Lady Oranmore's second daughter, Lady Harriet, appeared particularly pleased by the manner in which Lord Colambre spoke of Sir James. And the child, who had now established himself on his lordship's knee, turned round, and whispered in his ear, "'Twas aunt Harriet gave me the seal; Sir James is to be married to aunt Harriet, and then he will be my uncle."
Some of the principal gentry of this part of the country happened to dine at Oranmore on one of the days Lord Colambre was there. He was surprised at the discovery, that there were so many agreeable, well-informed, and well-bred people, of whom, while he was at Killpatrick's-town, he had seen nothing. He now discerned how far he had been deceived by Lady Dashfort.
Both the count, and Lord and Lady Oranmore, who were warmly attached to their country, exhorted him to make himself amends for the time he had lost, by seeing with his own eyes, and judging with his own understanding, of the country and its inhabitants, during the remainder of the time he was to stay in Ireland. The higher classes, in most countries, they observed, were generally similar; but, in the lower class, he would find many characteristic differences.
When he first came to Ireland, he had been very eager to go and see his father's estate, and to judge of the conduct of his agents, and the condition of his tenantry; but this eagerness had subsided, and the design had almost faded from his mind, whilst under the influence of Lady Dashfort's misrepresentations. A mistake, relative to some remittance from his banker in Dublin, obliged him to delay his journey a few days, and during that time, Lord and Lady Oranmore showed him the neat cottages, and well-attended schools, in their neighbourhood. They showed him not only what could be done, but what had been done, by the influence of great proprietors residing on their own estates, and encouraging the people by judicious kindness.
He saw,—he acknowledged the truth of this; but it did not come home to his feelings now as it would have done a little while ago. His views and plans were altered: he had looked forward to the idea of marrying and settling in Ireland, and then every thing in the country was interesting to him; but since he had forbidden himself to think of a union with Miss Nugent, his mind had lost its object and its spring; he was not sufficiently calm to think of the public good; his thoughts were absorbed by his private concerns. He knew and repeated to himself, that he ought to visit his own and his father's estates, and to see the condition of his tenantry; he desired to fulfil his duties, but they ceased to appear to him easy and pleasurable, for hope and love no longer brightened his prospects.
That he might see and hear more than he could as heir-apparent to the estate, he sent his servant to Dublin to wait for him there. He travelled incognito, wrapped himself in a shabby great-coat, and took the name of Evans. He arrived at a village, or, as it was called, a town, which bore the name of Colambre. He was agreeably surprised by the air of neatness and finish in the houses and in the street, which had a nicely swept paved footway. He slept at a small but excellent inn,—excellent, perhaps, because it was small, and proportioned to the situation and business of the place. Good supper, good bed, good attendance; nothing out of repair; no things pressed into services for which they were never intended by nature or art. No chambermaid slipshod, or waiter smelling of whiskey; but all tight and right, and every body doing their own business, and doing it as if it were their every day occupation, not as if it were done by particular desire, for the first or last time this season. The landlord came in at supper to inquire whether any thing was wanted. Lord Colambre took this opportunity of entering into conversation with him, and asked him to whom the town belonged, and who were the proprietors of the neighbouring estates.
"The town belongs to an absentee lord—one Lord Clonbrony, who lives always beyond the seas, in London; and who had never seen the town since it was a town, to call a town."
"And does the land in the neighbourhood belong to this Lord Clonbrony?"
"It does, sir; he's a great proprietor, but knows nothing of his property, nor of us. Never set foot among us, to my knowledge, since I was as high as the table. He might as well be a West India planter, and we negroes, for any thing he knows to the contrary—has no more care, nor thought about us, than if he were in Jamaica, or the other world. Shame for him! But there's too many to keep him in countenance."
Lord Colambre asked him what wine he could have; and then inquired who managed the estate for this absentee.
"Mr. Burke, sir. And I don't know why God was so kind to give so good an agent to an absentee like Lord Clonbrony, except it was for the sake of us, who is under him, and knows the blessing, and is thankful for the same."
"Very good cutlets," said Lord Colambre.
"I am happy to hear it, sir. They have a right to be good, for Mrs. Burke sent her own cook to teach my wife to dress cutlets."
"So the agent is a good agent, is he?"
"He is, thanks be to Heaven! And that's what few can boast, especially when the landlord's living over the seas: we have the luck to have got a good agent over us, in Mr. Burke, who is a right bred gentleman; a snug little property of his own, honestly made; with the good-will, and good wishes, and respect of all."
"Does he live in the neighbourhood?"
"Just convanient. At the end of the town; in the house on the hill as you passed, sir; to the left, with the trees about it, all of his own planting, grown too; for there's a blessing on all he does, and he has done a deal.—There's salad, sir, if you are partial to it. Very fine lettuce. Mrs. Burke sent us the plants herself."
[Footnote 1: Convenient, near.]
"Excellent salad! So this Mr. Burke has done a great deal, has he? In what way?"
"In every way, sir,—sure was not it he that had improved, and fostered, and made the town of Colambre?—no thanks to the proprietor, nor to the young man whose name it bears, neither!"
"Have you any porter, pray, sir?"
"We have, sir, as good, I hope, as you'd drink in London, for it's the same you get there, I understand, from Cork. And I have some of my own brewing, which, they say, you could not tell the difference between it and Cork quality—if you'd be pleased to try.—Harry, the corkscrew."
The porter of his own brewing was pronounced to be extremely good; and the landlord observed it was Mr. Burke encouraged him to learn to brew, and lent him his own brewer for a time to teach him.
"Your Mr. Burke, I find, is apropos to porter, apropos to salad, apropos to cutlets, apropos to every thing," said Lord Colambre, smiling: "he seems to be a very uncommon agent I suppose you are a great favourite of his, and you do what you please with him."
"Oh, no, sir, I could not say that; Mr. Burke does not have favourites any way; but, according to my deserts, I trust I stand well enough with him; for, in truth, he is a right good agent."
Lord Colambre still pressed for particulars; he was an Englishman, and a stranger, he said, and did not exactly know what was meant in Ireland by a good agent.
"Why, he is the man that will encourage the improving tenant; and show no favour or affection, but justice, which comes even to all, and does best for all at the long run; and, residing always in the country, like Mr. Burke, and understanding country business, and going about continually among the tenantry, he knows when to press for the rent, and when to leave the money to lay out upon the land; and, according as they would want it, can give a tenant a help or a check properly. Then no duty work called for, no presents, nor glove money, nor sealing money even, taken or offered; no underhand hints about proposals, when land would be out of lease; but a considerable preference, if desarved, to the old tenant, and if not, a fair advertisement, and the best offer and tenant accepted: no screwing of the land to the highest penny, just to please the head landlord for the minute, and ruin him at the end, by the tenant's racking the land, and running off with the year's rent; nor no bargains to his own relations or friends did Mr. Burke ever give or grant, but all fair between landlord and tenant; and that's the thing that will last; and that's what I call the good agent."
Lord Colambre poured out a glass of wine, and begged the innkeeper to drink the good agent's health, in which he was heartily pledged. "I thank your honour:—Mr. Burke's health! and long may he live over and amongst us; he saved me from drink and ruin, when I was once inclined to it, and made a man of me and all my family."
The particulars we cannot stay to detail; this grateful man, however, took pleasure in sounding the praises of his benefactor, and in raising him in the opinion of the traveller.
"As you've time, and are curious about such things, sir, perhaps you'd walk up to the school that Mrs. Burke has for the poor children; and look at the market house, and see how clean he takes a pride to keep the town: and any house in the town, from the priest to the parson's, that you'd go into, will give you the same character as I do of Mr. Burke; from the brogue to the boot, all speak the same of him, and can say no other. God for ever bless and keep him over us!"
Upon making further inquiries, every thing the innkeeper had said was confirmed by different inhabitants of the village. Lord Colambre conversed with the shopkeepers, with the cottagers; and, without making any alarming inquiries, he obtained all the information he wanted. He went to the village-school—a pretty, cheerful house, with a neat garden and a play-green; met Mrs. Burke; introduced himself to her as a traveller. The school was shown to him: it was just what it ought to be—neither too much nor too little had been attempted; there was neither too much interference nor too little attention. Nothing for exhibition; care to teach well, without any vain attempt to teach in a wonderfully short time. All that experience proves to be useful, in both Dr. Bell's and Mr. Lancaster's modes of teaching, Mrs. Burke had adopted; leaving it to "graceless zealots" to fight about the rest. That no attempts at proselytism had been made, and that no illiberal distinctions had been made in his school, Lord Colambre was convinced, in the best manner possible, by seeing the children of protestants and catholics sitting on the same benches, learning from the same books, and speaking to one another with the same cordial familiarity. Mrs. Burke was an unaffected, sensible woman, free from all party prejudices, and without ostentation, desirous and capable of doing good. Lord Colambre was much pleased with her, and very glad that she invited him to tea.
Mr. Burke did not come in till late; for he had been detained portioning out some meadows, which were of great consequence to the inhabitants of the town. He brought home to tea with him the clergyman and the priest of the parish, both of whom he had taken successful pains to accommodate with the land which suited their respective convenience. The good terms on which they seemed to be with each other, and with him, appeared to Lord Colambre to do honour to Mr. Burke. All the favourable accounts his lordship had received of this gentleman were confirmed by what he saw and heard. After the clergyman and priest had taken leave, upon Lord Colambre's expressing some surprise, mixed with satisfaction, at seeing the harmony which subsisted between them, Mr. Burke assured him that this was the same in many parts of Ireland. He observed, that "as the suspicion of ill-will never fails to produce it," so he had often found, that taking it for granted that no ill-will exists, has the most conciliating effect. He said, to please opposite parties, he used no arts; but he tried to make all his neighbours live comfortably together, by making them acquainted with each other's good qualities; by giving them opportunities of meeting sociably, and, from time to time, of doing each other little services and good offices. Fortunately, he had so much to do, he said, that he had no time for controversy. He was a plain man, made it a rule not to meddle with speculative points, and to avoid all irritating discussions: he was not to rule the country, but to live in it, and make others live as happily as he could.
