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Title: Patsy
Author: Stacpoole, H. De Vere (Henry De Vere)
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                         Illustration: _Patsy_



------------------------------------------------------------------------

                    UNWIN’S     1/- net      NOVELS.

                 Bound in Cloth, with Picture Wrappers.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

 1. The Way of an Eagle.                               By ETHEL M. DELL.

 2. McGlusky the Reformer.                               By A. G. HALES.

 3. The Trail of ’98.                              By ROBERT W. SERVICE.

 4. Ann Veronica.                                        By H. G. WELLS.

 5. The Knave of Diamonds.                             By ETHEL M. DELL.

 6. The Beetle: A Mystery.                             By RICHARD MARSH.

 7. Almayer’s Folly.                                   By JOSEPH CONRAD.

 8. The Shulamite.                            By ALICE AND CLAUDE ASKEW.

 9. New Chronicles of Don Q.                 By K. AND HESKETH PRICHARD.

 10. The Canon in Residence.                   By VICTOR L. WHITECHURCH.

 11. The Camera Fiend.                       By THE AUTHOR OF “RAFFLES.”

 12. Monte Carlo.                          By MRS. H. DE VERE STACPOOLE.

 13. Called Back.                                        By HUGH CONWAY.

 14. The Stickit Minister.                            By S. R. CROCKETT.

 15. The Crimson Azaleas.                       By H. DE VERE STACPOOLE.

 16. My Lady of the Chimney Corner.                 By ALEXANDER IRVINE.

 17. Patsy.                                     By H. DE VERE STACPOOLE.

 18. The Indiscretion of the                            By ANTHONY HOPE.
   Duchess.

 19. By Reef and Palm.                                   By LOUIS BECKE.

 20. Queen Sheba’s Ring.                            By H. RIDER HAGGARD.

 21. Uncanny Tales.                               By F. MARION CRAWFORD.

 22. Ricroft of Withens.                         By HALLIWELL SUTCLIFFE.

 23. The Vultures Prey.                         By H. DE VERE STACPOOLE.

 24. The Pretender.                                By ROBERT W. SERVICE.

 25. Me. A Book of Remembrance.                               ANONYMOUS.

                    _Other Volumes in Preparation._

                      ----------------------------

           T. FISHER UNWIN, Ltd., 1, Adelphi Terrace, LONDON.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                                 Patsy

                                   by

                         H. de. Vere Stacpoole



                                 London

                          C. Fisher Unwin Ltd

                            Adelphi Terrace



------------------------------------------------------------------------



                       _First Edition_      1908
                       _Second Impression_  1909
                       _Third Impression_   1909
                       _Fourth Impression_  1910
                       _Fifth Impression_   1916
                       _Sixth Impression_   1917



                        [_All rights reserved_]

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                                CONTENTS

                 I. WHERE THE WILD GEESE FLY
                II. PATSY
               III. THE FORM IN THE WOOD
                IV. CON COGAN
                 V. THE MAN IN THE TREE
                VI. THE HIRING OF PATSY
               VII. MRS FINNEGAN’S BOY
              VIII. THE BATTLE IN THE YARD
                IX. A FACE AT THE WINDOW
                 X. THE GHOST CARRIAGE
                XI. THE FIRST GUEST
               XII. MR FANSHAWE
              XIII. THE MEET OF THE HOUNDS
               XIV. A KISS ON THE STAIRS
                XV. GOING IN TO DINNER
               XVI. IN THE “SCRUBBERY”
              XVII. THE STORY OF THE PIG
             XVIII. AN INTERRUPTED FEAST
               XIX. SHAN
                XX. THE MEET OF THE BEAGLES
               XXI. MR BOXALL GETS IN THE WAY
              XXII. LOVE
             XXIII. THE WILD DUCKS
              XXIV. NAILING UP THE HOLLY
               XXV. A POTENTIAL POET
              XXVI. THE SPIRIT OF IRELAND
             XXVII. MIDWINTER NIGHT’S DREAM
            XXVIII. MR LYBURN
              XXIX. THE TRAP
               XXX. “PUT THE DONKEY TO”
              XXXI. THE FOX AND THE HOUNDS
             XXXII. THE FOX TAKES EARTH
            XXXIII. BILLY CROOM
             XXXIV. MR MURPHY IN EXCELSIS
              XXXV. INFLUENZA
             XXXVI. PREPARATIONS
            XXXVII. FLIGHT
           XXXVIII. THE OFF HUB
             XXXIX. A MAN OF RESOURCE

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                                 PATSY



                               CHAPTER I

                        WHERE THE WILD GEESE FLY


A flock of wild geese flying across the sunset far away, remote,
fantastic, the only living things visible in a world filling with
shadows, lent the last touch of beauty to the vast and lonely moors.

“They’re makin’ for the pools of Cloyne, sir,” said the keeper.

Mr Fanshawe watched the flock pass and vanish in the amber distance like
a wreath of smoke. Away to the left, covering themselves with night and
gloom, stood the hills of Glynn, where the golden eagle still has its
eyrie, and the wild goat its home. From there, away to the west, the
great moors stretched to the hills of Cloyne.

It was a typical Irish winter’s evening, the sky threatening and
forgetting to rain, the air damp and filled with the scent of the earth,
near things indistinct in the gathering twilight, and far things seeming
near.

From where Mr Fanshawe stood, with his pipe in his mouth and his gun
under his arm, you might have started with a brave heart to walk to the
hills of Cloyne. Ten miles distant, or at most twelve, they seemed,
those hills that lay thirty Irish miles away.

Fanshawe was staying for the hunting with Mr Trench of Dunboyne House.
He had come out to-day to have a shot at the snipe, and he had not done
badly, to judge by the weight of the bag Micky Finn, the old keeper, was
carrying.

“Well,” said the young man, refilling and lighting his pipe, “we’d
better be getting back. How far are we from the house, Micky?”

“A matter of five mile be the boggs, sir, an’ siven be the road; which
way would your ’arner be chusin’ to take?”

“The road,” said Mr Fanshawe, and, followed by Micky and the dogs, he
struck towards the high-road from Dunbeg which goes across the moors
white and straight like a chalk-line drawn by a giant.

“You were afther askin’ me, sir, what time the letters came from
Dunbeg,” said Micky, as they stepped on to the highway. “Here’s Larry
and the letters now, comin’ as hard as he can pelt two hours late, the
blackguyard! He’s been stoppin’ to drink at Billy Sheehan’s, or
colloguing wid the girls; musha, but it’s little he cares who waits for
their letters whin the bottle’s before him.”

Mr Fanshawe shaded his eyes, and with a constriction of the heart
watched the horseman and the horse coming at a furious pace and
developing with magical speed against the sunset. The sound of the
hoofs, like the sound of castanets in the hands of a madman, came on the
breeze.

The horseman, a ragged individual with a leer on his face, no boots on
his feet, and a post-bag slung on his back, reined in when he came level
with the keeper and the gentleman, bringing his horse literally on its
haunches.

“Any letters for Mr Fanshawe, Larry?” asked the keeper.

“Begob!” said Larry, swinging the post-bag round and opening it,
“there’s letters enough for a dozen, but I’m no schollard to tell yiz
who thir for; will y’ be afther puttin’ your hand in the bag, sir, and
takin’ your chice?”

Mr Fanshawe did as he was invited. There was only one letter for him,
all the rest were for Mr Trench or members of his household.

It was not the letter he had been half expecting by every post for weeks
and weeks past, and he opened it with a gloomy brow, and read it by the
light of sunset as Larry rode on and the sound of the hoofs died away on
the high-road.

To be young, rich, healthy, good-looking, and yet unhappy! No other
magician but Love could bring about such an extraordinary concatenation
of states.

Love had done this in the case of Mr Fanshawe.

As for the letter, it was addressed from Glen Druid House, Tullagh, Mid
Meath, and it ran:

    “DEAR RICHARD,—I have only just been informed that you are staying
    with my friends the Trenches, to whom, through you, I send my very
    kind regards.

    “This house is only some forty miles from where you are now, and as
    I have a small house-party coming on the 10th, the happy idea has
    occurred to me that you might join us, if your engagements will
    permit you so to do. You will find shooting enough to please you, I
    think, in the coverts, and the O’Farrel’s hounds meet twice a week.
    You will also find a sincere welcome from your old friend,

                                                       “SELINA SEAGRAVE.

    “_P.S._—I am here, at present, by myself. I would be quite alone
    were it not that I have your cousin Robert’s children staying with
    me. Bob (Lord Gawdor), Doris, and Selina my namesake.”

“Bother the children!” said Mr Fanshawe, thrusting the letter into the
pocket of his shooting coat, and little dreaming what pleasant factors
in the making of his fate those same children were to be.

He was rather fond of children, as a matter of fact, but he was in love,
and he had been deciphering Lady Seagrave’s old-fashioned caligraphy in
the hope of finding, like a flower in a wilderness, the magical name of
Violet Lestrange.

“Do you know anything of Glen Druid House, near Tullagh, Micky?” he
asked, as they trudged along together in the deepening twilight.

“Yes, sor,” replied Micky; “it’s be Castle Knock over beyant thim hills.
It was Mr Moriarty’s in the ould days. The place went to rot an’ ruin
whin the ould gintleman died, but they do be tellin’ me it’s changed
hands to an ould lady from over the wather.”

“Is there good shooting?”

“Shutin’!” said Micky, speaking more from a desire to be amiable than
from absolute knowledge. “Sure, it’s not a gun you’d want there at all,
at all, for you could knock the cock phisints down wid your fist.
Phisints! ay, be jabers! an’ woodcock an’ teal; and as for hares an’
rabbits, the groun’s is jumpin’ an’ runnin’ wid them.”

“If nothing better turns up,” said Mr Fanshawe to himself, “I’m not sure
that I won’t accept the old girl’s invitation;” and ten days later, as
you may have guessed from this preamble, he did.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                               CHAPTER II

                                 PATSY


“Miss Kiligrew,” said little Lord Gawdor, looking up from his slate and
the multiplication sum on it that wouldn’t come right.

“Yes, Robert?”

“William, the page-boy, was sent away yesterday for stealing the jam.”

“Go on with your sum,” answered the governess, who was seated at the
other end of the table helping Doris, little Lord Gawdor’s sister, to
make a map. “This is the third time you have interrupted me with
frivolous remarks. How can you expect to make your sum come right if you
do not fix your mind on your slate?”

“I will in a minit,” said his lordship; “but I want to tell you, he’d
cribbed a pot of plum jam, and he heard some one coming, and he popped
it in the copper in the back kitchen where the clothes were boiling.
Gran’ma said she never heard of an act of such—what was it, Doris?”

“Turpentine, I think,” replied Doris, throwing back her golden hair from
her forehead, relieved to escape for a moment from the monotony of
map-making.

“‘Turpitude,’ I suppose you mean,” said Miss Kiligrew.

“Yes, that was it,” said Lord Gawdor. “What’s it mean?”

“Wickedness,” replied Miss Kiligrew. “Go on with your sum.”

“I will; but I want just to tell you, he went away yesterday, and
gran’ma said to Mrs Kinsella the cook she didn’t know what she’d do for
a page-boy, and cook said she’d try and get Patsy Rooney, the son of the
keeper, to come. He’s that red-headed boy we saw carrying the rabbits in
the park the other day. My eye!” he concluded with a burst of laughter,
“won’t he look funny in buttons!”

“Go on with your sum,” said Miss Kiligrew severely, “and don’t use
vulgar expressions before your sister. Who taught you to say that?”

“What?”

“My eye.”

“William, I b’lieve.”

“Well, it is a very good thing he was sent about his business. Go on
with your sum.”

Lord Gawdor did as he was bid, and there was silence for a while, broken
only by the squeaking of his pencil on the slate and an occasional
clicking sound from under the table, where Selina, his youngest sister,
aged five, was seated on the floor playing with a box of bricks. They
were in the day nursery, which was also the schoolroom, of Glen Druid
Park, a great old Irish country house.

Little Lord Gawdor’s mother was dead and his father was in India. He and
his sisters were living with their grandmother, Lady Seagrave. It was
three weeks before Christmas, and as Lady Seagrave had invited a
house-party, the house was in a state of upset owing to the
preparations. Downstairs rooms were being cleaned and dusted, carpets
taken up and shaken, mirrors polished, and mattresses standing to air
before huge fires.

All the fun of a general house-cleaning was going on, and it seemed very
hard to Lord Gawdor and Doris that they had to sit all the morning doing
sums and making maps instead of helping to increase the confusion down
below.

“I’ve done my sum,” said his lordship at last.

“When I have finished demarcating this frontier I will look at it,” said
Miss Kiligrew, who had a paint brush in her hand, and was in the act of
tinting with red the boundary line between Cochin China and
Somewhere-else.

“All right,” said the boy; “don’t hurry, I can wait as long as you
like.” He left the chair and, going to the window, he climbed on to the
window-seat and looked out at the park. He had scarcely been a minute at
the window when he gave a cry.

“Miss Kiligrew—come here, quick!”

The governess and Doris left the table and came to the window.

“That’s him,” said Lord Gawdor, pointing to a small figure trudging
across the park.

“Who?” asked the governess.

“Patsy Rooney,” replied he.

“How dare you call me from my work to look at such nonsense!” cried Miss
Kiligrew. “Have you no regard for the value of my time?”

“Patsy isn’t nonsense,” replied his lordship. “They say he can trap
rabbits better than his father, and he keeps the ferrits and helps to
clean the guns, and,” finished up Lord Gawdor, dropping off the
window-seat and coming back wearily to the table, “I wish to goodness I
was him!”

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER III

                          THE FORM IN THE WOOD


It had snowed slightly in the early morning, and enough snow lay on the
ground to take the track of a hare.

The ground told quite a lot of things to Patsy Rooney as he made his way
across Glen Druid Park from his father’s cottage to the little village
of Castle Knock, which lies beyond the park a mile to the west, where
the Tullagh road meets the road to Kilgobbin.

Out in the open spaces the great feet of the crows had left their mark
clear cut in the snow. Crossing them you could see the lesser traces of
the ringed plover, and all sorts of little birds had left tiny
footprints where the snow lay thin and white as a sheet on the borders
of the beech woods.

All kinds of rare birds came to Glen Druid Park, for the place had been
deserted so long that there was no one to trouble them, except Patsy’s
father, who was the keeper, and who lived in the keeper’s cottage close
to the Big House.

The Big House had been deserted for years, but it was deserted no
longer, for only that autumn Lady Seagrave had taken it, and she and her
family had already moved in; and there were, as I have hinted, to be
great doings at Christmas, and the whole country-side was talking of the
wonderful things that were to happen when the “quality” arrived.

By the “quality” the country people meant the guests who were coming
over from England. Lords and ladies were reputed to be coming, and
bringing their hunting horses with them, and there was a rumour that a
bishop was coming, too. Patsy was anxious enough to see the lords and
ladies, but he was more anxious still to see the bishop; what such a
thing was like he could not in the least imagine. He could have asked,
but he didn’t: firstly, because he was a person of such little
importance that no one would have been bothered answering him; and
secondly, because he did not want to spoil the sight when it came by
knowing what it would be like beforehand. He thought it was some sort of
animal.

He was going through the beech woods now at a “sweep’s trot” to keep
himself warm. He had an old stake plucked from a fence in his hand, and
as he ran he would every now and then twirl the stake round his head and
give a “whoop” that sent the startled birds fluttering through the
branches and the rabbits scuttling through the withered fern.

He was not going through the thick of the wood, but down a broad drive
that was the shortest cut to the village; and he did not twirl the stake
round his head and whoop for the fun of the thing, but to keep up his
courage. For the drive was just the place where the “carriage” was
always met.

Patsy’s uncle had seen the “carriage,” or said he had. So had a lot of
other people. It was a hearse with plumes, driven by a man without a
head, and it was supposed to haunt the grounds of Glen Druid Park,
sometimes even in daylight.

The horrible thing about it was that when the man without the head saw
you, he made straight for you; and, if he overtook you, down he would
get and bundle you into the vehicle and drive off, and then you were
done for.

The snow on the drive, like the snow on the grass of the park, showed
all sorts of little footprints. Tracks of hares and rabbits and the
trail of a stoat, Patsy knew and could distinguish them all. Though he
could neither read or write, he knew the habits and names of all the
wild animals and birds that were to be seen in the woods and ways
around; he knew all the tales about the fairies that lived under the
ferns in the glens, and the cluricaunes that cobbled the fairies’ boots.
He had never seen a cluricaune or a fairy, but he believed in them,
notwithstanding the fact that he had a very sharp and practical mind
where the ordinary business of life was concerned.

Suddenly Patsy came to a stand close to the trunk of a great beech tree.
He had caught a glimpse of something in the wood on the right-hand side
of the drive.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                               CHAPTER IV

                               CON COGAN


It looked like a heap of old clothes at first sight, then he made it out
to be the figure of a man on his knees engaged in taking a rabbit from a
snare.

He was a forlorn-looking man in tatters, and with long hair that hung
over his shoulders, and, bent down there amidst the withered ferns, and
under the shadow of the tree branches, he looked not unlike a gnome or
the ghost of a robber; but he did not frighten the boy, who recognised
the figure at once as that of his uncle, Con Cogan.

Con Cogan had once been the blacksmith at Castle Knock, but he had sold
his business and taken to bad ways, and he was now the terror of the
country-side. He had no house of his own, but just lived as he could,
sleeping in barns and hayricks, sometimes begging his food, sometimes
stealing it. He was suspected of being a highway robber, but he had
never been caught in the act; and though a good many people knew things
about him that would have sent him to prison, they never told: not
because they had any special love for him, but because they were afraid.
It was said that he had the evil eye, and that if he cast a “black look”
on a person it would be all over with them and they would never do
another day’s good. Besides this, he always carried a blackthorn stick
with knobs on it; there were seven notches on the handle of it, and
people said that every notch stood for a man he had killed.

As the boy stood watching his uncle, the latter suddenly rose up with
the dead rabbit he had caught in his hand, and seeing his nephew gave
him good-morning.

“And where are you off to, Patsy?” said he.

“I’m going on an arrand,” replied Patsy.

“And where’s that?” asked Con, as he stuffed the rabbit into the pocket
of his old overcoat, and took up the blackthorn stick he had dropped.

“To Castle Knock,” replied Patsy.

“And what are you going to do with yourself when you get to Castle
Knock?” asked Con.

“I’m goin’ to do me arrand.”

“Blisther you and your arrands!” shouted his uncle. “Talk English, will
yiz, or I’ll prod the sinse out of you with the end of me blackthorn
stick!”

“Ohone!” cried Patsy. “Sure, it’s skinned alive I’ll be if I’m not back
by twelve with the ca’tridges for the guns that’s waitin’ at the
post-office with the lethers for the Big House.”

“So they’ve made you the postman,” said Con.

“Bob Murphy’s laid up with the rheumatism,” replied Con’s nephew. “Crool
bad he is; and me father says to me: ‘Away wid you, Patsy, to Castle
Knock for the lethers, and ax thim has the ca’tridges for the guns come
from Dublin, and fetch thim if they have. And if you drop wan of them
it’s skinned alive you’ll be, or me name’s not Micky Rooney.’”

“Oh, he did, did he?” said Con.

“Them’s were his words,” said Patsy; “so I must be runnin’ on me
arrand.”

“Oh, you must be runnin’ on your arrand, must you?” asked Con in a
meditative tone.

“I must.”

“And your daddy said he’d skin you alive if you weren’t quick, did he?”

“He did.”

“Well, it’s I that’ll be skinnin’ you dead in two ticks if you don’t
hould your whisht and be doin’ my bidding.”

“Ohone!” wailed Patsy.

“WHISHT!” shouted Con.

Patsy became dumb. He would have darted off like a rabbit and tried to
escape by running, only he was afraid of being brought to earth by Con’s
blackthorn stick hurled after him, for Con was a terrible marksman, and
he had been known a kill a pheasant thirty paces off with no other
weapon than his deftly-flung stick.

“I’m not wishful to get you in trouble, Patsy,” said Con, “it’s not that
I’m after; so I’ll just be walkin’ beside you on the way to Castle
Knock, and I’ll give you the slip before we catch sight of the village,
for there’s a policeman there I’m not wishful to meet, and it’s livin’
in an old tree I am to keep out of his way. What I want to ask you is,
when are the quality comin’ to the Big House?”

“They’re comin’ before Chris’mas,” replied Patsy. “Lords and ladies and
horses and bishop and all.”

“And who’s staying at the Big House now?”

“Old Lady Seagrave and her gran’childer,” replied Patsy, as he trotted
beside his uncle.

“And how many gran’childer has the old lady?” asked Con.

“Three,” replied Patsy. “There’s the little lord; he wears putty
leggin’s and a shootin’ coat an’ all, and he only nine; and there’s Miss
Doris, wid the long gold hair, and she’s eight; then there’s Selina.”

“What’s that?” asked Con.

“Selina.”

“And what the divil’s Selina?”

“The baby; leastways, they call her the baby. Selina’s her name, and
she’s five; she gets in the coal-scuttle when she has the chanst, she’s
that small and over-bould. Biddy Mahony is their nurse, and she told me
all about them. They eats off china, wid silver forks.”

“Silver forks, did you say?” asked Con.

“Yes, and spoons.”

“Patsy.”

“Yes?”

“It’s thrubled with thinkin’ I am.”

“And what are you thinkin’ about?” asked Patsy anxiously.

“I was thinkin’,” replied Con, “that if you were inside the Big House
and I was outside you might maybe hand me out wan or two, or maybe
three, of thim silver spoons and forks.”

“But, sure, that would be stealin’,” said Patsy.

“Who said it wouldn’t?” answered Con.

There was no reply to be made to this, so they trudged along in silence.

They had not gone more than two hundred yards when Con left the drive
and turned down a path to the right.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                               CHAPTER V

                          THE MAN IN THE TREE


“Sure, this isn’t the way to Castle Knock!” cried Patsy, drawing back.

“And who said it was?” replied Con, seizing him by the hand. “Is it
geography you’d be teachin’ me, or what ails you at all, at all? Come on
wid you now, or it’s the knock without the castle you’ll be getting in a
minit.”

“Uncle Con,” said Patsy, when they had gone some distance, “where are
you taking me?”

“Come along and you’ll see,” replied Con.

A moment later, to the boy’s relief, Con struck into a path to the left,
and they found themselves in a little glade in the centre of which stood
the remains of a great oak.

“Here we are,” said Con; “I’ve brought you to see Paddy Murphy, who’s
hidin’ from the police.”

All the branches of the oak were gone and just ten feet of the bole
remained, and it looked like a great stilton cheese the centre of which
has been scooped out and eaten.

“Are you there?” cried Con, halting about ten paces from the oak.

“Faith, and I b’lave I am,” replied a voice.

“Well, the coast’s clear,” replied Con, “so out you may come.”

A scrambling noise came from the tree, and a close-cropped head appeared
over the edge of the bole; the head was followed by a body, next instant
a fat little man was standing on the turf beside Con and Patsy. He had a
jolly red face and bright, twinkling eyes.

It would be more correct to say that at first his face seemed jolly, for
when you had been speaking to him a minute or so, the face of this
little man seemed no longer humorous, but, somehow, dreadful.

At first sight Con Cogan was a terrible-looking man, but when you had
spoken to him for a while you did not feel in the least afraid of him.
It was different with Paddy Murphy.

Con took the rabbit out of his pocket and began to skin it, whilst Mr
Murphy lit a fire with dry sticks and a tinder-box.

All the time they talked, and Patsy stood by listening and shivering,
for he knew that the little man was a road robber who had been sentenced
to five years’ imprisonment only six months before, and who, as the
whole country-side knew, had broken out of gaol and was in hiding from
the police.

“I think I can fix it up at the Big House,” said Con, as he skinned his
rabbit. “Here’s me sister’s boy, Patsy Rooney, knows one of the
servants. I’m thinkin’ if we shoved him in through the little scullery
window he could open the door to us; there’s tons of silver spoons and
forks to be had for the pickin’ up.”

“Bother spoons and forks!” replied the little man; “who wants spoons and
forks when they can put their hands on diamonds and jewels? Sure, isn’t
there a party of lords and ladies coming over for Chris’mas, and what do
lords and ladies wear but diamonds and jewels?”

“But,” said Con, pausing with the skinned rabbit in his hand, “supposing
they do wear diamonds and jewels, how are we to get them off them?”

“Off them?” replied Mr Murphy. “Do you suppose they sleep in them? Why,
every one of them undresses every night of their lives—not like you an’
me sleeping in this ould tree—and off they takes their jew’lery and puts
them in boxes.”

“I see,” said Con; “and you’d be after slippin’ into the house when they
were all a-bed, and whippin’ off with the boxes.”

“That’s my meaning,” replied Mr Murphy. “Hand me the rabbit till I stick
him on the spit, for it’s hungry I am and I wants me breakfast.” He put
the rabbit to roast by the fire he had built, and then he went on.
“That’s my meaning; but to get into the house there’s only one way, and
that’s to slip a gossoon through the little scullery window; and there’s
only one gossoon of me acquaintance I’d trust with the job, and this is
him.” He suddenly pounced on Patsy. “Now then, Patsy,” said he, “confess
your sins before I makes a freemason of you. When did you say the
quality was coming to the Big House?”

“This day week,” replied Patsy; “and don’t be twistin’ me arm, it’s the
truth I’m telling you.”

“Are you wishful and willin’ to get through the window and open the door
to us?”

“No—yes—ow, let go of me arm!” shrieked the unfortunate Patsy, whose arm
had received a sudden twitch from behind that nearly wrenched if from
the socket.

“Wishful and willin’?” reiterated Mr Murphy.

“Yes!” cried Patsy.

“Will yiz swear to do me biddin’?”

“I will.”

“Will yiz swear to be ready and waitin’ for us whenever we want you,
which won’t be before this day week?”

“I will.”

“Now then, Con,” said Mr. Murphy, “give me that burning stick out of the
fire till I brands him with the mark and makes a freemason of him, so’s
the pain will larn him what he’ll get if he breaks his oath.”

He was bending for the stick, when Patsy, who was now on his knees, mad
with terror, made a frantic dash for liberty between Mr. Murphy’s legs.
That gentleman put off his balance, made a grab at Con; Con’s foot
slipped, and Con, Mr. Murphy, rabbit and all, went rolling into the
ashes of the fire.

When they had collected themselves and shaken the cinders out of their
hair Patsy Rooney was gone.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                               CHAPTER VI

                          THE HIRING OF PATSY


Patsy ran and ran. He was so frightened that at first he did not know
where he was running to, and when he came to his senses he was more than
half-way to Castle Knock. Paddy Murphy had nearly scared him to death,
and no wonder, for the road robber was the terror of the country-side.
He had robbed the mails, he had broken into houses, and it was said,
that in a fit of rage he had once roasted a live baby.

That was, of course, nonsense, yet Patsy remembered it; and when he
thought of the red-hot stick and the freemasonry business it made him
run all the faster, so that when he arrived in Castle Knock he was out
of breath and nearly spent.

He found the letters waiting for him at the post-office and a great case
of cartridges from Truelock & Harris, the gun-makers in Dublin. It was
addressed to Mr Fanshawe, one of the guests expected for Christmas; and
with the cartridges under one arm and the mail-bag with the letters
slung over his back, he started across the park, keeping a bright
look-out for fear of meeting his uncle.

He crossed the park in safety, and came round by the back way through
the stable-yard to the kitchen entrance of the Big House. As he came
through the yard Bumble, the watch-dog, dashed out of his kennel and
tried to “fetch” him.

Bumble was a most extraordinary-looking dog. He was as big as a sheep,
and his head was like a muff; to look at him you never could have
imagined that his great-great-grandfather had been a greyhound, yet he
had.

His great-great-grandmother had been an old Irish wolf hound. His mother
was a bob-tailed collie, and he had an uncle who was a Dandy Dinmont. He
was a mongrel, in short.

Patsy was not a bit afraid of Bumble, for the old dog had lost his teeth
and was quite harmless, despite his ferocious appearance. He took his
parcels round to the kitchen door and knocked; and whilst he stood
waiting to be let in, he looked around him hoping to catch a sight of
the children.

The children interested Patsy a lot. He had never spoken to them, but he
had seen them at a distance in the park, driving in the governess-cart
with their governess.

Once he had met them all quite close in the drive, and Selina had
laughed and nodded to him in quite a friendly way; the other children
smiled, but Miss Kiligrew frowned, and he heard her say:

“Selina, who is that dirty little boy you are nodding to? Remember that
you are a _lady_.”

Patsy was remembering this incident when the kitchen door was flung
open, and Mrs Kinsella, the great fat cook, herself appeared before him,
with her sleeves rolled up to the elbow and her hands all covered with
flour.

“Why, it’s Patsy Rooney!” she cried. “And it’s you I’ve been sending to
look for, and here you are come of yourself.”

She led the way down a stone passage into a huge old-fashioned kitchen,
where a number of kitchen-maids were at work polishing pots and pans.

“Them’s the letters,” said Patsy, laying the bag on the table, “and
them’s is the ca’tridges for the gintleman that’s comin’. Don’t let them
near the fire, or it’s blown to blazes you’ll be, and the house along
with you.”

“Take them away,” said Mrs Kinsella; “I don’t want any such things in my
nice clean kitchen. Put them in a bucket of water, Jane, and maybe
they’ll be safe. Take up your letters, Patsy, and follow me, for her
ladyship wants to see you.”

“To see me?” cried Patsy in alarm.

“Yourself, and no one else,” replied the cook.

“O Mrs Kinsella, what have I been doin’ at all, at all!” cried Patsy, so
flurried out of his wits as not to be able to remember his sins. “Is it
the thraps I’ve been settin’ in the wood?”

“You come along,” said Mrs Kinsella, who had washed her hands and rolled
down her sleeves. “You come along, and you’ll soon see, only be sure,
when she speaks to you, say ‘Yes, my lady,’ that’s all you need say;
I’ll do the tellin’ and the talkin’. Wipe your boots on the mat here,
and keep your mouth shut, and not hanging open like a rat-trap with a
broken spring. Come here now till I brush your head, for you wouldn’t go
before her ladyship with your hair standin’ up like the bristles on a
broom.”

She brushed his hair with an old brush which one of the scullery maids
fetched, and then she washed his face with soap, and rubbed it with a
towel till it shone; Patsy, submitting without a word, for he was too
terrified now to ask questions.

“Now come along,” said the cook, when she had made him fairly
presentable. “And what are you to say when her ladyship speaks to you?”

“Yes, me lady,” replied Patsy promptly.

“That’s right, and don’t forget,” replied Mrs Kinsella; and, followed by
Patsy, she left the kitchen.

Patsy, who had never been beyond the kitchen of the Big House before,
followed his guide down a long stone passage, up a flight of steps,
through a swing-door, then along a corridor from which they entered a
great hall. Patsy had never seen anything like this, for the floor of
the hall was of polished oak, shining like glass; a staircase, so broad
that you might have driven a coach and horses up it, led from the hall
to the first landing. Round the hall was a gallery, and under the
gallery stood men in armour, looking very ghostly in the dim light.

They were only suits of armour, of course, but they were fixed so that
it was impossible to tell whether there were men inside them or not.

“Mrs Kinsella, ma’am,” whispered Patsy.

“What is it, Patsy?” answered the cook.

“Let’s go back, for it’s afeared I am.”

“You come along,” answered the cook.

She knocked at a door, a voice answered “Come in”; she opened the door
and, followed by Patsy, entered a pleasantly furnished room, where a
stately-looking old lady sat by a great fire of holly logs which was
blazing on the hearth.

This was Lady Seagrave herself, and Patsy looked at her with awe, for
she was seventy-nine years of age, and as deaf as a post. People said
she remembered the Battle of Waterloo, and some of the more ignorant
country people said she had been at it. Patsy could almost have believed
this as he stood looking at her, for she was a very fierce-looking old
lady, with heavy eyebrows, a large nose, and bright, piercing eyes. She
was beautifully dressed, and her fingers were covered with sparkling
rings; she held an ear-trumpet to her ear.

“This is Patsy Rooney, your ladyship,” cried Mrs Kinsella through the
trumpet. “I’ve washed him and brushed him to make him a bit respectable,
for it’s wild in the woods he’s been runnin’ this last two years, ever
since his mother died.”

“Oh, this is Patsy Rooney, is it?” said Lady Seagrave. “Hum! he looks
wild enough still, but I daresay time and soap will work wonders. Is he
honest, cook?”

“As honest a lad as your ladyship would find in the length and breadth
of the land,” replied Mrs Kinsella.

“Have you explained to him that I wish him to enter my service in the
capacity of page-boy?”

“No, your ladyship; I just cotched him and washed him and brought him up
to you. His father is wishful and willin’ for him to enter your
ladyship’s service.”

“That may be,” replied the old lady, “but I will have no one in my house
a slave against their will. Let him advance and answer my questions
personally.”

“Put your mouth to the trumpet, and when the old lady asks you a
question say ‘Yes, my lady,’” whispered Mrs Kinsella.

Now Lady Seagrave was so old that she sometimes forgot things. She had
quite forgotten Patsy’s name.

“What is your name?” asked her ladyship. “I have quite forgotten it.
Speak up in a loud, clear voice, and don’t shuffle your feet. Now what
is your name?”

“Yes, me lady,” replied Patsy. He had a mortal terror of the trumpet, he
had never seen one before. He half imagined that she used it because she
was so grand that it would be beneath her dignity to listen to people in
the ordinary way.

“What did you say?” asked she.

Patsy imagined he had not spoken loud enough.

“Yes, me lady!” he shouted.

“_What_ do you say?” cried her ladyship.

“Yes, me lady!” cried Patsy, nearly blubbering. “I don’t know which way
to be answerin’ you, with her behint me tellin’ me to say one thing and
me wantin’ to say another. Me name’s Patsy Rooney, and it’s wishin’ it’s
at the divil I was!”

Fortunately Lady Seagrave could not catch the end of the sentence, but
she made out the name.

“Patsy Rooney,” said she. “Well, we will call you Patsy for short. Are
you a good boy, Patsy?”

“Yes, me lady,” replied he.

“And you would like to enter my service?”

“Yes, me lady.”

“Your father is alive and your mother is dead, I hear. I hope you have
no evil companions in the village, for young boys left to their own
resources, as you have no doubt been, often pick up most undesirable
acquaintances.”

“No, me lady,” replied Patsy in a faltering voice, for he recalled to
mind Con Cogan and Paddy Murphy and the promise he had made them to help
them to get into the Big House and steal the jewellery of the “quality.”
And here he was in the Big House, and going to be hired as page-boy—it
seemed like fate.

“Do you smoke?” went on her ladyship.

“Now an’ again, mum—I mean, yes, me lady.”

“_What!_” cried Lady Seagrave. “Do you dare to tell me that a boy of
your tender years indulges in that vile and pernicious habit?”

“Sure, it’s only the draw of a pipe I do be takin’ to aise me mind now
and thin,” cried Patsy, “or when I’m out rabbitin’ in the woods alone,
for they do say the whiff of a pipe keeps off the Good People.”

“The Good People?” said the old lady. “Who are they?”

“The fairies, mum—I mean, me lady.”

“Dear me,” said Lady Seagrave, “I thought no one believed in such
rubbish as fairies nowadays. Well, Patsy Rooney, I will hire you for a
month to see if you give satisfaction, and if you don’t you will receive
a whipping and be turned away.”

“Leave him to me, your ladyship,” said Mrs Kinsella, as she led Patsy
away. “I’ll answer for him giving satisfaction when I’ve belted the
fairies and rubbish out of him with a strap.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER VII

                           MRS FINNEGAN’S BOY


“Mrs Kinsella, ma’am,” said Patsy, as he was led along the corridor back
to the kitchen, “Mrs Kinsella, ma’am, what’s a page-boy?”

“You’re one,” replied Mrs Kinsella. “Now come along, and don’t be asking
me questions, for I have no time to waste. Here’s your room, and here’s
a suit belonging to William, the English page-boy that’s just been sent
off home again, being caught stealing the jam; whip into the suit, and
when you have it on you come into the kitchen and I’ll tell you what to
do next.”

She had opened the door of a small bedroom, and there on the bed lay a
page-boy’s suit, only waiting to be put on. Mrs Kinsella closed the door
and left Patsy alone to make his toilet.

A new suit of clothes was an event in Patsy’s life. The suit he had on
was an old suit of his father’s cut down. He could not remember ever
having had a suit of clothes made for him.

The clothes on the bed had not been made for him, it is true, but they
were nearly new. The jacket had two rows of buttons down the front, and
the trousers had a red stripe down the seams at the side. Patsy had
never seen the like of them before.

He got into them, and then he found that for all the buttons on the
jacket he could not button it. Holding it together in front he came down
the passage to the kitchen, and poked his head in at the half-open door.

“Mrs Kinsella, ma’am.”

“Yes, Patsy,” answered the cook; “what is it?”

“Is it fun you’re making of me?” asked Patsy.

“It’s jelly I’ll be makin’ of you with a rollingpin if you give me any
of your impudence,” replied Mrs Kinsella. “What do you mean stickin’
your ugly head in at the door and askin’ me such questions? Come in with
you, and give me no more of your sauce.”

“Sure, how can I come in wid me jacket unbuttoned?” asked Patsy. “It’s
buttons all over I am, and not a buttonhole can I find to stick one in.”

“Come here,” cried the cook, catching him by the forelock and dragging
him into the kitchen. “Do you see these?”—pointing to the hooks and eyes
down the edges of the jacket: “them’s hooks and eyes. Hold up your head,
now you’re fastened into your jacket, and off you go to the plate pantry
and help Mr James, the butler, to clean his silver; but first, before
you go, run into the stable-yard and fetch me a bucket of water.”

Patsy did as he was bid. He found a tin bucket in the yard and carefully
filled it at the water-tap by the stable door. When the bucket was full
he seized it by the handle and was just about to carry it back to the
kitchen, when who should come into the yard, with a goose swung over his
shoulder, but Micky Finnegan, son of Mrs Finnegan, the woman who had the
green-grocer’s shop at Castle Knock.

Micky was an old enemy of Patsy’s. He was a long-legged boy—in fact he
looked all legs and arms—a huge mouth and a squint were the next most
noticeable things about him. He was not good to look at, in fact he was
good for nothing except bullying boys smaller than himself, and
sometimes going on an errand for his mother.

The newcomer when he beheld Patsy in his new attire stood stockstill,
stared, and then burst into a wild yell of laughter.

Patsy’s red hair bristled up like the spines of a hedgehog, as it always
did when he was angry, but he said nothing.

“Hurroo!” shouted Mrs Finnegan’s boy, when he had recovered from his
simulated fit of laughter; “here’s Patsy Rooney burst out in buttons;
here’s Patsy Rooney drawing water for the maids. Where’s your broom,
Patsy? Where’s your dustpan and brush? Have yiz emptied the slops,
Patsy, and made the beds and turned down the quilts?”

“And what’s brought _you_ out to-day?” replied Patsy. “You’re afther
your time; this isn’t the fifth of Novimber, this isn’t Guy Fawkes Day.
Go back to your lumber-room, you stuffed straw imige, and wait till they
takes you out and rides you on a rail.”

“Carrots!” yelled the other, who was not gifted greatly with the art of
repartee; “who’ll buy carrots?”

“It’s ashamed of yourself you ought to be,” replied Patsy, in a tone of
virtuous disgust.

“And why is it ashamed of myself I ought to be?” queried the
unsuspecting Micky.

“For going about the country with your ould gran’mother slung over your
shoulder,” replied Patsy. “You weren’t so fond of her when she was
alive, seein’ you let her die of starvation and ould age, by the look of
her.”

This double insult levelled at himself and the goose he was carrying
took the wind out of Micky’s sails.

“Who are you talking to?” said he, shifting the goose from his left to
his right shoulder, and advancing towards Patsy.

“The son of the ould jackass that grazes on the common, I _b’lieve_,”
replied Patsy, raising his bucket; “though ’tis well known all over the
villige he disowns you.”

“Do you see this fist?” cried Micky, shaking a grimy fist in the other’s
face.

“I do. Do you see the water in this bucket?”

“I do.”

“Well, taste it!” cried Patsy, flinging it in his face.

The next moment the goose, swung like a club, caught Patsy on the side
of the head, nearly stunning him, and the next both boys were rolling on
the flags of the yard fighting like cats.

At this moment who should enter the stable-yard but Miss Kiligrew,
driving the governess-cart with the children, and at this moment also
the kitchen door opened, and Mrs Kinsella appeared to see what was
keeping Patsy so long in fetching the water.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER VIII

                         THE BATTLE IN THE YARD


“Separate them!” cried the governess, reining the pony in; whilst little
Lord Gawdor, forgetting everything but the fight in progress, clapped
his hands, calling out alternately: “Go it, Pipe-stems—give it him,
Carrots!” as Patsy or his long antagonist came upwards in the fray.
Doris felt frightened, but interested; as for Selina, she was in the
bottom of the cart and was fast asleep covered with rugs.

