"That's all well enough in its way," he would say; "but it won't do in Belfast. We're business men."
I think he said those words five times in the course of the afternoon, and each time they filled me with fresh delight. If the man had been a fool I should not have been interested in him. If he had been a simple crude money maker, a Stock Exchange Imperialist, for instance, I should have understood him and yawned. But he was not a fool. A man cannot be a fool who manages successfully a large business, who keeps in touch with the swift vicissitudes of modern international commerce, who has organized into a condition of high efficiency an industrial army of several thousand working-men and women. And Mr. Cahoon, in a curious hard way, was touched with idealisms; I discovered, accidentally, that he devotes his spare time on Saturdays to the instruction of young men in cricket and football. His Sunday afternoons he gives to an immense Bible-class for boys of fifteen or sixteen. He has built and maintains, on the sole condition that he does not actually lose money by it, a kind of model village in a suburban district of Belfast. In order to look after this village properly he gets up at five o'clock in the morning on three days in the week. In winter, when his social work is in full swing, he spends almost all his evenings at a large Working-Men's club. He spends his summer holidays in the seaside camp of The Boys' Brigade. It would be difficult to find a man who crams more work into what are supposed to be his leisure hours. He has, of course, little time for reading and he never travels. His devotion to good works leaves him no opportunity for culture, and accounts for the fact that he believes the things which Babberly says on platforms. He would, I did not actually try him with the subject, but I have no doubt he would, have brushed the philosophy of Emmanuel Kant into the world's waste-basket with his unvarying formula: It wouldn't do in Belfast. They are business men there.
We worried on about his fear of the over-taxation of Belfast and the industrial North. I tried to get from him some definite account of the exact taxes which he feared. I tried to get him to explain how he proposed to fight, against whom he intended to fight, who might be expected to fight on his side. I do not think he got angry with me for my persistency, but his contempt for me steadily increased. I am not a business man and so I could not possibly, so he hinted, understand how they feel about the matter in Belfast.
"But do you think," I said, "that your workmen will go out and be shot in order to save you from paying an extra penny in the pound income tax? That's what it comes to, you know, and I don't see why they should do it. They don't pay income tax, or for that matter death duties."
Cahoon looked me full in the face for nearly half a minute without replying. Then he took out his watch and looked at it. Then he took me by the arm and led me towards the yard.
"Did you ever see the Green Loaney Scutching Mill?" he said.
I had never seen any scutching mill. I have only a vague idea of what a scutching mill is.
"It'll not be more than twenty miles from this," said Cahoon. "And in my car we'll do it and be back for dinner."
I did not particularly want to spend the rest of the afternoon rushing about the country in Cahoon's motor car. I preferred to stay quietly on the Castle Affey lawn and talk about Home Rule.
"But about the working-man," I said, "and the prospect of his fighting—"
"You'll be better able to talk about that," said Cahoon, "when you've seen the man I'm going to take you to. Seeing's believing."
I was, of course, quite willing to go with Cahoon if he would really show me a citizen soldier in a scutching mill. We got out the motor car and started.
"He's a man by the name of McConkey," said Cahoon.
"A good name," I said. "One expects something from a McConkey."
Cahoon did not say anything for about ten minutes. Then he went on—
"McConkey is foreman in the mill."
"The scutching mill?" I asked.
It was, of course, the scutching mill. I only asked the question in order to keep up the conversation. The long silences were embarrassing. Cahoon did not answer me. At the end of another quarter of an hour of furious driving he gave me a little further information about McConkey.
"He neither drinks nor smokes."
This led me to think that he might be some relation to my friend Crossan, possibly a cousin.
"I happen to know," said Cahoon a little later, "that he has upwards of L500 saved."
Undoubtedly McConkey and Crossan are close relations, brothers-in-law perhaps.
We reached the Green Loaney Scutching Mill at about half-past five o'clock. Cahoon, who seemed to know all about the establishment, led me through some very dusty purlieus. McConkey, when we came upon him, did not seem particularly pleased to see Cahoon. He looked at me with suspicious malignity.
"There's a gentleman here," said Cahoon, "who wants to know whether you mean to fight rather than submit to Home Rule."
"Aye," said McConkey, "I do."
Then he looked me square in the face without winking. Cahoon did the same thing exactly. Neither of them spoke. It was clearly my turn to say something; but with four hard grey eyes piercing my skin I found it difficult to think of a remark. In the end I said:
They both continued to stare at me. Then McConkey broke the silence again.
"You'll no be a Papist?" he said.
"Certainly not," I replied. "In fact I am a church-warden."
McConkey thrust his hand deep into a hip pocket in the back of his trousers and drew out a somewhat soiled packet of yellow tracing paper.
"Look at thon," he said.
I unfolded the tracing paper and found on it drawings of a machine gun. Cahoon peered over my shoulder.
"She's a bonny wee thing," said McConkey.
She looked to me large and murderous. Cahoon expressed his admiration for her, so I said nothing.