Having nothing to conceal in his character, opinions, or circumstances, Mr. Burke was perfectly open and unreserved in his manner and conversation; freely answered all the traveller's inquiries, and took pains to show him every thing he desired to see. Lord Colambre said he had thoughts of settling in Ireland; and declared, with truth, that he had not seen any part of the country he should like better to live in than this neighbourhood. He went over most of the estate with Mr. Burke, and had ample opportunities of convincing himself that this gentleman was indeed, as the innkeeper had described him, "a right good gentleman, and a right good agent."
He paid Mr. Burke some just compliments on the state of the tenantry, and the neat and flourishing appearance of the town of Colambre.
"What pleasure it will give the proprietor when he sees all you have done!" said Lord Colambre.
"Oh, sir, don't speak of it!—that breaks my heart; he never has shown the least interest in any thing I have done: he is quite dissatisfied with me, because I have not ruined his tenantry, by forcing them to pay more than the land is worth; because I have not squeezed money from them, by fining down rents; and—but all this, as an Englishman, sir, must be unintelligible to you. The end of the matter is, that, attached as I am to this place and the people about me, and, as I hope, the tenantry are to me,—I fear I shall he obliged to give up the agency.
"Give up the agency! How so? you must not," cried Lord Colambre, and, for the moment, he forgot himself; but Mr. Burke took this only for an expression of good-will.
"I must, I am afraid," continued he. "My employer, Lord Clonbrony, is displeased with me—continual calls for money come upon me from England, and complaints of my slow remittances."
"Perhaps Lord Clonbrony is in embarrassed circumstances," said Lord Colambre.
"I never speak of my employer's affairs, sir," replied Mr. Burke; now for the first time assuming an air of reserve.
"I beg pardon, sir—I seem to have asked an indiscreet question." Mr. Burke was silent.
"Lest my reserve should give you a false impression, I will add, sir," resumed Mr. Burke, "that I really am not acquainted with the state of his lordship's affairs in general. I know only what belongs to the estate under my own management. The principal part of his lordship's property, the Clonbrony estate, is under another agent, Mr. Garraghty."
"Garraghty!" repeated Lord Colambre; "what sort of a person is he? But I may take it for granted, that it cannot fall to the lot of one and the same absentee to have two such agents as Mr. Burke."
Mr. Burke bowed, and seemed pleased with the compliment, which he knew he deserved—but not a word did he say of Mr. Garraghty; and Lord Colambre, afraid of betraying himself by some other indiscreet question, changed the conversation.
The next night the post brought a letter to Mr. Burke, from Lord Clonbrony, which he gave to his wife as soon as he had read it, saying, "See the reward of all my services!"
Mrs. Burke glanced her eye over the letter, and being extremely fond of her husband, and sensible of his deserving far different treatment, burst into indignant exclamations—"See the reward of all your services, indeed!—What an unreasonable, ungrateful man!—So, this is the thanks for all you have done for Lord Clonbrony!"
"He does not know what I have done, my dear. He never has seen what I have done."
"More shame for him!"
"He never, I suppose, looks over his accounts, or understands them."
"More shame for him!"
"He listens to foolish reports, or misrepresentations, perhaps. He is at a distance, and cannot find out the truth."
"More shame for him!"
"Take it quietly, my dear; we have the comfort of a good conscience. The agency may be taken from me by this lord; but the sense of having done my duty, no lord or man upon earth can give or take away."
"Such a letter!" said Mrs. Burke, taking it up again. "Not even the civility to write with his own hand!—only his signature to the scrawl—looks as if it was written by a drunken man, does not it, Mr. Evans?" said she, showing the letter to Lord Colambre, who immediately recognized the writing of Sir Terence O'Fay.
"It does not look like the hand of a gentleman, indeed," said Lord Colambre.
"It has Lord Clonbrony's own signature, let it be what it will," said Mr. Burke, looking closely at it; "Lord Clonbrony's own writing the signature is, I am clear of that."
Lord Clonbrony's son was clear of it, also; but he took care not to give any opinion on that point.
"Oh, pray read it, sir, read it," said Mrs. Burke; "read it, pray; a gentleman may write a bad hand, but no gentleman could write such a letter as that to Mr. Burke—pray read it, sir; you who have seen something of what he has done for the town of Colambre, and what he has made of the tenantry and the estate of Lord Clonbrony."
Lord Colambre read, and was convinced that his father had never written or read the letter, but had signed it, trusting to Sir Terence O'Fay's having expressed his sentiments properly.
"As I have no farther occasion for your services, you will take notice, that I hereby request you will forthwith hand over, on or before the 1st of November next, your accounts, with the balance due of the hanging-gale (which, I understand, is more than ought to be at this season) to Nicholas Garraghty, Esq., College-green, Dublin, who, in future, will act as agent, and shall get, by post, immediately, a power of attorney for the same, entitling him to receive and manage the Colambre, as well as the Clonbrony estate, for,
"Sir, your obedient humble servant,
Though misrepresentation, caprice, or interest, might have induced Lord Clonbrony to desire to change his agent, yet Lord Colambre knew that his father never could have announced his wishes in such a style; and, as he returned the letter to Mrs. Burke, he repeated, he was convinced that it was impossible that any nobleman could have written such a letter; that it must have been written by some inferior person; and that his lordship had signed it without reading it.
"My dear, I'm sorry you showed that letter to Mr. Evans," said Mr. Burke; "I don't like to expose Lord Clonbrony; he is a well-meaning gentleman, misled by ignorant or designing people; at all events, it is not for us to expose him."
"He has exposed himself," said Mrs. Burke; "and the world should know it."
"He was very kind to me when I was a young man," said Mr. Burke; "we must not forget that now, because we are angry, my love."
"Why, no, my love, to be sure we should not; but who could have recollected it just at this minute but yourself? And now, sir," turning to Lord Colambre, "you see what kind of a man this is: now is it not difficult for me to bear patiently to see him ill-treated?"
"Not only difficult, but impossible, I should think, madam," said Lord Colambre; "I know even I, who am a stranger, cannot help feeling for both of you, as you must see I do."
"But half the world, who don't know him," continued Mrs. Burke, "when they hear that Lord Clonbrony's agency is taken from him, will think perhaps that he is to blame."
"No, madam," said Lord Colambre, "that you need not fear; Mr. Burke may safely trust to his character: from what I have within these two days seen and heard, I am convinced that such is the respect he has deserved and acquired, that no blame can touch him."
"Sir, I thank you," said Mrs. Burke, the tears coming into her eyes: "you can judge—you do him justice; but there are so many who don't know him, and who will decide without knowing any of the facts."
"That, my dear, happens about every thing to every body," said Mr. Burke; "but we must have patience; time sets all judgments right, sooner or later."
"But the sooner the better," said Mrs. Burke. "Mr. Evans, I hope you will be so kind, if ever you hear this business talked of—"
"Mr. Evans lives in Wales, my dear."
"But he is travelling through Ireland, my dear, and he said he should return to Dublin, and, you know, there he certainly will hear it talked of; and I hope he will do me the favour to state what he has seen and knows to be the truth."
"Be assured that I will do Mr. Burke justice—as far as it is in my power," said Lord Colambre, restraining himself much, that he might not say more than became his assumed character. He took leave of this worthy family that night, and, early the next morning, departed.
"Ah!" thought he, as he drove away from this well-regulated and flourishing place, "how happy I might be, settled here with such a wife as—her of whom I must think no more."
He pursued his way to Clonbrony, his father's other estate, which was at a considerable distance from Colambre: he was resolved to know what kind of agent Mr. Nicholas Garraghty might be, who was to supersede Mr. Burke, and, by power of attorney, to be immediately entitled to receive and manage the Colambre as well as the Clonbrony estate.
Towards the evening of the second day's journey, the driver of Lord Colambre's hackney chaise stopped, and jumping off the wooden bar, on which he had been seated, exclaimed, "We're come to the bad step, now. The bad road's beginning upon us, please your honour."
"Bad road! that is very uncommon in this country. I never saw such fine roads as you have in Ireland."
"That's true; and God bless your honour, that's sensible of that same, for it's not what all the foreign quality I drive have the manners to notice. God bless your honour! I heard you're a Welshman, but whether or no, I am sure you are a jantleman, any way, Welsh or other."
Notwithstanding the shabby great coat, the shrewd postilion perceived, by our hero's language, that he was a gentleman. After much dragging at the horses' heads, and pushing and lifting, the carriage was got over what the postilion said was the worst part of the bad step; but as the road "was not yet to say good," he continued walking beside the carriage.
"It's only bad just hereabouts, and that by accident," said he, "on account of there being no jantleman resident in it, nor near; but only a bit of an under-agent, a great little rogue, who gets his own turn out of the roads, and every thing else in life. I, Larry Brady, that am telling your honour, have a good right to know; for myself, and my father, and my brother, Pat Brady, the wheelwright, had once a farm under him; but was ruined, horse and foot, all along with him, and cast out, and my brother forced to fly the country, and is now working in some coachmaker's yard, in London; banished he is!—and here am I, forced to be what I am—and now that I'm reduced to drive a hack, the agent's a curse to me still, with these bad roads, killing my horses and wheels—and a shame to the country, which I think more of—Bad luck to him!"
