"The sorra give him good of it!" exclaimed Alley; "an' I can tell you, it's Lady Lucy—(divil may care, thought she—I'll make a lady of her at any rate—this ignorant creature doesn't know the differ) it's Lady Lucy, I say, that will be sorry to hear of this same marriage—for you must know—what's this your name is?"
"Nancy Gallaher, dear."
"And were you ever married, Nancy?"
"If I wasn't the fau't was my own, ahagur! but I'll tell you more about that some day. No, then, I was not, thank God!"
"Thank God! Well, throth, it's a quare thing to thank God for that, at any rate." This, of course, was parenthetical. "Well, my dear," proceeded Alley, "you must know that Mrs. Scareman before her marriage—of course, she was then Miss Norton—acted in the kippacity of tutherer general to Lady Lucy, except durin' three months that she was ill, and had to go to England to thry the wathers."
"What wathers?" asked Nancy. "Haven't we plenty o' wather, an' as good as they have, at home?"
"Not at all," replied Alley, who sometimes, as the reader may have perceived, drew upon an imagination of no ordinary fertility; "in England they have spakin' birds, singin' trees, and goolden wather. So, as I was sayin', while she went to thry the goolden wather———"
"Troth, if ever I get poor health, I'll go there myself," observed Nancy, with a gleam of natural humor in her clear blue eye."
"Well, while she went to thry this goolden watlier, her mother, Mrs. Norton, came in her place as tutherer general, an' that's the way they became acquainted—Lady Lucy and her. But, my dear, I want to tell you a saicret."
We are of opinion, that if Nancy's cap had been off at the moment, her two ears might have been observed to erect themselves on each side of her head with pure and unadulterated curiosity.
"Well, Miss Alley, what is it, ahagur?"
"Now, you won't breathe this to any human creature?"
"Is it me? Arrah! little you know the woman you're spakin' to. Divil a mortal could beat me at keepin' a saicret, at any rate; an' when you tell me this, maybe I'll let you know one or two that'll be worth hearin'."
"Well," continued Alley, "it's this—Never call my mistress Lady Lucy, because she doesn't like it."
This was an apple from the shores of the Dead Sea. Nancy's face bore all the sudden traces of disappointment and mortification; and, from a principle of retaliation, she resolved to give her companion a morsel from the same fruit.
"Now, Nancy," continued the former, "what's this you have to tell us?"
"But you swear not to breathe it to man, woman, or child, boy or girl, rich or poor, livin' or dead?"
"Sartainly I do."
"Well, then, it's this. I understand that Docthor Scareman isn't likely to have a family. Now, ahagur, if you spake, I'm done, that's all."
Having been then called away to make arrangements necessary to Lucy's. comfort, their dialogue was terminated before she could worm out of Alley the cause of her mistress's visit.
"She's a cunnin' ould hag," said the latter, when the other had gone. "I see what she wants to get out o' me; but it's not for nothing Miss Lucy has trusted me, an' I'm not the girl to betray her secrets to them that has no right to know them."
This, indeed, was true. Poor Alley Mahon, though a very neat and handsome girl, and of an appearance decidedly respectable, was nevertheless a good deal vulgar in her conversation. In lieu of this, however, notwithstanding a large stock of vanity, she was gifted with a strong attachment to her mistress, and had exhibited many trying proofs of truthfulness and secrecy under circumstances where most females in her condition of life would have given way. As a matter of course, she was obliged to receive her master's bribes, otherwise she would have been instantly dismissed, as one who presumed to favor Lucy's interest and oppose his own. Her fertility of fancy, however, joined to deep-rooted affection for his daughter, enabled her to return as a recompense for Sir Thomas's bribes, that description of one-sided truth which transfuses fiction into its own character and spirit, just as a drop or two of any coloring fluid will tinge a large portion of water with its own hue. Her replies, therefore, when sifted and examined, always bore in them a sufficient portion of truth to enable her, on the strong point of veracity on which she boldly stood, to bear herself out with triumph; owing, indeed, to a slight dash in her defence of the coloring we have described. Lucy felt that the agitation of mind, or rather, we should say, the agony of spirit which she had been of late forced to struggle with, had affected her health more than she could have anticipated. That and the unusual fatigue of a long journey in a night coach, eked out by a jolting drive to Wicklow at a time when she required refreshment and rest, told upon her constitution, although a naturally healthy one. For the next three or four days after her arrival at Summerfield Cottage, she experienced symptoms of slight fever, apparently nervous. Every attention that could be paid to her she received at the hands of Mrs. Mainwaring, and her own maid, who seldom was a moment from her bedside. Two or three times a day she was seized with fits of moping, during which she deplored her melancholy lot in life, feared she had offended her kind hostess by intruding, without either notice or announcement, upon the quiet harmony of her family, and begged her again and again to forgive her; adding, "That as soon as her recovery should be established, she would return to her father's house to die, she hoped, and join mamma; and this," she said, "was her last and only consolation."
Mrs. Mainwaring saw at once that her complaint was principally on the nerves, and lost no time in asking permission to call in medical advice. To this, Lucy, whose chief object was to remain unknown and in secrecy for the present, strongly objected; but by the mild and affectionate remonstrances of Mrs. Mainwaring, as well as at the earnest entreaties of Alley, she consented to allow a physician to be called in.
This step was not more judicious than necessary. The physician, on seeing her, at once pronounced the complaint a nervous fever, but hoped that it would soon yield to proper treatment. He prescribed, and saw her every second day for a week, after which she gave evident symptoms of improvement. Her constitution, as we have said, was good; and nature, in spite of an anxious mind and disagreeable reflections, bore her completely out of danger.
It was not until the first day of her appearance in the parlor subsequent to her illness, that she had an opportunity of seeing Mr. Mainwaring, of whom his wife spoke in terms of great tenderness and affection. She found him to be a gentlemanly person of great good sense and delicacy of feeling.
"I regret," said he, after the usual introduction had taken place, "to have been deprived so long of knowing a young lady of whose goodness and many admirable qualities I have heard so much from the lips of Mrs. Mainwaring. It is true I knew her affectionate nature," he added, with a look of more than kindness at his wife, "and I allowed something for high coloring in your case, Miss Gourlay, as well as in others, that I could name; but I now find, that with all her good-will, she sometimes fails to do justice to the original."
"And, my dear John, did I not tell you so?" replied his wife, smiling; "but if you make other allusions, I am sure Miss Gourlay can bear me out."
"She has more than borne you out, my dear," he replied, purposely misunderstanding her. "She has more than borne you out; for, truth to tell, you have in Miss Gourlay's case fallen far short of what I see she is."
"But, Mr. Mainwaring," said Lucy, smiling in her turn, "it is certainly very strange that she can please neither of us. The outline she gave me of your character was quite shocking. She said you were—what's this you said of him, Mrs. Mainwaring—oh, it was very bad, sir. I think we must deprive her of all claim to the character of an artist. Do you know I was afraid to meet the original, in consequence of the gloomy colors in which she sketched what she intended, I suppose, should be the likeness."
"Well, my dear Miss Gourlay," observed Mrs. Mainwaring, "now that I have failed in doing justice to the portraits of two of my dearest friends, I think I will burn my palette and brushes, and give up portrait painting in future."
Mr. Mainwaring now rose up to take his usual stroll, but turning to Lucy before he went, he said,
"At all events, my dear Miss Gourlay, what between her painting and the worth of the original, permit me to say that this house is your home just as long as you wish. Consider Mrs. Mainwaring and me as parents to you; willing, nay, most anxious, in every sense, to contribute to your comfort and happiness. We are not poor, Miss Gourlay; but, on the contrary, both independent and wealthy. You must, therefore, want for nothing. I am, for as long as may be necessary, your parent, as I said, and your banker; and if you will permit me the honor, I would wish to add, your friend. Good-by, my dear child, I am going to take my daily ramble; but I am sure you are in safe hands when I leave you in my dear Martha's. Good-by, my love."
The amiable man took his golden-headed cane, and sauntered out to amuse himself among the fields, occasionally going into the town of Wicklow, taking a glance at the papers in the hotel, to which he generally added a glass of ale and a pipe.
It was not until he had left them that Lucy enjoyed an opportunity of pouring out, at full length, to her delicate-minded and faithful friend, the cause of her flight from home. This narrative, however, was an honorable proof of the considerate forbearance she evinced when, necessarily alluding to the character and conduct of her father. Were it not, in fact, that Mrs. Mainwaring had from personal opportunity been enabled to thoroughly understand the temper, feelings, and principles of the worthy baronet, she would have naturally concluded that Lucy was a disobedient girl, and her father a man who had committed no other error than that of miscalculating her happiness from motives of excessive affection.
Mrs. Mainwaring heard it all with a calm and matronly benignity that soothed poor Lucy; for it was for the first time she had ever disclosed the actual state of her feelings to any one, with the exception of her late mother.
"Now, my dear Miss Gourlay—"
"Call me Lucy, Mrs. Mainwaring," said the affectionate girl, wiping her eyes, for we need not assure our readers that the recital of her sufferings, no matter how much softened down or modified, cost her many a bitter tear.
"I will indeed, my love, I will, Lucy," she replied, kissing her cheek, "if it gratifies you. Why should I not? But you know the distance there is between us."
"Oh, no, my dear Mrs. Mainwaring, no. What are the cold forms of the world but disguises and masks, under which the hardened and heartless put themselves in a position of false eminence over the humble and the good. The good are all equal over the earth, no matter what their relative situations may be; and on this account, not-withstanding my rank, I am scarcely worthy to sit at your feet."
