke’s coming.
The morning passed, and noon, and it was late in the day when a wearied
horse, over-driven and steaming, drew up at the door, and the long
looked-for traveller alighted.

Though burning with impatience to learn his news, Ladarelle saw the
necessity of concealing his anxiety, and, opening his writing-desk,
he affected to be deeply engaged writing when, conducted by a waiter,
O’Rorke appeared.

A single glance as he passed the threshold told Ladarelle that his
tidings were important. Already the fellow’s swagger declared it, and in
the easy confidence with which he sat down, and in the careless way he
rather threw than laid his hat on the table, might be seen that he felt
himself “master of the situation.”

“You are later than I expected,” said Ladarelle, carelessly.

“I didn’t leave the place till after twelve. He made me go over the
gardens and the forcing-houses, and after that the stables, till at one
time I thought I’d not get away till to-morrow.”

“And what do you think of it all?”

“Grand!--grand! It’s the finest place I ever saw, and well kept up, too!
There’s eight men in the garden, and the head-gardener told me he might
have as many more, if he wanted them.”

“The horses are overfed; they are like prize oxen.”

“They’re fat, to be sure; but it’s fine to see them standing there, with
their glossy skins, and their names over them, and their tails hanging
down like tassels, and no more call for them to work than if they were
lords themselves.”

“I’ll make a grand clearance of all that rubbish one day. I’ll have none
of those German elephants, I promise you, when I come to the property.”

“He isn’t going to make room for you yet awhile, he says,” said O’Rorke,
with a grin.

“What do you mean?”

“If what he said to me this morning is to be relied on, he means to
marry.”

“And haye a family, perhaps?” added Ladarelle, with a laugh.

“He said nothing about that; he talked like a man that hoped to see many
years, and happy ones.”

“No one ever lived the longer for wishing it, or else we heirs-expectant
would have a bad time of it. But this is not the question. What answer
did he give you?”

“There it is!”

And, as he spoke, he drew from his breast-pocket a large square-shaped
letter, massively sealed, and after showing the address, “Miss
Luttrell,” on the cover, he replaced it in his pocket.

“Do you know what’s in it?” asked Ladarelle, sharply.

“Only that there’s money, that’s all, for he said to me, ‘Any banker
will cash it.’”

Ladarelle took a couple of turns of the room without speaking; then,
coming directly in front of the other, he said:

“Now, then, Mr. O’Rorke, which horse do you back? Where do you stand to
win? I mean, are you going to serve Sir Within or me?”

“He is the bird in the hand, any way!” said O’Rorke, with a grin of
malicious meaning.

“Well, if you think so, I have no more to say, only that as shrewd a man
as you are might see that an old fellow on the verge of the grave is not
likely to be as lasting a friend as a man like myself. In other words,
which life would you prefer in your lease?”

O’Rorke made no answer, but seemed sunk in thought.

“I’ll put the case before you in three words. You might help this girl
in her plans--you might aid her so far that she could come back here,
and remain either as this old man’s wife or mistress--I don’t know that
there would be much difference, in fact, as the law stands, between the
two--but how long would you be a welcome visitor here after that? You
speculate on being able to come, and go, and stay here just as you
please; you’d like to have this place as a home you could come to
whenever you pleased, and be treated not merely with respect and
attention, but with cordiality. Now, I just ask you, from what you have
yourself told me of this girl, is that what you would expect when she
was the mistress? Is she so staunch to her own people, that she would be
true to _you?_”

For some minutes O’Rorke made no answer, and then, leaning both arms on
the table before him, he said, in a slow, measured voice, “What do you
offer me yourself?”

“I said last night, and I repeat it now, make your own terms.”

O’Rorke shook his head, and was silent.

“I am willing,” resumed Ladarelle, “to make you my land-steward, give
you a house and a plot of ground rent free, and pay you eighty pounds a
year. I’ll make it a hundred if I see you stand well to me!”

“I’ve got some debts,” muttered O’Rorke, in a low voice.

“What do they amount to?”

“Oh, they’re heavy enough; but I could settle them for a couple of
hundreds.”

“I’ll pay them, then.”

“And, after that, I’d rather go abroad. I’d like to go and settle in
Australia.”

“How much money would that require?”

“I want to set up a newspaper, and I couldn’t do it under two thousand
pounds.”

“That’s a big sum, Master O’Rorke.”

“The devil a much the old man at the Castle there would think of it, if
it helped him to what he wanted.”

“I mean, it’s a big sum to raise at a moment, but I don’t say it would
be impossible.”

“Will you give it, then? That’s the short way to put it. Will you give
it?”

“First, let me ask for what am I to give it? Is it that you will stand
by me in this business to the very end, doing whatever I ask you,
flinching at nothing, and taking every risk equally with myself?”

“And no risk that you don’t share yourself?”

“None!”

“It is worth thinking about, anyhow,” said O’Rorke, as he arose and
paced the room, with his hands deep in his pockets; “that is, if the
money is paid down--down on the nail--for I won’t take a bill, mind.”

“I’m afraid, O’Rorke, your experiences in life have not taught you to be
very confiding.”

“I’ll tell you what they’ve taught me; they’ve taught me that wherever
there’s money in anything, a man ought not to trust his own mother.”

In a few hurried words, Ladarelle explained that till he came to his
estate, all his dealings for ready money were of the most ruinous kind;
that to raise two thousand would cost him eventually nearly four; and,
as he phrased it, “I’d rather see the difference in the pocket of an
honest fellow who stood to me, than a rascally Jew who rogued me.”

“I’ll give you a post obit on Sir Within’s estate for three thousand,
and, so far as a hundred pounds goes to pay your voyage, you shall not
want it.”

O’Rorke did not at first like the terms. Whenever he ventured his
chances in life, things had turned out ill; all his lottery tickets were
blanks, and he shook his head doubtingly, and made no reply.

“Five o’clock already! I must be going,” said Ladarelle, suddenly
looking at his watch.

“That’s a fine watch!” said O’Rorke, as he gazed at the richly-embossed
crest on the case.

“If having my arms on the back is no objection to you, O’Rorke, take it.
I make you a present of it.”

O’Rorke peered into his face with an inquisitiveness so full of unbelief
as almost to be laughable, but the expression changed to a look of
delight as Ladarelle took the chain from off his neck and handed the
whole to him.

“May I never!” cried O’Rorke; “if I won’t be your equal. There’s the
letter!” And he drew forth Sir Within’s despatch, and placed it in his
hands.

Concealing all the delight he felt at this unlooked-for success,
Ladarelle retired to the window to read the letter; nor did he at once
break the seal. Some scruple--there were not many left him--did still
linger amidst the wreck of his nature, and he felt that what he
was about to do was a step lower in baseness than he had hitherto
encountered. “After all,” muttered he, “if I hesitate about this, how am
I to meet what is before me?” And so he broke the seal and tore open the
envelope. “The old fool! the infatuated old fool!” broke from him, in an
accent of bitter scorn, as he ran over the three lines which a trembling
hand had traced. “I knew it would come to this. I said so all long.
Here’s an order to pay Miss Luttrell or bearer two hundred pounds!” said
he, turning to O’Rorke. “We must not cash this, or we should get into a
precious scrape.”

“And what’s in the letter?” asked O’Rorke, carelessly.

“Nothing beyond his readiness to be of use, and all that. He writes with
difficulty, he says, and that’s not hard to believe--an infernal scrawl
it is--and he promises to send a long letter by the post tomorrow. By
the way, how do they get the letters at Arran?”

“They send for them once a week to the mainland; on Saturdays, if I
remember aright.”

“We must arrest this correspondence then, or we shall be discovered at
once. How can we obtain her letters?”

“Easy enough. I know the boy that comes for them, and he can’t read,
though he can tell the number of letters that he should have. I’ll have
one ready to substitute for any that should be to her address.”

“Well thought of. I see, O’Rorke, you _are_ the man I wanted; now listen
to me attentively, and hear my plan. I must return to the Castle, and
pretend that I have pressing business in town. Instead of taking the
London mail, however, I shall proceed to Holyhead, where you must
wait for me at the inn, the Watkins’ Arms. I hope to be there tomorrow
morning early, but it may be evening before I can arrive. Wait, at all
events, for my coming.”

“Remember that I promised to be back in Arran, with the answer to her
letter, by Saturday.”

“So you shall. It is fully as important for _me_ that you should keep
your word.”

“Does he want her back again?” said O’Rorke, not fully satisfied that he
had not seen Sir Within’s note.

“No, not exactly; at least, it is evasive, and very short. It is simply
to this purport: ‘I conclude you have made a mistake by leaving me, and
think you might have humility enough to acknowledge it; meanwhile, I
send you a cheque for two hundred. I shall write to-morrow more fully.’”

O’Rorke was thoroughly aware, by the stammering confusion of the other’s
manner, that these were not the terms of the note; but it was a matter
which interested him very little, and he let it pass unchallenged. His
calculation--and he had given a whole night to it--was briefly this: “If
I serve Sir Within, I may possibly be well and handsomely rewarded, but
I shall obtain no power of pressure upon him; under no circumstances can
I extort from him one shilling beyond what he may be disposed to give
me. If, on the other hand, I stand by Ladarelle, his whole character
is in my hands. He is too unscrupulous not to compromise himself, and
though his accomplice, I shall do everything in such a way that one day,
if I need it, I may appear to have been his dupe. And such a position as
this can be the source of untold money.”

Nor was it a small inducement to him to think that the side he adopted
was adverse to Kate. Why he disliked her he knew not--that is, he would
not have been well able to say why. Perhaps he might not readily have
admitted the fact, though he well knew that to see her great, and
prosperous, and high placed, a winner in that great lottery of life
where he had failed so egregiously, would be to him the most intense
misery, and he would have done much to prevent it.

Along with these thoughts were others, speculating on Ladarelle himself,
and whom he was sorely puzzled whether to regard more as knave or fool,
or an equal mixture of the two. “He’ll soon see that whatever he does he
mustn’t try to cheat Tim O’Rorke,” muttered he; “and when he gets that
far, I’ll not trouble myself more about his education.”



CHAPTER LII. THE NIGHT AT SEA

The Saturday--the eventful day on which Kate was to have her answer from
Sir Within--came at last. It was a dark, lowering morning, and though
there was scarcely an air of wind, the sea rolled heavily in, and broke
in great showers of spray over the rocks, sure sign that a storm was
raging at a distance.

From an early hour she had been down to the shore to watch if any boat
could be seen, but not a sail could be descried, and the fishermen
told her that though the wind had a faint sound in it, there were few
Westport men would like to venture out in such a sea.

“If you cannot see a boat before noon, Tim Hennesy,” said she to one
of the boatmen, “you’ll have to man the yawl, for I mean to go over
myself.”

“It will be a hard beat against the wind, Miss,” said the man. “It will
take you an hour to get out of the bay here.”

“I suppose we shall reach Westport before morning?”

“It will be no bad job if we get in by this time to-morrow.”

She turned angrily away; she hated opposition in every shape, and even
the semblance of anything like discouragement chafed and irritated her.

“No sign of your messenger?” said Luttrell, from the window of the
tower, whither he had gone to have a look out over the sea.

“It is early yet, Sir. If they came out on the ebb we should not see
them for at least another hour.”

He made no answer, but closed the window and withdrew.

“Get me a loaf of bread, Molly, and some hard eggs and a bottle of,
milk,” said Kate, as she entered the house.

“And sure, Miss, it’s not off to the mountains you’ll be going such a
day as this. It will be a down-pour of rain before evening, and you have
a bad cough on you already.”

“You most lend me your cloak, too, Molly,” said she, not heeding the
remonstrance, “it’s much warmer than my own.”

“Ain’t I proud that it would be on your back, the Heavens bless and
protect you! But where are you going that you want a cloak?”

“Go and ask my uncle if I may speak to him.”

Molly went, and came back at once to say that Mr. Luttrell was in his
room below, and she might come there when she pleased.

“I am thinking of going over to Westport, Sir,” said Kate, as she
passed the threshold. “My impatience is fevering me, and I want to do
something.”

“Listen to the sea, young woman; it is no day to go out, and those
drifting clouds tell that it will be worse by-and-by.”

“All the better if it blows a little, it will take me off thinking of
other cares.”

“I’ll not hear of it--there!”

And he waved his hand as though to dismiss her, but she never moved, but
stood calm and collected where she was.

“You remember, Sir, to-day is Saturday, and very little time is now left
us for preparation. By going over to the mainland, I shall meet O’Rorke,
and save his journey here and back again, and the chances are, that,
seeing the day rough, he’d not like to leave Westport this morning.”

“I have told you my mind, that is enough,” said he, with an impatient
gesture; but she stood still, and never quitted the spot. “I don’t
suppose you have heard me, Miss Luttrell,” said he, with a tone of
suppressed passion.