"I'll no be that badly off for something to fight with," said McConkey, "when the time comes."
"Do you mean to say," I said, "that you've bought that weapon?"
"I haven't her bought yet," said McConkey; "but I have the money by me."
"And you actually mean—" I said.
"Ay. I do."
I looked at Cahoon. He was still studying the drawings of the gun.
"It'll be queer," said McConkey, slowly, "if she doesna' land a few of them in hell before they have me catched."
I turned to Cahoon again.
"Do you really think," I said, "that he—?"
"We're business men," said Cahoon, "and we don't throw away our money."
"But," I said, "who are you going to shoot at? It would be silly to attack a tax collector with a gun like that. I don't see who—"
"Oh," said Cahoon, "don't fret about that. We'll find somebody to shoot at."
"There'll be plenty," said McConkey, "when the time comes."
"The real difficulty," said Cahoon, "is that—"
"They'll no be wanting to stand up till us," said McConkey.
The relations of Capital with Labour are, I understand, strained in other parts of the United Kingdom. Here, with Home Rule on the horizon, they seem to be actually cordial. There is certainly a good deal to be said for Lady Moyne's policy. So long as Cahoon and McConkey have a common taste for making domestic pets of machine guns they are not likely to fall out over such minor matters as wages and hours of work.
I had a good deal to think of as Cahoon drove me back to Castle Affey. My main feeling was one of great personal thankfulness. I shall never, I hope, take part in a battle. If I do I hope I shall be found fighting against some properly organized army, the men and officers of which have taken up the business of killing in a lofty professional spirit. I cannot imagine anything more likely to shatter my nerve than to be pitted against men like McConkey, who neither drink nor smoke, but save and spend their savings on machine guns. The regular soldier has his guns bought for him with other people's money. He does not mind much if no gory dividend is earned. McConkey, on the other hand, spends his own money, and being a business man, will hate to see it wasted. He would not be satisfied, I imagine, with less than fifty corpses per cent. as a return on his expenditure.
At dinner that evening Conroy made a suggestion for our evening's entertainment.
"Lady Moyne," he said, "ought to read us the speech which she is to make next week to the Unionist women."
I had never heard of the Unionist women before, and knew nothing of their wish to be spoken to. The Dean assured me that they were numerous and quite as enthusiastic as their husbands and brothers. Cahoon said that he was giving his mill hands a half holiday in order that the girls might go to listen to Lady Moyne. Babberly struck in with a characteristic speech.
"The influence of women," he said, "can hardly be over-estimated. We must never forget that the most impressionable years of a man's life are those during which he is learning to say his prayers beside his mother's knee."
This, as I recognized was a mere paraphrase of the proverb which states that the hand which rocks the cradle rules the world. The secret of Babberly's great success as an orator is that he has a striking power of putting platitudes into new words.
I ventured to suggest that, so far as the present political situation was concerned it was hardly worth while trying to get at the children who were learning to say their prayers. The Home Rule Bill would be either rejected or passed long before any of that generation had votes. Lady Moyne was good enough to smile at me; but Babberly felled me at once.
"The women whom we expect to influence," he said, "have fathers, brothers and husbands as well as young children."
After dinner we had the speech. A secretary, who had once been Lady Moyne's governess and still wore pince-nez, brought a quantity of type-written matter into the drawing-room. Moyne wanted me to slip away with him to the billiard room; but I refused to do so. I wanted to watch Lady Moyne making her speech. I am glad that I resisted his appeal. Lady Moyne not only read us the speech. She delivered it to us, treated us, indeed, to a rehearsal, I might even call it a dress rehearsal, for she described at some length the clothes she intended to wear. They must have been the most sumptuous in her wardrobe.
"The poor dears," she said, "want something to brighten their lives. Besides, they'll take it as a compliment to them if I'm like Solomon in all his glory."
I gathered from this remark that the audience was to consist mainly of the wives and sisters of McConkey and other men of the same class. Cahoon's wife, if he had one, would not require a display of Lady Moyne's best clothes to seal her attachment to the Union.
The speech was an uncommonly good one. A phrase in it frequently repeated, appealed to me very strongly. Lady Moyne spoke about "our men." I do not know why it is, but the phrase "our women" as used for instance by military officers who have been to India, always strikes me as singularly offensive. It suggests seraglios, purdahs and other institutions by which Turks, and Orientals generally, assert and maintain the rights of property with regard to the other sex. "Our men," on the other hand, is redolent of sentimental domesticity. I never hear it without thinking of women who are mothers and makers of men; who sew on trouser buttons and cook savoury messes for those who are fighting the battle of life for them in a rough world, sustained by an abiding vision of noble womanhood and the sanctity of home. It is an extraordinarily appealing phrase and Lady Moyne used it for all it was worth. As addressed by her to wives and sisters of the Belfast working-men, it had a further value. The plural possessive pronoun bracketed McConkey with Lord Moyne. McConkey's wife, assuming for the moment that he had not abstained from matrimony as he had from tobacco, shared his joys and sorrows, his hopes and fears, heartened him for his daily toil, would join no doubt in polishing the muzzle of the machine gun. So Lady Moyne in her gorgeous raiment, sustained Lord Moyne, her man. That was the suggestion of the possessive pronoun, and the audience was not allowed to miss it. Poor Moyne did miss it, for he was nearly asleep in a chair. But McConkey's wife would not. Her heart would glow with a sense that she and Lady Moyne were sisters in their anxious care for the men entrusted to them.
