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The Black Baronet; or, The Chronicles Of Ballytrain - The Works of William Carleton, Volume One
by William Carleton
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"This is highway-robbery," replied Sir Thomas, in a voice of expostulation, "think of what you are about, my friend."

But, as he spoke, Trailcudgel could observe that he put his hand behind him as if with the intent of taking fire-arms out of his pocket. Like lightning was the blow which tumbled him from his seat upon the two horses, and a fortunate circumstance it proved, for there is little doubt that his neck would have been broken, or the fall proved otherwise fatal to so heavy a man, had he been precipitated directly, and from such a height, upon the hard road. As it was, he found himself instantly in the ferocious clutches of Trailcudgel, who dragged him from the horses, as a tiger would a bull, and ere he could use hand or word in his own defence, he felt the muzzle of one of his own pistols pressed against his head.

"Easy, mfriend!" he exclaimed, in a voice that was rendered infirm by terror; "do not take my life—don't murder me—you shall have my money."

"Murdher!" shouted the other. "Ah, you black dog of hell, it is on your red sowl that many a murdher lies. Murdher!" he exclaimed, in words that were thick, vehement, and almost unintelligible with rage. "Ay, murdher is it? It was a just God that put the words into your guilty heart—and wicked lips—prepare, your last moment's come—your doom is sealed—are you ready to die, villain?"

The whole black and fearful tenor of the baronet's life came like a vision of hell itself over his conscience, now fearfully awakened to the terrible position in which he felt himself placed.

"Oh, no!" he replied, in a voice whose tremulous tones betrayed the full extent of his agony and terrors. "Oh, no!" he exclaimed. "Spare me, whoever you are—spare my life, and if you will come to mo to-morrow, I promise, in the presence of God, to make you independent as long as you live. Oh, spare me, for the sake of the living God—for I am not fit to die. If you kill me now, you will have the perdition of my soul to answer for at the bar of judgment. If you spare me, I will reform my life—I will become a virtuous man."

"Well," replied the other, relaxing—"for the sake of the name you have used, and in the hope that this may be a warnin' to you for your good, I will leave your wicked and worthless life with you. No, I'll not be the man that will hurl you into perdition—but it is on one condition—you must hand me out your money before I have time to count ten. Listen now—if I haven't every farthing that's about you before that reckonin's made, the bullet that's in this pistol will be through your brain."

The expedition of the baronet was amazing, for as Jemmy went on with this disastrous enumeration, steadily and distinctly, but not quickly, he had only time to get as far as eight when he found himself in possession of the baronet's purse.

"Is it all here?" he asked. "No tricks—no lyin'—the truth? for I'll search you."

"You may," replied the other, with confidence; "and you may shoot me, too, if you find another farthing in my possession."

"Now, then," said Trailcudgel, "get home as well as you can, and reform your life as you promised—as for me, I'll keep the pistols; indeed, for my own sake, for I have no notion of putting them into your hands at present."

He then disappeared, and the baronet, having with considerable difficulty gained the box-seat, reached home somewhat lighter in pocket than he had left it, convinced besides that an unexpected visit from a natural apparition is frequently much more to be dreaded than one from the supernatural.

The baronet was in the general affairs of life, penurious in money matters, but on those occasions where money was necessary to enable him to advance or mature his plans, conceal his proceedings, or reward his instruments, he was by no means illiberal. This, however, was mere selfishness, or rather, we should say, self-preservation, inasmuch as his success and reputation depended in a great degree upon the liberality of his corruption. On the present occasion he regretted, no doubt, the loss of the money, but we are bound to say, that he would have given its amount fifteen times repeated, to get once more into his hands the single pound-note of which he had treacherously and like a coward robbed Fenton while asleep in the carriage. This loss, in connection With the robbery which occasioned it, forced him to retrace to a considerable extent the process of ratiocination on the subject of fate and destiny, in which he had so complacently indulged not long before.

No matter how deep and hardened any villain may be, the most reckless and unscrupulous of the class possess some conscious principle within, that tells them of their misdeeds, and acquaints them with the fact that a point in the moral government of life has most certainly been made against them. So was it now with the baronet. He laid himself upon his gorgeous bed a desponding, and, for the present, a discomfited man; nor could he for the life of him, much as he pretended to disregard the operations of a Divine Providence, avoid coming to the conclusion that the highway robbery committed on him looked surprisingly like an act of retributive justice. He consoled himself, it is true, with the reflection, that it was not for the value of the note that he had committed the crime upon Fenton, for to him the note, except for its mere amount, was in other respects valueless. But what galled him to the soul, was the bitter reflection that he did not, on perceiving its advantage to Fenton, at once destroy it—tear it up—eat it—swallow it—and thus render it utterly impossible to ever contravene his ambition or his crimes. In the meantime slumber stole upon him, but it was neither deep nor refreshing. His mind was a chaos of dark projects and frightful images. Fenton—the ragged and gigantic robber, who was so much changed by famine and misery that he did not know him—the stranger—his daughter—Ginty Cooper, the fortune-teller—Lord Cullamore—the terrible pistol at his brain—Dunroe—and all those who were more or less concerned in or affected by his schemes, flitted through his disturbed fancy like the figures in a magic lantern, rendering his sleep feverish, disturbed, and by many degrees more painful than his waking reflections.

It has been frequently observed, that violence and tyranny overshoot their mark; and we may add, that no craft, however secret its operations, or rather however secret they are designed to be, can cope with the consequences of even the simplest accident. A short, feverish attack of illness having seized Mrs. Morgan, the housekeeper, on the night of Fenton's removal, she persuaded one of the maids to sit up with her, in order to provide her with whey and nitre, which she took from time to time, for the purpose of relieving her by cooling the system. The attack though short was a sharp one, and the poor woman was really very ill. In the course of the night, this girl was somewhat surprised by hearing noises in and about the stables, and as she began to entertain apprehension from robbers, she considered it her duty to consult the sick woman as to the steps she ought to take.

"Take no steps," replied the prudent housekeeper, "till we know, if we can, what the noise proceeds from. Go into that closet, but don't take the candle, lest the light of it might alarm them—it overlooks the stable-yard—open the window gently; you know it turns upon hinges—and look out cautiously. If Sir Thomas is disturbed by a false alarm, you might fly at once; for somehow of late he has lost all command of his temper."

"But we know the reason of that, Mrs. Morgan," replied the girl. "It's because Miss Gourlay refuses to marry Lord Dunroe, and because he's afraid that she'll run away with a very handsome gentleman that stops in the Mitre. That's what made him lock her up."

"Don't you breathe a syllable of that," said the cautious Mrs. Morgan, "for fear you might get locked up yourself. You know, nothing that happens in this family is ever to be spoken of to any one, on pain of Sir Thomas's severest displeasure; and you have not come to this time of day without understanding what what means. But don't talk to me, or rather, don't expect me to talk to you. My head is very ill, and my pulse going at a rapid rate. Another drink of that whey, Nancy; then see, if you can, what that noise means."

Nancy, having handed her the whey, went to the closet window to reconnoitre; but the reader may judge of her surprise on seeing Sir Thomas himself moving about with a dark lantern, and giving directions to Gillespie, who was putting the horses to the carriage. She returned to the housekeeper on tip-toe, her face brimful of mystery and delight.

"What do you think, Mrs. Morgan? If there isn't Sir Thomas himself walking about with a little lantern, and giving orders to Gillespie, who is yoking the coach."

Mrs. Morgan could not refrain from smiling at this comical expression of yoking the coach; but her face soon became serious, and she said, with a sigh, "I hope in God this is no further act of violence against his angel of a daughter. What else could he mean by getting out a carriage at this hour of the night? Go and look again, Nancy, and see whether you may not also get a glimpse of Miss Gourlay."

Nancy, however, arrived at the window only in time to see her master enter the carriage, and the carriage disappear out of the yard; but whether Miss Gourlay was in it along with him, the darkness of the night prevented her from ascertaining. After some time, however, she threw out a suggestion, on which, with the consent of the patient, she immediately acted. This was to discover, if possible, whether Miss Gourlay with her maid was in her own room or not. She accordingly went with a light and stealthy pace to the door; and as she knew that its fair occupant always slept with a night-light in her chamber, she put her pretty eye to the keyhole, in order to satisfy herself on this point. All, however, so far as both sight and hearing could inform her, was both dark and silent. This was odd; nay, not only odd, but unusual. She now felt her heart palpitate; she was excited, alarmed. What was to be done? She would take a bold step—she would knock—she would whisper through the key-hole, and set down the interruption to anxiety to mention Mrs. Morgan's sudden and violent illness. Well, all these remedies for curiosity were tried, all these, steps taken, and, to a certain extent, they were successful; for there could indeed be little doubt that Miss Gourlay and her maid were not in the apartment. Everything now pertaining to the mysterious motions of Sir Thomas and his coachman was as clear as crystal. He had spirited her away somewhere—"placed her, the old brute, under some she-dragon or other, who would make her feed on raw flesh and cobwebs, with a view of reducing her strength and breaking her spirit."