“Separate them!” cried Miss Kiligrew to the cook; “don’t stand there
staring—separate them.”

“Faith, it’s easy to say separate them,” answered the cook, highly
incensed at Miss Kiligrew’s dictatorial manner. “Separate them
yourself.”

Scarcely had she spoken when Patsy by a supreme effort got Micky under,
and kneeling on his long arms began to screw his knuckles against the
jaws of his victim. The bully had often done the same to smaller boys,
but now that the torture was applied to himself he did not like it in
the least.

“Who’s the son of the ould dunkey that grazes on the common? Who’s the
son of the ould dunkey that grazes on the common?” cried Patsy. “Answer
up quick, or I’ll screw you worse. Who’s the son of the ould dunkey that
grazes on the common?”

“I am!” screamed Micky, unable to endure the agony. “Let me up—you’re
murthering me.”

“Who’s ashamed of his son?” cried Patsy, continuing the torture, and
delighted to think that little Lord Gawdor and Miss Doris and the
governess were there to listen to it all. “Who’s ashamed of his son?”

“The ould dunkey is!” shrieked Micky. “It’s I that’ll be murthering you
some dark night for this.”

“Name the biggest thief in the country,” continued Patsy, undismayed by
the other’s threats; “out with his name before the ladies and the
gintleman.”

“Micky Finnegan!” roared Micky. “Mrs Kinsella, ma’am, pull him off me!”

“Lave him be, Patsy,” cried Mrs Kinsella, who was enjoying the fun as
much as little Lord Gawdor.

“I will in a minit, when I gets his family tree out of him,” replied
Patsy. “Answer up, Micky Finnegan—who was your gran’mother?”

“The ould goose,” blubbered Micky, who was now in tears.

“Was she always good to you?”

“She were.”

“Ain’t you ’shamed of yourself for cartin’ her about on your shoulder to
sell her when she was dead of ould age and starvation?”

“I am.”

“Did she tell you before she died you weren’t fit to black the boots of
Patsy Rooney?”

“She did.”

“Did she spake the truth?”

“She did.”

“Up you get,” said Patsy; “and off with you and ’pologise to your ould
father for havin’ such a son.”

He released Micky, who sprang to his feet and tore out of the yard
shouting what he wouldn’t do next time he caught Patsy alone on a dark
night.

“Bravo, Carrots!” cried Lord Gawdor.

“Bravo, Carrots!” cried Doris, as Patsy, triumphant and grinning with
delight, was led off into the kitchen by the ear.

“Robert! Doris!” cried Miss Kiligrew; “what would your grandmother say
if she could hear you?”

“I dunno!” replied Lord Gawdor; “but I bet she’d have laughed if she’d
heard that long chap saying _his_ grandmother was a goose.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                               CHAPTER IX

                          A FACE AT THE WINDOW


“Here, Patsy,” said Mrs Kinsella, when she had led him back to the
kitchen by the ear, “take this broom and away with you to the top of the
house and give it to Mary, the second housemaid; you’ll find her on the
top landing. Go down the passage and across the big hall and up the big
staircase, and be back in a minit, or I’ll scalp you.”

“Yes, ma’am,” said Patsy, and seizing the broom he started.

He went down the passage, crossed the hall and went up the broad
staircase, looking about him and wondering at the splendour of the
place.

Poor Patsy, the staircase in his father’s cottage was just a ladder. He
had never seen a looking-glass in his life, if we except the bit of
broken mirror used by his father as a shaving glass.

The first landing was rather dimly lit, and scarcely had Patsy set foot
on it when who should he see directly facing him but a red-headed
page-boy with a broom in his hand.

He stared at this apparition for half a second. Then promptly he put his
thumb to his nose and extended his fingers; the one in the mirror did
the same.

“I’ll larn you to make faces at your betters, you ugly-lookin’ baste!”
cried Patsy, his red hair bristling like the back of a wire-haired
terrier. He brought his broom to the “present,” the other did likewise;
then he charged.

“Glory be to God, what’s that?” cried Mrs Kinsella, as the smash of the
great mirror, followed by a wild yell of astonishment, reached her ears.

“I dunno,” replied Jane, the kitchen-maid; “but it sounds like Patsy’s
voice.”

During the first few days Patsy made several and desperate attempts to
bolt back to the freedom of the woods and life in his father’s cottage.
Then all at once he settled down and took to his new life and duties
with that adaptability which is part of the basis of the Irish
character.

The main cause in this transformation was the influence of the children.
Miss Kiligrew, the governess, developing measles on the second morning
of Patsy’s initiation, and being removed to the infirmary at Tullagh,
the children were left pretty much to their own devices, and the first
use they made of their freedom was to make friends with Patsy.

One evening Lord Gawdor having in a fit of exuberance kicked a football
through the nursery window, and he and his companions having been placed
under arrest, Patsy, the other servants being busy, was deputed to carry
them their tea.

It was four o’clock and nearly dark, the wind was rattling at the window
(William, the gardener, who did all sorts of odd jobs, had put in a new
pane), and the fire was flickering and dancing in the grate and casting
moving shadows on the walls.

By this light the man driving the pig to market (he formed the pattern
of the nursery wall-paper) always seemed more alive; and if you got
drowsy enough and fixed your eyes on him, you might see all sorts of
things in fancy round the bend of the road down which he was driving the
pig. All the pictures in the world were nothing compared to this old
picture on the wall-paper seen at dusk by the flickering light of the
fire.

Doris, whose head, according to Miss Kiligrew, was stuffed with
“nonsense,” imagined castles and knights in armour and swans floating on
lakes round the bend of the road; _why_, goodness only knows, for the
man and the pig were the most commonplace figures on earth. Lord Gawdor
imagined a market such as took place every month at Castle Knock; he
could not imagine, nearly so well as Doris—that is to say, he could only
imagine things he had seen.

When Patsy arrived with the tea-tray, Doris was seated on the hearthrug
reading out of a book of Welsh Fairy Tales. Lord Gawdor was seated
opposite to her with his knees up to his chin, and Selina, spotless in a
new frock, was curled up asleep in the old armchair, a Noah’s Ark book
which she had just dropped lying face downwards on the floor by her
side.

“I’ve brought you jam,” said Patsy, nodding at a huge pot of plum jam on
the tray. “I took it out of the cubberd when Mrs Kinsella’s back was
turned. I heard the ould—her ladyship sayin’ to her, ‘You’re not to send
them up any jam, Mrs Kinsella, for they’ve misbehaved’ she says.”

“Dear me,” said Doris, “what a pity, for now we won’t be able to eat
it.”

“Why not?” asked Lord Gawdor.

“Because grandmamma said we weren’t.”

“She only tould Mrs Kinsella not to send it up,” said Patsy; “she didn’t
say a word about your not eatin’ it.”

“I say,” said Lord Gawdor, when Patsy had withdrawn, speaking with his
mouth full of bread and jam, “isn’t Patsy a——”

“Brick,” replied Doris; “I should think he was.”

                             --------------

That night Patsy went to bed very well pleased with himself and his new
situation. Lady Seagrave, though severe looking, was kind and had taken
a fancy to him. He got on very well with old James, the butler, and the
other servants; Lord Gawdor, Doris, and Selina had taken to him just as
he had taken to them.

He had placed his candlestick on the old deal chest of drawers in his
bedroom and was in the act of unhooking his jacket, when a light tap at
the window-pane drew his attention.

A face was peeping at him through the window-pane, a pale face
surrounded with long hair. It was the face of Con Cogan.

Patsy had during the last few days quite forgotten Con and the
housebreaking business; but Con had not forgotten Patsy.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                               CHAPTER X

                           THE GHOST CARRIAGE


The boy stood staring at the apparition before him, unable to speak,
then he came towards the window; Con was beckoning to him.

“What is it?” said Patsy, speaking close up to the window and in a low
voice. “Go away with you, or it’s ruined I’ll be.”

“Faith, it’s worse ruined you’ll be if you don’t open the window,”
replied Con’s voice, muffled by its passage through the sash. “Open the
window, I want to talk to you. Where’s your respect for your uncle, you
spalpeen, to keep him talkin’ to you through a closed window? Up with
the sash, and not another word out of your head, or it’s I that will
teach you your manners with the end of me blackthorn stick.”

Patsy, trembling all over, undid the latch. Con, as I have said before,
had a great hold over him—the hold that wicked people often have over
others. Patsy raised the sash, and Con thrust his ugly head into the
room.

“Who told you I was here?” said Patsy, his teeth chattering, half from
the effect of the cold night wind that entered, making the candle gutter
in its socket, half from fear of his uncle.

“Who told me?” replied Con. “Why, who else but Micky Finnegan.”

“I might a’ known the blackguard would serve me that trick,” muttered
Patsy. “Bad cess’ to him and his goose, but I’ll be even with him yet”!

Con made no reply; having glanced round the room, he was leaning now on
the window-sill with his arms crossed, and his eyes fixed on his nephew
with an amused and critical stare.

“Will yiz look at the buttons on him?” said he, as though he were
addressing some invisible third person; “and the stripes down his legs
like the side of a haddock?” Then suddenly and ferociously: “Aren’t y’
ashamed of yourself for disgracin’ your fam’ly?”

“Disgracin’ me which? Sure, what have I been doin’?” asked Patsy.

“Doin’! You ax me that question, and you standin’ before me all over
buttons and stripes. Doin! Cleanin’ dishes and knives is what you’ve
been doin’, and you a Rooney, and me a Cogan; going into sarvice, that’s
what you’ve been doin’——”

Mr Cogan’s anger suddenly blazed forth, and he made a stretch over the
window-sill and tried to land his nephew a “skelp” with the famous
blackthorn stick, and fortunately failed.

His anger was not in the least simulated. The Cogans and the Rooneys had
always held their heads very high, some of them as high as the gibbet
arm of Tullagh, but whatever their history had been it showed no record
of menial service. Patsy’s father, by accepting the post of gamekeeper
at the Big House, had lowered the family prestige somewhat; but he was
forgiven, for a gamekeeper, though he works for his living as a servant,
does not wear livery; besides, he is a useful enough sort of relative,
when your own living is half gained by poaching.

Con having failed to reach his nephew drew back his stick, smothered his
wrath, and resumed his attitude, leaning with his arms crossed on the
window-ledge.

He had come to fetch his nephew out of the house for a purpose we will
presently see; but if you were to imagine Con doing anything he set
about in a straightforward and business-like manner, you would be
imagining the impossible.

In the old days, when he had the blacksmith’s shop in Castle Knock, it
would take him three times as long to make a horse-shoe or shoe a horse
as it would take any other blacksmith in the country.

He would lean on his hammer and discourse on the colour of the horse, on
the state of the weather, on anything at all so long as he could hold
you in talk, and stave off for a moment doing the work he had before
him. He was, like most idle and useless people, as inquisitive as a
magpie.

He leaned now on the window-ledge, looking leisurely about him, whilst
Patsy, who had skipped into the furthest corner of the room, stood
looking at his uncle and shivering, and wishing he would go.

“What’s in them chest of drawers?” said Con, nodding at the old deal
chest of drawers on which the candle was burning.

“Nothing,” replied Patsy; “only me ould clothes and a shirt or two Mrs
Kinsella has given me.”

“Open the drawer and take out your clothes,” commanded his uncle.

Patsy did as he was bid.

“Now,” said the other, “off with them buttons and stripes and on with
the ould things, so that I may forget I’m talkin’ to the disgrace of the
fam’ly.”

Patsy did as he was bid, and whilst he was changing Con continued his
conversation.

“I suppose,” said he, “there be great preparings going on for the
quality.”

“Ay, is there,” replied Patsy, whose mind was much perturbed by the
thought of what Con could be “afther,” for he well knew that his uncle
had come for some other purpose than simply to stand at the window and
talk upon general subjects.

“Pies and puddin’s and all,” went on Con.

“And sham-pane,” added Patsy.

“What’s that?” asked his uncle.

“Stuff in bottles wid gold tops to thim that let’s off like a gun. The
ould missis drinks it for dinner every night in her life. Mr James give
me a glass of it from the lavin’s of the bottle, and I’d no sooner drunk
it than I tumbled down the stairs wid a tray of glasses and smashed
every mother’s son of thim.”

“How many bottles does she drink of it?” asked Con, whose estimation of
Lady Seagrave rose considerably at this graphic description of her
favourite beverage.

“She doesn’t have more than a glass,” replied Patsy; “and she mixes it
with Siltzer water.”

“What’s that?”

“It’s water that tastes as if it was full of pins and needles.”

Con mused for a moment on the strange habits of the high and mighty,
whilst Patsy, who had changed his clothes, stood waiting for what was to
follow. He had not long to wait.

“Come here,” said his uncle, “till I button your coat for you.”

“Sure, it is buttoned,” replied Patsy, who was none too eager to come
within reach.

“Come here, till I button it proper, or it’s into the room I’ll be
gettin’ to make your tylet for you,” said Con, putting one leg over the
window-sill.

Now Con was the biggest coward on earth, and he had all sorts of strange
ideas about the law. He would help in a burglary as long as he could do
so safely; that is to say, he would urge another man on and give advice,
and help to dispose of the plunder, but he was far too careful of his
skin to enter a house or take an active part in the matter.

Even now, though he put his leg over the sill of the window, he would
not have dared to enter the room, for that would have been
housebreaking; but nothing could be done to a man for simply standing at
a window and “colloguing” with his nephew. If Mrs Kinsella had appeared
armed with a broom he would have run like a scared rabbit; but Patsy did
not know this, Patsy took his uncle on his face value, and certainly
Con’s face was of more value to him in affairs of this sort than his
heart, for his face was the face of a formidable and villainous-looking
rogue. Scaring old women and children, sucking eggs, stealing turnips,
milking stray cows and trapping rabbits, that was his way of life. Yet
he had the appearance of a brigand chief. There are many people in the
world like Con.

Patsy took a step towards his uncle; he seemed fascinated, just as a
mouse is fascinated by a cat.

“Come on.” said Con, “before I put my other leg over.”

“Sure, what do you want of me at all, at all?” said the unfortunate
Patsy, advancing against his will; “what harm have I done you?—what
ails—ouch!”

Con had suddenly seized him by the collar of his jacket and dragged him
through the window.

“Speak a word, and you’re dead,” said his uncle.

They were in the midst of a clump of laurel bushes that grew almost up
to the window.

“Come on now,” whispered Patsy’s uncle, dragging him along by the
collar; “I’m not goin’ to hurt a feather of you, but if you scream it’s
killed you’ll be. I’ve left the candle burnin’ on the chest o’ drawers,
sure it’ll burn itself out. Come on now, and tread gentle.”

They took a path that led them round by the side of the house to the
terrace in front.

It was a starlight night, brilliant almost, as if lit by the moon.

Con led the way down the terrace steps, and then, striking across the
park, made for the beech woods on the right.

Patsy followed him. They entered the long drive that cut through the
woods in the direction of Castle Knock. They had gone scarcely a quarter
of a mile down it when a faint, flickering glow amidst the trees on the
right became visible, and Patsy, clutching at his uncle’s coat-tail,
hung back.

He had heard often enough that the witches had a habit of meeting by
night in the woods here about. They would light a fire and make soup in
a big pot, and whilst it was boiling they would all sit round and make
jokes and tell stories, and their laughter—so the tale went—was enough
to turn a man’s hair grey.

“Come on,” said Con; “what are you afeared of?”

“It’s the witches,” said Patsy, in a terrified voice. “Sure, Uncle Con,
where’s your eyes that you can’t see the light of their fire, and they
sittin’ round it biling babies in pots——”

Con, without answering, seized his nephew by the ear and dragged him
along through the trees in the direction of the light. The boy did not
mind the pain; it was almost a relief, for it helped to drive the
witches from his mind.

A moment later they broke into a little clearing in the midst of which a
fire of holly sticks was burning brightly. By the fire sat something as
bad, or maybe worse, than a company of witches.

It was Paddy Murphy. He was sitting on a bundle of dried ferns toasting
his toes at the burning logs, his old hat without a brim was on the back
of his head, and he held a big stick in his hand with which every now
and then he gave the burning embers a prod.

“So you’ve brought him,” said Paddy, looking up as Con, leading his
nephew by the ear, broke out of the wood into the zone of firelight;
“you’ve cocht him alive-o. Faith, but it’s well he’s looking; but what’s
become of his buttons and stripes?”

“Faith, he’s left them behind him,” said Con making his nephew sit down
on the ground, and sitting down beside him.

“I can’t supply him with buttons,” said Mr Murphy, “but I’ve a large
supply of stripes, and I’ll be after dealin’ them out to him right
handed if he so much as opens his mouth, or stirs a finger, or does
anythin’ but keep his ears wide and listens to my directions. Are yiz
listenin’ to me, Patsy Rooney?”

“I am,” said Patsy.

“Well, keep on listenin’ and answer me questions. First and foremost,
when’s the quality coming to the Big House?”

“Day after to-morrow,” replied Patsy.

“How many is there?” went on Mr Murphy, prodding the fire meditatively
with his stick.

“Dozens of them. I heard Mrs Kinsella sayin’ that a lot of thim was
comin’ by spicial train to Tullagh station.”

Tullagh was the nearest railway station to Glen Druid Park, and it was
fifteen miles away.

“Did you hear tell of anything else about them?” asked Mr Murphy.

“I heard Mrs Kinsella say——” began Patsy, then he stopped.

“What did you hear her say?”

“Ohone!” wailed Patsy, “sure, I oughtn’t to be tellin’ you——”

Mr Murphy drew a clasp-knife from his pocket, opened it, tried the point
on his thumb to see if it were sharp, then, holding Patsy down with one
big hand on his chest, he approached the point of the knife to his
throat.

“Don’t do it, Paddy!” cried Con, pretending to be alarmed.

“I’ve made up me mind,” said Mr Murphy, “I’ve made up me mind to see the
colour of his blood, there’s no use in tryin’ to stop me. I’ve made up
me mind to see the colour of his blood.”

At this awful threat Patsy made sure that his last moment had come. He
was too frightened to speak or cry out, he just lay staring at the
broad, red face of his executioner, or as much as he could see of it,
for Mr Murphy’s back was half turned on the fire.

“Tell him, Patsy,” implored Con, “or he’ll have your life.”

Patsy felt the point of the knife tickling his throat.

“It’s the jewels!” shrieked Patsy.

“Which jewels?” asked Mr Murphy. “Quick now, or the knife goes into
you.”

“The jewels ould Lady Molyneux’s bringin’ with her worth hundredths of
thousands of pounds.”

“Who told you of them?” went on Mr Murphy.

“Mrs Kinsella, no less; she tould the maids and I was listenin’. Ohone!
sure, it’s ruined I am!”

“Faith, you never said a truer word, if you don’t tell all you know. Out
with it all, before I slits your wizzind.”

“Dimonds and em’ralds and all,” cried Patsy. “They say she do be wearin’
them wherever she goes, and she ould enough to be Mrs Kinsella’s
mother.”

“Where does she keep them at night?”

“In a box on her dressin’ table. Mrs Kinsella says she wonders the ould
lady hasn’t been robbed before this.”

“Faith, she won’t be wondering that long,” said Mr Murphy, who now
having got the information he required, closed his knife and put it in
his pocket. “Have you been listenin’ to what your nevy told me, Con
Cogan?”

“I have,” said Con.

“Now,” said Mr Murphy, turning to Patsy, whom he had released, and who
was sitting up with his hair all towsled and a scared look on his
face—“now listen to me, for I’m goin’ to talk bizness. Who locks the big
front door at night?”

“Mr James, the butler,” replied Patsy.

“What’s he do with the key?”

“Gives it to the ould missis—her ladyship, I mean, and she puts it under
her pilla’.”

“Bad cess to her and her pilla’!” grumbled Mr Murphy; “what makes her go
mistrustin’ people like that for? Well, now, the windy’s in front of the
house: could you be afther openin’ the latch of one of them for me if I
chanst to call some night soon afther the family was in bed to inspict
the drains?”

“Sure, every windy in the front of the house is fixed up with wires,”
replied Patsy, “so that if you raised one you’d ring a bell and a gun
would go off, and you’d be cocht as sure as sartin.”

“Think o’ that now,” said Mr Murphy. He gazed into the fire without
speaking whilst Patsy ransacked his mind for more ideas. The front door
of Glen Druid was left at night, like most other front doors, bolted and
chained with the key in the lock, any one could have opened it from the
inside; there were no wires on the front windows except in Patsy’s
imagination. Patsy often made blunders in household duties, but he was
by no means a fool.

“Think o’ that now,” said Mr Murphy, “the suspicions of thim; faith, you
might think there were no honest men in the world at all, at all, by the
way some people go on. Now, how about the little scullery window?”

“That’s been screwed up,” said Patsy, “wid screws the length of your
arm.”

“Paddy Murphy,” suddenly put in Con, who had been listening to the
foregoing.

“What is it, Con Cogan?”

“It’s a fool you are.”

“Howsome, which way?” asked Mr Murphy.

“Can’t we get into the house the same way I got Patsy out to-night?”

“And how was that?”

“Through his bedroom window; it’s on the floor be the ground, and
there’s no locks or screws to it, for he opened it to-night for me with
a turn of his wrist.”

“Faith, and that simplificates matters,” said Mr Murphy. “And now I’ll
draw up me plan of campaign. Patsy Rooney!”

“Yes, Mr Murphy.”

“You be all ears like an elephant whilst I tell you what you’re to be
doin’. First and foremost, whin the company arrives you’re to spot the
ould lady who has the big jewels. What do you say was her name?”

“Lady Molyneux,” replied Patsy.

“Having spotted her, you’re to find out where she sleeps. Are yiz
listenin’?”

“Yes, Mr Murphy.”

“You’re to lie awake every night till the clock strikes twelve. One
night in a day or two you’ll hear a tap at your bedroom windy, you’ll
open the windy and I’ll come in; then you’ll go foreninst me and lead me
to the ould lady’s bedroom. Don’t be thinking it’s her jewels I’m
afther, I am only wishful to read tracts to her and see if she’s said
her prayers. Now do you understand clear what you’ve got to do?”

“Yes, Mr Murphy.”

“Will yiz swear to do it?”

“Yes, Mr Murphy.”

“Well, then, repeat the form of the oath I’m going to tell you; say it
after me sintince by sintince. Are yiz ready?”

“Yes, Mr Murphy.”

“I, Patsy Rooney,” began the other, beating time with his stick, whilst
Patsy followed him sentence by sentence, “bein’ in me sound mind and
body, hereby swears to do all Mr Murphy bids me to do the uttermost
farthin’ wid diligence and despatch. And if I don’t, may me eyes pop out
of me head like burnin’ ches’nuts off a hob; may me tongue hang down to
me heels and thrail in the dust and be dry ever after for want of a
drink, and may me hair turn grey as a badger and fall off, leaving the
head of me bald as a coot. May me lift hand be turned into me right
hand, me feet twisted backwards, me legs stuck where me arms be, and the
nose of me turned to the snout of a pig.”

“Ohone!” wailed Patsy, when he had finished this oath, “sure, it’s
ruined I am entirely!” The mental picture of the figure he would cut,
should he fail to carry out Mr Murphy’s biddings, stood before his
mind’s eye with horrible distinctness.

No other form of oath, perhaps, could have had a more powerful effect on
the half-savage mind of the boy.

“That’s what you’ll be if you do a hair’s-breadth beyond what I tell
you,” said Mr Murphy. “You’ve swore to it now, and you’ll have to stick
to it, or eat ever after out of a trough. And now I’m goin’ to brand you
and make a freemason of you, so that you’ll know what’s in store for you
if you fails to keep your oath.”

Mr Murphy was not joking in the least; he knew well the effect physical
pain has in fixing an impression on the mind. He pulled Patsy’s sleeve
up and was in the act of seizing a burning stick from the fire when Con
Cogan, who was looking on and grinning, suddenly held up his hand and
said:

“Whisht!”

The little clearing in which they were seated was quite close to the
broad drive; one could see between the tree-boles anything passing along
the drive, and something was coming now.

I have said before that Glen Druid Park was haunted, or reputed so to
be. The apparition took the form of a hearse driven by a man without a
head. He carried his head under his arm, so the story ran, and, if the
head caught sight of any one, straight the driver would make for him,
bundle him into the vehicle, drive off with him, and then he would never
be seen again.

Several people had seen this terrible thing. Mrs Finnegan’s first
husband had been coming across the park one night when he had spied the
vehicle in the distance; it was travelling in the opposite direction to
that in which he was going, but directly the driver sighted him he had
turned, whipped up the horses and started in pursuit. Mr Finnegan ran.
He arrived at Castle Knock all covered with mud, and without the bottle
of whisky he had been carrying when he started.

He had thrown it away, so he said, and his escape was put down to that
fact, as no doubt the driver of the ghostly vehicle had stopped to pick
it up. Some people objected that a bottle of whisky could be of no use
to a man without a head, but they were overruled by the fact that the
bottle was found in the park empty. That clinched the matter.

“Whisht!” said Con, raising his hand.

Mr Murphy paused in his operations, and Patsy, who had just been on the
point of crying out, held his breath and listened.

Something was coming along the drive.

Now the sound was more distinct, the foot-falls of a horse and the
creakings of a vehicle of some sort could be made out. The thing was
coming along slowly.

“It’s the ‘carriage,’” said Con, whose white face had become simply
ghastly, “it’s the ‘hearse.’ I just caught a glimpse of the plumes of it
away beyant there between the trees; it’s comin’ this way.”

“Lord save us!” said Mr Murphy, whose crimson visage had become mottled
with white. “What’s that you’re saying, Con Cogan? Sure, the ghost
carriage wouldn’t be makin’ all that nise.”

“Wouldn’t it?” replied Con, whose teeth were chattering. “Tim Finnegan,
’fore he died, told me it rattled like a dunkey-cart when it was chasin’
him, and the fellow that drove it was peltin’ him all the time wid
skulls an’ crossbones.”

“I’ve heerd tell he has no power over childer; and if one keeps one’s
eyes tight shut, he don’t see you as long as you don’t see him,” said Mr
Murphy, “so I’m goin’ to shut me eyes.”

“So’m I,” said Con.

“Patsy, avick,” said Mr Murphy in a softened tone, but without leaving
hold of the boy.

“What is it, Mr Murphy?” asked Patsy.

“Keep your eyes wide open and tell us what you see, for he has no power
over childer, and he can’t see thim, by the same token, for Father
O’Hara tould me so.”

“I will, Mr Murphy.”

Now Patsy, who was half a savage, had a savage’s acute sense of hearing,
and, more than that, of knowing what it was he heard. He could tell the
movements of a stoat from those of a rabbit. He knew every cart and
carriage for miles round by the sound it made, and he knew now quite
well that the thing coming along the drive was no ghost carriage, but
Tim Brady’s dung-cart, for the left wheel had a squeak of its own that
was quite unmistakable.

Mr Brady’s business in life was to collect manure and sell it, and as he
had the habit of stopping at public-houses and places on the way home,
he was often late in his peregrinations.

“Are your eyes open, Patsy?” said Mr Murphy, who still had a tight hold
of the boy.

“They are,” said Patsy, pretending to chatter his teeth; “but it’s
tirrified I am, now I see it through the trees. Musha! musha! it’s the
‘carriage’ sure enough, wid the great black plumes of it wavin’, and the
chap on the box without a head on his shoulders.”

“Ave Maria, ave Maria, ave Maria!” muttered Mr Murphy, who was a devout
Catholic when he was frightened. “Con Cogan, y’ divil, be sayin’ your
prayers, or it’s a clip I’ll land you with me stick. Ora pro nobis, save
us an’ sanctify us—Patsy, what’s he afther now?”

“I see his head under his arm,” said Patsy, “and the eyes of it glowin’
like the eyes of a moth.”

“I’ve robbed and I’ve stole,” mumbled Mr Murphy. “I’ve treated me wife
cruel, I ain’t fit to be—what’s he afther now, Patsy?”

Mr Brady, seeing the glow of the fire amidst the trees, had stopped his
cart to inspect.

“He’s stopped the carriage and he’s holdin’ his head up, and the eyes of
it glowin’ like lamps.”

“Keep your eyes tight shut, Con,” said Mr Murphy, “and confess your sins
same as I’m doin’. Ora pro nobis—I killed M’Carthy wid a clip of a
stick, though the crowner’s jury brought it in appeplexy whin they found
him in the ditch wid the heels of him stickin’ in the air, but I didn’t
_mane_ to do it; I only wanted to rob him. Ora pro nobis—I shot old
Mullins in the small o’ the back so that the back buttons of his coat
was blown through his wistcoat, but I didn’t _mane_ to do it, for the
gun wint off before I could club him on the head with the butt of it.
Ora pro nobis, save us and sanctify us! Then there’s the man I kilt at
Tullagh fair, and I don’t know his name at all, at all, for there was
nothin’ in his purse to identify him by, only two pound and a sheep-dip
tablet which I ’et in mistake for a cough drop and nearly burnt a hole
in me tongue—bad cess to him! Then there’s the man—what’s he afther now,
Patsy?”

“He’s after us!” yelled Patsy, springing to his feet, and shaking
himself free from Mr Murphy’s clutch. “Run for your lives—here he
comes!”

Next moment Patsy, Mr Murphy and Con were running through the woods,
each in a different direction. Patsy could hear the terrified shouts of
the others, and he stopped and held on to the trunk of a small beech
tree and laughed till the tree shook.

Then he resumed his way back to the Big House at a “sweep’s trot” under
the light of the moon that was just rising over the distant hills. His
window was still open and the candle had burnt itself out, but the moon
gave light enough to get into bed by. Still laughing and chuckling to
himself, he got between the sheets.

Suddenly the laughing and the chuckling ceased, for the remembrance of
his oath came back to him. He had sworn to open the window for Paddy
Murphy, and he well knew that, though Paddy might be frightened enough
to-night, all the ghost carriages in the world would not stop him from
coming if he had made up his mind to steal the jewels.

When the knock came to the window he would have to open it or go about
for ever with the snout of a pig, his legs where his arms were, and his
face where the back of his head ought to be. It seems incredible that he
should firmly believe in such a happening, yet he did, for he had the
Celtic aptitude for belief, and his head was filled with the most
wonderful and wild superstitions.

He believed that the holy well at Tullagh would cure warts if you placed
your hand in the water. He believed that holy water would drive away
devils, and he believed that old Widow Finnegan could think a sick
person well if she set her mind to it. He believed in witches and ghosts
and banshees and cluricaunes. So it is not, after all, to be wondered at
that he believed the oath he had solemnly taken would “fly back on him”
if he broke it.

Yet for all his youth and simplicity, Patsy had a quickness of
intelligence that many a grown man might have envied. Though he made
mistakes at times, a week had converted him into a fairly efficient
page-boy; and he could have held his own, with his tongue, against any
fish-woman on the quays of the Liffey.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                               CHAPTER XI

                            THE FIRST GUEST


“Doris,” said Lord Gawdor, breaking into the schoolroom next afternoon,
“Mr Fanshawe is comin’ to-day!”

“Don’t say ‘comin’,” replied Doris, looking up from her book; “say
‘coming.’ It’s only the Johnny-jumped-ups that clip their words; I heard
Uncle Molyneux saying so.”

“Who are they?”

“Oh, brewers and shipowners and people,” said Doris with fine contempt.
“Who’s Mr Fanshawe?”

“I dunno. I heard Mrs Kinsella say he was a cousin of father’s, and I
heard Mary, the between-maid, telling Biddy Mahony he was coming to-day.
He’s coming for Christmas, and he’s bringing a lot of horses. Rest of
the people are coming to-morrow, but Mr Fanshawe’s been staying with
some people hunting forty miles away, and he’s going to drive over.”

“Wonder what he’ll be like? I say, isn’t it rubbish us being stuck up
here like this!”

“Let’s send a round-robin to granny to ask her to let’s come down,”
suggested Lord Gawdor.

“You don’t know granny!” replied Doris, subsiding into the book she was
reading.

They were still prisoners confined to the upper part of the house, and
they would have to remain prisoners till the next morning, for their
grandmother was an old lady who never went back on her word.

At this moment a knock came to the door, and Patsy entered with a
coal-scuttle full of coal.

Patsy, as a rule was a bright-looking boy, enough, but this afternoon
his face was very lugubrious and his hair looked tousled. It was always
like that when anything, to use his own expression, “addled” him; no
brushing would keep it down, it stuck out in all directions. Patsy’s
hair was a sort of weather-glass from which you could tell the state of
his mind; when angry or fighting it seemed to bristle just as the back
of a wire-haired terrier bristles; when he was “addled” it stuck out
“every which way” as Mrs Kinsella once said.

“Hullo, Patsy!” cried Lord Gawdor. “What’s the matter with you? Why
don’t you go and brush your hair?”

“Bob!” said Doris, “don’t be personal.”

“Patsy don’t matter,” replied Lord Gawdor.

“Sure, Mrs Kinsella has been brushin’ at it for an hour, Misther
Robert,” said Patsy, putting his coal box down. “‘What ails you?’ says
she, ‘for it’s more like a broom than a page-boy you are this mornin’,’
says she. ‘Sure, it’s addled I am,’ says I.”

“What has addled you, Patsy?” asked Doris.

“Dhrames, Miss Doris.”

“What were the dreams, Patsy?”

“I dhreamt I let robbers into the house through the bedroom windy,”
replied Patsy in a faltering voice. “Miss Doris, what would they be
afther doin’ to me if I did a thing like that?”

“They would hang you, Patsy,” replied Doris in a cheerful voice.

“Ohone!” cried the unfortunate Patsy, as if he were addressing some
third person, “listen to that?—sure, it’s hanged I’d be. Miss Doris!”

“Yes, Patsy?”

“If I was goin’ about wid me legs where me arums ought to be, and me
face twisted back to front, and me nose turned into a pig’s snout—for I
dhreamt I was like that in me dhrame—what would I do for a livin’ at
all, at all?”

“I don’t know,” said Doris, trying to conjure up an occupation for a
person so peculiarly situated and failing. “But you aren’t going to be
like that, so don’t think about it.”

“Miss Doris,” said Patsy, who listened to this advice without relaxing
in the least the lugubrious expression on his face, “whin’s the ould
lady all covered wid jewels comin’?”

“Which old lady? What on earth do you mean, Patsy?”

“Ould Lady Molyneux,” replied Patsy; “I’ve heard tell she’s all stuck
over wid jewels like the plums on a puddin’!”

“She’s coming to-morrow, I believe,” said Doris. “And you are not to
speak in that disrespectful way of a lady!”

“I’m not wishin’ to be disrespectful, Miss Doris; but I dhreamt last
night Paddy Murphy had broke into the house.”

“Who is he?”

“A highwayman, Miss Doris; and he had the ould lady on the floor and was
prizin’ the jewels off her wid the point of his knife same as you prize
barnacles off a rock down by the say-side.”

Lord Gawdor gave a howl of laughter. He was not in love with his Aunt
Molyneux, and the picture of her as imagined by Patsy tickled his fancy
immensely.

Patsy, seeing him laugh, grinned in a half-hearted fashion and scratched
his head.

“Miss Doris,” said he, looking up from the toes of his boots which he
had been contemplating and still grinning, not from merriment, but as if
the grin had stuck to his face and would not come off, “couldn’t you
tell the ould lady to keep away, for it’s afear’d I am that the dhrame
will come true.”

“I wish I could,” said Doris whole-heartedly; then, remembering to whom
she was speaking: “Don’t talk nonsense. It’s very wicked to be
superstitious and believe in dreams—besides, dreams always come
contrary; if you dream of a wedding some one is sure to die, and if you
dream a person is dead, it’s a sign they are going to be married——”

“I say,” said Lord Gawdor, who had climbed on to the window-seat, “come
here.”

Doris came to the window. An outside car piled with luggage was coming
across the park along the drive. On one side of the car sat the driver,
on the other a young gentleman in a Norfolk jacket and a shooting cap;
he had a pipe in his mouth.

It was the first of the expected guests.

“It’s Mr Fanshawe,” said Doris. “Isn’t he nice-looking!”

“Look, there’s two gun-cases,” said Lord Gawdor. “My eye! wonder where
his horses are?”

“He couldn’t bring his horses on the car with him,” said Doris.

“Who said he could, stupid?” replied his lordship, pushing the window
up.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER XII

                              MR FANSHAWE


Dicky Fanshawe, as every one called him, was twenty-five years of age.
He had enough money to do what he liked, and so, as a rule, he did
nothing; at least, that was what his uncle, General Grampound, said
about him. But as a matter of fact, he did a great deal, for wherever he
went he made people feel happier and better.

He was not what people call a “good young man.” He spent a great deal of
money in ways that people said he shouldn’t, but he also spent a great
deal of money in a way that nobody knew anything about, for he was
always ready to help a person in distress. He was a dead shot, a great
cricketer, and he nearly always was in the first flight in the hunting
field.

General Grampound, Dicky’s uncle, was very strict; ever since Dicky had
been a boy General Grampound had found fault with him. Six months ago
they had had a really fierce quarrel; it had begun over some trifle, hot
words had ensued, and it ended by the General telling his nephew never
to darken his doors again.

This command would not have broken Dicky’s heart, indeed he would have
cared very little about it, only that he was in love with General
Grampound’s ward, a dark-haired, beautiful girl named Violet Lestrange.

He had not seen her for six months, and as General Grampound intercepted
all his letters to her, he could not write to her.

To-day he had left Dunboyne House, where he had been staying for the
hunting, at ten o’clock, and it was nearly four when the outside car
turned in through the lodge gates of Glen Druid.

As the car drew up towards the house front, Mr Fanshawe heard himself
hailed. The voice seemed to come from the sky, and, looking up, he saw
two heads projecting from a window in the grey old side of the house,
the head of a girl with golden hair and the head of a rather pasty-faced
little boy.

“Hulloo!” cried the heads; and an arm, presumably that of the boy, waved
something by way of a flag, something that seemed either a huge and
dirty pocket-handkerchief or an old dish-cloth.

“Hulloo!” replied Mr Fanshawe, waving his pipe.

Next moment a small potato, which Lord Gawdor had been playing desert
islands[1] with, caught Mr Fanshawe on the shoulder, and, rebounding,
hit the car driver on the nose.

“Bad cess to them childer!” said the driver. “They’re the divil and all;
never aisy but whin they’re aslape, I’ve heard tell.”

“They’re all there, aren’t they?” said Mr Fanshawe, as the car drew up
at the steps. “Might have been worse if they’d fired turnips on us.
Cousin Robert’s kids, I suppose.”

He jumped off the car and went up the steps, where old James, the
butler, was waiting to receive him.

Footnote 1:

  A chalk ring on the nursery floor makes the island.

Lady Seagrave was a great friend of General Grampound’s, but she had not
seen Dicky Fanshawe since he was a boy at school.

“Her ladyship is waiting to receive you in the blue boudoir, sir,” said
old James; “but O Mr Fanshawe”—he looked with horror at the pipe which
Dicky had laid on the hall table—“O Mr Fanshawe, her ladyship can’t
a-bear pipes!”

“Never mind,” replied Dicky, lightly, hanging up his hat; “she can smoke
cigars, if she prefers them.”

“I haven’t seen you for twelve years, Mr Fanshawe,” said the old man.
“Last time I seen you was when you were a boy from school; how you have
grown, to be sure! But it ain’t a question of cigars—her ladyship has a
horror of all tobacco; and when gentlemen are here as are addicted to
smokin’ they has to smoke in the scrubbery.”

“Where on earth’s that?” asked Dicky.

“Under the trees at the side o’ the house, sir.”

“Oh, the shrubbery you mean. All right—yes, I remember you well, James.
Twelve years ago—why, it seems a thousand years ago since I paid that
visit to Wapshot Park with the General—you were butler then too. Do you
remember the day I tumbled out of the apple tree into the horse pond,
and came home without any shoes and all covered with mud?”

“That I do, sir,” said James, grinning at the recollection; “and the
face the General pulled when he saw you. This way, sir.”

Lady Seagrave was seated by the fire in the boudoir just as we saw her
on the day Patsy Rooney made her acquaintance.

“How you have grown!” said the old lady, when she had shaken hands with
her visitor and motioned him to a seat on the opposite side of the
fireplace. “The last time I saw you, you were in knickerbockers and a
turned-down collar. I hope you have grown in wisdom as well as in
stature. You will find the house rather dull to-day, I’m afraid, but it
will be more lively to-morrow, for I am expecting a house-party of quite
interesting people.”

“I saw some jolly-looking kids at one of the windows upstairs,” said Mr
Fanshawe. “Cousin Robert’s, I suppose.”

“Kids!” cried the old lady, raising her ear-trumpet. “I have an
abhorrence of goats; how did they get into the house?”

“I didn’t mean goats’ kids, I meant children.”

“Umph!” replied Lady Seagrave. “May I beg you to say in future what you
mean? It abbreviates conversation, and places the matter under
discussion in a more clear light.”