That single phrase made such a violent emotional appeal to me that I missed all the rest of the speech. Each time I began to recover a little from hearing it and was prepared to give my attention to something else, Lady Moyne used to repeat it, and then I was hypnotized again. I have no doubt, however, that the speech was a powerful appeal for the maintenance of the Union. Conroy said so afterwards and Babberly entirely agreed with him. The Dean suggested that something might be put in about the sanctity of the marriage tie, a matter of particular importance to women and likely to be seriously affected by the passing of a Home Rule Bill. Lady Moyne thanked him for calling her attention to the omission. The secretary, who had once been a governess, adjusted her pince-nez and took a note.
In the smoking-room that evening Conroy took command of the conversation, and for the first time since I arrived at Castle Affey we got off politics. He told us a good deal about how he made his fortune. Most men who have made fortunes enjoy talking about how they made them. But their stories are nearly always most uninteresting. My impression is that they do not themselves understand how they came to be rich. But Conroy understood, or at all events thought he understood, his own success. He believed that he was rich because he had, more than other men, a love of the excitement which comes with risk. He had the spirit of the true adventurer, the man who pursues novelty and danger for their own sakes. Every story he told us illustrated and was meant to illustrate this side of his character. He despised the rest of us, especially me perhaps. We, Cahoon, the Dean, even Malcolmson, though he was a bristly fighting man, certainly Moyne who had gone quietly to bed—we were tame barndoor fowls, eating the sordid messes spread for us by that old henwife, civilized society. Conroy was a free bird of the wild. He snatched golden grain for nutriment from the hand of a goddess. These were not his words or his metaphors, but they represented the impression which his talk and his stories left on my mind.
At twelve o'clock I rose to say good night. As I did so a servant entered the room and told Conroy that his motor was ready for him at the door. Conroy left the room at once, and left the house a few minutes later.
I suppose we ought, all of us, to have been surprised. Motor drives in the middle of the night are an unusual form of amusement, and it was impossible to suppose that Conroy could have any business requiring immediate personal attention in the neighbourhood of Castle Affey. But his talk during the evening had left its impression on other minds as well as mine. We bid each other good night without expressing any astonishment at Conroy's conduct. Cahoon refrained from saying that inexplicable midnight expeditions were not the kind of things they cared for in Belfast. Even he recognized that a man who had accumulated as large a fortune as Conroy's must not be judged by ordinary standards.
I, unfortunately, failed to go to sleep. I tried to read the works of Alexander Pope, of which I found a well-bound copy in my bedroom. But my mind only became more active. I got up at last and covered six sheets of the Castle Affey note paper with a character sketch of Conroy. I maintained that he was wrong in supposing that a capacity for daring is the secret of becoming rich. Bob Power, for instance, is as daring as any man living and certainly loves risk for its own sake, but Bob will not die a rich man. Nor will Conroy. Wealth falls into the hands of such men occasionally, as vast hoards of gold did one hundred and fifty years ago into the holds of pirate ships. But no one ever heard of a buccaneer who died with a large fortune safely invested. Before Conroy dies his fortune will have taken to itself wings and fled back to that goddess of his who gave it. This was the substance of my article. Marion typed it out for me when I went home, but neither of the editors who usually print my articles would have it. I suppose that they did not know Conroy personally. If they had known him they would have appreciated my character sketch. I called it, I remember, "Our Contemporary Pirates," a title which ought to have been attractive.
At three o'clock, just as I was finishing my article, I heard Conroy's motor on the gravel outside my window.
He appeared at breakfast looking fresh and cheerful. None of us asked him where he had been the night before, and he did not offer us any information.
After breakfast he asked me to go for a walk with him. Lady Moyne, who heard the invitation given, looked pleased, and I recollected at once that I had promised to interest Conroy in the Unionist cause and lead him on to the point of giving a large subscription to our funds.
These party funds have always been rather a puzzle to me. I have never understood why it should be necessary for rich Liberals, rich Conservatives and American Irishmen to spend enormous sums of money in persuading people to vote. The theory of democratic government is, I suppose, that the citizen expresses his opinion freely in a polling booth. If he has not got an opinion it would surely be better to leave him alone. If he has an opinion and attaches any importance to it he will go to the polling booth without being dragged there by a kind of special constable hired for the purpose. If the money of the party funds were given to the voters in the form of bribes, the expenditure would be intelligible. It might even be justified; since an occasional tip would be most welcome to nearly every elector. But to spend tens of thousands of pounds on what is called organization seems very foolish. However I am not a practical politician, and my immediate object was not to explain the theory of political finance to Conroy, but to work him up into the frame of mind in which he would sign cheques.