"I know your brother; he lives with Mr. Mordicai, in Long-Acre, in London."
"Oh, God bless you for that!"
They came at this time within view of a range of about four-and-twenty men and boys, sitting astride on four-and-twenty heaps of broken stones, on each side of the road; they were all armed with hammers, with which they began to pound with great diligence and noise as soon as they saw the carriage. The chaise passed between these batteries, the stones flying on all sides.
"How are you, Jem?—How are you Phil?" said Larry. "But hold your hand, can't ye, while I stop and get the stones out of the horses' feet. So you're making up the rent, are you, for St. Dennis?"
"Whoosh!" said one of the pounders, coming close to the postilion, and pointing his thumb back towards the chaise. "Who have you in it?"
"Oh, you need not scruple, he's a very honest man;—he's only a man from North Wales, one Mr. Evans, an innocent jantleman, that's sent over to travel up and down the country, to find is there any copper mines in it."
"How do you know, Larry?"
"Because I know very well, from one that was tould, and I seen him tax the man of the King's Head with a copper half-crown at first sight, which was only lead to look at, you'd think, to them that was not skilful in copper. So lend me a knife, till I cut a linchpin out of the hedge, for this one won't go far."
Whilst Larry was making the linchpin, all scruple being removed, his question about St. Dennis and the rent was answered.
"Ay, it's the rint, sure enough, we're pounding out for him; for he sent the driver round last night-was-eight days, to warn us Old Nick would be down a'-Monday, to take a sweep among us; and there's only six clear days, Saturday night, before the assizes, sure: so we must see and get it finished any way, to clear the presentment again' the swearing day, for he and Paddy Hart is the overseers themselves, and Paddy is to swear to it."
"St. Dennis, is it? Then you've one great comfort and security—that he won't be particular about the swearing; for since ever he had his head on his shoulders, an oath never stuck in St. Dennis's throat, more than in his own brother, Old Nick's."
"His head upon his shoulders!" repeated Lord Colambre. "Pray, did you ever hear that St. Dennis's head was off his shoulders?"
"It never was, plase your honour, to my knowledge."
"Did you never, among your saints, hear of St. Dennis carrying his head in his hand?" said Lord Colambre.
"The rael saint!" said the postilion, suddenly changing his tone, and looking shocked. "Oh, don't be talking that way of the saints, plase your honour."
"Then of what St. Dennis were you talking just now?—Whom do you mean by St. Dennis, and whom do you call Old Nick?"
"Old Nick," answered the postilion, coming close to the side of the carriage, and whispering,—"Old Nick, plase your honour, is our nickname for one Nicholas Garraghty, Esq., of College-green, Dublin, and St. Dennis is his brother Dennis, who is Old Nick's brother in all things, and would fain be a saint, only he's a sinner. He lives just by here, in the country, under-agent to Lord Clonbrony, as Old Nick is upper-agent—it's only a joke among the people, that are not fond of them at all. Lord Clonbrony himself is a very good jantleman, if he was not an absentee, resident in London, leaving us and every thing to the likes of them."
Lord Colambre listened with all possible composure and attention; but the postilion, having now made his linchpin of wood, and fixed himself, he mounted his bar, and drove on, saying to Lord Colambre, as he looked at the road-makers, "Poor cratures! They couldn't keep their cattle out of pound, or themselves out of jail, but by making this road."
"Is road-making, then, a very profitable business!—Have road-makers higher wages than other men in this part of the country?"
"It is, and it is not—they have, and they have not—plase your honour."
"I don't understand you."
"No, beca-ase you're an Englishman—that is, a Welshman—beg your honour's pardon. But I'll tell you how that is, and I'll go slow over these broken stones—for I can't go fast: it is where there's no jantleman over these under-agents, as here, they do as they plase; and when they have set the land they get rasonable from the head landlords, to poor cratures at a rackrent, that they can't live and pay the rent, they say—"
"Them under-agents, that have no conscience at all. Not all—but some, like Dennis, says, says he, 'I'll get you a road to make up the rent:' that is, plase your honour, the agent gets them a presentment for so many perches of road from the grand jury, at twice the price that would make the road. And tenants are, by this means, as they take the road by contract, at the price given by the county, able to pay all they get by the job, over and above potatoes and salt, back again to the agent, for the arrear on the land. Do I make your honour sensible?"
[Footnote 1: Do I make you understand?]
"You make me much more sensible than I ever was before," said Lord Colambre: "but is not this cheating the county?"
"Well, and suppose," replied Larry, "is not it all for my good, and yours too, plase your honour?" said Larry, looking very shrewdly.
"My good!" said Lord Colambre, startled. "What have I to do with it?"
"Haven't you to do with the roads as well as me, when you're travelling upon them, plase your honour? And sure, they'd never be got made at all, if they wern't made this ways; and it's the best way in the wide world, and the finest roads we have. And when the rael jantleman's resident in the country, there's no jobbing can be, because they're then the leading men on the grand jury; and these journeymen jantlemen are then kept in order, and all's right."
Lord Colambre was much surprised at Larry's knowledge of the manner in which county business is managed, as well as by his shrewd good sense: he did not know that this is not uncommon in his rank of life in Ireland.
Whilst Larry was speaking, Lord Colambre was looking from side to side at the desolation of the prospect.
"So this is Lord Clonbrony's estate, is it?"
"Ay, all you see, and as far and farther than you can see. My Lord Clonbrony wrote, and ordered plantations here, time back; and enough was paid to labourers for ditching and planting. And, what next?—Why, what did the under-agent do, but let the goats in through gaps, left o' purpose, to bark the trees, and then the trees was all banished. And next, the cattle was let in trespassing, and winked at, till the land was all poached: and then the land was waste, and cried down: and Saint Dennis wrote up to Dublin to Old Nick, and he over to the landlord, how none would take it, or bid any thing at all for it: so then it fell to him a cheap bargain. Oh, the tricks of them! who knows 'em, if I don't?" Presently, Lord Colambre's attention was roused again, by seeing a man running, as if for his life, across a bog, near the roadside: he leaped over the ditch, and was upon the road in an instant. He seemed startled at first, at the sight of the carriage; but, looking at the postilion, Larry nodded, and he smiled and said, "All's safe!" "Pray, my good friend, may I ask what that is you have on your shoulder?" said Lord Colambre. "Plase your honour, it is only a private still, which I've just caught out yonder in the bog; and I'm carrying it in with all speed to the gauger, to make a discovery, that the jantleman may benefit by the reward: I expect he'll make me a compliment."
"Get up behind, and I'll give you a lift," said the postilion.
"Thank you kindly—but better my legs!" said the man; and, turning down a lane, off he ran again, as fast as possible.
"Expect he'll make me a compliment," repeated Lord Colambre, "to make a discovery!"
"Ay, plase your honour; for the law is," said Larry, "that, if an unlawful still, that is, a still without licence for whiskey, is found, half the benefit of the fine that's put upon the parish goes to him that made the discovery: that's what that man is after; for he's an informer."
"I should not have thought, from what I see of you," said Lord Colambre, smiling, "that you, Larry, would have offered an informer a lift."
"Oh, plase your honour!" said Larry, smiling archly, "would not I give the laws a lift, when in my power?"
Scarcely had he uttered these words, and scarcely was the informer out of sight, when, across the same bog, and over the ditch, came another man, a half kind of gentleman, with a red silk handkerchief about his neck, and a silver-handled whip in his hand.
"Did you see any man pass the road, friend?" said he to the postilion.
"Oh! who would I see? or why would I tell?" replied Larry in a sulky tone.
"Come, come, be smart!" said the man with the silver whip, offering to put half-a-crown into the postilion's hand; "point me which way he took."
"I'll have none o' your silver! don't touch me with it!" said Larry. "But, if you'll take my advice, you'll strike across back, and follow the fields, out to Killogenesawce."
The exciseman set out again immediately, in an opposite direction to that which the man who carried the still had taken. Lord Colambre now perceived that the pretended informer had been running off to conceal a still of his own.
"The gauger, plase your honour," said Larry, looking back at Lord Colambre; "the gauger is a still-hunting!"
"And you put him on a wrong scent!" said Lord Colambre.
"Sure, I told him no lie: I only said, 'If you'll take my advice.' And why was he such a fool as to take my advice, when I wouldn't take his fee?"
"So this is the way, Larry, you give a lift to the laws!"
"If the laws would give a lift to me, plase your honour, may be I'd do as much by them. But it's only these revenue laws I mean; for I never, to my knowledge, broke another commandment: but it's what no honest poor man among his neighbours would scruple to take—a glass of potsheen."
"A glass of what, in the name of Heaven?" said Lord Colambre.
"Potsheen, plase your honour;—beca-ase it's the little whiskey that's made in the private still or pot; and sheen, because it's a fond word for whatsoever we'd like, and for what we have little of, and would make much of: after taking the glass of it, no man could go and inform to ruin the cratures; for they all shelter on that estate under favour of them that go shares, and make rent of 'em—but I'd never inform again' 'em. And, after all, if the truth was known, and my Lord Clonbrony should be informed against, and presented, for it's his neglect is the bottom of the nuisance—"
"I find all the blame is thrown upon this poor Lord Clonbrony," said Lord Colambre.
"Because he is absent," said Larry: "it would not be so was he prisint. But your honour was talking to me about the laws. Your honour's a stranger in this country, and astray about them things. Sure, why would I mind the laws about whiskey, more than the quality, or the jidge on the bench?"
"What do you mean?"