“Yes, Sir, I have heard you, but you have not heard _me_. My poor old
grandfather’s case is imminent; whatever measures are to be taken for
his defence cannot be deferred much longer. If the plan I adopted should
turn out a failure, I must think of another, and that quickly.”

“What is this old peasant to me?” broke out Luttrell, fiercely. “Is
this low-lived family to persecute me to my last day? You must not
leave me--you shall not--I am not to be deserted for the sake of a
felon!--I’ll not hear of it!--Go! Leave me?”

She moved gently towards him, and laid her hand on the back of his
chair.

“Dear uncle,” said she, in a low, soft voice, “it would grieve you
sorely if aught befel this poor old man--aught, I mean, that we could
have prevented. Let me go and see if I cannot be of some use to him.”

“Go?--go where?--do you mean to the gaol?”

“Yes, Sir, I mean to see him.”

“The yery thing I have forbidden! The express compact by which you
came here was, no intercourse with this--this--family, and now that the
contact has become a stain and a disgrace, now is the moment you take to
draw closer to them.”

“I want to show I am worthy to be a Lnttrell, Sir. It was their boast
that they never deserted their wounded.”

“They never linked their fortunes to felons and murderers, young woman.
I will hear no more of this.”

“I hope to be back here by to-morrow night, uncle,” said she, softly,
and she bent down her head over him till the long silky curls of her
golden hair grazed his temple.

He brushed them rudely back, and in a stern tone said:

“To such as leave this against my consent there is no road back. Do you
hear me?”

“I do,” said she, faintly.

“Do you understand me?”

“Yes.”

“Enough, then. Leave me now, and let me have peace.”

“Uncle--dear uncle,” she began; but he stopped her at once.

“None of this--none of this with me, young woman. You are free to make
your choice: you are my adopted daughter, or, you are the grandchild of
a man whose claim to be notorious will soon dispute with ours. It is an
easy thing to make up your mind upon.”

“I have done so already, Sir.”

“Very well, so much the better. Leave me now. I wish to be alone.”

“Let me say good-by, Sir; let me kiss your hand, and say, for the last
time, how grateful I am for all your past kindness.”

He never spoke, but continued to stare at her with an expression of
wonderment and surprise.

“Would you leave me, then?--would you leave me, Kate?” muttered he, at
last.

“No, Sir, if the door be not closed against me--never!”

“None but yourself can close that door against you.”

“Dear, kind uncle, only hear me. It may be, that I have failed in the
scheme I planned; it may be, that some other road must be found to help
this poor, forlorn, friendless old man. Let me at least see him; let me
give him what comfort a few kind words can give; let him know that he
has sympathy in his hour of sadness.”

“Sympathy with the felon--sympathy with the murderer! I have none. I
feel shame--bitter, bitter shame, that I cannot disclaim him--disavow
him! My own miserable rashness and folly brought me to this! but when I
descended to their poverty, I did not descend to their crimes.”

“Well,” said she, haughtily, “_I_ have no such excuses to shelter me. I
am of them by blood, as I am in heart. I’ll not desert him.”

“May your choice be fortunate,” said he, with mockery; “but remember,
young woman, that when once you pass under the lintel of the gaol, you
forfeit every right to enter here again. It is but fair that you know
it.”

“I know it, Sir; good-by.” She stooped to take his hand, but he drew it
rudely from her, and she raised the skirt of his coat to her lips and
kissed it.

“Remember, young woman, if the time comes that you shall tell of this
desertion of me--this cold, unfeeling desertion--take care you tell
the truth. No harping on Luttrell pride, or Luttrell sternness--no
pretending that it was the man of birth could not accept companionship
of misery with the plebeian; but the simple fact, than when the hour of
a decided allegiance came, you stood by the criminal and abandoned the
gentleman. There is the simple fact; deny it if you dare!”

“There is not one will dare to question me, Sir, and your caution is
unneeded.”

“Your present conduct is no guarantee for future prudence!”

“Dear uncle--” she began; but he stopped her hastily, and said:

“It is useless to recal our relationship when you have dissolved its
ties.”

“Oh, Sir, do not cast me off because I am unhappy.”

“Here is your home, Kate,” said he, coldly. “Whenever you leave it,
it is of your own free will, not of mine. Go now, if you wish, but
remember, you go at your peril.”

She darted a fierce look at him as he uttered the last word, as though
it had pierced her like a dart, and for a moment she seemed as if her
temper could no longer be kept under; but with an effort she conquered,
and simply saying, “I accept the peril, Sir,” she turned and left the
room.

She gave her orders to the crew of the launch to get ready at once, and
sent down to the boat her little basket; and then, while Molly Ryan was
absent, she packed her trunk with whatever she possessed, and prepared
to leave Arran, if it might be, for ever. Her tears ran fast as she
bent over her task, and they relieved her overwrought mind, for she
was racked and torn by a conflict--a hard conflict--in which different
hopes, and fears, and ambitions warred, and struggled for the mastery.

“Here is the hour of destitution--the long dreaded hour come at last,
and it finds me less prepared to brave it than I thought for. By this
time to-morrow the sun will not shine on one more friendless than
myself. I used to fancy with what courage I could meet this fall, and
even dare it. Where is all my bravery now?”

“‘Tis blowin’ harder, Miss Kate; and Tim Hennesy says it’s only the
beginnin’ of it, and that he’s not easy at all about taking you out in
such weather.”

“Tell Tim Hennesy, that if I hear any more of his fears _I_’ll not take
_him_. Let them carry that trunk down, Molly; I shall be away some days,
and those things there are for you.”

“Sure, ain’t you coming back, Miss?” cried the woman, whose cheeks
became ashy pale with terror.

“I have told you I am going for a few days; and, Molly, till I _do_
come, be more attentive than ever to my uncle; he may miss me, and he
is not well just now, and be sure you look to him. Keep the key, too, of
this room of mine, unless my uncle asks for it.”

“Oh, you’re not coming back to us--you’ll never come back!” cried the
poor creature, in an agony of sorrow. And she fell at Kate’s feet and
grasped her dress, as though to detain her.

[Illustration: 443]

“There, there, this is all childishness, Molly. You will displease me if
you go on so. Was that thunder I heard?”

As she asked, a knock came to the door, and the captain of the boat’s
crew, Tim Hennesy, put in his head. “If you are bent on goin’, Miss, the
tide is on the turn, and there’s no time to lose.”

“You’re a hard man to ask her, Tim Hennesy,” said the woman, rising, and
speaking with a fiery vehemence: “You’re a hard man, after losing your
own brother at sea, to take her out in weather like this.”

Kate gave a hurried look over the room, and then, as if not trusting her
control over her feelings, she went quietly out, and hastened down to
the shore.

There was, indeed, no lime to be lost, and all the efforts of the
sailors were barely enough to save the small boat that lay next the pier
from being crushed against the rocks with each breaking wave.

“Get on board, Miss; now’s the moment!” cried one of the men. And, just
as he spoke, she made a bold spring and lighted safely in the stern.

The strong arms strained to the oars, and in a few seconds they were on
board the yawl. The last few turns of the capstan were needed to raise
the anchor, and now the jib was set to “pay her head round,” and amidst
a perfect shower of spray as the craft swung “about,” the mainsail was
hoisted, and they were away.

“What’s the signal flying from the tower for?” said one of the sailors.
And he pointed to a strip of dark-coloured bunting that now floated from
the flagstaff.

“That’s his honour’s way of bidding us good-by,” said Hennesy. “I’ve
never seen it these twelve years.”

“How can we answer it, Tim?” said Kate, eagerly.

“We’ll show him his own colours, Miss,” said the man. And, knotting the
Luttrell flag on the halyard, he hoisted it in a moment. “Ay, he sees it
now! Down comes his own ensign now to tell us that we’re answered!”

“Was it to say good-by, or was it to recal her?--was it a last greeting
of love and affection, or was it a word of scorn?” Such were Kate’s
musings as the craft heaved and worked in the strong sea, while the
waves broke on the bow, and scattered great sheets of water over them.

“I wish there was a dry spot to shelter you, Miss,” said Tim, as he saw
the poor girl shivering and dripping from head to foot. “But it’s worse
now than farther out; the squalls are stronger here under the land.”

“Ay; but we’ll have a heavier sea outside,” said another, who would
willingly have seen her change her mind even now, and return to the
island.

“It’s a fine wind for America, if that was where we were going,” said a
third, laughingly.

Kate smiled; she had almost said, “It matters little to me where;” but
she caught herself, and was silent. Hour after hour went over, and they
seemed--to her, at least--to have made no way whatever, for there rose
the great mountain-peaks; the well-known cliffs of Arran frowned down
dark and sullen, just as when they had left the harbour. She could count
one by one the lights along the bay, and knew each cabin they belonged
to; and there, high tap, shone out a lonely star from the tower of St.
Finbar, bringing back of her mind the solitary watcher who sat to sorrow
over her desertion! The night at last fell, but the wind increased, and
so rough was the sea that she was forced to take shelter in the bottom
of the boat, where they made shift to cover her with & coarse canopy of
tarpaulin.

Like some dreadful dream drawn out to the length of years, the hours
of that night went over. The howling storm, the thundering crash of the
sea, and at times a quivering motion in the craft, as though her timbers
were about to part, and more even than these, the wild voices of the
men, obliged to shout that they might be heard amongst the din, made
up a mass of horrors that appalled her. Sometimes the danger seemed
imminent, for to the loud words and cries of the men a sudden silence
would succeed, while floods of water would pour over the sides, and
threaten them with instant drowning. The agony she pictured to herself
of a last struggle for life was more terrible far than her fear of
death; and yet, through all these, came the thought: “Might it not
be better thus? Should I not have left to the few who knew me dearer,
fonder memories, than my life, if I am yet to live, will bequeath?”
 Worn out by these anxieties, and exhausted too, she fell into a deep
sleep--so deep, that all the warring noises of the storm never awoke
her; nor was she conscious that a new morning had dawned, and a bright
noon followed it, as the launch entered the bay of Westport, and beat up
for the harbour.

When Hennesy awoke her, to say that they were close in to shore, she
neither could collect herself nor answer him; benumbed with cold, and
wet, she could barely muster strength to arise, and sit down in the
stern-sheets.

“That’s the spire of the town, Miss, under the hill there.”

“It was a wild night, Tim?” said she, inquiringly.

“I have seen as rough a sea, but I never was out in a stronger gale.”

“Mind that you tell my uncle so when you get back; and be sure to say
that I bore it well.”

“Why wouldn’t I? The sorrow a word ever crossed your lips. No man ever
was braver!” “That’s true,” muttered the others.

“Get me a piece of bread out of that basket, Tim; and don’t forget to
tell my uncle how I ate, and ate heartily.”



CHAPTER LIII. THE GAOL PARLOUR

At the time of which our story treats, the old gaols of Ireland were
very unlike those edifices which modern humanity has erected to be the
safeguards of prisoners. They were small, confined, generally ruinous
in condition, and always ill ventilated and dirty. So limited was the
space, that all classification of crime was impossible, and, worse
still, the untried prisoners were confined indiscriminately along with
those whom the law had already sentenced, and who only awaited the hour
of execution.

The extent of favour shown to those who were waiting for trial consisted
in the privilege of seeing their legal advisers, or their friends, in
a small cell used for such colloquies, and to which they succeeded by
rotation, and for half an hour at a time. They whose means were unequal
to the cost of a legal defence, or whose friends took little trouble in
their behalf, were occasionally not unwilling to sell this privilege
to their luckier companions, and a gill of whisky, or a few ounces of
tobacco, were gladly accepted in lieu of a right that would have been
profitless to claim.

As the day for trial grew nearer, the price of this privilege rose
considerably. There were so many things the prisoner wanted to hear, or
to tell, secrets he had kept for weeks long locked close in his breast,
would now find vent; details that he had determined should go with him
to the grave, he could no longer abstain from communicating. The agonies
of feverish expectation, the sleepless nights--or worse, far worse,
those dreamful ones--would have begun to tell upon the strongest and
boldest; and spirits that a few weeks back would have seemed to defy
every terror, now became fidgety and fretful, eager to hear what men
said without, and how the newspapers talked of them.

While the assizes were distant, the prisoners gave themselves up, so far
as their position permitted, to the habits and ways of their ordinary
lives. Some brooded, some bullied, some looked steeped in a sort of
stupid indifference, not caring for anything, or minding anything;
others gave way to a jollity which, whether real or feigned, affected
those around, and disposed them to scenes of riot and uproar. When,
however, the time for trial drew nigh, all these signs merged into one
pervading sentiment of intense anxiety, and nothing was said, nothing
heard, but questions as to who were to be the judges--a point to which
immense importance was attached--some supposed tendency to mercy or
severity being ascribed to each in turn, and the characters of the Crown
lawyers were discussed with a shrewdness that indicated how far less
the debaters thought of the law itself than of the traits and tempers of
those who were to administer it.