I cannot flatter myself that I did this or even helped to do it. Conroy did not give me a chance. He began to talk about the Irish land question, a thing in which I no longer take any but an academic interest. He asked me if I still owned a small estate in Co. Galway which had belonged to my father. I told him that I had long ago sold it and was uncommonly glad to do so.
"Not a paying proposition?" said Conroy.
"Oh," I said, "it paid very well; but the fact is, what with the agitation about grazing lands, and the trouble about people in congested districts—"
"I reckon," said Conroy, "that your ancestors mismanaged the property some."
I expect they did. But I did not expect to have their misdeeds brought home to me in a vigorous personal way.
"Your father," said Conroy, "or your grandfather, turned my grandfather off a patch of land down there in 1850."
My grandfather had, I have heard, a theory that small holdings of land were uneconomic. He evicted his tenants and made large grass farms. Nowadays we hold the opposite opinion. We are evicting large tenants and establishing small holdings. Our grandsons, I dare say, will go back again to the large farms. I explained to Conroy that he ought not to blame my grandfather who was acting in accordance with the most advanced scientific theories of his time.
Conroy was very nice about the matter. He said he had no grudge against either me or my grandfather. He had, however, so he told me frankly, a prejudice against everything English; an inherited prejudice, and not quite so irrational as it looked. It was after all the English who invented the economic theories on which my grandfather acted. He talked so much about his dislike of England and everything English that I did not like to introduce the subject of the subscription to Lady Moyne's political fund. He did, in the end, subscribe largely. When I heard about his L1000 cheque I supposed that he must have counted the Union with us a misfortune for England and so wished to perpetuate it. Either that was his motive, so I thought, or else Lady Moyne had captivated him as she always captivates me.
I had no sooner settled down quietly at home and got to work again on my history than I was assailed by Godfrey. I wish very much that he was Conroy's nephew and not mine. Conroy goes driving in a motor in the middle of the night, so he must like disturbances. I hate them.
"I'm sorry, Excellency, but I am afraid I shall have to interrupt you."
Godfrey, besides being objectionable in other ways, is a liar. He is not sorry, he is very glad, when he gets the chance of interrupting me. I should resent the disturbance less if he acknowledged frankly that he enjoyed annoying me.
"It can't be time," I said, "for another garden-party yet; but, if it is, I'd rather you made out the invitation list yourself. I'm busy. Besides making out lists is one of the things you're good at. I should be sure to leave out somebody."
"I don't want to talk about garden-parties," said Godfrey. "This is something much more serious."
"There's no use coming to me about it," I said. "I told you last time that your tailor could bring you into the County Court if he liked. I shan't pay him again."
The inference was a natural one. Godfrey had said that he wanted to talk about something more important than a garden-party. But the inference was wrong. Godfrey looked offended.
"I sent Nicholson and Blackett a cheque last week," he said.
I waited patiently. If Godfrey's business had nothing to do with garden-parties or tailors' bills, I could only suppose that he meant to make some fresh complaint about Crossan.
"Pringle cashed it all right," said Godfrey, after a short pause. "I went in there the day after your party and played tennis with his daughter. They were awfully pleased."
I dare say they were. People attach a surprising amount of importance to Godfrey's social patronage. I myself should be more inclined to cash his cheques for him if he stayed away from my house. But I did not want to argue with Godfrey about Pringle's taste in guests.
"What's Crossan been doing to you?" I asked at last.
"He hasn't been doing anything to me."
"Then for goodness' sake, Godfrey, let the man alone."
"I don't like the way he's going on."
"You never did. There's nothing fresh about that. You've complained about him regularly every week for five years."
This was an exaggeration. I am sometimes away from home for more than a week at a time and Godfrey does not always complain about Crossan in his letters.
"Look here, Excellency," said Godfrey, "it's far better for you to know what Crossan's doing. He's going about all over the country day after day. He's got a motor car."
I can quite understand that Crossan's owning a motor car must have a very irritating effect on Godfrey. I cannot afford to keep one. That any one else in the district over which I ought, according to Godfrey's theory, to be a kind of king, should assume a grandeur impossible for me is simply an aggravated kind of insolence. No wonder that Godfrey, with the honour of the family at heart, resented Crossan's motor car. I tried to soothe him.
"It's probably quite an inferior machine," I said. "It will break down soon."
"It's not only that," said Godfrey, "though I think Crossan ought to stay at home and mind his business. He must be neglecting things. But—I wish you'd walk up to the store with me, Excellency. Crossan's away."
"I'd much rather go when Crossan's at home," I said; "but, of course, if you won't leave me in peace until I do, I may as well go at once."
I got my hat and walking stick. On the way up to the store Godfrey preserved an air of mysterious importance. I had no objection whatever to his doing this; because he could not talk and look mysterious at the same time, and I particularly dislike being talked to by Godfrey. I expect he tried to be dignified with a view to impressing me, but just before we reached the store he broke down and babbled fatuously.