"Why! was not I prisint in the court-house myself, when the jidge was on the bench judging a still, and across the court came in one with a sly jug of potsheen for the jidge himself, who prefarred it, when the right thing, to claret; and when I seen that, by the laws! a man might talk himself dumb to me after again' potsheen, or in favour of the revenue, or revenue officers. And there they may go on, with their gaugers, and their surveyors, and their supervisors, and their watching officers, and their coursing officers, setting 'em one after another, or one over the head of another, or what way they will—we can baffle and laugh at 'em. Didn't I know, next door to our inn, last year, ten watching officers set upon one distiller, and he was too cunning for them; and it will always be so, while ever the people think it no sin. No, till then, not all their dockets and permits signify a rush, or a turf. And the gauging rod, even! who fears it? They may spare that rod, for it will never mend the child."
How much longer Larry's dissertation on the distillery laws would have continued, had not his ideas been interrupted, we cannot guess; but he saw he was coming to a town, and he gathered up the reins, and plied the whip, ambitious to make a figure in the eyes of its inhabitants.
This town consisted of one row of miserable huts, sunk beneath the side of the road, the mud walls crooked in every direction; some of them opening in wide cracks, or zigzag fissures, from top to bottom, as if there had just been an earthquake—all the roofs sunk in various places—thatch off, or overgrown with grass—no chimneys, the smoke making its way through a hole in the roof, or rising in clouds from the top of the open door—dunghills before the doors, and green standing puddles—squalid children, with scarcely rags to cover them, gazing at the carriage.
"Nugent's town," said the postilion, "once a snug place, when my Lady Clonbrony was at home to white-wash it, and the like."
As they drove by, some men and women put their heads through the smoke out of the cabins; pale women, with long, black, or yellow locks—men with countenances and figures bereft of hope and energy.
"Wretched, wretched people!" said Lord Colambre.
"Then it's not their fault, neither," said Larry; "for my uncle's one of them, and as thriving and hard a working man as could be in all Ireland, he was, afore he was tramped under foot, and his heart broke. I was at his funeral, this time last year; and for it, may the agent's own heart, if he has any, burn in—"
Lord Colambre interrupted this denunciation by touching Larry's shoulder, and asking some question, which, as Larry did not distinctly comprehend, he pulled up the reins, and the various noises of the vehicle stopped suddenly.
"I did not hear well, plase your honour."
"What are those people?" pointing to a man and woman, curious figures, who had come out of a cabin, the door of which the woman, who came out last, locked, and carefully hiding the key in the thatch, turned her back upon the man, and they walked away in different directions: the woman bending under a huge bundle on her back, covered by a yellow petticoat turned over her shoulders; from the top of this bundle the head of an infant appeared; a little boy, almost naked, followed her with a kettle, and two girls, one of whom could but just walk, held her hand and clung to her ragged petticoat; forming, all together, a complete group of beggars. The woman stopped, and looked after the man.
The man was a Spanish-looking figure, with gray hair; a wallet hung at the end of a stick over one shoulder, a reaping-hook in the other hand: he walked off stoutly, without ever casting a look behind him.
"A kind harvest to you, John Dolan," cried the postilion, "and success to ye, Winny, with the quality. There's a luck-penny for the child to begin with," added he, throwing the child a penny. "Your honour, they're only poor cratures going up the country to beg, while the man goes over to reap the harvest in England. Nor this would not be, neither, if the lord was in it to give 'em employ. That man, now, was a good and willing slave in his day: I mind him working with myself in the shrubberies at Clonbrony Castle, when I was a boy—but I'll not be detaining your honour, now the road's better."
The postilion drove on at a good rate for some time, till he came to a piece of the road freshly covered with broken stones, where he was obliged again to go slowly.
They overtook a string of cars, on which were piled up high, beds, tables, chairs, trunks, boxes, band-boxes.
"How are you, Finnucan? you've fine loading there—from Dublin, are you?"
"And what news?"
"Great news and bad for Old Nick, or some belonging to him, thanks be to Heaven! for myself hates him."
"What's happened him?"
"His sister's husband that's failed, the great grocer that was, the man that had the wife that ow'd the fine house near Bray, that they got that time the parliament flitted, and that I seen in her carriage flaming—well, it's all out; they're all done up."
[Footnote 1: Owned.]
"Tut! is that all? then they'll thrive, and set up again grander than ever, I'll engage: have not they Old Nick for an attorney at their back? a good warrant?"
"Oh, trust him for that! he won't go security, nor pay a farthing, for his shister, nor wouldn't, was she his father; I heard him telling her so, which I could not have done in his place, at that time, and she crying as if her heart would break, and I standing by in the parlour."
"The neger! And did he speak that way, and you by?"
[Footnote 1: Neger, quasi negro; meo periculo, niggard]
"Ay, did he; and said, 'Mrs. Raffarty,' says he, 'it's all your own fault; you're an extravagant fool, and ever was, and I wash my hands of you.' that was the word he spoke; and she answered, and said, 'And mayn't I send the beds and blankets?' said she, 'and what I can, by the cars, out of the way of the creditors, to Clonbrony Castle? and won't you let me hide there, from the shame, till the bustle's over?' 'You may do that,' says he, 'for what I care; but remember,' says he, 'that I've the first claim to them goods;' and that's all he would grant. So they are coming down all o' Monday—them are the band-boxes, and all—to settle it; and faith it was a pity of her! to hear her sobbing, and to see her own brother speak and look so hard! and she a lady."
"Sure, she's not a lady born, no more than himself," said Larry; "but that's no excuse for him. His heart's as hard as that stone," said Larry; "and my own people knew that long ago, and now his own know it: and what right have we to complain, since he's as bad to his own flesh and blood as to us?"
With this consolation, and with a "God speed you," given to the carman, Larry was driving off; but the carman called to him, and pointed to a house, at the corner of which, on a high pole, was swinging an iron sign of three horse-shoes, set in a crooked frame, and at the window hung an empty bottle, proclaiming whiskey within.
"Well, I don't care if I do," said Larry; "for I've no other comfort left me in life now. I beg your honour's pardon, sir, for a minute," added he, throwing the reins into the carriage to Lord Colambre, as he leaped down. All remonstrance and power of lungs to reclaim him were vain! He darted into the whiskey-house with the carman—re-appeared before Lord Colambre could accomplish getting out, remounted his seat, and, taking the reins, "I thank your honour," said he; "and I'll bring you into Clonbrony before it's pitch-dark, though it's nightfall, and that's four good miles, but 'a spur in the head is worth two in the heel.'"
Larry, to demonstrate the truth of his favourite axiom, drove off at such a furious rate over great stones left in the middle of the road by carmen, who had been driving in the gudgeons of their axletrees to hinder them from lacing, that Lord Colambre thought life and limb in imminent danger; and feeling that, at all events, the jolting and bumping was past endurance, he had recourse to Larry's shoulder, and shook and pulled, and called to him to go slower, but in vain: at last the wheel struck full against a heap of stones at a turn of the road, the wooden linchpin came off, and the chaise was overset: Lord Colambre was a little bruised, but glad to escape without fractured bones.
[Footnote 1: Opening; perhaps, from lacher, to loosen.]
"I beg your honour's pardon," said Larry, completely sobered; "I'm as glad as the best pair of boots ever I see, to see your honour nothing the worse for it. It was the linchpin, and them barrows of loose stones, that ought to be fined any way, if there was any justice in the country."
"The pole is broke; how are we to get on?" said Lord Colambre.
"Murder! murder!—and no smith nearer than Clonbrony; nor rope even. It's a folly to talk, we can't get to Clonbrony, nor stir a step backward or forward the night."
"What, then, do you mean to leave me all night in the middle of the road?" cried Lord Colambre, quite exasperated.
"Is it me? plase your honour. I would not use any jantleman so ill, barring I could do no other," replied the postilion, coolly: then, leaping across the ditch, or, as he called it, the gripe of the ditch, he scrambled up, and while he was scrambling, said, "If your honour will lend me your hand, till I pull you up the back of the ditch, the horses will stand while we go. I'll find you as pretty a lodging for the night, with a widow of a brother of my shister's husband that was, as ever you slept in your life; for Old Nick or St. Dennis has not found 'em out yet: and your honour will he, no compare, snugger than at the inn at Clonbrony, which has no roof, the devil a stick. But where will I get your honour's hand; for it's coming on so dark, I can't see rightly. There, you're up now safe. Yonder candle's the house."
"Go and ask whether they can give us a night's lodging."
"Is it ask? when I see the light!—Sure they'd be proud to give the traveller all the beds in the house, let alone one. Take care of the potatoe furrows, that's all, and follow me straight. I'll go on to meet the dog, who knows me, and might be strange to your honour."
"Kindly welcome," were the first words Lord Colambre heard when he approached the cottage; and "kindly welcome" was in the sound of the voice and in the countenance of the old woman who came out, shading her rush-candle from the wind, and holding it so as to light the path. When he entered the cottage, he saw a cheerful fire and a neat pretty young woman making it blaze; she curtsied, put her spinning-wheel out of the way, set a stool by the fire for the stranger, and repeating, in a very low tone of voice, "Kindly welcome, sir," retired.
"Put down some eggs, dear, there's plenty in the bowl," said the old woman, calling to her; "I'll do the bacon. Was not we lucky to be up?—The boy's gone to bed, but waken him," said she, turning to the postilion; "and he'll help you with the chay, and put your horses in the bier for the night."
No: Larry chose to go on to Clonbrony with the horses, that he might get the chaise mended betimes for his honour. The table was set; clean trenchers, hot potatoes, milk, eggs, bacon, and "kindly welcome to all."