From the day that old Malone entered the gaol, his ascendancy was at
once acknowledged. It was not merely that in the old man’s character
there were those features of steadfast determination and unswerving
courage which the Irish of every class place at the top of all virtues,
but he was, so to say, a sort of patriarchal law-breaker; he had twice
stood in the dock under charge for the greatest of crimes, and five
times had he braved the risk of transportation. If ever there seemed a
charmed life, it was his. And though the Crown prosecutors were wont to
regard him as one whose successive escapes were a sort of reflection on
their skill, the juries who tried him could not divest themselves of
a sympathy for the hardy old fellow, who, never daunted by danger, no
sooner issued from one scrape than he was ready to involve himself in
another.

Dan Malone was not only the hero of the gaol, he was the law adviser.
Around him they gathered to tell their several cases, and consult him as
to their likely issue. It was not merely that he was quick in detecting
where a flaw or break-down of evidence might be looked for, but he
knew--and it was wonderful how well--the sort of testimony that would
tell well with a jury, and the class of witness which it would be
advisable to produce, or to withhold, according to the character of the
judge that presided. It would have doubtless been very damaging to this
ascendancy of his if it got abroad that he himself, while distributing
his counsels to this man, and his warnings to that, should be
unprotected and undefended, and so the brave old fellow, locking up
his sorrows in his own heart, never betrayed his friendlessness. On the
contrary, he scrupulously maintained his privilege to “the Parlour,” as
it was called, and would, when his turn came, stalk away to the little
cell, to sit down in his solitude, and think, with a swelling heart,
over his comfortless fortune.

The turnkey alone knew his secret, and kept it loyally. Malone had been
in his hands many times, and always conducted himself well, so that
whenever the time came round for old Dan’s visit to the Parlour, Mr.
Meekins would call out from the door in an audible and imposing voice,
“Here’s Counsellor Fitzgibbon,” or “Serjeant Taate,” or some other
equally well-known leader at the bar, “wants to speak to Dan Malone,”
 and poor old Dan would get up from his seat, and smoothe his hair, and
adjust his neckcloth, and walk proudly away to hide his misery in the
half-darkened cell, and rock himself to and fro in all the sorrow of his
friendless and deserted fortune.

Terrible as the mockery was, it sustained him, for though the straw will
not support the drowning man, it will feed his hope even in death, and
smoothe the last agony of the heart, whose sharpest pang is desertion!

When, therefore, Mr. Meekins, instead of the usual pompons announcement,
simply called out, “Dan Malone, to the Parlour,” without any intimation
of a learned visitor awaiting him, the old man heard the words in
amazement, and not without fear. Had his friend betrayed him? Had
he divulged the little fraud, and exposed him to his fellows? Or had
he--and this most probable--had he, as the real day of reckoning drew
nigh, revolted at a deception which a few hours must unveil, and which,
even to the heart that encouraged it, bore its own cruel punishment. “He
knows that I’m only giving myself false hopes,” muttered the old fellow,
as with sunken head and downcast eyes he moved slowly away.

As the door of the little cell clanked behind him, the turnkey
with scrupulous tenacity bolting the small portal on the outside as
rigorously as though it were the last protection of the criminal, Dan
sat down on a small stool, and buried his face between his hands. Never
before had his fate seemed sodark and gloomy. The little fiction he
loved to main-tarn withdrawn, all the intensity of his loneliness stood
before him at once. “I may as well say it at once,” muttered he, “when
I go back, that Dan Malone has no friend in the wide world, not a man
to speak a word for him, but must stand up in the dock and say, ‘No
counsel, my lord.’” As if the bitter moment of the humiliation had
arrived, the old fellow rocked to and fro in his agony, and groaned
bitterly.

What was that which broke the stillness? Was it a sigh, and then a
sob? Was his mind wandering? Was the misery too much for his reason? He
rubbed his eyes and looked up.

“Merciful Mother! Blessed Virgin! is it yourself is come to comfort me?”
 cried he, as he dropped on his knees, while the tears streamed down his
hard and wrinkled cheeks. “Oh, Holy Mother! Tower of Ivory! do I see you
there, or is my ould eyes deceivin’ me?”

The heart-wrung prayer was addressed to a figure on which the solitary
pane of a small window high up in the wall threw a ray of sunlight, so
that the braided hair glowed like burnished gold, and the pale cheeks
caught a slightly warm tint, less like life than like a beautiful
picture.

“Don’t you know me, grandfather? Don’t you know your own dear Katey?”
 said she, moving slowly forward; and then, kneeling down in front of
him, clasped him in her arms.

It was more than he could bear, and he heaved a heavy sigh, and rolled
back against the wall.

It was long before he rallied; old age stands so near the last
threshold, there is but little space to recover breath in; and when he
did rally, he could not be sure that his mind was not astray, or that
his sight was not deceiving him.

“Tell me something of long ago, darlin’; tell me something, that I’ll
know you are my own.”

“Shall I tell you of the day I found the penny in the well, and you
told me it was for good luck, and never to lose it? Do you remember,
grandfather, how you bored a hole in it, and I used to wear it around my
neck with a string?”

“I do, I do,” cried he, as the tears came fast and faster; “and you lost
it after all; didn’t you lose it?”

“Yes; but, grandfather, I shall find others, and golden ones too.”

“Tell me more about them times, or I won’t believe you,” cried he, half
peevishly.

“I’ll talk to you all the evening about them; I remember them all, dear
old grandady.”

“That’s the word I wanted; that’s it, my darlin’! the light of my ould
eyes!” And he fell on her neck and sobbed aloud.

In his ecstasy and delight to weave the long past into the present,
he forgot to ask her how she came there, and by what fortune she had
remembered him. It was the old life in the mountains that filled his
whole being. The wild cliffs and solitary lakes, dear to him by the
thought of her who never left him, trotting beside him as he went, or
cowering at his knee as he sat over the turf fire. So immersed was he
in these memories, that though she talked on he heard nothing; he would
look at her, and smile, and say, “God bless her,” and then go back again
to his own dreamy thoughts.

“I’m thinking we’ll have to cut the oats, green as it is, Kitty,” said
he, after a long pause. “It’s late in the year now, and there’ll be no
fine days.”

She could not speak, but her lips trembled, and her heart felt as if it
would burst.

“There’s a lamb astray these two days,” muttered he. “I hope the eagles
hasn’t got it; but I heard one screeching last night. Light the fire,
anyway, darlin’, for it’s cowld here.”

With what art and patience and gentle forbearance did she labour to
bring those erring faculties back, and fix them on the great reality
that portended! It was long, indeed, before she succeeded. The old man
loved to revel in the bygone life, wherein, with all its hardships, his
fierce nature enjoyed such independence; and every now and then, after
she had, as she hoped, centred his thoughts upon the approaching trial,
he would break out into some wild triumph over an act of lawless daring,
some insolent defiance he had hurled at the minions who were afraid to
come and look for him in his mountain home.

At last she did manage to get him to speak of his present condition, and
to give a narrative--it was none of the clearest--of his encounter with
the sheriff’s people. He made no attempt to screen himself, nor did he
even pretend that he had not been the aggressor, but he insisted, and
he believed too, that he was perfectly justified in all he had done.
His notion was, that he was simply defending what was his own. The
scrupulous regard the Law observes towards him who is in possession, is
not unfrequently translated by the impetuous intelligence of the Irish
peasant into a _bona fide_ and undeniable right. Malone reasoned in this
way, and with this addition: “It’s just as good for me to die in a fair
fight as be starved and ruined.”

How hard was Kate’s task, to eke out means for a defence from such
materials as this! Indeed, no indictment that ever was drawn could be
more condemnatory than the man’s own admissions. Still, she persisted
in sifting the whole story over and over, till she had at least such a
knowledge of the details as would enable her to confer with a lawyer and
obtain his opinion.

“And who is to defind me, darlin’?” asked he, in the cheerful tone of a
heart perfectly at ease.

“We have not fixed upon that yet. We are not quite sure,” murmured she,
as her racked brain beat and throbbed with intense thinking.

“I’d like to have Mr. O’Connell, Kate,” said he, proudly. “It would warm
my ould heart to hear how he’d give it to them, the scoundrels! that
would turn a poor man out of his own, and send him to sleep under a
ditch. There’s not his like in all Ireland to lash a landlord. It’s
there he’s at home!”

“I must be going now, grandady.”

“Going, acushla! And will you leave me?”

“I most, there’s no help for it; they wouldn’t let me stay here.”

“Begorra!” cried he, wildly,--“I forgot I was in gaol! May I never! if I
didn’t think I was at home again, and that we were only waiting for the
boys to have our supper!”

“My poor old grandady,” said she, stooping and kissing his forehead,
“I’ll come back to-morrow, and stay a long time with you. I have a great
deal to say to you that I can’t think of to-day. Here’s a little basket,
with something to eat, and some tobacco, too; the gaoler gave me leave
to bring it in. And you’ll drink my health to-night, grandady, won’t
you?”

“My darlin’--my own darlin’, that I will! And where did you come from
now--was it from England?”

“No, grandady. It was a long way off, but not from England.”

“And who are you living with? Is it with that ould man in Wales?”

“No, not with him. I’ll tell you all to-morrow.”

“They tell me he’s mighty rich.”

She evidently had not heard his words, for she stood pressing her
temples with both hands, and as if endeavouring to repress some severe
pain.

“It’s your head’s aching you, darlin’!” said he, compassionately.

“Head and heart!” muttered she, drearily. “Good-by, my dear old
grandady--good-by!” And, not able to control her emotion, she turned her
face away.

“You’ll have to call out through that gratin’ before they’ll open the
door,” said he, half sulkily. “You’d think we was all sentenced and
condimned, the way they lock us up here! But I hear him coming now.
You’ll let her in to see me to-morrow, Mr. Meekins, won’t you?” said he,
in an imploring tone. “She’s my daughter’s child, and nearly the last of
us now.”

“By my conscience, she’s a fine creature!” said the turnkey, as she
moved past. “It’s mighty seldom the likes of her is seen in such a place
as this!”

When Kate gained the street, the rain was falling heavily, and as she
stood uncertain which way to turn, for the town was strange to her,
O’Rorke came up.

“Haven’t you as much as an umbrella, Miss Kate,” said he, “or a cloak,
in this dreadful weather?”

“I was not thinking of either. Which way do we go towards the inn?”

“I’d advise you to take shelter in a shop here, Miss; the shower is too
heavy to last long.”

“I have no time for this; I want to catch the post, and I believe it
leaves at six o’clock.”.

“You’ll be drowned with this rain,” muttered he. “But come along. I’ll
show you the way.”

As they went, neither spoke; indeed, the noise of the plashing rain,
and the sharp gusts of the sweeping wind, would have made it almost
impossible to converse, and they plodded onward through the dreary and
deserted streets, for even the poorest had now sought shelter. The inn
was at the very end of a long straggling street, and, when they reached
it, they were completely soaked through with rain.

“You have ordered a room for me here, you said?” asked Elate, as they
entered.

“Yes, it’s all ready, and your dinner too, whenever you like to eat
it.--This is the young lady, ma’am,” continued he, addressing the
landlady, “that’s coming to stop here; she’s wet through, and I hope
you’ll take care of her, that she doesn’t catch cold.”

“Will you show me my room?” asked Kate, quietly. But the landlady
never moved, but stood scrutinising her with an eye the very reverse of
kindly.

“She’s asking you where’s her room,” broke in O’Rorke.

“I hear her, and I think this isn’t the house for her.”

“How do you mean?--what are you saying?” cried he, angrily.

“She’ll be better and more at home at Tom M’Cafferty’s, that’s what I
mean,” said she, sturdily.

“But I took a room here.”

“And you’ll not get it,” rejoined she, setting her arms akimbo; “and if
you want to know why, maybe you’d hear it, and hear more than you like.”

“Come away--come away; let us find out this other place, wherever it
be,” said Kate, hurriedly.

“The other place is down there, where you see the red sign,” said the
landlady, half pushing her, as she spoke, into the street.

Shivering with cold, and wet through, Kate reached the little “shebeen,”
 or carriers’ inn, where, however, they received her with kindness and
civility, the woman giving up to her her own room, and doing her very
best to wait on her and assist her. As her trunk had been forgotten at
the inn, however, Kate had to wait till O’Rorke fetched it, and as Mr.
O’Rorke took the opportunity of the visit to enter on a very strong
discussion with the landlady for her insolent refusal to admit them, it
was nigh an hour before he got back again.

By this time, what with the effects of cold and wet, and what with the
intense anxieties of the morning, Kate’s head began to ache violently,
and frequent shiverings gave warning of the approach of fever. Her
impatience, too, to be in time for the post became extreme. She
wanted to write to her uncle; she was confident that, by a frank, open
statement of what she had done, and said, and seen, she could
deprecate his anger. The few words in which she could describe her old
grandfather’s condition, would, she felt certain, move her uncle
to thoughts of forgiveness. “Is he coming?--can you see him with my
trunk?--why does he delay?” cried she at every instant. “No, no, don’t
talk to me of change of clothes; there is something else to be thought
of first. What can it be that keeps him so long? Surely it is only a few
steps away. At last!--at last!” exclaimed she, as she heard O’Rorke’s
voice in the passage. “There--there, do not delay me any longer. Give
me that desk; I don’t want the other, it is my desk, my writing-desk, I
want. Leave me now, my good woman--leave me now to myself.”