“I am awfully sorry,” said Dicky; “but”—speaking very loudly and
distinctly—“I saw some nice-looking children looking out of a window
upstairs; I suppose they are Cousin Robert’s kids—I beg your pardon—I
mean children.”

“I am not deaf,” replied the old lady testily, “but I can’t hear a word
when people shout at me. I use this trumpet because I am subject to
_tinnitus aurium_. Now repeat your remark in an ordinary conversational
tone, enunciate your syllables, and don’t shuffle your feet.”

“I saw some nice-looking kids—I beg your pardon—I mean I saw some——”

“There is nothing to beg my pardon about,” cut in Lady Seagrave. “Well,
go on; what were you going to say—you saw some kids. Where did you see
them, and what about them?”

“I saw them on the road,” said Dicky desperately, for he felt quite
beyond trying to explain his real meaning.

“That’s right,” said Lady Seagrave in a soothed voice. “Speak at that
pitch and I will be able to hear you. You saw these creatures on the
road—well, what were they doing?”

“I don’t know,” replied Mr Fanshawe meekly; “they were—being driven by a
man.”

“Yes, but what about them?”

“How do you mean?”

“I mean exactly what I say—what about them?”

“Nothing, I only mentioned the fact.”

“I see, just to make conversation. The art of conversation is lost, it
seems to me; when I think of the sparkle and wit of the conversation of
the young men of my day, and contrast it with the conversation of the
young men of to-day, I am lost in wonder at what has happened to their
brains. Your remark would be interesting if I were a goat fancier, which
I am not. But you were never very bright, Richard Fanshawe, even as a
boy; I remember that.”

“Thanks,” said Dicky, rather huffled, yet still amused at the outspoken
old lady, who, when she took a pen in her hand to write an invitation,
was most courtly and kind in her manner of expression (_vide_ her note
in first chapter of this book), but whose tongue in conversation was
direct.

“All the brains in your family,” went on Lady Seagrave, “seems to have
been absorbed by your uncle, General Grampound. You will see him
to-morrow——”

“Good gracious!” said Dicky, “is uncle coming here?”

“Yes, he is coming as one of my guests.”

“Is—Is—Miss Lestrange coming with him?”

“She is.”

“Oh!” said Dick in a delighted voice.

“I beg your pardon—what did you say?”

“I only said Oh!”

“Oh what?”

“Nothing—I meant nothing.”

“You could not have meant less. Yes, Miss Lestrange is coming; and Mr
Boxall, the Member of Parliament, who is greatly enamoured of Miss
Lestrange, is coming too. He is worth seven thousand a year, and I
believe, if I have any eyes in my old head, she returns his passion.”

Mr Fanshawe groaned.

“How old is he?” he asked.

“Who?”

“Mr Boxall.”

“He is only fifty-five,” replied Lady Seagrave; “though the fact of
premature baldness adds perhaps to his apparent age. But Violet
Lestrange is not frivolous-minded, she can appreciate true worth; and,”
finished the old lady grimly, “she has got to marry him, for I have set
my heart on the match.”

“I suppose you know that I have had a fight with my uncle,” said Dicky
in a cheerful voice, for the description of Mr Boxall’s personal
appearance had raised his spirits wonderfully.

“Yes,” replied Lady Seagrave, “and that is why I asked you here. I want
you to make up with him and be friends. Now, like a good boy, go and
brush your hair and make yourself tidy. You can amuse yourself in the
library with books till dinner-time; I feel sleepy, and want to take my
afternoon nap.”

The old lady seemed still to imagine Dicky Fanshawe the schoolboy he was
twelve years ago, and he, nothing loth, rose and made for the door. In
the hall outside he found Patsy Rooney.

“Mr James told me to ax you for the keys of your trunks, sir,” said
Patsy.

“Oh, he did, did he? Well, as I’m going to my room I’ll open my trunks,
as you call them, myself. Go on before me and show me the way. What’s
your name?”

“Patsy Rooney is me name,” replied the other, leading the way upstairs,
“but they calls me Patsy for short. I clanes the boots and the windys,
and looks afther the childer since the governess was took sick and wint
off to the infirmary wid the maisles.”

“What on earth is the maisles?” asked Mr Fanshawe.

“It’s what the pigs get,” replied Patsy, leading the way down the
corridor, “whin they come out all over spots.”

“Oh, the measles, you mean?”

“That’s thim,” said Patsy, pausing at a door and opening it. “This is
your room, Misther Fanshawe; and there’s hot wather in that big blew jug
forninst you on the wash-stand.”

“You just wait and help me to unpack,” said Dicky. “My man sprained his
foot, and I had to leave him behind. Here, lug that portmanteau out from
the wall, till I open it.”

Patsy did as he was bidden, and then stood by watching the proceedings.

“Mr Fanshawe, sir,” said Patsy, after a moment’s silence, “is there guns
in thim boxes?”

“Which boxes?”

“Thim flat ones by the windy.”

“Yes; those are gun-cases.”

“Mr James said they were; but, sure, they must be mighty small guns to
be put in little boxes like thim. Me father’s the gamekeeper, but wan of
his guns is twiced the length of wan of thim boxes.”

“I daresay; but these are breech-loaders, and take to pieces. How does
your father load his guns, Patsy?”

“He rams the stuff down the muzzle wid a ramrod. And by the same token,
there’s a parcel of ca’tridges for you, sir, I brought over from Castle
Knock a week ago. They’re in the kitchen, I b’leve.”

“Yes, I ordered them to be sent on here. Put these shirts in that
drawer.”

“Mr Fanshawe, sir,” said Patsy, as he put the shirts in the drawer,
“would yiz like to have a shot at a burglar?”

“I shouldn’t mind,” replied Mr Fanshawe. “Stick this coat on the chair
over there. What has put burglars in your mind?”

“I dunno,” replied Patsy, grinning and scratching his head; “but I
dhrimt there was burglars in the house last night, and, thinks I to
meself just now, if you was to stick a ca’tridge in wan of thim guns you
might have fine sport some night soon, and Paddy Murphy’s back buttons
might be blown through his wistcoat same as he blew old Mullins’.”

“What on earth are you talking about?” asked Mr Fanshawe. “Who is Paddy
Murphy—here, stick those trousers on the chair with the coat—and who is
old Mullins?”

“I dunno,” replied Patsy, placing the trousers on the coat; “it’s me
dhrames that do be addlin’ me. But if me dhrames come true it’s fine
shootin’ you’ll be havin’ some night wid all thim guns, and it’s I
that’ll be givin’ you the word whin to be loadin’ thim.”

“Here, get along!” said Mr Fanshawe, opening a hunting kit-bag. “Put
these shirts in that top drawer, and don’t be talking nonsense; put
these waistcoats in with the shirts.”

“The hounds meet to-morra at Castle Knock. I s’pose you’ll be afther
followin’ thim, sir,” said Patsy, as he placed the waistcoats in the
drawer.

“I will,” replied Mr Fanshawe. “What time’s the meet?”

“Nine o’clock, sir; and there’s a big baste of a fox in the Galtee woods
where they’re goin’ to draw, wid a white tip to his tail, as ’ill go
like clock-work, for I set me eyes on him on’y a wake ago whin I was
settin’ snares the day before they stuck me in buttons and made a
page-boy of me.”

“How do you like being page-boy?” asked Mr Fanshawe, who was working at
the unpacking of his things in his shirt sleeves and, despite James’s
warning, with a cigarette in his mouth.

“Faith,” said Patsy, “if it wasn’t for the childer it’s back to the
woods I’d be to-morrow, for it’s nothing but ‘Patsy’ here and ‘Patsy’
there, and ‘Patsy, ye divil, what are you standin’ idle for?’ if I stops
to rest me bones for the quather of a minit. Sure, it’s twelve pair of
hands on the ends of me arms I’d want to plaze Mrs Kinsella; but as for
the childer, faith, anything plazes thim.”

“So you’re acting as nursery governess as well as page-boy,” said Mr
Fanshawe, who was beginning to perceive that Patsy was a person of an
original disposition, and not at all a page-boy of the ordinary type.

Patsy grinned.

“They’re in prizen,” said he.

“Who are in prison?” asked Mr Fanshawe.

“The childer.”

“Why, what are you talking about? I saw them looking out of a top
window.”

“Faith, and they’re in prizen all the same,” said Patsy. “That was the
windy Mr Robert kicked the futball through; and between that and Miss
Doris hittin’ me a belt on the nose wid an arringe, the ould lady gave
orders they wasn’t to stir out of the top of the house till to-morrow
mornin’.”

Mr Fanshawe, remembering the potato that had hit him on the shoulder,
began to form ideas of his own about the children of his cousin Robert.

“They must find it rather dull,” he said.

“Not they,” replied Patsy. “They always find something to be afther;
on’y half an hour ago when I lift them they were settin’ the dolls’
house afire wid a tin of paraffin.”

“Good Heavens! You don’t mean to say you let them!”

“Oh, they’re all right,” said Patsy. “Sure, they had it on the
hearthstone.”

                             --------------

That evening, just before bedtime, the schoolroom door opened and
Patsy’s head appeared.

“Mr Fanshawe’s give me half a crown,” said he. “And he’s got lave for
the both of yiz to go to the meet to-morra mornin’ in the cart. I’m to
drive you.” He put the half-crown in his eye like an eye-glass, drew the
corners of his mouth almost up to his eyes by some extraordinary
muscular action known to himself alone, protruded his tongue, waggled it
from side to side and vanished, just in time to escape a Principia
Latina aimed at him by Lord Gawdor.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER XIII

                         THE MEET OF THE HOUNDS


The next morning was dull and grey, with not a trace of frost—an ideal
hunting morning.

The meet was fixed for nine o’clock at the cross-roads, by the village
of Castle Knock; and at eight you might have seen Bob Mahony, the sweep,
clattering down the main street of Castle Knock in his donkey-cart, his
face washed and shining, so that you would never have known he was a
sweep, only for the traces of soot round the back of his ears and the
nape of his neck that the towel had failed to reach.

He always turned out for a meet of the hounds. His donkey was a tiny
mouse-coloured beast, the quickest and the wickedest donkey in the
county. “Game as a tarrier,” to use Bob’s expression, “and not to hold
or bind when she hears the hounds giving lip.”

He drew up at the sign-post that is set at the cross-roads, and he had
scarcely got down to put the nose-bag on the donkey, to keep her “aisy,”
when over the fields, from the direction of Tullagh, taking the low
stone walls in his strides, came Billy the Buck.

A meet of the hounds without Billy the Buck would have been a function
robbed of most of its picturesqueness and colour.

He was a dark gipsy-looking personage, in an old red waistcoat with
tarnished brass buttons; he lived in hayricks and such places, caught
rats, sold rabbit skins, trapped moles, did a bit of petty thieving when
times were bad, and a bit of poaching whenever he could get the chance.
He followed the hounds on foot, and was always in at the death, for he
could run like a hare and jump like a horse. He was “near seven
fut”—that is to say, he measured six feet six, and, to use the local
expression, he was as “thin as a barber’s pole.”

“The top of the marnin’ to you!” cried Billy, vaulting over the low
stone wall separating the road from the fields.

“Oh, it’s yourself, is it?” said the sweep. “And what’s the news?”

“There’s an ould grey dog-fox in Rafferty’s Clump,” cried Billy. “He’s
the wan that took earth at Kilgobbin last year, whin Mr Moriarty broke
his back over the sunk fence beyant Highberries Barn; I knowed him by
the ring on his tail and the thrap mark on his lift shoulder, where the
hair’s grown a different colour. ‘Good-marnin,’ says I, whin I see him
ten minits ago. ‘It’s you that’ll be sweepin’ the country-side with your
brush before you’re an hour older, or me names not Billy the Buck,’ I
says. And with that he livels it at me like a gun, and into the bushes
he pops, with his eye over his shoulder at me. Who’s this comin’ on the
big brown horse?”

“One of the quality from the Big House,” replied the sweep, as Mr
Fanshawe, in spotless pink and mounted on a superb hunter, turned the
corner of the road from Glen Druid.

After Mr Fanshawe, and some way behind, came the governess-cart driven
by Patsy.

Now along all the four roads horsemen could be seen converging towards
Castle Knock cross. All sorts of nags, good, bad, and indifferent,
ridden by all sorts of people, small farmers, sporting squireens from
Tullagh, a sprinkling of gentry, so that in five minutes the space of
the cross-roads presented a lively enough picture; and you could
scarcely hear yourself speak, for every one seemed to know every one
else, and the shouting and the laughing was enough to have raised the
old malefactors who for centuries had been buried at the cross-roads
with stakes through their middles.

Suddenly the talking and the laughing ceased, for away down the road
leading to Kilgobbin might be seen the hounds coming along like a moving
furze bush and the pink-clad figures of the master and the two whips.

“Here they come!” cried Patsy, who had been endeavouring to keep the
hog-maned pony from the vicious attentions of the sweep’s donkey.
“Misther Mahony, will yiz keep your dunkey to yourself, for he’s tryin’
to bite the pony’s nose off. Miss Doris, sit back a bit and trim the
cart, for it’s kickin’ us in flinders he’ll be if the shoulderstrap
presses too hard on him.”

Patsy was well able to drive; for the matter of that, he could sit a
horse bare-backed that many a good horseman could not sit saddled. It
was the proudest moment of his life to be driving Lord Gawdor and Miss
Doris (Selina was not of the party, having developed a snuffling cold
during the night); and his satisfaction was not decreased by the fact
that Widow Finnegan’s son was present.

The latter was leaning against the sign-post, and every now and then his
evil eye would fall upon the governess-cart and Patsy, and he would
address some remark to the two boys he was talking to, boys as
ill-looking as himself, and then the three would burst into a guffaw of
laughter.

“It’ll be a bad year this for the crops, Mr Rafferty,” cried Patsy,
addressing a stout farmer on a skew-bald nag a few yards away, and
speaking in such a loud voice that every one could hear him, Micky
Finnegan included.

“And how’s that, Patsy?” asked the farmer, touching his hat to Lord
Gawdor and Doris.

“All the scarecrows have struck bisiness,” said Patsy, nodding towards
Micky and his followers. “Not that it matters much, for the crows had
ceased to be afeared of them.”

“Dustpans and brums!” yelled Micky to an acquaintance across the road.
“Mr Moriarty, will you lend me a dustpan and brum?”

“Faith,” said Patsy, still addressing Mr Rafferty, “it’s the first time
in me life I’ve ever heard rubbish cryin’ out for a broom. Sure, it’s
late in the day he is, for he ought to have been swep’ up long ago.”

“Patsy,” said Mr Fanshawe, ranging up beside the governess-cart, “what
are you doing? Remember who you are driving.”

“Don’t stop him, Mr Fanshawe,” said little Lord Gawdor; “he’s always
giving that long boy no end beans—cheeky beast!”

All further discussion was cut short by the arrival of the hounds, and
the master, Mr O’Farrell of Tuffnell Park.

The whips consulted for a moment with the master, and then the second
whip conferred with Billy the Buck. The result of this conference was
that the master resolved to draw Rafferty’s Clump, where the old grey
dog-fox with the ring on his tail was supposed to be.

Rafferty’s Clump is a huge spinny; it forms part of the Galtee woods.
There are not many trees in the Galtee woods; it is a great space of
barren country, with here and there an isolated copse. The horsemen
moved off down the road, following the master and the hounds, and the
governess-cart and donkey-cart followed in the crush.

“Mind your manners!” cried Patsy, as the sweep’s donkey-cart jostled the
“tub,” as the governess-cart was sometimes called. “There’s no hurry;
they won’t be needin’ you yet awhile to frighten the fox out of the
wood.”

“Dunkeys is particular fond of carrots,” replied Mr Mahony, making
veiled reference to Patsy’s unfortunate head.

“Faith, then,” said Patsy, “if I’d known that, I’d have brought some in
me pocket for the pair of yiz.”

The procession paused whilst a gate was opened, and then the whole field
streamed over a stretch of broken country, in the direction of
Rafferty’s Clump.

“Billy,” cried Patsy to Billy the Buck, who was trotting beside the
“tub,” touching his hat now and then whenever he caught Lord Gawdor’s
eye, “is there a fox in the clump?”

“Ould dog-fox, grey as a badger,” replied Billy, “thrap-marked on the
shoulder, wid a ring to his tail.”

“White ring?” asked Patsy.

“Crame-white.”

“I know him as well as me own brother,” said Patsy. “Mr Fanshawe, sir.”

“What is it?” asked Mr Fanshawe, who was riding close to them.

“It’s the ould fox that broke Mr Moriarty’s back. If he breaks to the
aist he’ll be off to Kilgobbin, and mind the sunk fence beyant
Highberries Barn; if he breaks to the west the divil won’t stop him till
he gets to the big stone wall beyant the river. He’ll have to strike up
it half a mile to get to the hole in it, and thin he’ll strike across
the twinty acres, sure, for it’s the earths in the Tullagh woods he’ll
be makin’ for; so I’ll give yiz the word, and if you hear me shout
‘Tullagh,’ send your man wid your second horse to the Tullagh
cross-roads to meet you.”

“You seem to know the lie of the country, Patsy,” said Mr. Fanshawe, who
had drawn rein, and was sitting listening to the querulous yapping of
the dogs busy in the wood.

“I’ve follied the hounds ever since I was the height of me knee,”
replied Patsy. Then: “Hurroo! hurroo! he’s broke away to the west.
‘Tullagh’ whoop. Hould tight, Miss Doris, and we’ll follow thim to the
rise.”

The fox had broken away to the west, going, to use Patsy’s expression,
like a railway train.

Doris had need to follow Patsy’s advice and “hould tight,” for the “tub”
was racing the donkey-cart for the rise, an elevation from which the
whole sweep of the country round could be viewed.

“There they go!” cried Patsy, as Punch, the pony, drew up puffing and
blowing and all of a lather. “Look, Mr Robert! Sure, it makes me ache in
the legs to see them and not to be wid them.”

The field had spread out like a fan. One horse having stepped in a
rabbit hole and flung its rider, was following the chase at its own
sweet will with bridle streaming and empty saddle.

Away from the ruck and leading by a good distance, one could see the
master, the whips and Mr Fanshawe; behind these, but not so far behind,
a thing like an animated flail; this was Billy the Buck, who, not being
afraid of rabbit’s holes, and knowing the boggy bits and other pitfalls,
managed to hold his own, and would manage so to do till the end of the
day. After him came the other mounted folk, and after them, at the heel
of the hunt, all sorts of running ragamuffins.

The “tub” and Mr. Mahony’s donkey-cart being the only wheeled vehicles,
were alone in their glory on the rise.

Mr Mahony was standing up in his cart making audible comments on the
run, a sooty pipe an inch long in his mouth.

“He’s doubled!” suddenly yelled Patsy. “He’s afear’d of the river; it’s
Killbegg he’ll be making for, and we’ll cotch a sight of them on the
road if we can get there in time.”

“I’ll race yiz to the gate,” cried Mr Mahony, sitting down plump in his
cart and plucking up the head of his donkey whilst he hit it a whack
with the blackthorn stick he carried for a whip. “A hundred to one I get
there first, and the divil take the hindmost. Hurroo!”

“Hurroo!” yelled Patsy. “Go it, Punch! Hould tight, Miss Doris—don’t be
afear’d—we’ll be all right if the wheels hold and he doesn’t stick his
fut in a rabbit hole. Hi! hi! hi! Sut-bags! drive fair, and don’t be
crowdin’ me—we’re over—we ain’t—Holy Mary! the springs are goin’—hould
on by your teeth, we’re comin’ to a trinch!”

Now, along the Tullagh road at this minute was coming a waggonette
containing the first contingent of the guests from England, arrived only
an hour ago at Tullagh station, and on their way to Glen Druid.

There were four people in the waggonette. General Grampound, an old
gentleman, with a white moustache and a red face, sat in one corner. One
could tell at a glance what he was; Nature and his profession had
labelled him plainly: “Old East Indian general—peppery—this side
up—don’t touch.”

By General Grampound sat his ward, Violet Lestrange, a pretty girl, with
dark hair and blue eyes.

Opposite General Grampound sat Uncle Molyneux, a very
aristocratic-looking, middle-aged person who wore an eye-glass and a
waxed moustache.

Opposite Violet Lestrange sat Mr Boxall, the Member of Parliament, who
looked as if he had swallowed a Blue Book and had not finished digesting
it.

Mr Boxall had a large white face, but the most peculiar thing about him
was his eyes. The pupil of his left eye was about twice the size of the
pupil of the right eye. It had also a cold and steadfast stare, for it
was made of glass. This glass eye of Mr Boxall’s was what is called an
open secret; every one knew of it, but no one mentioned it openly. On
account of it, old ladies, when they spoke of him, called him “poor Mr
Boxall.”

The stone wall of the road was so low that the race between the
donkey-cart and the “tub” could be clearly seen by the people in the
waggonette.

“Why, God bless my soul!” said Uncle Molyneux, screwing his eye-glass
tight in his eye and half standing up so as to get a better view, “I
believe it is my nephew and niece.”

“They’ll be over!” cried Violet Lestrange, who was also half standing
up. “Look! look! the pony is running away.”

“Who’s that ruffian in the donkey-cart?” cried General Grampound. “They
are racing him—the pony has not run away; I see the boy beating it with
the whip. Hi, you, sir! you in the donkey-cart—I’ll give you in charge
of the police.”

“It’s little he cares about the police,” said the driver of the
waggonette, who was also following the race with interested eyes.
“That’s Bob Mahony, the chimbly sweep, and he’s been to the meet of the
houn’s, for his face is washed. Look! he’s gainin’ on the pony
carridge—Ten to one on the dunkey!—ten to one on the dunkey! Lather her,
Bob, lather her! They’re makin’ who’ll get through the gate first. He’ll
do it! He won’t! He will, be jabers—Hurroo!”

The donkey-cart having outstripped the “tub,” was passing through the
gate triumphant and victorious, when the right wheel caught the post and
over it went, sweep, cart, donkey and all.

The driver of the waggonette drew the vehicle up and got down, heedless
of General Grampound or anything else, and approached the wreckage on
the road.

“Are yiz kilt, Bob Mahony?” asked the driver, bending down with his
hands on his knees and staring at the prostrate figure in the road.

“Faith, I dunno yet,” said the figure, sitting up and putting one hand
to the top of its head. “Me head’s on, but I seems to have left me
intellicts in the field beyant.”

“Feel your legs to see if they’re bruck,” commanded the driver.

“Legs is all right,” replied Mr Mahony, feeling them contemplatively;
“back’s all right, and arums. I’ll be on me pins again in a minit when
the wheels has done spinnin’ in me head.”

“Right y’are,” replied the other. “I’ll be after getting the dunkey on
her feet.”

General Grampound, furious with anger at being stopped, had been aiming
himself like a gun now at Mr Mahony, now at the driver, now at the
donkey lying on its side on the road, but he had withheld his fire.
Patsy’s red head (he had lost his cap) as the “tub” made its appearance
in the gateway, served as a target, however, and he let fly.

“Hi, you, boy,” cried General Grampound, “you, boy, with the red
head—how dare you disgrace your livery, sir, racing sweeps in
donkey-carts and blocking my road!”

One might have fancied that the road, the stone walls, the earth and the
sky were the property of General Grampound. As a matter of fact, he had
less to do with the matter than Uncle Molyneux; but Uncle Molyneux was a
placid, and easygoing person, who if the sky had fallen would not have
been much put out, as long as the pieces did not hit him, and he was
quite content to sit still, observe matters through his eye-glass, and
let General Grampound do the shouting.

“Why, it’s Uncle Molyneux!” cried Lord Gawdor, as Patsy engineered the
“tub” through the gate, avoiding the donkey and cart, which were now on
their respective legs and wheels.

Uncle Molyneux nodded; but before he could speak, Miss Lestrange, who
had got out of the waggonette, approached the “tub.”

“How you have grown, Doris! and you too, Bob. Don’t you remember me?
What a jolly little cart; have you room for me? I think I will drive the
rest of the way with you. It’s not far from here, is it?”

“Only a mile or two,” replied Doris. “Yes; do get in, there’s lots of
room; isn’t there, Patsy?”

“Hapes, miss,” replied Patsy, who was smouldering with anger at the
General’s reference to the colour of his head.

“But is it safe?” asked Mr Boxall, who had also descended from the
waggonette. “Think, my dear Miss Lestrange, if there was another
accident! Would it not be safer for _me_ to drive you if you are
determined to go in this vehicle? The children could find accommodation
in the waggonette.”

“No, thanks,” said Miss Lestrange; “it is just the children I want to
talk to.”

“Come on, Boxall,” cried the General; “we can’t stick here all day. Let
her do what she likes—always will have her own way. Drive on.”

The waggonette and its contents drove on, and Miss Lestrange got into
the “tub.”

Just as they were starting a big closed carriage drove by following in
the direction of the waggonette. It contained Lady Molyneux, her maid,
her pug dogs, and her jewel-case.

“We’ve been to the meet of the hounds,” explained Lord Gawdor. “That was
Bob Mahony, the sweep, we were racing. He beat us, but he wouldn’t have
beat us if he’d driven fair. I say, who was that gentleman with the big
white face who wanted to drive you?”

“That was Mr Boxall,” said Miss Lestrange.

“He seemed awfully sweet on you,” said Lord Gawdor. “What’s the matter
with his eyes?”

“I don’t know,” replied Miss Lestrange, blushing, “He’s—a Member of
Parliament.”

“Oh, _I_ remember,” said Lord Gawdor. “I heard granny telling Mrs
O’Farrell that poor Mr Boxall was coming on a visit, and that he’d got a
glass eye. Miss Lestrange!”

“Yes, Bob?”

“Which of his eyes is glass?”

“_I_ don’t know,” replied Miss Lestrange. “Let us talk of something
else. Doris, how is your grandmother?”

“She’s all right,” said Doris. “Just the same. Bob kicked his football
through the window the other day, and she kept us prisoners in the
schoolroom two days, and we wouldn’t have been let go to the meet this
morning only for Mr Fanshawe.”

“Who is Mr Fanshawe?” asked Miss Lestrange, with a sudden interest in
her voice.

“Jolliest chap you ever met,” cut in Lord Gawdor; “isn’t he, Doris?”

“Rather!” replied Doris.

“And he gave Patsy half a crown,” went on Lord Gawdor—“this is Patsy
driving—He’s off hunting this morning. My! can’t he ride? And hasn’t he
some fine horses?”

“What is he like?” asked Miss Lestrange.

“I dunno,” replied Lord Gawdor.

“He’s awfully good-looking,” said Doris.

“He’s a rale gintleman,” said Patsy. “Beg your pardon, miss, for
speakin’.”

“Not at all,” said Miss Lestrange, smiling sweetly on Patsy. On getting
into the “tub” she had looked tired from her journey and bored, but she
was now full of spirits and animation. “So your name is Patsy, is it?”

“Patsy Rooney, miss,” replied that individual, as he turned the “tub” in
at the gates. “I’m the page-boy, and clanes the knives and the boots,
but I’m looking afther Mr Fanshawe now, for his man sprained his fut and
had to be left behind: and it’s only this marnin’ Mr Fanshawe says to
me, ‘Patsy, you’re a jewel at cleanin’ boots and brushing clothes, and
if you continy in the grace of God,’ he says, ‘it’s a valley I’ll make
of you before you’re much older,’ and, bedad,” finished Patsy, hitting
the pony a “skelp” with the whip, “I’d sooner sarve him for tuppence a
week than any other gintleman in the country for a pound.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER XIV

                          A KISS ON THE STAIRS


Mr Boxall was standing in his bedroom preparatory to dressing for
dinner. Mr Boxall, though a Member of Parliament, and very rich, went in
omnibuses to save cab fares, and his tips to servants were a disgrace to
the giver and receiver. He also had a nasty and dictatorial way with him
which made him disliked.

Mr Boxall having looked around him for something he failed to find, rang
the bell. The bell not being answered immediately, he opened the door
and looked out on the corridor, where Patsy was passing along with a
huge can of hot water.

“Hi, you, boy!” cried Mr Boxall.

“Yes, sir?” replied Patsy.

“What do you mean by not attending to my bell?”

“Attending to your which, sir?”

“My bell—are you deaf?”

“I didn’t know you’d brought one wid you, sir,” replied Patsy, with an
air of injured innocence. “I was afther fetchin’ this water for Mr
Fanshawe. Did yiz ring it in your room or in the passidge?”

“Good heavens!” cried Mr Boxall, “does the boy think I carry a bell
about with me like a muffin man? My bedroom bell, you oaf!”

“Oh, your bidroom bell,” replied the servitor. “Sure, it’s ears as long
as some people I could name I’d want to hear it, for it rings in the
kitchen four flights of stairs and twinty-siven passidges away.”

“Hold your tongue,” replied Mr Boxall. “And now that you are here, go
and fetch me my dressing-bag.”

“All your luggage is in your room, sir,” replied Patsy, “for I helped
William, the under-gardner, with it.”

“Come here,” said Mr Boxall, smothering the resentment with which Patsy
as the red-headed embodiment of the Irish race filled his Anglo-Saxon
spirit. “Now stand in the doorway, stand fair and square and look around
you, and—if you have eyes in your head—point me out my dressing-bag.”

“There it is, sir,” said Patsy, pointing to the dressing-bag, which was
standing in a shady corner, with a travelling rug half covering it.

“Get out!” said Mr Boxall. He shut the door in the red-headed one’s
face, and Patsy took up his can of hot water.

“I’ll be even wid yiz yet, ould glass eyes!” said Patsy, as he carried
the can towards Mr Fanshawe’s room.

Mr Fanshawe had not yet returned from the chase. Patsy put the hot water
can down by the wash-stand, and then looked around to see what more he
could do. Patsy in a few hours had attached himself to Mr Fanshawe just
as a dog attaches himself to a man. He would have gone through fire and
water for Mr Fanshawe, but as that was not required of him, he expended
his energy in the polishing of his boots and the brushing of his
clothes.

Having looked around and seen that everything was trim, he went
downstairs to help James, the butler. Half an hour afterwards, coming up
the main staircase on some errand and hearing the swish of silk, he
glanced up and caught a glimpse of a spacious and portly dame descending
the stairs. It was Lady Molyneux in all her glory—low evening dress,
tiara of diamonds, necklace of diamonds, bracelets and all.

Lady Molyneux, with rather questionable taste, invariably put on all her
diamonds for dinner. She looked like a jeweller’s shop in motion, and
Patsy, alarmed at having to face so much magnificence, popped himself
behind the arras on the landing.

The arras was old and dusty and smelt of rats; it was a bit tattered,
too, and through a hole in it Patsy watched Lady Molyneux pass by, and
gasped at the magnificence of the spectacle.

The remembrance of Paddy Murphy came to him with a cold chill; to-night,
to-morrow night, any night now the knock might come to the window and he
would be bound to open it. He stood reviewing this frightful certainty
and watching the back view of Lady Molyneux as she descended the stairs.
The thought which had been comforting him for some days past, that,
though he had sworn to open the window for the burglars he had not sworn
not to tell, came to him, coupled with the recollection of Mr Fanshawe’s
guns.

He was just on the point of leaving his hiding-place when the sound of
some one else descending the stairs made him pause. It was Miss
Lestrange, looking very beautiful in a black evening dress, and with a
rose worn Spanish fashion in the clouds of her dark hair.

Patsy was gazing in admiration at this beautiful vision which was
descending towards him when a hurried step coming _up_ the stairs was
heard. It was Dicky Fanshawe, plastered with mud from top to toe; he was
coming up the stairs two steps at a time. His left coat sleeve was
nearly ripped out of the coat, and his face was a mask of mud. He had
come a barbed wire cropper, and had been bogged beyond Shepherd’s Cross;
but he did not seem hurt, and he did not seem particularly depressed
with his misfortunes, for he was whistling a tune, and he had nearly
cannoned against Miss Lestrange before he saw her.

“Violet!” cried the young man, drawing suddenly back.

“Dicky—Mr Fanshawe!” cried the girl.

Then their hands met, and Patsy, behind the arras, wished that he were
somewhere else.

“I knew you were coming,” he said.

“I knew you were here,” said she.

“How did you know?”

“The children told me that a Mr Fanshawe was here who was awfully jolly,
and—very ugly, so I knew it must be you.”

“You did not get any of the letters I wrote to you,” he said. “My uncle
wrote to me and told me frankly he had intercepted them, and if I wrote
again he would put you in Chancery or some nonsense; he’s always
blustering and bellowing—Violet!”

“Don’t, Dicky—_don’t_, Mr Fanshawe—some one may be looking, and your
face is all mud.”

“So it is,” said Dicky, rubbing it and looking at his hand.

“Is there any on my cheek?” asked she.

“Let me look—closer——”

“_Dicky!_”

“Go it!” murmured Patsy, behind the arras. “Give her another wan—she
stickin’ her cheek out for it and thin pretendin’ to be surprised!
Musha! but wimmen are all the same.”

The roar of a gong and a step coming down the stairs brought matters to
a swift conclusion. Miss Lestrange swept downstairs, and Mr Fanshawe
rushed upstairs, nearly running into the arms of Mr Boxall on the way.
When Mr Boxall had passed, and the coast was clear, Patsy left his
hiding-place and betook him to Mr Fanshawe’s room.

“Come in—who’s there?” cried Dicky, at the knock.

“It’s me, sir; can I be getting you anything?” replied Patsy, opening
the door.

“Yes—here you are!” cried Dicky, who seemed in wildly high spirits.
“Fetch my evening clothes out of that drawer there—that was the last
gong, was it?”

“Yes, sir,” replied Patsy. “The dhressing gong went half an hour ago.”

“There’s no time for a bath, then,” said Mr Fanshawe, scrubbing at
himself with a towel. “How have the children been behaving?”

“All right, sir. After the meet we met the wagginette with some of the
quality in it coming from the station, and the young lady wid the black
hair got into the tub and drove home with us.”

“Oh, she did, did she?” said Mr Fanshawe in an interested voice, as he
brushed away at his hair.

“Yes, sir; and the big Mimber of Parlimint wid the white face wanted to
get in and drive her, an’ she up and give him a slap in the face.”

“She _what_?” asked Mr Fanshawe, pausing with a brush in either hand.

“Not with her fist but her tongue, sir,” replied the informant. “‘You
can put the childer in the wagginette, if there’s not room. Let _me_
dhrive you,’ says he. ‘It’s the childer I wants to talk to,’ says she;
and with that he shut up like a tiliscope, glass eye and all, for they
say, sir, he’s got a glass eye in his head.”

Mr Fanshawe chuckled.

“Mr Robert,” continued Patsy, speaking in an apparently aimless manner,
“he says, ‘That gintleman seems very sweet on you,’ says he; and with
that she blushed up red wid vixation——”

“You seem to have very sharp eyes,” said Mr Fanshawe. “How do you know
when a lady blushes with ‘vixation,’ as you call it?”

“Be the sparks that came into her eyes,” replied the observer.

“Well, now, spark off downstairs,” said Mr Fanshawe, “and tell them I’ll
be down in a minute, and not to wait dinner for me.”

“Yes, sir,” replied Patsy, and he “sparked.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                               CHAPTER XV

                           GOING IN TO DINNER


“Come along, Doris,” said Lord Gawdor, “and we’ll look at the dishes
going in to dinner.”

It was a favourite amusement when a dinner-party was on to hang over the
banister rails and watch the dishes going in, and, sometimes, if,
fortunately, the remains of a jelly or _mérangue_ were by chance left
for a moment on the hall table before being carted back to the kitchen,
to descend, capture it, carry it upstairs and devour it in private.

They slipped down the stairs to the first landing and peeped over the
banisters. Nothing was going in yet, the guests were still in the
drawing-room.

“It’s quarter past dinner-time,” said Lord Gawdor; “wonder what they’re
waiting for?”

As if in answer to his question, a step sounded on the stairs above and
Dicky Fanshawe came running down.

“Hullo, kids!” cried Dicky, as he passed them. He was in too great a
hurry to stop. He took the remaining flight in two or three steps, and
just as he reached the hall the drawing-room door opened and General
Grampound came out. The General, seeing Dicky, closed the door behind
him and came towards his nephew, looking, as he came, not unlike a
ruffled cockatoo.

“That’s General Grampound,” said Doris. “Wish we could hear what he’s
saying to Mr Fanshawe.”

“Looks as if he was wigging him for being late,” said Bob.

“Yes, doesn’t he? He’s his uncle—old beast—look! he’s quite purple in
the face.”

“Look!” said Bob.

The drawing-room door had opened, disclosing Lady Seagrave on the arm of
Uncle Molyneux.

“There you are, you two,” said her ladyship; “I had quite determined to
dine without you. General, give your arm to Lady Molyneux. What have you
two been talking so earnestly about?”

“Roses,” replied Dicky, with a side glance at Violet Lestrange, who was
passing him, on the arm of Mr Boxall.

“I’m glad they’ve done jawing,” said Lord Gawdor, when the last of the
guests had vanished into the dining-room; “it’ll be an hour now before
the sweets are brought up.”

“Bob,” said Doris, “I believe she’s in love with him.”

“Who?”

“Miss Lestrange with Mr Fanshawe.”

“Oh, that rot,” said his lordship. “Girls are always fallin’ in love
with fellows—makes me sick. Hi, Patsy!”

Patsy was passing below carrying a tray with glasses on it; he did not
hear the hail as Lord Gawdor dared not raise his voice. He passed on and
vanished.

“Patsy heard all they were saying,” said Doris. “I saw him standing and
listening at the passage door leading to the kitchen.”

“So did I. I tried to catch his eye, but he wasn’t looking this way.”

“I think the old General is a beast,” said Doris.

“He looks a hot ’un,” said Bob, who was whistling softly and making
little slides down the banister rails.

“You know, at afternoon tea to-day,” said Doris, “when you upset that
plate of cakes, and then joggled Miss Lestrange’s tea-cup half into her
lap, I heard him saying to the Member of Parliament man, he said, ‘I
don’t care whether they are the children of a prince or the children of
a Kitmutgar’ (whatever that is), ‘children all the world over are just
the same, and they are a damned nuisance.’”

“Hurroo! who’s swore now?” cried Lord Gawdor.

“I didn’t; I only repeated what he said, and Mr Boxall said he agreed
with him——”

“I _say_!” cried Lord Gawdor, a happy recollection crossing his mind,
“did you hear what Selina was saying all the time before gran’ma rang
the bell for Biddy to take her out?”

“Yes; she was shouting ‘Grass-eye—grass-eye!’ What did she mean?”

“I’d told her before tea that Mr Boxall had a glass eye, and if she was
good maybe he’d take it out and show it to her.”

“Oh, that was it, was it?” said Doris. Then the pair ceased conversation
and hung, leaning over the banister rails, in silence, watching the
dishes going in and coming out.

Patsy was greatly in evidence going and coming, and so busy that he
never once glanced up. He was carrying, just now, a _vol au vent_ in a
silver dish; he paused in his passage across the hall with it, sniffed
at it, stuck his thumb in it, sucked his thumb, wiped it on the side of
his trousers, and then vanished into the dining-room with the dish.

“I hope the old General will have some of that,” murmured Doris.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER XVI

                           IN THE “SCRUBBERY”


General Grampound and Mr Boxall were non-smokers, and as Mr Boxall was
also a teetotaler, and the General was talking politics, Dicky Fanshawe
found things rather dull in the dining-room when the ladies had
withdrawn.

Things were almost as dull in the drawing-room, for Lady Seagrave was
deaf, and Lady Molyneux was stupid.

I must have presented Patsy very badly if you have not discovered that
he was the possessor of an “eye”—the eye of an observer. The faculty of
observation given to him by nature and developed amongst the wild things
of the woods was exercised to the full amidst the new surroundings in
which he found himself.

He had sized up Mr Boxall. He had overheard the conversation between
General Grampound and his nephew; he, whilst circulating with dishes and
plates behind the chairs of the guests at table, had gauged the
relationship of each to each. Though half their conversation was Greek
to him, the falsity of it was not; and there was not a glance between
Violet and Dicky, a side glance of Mr Boxall’s, a grimace of General
Grampound’s, that escaped the awful eye of Patsy.

These preoccupations did not, however, interfere in the least with his
occupations and duties, such as handing plates and dishes, devouring
half a neglected custard on its way to the kitchen, and stuffing his
trousers pockets with fondants and nuts.

As the people in the drawing-room were seated, Lady Molyneux at the
table turning over the leaves of an album, Violet Lestrange by the fire
gazing at the burning logs and Lady Seagrave nodding in her easy-chair
opposite Violet, Patsy entered with a tray containing coffee.

“The childer are in the nursery, miss,” said Patsy in a low tone, as he
presented the tray to Violet.

There was something in the tone of his voice that said much more than
the simple words implied. In fact, if Patsy had said, “It’s tired to
death you are with these ould women, and it’s I that am sorry for you,”
his meaning would not have been plainer. Yet there was nothing
disrespectful in his tone at all.