Mrs. Morgan, however, with her usual good sense and prudence, recommended the lively girl to preserve the strictest silence on what she had seen, and to allow the other servants to find the secret out for themselves if they could. To-morrow might disclose more, but as at present they had nothing stronger than suspicion, it would be wrong to speak of it, and might, besides, be prejudicial to Miss Gourlay's reputation. Such was the love and respect which all the family felt for the kind-hearted and amiable Lucy, who was the general advocate with her father when any of them had incurred his displeasure, that on her account alone, even if dread of Sir Thomas did not loom like a gathering storm in the background, not one of them ever seemed to notice her absence, nor did the baronet himself until days had elapsed. On the morning of the third day he began to think, that perhaps confinement might have tamed her down into somewhat of a more amenable spirit; and as he had in the interval taken all necessary steps to secure the person of the man who robbed him, and offered a large reward for his apprehension, he felt somewhat satisfied that he had done all that could be done, and was consequently more at leisure, and also more anxious to ascertain the temper of mind in which he should find her.

In the meantime, the delicious scandal of the supposed elopement was beginning to creep abroad, and, in fact, was pretty generally rumored throughout the redoubtable town of Ballytrain on the morning of the third or fourth day. Of course, we need scarcely assure our intelligent readers, that the friends of the parties are the very last to whom such a scandal would be mentioned, not only because such an office is always painful, but because every one takes it for granted that they are already aware of it themselves. In the case before us, such was the general opinion, and Sir Thomas's silence on the subject was imputed by some to the natural delicacy of a father in alluding to a subject so distressing, and by others to a calm, quiet spirit of vengeance, which he only restrained until circumstances should place him in a condition to crush the man who had entailed shame and disgrace upon his name and family.

Such was the state of circumstances upon the third or fourth morning after Lucy's disappearance, when Sir Thomas called the footman, and desired him to send Miss Gourlay's maid to him; he wished to speak with her.

By this, time it was known through the whole establishment that Lucy and she had both disappeared, and, thanks to Nancy—to pretty Nancy—"that her own father, the hard-hearted old wretch, had forced her off—God knows where—in the dead of night."

The footman, who had taken Nancy's secret for granted; and, to tell the truth, he had it in the most agreeable and authentic shape—to wit, from her own sweet lips—and who could be base enough to doubt any communication so delightfully conveyed?—the footman, we say, on hearing this command from his master, started a little, and in the confusion or forgetfulness of the moment, almost stared at him.

"What, sirrah," exclaimed the latter; "did you hear what I said?"

"I did, sir," replied the man, still more confused; "but, I thought, your honor, that—"

"You despicable scoundrel!" said his master, stamping, "what means this? You thought! What right, sir, have you to think, or to do anything but obey your orders from me. It was not to think, sir, I brought you here, but to do your duty as footman. Fetch Miss Gourlay's maid, sir, immediately. Say I desire to speak with her."

"She is not within, sir," replied the man trembling.

"Then where is she, sir? Why is she absent from her charge?"

"I cannot tell, sir. We thought, sir—"

"Thinking again, you scoundrel!—speak out, however."

"Why, the truth is, your honor, that neither Miss Gourlay nor she has been here since Tuesday night last."

The baronet had been walking to and fro, as was his wont, but this information paralyzed him, as if by a physical blow on the brain. He now went, or rather tottered over, to his arm-chair, into which he dropped rather than sat, and stared at Gibson the footman as if he had forgotten the intelligence just conveyed to him. In fact, his confusion was such—so stunning was the blow—that it is possible he did forget it.

"What is that, Gibson?" said he; "tell me; repeat what you said."

"Why, your honor," replied Gibson, "since last Tuesday night neither Miss Gourlay nor her maid has been in this house."

"Was there no letter left, nor any verbal information that might satisfy us as to where they have gone?"

"Not any, sir, that I am aware of."

"Was her room examined?"

"I cannot say, sir. You know, sir, I never enter it unless when I am rung for by Miss Gourlay; and that is very rarely."

"Do you think, Gibson, that there is any one in the house that knows more of this matter than you do?"

Gibson shook his head, and replied, "As to that, Sir Thomas, I cannot say."

The baronet was not now in a rage. The thing was impossible; not within the energies of nature. He was stunned, stupefied, rendered helpless.

"I think," he proceeded, "I observed a girl named Nancy—I forget what else, Nancy something—that Miss Gourlay seemed to like a good deal. Send her here. But before you do so, may I beg to know why her father, her natural guardian and protector, was kept so long in ignorance of her extraordinary disappearance? Pray, Mr. Gibson, satisfy me on that head?"

"I think, sir," replied Gibson, most un-gallantly shifting the danger of the explanation from his own shoulders to the pretty ones of Nancy Forbes—"I think, sir, Nancy Forbes, the girl you speak of, may know more about the last matter than I do."

"What do you mean by the last matter?"

"Why, sir, the reason why we did not tell your honor of it sooner—"

Sir Thomas waved his hand. "Go," he added, "send her here."

"D—n the old scoundrel," thought Gibson to himself; "but that's a fine piece of acting. Why, if he hadn't been aware of it all along he would have thrown me clean out of the window, even as the messenger of such tidings. However, he is not so deep as he thinks himself. We know him—see through him—on this subject at least."

When Nancy entered, her master gave her one of those stern, searching looks which often made his unfortunate menials tremble before him.

"What's your name, my good girl?"

"Nancy Forbes, sir."

"How long have you been in this family?"

"I'm in the first month of my second quarter, your honor," with a courtesy.

"You are a pretty girl."

Nancy, with another courtesy, and a simper, which vanity, for the life of her, could not suppress, "Oh la, sir, how could your honor say such a thing of a humble girl like me? You that sees so many handsome great ladies."

"Have you a sweetheart?"

Nancy fairly tittered. "Is it me, sir—why, who would think of the like of me? Not one, sir, ever I had."

"Because, if you have," he proceeded, "and that I approve of him, I wouldn't scruple much to give you something that might enable you and your husband to begin the world with comfort."

"I'm sure it's very kind, your honor, but I never did anything to desarve so much goodness at your honor's hands."

"The old villain wants to bribe me for something," thought Nancy.

"Well, but you may, my good girl. I think you are a favorite with Miss Gourlay?"

"Ha, ha!" thought Nancy, "I am sure of it now."

"That's more than I know, sir," she replied. "Miss Gourlay—God bless and protect her—was kind to every one; and not more so to me than to the other servants."

"I have just been informed by Gibson, that she and her maid left the Hall on Tuesday night last. Now, answer me truly, and you shall be the better for it. Have you any conception, any suspicion, let us say, where they have gone to?"

"La, sir, sure your honor ought to know that better than me."

"How so, my pretty girl? How should I know it? She told me nothing about it."

"Why, wasn't it your honor and Tom Gillespie that took her away in the carriage on that very night?"

Here now was wit against wit, or at least cunning against cunning. Nancy, the adroit, hazarded an assertion of which she was not certain, in order to probe the baronet, and place him in a position by which she might be able by his conduct and manner to satisfy herself whether her suspicions were well-founded or not.

"But how do you know, my good girl, that I and Gillespie were out that night?"

It is unnecessary to repeat here circumstances with which the reader is already acquainted. Nancy gave him the history of Mrs. Morgan's sudden illness, and all the other facts already mentioned.

"But there is one thing that I still cannot understand," replied the baronet, "which is, that the disappearance of Miss Gourlay was never mentioned to me until I inquired for her maid, whom I wished to speak with."

"But sure that's very natural, sir," replied Nancy; "the reason we didn't speak to you upon the subject was because we thought that it was your honor who brought her away; and that as you took such a late hour in the night for it, you didn't wish that we should know anything about it."

The baronet's eye fell upon her severely, as if he doubted the truth of what she said. Nancy's eye, however, neither avoided his nor quailed before it. She now spoke the truth, and she did so, in order to prevent herself and the other servants from incurring his resentment by their silence.

"Very well," observed Sir Thomas, calmly, but sternly. "I think you have spoken what you believe to be the truth, and what, for all you know, may be the truth. But observe my words: let this subject be never breathed nor uttered by any domestic in my establishment. Tell your fellow-servants that such are my orders; for I swear, if I find that any one of you shall speak of it, my utmost vengeance shall pursue him or her to death itself. That will do." And he signed to her to retire.



CHAPTER XVIII. Dunphy visits the County Wicklow

—Old Sam and his Wife.

It was about a week subsequent to the interview which the stranger had with old Dunphy, unsuccessful as our readers know it to have been, that the latter and his wife were sitting in the back parlor one night after their little shop had been closed, when the following dialogue took place between them:

"Well, at all events," observed the old man, "he was the best of them, and to my own knowledge that same saicret lay hot and heavy on his conscience, especially to so good a master and mistress as they were to him. The truth is, Polly, I'll do it."

"But why didn't he do it himself?" asked his wife.

"Why?—why?" he replied, looking at her with his keen ferret eyes—"why, don't you know what a weak-minded, timorsome creature he was, ever since the height o' my knee?"

"Oh, ay," she returned; "and I hard something about an oath, I think, that they made him take."

"You did," said her husband; "and it was true, too. They swore him never to breathe a syllable of it until his dying day—an' although they meant by that that he should never reveal it at all, yet he always was of opinion that he might tell it on that day, but on no other one. And it was his intention to do so."

"Wasn't it an unlucky thing that she happened to be out when he could do it with a safe conscience?" observed his wife.

"They almost threatened the life out of the poor creature," pursued her husband, "for Tom threatened to murder him if he betrayed them; and Ginty to poison him, if Tom didn't keep his word—and I believe in my sowl that the same devil's pair would a' done either the one or the other, if he had broken his oath. Of the two, however, Ginty's the worst, I think; and I often believe, myself, that she deals with the devil; but that, I suppose, is bekaise she's sometimes not right in her head still."

"If she doesn't dale with the devil, the devil dales with her at any rate," replied the other. "They'll be apt to gain their point, Tom and she."