Mrs. Mainwaring, with a kind of affectionate enthusiasm, put her hand upon the beautiful girl's hand, and was about to speak; but she paused for more than half a minute, during which space her serene and benevolent face assumed an expression of profound thought and seriousness. At length she sighed rather deeply, and said,
"My dear Lucy, it is too bad that the happiness of such a girl as you should be wrecked; but, worst of all, that it should be wrecked upon a most unprincipled profligate. You know the humbleness of my birth; the daughter of a decent farmer, who felt it a duty to give his children the only boon, except his blessing, that he had to bestow upon them—a good education. Well, my dear child, I beg that you will not be disheartened, nor suffer your spirits to droop. You will look surprised when I tell you that I think it more than probable, if I am capable of judging your father's heart aright, that I shall be able by a short interview with him to change the whole current of his ambition, and to bring about such a revulsion of feeling against Lord Dunroe, as may prevent him from consenting to your union with that nobleman under any circumstances. Nay, not to stop here; but that I shall cause him to look upon the breaking up of this contemplated marriage as one of the greatest blessings that could befall his family."
"Such an event might be possible," replied Lucy, "were I not unfortunately satisfied that papa is already aware of Dunroe's loose habits of life, which he views only as the giddiness of a young and buoyant spirit that marriage would reform. He says Dunroe is only sowing his wild oats, as, with false indulgence, he is pleased to term it. Under these circumstances, then, I fear he would meet you with the same arguments, and as they satisfy himself so you will find him cling to the dangerous theory they establish."
"But, Lucy, my dear child, you are quite mistaken in your estimate of the arguments which I should use, because you neither can know nor suspect their import. They apply not at all to Lord Dunroe's morals, I assure you. It is enough to say, at present, that I am not at liberty to disclose them; and, indeed, I never intended to do so; but as a knowledge of the secret I possess may not only promote your happiness, but relieve you from the persecution and misery you endure on this young nobleman's account, I think it becomes my duty to have an interview with your father on the subject."
"Before you do so, my dear madam," replied Lucy, "it is necessary that I should put you in possession of—of—" there was here a hesitation, and a blush, and a confusion of manner, that made Mrs. Mainwaring look at her with some attention.
"Take care, Lucy," she said smiling; "a previous engagement, I'll warrant me. I see you blush."
"But not for its object, Mrs. Mainwaring," she replied. "However, you are right; and papa is aware of it."
"I see, Lucy; and on that account he wishes to hurry on this hated marriage—?"
"I think so."
"And what peculiar dislike has papa against the object of your choice?—are you aware?"
"The same he would entertain against any choice but his own—his great ambition. The toil and labor of all his thoughts, hopes, and calculations, is to see me a countess before he dies. I know not whether to consider this as affection moved by the ambition of life, or ambition stimulated by affection."
"Ah, my dear Lucy, I fear very much that if your papa's heart were analyzed it would be found that he is more anxious to gratify his own ambition than to promote your happiness, and that, consequently, his interest in the matter altogether absorbs yours. But we need not discuss this now. You say he is aware of your attachment?"
"He is; I myself confessed it to him."
"Is he aware of the name and condition in life of your lover?"
"Alas, no! Mrs. Mainwaring. He has seen him, but that is all. He expressed, however, a fierce and ungovernable curiosity to know who and what he is; but, unfortunately, my lover, as you call him, is so peculiarly circumstanced, that I could not disclose either the one or the other."
"But, my dear Lucy, is not this secrecy, this clandestime conduct, on the part of your lover, wrong? Ought you, on the other hand, to entertain an attachment for any person who feels either afraid or ashamed to avow his name and rank? Pardon me, my love."
Lucy rose up, and Mrs. Mainwaring felt somewhat alarmed at the length she had gone, especially on observing that the lovely girl's face and neck were overspread with a deep and burning blush.
"Pardon you, my dear madam! Is it for uttering sentiments worthy of the purest friendship and affection, and such only as I would expect to proceed from your lips? But it is necessary to state, in my own defence, that beloved mamma was aware of, and sanctioned our attachment. A mystery there is, unquestionably, about my lover; but it is one with which she was acquainted, for she told me so. It is not, however, upon this mystery or that mystery—but upon the truth, honor, delicacy, disinterestedness, of him to whom I have yielded my heart, that I speak. In true, pure, and exalted love, my dear Mrs. Mainwaring, there is an intuition of the heart which enables the soul to see into and comprehend its object, with a completeness of success as certain and effectual as the mission of an angel. When such love exists—and such only—all is soon known—the spirit is satisfied; and, except those lessons of happiness and delight that are before it, the heart, on that subject, has nothing more to learn. This, then, is my reply; and as for the mystery I speak of, every day is bringing us nearer and nearer to its disclosure, and the knowledge of his worth."
Mrs. Mainwaring looked, on with wonder. Lucy's beauty seemed to brighten, as it were with a divine light, as she uttered these glowing words. In fact, she appeared to undergo a transfiguration from the mortal state to the angelic, and exemplified, in her own person—now radiant with the highest and holiest enthusiasm of love—all that divine purity, all that noble pride and heroic devotedness of heart, by which it is actuated and inspired. Her eyes, as she proceeded, filled with tears, and on concluding, she threw herself, weeping, into her friend's arms, exclaiming,
"Alas! my dear, dear Mrs. Mainwaring, I am not worthy of him."
Mrs. Mainwaring kissed, and cherished, and soothed her, and in a short time she recovered herself, and resumed an aspect of her usual calm, dignified, yet graceful beauty.
"Alas!" thought her friend, as she looked on her with mingled compassion and admiration, "this love is either for happiness or death. I now see, after all, that there is much of the father's character stamped into her spirit, and that the same energy with which he pursues ambition actuates his daughter in love. Each will have its object, or die."
"Well, my love," she exclaimed aloud, "I am sorry we permitted our conversation to take such a turn, or to carry us so far. You are, I fear, not yet strong enough for anything calculated to affect or agitate you."
"The introduction of it was necessary, my dear madam," replied Lucy; "for I need not say that it was my object to mention the subject of our attachment to you before the close of our conversation."
"Well, at all events," replied Mrs. Mainwaring, "we shall go and have a walk through the fields. The sun is bright and warm; the little burn below, and the thousand larks above, will give us their melody; and Cracton's park—our own little three-cornered paddock—will present us with one of the sweetest objects in the humble landscape—a green field almost white with daisies—pardon the little blunder, Lucy—thus constituting it a poem for the heart, written by the hand of nature herself."
Lucy, who enjoyed natural scenery with the high enthusiasm that was peculiar to her character, was delighted at the proposal, and in a few minutes both the ladies sauntered out through the orchard, which was now white and fragrant with blossoms.
As they went along, Mrs. Mainwaring began to mention some particulars of her marriage; a circumstance to which, owing to Lucy's illness, she had not until then had an opportunity of adverting.
"The truth is, my dear Lucy," she proceeded, "I am naturally averse to lead what is termed a solitary life in the world. I wish to have a friend on whom I can occasionally rest, as upon a support. You know that I kept a boarding-school in the metropolis for many years after my return from the Continent. That I was successful and saved some money are facts which, perhaps, you don't know. Loss of health, however, caused me to resign the establishment to Emily, your former governess; but, unfortunately, her health, like mine, gave way under the severity of its duties. She accordingly disposed of it, and accepted the important task of superintending the general course of your education, aided by all the necessary and usual masters. To this, as you are aware, she applied herself with an assiduity that was beyond her yet infirm state of health. She went to Cheltenham, where she recovered strength, and I undertook her duties until her return. I then sought out for some quiet, pretty, secluded spot, where I could, upon the fruits of my own industry, enjoy innocently and peacefully the decline of, I trust, a not unuseful life. Fortunately, I found our present abode, which I purchased, and which has been occasionally honored by your presence, as well as by that of your beloved mamma. Several years passed, and the widow was not unhappy; for my daughter, at my solicitation, gave up her profession as a governess, and came to reside with me. In the meantime, we happened to meet at the same party two individuals—gentlemen—who had subsequently the honor of carrying off the mother and daughter with flying colors. The one was Dr. Scareman, to whom Emily—my dear, unfortunate girl, had the misfortune to get married. He was a dark-faced, but handsome man—that is to say, he could bear a first glance or two, but was incapable of standing anything like a close scrutiny. He passed as a physician in good practice, but as the marriage was—what no marriage ought to be—a hasty one—we did not discover, until too late, that the practice he boasted of consisted principally in the management of a mad-house. He is, I am sorry to say, both cruel and penurious—at once a miser and a tyrant—and if his conduct to my child is not kinder and more generous, I shall feel it my duty to bring her home to myself, where, at all events, she can calculate upon peace and affection. The doctor saw that Emily was beautiful—knew that she had money—and accordingly hurried on the ceremony.
"Such is the history of poor Emily's marriage. Now for my own.
"Mr. Main waring was, like myself, a person who had been engaged in educating the young. For many years he had conducted, with great success, a boarding-school that soon became eminent for the number of brilliant and accomplished men whom it sent into society and the institutions of the country. Like me, he had saved money—like me he lost his health, and like me his destiny conducted him to this neighborhood. We met several times, and looked at each other with a good deal of curiosity; he anxious to know what kind of animal an old schoolmistress was, and I to ascertain with what tribe an old school-master should be classed. There was something odd, if not comical, in this scrutiny; and the best of it all was, that the more closely we inspected and investigated, the more accurately did we discover that we were counterparts—as exact as the two sides of a tally, or the teeth of a rat-trap—with pardon to dear Mr. Mainwaring for the nasty comparison, whatever may have put it into my head. He, in fact, was an old school-master and a widower; I an old school-mistress and a widow; he wanted a friend and companion, so did I. Each finding that the other led a solitary life, and only required that solace and agreeable society, which a kind and rational companion can most assuredly bestow, resolved to take the other, as the good old phrase goes, for better for worse; and accordingly here we are, thank God, with no care but that which proceeds from the unfortunate mistake which poor Emily made in her marriage. The spirit that cemented our hearts was friendship, not love; but the holiness of marriage has consecrated that friendship into affection, which the sweet intercourse of domestic life has softened into something still more agreeable and tender. My girl's marriage, my dear Lucy, is the only painful thought that throws its shadow across our happiness."