“Thank you, Patsy,” said Violet, taking her cup. Then, without tasting
it, she laid it on a table near by. “I think I will run up and say
good-night to the children,” said she, rising. “You don’t mind, do you?”

“Not at all,” replied Lady Seagrave. “Give them my love, and tell them I
am pleased they have managed for one day to behave themselves.”

“I will,” said Violet, and she departed.

Scarcely had she vanished upstairs than the dining-room door opened and
Dicky Fanshawe came out.

Patsy was lingering about in the hall, and Dicky called him.

“Which is the way to the ‘scrubbery,’ Patsy?” said he. “I want to smoke
a cigar.”

“This way, sir,” said Patsy, leading the way down a passage, through a
swing-door, down another passage, to a door that was bolted and which he
opened.

“Leave the door open,” said Mr Fanshawe. “I will shut it when I come
in.”

“Yes, sir,” replied Patsy. “Sure, it’s a fine night for a smoke under
the stars. Mr Fanshawe, sir!”

“Yes?”

“The childer are in the nursery, sir,” said Patsy in a muted voice, as
though he were imparting some State secret.

“Oh, they are, are they?” said Mr Fanshawe, rather surprised at the
mysterious tone of the communication. “And what are they doing—no
mischief, I hope?”

“The young lady is wid them,” said Patsy. “There’s no wan else up there,
but, sure, they’re safe enough wid her.”

There was the faintest suspicion of jocularity in Patsy’s tone, so faint
as to be almost indiscernible. Still it was there, and as there was
nothing jocular in the remark of which the tone was, so to speak, the
envelope, it was more particularly noticeable.

“Patsy!” said Mr Fanshawe, who had taken a few steps from the door,
turning and trying to make out in the surrounding darkness the small
figure of his informant.

But Patsy had vanished.

“Confound the boy!” said Mr Fanshawe. “What did he mean?”

Instead of a cigar he took a cigarette from his pocket, lit it, smoked
it half through, flung it away, and re-entered the house. As he was
crossing the hall he came upon Uncle Molyneux, who had just escaped from
the dining-room, and who did not look cheerful.

“Come and have a game of billiards,” said Uncle Molyneux.

“I can’t for a moment,” replied Dicky hurriedly, “for I’m just running
up to the nursery to say good-night to the children.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER XVII

                          THE STORY OF THE PIG


“Now sit down, Bob, and do try to behave yourself; Selina shall sit in
my lap if she will promise to be good, and I will tell you a
story—Doris, leave the poker alone—Dear me, dear me,” said Miss
Lestrange, suddenly assuming a grandmotherly tone, “who’d be worried by
children? Where is my snuff-box and my cane?—Well, then, sit still and
count ten to yourselves all round whilst I think of a story.”

She was seated in the old broken-down nursery rocking-chair with Selina
in her lap; there was no lamp, and the flickering fire-light lit the
interminable man driving his pig to market and the broom-like tail of
the rocking-horse, whose body was lost in shadow.

“Ten!” suddenly yelled Lord Gawdor.

“I’d only got to nine,” said Doris. “Bob counts so quick. No matter,
begin the story.”

“I haven’t thought of one yet,” said Miss Lestrange. “What shall it be?
Selina is the youngest, and she shall choose; what would you like a
story about, Selina?”

“Pigs!” replied Selina after a moment’s deliberation, during which her
eyes had wandered round the walls of the room in search of inspiration.

“I’m afraid I can scarcely rise to pigs,” said Miss Lestrange. “Think
again, Selina; shut your eyes and think hard. How would a story about a
giant do?”

Selina thought for a moment, and then, with the air of a person who had
quite made up her mind:

“I want a ’tory about piggy-wiggies.”

“Try a giant, Selina,” said Doris, in the coaxing voice of a nurse
offering a delicacy to an invalid.

“Don’t _want_ a giant,” replied the pig fancier. “I want piggy-wiggies.”

“Who’s this that wants piggy-wiggies?” came a voice from the door. “Oh,
I beg pardon—thought there was no one here. May I come in?”

“No room, no room,” cried Miss Lestrange; “we are telling stories.”

“There’s plenty of room,” replied Mr Fanshawe, paraphrasing the heroine
of “Alice in Wonderland,” and crossing the floor at the same time. “I
say, how jolly you all look sitting round the fire!”

Selina, seeing the newcomer, looked at him for a moment critically,
forgot pigs completely, and held out her arms to him.

“Selina has never done that to any one before,” said Doris; “she hates
strangers, as a rule, and always cries at them.”

“There, take her,” said Miss Lestrange, handing the white bundle to Mr
Fanshawe, who sat down with it on the chair vacated by Bob; “but take
the responsibility also—you have to tell her a story about a pig.”

“Right,” replied Mr Fanshawe, whilst Selina settled herself to listen;
and Bob and his sister, who didn’t care much for stories of Selina’s
level, amused themselves on the floor with a clock-work motor-car which
Uncle Molyneux had brought them from London.

The whizz and snarl of the motor-car as it made frantic gyrations on the
nursery floor half obscured Mr Fanshawe’s voice.

“There was once a little pig,” began Mr Fanshawe, “and he lived in a
sty—I say, things were pretty dull in the dining-room when you left. Did
you ever hear Boxall on the preferential tariff question?—Boxall with
his muzzle off? Uncle’s bad to beat when he’s on the first Sikh war, but
Boxall—Yes, yes, Selina, where was I?—There was once a little pig and he
lived in a sty and he had bran mash for dinner. He had three little
brothers and three little sisters—now count them to yourself, and I’ll
give you a penny if you tell me how many little brothers and sisters he
had—count them five times over and I’ll give you tuppence—So I just
bolted, and Patsy said you were here—Do you know Patsy, the red-headed
page-boy?—So I thought I’d come up and see. Oh, Violet—It’s all right,
I’m not talking loud enough for them to hear—but I’ve been half cracked
for the last few months. This can’t go on, there’s no use talking. Do
you know why uncle is trying to separate us? It’s just from viciousness.
You don’t know him; he hates me—why? for no reason at all; we don’t get
on, that’s all—ever since I was a boy it has been the same. You see,
uncle is like nothing so much in the world as a vicious old maid who has
been crossed in love and hates to see other people happy. Violet,
darling——

“Oh, bother the pigs—Yes, Selina, there were six little pigs, and one
had a gun—here, play with my watch—Violet, darling, it has come to this,
that both our lives will be wrecked by that old lunatic if we are not
careful—the old Seagrave woman is aiding and abetting him. I have lots
of money for us both, I love you, you care for me—let’s go in for a bold
stroke. Look here, he’s always threatening to put you in Chancery—let’s
outwit him. Once you are married he _can’t_ put you in Chancery, ’cos
you’d be mine then, do you see?—There you are, take the whole watch and
chain and play with it—Let’s give them all the slip. I’ll get a special
licence, we’ll take the train to Dublin; you can stop at my aunt’s in
Merrion Square—she’s a regular sportsman—and before they can stop us
we’ll be married. I know it’s awfully sudden my proposing this, but what
am I to do? Look at us—we can scarcely speak to each other, unless by
strategy. And I know _this_, unless you do as I say, we will never be
married, for you will never have strength to resist uncle; he’ll keep
nagging to you till he breaks your spirit. And that beast of a
Boxall—suppose he _has_ got seven thousand a year, money isn’t happiness
tied to a brute like that. I have three thousand a year myself, and I’ll
give up racing, I’ll give up smoking, I’ll give up everything for you.
Promise me you’ll think of what I say—Bless you, my darling—Violet,
darling, lean your dear head forward—no—well, I won’t—Now what is it,
Selina——”

“She has dropped your watch,” said Miss Lestrange.

“And smashed it, too,” replied Mr Fanshawe; “and cheap at the
price—Bless her, she’s asleep.”

Selina, suddenly overcome, was in the arms of slumber, and at that
moment the door leading to the night nursery opened, and Biddy Mahony
entered in search of her charge.

“She ought to a’ been in bed an hour ago,” said Biddy, as she took
Selina from Mr Fanshawe; “but she gets wild when there’s company in the
house, and there’s no sootherin’ her to slape.”

“Grass-eyes,” muttered Selina, tossing her arms in slumber as Biddy
carried her off.

“She’s thinking of Mr. Boxall’s eye,” said Lord Gawdor. “Mr Fanshawe,
one of Mr Boxall’s eyes is made of glass.”

“Never mind Mr Boxall’s eyes,” cried Dicky in wild spirits; “come on,
and we’ll have a game of Blind-man’s Buff.”

                             --------------

“I say,” said little Lord Gawdor to Doris when Dicky and Miss Lestrange
had departed, “when Mr Fanshawe had blinded us both I just lifted the
handkerchief a wee peep, and do you know what I saw?”

“I know,” replied Doris, “I _heard_ it; but don’t tell.”

“Think I’m an ass?” said Lord Gawdor.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                             CHAPTER XVIII

                          AN INTERRUPTED FEAST


At ten o’clock that night Patsy entered his bedroom with a tin
candlestick in his hand. He placed the candlestick on the
dressing-table, and, approaching the bed, began to unload his pockets of
plunder; nuts, and almonds, and raisins, a crystallised apricot and a
piece of green angelica made up the pile which he placed on the coverlet
of the bed, also a huge Tom Smith cracker with a picture of Miss Marie
Studholme stuck on the gelatine cover.

He surveyed the lot with a grin of satisfaction, sat down on the side of
the bed, and was just setting to work when a scratching noise at the
window drew his attention, and, looking up, he saw at the pane the white
face of Con Cogan.

Patsy’s jaw dropped, and the walnut which he was in the act of cracking
dropped also, fell on the floor, and rolled into a corner.

“Oh, musha!” said Patsy, “there he is again!”

He got off the bed and, like a fascinated bird, approached the beckoning
form at the window.

“What is it you want?” asked Patsy, as he raised the sash. “Sure, the
house is all a-bed, and it’s ruined I’ll be if they hear you.”

“What’s all that on the bed?” asked Con; “all them things on the quilt
you was eatin’?”

“Sure, they’re only some nuts and raisins,” replied Patsy, who saw his
prospective feast vanishing before him. “What is it you want? for it’s
ruined I’ll be if they hear us.”

“I’ll come in and help yiz,” said Con, putting one leg over the sill.
“There’s no law in the land can put a man in prizin for comin’ in to
have supper wid his nephew. It’s afraid I am,” said Con, putting the
other leg over, “that it’s indisgestion you’ll be havin’. The idea,”
went on he, sitting down on the edge of the bed and surveying the
feast—“the idea of lettin’ childer stuff thimselves up wid sweets and
nuts! It’s ashamed the ould lady ought to be of herself. Sit down on the
bed beside me, Patsy Rooney, and there’s a walnut for you. I’ll attind
to the sweets.”

He put the crystallised apricot in his mouth, and Patsy, with the walnut
in his hand, sat watching his treasures vanishing.

“You’re not eatin’ your nuts,” said Mr Cogan, as he swallowed the last
of the chocolates and set to on the nuts.

“What is it you’re afther?” said Patsy, whose appetite had completely
disappeared. “What’s made you come to-night at all, at all?”

Mr Cogan cracked a walnut and devoured the contents.

“And what’s this?” said he, taking up the cracker, without replying to
Patsy’s very pertinent question.

“Thims is crackers,” replied Patsy in a half-hearted voice. “Is it Paddy
Murphy’s job you’re afther, or what?”

“And who’s the girl, may I ax?” went on Mr Cogan, examining Miss
Studholme with a critical and approving eye.

“I dunno,” replied Patsy. “Sure, it’s moidhered I am! What is it you’re
afther, Con Cogan?”

“Is it to eat, or what?” asked Mr Cogan, still disregarding Patsy, and
touching the gelatine cover with his tongue.

“Stop, or it’s pizened you’ll be,” said Patsy; “it’s not for eatin’. You
catch hould of it at both ends, same as you have it now, and pull; but
don’t be doin’ it, or——”

Bang!

Next moment Mr Cogan was across the floor and out of the window.

“I told you not,” said Patsy, who had his hand on the sash. “Run, before
the house is up and afther you!”

“Why didn’t yiz tell me there was gunpowdher in it?” asked Con, whose
teeth were chattering. “Stick your ear out of the window, for this is
what I’ve come afther. Paddy Murphy will be here at twelve o’clock
to-morra night; he’ll be here at the window and give two taps—rimimber
what you swore.”

“Con!” said Patsy, leaning out into the darkness; but the valiant Con
had vanished.

Upstairs Mr Fanshawe had slipped on an old shooting jacket, and, quite
forgetful of all Lady Seagrave’s prohibitions about tobacco, was
enjoying a cigar by his bedroom fire.

He was not dissatisfied with his day. He had had a good run with the
hounds, and he had been extraordinarily successful in securing a long
uninterrupted talk with Violet Lestrange, to say nothing of the
Blind-man’s Buff, yet he was disturbed in his mind and anxious.

He knew quite well that if he did not succeed in marrying the girl he
loved by strategy, he would never marry her at all. General Grampound
was not a bad man; he was worse, he was a coldly pig-headed man. He was
also a match-maker. Match-making (I do not refer to Lucifers) is an Army
disease; it is caught from living in warm climates; it attacks colonels
and generals, and they never recover from it.

To be a match-maker you must also be a match-breaker. In other words, if
you mix and meddle in other people’s love affairs you must inevitably do
mischief.

The General was determined that Violet Lestrange should marry Mr Boxall,
M.P., because, from the General’s point of view, Mr Boxall, M.P., was a
“good match.”

Mr Boxall was fat, and rather plain, and had a glass eye; that did not
matter in the least to the General. Had you remonstrated with him, he
would probably have answered you, “Dash, it, sir—the girl’s not going to
marry the fellow’s glass eye! He has seven thousand a year, and a tin
mine; what more do you want? He doesn’t smoke, he doesn’t play cards, he
doesn’t read novels or fritter his time away in rubbish; what more do
you want? He’s strong on army reform, and he’s sound on the tariff
question; what more do you want? I’ve made up my mind she shall marry
him, and marry him she will, if he had a hundred glass eyes—what do you
mean, sir, by shoving your oar in and mixing and meddling in other
people’s businesses?”

Dicky knew his uncle, and that is why he felt it to be impossible to
marry her in the ordinary fashion. The only chance was to make a runaway
match of it, and do it quick. Yet there were great difficulties in the
way. Tullagh station was fifteen miles from Glen Druid. Violet was
watched. To get a moment’s conversation with her alone was a most
difficult business.

If Violet and he were missed for an hour, search would inevitably be
made for them; they would be pursued and captured.

“Mr Fanshawe, sir!”

Mr Fanshawe turned in his chair with a start. The door was open, and
Patsy was standing in the doorway.

Patsy had the appearance of a sleep-walker burthened with a nightmare.

“Hulloo!” said Mr Fanshawe. “What’s the matter—what the deuce——”

“Mr Fanshawe, sir,” said Patsy, then he paused, rubbed his knuckles in
his eyes and broke out, blubbering. “It’s I that am in the thruble and
all—it’s I that am in the thruble and all,” blubbered Patsy,—“thinkin’
of yiz lyin’ murthered in your beds, and the young lady and the childer!
Oh, wirra, wirra! it’s ten fut under the sod I wish I was before I ever
see this day!”

“God bless the boy!” said Mr Fanshawe. “What on earth has happened?
Who’s murdering who, and what’s it all about?”

“I didn’t swear not to tell on thim—bad luck to thim!” said Patsy,
rubbing his nose with the back of his hand and suppressing his sobs.
“It’s the burgulars I tould you of, Mr Fanshawe.”

“What burglars?” asked Mr Fanshawe.

“The ones I tould you I dhramed of,” replied Patsy. “I wasn’t dhramin’
at all——”

“Then what on earth were you doing?” asked Mr Fanshawe, in whose mind
vague suspicious of Patsy’s sanity were beginning to arise.

“I was only pritindin’,” replied Patsy.

“Look here,” said Mr Fanshawe, “just pull yourself together and clear
your mind—what’s all this about burglars and murderers? Out with it, you
young beggar, before I take a hunting crop to you.”

Encouraged like this, Patsy told his tale.

“To-morrow night at twelve, do you say?” asked Mr Fanshawe. “Why, the
matter is simple enough: we must tell the police, that’s all.”

“The p’leece!” said Patsy with fine contempt. “Sure, the p’leece are all
at the other side of the country where the cattle dhrivin’ is goin’ on.
Mr Fanshawe, sir!”

“Yes, Patsy?”

“I was thinkin’ if you was to load wan of thim guns of yours up to the
muzzle wid bu’lets——”

“Yes, Patsy.”

“And stand with it in your fist close to the wall of me room be the
window. I’d open the sash. Paddy Murphy would stick the ugly head of him
into the room——”

“Yes, Patsy?”

“Thin you’d let fly wid the gun and blow it aff him.”

“Why, you murderous young devil,” said Mr Fanshawe, “do you know what
you are proposing—do you know you could be hanged for doing that?”

“For doin’ which, sir?”

“_Which!_—blowing a man’s head off like that.”

“Sure, who’d know?” replied the other. “The p’leece would be so glad to
be shut of him, they’d never ax no questions; and wouldn’t he _desarve_
it?”

“I don’t know anything about Mr Murphy’s deserts,” said Mr Fanshawe; “he
may be bad enough, but I’m not going to assassinate him in cold blood.
Patsy, can you keep a secret?”

“Tight as a drum,” replied Patsy.

“Well, don’t say a word of this to any one, and to-morrow night we may
have some fun with Mr Murphy. Did you ever catch a rabbit in a snare,
Patsy?”

Patsy grinned.

“Well, the idea has just come to me that we may be able to arrange
something of that sort for Mr Murphy. I only want a pulley and some
rope—stay, I have it: you know the flagstaff on the roof?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Well, there must be twenty yards or so of signal-halyard line on it.
You know what I mean—the rope they pull the flag up on.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Well, to-morrow you must get me that rope; it will do in the evening
time after dinner. Is there anything I can fix a pulley to in the
ceiling?”

“Sure, there’s a big oak beam that’d hould an iliphant,” said Patsy,
whose rabbit-snaring instincts told him something of the plan which had
occurred to Mr Fanshawe.

“That will do. Now cut off to bed, and mind you say nothing of this to
any one. It isn’t every day one has the chance of trapping a burglar.
The beagles meet to-morrow at ten, don’t they?”

“Yes, sir, at the park gates,” replied Patsy.

“Right!” said Mr Fanshawe. “Be sure and call me at eight.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER XIX

                                  SHAN


The Castle Knock beagles were a mixed pack of tall hare-hounds and tiny
rabbit-beagles. Nearly every cottager boarded a dog; Mr French (a cousin
of Mr O’Farrell, the Master of the Hounds) supplied most of the money
requisite, and Shan Finucane was the huntsman.

Shan had been after hares for thirty years or so. He was a
cadaverous-looking person with solid leather lungs, a face the colour of
mahogany (almost), an eye like a gimlet, and an old green coat with
three brass buttons on it. A battered old hunting horn, and a whip with
a leaden ball on the top of it completed Shan’s rig-out.

Shan was great in the field, absolute master of all he surveyed; to see
him, with the cry of the dogs answering his cry of “Forrard, forrard,”
to see him with the tails of his old tattered coat flying in the air as
he took bank and bramble hedge, mud-spattered, hallooing, exultant and
glorious, was to see a sight you were not likely to forget in a hurry.

Though the beagles were good sport, and their runs sometimes attended by
the “quality,” a section of the sporting community of Castle Knock
turned up its nose at them.

Billy the Buck, for instance, would, so he declared, have sooner been
found dead in a ditch than “runnin’ afther them baygles.” The little
short runs that a hare afforded were no use to Billy: great stretches of
country were the desire of his soul; besides, he was at mortal enmity
with Shan.

Mr Mahony, the sweep, was also an anti-beagleite. His donkey-cart was
never seen at a meet of “thim tarriers,” as he called them. The fact of
the matter being that Mr Mahony hated to be outshone. He was the
sporting oracle of the village. Two years ago he had backed “Ballybrack”
at the Tullagh races. No one else had spotted the horse as a winner; it
had started at thirty to one, and Mr Mahony had scooped thirty pounds,
and been wheeled home under a pig-net in a wheel-barrow. Though he had
backed several losers since then, his word was still law on all matters
concerning sport, and the airs put on by Shan when he was hunting with
his “tarriers” vexed the soul of Mr Mahony.

 At nine o’clock of this bright, grey winter’s morning, coming along the
broad high-road from Kilgobbin through air delicious with the scent of
turf smoke from the cottages and the smell of the good brown earth, you
might have seen Shan Finucane in all his glory, half a dozen couples of
dogs at his heels, and his old whip under his arm.

When he reached the entrance to the village of Castle Knock he blew a
note on his horn.

The effect was magical. Heads popped out of doors, children ran into the
street, pigs stopped grubbing in the road and cocked their eyes over
their shoulders in the direction of the sound; the Castle Knock inn
vomited its customers from the bar parlour into the roadway, and from a
cottage door here and there shot a dog, a beagle-boarder who joined the
pack that was half following, half surrounding the huntsman.

From backyards you could hear shouts of “Who’s blowin’ the horn?” and
answering shouts, “It’s Shan and the dogs.” Down the street, all
besprinkled with people, every one gave the huntsman good-day, jocularly
or otherwise.

“Good-mornin’ to you, Shan,” “Top of the mornin’ to you, Shan,” “Yiv
lost a button from your coat, Shan,” “Shan, you’re bustin’ at the
elbows,”—through all of which marched the huntsman supremely
indifferent, till he reached the inn front, where he drew up, nodded to
the landlord, and surveyed his dogs.

It was now after nine, the meet took place at ten, at the gates of Glen
Druid House; that is to say the nominal meet—this was the real one.

“Where are you goin’ to try first, Shan?” asked a burly farmer.

Shan, without replying, shoved his old cap back from his forehead and
re-surveyed his dogs.

“There’s wan short,” said he, “ould Rafter, that boards at Finnegan’s.
Run, Bob Murphy, and don’t stop to pick yourself up if y’ tumble down,
and give me respects to the Widdy Finnegan. Ax her to loose the dog; she
has him shut in the ould pig-sty, most like. She hasn’t tumbled to the
chune of the horn, for she’s as deaf as a coffin, and half moidhered in
her mind. What was you axing me, Mr O’Rourke?”

The farmer repeated his question.

“Tare an’ ages!” cried Shan, letting fly his whip at a harrier that had
got a rabbit-beagle down on its back and was making for a hold in its
throat, “them two dogs is the Siamese twins for fighting. Loose her, you
baste, or I’ll cut the coat off your back! What is this you were sayin’,
Mr O’Rourke?”

The farmer, who had “tumbled” to the reason of Shan’s deafness, produced
a flask from his pocket.

Shan applied it to his lips, half emptied it, replaced the cork, wiped
his mouth with the back of his hand and was about to give the required
information, when, bursting through the crowd, came Patsy.

“Shan,” cried Patsy, “I’ve run hot-fut from the Big House to tell yiz
the quality are comin’ to the meet, and you’re to wait for thim if so be
they’re late.”

“Listen to that now!” murmured the surrounding throng.

“Right y’ are, Patsy,” replied Shan, with a glitter in his eye, for the
presence of the “quality” meant tips, and maybe a subscription to the
pack. “And how many of them are coming, Patsy.”

“Faith, I dinno,” replied Patsy; “but Mr Fanshawe is comin’, sure, and
he never pulls out less than a suverin when he puts his hand in his
pocket. And then there’s the Mimber of Parliament, and the ould Gineral,
and the young lady wid the blew eyes, and the childer—and it’s back I
must be runnin’, or it’s me place I’ll be losin’.”

“Away wid yiz, then!” cried Shan; and Patsy departed, running.

That morning at eight, when Patsy had brought up Mr Fanshawe’s shaving
water, the latter had handed to him a note which he had written before
going to bed.

“Patsy,” said Mr Fanshawe, “you’re a boy I can trust; there’s a note
there on the dressing-table—do you see it?”

“I do, sir.”

“Well, it’s for the young lady—Miss Lestrange. I want you to give it to
her; but, look here, Patsy, I don’t want any one to know about it——”

“Sure, I could slip it under her door,” said Patsy; “she slapes in the
room next to her ladyship.”

“Yes, that will do. It’s only a note asking her to go to the meet this
morning; it’s at ten, you say?”

“Tin o’clock at the big gates,” replied Patsy. “Shan Finucane is the
huntsman, and he’ll be in the village collecting the dogs be nine. I’ll
just slip down to him and tell him not to start wid the dogs till you’re
on the spot; it’s plazed he’ll be to wait, for it’s not often the
quality follows the dogs, only Mr Frinch, and the village rubbish, and
maybe a farmer or two from Tullagh way. Is there anything else I can be
gettin’ you, Mr Fanshawe?”

“No, that’s all,” replied Mr Fanshawe. “Just put the note under the
door, as you say, and don’t let any one see you.”

There was nothing treasonable in the note; it ran:—

“Come to the meet of the beagles this morning. Some of the rest of them
are sure to go, but we may find an opportunity to have a few words
together. _Put on a short skirt and a pair of thick boots._ Excuse these
rather mysterious instructions, but I have a reason for it. DICK.”

When he came downstairs the General was helping himself to chicken and
tongue at the sideboard, Mr Boxall was spreading his serviette across
his knees, and Violet Lestrange, in the absence of Lady Seagrave and
Lady Molyneux, both late risers, was presiding at the teapot behind the
huge copper urn, still to be found a relic of the past here and there in
Irish country houses.

“Morning!” said Dicky.

He could not see Violet’s boots or skirt, for they were under the table,
but she was in tweed, and had an open-airy look.

Patsy, as Mr Fanshawe took his seat, was placing a toast-rack on the
other side of the table, and as Mr Fanshawe’s eye caught Patsy’s eye,
Patsy winked.

It was a wonderful wink, for there was not a trace of familiarity or
disrespect in it. The face was perfectly immovable, the left eye closed
for the hundredth part of a second, that was all; but what a lot of
meaning that insignificant muscular movement conveyed! It told that the
message had been delivered, but it said a lot more. It conveyed the
impression that all was well, that Patsy in some miraculous way had
discovered that Miss Lestrange had fallen in with Dicky’s suggestion,
and that he, Patsy, was on the watch ready to assist matters to the
uttermost, and to exercise secrecy and dispatch.

“Who’s coming to the meet?” asked Violet, as she poured out Mr
Fanshawe’s tea.

“What meet?” asked Dicky.

“The beagles,” she replied. “Patsy, what time do the beagles meet
to-day?”

“Tin o’clock, miss, at the park gates.”

“I’m not,” replied Dicky. “Too stiff; besides, running after beagles is
not in my line.”

“Too stiff!” growled the General, who had taken his seat opposite
Dicky—“too lazy, you mean—Pass me the mustard—The young men of to-day
aren’t the young men of my time. Why, a twenty-mile run over the country
when I was your age was only exercise—gentle exercise, sir.”

“I’ll come,” said Mr Boxall, “if I shall not be in the way. There is no
necessity to follow the hounds. It is a long while since I have indulged
in any description of sport; in fact, I have not seen a fox for years.”

Patsy, who was handing a dish of kippered herrings to Mr Fanshawe, very
nearly exploded.

“I believe beagles generally hunt hares,” said Mr Fanshawe. “But, as you
all seem so active, I’ll join you. It’s after nine now, Patsy; you’d
better be off and tell them to hold on and not start till we come.”

It was ten minutes past ten when the party, Violet and General Grampound
walking first, Mr Fanshawe and Mr Boxall following, neared the park
gates.

“Listen!” said Violet, as they drew near the end of the drive.

“Why, God bless my soul,” said the General, “it sounds like a faction
fight or a fair!”

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                               CHAPTER XX

                        THE MEET OF THE BEAGLES


Directly Patsy had left the news that the “quality” were coming to the
meet and returned to the house, the crowd in front of the Castle Knock
inn thickened.

Word of the impending event went from cabin to cabin, and Mr Mahony, the
chimney sweep, put his head out of his door.

“What’s the news, Rafferty?” cried Mr Mahony.

“Mimber of Parlymint and all the quality comin’ to the meet!” cried a
ragged-looking ruffian who was running by.

“Sure, it’ll be a big day for Shan Finucane,” said Mrs Mahony, who was
standing behind her husband in the doorway with a baby in her arms.

Mr Mahony said nothing for a while, but watched the crowd in front of
the inn.

“Look at him,” said Mr Mahony, breaking out at last—“look at him in his
ould green coat! Look at him with the ould whip undher his arm, and the
boots on his feet not paid for, and him struttin’ about as if he was the
Marquis of Watherford! Holy Mary! did yiz ever see such an objick! Mr
Mullins!”

“Halloo!” replied Mr Mullins, the cobbler across the way, who, with his
window open owing to the mildness of the weather, was whaling away at a
shoe-sole, the only busy man in the village.

“Did y’ hear the news?”

“What news?”

“Shan’s going to get a new coat.”

“Faith, thin, I hope he’ll pay first for his ould shoes.”

“How much does he owe you?”

“Siven and six—bad cess to him!”

“He’ll pay you to-night, if he doesn’t drink the money first, for
there’s a Mimber of Parlymint goin’ to the meet, and he’ll most like put
a suverin in the poor box.”

Mr Mullins made no reply, but went on whaling away at his shoe, and Bob
Mahony, having stepped into his cottage for a light for his pipe, came
back and took up his post again at the door.

The crowd round the inn was growing bigger and bigger. Sneer as he
might, Mr Mahony could not but perceive that Shan was having the centre
of the stage, a worshipping audience, and free drinks.

Suddenly he turned to his offspring, who were crowding behind him, and
singling out Billy, the eldest:

“Put the dunkey to,” said Mr Mahony.

“Sure, daddy,” cried the boy in astonishment, “it’s only the tarriers.”

“Put the dunkey to!” thundered his father, “or it’s the end of me belt
I’ll be brightenin’ your intellects with.”

“There’s two bags of sut in the cart and the brushes,” said Billy, as he
made off to do as he was bidden.

“Lave them in,” said Mr Mahony; “it’s only the tarriers.”

In a few minutes the donkey, whose harness was primitive and composed
mainly of rope, was put to, and the vehicle was at the door.

“Bob!” cried his wife, as he took his seat.

“What is it?” asked Mr Mahony, taking the reins.

“Won’t you be afther givin’ your face the lick of a tow’l?”

“It’s only the tarriers,” replied Mr Mahony; “sure, I’m clane enough for
them. Come up wid you, Norah.”

Norah, the small donkey, whose ears had been cocking this way and that,
picked up her feet, and the vehicle, which was not much bigger than a
costermonger’s barrow, started.

At this moment, also, Shan and the dogs and the crowd were getting into
motion, making down the road for Glen Druid gates.

“Hulloo! hulloo! hulloo!” cried Mr Mahony, as he rattled up behind in
the cart, “where are yiz off to?”

“The meet of the baygles,” replied twenty voices; whilst Shan, who had
heard his enemy’s voice, stalked on, surrounded by his dogs, his old
battered hunting horn in one hand, and his whip under his arm.

“And where are they goin’ to meet?” asked Mr Mahony.

“Glen Druid gate,” replied the camp followers. “There’s a Mimber of
Parlymint comin’, and all the quality from the Big House.”

“Faith,” said Mr Mahony, “I thought there was somethin’ up, for, by the
look of Shan as he passed me house this mornin’, I thought he’d
swallowed the Lord Liftinant, Crown jewels and all. Hulloo! hulloo!
hulloo! make way for me carridge! Who are you crowdin’? Don’t you know
the Earl of Leinsther when y’ see him? Out of the way, or I’ll call me
futman to disparse yiz.”

Shan heard it all, but marched on. He could have killed Bob Mahony, who
was turning his triumph into a farce, but he contented himself with
letting fly with his whip amongst the dogs, and blowing a note on his
horn.

“What’s that nize?” enquired Mr Mahony, with a wink at the delighted
crowd tramping beside the donkey-cart.

“Shan’s blowin’ his harn,” yelled the rabble.

“Faith, I thought it was Widdy Finnegan’s rooster he was carryin’ in the
tail pockit of his coat,” said the humorist.

The crowd roared at this conceit, which was much more pungent and
pointed as delivered in words by Mr Mahony; but Shan, to all
appearances, was deaf.

The road opposite the park gates was broad and shadowed by huge elm
trees, which gave the spot in summer the darkness and coolness of a
cave. Here Shan halted, the crowd halted, and the donkey-cart drew up.

Mr Mahony tapped the dottle out of his pipe carefully on the rail of his
cart, filled the pipe, replaced the dottle on the top of the tobacco,
and drew a whiff.

The clock of Glen Druid House struck ten, and the notes came floating
over park and trees; not that any one heard them, for the yelping of the
dogs and the noise of the crowd filled the quiet country road with the
hubbub of a fair.

“What’s that you were axing me?” cried Mr Mahony to a supposed
interrogator in the crowd. “Is the Prince o’ Wales comin’? No, he ain’t.
I had a tellygrum from him this mornin’ sendin’ his excuzes. Will some
gintleman poke that rat-tarrier out that’s got under the wheels of me
carridge—out, you baste!” He leaned over and hit a rabbit-beagle that
had strayed under the donkey-cart a tip with his stick. The dog, though
not hurt, for Bob Mahony was much too good a sportsman to hurt an
animal, gave a yelp.

Shan turned at the sound, and his rage exploded.

“Who are yiz hittin’?” cried Shan.

“I’m larnin’ your dogs manners,” replied Bob.

The huntsman surveyed the sweep, the cart, the soot bags, and the
donkey.

“I beg your pardin’,” said he, touching his hat, “I didn’t see you at
first for the sut.”

Mr Mahony took his short pipe from his mouth, put it back upside down,
shoved his old hat further back on his head, rested his elbows on his
knees and contemplated Shan.

“But it’s glad I am,” went on Shan, “you’ve come to the meet and brought
a mimber of the family with you.”

Fate was against Bob Mahony, for at that moment Norah, scenting another
of her species in a field near by, curled her lip, stiffened her legs,
projected her head, rolled her eyes, and “let a bray out of her” that
almost drowned the howls of laughter from the exulting mob.

But Shan Finucane did not stir a muscle of his face, and Bob Mahony’s
fixed sneer did not flicker or waver.

“Don’t mention it, mum,” said Shan, taking off his old cap when the last
awful, rasping, despairing note of the bray had died down into silence.

Another howl from the onlookers, which left Mr Mahony quite unmoved.

“They get on well together,” said he, addressing an imaginary
acquaintance in the crowd. “Whisht and hould your nize, and let’s hear
what else they have to say to wan another.”

Suddenly, and before Shan Finucane could open his lips, a boy who had
been looking over the rails into the park, yelled:

“Here’s the Mimber of Parlyment—here they come—Hurroo!”

“Now, then,” said the huntsman, dropping repartee and seizing the
sweep’s donkey by the bridle, “sweep yourselves off, and don’t be
disgracin’ the hunt wid your sut-bags and your dirty faces—away wid
yiz!”

“The hunt!” yelled Mahony, with a burst of terrible laughter. “Listen to
him and his ould rat-tarriers callin’ thim a hunt! Lave go of the
dunkey!”

“Away wid yiz!”

“Lave go of the dunkey, or I’ll batter the head of you in wid me stick!
Lave go of the dunkey!”

Suddenly seizing the long flue brush beside him, and disengaging it from
the bundle of sticks with which it was bound, he let fly with the
bristle end of it at Shan, and Shan, catching his heel on a stone, went
over flat on his back in the road.

In a second he was up, whip in hand; in a second Mr Mahony was down, a
bag half filled with soot—a terrible weapon of assault—in his fist.

“Harns! harns!” yelled Mahony, mad with the spirit of battle, and
unconsciously chanting the fighting cry of long-forgotten ancestors.
“Who says cruckeder than a ram’s harn!”

“Go it, Shan!” yelled the onlookers. “Give it him, Bob—sut him in the
face—Butt-end the whip, y’ idgit—Hurroo! Hurroo! Holy Mary! he nearly
landed him then—Mind the dogs——”

Armed with the soot bag swung like a club, and the old hunting whip
butt-ended, the two combatants formed the centre of a circle of yelling
admirers.

“Look!” said Miss Lestrange, as the party from the house came in view of
the road. “Look at the crowd and the two men!”

“They’re fighting!” cried the General. “I believe the ruffians have
dared to have the impudence to start fighting!”

At this moment came the noise of wheels from behind, and the “tub,”
which had obtained permission to go to the meet, drew up, with Patsy
driving the children.

“Let the children remain here,” said the General. “You stay with them,
Violet. Come along, Boxall, till we see what these ruffians mean.”

So filled was his mind with the objects in view that he quite forgot
Dicky Fanshawe.

“You _have_ put on the short skirt,” said Dicky, who at that moment
would scarcely have turned his head twice or given a second thought had
the battle of Austerlitz been in full blast beyond the park palings.

“And my thick boots,” said Violet, pushing forward a delightful little
boot to speak for itself.

The children were so engaged watching the proceedings on the road that
they had no eyes or ears for their elders.

“Have you ever been beagling before?” asked Dicky.

“Never; but I’ve been paper-chasing.”

“You can get through a hedge?”

“Rather!”

“That’ll do,” said Dicky.

“Mr Fanshawe,” cried Lord Gawdor from the “tub,” “look at the chaps in
the road—aren’t they going for each other!”

“I see,” said Mr Fanshawe, whose back was to the road—“Violet——”

“Yes.”

“No one’s looking——”

“That doesn’t matter—_No_—not here—Dicky, if you don’t behave, I’ll get
into the tub—Gracious! what’s that?”

“He’s down!” cried Patsy, who had been standing up to see better.

“Who?” asked Mr Fanshawe.

“The Mimber of Parlyment—Misther Boxall—Bob Mahony’s grassed him——”

“They’re _all_ fighting!” cried Violet. “Come, Mr Fanshawe—Patsy——” She
started for the gates at a run.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER XXI

                       MR BOXALL GETS IN THE WAY


When the General had arrived on the scene, Shan had just got in and
landed his antagonist a drum-sounding blow on the ribs with the butt of
his whip.

“Seize the other chap, Boxall!” cried General Grampound, making for
Mahony.

He was just half a second too late; the soot bag, swung like a club,
missed Shan, and, catching Mr Boxall fair and square on the side of his
face, sent him spinning like a tee-totum across the road, and head over
heels in the ditch.

That was all.

A dead silence took the yelling crowd.

“He’s kilt!” came a voice.

“He isn’t; sure, his legs is wavin’.”

“Who is he?”

“He’s the Mimber of Parlyment.”

“Off wid you, Bob Mahony—you’ve kilt the Mimber of Parlyment! Run for
your life, and don’t lave off runnin’ till you’re out of the county.”

“Hold your tongue!” cried General Grampound. “Boxall—hullo! Boxall! are
you hurt?”

“I’m all right,” replied Mr Boxall, who, from being legs upwards, was
now on hands and knees in the ditch. “I’ve lost something—dash it!”

“What have you lost?”

“Watch.”

“Come out, and I’ll get some of these chaps to look.”

Mr Boxall came out of the ditch with his handkerchief held to the left
side of his forehead.

“Why, your watch and chain are on you!” cried the General.

“So they are,” said Mr Boxall, pulling the watch out with his left hand,
and putting it back. “I’m off to the house—I want to wash.”

“Sure you’re not hurt?”

“Not in the least, only my forehead scratched.”

“What’s up?” cried Dicky Fanshawe, who had just arrived.

“Nothing,” replied his uncle. “Fellow hit him by mistake—no bones
broken. Will you take the governess-cart back to the house, Boxall?”

“No thanks—I’ll walk.”

“His legs is all right,” murmured the sympathetic crowd, as the injured
one departed still with his handkerchief to his face, “and his arums.
Sure, it’s the mercy and all his neck wasn’t bruck.”

“Did yiz see the skelp Bob landed him?”

“Musha! Sure, I thought it would have sent his head flying into Athy,
like a gulf ball.”

Patsy, who had pulled the governess-cart up, rose to his feet; his sharp
eye had caught sight of something lying on the road.

“Hould the reins a moment, Mr Robert,” said he, putting them into Lord
Gawdor’s hands. He hopped out of the cart, picked up the object in the
road, whatever it was, put it in his trousers pocket, and then stood
holding the pony’s head; whilst the meet, from which Bob Mahony had
departed as swiftly as his donkey could trot, turned its attention to
the business of the day, and Shan, collecting his dogs, declared his
intention of drawing the Furzes.

“Was that a marble you picked up, Patsy?” asked Lord Gawdor, as the
red-headed one, hearing Shan’s declaration, climbed into the “tub” again
and took the reins.

Patsy grinned.

“Be sittin’ still, now,” said he, hitting the pony a flick with the
whip, “or the ould General will, maybe, be sendin’ us back. It’s the
Furzes Shan’s goin’ to draw.”