"Tom, I know, is just as bitther as she is," observed the old man, "and Ginty, by her promises as to what she'll do for him, has turned his heart altogether to stone; and yet I know a man that's bittherer against the black fellow than either o' them. She only thinks of the luck that's before her; but, afther all, Tom acts more from hatred to him than from Ginty's promises. He has no bad feelin' against the young man himself; but it's the others he's bent on punishing. God direct myself, I wish at any rate that I never had act or hand in it. As for your time o' life and mine, Polly, you know that age puts it out of our power ever to be much the betther one way or the other, even if Ginty does succeed in her devilry. Very few years now will see us both in our graves, and I don't know but it's safer to lave this world with an aisy conscience, than to face God with the guilt of sich a black saicret as that upon us."

"Well, but haven't you promised them not to tell?"

"I have—an' only that I take sich delight in waitin' to see the black scoundrel punished till his heart 'll burst—I think I'd come out with it. That's one raison; and the other is, that I'm afraid of the consequences. The law's a dangerous customer to get one in its crushes, an' who can tell how we'd be dealt with?"

"Troth, an' that's true enough," she replied.

"And when I promised poor Edward on his death-bed," proceeded the old man, "I made him give me a sartin time; an' I did this in ordher to allow Ginty an opportunity of tryin' her luck. If she does not manage her point within that time, I'll fulfil my promise to the dyin' man."

"But, why," she asked, "did he make you promise to do it when he could—ay, but I forgot. It was jist, I suppose, in case he might be taken short as he was, and that you wor to do it for him if he hadn't an opportunity? But, sure, if Ginty succeeds, there's an end to your promise."

"Well, I believe so," said the old man; "but if she does succeed, why, all I'll wondher at will be that God would allow it. At any rate she's the first of the family that ever brought shame an' disgrace upon the name. Not but she felt her misfortune keen enough at the time, since it turned her brain almost ever since. And him, the villain—but no matter—he, must be punished."

"But," replied the wife, "wont Ginty be punishin' him?"

"Ah, Polly, you know little of the plans—the deep plans an' plots that he's surrounded by. We know ourselves that there's not such a plotter in existence as he is, barin' them that's plottin' aginst him. Lord bless us! but it's a quare world—here is both parties schamin' an' plottin' away—all bent on risin' themselves higher in it by pride and dishonesty. There's the high rogue and the low rogue—the great villain and the little villain—musha! Polly, which do you think is worst, eh?"

"Faith, I think it's six o' one and half-a-dozen of the other with them. Still, a body would suppose that the high rogue ought to rest contented; but it's a hard thing they say to satisfy the cravin's of man's heart when pride, an' love of wealth an' power, get into it."

"I'm not at all happy in my mind, Polly," observed her husband, meditatively; "I'm not at aise—and I won't bear this state of mind much longer. But, then, again, there's my pension; and that I'll lose if I spake out. I sometimes think I'll go to the country some o' these days, and see an ould friend."

"An where to, if it's a fair question?"

"Why," he replied, "maybe it's a fair-question to ask, but not so fair to answer. Ay! I'll go to the country—I'll start in a few days—in a few days! No, savin' to me, but I'll start to-morrow. Polly, I could tell you something if I wished—I say I have a secret that none o' them knows—ay, have I. Oh, God pardon me! The d——d thieves, to make me, me above all men, do the blackest part of the business—an' to think o' the way they misled Edward, too—who, after all, would be desavin' poor Lady Gourlay, if he had tould her all as he thought, although he did not know that he would be misleadin' her. Yes, faith, I'll start for the country tomorrow, plaise God; but listen, Polly, do you know who's in town?"

"Arra, no!—how could I?"

"Kate M'Bride, so Ginty tells me; she's livin' with her."

"And why didn't she call to see you?" asked his wife. "And yet God knows it's no great loss; but if ever woman was cursed wid a step-daughter, I was wid her."

"Don't you know very well that we never spoke since her runaway match with M'Bride. If she had married Cummins, I'd a' given her a purty penny to help him on; but instead o' that she cuts off with a sojer, bekaise he was well faced, and starts with him to the Aist Indies. No; I wouldn't spake to her then, and I'm not sure I'll spake to her now either; and yet I'd like to see her—the unfortunate woman. However, I'll think of it; but in the mane time, as I said, I'll start for the country in the mornin'."

And to the country he did start the next morning; and if, kind reader, it so happen that you feel your curiosity in any degree excited, all you have to do is to take a seat in your own imagination, whether outside or in, matters not, the fare is the same, and thus you will, at no great cost, be able to accompany him. But before we proceed further we shall, in the first place, convey you in ours to the ultimate point of his journey.

There was, in one of the mountain districts of the county Wicklow, that paradise of our country, a small white cottage, with a neat flower plot before, and a small orchard and garden behind. It stood on a little eminence, at the foot of one of those mountains, which, in some instances, abut from higher ranges. It was then bare and barren; but at present presents a very different aspect, a considerable portion of it having been since reclaimed and planted. Scattered around this rough district were a number of houses that could be classed with neither farm-house nor cabin, but as humble little buildings that possessed a feature of each. Those who; dwelt in them held in general four or five acres of rough land, some more, but very few less; and we allude to these small tenements, because, as our readers are aware, the wives of their proprietors were in the habit of eking out the means of subsistence, and paying their rents, by nursing illegitimate children or foundlings, which upon a proper understanding, and in accordance with the usual arrangements, were either transmitted to them from the hospital of that name in Dublin, or taken charge of by these women, and conveyed home from that establishment itself. The children thus nurtured were universally termed parisheens, because it was found more convenient and less expensive to send a country foundling to the hospital in Dublin, than to burden the inhabitants of the parish with its maintenance. A small sum, entitling it to be received in the hospital, was remitted, and as this sum, in most instances, was levied off the parish, these wretched creatures were therefore called parisheens, that is, creatures! aided by parish allowance.

The very handsome little cottage into which we are about to give the reader admittance, commanded a singularly beautiful and picturesque view. From the little elevation on which it stood could be seen the entrancing vale of Ovoca, winding in its inexpressible loveliness toward Arklow, and diversified with green meadows, orchard gardens, elegant villas, and what was sweeter! than all, warm and comfortable homesteads, more than realizing our conceptions of Arcadian happiness and beauty. Its precipitous sides were clothed with the most enchanting variety of plantation; whilst, like a stream of liquid light, the silver Ovoca shone sparkling to the sun, as it followed, by the harmonious law of nature, that graceful line of beauty which characterizes the windings of this unrivalled valley. The cottage which commanded this rich prospect we have partially described. It was white as snow, and had about it all those traits of neatness and good taste which are, we regret! to say, so rare among, and so badly understood by, our humbler countrymen. The front walls were covered by honeysuckles, rose trees, and wild brier, and the flower plot in front was so well stocked, that its summer bloom would have done credit to the skill of an ordinary florist. The inside of this cottage was equally neat, clean, and cheerful. The floor, an unusual thing then, was tiled, which gave it a look of agreeable warmth; the wooden vessels in the kitchen were white with incessant scouring, whilst the pewter, brass, and tin, shone in becoming rivalry. The room you entered was the kitchen, off which was a parlor and two bedrooms, besides one for the servant.

As may be inferred from what we have said, the dresser was a perfect treat to look at, and as the owners kept a cow, we need hardly add that the delightful fragrance of milk which characterizes every well-kept dairy, was perfectly ambrosial here. The chairs were of oak, so were the tables; and a large arm-chair, with a semicircular back, stood at one side of the clean hearth, whilst over the chimney-piece hung a portrait of General Wolfe, with an engraving of the siege of Quebec. A series of four silver medals, enclosed in red morocco cases, having the surface of each protected by a glass cover, hung from a liliputian rack made of mahogany, at once bearing testimony to the enterprise and gallantry of the owner, as well as to the manly pride with which he took such especial pains to preserve these proud rewards of his courage, and the ability with which he must have discharged his duty as a soldier. On the table lay a large Bible, a Prayer-book, and the "Whole Duty of Man," all neatly and firmly, but not ostentatiously bound. Some works of a military character lay upon a little hanging shelf beside the dresser. Over this shelf hung a fishing-rod, unscrewed and neatly tied up; and upon the top of the other books lay one bound with red cloth, in which he kept his flies. On one side of the window sills lay a backgammon box, with which his wife and himself amused themselves for an hour or two every evening; and fixed in recesses intended for the purpose, Sam Roberts, for such was his name, having built the house himself, were comfortable cupboards filled with a variety of delft, several curious and foreign ornaments, an ostrich's egg, a drinking cup made of the polished shell of a cocoanut, whilst crossed saltier-wise over a portrait of himself and of his wife, were placed two feathers of the bird of paradise, constituting, one might imagine, emblems significant of the happy life they led. But we cannot close our description here. Upon the good woman's bosom, fastened to her kerchief, was a locket which contained a portion of beautiful brown hair, taken from the youthful head of a deceased son, a manly and promising boy, who died at the age of seventeen, and whose death, although it did not and could not throw a permanent gloom over two lives so innocent and happy, occasioned, nevertheless, periodical recollections of profound and bitter sorrow. Old Sam had his locket also, but it was invisible; its position being on that heart whose affections more resembled the enthusiasm of idolatry than the love of a parent. His wife was a placid, contented looking old woman, with a complexion exceedingly hale and fresh for her years; a shrewd, clear, benevolent eye, and a general air which never fails to mark that ease and superiority of manner to be found only in those who have had an enlarged experience in life, and seen much of the world. There she sits by the clear fire and clean, comfortable hearth, knitting a pair of stockings for her husband, who has gone to Dublin. She is tidily and even, for a woman of her age, tastefully dressed, but still with a sober decency that showed her good sense. Her cap is as white as snow, with which a well-fitting brown stuff gown, that gave her a highly respectable appearance, admirably contrasted. She wore an apron of somewhat coarse muslin, that seemed, as it always did, fresh from the iron, and her hands were covered with a pair of thread mittens that only came half-way down the fingers. Hanging at one side was a three-cornered pincushion of green silk, a proof at once of a character remarkable for thrift, neatness, and industry. Whilst thus employed, she looks from time to time through a window that commanded a prospect of the road, and seems affected by that complacent expression of uneasiness which, whilst it overshadows the features, never disturbs their benignity. At length, a good-looking, neat girl, their servant, enters the cottage with a can of new milk, for she had been to the fields a-milking; her name is Molly Byrne.