"Poor Emily," sighed Lucy, "how little did that calm, sweet-tempered, and patient girl deserve to meet such a husband. But perhaps he may yet improve. If gentleness and affection can soften a heart by time and perseverance, his may yet become human."
Such was the simple history of this amiable couple, who, although enjoying as much happiness as is usually allotted to man and woman, were not, however, free from those characteristic traces that enabled their friends to recognize without much difficulty the previous habits of their lives.
"Mrs. Mainwaring," said Lucy, "I must write to my father, I cannot bear to think of the anguish he will feel at my sudden and mysterious disappearance. It will set him distracted, perhaps cause illness."
"Until now, my dear child, you know you had neither time, nor health, nor strength to do so; but I agree with you, and think without doubt you ought to make his mind as easy upon this point as possible. At the same time I do not see that it is necessary for you to give a clew to your present residence. Perhaps it would be better that I should see him before you think of returning; but of that we will speak in the course of the evening, or during to-morrow, when we shall have a little more time to consider the matter properly, and determine what may be the best steps to take."
CHAPTER XXIII. A Lunch in Summerfield Cottage.
The little spot they strolled in was beautiful, from the natural simplicity of the sweet but humble scenery around them. They traversed it in every direction; sat on the sunny side of grassy eminences, gathered wild flowers, threw pebbles into the little prattling stream that ran over its stony bed before them; listened to and talked of and enjoyed the music of the birds as they turned the very air and hedges into harmony. Lucy thought how happy she could be in such a calm and delightful retreat, with the society of the man she loved, far from the intrigue, and pride, and vanity, and ambition of life; and she could scarcely help shuddering when she reflected upon the track of criminal ambition and profligacy into which, for the sake of an empty and perhaps a painful title, her father wished to drag her.
This train of thought, however, was dissipated by the appearance of Mr. Mainwaring, who had returned from his stroll, and came out to seek for them, accompanied by a young officer of very elegant and gentlemanly appearance, whom he introduced as Captain Roberts, of the 33d, then quartered in Dublin.
As an apology for the fact of Mr. Mainwaring having introduced a stranger to Lucy, under circumstances where privacy was so desirable, it may be necessary to say here, that Mrs. Mainwaring, out of delicacy to Lucy, forbore to acquaint him even with a hint at the cause of her visit, so far as Lucy, on the morning of her arrival, had hastily and briefly communicated it to her. This she was resolved not to do without her express permission.
"Allow me, ladies, to present to you my friend, Captain Roberts, of the 33d—or, as another older friend of mine, his excellent father, terms it, the three times eleven—by the way, not a bad paraphrase, and worthy of a retired school-master like myself. It is turning the multiplication table into a vocabulary and making it perform military duty."
After the usual formalities had been gone through, Mr. Mainwaring, who was in peculiarly excellent spirits, proceeded:
"Of course you know, every officer when introduced or travelling is a captain—CAPTAIN—a good travelling name!—Vide the play-books, passim. My young friend, however, is at the present—you remember as in pasenti, Edward—only an ensign, but, please God, old as some of us are, Mrs. M. to wit—ahem! we will live to shake hands with him as captain yet."
"You mean, of course, my dear," said his wife, "that I will live to do so; the youngest, as the proverb has it, lives longest. No man, Mr. Roberts, will more regret the improbability of verifying his own wishes than Mr. Mainwaring."
"Ah, Martha! you're always too hard for me," he replied, laughing. "But you must know that this young officer, of whom I feel so proud, is an old pupil of mine, and received his education at my feet. I consequently feel a more than usual interest in him. But come, we lose-time. It is now past two o'clock, and, if I don't mistake, there's a bit of cold ham and chicken to be had, and my walk has prepared me for lunch, as it usually does, and besides, Martha, there's an old friend of mine, his father, waiting for our return, to whom I must introduce you both, ladies, as a sample of the fine old soldier, who is a capital version of human nature."
On reaching the cottage they found our worthy friend, old Sam Roberts, in the garden, throwing crumbs of bread to a busy little flock of sparrows, behind one of the back windows that opened into it. His honest but manly face was lit up with all the eager and boisterous enjoyment of a child whilst observing with simple delight the fierce and angry quarrels of the parents, as they fought on behalf of their young, for the good things so providentially cast in their way.
"Come, now," said Sam, "I'm commissary-general for this day, and, for a miracle, an honest one—fight fair, you wretches—but I don't wonder at the spunk you show, for the rations, I can tell you, are better, poor things, than you are accustomed to. Hello, there! you, sir—you big fellow—you hulk of a cock—what business have you here? This is a quarrel among the ladies, sirrah, who are mothers, and it is for their young ones—on behalf of their children—they are showing fight; and you, sir, you overgrown glutton, are stuffing yourself, like many another 'foul bird' before you, with the public property. Shame, you little vulture! Don't you see they fly away when they have gotten' an allowance, and give it to their starving children? D—— your principle, sir, it's a bad one. You think the strongest ought to take most, do you? Bravo! Well done, my little woman. Go on, you have right and nature on your side—that's it, peck the glutton—he's a rascal—a public officer—a commissary-general that—lay on him—well done—never mind military discipline—he's none of your officer—he's a robber—a bandit—and neither a soldier nor a gentleman—by fife and drum, that's well done. But it's all nature—all the heart of man."
"Well, old friend," said he, "and so this is your good lady. How do you do, ma'am? By fife and drum, Mr. Mainwaring, but it's a good match. You were made for one another. And this young lady your daughter, ma'am? How do you do, Miss Mainwaring?"
"My dear Mr. Roberts," said Mainwaring, "we are not so happy as to claim this young lady as a daughter. She is Miss Gourlay, daughter to Sir Thomas Gourlay, of Red Hall, now here upon a visit for the good of her health."
"How do you do, Miss Gourlay? I am happy to say that I have seen a young lady that I have heard so much of—so much, I ought to say, that was good of."
Lucy, as she replied, blushed deeply at this unintentional mention of her name, and Mrs. Mainwaring, signing to her husband, by putting her finger on her lips, hinted to him that he had done wrong.
Old Sam, however, on receiving this intelligence, looked occasionally, with a great deal of interest, from Lucy to the young officer, and again from the young officer to Lucy; and as he did it, he uttered a series of ejaculations to himself, which were for the most part inaudible to the rest. "Ha!—dear me!—God bless me!—very strange!—right, old Corbet—right for a thousand—nature will prove it—not a doubt of it—God bless me!—how very like they are!—perfect brother and sister!—bless me—it's extraordinary—not a doubt of it. Bravo, Ned!"
"Come, ladies," said Mr. Mainwaring; "come, my friend, old Sam, as you like to be called, and you, Edward, come one, come all, till we try the cold ham and chicken. Miss Gou—ehem—come, Lucy, my dear, the short cut through the window; you see it open, and now, Martha, your hand; but there is old Sam's. Well done, Sam; your soldier's ever gallant. Help Miss—help the young lady up the steps, Edward. Good! he has anticipated me."
In a few minutes they were enjoying their lunch, during which the conversation became very agreeable, and even animated. Young Roberts had nothing of the military puppy about him whatsoever. On the contrary, his deportment was modest, manly, and unassuming. Sensible of his father's humble, but yet respectable position, he neither attempted to swagger himself into importance by an affectation of superior breeding or contempt for his parent, nor did he manifest any of that sullen taciturnity which is frequently preserved, as a proof of superiority, or a mask for conscious ignorance and bad breeding; the fact being generally forgotten that it is an exponent of both.
"So, Edward, you like the army, then?" inquired Mr. Mainwaring.
"I do, sir," replied young Roberts; "it's a noble profession."
"Eight, Ned—a noble profession—that's the word," said old Sam; "and so it is, my boy, and a brave and a generous one."
Lucy Gourlay and the young soldier had occasionally glanced at each other; and it might have been observed, that whenever they did so, each seemed surprised, if not actually confused.
"Is it difficult, Edward," asked Mainwaring, after they had taken wine together, "to purchase a commission at present?"
"It is not very easy to procure commissions just now," replied the other; "but you know, Mr. Mainwaring, that I had the honor to be raised from the ranks."
"Bravo, Ned!" exclaimed old Sam, slapping him him on the back; "I am glad to see that you take that honor in its true light. Thousands may have money to buy a commission, but give me the man that has merit to deserve it; especially, Ned, at so young an age as yours."
"You must have distinguished yourself, sir," observed Lucy, "otherwise it is quite unusual, I think, to witness the promotion from the ranks of so young a man."
"I only endeavored to do my duty, madam," replied Roberts, bowing modestly, whilst something like a blush came over his cheeks.
"Never mind him, Miss Gourlay," exclaimed Sam—"never mind; he did distinguish himself, and on more than one occasion, too, and well deserved his promotion. When one of the British flags was seized upon and borne off, after the brave fellow whose duty it was to defend it with his life had done so, and was cut down by three French soldiers, our gentleman here, for all so modest as he looks, pursued them, fought single-handed against the three, rescued the flag, and, on his way back, met the general, who chanced to be a spectator of the exploit; when passing near him, bleeding, for he had been smartly wounded, the general rides over to him. 'Is the officer who bore that flag killed?' he asked. 'He is, general,' replied Ned.—'You have rescued it?'—'I have, sir.'—'What is your name?'—He told him.—'Have you received an education?'—'A good education, general'—'Very good,' proceeded the general. 'You have recovered the flag, you say?'—'I considered it my duty either to die or to do so, general,' replied Ned.—'Well said, soldier,' returned the general, 'and well done, too: as for the flag itself, you must only keep it for your pains. Your commission, young man, shall be made out. I will take charge of that myself.'—There, now, is the history of his promotion for you."