"Marion told me yesterday," he said, "that she'd had a letter from that fellow Power."
"She told me that too," I said.
"Well, I think you ought to put a stop to it. It's not right."
"My dear Godfrey," I said, "you appear to forget that he's one of the Powers of Kilfenora and private secretary to a millionaire."
This twofold appeal to the highest and strongest feelings which Godfrey possesses ought to have silenced him. He did, I think, feel the force of what I said. But he was not satisfied.
"If you knew all that was going on," he said, "you wouldn't like it."
We reached the store. The young woman who controls the sale of miscellaneous goods was alert and smiling behind her counter. Whatever Crossan might be doing she at all events was attending to her business. Godfrey took no notice of her. He led me through the shop to the yard behind it. He pushed open the door of one of the outhouses.
"That door ought to be locked," he said.
This was true. I was somewhat surprised to find it open.
"I forced the lock this morning," said Godfrey, "with a screw driver."
"In that case," I said, "you can hardly blame Crossan for its being open. Why did you do it?"
"I wanted to see what he had inside," said Godfrey, "and I wanted you to see."
There was a good deal inside. In fact the outhouse, a large building, was filled from floor to ceiling with packing-cases, some of them very large indeed. Godfrey pointed to a small one near the door.
"Just lift that up, will you, Excellency?" said Godfrey.
"No, I won't. Why should I? I'm not a railway porter, and it looks heavy."
"It is heavy. Just watch me for a moment if you don't want to lift it yourself."
Godfrey with evident difficulty lifted the packing-case, staggered a few steps with it and then set it down. The packing-case may have been heavy but it was quite small. It seemed to me that Godfrey was making a rather pitiful exhibition of his physical feebleness.
"You ought to do things with dumb bells," I said. "The muscles of your arms are evidently quite soft."
Godfrey took no notice of the taunt. He was in a state of tremendous moral earnestness.
"I want your permission to open these cases," he said.
"I won't give you any such permission," I said. "How can I? They're not my packing-cases."
Godfrey argued with me for quite a long time, but I remained firm. For some reason which I could not understand, Godfrey was unwilling to open the packing-cases without permission from somebody. I should have supposed that having already forced a door he would not have boggled at the lid of a packing-case; but he did. He evidently had some vague idea that the law takes a more serious view of smashing packing-cases than it does of housebreaking. He may have been right. But my record so far was clear. I had not forced the lock of the door.
"What do you suppose is in those cases?" said Godfrey.
"Artificial manure," I said.
Our store does a large business in artificial manure. It generally comes to us in sacks, but there is no reason why it should not come in packing-cases. It is tremendously heavy stuff.
"Those cases were landed from the Finola," said Godfrey. "She wouldn't come here with a cargo of artificial manure."
"If you've brought me all the way up here to accuse Conroy of smuggling," I said, "you've wasted your own time and mine."
"I don't accuse Conroy of smuggling," said Godfrey. "In fact, I'm going to write to him to-night to tell him what's going on."
"Very well," I said. "You can if you like, but don't mix my name up with it."
We walked back together as far as the village. Godfrey was silent again. I could see that he still had something on his mind, probably something which he wanted me to do. He kept on clearing his throat and pulling himself together as if he were going to say something of importance. I was uncomfortable, for I felt sure that he intended to attack me again about Marion's correspondence with Bob Power. I have never, since she was quite a little girl, interfered with Marion's freedom of action. I had not the smallest intention of making myself ridiculous by claiming any kind of authority over her, especially in a matter so purely personal as the young man she chose to favour. Besides, I like Bob Power. At worst there was nothing against him except his smuggling, and smuggling is much less objectionable than the things that Godfrey does. I should rather, if it came to that, have a son-in-law who went to prison occasionally for importing spirits without consulting the government than one who perpetually nagged at me and worried me. But I did not want to provoke further arguments by explaining my feelings to Godfrey. I was therefore rather relieved when he finally succeeded in blurting out what was in his mind.
"I hope, Excellency," he said, "that you will take the first chance you get of speaking to Crossan."
In sudden gratitude for escaping a wrangle about Marion and Bob Power I promised hurriedly that I would speak to Crossan. I was sorry afterwards that I did promise. Still, I very much wished to know what was in the packing-cases. I did not really believe it was artificial manure. I did not believe either that it was smuggled brandy.
My chance came two days later. I met Crossan in the street. He was standing beside his motor car, a handsome-looking vehicle. He evidently intended to go for a drive. I felt at once that I could not ask him a direct question about the packing-cases. I determined to get at them obliquely if I could. I began by admiring the motor.
"She's good enough, my lord," said Crossan.
He is a man of few words, and is sparing of his praise. "Good enough" is, from Crossan, quite an enthusiastic compliment.
"If your lordship would care about a drive any day," he said, "it'll be a pleasure to me."