"Molly," said her mistress, "I wonder the master has not come yet. I am getting uneasy. The coach has gone past, and I see no appearance of him."

"I suppose, then, he didn't come by the coach, ma'am."

"Yes, but he said he would."

"Well, ma'am, something must 'a prevented him."

"Molly," said her mistress, smiling, "you are a good hand at telling us John Thompson's news; that is, any thing we know ourselves."

"Well, ma'am, but you know many a time he goes to Dublin, an' doesn't come home by the coach."

"Yes, whenever he visits Rilmainham Hospital, and gets into conversation with some of his old comrades; however, that's natural, and I hope he's safe."

"Well, ma'am," replied Molly, looking out, "I have betther news for you than Jenny Thompson's now."

"Attention, Molly; John Thompson's the word," said her mistress, with the slightest conceivable air of professional form; for if she had a foible at all, it was that she gave all her orders and exacted all obedience from her servant in a spirit of military discipline, which she, had unconsciously borrowed from her husband, whom she imitated as far as she could. "Where, Molly? Fall back, I say, till I get a peep at dear old Sam."

"There he is, ma'am," continued Molly, at the same time obeying her orders, "and some other person along with him."

"Yes, sure enough; thank God, thank God!" she exclaimed. "But who can the other person be, do you think?"

"I don't know, ma'am," replied Molly. "I only got a glimpse of them, but I knew the master at once. I would know him round a corner."

"Advance, then, girl; take another look; reconnoitre, Molly, as Sam says, and see if you can make out who it is."

"I see him now well enough, ma'am," replied the girl, "but I don't know him; he's a stranger. What can bring a stranger here, ma'am, do you think?" she inquired.

"Why your kind master, of course, girl; isn't that sufficient? Whoever comes with my dear old Sam is welcome, to be sure."

Her clear, cloudless face was now lit up with a multiplicity of kind and hospitable thoughts, for dear old Sam and his friend were not more than three or four perches from the house, and she could perceive that her husband was in an extraordinary state of good humor.

"I know, Molly, who the strange man is now," she said. "He's an old friend of my husband's, named Dunphy; he was once in the same regiment with him; and I know, besides, our own good man has heard some news that has delighted him very much."

She had scarcely uttered the words when Sam and old Dunphy entered.

"Beck, my girl, here I am, safe and sound, and here's an old friend come to see us, and you know how much we are both indebted to him; I felt, Beck, and so did you, old girl, that we must have something to love and provide for, and to keep the heart moving, but that's natural, you know—quite natural—it's all the heart of man."

"Mr. Dunphy," said Beck—a curtailment of Rebecca—"I am glad to see you; take a seat; how is the old woman?"

"As tough as ever, Mrs. Roberts. 'Deed I had thought last winter that she might lave me a loose leg once more; but I don't know how it is, she's gatherin' strength on my hands, an' a young wife, I'm afraid, isn't on the cards—ha—ha—ha! And how are you yourself, Mrs. Roberts?—but, indeed, one may tell with half an eye—fresh and well you look, thank God!"

"Doesn't she, man?" exclaimed Sam, slapping him with delight on the shoulder; "a woman that travelled half the world, and improved in every climate. Molly, attention!—let us turn in to mess as soon as possible. Good news, Beck—good news, but not till after mess; double-quick, Molly."

"Come, Molly, double-quick," added her mistress; "the master and his friend must be hungry by this time."

Owing to the expeditious habits to which Mrs. Roberts had disciplined Molly, a smoking Irish stew, hot and savory, was before them in a few minutes, which the two old fellows attacked with powers of demolition that would have shamed younger men. There was for some time a very significant lull in the conversation, during which Molly, by a hint from her mistress, put down the kettle, an act which, on being observed by Dunphy, made his keen old eye sparkle with the expectation of what it suggested. Shovelful after shovelful passed from dish to plate, until a very relaxed action on the part of each was evident.

"Dunphy," said Sam, "I, believe our fire is beginning to slacken; but come, let us give the enemy another round, the citadel is nearly won—is on the point of surrender."

"Begad," replied Dunphy, who was well acquainted with his friend's phraseology, and had seen some service, as already intimated, in the same regiment, some fifty years before. "I must lay down my arms for the present."

"No matter, friend Dunphy, we'll renew the attack at supper; an easy mind brings a good appetite, which is but natural; it's all the heart of man."

"Well, I don't know that," said Dunphy, replying to, the first of the axioms; "I have often aiten a hearty dinner enough when my mind was, God knows, anything but aisy."

"Well, then," rejoined Sam, "when the heart's down, a glass of old stingo, mixed stiff, will give it a lift; so, my old fellow, if there's anything wrong with you, we'll soon set it to rights."

The table was now cleared, and the word "Hot wate-r-r," was given, as if Molly had been on drill, as in fact, she may be considered to have been every day in the week; then the sugar and whiskey in the same tone. But whilst she is preparing and producing the materials, as they have been since termed, we shall endeavor to give an outline of old Sam.

Old Sam, then, was an erect, square-built, fine-looking old fellow, with firm, massive, but benevolent features; not, however, without a dash of determination in them that added very considerably to their interest. His eyes were gray, kind, and lively; his eyebrows rather large, but their expression was either stern or complacent, according to the mood of the moment. That of complacency, however, was their general character. Upon the front part of his head he had received a severe wound, which extended an inch or so down the side of his forehead, he had also lost the two last fingers of his left hand, and received several other wounds that were severe and dangerous when inflicted, but as their scars were covered by his dress, they were consequently invisible. Sam was at this time close upon seventy, but so regular had been his habits of life, so cheerful and kind his disposition, and so excellent his constitution, that he did not look more than fifty-five. It was utterly impossible not to read the fine old soldier in every one of his free, but well-disciplined, movements. The black stock, the bold, erect head, the firm but measured step, and the existence of something like military ardor in the eye and whole bearing; or it might be the proud consciousness of having bravely and faithfully discharged his duty to his king and his country; all this, we say, marked the man with an impress of such honest pride and frank military spirit, as, taken into consideration with his fine figure, gave the very beau ideal of an old soldier.

When each had mixed his tumbler, Sam, brimful of the good news to which he had alluded, filled a small glass, as was his wont, and placing it before Beck, said:

"Come, Beck, attention!—'The king, God bless him!' Attention, Dunphy!—off with it."

"The king, God bless him!" having been duly honored, Sam proceeded:

"Beck, my old partner, I said I had good news for you. Our son and his regiment—three times eleven, eleven times three—the gallant thirty-third, are in Dublin."

Beck laid down her stocking, and her eyes sparkled with delight.

"But that's not all, old girl, he has risen from the ranks—his commission has been just made out, and he is now a commissioned officer in his majesty's service. But I knew it would come to that. Didn't I say so, old comrade, eh?"

"Indeed you did, Sam," replied his wife; "and I thought as much myself. There was something about that boy beyond the common."

"Ay, you may say that, girl; but who found it out first? Why, I did; but the thing was natural; it's all the heart of man—when that's in the right place nothing will go wrong. What do you say, friend Dunphy? Did you think it would ever come to this?"

"Troth, I did not, Mr. Roberts; but it's you he may thank for it."

"God Almighty first, Dunphy, and me afterwards. Well, he shan't want a father, at all events; and so long as I have a few shiners to spare, he shan't want the means of supporting his rank as a British officer and gentleman should. There's news for you, Dunphy. Do you hear that, you old dog—eh?"

"It's all the heart of man, Sam," observed his wife, eying him with affectionate admiration. "When the heart's in the right place, nothing will go wrong."

Now, nothing gratified Sam so much as to hear his own apothegms honored by repetition.

"Eight, girl," he replied; "shake hands for that. Dunphy, mark the truth of that. Isn't she worth gold, you sinner?"

"Troth she is, Mr. Roberts, and silver to the back o' that."

"What?" said Sam, looking at him with comic surprise. "What do you mean by that, you ferret? Why don't you add, and 'brass to the back of that?' By fife and drum, I won't stand this to Beck. Apologize instantly, sir." Then breaking into a hearty laugh—"he meant no offence, Beck," he added; "he respects and loves you—I know he does—as who doesn't that knows you, my girl?"

"What I meant to say, Mr. Roberts—"

"Mrs. Roberts, sir; direct the apology to herself."

"Well, then, what I wanted to say, Mrs. Roberts, was, that all the gold, silver, and brass in his majesty's dominions—(God bless him! parenthetice, from Sam)—couldn't purchase you, an' would fall far short of your value."

"Well done—thank you, Dunphy—thank you, honest old Dunphy; shake hands. He's a fine old fellow, Beck, isn't he, eh?"