"It is highly honorable to him in every sense," observed Lucy. "But it was an awful risk of life for one man to pursue three."
"A soldier, madam," replied Roberts, bowing to her for the compliment, "in the moment of danger, or when the flag of his sovereign is likely to be sullied, should never remember that he has a life; or remember it only that it may be devoted to the glory of his country and the maintenance of her freedom."
"That's well said, Edward," observed Mr. Mainwaring; "very well expressed indeed. The clauses of that sentence all follow in a neat, consecutive order. It is, indeed, all well put together as if it were an exercise."
Edward could not help smiling at this unconscious trait of the old school-master peeping out.
"That general is a fine old fellow," said Sam, "and knew how to reward true courage. But you see, Mr. Mainwaring and ladies, it's all natural, all the heart of man."
"There's Mr. Mitchell, our clergyman," observed Mrs. Mainwaring, looking out of the window; "I wish he would come in. Shall I call him, dear?"
"Never mind now, my love," replied her husband. "I like the man well enough; he is religious, they say, and charitable, but his early education unfortunately was neglected. His sermons never hang well together; he frequently omits the exordium, and often winds them up without the peroration at all. Then he mispronounces shockingly, and is full of false quantities. It was only on last Sunday that he laid the accent on i in Dalilah. Such a man's sermons, I am sorry to say, can do any educated man little good. Her's a note, my love, from Mrs. Fletcher. I met the servant coming over with it, and took it from him. She wishes to hear from you in an hour or two: it's a party, I think."
He threw the note over to his wife, who, after apologizing to the company, opened, and began to read it.
Honest old Mainwaring was an excellent man, and did a great deal of good in a quiet way, considering his sphere of life. In attending to the sermon, however, when at church, he laid himself back in his pew, shut his eyes, put the end of his gold-headed cane to his lips, and set a criticising. If all the rhetorical rules were duly observed, the language clear, and the parts of the sermon well arranged, and if, besides, there was neither false accent, nor false quantity, nor any bad grammar, he pronounced it admirable, and praised the preacher to the skies. Anything short of this, however, he looked upon not only as a failure, but entertained strong doubts of the man's orthodoxy, as well as of the purity of his doctrine.
"Yes, my dear," replied Mrs. Mainwaring, after having glanced over the note, "you are right; it is a party; and we are both asked; but I wonder, above all things, that Miss Fletcher should never cross her t's; then the tails of her letters are so long that they go into the line below them, which looks so slovenly, and shows that her writing must have bean very much neglected. I also know another fair neighbor of ours who actually puts 'for' before the infinitive mood, and flourishes her large letters like copperplate capitals that are only fit to appear in a merchant's books."
"But you know, my dear," said her husband, "that she is a grocer's widow, and, it is said, used to keep his accounts."
"That is very obvious, my dear; for, indeed, most of her invitations to tea are more like bills duly furnished than anything else. I remember one of them that ran to the following effect:
"'Mrs. Allspice presents compliments to Messrs. Mainwaring &, Co.—to wit, Miss Norton '—this was my daughter—' begs to be favored, per return of post, as to whether it will suit convenience for to come on next Tuesday evening, half-past seven, to take a cup of the best flavored souchong, 7s. 6d. per lb., and white lump, Jamaica, Is. per ditto, with a nice assortment of cakes, manufactured by ourselves. Punctuality to appointment expected.'"
"Well, for my part," said Sam, "I must say it's the entertainment I'd look to both with her and the parson, and neither the language nor the writing. Mrs. Mainwaring, will you allow me to propose a toast ma'am? It's for a fine creature, in her way; a lily, a jewel."
"With pleasure, Mr. Roberts," said that lady, smiling, for she knew old Sam must always have his own way.
"Well, then, fill, fill, each of you. Come, Miss Gourlay, if only for the novelty of the thing; for I dare say you never drank a toast before. Ned, fill for her. You're an excellent woman, Mrs. Mainwaring: and he was a lucky old boy that got you to smooth down the close of his respectable and useful life—at least, it was once useful—but we can't be useful always—well, of his harmless life—ay, that is nearer the thing. Yes, Mrs. Mainwaring, by all accounts you are a most excellent and invaluable woman, and deserve all honor."
Mrs. Mainwaring sat with a comely simper upon her good-natured face, looking down with a peculiar and modest appreciation of the forthcoming compliment to herself.
"Come now," Sam went on, "to your legs. You all, I suppose, know who I mean. Stand, if you please, Miss Gourlay. Head well up, and shoulders a little more squared, Mainwaring. Here now, are you all ready?"
"All ready," responded the gentlemen, highly amused.
"Well, then, here's my Beck's health! and long life to her! She's the pearl of wives, and deserves to live forever!"
A fit of good-humored laughter followed old Sam's toast, in which Mrs. Mainwaring not only came in for an ample share, but joined very heartily herself; that worthy lady taking it for granted that old Sam was about to propose the health of the hostess, sat still, while the rest rose; even Lucy stood up, with her usual grace and good-nature, and put the glass to her lips; and as it was the impression that the compliment was meant for Mrs. Mainwaring, the thing seemed very like what is vulgarly called a bite, upon the part of old Sam, who in the meantime, had no earthly conception of anything else than that they all thoroughly understood him, and were aware of the health he was about to give.
"What!" exclaimed Sam, on witnessing their mirth; "by fife and drum, I see nothing to laugh at in anything connected with my Beck. I always make it a point to drink the old girl's health when I'm from home; for I don't know how it happens, but I think I'm never half so fond of her as when we're separated."
"But, Mr. Eoberts," said Mrs. Mainwaring, laughing, "I assure you, from the compliments you paid me, I took it for granted that it was my health you were about to propose."
"Ay, but the compliments I paid you, ma'am, were all in compliment to old Beck; but next to her, by fife and drum, you deserve a bumper. Come, Mainwaring, get to legs, and let us have her health. Attention, now; head well up, sir; shoulders square; eye on your wife."
"It shall be done," replied Mainwaring, entering into the spirit of the joke. "If it were ambrosia, she is worthy of a brimmer. Come, then, fill your glasses. Edward, attend to Miss Gourlay. Sam, help Mrs. Mainwaring. Here, then, my dear Martha; like two winter apples, time has only mellowed us. We have both run parallel courses in life; you, in instructing the softer and more yielding sex; I, the nobler and more manly."
"Keep strictly to the toast, Matthew," she replied, "or I shall rise to defend our sex. You yielded first, you know. Ha, ha, ha!"
"As the stronger yields to the weaker, from courtesy and compassion. However, to proceed. We have both conjugated amo before we ever saw each other, so that our recurrence to the good old verb seemed somewhat like a Saturday's repetition. As for doceo, we have been both engaged in enforcing it, and successfully, Martha"—here he shook his purse—"during the best portion of our lives; for which we have made some of the most brilliant members of society our debtors. Lego is now one of our principal enjoyments; sometimes under the shadow of a spreading tree in the orchard, during the serene effulgence of a summer's eve; or, what is still more comfortable, before the cheering blaze of the winter's fire, the blinds down, the shutters closed, the arm-chair beside the table—on that table an open book and a warm tumbler—and Martha, the best of wives—
"Attention, Mainwaring; my Beck's excepted."
"Martha, the best of wives—old Sam's Beck always excepted—sitting at my side. As for audio, the truth is, I have been forced to experience the din and racket of that same verb during the greater portion of my life, in more senses than I am willing to describe. I did not imagine, in my bachelor days, that the fermenting tumult of the school-room could be surpassed by a single instrument; but, alas!—well, it matters not now; all I can say is, that I never saw her—heard I mean, for I am on audio—that the performance of that same single instrument did not furnish me with a painful praxis of the nine parts of speech all going together; for I do believe that nine tongues all at work could not have matched her. But peace be with her! she is silent at last, and cannot hear me now. I thought I myself possessed an extensive knowledge of the languages, but, alas I was nothing; as a linguist she was without a rival. However, I pass that over, and return to the subject of my toast. Now, my dear Martha, since heaven gifted me with you—"
"Attention, Mainwaring! Eyes up to the ceiling, sir, and thank God!"
Mainwaring did so; but for the life of him could not help throwing a little comic spirit into the action, adding in an undertone that he wished to be heard. "Ah, my dear Sam, how glad I am that you did not bid me go farther. However, to proceed—No, my dear Martha, ever since our most felicitous conjugation, I hardly know what the exemplary verb audio means. I could scarcely translate it. Ours is a truly grammatical union. Not the nominative case with verb—not the relative with the antecedent—not the adjective with the substantive—affords a more appropriate illustration of conjugal harmony, than does our matrimonial existence. Peace and quietness, however, are on your tongue—affection and charity in your heart—benevolence in your hand, which is seldom extended empty to the pool—and, altogether, you are worthy of the high honor to which,"—this he added with a bit of good-natured irony—"partly from motives of condescension, and partly, as I said, from motives of compassion, I have, in the fulness of a benevolent heart, exalted you." The toast was then drank.
"Attention, ladies!" said Sam, who had been looking, as before, from the young officer to Lucy, and vice versa—"Mainwaring, attention! Look upon these two—upon Miss Gourlay, here, and upon Ned Roberts—and tell me if you don't think there's a strong likeness."
The attention of the others was instantly directed to an examination of the parties in question, and most certainly they were struck with the extraordinary resemblance.