“But your shoes, Miss; let me just take off your shoes. It will kill you
to sit that way, dripping and wet through.”

“I tell you I will not be dictated to!” cried she, wildly, for her face
was now crimson with excitement, and her brain burning. “By what right
do you come here into my room, and order me to do this or that? Do you
know to whom you speak? I am a Luttrell of Arran. Ask him--that man
below--if I am not speaking the truth. Is it not honour enough for your
poor house that a Luttrell should stop here, but that you must command
me, as if I were your servant? There--there, don’t cry; I did not mean
to be unkind! Oh! if you but knew how my poor head is aching, and what
a heavy, heavy load I am carrying here!” And she pressed her hand to
her heart. And, with this, she fell upon her bed, and sobbed long and
bitterly. At last she arose, and, assuring the hostess that after
she had written a few lines she would do all that she asked her, she
persuaded the kind-hearted woman to leave her, and sat down to the table
to write. What she wrote, how she wrote, she knew not, but the words
followed fast, and page after page lay before her as the clock struck
six. “What!” cried she, opening her door, “is it too late for the post?
I hear it striking six!”

“I’ll take it over myself to the office,” said O’Rorke, “and by paying a
trifle more they’ll take it in.”

“Oh do! Lose no time, and I’ll bless you for it!” said she, as she gave
him the letter.

“Come up here and sit with me,” said Kate to the woman of the house; and
the honest creature gladly complied. “What a nice little place you have
here,” said Kate, speaking with intense rapidity. “It is all so clean
and so neat, and you seem so happy in it. Ain’t you very happy?”

“Indeed, Miss, I have no reason to be anything else.” “Yes; I knew it--I
knew it!” broke in Kate, rapidly. “It is the striving to be something
above their reach makes people unhappy. You never asked nor wished for
better than this?”

“Never, Miss. Indeed, it’s better than ever I thought to be. I was the
daughter of a poor labourin’ man up at Belmullet, when my husband took
me.”

“What a dreary place Belmullet is! I saw it once,” said Kate, half
speaking to herself.

“Ah! you don’t know how poor it is, Miss! The like of _you_ could never
know what lives the people lead in them poor places, with only the
fishin’ to look to, God help them! And when it’s too rough to go to sea,
as it often is for weeks long, there they are with nothing but one meal
a day of wet potatoes, and nothing but water to drink.”

“And _you_ think I know nothing about all that!” cried Kate,
wildly--“nothing of the rain pouring down through the wet
thatch--nothing of the turf too wet to burn, and only smouldering
and smoking, till it is better to creep under the boat that lies keel
uppermost on the beach, than stay in the wretched hovel--nothing of the
poor mother, with fever in one corner, and the child with small-pox in
the other--nothing of the two or three strong men huddled together under
the lee of the house, debating whether it wouldn’t be better to go out
to sea at any risk, and meet the worst that could happen, than sit down
there to die of starvation?”

“In the name of the blessed Virgin, Miss, who towld you all about that?”

“Oh, that I never knew worse! Oh, that I had never left it!” burst out
Kate, as, kneeling down, she buried her head in the bed, and sobbed as
if her heart were breaking.

The poor woman did her very best to console and comfort her, but Kate
was unconscious of all her kindness, and only continued to mutter
unceasingly to herself, till at last, worn out and exhausted, she leaned
her head on the other’s shoulder and fell off into a sort of disturbed
sleep, broken by incessant starts.



CHAPTER LIV. IN CONCLAVE.

When O’Rorke left Kate, it was not the direction of the post-office that
he took; he went straight to the head inn of the town, on the doorsteps
of which he stationed himself, anxiously watching for the arrival of
another traveller. Nor had he long to wait, for as the town clock struck
the half-hour, a chaise and pair galloped up to the door, and young
Ladarelle cried out from the window, “The last seven miles in forty-six
minutes! What do you say to that! Is dinner ready?” asked he, as he
descended.

“Everything’s ready, Sir,” said O’Rorke, obsequiously, as, pushing
the landlord aside, he assumed the office of showing the way up-stairs
himself.

“Tell Morse to unpack some of that sherry,” said Ladarelle; and then
laughingly added, “Order your own tap, Master O’Rorke, for I’m not going
to throw away Dalradern wine upon _you_.”

O’Rorke laughed too--perhaps not as genially, but he could afford
to relish such a small joke even against himself--not to say that it
conveyed an assurance he was well pleased with, that Ladarelle meant him
to dine along with himself.

As the dinner was served, Ladarelle talked away about everything. It was
his first visit to Ireland, and, though it amused him, he said he hoped
his last also. Everything was absurd, laughable, and poverty-stricken
to his eyes; that is to say, Pauperism was so apparent on all sides, the
whole business of life seemed to be carried on by make-shifts.

The patriot O’Rorke had need of much forbearance as he listened to the
unfeeling comments and ignorant inferences of the “Saxon.” He heard him,
however, without one word of disclaimer, and with a little grin on his
face, that if Ladarelle had been an Irishman, and had one drop of
Irish blood in his body, he would not have accepted as any evidence of
pleasure or satisfaction.

“Order whatever you mean to have,” said Ladarelle, as the meal was
concluded, “and don’t let us have that fellow coming into the room every
moment.”

O’Rorke made his provision accordingly, and having secured a kettle,
in case it should be his caprice to make punch, he bolted the door and
resumed his place.

“There’s your letter!” said Ladarelle, throwing a coarse-looking scrawl,
sealed with green wax, on the table; “and I’ll be shot if I understand
one line of it!”

“And why not?” asked the other, angrily. “Is it the writing’s so bad?”

“No; the writing can be made out. I don’t complain of that. It’s your
blessed style that floors me! Now, for instance, what does this mean?
‘Impelled by the exuberant indignation that in the Celtic heart rises to
the height of the grandest sacrifices, whether on the altars------’”

O’Rorke snatched the letter from his hand, crushed it into a ball, and
threw it into the fire. “You’ll not have it to laugh at another time,”
 cried he, sternly, and with a stare so full of defiance that Ladarelle
looked at him for some seconds in amazement, without speaking.

“My good friend,” said he, at last, with a calm, measured voice, “it is
something new to me to meet conduct like this.”

“Not a bit newer or stranger than for me to be laughed at. Bigger and
stronger fellows than you never tried that game with me.”

“I certainly never suspected you would take it so ill. I thought if any
one knew what a joke meant, it was an Irishman.”

“And so he does; none better. The mistake was, you thought an Englishman
knew how to make one.”

“Let there be an end of this,” said Ladarelle, haughtily. “If I had kept
you in your proper place, you would never have forgotten yourself!” And
as he spoke, he flung his cigar into the fire, and arose and walked up
and down the room.

O’Rorke hung his head for a moment, and then, in a tone of almost abject
contrition, said, “I ask your pardon, Sir. It was just as you say; my
head was turned by good treatment.”

If Ladarelle had been a physiognomist, he would not have liked the
expression of the other’s face, the hue of utter sickness in the cheek,
while the eyes flashed with a fiery energy; but he noted none of these,
and merely said, as he resumed his place:

“Don’t let it happen again, that’s all. Tell me now what occurred when
you got back to Westport, for the only thing I know is that you met her
there the morning you arrived.”

“I’ll tell it in three words: She was on the quay, just come after
a severe night at sea, when I was trying to make a bargain with a
fisherman to take me over to the island. I didn’t see her till her hand
was on my arm and her lips close to my ear, as she whispered:

“‘What news have you for me?”

“‘Bad news,’ says I; ‘the sorrow worse.’

“She staggered back, and sat down on the stock of an anchor that was
there, and drew the tail of her cloak oyer her face, and that’s the way
she remained for about a quarter of an hour.

“‘Tell it to me now, Mr. O’Rorke,’ said she; ‘and as you hope to see
Glory, tell me the truth, and nothing more.’

“‘It’s little I have to tell,’ says I, sitting down beside her. ‘The
ould man was out on a terrace when I gave him your letter. He took it
this way, turning it all round, and then looking up at me, he says: “I
know this handwriting,” says he, “and I think I know what’s inside of
it, but you may tell her it’s too late.” He then muttered something
about a sea-bathing place abroad that I couldn’t catch, and he went on:
“She didn’t know when she was well-------“’

“‘No, no, that he never said!’ says she, bursting in--‘that he never
said!’

“‘Not in them words,’ says I, ‘certainly not, but it came to the same,
for he said she used to be as happy here as the days was long!’

“‘True; it was all true,’ said she to herself. ‘Go on.’

“’” Go back,” says he, “and say, that sorry as I was at first, I’m
getting over it now, and it wouldn’t be better for either of us to hold
any more correspondence.” And with that he gave me the letter back,
sealed as it was.’”

“What made you say that?” cried Ladarelle.

“Because I knew she’d never ask for it; or if she did, I’d say, ‘I had
it in my trunk at home.’ The first thing was to get her to believe me,
at any cost.”

“Is _that_ her way?” asked the other, thoughtfully.

“That’s her way. She’s not given to have suspicions, you can see that.
If you talk to her straight ahead, and never break down in what you say,
she’ll look at you openly, and believe it all; but if ever she sees you
stop, or look confused, or if she catches you taking a sly look at her
under the eyes, you’re done--done entirely! The devil a lawyer from this
to Dublin would put you through such a cross-examination; and I defy the
cleverest fellow that ever sat in the witness-box to baffle her. And she
begins quite regular--quiet, soft, and smooth as a cat.”

“What do I care for all this? She may be as shrewd as she pleases this
day fortnight, Master O’Rorke. Let us only have the balls our own, and
we’ll win the game before she gets a hazard.”

This illustration from the billiard-table was not fully intelligible to
O’Rorke, but he saw its drift, and he assented.

“Where was I? Oh, I remember. ‘He gave me the letter back,’ says I, ‘and
told the servants to see I had my supper, and everything I wanted.

“‘He did this with his hand, as much as to say, “You may go away;” but
I made as if I didn’t understand him, and I waited till the servant left
the place, and then I drew near him, and said:

“‘I think,’ says I, ‘it would be better your honour read the letter,
anyhow. Maybe there’s something in it that you don’t suspect.’

“‘“Who are you,” says he, “that’s teaching _me_ manners?”’

“I didn’t say them was his words, but something that meant the same.

“‘“I know every line that’s in it. I know far better than you--ay, or
than she suspects--the game she would play.”’

“She gave a little cry, as if something stung her. Andeed, I asked her,
What was it hurt her? But she never answered me, but stood up straight,
and, with a hand up this way, she said something to herself, as if
she was making a vow or taking an oath. After that, it wasn’t much she
minded one word I said, and lucky for me it was, for I was coming to
the hard part of my story--about your honour; how you heard from the
servants that I was in the house, and sent for me to your own room, and
asked me hundreds of questions about her. Where she was, and who with,
and what she wrote about, and then how angry you grew with your uncle--I
called him your uncle, I don’t know why--and how you said he was an
unfeeling old savage, that it was the same way he treated yourself,
pampering you one day, turning you out of doors the next. ‘And at last,’
says I--‘I couldn’t keep it in any longer--I up and told him what I came
about, and that your letter was asking a trifle of money to defend your
grandfather for his life.’

“Sorrow matter what I said, she never listened to me. I told her you
swore that her grandfather should have the first lawyer in the land,
and that you’d come over yourself to the Assizes. I told her how you put
twenty pounds into my hand, and said, ‘Tim’--no, not Tim--‘Mr. O’Rorke,
there’s a few pounds to begin. Go back and tell Miss Kate she has a
better and truer friend than the one she lost; one that never forgot
the first evening he seen her, and would give his heart’s blood to save
her.’

“She gave a little smile--it was almost a laugh once--and I thought she
was pleased at what I was telling her. Not a bit of it. It was something
about the ould man was in her mind, and something that didn’t mean any
good to him either, for she said, ‘He shall rue it yet.’ And after
that, though I talked for an hour, she never minded me no more than them
fireirons! At last she clutched my arm in her fingers, and said, “‘Do
you know that my uncle declares I am never to go back again? I came away
against his will, and he swore that if I crossed the threshold to come
here, I should never re-cross it again. Do you know,’ says she, ‘I have
no home nor friend now in the whole world, and I don’t know what’s to
become of me.’

“I tried to comfort her, and say that your honour would never see her
in any distress; but she wasn’t minding me, and only went on saying
something about being back again; but whether it meant at the Castle, or
over in Arran, or, as I once thought, back as a child, when she used
to play in the caves along the sea-shore, I couldn’t say, but she cried
bitterly, and for the whole day never tasted bit or sup. We stopped at
a small house outside the town, and I told them it was a young creature
that lost her mother; and the next day she looked so ill and wasted, I
was getting afraid she was going to have a fever; but she said she was
strong enough, and asked me to bring her on here to the gaol, for she
wanted to see her grandfather.