"I'm very much obliged to you, Mr. Dunphy; but you overrate me a great deal too much," replied Mrs. Roberts.

"No such thing, Beck; you're wrong there, for once; the thing couldn't be done—by fife and drum! it couldn't; and no man has a better right to know that than myself—and I say it."

Sam, like all truly brave men, never boasted of his military exploits, although he might well have done so. On the contrary, it was a subject which he studiously avoided, and on which those who knew his modesty as well as his pride never ventured. He usually cut short such as referred to it, with:

"Never mind that, my friend; I did my duty, and that was all; and so did every man in the British army, or I wouldn't be here to say so. Pass the subject."

Sam and Dunphy, at all events, spent a pleasant evening; at least, beyond question, Sam did. As for Dunphy, he seemed occasionally relieved by hearing Sam's warm and affectionate allusions to his son; and, on the other hand, he appeared, from time to time, to fall into a mood that indicated a state of feeling between gloom and reflection.

"It's extraordinary, Mr. Roberts," he observed, after awakening from one of these reveries; "it looks as if Providence was in it."

"God Almighty's in it, sir,—didn't I say so? and under him, Sam Roberts. Sir, I observed that boy closely from the beginning. He reminded me, and you too, Beck, didn't he, of him that—that—we lost"—here he paused a moment, and placed his hand upon his heart, as if to feel for something there that awoke touching and melancholy remembrances; whilst his wife, on the other hand, unpinned the locket, and having kissed it, quietly let fall a few tears; after which she restored it to its former position. Sam cleared his voice a little, and then proceeded:

"Yes; I could never look at the one without thinking of the other; but 'twas all the heart of man. In a week's time he could fish as well as myself, and in a short time began to teach me. 'Gad! he used to take the rod out of my hand with so much kindness, so gently and respectfully—for, I mark me, Dunphy, he respected me from the beginning—didn't lie, Beck?"

"He did, indeed, Sam."

"Thank you, Beck; you're a good creature. So gently and respectfully, as I was saying, and showed me in his sweet words, and with his smiling eyes—yes, and his hair, too, was the very color of his brother's—I was afraid I might forget that. Well—yes, with such smiling eyes that it was impossible not to love him—I couldn't but love him—but, sure, it was only natural—all the heart of man, Dunphy. 'Ned,' said I to him one day, 'would you like to become a soldier—a soldier, Ned?'" And as the old man repeated the word "soldier" his voice became full and impressive, his eyes sparkled with pride, and his very form seemed to dilate at the exulting reminiscences and heroic associations connected with it.

"Above all things in this life," replied the boy; "but you know I'm too young."

"'Never mind, my boy,' said I, 'that's a fault that every day will mend; you'll never grow less;' so I consulted with Beck there, and with you, Dunphy, didn't I?"

"You did, indeed, Mr. Roberts, and wouldn't do anything till you had spoken to me on the subject."

"Eight, Dunphy, right—well, you know the rest. 'Education's the point,' said I to Beck—ignorance is a bad inheritance. What would I be to-day if I didn't write a good hand, and was a keen accountant! But no matter, off he went with a decent outfit to honest Mainwairing—thirty pounds a-year—five years—lost no time—was steady, but always showed a spirit. Couldn't get him a commission then, for I hadn't come in for my Uncle's legacy, which I got the other day.—dashed him into the ranks though—and here he is—a commissioned officer—eh, old Dunphy! Well, isn't that natural? but it's all the heart of man."

"It's wonderful," observed Dunphy, ruminating, "it's wonderful indeed. Well, now, Mr. Roberts, it really is wonderful. I came down here to spake to you about that very boy, and see the news I have before me. Indeed, it is wonderful, and the hand o' God is surely in it."

"Right, Dunphy, that's the word; and under him, in the capacity of agent in the business, book down Sam Roberts, who's deeply thankful to God for making him, if I may say so, his adjutant in advancing the boy's fortunes."

"Did you see him to-day, Sam?" asked Mrs. Roberts.

"No," replied Sam, "he wasn't in the barracks, but I'll engage we'll both see him tomorrow, if he has life, that is, unless he should happen to be on duty. If he doesn't come to-morrow, however, I'll start the day after for Dublin."

"Well, now, Mr. Roberts," said Dunphy, "if you have no objection, I didn't care if I turned into bed; I'm not accustomed to travelin', and I'm a thrifle fatigued; only tomorrow morning, plaise God, I have something to say to you about that boy that may surprise you."

"Not a syllable, Dunphy, nothing about him that could surprise me."

"Well," replied the hesitating and cautious old man, "maybe I will surprise you for all that."

This he said whilst Mrs. Roberts and Molly Byrne were preparing his bed in one of the neat sleeping rooms which stood off the pleasant kitchen where they sat; "and listen, Mr. Roberts, before I tell it, you must pledge your honor as a soldier, that until I give you lave, you'll never breathe a syllable of what I have to mention to any one, not even to Mrs. Roberts."

"What's that? Keep a secret from Beck? Come, Dunphy, that's what I never did, unless the word and countersign when on duty, and, by fife and drum, I never will keep your secret then; I don't want it, for as sure as I hear it, so shall she. And is it afraid of old Beck you are? By fife and drum, sir, old Beck has more honor than either of us, and would as soon take a fancy to a coward as betray a secret. You don't know her, old Dunphy, you don't know her, or you wouldn't spake as if you feared that she's not truth and honesty to the backbone."

"I believe it, Mr. Roberts, but they say, afther all, that once a woman gets a secret, she thinks herself in a sartin way, until she's delivered of it'."

Sam, who liked a joke very well, laughed heartily at this, bad as it was, or rather he laughed at the shrewd, ludicrous, but satirical grin with which old Dunphy's face was puckered whilst he uttered it.

"But, sir," said he, resuming his gravity, "Beck, I'd have you to know, is not like other women, by which I mean that no other woman could be compared to her. Beck's the queen of women, upon my soul she is; and all I have to say is, that if you tell me the secret, in half an hour's time she'll be as well acquainted with it as either of us. I have no notion, Dunphy, at this time of life, to separate my mind from Beck's; my conscience, sir, is my store-room; she has a key for it, and, by fife and drum, I'm not going to take it from her now. Do you think Beck would treat old Sam so? No. And my rule is, and ever has been, treat your wife with confidence if you respect her, and expect confidence in your turn. No, no; poor Beck must have it if I have it. The truth is, I have no secrets, and never had. I keep none, Dunphy, and that's but natural; however, it's all the heart of man."

The next morning the two men took an early walk, for both were in the habit of rising betimes. Dunphy, it would appear, was one of those individuals, who, if they ever perform a praiseworthy act, do it rather from weakness of character and fear, than from a principle of conscientious rectitude. After having gone to bed the previous night he lay awake for a considerable time debating with himself the purport of his visit, pro and con, without after all, being able to accomplish a determination on the subject. He was timid, cunning, shrewd, avaricious, and possessed, besides, a large portion of that peculiar superstition which does not restrain from iniquity, although it renders the mind anxious and apprehensive of the consequences. Now the honest fellow with whom he had to deal was the reverse of all this in every possible phase of his character, being candid, conscientious, fearless, and straightforward. Whatever he felt to be his duty, that he did, regardless of all opinion and all consequences. He was, in fact, an independent man, because he always acted from right principles, or rather from right impulses; the truth being, that the virtuous action was performed before he had allowed himself time to reason upon it. Every one must have observed that there is a rare class of men whose feelings, always on the right side, are too quick for their reason, which they generously anticipate, and have the proposed virtue completed before either reason or prudence have had time to argue either for or against the act. Old Sam was one of the latter, and our readers may easily perceive the contrast which the two individuals presented.

After about an hour's walk both returned to breakfast, and whatever may have been the conversation that took place between them, or whatever extent of confidence Dunphy reposed in old Sam, there can be little doubt that his glee this morning was infinitely greater than on the preceding-evening, although, at Dunphy's earnest request, considerably more subdued. Nay, the latter had so far succeeded with old Sam as to induce him to promise, that for the present at least, he would forbear to communicate it to his wife. Sam, however, would under no circumstances promise this until he should first hear the nature of it, upon which, he said, he would then judge for himself. After hearing it, however, he said that on Dunphy's own account he would not breathe it even to her without his permission.

"Mind," said Dunphy, at the conclusion of their dialogue, and with his usual caution, "I am not sartin of what I have mentioned; but I hope, plaise God, in a short time to be able to prove it; and, if not, as nobody knows it but yourself an' me, why there's no harm done. Dear knows, I have a strong reason for lettin' the matter lie as it is, even if my suspicions are true; but my conscience isn't aisy, Mr. Eoberts, an' for that raison' I came to spake to you, to consult with you, and to have your advice."

"And my advice to you is, Dunphy, not to attack the enemy until your plans are properly laid, and all your forces in a good position. The thing can't be proved now, you say; very well; you'd be only a fool for attempting to prove it."

"I'm not sayin'," said the cautious old sinner again, "that it can be proved at any time, or proved at all—that is, for a sartinty; but I think, afther a time, it may. There's a person not now in the country, that will be back shortly, I hope; and if any one can prove what I mentioned to you, that person can. I know we'd make a powerful friend by it, but—"

Here he squirted his thin tobacco spittle "out owre his beard," but added nothing further.