"It is very remarkable, indeed, Mr. Roberts," observed their hostess, looking at them again; "and what confirms it is the fact, that I noticed the circumstance almost as soon as Mr. Roberts joined us. It is certainly very strange to find such a resemblance in persons not at all related."
Lucy, on finding the eyes of her friends upon her, could not avoid blushing; nor was the young officer's complexion without a somewhat deeper tinge.
"Now," said Mrs. Mainwaring, smiling, "the question is, which we are to consider complimented by this extraordinary likeness."
"The gentleman, of course, Mrs. Mainwaring," replied Sam.
"Unquestionably," said Edward, bowing to Lucy; "I never felt so much flattered in my life before, nor ever can again, unless by a similar comparison with the same fair object."
Another blush on the part of Lucy followed this delicate compliment, and old Sam exclaimed:
"Attention, Mainwaring! and you, ma'am,"—addressing Mrs. Mainwaring. "Now did you ever see brother and sister more like? eh!"
"Very seldom ever saw brother and sister so like," replied Mainwaring. "Indeed, it is most extraordinary."
"Wonderful! upon my word," exclaimed his wife.
"Hum!—Well," proceeded Sam, "it is, I believe, very odd—very—and may be not, either—may be not so odd. Ahem!—and yet, still—however, no matter, it's all natural; all the heart of man—eh! Mainwaring?"
"I suppose so, Mr. Roberts; I suppose so."
After old Sam and his son had taken their departure, Lucy once more adverted to the duty as well as the necessity of acquainting her father with her safety, and thus relieving his mind of much anxiety and trouble. To this her friend at once consented. The baronet, in the meantime, felt considerably the worse for those dreadful conflicts which had swept down and annihilated all that ever had any tendency to humanity or goodness in his heart. He felt unwell—that is to say, he experienced none of those symptoms of illness which at once determine the nature of any specific malady. The sensation, however, was that of a strong man, who finds his frame, as it were, shaken—who is aware that something of a nameless apprehension connected with his health hangs over him, and whose mind is filled with a sense of gloomy depression and restlessness, for which he neither can account nor refer to any particular source of anxiety, although such in reality may exist. It appeared to be some terrible and gigantic hypochondriasis—some waking nightmare—coming over him like the shadow of his disappointed ambition, blighting his strength, and warning him, that when the heart is made the battle-field of the passions for too long a period, the physical powers will ultimately suffer, until the body becomes the victim of the spirit.
Yet, notwithstanding this feeling, Sir Thomas's mind was considerably relieved. Lucy had not eloped; but then, the rumor of her elopement had gone abroad. This, indeed, was bitter; but, on the other hand, time—circumstances—the reappearance of this most mysterious stranger—and most of all, Lucy's high character for all that was great and good, delicate and honorable, would ere long, set her right with the world. Nothing, he felt, however, would so quickly and decidedly effect this as her return to her father's roof; for this necessary step would at once give the lie to calumny.
In order, therefore, to ascertain, if possible, the place of her present concealment, he resolved to remove to his metropolitan residence, having taken it for granted that she had sought shelter there with some of her friends. Anxious, nervous, and gloomy, he ordered his carriage, and in due time arrived in Dublin.
Thither the stranger had preceded him. The latter, finding that Ballytrain could no longer be the scene of his operations, also sought the metropolis. Fenton had disappeared—Lucy was no longer there. His friend Birney was also in town, and as in town his business now lay, to town therefore he went.
In the meantime, we must turn a little to our friend Crackenfudge, who, after the rough handling he had received from the baronet, went home, if not a sadder and a wiser, at least a much sorer man. The unfortunate wretch was sadly basted. The furious baronet, knowing the creature he was, had pitched into him in awful style. He felt, however, when cooled down, that he had gone too far; and that, for the sake of Lucy, and in order to tie up the miserable wretch's babbling tongue, it was necessary that he should make some apology for such an unjustifiable outrage. He accordingly wrote him the following letter before he went to town:
"DEAR SIR,—The nature of the communication which, I am sure from kind feelings, you made to me the other day, had such an effect upon a temper naturally choleric, that I fear I have been guilty of some violence toward you. I am, unfortunately, subject to paroxysms of this sort, and while under their influence feel utterly unconscious of what I do or say. In your case, will you be good enough to let me know—whether I treated you kindly or otherwise; for the fact is, the paroxysm I speak of assumes an affectionate character as well as a violent one. Of what I did or said on the occasion in question I have no earthly recollection. In the meantime, I have the satisfaction to assure you that Miss Gourlay has not eloped, but is residing with a friend, in the metropolis. I have seen the gentleman to whom you alluded, and am satisfied that their journey to town was purely accidental. He knows not even where she is; but I do, and am quite easy on the subject. Have the kindness to mention this to all your friends, and to contradict the report of her elopement wherever and whenever you hear it.
"Periwinkle Crackenfudge, Esq.
"P. S.—In the meantime, will you oblige me by sending up to my address in town a list of your claims for a seat on the magisterial bench. Let it be as clear and well worded as you can make it, and as authentic. You may color a little, I suppose, but let the groundwork be truth—if you can; if not truth—then that which comes as near it as possible. Truth, you know, is always better than a lie, unless where a lie happens to be better than truth.
To this characteristic epistle our bedrubbed friend sent the following reply:
"My dear Sir Thomas,—A' would give more than all mention to be gifted with your want of memory respecting what occurred the other day. Never man had such a memory of that dreadful transaction as a' have; from head to heel a'm all memory; from heel to head a'm all memory—up and down —round—about—across—here and there, and everywhere—a'm all memory; but in one particular place, Sir Thomas—ah! there's where a' suffer—however, it doesn't make no matter; a' only say that you taught me the luxury of an easy chair and a. soft cushion ever since, Sir Thomas.
"Your letter, Sir Thomas, has given me great comfort, and has made me rejoice, although it is with groans a' do it, at the whole transaction. If you succeed in getting me the magistracy, Sir Thomas, it will be the most blessed and delightful basting that ever a lucky man got. If a' succeed in being turned into a bony fidy live magistrate, to be called 'your worship,' and am to have the right of fining and flogging and committing the people, as a' wish and hope to do, then all say that the hand of Providence was in it, as well as your foot, Sir Thomas. Now, that you have explained the circumstance, a' feel very much honored by the drubbing a' got, Sir Thomas; and, indeed, a' don't doubt, after all, but it was meant in kindness, as you say, Sir Thomas; and a'm sure besides, Sir Thomas, that it's not every one you'd condescend to drub, and that the man you would drub, Sir Thomas, must be a person of some consequence. A' will send you up my claims as a magistrate some of these days—that is, as soon as a' can get some long-headed fellow to make them out for me.
"And have the honor to be, my dear Sir Thomas, your much obliged and favored humble servant.
"Sir Thomas Gourlay, Bart."
CHAPTER XXIV.—An Irish Watchhouse in the time of the "Charlies."
Another subject which vexed the baronet not a little was the loss of his money and pistols by the robbery; but what he still felt more bitterly, was the failure of the authorities to trace or arrest the robber. The vengeance which he felt against that individual lay like a black venomous snake coiled round his heart. The loss of the money and the fire-arms he might overlook, but the man, who, in a few moments, taught him to know himself as he was—who dangled him, as it were, over the very precipice of hell—with all his iniquities upon his head, the man who made him feel the crimes of a whole life condensed into one fearful moment, and showed them to him darkened into horror by the black lightning of perdition; such a man, we say, he could never forgive. It was in vain that large rewards were subscribed and offered, it was in vain that every effort was made to discover the culprit. Not only was there no trace of him got, but other robberies had been committed by a celebrated highwayman of the day, named Finnerty, whom neither bribe nor law could reach.
Our readers may remember, with reference to the robbery of the baronet, the fact of Trailcudgel's having met the stranger on his way to disclose all the circumstances to the priest, and that he did not proceed farther on that occasion, having understood that Father M'Mahon was from home. Poor Trailcudgel, who, as the reader is aware, was not a robber either from principle or habit, and who only resorted to it when driven by the agonizing instincts of nature, felt the guilt of his crime bitterly, and could enjoy rest neither night nor day, until he had done what he conceived to be his duty as a Christian, and which was all he or any man could do: that is, repent for his crime, and return the property to him from whom he had taken it. This he did, as it is usually done, through the medium of his pastor; and on the very day after the baronet's departure both the money and pistols were deposited in Father M'Mahon's hands.
In a few days afterwards the worthy priest, finding, on inquiry, that Sir Thomas had gone to Dublin, where, it was said, he determined to reside for some time, made up his mind to follow him, in order to restore him the property he had lost. This, however, was not the sole purpose of his visit to the metropolis. The letter he had given the stranger to Corbet, or Dunphy, had not, he was sorry to find, been productive of the object for which it had been written. Perhaps it was impossible that it could; but still the good priest, who was as shrewd in many things as he was benevolent and charitable in all, felt strongly impressed with a belief that this old man was not wholly ignorant, or rather unconnected with the disappearance of either one or the other of the lost children. Be this, however, as it may, he prepared to see the baronet for the purpose already mentioned.
He accordingly took his place—an inside one—in the redoubtable "Fly," which, we may add, was the popular vehicle at the time, and wrapping himself up in a thick frieze cloak, or great coat, with standing collar that buttoned up across his face to the very eyes, and putting a shirt or two, and some other small matters, into a little bundle—tying, at the same time, a cotton kerchief over his hat and chin—he started on his visit to the metropolis, having very much the appearance of a determined character, whose dress and aspect were not, however, such as to disarm suspicion. He felt much more careful of the baronet's pocket-book than he did of his own, and contrived to place it in an inside pocket, which being rather small for it, he was obliged to rip a little in order to give it admittance. The case of pistols he slipped into the pockets of his jock, one in each, without ever having once examined them, or satisfied himself—simple man—as to whether they were loaded or not. His own pocket-book was carelessly placed in the right-hand pocket of the aforesaid jock, along with one of the pistols.