“But was it a marble, Patsy?”

“Look at Shan and the dogs and ould Rafter cockin’ his tail,” said
Patsy. “It’s the fine sport we’ll be havin’ if there’s a hare in the
Furzes.”

The Furzes, a tract of waste land bordering a big stretch of ploughed
fields and arable land, was reached in twenty minutes’ walk, General
Grampound walking between Dick and Violet and rigorously dividing them.

It was a splendid day for the business—one of those grey, damp days one
gets only in Ireland.

The company spread itself a bit, and Shan was assailed by all sorts of
suggestions and queries.

“Try the fields, Shan.”

“Try the garse bushes over beyant the rise.”

“The ould quarry hole, Shan.”

“Sure, there’s a herd of hares in the hollow beyant the scrub firs.”

“Niver you listen to thim, Shan; it’s in the Sivin Acres you ought to be
tryin’.”

Meanwhile, Shan, supremely indifferent to advice and suggestions, began
to draw the adjacent cover.

“I do hope they’ll find a hare,” said Miss Lestrange, whose eyes were
sparkling.

“Hare!” said the General, “I don’t believe there’s one in the county.
Every one of these blessed small tenants owns a gun of some sort, and
they’re poachers to a man.”

At that instant, as if to give him the lie, came a “view halloa!” from
Micky Finnegan away to the right where the fence divided the scrub land
from the fields.

In a second Rafter, followed by the pack, Shan, and all the field was
making towards the sound.

“Run!” cried Dicky, as he started after them, followed by Violet and
General Grampound, who, despite the fact that his wind wasn’t “what it
used to be,” managed to keep up with them.

The dogs were just laid on, and every hound gave tongue as they streamed
through the fence and over the ploughed land followed by Shan, who took
the fence like a grasshopper, and the yelling field.

Over the sound of the dogs, over the laughter and shouts, over
everything came Shan’s “Forrard! forrard! forrard! Hi up, y’ divils!”

“Over you go!” cried Dicky, who had taken the fence at a jump, whilst
Violet, scrambling over, nearly tumbled into his arms. “It’s only a
short bit of plough, and there’s grass fields beyond.”

“Look at thim!” cried Patsy, who, with the children, was standing up in
the “tub.” “Look at the ould Gineral getting over the fence; he’s
callin’ thim to stop! Brayvo, Mr Fanshawe! Look at the ould Gineral—look
at him goin’ over the plough—they’re through the hedge beyant. He’s
afther thim—he’s through! He ain’t—he’s slipped and over on his back.
Hurroo! brayvo, Mr Fanshawe! They’re half over the grass field.”

“Run!” cried Dicky, as he dragged his companion through an opening in
the hedge, dividing the plough from the grass lands.

“Oh, Dicky,” gasped the girl, half dead with running, and laughing at
the same time, “listen to him!”

“I know,” said he. “It’s horrible—but’s it’s our only chance to have a
minute together. Cling on to the end of my stick, it’ll help you. This
grass isn’t bad going.”

“He’s in the ditch!” gasped Violet.

“It’s soft—he won’t hurt—run!”

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER XXII

                                  LOVE


“Where are the dogs and things?” asked Miss Lestrange, as she sat on a
grassy bank under the shelter of a thick hedge, panting and arranging
her hat.

“_I_ don’t know,” replied Mr Fanshawe. “I only know _he_ must be a
couple of miles away.”

“This was the reason you wanted me to put on the short skirt.”

“Yes. Wasn’t a bad idea—was it?”

“I don’t know,” sighed she, in a despairing way, and then burst out
laughing. “I’m not laughing at him—it’s the whole thing—that man hitting
Mr Boxall over the head with a bag of soot—and the little
donkey-cart—and that man in the old green coat with the whip—and his
tumbling into the ditch, and all these people running after the
hounds——”

“And our running away!”

“And our running away!”

“Bother!” said Dicky.

“What’s the matter?” asked Miss Lestrange, who had drawn a long pin from
her hat, and was now reinserting it daintily with both hands upheld.

“I was thinking,” said Dicky, “that as we had run away so far we might
complete the job, only——”

“Only what?”

“I’ve only five and sixpence in my pockets.”

“Is my hat straight?”

“Perfectly—I wish you’d be serious.”

“Serious about running away with only five and sixpence between us?”

“No, it’s not that,” he replied rather grumpily.

There was silence, for a moment. The ground here was high, and gave a
view of vast prospects of dull grey weather, land, locked in the sleep
of winter; woods, fields, waste lands, vague hills all neutral-tinted
under the grey, drifting sky.

You could see the smoke rising from tiny cabins, you could hear, now and
again, the crowing of cocks very far away, you could hear occasionally
the melancholy toot of a horn from the invisible Shan, hunting his hares
somewhere in the invisible distance, a figure remote from actuality as a
huntsman in a dream.

A weak wind blew warm from the south, stirring the withered leaves in
the hedge, and a little bird was singing somewhere near by.

“If it were all like this,” said the girl, with a sigh, “it wouldn’t be
bad.”

“What?”

“Running away.”

“It will be better than this,” said he, putting his arm round her waist.

                             --------------

“I wish I knew his name,” said Mr Fanshawe, after the lapse of five
minutes or so, “and I’d—pension him.”

“Who?”

“That fellow who hit Boxall on the head with the bag of soot.”

                             --------------

“It’s like a dream,” she murmured. “Do you know, Dicky, I don’t think I
was really in love with you this morning—it has all come with a
rush—this is the _real_ thing.”

“The only thing!” murmured Dicky, speaking into the back of her hair.

                             --------------

“Is my hat straight?” asked Miss Lestrange.

“Perfectly—no, let me tilt it a bit—bless it!—that’s right—to think that
it’s mine, and you are mine, and your little boots and every bit of
you!”

“You, too,” she said, casting over him a loving glance.

“When it comes to the point,” he said, “I know you’ll be brave. Believe
me, it is the only thing to do. I can get a special licence, there will
be no difficulty—Aunt Domville will arrange. I’ll write to the
Archbishop of Dublin to-day, and his secretary can interview her; it can
be done at her house immediately we arrive. We must give a reason for
getting a special licence, and the reason I’ll give is that I’m going
abroad in a hurry—which,” added Mr Fanshawe, with a grin, “will be the
fact, for we’ll go straight to Nice for the honeymoon. Violet, in three
days from this you will be my wife.”

“But Dicky—_how_ will we get away?”

“I know, it’s like being in a trap,” said Mr Fanshawe, “but we’ll do it.
It’s the fifteen miles to the station that will be the bother. The
express from Carlow to Dublin goes through Tullagh station at four in
the morning, it doesn’t stop (I’ve been looking up the trains), but I’ll
write to the manager of the Great Midland of Ireland and have it
stopped, or have a special. This is Tuesday, on Friday morning at four
o’clock we’ll be in the train—leave everything to me. Old James, the
butler, is a fool and not to be trusted, but Patsy——”

“It’s funny,” said Miss Lestrange, “I was just that moment thinking of
Patsy, and that he might help.”

“Patsy is a jewel!” said Mr Fanshawe.

Violet looked at the watch on her wrist.

“It’s after twelve,” she said. “Let’s go back—I’m half afraid—I don’t
know what he’ll say, but luncheon is at half-past one, and we must be a
good way off. Where are we?”

“I don’t know,” said Mr Fanshawe, looking round; “we must have run in a
circle or something, for I’m all mixed up. There’s a lot of woods over
there—they may be the woods around Glen Druid; and there’s a lot of
woods over _there_—they may be the woods round Glen Druid—bother!”

“Which is north and which is south?”

“Not having a compass, I can’t tell.”

“Can’t you tell by the sun or the wind—or anything?”

“There’s no sun—and the wind can’t tell us much; besides, if I knew the
points of the compass it wouldn’t be a bit of use. I believe there’s a
road down over there; let’s make for it—roads generally lead somewhere.”

They made in the direction he had pointed out.

“What are you laughing at?” asked Mr Fanshawe.

“I was thinking of what Mr Boxall said at breakfast.”

“What was that?”

“He said he would come with us if he wouldn’t be in the way.”

“Poor old Boxall! Oh, by-the-bye, that reminds me——”

“What?”

“I don’t know why Boxall should have reminded me, but—I say, you’ll
promise not to split if I tell you something?”

“Yes—go on.”

“Well, we’re going to have a burglary to-night.” “A what—when?” asked
Violet.

“A burglary to-night. I know it sounds rather funny, but we’re in
Ireland, you know. Anyhow, a man is coming to steal old Lady Molyneux’s
jewels, and I’m going to catch him. Patsy is going to let him in through
his bedroom window, and I’m going to hive him.” He explained the
_rationale_ of the affair in a few words.

“What fun!” cried the girl, her eyes sparkling. “Dicky, let me see it.”

“I’m afraid I can’t. You see, it’s Patsy’s room, and late at night and
all that, but you’re pretty sure to _hear_ it.”

“I’d like to see it,” pouted Miss Lestrange. “Well, promise me this—when
you’ve caught him, and tied him up, will you call me down and let me see
him?”

“I’ll see,” said Dicky.

“I don’t think things like these could happen anywhere else but in
Ireland or a—dream,” said Miss Lestrange, as he helped her through the
hedge on to the road, finishing her sentence with her lips to his.

“It seems a kind of mixture of both,” he murmured.

“That’s the sixteenth this morning,” said Miss Lestrange, with a little
gasp.

“Seventeen—eighteen—nineteen—twenty,” counted Mr Fanshawe, “and one on
the eyebrow. Now, let’s see where we are.”

A hundred yards to the right there was a cross-road and a sign-post,
which read, taking one set of arms:

[Illustration: Carlow 126 Miles]

Taking the other

[Illustration: ½ way to Dublin]

“Half-way from where?” asked Miss Lestrange.

“I don’t know,” replied Mr Fanshawe.

The wind blew amidst the thistles at the foot of the sign-post in a
cynical manner, and the cawing of crows came from the fields.

“I shouldn’t mind,” she said, “only for the row we’re sure to get into;
they’ll be waiting luncheon. It’s bad enough our running on and leaving
him in the ditch, but that’s _nothing_ to keeping him waiting for
luncheon.”

“Why the deuce need they wait?” cried Mr Fanshawe.

“You don’t know what he’s like when he’s kept waiting for his food,”
said Miss Lestrange.

“Don’t I!”

“Listen,” she said.

The noise of wheels broke the awful silence around them, and round the
bend of the road, coming from the direction indicated as “Carlow 126
miles,” appeared the “tub.”

“That’s our salvation,” said Violet.

“That’s Patsy,” said Mr Fanshawe.

“We’ve been chasing you,” cried Doris, as the “tub” drew up. “We saw you
away up there sitting under the hedge. We were on the other road, then,
when Patsy saw you get up and come down the hill, he said we’d be sure
to find you here.”

“How many miles are we from the house, Patsy?” asked Mr Fanshawe.

“Four, sir.”

“If Miss Lestrange gets into the cart, can you get her there before
lunch-time?”

“Aisy, sir. Punch’ll do it in twenty minits.”

Miss Lestrange got into the cart.

“How are you goin’, sir?” asked Patsy.

“I’ll run beside you—on you go.”

At the park gates they stopped.

“You go on,” said Mr Fanshawe, “I’ll turn up in half an hour, or
so—better not say you’ve seen me at all, for we’ll get into a row for
not having gone back to help my uncle out of the ditch.”

“I won’t say a word,” said Lord Gawdor.

“Nor I,” said Doris.

Patsy said nothing, he only grinned.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                             CHAPTER XXIII

                             THE WILD DUCKS


General Grampound in make, shape, manner, voice and character was
exactly like the General one meets on the stage in a farce. One meets
numerous people in the course of one’s journey through the world who
seem to have strayed into life from a farce, and, as a rule, they are
very unpleasant people to deal with—play their parts indifferently well,
and sometimes stray out of the world leaving a tragedy behind them.

General Grampound had been winding himself up. After his cropper in the
ditch he had given up the chase and returned home. He had been winding
himself up, but, as a matter of fact, he did not want much winding.

In this respect—and some others—the old gentleman very much resembled
Selina.

During the hour before luncheon he had been constructing set speeches
with which to greet his nephew and his ward on their return. It was
considerably to his disgust when, just before the luncheon gong rang,
the “tub” containing Violet, the children and Patsy—all the picture of
happy innocence—drove up to the front steps.

“Oh, there you are!” cried Miss Lestrange, glancing up at her guardian,
who had opened the hall door and was standing on the top step. “What
became of you?”

“Where’s Richard?” asked the General. “I called to you to stop. He had
no right to go dragging you through that hedge. Where is he?”

“I don’t know,” said Violet. “I met the governess-cart, and they gave me
a lift. Did you see the hare?”

“No,” said the General, glaring at the “tub” and its occupants, “I saw
no hare. Look at that pony, all of a lather. What do you mean by driving
cattle in that fashion, sir—eh?”

“I wasn’t dhrivin’ no cattle, sir,” replied Patsy, who had for General
Grampound a feeling compounded in about equal parts of hatred and fear.
“Punch always lathers if you dhrive him beyand a walk.”

“Come on, come on,” said the old gentleman, turning to Violet, “get your
hat off—get yourself ready, the luncheon is waiting—you were late for
breakfast——”

“I wasn’t,” said Violet; “I was down before you.”

“I have repeatedly said,” went on the elder, “that to make a hotel of
another person’s house, rushing out at all hours and back to meals at
all hours, is deuced bad form. I have——”

The roar of the gong cut him short, and Violet rushed upstairs to change
her hat.

“Had a good run?” asked Uncle Molyneux at luncheon.

“Had a good what?” asked General Grampound.

“Run—beagles, you know.”

“I have,” said Dicky, who had just returned, answering the question and
slipping into his seat both at the same time, “No—chops, please—what
became of you?”

“I met the governess-cart,” replied Violet, “and came home in it.”

“Where’s Boxall?” asked Uncle Molyneux.

“Mr Boxall is not feeling very well, sir, and will not be down to
luncheon,” said old James.

Patsy, who had given the pony in charge of the stable lad, given his
face a “lick of a towel,” and assumed duty as distributer of mashed
potatoes, was passing along pursuing his functions at the opposite side
of the table to Mr Fanshawe.

As James gave this information, Mr Fanshawe saw the ghost of a grin pass
across Patsy’s face and vanish.

“I’ll go up and see him after luncheon,” said the General. “I expect
that tumble into the ditch has shaken him up?”

“Did Mr Boxall follow the hounds?” asked Lady Molyneux.

“No; it was at the meet,” replied the General. “A ruffian hit him on the
side of the head with a bag of soot. Egad, I thought his neck was
broken!”

“Oh,” said Lady Molyneux. She said no more, and went on with her
luncheon. It was her first visit to Ireland. Beyond milliners’ bills,
pug dogs, three square meals a day, _Debrett_, and the _Almanach de
Gotha_, the world had little to interest Lady Molyneux. She thought,
perhaps, that to be half stunned with a bag of soot was a proper
accompaniment to an Irish meet of the hounds; at all events, she did not
express a contrary opinion by word or manner.

After luncheon the General, having enquired which was Mr Boxall’s room,
went up and knocked at the door.

“Come in,” answered a voice. “Who’s there?”

General Grampound opened the door and entered.

Mr Boxall was in bed. He was lying with his face to the wall, the window
blind was down; the place had the appearance of a sick-room.

“Hullo!” cried the General. “What’s all this?”

“I think I have the influenza,” said Mr Boxall, without turning to
answer.

“Influenza? Why, you were all right a few hours ago. Sure it wasn’t the
blow that chap gave you?”

“No, no,” said the Member of Parliament, “that had nothing to do with
it—only a scratch. It’s in my bones; I felt it coming on this morning. I
oughtn’t to have gone to that confounded meet.”

“Have a doctor?”

“No thanks—I say——”

“Yes?”

“I want a telegram sent.”

“Yes?”

“I suppose one can send a telegram in this confounded country?”

“Yes; there’s an office in the village.”

“You’ll find some forms in my writing-case on the table; write it for
me, like a good fellow.”

“Anything I can do for you, Boxall, will give me the sincerest
pleasure,” said General Grampound, opening the writing-case. “They are
all deucedly sorry to hear of your being laid up—enquiring after you at
lunch and all that, specially a certain young lady—hum——”

“Indeed!” said Mr Boxall, without emotion; then with a sudden snarl: “I
wish I could telegraph myself out of this infernal place! Ireland for
the Irish—egad, it’s the only place for them—den of wild beasts!”

“I’ve always said myself the only thing for Ireland was the old
Duke’s—the great Duke’s suggestion,” said General Grampound, spreading
out the telegraph form. “Sink it for half an hour in the sea and let the
beggars drown like rats or swim to America. Here’s the telegraph
form—what’s your message?”

“Write,” said Mr Boxall, after a moment’s consideration—“write,
‘Hawksley, Oxford St., London.’”

The General did as he was directed.

“Got that done?” asked Mr Boxall.

“Yes.”

“Now write—let me see—wait a moment—yes—write,

“‘Send another, same colour and size, immediately—urgent.—Richard
Boxall, Glen Druid House, Mid Meath, Ireland.’”

“‘Ireland’?” said the General. “That all?”

“Yes—quite enough. It’s about a coat—will you see that a special
messenger takes it to the office at once?”

“I will,” said the General, rising to go. “Can I get you anything—some
gruel or beef-tea?”

“No thanks—see here!”

“Yes?”

“Don’t let that fool of a red-headed boy take the message; he’s sure to
make a muddle of it.”

“I’ll see to that.”

“One moment,” said Mr Boxall. “You said they were asking after me
downstairs.”

“Rather!”

“Was she—um——”

“She was,” replied General Grampound to this somewhat cryptic enquiry.
“Seemed regularly upset. I’m not half blind, Boxall, like some people; I
can see through a brick wall as far as most, and I don’t want to be
personal—I don’t want to be premature—I don’t want to pretend to know
more than I ought to know, but there’s a deuced lucky dog in this room
at present, and he’s not me, Boxall.”

“Thanks,” said the lucky dog, shifting about restlessly in bed. “I know
you’re a good friend, Grampound. Send that message off at once, like a
good fellow. How long does it take a parcel to reach this place from
London by post?”

“Parcel post or letter post?”

“Letter post.”

“Oh, a day or two.”

“Send the message off at once.”

“I will.”

Meanwhile Mr Fanshawe had been writing three important letters in the
library. When he had finished and carefully sealed them, he placed them
one on top of the other, and looked at his watch.

Dicky had almost forgotten the burglar he was going to trap that night.
The other business consumed most of his superfluous energy and thoughts.
The readiness with which Violet Lestrange had fallen in with his views
might have given a cold-blooded man of the world pause, for, once a girl
begins smashing conventions, who knows where she will stop? But Mr
Fanshawe, wise in his love, felt no uneasiness on this score; the thing
that worried him was the fifteen Irish miles between Glen Druid and
Tullagh station.

The three letters he had just written would make everything all right at
the other end. This was the hot end of the poker, and it had to be
grasped.

Patsy was the person who would help him to grasp it. Patsy he felt to be
a tower of strength and ‘cuteness’, if such a simile is permissible.
And, rising from the writing-table and putting the letters in his
pocket, he went to find Patsy. He had not far to go, for as he came into
the big hall Patsy was crossing it with a tray in hand.

“Patsy,” said Mr Fanshawe, “when does the post go out?”

“If you stick your letters in the letter-box be the hall door, sir,”
said Patsy, “it will be cleared in half an hour. Jim Murphy takes the
letter-bag to Castle Knock.”

“Right!” said Mr Fanshawe. “And, see here, I want to have a shot at the
rabbits before dark. I’m going to stroll down to the woods. Rake out a
bag to put the cartridges in, and stick on a cap; I want you to follow
me.”

“Right, sir,” said Patsy; then, glancing round to see that no one was
listening; “I’ve got the pulley, and the screws for it, Mr Fanshawe, and
the ould rope from the flagstaff, and all ready for fixing.”

“Good!” said Mr Fanshawe. “And, see here, we’ll want help; do you know
any one who could be trusted?”

“Larry, the stable-man, is the chap you want, sir; he’s as strong as an
ox, and for half a crown he’d be as dumb as a coffin board.”

“Very well, you can arrange with him. Now cut off and get the bag.”

He went to his room and took a Boss double-barrelled choke bore from its
case, fitted it together, put it under his arm, put on a cap, and joined
Patsy, who was waiting in the hall with the cartridges and the bag.

“Down be the woods to the right, sir,” said Patsy, as he trotted beside
him. “If you sit be the hedge still as a stone, they’ll be poppin’ out
all around you and playin’ in the grass.”

But Mr Fanshawe did not care for the prospect of sitting still as a
stone under a hedge and potting unsuspecting rabbits playing in the
grass.

“There’s a bit of water, down beyond these woods to the right,” said he.

“There is, sir.”

“I’ll go that way—may have a chance of a duck. See here, Patsy!”

“Yes, sir?”

“I’m in a bit of a fix, Patsy, and you may be able to help.”

“And what’s the fix, sir?” asked Patsy.

“You know the young lady you gave the note to this morning—by the way,
how did you give it?”

“I tried to shove it undher her door, sir.”

“Yes?”

“It wouldn’t go, so I give a knock. ‘Who’s there?’ says she. ‘No one,’
says I; ‘it’s only hot wather I’m bringin’ you,’ for you see, sir, the
ould missis, her ladyship, was in the next room, and she’s not as deaf
as she looks, and it’s afraid I was, every minit, her door’d open, and
she and her ear-trumpet come out in the passidge. ‘I have hot wather,’
says she. ‘Niver mind,’ says I, ‘this is bether. Open the door, for the
love of God, for I can’t get it under the door, unless I rowl it up and
shove it through the keyhole.’ Wid that she opens the door a crack and
shoves her head out. ‘Who’s it from?’ she says. ‘I don’t know,’ says I;
‘it’s just a lether I found on the stairs I thought might belong to
you.’ ‘Thanks,’ says she, ‘it does,’ and wid that she shut the door, and
I left her.”

“Well, see here, Patsy!”

“Yes, sir?”

“I’m going to marry Miss Lestrange.”

“Faith, and I guessed that,” said Patsy; “and it’s I that’d be joyful to
dance at your weddin’, sir.”

“There won’t be any dancing in the business,” said Mr Fanshawe grimly.
And here, strangely enough, he was perfectly wrong, albeit the dancing
was to be of a more than fantastic character. “You know Mr Boxall,
Patsy?”

“The Mimber of Parlymint?”

“Yes. Well, _he_ wants to marry Miss Lestrange; and the worst, of it is,
Patsy, that my uncle, General Grampound, wants him to marry her, too.”

Patsy chuckled.

“Sure, he’s one eye short,” said he.

“That may be,” replied Mr Fanshawe, “but Mr Boxall is very rich, and,
the fact of the matter is, I have determined to marry Miss Lestrange
without asking any one’s opinion or permission. The fact of the matter
is, I am going to run away with her, Patsy, and marry her in Dublin; the
bother is how to get to the station without being caught.”

“What o’clock was you thinkin’ of runnin’ off wid her, sir?” asked
Patsy, in the most matter-of-fact tone in the world.

“The night express from Carlow goes through Tullagh station at four
o’clock in the morning. I have written to the manager of the railway to
have it stopped on Friday morning. The question is how are we to get
from here to the station—we can’t walk.”

“I was thinkin’, sir, I might get the ould trap from the inn at Castle
Knock and meet yiz at the cross-roads; but sure, if wind of it got
about, the whole county would be out to give yiz a send-off.”

“That wouldn’t do,” said Mr Fanshawe. “This isn’t a business one wants
old slippers and rice mixed up with.”

“No, sir; and Mrs Lyburn, the lan’lady of the inn, is’nt to be thrusted;
she’s a whisperin’ gallery for lettin’ out saycrets. I’m thinkin’ the
best way is to harness Fly-by-night to the dogcart; the moon’s near the
full, it’s a straight road to Tullagh, and the divil on a dhromedary
wouldn’t catch the ould mare wanst she has the hard high-road undher her
hoofs. The only thing, sir——”

“Yes?”

“The ould Gineral’s bedroom window is over the stable-yard.”

“Oh, it is, is it?”

“Yes, sir; his window is next to Mr Boxall’s, so it’s how to get the
dogcart out of the coach-house, and the ould mare out of the stable, and
the two hitched together and out of the yard that’s thrublin’ me.”

“Yes,” said Mr Fanshawe, “that’s the rub, for if the General heard us
and looked out of the window, we’d be done for.”

“I know, sir!” said Patsy.

“Yes?”

“We can lay down straw—straw the yard right to the corner where you can
get on the turf. Larry Lyburn will do it between twelve and wan o’clock
in the mornin’, and you can start be two.”

“Begad, Patsy’s that’s not a bad idea; they do it in London in the
streets, before houses, when people are sick. But can Larry be trusted?”

“Larry’s to be thrusted wid everything but drink, sir,” said Patsy.
“He’ll straw the yard, and harness the ould mare and all, if I give him
the word.”

“Well, I’ll give him a couple of sovereigns if he does the thing
properly; you can tell him that.”

Mr Fanshawe paused and looked around him. They had reached the edge of a
large pool with sedgy banks; the waters of the pool reflected the cold
light of the winter sunset.

“Look, sir!” cried Patsy.

A wild duck and drake were flying towards them, across the pool. They
came on, seemingly heedless of the human beings on the bank. Their
flight seemed hurried and distressed. Overhead they passed, and Mr
Fanshawe raised his gun. The report echoed from the woods, and the duck
and her mate passed on unscathed, but the hawk that had been pursuing
them came whirtling from the sky, and fell on the ground a few yards
away from the marksman.

“Faith, that was a fine shot,” said Patsy, as he picked up the corpse.

“There are Grampounds even amongst birds,” muttered Dicky to himself, as
he drew the unfired cartridge and the empty case from his gun. “Come,
Patsy, I’m off back; there’s no use hanging about after duck, for we
have no dog to retrieve them with.”

“Let the stable chap be in your room at ten, Patsy,” said Mr Fanshawe,
as he went up the front steps, “to help to fix up the fixings for this
burglar chap, but mind you tell him not to say a word to any one. I’ll
come down at ten to help you—twelve o’clock the gentleman said he’d
call, didn’t he?”

“Yes, sir,” said Patsy. “And, Mr Fanshawe!”

“Yes?”

“I forgot to tell you, sir, you needn’t be afear’d of Mr Boxall for the
next few days.”

“How’s that?”

“When Bob Mahony hit him the skelp on the head wid the sut bag, his eye
popped out of his head on the road.”

“His what?—Oh, I remember——”

“Finders is keepers, sir,” said Patsy, with a grin.

“Why, good heavens—you don’t mean to say——”

“I’ve got his eye in me pocket, sir,” said Patsy in a hoarse whisper.
“He’s sint a telegram for another wan, but till it comes he’s tethered
to his bed like a horse to a——”

“That’s enough—that’s enough,” said Mr Fanshawe. “Here’s half a crown
for you, Patsy, for—carrying my cartridges.”

“Now, if Patsy was in Parliament instead of Boxall,” thought Mr
Fanshawe, as he went to his room, “he’d be Prime Minister before Boxall
had learned to wash glasses and carry dishes if he was suddenly turned
into a page-boy like Patsy. Patsy, if he did nothing else, would be
pretty sure to catch the Speaker’s eye. We’ll take Patsy with us, begad,
when we levant. Patsy is far, far too valuable an article to be left
wasting his fragrance here. With Violet as a wife, and Patsy as a
servant, a man ought to go to the top of the apple tree. Decidedly I’m
in luck.”

He was in the act of lighting a cigarette when a tap came to the door,
followed by little Lord Gawdor’s voice.

“Mr Fanshawe!”

“Hullo!”

“We’re decoratin’ the nursery for Christmas; come and help.”

“Like a rocket!” replied Dicky; “I’ll be there in two minutes, when I’ve
finished this cigarette.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER XXIV

                          NAILING UP THE HOLLY


There is nothing an old-time woman enjoyed so much as having her mind
made up for her—by a man—some women do still.

This faculty varies in proportion to the “strength of mind” of the
woman. It was the fainting, ballad-singing, salt-snuffing girl who, in
the old days, did the desperate things; and the reason why the roads are
not strewn nowadays with post-chaises _en route_ to Gretna Green, is
partly because Gretna Green and post-chaises have vanished, partly
because girls have changed.

They have become stronger-minded; they no longer run away, they advance.
But here and there you will find a girl, a modification of the old
type—a girl who seems to have strayed out of some old rose garden, a
girl who would not look foolish playing a harp, a girl one might
serenade without the fear of covering oneself with ridicule, or being
covered by the contents of a slop-jar.

Violet Lestrange was a girl of this type; sweet without being foolish,
simple-minded, but not an idiot, capable of screaming mechanically at
the sight of a mouse, and of facing a lion in cold blood to protect the
man she loved.

She was the last person in the world to be suspected of making a run
away match with the man of her choice, and the first person in the world
to do it.

It is a much easier matter to draw the pen portrait of a Mr Mahony than
of a Violet Lestrange. Dark, with violet eyes and a beautiful
complexion, she had that lost touch of beauty only to be found, I think,
and that very rarely, amongst the women of Ireland; a faint permanent
blush over the cheek bones, like the reflection on alabaster of a June
rose.

One might have thought that when General Grampound chose a future
husband for all this beauty, he might at least have chosen a man with
two eyes.

Whilst Mr Fanshawe was shooting by the little lake, the unfortunate
Violet was dispensing afternoon tea. She had made up her mind and given
her word that morning when seated under the hedge. Ever since, she had
been rocking upon a sea whose alternate billows seemed compounded of
Bliss and Fright.

When the fright was upon her, the sight of Lady Molyneux calmly munching
her muffins seemed awful; General Grampound stirring his tea was tragic,
as the figure of a man whom she had betrayed and murdered; Uncle
Molyneux and his eye-glass seemed the incarnation of saintly propriety;
and the “Violet, dear, another cup of tea, without quite so much milk,”
of Lady Seagrave, the last word of pathos, and a thing to make one weep.

All these people were about to be betrayed. They all seemed either so
foolish or so old, all so unsuspecting.

That they were, in fact, a company of robbers of the worst description,
banded together with the object of stealing her happiness and ruining
her life, never for a moment occurred to her.

She pitied them.

Then, rocked suddenly on a billow of bliss, pity and fear vanished
utterly; Dicky Fanshawe entered her mind, and she put two lumps of sugar
instead of two tabloids of saccharine in General Grampound’s cup, and
scarcely heard the explosion.

“Miss Lestrange!”

Violet was crossing the hall after the tea ordeal; she looked up. A
pasty little face was looking over the banisters. It was Lord Gawdor’s.

“We’re decorating the nursery for Christmas; come’n help.”

Miss Lestrange came up the stairs, and little Lord Gawdor seized her in
a loving embrace with his arm half round her waist. Like this they
marched along, up another flight of stairs and down the corridor to the
nursery.

“They’re putting two shillings’ worth of thripenny pieces in the
pudding,” said Lord Gawdor. “I’ve had a stir at it—have you had a stir
at it? It’s only eight days to Christmas—I’m to have a watch—a gold
one—with a minute hand, but you’re not to tell, for it’s to be a
surprise. Don’t you hope it’ll snow on Christmas Day?—I expect you’ll
have lots of presents, too. Shall I tell you a secret?”

“Not if you oughtn’t to tell.”

“Oh, it doesn’t matter, if you keep it. Granny is going to give you——”

“Don’t!” said Miss Lestrange, feeling as though she could weep at the
thought of the innocent Christmas festivities, and the present being
prepared for her.

“It’s a grebe muff and a prayer-book,” said Lord Gawdor, hurriedly
unlading his secret.

“Oh!” said she, losing all sense of pathos in the shock of this
information.

“But you’re not to tell,” said Lord Gawdor.

“I won’t,” said she. “Listen—who is that?” They had neared the nursery
door, which was a bit open.

“That’s Mr Fanshawe; he’s helping to nail up the holly.”

Violet paused at the door and peeped in.

Mr Fanshawe, in his shirt sleeves, was standing on a step-ladder, hammer
in hand, vigorously at work. Doris and Selina were helping.

“Pass me up the nails,” cried Mr Fanshawe. “Nails, not tin tacks,
addle-head! One, two, three—that’ll keep it fixed. Selina won’t give up
the ball of twine, won’t she? I’ll attend to her in a minute.”

They all seemed so happy and busy that a mist came over Miss Lestrange’s
eyes. All fear of the future suddenly cleared from her mind. Dicky, in
his shirt sleeves, nailing up holly, was pre-eminently the figure of a
man to whom one might trust oneself and one’s future.

“Hullo!” said Mr Fanshawe, turning and beaming upon the newcomers.
“You’re too late—everything is done, and there’s nothing to nail up,
unless we nail up Selina.”

Selina protested vigorously, and Miss Lestrange, taking her in her lap,
sat down in the rocking-chair by the fire.

“There’s the bunch of mistletoe,” said Lord Gawdor.

“So there is,” said Mr Fanshawe. “Hand it up here and I’ll nail it out
of mischief.”

“I saw Uncle Molyneux kissing Kate under the mistletoe last Christmas,”
said Lord Gawdor. “It was in the dining-room, and there was no one
there; she squealed and ran round the table, and he ran after her and
caught her round the waist, and gave her a kiss on the cheek that
sounded like a cracker.”

“Who was Kate?” asked Miss Lestrange.

“The housemaid,” replied Lord Gawdor.

“She had a face just like an apple,” said Doris. “Another nail, Mr
Fanshawe?”

“All shiny, you know,” said Lord Gawdor. “Like an apple when you spit on
it and polish it.”

These momentous disclosures were scarcely heard by Mr Fanshawe and Miss
Lestrange, who were engaged in their own thoughts and a veiled attempt
at communication.

“I’ve fixed it all up,” said Dicky, nailing away at the mistletoe.
“Wrote three letters—one to Aunt Domville.”

“I’d love to meet her!”

“You will soon—one to the manager of the railway——”

“Any more nails, Mr Fanshawe?”

“Yes, give me the whole box—that’s right—and one to the Archbishop.”

“_Prenez garde_,” said Miss Lestrange.

“One to the Archbishop asking how his aunt was; she’s had influenza.
Then I went out to shoot rabbits with Patsy.”

“Did you get any?” asked Lord Gawdor.

“No. I saw two ducks—that is to say, a duck and a drake; they were
running away together—flying away, I mean—they were being pursued by
their uncle.”

“Ducks haven’t uncles,” said Lord Gawdor.

“He was a hawk,” said Mr Fanshawe. “With Patsy’s help I shot the hawk,
and the ducks flew away, and were happy ever after.”

“How interesting!” said Miss Lestrange.

“Funny thing, the same thing happened one morning before Christmas. It
was a Friday morning—what’s to-day—Tuesday—well, it was a Friday
morning. It might have been next Friday morning, as the old women say, I
saw two ducks flying away pursued by a hawk.”

“Did they escape?” asked Doris.

“They did.”

“How did you see them, Mr Fanshawe?” asked Lord Gawdor.

“With my eyes,” replied Mr Fanshawe.

“But it’s black dark at four.”

“There was a moon.”

“There’s the dressing gong,” said Violet, rising, and putting Selina
down on the hearthrug, as the roar of the gong came from below.

“And I’ve finished the decorations,” said Mr Fanshawe, coming down the
ladder.

“Mr Fanshawe,” said Doris, “you’ve used nearly the whole box of nails,
nailing up that piece of mistletoe.”

“We can’t play the nursery game any longer,” said Mr Fanshawe, as they
came down the passage together, “or people will suspect; not that I
expected to meet you there just now. I just went to help the kids with
the holly; Bob came and asked me. But I don’t know how we’re to see each
other again to-night, unless in the drawing-room, and that’s worse than
nothing. I’ve got to bottle this beastly burglar at ten—at least fix up
the contraption to catch him in. He’s coming at twelve.”

“Oh, Dicky, I’d forgot——”

“What?”

“That burglar—how wicked of me! I’ve been so happy and so frightened
that I’ve been able to think of nothing. Will it be dangerous?”

“Not a bit. I’ve got the stable-man and Patsy to help.”

“I shan’t sleep till it’s all over.”

“I’ll give two knocks at your door when it’s all fixed. You understand
what I meant about the ducks—everything is arranged for Friday morning.
Isn’t it frightful that we can only speak to one another by strategy
like this? No matter, it won’t be long now——”

“There’s a meet of the hounds to-morrow morning,” said Violet. “We may
be able to talk then without being observed.”

“Yes; O’Farrell’s hounds are going to meet on the lawn here at ten.”

“Hi you, sir—why don’t you bring me my hot water?” came General
Grampound’s voice from below.

“That’s the hawk,” whispered Dicky.

Violet shivered.

“Suppose——” she said.

“Yes?”

“Suppose you hadn’t shot that—other hawk!” she murmured.

“It would have been all up with the ducks,” he said, “or one of them.”

                             --------------

“Bob!” said Doris.

“What!” asked Bob.

“Do you know what I believe?”

“No.”

“I believe Miss Lestrange is going to marry Mr Fanshawe without any one
knowing.”

“What’s the matter if she does?”

“I heard him say something last night, when he had Selina on his lap and
we were playing with the motor-car, about an Archbishop and a marriage
licence, and that nobody need know; and, just now, when he said he’d
written to the Archbishop, did you hear what she said?”

“No.”

“She said _prenez garde_, just as granny does if she’s speaking about
anything she doesn’t want us to know. Then he said he’d written to the
Archbishop’s aunt, or some nonsense.”

“Yes, I heard him say that,” said Bob.

“I believe they’re going to get married,” went on Doris, “but don’t tell
any one.”

“Who’s going to—it’s only girls tell things—I’m not going to tell. Come
on, and let’s look at ’em going into dinner.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER XXV

                            A POTENTIAL POET


The stable of an Irish country house has always, or nearly always, a
certain number of volunteer and unpaid on-hangers. At any hour of the
day you might have seen in the stable-yard of Glen Druid Billy the Buck
chewing a straw, Shan Finucane with his hands in his pockets, and his
back against the harness room door, Moriarty, the rat-catcher from
Castle Connell, colloguing, rat cage in hand, with the scullery-maid, or
Micky Mooney sitting on a corn-bin, whistling and kicking his heels.

Micky was “soft.” He lived with his mother in the village of Castle
Knock; and every morning early she would turn him out of her cabin, just
as a person turns a donkey out to graze.

He was almost entirely self-supporting. In summer he would disappear for
days amidst the hills, communing with nature and existing on roots and
whortle berries and wild strawberries. If Micky sat down in a field full
of rabbits, the rabbits would play about him within arm’s reach; birds
knew him for their friend, cows let him milk them into his hat without
protest or lamentation, and hens gave up their eggs without complaint,
when raised from their nests by his deft fingers.

He was of all mad creatures the most harmless and the most natural—a
really beautiful character; one of that rare type wherein lunacy is the
outcome of innocence carried to an extreme. Farmers threatened to shoot
him, it is true, and he had actually been fired at, and peppered with
small shot when engaged in stealing eggs, but this was not done from any
particular ill-will. The farmer had acted just as he acted towards the
thrushes and blackbirds that pilfered his crops.

Micky was, in fact, regarded by the general public as being on a level
with the birds and the rabbits, and, though no one would have hurt him
for any consideration, still, had some outraged farmer shot him with a
bullet in earnest, I doubt if there would have been much of an inquest.

This personage who had hunted the moon on many a summer’s night, had
amongst other attributes the power of seeing fairies; nor was he in the
least afraid of them. You would see him lifting up dock-leaves, and
conversing with the people who lived below. He could tell half-connected
tales of his doings with these folk, talking with his face half turned
from you, and tracing with his thumb nail the extent of a crack in the
fence he was leaning against, or the pattern of the door panel he was
near; and he would tell you this and that, and the other thing, till all
of a sudden his imagination would become too much for him, and with a
whoop! off he would go vaulting the fence, and away across country like
an india-rubber ball or a bounding kangaroo, to tell the rest of his
tale to the rabbits.

Just a grain more phosphorous, just a grain more ballast, and Micky
Mooney might have been a poet of the Celtic school, and led a revival
and written books.

As it was, he had some of the poetic influence that makes for better
things; in his company men tended to forget horses, dogs, rat-catching,
whisky and girls, and turn their conversation to banshees, cluricaunes,
cats with horns on their heads, and other topics of a similar nature.

When Mr Fanshawe had parted from Patsy at the front door, the latter,
turning his steps to the stable-yard, had found Micky Mooney seated on
the bottom of a bucket, listening with open mouth to Moriarty, the
rat-catcher, who was discoursing on psychical subjects, whilst Larry
Lyburn stood by the harness room door cleaning a stirrup, listening
also, or seeming to listen.

All the time Moriarty had been talking, Micky Mooney had been working
himself up, clapping the palms of his hands on his knees, twisting his
mouth about and flinging his head from side to side. No sooner had
Moriarty finished than he burst forth.