"Dunphy, my fine old fellow," said Sam, "it was very kind of you to come to me upon this point. You know the affection I have for the young man; thank you, Dunphy; but it's natural—it's all the heart of man. Dunphy, how long is it, now, since you and I messed together in the gallant eleven times three? Fifty years, I think, Dunphy, or more. You were a smart fellow then, and became servant, I think, to a young captain—what's this his name was? oh! I remember—Gourlay; for, Dunphy, I remember the name of every officer in our regiment, since I entered it; when they joined, when they exchanged, sold out, or died like brave men in the field of battle. It's upwards of fifty. By the way, he left us—sold out immediately after his father's death."

"Ay, ould Sir Edward—a good man; but he had a woman to his wife, and if ever there was a divil—Lord bless us!—in any woman, there was one, and a choice bad one, too, in her. The present barrownight, Sir Thomas, is as like her as if she had spat him out of her mouth. The poor ould man, Sir Edward, had no rest night or day, because he wouldn't get himself made into a lord, or a peer, or some high-flown title of the kind; and all that she herself might rank as a nobleman's lady, although she was a 'lady,' by title, as it was, which, God knows, was more than she desarved, the thief."

"Ah, she was different from Beck, Dunphy. Talking of wives, have I not a right to feel thankful that God in his goodness gifted me with such a blessing? You don't know what I owe to her, Dunphy. When I was sick and wounded—I bear the marks of fifteen severe wounds upon me—when I was in fever, in ague, in jaundice, and several other complaints belonging to the different countries we were in, there she was—there she was, Dunphy; but enough said; ay, and in the field of battle, too," he added, immediately forgetting himself, "lying like a log, my tongue black and burning. Oh, yes, Beck's a great creature; that's all, now—that's all. Come in to breakfast, and now you shall know what a fresh egg means, for we have lots of poultry."

"Many thanks to you, Mr. Roberts, I and my ould woman know that."

"Tut—nonsense, man; lots of poultry, I say—always a pig or two, and never without a ham or a flitch, you old dog. Except the welfare of that boy, we have nothing on earth, thank God, to trouble us; but that's natural—it's all the heart of man, Dunphy"

After having made a luxurious breakfast, Dunphy, who felt that he could not readily remain away from his little shop, bade this most affectionate and worthy couple good-by and proceeded on his way home.

This hesitating old man felt anything but comfortable since the partial confidence he had placed in old Sam. It is true, he stated the purport of his disclosure to him as a contingency that might or might not happen; thus, as he imagined, keeping himself on the safe side. But in the meantime, he felt anxious, apprehensive and alarmed, even at the lengths to which his superstitious fears had driven him; for he felt now that one class of terrors had only superinduced another, without destroying the first. But so must it ever be with those timid and pusillanimous villains who strive to impose upon their consciences, and hesitate between right and wrong.

On his way home, however, he determined to visit the barracks in which the thirty-third regiment lay, in order, if possible, to get a furtive glance at the young ensign. In this he was successful. On entering the barrack, square, he saw a group of officers chatting together on the north side, and after inquiring from a soldier if Ensign Roberts was among them, he was answered in the affirmative.

"There he is," said the man, "standing with a whip in his hand—that tall, handsome young fellow."

Dunphy, who was sufficiently near to get a clear view of him, was instantly struck by his surprising resemblance to Miss Gourlay, whom he had often seen in town.



CHAPTER XIX. Interview between Trailcudgel and the Stranger

—A Peep at Lord Dunroe and His Friend.

It was on the morning that Sir Thomas Gourlay had made the disastrous discovery of the flight of his daughter—for he had not yet heard the spreading rumor of the imaginary elopement—that the stranger, on his way from Father M'Mahon's to the Mitre, was met in a lonely part of the road, near the priest's house, by a man of huge stature and savage appearance. He was literally in rags; and his long beard, gaunt features, and eyes that glared as if with remorse, distraction, or despair, absolutely constituted him an alarming as well as a painful spectacle. As he approached the stranger, with some obvious and urgent purpose, trailing after him a weapon that resembled the club of Hercules, the latter paused in his step and said,

"What is the matter with you, my good fellow? You seem agitated. Do you want anything with me? Stand back, I will permit you to come no nearer, till I know your purpose. I am armed."

The wretched man put his hand upon his eyes, and groaned as if his heart would burst, and for some moments was unable to make any reply.

"What can this mean?" thought the stranger; "the man's features, though wild and hollow, are not those of a ruffian."

"My good friend," he added, speaking in a milder tone, "you seem distressed. Pray let me know what is the matter with you?"

"Don't be angry with me," replied the man, addressing him with dry, parched lips, whilst his Herculean breast heaved up and down with agitation; "I didn't intend to do it, or to break in upon it, but now I must, for it's life or death with the three that's left me; and I durstn't go into the town to ask it there. I have lost four already. Maybe, sir, you could change this pound note for me? For the sake of the Almighty, do; as you hope for mercy don't refuse me. That's all I ask. I know that you stop in the inn in the town there above—that you're a friend of our good priest's—and that you are well spoken of by every one."

Now, it fortunately happened that the stranger had, on leaving the inn, put thirty shillings of silver in his pocket, not only that he might distribute through the hands of Father M'Mahon some portion of assistance to the poor whom that good man had on his list of distress, but visit some of the hovels on his way back, in order personally to witness their condition, and, if necessary, relieve them. The priest, however, was from home, and he had not an opportunity of carrying the other portion of his intentions into effect, as he was only a quarter of a mile from the good man's residence, and no hovels of the description he wished to visit had yet presented themselves.

"Change for a pound!" he exclaimed, with a good deal of surprise. "Why, from your appearance, poor fellow, I should scarcely suspect to find such a sum in your possession. Did you expect to meet me here?"

"No, sir, I was on my way to the priest, to open my heart to him, for if I don't, I know I'll be ragin' mad before forty-eight hours. Oh, sir, if you have it, make haste; every minute may cost me a life that's dearer to me a thousand times than my own. Here's the note, sir."

The stranger took the note out of his hand, and on looking at the face of it made no observation, but, upon mechanically turning up the back, apparently without any purpose of examining it, he started, looked keenly at the man, and seemed sunk in the deepest possible amazement, not unrelieved, however, by an air of satisfaction. The sudden and mysterious disappearance of Fenton, taken in connection with the discovery of the note which he himself had given him, and now in the possession of a man whose appearance was both desperate and suspicious, filled him with instant apprehensions for the safety of Fenton.

His brow instantly became stern, and in a voice full of the most unequivocal determination, he said,

"Pray, sir, how did you come by this note?"

"By the temptation of the devil; for although it was in my possession, it didn't save my two other darlins from dying. A piece of a slate would be as useful as it was, for I couldn't change it—I durstn't."

"You committed a robbery for this note, sir?"

The man glared at him with something like incipient fury, but paused, and looking on him with a more sorrowful aspect, replied,

"That is what the world will call it, I suppose; but if you wish to get anything out of me, change the tone of your voice. I haven't at the present time, much command over my temper, and I'm now a desperate man, though I wasn't always so. Either give me the change or the note back again."

The stranger eyed him closely. Although desperate, as he said, still there were symptoms of an honest and manly feeling, even in the very bursts of passion which he succeeded with such effort in restraining.

"I repeat it, that this note came into your hands by an act of robbery—perhaps of murder."

"Murder!" replied the man, indignantly. "Give me back the note, sir, and provoke me no farther."

"No," replied the other, "I shall not; and you must consider yourself my prisoner. You not only do not deny, but seem to admit, the charge of robbery, and you shall not pass out of my hands until you render me an account of the person from whom you took this note. You see," he added, producing a case of pistols—for, in accordance with the hint he had received in the anonymous note, he resolved never to go out without them—"I am armed, and that resistance is useless."

The man gave a proud but ghastly smile, as he replied—dropping his stick, and pulling from his bosom a pair of pistols much larger, and more dangerous than those of the stranger,

"You see, that if you go to that I have the advantage of you."

"Tell me," I repeat, "what has become of Mr. Fenton, from whom you took it."

"Fenton!" exclaimed the other, with surprise; "is that the poor young man that's not right in his head?"

"The same."

"Well, I know nothing about him."

"Did you not rob him of this note?"

"No."

"You did, sir; this note was in his possession; and I fear you have murdered him I besides. You must come with me,"—and as he spoke, our friend, Trailcudgel, saw two pistols, one in each hand, levelled at him. "Get on before me, sir, to the town of Ballytrain, or, resist at your peril."

Almost at the same moment the two pistols, taken from Sir Thomas Gourlay, were levelled at the stranger.

"Now," said the man, whilst his eyes shot fire and his brow darkened, "if it must be, it must; I only want the sheddin' of blood to fill up my misery and guilt; but it seems I'm doomed, and I can't help it. Sir," said he, "think of yourself. If I submit to become your prisoner, my life's gone. You don't know the villain you are goin' to hand me over to. I'm not afraid of you, nor of anything, but to die a disgraceful death through his means, as I must do."

"I will hear no reasoning on the subject," replied the other; "go on before me."

The man kept his pistols presented, and there they stood, looking sternly into each other's faces, each determined not to yield, and each, probably, on the brink of eternity.

At length the man dropped the muzzles of the weapons, and holding them reversed, approached the stranger, saying, in a voice and with an expression of feeling that smote the other to the heart,

"I will be conqueror still, sir! Instead of goin' with you, you will come with me. There are my pistols. Only come to a house of misery and sorrow and death, and you will know all."

"This is not treachery," thought the stranger. "There can be no mistaking the anguish—the agony—of that voice; and those large tears bear no testimony to the crime of murder or robbery."