"Set the salt, dear; and the butter, love: where's your head, Grace, dear."
"Grace!" repeated Lord Colambre, looking up: and, to apologize for his involuntary exclamation, he added, "Is Grace a common name in Ireland?"
"I can't say, plase your honour; but it was give her by Lady Clonbrony, from a niece of her own, God bless her! and a very kind lady she was to us and to all when she was living in it; but those times are gone past," said the old woman, with a sigh. The young woman sighed too; and, sitting down by the fire, began to count the notches in a little bit of stick, which she held in her hand; and after she had counted them, sighed again.
"But don't be sighing, Grace, now," said the old woman; "sighs is bad sauce for the traveller's supper; and we won't be troubling him with more," added she, turning to Lord Colambre with a smile.
"Is your egg done to your liking?"
"Perfectly, thank you."
"Then I wish it was a chicken, for your sake, which it should have been, and roast too, had we time. I wish I could see you eat another egg."
"No more, thank you, my good lady; I never ate a better supper, nor received a more hospitable welcome."
"Oh, the welcome is all we have to offer."
"May I ask what that is?" said Lord Colambre, looking at the notched stick, which the young woman held in her hand, and on which her eyes were still fixed.
"It's a tally, plase your honour. Oh, you're a foreigner;—it's the way the labourers do keep the account of the day's work with the overseer, the bailiff; a notch for every day the bailiff makes on his stick, and the labourer the like on his stick, to tally; and when we come to make up the account, it's by the notches we go. And there's been a mistake, and is a dispute here between our boy and the overseer: and she was counting the boy's tally, that's in bed, tired, for in truth he's overworked."
"Would you want any thing more from me, mother?" said the girl, rising and turning her head away.
"No, child; get away, for your heart's full."
She went instantly.
"Is the boy her brother?" said Lord Colambre.
"No; he's her bachelor," said the old woman, lowering her voice.
"That is, her sweetheart: for she is not my daughter, though you heard her call me mother. The boy's my son; but I am afeard they must give it up; for they're too poor, and the times is hard, and the agent's harder than the times: there's two of them, the under and the upper; and they grind the substance of one between them, and then blow one away like chaff; but we'll not be talking of that, to spoil your honour's night's rest. The room's ready, and here's the rushlight."
She showed him into a very small but neat room.
"What a comfortable-looking bed!" said Lord Colambre.
"Ah, these red check curtains," said she, letting them down; "these have lasted well: they were give me by a good friend, now far away, over the seas—my Lady Clonbrony; and made by the prettiest hands ever you see, her niece's, Miss Grace Nugent's, and she a little child that time; sweet love! all gone!"
The old woman wiped a tear from her eye, and Lord Colambre did what he could to appear indifferent. She set down the candle, and left the room; Lord Colambre went to bed, but he lay awake,
"Revolving sweet and bitter thoughts"
The kettle was on the fire, tea-things set, every thing prepared for her guest by the hospitable hostess, who thinking the gentleman would take tea to his breakfast, had sent off a gossoon by the first light to Clonbrony, for an ounce of tea, a quarter of sugar, and a loaf of white bread; and there was on the little table good cream, milk, butter, eggs—all the promise of an excellent breakfast. It was a fresh morning, and there was a pleasant fire on the hearth, neatly swept up. The old woman was sitting in her chimney corner, behind a little skreen of whitewashed wall, built out into the room, for the purpose of keeping those who sat at the fire from the blast of the door. There was a loop-hole in this wall, to let the light in, just at the height of a person's head, who was sitting near the chimney. The rays of the morning sun now came through it, shining across the face of the old woman, as she sat knitting: Lord Colambre thought he had seldom seen a more agreeable countenance, intelligent eyes, benevolent smile, a natural expression of cheerfulness, subdued by age and misfortune.
"A good morrow to you kindly, sir, and I hope you got the night well?—A fine day for us this holyday morning; my Grace is gone to early prayers, so your honour will be content with an old woman to make your tea. Oh, let me put in plenty of tea, for it will never be good; and if your honour takes stirabout, an old hand will engage to make that to your liking, any way; for by great happiness, we have what will just answer for you of the nicest meal the miller made my Grace a compliment of, last time she went to the mill."
Lord Colambre observed, that this miller had good taste; and his lordship paid some compliment to Grace's beauty, which the old woman received with a smile, but turned off the conversation.
"Then," said she, looking out of the window, "is not that there a nice little garden the boy dug for her and me, at his breakfast and dinner hours? Ah! he's a good boy, and good warrant to work; and the good son desarves the good wife, and it's he that will make the good husband; and with my good-will he, and no other, shall get her, and with her good-will the same; and I bid 'em keep up their heart, and hope the best, for there's no use in fearing the worst till it comes."
Lord Colambre wished very much to know the worst. "If you would not think a stranger impertinent for asking," said he, "and if it would not be painful to you to explain."
"Oh, impertinent, your honour! it's very kind—and, sure, none's a stranger to one's heart, that feels for one. And for myself, I can talk of my troubles without thinking of them. So, I'll tell you all—if the worst comes to the worst—all that is, is, that we must quit, and give up this little snug place, and house, and farm, and all, to the agent—which would be hard on us, and me a widow, when my husband did all that is done to the land; and if your honour was a judge, you could see, if you stepped out, there has been a deal done, and built the house, and all—but it plased Heaven to take him. Well, he was too good for this world, and I'm satisfied—I'm not saying a word again' that—I trust we shall meet in heaven, and be happy, surely. And, meantime, here's my boy, that will make me as happy as ever widow was on earth—if the agent will let him. And I can't think the agent, though they that know him best call him Old Nick, would be so wicked to take from us that which he never gave us. The good lord himself granted us the lase; the life's dropped, and the years is out; but we had a promise of renewal in writing from the landlord. God bless him! if he was not away, he'd be a good gentleman, and we'd be happy and safe."
"But if you have a promise in writing of a renewal, surely you are safe, whether your landlord is absent or present."
"Ah, no! that makes a great differ, when there's no eye or hand over the agent. I would not wish to speak or think ill of him or any man; but was he an angel, he could not know to do the tenantry justice, the way he is living always in Dublin, and coming down to the country only the receiving days, to make a sweep among us, and gather up the rents in a hurry, and he in such haste back to town—can just stay to count over our money, and give the receipts. Happy for us if we get that same!—but can't expect he should have time to see or hear us, or mind our improvements, any more than listen to our complaints! Oh, there's great excuse for the gentleman, if that was any comfort for us," added she, smiling.
"But, if he does not live amongst you himself, has not he some under agent, who lives in the country?" said Lord Colambre.
"He has so."
"And he should know your concerns: does he mind them?"
"He should know—he should know better; but as to minding our concerns, your honour knows," continued she, smiling again, "every one in this world must mind their own concerns: and it would be a good world, if it was even so. There's a great deal in all things, that don't appear at first sight. Mr. Dennis wanted Grace for a wife for his bailiff, but she would not have him; and Mr. Dennis was very sweet to her himself—but Grace is rather high with him as proper, and he has a grudge again' us ever since. Yet, indeed, there," added she, after another pause, "as you say, I think we are safe; for we have that memorandum in writing, with a pencil, given under his own hand, on the back of the lase to me, by the same token when my good lord had his foot on the step of the coach, going away; and I'll never forget the smile of her that got that good turn done for me, Miss Grace. And just when she was going to England and London, and, young as she was, to have the thought to stop and turn to the likes of me! Oh, then, if you could see her, and know her, as I did! That was the comforting angel upon earth—look, and voice, and heart, and all! Oh, that she was here present, this minute!—But did you scald yourself?" said the widow to Lord Colambre. "Sure you must have scalded yourself; for you poured the kettle straight over your hand, and it boiling!—O deear; to think of so young a gentleman's hand shaking so like my own."
Luckily, to prevent her pursuing her observations from the hand to the face, which might have betrayed more than Lord Colambre wished she should know, her own Grace came in at this instant—"There it's for you, safe, mother dear—the lase!" said Grace, throwing a packet into her lap. The old woman lifted up her hands to heaven, with the lease between them—"Thanks be to Heaven!" Grace passed on, and sunk down on the first seat she could reach. Her face flushed, and, looking much fatigued, she loosened the strings of her bonnet and cloak—"Then, I'm tired;" but, recollecting herself, she rose, and curtsied to the gentleman.
"What tired ye, dear?"
"Why, after prayers, we had to go—for the agent was not at prayers, nor at home for us, when we called—we had to go all the way up to the castle; and there, by great good luck, we found Mr. Nick Garraghty himself, come from Dublin, and the lase in his hands; and he sealed it up that way, and handed it to me very civil. I never saw him so good—though he offered me a glass of spirits, which was not manners to a decent young woman, in a morning—as Brian noticed after. Brian would not take any either, nor never does. We met Mr. Dennis and the driver coming home; and he says, the rent must be paid to-morrow, or, instead of renewing, he'll seize, and sell all. Mother dear, I would have dropped with the walk, but for Brian's arm."
"It's a wonder, dear, what makes you so weak, that used to be so strong."
"But if we can sell the cow for any thing at all to Mr. Dennis, since his eye is set upon her, better let him have her mother, dear; and that and my yarn, which Mrs. Garraghty says she'll allow me for, will make up the rent—and Brian need not talk of America. But it must be in golden guineas, the agent will take the rent no other way; and you won't get a guinea for less than five shillings. Well, even so, it's easy selling my new gown to one that covets it, and that will give me in exchange the price of the gold; or, suppose that would not do, add this cloak—it's handsome, and I know a friend would be glad to take it, and I'd part it as ready as look at it—Any thing at all, sure, rather than that he should be forced to talk of emigrating: or, oh, worse again, listing for the bounty—to save us from the cant or the jail, by going to the hospital, or his grave, maybe—oh, mother!"