The night was agreeable, and nothing worth recording took place until they had come about five miles on the side of ———, when a loud voice ordered the coachman to stop.
"Stop the coach, sir!" said the voice, with a good deal of reckless and bitter expression in it; "stop the coach, or you are a dead man."
Several pistols were instantly leveled at both coachman and guard, and the same voice, which was thin, distinct, and wiry, proceeded—"Keep all steady now, boys, and shoot the first that attempts to move. I will see what's to be had inside."
He went immediately to the door of the "Fly," and opening it, held up a dark lantern, which, whilst it clearly showed him the dress, countenances, and condition of the passengers, thoroughly concealed his own.
The priest happened to be next him, and was consequently the first person on whom this rather cool demand was made.
"Come, sir," said the highwayman, "fork out, if you please; and be quick about it, if you're wise."
"Give a body time, if you plaise," responded the priest, who at that moment had about him all the marks and tokens of a farmer, or, at least, of a man who wished to pass for one. "I think," he added, "if you knew who you had, you'd not only pass me by, but the very coach I'm travelin' in. Don't be unaisy, man alive," he proceeded; "have patience—for patience, as everybody knows, is a virtue—do, then, have patience, or, maybe—oh! ay!—here it is—here is what you want—the very thing, I'll be bound—and you must have it, too." And the poor man, in the hurry and alarm of the moment, pulled out one of the baronet's pistols.
The robber whipped away the lantern, and instantly disappeared. "By the tarn, boys," said he, "it's Finnerty himself, disguised like a farmer. But he's mid to travel in a public coach, and the beaks on the lookout for him. Hello! all's right, coachman; drive on, we won't disturb you this night, at all events. Gee hup!—off you go; and off we go—with empty pockets."
It happened that this language, which the robber did not intend to have reached the ears of the passengers, was heard nevertheless, and from this moment until they changed horses at ——— there was a dead silence in the coach.
On that occasion one gentleman left it, and he had scarcely been half a minute gone when a person, very much in the garb and bearing of a modern detective, put in his head, and instantly withdrew it, exclaiming,
"Curse me, it's a hit—he's inside as snug as a rat in a trap. Up with you on top of the coach, and we'll pin him when we reach town. 'Gad, this is a windfall, for the reward is a heavy one.—If we could now manage the baronet's business, we were made men."
He then returned into the coach, and took his seat right opposite the priest, in order the better to watch his motions, and keep him completely under his eye.
"Dangerous traveling by night, sir," said he, addressing the priest, anxious to draw his man into conversation.
"By night or by day, the roads are not very safe at the present time," replied his reverence.
"The danger's principally by night, though," observed the other. "This Finnerty is playing the devil, they say; and is hard to be nabbed by all accounts."
The observation was received by several hums, and hems, and has, and very significant ejaculations, whilst a fat, wealthy-looking fellow, who sat beside the peace-officer—for such he was—in attempting to warn him of Finnerty's presence, by pressing on his foot, unfortunately pressed upon that of the priest in mistake, who naturally interpreted the hems and has aforesaid to apply to the new-corner instead of himself. This cannot be matter of surprise, inasmuch as the priest had his ears so completely muffled up with the collar of his jock and a thick cotton kerchief, that he heard not the allusions which the robber had made outside the coach, when he mistook him for Finnerty. He consequently peered very keenly at the last speaker, who to tell the truth, had probably in his villanous features ten times more the character and visage of a highwayman and cutthroat than the redoubtable Finnerty himself.
"It's a wonder," said the priest, "that the unfortunate man has not been taken."
"Hum!" exclaimed the officer; "unfortunate man. My good fellow, that's very mild talk when speaking of a robber. Don't you know that all robbers deserve the gallows, eh?"
"I know no such thing," replied the priest. "Many a man has lived by robbing, in his day, that now lives by catching them; and many a poor fellow, as honest as e'er an individual in this coach—"
"That's very shocking language," observed a thin, prim, red-nosed lady, with a vinegar aspect, who sat erect, and apparently fearless, in the corner of the coach—"very shocking language, indeed. Why, my good man, should you form any such wile kimparison?"
"Never mind, ma'am; never mind," said the officer, whose name was Darby; "let him proceed; from what he is about to say, I sha'n't be surprised if he justifies robbery—not a bit—but will be a good deal, if he don't. Go on, my good fellow."
"Well," proceeded the priest, "I was going to say, that many a poor wretch, as honest as e'er an individual, man or woman—"
Here there was, on the part of the lady, an indignant toss of the head, and a glance of supreme scorn leveled at the poor priest; whilst Darby, like a man who had generously undertaken the management of the whole discussion, said, with an air of conscious ability, if not something more, "nevermind him, ma'am; give him tether."
"As honest," persisted the priest, "as e'er an individual, man or woman, in this coach—and maybe, if the truth were known, a good deal honester than some of them."
"Good," observed the officer; "I agree with you in that—right enough there."
The vinegar lady, now apprehensive that her new ally had scandalously abandoned her interests, here dropped her eyes, and crossed her hands upon her breast, as if she had completely withdrawn herself from the conversation.
"I finds," said she to herself, in a contemptuous soliloquy, "as how there ain't no gentleman in this here wehicle."
"Just pay attention, ma'am," said the officer—"just pay attention, that's all."
This, however, seemed to have no effect—at least the lady remained in the same attitude, and made no reply.
"Suppose now," proceeded the priest, "that an unfortunate father, in times of scarcity and famine, should sit in his miserable cabin, and see about him six or seven of his family, some dying of fever, and others dying from want of food; and suppose that he was driven to despair by reflecting that unless he forced it from the rich who would not out of their abundance prevent his children from starving, he can procure them relief in no other way, and they must die in the agonies of hunger before his face. Suppose this, and that some wealthy man, without sympathy for his fellow-creatures, regardless of the cries of the poor-heartless, ambitious, and oppressive; and suppose besides that it was this very heartless and oppressive man of wealth who, by his pride and tyranny, and unchristian vengeance, drove that poor man and his wretched family to the state I have painted them for you, in that cold and dreary hovel; suppose all this, I say, and that that wretched poor man, his heart bursting, and his brain whirling, stimulated by affection, goaded by hunger and indescribable misery; suppose, I say, that in the madness of despair he sallies out, and happens to meet the very individual who brought him and his to such a dreadful state—do you think that he ought to let him pass—"
"I see," interrupted the officer, "without bleeding him; I knew you would come to that—go along."
"That he ought to let that wealthy oppressor pass, and allow the wife of his bosom and his gasping little ones to perish, whilst he knows that taking that assistance from him by violence which he ought to give freely would save them to society and him? Mark me, I'm not justifying robbery. Every general rule has its exception; and I'm only supposing a case where the act of robbery may be more entitled to compassion than to punishment—but, as I said, I'm not defending it."
"Ain't you, faith?" replied the officer; "it looks devilish like it, though. Don't you think so, ma'am?"
"I never listens to no nonsense like that ere," replied the lady. "All I say is, that a gentleman as I've the honor of being acquainted with, 'as been robbed the other night of a pocket-book stuffed with banknotes, and a case of Hirish pistols that he kept to shoot robbers, and sich other wulgar wretches as is to be found nowhere but in Hireland."
"Stuffed!" exclaimed the priest, disdainfully; "as much stuffed, ma'am, as you are."
The officer's very veins tingled with delight on hearing the admission which was involved in the simple priest's exclamation. He kept it, however, to himself, on account of the large reward that lay in the background.
"I stuffed!" exclaimed the indignant lady, whose thin face had for a considerable time been visible, for it was long past dawn; "I defy you, sir," she replied, "you large, nasty, Hirish farmer, as feeds upon nothing but taters. I stuffed!—no lady—you nasty farmer—goes without padding, which is well known to any man as is a gentleman. But stuffed! I defy you, nasty Paddy; I was never stuffed. Those as stuff use 'oss 'air; now I never uses 'oss 'air."
"If you weren't stuffed, then," replied the priest, who took a natural disrelish to her affectation of pride and haughtiness, knowing her as he now did—"many a better woman was. If you weren't, ma'am, it wasn't your own fault. Sir Thomas Gourlay's English cook need never be at a loss for plenty to stuff herself with."
This was an extinguisher. The heaven of her complexion was instantly concealed by a thick cloud in the shape of a veil. She laid herself back in the corner of the carriage, and maintained the silence of a vanquished woman during the remainder of the journey.
On arriving in town the passengers, as is usual, betook themselves to their respective destinations. Father M'Mahon, with his small bundle under his arm, was about to go to the Brazen Head Tavern, when he found himself tapped on the shoulder by our friend Darby, who now held a pistol in his hand, and said:
"There are eight of us, Mr. Finnerty, and it is useless to shy Abraham. You're bagged at last, so come off quietly to the office."
"I don't understand you," replied the priest, who certainly felt surprised at seeing himself surrounded by so many constables, for it was impossible any longer to mistake them. "What do you mean, my friend? or who do you suppose me to be?"
The constable gave him a knowing wink, adding with as knowing an air—"It's no go here, my lad—safe's the word. Tramp for the office, or we'll clap on the wrist-buttons. We know you're a shy cock, Mr. Finnerty, and rather modest, too—that's the cut. Simpson, keep the right arm fast, and, you, Gamble, the left, whilst we bring up the rear. In the meantime, before he proceeds a step, I, as senior, will take the liberty to—just—see—what—is—here," whilst, suiting the word to the action, he first drew a pistol from the left pocket, and immediately after another from the right, and—shades of Freney and O'Hanlon!—the redoubtable pocket-book of Sir Thomas Gourlay, each and all marked not only with his crest, but his name and title at full length.