“I know a lady aal dressed in white—I know a lady aal dressed in white,”
began Micky, rocking himself on the bucket and staring with his big eyes
through Patsy and a hundred miles beyond—“aal dressed in white, wid a
crown of gowld; and it’s ‘Micky, come afther me,’ she says, whin I meets
her in the woods, ‘and it’s crocks and crates of gowld I’ll be showin’
you,’ she says. And it’s to-night I’m to meet her down in the woods be
the Druids’ althar—aal dressed in white, wid a——”

“Arra! shut your head and get off the bucket,” said Mr Lyburn, who had
finished cleaning the stirrup, and was now proceeding to water the
horses, punctuating his remark with the toe of his boot on that part of
Micky’s anatomy that was closest to the bucket.

Mr Lyburn was not a poet.

“Micky,” said Patsy, into whose arms the moon-struck one had been shot,
“stop your nise and hould your bellowin’, and come afther me, for I’ve
got a job for you.”

He led the seer of visions by the left hand (the right was applied to
the punctuation mark) round the angle of the stable wall to a quiet spot
near the potato room window.

“Hould your nise,” said Patsy, “and be listenin’ to me; I’ve got a job
for you.”

“Is it a saft job?” blubbered Micky, who with a grain more brass and a
grain more ballast in his composition would have shone perhaps as a
Labour Member or a Labour Leader.

“Saft as a feather-bed,” replied Patsy.

Then the two began to converse together in a low tone.

Now Patsy’s hatred of Mr Boxall had roots far beyond the present, roots
from the time when some men played on harps and other men painted
themselves with woad.

The spirit of Puck that dwelt in the breast of Patsy had been brooding
on the form of Micky Mooney all the time that Moriarty had been telling
of the cluricaune. Micky’s statement about the lady in white had given
the tricky spirit an idea.

Patsy did not require Mr Fanshawe’s word to know that Mr Boxall was
“gone” on Miss Lestrange, and this knowledge was part parent of the
idea.

“And what will you be givin’ me if I be afther doin’ as you tells me?”
queried Micky, plucking at the moss in the cracks of the wall.

“I’ll give you the first silver sixpence with a hole in it I finds on a
Tuesday.”

“Which Cheusday?” asked Micky cautiously, with a side look at his
employer.

“I’ll be tellin’ you that to-morra. Will you be doin’ what I say?”

“I will,” said Micky.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER XXVI

                         THE SPIRIT OF IRELAND


When General Grampound took his leave of Mr Boxall, Mr Boxall rose from
his bed and resumed those garments he had relinquished before taking his
place between the sheets. Having nothing else to do, and to kill the
time, he took his place at the writing-table near the window, and
proceeded to write letters.

The window gave a view over the stable roofs of a country more beautiful
than a picture. The park, and the pools, heron-haunted, and lying under
the grey sky of winter, made a picture tenderly tinted as an aquarelle;
the fields, the woods, the moorlands, the dim and distant hills of
Glynn, how beautiful they were seen through that illusive atmosphere,
the air of Ireland!

The air of Ireland, the moist and crystal-clear air, what a magician it
is! what a wealth of illusion it holds, and voiceless poetry!

Till you have known its influence, you never can know how far-off hills
can draw you towards them, or what voices can haunt the glens. When you
have known its influence you will know more of that mysterious secret
“Ireland” than all the gaol reports, agricultural reports and Blue Books
can teach you—if you are a poet.

Mr Boxall was not a poet. He had come over to Ireland for two reasons,
firstly, to be in the same house with Violet Lestrange; secondly, to
study Ireland and the Irish. He was not a poet, but a practical man.

Now, the pursuit of Love is as dangerous a pursuit for a practical man
as the study of the Irish in their own home.

Love hates practical people, so does the spirit of Ireland. The spirit
of Ireland had given Mr Boxall a bang on the head with a soot bag, and
Love had locked him up in his room; and, being a practical man without a
grain of humour in his mass, he could not see the joke, or take the
hint.

Take the hint—ah! what a lot of philosophy lies in those three words!
Watch a French punter at Monte Carlo: fortune declares against him, and
he takes the hint and stops; your stolid Englishman does not even see
the hint: he takes it as a personal insult, goes on, and gets broken.

Mr Boxall did not even see the hint, and, here, let me point out to the
unintelligent reader that, perhaps symbolism rather than low comedy is
served by the presence—and sometimes absence—of Mr Boxall’s glass eye in
this book.

Whilst he was finishing his letters, he could hear an indistinct
murmuring of voices from the stable-yard below. It was Moriarty
discoursing on cluricaunes. He heard the yell emitted by Micky Mooney on
being kicked off the bucket by Larry Lyburn, and the subsequent
bellowings and blubberings of that seer. He would have put his head out
of the window to enquire the meaning of it, but for ocular reasons.

“D—d savages!” said Mr Boxall. He had placed a muffler round his neck
for the sake of appearances, should any other member of the household
call upon him to enquire after his health. No one came, however. Uncle
Molyneux had too much dread of influenza, and, as for Dicky Fanshawe, he
was busy in other directions.

At five o’clock a servant brought up tea, which was placed, by direction
of the power inside, on the mat before the bedroom door. When the
servant had withdrawn, the invalid, opening the door cautiously, fetched
in the tray.

Mr Boxall did not keep a man. Though he had several thousand a year and
a tin mine, he was a careful person, who turned a penny twice over
before he parted with it, and then, as often as not, put it back in his
pocket; yet, though miserly in small things, he gave considerably to
well-organised charities, and he had been known to commit quite
unexpected and kindly acts.

He was in fact, an excellent citizen, but he was a man utterly without a
sense of humour, the poetry of life was for him not; and, though he had
been known to utter noises indicative of mirth at parliamentary dinners,
Laughter, that happy sprite, never sat upon his lips.

One might imagine stiff and starched individuals of this description
incapable of romantic attachment; unfortunately they are not. They enter
the lists of love, and they go to the encounter heavily armed.

A man who is able to hurl a tin mine at your head is not to be despised.
Adonis himself would stand a poor chance nowadays against a man armed
with great blocks of London North Western and other railway shares.

The fight between the Boxalls and the Fanshawes of Society is a pretty
equal encounter, even though the Fanshawes are fairly well provided with
earthly goods.

As Mr Boxall was finishing his lonely tea, a knock came to the door,
followed by a voice through the keyhole.

“Misther Boxall,” said the voice, “are yiz there? The young lady’s
wishful to see you; be on the laan in front of the house be half-past
tin o’clock, sharp.”

“Yes, yes,” said Mr Boxall. “Who is there—what’s that’s you say?”

No answer.

“Who is there?”

No answer.

Mr Boxall went to the door, opened it cautiously two inches or so and
peeped out; there was no one visible. He opened it fully and put his
head out: the corridor was empty. Then he closed the door, and pacing
his room ruminated over the message he had just received.

The only young lady in the house was Violet Lestrange; that the message
referred to her he could not doubt, that the message had come to him
from the lips of a servant was undeniable. The sex of the servant he
could not tell, for the voice was muted, yet it sounded female.

If you were to imagine that the message gave him any thrill, or caused
him any pleasurable excitement, you would be vastly mistaken.

He felt very much irritated. The whole thing was out of order, and
utterly inexplicable. He had chosen Violet Lestrange to act in the
capacity of his future wife, firstly, because she was of good family,
and was not of the flighty order of women; secondly, because her great
beauty appealed to the man in him.

By no word or act up to this had she shaken his high opinion of her, and
now from the mouth of a servant came this extraordinary invitation to
meet her on the lawn at half-past ten.

Besides, she knew that he had the influenza, and, knowing that, she had
asked him to leave his bed and meet her at this untimely hour. This
aggrieved him almost as much as the “fastness” of the proposition.

Then the horrible thought came to him—can she know the real reason? He
dismissed this at once. Besides, she would hardly call him out on the
lawn late at night to commiserate with him on the loss of an eye,
especially considering the nature of the eye, and the manner of its
losing.

At the foundation of his nature was a very snappish and nasty temper,
easily aroused and brought to the surface by little things. This had to
snap and snarl and have its say before pure reason could take the
situation and deal with it.

“Now,” said Pure Reason at last, “there is more in this than meets the
eye. Of course, she does not want to see me for any reason
connected—ahum—with our mutual esteem. She is a lady: she is not the
class of girl to compromise herself. No matter how much she cares for
me, she is the last person in the world to make a false move, unless
sudden insanity can have seized her: She has some powerful motive for
this, some very urgent reason.”

He lay down on his bed again revolving matters in his mind, and
presently General Grampound knocked at his door and came in to make
enquiries and propositions about dinner.

“Let them send me up a little chicken,” said the sufferer, “or anything
light—no champagne, thanks. I have put this bandage on to relieve the
pain. Thank you, I am better. I do not believe in drugs.”

The tea-things were removed, and the dinner was brought up by Patsy.

“Put it on the table, and don’t disturb those papers,” said Mr Boxall,
who was seated in an armchair with a bandage over the side of his head.
“Not on the papers—have you no sense?”

“Yes, sir,” said Patsy. “Can I be afther fetchin’ you anything more,
sir?”

“No; come up in half an hour for the tray.”

At ten o’clock Mr Boxall had made up his mind. The hall was generally
deserted at night; he would come downstairs, cross the hall, and leave
the house by the front door. If any one saw him, he could say that he
was going on the lawn for a breath of fresh air.

The bandage across his forehead he retained, and it, half covered by a
forage cap, gave him somewhat the appearance of a hospital out-patient
as, muffled in an overcoat, he descended the stairs at half-past ten and
crossed the hall to the front door. The door was only held by the catch;
Mr Boxall opened it, passed out, and closed it softly behind.

Less than five minutes later old James, whose duty it was to see things
settled for the night, put the chain on the front door and drew the
heavy bolts.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                             CHAPTER XXVII

                        MIDWINTER NIGHT’S DREAM


It was a beautiful night, lit by the rising moon and a million stars.
Mild almost as a night in summer, voiceless as the tomb, cloudless and
perfect. The great stars, winter-clear, burned right down to the roof of
the woods, and amidst the trees the moonlight made Fairyland of the
glades. Listening, one could hear occasionally the cry of an owl, and
occasionally, a great way off, from the neighbourhood of the Galtee
woods, the bark of a fox.

Mr Boxall descended the steps and glanced around; it was a few minutes
past half-past ten, but there was no trace or sign of Miss Lestrange. A
chill came to his heart: the monstrous idea, “Can I have been fooled?”
crossed his mind, and was banished. He stepped from the gravelled drive
to the grass and stood for a moment inhaling the balmy air and looking
around him.

In the middle of the lawn there was a great old sundial supported by a
group of fauns and satyrs, moss-grown and mysterious. Mr Boxall’s eye
fell on this thing, and just at that moment, over the top of the
sundial, appeared a face. It was not the face of Miss Lestrange, it was
a round and tallow-white face—the face, in fact, of Micky Mooney.

Micky beckoned, and Mr Boxall drew close till he got within touching
distance of the sundial.

“Are yiz Misther Oxhall?” asked Micky in a low and confidential voice,
plucking at the moss on the sundial as he spoke, and seeming to address
it.

“I am,” said Mr Boxall, recognising his name in the inversion. “What’s
all this—where is the lady?”

“Beyant there in the trees,” said Micky, detaching himself from the
sundial and making off in the direction of the trees, followed by the
other. “I’m to show her to yiz, if y’ll be afther follyin’ me; says he
to me, says he, ‘Wait be the sundile till the big clock lets one bang
out of it afther it’s sthruck tin, and y’ll see a gintleman wid a big
white face,’ says he, ‘and you lade him to see the lady,’ he says, ‘or
it’s a kick I’ll be givin’ you, same as Larry Lyburn, instid of a
sixpence wid a howl in it,’ he says.”

“Who says?” asked Mr Boxall, in high dudgeon. “What are you talking
about? Who told you to wait for me?”

“Sure, that would be tellin’,” said Micky, who was trotting by the
other’s side, gambolling with his shadow in the moonlight.

Mr Boxall tramped on in silence, utterly exasperated and confounded. The
gambols of the half-witted creature beside him might have given him a
hint that something was wrong in the affair. But he was determined to
see the thing through.

They crossed the parkland and entered the wood. The moonlight falling
between the leafless branches on the withered ferns made a picture
wonderfully beautiful and weird.

“Now, which way? Go on—what are you stopping for?” said Mr Boxall, as
his guide halted and held up a finger.

An owl crying in the depths of the trees had been answered by its mate.

“Listen to the cucks crowin’!” said Micky.

“Damn the cocks!” cried Mr Boxall. “Go on—where is the lady?”

“I dinno,” said Micky; “but if yiz’l listen yiz’l hear her vice, and
it’s ‘Micky, come afther me,’ she always does be cryin’. Aal dressed in
white she is, wid a crown of gowld on her head, and it’s ‘Micky, come
afther me,’ she does be cryin’. Whisht!”

“Why, dash it—it’s a lunatic!” cried Mr Boxall.

“Whisht!” said Micky, bending down, resting his hands on his knees and
presenting an ear towards the ground, “I hear her fut.”

The next moment he had vanished from the scene. It was just as if Mr
Boxall had kicked him into space.

“D—d lunatic!” said Mr Boxall, nursing his foot.

He made his way out from amidst the trees; as he left their shelter the
solemn tones of the house clock striking eleven came floating across the
park. From the woods the far-away whooping and shouting of the
visionary, still impelled and still running, came like a voice heard in
dreamland.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                             CHAPTER XXVIII

                               MR LYBURN


Larry Lyburn had a face which, in colour and expression, was exactly
like a wedge of double Gloucester cheese. He was the helper in the
stable, and lived over the horses. Dan, the coachman, had a cottage near
the gamekeeper’s.

Larry had champagne-bottle shoulders, rather bowed legs, and a back like
the hind view of a lobster. He was a decent-living man, a superb
horseman, an excellent groom, and a heaven-born vet. He was nothing
else. If his character had been cut out of cardboard the line of
demarcation between living efficiency and dead blankness could not have
been more sharply defined. Larry was not only entirely and utterly
destitute of all—even the most rudimentary—knowledge of Politics,
Astronomy, Art, Literature (including writing and spelling) and
Geography, but he was destitute also of the power of acquiring such
knowledge, or the wish to do so. He was a living example of what horses
can do for a man if he devotes himself to them properly, and to nothing
else.

Tell him to do a stable job, and everything would be done well and up to
time, but send him on the simplest business into the outside world
beyond the smell of ammonia, and everything would be muddled. He would
have made a splendid ambassador to the Huhyhnms, but for anything else
in the universe beyond his work he was worthless.

This was Larry, sober. “Once in a while,” Larry got drunk. That is a
plain statement of the fact. The whisky flew to his head, and one may
amuse oneself with imagining the consternation of the whisky fiend on
finding itself in such a skull. The man could not be made speechless,
because he was always speechless; nor talkative, because he had nothing
to talk about. He could not be made to blunder worse in the ordinary
affairs of life.

On these occasions Larry made mistakes in his work, but it is only fair
to him to say they were very rare occasions.

He was standing in the harness room cleaning a bit with sand by the
light of a lantern, when Patsy appeared to summon him to help in fixing
up the burglar trap.

“Larry,” said Patsy, sticking his head in through the half-open door.
“Oh, there you are. Mr Fanshawe wants you in the house.”

“I’m finishin’ clanin’ me harness,” replied Larry. (Mr Lyburn always
spoke of the harness as his personal property, also of the horses.)

“How much more of it have you to clane?”

“Nothin’.”

“Well, finish it up in a hurry,” said Patsy, “for he’s waitin’ till you
come.”

“Get off that chist!” cried Larry, polishing away at the bit, as Patsy
made to take his seat on a big corn-bin whose lid did duty for a table.
“Get off that chist, or I’ll land you a wan wid me fut.”

Patsy got off the chest.

Mr Lyburn was very touchy about a lot of things, and he expressed
himself directly; it was part of the cardboard nature of the individual:
he had no _nuances_ of expression.

He had cleaned the bit with sand, he was now polishing it with a
chamois-leather and loving tenderness. If Larry was a living example of
what horses can do for a man, the harness room was an object-lesson of
what a man can do for harness. It was good to look at the glossy,
nut-brown, pig-skin saddles on their rests, the suits of carriage
harness, each complete and in its proper place.

“Lave down that whip, or I’ll be takin’ the butt of it to you!” cried
Larry.

Patsy put the whip aside and waited, making no attempt at conversation,
which he knew would be useless.

When the bit was polished to satisfaction and placed aside, Larry looked
around to see that everything was in its place, blew out the stable
lantern, closed the door, and prepared to follow Patsy into the house.

It will be noticed that he did not enquire of Patsy what business Mr
Fanshawe wanted him upon.

Led by Patsy, he entered the house by the kitchen entrance.

Patsy’s room, as we have said, was on the ground-floor. The other
servants’ rooms were at the top of the house, but the page-boy at Glen
Druid always inhabited a room on the ground-floor, near the plate
pantry.

It was five minutes past ten; most of the servants had gone up to bed,
and nobody saw them as they went down the passage to the room, where,
lit by a candle burning on the chest of drawers, a coil of rope, a huge
pulley, some carpenter’s tools, and half a dozen long screws lay on the
bed. A step-ladder stood in the middle of the room under the beam in the
ceiling.

“You wait here,” said Patsy, “till I tell Mr Fanshawe. Don’t be movin’
from the room; and if any one comes, say you’ve come to help fix the
window sash.”

“Off with you!” replied Larry.

Lady Seagrave, Uncle Molyneux, Violet Lestrange and General Grampound
were playing bridge in the drawing-room when Patsy appeared with the
announcement, that Larry Lyburn wanted to see Mr Fanshawe on account of
one of the horses.

Dicky, who had excused himself from bridge, alleging a headache, left
the room with a glance at Violet—an ocular kiss unnoticed by the others
in the ferment of mind caused by the General, who was going the grand
slam.

“Larry’s waitin’, sir,” said Patsy.

“Come on,” replied Mr Fanshawe.

They reached the room unnoticed, and Larry greeted Mr Fanshawe with a
touch of an imaginary hat.

“That’s right,” said Dicky, looking at the things on the bed—“everything
is here. Does Larry know what we’re about?”

“No, sir,” said Patsy.

“Well, see here,” said Mr Fanshawe, turning to the stable-man, “a
burglar is going to break into the house to-night, and I’m going to
catch him.”

Mr Fanshawe made the statement, as we make many statements in this life,
little knowing how much it implied, for, as a matter of fact, the thing
he was about to catch or lose that night was not so much Paddy Murphy as
his future happiness.

How Mr Murphy could possibly be bound up with that blissful condition
you will not discover, however, till you have read the last pages of
this story.

“Yes, sor,” said Larry, as unmoved as though it were some minor stable
matter about which Mr Fanshawe had spoken.

“I want you to help.”

“Yes, sor.”

“You see that rope?”

“Yes, sor.”

“I’m going to screw that pulley on to the beam.”

“Yes, sor.”

“We’ll put the rope through the pulley and a running noose at the end of
the rope.”

“Yes, sor. Axing your pardon, sor, I don’t mind helpin’ in the fixin’
and the bindin’ of him, but I’d rather lave the stretchin’ of him to
you, sor.”

“The what?”

“The stretchin’, sor.”

“The hangin’ he means, sir,” said Patsy. “Sure, Larry, that’s not what
Misther Fanshawe’s afther.”

“Good God!” said Dicky, “you didn’t think I was going to _hang_ the
man!”

Larry scratched his head.

“I thought be the rope, sor——”

“Come on,” said Mr Fanshawe, “and I’ll show you what I mean.”

He got on the step-ladder and fixed the pulley tight on to the beam with
long screws. At one end of the rope, he made a huge running noose, large
enough for the body of a man to pass through, then he pulled up the
window sash and tacked the upper part of the noose to the lower part of
the sash lightly with tin tacks, so that a strong pull would fetch the
whole thing away. He passed the free end of the rope through the pulley.
A man entering the window would pass through the noose.

“See!” said Mr Fanshawe. “We will leave the window just like that; it’s
a warm night outside.”

“Yes, sor.”

“It’s now eleven,” said Mr Fanshawe, “and we have an hour to wait. Patsy
will stand by the window, I’ll sit on the bed with this end of the rope
in my hand, you sit beside me. When I give the word, and not before,
haul for all you’re worth; it will take the two of us to swing him up.
Patsy, take the step-ladder away. I shall go and have a whisky and soda,
and be back in twenty minutes. You stay here, Larry.”

“Yes, sor.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER XXIX

                                THE TRAP


The moon, nearing the full, was high over the hills, but its light did
not enter Patsy’s room, which was in almost black darkness.

Sitting on the bed, Mr Fanshawe could see the window, a square of vague
light. But for a faint perfume of stables, he would not have known that
Mr Lyburn was seated on the bed beside him, so silent and motionless was
that individual.

Suddenly “Boom! boom!”—the great clock in the turret began striking
twelve. The echo of the last stroke died away, and the awful silence
returned.

Mr Fanshawe began to fidget.

“They ought to be here soon now,” he said.

“Yes, sor,” replied a voice at his elbow.

“You aren’t frightened, are you?”

“No, sor.”

“You can feel the rope all right?”

“Yes, sor.”

“Mind, when I give the word, you pull for all you’re worth.”

“Yes, sor.”

“For,” said Mr Fanshawe, “if we don’t secure the bounder, he’ll most
likely knife us.”

“Yes, sor.”

“Patsy!”

“Yes, Misther Fanshawe?” came a voice from beside the window.

“When his shoulders are through, mind and yell out ‘Right.’”

“You lave that to me, sir.”

Five minutes passed.

“Hounds meet here at ten to-morrow,” said Mr Fanshawe.

“Yes, sor.”

Mr Fanshawe moistened his lips. The awful composure of Mr Lyburn
impressed him with an eerie sensation. The man did not seem to breathe
or move; it was like being seated beside a statue. The smell of stable
that came in waves, now faint, now more powerful, the mechanical voice,
were beginning to tell on his nerves.

                             --------------

And here, whilst Mr Fanshawe waits, let me interpolate a few lines.

When Mr Boxall left the shade of the trees and emerged into the full
moonlight, the clock of Glen Druid House was striking eleven. Beneath
the anger boiling in his soul lay the deep satisfaction a man
experiences when he has kicked his antithesis. He made his way across
the park-land and lawn, and, on tiptoe, crossed the gravel path to the
front steps; reaching the hall door, he turned the handle gently and
found the door locked.

Patsy had no hand in the locking of the door. The idea of inveigling Mr
Boxall out on the lawn to interview Mr Mooney was one of those
flash-in-the-pan ideas constantly occurring in his harum-scarum brain;
he had forgotten all about the business in the preparations for the
burglar, and, had he known of Mr Boxall’s plight, he would have been the
first to let him in. Of course, the excluded one could have knocked, but
that would have meant explanations, so he temporised; in the midst of
his indecision, the clock in the turret struck the half-hour after
eleven. Mr Boxall was on the point of knocking, when the idea occurred
to him to go round the house on the chance of finding a back door open,
and, in putting this scheme into operation, he lost his way in the
“scrubbery.” It had gone twelve, when through an opening in the laurels
he saw Patsy’s window and two dark forms standing before it. Mr Boxall
paused to watch.

                             --------------

Ten minutes passed; they seemed an hour. Could anything have happened to
Mr Murphy? Then, all at once, a faint noise, as of a foot upon gravel,
came from the outside, and, dim and vague as a fish at the pane of a
twilit aquarium tank, a figure blurred the window.

Mr Fanshawe gave Larry Lyburn a prod with his elbow, half to awaken that
individual’s wits to their full activity, half for company’s sake.

The form of the house-breaker darkened the window space; they could hear
the rubbing of his shoulders against the sash. A stick was thrust into
the room, and tapped upon the floor, then came the sound of the
millifluous voice of Mr Murphy.

“Patsy, avick,” said Mr Murphy.

“Is that yourself, Mr Murphy?” came Patsy’s voice.

“Meself and no other, thrue to time. Is the ould lady a-bed?”

“She is.”

“Then it’s I that’ll be takin’ her up the warmin’-pan and the
cough-drops if so be you have them ready—wan minute, till I say a word
to Con Cogan.”

He turned and spoke in a low voice to some one beside him on the path,
then he turned again to the window.

“Right!” cried Patsy; the rope flew through the pulley, an ear-splitting
yell pierced the house, then a voice from the ceiling.

“Holy Mary! I’m upside down. Help! Murther! Thieves! Lave go of the band
of me britches!—who are yiz at all? Patsy! Con!—the divil’s got a hold
o’ me! Help! I’m shtranglin’!”

“Strike a light, quick!” cried Mr Fanshawe. “Keep a hold of the rope,
Larry! Stop that row, you idiot! Here—give us the matches—keep tight
hold of the rope, Larry!”

A match flared up.

From the upper part of the house, through the ear-splitting shouts of
the captured one, could be heard the sounds of hurried feet, doors
banging, and all the sound of a house full of people awakened by
catastrophe at dead of night.

The rope had caught Mr Murphy below his centre of gravity. He was
hanging head down. He was kicking the plaster to pieces with his feet,
and striking wildly about him with his arms. He had been carrying an
open clasp-knife but had dropped it; it lay on the floor, and Mr
Fanshawe kicked it under the bed.

“Lave holt of me!” cried Mr Murphy, when the light showed him an
upside-down view of his proper position, and the fact that the devil had
not got him by the band of his breeches. “Lave holt of me, and I’ll go
quiet.”

“Lower, away, Larry,” said Mr Fanshawe; “get him half-way down till I
feel his pockets to see if he’s got any arms about him.”

Larry let the rope slip through the pulley till the suspended one was
three feet from the floor, looking not unlike a lobster on the end of a
string.

“That’s all right,” said Dicky, after a hurried investigation. “Down
with him—he’s not armed.”

Next moment Mr Murphy was seated on the floor with not a sign of fight
in him. He put his hand to the top of his head as if to see whether it
was on, and then he glanced round him at his captors, the rope, the beam
and the pulley, taking the situation in with a dazed grin.

“Faith, I thought I was goin’ to hiven,” said Mr Murphy, “back-side up.
Sure, it was as nate a trap as ever I was caught in. Larry Lyburn, who’s
the gintleman at all? Open your ugly gob and introjuice me.”

“He’s Mr Fanshawe,” said Larry.

“Faith, thin,” said Mr Murphy, “he’s a fine figure of a gintleman, and
it’s I that am proud to make his acqueentance; and now that he’s done
pokin’ his fun at me, maybe he’ll be lettin’ me say good-marnin’ to him,
for it’s home I ought to have been an hour ago.”

“Look here,” said Mr Fanshawe, half amused at the cool impudence of this
speech, “what are you doing here?”

“Faith, I’m sittin’ on the flure,” said Mr Murphy, with an ape-like
grin. Then, like a flash, he flung himself forward, seized Mr Fanshawe
by the foot, and next moment the two men were struggling in a
life-and-death embrace.

“Hit him a belt on the head wid the hammer!” cried Patsy. “Have at him,
Larry, or he’ll be murdherin’ the masther.”

“Don’t hit, don’t hit,” cried Dicky, “I’ve got him under!”

He had, in fact, got a knee on either arm of his opponent, and Mr
Murphy, helpless as a baby, lay on the flat of his back staring up at
his captor panting, and with a grin on his broad, red face.

“Now, you bounder,” cried Dicky, “what do you mean—eh!”

“Aisy, aisy!” gasped the recumbent one. “I gives in—sure, I was only
makin’ a thry.”

“Which is the better man?” asked Dick.

“You, is, begorra!” cried Mr Murphy, with a genuine ring in his tone.
“Let me up on me pins, and I’ll go aisy, but don’t be bindin’ me, or
I’ll tear the house down.”

“Up you get,” said Dicky. “You know you have no chance with me, so I
won’t bind you.”

“Faith, and I knew I was daelin’ wid a gintleman,” said the other,
standing up and shaking himself. “Glory be to God, who’s this?”

It was General Grampound at the door in a dressing-gown. He held a flat
candlestick in his hand; behind him, old James, the butler, and Uncle
Molyneux appeared like shades.

“What’s all this?” cried the General. “What’s this infernal row? Why,
God bless my soul, sir, do you know in whose house you are? Who’s that
ruffian? What’s the groom doing here? What’s that rope?”

“Who’s the ould gintleman, Larry?” asked Mr Murphy, looking the strange
figure of the General up and down in an interested manner.

“If you ask me one question at a time,” said Dicky, to whom all the
General’s questions had been addressed, “I may be able to answer you.
This is a burglar I have just caught—I caught him with that rope, and
the infernal row, as you call it, was made by him.”

“Then what the devil are you doing with him?” cried General Grampound.
“Why don’t you bind him, eh? Why haven’t you sent for the police?”

“Oh don’t bother,” cried Dicky, “I’ve caught him when you were all
snoring in bed, asleep, and now you come down abusing me, and asking
questions. He’s mine, and I’ll do jolly well what I like with him. Here,
Murphy, or whatever your name is, come along. Patsy, lead the way to the
potato room; you said there were bars to the windows of it, we’ll lock
him up there.”

“Do you mean to tell me you are not going to take the precaution to tie
the ruffian’s hands?” cried General Grampound.

“Listen to the ould cuckatoo!” cried Mr Murphy.

“Shut up!” said Dicky. “Go before me. Patsy, lead the way.”

He caught Mr Murphy by the arm and pushed him along protesting. Larry
Lyburn and old James followed to help in the incarceration, and Uncle
Molyneux and the General retired upstairs to quiet the women folk—the
General, like Mr Murphy, protesting.

The potato room was a large stone chamber. It had bars to the window,
and the window looked out on the stable-yard. It was really a
store-room, where all sorts of things were kept—sacks of flour and meal,
hams, sides of bacon, everything but potatoes.

“In you go,” said Mr Fanshawe, when they reached the door. “I’ll get you
a mattress or something to sleep on, and you can tell your story to the
police in the morning. Sit down on that sack there and wait till we come
back.”

“Misther Fanshawe!” said Paddy Murphy, as he took his seat on the sack.

“Yes?”

“I’m powerful dhry.”

“I’ll get you some water.”

“Sure, I’m not a dhromedary to be drinkin’ wather at this hour of the
night,” said Mr Murphy in a wheedling tone.

“I’ll see what I can do,” said Dicky. He shut the door and locked it.

“He can have the mattress off my bed, sir,” said Patsy.

“Yes, that’ll do. And, see, here Patsy, run up to the dining-room and
get a glass of whisky for him out of the tantalus stand; give him a good
big one.”

Five minutes later Mr Fanshawe re-entered the potato room followed by
Patsy dragging the mattress.

Mr Murphy was smoking a short black pipe.

“Is the ould gintleman a-bed?” asked Mr Murphy, in the tone of a
fellow-conspirator, and speaking in a half-muted, confidential voice.

“He is,” said Dicky.

“Me respects,” said Mr Murphy, tasting the half tumbler of John Jameson.
He grinned with satisfaction, and Dicky contemplated him for a moment.
This was a type of the human animal he had never come across before.

Quite well he knew that, if there were a ghost of a chance, Mr Murphy
would have attacked him with the ferocity of a tiger.

An atrocious villain—that was Mr Murphy in three words. Yet there was a
certain humour and a certain amount of _bonhomie_ in the man that,
contrasted with his other qualities, made him, in a way, attractive.

“Put the mattress be the furthest corner from the door, Patsy,” said Mr
Murphy, as though he were directing a chamber-maid. “And you may lave me
the candle, for it’s afeared I am of the rats.”

“There aren’t any rats,” said Dicky, “and I’m going to leave you no
candle—don’t want the house burnt down. Here—get on your mattress before
I take away the light.”

Mr Murphy rather grumblingly complied.

“I’ll take this ould bit of a sack for a pilla’,” said he, rolling an
old sack up and putting it under his head. “Musha! but it smells of
onions; no mather, beggars can’t be chosers. Patsy, haven’t you got a
blankit to cover me wid?”

“Bother the chap!” cried Mr Fanshawe, “we’ve forgot a blanket; hurry
off, Patsy, and fetch one.”

Patsy did as he was told, and returned in a moment with a blanket.

Mr Murphy took it, spread it over himself, drank off the remains of the
whisky at a gulp, placed his pipe on the stone floor at his elbow, and
turned on his side.

“Plesint dhrames,” said Mr Murphy in a drowsy voice.

“Same to you,” said Mr Fanshawe. “Now then, Patsy, go before me.”

They left the room and locked the door. Just as the key turned Mr
Murphy’s voice came sleepily:

“Patsy!”

“Yes, Misther Murphy?”

“Bring me me hot wather at eight.”

“Well,” said Mr Fanshawe, “that chap takes the bun!”

“It’s only his way, sir,” said Patsy. “He pretinds to joke with you, but
all the same he’d slit your throat if he had the chanst for two brass
farthin’s.”

Then Patsy went off to his room, but he did not go to bed. He sat on the
side of it for a long time debating matters in his mind.

He had saved Lady Molyneux’s jewels, he had not betrayed his trust, he
had helped in the capture of the worst character in the county. He had
done his duty, in fact, but he was not thinking of that.

He had proposed, it will be remembered, that Mr Fanshawe should load a
gun with bullets and blow Paddy Murphy’s head off, and he had made the
proposition in all seriousness.

But Paddy free and Paddy in prison were different people. All the
sympathy in his queer nature was aroused for the man in the potato room,
for prison, to the Celtic imagination, is a far more terrible thing than
death.

Patsy got off his bed and, candle in hand, left his room; he came down
the passage to the cupboard where the under-gardener kept his
tool-chest.

He took a file from it, came back up the passage to the potato room
door, slipped the file under the door, and knocked.

A loud snore was the only answer. He knocked again without eliciting a
reply.

“He’s aslape,” muttered Patsy; “but maybe he’ll see it when he wakes.”

Upstairs, Mr Boxall, who had taken advantage of the open window to enter
the house during Mr Murphy’s incarceration in the potato room, was
making plans to leave Ireland to the Irish as soon as might be.

The incident of Mr Mooney, the outcries of Mr Murphy, the whole affair,
in short, was incomprehensible to his mind, and only to be summed up in
one formula: “D——d savages.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER XXX

                          “PUT THE DUNKEY TO”


It was perhaps through the mouth of Con Cogan that wind of the matter
got about. However, that may have been, it is certain that by eight
o’clock next morning the news was all over the country-side that Paddy
Murphy had been caught and was a prisoner in Glen Druid House.

From cabin to cabin, from Castle Knock to Shepherd’s Cross, the news
went, filling hearts with exultation and a sneaky sort of sorrow.

Paddy was feared and hated. Mark you, I do not put it hated and feared,
for in the Irish mind there is a lot of difference between the two
statements.

The hatred he had caused was not the leaden and colourless hatred which
a landlord or a tyrant can inspire; it was born entirely of his lawless
and desperate acts of ruffianism, and therefore had a romantic tinge.

He was hated because he was feared, and now that fear of him became
remote, the hatred of him began to fade from the public mind.

Cattle-driving was going on merrily beyond Shepherd’s Cross, and all the
police were clumped in that district as busy as bees; the one constable
at Tullagh was down with the influenza. These facts were remembered and
quoted with a certain glee.

“So Paddy is nailed at last!” cried Mr Mullins, the cobbler, to Mr
Mahony across the road.

“So I b’lave,” said Mr Mahony.

“They’ve got him at the Big House, shut up in the cowl-cellar I hear,”
said Mr Mullins.

“Faith, if they don’t relase him it won’t be a cowl-cellar long,”
replied the sweep.

“It was Con who let him in, they say.”

“Faith, then, it’ll be the worse for Con, I’m thinking, when they let
him out.”

“Begob, yes,” said Mr Mullins.

Mr Stone, the “cow-doctor” (he doctored horses too, and sheep, but cows
were his speciality), riding by on an animal that recalled nothing so
much as Wallenstein’s[2] horse, drew up.

“So Paddy’s took,” said Mr Stone.

“So we was sayin’,” replied Mr Mullins.

“What’ll he get, at all?” asked Mr Stone, of no one in particular.

“Seven year, if he gets an hour,” replied the sweep.

“Ohone!” cried Mrs Mahony, who was standing in the doorway behind her
lord and master with the inevitable baby in her arms. “Sure, it’s crool
to think of it, a fine figure of a man like him.”

She was voicing the general opinion of the female population, for,
though Paddy was short, he was well built, and his deeds had given him
at least two extra inches of stature.

“When the drink was in him, he wasn’t to hold or bind,” said Mr Stone
reflectively.

“But he always kept his legs,” said Mr Mullins.

“Ay, he always kept his legs,” said Mr Stone.

Footnote 2:

  “The head, neck, legs, and part of the body have been repaired; all
  the rest is the real horse.”—“Foreign Tour of Messrs. Brown, Jones,
  and Robinson.”

“O’Farrell’s hounds are meetin’ on the lawn of the Big House,” went on
the cow-doctor after a pause.

“Tin o’clock,” said Bob Mahony.

“Are yiz goin’?” asked the cobbler.

“Maybe and not,” replied the sweep, who, since the affair of Mr Boxall,
had risen still further in the estimation of the people. He had floored
a Member of Parliament. The deed was accidental, but, still, he was only
the man in the county, or the country either, who had done such a thing.

“Here comes Billy the Buck,” said Mr Stone; “maybe he’ll have news. Any
news, Billy?”

Billy, amongst his other avocations, served as a sort of living
newspaper. His grandfather had been a gabberlunzy man, and the
news-bearing property was in him, just as the art of pointing is in a
pointer or retrieving in a spaniel. That his news was mostly lies only
showed that he was an artist in his profession. (_Item._—He never told
lies about foxes.)

“There’s a fox an a vixin in the siven acres,” replied Billy, drawing up
like a horse.

A roar of laughter greeted this information. Billy, for once, was out of
it.

“What the divil are yiz brayin’ about?” asked Billy.

“Where’s your ears?” asked Mr Mahony.

“On me head,” replied Billy—“no need to ax where yours is. What are yiz
gettin’ at?”

“Haven’t you heard of Paddy Murphy?”

“What ails Paddy Murphy?”

“He’s locked up in the cowl-hole of the Big House,” replied Mr Mahony.

“You lie!” replied Billy.

“Tell him,” said the sweep, addressing Mr Mullins.

The cobbler, glad for once to take the journalistic shine out of Billy,
gave a detailed report of the capture of Paddy Murphy, to which Billy
listened with deep attention and an asinine expression of wonder on his
long yellow face, scratching his head now and then, and now and then
uttering ejaculations of surprise.

“Is it the threwth you’re tellin’ me?” asked Billy, when the recital was
over.

“It is.”

“And where did you get your information from?”

“Not from you,” replied the cobbler.

“No,” replied Billy, “for, if you had, you’d a’ got it right. Paddy’s in
no cowl-hole, he’s locked in the pitato room of the Big House.”

“And where did _you_ get your information from, may I ax?”

“From himself.”

“And where did you see him?”

“Tin minits ago, wid his face at the pitato room winda and him filing
his way out through the bars. I wint up to see Larry Lyburn about a bit
of a bizness, and Larry says to me, ‘Billy,’ he says. ‘What?’ says I.
‘Listen,’ he says. We was standin’ by the coach-house dure, and I
listened, and, sure enough, I hears the sound of a file. The pitato room
winda is hid from the stable-yard by an arm of the wall, and, sure
enough, at the bars of it, there was Paddy’s big red face and him filin’
away at a bar. ‘I’m cocht,’ says Paddy. ‘Begorra, you look it,’ says I.
‘But I’m not cocht yet,’ says he, with a grin. ‘If the file houlds I’ll
be out in two hours’ hard work.’”

Billy halted, dead, and looked around him upon his discomfited audience.

“O’Farrell’s hounds meet at the Big House at tin o’clock,” said Mr
Stone. “I was jew be this to see Mr Moriarty’s cow. She’s swallowed a
dish-clath off a hedge, bad scran to her! and can’t get shut of it—but
she’ll have to wait for me attindance till afther the meet. I wouldn’t
miss it for two hundred cows, for you mark me words, there’ll be things
to be seen.”

“Faith,” said Mr Mullins, “I had this pair of brogues to finish be
twelve, but, begorra! if I never struck another peg I’ll be wid you to
see the fun.”

“What’s the time now?” asked Mr Mahony.

“Gone nine,” replied Mr Stone.

Mr Mahony paused for a second in thought, then:

“Billy!” cried he.

“Yes, daddy?” came a voice from the back of the cottage.

“Put the dunkey to.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER XXXI

                         THE FOX AND THE HOUNDS


“The meet of the hounds which took place this morning on the lawn of
Glen Druid House stands unparalleled in the history of Irish sport. To
begin with, half the country-side attended, and the hounds never turned
up at all——”

                             --------------

This extract is from the _Tullagh Guardian_ taken _verbatim_—and I would
quote the whole article, some three columns long, and make it do duty
for this chapter, if it were not that the bald facts given by the
pressman are such that I have to shave them to make them more
presentable.