Crossan always interjects "my lord" and "your lordship" into the middle of the remarks he makes to me; but he says the words in a very peculiar tone. It always seems to me that he wishes to emphasize the difference in our social station because he feels that the advantage is all on his side. "The rank," so his tone suggests, "is but the guinea stamp. The man"—that is in this case Crossan himself—"is the gowd for a' that."
"You can get about the country pretty quickly in that car," I said.
Crossan looked at me with a perfectly expressionless face for some time. Then he said said—
"If you think, my lord, that I'm neglecting my work, you've only to say so and I'll go."
I hastened to assure him that I had no intention of finding fault with him in any way. My apology was as ample as possible. After another minute spent in silent meditation Crossan expressed himself satisfied.
"It suits me as little to be running round the country," he said, "as it would suit your lordship."
"I quite understand that," I said. "But then I don't do it. You do."
"It has to be," said Crossan.
I did not quite see why it had to be; but Crossan spoke with such conviction that I dared not contradict him and did not even like to question him. Fortunately he explained himself.
"I'm the Grand Master, as your lordship is aware," he said.
"Worshipful" is the title of courtesy applied to Grand Masters, and I'm sure no one ever deserved it better than Crossan.
"If we're not ready for them, my lord, they'll have our throats cut in our beds as soon as ever they get Home Rule."
"They," of course were the "Papishes," Crossan's arch enemies.
I wanted very much to hear more of his activities among the Orangemen. I wanted to know what steps he, as Grand Master, was taking to prevent cut-throats creeping in on us while we slept. I thought I might encourage him by telling him something he would be pleased to hear.
"McConkey," I said, "who is foreman in the Green Loaney Scutching Mill, is buying a splendid quick-firing gun."
The remark did not have the effect I hoped for. It had an exactly opposite effect. Crossan shut up like a sea anemone suddenly touched.
"Your lordship's affairs won't be neglected," he said stiffly. "You may count on that."
I felt that I could. I have the utmost confidence in Crossan's integrity. If a body of "Papishes" of the bloodiest kind were to come upon Crossan and capture him; if they were to condemn him to death and, being God-fearing men, were to allow him half an hour in which to make his soul; he would spend the time, not in saying his prayers, not even in cursing the Pope, but in balancing the accounts of the co-operative store, so that any auditor who took over the books afterwards might find everything in order.
"If you really feel it to be your duty," I said, "to go round the district working up—"
"You'll have heard of the Home Rule Bill, maybe," said Crossan.
I had heard of it, several times. After my visit to Castle Affey I even understood it, though it was certainly a measure of great complexity. I think I appreciated the orthodox Protestant view of it since the day I talked to McConkey. I wanted Crossan to realize how fully I entered into his feelings, so I quoted a phrase from one of Babberly's speeches.
"In this supreme crisis of our country's destiny," I said, "it is the duty of every man to do his uttermost to avert the threatened ruin of our common Protestantism."
That ought to have pacified Crossan even if it did not rouse him to enthusiasm. Huge crowds have cheered Babberly for saying these moving words. But Crossan received them from me in sullen silence.
"It would be well," he said at last, "if your lordship and others like you were more in earnest."
Crossan is not by any means a fool. I have occasionally been tempted to think he is, especially when he talks about having his throat cut at night; but he has always shown me in the end that he has in him a vein of strong common sense. He recognized that I was talking bombast when I spoke about the supreme crisis; but, curiously enough, he is quite convinced of Babberly's sincerity when he says things of that sort.
It was nearly an hour after Crossan left me when I recollected that I had not found out anything about the packing-cases. The subject somehow had not come up between us, though I fully intended that it should. Our talk about Home Rule gave me no clue to what was in the cases. I could scarcely suppose that they were full of gorgets for distribution among Orangemen, defensive armour proof against the particular kind of stabs which Crossan anticipated.
Godfrey called on me the next morning in a white heat of righteous indignation. He had received an answer to the letter which he wrote to Conroy. Before showing it to me he insisted on my reading what he called his statement of the case. It occupied four sheets of quarto paper, closely type-written. It accused Bob Power and McNeice of using the Finola for smuggling without the owner's knowledge. It made out, I am bound to say, quite a good case. He had collected every possible scrap of evidence, down to Rose's new brooch. I suppose Marion told him about that. He said at the end of the letter that he had no motive in writing it except a sincere wish for Conroy's welfare. This was quite untrue. He had several other motives. His love of meddling was one. Hatred of Crossan was another. Jealousy of Bob Power was a third.
"Now is there anything objectionable in that letter? Anything that one gentleman would not write to another?"
I admitted that on the whole it was a civil letter.
"Now look at his answer," said Godfrey.
Conroy's answer was on a post-card. It consisted of six words only.
"Do not be a damned fool."
"Well," I said, "that's sound advice even if it's not very politely expressed."
"Conroy's in it too," said Godfrey, vindictively, "and I'll make them all sorry for themselves before I've done with them."