The priest was not at a moment's loss how to act. Perceiving their mistake as to his identity, and feeling the force of appearances against him, he desired to be conducted at once to the office. There he knew he could think more calmly upon the steps necessary to his liberation than he could in a crowd which was enlarging every moment, on its being understood that Finnerty, the celebrated highwayman, had been at length taken. Not that the crowd gave expression to any feeling or ebullition that was at all unfriendly to him. So far from that, it gathered round him with strong expressions of sympathy and compassion for his unhappy fate. Many were the anecdotes reported to each other by the spectators of his humanity—his charity—his benevolence to the poor; and, above all, of his intrepidity and courage; for it may be observed here—and we leave moralists, metaphysicians, and political economists to draw whatever inferences they please from the fact—but fact it is—that in no instance is any man who has violated the law taken up publicly, on Irish ground, whether in town or country, that the people do not uniformly express the warmest sympathy for him, and a strong manifestation of enmity against his captors. Whether this may be interpreted favorably or otherwise of our countrymen, we shall not undertake to determine. As Sir Roger de Coverly said, perhaps much might be advanced on both sides.
On entering the watch-house, the heart of the humane priest was painfully oppressed at the scenes of uproar, confusion, debauchery, and shameless profligacy, of which he saw either the present exhibition or the unquestionable evidences. There was the lost and hardened female, uttering the wild screams of intoxication, or pouring forth from her dark, filthy place of confinement torrents of polluted mirth; the juvenile pickpocket, ripe in all the ribald wit and traditional slang of his profession; the ruffian burglar, with strong animal frame, dark eyebrows, low forehead, and face full of coarseness and brutality; the open robber, reckless and jocular, indifferent to consequences, and holding his life only in trust for the hangman, or for some determined opponent who may treat him to cold lead instead of pure gold; the sneaking thief, cool and cowardly, ready-witted at the extricating falsehood—for it is well known that the thief and liar are convertible terms—his eye feeble, cunning, and circumspective, and his whole appearance redolent of duplicity and fraud; the receiver of stolen goods, affecting much honest simplicity; the good creature, whether man or woman, apparently in great distress, and wondering that industrious and unsuspecting people, struggling to bring up their families in honesty and decency, should be imposed upon and taken in by people that one couldn't think of suspecting. There, too, was the servant out of place, who first a forger of discharges, next became a thief, and heroically adventuring to the dignity of a burglar for which he had neither skill nor daring, was made prisoner in the act; and there he sits, half drunk, in that corner, repenting his failure instead of his crime, forgetting his cowardice, and making moral resolutions with himself, that, should he escape now, he will execute the next burglary in a safe and virtuous state of sobriety. But we need not proceed: there was the idle and drunken mechanic, or, perhaps, the wife, whose Saturday night visits to the tap-room in order to fetch him home, or to rescue the wages of his industry from the publican, had at length corrupted herself.
Two other characters were there which we cannot overlook, both of whom had passed through the world with a strong but holy scorn for the errors and failings of their fellow-creatures. One of them was a man of gross, carnal-looking features, trained, as it seemed to the uninitiated, into a severe and sanctified expression by the sheer force of religion. His face was full of godly intolerance against everything at variance with the one thing needful, whatever that was, and against all who did not, like himself, travel on fearlessly and zealously Zionward. He did not feel himself justified in the use of common and profane language; and, consequently, his vocabulary was taken principally from the Bible, which he called "the Lord's word." Sunday was not Sunday with him, but "the Lord's day;" and he never went to church in his life, but always to "service." Like most of his class, however, he seemed to be influenced by that extraordinary anomaly which characterizes the saints—that is to say, as great a reverence for the name of the devil as for that of God himself; for in his whole life and conversation he was never known to pronounce it as we have written it. Satan—the enemy—the destroyer, were the names he applied to him: and this, we presume, lest the world might suspect that there subsisted any private familiarity between them. His great ruling principle, however, originated in what he termed a godless system of religious liberality; in other words, he attributed all the calamities and scourges of the land to the influence of Popery. and its toleration by the powers that be. He was a big-boned, coarse man, with black, greasy hair, cut short; projecting cheek-bones, that argued great cruelty; dull, but lascivious eyes; and an upper lip like a dropsical sausage. We forget now the locality in which he had committed the offence that had caused him to be brought there. But it does not much matter; it is enough to say that he was caught, about three o'clock, perambulating the streets, considerably the worse for liquor, and not in the best society. Even as it was, and in the very face of those who had detected him so circumstanced, he was railing against the ungodliness of our "rulers," the degeneracy of human nature, and the awful scourges that the existence of Popery was bringing on the land.
As it happened, however, this worthy representative of his class was not without a counterpart among the moral inmates of the watch-house. Another man, who was known among his friends as a Catholic voteen, or devotee, happened to have been brought to the game establishment, much in the same circumstances, and for some similar offence. When compared together, it was really curious to observe the extraordinary resemblance which these two men bore to each other. Each was dressed in sober clothes, for your puritan of every creed must, like his progenitors the Pharisees of old, have some peculiarity in his dress that will gain him credit for religion. Their features were marked by the same dark, sullen shade which betokens intolerance. The devotee was thinner, and not so large a man as the other; but he made up in the cunning energy which glistened from his eyes for the want of physical strength, as compared with the Protestant saint; not at all that he was deficient in it per se, for though a smaller man, he was better built and more compact than his brother. Indeed, so nearly identical was the expression of their features—the sensual Milesian mouth, and naturally amorous temperament, hypocrisized into formality, and darkened into bitterness by bigotry —that on discovering each other in the watch-house, neither could for his life determine whether the man before him belonged to idolatrous Rome on the one hand, or the arch heresy on the other.
There they stood, exact counterparts, each a thousand times more anxious to damn the other than to save himself. They were not long, however, in discovering each other, and in a moment the jargon of controversy rang loud and high amidst the uproar and confusion of the place. The Protestant saint attributed all the iniquity by which the land, he said, was overflowed, and the judgments under which it was righteously suffering, to the guilt of our rulers, who forgot God, and connived at Popery.
The Popish saint, on the other hand, asserted that so long as a fat and oppressive heresy was permitted to trample upon the people, the country could never prosper. The other one said, that idolatry—Popish idolatry—was the cause of all; and that it was the scourge by which "the Lord" was inflicting judicial punishment upon the country at large. If it were not for that he would not be in such a sink of iniquity at that moment. Popish idolatry it was that brought him there; and the abominations of the Romish harlot were desolating the land.
The other replied, that perhaps she was the only harlot of the kind he would run away from; and maintained, that until all heresy was abolished, and rooted out of the country, the curse of God would sit upon them, as the corrupt law church does now in the shape of an overgrown nightmare. What brought him, who was ready to die for his persecuted church, here? He could tell the heretic;—it was Protestant ascendancy, and he could prove it;—yes, Protestant ascendancy, and nothing else, was it that brought him to that house, its representative, in which he now stood. He maintained that it resembled a watch-house; was it not full of wickedness, noise, and blasphemy; and were there any two creeds; in it that agreed together, and did not fight like devils?
How much longer this fiery discussion might have proceeded it is difficult to say. The constable of the night, finding that the two hypocritical vagabonds were a nuisance to the whole place, had them handcuffed together, and both placed in the black hole to finish their argument.
In short, there was around the good man—vice, with all her discordant sounds and hideous aspects, clanging in his ear the multitudinous din that arose from the loud and noisy tumult of her brutal, drunken, and debauched votaries.
The priest, who respected his cloth and character, did not lay aside his jock, nor expose himself to the coarse jests and ruffianly insolence with which the vagabond minions of justice were in those days accustomed to treat their prisoners. He inquired if he could get a person to carry a message from him to a man named Corbet, living at 25 Constitution Hill; adding, that he would compensate him fairly. On this, one of those idle loungers or orderlies about such places offered himself at once, and said he would bring any message he wished, provided he forked out in the first instance.
"Go, then," said the priest, handing him a piece of silver, "to No. 25 Constitution Hill, where a man named Corbet—what am I saying—Dunphy, lives, and tell him to come to me immediately."
"Ha!" said Darby, laying his finger along; his nose, as he spoke to one of his associates, "I smell an alias there. Good; first Corbet and then Dunphy. What do you call that? That chap is one of the connection. Take the message, Skipton; mark him well, and let him be here, if possible, before we bring the prisoner to Sir Thomas Gourlay's."
The fellow winked in reply, and approaching the priest, asked,
"What message have you to send, Mr. Finnerty?"
"Tell him—but stay; oblige me with a slip of paper and a pen, I will write it down."
"Yes, that's better," said Darby. "Nothing like black and white, you know," he added, aside to Skipton.
Father M'Mahon then wrote down his office only; simply saying, "The parish priest of Ballytrain wishes to see Anthony Dunphy as soon as he can come to him."
This description of himself excited roars of laughter throughout the office; nor could the good-natured priest himself help smiling at the ludicrous contrast between his real character and that which had been affixed upon him.
"Confound me," said Darby, "but that's the best alias I have heard this many a day. It's as good as Tom Green's that was hanged, and who always stuck to his name, no matter how often he changed it. At one time it was Ivy, at another Laurel, at another Yew, and so on, poor fellow, until he swung." Skipton, the messenger, took the slip of paper with high glee, and proceeded on his embassy to Constitution Hill.
He had scarcely been gone, when a tumult reached their ears from outside, in which one voice was heard considerably louder and deeper than the rest; and almost immediately afterwards an old acquaintance of the reader's, to wit, the worthy student, Ambrose Gray, in a very respectable state of intoxication, made his appearance, charged with drunkenness, riot, and a blushing reluctance to pay his tavern reckoning. Mr. Gray was dragged in at very little expense of ceremony, it must be confessed, but with some prospective damage to his tailor, his clothes having received considerable abrasions in the scuffle, as well as his complexion, which was beautifully variegated with tints of black, blue, and yellow.