At a quarter to ten the grounds in front of the Big House were swarming.
The thing resembled a village _fête_ in preparation rather than a
sporting fixture. Not only was Mr Mahony present, but his wife; not only
his wife, but his children.

Widdy Finnegan was also to the fore; and old Mr Finnegan, who never
stirred out on any account, unless for a wake, was there on his stick.

Shan Finucane, with Rafter at his heels, was present, and Shan never
turned up for a meet of the fox-hounds on any ordinary account.
Shepherd’s Cross had vomited its entire population, Tullagh had sent a
big contingent; the whole population, except the pigs, the hens, and one
bed-ridden individual of Castle Knock, had turned out; and even Castle
Connell, a tiny hamlet seven miles away, had sent its representative to
swell the crowd. A ragamuffin selling peanuts completed the picture.

Looking and listening, one could not but perceive that there was
something on of more sinister and breathless interest than a meet of the
fox-hounds. A great joke seemed to have been divided into small pieces
amongst the people; even the children had bits of it and there was a
hush in the turmoil, a muteness in the clamour which, coupled with
bursts of laughter that shook every now and then the whole assembly,
might have caused apprehension in the mind of an experienced Resident
Magistrate had one been present.

There was also a movement in the throng, a drift which, had you followed
it, would have taken you round the corner of the house to the
stable-yard and back again.

Back again, for every individual having feasted his eyes on the sight to
be seen retraced his steps, so that the show might not be given away.

The sight was Mr Murphy.

The broad, red face of Mr Murphy as he filed away at the bars of the
potato room window was a sight indeed.

One bar was out, and he was completing the demolition of the second,
sweating but cool, grinning like a cat, and exchanging jokes with
friends and enemies alike.

There were men and women in the throng who had good cause to hate Paddy
Murphy, but there was not a man or a woman who had even the thought of
betraying him. A whisper would have ruined him if conveyed to the
“quality” in the house; but no one whispered. Larry Lyburn, the
coachman, the stable helpers, all knew what was on; yet they led out Mr
Fanshawe’s horse, and a horse for General Grampound and a horse for Miss
Lestrange, and did the business, deaf and dumb to everything else. Mrs
Kinsella knew what was afoot, and the maids; as for Patsy, when he had
brought the prisoned one some breakfast, he had brought him also another
file.

It was all very wrong, of course; but there it was. There was not an
ounce of sympathy for Paddy Murphy, but a lot for his condition. Prison
to all these minds was as bad as death, and they helped him, just as
they would have helped him had he been drowning in the pond.

Whilst helping they jeered at him and joked with him, knowing well
enough that he would never after take revenge for these jeers with the
remembrance of their silence in his mind.

“There’s no signs of the polis yet, is there, Micky Strachan?” asked
Paddy, as he filed away.

“Not a speck,” replied the individual addressed; “they’re all beyant at
Shepherd’s Cross.”

“Take your teeth to it, Paddy,” suggested an individual over Micky
Strachan’s shoulder. “Make room for me, and don’t be blockin’ the
winda!” cried another. “Here, Mr Mahony, hould up Billy to have a look.”
“Oh, musha! musha! will yiz look at him?—he’s got wan bar out, and the
other’s near gone.” “Stick your back end through, Paddy, and we’ll pull
yiz.” “Put wan ear through at a time.” “Arrah! lave the man be, and
don’t be jestin’ at him.”

To all these advisers, jesters and sympathisers Mr Murphy replied in
kind; for he had a tongue like a rapier, and a wit that was pungent,
and—the pity of it—nine times out of ten unprintable.

As he replied to the jesters and the jeerers and the sympathisers, he
filed away for hard life, yet as unflurriedly and methodically as a
locksmith on a time job.

Then, suddenly, having gauged to a nicety the extent of his work, he
dropped his file, seized the bar, and the crowd cleared before the
window as they would have cleared before the cage of an escaping tiger.

For one moment of ferocious energy he wrestled with it, the veins on his
forehead swelling, his knuckles white as marble, his teeth exposed, and
his eyes tight shut—a terrific spectacle—then snap, bang! the thing
gave, and he tumbled backwards into the room.

“Paddy’s out!” yelled the crowd with delightful inconsequence,
scattering devious as though from the path of a python.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                             CHAPTER XXXII

                          THE FOX TAKES EARTH


Meanwhile at the front of the house things had been happening. Larry and
a subordinate stable helper had brought round Mr Fanshawe’s horse, and
the horses for General Grampound and Miss Lestrange.

“I must speak to you alone,” said Dicky, as he helped the girl into her
saddle—“not a word here.—Row? You saw us at breakfast—he has sworn not
to speak to me again—it’s over that business last night. Hush, here he
is.”

He swung into his own saddle as his uncle came down the steps, and
mounted the elephantine grey which Larry Lyburn was holding for him.

It was at this moment that a ragged individual, of the type which is all
eyes for disaster, and all ears for bad news, and all tongue for telling
it, yelled out:

“Here’s wan of the whips riding hell for leather. Musha! but somethin’
must a’ happened to the houn’s!”

Right across the park he was coming, a dingy scarlet figure on a big
brown horse.

“It’s Billy Croom, the second whip!” cried Mr Mahony, who was standing
up in his cart. “Will yiz look at the face of him, white as chalk!”

The huntsman took the sunk fence dividing the great lawn from the
grasslands, and, full gallop, came, scattering the crowd to right and to
left till ten paces from where General Grampound, Dicky Fanshawe and
Miss Lestrange were grouped he reined in, bringing the big brown mare on
her haunches.

“No mate!” cried Billy. “Mr O’Farrell’s tumbled down the stairs and
killed hisself—Musha! don’t all be axin’ me at once—He’s fell from the
first flure down to the haal—I left the docther settin’ his arum—an’ he
won’t be in the saddle agin for a month. ‘Into the saddle wid you,
Billy,’ says Mrs O’Farrell, and she near crazy, ‘and aff you go wid my
respects and give ’m the news.’ Stan’ clear and don’t be crowdin’
me—mind wid that stick, and don’t be proddin’ it into the mare, or it’s
stars she’ll be kickin’ out of you—she ain’t an umbrilla stand. What was
you afther sayin’, sir?”

“I am asking you, is Mr O’Farrell dead or not?” said General Grampound,
who had been vainly endeavouring to make his voice heard in the hubbub.

“No, sir; he’s only bruck his arum.”

“Then what the deuce do you mean by saying he had killed himself?”

“Who’d killed hisself?” asked Billy, unaccustomed to be taken literally,
and nettled at the tone of the questioner.

“Mr O’Farrell—are you deaf?”

“Who’s you talkin’ to?” replied the whip, a man with one of those long,
dark, narrow, devilish, fighting faces one meets with sometimes amidst
the Irish sporting classes.

Before the General could reply—and well for him, perhaps—at this moment
up went the cry from the stable-yard:

“Paddy’s out!”

“Paddy’s out!” yelled the throng, forgetting the disputants and surging
towards the stable side of the house. “Brayvo, Paddy! Where is he?
Afther him, and let’s chase him! Boys! boys! this’ll be the fun an’ all.
Set the houn’s afther him—there ain’t no houn’s—afther him on fut! Crack
him on the head if yiz catch him. No quarther, no quarther!—sure, he’s
biled babies alive, the blackguyard! There he is, runnin’. Shan’s
cotched him! No, he ain’t—he’s free. Afther him, afther him!”

A furious crowd surrounded the stable entrance, from which broke the
figure of a man running.

The extraordinary fact stands, take it how you will, that the crowd who
had sympathised and assisted in Mr Murphy’s escape were now, immediately
on his enlargement, all against him and eager to catch him. The spirit
of pity had vanished with the breaking of the bars, the spirits of
pursuit and revenge broke loose, and who knows what might have happened
but for Billy Croom, the whip, who, galloping in a semi-circle, faced
and herded back the pursuing crowd with his devilish expression and long
whip.

“Fair play!” shouted Billy, letting into the would-be hunters with his
whip. “Give him two minits’ law and let him have a run for his money.
Back you get, y’ divils, give him till he’s over the sunk fence—wait me
word! There, he’s over! _Tally ho!_ hark forrard!”

“Look!” cried Violet, “they are chasing him.”

“Now’s our time,” said Dicky. “Uncle’s away over there to the left—let’s
pretend to follow the chase; leave everything to me. Can you take the
sunk fence?”

“Rather!” said she.

The hunted one had got a good start; he had left the sunk fence far
behind him, and was making for the woods. Behind him, out-streaming like
the tail of a fan-tail comet, came the populace.

Billy Croom, who could have ridden the quarry down easily, was far too
good a sportsman for that. He was riding at a trot, and from a distance
you could see that he was treating the pursuers after the fashion of a
pack of hounds—that is to say, with encouragement of voice and whip,
especially the latter.

He was having more fun out of the business than any one else. The
General riding near Billy seemed to be doing a great deal of shouting.

“To the right now!” said Dicky, when they had cleared the fence. “They
are all on ahead, and we can cut straight across to the woods.”

Mr Murphy was also making for the woods but far lower down, and he “went
to earth,” to judge by the roar of the pursuing pack, just as the lovers
reached the shelter of the trees.

“Let’s get off and leave the horses here,” said Dicky. “I must have a
good long talk to you. Patsy ought to be somewhere near. I told him this
morning to watch out for us, and keep close to us. I told him we’d most
likely take shelter in these trees.”

“Listen!” said Violet.

Patsy that morning, with rare fidelity and close attention to business,
had forsaken his duties and all delights, and posted himself in the
branches of a beech tree. From this vantage he could see the “meet.” He
saw Billy Croom riding furiously up and delivering his message. He saw
the pursuit of Mr Murphy, he saw Violet and Dicky Fanshawe’s manœuvre.

Directly they turned beyond the sunk fence and rode towards the wood, he
saw what they were after, marked their direction, came down the beech
tree with the rapidity of a monkey and made through the wood to meet
them.

“Oh! there you are,” said Mr Fanshawe. “Take the horses, Patsy, and lead
them back to the stable. We will return on foot.”

“Yes, sir,” said Patsy, taking the bridles.

“This way,” said Dicky, leading Violet, who was holding her short habit
in one hand. He led her amidst the trees which were sparsely set, till,
on looking round, nothing was to be seen but the tree-boles, the
withered fern under foot and above, through the tracery of the branches,
the dull December day. Here Mr Fanshawe struck his head in a dramatic
fashion. “I have been half-mad all the morning to have a word with you.
Violet, it’s all up.”

“What?” asked Violet, half-alarmed at the distraction visible in her
companion.

“Everything, the whole game. He and you are going away to-morrow
morning.”

“Dicky! what on earth do you mean?”

“I’ll tell you. But first tell me, what did you hear last night?”

“I lay awake waiting, that is to say, I didn’t go to bed; just lay down
with my clothes on. I heard the clock strike twelve; then a long time
passed, and then,” said Violet, “I heard a most awful yell.”

“That was when we caught him. Go on.”

“It went on to squeals just like a pig. I heard doors banging, and _his_
voice and his language, and other voices, then everything was quiet.
Then I lay listening to Lady Seagrave snoring. She is so deaf she heard
nothing, and she sleeps in the next room. Then I heard your knock, I
said ‘Yes,’ and then I heard——”

“Yes, go on.”

“Your dear voice,” said Violet, nestling her cheek against his shoulder.

Mr Fanshawe gulped, and pressed her to him.

“Then,” said Violet, “you asked me to open the door and say good-night,
and I said ‘No,’ and you said ‘Yes,’ and then I opened it. Then I said
good-night and shut my door, and—that’s all.”

Mr Fanshawe groaned.

“I wish it were,” he said.

“How?”

“He saw us.”

“When?”

“When I—Violet, dear—kissed you.”

Her face flushed scarlet.

“I was coming down the passage,” went on Mr Fanshawe, “going to my room,
after leaving you, when some one grasped me by the arm. It was uncle. He
had been standing in the dark at his door, and he saw everything, for,
you remember, I had a lighted candle in my hand.”

“Go on,” said Violet.

“He drew me into his room——”

“Tell me exactly what he said.”

“I never swear before ladies,” said Mr Fanshawe, with a miserable
attempt at jocularity, “but what he said, as far as I remember, was
something like this: ‘Now, sir—now, sir—now, sir—now, sir—what the
blank—what the blank—what the blank do you mean, sir? What the blank do
you mean, you hound?’”

“He called you a hound?”

“He called me a hound.”

“But this is serious, Dicky.”

“Very especially for me, as I could not strike him.”

“What did you say?”

“I said, I believe, ‘Thank you, sir.’ It wasn’t a very brilliant
observation, under the circumstances.”

Violet put her hands round his neck, drew his face down and kissed it.

“I love you for having said it,” said she.

“That makes up. But I felt pretty bad, never felt worse. I declare to
heaven,” suddenly broke out Mr Fanshawe, “I can’t understand human
nature. Here’s a man as brave as they make them, a D.S.O., and all that,
with the heart of a bitter old maid——”

“Go on,” said Violet. “What happened then?”

“He said things about you, and—I ran away.”

“Ran away?”

“You see, if I had stayed I must have knocked him down. I told him he
was a liar before I left him, though; other things, too, that I want to
forget——”

Violet sighed one of those deep sighs that speak not of sorrow or
lackadaisical affectation. Her eyes were sparkling.

“If I could be glad about anything so horrible,” she said, “I would be
glad he spoke like that about me, for now I don’t care if I do——”

“What?”

“Run away with you.”

Mr Fanshawe again pressed her close to him. They were walking,
sauntering, all this time through the wood in any direction Fate might
lead them. He sighed.

“That’s the rub,” said he.

“How?”

“I will tell you. Patsy comes in here. This morning at seven, General
Grampound, my revered uncle, rang his bell. Patsy answered it. Patsy was
commissioned to tell a maid to tell Lady Seagrave that General Grampound
requested an interview with her ‘at once’ on business of the gravest
importance. Lady Seagrave replied that she would see him at eight
o’clock in her boudoir.

“A few minutes after eight the boudoir bell rang, and Patsy, who scented
mischief, answered it. He found the General and the lady together, but
unable to communicate, as the lady in her hurry had left her ear-trumpet
on her dressing-room table. Patsy was sent to fetch it.”

Mr Fanshawe paused, and, despite his dejection, chuckled.

“Patsy,” he went on, “does not love my uncle. Patsy, as far as I can
understand his character, is a compound of Machiavelli, Bismarck, Puck,
and one of Shakespeare’s fools all compressed into a page-boy in
buttons. Patsy saw the ear-trumpet on the table, and by the trumpet a
bottle of eau de Cologne. The combination would have meant nothing to an
ordinary person, but in Patsy’s mind it suggested the idea of playing
the ‘ould Gineral a trick.’”

“Go on,” said Violet interestedly.

“He took the cork from the eau de Cologne bottle and popped it into the
ear-trumpet.”

“Oh, bravo, Patsy!” cried Miss Lestrange. “Go on, go on!”

“Not only did he pop it in, but he rammed it tight, with a long
button-hook. Then he brought the ear-trumpet down, handed it to Lady
Seagrave, and shut the door. Then he listened.”

“What did he hear?”

“As far as I can gather, it was like listening to a scene in a French
farce. You know, the old girl hates to be thought deaf, and my uncle
hates to be thought stupid. Strange, that people with such obvious
defects should try to hide them. The General began to explain himself;
she requested him to speak louder. He bellowed, and she asked him was he
deaf. They seemed to have insulted one another for a quarter of an hour
or so without getting any ‘forrader’; at all events, he was unable to
tell her what he wanted to tell her, about us last night.”

“Thank heaven!” said Violet. “Not that I would care a button about any
one knowing, but, O Dicky, women feel about things differently to men,
and you can’t think the—the—_deep_ satisfaction that eau de Cologne cork
has given to my mind. She is such a meddler, such a fusser, and she has
such notions of propriety. You can’t understand an old lady of that
sort, because you are not a woman. If she had heard what he said, she
would have made you go off at once—I know her.”

“Why,” cried Dicky, “that was just what he was trying to ask her to do!
Patsy told me he began by asking her to send me off at once, as I was
conducting myself in an ungentlemanly manner, and ruining your prospects
of marriage——”

“We had two enemies to our happiness,” said Violet, “Patsy has made one
confound the other. What did she say to all that?”

“She said, ‘Speak louder,’” replied Mr Fanshawe with a grim chuckle.

“I can’t help thinking that there is a Providence at work,” said Miss
Lestrange devoutly—“this happening and Mr Boxall getting influenza. She
was putting him into my pocket at every opportunity. She had made up a
party for to-day in a closed carriage, to go to Tullagh. She, and I, and
He, and Lady Molyneux—ugh!—but now this blessed influenza.”

“Don’t!” said Dicky, suddenly catching hold of a tree and doubling
himself up in convulsions of merriment. “This is too much—it’s not
influenza.”

“What is it, Dicky?”

“I can’t tell—see here, Violet——It’s a sneaky thing to say things about
another man—I _must_ tell, though. Boxall isn’t in bed because of the
influenza.”

“What, then?”

“Patsy collared his eye.”

“His _what_?”

“His artificial one. It popped out of his head when that sweep chap hit
him. Patsy saw it on the road, and put it in his pocket.”

“Oh!” said Miss Lestrange.

“He’s sent a telegram for another one,” went on Mr Fanshawe; “Cupid’s
messenger, you know—ha! ha! ha!”

Miss Lestrange did not go into the same convulsions of merriment. To a
girl every man who presents himself in the guise of a suitor, whether he
is acceptable or wildly impossible, is a sort of trinket, a personal
possession—at the lowest, a scalp. A woman, whatever she may pretend,
feels a kindly interest at heart for _any_ man who admires and loses his
heart to her.

Had Mr Mahony, soot bags and all, fallen honestly and wildly in love
with Miss Lestrange, Miss Lestrange, while scouting and loathing and
closing the doors against her dusky suitor, would still have felt for
him an interest; and, had he broken his leg, the news would have been of
more moment to her than the news of a similar accident befalling Mr
Mullins or Billy the Buck, or any other male biped of the same species.

“Patsy,” said Miss Lestrange, “seems to have had a lot to do with our
affairs; is it Fate or just—Patsy?”

“It’s accident,” replied Dicky, whom a grave thought had suddenly
sobered. “Ireland is an accident factory; these things could never
happen in England. An Irishman creates an accident and then somehow
makes events from it. Patsy doesn’t do things of a set purpose, but he
takes hold of opportunity, and he can make more of an accident than most
people. But the thing that is bothering me is this. Though Patsy, by
means of an eau de Cologne cork, has stopped me from being summarily
expelled, all the Patsys and all the eau de Cologne corks in the world
won’t stop uncle from leaving and taking you away with him. He’s going
to-morrow by the 8.15 from Tullagh station.”

“How do you know?” asked Violet. “He has not said a word to me.”

“No, I don’t suppose he will till this evening; all the same, he is
going. The last words he said in that fantastic interview with the old
woman were, that he would leave the house to-day, only that he was too
late to catch the 8.15, but that he’d go to-morrow; and he has given
orders for the cart for the luggage, and the brougham to take you to the
station.”

“This is dreadful,” said the girl. “Dicky, it was the day after
to-morrow——”

“Yes; at two in the morning _we_ were to start.”

They had wandered far by this. They had crossed the drive and entered
the woods on the other side, walking in the direction of the Druids’
Altar. Breaking into a little glade they found themselves before the
ruin of a tree, the bole of a great oak, broken off some ten feet from
the ground; it was the same oak in which Mr Murphy had been hiding on
the day we first made his acquaintance.

“Let us sit down for a minute and think,” said the girl, pointing to the
moss-grown roots of the old tree.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                             CHAPTER XXXIII

                              BILLY CROOM


“But the game is not played out yet,” said Mr Fanshawe; “we have
nearly twenty-four hours before us. I’ll hocus the horses, I’ll get
Patsy to take the lynch-pins out of the brougham, I’ll do
something—anything—before letting him win like that. The case is
desperate. It will be two years before you are of age and your own
mistress.”

“Two years, three months and three—no—four days,” said Miss Lestrange.

“He will take you away from here and bottle you up somewhere, or put you
in Chancery or something—I know him! He will keep you so close I will
never be able to see you or speak to you. He will intercept my
letters—we will be able to make no plans. We will be separated two years
certain—I may die, you may die—you may get to care for some one else. I
have a conviction that if we don’t carry out our plan, and go away with
one another day after to-morrow, something will divide us for ever.”

“Dicky!” said the girl.

“Yes?”

“You know what you said about doing something to the horses or the
carriage.”

“Yes.”

“Don’t—leave everything to me.”

“What will you do?”

“Never mind; I have made a plan.”

“Tell me it,” said Dicky. “I may be able to improve on it.”

“I will do as Mr Boxall has done.”

“But you haven’t a glass eye.”

“No, but I can catch influenza.”

“Hurrah!” cried Dicky. “I never thought of that—but can you?”

“What?”

“Do the thing properly. What are the symptoms of influenza?”

“You sneeze,” said Violet.

“Can you?”

“No, I’m afraid I can’t; however, we’ll leave that part out. I can say
I’ve sneezed.”

“What are the other symptoms?”

“Pains in the bones and headache—Dicky!”

Miss Lestrange suddenly pinched her companion’s arm.

“What?”

“Look!”

A broad, red face was peeping at them from behind a tree-bole.

“Why, I’m blest if it isn’t the burglar chap!” said Mr Fanshawe.

The body belonging to the face came forth from behind the tree-bole, and
Mr Murphy, greatly tattered, evidently exhausted, but still grinning,
stood before them.

“Faith,” said Mr Murphy, with a tone of happy recognition, “it’s
yourself, sor, and glad I am to see you.”

“Can’t return the compliment,” said Mr Fanshawe.

“I’m bone dry,” said Mr Murphy, drawing the back of his hand across his
mouth. “Near run off me legs. I’ve left me ould hat in the brambles
beyant, and it’s sorry I am to appear before the young lady all rags an’
tatters—whisht!”

Shouts and haloos came from the distance, and the yapping of a dog.

“They’re afther me still!” said Mr Murphy, as though he were speaking to
confederates. “Listen to ’um, Mr Fanshawe, sir, you’re a gintleman, you
won’t be givin’ me away, will you, if they axes have you seen me?”

“Not I,” said Dicky. “But don’t waste time here talking, hook it as hard
as you can; they are coming.”

“Unhappy man!” cried Violet, gazing with dilated eyes at the tattered
figure before her.

“Make haste! Dicky, have you no money to give him to help him?
Listen—they are coming—don’t wait to be taken—fly!”

“It’s into the tree I’ll be flyin’ if you get off me dure-step, miss,”
said the pursued one, buttoning the one button of his coat and preparing
to climb. “It’s me house is this ould tree, an’ I’ve lived in her a
month wid me ear to the ground for the polis. Aisy does it.”

He got on to the moss-grown root, placed his arms round the bole, and,
scrambling like a great tom-cat, in half a moment was gone from sight.

“Come,” said Dicky to the girl, “let us go.”

“Wan minit,” came a voice from the tree.

“Well, what is it?”

“Sure, y’ ain’t goin’ to lave me!” complained the voice. “If they strike
the ould tree they’ll sarch it sure. Misther Fanshawe!”

“Yes?”

“For the love of God, sit down an’ talk aisy to the young lady. There’s
Con Cogan knows I’ve hid here, and wan or two more—the sight of the
young lady will drive thim away as the blessed angels drives the
divils.”

“Well, of all the cheek!” said Mr Fanshawe.

“Dicky, dear!” said Violet, laying her hand on his arm. “He’s running
away.”

“Well, what of that?”

“Think, if _we_ were running away, if we were chased, and if we found a
tree to hide in, think how glad we would be to have some one to—to help
us.”

“Listen to her voice!” came a voice from the tree that seemed communing
with itself. “Sure, it’s like running wather over pebbles to hear her.”

“It would be unlucky for us,” went on she, “not to help a person who——”

“Yes, it would,” said Dicky. “Sit down. All right—we’ll do what we can
for you.”

“God in hivin bless you; may God in hivin rain His blessin’s on you; may
the saints make your bed, and the howly angels smooth your pillas; may
the——”

“Shut up!” said Mr Fanshawe.

“Listen!” said Violet.

Voices were audible in the wood close by.

“Swear be all’s blew you saw me runnin’ towards Castle Knock,” came the
voice, muted and confidential.

“Hold your beastly tongue,” replied Mr Fanshawe, irritated at the way in
which the rascal had made him a tool to assist his flight, and the
familiar tone of his voice.

“Here they are,” said Violet.

A spot of dingy scarlet showed through the trees, and next moment Billy
Croom, followed by Con Cogan, broke into the glade.

“That’s the tree!” cried Con. “Musha! but who’s them?”

When the rabble had run Mr Murphy to earth, or rather into the wood,
they paused. They did not mind pursuing him across the open a hundred
strong. Pursuing him through the wood was quite a different matter, for
pursuit through a wood means breaking up into small parties, and there
was not a man amongst the lot who would have tackled Mr Murphy, even
with the assistance of a couple of others.

“Lave him be!” cried the populace. “Sure, you might as well hunt for a
needle in the siven acres. More’s the pity, with the reward out aginst
him, and all.”

“What’s the reward?” asked Billy Croom.

“A hundred pound.”[3]

Footnote 3:

  The reward, as entered in the Police Register, was £10; ten times ten
  makes a hundred.

“A hundred pound, and him in the wood!”

“Ay, a hundred pound.”

“Sure, I’d chase a hundred divils through a hundred woods for that,”
said Billy Croom, slipping off his horse. “Here, Bob Mahony, take a
hoult of the reins.”

“He’ll murther you!” cried the populace.

“Will he, begob?” said the whip, his lean, dark, devilish face lighting
up with battle.

“Mr Croom!” came a voice. It was the voice of Con Cogan, who, assured
that the police were absent, had been hanging round the tail of the
proceedings like a carrion crow.

“What is it?” asked Croom.

“I can tell yiz where you’ll find ’um. What will yiz give me?”

“I’ll give you a tin poun’ note out of the hundred,” replied the
huntsman, approaching close to Con.

“Then you can hand it over, for he’s in the ould oak tree widout a top
to it.”

“Where’s that?”

“Sure, where would it be, but in the wood?”

The populace tittered. They thought Con was “having” the whip, otherwise
such base treachery would have condemned Mr Cogan to a speedy and
literal downfall.

“What part of the wood?” demanded the whip.

“Two hundred yards, maybe, to the lift of the drive, before you rache
the turnin’ to the Druids’ Althar.”

“He’s gave Paddy away!” cried the onlookers, who perceived from the
exact directions that there was no joking in the matter. “He’s bethrayed
him—oh, the baste!”

“Lave him to me,” said Croom, as disgusted as the rest, but still
determined to use Mr Cogan.

“Now, then, you holy scarecrow, lay on to the sint, into the wood wid
you before me.”

They were a picture. The lean, dark-faced whip all fight and energy;
Con, with his brigand’s appearance, and his face of an ideal
stage-robber, wilting before the other.

“Lay on!” cried the huntsman.

“Let up!” cried Con. “Lave me be—who are you afther talking to? Help!
Mary! Moses!”

The thong of the whip curled round his legs. Then, whip in one hand and
grasping the collar of Con’s old coat in the other, Croom ran the
villain in amidst the trees, and they were lost to sight.

The populace danced.

“On you go before me,” said Croom, releasing the collar. “Play me
crucked, and I’ll brain yiz with the butt-end of me whip.”

“I’ll go quiet,” replied the other. “But, sure, it’s the fear of Paddy
Murphy that’s before me.”

“Faith, it’s the fear of Billy Croom that’s behind yiz. On you go. Which
way, now?”

“To the lift.”

Con led fair and straight, and in ten minutes they had reached the
little path that led to the Druids’ Altar.

“To the lift again,” said Con. “There’s the ould tree—musha, but who’s
them!”

“Sit quiet,” said Mr Fanshawe to Violet; “we may be able to bluff them
without telling lies.”

Con, seeing Mr Fanshawe and knowing the strength of Croom, began to lose
fear of Paddy Murphy, and did not bolt away as he might otherwise have
done, but waited—for his own undoing—to see the sport.

Croom touched his hat to Mr Fanshawe’s scarlet coat.

“Beg pardon, sir,” said he, “but have you seen a sight of that chap we
was chasin’?”

“I have,” replied Mr Fanshawe. “What do you want with him?”

“Faith,” said Croom, “I want to kitch him.”

“And what do you want to catch him for?” asked Mr Fanshawe.

“You must ax the polis that,” replied the huntsman. “They can bile him,
for all I care, all I wants is to kitch him, and if you axes me why,
it’s because there’s a hundred pounds reward aginst him, and I’ve a wife
and childer.”

“Well, you can go home to your wife and childer, and tell them you’ve
lost a hundred pounds to-day, for you’re not going to catch him.”

A blaze came into the eyes of Billy Croom and was smothered.

“I’m not wishful to be disrespectful, sir,” said Billy, “I’m axing you
have you seen him?”

“I told you before, I have.”

“And where was that?”

“Here.”

“Con Cogan!” said the whip.

“Yes,” replied Con.

“Is this the tree or not.”

“It is.”

“Well, then, sir,” said Billy, “I’m not wishin’ to be disrespectful, but
is the chap in the ould tree behind you, or is he not?”

“He is,” replied Mr Fanshawe.

“That’s all right,” said the whip, buttoning his coat and approaching
the tree. “It’s worse than tacklin’ a badger in a barrel, but I’ll do
it.”

“Stop,” said Mr Fanshawe.

“Who’s goin’ to stop me?” enquired Billy, the blaze lighting up again in
his eyes.

“I am.”

“For sure?” said Billy.

“Yes, for sure, he’s under my protection—do you want him?”

“I’m goin’ to have him.”

“I say, do you want him?” repeated Mr Fanshawe, rising to his feet.

“O’ course I want him.”

“Then, you’ll have to fight me for him.”

“O Dicky!” murmured Violet.

“It’s a question of honour,” said Mr Fanshawe. “I don’t know why I
should fight this scoundrel’s battles, but he has placed himself under
my protection, and I’m not going to give him up.” Then, in a lower
voice: “You wouldn’t have it otherwise?”

“No,” said Violet, shivering; “but tell me before you begin, and I’ll
shut my eyes, and—stop my ears.”

“Misther Fanshawe.”

The voice came from above. Dicky looked up. Mr Murphy had scrambled up,
and was leaning over the tree-top rim.

“Misther Fanshawe, there’s no call for fightin’. I’ll come down and
settle me account peaceful wid Billy Croom. I’ll go wid him quiet, for
I’m sure to be cocht _any_how, and he may as well have the hundred pound
as another. Aisy, now, Mr Fanshawe, and listen to me. I’ll go wid Billy
on one condijion.”

“What’s that?” asked Mr Fanshawe, glad to be done with the business.

“That you take hould of Con Cogan’s arm over there, and hould him till I
ax you to loose him, for I’m powerful anxious to say a word to him
before I goes to prizon.”

“Right!” said Dicky, stepping over to where Con stood and taking hold of
his arm.

“I ax you, sir,” said Mr Murphy, “not to loose him till I say when.”

“Right!” said Mr Fanshawe.

“Now,” said Mr Murphy, whipping a frightful-looking old horse pistol
into view and levelling it at the head of Billy Croom, who stood right
at the bottom of the tree, “now that all’s settled. I’m going to have a
word wid me friend, Billy. Move the hundredth part of an inch, y’
widge-faced houn’, and your brains go on the grass. Misther Fanshawe,
will yiz ax the young lady to go away beyant and shut her eyes and
ears?”

“Go quick!” cried Dicky, and he had not to repeat his words. “Hi, you
scoundrel, stop it! You’re not going to shoot the man.”

“Mr Fanshawe,” went on the man in possession of affairs, “you’ve give
your word—this is betune Billy and me, man to man. Billy Croom, have I
thrumped your ace, or have I not?”

Billy was a very brave man, but he knew the infernal devil in the tree,
and his utter recklessness when moved by whisky or rage.

“You have,” said Billy.

“You came afther me for gowld, and I’m goin’ to give yiz lead,” said Mr
Murphy, “if yiz as much as blinks wan eye before I lays down me
conditions of war. They’ll be hard, Billy Croom, but, begob! they’ll be
better than hell.”

Dicky, holding Con by the sleeve, looked on fascinated. Intuition told
him that Murphy would kill the man under him, if the man under him moved
so much as a finger, for there was that in Murphy’s face which was
beyond the earth.

“What’s you afther?” asked Croom, whose breath was coming hard.

“Strip!” said the other—“all but your britches and brogues; I’ll lave
you those for dacency sake.”

“I’ll be——if I do!” said Croom.

“I’ve said it wanst, I’ll say it twice, and if I say it three times,
I’ll _shut_—strip!”

Croom stripped.

“Shut your eyes,” cried Dicky, and a voice came from the wood:

“They’re shut.”

“Now,” said Mr Murphy to the half-naked figure before him, “I’ll give
yiz a chanst. I’m goin’ to count five; at the fifth sthroke I’ll fire if
there’s a speck of yiz to be seen. Use your legs—Wan—two—three—four——Mr
Fanshawe, sir!”

“Yes?”

“Did yiz happen to see a party be the name of Billy Croom around here
anywhere in the neebourhood to-day?”

“I did,” said Mr Fanshawe, “but he seems to have gone.”

“Faith,” said Mr Murphy, putting his leg over the edge of his fortress
and scrambling down, “he’s left his clothes behint him.” He approached
Mr Fanshawe and the trembling Con. “There’s a lady in the wood, sir, and
maybe you’ll be escorthin’ her home. Good-mornin’, Con Cogan, I have a
word to say with you.”

“Don’t lave me with him, sir,” implored Con, “or it’s me brains he’ll be
blowin’ out.”

“Don’t you be afear’d, sir,” said Paddy; “sure, he hasn’t any brains to
blow. I’m not goin’ to hurt a feather of him.”

“Well, I can’t stay here all day,” said Mr Fanshawe; “you must settle
your differences between you. What are you going to do? The police will
have you, sure. Why don’t you get out of the country?”

“Sure, where could I go?” said Mr Murphy.

“Go to America. Here’s a couple of sovereigns for you; and, see here, if
you’ll make up your mind to cut the country I’ll help. Apply to me at
No. 10A Merrion Square, Dublin, and I’ll pay your passage, and give you
a fiver to start you.”

“Sure, what could I do in Amerika?” said Mr Murphy, pocketing the coins
without a word of thanks.

“Do? Why, go on the stock exchange—no, go into politics, that’s your
true position in life. You waste your time here. Well, I’m
off—good-day.”

“Good-day to yiz,” replied the other. “Sure, it’s you I’d like to have
at me elbow in a row.”

“Oh, I think you’re able to look after yourself;” said Mr Fanshawe, as
he departed.

“I’m not a chicken,” replied the other. “Good-day to yiz. Come, Con,
we’ve words to say to wan another.”

“O Dicky,” said Violet, when—having found each other by hallooing—they
pressed their lips together, “I’m so frightened. Has he shot him?”

“No,” replied Mr Fanshawe, chuckling, “but he’s done nearly as bad. Come
on, and let’s find the road; it’s half-past twelve, and that confounded
luncheon will be kept waiting for us again.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                             CHAPTER XXXIV

                         MR MURPHY IN EXCELSIS


“Now, Misther Cogan,” said Paddy, when the last glimpse of Mr Fanshawe
had vanished amidst the trees, “a word in your ear.”

“Paddy,” said Con Cogan, who was white to his lips, and licking them,
“you may b’lave me or not, but it wasn’t I set Billy Croom on to yiz.”

“Who said you did?” asked Paddy. “Who said Con Cogan ever went back on a
friend? Show me the man that siz it, and I’ll show you his liver on the
pint of a stick.”

Con Cogan would have much preferred Paddy to have stormed at him. You
see, he knew his man.

“And now that we’ve finished the parlymentaries,” said Mr Murphy, “we’ll
get to bizness. Into the ould tree wid you, and fitch me the powther
horn, the bu’lets and the waddin’, for I’m goin’ huntin’.”

“Paddy, sure, y’ ain’t goin’ to shut me?” asked Con. He looked sick, and
no blame to him, for it is always an unpleasant question when one has to
put it to another man.

“Shut you?” said Mr Murphy, with fine contempt, which Con felt to be a
horrible simulation. “Shut _you_—what’s set you cockin’ yourself up wid
the idea you was worth powther and shot? Into the tree wid yiz, and do
me biddin’.”

Con, relieved not at all, climbed into the tree, and Mr Murphy turned
his attention to the clothes left behind him by Billy Croom. He searched
the pockets of the coat—found nothing in them; then, taking off his own
coat, he put on Croom’s.

It didn’t fit. In fact, a seam of the shoulder frankly burst when Mr
Murphy put his powerful triceps in action stooping down to pick up the
old hunting cap which Billy, by the directions of the powers above, had
discarded with the clothes.

With the cap on his head and the hunting-coat on his back, Mr Murphy
made a figure sufficiently bizarre. There remained the whip, which he
picked up, and the spurs, which he let lie.

“Here’s the powther and the balls,” said Con Cogan, lowering himself
down from the tree. “Glory be to God, Paddy, what are yiz dressin’
yourself out in thim things for?”

“I’m goin’ huntin’,” said Mr Murphy, putting the powder and balls in the
tail pocket of his coat. “Put me old coat into the tree and come back to
me.”

Con did as he was bid.

“Now,” said Mr Murphy, pointing to the spurs, “kneel down wid you and
put thim spurs on me boots.”

Con knelt down and proceeded to do as he was directed.

“What for are you puttin’ spurs on when you haven’t a horse?” asked Con,
as he buckled the straps of the spurs.

“I haven’t a horse, but I have a dunkey.”

“Where is he?”

“I’ll show you him in a minit.”

Con, having fixed the spurs, stood up.

“Now,” said Mr Murphy, putting the pistol in the breast of his coat and
clutching the whip in one hand, “turn your back to me.”

“Is it me brains you’re going to blow out?” asked the trembling Con,
who, for all Paddy’s seemingly amiable mood, knew that something
unpleasant was in store for him.

“Turn your back,” replied the other. “Sure, it’s a schollar of Thrinity
one would think you were to-day with all your talk about brains. Turn
your back.”

Con did as he was bidden, and the next moment Mr Murphy was on his back.

“Now you know where I keeps me dunkey,” said Mr Murphy, who had mounted
pick-a-back. “Now you know why I put on me spurs. Jay up round the oak
till I thries your paces—jay up.” He struck with his spurs, the rowels
of which entered Con’s thighs, and backwards with his whip, the butt of
which struck Con’s western extremity. Con shouted with the pain.

“Don’t start brayin’ too soon,” said Mr Murphy, “for it’s your wind
you’ll be wantin’ before I’ve done with you—you dhirty houn’. Thank the
Vargin it’s a dunkey I’ve made of you and not a corpse. Jay up.”

Con jayed up. Round the oak he went at a trot and round again.

The genius of Mr Murphy had unconsciously struck a vein of pure gold.

Con was an exceedingly powerful man, but nearly all his strength lay in
his legs. Like a certain English writer of comic verse, now dead, he had
“thighs like a grasshopper’s.”

Mr Murphy had discovered in a fit of caprice Con’s true function and
office in life.

“Jay up!” cried the rider. “That’s not bad, but trot more even.”

“Let up wid them spurs, for the love of hiven, and I’ll trot as you
want!” cried the steed.

“Wo!” answered the rider.

“What are yiz afther now?” said Con.

“Nothin’,” replied the rider, who had taken the pistol from his breast,
and was examining the cap on it, with the infernal grin on his face
broadened, as though the weapon were a joke he was reading in the pages
of a comic paper.

What horrid thing was about to happen, who can say, when a brilliant
thought passing through the brain of Mr Murphy, turned his grin into a
whistle. He thrust the pistol back into his breast.

“Set me down,” said he.

Con did so with alacrity.

“I was on the pint of blowin’ the roof off your head,” said Mr Murphy,
“but, I’ve changed me decison; at least, I _b’lave_ I have. You trots
well and you ain’t spavined: there’s on’y one pint I ain’t sure
about—can yiz bray?”

“Can I what?”

“Bray like an ass,” replied the other, taking the pistol from his
breast.

“Put it back!” cried Con. “Sure, I’ll bray like a hundred asses, if yiz
give me the word.”

“Sthrike up, thin.”

Con brayed.

Mr Murphy put his pistol back.

“That’s not so bad,” said he, “but it’s not parfect. Stick out your
head, rowl up your lip, now—let fly.”

The noise was repeated.

“Faith, your voice has saved your life,” said Mr Murphy. “Turn your
back.” In a second he had mounted pick-a-back again.

“Now, aff we go!” cried Mr Murphy. “Jay up.”

“Where to?” asked Con.

“Castle Knock—where else?”