"Take my pistols, sir," the other repeated, "only follow me."

"No," replied the stranger, "keep them: I fear you not—and what is more, I do not now even suspect you. Here are thirty shillings in silver—but you must allow me to' keep this note."

We need not describe anew the scene to which poor Trailcudgel introduced him. It is enough to say, that since his last appearance in our pages he had lost two more of his children, one by famine and the other by fever; and that when the stranger entered his hovel—that libel upon a human habitation—that disgrace to landlord inhumanity—he saw stretched out in the stillness of death the emaciated bodies of not less than four human beings—to wit, this wretched man's wife, their daughter, a sweet girl nearly grown,—and two little ones. The husband and father looked at them for a little, and the stranger saw a singular working or change, taking place on his features. At length he clasped his hands, and first smiled—then laughed outright, and exclaimed, "Thank God that they," pointing to the dead, "are saved from any more of this,"—but the scene—the effort at composure—the sense of his guilt—the condition of the survivors—exhaustion from want of food, all combined, overcame him, and he fell senseless on the floor.

The stranger got a porringer of water, bathed his temples, opened his teeth with an old knife, and having poured some of it down his throat, dragged him—and it required all his strength to do so, although a powerful man—over to the cabin-door, in order to get him within the influence of the fresh air. At length he recovered, looked wildly about him, then gazed up in the face of the stranger, and made one or two deep respirations.

"I see," said he, "I remember—set me sittin' upon this little ditch beside the door—but no, no—" he added, starting—"come away—I must get them food—come—quick, quick, and I will tell you as we go along."

He then repeated the history of his ruin by Sir Thomas Gourlay, of the robbery, and of the scene of death and destitution which drove him to it.

"And was it from Sir Thomas you got this note?" asked the stranger, whose interest was now deeply excited.

"From him I got it, sir; as I tould you," he replied, "and I was on my way to the priest to give him up the money and the pistols, when the situation of my children, of my family of the livin' and the dead, overcame me, and I was tempted to break in upon one pound of it for their sakes. Sir, my life's in your hands, but there is something in your face that tells my heart that you won't betray me, especially afther what you have seen."

The stranger had been a silent and attentive listener to this narrative, and after he had ceased he spoke not for some time. He then added, emphatically but quickly, and almost abruptly:

"Don't fear me, my poor fellow. Your secret is as safe as if you had never disclosed it. Here are other notes for you, and in the meantime place yourself in the hands of your priest, and enable him to restore Sir Thomas Gourlay his money and his pistols, I shall see you and your family again."

The man viewed the money, looked at him for a moment, burst into tears, and hurried away, without saying a word, to procure food for himself and his children.

Our readers need not imagine for a moment that the scenes with which we have endeavored to present them, in,the wretched hut of Trailcudgel, are at all overdrawn. In point of fact, they fall far short of thousands which might have been witnessed, and were witnessed, during the years of '47, '48, '49, and this present one of '50. We are aware that so many as twenty-three human beings, of all ages and sexes, have been found by public officers, all lying on the same floor, and in the same bed—if bed it can be termed—nearly one-fourth of them stiffened and putrid corpses. The survivors weltering in filth, fever, and famine, and so completely maddened by despair, delirium, and the rackings of intolerable pain, in its severest shapes—aggravated by thirst and hunger—that all the impulses of nature and affection were not merely banished from the heart, but superseded by the most frightful peals of insane mirth, cruelty, and the horrible appetite of the ghoul and vampire. Some were found tearing the flesh from the bodies of the carcasses that were stretched beside them. Mothers tottered off under the woful excitement of misery and frenzy, and threw their wretched children on the sides of the highways, leaving them there, with shouts of mirth and satisfaction, to perish or be saved, as the chances might turn out—whilst fathers have been known to make a wolfish meal upon the dead bodies of their own offspring. We might, therefore, have carried on our description up to the very highest point of imaginable horror, without going beyond the truth.

It is well for the world that the schemes and projects of ambition depend not in their fulfilment upon the means and instruments with which they are sought to be accomplished. Had Sir Thomas Gourlay, for instance, not treated his daughter with such brutal cruelty, an interview must have taken place between her and Lord Cullamore, which would, as a matter of course, have put an end forever to her father's hopes of the high rank for which he was so anxious to sacrifice her. The good old nobleman, failing of the interview he had expected, went immediately to London, with a hope, among other objects, of being in some way useful to his son, whom he had not seen for more than two years, the latter having been, during that period, making the usual tour of the Continent.

On the second day of his arrival, and after he had in some degree recovered from the effects of the voyage—by which, on the whole, he was rather improved—he resolved to call upon Dunroe, in pursuance of a note which he had written to him to that effect, being unwilling besides to take him unawares. Before he arrives, however, we shall take the liberty of looking in upon his lordship, and thus enable ourselves to form some opinion of the materials which constituted that young nobleman's character and habits.

The accessories to these habits, as exponents of his life and character, were in admirable keeping with both, and a slight glance at them will be sufficient for the reader.

His lordship, who kept a small establishment of his own, now lies in a very elegantly furnished bedroom, with a table beside his bed, on which are dressings for his wound, phials of medicines, some loose comedies, and a volume still more objectionable in point both of taste and morals. Beside him is a man, whether young or of the middle age it is difficult to say. At the first glance, his general appearance, at least, seemed rather juvenile, but after a second—and still more decidedly after a third—it was evident to the spectator that he could not be under forty. He was dressed in quite a youthful style, and in the very extreme of fashion. This person's features were good, regular, absolutely symmetrical; yet was there that in his countenance which you could not relish. The face, on being examined, bespoke the life of a battered rake; for although the complexion was or had been naturally good, it was now set in too high a color for that of a young man, and was hardened into a certain appearance which is produced on some features by the struggle that takes place between dissipation and health. The usual observation in such cases is—"with what a constitution has that man been blessed on whose countenance the symptoms of a hard life are so slightly perceptible." The symptoms, however, are there in every case, as they were on his. This man's countenance, we say, at the first glance, was good, and his eye seemed indicative of great mildness and benignity of heart—yet here, again, was a drawback, for, upon a stricter examination of that organ, there might be read in it the expression of a spirit that never permitted him to utter a single word that was not associated with some selfish calculation. Add to this, that it was unusually small and feeble, intimating duplicity and a want of moral energy and candor. In the mere face, therefore, there was something which you could not like, and which would have prejudiced you, as if by instinct, against the man, were it not that the pliant and agreeable tone of his conversation, in due time, made you forget everything except the fact that Tom Norton was a most delightful fellow, with not a bit of selfishness about him, but a warm and friendly wish to oblige and serve every one of his acquaintances, as far as he could, and with the greatest good-will in the world. But Tom's excellence did not rest here. He was disinterested, and frequently went so far as almost actually to quarrel with some of his friends on their refusing to be guided by his advice and experience. Then, again, Tom was generous and delicate, for on finding that his dissuasions against some particular course had been disregarded, and the consequences he had predicted had actually followed, he was too magnanimous ever to harass them by useless expostulations or vain reproofs; such as—"I told you how it would happen"—"I advised you in time"—"you would not listen to reason"—and other posthumous apothegms of the same character. No, on the contrary, he maintained a considerate and gentlemanly silence on the subject—a circumstance which saved them from the embarrassment of much self-defence, or a painful admission of their error—and not only satisfied them that Tom was honest and unselfish, but modest and forbearing. It is true, that an occasional act or solecism of manner, somewhat at variance with the conventional usages of polite society, and an odd vulgarism of expression, were slight blemishes which might be brought to his charge, and would probably have told against any one else. But it was well known that Mr. Norton admitted himself to be a Connaught gentleman, with some of the rough habits of his country, as well of manner as of phraseology, about him; and it was not to be expected that a Connemara gentleman, no matter how high his birth and connection, could at once, or at all, divest himself of these piquant and agreeable peculiarities.

So much for Tom, who had been for at least a couple of years previous to his present appearance fairly domesticated with his lordship, acting not only as his guide, philosopher, and friend, but actually as major-domo, or general steward of the establishment, even condescending to pay the servants, and kindly undertaking to rescue his friend, who was ignorant of business, from the disagreeable trouble of coming in contact with tradesmen, and making occasional disbursements in matters of which Lord Dunroe knew little or nothing. Tom was indeed a most invaluable friend, and his lordship considered it a very fortunate night on which they first became acquainted; for, although he lost to the tune of five hundred pounds to him in one of the most fashionable gaming-houses of London, yet, as a compensation—and more than a compensation—for that loss, he gained Tom in return.

His lordship was lying on one side in bed, with the Memoirs of ——— on the pillow beside him, when Tom, who had only entered a few minutes before, on looking at the walls of the apartment, exclaimed, "What the deuce is this, my lord? Are you aware that your father will be here in a couple of hours from this time?" and he looked at his watch.

"Oh, ay; the old peer," replied his lordship, in a languid voice, "coming as a missionary to reform the profane and infidel. I wish he would let me alone, and subscribe to the Missionary Society at once."

"But, my dear Dunroe, are you asleep?"

"Very nearly, I believe. I wish I was."

"But what's to be done with certain of these pictures? You don't intend his lordship should see them, I hope?"

"No; certainly not, Tom. We must have them removed. Will you see about it, Tom, like a good fellow? Stow them, however, in some safe place, where they won't be injured."

"Those five must go," said Norton.

"No," replied his lordship, "let the Magdalen stay; it will look like a tendency to repentance, you know, and the old peer may like it."