"Oh, child! This is what makes you weak, fretting. Don't be that way. Sure here's the lase, and that's good comfort; and the soldiers will be gone out of Clonbrony to-morrow, and then that's off your mind. And as to America, it's only talk—I won't let him, he's dutiful; and would sooner sell my dresser, and down to my bed, dear, than see you sell any thing of yours, love. Promise me you won't. Why didn't Brian come home all the way with you, Grace?"
"He would have seen me home," said Grace, "only that he went up a piece of the mountain for some stones or ore for the gentleman,—for he had the manners to think of him this morning, though, shame for me, I had not, when I come in, or I would not have told you all this, and he by. See, there he is, mother."
Brian came in very hot, out of breath, with his hat full of stones. "Good morrow to your honour. I was in bed last night; and sorry they did not call me up to be of sarvice. Larry was telling us, this morning, your honour's from Wales, and looking for mines in Ireland, and I heard talk that there was one on our mountain—may be, you'd be curous to see, and so I brought the best I could, but I'm no judge."
"Nor I, neither," thought Lord Colambre; but he thanked the young man, and determined to avail himself of Larry's misconception of false report; examined the stones very gravely, and said, "This promises well. Lapis caliminaris, schist, plum-pudding stone, rhomboidal, crystal, blend, garrawachy," and all the strange names he could think of, jumbling them together at a venture.
"The lase!" cried the young man, with joy sparkling in his eyes, as his mother held up the packet. "Lend me the papers."
He cracked the seals, and taking off the cover—"Ay, I know it's the lase sure enough. But stay, where's the memorandum?"
"It's there, sure," said his mother, "where my lord's pencil writ it. I don't read. Grace, dear, look."
The young man put it into her hands, and stood without power to utter a syllable.
"It's not here! It's gone!—no sign of it."
"Gracious Heaven! that can't be," said the old woman, putting on her spectacles; "let me see,'—I remember the very spot."
"It's taken away—it's rubbed clean out!—Oh, wasn't I fool?—But who could have thought he'd be the villain!"
The young man seemed neither to see nor hear, but to be absorbed in thought. Grace, with her eyes fixed upon him, grew as pale as death.—"He'll go—he's gone."
"She's gone!" cried Lord Colambre, and the mother just caught her in her arms as she was falling.
"The chaise is ready, plase your honour," said Larry, coming into the room. "Death! what's here?"
"Air!—she's coming to," said the young man—"Take a drop of water, my own Grace."
"Young man, I promise you," cried Lord Colambre, (speaking in the tone of a master,) striking the young man's shoulder, who was kneeling at Grace's feet, but recollecting and restraining himself, he added, in a quiet voice—"I promise you I shall never forget the hospitality I have received in this house, and I am sorry to be obliged to leave you in distress."
These words uttered with difficulty, he hurried out of the house, and into his carriage. "Go back to them," said he to the postilion: "go back and ask whether, if I should stay a day or two longer in this country, they would let me return at night and lodge with them. And here, man, stay, take this," putting money into his hands, "for the good woman of the house."
The postilion went in, and returned.
"She won't at all—I knew she would not."
"Well, I am obliged to her for the night's lodging she did give me; I have no right to expect more."
"What is it?—Sure she bid me tell you,—'and welcome to the lodging; for,' said she, 'he's a kind-hearted gentleman;' but here's the money; it's that I was telling you she would not have at all."
"Thank you. Now, my good friend, Larry, drive me to Clonbrony, and do not say another word, for I'm not in a talking humour."
Larry nodded, mounted, and drove to Clonbrony. Clonbrony was now a melancholy scene. The houses, which had been built in a better style of architecture than usual, were in a ruinous condition; the dashing was off the walls, no glass in the windows, and many of the roofs without slates. For the stillness of the place Lord Colambre in some measure accounted, by considering that it was holiday; therefore, of course, all the shops were shut up, and all the people at prayers. He alighted at the inn, which completely answered Larry's representation of it. Nobody to be seen but a drunken waiter, who, as well as he could articulate, informed Lord Colambre, that "his mistress was in her bed since Thursday-was-a-week; the hostler at the wash-woman's, and the cook at second prayers."
Lord Colambre walked to the church, but the church gate was locked and broken—a calf, two pigs, and an ass, in the church-yard; and several boys (with more of skin apparent than clothes) were playing at pitch and toss upon a tombstone, which, upon nearer observation, he saw was the monument of his own family. One of the boys came to the gate, and told Lord Colambre, "There was no use in going into the church, because there was no church there; nor had not been this twelvemonth; beca-ase there was no curate: and the parson was away always, since the lord was at home—that is, was not at home—he nor the family."
Lord Colambre returned to the inn, where, after waiting a considerable time, he gave up the point—he could not get any dinner—and in the evening he walked out again into the town. He found several public-houses, however, open, which were full of people; all of them as busy and as noisy as possible. He observed that the interest was created by an advertisement of several farms on the Clonbrony estate, to be set by Nicholas Garraghty, Esq. He could not help smiling at his being witness incognito to various schemes for outwitting the agents, and defrauding the landlord; but, on a sudden, the scene was changed; a boy ran in, crying out, that "St. Dennis was riding down the hill into the town; and, if you would not have the licence," said the boy, "take care of yourself, Brannagan." "If you wouldn't have the licence," Lord Colambre perceived, by what followed, meant, "If you have not a licence." Brannagan immediately snatched an untasted glass of whiskey from a customer's lips (who cried, murder!), gave it and the bottle he held in his hand to his wife, who swallowed the spirits, and ran away with the bottle and glass into some back hole; whilst the bystanders laughed, saying, "Well thought of, Peggy!"
"Clear out all of you at the back door, for the love of Heaven, if you wouldn't be the ruin of me," said the man of the house, setting a ladder to a corner of the shop. "Phil, hoist me up the keg to the loft," added he, running up the ladder; "and one of yees step up street, and give Rose McGivney notice, for she's selling, too."
The keg was hoisted up; the ladder removed; the shop cleared of all the customers; the shutters shut; the door barred; the counter cleaned.
"Lift your stones, sir, if you plase," said the wife, as she rubbed the counter, "and say nothing of what you seen at all; but that you're a stranger and a traveller seeking a lodging, if you're questioned, or waiting to see Mr. Dennis. There's no smell of whiskey in it now, is there, sir?"
Lord Colambre could not flatter her so far as to say this—he could only hope no one would perceive it.
"Oh, and if he would, the smell of whiskey was nothing," as the wife affirmed, "for it was every where in nature, and no proof again' any one, good or bad."
"Now, St. Dennis may come when he will, or Old Nick himself!" So she tied up a blue handkerchief over her head, and had the toothache "very bad."
Lord Colambre turned to look for the man of the house.
"He's safe in bed," said the wife.
"In bed! When?"
"Whilst you turned your head, while I was tying the handkerchief over my face. Within the room, look, he is snug."
And there he was in bed certainly, and his clothes on the chest.
A knock, a loud knock at the door.
"St. Dennis himself!—Stay, till I unbar the door," said the woman; and, making a great difficulty, she let him in, groaning and saying. "We was all done up for the night, plase your honour, and myself with the toothache, very bad—And the lodger, that's going to take an egg only, before he'd go into his bed. My man's in it, and asleep long ago."
With a magisterial air, though with a look of blank disappointment, Mr. Dennis Garraghty walked on, looked into the room, saw the good man of the house asleep, heard him snore, and then, returning, asked Lord Colambre, "who he was, and what brought him there?"
Our hero said, he was from England, and a traveller; and now, bolder grown as a geologist, he talked of his specimens, and his hopes of finding a mine in the neighbouring mountains; then adopting, as well as he could, the servile tone and abject manner, in which he found Mr. Dennis was to be addressed, "he hoped he might get encouragement from the gentlemen at the head of the estate."
"To bore, is it?—Well, don't bore me about it. I can't give you any answer now, my good friend; I am engaged."
Out he strutted. "Stick to him up the town, if you have a mind to get your answer," whispered the woman. Lord Colambre followed, for he wished to see the end of this scene.
"Well, sir, what are you following and sticking to me, like my shadow, for?" said Mr. Dennis, turning suddenly upon Lord Colambre.
His lordship bowed low. "Waiting for my answer, sir, when you are at leisure. Or, may I call upon you to-morrow?"
"You seem to be a civil kind of fellow; but, as to boring, I don't know—if you undertake it at your own expense. I dare say there may be minerals in the ground. Well, you may call at the castle to-morrow, and when my brother has done with the tenantry, I'll speak to him for you, and we'll consult together, and see what we think. It's too late to-night. In Ireland, nobody speaks to a gentleman about business after dinner,—your servant, sir; any body can show you the way to the castle in the morning." And, pushing by his lordship, he called to a man on the other side of the street, who had obviously been waiting for him; he went under a gateway with this man, and gave him a bag of guineas. He then called for his horse, which was brought to him by a man whom Lord Colambre had heard declaring that he would bid for the land that was advertised; whilst another, who had the same intentions, most respectfully held his stirrup, whilst he mounted without thanking either of these men. St. Dennis clapped spurs to his steed, and rode away. No thanks, indeed, were deserved; for the moment he was out of hearing, both cursed him after the manner of their country.
"Bad luck go with you, then!—And may you break your neck before you get home, if it was not for the lase I'm to get, and that's paid for."
Lord Colambre followed the crowd into a public-house, where a new scene presented itself to his view.