“It was only this morning, however, I got the order from the
sub-sheriff; and indeed he wouldn’t have given it but that he seen her
out of the window, for in all her distress, and with her clothes wet and
draggled, she’s as beautiful a creature as ever walked.”

“Why not marry her yourself, O’Rorke? By Jove! you’re head and ears in
love already. I’ll make you a handsome settlement, on my oath I will.”

“There’s two small objections, Sir. First, there’s another Mrs. O’Rorke,
though I’m not quite sure where at the present setting; and even if
there wasn’t, she wouldn’t have me.”

“I don’t see that; and if it be only the bigamy you’re afraid of, go off
to Australia or America, and your first wife will never trace you.”

O’Rorke shook his head, and, to strengthen his determination perhaps, he
mixed himself a strong tumbler of punch.

“And where are we now?” asked Ladarelle.

O’Rorke, perhaps, did not fully understand the question, for he looked
at him inquiringly.

“I ask you, where are we now? Don’t you understand me?”

“We’re pretty much where we were yesterday; that is, we’re waiting
to know what’s to be done for the ould man in the gaol, and what your
honour intends to do about”--he hesitated and stammered, and at last
said--“about the other business.”

“Well, it’s the other business, as you neatly call it, Mr. O’Rorke, that
interests me at present. Sir Within has written twice to Mr. Luttrell
since you left the Castle. One of his letters I stopped before it
reached the office, the other I suppose has come to hand.”

“No fanlt of mine if it has, Sir,” broke in O’Rorke, hastily, for he
saw the displeasure in the other’s look. “I was twice at the office at
Westport, and there wasn’t a line there for Mr. Luttrell. Did you read
the other letter, Sir?” added he, eagerly, after a moment’s silence.
“I know what’s in it,” muttered Ladarelle, in confusion, for he was not
quite inured to the baseness he had sunk to. “And what is it, Sir?”

“Just what I expected; that besotted old fool wants to marry her.
He tells Mr. Luttrell, and tells it fairly enough, how the estate is
settled, and he offers the largest settlement the entail will permit
of; but he forgets to add that the same day he takes out his license to
marry, we’ll move for a commission of lunacy. I have been eight weeks
there lately, and not idle, I promise you. I have got plenty of evidence
against him. How he goes into the room she occupied at the Castle,
and has all her rings and bracelets laid out on the toilet-table, and
candles lighted, as if she was coming to dress for dinner, and makes her
maid wait there, telling her Madame is out on horseback, or she is in
the garden, she’ll be in presently. One day, too, he made us wait dinner
for her till eight o’clock; and when at last the real state of the case
broke on him, he had to get up and go to his room, and Holmes, his man,
told me that he sobbed the whole night through, like a child.”

“And do you think that all them will prove him mad?” asked O’Rorke, with
a jeering laugh.

“Why not? If a man cannot understand that a person who has not been
under his roof for six or eight months, and is some hundred miles away,
may want candles in her dressing-room, and may come down any minute to
dinner in that very house----”

“Oddity--eccentricity--want of memory--nothing more! There’s never a
jury in England would call a man mad for all that.”

“You are a great lawyer, Mr. O’Rorke, but it is right to say you differ
here from the Attorney-General.”

“No great harm in that same--when he’s in the wrong!”

“I might possibly be rash enough to question your knowledge of law, but
certainly I’ll never dispute your modesty.”

“My modesty is like any other part of me, and I didn’t make myself; but
I’ll stick to this--that ould man is not mad, and nobody could make him
out mad.”

“Mr. Grenfell will not agree with you in that. He was over at the Castle
the night I came away, and he saw the gardener carrying up three immense
nosegays of flowers, for it was her birthday it seemed, however any one
knew it, and Sir Within had ordered the band from Wrexham to play under
her window at nightfall; and as Mr. Grenfell said, ‘That old gent’s
brain seems about as soft as his heart!’ Not bad, was it?--his brain as
soft as his heart!”

“He’s no more mad than I am, and I don’t care who says the contrary.”

“Perhaps you speculate on being called as a witness to his sanity?” said
Ladarelle, with a sneer.

“I do not, Sir; but if I was, I’d be a mighty troublesome one to the
other side.”

“What the deuce led us into this foolish discussion! As if it signified
one rush to me whether he was to be thought the wisest sage or the
greatest fool in Christendom. What _I_ want, and what I am determined
on, is that we are not to be dragged into Chancery, and made town talk
of, because a cunning minx has turned an old rake’s head. I’d be hunted
by a set of hungry rascals of creditors to-morrow if the old man were
to marry. There’s not one of them wouldn’t believe that my chance of the
estate was all ‘up.’”

“There’s sense in _that_; there is reason in what you say now,” said
O’Rorke.

“And that’s not the worst of it, either,” continued Ladarelle, who, like
all weak men, accepted any flattery, even at the expense of the object
he sought; “but my governor would soon know how deep I am, and he’d
cast me adrift. Not a pleasant prospect, Master O’Rorke, to a fellow who
ought to succeed to about twelve thousand a year.”

“Could he do it by law?”

“Some say one thing, some another; but this I know, that if my creditors
get a hold of me now, as the fox said, there would be very little
running left in me when they’d done with me. But here’s the short and
the long of it. We must not let Sir Within marry, that’s the first
thing; and the second is, there would be no objection to any plan
that will give him such a shock--he’s just ready for a shock--that he
wouldn’t recover from. Do you see it now?”

“I see it all, only I don’t see how it’s to be done.”

“I wonder what you are here for, then?” asked the other, angrily. “I
took you into my pay thinking I had a fellow with expedients at his
fingers’ ends; and, except to see you make objections, and discover
obstacles, I’ll be hanged if I know what you’re good for.”

“Go on, Sir, go on,” said O’Rorke, with a malicious grin.

“In one word, what do you propose?” said Ladarelle, sternly.

“Here’s what I propose, then,” said O’Rorke, pushing the glasses and
decanters from him, and planting his arms on the table in a sturdy
fashion--“I propose, first of all, that you’ll see Mr. Crowe, the
attorney, and give him instructions to defend Malone, and get him the
best bar on the circuit. She’ll insist upon that, that’s the first
thing. The second is, that you come down to where she is, and tell her
that when you heard of her trouble that you started off to help her and
stand by her. I don’t mean to say it will be an easy thing to get her to
believe it, or even after she believes it to take advantage of it, for
she’s prouder than you think. Well, toss your head if you like, but you
don’t know her, nor them she comes from; but if you know how to make
her think that by what she’ll do she’ll spite the ould man that insulted
her, if you could just persuade her that there wasn’t another way in
life so sure to break his heart, I think she’d comply, and agree to
marry you.”

“Upon my soul, the condescension overcomes me! You think--you actually
think--she’d consent to be the wife of a man in such a position as
mine!”

“Well, as I said a while ago, it wouldn’t be easy.”

“You don’t seem to know, my good friend, that you are immensely
impertinent!”

“I do not,” was the reply, and he gave it calmly and slowly. At the same
instant a knock came to the door, and the waiter motioned to O’Rorke
that a woman wanted to speak to him outside. “I’m wanted for a few
minutes, Sir, down at the place she’s stopping. The woman says she’s
very ill, and wandering in her mind. I’ll be back presently.”

“Well, don’t delay too long. I’m between two minds already whether I’ll
not go back and give up the whole business.”



CHAPTER LV. STILL CONSPIRING

“She’s worse, Sir,” whispered the woman, as she crossed the threshold
of her door, and exchanged a word with her daughter. “Biddy says she’s
clean out of her mind now--listen to that! The Lord have mercy on us!”

It was a wild scream rang through the house, followed by a burst of
fearful laughter.

“Ask her if she’ll see me,” said O’Rorke, in a low voice.

“That’s O’Rorke’s voice!” Kate cried out from the top of the stairs.
“Let him come up. I want to see him. Come up!” She leaned over
the railing of the stairs as she spoke, and even O’Rorke was
horror-struck at the ashy paleness of her face, and a fearful brilliancy
that shone in her eyes. “It’s a very humble place, Mr. O’Rorke, I
am obliged to receive you in,” said she, with a strange smile, as he
entered; “but I have only just arrived here, you see I have not even
changed my dress; pray sit down, if you can find a chair; all is in
disorder here--and, would you believe it?”--here her manner became
suddenly earnest, and her voice dropped to a whisper--“would you believe
it? my maid has never come to me, never asked me if I wanted her since I
came. It’s getting dark, too, and must be late.”

“Listen to me, now, Miss Kate,” said he, with a touch almost of pity in
his voice, “listen to me. You’re not well, you’re tired and exhausted,
so I’ll send the woman of the house to you, and get to bed, and I’ll
find out a doctor to order you something.”

“Yes, I should like to see a doctor; that kind person I saw before, Sir
Henry something--what was it? You will see it in the Court Guide--he
attends the Queen.”

“To be sure, to be sure, we’ll have the man that attends the Queen!”
 said he, giving his concurrence to what he imagined to be the fancy of
an erring brain.

“And if he should ask why I am here,” added she, in a whisper, “make out
some sort of excuse, but don’t mention my grandfather; these fashionable
physicians are such snobs, they cannot abide visiting any but great
folk. Isn’t it true?”

“Yes, dear, it is true,” said he, still humouring her.

“The fact is,” said she, in a low, confiding voice, “I may confess it to
you, but the fact is, I don’t well know why I am here myself! I suppose
Sir Within knows--perhaps my uncle may.” And in her vague, meaningless
look might now be seen how purposeless and unguided were all her
speculations. “There, go now, and send my maid to me. Tell Coles, as you
pass down, he may put up the horses. I’ll not ride this evening. Do
you know, I feel--it is a silly fancy, I suppose--but I feel ill; not
actually ill so much as odd.”

He cast one glance, not without compassion, on her, and went out.
“There’s a young woman above stairs mighty like ‘in’ for a fever,” said
he to the hostess. “Get a doctor to see her as soon as you can, and I’ll
be back soon to hear what he says.”

While the woman of the house, with all that kindliness which attaches to
her class and nation, busied herself in cares for Kate, O’Rorke hastily
made his way back to the inn.

“What is it? What called you away?” asked Ladarelle, as he entered the
room.

“She’s out of her mind! that’s what it is,” said O’Rorke, as he sat
down, doggedly, and filled out a bumper of sherry to rally his courage.
“What with anxiety, and fatigue, and fretting, she couldn’t bear up any
more, and there she is, struck down by fever and raving!”

“Poor thing!” said Ladarelle; but there was no pity in the tone, not a
shade of feeling in his countenance; he said the words merely that he
might say something.

“Yes, indeed! Ye may well say ‘Poor thing!’” chimed in O’Rorke; “it
wouldn’t be easy to find a poorer!”

“Do you suspect the thing is serious?” said Ladarelle, with a deep
interest in his manner. “Do you think her life’s in danger?”

“I do.”

“Do you really?” And now, through the anxiety in which he spoke, there
pierced a trait of a most triumphant satisfaction; so palpable was it,
that O’Rorke laid down the glass he had half raised to his lips, and
stared at the speaker. “Don’t mistake--don’t misunderstand me!” blurted
out Ladarelle, in confusion. “I wish the poor girl no ill. Why should
I?”

“At any rate, you think it would be a good thing for _you!_” said
O’Rorke, sternly.

“Well, I must own I don’t think it would be a bad one; that is, I
mean it would relieve me of a deal of anxiety, and save me no end of
trouble.”

“Just so!” said O’Rorke, who, leaning his head on his hand, addressed
his thoughts to the very serious question of how all these things would
affect himself. Nor did it take him long to see that from the hour
Ladarelle ceased to need him, all their ties were broken, and that
the fashionable young gentleman who now sat at table with him in all
familiarity would not deem him fit company for his valet.”

“This is the fifth time, Master O’Rorke, you have repeated the words,
‘Just so!’ Will you tell me what they refer to? What is it that is ‘just
so?’”

“I was thinking of something!” said O’Rorke.

“And what was it? Let us have the benefit of your profound reflections.”

“Well, then, my profound reflections was telling me that if this
girl was to die, your honour wouldn’t be very long about cutting my
acquaintance, and that, maybe, this is the last time I’d have the
pleasure of saying, ‘Will you pass me the wine?’”

“What are you drinking? This is Madeira,” said Ladarelle, as he pushed
the decanter towards him, and affecting to mistake his meaning.

“No, Sir; I’m drinking port wine,” was the curt reply, for he saw the
evasion, and resented it.

“As to that other matter--I mean as to ‘cutting you,’ O’Rorke--I don’t
see it--don’t see it at all!”

“How do you mean, ‘you don’t see it?’”

“I mean it is not necessary.”