“Sure, Paddy, you wouldn’t be ridin’ me into the town!”

“Jay up.”

“Sure, I’ll never be able to show me face in the county agin.”

“Jay up.”

The spurs struck home so hard that the steed nearly unseated his rider
with the bound he gave. Then, at a trot, they started for Castle Knock.

Mr Murphy knew his populace.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                              CHAPTER XXXV

                               INFLUENZA


“Bob,” said Doris next morning, “Miss Lestrange has got the influenza.”

“How do you know?” asked Bob.

“I’ve been to her room, and she’s lying in bed crying. Bob!”

“Well?”

“It’s not the influenza.”

“What are you driving at?” asked Bob.

“Promise not to tell, and you’ll be in it too,” said Doris.

“I promise—go ahead. What are you driving at?”

“She’s going away.”

“Where?”

“To be married.”

“Heu!” said Bob in a disgusted tone.

“But that’s not all,” went on Doris. “She’s going with Mr Fanshawe, and
nobody knows about it, only me and you and she and Patsy. She told me if
we were good we might see her off; they are going at two o’clock in the
morning.”

“My eye!” said Bob, lighting up. “They ain’t running away, are they?”

“They are. They’re running away from the old General and Mr Boxall—going
to Dublin to be married. They’re going in the dogcart from the
stable-yard—but, mind you, don’t say a word to any one.”

“What do you take me for?” said Bob. “I say, Doris!”

“Yes?”

“Wouldn’t it be prime if the old General chased them?”

“Don’t!” said Doris.

“I was only thinking of him running after them with his great red face,
an’ shouting to them to stop,” said Bob. He was kneeling on the
window-seat of the schoolroom and looking out over the park. “I left
that motor-car in the hall yesterday,” went on Bob, “and he hit his toe
against it and sent it skidding across the floor, and he said, ‘Confound
those children! they’re always in the way when they’re not wanted, they
or their beastly toys.’ I was leaning over the banisters and I jolly
nearly dropped a marble on his head. Who’s that coming?”

“It’s Doctor O’Flaherty,” said Doris, kneeling up also on the
window-seat and looking out at the car which was coming up the drive at
a trot.

The car drew up at the door, and Dr O’Flaherty of Tullagh, an old
gentleman with grey side-whiskers, a clean-shaved physician’s mouth, and
a humorous grey eye, descended and went up the steps.

“Well, James,” said the doctor, as the door opened to him, “and what’s
the matter?”

“Her ladyship is poorly, sir, and there’s a houseful of influenza,”
replied James, who was not an optimist. “Which will you see first, sir,
the influenza or her ladyship?”

“_Seniores priores!_” said the country doctor cheerily, as he took his
stethoscope from his hat, hung his hat up and divested himself of his
overcoat. “Her ladyship, James, by all means.”

At this moment the door of the library opened and General Grampound came
out.

“I beg your pardon,” said General Grampound, “are you the doctor?”

“I am,” said the practitioner.

“May I have a word with you?”

“With pleasure!”

The General led the way into the library.

“My ward, Miss Lestrange, is down with the influenza,” said General
Grampound.

“I am told it’s in the house,” said Dr O’Flaherty.

“I believe the devil’s in the house!” burst out the General. “I had
intended leaving by the train this morning from Tullagh, and now this
turns up.”

“Influenza has that habit,” said the doctor. “It leaves its card on you
in the most unexpected manner.”

“I don’t believe it’s influenza at all!” broke out the General, “and
that’s just what I want to talk to you about. I believe it’s
malingering.”

“O ho!”

“Yes, sir. I have reasons to suspect that I am a dupe; however, I await
your diagnosis. Shall I show you to the door of my ward’s room?”

“_Seniores priores_,” replied the other rather stiffly. “Her ladyship
first, if you please—thank you, I know the house.”

He slipped out of the room; James was waiting for him in the hall.

“And who is the old gentleman at all, James?” asked Dr O’Flaherty, as
they passed down the corridor to Lady Seagrave’s room.

“That was General Grampound, doctor,” replied James.

“Faith, he looks it,” replied the other, as he tapped at the bedroom
door.

Lady Seagrave was sitting up in bed, with a lace cap on her head,
looking very grim and sombre.

“Come in,” said she. “Oh, that’s you—I expected you an hour ago—sit
down. There’s no use talking to me,” added she, with a blaze of
irritation, “for I’m deaf.”

“Faith, you’ve been a long time finding that out,” murmured O’Flaherty.

“It seized me yesterday morning,” went on the old woman. “I was quite
right when I got up; I could hear what my maid said when she brought me
my tea, and then it came on. Why don’t you answer me? You sit there
without moving your lips like an image.”

“Hum, hum!” said O’Flaherty, whose temper and bluntness were proverbial,
“you’ve been deaf in your ears and deaf in your senses all the time
_I’ve_ known you. Deaf! Faith, it’s a megaphone, not a trumpet, they’ll
want to raise you out of your coffin with when the time comes.”

“There you are!” said Lady Seagrave. “I can tell what you say by the
movements of your lips. It is not influenza—some doctors seem to have
influenza on the brain.”

“Faith, and that’s a disease you’ll never have,” said the practitioner,
taking a snuff-box from his pocket and a pinch.

Lady Seagrave objected to tobacco, but she did not mind a person taking
snuff in her presence. She was of that day.

“You think because there is influenza in the house I must have it. I
haven’t; I expect it’s a little cold. However, I haven’t sent for you to
tinker over my ears, but to see a patient. I have a guest who is down
with influenza—a Mr Boxall, a Member of Parliament—but he refuses to see
a doctor.”

“Then,” said O’Flaherty, “he must have more sense in him than the
ordinary Members of Parliament.”

“I know—it’s very foolish of him, but he is not going to pursue his
foolishness under my roof. He must be seen.”

O’Flaherty nodded his head.

“You had better go and see him now,” said her ladyship, “and not waste
any more of your time on me. If he is very bad you can tell James, and
he will let me know, and you’d better call again to-morrow. Good-day.”

She pulled a big bell-rope beside her bed to summon James, who was
lingering in the passage, and the doctor with an old-fashioned bow to
his patient and a grin on his lips left the room.

“The man’s a fool,” murmured the old lady to herself, as she settled
down in her bed, “but he’s respectful—the sort of country doctor I
remember when doctors called themselves apothecaries and knew their
proper places.”

“This room, sir,” said James. He knocked at the door next to Lady
Seagrave’s.

“Come in,” said a woman’s voice, and O’Flaherty found himself in the
presence of a pretty girl, fully dressed, seated in a basket armchair
and busily engaged in tearing up letters. A dressing-bag half stuffed
with things stood on a chair.

                             --------------

Half an hour later, coming downstairs, Dr O’Flaherty met General
Grampound in the hall.

“Well, doctor,” said the General, drawing him into the library, “what’s
the diagnosis?”

“Just a chill.”

“Will she be able to leave here to-morrow?”

“She will,” replied the other, with a twinkle in his eye; “and, what’s
more, she’s anxious to go.”

“Hum! Have you seen my friend Boxall?”

“No,” replied the doctor, “but he saw me.”

“How do you know?”

“Through the keyhole, for he bolted his door.”

“I can’t make out what’s wrong with the man,” said General Grampound.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                             CHAPTER XXXVI

                              PREPARATIONS


“Mr Fanshawe!”

It was just before the first dinner gong, and Mr Fanshawe was in the
billiard-room alone practising strokes. He was horribly nervous and
depressed. That nervous depression had seized him which sometimes comes
as the herald of disaster, sometimes simply from over-wrought nerves.

Only seven hours or so lay between him and the great moment of his life.

He had done everything that could be done. Larry Lyburn had fallen in
with everything, and had declared himself willing to carry out
instructions to the minutest detail; he had received a sovereign on
account, and the promise of two more on starting. Fly-by-night, a great
roan mare, had been inspected and approved. Mr Fanshawe was to drive,
and Larry to sit behind.

That the job would most likely lose Larry his place never occurred to
that individual, but it did to Mr Fanshawe, and he had stated his
intention of taking Mr Lyburn into his service, and pensioning him, if
need be, should trouble ensue, to which statement of intention Larry had
replied: “Yes, sor.”

Despite all this Mr Fanshawe felt nervous. He would have felt more
nervous still had he known that Larry had spent some of his largesse on
a bottle of whisky.

“Mr Fanshawe!”

“Hullo!” said Mr Fanshawe.

“There’s no one here?” said Doris; “that’s all right. I have a note for
you. It’s from her,” said Doris, as Mr Fanshawe opened the note.

“Courage, darling—I am quite prepared. I will be ready dressed waiting
at two. I will come down to the hall just as the big clock
strikes.—Ever, V.”

Mr Fanshawe read.

“She’s told me about it,” said Doris; “and I’m going to see you off, and
Bob’s coming too.”

“Good gracious!” said Mr Fanshawe, “is it safe?”

“Quite; we won’t make a bit of noise. No one sleeps on our landing but
Biddy, and she sleeps in the room with Selina, and _nothing_ wakes her.”

“All right,” said Mr Fanshawe, who, on second thoughts, felt rather
pleased that the children’s innocent presence should lend a colour to
the thing. “But mind and don’t breathe a word to any one; be in the big
hall at two.”

“We’ll be there,” said Doris, with the air of a conspirator. “Now I must
go, lest any one suspects—there’s the dressing gong.”

“So it is,” said Mr Fanshawe.

He left the library and went to his room, where Patsy had just brought
his hot water.

“Everything is going on all right, Patsy, I suppose?”

“Yes, sir; everything is fixed now, and Larry will have the yard strawed
be wan.”

“Right!” said Mr Fanshawe.

“Have you heard of Paddy Murphy, sir?” asked Patsy, as he was leaving
the room.

“No—what about him?”

“He rode into Castle Knock yesterday, on Con Cogan——”

“On what?”

“Faith, on me uncle,” said Patsy, “for Con’s me uncle, and a bad, black
baste of a man he is. Con gave Paddy away, and Paddy cocht him an’
saddled and bridled him, so they say, and now he’s ridin’ him over the
country-side, clane cracked wid the whisky. He rode up to the inn at
Castle Knock yesterday, afther they’d chased him, wid Billy Croom’s coat
on his back and spurs on and all, and he mounted on Con like a dunkey,
and Con brayin’; and he pulled out a handful of gowld and stood trate to
every man he met; and they say you could hear the hullaballoo at Castle
Grange—the people shoutin’ and cheerin’ Paddy, and he mounted on Con,
and ridin’ him up and down the street. Thin he bought two bottles of
whisky, and off he wint at a canter; and they say he’s highwaying people
and cuttin’ up the divil’s own shine on the roads.”

“Good Lord!” said Mr Fanshawe, “are there no police at all in this
country?”

“They’re all beyant at the cattle dhrivin’,” said Patsy. “But, sure, a
ridgment of police wouldn’t take Paddy whin the whisky’s got him.”

“See here, Patsy,” said Mr Fanshawe, “I mayn’t have time to say it later
on, if you get into any trouble over this affair, you know who’s your
friend. And I’m going to take you into my service anyhow, but I’ll
arrange all that later on, when the row is over. Here’s a sovereign for
you. I’m not going to give you any more at present, for you’d only be
spending it on rubbish; but I’ll give you good wages when I take you on.
And, see here, Patsy, you’d better get hold of that ear-trumpet
to-morrow morning, when we are gone, and take the cork out. We don’t
want the old lady to be deaf for ever.”

Dinner was a most trying function. To have to sit at the same table with
a man who has called you a hound is somewhat of a tax on the appetite,
even though the man is your uncle. After dinner came a game of billiards
with Uncle Molyneux.

Coming out of the billiard-room at half-past ten, Mr Fanshawe heard
General Grampound’s abusive voice.

The old gentleman was saying: “You’ll tell the groom to be here to time,
so as to allow two hours for getting to the station, and the
luggage-cart had better be here at six sharp.”

“Yes, sir,” replied Patsy’s voice.

Mr Fanshawe passed into the dining-room for a whisky and soda. He
consumed three on the principle of the camel who has to face the desert.

At half-past eleven he went to his room.

At twelve, with two or three exceptions, the household was snoring.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                             CHAPTER XXXVII

                                 FLIGHT


He heard the clock strike twelve. There were two mortal hours yet to be
consumed in idleness. He could do nothing, and the whole of his future
happiness was in the hands of Patsy and Larry Lyburn. He sought for and
found a rank old briar root—true friend in the past on many a moor, at
many a covert side, filled it with cut cavendish, and lit it.

He was only taking a hunting kit-bag. It was already packed, but he
unpacked it, and packed it again to kill time. In the midst of these
occupations the clock struck one.

There was something sinister in the extreme silence of the house. One
could not but fancy subterfuge in it; and under its cloak armed
surprise.

Mr Fanshawe, seated on his bed, smoking and staring at the hunting
kit-bag now stuffed, locked and strapped, heard in imagination the
banging of doors, the screaming of maid-servants, and the raucous voice
of his uncle crying, “Stop them!”

Then he began to find fault with himself for not ordering a special
train. A wire had come that afternoon from the General Manager of the
Great Midland of Ireland, saying that the express from Carlow would stop
at Tullagh as directed, but, all the same, a special would have been
safer, for, should anything happen to delay him on the drive to Tullagh
the express would not wait.

It is in this way that men discover holes in their armour at the last
moment, just before the fight, a faulty string in their banjo when they
are on the platform, and the audience is preparing to wreathe itself in
smiles at the comic song.

Mr Fanshawe went to the window and peeped out.

The moon, just after the full, was swinging in a cloudless sky, the park
lay under the moon covered with a thin winter mist. The great funereal
masses of the woods, the distant hills like a troop of gigantic horsemen
cloaked, and riding under the night, made a picture after the heart of
Gustave Doré.

Mr Fanshawe looked at his watch. It was ten minutes to two. He took the
hunting kit-bag in one hand and the solitary candle in the other and
left the room.

The house was solidly constructed, and the stair carpets were thick, so
he could move without making the least sound. As he came down the last
steps to the hall the place looked vast, and the men in armour
interested and not too surely amiable spectators of the scene.

A small figure stood at the foot of the stairs. It was Patsy.

“Is all right, Patsy?” whispered Mr Fanshawe.

“I b’lave so, sir,” said Patsy in the same tone of voice. “I slipped out
quarter of an hour ago, and Larry, he’s strawed the yard, and he was
openin’ the coach-house dure to get the cart out. He’s done everything
all right, but he’s rockin’ drunk.”

“Good heavens!” said Dicky.

“Oh, he’ll drive all right, sir,” said Patsy. “Drunk or sober is all the
same to Larry, as long as he’s got the ribbons in his hand.”

A slight sound from above drew Mr Fanshawe’s attention. It was Doris
fully dressed, with a candle in her hand, and Bob. Bob was making short
slides down the banisters as he came, with one leg hanging over the
hall. It only required that he should tumble over and break his leg to
precipitate the disaster Mr Fanshawe dimly felt to be impending.

“If he does,” thought Dicky, “I’ll break the little beast’s neck, to
complete the business.”

“Here we are, Mr Fanshawe,” said Doris in a joyful whisper, as she and
Bob arrived at the foot of the stairs without accident.

Mr Fanshawe did not answer, he was looking up. A faint star of light was
gliding downwards, ghostly and glow-worm like. It was Miss Lestrange
dressed in a mole-skin cloak, a travelling bag in one hand, and a candle
in the other.

“Boom—Boom.” The great clock in the turret was striking two.

“I’m not frightened,” gasped the girl, as Dicky, forgetting the children
and Patsy, clasped her in his arms, “I’m only nervous.”

“Now, then, Patsy,” whispered Mr Fanshawe, “lead the way with the
candle, we have no time to lose.”

Patsy led the way down the corridor to the kitchen.

“I’ve iled them,” said Patsy with a grin as he slid the bolts back
silently of the kitchen door. “Howld the candle over me shoulder,
Misther Fanshawe, that I may see where Larry is.”

Mr Fanshawe did as he was asked. Patsy turned the key in the lock and
opened the door.

“O Glory be to God!” said Patsy.

It did not require a candle to light the picture, the full moon did it.

In the middle of the yard, which was deeply strawed, stood the great old
family coach in which Lady Seagrave took her airings, harnessed to it
were the two stout white coach horses, one of which, hearing the faint
sound of the opening door, turned its fiddle-shaped head and surveyed
the newcomers with a flickering, subdued whinny.

On the straw, face down, arms spread out, and the moonlight exhibiting
the two tarnished buttons on the back of the old livery coat he had
slipped on, lay Larry.

“Great heavens!” said Mr Fanshawe, “look at the thing he has harnessed!”

“He’s got it all muddled wid the whisky, sir,” whispered Patsy. “There’s
nothin’ to be done but get the dogcart out ourselves and put the old
mare to.”

He gave Larry a kick with his foot, and Larry gave a grunt.

“He’s full up,” said Patsy, as though he were speaking about a decanter.

“Couldn’t we go in this thing?” asked Mr Fanshawe. “I could drive.”

“There’s only Larry and the coachman that can make thim two ould horses
go beyond a walk,” replied Patsy. “Better get the dogcart out and we’ll
put the mare to in no time.”

“Right!” said Mr Fanshawe. “Violet, what will you do whilst we’re
harnessing?”

“I’ll stand and watch you,” replied she. “And O Dicky, _don’t_ make a
noise.”

“Mr Fanshawe,” whispered Doris, “_his_ room is just above.”

“I know,” replied Mr Fanshawe, in the tone of a man who is driven to
extremity. “Patsy, you fetch out the mare, I’ll fetch the dogcart
out—that’s the coach-house door, isn’t it? Bother! the brute has put the
bar up—quick, it’s eight minutes past two.”

Whilst Patsy went to fetch the mare, Mr Fanshawe approached the
coach-house door. Larry, an automaton even in his cups, had done his
work carefully and well, even to barring the door. He must have done it
silently, too.

Mr Fanshawe had just lifted the bar when in his hurry it slipped from
his hands and fell on the flags with a bang. The straw of the yard did
not reach quite to the coach-house door, and the sound was loud, and
awful as the crack of doom. Mr Fanshawe removed the bar from the ground,
placed it end up against the wall, opened the coach-house door and
seized upon the dogcart, which was fortunately shafts towards the open
door. He was wheeling it carefully out when a window shot open above.

“Hullo!” cried Mr Boxall’s voice, “what’s this?”

“It’s the Tullagh mail-cart, sir, broke down and come to borrow a
horse,” cried Patsy, who was leading Fly-by-night out of the stable.

“What cart?” asked Mr Boxall. But Patsy did not answer; he had darted
into the harness room and returned with the collar on one shoulder and
dragging the harness after him.

“Quick, sir!” cried Patsy.

Mr Fanshawe did not need to be told. He had just passed the collar over
the mare’s head when another window shot up.

“Hullo! hullo! what’s this?” came General Grampound’s voice, “what’s
this? What the devil are you doing down there? Why, hi! Richard! Violet!
God bless my soul, Boxall, quick, they’re making away. Raise the house.”
His head vanished from the window.

“Don’t stop to answer him, sir,” cried Patsy. “Hould this strap wan
minit—wo, you baste!—Don’t stop to answer him, sir. I’ve tied their dure
handles togither wid a lingth of whipcord so’s they can’t get out till
some one lets ’em. Lift your tail, y’ divil—listen to ’em, they’re fair
thrapped.”

From the house could be heard the sounds that spoke of bedroom doors
being hammered upon and kicked against, and the screaming of women
wakened from their sleep, and the barking of Lady Molyneux’s pugs.

“Whin I saw Larry was drunk, I slipped upstairs wid the string and
fastened their dure handles together,” said Patsy, as he laboured away
at the straps. “Help me wid the trace, sir—it’s hitched. Faith, we’ve
beaten thim; one more strap, and we’ve done. Quick, sir, in wid the
lady—they’re out.”

The sounds upstairs had ceased.

“Jump into the carriage, children,” cried Violet, kissing Doris wildly,
“and hide!” She opened the door of the old family coach, and the
children popped in.

The next moment she was half lifted, half pushed into the dogcart. The
bags were shot in, Mr Fanshawe took the reins. Patsy clambered up behind
and they started.

“Let her have her mouth, sir,” said Patsy, as they turned out of the
yard, “and don’t press her till she warms to her work. We’ve time and
plenty, for it’ll take an hour before the ould Gineral kicks Larry
sober. Mind the post, sir—that’s right—but mind the turnin’ at the
drive.”

They passed the turning safely, then down the moonlit drive,
Fly-by-night dancing with her own shadow in the moonlight, then through
the park gates and the sleeping village of Castle Knock they went, the
mare’s hoofs ringing on the hard high-road to Tullagh.

                             --------------

“I say, this is a go!” said little Lord Gawdor.

“Hush!” said Doris. “We can slip out when they put the carriage back in
the coach-house.” She pulled the carriage door to, and they listened.
They had not to listen long. Hurried steps came through the kitchen, and
then Mr Boxall’s voice and the General’s.

“They’ve gone in the dogcart. What’s this carriage doing. Hi you,
sir,”—the sound of a kick—“Hi you, sir—he’s drunk—Hi, you drunken
beast,”—kick, kick.

“Lit up,” came Larry’s voice. “Lave me be, or I’ll kick the stuffin’ out
of you when I get on me pins. Whoa-up—what’s the matter? Gineral—why,
it’s you. I wasn’t dhrunk, I’s only aslape—what do you say—Misther
Fanshawe? Why, he’s dew be this to be off to Tullagh to kitch the
train.”

“Up you get,” came the General’s voice, “on to your legs—up on the box
with you—there you are, take the reins, drive for all you’re worth, and
mark you, if you stop before we overtake them, I’ll thrash you within an
inch of your life. You can find the road to Tullagh, can you, you
half-drunken beast?”

“Arrah, get in wid you,” came Larry’s voice from the box—“in wid you,
and I’ll drive you to the divil (hic)—in you get. Tullagh is it?—Right
y’are.”

The General bounced in and shut the door, and the old coach started with
a jerk and took the corner of the stable-yard, just shaving overset and
destruction.

Mr Boxall, running to the corner, saw the vehicle in the moonlight
making full speed down the avenue; he saw the General’s head suddenly
protruded through the right window, and heard his voice, borne on the
night breeze, shouting, “Stop! hi, stop! the d—d thing is full of
children!” and Larry’s voice, “Aisy—sit aisy, we’ll be afther overtaking
thim in a minit.”

Who he would be “afther overtaking” must have been a very dark question
in Mr Lyburn’s mind, obsessed as it was with whisky and the two
ideas—Tullagh and speed.



                            CHAPTER XXXVIII

                              THE OFF HUB


As the dogcart left the park gates, a remark that the coachman had made
to Larry Lyburn that morning recurred to Patsy’s mind.

Larry had drawn the cart out of the coach-house for inspection. Dan, the
coachman, had been passing, and Dan, who had the eye of an eagle for
faults, had made a remark on the hub of the off wheel.

“There’s a crack in the hub of the off wheel you could put your nose
into,” said Dan.

“Crack in your eye,” said Larry; only it wasn’t “eye” he said.

That was all. Dan passed on with the bucket of water he was carrying,
and Larry turned the dogcart cushions to air in the bit of winter sun
that was peeping over the stable roof.

Patsy, who had overheard the remark and Larry’s reply, scarcely gave the
matter a second thought. He no more doubted the opinion of Larry on a
hub than a country doctor would doubt the opinion of Sir Frederick
Treves on an appendix. That is to say, Larry in his sober senses. The
question troubling the mind of Patsy now was whether Larry’s senses were
in a sober frame when he flung his diagnosis as to the condition of the
off hub at Dan’s head in the form of an unprintable retort. In other
words and plainer English, he was wondering at what o’clock had Larry
begun at the whisky.

Mr Fanshawe had given Patsy the sovereign on account to hand to Larry
the previous night, and now Patsy remembered, with a chill at the heart,
having seen little Billy Meehan, an anæmic sprite of seven, a hanger-on
and errand-runner at the Castle Knock inn, passing the kitchen door
quite early that morning carrying something wrapped up in a cloth,
something that might have been a bottle of spirits.

“O Dicky,” sighed Miss Lestrange, “is it a dream—are we really together?
I can’t believe it is true.”

They had passed the sleeping village and the row of poplar trees at its
entrance, and the road was ringing to the merry sound of Fly-by-night’s
hoofs.

They passed Barn-End, a tiny hamlet, a spore cast-off by Castle Knock;
lying two miles and a half towards Tullagh.

“Only a bit over tin miles now, sir,” said Patsy from behind.

“Ten Irish miles,” said Mr Fanshawe, looking at his watch; “and it’s now
twenty-five minutes past two; we’ve lots of time. There’s no fear of
those two old carriage horses overtaking us, is there, Patsy?”

“No, sir; but if the General’s able to kick sinse into Larry they won’t
be far behind. Larry can make ’em go at a gallop, and wanst they’re
started they’ll go all day.”

“That’s Castle Connell to the right, sir,” said Patsy after a long
interval broken only by the eloquence of Fly-by-night’s hoofs. “Six
miles and a quarter, as the crow flies, from Glen Druid. We’re near
half-way.”

“Patsy reminds me of those advertisements one sees on the railway
lines,” whispered Violet, snuggling up close to Mr Fanshawe. “You know
the ones, Beecham’s pills, twenty miles to London.”

“Are you warm, dear?” asked her companion.

“Quite,” she murmured, drawing the mole-skin cloak more tightly around
her.

The great idle moon lolling over the hills cast Fly-by-night’s shadow
before her. She had warmed to her work now, and was going like a dream
under the hand of a master and lover of horses.

“Oh! look at the moon,” sighed Violet, turning for a moment in her seat
and looking backwards. “I wish this could last forever.”

“I say,” cried out Dicky, heedless of this wish, which the gods no doubt
had overheard, “the cart’s going a bit rocky. Anything wrong with it, do
you think, Patsy?”

“I hope not, sir,” said Patsy. “I heard Dan, the coachman say something
to Larry about wan of the ‘hubs.’”

“What did he say?” asked Mr Fanshawe.

“He was going across the yard wid a bucket of water, and Larry was
clanin’ the cart, and Dan, he says, ‘Larry,’ says he, ‘what are you
doin’?’ ‘Clanin’ the cart,’ says Larry. ‘And what are you clanin’ it
for?’ he asks. ‘To make it tidy,’ says Larry. ‘Sure, get off to some
other job,’ says Dan. ‘The ould cart has to go to the coach-builders for
there’s a crack in that “hub” you could stick your nose in; and where’s
your eyes? says he; ‘get off and be doin’ your harness, and let the
coach-builders clane the trap if it’s worth clanin’, for it’s my
opinion, he says, ‘it ought to have been condimned long ago. Lighting
fires is all it’s fit for.’”

“Good heavens!” said Mr Fanshawe. “Why didn’t you tell me this before?”

“Sure, I trusted Larry, sir,” said Patsy. “He knows more thin Dan about
the traps and the harness any day in the——Holy Mary! there’s the wheel
goin’.”

“Hold tight,” cried Mr Fanshawe.

“We’re over,” cried Patsy.

A perfectly superfluous statement delivered from the ditch where he lay
with Miss Lestrange’s dressing-bag on his chest. You could have heard
the sound of the smash half a mile down the silent road.

                             --------------

“I’m all right,” murmured the girl. “Where am I? O Dicky!”

She was sitting on the road against the hedge bank. The broken-down
dogcart with one wheel off lay before her, also Fly-by-night on her
side, with Patsy seated on the mare’s head.

“It’s all right,” said Mr Fanshawe, “it’s only a smash up. Nothing
matters as long as you aren’t hurt.”

She gazed at the ruins before her, and took in the whole extent of the
catastrophe, as did Mr Fanshawe. The position was horrible. Any moment
the pursuer might arrive, and then what was to be done? He could not
fight his uncle, there was nothing possible except ignominious
capitulation. When you are successful in an affair of this kind you are
an object of admiration to every one, especially the women. To run away
with a woman is the only excuse for a man ever running away; let the
woman be subtracted and the excuse is gone, and the man is an object of
derision to every one—especially the women.

Miss Lestrange felt this as keenly as her companion.

“Dicky,” she cried, “I’m all right. Do something. Get the horse up. Is
the dogcart _quite_ broken?”

“Quite,” said Mr Fanshawe. He unbuckled the straps of the harness, freed
the broken shafts, and got Fly-by-night on her feet with Patsy’s help.

“Patsy,” said Mr Fanshawe, “isn’t there any place round here we could
get a cart?”

“Nowhere, sir,” said Patsy; “the nearest farm is five mile away, and the
only cart you could get there is a hay-cart.”

Mr Fanshawe climbed on the bank. There was not a habitation to be seen
anywhere, fields, fields, and nothing but fields, waste lands, clumps of
trees. The high-road to Castle Knock looked like a twisted white ribbon.
There was not even a breath of wind, not a sound under the silent moon.
He could hear the watch in his pocket ticking. He took it out, it
pointed to five minutes to three.

“How far is it to Tullagh, Patsy?” he asked.

“Seven miles and more,” replied Patsy in a heart-broken voice.

“We’re done,” said Mr Fanshawe.

“Look, sir,” said Patsy.

He was pointing in the direction of Tullagh. Down the road, towards
them, was coming a reeling object, which, in the moonlight, looked now
like a dromedary, now like a giant.

“What on earth is it?” cried Miss Lestrange.

“Begob, I don’t know, miss,” replied Patsy, “but whatever it is, it’s
drunk.”

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                             CHAPTER XXXIX

                           A MAN OF RESOURCE


That night Mr Murphy and his steed had been carousing in the cabin of
Billy the Rafter, a gentleman of no occupation, who lived by the main
road half-way between Castle Knock and Tullagh. Mr Murphy, Con and Billy
had been playing “Spoil Five” with an old greasy pack of cards, talking
politics, and drinking whisky.

The events of the day before had placed Mr Murphy securely and forever
on the pedestal of public admiration.

The sight of Billy Croom starting valiantly in pursuit of him followed
by the sight of Billy Croom after the encounter, stripped of everything
but his breeches and boots and going home in a sack, had left an undying
impression on the public mind. The reduction of Con Cogan to a beast of
burthen had completed the business. The whole affair had an artistic
completeness, more especially when viewed by a people possessed at once
of a sense of humour and an abhorrence of law.

So there had been whisky galore for Mr Murphy, and cheers—a compound not
unpleasant, but apt to be unsettling to the mind.

It was long after two in the morning when the card-party broke up, and
Mr Murphy, rising rather unsteadily to his feet, prepared to return to
his arboreal home.

“It’s a fine night,” said Billy the Rafter, as he accompanied his
visitors to the door; “faith, you could see to rade print be the light
of the moon. Keep your eye out for the police, Paddy, for they do be
sayin’ wind of it all has got over to Shepherd’s Cross.”

“P’leece!” said Mr Murphy with fine contempt, producing the horse pistol
and inspecting the cap on it. “Who’s you talkin’ to? Now thin, Con—Billy
give me a leg up, for the whisky’s got under me.”

Con, obedient to the superior will, as a donkey turned his back; Billy
the Rafter gave the required leg up, and Mr Murphy mounted.

“’Night to you, Billy,” cried the mounted one. “Jay up. Put your best
fut foremost, for it’s home I ought to have been an hour ago.”

“Let up wid thim spurs,” grumbled Con, as he took the high-road; “aisy
wid that whip, don’t be moidherin’ me, or it’s into the ditch we’ll be;
for it’s a double load I’m carryin’ wid you on me back and the whisky
aboard.”

“Faith,” confessed Mr Murphy, “it’s two moons I’m seein’ meself, and the
road looks twishtin’ like a corkscrew. Musha, but it’s a glurious night;
it calls to me mind the ould days whin I wint courtin’. Jay up, y’
divil, an’ keep the road.”

“Hould on,” said Con, who had better eyes in his head than his rider.
“What’s that foreninst us on the road?”

Mr Murphy, shutting one eye, made out a black mass on the road ahead of
them.

“It’s a cart broke down,” said he; “where there’s a smash-up there’s
always pickin’s. Jay up—we’ll lind them our ’sistance.”

It was the dogcart—a horrible ruin, one wheel off and shafts broken.
Patsy holding Fly-by-night (name of satire) by the bridle, Miss
Lestrange seated, like a young and beautiful Niobe, in a mole-skin
cloak, on the hedge bank, and Dicky Fanshawe trying to console her.

“Hulloo, hulloo,” cried Mr Murphy, as he trotted up, “what’s the truble
wid ye? Why, glory be to God, it’s Mr Fanshawe!”

“It’s Murphy!” cried Dicky Fanshawe, a feeling of hope springing up in
his breast, for, whatever else the ruffian might be, he was a man of
resource, and if there was such a thing as gratitude in the whole wide
world, a friend.

Mr Murphy, from his point of vantage, gazed with a grin at the smashed
cart, the weeping girl, the distracted Mr Fanshawe, and Patsy. Then
touching Con with a spur he rode round the ruined vehicle and inspected
it. Miss Lestrange noticed with an obfusc sort of horror that Con obeyed
voice and spur just like a horse. The whole thing felt like a terrible
and fantastic nightmare.

“There’s no time to lose!” cried Dicky, when Mr Murphy had made his
inspection. “The thing is smashed beyond mending. Murphy, for heaven’s
sake, do you know of a horse and trap anywhere near? I must get to
Tullagh by four to catch the mail to Dublin. See here, we are running
away, this young lady and I——”

“There’s not a horse and cart nearer than four miles,” said Murphy; “is
there, Con?”

“Divil a wan,” replied the steed.

“Good Lord!” cried Dicky, “and we’re being chased. The General is after
us in the carriage—you remember the old gentleman with the red face?”

“He’s afther you, is he, in a carriage?” said Mr Murphy.

“He is—he’ll be here any minute.”

“Con,” cried Mr Murphy, “set me down.”

“Now,” cried he, when he was on his feet, “help me, all of yiz, to clear
the rubbage out of the road.”

They bent to their task, and in a minute the ruined dogcart was tumbled
into the ditch and the road was clear.

“Listen!” said Miss Lestrange, who had risen to her feet.

The sound of hoofs and wheels came on the night air, and far on the road
appeared a carriage rapidly approaching.

“Now, Mr Fanshawe,” said Murphy, whipping out his old pistol, “this is
him, and I’m goin’ to give yiz a carridge to ride in, but you’ve got to
pay for it, begob. One good turn desarves another. Out wid your money or
your life!”

“Why, you infernal scoundrel!” cried Dicky.

“Out wid it!” cried Murphy—“watch and chain and all; times is bad, and
I’ve no use for parlymentaries—I’m goin’ to give yiz a carridge to the
station; would you have me play highwayman with the ould gentleman and
let you go free?”

“I see,” cried Dicky, who caught the other’s meaning. “Here you are, if
the business has to be done this way, I’d sooner stand in.”

“Sure, I knew you would,” said Mr Murphy, now thoroughly sober; “you’re
a gintleman to the last button of your wistcoat. Give me the suverins,
take back the notes; they’re no use to me, bad cess to them! Now the
watch and chain. Thank you kindly. Has the young lady any movables?”

“Only this bracelet,” said Violet.

“Kape it,” said Mr Murphy; “bracelits is no use to me. Now it’s my turn.
Con!”

Con presented his back and Mr Murphy mounted. The carriage was only a
few hundred yards off, and the pair of ruffians, one on the back of the
other, stood square before it on the roadway.

“Hulloo! hulloo!” cried Larry, reining in. “What are yiz? Why, it’s
Paddy Murphy!”

With the stopping of the carriage the door flew open and General
Grampound came out of the vehicle like a bombshell. He exploded on the
road into unprintable language. Then he found himself fronting Murphy’s
red, grinning face, and a pistol held within a foot of his head.

“Wan word out of you and I’ll blow your skylights off!” cried Murphy.

General Grampound’s long army experience had taught him to know an
utterly desperate ruffian when he met one.

“Into the carridge wid you, Mr Fanshawe,” cried Murphy. “I’m wid yiz,
miss,—I won’t harm the ould gintleman if he keeps a dacent tongue in his
head, but I’m goin’ to give him a lesson in dancin’—away wid yiz! Good
luck, and send me a piece of the weddin’ ceek.”

“Patsy, get on the box and come with us,” cried Mr Fanshawe as he
bundled Miss Lestrange into the carriage and into the arms of Doris and
Little Lord Gawdor, “the children are all right. Larry will drive them
back. I’m very sorry,” he cried over his shoulder to his uncle; “it’s
your own fault, if you have to walk home. This scoundrel has taken my
watch and chain and all my money—nearly. I’ll write.”

“Larry,” cried Mr Murphy as the carriage drove off.

“What is it?”

“If you miss the thrain I’ll boot your ribs in to-morrow mornin’.”

“Have we time?” gasped Violet Lestrange with Doris’s arms about her
neck.

“Where are we, Mr Fanshawe?” asked little Lord Gawdor.

“I don’t know,” replied Mr Fanshawe, putting his head out of the window.

He looked back. On the moonlight road Mr Murphy was squatting on his
hams with the old horse pistol levelled straight at General Grampound.

General Grampound was dancing on the moonlit roadway before Mr Murphy,
with all the grace and agility of a performing elephant.

You may think it strange that any consideration would cause a retired
General officer of the British Army to disgrace the moon by performing
such antics before her. Well, that just shows you have never met Mr
Murphy, seen his smile, or come under the profound power of his suasion.

                             --------------

“We are near Tullagh,” said Mr Fanshawe. “I recognise that row of trees.
Look! there’s the railway line and the station. The train either hasn’t
arrived, or it’s gone. I can’t tell the time, I haven’t my watch.”

“Put your head out,” said Violet.

He did so.

“Patsy!” he cried.

“Yes, sir.”

“You can’t see the train?”

“No, sir; but it hasn’t come, we’ve tin minits to the good.”

“How do you know?” shouted Mr Fanshawe

“I’ve got your watch an’ chain, sir,” came Patsy’s voice. “I whipped it
out of Paddy’s pocket whin he was playin’ tricks wid the ould Gineral
and the handkerchief wid your money wrapped up in it. Mr Fanshawe, sir!”

“Yes?”

“I’ve counted the gowld, it’s all there—six suverins; and there’s
fourteen shillings of Paddy’s as well.”

“We must take Patsy with us,” said Mr Fanshawe, when he had communicated
the news to his companions.

“I always said Patsy was a brick,” said little Lord Gawdor. “Didn’t I,
Doris?”

“Yes,” said Doris. “Here’s the station, and there’s the station man with
a lantern in his hand.”

_“The dear children went back in the carriage,” wrote Mrs Fanshawe, six
weeks later to a girl friend. “I could never have imagined an experience
so awful and—so lovely; and the strange thing is, every one is so
pleased, even old General Grampound has consented to write. It was an
abusive letter, but even that’s a lot for him. I’m sure he has a good
heart—somewhere._

“_I got such a lovely emerald pendant from Lady Seagrave; and, fancy,
she was going to have given me a grebe muff and a prayer-book for
Christmas. Little Bob told me, and I think that was partly why I ran
away._

“_Poor dear Mr Murphy is going to America. Dicky is getting him out of
the country through a friend. He says he’s taken an office for him in
Wall Street, wherever that is. Dicky is so good—you can’t think._

“_We have Patsy with us; he has just been giving a French boy what he
calls ‘buther’ in the courtyard of the hotel. Dicky says he got the
remains of the French boy away from him just in time._

“_He is always fighting, but Dicky says that as long as there is a bit
of him left he never intends to part with Patsy._”



                                THE END



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                             ETHEL M. DELL


_If you have read ONE of the fine Novels by Ethel M. Dell, you will want
the others._

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 1. The Way of an Eagle.                                By ETHEL M. DELL

 2. McGlusky the Reformer.                                By A. G. HALES

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          moment at the goal of enormous popularity reached successively
          by Miss Marie Corelli and Mrs. Florence Barclay.”
          _The Morning Post._

          “Miss Dell can tell a story better than anyone we know,
          and so enthralling does she make it that we have no peace of
          mind till we have reached the last page.”
          _Evening Standard._

THE KEEPER OF THE DOOR

               6/- and 2/- Net.

THE WAY OF AN EAGLE

               6/-, 2/- Net and 1/- Net.

THE KNAVE OF DIAMONDS

               6/-, 2/- Net and 1/- Net.

THE ROCKS OF VALPRÉ

               6/- and 2/- Net.

THE SWINDLER, and other Stories

               6/-


                  ------------------------------------

           T. FISHER UNWIN, LTD., 1, ADELPHI TERRACE, LONDON.



------------------------------------------------------------------------



 ● Transcriber’s Notes:
    ○ Missing or obscured punctuation was corrected.
    ○ Unbalanced quotation marks were left as the author intended.
    ○ Typographical errors were silently corrected.
    ○ Spelling and hyphenation were made consistent when a predominant
      form was found in this book; otherwise it was not changed.
    ○ Text in italics is enclosed by underscores (_italics_); text in
      bold by “equal” signs (=bold=).





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