The man to whom St. Dennis gave the bag of gold was now selling this very gold to the tenants, who were to pay their rent next day at the castle.
The agent would take nothing but gold. The same guineas were bought and sold several times over, to the great profit of the agent and loss of the poor tenants; for as the rents were paid, the guineas were resold to another set: and the remittances made through bankers to the landlord, who, as the poor man that explained the transaction to Lord Colambre expressed it, "gained nothing by the business, bad or good, but the ill-will of the tenantry."
The higgling for the price of the gold; the time lost in disputing about the goodness of the notes, among some poor tenants, who could not read or write, and who were at the mercy of the man with the bag in his hand; the vexation, the useless harassing of all who were obliged to submit ultimately—Lord Colambre saw: and all this time he endured the smell of tobacco and whiskey, and the sound of various brogues, the din of men wrangling, brawling, threatening, whining, drawling, cajoling, cursing, and every variety of wretchedness.
"And is this my father's town of Clonbrony?" thought Lord Colambre. "Is this Ireland? No, it is not Ireland. Let me not, like most of those who forsake their native country, traduce it. Let me not, even to my own mind, commit the injustice of taking a speck for the whole. What I have just seen is the picture only of that to which an Irish estate and Irish tenantry may be degraded in the absence of those whose duty and interest it is to reside in Ireland, to uphold justice by example and authority; but who, neglecting this duty, commit power to bad hands and bad hearts—abandon their tenantry to oppression, and their property to ruin."
It was now fine moonlight, and Lord Colambre met with a boy, who said he could show him a short way across the fields to the widow O'Neil's cottage.
All were asleep at the cottage, when Lord Colambre arrived, except the widow, who was sitting up, waiting for him; and who had brought her dog into the house, that he might not fly at him, or bark at his return. She had a roast chicken ready for her guest, and it was—but this she never told him—the only chicken she had left; all the others had been sent with the duty fowl, as a present to the under-agent's lady. While he was eating his supper, which he ate with the better appetite, as he had had no dinner, the good woman took down from the shelf a pocket-book, which she gave him: "Is not that your book?" said she. "My boy Brian found it after you in the potatoe furrow, where you dropped it."
"Thank you," said Lord Colambre; "there are bank notes in it, which I could not afford to lose."
"Are there?" said she: "he never opened it—nor I."
Then, in answer to his inquiries about Grace and the young man, the widow answered, "They are all in heart now, I thank ye kindly, sir, for asking; they'll sleep easy to-night, any way, and I'm in great spirits for them and myself—for all's smooth now. After we parted you, Brian saw Mr. Dennis himself about the lase and memorandum, which he never denied, but knew nothing about. 'But, be that as it may,' says he, 'you're improving tenants, and I'm confident my brother will consider ye; so what you'll do is, you'll give up the possession to-morrow to myself, that will call for it by cock-crow, just for form's sake; and then go up to the castle with the new lase ready drawn, in your hand, and if all's paid off clear of the rent, and all that's due, you'll get the new lase signed: I'll promise you this upon the word and honour of a gentleman.' And there's no going beyond that, you know, sir. So my boy came home as light as a feather, and as gay as a lark, to bring us the good news; only he was afraid we might not make up the rent, guineas and all; and because he could not get paid for the work he done, on account of the mistake in the overseer's tally, I sold the cow to a neighbour, dog-cheap; but needs must, as they say, when Old Nick drives," said the widow, smiling. "Well, still it was but paper we got for the cow; then that must be gold before the agent would take or touch it—so I was laying out to sell the dresser, and had taken the plates and cups, and little things off it, and my boy was lifting it out with Andy the carpenter, that was agreeing for it, when in comes Grace, all rosy and out of breath—it's a wonder I never minded her run out, nor ever missed her. 'Mother,' says she, 'here's the gold for you; don't be stirring your dresser.'—'And where's your gown and cloak, Grace?' says I. But, I beg your pardon, sir; may be, I'm tiring you?"
Lord Colambre encouraged her to go on.
"'Where's your gown and cloak, Grace?' says I. 'Gone,' says she. 'The cloak was too warm and heavy, and I don' doubt, mother, but it was that helped to make me faint this morning. And as to the gown, sure I've a very nice one here, that you spun for me yourself, mother; and that I prize above all the gowns ever came out of a loom; and that Brian said become me to his fancy above any gown ever he see me wear; and what could I wish for more?' Now I'd a mind to scold her for going to sell the gown unknown'st to me, but I don't know how it was, I couldn't scold her just then, so kissed her, and Brian the same, and that was what no man ever did before. And she had a mind to be angry with him, but could not, nor ought not, says I, 'for he's as good as your husband now, Grace; and no man can part yees now,' says I, putting their hands together. Well, I never saw her look so pretty; nor there was not a happier boy that minute on God's earth than my son, nor a happier mother than myself; and I thanked God, that had given them to me; and down they both fell on their knees for my blessing, little worth as it was; and my heart's blessing they had, and I laid my hands upon them. 'It's the priest you must get to do this for you to-morrow,' says I. And Brian just held up the ring, to show me all was ready on his part, but could not speak. 'Then there's no America between us any more!' said Grace, low to me, and her heart was on her lips; but the colour came and went, and I was afeard she'd have swooned again, but not for sorrow, so I carried her off. Well, if she was not my own—but she is not my own born, so I may say it—there never was a better girl, not a more kind-hearted, nor generous; never thinking any thing she could do, or give, too much for them she loved, and any thing at all would do for herself; the sweetest natured and tempered both, and always was, from this high; the bond that held all together, and joy of the house."
"Just like her namesake," cried Lord Colambre.
"Plase your honour!"
"Is not it late?" said Lord Colambre, stretching himself and gaping; "I've walked a great way to-day."
The old woman lighted his rushlight, showed him to his red check bed, and wished him a very good night; not without some slight sentiment of displeasure at his gaping thus at the panegyric on her darling Grace. Before she left the room, however, her short-lived resentment vanished, upon his saying, that he hoped, with her permission, to be present at the wedding of the young couple.
Early in the morning Brian went to the priest, to ask his reverence when it would be convenient to marry him; and whilst he was gone, Mr. Dennis Garraghty came to the cottage, to receive the rent and possession. The rent was ready, in gold, and counted into his hand.
"No occasion for a receipt; for a new lase is a receipt in full for every thing."
"Very well, sir," said the widow; "I know nothing of law. You know best—whatever you direct—for you are acting as a friend to us now. My son got the attorney to draw the pair of new lases yesterday, and here they are ready, all to signing."
Mr. Dennis said, his brother must settle that part of the business, and that they must carry them up to the castle; "but first give me the possession."
Then, as he instructed her, she gave up the key of the door to him, and a bit of the thatch of the house; and he raked out the fire, and said every living creature must go out. "It's only form of law," said he.
"And must my lodger get up, and turn out, sir?" said she.
"He must turn out, to be sure—not a living soul must he left in it, or it's no legal possession, properly. Who is your lodger?"
On Lord Colambre's appearing, Mr. Dennis showed some surprise, and said, "I thought you were lodging at Brannagan's; are not you the man who spoke to me at his house about the gold mines?"
"No, sir, he never lodged at Brannagan's," said the widow.
"Yes, sir, I am the person who spoke to you about the gold mines at Brannagan's; but I did not like to lodge—"
"Well, no matter where you liked to lodge; you must walk out of this lodging now, if you please, my good friend."
So Mr. Dennis pushed his lordship out by the shoulders, repeating, as the widow turned back, and looked with some surprise and alarm, "only for form sake, only for form sake!" then locking the door, took the key, and put it into his pocket. The widow held out her hand for it: "The form's gone through now, sir; is not it? Be plased to let us in again."
"When the new lease is signed, I'll give you possession again; but not till then—for that's the law. So make away with you to the castle; and mind," added he, winking slily, "mind you take sealing-money with you, and something to buy gloves."
"Oh, where will I find all that?" said the widow.
"I have it, mother; don't fret," said Grace. "I have it—the price of—what I can want. So let us go off to the castle without delay. Brian will meet us on the road, you know."
[Footnote 1: What I can do without.]
They set off for Clonbrony Castle, Lord Colambre accompanying them. Brian met them on the road. "Father Tom is ready, dear mother; bring her in, and he'll marry us. I'm not my own man till she's mine. Who knows what may happen?"
"Who knows? that's true," said the widow.
"Better go to the castle first," said Grace.
"And keep the priest waiting! You can't use his reverence so," said Brian.
So she let him lead her into the priest's house, and she did not make any of the awkward draggings back, or ridiculous scenes of grimace sometimes exhibited on these occasions; but blushing rosy red, yet with more self-possession than could have been expected from her timid nature, she gave her hand to the man she loved, and listened with attentive devotion to the holy ceremony.
"Ah!" thought Lord Colambre, whilst he congratulated the bride, "shall I ever be as happy as these poor people are at this moment?" He longed to make them some little present, but all he could venture at this moment was to pay the priest's dues.
The priest positively refused to take any thing.
"They are the best couple in my parish," said he; "and I'll take nothing, sir, from you, a stranger and my guest."
"Now, come what will, I'm a match for it. No trouble can touch me," said Brian.
"Oh, don't be bragging," said the widow.
"Whatever trouble God sends, he has given one now will help to bear it, and sure I may be thankful," said Grace.
"Such good hearts must be happy,—shall be happy!" said Lord Colambre.
"Oh, you're very kind," said the widow, smiling; "and I wouldn't doubt you, if you had the power. I hope, then, the agent will give you encouragement about them mines, that we may keep you among us."
"I am determined to settle among you, warm-hearted, generous people!" cried Lord Colambre; "whether the agent gives me encouragement or not," added he.