I find by consulting my diary that it was on the 30th of June that I went to Dublin. I am not often in Dublin, though I do not share the contempt for that city which is felt by most Ulstermen. Cahoon, for instance, will not recognize it as the capital of the country in which he lives, and always speaks of Dublin people as impractical, given over to barren political discussion and utterly unable to make useful things such as ships and linen. He also says that Dublin is dirty, that the rates are exorbitantly high, and that the houses have not got bath-rooms in them. I put it to him that there are two first-rate libraries in Dublin.
"If I want a book," he said, "I buy it. We pay for what we use in Belfast. We are business men."
"But," I explained, "there are some books, old ones, which you cannot buy. You can only consult them in libraries."
"Why don't you go to London, then?" said Cahoon.
The conversation took place in the club. I lunched there on my way through Belfast, going on to Dublin by an afternoon train. I was, in fact, going to Dublin to consult some books in the College Library. Marion and I had been brought up short in our labours on my history for want of some quotations from the diary of a seventeenth-century divine, and even if I had been willing to buy the book I should have had to wait months while a second-hand bookseller advertised for it.
Trinity College, when I entered the quadrangle next day, seemed singularly deserted. The long vacation had begun a week before. Fellows, professors and students had fled from the scene of their labours. Halfway across the square, however, I met McNeice. He seemed quite glad to see me and invited me to luncheon in his rooms. I accepted the invitation and was fed on cold ham, stale bread and bottled stout.
Thackeray once hinted that fellows of Trinity College gave their guests beer to drink. Many hard words have been said of him ever since by members of Dublin University. I have no wish to have hard things said about me; so I explain myself carefully. McNeice's luncheon was an eccentricity. It is not on cold ham solely, it is not on stale bread ever, that guests in the Common Room are fed. If, like Prince Hal, they remember amid their feasting "that good creature, small beer," they do not drink it without being offered nobler beverages. When the University, in recognition of my labours on the Life of St. Patrick, made me a doctor of both kinds of law, I fared sumptuously in the dining hall and afterwards sipped port rich with the glory of suns which shone many many years ago on the banks of the upper Douro.
After luncheon, while I was still heavy with the spume of the stout, McNeice asked me if I had seen the new paper which was being published to express, I imagine also to exacerbate, the opinions of the Ulster Unionists. He produced a copy as he spoke. It was called The Loyalist.
"We wanted something with a bite in it," he said. "We're dead sick of the pap the daily papers give us in their leading articles."
Pap is, I think, a soft innocuous food, slightly sugary in flavour, suitable for infants. I should never have dreamed of describing the articles in The Belfast Newsletter as pap. An infant nourished on them would either suffer badly from the form of indigestion called flatulence or would grow up to be an exceedingly ferocious man. I felt, however, that if McNeice had anything to do with the editing of The Loyalist its articles would be of such a kind that those of the Newsletter would seem, by comparison, papescent.
"We're running it as a weekly," said McNeice, "and what we want is to get it into the home of every Protestant farmer, and every working-man in Belfast. We are circulating the first six numbers free. After that we shall charge a penny."
I looked at The Loyalist. It was very well printed, on good paper. It looked something like The Spectator, but had none of the pleasant advertisements of schools and books, and much fewer pages of correspondence than the English weekly has.
"Surely," I said, "you can't expect it to pay at that price."
"We don't," said McNeice. "We've plenty of money behind us. Conroy—you know Conroy, don't you?"
"Oh," I said, "then Lady Moyne got a subscription out of him after all. I knew she intended to."
"Lady Moyne isn't in this at all," said McNeice. "We're out for business with The Loyalist. Lady Moyne's—well, I don't quite see Lady Moyne running The Loyalist."
"She's a tremendously keen Unionist," I said. "She gave an address to the working-women of Belfast the week before last, one of the most moving—"
"All frills," said McNeice, "silk frills. Your friend Crossan is acting as one of our agents, distributing the paper for us. That'll give you an idea of the lines we're going on."
Crossan, I admit, is the last man I should suspect of being interested in frills. The mention of his name gave me an idea.
"Was it copies of The Loyalist," I asked, "which were in the packing-cases which you and Power landed that night from the Finola?"
"Come along round with me," he said, "and see the editor. He'll interest you. He's a first-rate journalist, used to edit a rebel paper and advocate the use of physical force for throwing off the English rule. But he's changed his tune now. Just wait for me one moment while I get together an article which I promised to bring him. It's all scattered about the floor of the next room in loose sheets."
I read The Loyalist while I waited. The editor was unquestionably a first-rate journalist. His English was of a naked, muscular kind, which reminded me of Swift and occasionally of John Mitchel. But I could not agree with McNeice that he had changed his tune. He still seemed to be editing a rebel paper and still advocated the use of physical force for resisting the will of the King, Lords and Commons of our constitution. It is the merest commonplace to say that Ireland is a country of unblushing self-contradictions; but I do not think that the truth of this ever came home to me quite so forcibly as when I read The Loyalist that it would be better, if necessary, to imitate the Boers and shoot down regiments of British soldiers than to be false to the Empire of which "it is our proudest boast that we are citizens." The editor—such was the conclusion I arrived at—must be a humorist of a high order.