"Dunroe, my dear fellow, you know I make no pretence to religion; but I don't relish the tone in which you generally speak of that most respectable old nobleman, your father."

"Don't you, Tom? Well, but, I say, the idea of a most respectable old nobleman is rather a shabby affair. It's merely the privilege of age, Tom. I hope I shall never live to be termed a most respectable old nobleman. Pshaw, my dear Tom, it is too much. It's a proof that he wants character."

"I wish, in the mean time, Dunroe, that you and I had as much of that same commodity as the good old peer could spare us."

"Well, I suppose you do, Tom; I dare say. My sister is coming with him too."

"Yes; so he says in the letter."

"Well, I suppose I must endure that also; an aristocratic lecture on the one hand, and the uncouth affections of a hoiden on the other. It's hard enough, though."

Tom now rang the bell, and in a few moments a servant entered.

"Wilcox," said Norton, "get Taylor and M'Intyre to assist you in removing those five pictures; place them carefully in the green closet, which you will lock."

"Yes, carefully, Wilcox," said his lordship; "and afterwards give the key to Mr. Norton."

"Yes, my lord."

In a few minutes the paintings were removed, and the conversation began where it had been left off.

"This double visit, Tom, will be a great bore. I wish I could avoid it—philosophized by the father, beslobbered by the sister—faugh!"

"These books, too, my lord, had better be put aside, I think."

"Well, I suppose so; lock them in that drawer."

Norton did so, and then proceeded. "Now, my dear Dunroe—"

"Tom," said his lordship, interrupting him, "I know what you are going to say—try and put yourself into something like moral trim for the old peer—is not that it? Do you know, Tom, I have some thoughts of becoming religious? What is religion, Tom? You know we were talking about it the other day. You said it was a capital thing for the world—that it sharpened a man, and put him up to anything, and so on."

"What has put such a notion into your head now, my lord?"

"I don't know—nothing, I believe. Can religion be taught, Tom? Could one, for instance, take lessons in it?"

"For what purpose do you propose it, my lord?"

"I don't know—for two or three purposes, I believe."

"Will your lordship state them?"

"Why, Tom, I should wish to do the old peer; and touching the baronet's daughter, who is said to be very conscientious—which I suppose means the same thing as religion—I should wish to—"

"To do her too," added Norton, laughing.

"Yes, I believe so; but I forget. Don't the pas'ns teach it?"

"Yes, my lord, by precept, most of them do; not so many by example."

"But it's the theory only I want. You don't suppose I intend to practice religion, Tom, I hope?"

"No, my lord, I have a different opinion of your principles."

"Could you hire me a pas'n, to give lessons in it—say two a week—I shall require to know something of it; for, my dear Tom, you are not to be told that twelve thousand a year, and a beautiful girl, are worth making an effort for. It is true she—Miss Gourlay, I mean—is not to be spoken of in comparison with the cigar-man's daughter; but then, twelve thousand a year, Tom—and the good old peer is threatening to curtail my allowance. Or stay, Tom, would hypocrisy do as well as religion?"

"Every bit, my lord, so far as the world goes. Indeed, in point of fact, it requires a very keen eye to discover the difference between them. For one that practises religion, I there are five thousand who practise hypocrisy."

"Could I get lessons in hypocrisy? Are there men set apart to teach it? Are there, for instance, professors of hypocrisy as there are of music and dancing?"

"Not exactly, my lord; but many of the professors of religion come very nearly to the same point."

"How is that, Tom? Explain it, like a good fellow."

"Why a great number of them deal in both—that is to say, they teach the one by their doctrine, and the other by their example. In different words, they inculcate religion to others, and practise hypocrisy themselves."

"I see—that is clear. Then, Tom, as they—the pas'ns I mean—are the best judges of the matter, of course hypocrisy must be more useful than religion, or they—and such! an immense majority as you say—would not practise it."

"More useful it unquestionably is, my lord."

"Well, in that case, Tom, try and find me out a good hypocrite, a sound fellow, who properly understands the subject, and I will take lessons from him. My terms will be! liberal, say—"

"Unfortunately for your lordship, there are no professors to be had; but, as I said, it comes to the same thing. Engage a professor of religion, and whilst you pretend to study his doctrine, make a point also to study his life, and ten to one but you will close! your studies admirably qualified to take a degree in hypocrisy, if there were such an honor, and that you wish to imitate your teacher. Either that, my lord, or it may tend to cure you of a leaning toward hypocrisy as long as you live."

"Well, I wish I could make some progress in either one or the other, it matters not which, provided it be easier to learn, and more useful. We must think about it, Tom. You will remind me, of course. Was Sir George here to-day?"

"No, my lord, but he sent to inquire."

"Nor Lord Jockeyville?"

"He drove tandem to the door, but didn't come in. The other members of our set have been tolerably regular in their inquiries, especially since they were undeceived as to the danger of your wound."

"By the way, Norton, that was a d——d cool fellow that pinked me; he did the thing in quite a self-possessed and gentlemanly way, too. However it was my own fault; I forced him into it. You must know I had reason to suppose that he was endeavoring to injure me in a certain quarter; in short, that he had made some progress in the affections of Lucy Gourlay. I saw the attentions he paid to her at Paris, when I was sent to the right about. In short—but hang it—there—that will do—let us talk no more about it—I escaped narrowly—that is all."

"And I must leave you, my lord, for I assure you I have many things to attend to. Those creditors are unreasonable scoundrels, and must be put off with soft words and hard promises for some time longer. That Irish wine-merchant of yours, however, is a model to every one of his tribe."

"Ah, that is because he knows the old peer. Do you know, Tom, after all, I don't think it so disreputable a thing to be termed a respectable old nobleman; but still it indicates want of individual character. Now Tom, I think I have a character. I mean an original character. Don't every one almost say—I allude, of course, to every one of sense and penetration—Dunroe's a character—quite an original—an enigma—a sphinx—an inscription that cannot be deciphered—an illegible dog—eh—don't they, Tom?"

"Not a doubt of it, my lord. Even I, who ought to know you so well, can make nothing of you."

"Well, but after all, Tom, my father's name overshadows a great number of my venialities. Dunroe is wild, they say, but then he is the son of a most respectable old nobleman; and so, many of them shrug and pity, when they would otherwise assail and blame."

"And I hope to live long enough to see you a most respectable old 'character' yet, my dear Dunroe. I must go as your representative to these d——-d ravenous duns. But mark me, comport yourself in your father's and sister's presence as a young man somewhat meditating upon the reformation of his life, so that a favorable impression may be made here, and a favorable report reach the baronet's fair daughter. Au revoir."



CHAPTER XX. Interview between Lords Cullamore, Dunroe, and Lady Emily

—Tom Norton's Aristocracy fails Him—His Reception by Lord Cullamore.

At the hour appointed, Lord Dunroe's father and sister arrived. The old peer, as his son usually, but not in the most reverential spirit, termed him, on entering his sleeping chamber, paused for a moment in the middle of the room, as if to ascertain his precise state of health; but his sister, Lady Emily, with all the warmth of a young and affectionate heart, pure as the morning dew-drop, ran to his bedside, and with tears in her eyes, stooped down and kissed him, exclaiming at the same time,

"My dear Dunroe; but no—I hate those cold and formal titles—they are for the world, but not for brother and sister. My dear John, how is your wound? Thank God, it is not dangerous, I hear. Are you better? Will you soon be able to rise? My dear brother, how I was alarmed on hearing it; but there is another kiss to help to cure you."

"My dear Emily, what the deuce are you about? I tell you I have a prejudice against kissing female relations. It is too tame, and somewhat of a bore, child, especially to a sick man."

His father now approached him with a grave, but by no means an unfeeling countenance, and extending his hand, said, "I fear, John, that this has been a foolish business; but I am glad to find that, so far as your personal danger was concerned, you have come off so safely. How do you find yourself?"

"Rapidly recovering, my lord, I thank you. At first they considered the thing serious; but the bullet only grazed the rib slightly, although the flesh wound was, for a time, troublesome enough. I am now, however, free from fever, and the wound is closing fast."

"Whilst this brief dialogue took place, Lady Emily sat on a chair by the bedside, her large, brilliant eyes no longer filled with tears, but open with astonishment, and we may as well add with pain, at the utter indifference with which her brother received her affectionate caresses. After a few moments' reflection, however, her generous heart supposed it had discovered his apology.

"Ah," thought the sweet girl, "I had forgotten his wound, and of course I must have occasioned him great pain, which his delicacy placed to a different motive. He did not wish to let me know that I had hurt him." And her countenance again beamed with the joy of an innocent and unsuspecting spirit.

"But, Dunroe," she said—"John, I mean, won't you soon be able to get up, and to walk about, or, at all events, to take an airing with us in the carriage? Will you not, dear John?"

"Yes, I hope so, Emily. By the way, Emily, you have grown quite a woman since I saw you last. It is now better than two years, I think, since then."

"How did you like the Continent, John?"

"Why, my dear girl, how is this? What sympathy can you feel with the experience of a young fellow like me on the Continent? When you know the world better, my dear girl, you will feel the impropriety of asking such a question. Pray be seated, my lord."

Lord Cullamore sat, as if unconsciously, in an arm-chair beside the table on which were placed his son's dressings and medicines, and resting his head on his hand for a moment, as if suffering pain, at length raised it, and said,

"No, Dunroe; no. I trust my innocent girl will never live to feel the impropriety of asking a question so natural?"

"I'm sure I hope not, my lord, with all my heart," replied Dunroe. "Have you been presented, Emily? Have you been brought out?"

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