“Isn’t it likely?”

“No; certainly not.”

“Isn’t it possible, then?”

“Everything is possible in this world of debts and difficulties, but no
gentleman ever thinks of throwing off the man that has stood to him in
his hour of need. Is that enough?”

O’Rorke made no answer, and in the attitude of deep thought he assumed,
and in his intense look of reflection, it was pretty plain that he did
not deem the explanation all-sufficient. “Here’s how it is, Sir!” burst
he out, suddenly. “If this girl dies, you won’t want me; and if you
won’t _want_ me, it’s very unlikely the pleasure of my society will make
you come after me; so that I’d like to understand how it’s to be between
us.”

“I must say, my worthy friend, everything I have seen of you goes very
far to refute the popular notion abroad about Irish improvidence; for, a
man so careful of himself under every contingency--one who looked to
his own interests in all aspects and with all casualties--I never met
before.”

“Well, Sir, you meet him now. He is here before you; and what do you say
to him?” said O’Rorke, with a cool audacity that was actually startling.

It was very probably fortunate for both of them, so far as their present
good relations were concerned, that an interruption took place to their
colloquy in the shape of a sharp knock at the door. It was a person
wanted to see Mr. O’Rorke.

“Mr. O’Rorke’s in request to-night,” said Ladarelle, mockingly, as the
other left the room.

“Are you the friend of that young lady, Sir, that’s down at
M’Cafferty’s?”

“Yes, I’m her friend,” was the dry answer.

“Then I’ve come to tell you she’s going fast into a fever--a brain
fever, too.”

“That’s bad” muttered O’Rorke below his breath.

“One ought to know something about her--whence she came, and how she
came. There are symptoms that ought to be traced to their causes, for
she raves away about people and things the most opposite and unlike----”

“Are you able to cure her? that’s the question,” said O’Rorke.

“No doctor could ever promise that much yet.”

“I thought as much,” said O’Rorke, with an insolent toss of his head.

“I am willing to do my best,” said the doctor, not noticing the
offensive gesture; “and if you want other advice, there’s Doctor Rogan
of Westport can be had easy enough.”

“Send for him, then, and hold a consultation; her life is of
consequence, mind that!”

“I may as well tell you that Doctor Rogan will require to know what may
lead him to a history of her case, and he won’t treat her if there’s to
be any mystery about it.”

O’Rorke’s eyes flashed, as if an insolent answer was on his lips,
and then, as quickly controlling himself, said, “Go and have your
consultation, and then come back here to me; but mind you ask for
me--Mr. O’Rorke--and don’t speak to any one else than myself.”

The doctor took his leave, and O’Rorke, instead of returning to the
room, slowly descended the stairs and strolled out into the street.

It was night; there were few about; and he had ample opportunity for a
quiet commune with himself, and that species of “audit” in which a man
strikes the balance of all that may be _pro_ or _contra_ in any line
of action. He knew well he was on dangerous ground with Ladarelle. It
needed not an intelligence sharp as his own to show that a deep mistrust
existed between them, and that each only waited for an opportunity to
shake himself free of the other. “If I was to go over to the old man
and tell him the whole plot, I wonder how it would be?” muttered he to
himself. “I wonder would he trust me? and, if he was to trust me, how
would he pay me? that’s the question--how would he pay me?” The quiet
tread of feet behind him made him turn at this moment. It was the waiter
of the inn coming to tell him that the post had just brought two letters
to the gentleman he had dined with, and he wished to see him at once.

“Shut |he door--turn the key in it,” said Ladarelle, as O’Rorke entered.
“Here’s something has just come by the mail. I knew you’d blunder about
those letters,” added he, angrily; “one has reached Luttrell already,
and, for aught I know, another may have come to hand since this was
written. There, there, what’s the use of your excuses. You promised me
the thing should be done, and it was not done. It does not signify a
brass farthing to me to know why. You’re very vain of your Irish craft
and readiness, and yet I tell you, if I had entrusted this to my fellow
Fisk, Cockney as he is, I’d not have been disappointed.”

“Very like,” said O’Rorke, sullenly; “he’s more used to dirty work than
I am.”

Ladarelle had just begun to run his eyes over one of the letters when he
heard these words, and the paper shook in his hand with passion, and the
colour came and went in his face, but he still affected to read on, and
never took his gaze from the letter. At last he said, in a shaken voice,
which all his efforts could not render calm, “This is a few lines from
Fisk, enclosing a letter from Luttrell for Sir Within. Fisk secured it
before it reached its destination.”

To this insinuated rebuke O’Rorke made no rejoinder, and, after a pause,
the other continued: “Fisk says little, but it is all to the purpose. He
has reduced every day to a few lines in journal fashion, so that I know
what goes on at Dalradern as if I were there myself.”

O’Rorke kept an unbroken silence, and Ladarelle went on: “The day you
left the Castle, Sir Within wrote to Calvert and Mills, his solicitors,
and despatched by post a mass of documents and parchments. The next
day he wrote to Mr. Luttrell of Arran, posting the letter himself as he
drove through Wrexham.”

“That letter was the one I stopped at Westport,” broke in O’Rorke.

“I suppose it was. Fisk writes: ‘The servants all remarked a wonderful
change had come over Sir W.; he gave orders through the house as if
he expected company, and seemed in such spirits as he had not been for
months. Next morning very anxious for the post to come in, and greatly
disappointed at not seeing some letter he expected. The late post
brought a letter from Mills to say he would be down by the morning’s
mail--that the matter presented no difficulty whatever, and was exactly
as Sir Within represented it.’ Fisk managed to read this and re-seal it
before it got to hand; that’s what I call a smart scoundrel!”

“So he is--every inch of one!” was O’Rorke’s rejoinder.

“Here he continues,” said Ladarelle: “‘Thursday--No letter, nor any
tidings of Mills. Sir Within greatly agitated. Post-horses ordered for
Chester, and countermanded. All sorts of contradictory commands given
during the day. The upholsterers have arrived from town, but told not
to take down the hangings, nor do anything till to-morrow. Mr. Grenfell
called, but not admitted; a message sent after him to ask him to dinner
to-morrow; he comes. Friday--Arrived at Wrexham. As the mail came in,
saw Mr. Mills order horses for Dalradern; waited for the post delivery,
and secured the enclosed. No time for more, as the Irish mail leaves in
an hour.’

“Now for Luttrell. Let’s see his side in the correspondence,” said
Ladarelle, breaking the seal; “though perhaps I know it as well as if I
read it.”

“You do not,” said the other, sturdily.

“What do you mean by ‘I do not?’”

“I suspect I know what you’re thinking of; and it’s just this--that John
Luttrell is out of himself with joy because that old fool’s in love with
his niece.”

“He might well be what you call out of himself with joy if he thought
she was to be mistress of Dalradern.”

“It’s much you know him,” said O’Rorke, with an insolent mockery in
his voice and look. “A Luttrell of Arran wouldn’t think a Prince of the
Blood too good for one belonging to him. Laugh away, laugh away; it’s
safe to do it here, for John Luttrell’s on the island beyand.”

“You are about the most----”

“The most what? Say it out. Surely you ain’t afraid to finish your
sentence, Sir?”

“I find it very hard, Mr. O’Rorke, to conduct an affair to its end in
conjunction with one who never omits an occasion to say, or at least
insinuate, a rudeness.”

“Devil a bit of insinuation about _me_. Whatever I have to say, I say
it out, in the first words that come to me; and I’m generally pretty
intelligible too. And now, if it’s the same thing to you, what was it
you were going to call me? I was the most--something or other--what was
it?”

“I’ll tell you what _I_ am,” said Ladarelle, with a bitter grin--“about
the most patient man that ever breathed.”

Neither spoke for some time, and then Ladarelle opened the letter he
still held in his hand, and began to read it.

“Well,” cried he, “of all the writing I ever encountered, this is the
most illegible; and not merely that, but there are words erased and
words omitted, and sentences left unfinished, or finished with a dash of
the pen.”

“Are you going to read it out?” asked O’Rorke; and in his voice there
rang something almost like a command, for the man’s native insolence
grew stronger at every new conflict, and with the impression--well or
ill-founded--that the other was afraid of him.

“I’ll try what I can do,” said Ladarelle, repressing his irritation. “It
is dated St. Finbar’s, 16th:

“‘Sir,--I know nothing of your letter of the 12th instant. If I ever
received, I have forgotten and mislaid it. I answered yours of the 9th,
and hoped I had done with this correspondence. I have seen your name
in the newspapers, and have been’--have been, I suppose it
is--‘accustomed’--yes, accustomed--‘to look on you as a person in high
employ, and worthy of the’--here the word is left out--‘who employed
him. If, however, you be, as you state, in your’--this may be a nine
or seven, I suppose it is seven--‘in your seventy-fourth year, your
proposal to a girl of twenty is little short of------’ Another lapse; I
wish we had his word, it was evidently no compliment. ‘That is, however,
more your question than mine. Such follies as these ask for no comment;
they usually------ And well it is it should be so.

“‘Fortune, however, befriends you more than your own foresight. It is
your good luck rescues you from this------- She has left this--gone
away--deserted _me_, as she once deserted _you_, and would in all
likelihood when sorry-- insolent airs of your connexions -- to resent
unpardonable. Without you are as bereft as myself, you must surely
have-- relations, of whom-- choice -- and certainly more suitable than
one whose age and decrepitude might in pity and compassion sentiment.

“‘But she is gone! Warning is, therefore, needless. You cannot if you
would this folly. She is gone--and on a bed of sickness, to which the
only hope--and that speedily.

“‘If -- by such-- hurt you.’”

“Line after line had been here erased and re-written, but all illegibly;
nor was it, till after long puzzling and exploring, the last words could
be made out to be: “‘All further interchange of letters is a task beyond
my strength. It is all said when I write, She is gone, no more to nor
would I now---- A few hours more--I pray not days.

“‘Faithful servant,

“‘H. LUTTRELL.’

“It’s clear _he’ll_ have no more correspondence,” said Ladarelle, with a
half triumphant manner, as he closed the letter.

“And the other? What will the other do?”

“Do you mean Sir Within?”

“Yes.”

“It’s not easy to say. It seems plain we’re not to expect anything very
sensible from him. He is determined to make a fool of himself, and it
only remains to see how he is to do it.”

“And how do you think it will be?” In spite of himself, O’Rorke threw
into his question that amount of eagerness that showed how much interest
he felt in the-matter. Ladarelle was quick enough to see this, and
turned his eyes full upon him, and thus they stood for nigh half
a minute, each steadfastly staring at the other. “Well! do you see
anything very wonderful in my face that you look so hard at me?” asked
O’Rorke.

“I do.”

“‘And what is it, if I might make so bowld?”

“I see a man who doubts how far he’ll go on the road he was paid to
travel--that’s what I see!”

“And do you know why?” rejoined O’Rorke, defiantly. “Do you know why?”

“No.”

“Then I’ll tell you! It’s because the man that was to show me the way
hasn’t the courage to do it! There’s the whole of it. You brought me
over here, telling me one thing, and now you’re bent on another! and
to-morrow, if anything cheaper turns up, you’ll be for _that_. Is it
likely that I’d risk myself far with a man that doesn’t know his own
mind, or trust his own courage?”

“I suppose I understand my own affairs best!”

“Well! that’s what I think about _mine_, too.”

Ladarelle took an impatient turn or two up and down the room before he
spoke, and it was easy to see that he was exerting himself to the very
utmost to be calm. “If this girl’s flight from Arran has served us in
one way, her illness has just done us as much harm in another--I mean,
of course, if she should not die---because my venerable relation is just
as much determined to marry her as ever he was. Are you attending to
me?”

“To every word, Sir,” said O’Rorke, obsequiously; and, indeed, it was
strangely like magnetism the effect produced upon him, when Ladarelle
assumed the tone and manner of a superior.

“I want to have done with the business, then, at once,” continued
Ladarelle. “Find out from the doctor--and find it out accurately--what
are her chances of life. If she is likely to live, learn how soon she
could be removed from this, and whither to, as Sir Within is sure to
trace her to this place. As soon as possible, we must manage some sort
of mock marriage, for I believe it is the only sure way of stopping this
old man in his folly. Now, I leave it to _you_ to contrive the plan for
this. There’s another demand for you. See who is at the door.”

“Mr. O’Rorke is wanted at M’Cafferty’s,” said a voice outside.

“I’ll be back in a few minutes, Sir.”

“Well, I shall go to bed, and don’t disturb me if there be nothing
important to tell me. Order breakfast for ten to-morrow, and let me see
you there.”

O’Rorke bowed respectfully, and went out.

“I’d give fifty pounds to hear that you had broken your neck on the
staircase!” muttered Ladarelle, as he saw the door close; “and I’d give
a hundred had I never seen you!”



CHAPTER LVI. A HEAVY BLOW.