"Well, Mr. Gray," said Darby, "back once more I see? Why, you couldn't live without us, I think. What's this now?"
"A deficiency of assets, most potent," replied Gray, with a hiccough—"unable to meet a rascally tavern reckoning;" and as Mr. Gray spoke he thrust his tongue into his cheek, intimating by this significant act his high respect for Mr. Darby.
"You had better remember, sir, that you are addressing the senior officer here," said the latter, highly offended.
"Most potent, grave, and reverend senior, I don't forget it; nor that the grand senior can become a most gentlemanly ruffian whenever he chooses. No, senior, I respect your ruffianship, and your ruffianship ought to respect me; for well you wot that many a time before now I've greased that absorbing palm of yours."
"Ah," replied Darby, "the hemp is grown for you, and the rope is purchased that will soon be greased for your last tug. Why didn't you pay your bill, I say?"
"I told you before, most potent, that that fact originated in a deficiency of assets."
"I rather think, Mr. Gray," said Darby, "that it originated in a very different kind of deficiency—a deficiency of inclination, my buck."
"In both, most reverend senior, and I act on scriptural principles; for what does Job say? 'Base is the slave that patient pays.'"
"Well, my good fellow, if you don't pay, you'll be apt to receive, some fine day, that's all," and here he made a motion with his arm, as if he were administering the cat-o'-nine-tails; "however, this is not my business. Here comes Mrs. Mulroony to make her charge. I accordingly shove you over to Ned Nightcap, the officer for the night."
"Ah!" exclaimed Gray, "I see, most potent, you have operated before. Kow-de-dow-de-dow, my boy. There was a professional touch in that jerk that couldn't be mistaken: that quiver at the wrist was beautiful, and the position of the arm a perfect triangle. It must have been quite a pleasure to have suffered from such a scientific hand as yours. How do you do again, Mrs. Mulroony? Mrs. Mulroony, I hope you did not come without some refreshment. And you'll withdraw the charge, for the sake of futurity, Mrs. Mulroony."
"If you do, Mrs. Mulroony," said Darby, "I'm afraid you'll have to look to futurity for payment. I mean to that part of it commonly called 'to-morrow comenever.'—Make your charge, ma'am."
Here a pale-faced, sinister-looking old fellow, in a red woollen nightcap, with baggy protuberances hanging under his red bleared eyes, now came to a little half door, inside of which stood his office for receiving all charges against the various delinquents that the Charlies, or watchmen of the period, had conducted to him.
"Here," said he, in a hoarse, hollow voice, "what's this—what's this? Another charge against you, Mr. Gray? Garvy," said he, addressing a watchman, "tell them vagabones that if they don't keep, quiet I'll put them in irons."
This threat was received with a chorus of derision by those to whom it was addressed, and the noise was increased so furiously, that it resembled the clamor of Babel.
"Here, Garvy," said honest Ned, "tickle some of them a bit. Touch up that bullet-headed house-breaker that's drunk—Sam Stancheon, they call him—lave a nate impression of the big kay on his head; he'll undherstand it, you know; and there's Molly Brady, or Emily Howard, as she calls herself, give her a clink on the noddle to stop her jinteelity. Blast her pedigree; nothing will serve her but she must be a lady on our hands. Tell her I'll not lave a copper ring or a glass brooch on her body if she's not quiet."
The watchman named Garvy took the heavy keys, and big with the deputed authority, swept, like the destroying angel upon a small scale, through the tumultuous crew that were assembled in this villanous pandemonium, thrashing the unfortunate vagabonds on the naked head, or otherwise, as the case might be, without regard to age, sex, or condition, leaving bumps, welts, cuts, oaths, curses, and execrations, ad infinitum, behind him. Owing to this distribution of official justice a partial calm was restored, and the charge of Mrs. Mulroony was opened in form.
"Well, Mrs. Mulroony, what charge is this you have against Misther Gray?"
"Because," replied Ambrose, "I wasn't in possession of assets to pay her own. Had I met her most iniquitous charge at home, honest Ned, I should have escaped the minor one here. You know of old, Ned, how she lost her conscience one night, about ten years ago; and the poor woman, although she put it in the 'Hue and Cry,' by way of novelty, never got it since. None of the officers of justice knew of such a commodity; ergo, Ned, I suffer."
Here Mr. Ambrose winked at Ned, and touched his breeches pocket significantly, as much as to say, "the bribe is where you know."
Ned, however, was strictly impartial, and declined, with most commendable virtue, to recognize the signal, until he saw whether Mrs. Mulroony did not understand "generosity" as well as Mr. Gray.
"Misther Gray, I'll thank you to button your lip, if you plaise. It's all very right, I suppose; but in the manetime let daicent Mrs. Mulroony tell her own story. How is it, ma'am?"
"Faith, plain enough," she replied; "he came in about half past five o'clock, with three or four skips from college—"
"Scamps, Mrs. Mulroony. Be just, be correct, ma'am. We were all gentlemen scamps, Ned, from college. Everybody knows that a college scamp is a respectable character, especially if he be a divinity student, a class whom we are proud to place at our head. You are now corrected, Mrs. Mulroony—proceed."
"Well; he tould me to get a dinner for five; but first asked to see what he called 'the bill of hair.'"
"In your hands it is anything but a bill of rights, Mrs. Mulroony."
"I tould him not to trouble himself; that my dinner was as good as another's, which I thought might satisfy him; but instead o' that, he had the assurance to ask me if I could give them hair soup. I knew very well what the skip was at."
"Scamp, ma'am, and you will oblige me."
"For if grief for poor Andy (weeping), that suffered mainly for what he was as innocent of as the unborn child—if grief, an' every one knows it makes the hair to fall; an' afther all it's only a bit of a front I'm wearin';—ah, you villain, it was an ill-hearted cut, that."
"It wasn't a cut did it, Mrs. Mulroony; it fell off naturally, and by instalments—or rather it was a cut, and that was what made you feel it; that youthful old gentleman, Time, gave it a touch with a certain scythe he carries. No such croppy as old Time, Mrs. Mulroony." On concluding, he winked again at old Ned, and touched his pocket as before.
"Mr. Amby, be quiet," said Ned, rather complacently though, "an' let daicent Mrs. Mulroony go on."
"'Well, then,' says he, 'if you haven't, 'hair-soup,' which was as much as to say—makin' his own fun before the strangers—that I ought to boil my very wig to plaise him—my front, I mane, 'maybe,' says he, 'you have oxtail.' Well, flesh and blood could hardly bear that, and I said it was a scandal for him to treat an industrious, un-projected widow in such a way; 'if you want a dinner, Mr. Gray,' says I, 'I can give you and your friends a jacketful of honest corned beef and greens.' Well, my dear—"
At this insinuating expression of tenderness, old Ned, aware, for the first time, that she was a widow, and kept that most convenient of establishments, an eating-house, cocked his nightcap, with great spirit and significance, and with an attempt at a leer, which, from the force of habit, made him look upon her rather as the criminal than the accuser, he said—"It was scandalous, Mrs. Mulroony; and it is a sad thing to be unprotected, ma'am; it's a pity, too, to see sich a woman as you are without somebody to take care of her, and especially one that id undherstand swindlin'. But what happened next, ma'am?"
"Why, my dear—indeed, I owe you many thanks for your kindness—you see, my dear,"—the nightcap here seemed to move and erect itself instinctively—"this fellow turns round, and says to the other four skips—'Gentlemen,' says he, 'could you conde—condescend,' I think it was—yes—'could you condescend to dine upon corned beef and greens? They said, not unless it would oblige him; and then he said it wasn't to oblige him, but to sarve the house he did it. So, to make a long story short, they filled themselves with my victuals, drank seven tumblers of punch each, kept playin' cards the whole night, and then fell a fightin'—smashed glass, delft, and everything; and when it was mornin', slipped out, one by one, till I caught my skip here, the last of them—"
"Scamp, Mrs. Roony; a gentleman scamp, known to every one as a most respectable character on town."
"When I caught him going off without payment, he fairly laughed in my face, and offered to toss me."
"Oh, the villain!" said Ned; "I only wish I had been there, Mrs. Mulroony, and you wouldn't have wanted what I am sorry to see you do want—a protector. The villain, to go to toss such a woman—to go to take such scandalous liberties! Go on, ma'am—go on, my dear Mrs. Mulroony."
"Well, my dear, he offered, as I said, to toss me for it—double or quits—and when I wouldn't stand that, he asked me if I would allow him to kiss it in, at so many kisses a-day; but I told him that coin wouldn't pass wid me."
"He's a swindler, ma'am; no doubt of it, and you'll never be safe till you have some one to protect you that understands swindlin' and imposition. Well, ma'am—well, my dear ma'am, what next?"
"Why, he then attempted to escape; but as I happened to have a stout ladle in my hand, I thought a good basting wouldn't do him any harm, and while I was layin' on him two sailors came in, and they took him out of my hands."
"Out of the frying-pan into the fire, you ought to say, Mrs. Mulroony."
"So he and they fought, and smashed another lot of glass, and then I set out and charged him on the watch. Oh, murdher sheery—to think the way my beautiful beef and greens went!"
Here Mr. Ambrose, approaching Mrs. Mulroony, whispered—"My dear Mrs. Mulroony, remember one word—futurity; heir apparent—heir direct; so be moderate, and a short time will place you in easy circumstances. The event that's coming will be a stunner."
"What's that he's sayin' to you, my dear Mrs. Mulroony?" asked Ned; "don't listen to him, he'll only soohdher and palaver you. I'll take your charge, and lock him up."