It was a long walk to Clonbrony Castle; the old woman, as she said herself, would not have been able for it, but for a lift given to her by a friendly carman, whom she overtook on the road with an empty car. This carman was Finnucan, who dissipated Lord Colambre's fears of meeting and being recognized by Mrs. Raffarty; for he, in answer to the question of "Who is at the castle?" replied, "Mrs. Raffarty will be in it afore night; but she's on the road still. There's none but Old Nick in it yet; and he's more of a neger than ever; for think, that he would not pay me a farthing for the carriage of his shister's boxes and band-boxes down. If you're going to have any dealings with him, God grant ye a safe deliverance!"
"Amen!" said the widow, and her son and daughter.
Lord Colambre's attention was now engaged by the view of the castle and park of Clonbrony. He had not seen it since he was six years old. Some faint reminiscence from his childhood made him feel or fancy that he knew the place. It was a fine castle, spacious park; but all about it, from the broken piers at the great entrance, to the mossy gravel and loose steps at the hall-door, had an air of desertion and melancholy. Walks overgrown, shrubberies wild, plantations run up into bare poles; fine trees cut down, and lying on the ground in lots to be sold. A hill that had been covered with an oak wood, where in his childhood our hero used to play, and which he called the black forest, was gone; nothing to be seen but the white stumps of the trees, for it had been freshly cut down, to make up the last remittances.—"And how it went, when sold!—but no matter," said Finnucan; "it's all alike.—It's the back way into the yard, I'll take you, I suppose."
"And such a yard! but it's no matter," repeated Lord Colambre to himself; "it's all alike."
In the kitchen, a great dinner was dressing for Mr. Garraghty's friends, who were to make merry with him when the business of the day was over.
"Where's the keys of the cellar, till I get out the claret for after dinner," says one; "and the wine for the cook—sure there's venison," cries another.—"Venison!—That's the way my lord's deer goes," says a third, laughing.—"Ay, sure! and very proper, when he's not here to eat 'em."—"Keep your nose out of the kitchen, young man, if you plase," said the agent's cook, shutting the door in Lord Colambre's face. "There's the way to the office, if you've money to pay, up the back stairs."
"No; up the grand staircase they must,—Mr. Garraghty ordered," said the footman; "because the office is damp for him, and it's not there he'll see any body to-day; but in my lady's dressing-room."
So up the grand staircase they went, and through the magnificent apartments, hung with pictures of great value, spoiling with damp.
"Then, isn't it a pity to see them? There's my lady, and all spoiling," said the widow.
Lord Colambre stopped before a portrait of Miss Nugent—"Shamefully damaged!" cried he.
"Pass on, or let me pass, if you plase," said one of the tenants; "and don't be stopping the door-way."
"I have business more nor you with the agent," said the surveyor; "where is he?"
"In the presence-chamber," replied another: "Where should the viceroy be but in the presence-chamber?"
There was a full levee, and fine smell of great coats.—"Oh! would you put your hats on the silk cushions?" said the widow to some men in the doorway, who were throwing off their greasy hats on a damask sofa.
"Why not? where else?"
"If the lady was in it, you wouldn't," said she, sighing.
"No, to be sure, I wouldn't: great news! would I make no differ in the presence of Old Nick and my lady?" said he, in Irish. "Have I no sense or manners, good woman, think ye?" added he, as he shook the ink out of the pen on the Wilton carpet, when he had finished signing his name to a paper on his knee.
"You may wait long before you get to the speech of the great man," said another, who was working his way through numbers.
They continued pushing forward, till they came within sight of Mr. Nicholas Garraghty, seated in state; and a worse countenance, or a more perfect picture of an insolent, petty tyrant in office, Lord Colambre had never beheld.
We forbear all further detail of this levee. "It's all the same!" as Lord Colambre repeated to himself, on every fresh instance of roguery or oppression to which he was witness; and having completely made up his mind on the subject, he sat down quietly in the back-ground, waiting till it should come to the widow's turn to be dealt with, for he was now interested only to see how she would be treated. The room gradually thinned I Mr. Dennis Garraghty came in, and sat down at the table, to help his brother to count the heaps of gold.
"Oh, Mr. Dennis, I'm glad to see you as kind as your promise, meeting me here," said the widow O'Neil, walking up to him;
"I'm sure you'll speak a good word for me: here's the lases—who will I offer this to?" said she, holding the glove-money and sealing-money, "for I'm strange and ashamed."
"Oh, don't be ashamed—there's no strangeness in bringing money or taking it," said Mr. Nicholas Garraghty, holding out his hand. "Is this the proper compliment?"
"I hope so, sir: your honour knows best."
"Very well," slipping it into his private purse. "Now what's your business?"
"The lases to sign—the rent's all paid up."
"Leases! Why, woman, is the possession given up?"
"It was, plase your honour; and Mr. Dennis has the key of our little place in his pocket."
"Then I hope he'll keep it there. Your little place—it's no longer yours; I've promised it to the surveyor. You don't think I'm such a fool as to renew to you at this rent."
"Mr. Dennis named the rent. But any thing your honour plases—any thing at all that we can pay."
"Oh, it's out of the question—put it out of your head. No rent you can offer would do, for I have promised it to the surveyor."
"Sir, Mr. Dennis knows my lord gave us his promise in writing of a renewal, on the back of the ould lase."
"Here's the lase, but the promise is rubbed out."
"Nonsense! coming to me with a promise that's rubbed out. Who'll listen to that in a court of justice, do you think?"
"I don't know, plase your honour; but this I'm sure of, my lord and Miss Nugent, though but a child at the time, God bless her! who was by when my lord wrote it with his pencil, will remember it."
"Miss Nugent! what can she know of business?—What has she to do with the management of my Lord Clonbrony's estate, pray?"
"Do you wish to get Miss Nugent turned out of the house?"
"Oh, God forbid!—how could that be?"
"Very easily; if you set about to make her meddle and witness in what my lord does not choose."
"Well, then, I'll never mention Miss Nugent's name in it at all, if it was ever so with me. But be plased, sir, to write over to my lord, and ask him; I'm sure he'll remember it."
"Write to my lord about such a trifle—trouble him about such nonsense!"
"I'd be sorry to trouble him. Then take it on my word, and believe me, sir; for I would not tell a lie, nor cheat rich or poor, if in my power, for the whole estate, nor the whole world: for there's an eye above."
"Cant! nonsense!—Take those leases off the table; I never will sign them. Walk off, ye canting hag; it's an imposition—I will never sign them."
"You will, then, sir," cried Brian, growing red with indignation; "for the law shall make you, so it shall; and you'd as good have been civil to my mother, whatever you did—for I'll stand by her while I've life; and I know she has right, and shall have law. I saw the memorandum written before ever it went into your hands, sir, whatever became of it after; and will swear to it too."
"Swear away, my good friend; much your swearing will avail in your own case in a court of justice," continued Old Nick.
"And against a gentleman of my brother's established character and property," said St. Dennis. "What's your mother's character against a gentleman's like his?"
"Character! take care how you go to that, any way, sir," cried Brian.
Grace put her hand before his mouth, to stop him.
"Grace, dear, I must speak, if I die for it; sure it's for my mother," said the young man, struggling forward, while his mother held him back; "I must speak."
"Oh, he's ruined, I see it," said Grace, putting her hand before her eyes, "and he won't mind me."
"Go on, let him go on, pray, young woman," said Mr. Garraghty, pale with anger and fear, his lips quivering; "I shall be happy to take down his words."
"Write them; and may all the world read it, and welcome!"
His mother and wife stopped his mouth by force.
"Write you, Dennis," said Mr. Garraghty, giving the pen to his brother; for his hand shook so he could not form a letter. "Write the very words, and at the top" (pointing) "after warning, with malice prepense."
"Write, then—mother, Grace—let me," cried Brian, speaking in a smothered voice, as their hands were over his mouth. "Write then, that, if you'd either of you a character like my mother, you might defy the world; and your word would be as good as your oath."
"Oath! mind that, Dennis," said Mr. Garraghty.
"Oh, sir! sir! won't you stop him?" cried Grace, turning suddenly to Lord Colambre.
"Oh, dear, dear, if you haven't lost your feeling for us," cried the widow.
"Let him speak," said Lord Colambre, in a tone of authority; "let the voice of truth be heard."
"Truth!" cried St. Dennis, and dropped the pen.
"And who the devil are you, sir?" said Old Nick.
"Lord Colambre, I protest!" exclaimed a female voice; and Mrs. Raffarty at this instant appeared at the open door.
"Lord Colambre!" repeated all present, in different tones.
"My lord, I beg pardon," continued Mrs. Raffarty, advancing as if her legs were tied; "had I known you was down here, I would not have presumed. I'd better retire; for I see you're busy."
"You'd best; for you're mad, sister," said St. Dennis, pushing her back; "and we are busy; go to your room, and keep quiet, if you can."
"First, madam," said Lord Colambre, going between her and the door, "let me beg that you will consider yourself as at home in this house, whilst any circumstances make it desirable to you. The hospitality you showed me you cannot think I now forget."
"Oh, my lord, you're too good—how few—too kind—kinder than my own;" and, bursting into tears, she escaped out of the room.
Lord Colambre returned to the party round the table, who were in various attitudes of astonishment, and with faces of fear, horror, hope, joy, doubt.
"Distress," continued his lordship, "however incurred, if not by vice, will always find a refuge in this house. I speak in my father's name, for I know I speak his sentiments. But never more shall vice," said he, darting such a look at the brother agents as they felt to the back-bone—"never more shall vice, shall fraud enter here."