In the grand old dining-room of Dalradern Castle, Sir Within was seated
with his guest, Mr. Grenfell. The ample wood-fire on the hearth, the
costly pictures on the walls, the table covered with decanters and
flasks of various forms, the ample old chairs in which they lounged,
suggested luxurious ease and enjoyment; and perhaps Grenfell, as he
smoked his cigar, in accordance with the gracious permission of his
host, _did_ feel that it was a supreme moment of life; while certainly
he, to whom all the precious appliances belonged, was ill at ease and
uncomfortable, answering occasionally at random, and showing in many
ways that his mind was deeply and far from pleasantly preoccupied.

Grenfell had been some days at the Castle, and liked his quarters.
There were, it is true, many things he wished changed; some of them, he
fancied, could be altered by a little adroit diplomacy with the butler
and the housekeeper, and other heads of departments; others, of a more
serious kind, he reserved to be dealt with when the time should come
that he would be regarded in that house as little less than a master.
He had weighed the matter carefully with himself, and determined that it
was better to stand by Sir Within, old as he was, than to depend on the
friendship of young Ladarelle, whose innate vulgarity would have made
all companionship irksome, and whose inveterate obstinacy would have
made guidance impossible.

The house had, indeed, great capabilities, and, with Sir Within’s means,
might be made all that one could wish for. With the smallest imaginable
addition to the household, thirty, ay, forty guests could be easily
accommodated, and he, Grenfell, knew of such delightful people--such
charming people--who would be in ecstasies to stop at a house where
there was no mistress, where no return civilities were wanted, where
each guest might be a law to himself as to his mode of life, and where
the cellar was immaculate, and the cook better than at the Travellers’.

“If I could only get him out of this stupid isolation--if I could
persuade him that all England is not like a Welsh county, and that this
demure neighbourhood, with its antiquated prudery, has no resemblance to
the charming world of seductive sinners I could bring around him, what
a victory it would be!” To this end the first grand requisite was, that
the old man should not marry. “If he marry,” argued Grenfell, “he
will be so deplorably in love, that what between his passion and his
jealousy, he’ll shut up the house, and nothing younger than the old
French abbé will ever cross the threshold.”

Now Grenfell had not of late kept up any relations of intercourse with
Ladarelle; indeed, in his life in town, he had avoided intimacy with one
all whose associates were evidently taken from the lowest ranks of the
turf, and the slang set of second-rate theatres. Grenfell could not,
consequently, know what plan of campaign this promising young gentleman
was following out; but when he learned that it was quite suddenly he
had quitted the Castle, and that his servant, Mr. Fisk, had been left
behind, he very soon established such a watch on the accomplished
valet’s movements as satisfied him that he was there on duty as a spy,
and that his daily visits to the post-office signified how industriously
he despatched his intelligence. At first, Grenfell was disposed to make
advances to Fisk, and win his confidence--a task not difficult to
one whose whole life had been a series of such seductions; but he
subsequently thought it might be better to hold himself quite aloof from
all intercourse with the younger branch, and stand firmly by the head
of the dynasty. “If Ladarelle be really gone after, this girl, to marry
her, or to run off with her, it matters not which, he is playing _my_
game. All I ask is, that Sir Within be not the bridegroom. If the shock
of the disaster should not overwhelm him, there is nothing else to be
dreaded.” There, indeed, lay the great peril; nor was Grenfell a man to
undervalue it. In his contempt for all emotions, he naturally ascribed
their strongest influences to those whose age had weakened their
faculties and impaired their judgments. Love was a folly with the young;
but with the old, it was the stupidest of all infatuations, and the
reckless way in which an old man would resign fortune, station, and
the whole world’s opinion on such an issue, was, to _his_ thinking, the
strongest possible evidence of second childhood.

“If I could make him feel the ridiculous part of the calamity, he would
gain courage to brave the disaster,” thought he. And while he thus
thought he smoked on in silence, neither uttering a word.

“Nine o’clock!” said Sir Within, as he counted the strokes of the
timepiece. “Nine, and the post not in!”

“How easily one takes the delay of the mail when ‘the House’ is up,”
 said Grenfell, purposely saying what might possibly suggest some sort of
dissent or opinion; but the old diplomatist had been too well schooled
to fall into such indiscretion, and simply said, “It is true, we all
hibernate when the autumn begins.”

Grenfell saw that his shell had not exploded, and began to talk
at random about how much pleasanter it was to have one’s post of
a morning--that letters should always come in with the eggs at
breakfast--that people exchanged their gossip more genially then than at
any other time; and, at last, arrived at what he sought to portray, the
tableau of a charming party in a delightful country-house, “The best
thing we have in England; and, indeed, the best thing the world has
anywhere.”

“I quite agree with you,” said Sir Within, blandly. And he wiped the
beautiful miniature of Marie Antoinette that adorned the lid of his
snuff-box, and gazed with admiration at the lovely features.

“I fancy they know very little abroad of what we call country-house
life?” half asked Grenfell.

“They have their gatherings at ‘the chateau’ in France; and in
Italy they have their villégiatura------Ah, there he comes; I hear
the clank of the post-bag!” He caught himself quickly, and resumed:
“I rather like the villégiatura; there is not much trouble taken to
entertain you, but you are free to dispose of yourself how you like.
What has kept him so late, Fry?” said he, as the butler entered with the
bag; “take it up to my room.”

“Oh, let us hear who has won the Cantelupe!” said Grenfell. “I have
backed Grimsby’s horse, Black Ruin, at three to eight against the
field.”

“Here’s the key, then,” said Sir Within, with well feigned indifference.

As Grenfell emptied the contents of the bag on the table, a
square-shaped, somewhat-heavy packet fell to the floor, at Sir Within’s
feet. The old man lifted it up and laid it on the table, but, on doing
so, his hand trembled, and his colour changed.

“What about your race--has your horse won?” asked he, as Grenfell turned
over the paper to find the sporting intelligence. “Oh, here it is--a
dead heat between Black Ruin and Attila. Why, he’s Grimsby’s also.
‘Second heat, Attila walked over.’ What a sell! I see there’s a long
letter about it from the correspondent; shall I read it for you?”

“By all means,” said Sir Within, not sorry to give him any occupation at
the moment that might screen himself from all scrutiny.

“‘The long-expected match between Lord St. Dunstan’s well-known Carib
Chief and Mr. Grimsby’s Black Ruin--for, in reality, the large field of
outsiders, fourteen in number, might as well have been cantering over an
American savannah--took place yesterday.’” He read on and on--the fluent
common-places--about the course crowded with rank and fashion, amongst
whom were noticed the usual celebrities of the turf, and was getting to
the description of the scene at the weighing stand, when a dull, heavy
sound startled him. He looked down, and saw that Sir Within had fallen
from his chair to the floor, and lay stretched and motionless, with one
arm across the fender.

[Illustration: 476]

Lifting him up, Grenfell carried him to a sofa. His face and forehead
were crimson, and a strange sound came from the half-open lips, like a
faint whistle. “This is apoplexy,” muttered Grenfell; and he turned
to ring the bell and summon aid, but, as he did so, he perceived that
several papers lay on the floor, and the envelope of a recently-opened
packet amongst them. “Ha, here is what has done it!” muttered he to
himself; and he held a square-shaped piece of coarse paper to the light
and read the following, written in a bold, irregular hand:

“‘I, Paul O’Rafferty, P.P. of Drumcahill and Ardmorran, hereby certify
that I have this day united in the bonds of holy matrimony, Adolphus
Ladarelle, Esq., of Upper Portland-street, London, and the “Downs,” in
Herefordshire, to Kate Luttrell, niece and sole heiress of John Hamilton
Luttrell, Esq., of Arran; and that the ceremony was duly performed
according to the rights and usages of the Holy Catholic Church, and
witnessed by those whose names are attached to this document.

“‘Jane M’Cafferty, her mark X.

“‘Timothy O’Rorke, of Cush-ma-Creena.

“‘Given on this eighteenth of November, 18--.’”

Grenfell had not time to look at the other papers, for he heard a step
in the corridor, and, thrusting them hastily into his pocket, he rang
the bell violently, nor desisted till the door opened, and Mr. Fisk
appeared.

“Call the people here--send for a doctor!” cried Grenfell. “Sir Within
has been taken with a fit.”

“A fit, Sir! Indeed, how very dreadful,” said Fisk; but who, instead of
hurrying off to obey the order, walked deliberately over and stared
at the sick man. “He’ll not come round, Sir, take my word for it, Mr.
Grenfell. It’s no use doing anything--it’s all up.”

“Go, send for a doctor at once,” said Grenfell, angrily.

“I assure you, Sir, it’s too late,” said the impassive valet, as he left
the room in the same slow and measured pace he had entered.

Several servants, however, rushed now to answer the bell, which Grenfell
rang unceasingly, and by them Sir Within was carried to his room, while
messengers were despatched in all directions for medical aid. Once alone
in his own room, and with the door locked, Grenfell re-read the document
which had caused the disaster. He was not one of those men who suffer
from the pangs of conscience on ordinary occasions, but he had his
misgivings here that a certain piece of counsel he had once given might
just as well have been withheld. If the shock should kill the old man,
it would defeat all that policy to which he had been of late devoting
himself. Young Ladarelle would have learned from Fisk enough about his,
Grenfell’s, influence with Sir Within to shut the doors against him when
he had succeeded to the estate. These were painful reflections, and made
him think that very probably he had “been backing the wrong stable.”

“Is the fellow really married?” muttered he, as he sat examining the
paper. “This document does not seem to me very formal. It is not like
the copy of a registry, and, if the marriage were duly solemnised, why
is it not stated where it took place?”

He turned to the long letter which accompanied the certificate. It
was from Ladarelle, half apologetically, announcing his marriage, and
stating that the intelligence could doubtless only prove gratifying
to Sir Within, since the object of his choice had so long been the
recipient of so many favours from Sir Within himself, and one whose
gratitude had already cemented the ties of relationship which bound her
to the family. It was long and common-place throughout, and bore to the
keen eyes of him who read it the evidence of being written to sustain a
fraud.

“There has been no marriage,” said Grenfell, as he closed the letter.
“She has been duped and tricked, but how, and to what extent, I know
not. If I were to send for Fisk, and tell him that I had just received
this letter from his master, the fellow might accord me his confidence,
and tell me everything.”

He rang the bell at once, but, when the servant answered the summons,
he said that Mr. Fisk had left the Castle with post-horses half an hour
before, it was supposed for town.

Ladarelle’s letter finished by saying, “We are off to Paris, where
we remain, Hôtel Grammont, Rue Royale, till the 30th; thence we shall
probably go south--not quite certain where.”

“No, no, there has been no marriage--not even a mock one. All these
details are far too minute and circumstantial, and these messages of ‘my
dear wife’ are all unreal. But what can it matter? If the old man should
only rally, it is all for the best.”

A knock came to the door. It was Doctor Price. “All is going on
favourably. It was shock--only shock of the nervous system--nothing
paralytic,” said he; “and he is more concerned to know that his face was
not bruised, nor his hands scratched, than anything else. He wishes to
see you immediately.”

“Is it quite prudent to go and talk to him just yet?”

“Better than render him irritable by refusing to see him. You will, of
course, use your discretion on the topic you discuss with him.”

Grenfell was soon at the sick man’s bedside, none but themselves in the
room.

“We are alone, are we?” asked Sir Within, faintly.

“Quite alone.”

“Yates says there were no letters or papers to be found when he entered
the room----”

“I placed them all in my pocket,” interrupted Grenfell. “There were
so many people about, and that fellow of young Ladarelle’s too, that I
thought it best not to leave anything at their mercy.”

“It was very kind and very thoughtful. Where are they?”

“Here. I sealed them up in their own envelope.”

The old man took the paper with a trembling hand, and placed it under
his pillow. He had little doubt but that they had been read--his old
experiences in diplomacy gave no credit to any sense of honour on this
head--but he said not a word of this.

“Adolphus has married the girl you saw here--my ward, he used to call
her,” said he, in a low whisper.

“Indeed! Is it a good match? Has she fortune?”

“Not a shilling. Neither fortune nor family.”

“Then you are not pleased with the connexion?”

Sir Within drew a long sigh, and said: “It is no affair of mine. His
father will, perhaps, not like it.”

“How did it come about? Where did it take place?”

“Nothing--nothing but misery before her!” muttered the old man,
unheeding his question.

“Do you think he will treat her ill?”

“A life of sorrow--of sorrow and shame!” murmured he, still lower. “Poor
girl!--poor unhappy girl!”

Grenfell was silent, and the other, after a pause, went on:

“His father is sure to be displeased; he is a violent man, too, and one
can’t say to what lengths temper may carry him. And all this will fall
upon _her!_”

“Do you think so?”

“I know him well!” He mused for several minutes, and then said to
himself: “I could not--I could not--not for worlds!” And then aloud:
“But I could leave this--leave the Castle, and let them come here. How
she loved it once! Oh, if you knew how happy she was here!” He covered
his face with his hands, and lay thus a considerable time.

“And do you mean to invite them here?” asked Grenfell at last.

“You can write it for me,” said he, still pursuing his own train of
thought. “You can tell him that, not being well--having some difficulty
in holding a pen--I have begged of you to say that the Castle is at
their disposal--that I mean to leave this--where shall I say for?--to
leave this for the south of France, or Italy.”

“Are you equal to such a journey? Have you strength for it?”

“Far more than to stay here and meet her--_them_--meet _them_,” added
he, almost peevishly. “I have not health nor spirits for seeing
company, and of course people will call, and there will be dinners
and receptions--all things I am unfit for. Say this for me, dear Mr.
Grenfell, and tell Yates that I mean to go up to town to-morrow.”

Grenfell shook his head to imply dissent, but the other resumed:

“If you knew me better, Sir, you would know that my energy never failed
me when I called upon it. I have been tried pretty sorely once or twice
in life, and yet no disaster has found me faint-hearted!” As he spoke,
a gleam of pride lighted up his features, and he looked all that he
thought himself. “Will you take this key of the gem-room,” said he,
after a pause; “and in the second drawer of the large ebony cabinet you
will find a green morocco-case; it has my mother’s name on it, Olivia
Trevor. Do me the favour to bring it to me. This was a wedding present
some eighty years ago, Mr. Grenfell,” said he, as he unclasped the
casket that the other placed in his hands. “It was the fashion of those
days to set gems on either side, and here you have emeralds, and here
are opals. Ladies were wont to turn their necklaces in the course of
an entertainment; they are content with less costly changes now:
they merely change their affections.” He tried to smile, but his lips
trembled, and his voice all but failed him.

“It is very magnificent!” exclaimed Grenfell, who was truly surprised at
the splendour of the jewels.

“The Margravine of Anhalt’s present to my mother, Sir!” As the glow of
pride the recollection imparted to his face faded away, a sickly pallor
succeeded, and, in a tone of broken and difficult utterance, he said:
“Be kind enough to place this in an envelope, seal it with my arms, and
address it, ‘Mrs. A. Ladarelle, de la part de W. W.’ That will be quite
sufficient.”

“They are splendid stones!” said Grenfell, who seemed never to weary of
his admiration.

“They will become her, Sir, and _she_ will become _them!_” said the old
man, with an immense effort to seem calm and collected. “I believe,”
 said he at last, with a faint smile, “I am overtaxing this poor strength
of mine. Price warned me to be careful. Will you forgive me if I ask you
to leave me to my own sorry company? You’ll come back in the evening,
won’t you? Thanks--my best thanks!” And he smiled his most gracious
smile, and made a little familiar gesture with his hand; and then as the
door closed, and he felt that none saw him, he turned his face to the
pillow and sobbed--sobbed convulsively.

Although Grenfell had acceded to Sir Within’s request to write the
invitation to Ladarelle, he secretly determined that he would not commit
himself to the step without previously ascertaining if the marriage had
really taken place, because, as he said to himself, this young fellow
must never get it into his head that he has deceived such a man as me.
He therefore wrote a short, half jocular note, addressed to Ladarelle at
his club in town, saying that he had read his letter to Sir Within,
and was not one-half so much overcome by the tidings as his respected
relative. “‘In fact,’ said he, ‘I have arrived at that time of life in
which men believe very little of what they hear, and attach even less
of importance to that little. At all events, Sir Within will not remain
here; he means to go abroad at once, and Dalradern will soon be at your
disposal, either to pass your honeymoon, or rejoice over your bachelor
freedom in, and I offer myself as your guest under either casualty.’ The
answer will show me,” muttered he, “what are to be our future relations
towards each other. And now for a good sleep, as befits a man with an
easy conscience.”



CHAPTER LVII. THE HOME OF SORROW

It was six weeks after the events in which we last saw Kate Luttrell
that she was sufficiently able to rise from her sick-bed, and sit at the
little window of her room. She was wan, and worn, and wasted, her eyes
deep sunken, and her cheeks hollow. Beautiful was she still in all
the delicate outline of her features, the finely-rounded nostril and
gracefully-turned chin almost gaining by the absence of the brilliant
colouring which had at one time, in a measure, absorbed all the
admiration of her loveliness. Her long luxuriant hair--spared by a sort
of pity by her doctor, who, in his despair of rescuing her from her
fever, yielded to her raving entreaties not to cut it off--this now fell
in wavy masses over her neck and shoulders, and in its golden richness
rendering her pale face the semblance of marble. Each day had the doctor
revealed to her some detail of what had happened during her illness: How
she had been “given over,” and received the last rites of the Church;
how, after this, one who called himself her brother had arrived, and
insisted on seeing her; how he came with the man named O’Rorke and the
priest O’Rafferty, and remained a few seconds in her room, and left,
never to return again; indeed, all three of them had left the town
within an hour after their visit.

She heard all this in mute amazement, nor even was she certain that her
faculties yet served her aright, so strange and incomprehensible was
it all. Yet she rarely asked a question, or demanded any explanation,
hearing all in silence, as though hoping that with time and patience her
powers of mind would enable her to surmount the difficulties that now
confronted and defied her.

For days and days did she labour to remember what great event it was
had first led her to this town of Lifford, the very name of which was
strange to her. The same dislike to ask a question pursued her here,
and she pondered and pondered over the knotty point, till at last, of
a sudden, just as though the light broke instantaneously upon her, she
cried out:

“I remember it all! I know it now! Has the trial come off? What tidings
of my grandfather?” The poor woman to whom this was addressed imagined
it was a return of her raving, and quietly brought the doctor to her
side. “Are the assizes oyer?” whispered Kate in his ear.

“More than a month ago.”

“There was an old man--Malone. Is he tried?”

“The murder case?

“I was at it.”

“And the verdict?”

“The verdict was guilty, with a recommendation to mercy for his great
age, and the want of premeditation in the crime.”

“Well, go on.”

“The Judge concurred, and he will not be executed.”

“He will be banished, however--banished for life,” said she, in a low,
faltering voice.

“To believe himself he asks no better, he made a speech of nigh an hour
in his defence, and if it had not been that at the last he attempted a
sort of justification of what he had done, the Judge would not, in all
probability, have charged against him; but the old fellow insisted so
strongly on the point that a poor man must always look to himself and
not to the law for justice, that he destroyed his case.”

“And was there not one to advise him?”

“Apparently not; and when the Chief Baron named a lawyer to defend him,
the old fellow refused the aid, and said, ‘The work that’s done for
nothing is worth nothing. I’ll just speak for myself.’”

“And this other man--O’Rorke, I mean--where was he?--what did he do?”

“He left this the night before the trial came on, with that young
gentleman that was here.”

“Ah, he left him! Deserted him in his last need!” cried she, faintly,
but with an intense agony in the tone.

“Had they been friends?” asked the doctor; but she never heard the
question, and sat with her hands clasped before her, motionless and
silent.

“Were you there throughout the whole trial?” asked she, at last.

“No, I was present only on the last day, and I heard his speech.”

“Tell me how he looked; was he broken or depressed?”

“The very reverse. It would have been better for him if he had looked
cast down or in grief. It was too bold and too defiant he was, and this
grew on him as he spoke, till, towards the end of his speech, he all but
said, ‘I dare you to find me guilty!’”

“The brave old man!” muttered she below her breath.

“When the crowd in the court cheered him, I knew what would happen. No
Judge in the land could have said a word for him after that.”

“The brave old man!” mattered she again.

“It seemed at one time he was going to call witnesses to character, and
he had a list of them in his hand, but he suddenly changed his mind, and
said, ‘No, my Lord, whatever you’re going to do with me this day, I’ll
do my best to meet it, but I won’t make any one stand up here, and have
the shame to say he knows a man that the mere turn of a straw might send
to the gallows!’”

“Did he say that?” cried she, wildly.

“He did; and he looked at the jury all the while, as though to say,
‘Take care what you do; it’s a man’s life is on it!’”

“Did he ever mention my name? Did he ask for any one in particular, did
you hear?” asked she, faintly.

“No; but before he began his speech he looked all over the court
for full five minutes or more, as if in search of some one, and even
motioned some people in the gallery to stand aside that he might see
better, and then he drew a long breath--either disappointment or relief;
it might be either.”

“‘How could they have the heart to say guilty?” said she.

“There was no other word to say. They were on their oaths, and so the
Judge told them, and the whole country was looking at them.”

“And where is he now?” asked she, eagerly.

“All the prisoners for transportation have been sent on to Dublin.
They’ll not leave the country before spring.”

She hid her head between her hands, and sat for a long time without
speaking. At last she raised her face, and her eyes were red with
weeping, and her cheeks furrowed.

“Doctor,” said she, plaintively, “have I strength enough to go to him?”

He shook his head mournfully, in token of dissent.

“Am I too ill?”

“You are too weak, my poor child; you have not strength for such a
journey.”

“But I have great courage, doctor, and I can bear far more fatigue than
you would think.”

He shook his head again.

“You do not know,” said she, in a low but earnest voice, “that I was
reared in hardship, brought up in want, and cold, and misery. Ay, and I
have never forgotten it!”

He smiled; it was half in compassion, half in disbelief.

“Do you know me?--do you know who I am?” asked she, eagerly.

“I know it all, my poor child--I know it all,” said he, sadly.

“Know it all! What does your phrase mean? How all?”

He arose, but she grasped his hand with both hers’, and held him fast.

“You shall not leave this till you have answered me!” cried she. “Is it
not enough that I am sick and friendless? Why should you add the torture
of doubt to such misery as mine? Tell me, I beseech you--I entreat of
you, tell me what you have heard of me! I will deny nothing that is
true!”

He pleaded warmly at first to be let off altogether, and then to be
allowed further time--some period when she had grown to be stronger and
better able to bear what he should have to tell her. Her entreaties only
became more urgent, and she at last evinced such excitement, that, in
terror lest a return of her brain fever might be feared, he yielded,
promising that the confidence reposed in him was a trust nothing should
induce him to break.

There is no need that the reader should pass through the sad ordeal of
Kate’s suffering, even as a witness. No need is there that her shame,
her sorrow, her misery, and, last of all, her passionate indignation,
should be displayed before him; nor that he should see her as she sat
there wrung with affliction, or half maddened with rage. Compressing the
doctor’s story into the fewest words, it was this:

“Kate had met young Ladarelle at Dalradern Castle, where a passion had
grown up between them. The young man, heir to a vast fortune, and sure
of a high position, did not scruple to avail himself of what advantages
his brilliant station conferred--won her affections, and seduced her
with the promise of a speedy marriage. Wearied out at the unfulfillment
of this pledge, she had fled from Dalradern, and sought refuge at Arran,
intending to reveal all to her uncle, whose pride would inevitably have
sought out her betrayer, and avenged her wrong, when she yielded to
O’Rorke’s persuasion to meet her lover at Westport, where, as he assured
her, every preparation for their marriage had been arranged. Thus
induced, she had quitted her uncle’s house, and met Ladarelle. A mock
marriage, performed by a degraded priest, had united them, and they were
about to set out for the Continent, when she was struck down by brain
fever. The fear of being recognised, as the town was then filling
for the Assizes, determined Ladarelle and his friend to take their
departure. There was deposited with the doctor a sum sufficient to
defray every charge of her illness, with strict injunctions to keep all
secret, and induce her, if she recovered, to proceed to Paris, where, at
a given address, she would be welcomed and well received.”

This was the substance of a narrative that took long in the telling,
not alone for the number of incidents it recorded, but that, as he
proceeded, the unlucky doctor’s difficulties increased as some point of
unusual delicacy would intervene, or some revelation would be required,
which, in the presence of the principal actor in it, became a matter of
no small embarrassment to relate.

“And how much of all this, Sir, do you believe?” said she, calmly, as he
concluded.

He was silent, for the question impugned more than his credulity, and he
hesitated what to answer.

“I ask you, Sir, how much of this story do you believe?”

“There is a colour to part of it,” said he, diffidently.

“And what part?”

“The part which refers to the marriage here.”

“What do you mean, Sir?”

“When you lay on that bed yonder, with fixed eyes, motionless,
unconscious, and, as all believed, dying, a priest muttered some words
over you, and placed your hand in that of this young man I spoke of. The
woman of the house saw this through the keyhole of the door; she saw a
ring produced, too, but it fell to the ground, and the priest laughingly
said, ‘It’s just as good without the ring;’ and, after they had gone,
the woman picked it up beneath the bed, and has it now. She saw them,
besides, when they came down stairs, sit down at a table and draw up a
paper, to which the priest ordered her to be a witness by a mark, as she
cannot write; and this paper she believes to have had some reference to
the scene she saw above. All this I believe, for she who told it to me
is truthful and honest.”

Kate passed her hand across her forehead like one trying to clear
her faculties for better reflection, and then said: “But this is no
marriage!”

“Certainly not; nor could it have been had recourse to to quiet scruples
of yours, since you we