His name was Diarmid O'Donovan and he always wrote it in Irish characters, which used to puzzle me at first when I got into correspondence with him. We found him in a small room at the top of a house in a side street of a singularly depressing kind.
McNeice explained to me that The Loyalist did not court notoriety, and preferred to have an office which was, as far as possible, out of sight. He said that O'Donovan was particularly anxious to be unobtrusive. He had, before he became connected with The Loyalist, been editor of two papers which had been suppressed by the Government for advocating what the Litany calls "sedition and privy conspiracy." He held, very naturally, that a paper would get on better in the world if it had no office at all. If that was impossible, the office should be an attic in an inaccessible slum.
O'Donovan, when we entered, was seated at a table writing vigorously. I do not know how he managed to write at all. His table was covered with stacks of newspapers, very dusty. He had cleared a small, a very small space in the middle of them, and his ink-bottle occupied a kind of cave hollowed out at the base of one of the stacks. It must have been extremely difficult to put a pen into it. The chairs—there were only two of them besides the editorial stool—were also covered with papers. But even if they had been free I should not have cared to sit down on them. They were exceedingly dirty and did not look safe.
McNeice introduced me and then produced his own article. O'Donovan, very politely, offered me his stool.
"McNeice tells me," he said, "that you are writing a history of Irish Rebellions. I suppose you have said that Nationalism ceased to exist about the year 1900?"
"I hadn't thought of saying that," I said. "In fact—in view of the Home Rule Bill, you know—I should have said that Irish Nationalism was just beginning to come to its own."
"There's no such thing as Irish Nationalism left," he said. "The country is hypnotized. We've accepted a Bill which deprives us of the most elementary rights of freemen. We've licked the boots of English Liberals. We've said 'thank you' for any gnawed bones they like to fling to us. We've—"
It struck me that O'Donovan was becoming rhetorical. I interrupted him.
"Idealism in politics," I said, "is one of the most futile things there is. What the Nationalist Party—"
"Don't call them that," said O'Donovan. "I tell you they're not Nationalists."
"I'll call them anything you like," I said, "but until you invent some other name for them I can't well talk about them without calling them Nationalists."
"They—" said O'Donovan.
"Very well," I said. "They. So long as you know who I mean, the pronoun will satisfy me. They had to consider not what men like you wanted, but what the Liberal Party could be induced to give. I don't say they made the best bargain possible, but—"
"Anyhow," said McNeice, "we're not going to be governed by those fellows. That's the essential point."
I think it is. The Unionist is not really passionately attached to the Union. He has no insuperable antipathy to Home Rule. Indeed, I think most Unionists would welcome any change in our existing system of government if it were not that they have the most profound and deeply rooted objection to the men whom McNeice describes as "those fellows," and O'Donovan indicates briefly as "they."
"And so," I said, turning to O'Donovan, "in mere despair of nationality you have gone over to the side of the Unionists."
"I've gone over," said O'Donovan, "to the side of the only people in Ireland who mean to fight."
Supposing that Ulster really did mean to fight O'Donovan's position was quite reasonable. But Babberly says it will never come to fighting. He is quite confident of his ability to bluff the conscientious Liberal into dropping the Home Rule Bill for fear of civil war. O'Donovan, and possibly McNeice, will be left out in the cold if Babberly is right. The matter is rather a tangled one. With Babberly is Lady Moyne, working at her ingenious policy of dragging a red herring across the path along which democracy goes towards socialism. On the other hand there is McNeice with fiery intelligence, and O'Donovan, a coldly consistent rebel against English rule in any shape and form. They have their little paper with money enough behind it, with people like Crossan circulating it for them. It is quite possible that they may count for something. Then there is Malcolmson, a man of almost incredible stupidity, but with a knowledge, hammered into him no doubt with extra difficulty, of how to handle guns.
O'Donovan and McNeice were bending over some proof sheets and talking in low whispers; there was a knock at the office door, and a moment later Malcolmson entered. He looked bristlier than ever, and was plainly in a state of joyous excitement. He held a copy of the first number of The Loyalist in his hand. He caught sight of me at once.
"I'm damned," he said, "if I expected to see you here, Kilmore. You're the last man in Ireland—"
"I'm only here by accident," I said, "and I'm going away almost at once. Let me introduce you to Mr. McNeice and Mr. O'Donovan."
Malcolmson shook hands with the two men vigorously. I never shake hands with Malcolmson if I can possibly help it, because he always hurts me. I expect he hurt both McNeice and O'Donovan. They did not cry out, but they looked a good deal surprised.
"I happened to be in Dublin," said Malcolmson, "and I called round here to congratulate the editor of this paper. I only came across it the day before yesterday, and—"
"You couldn't have come across it any sooner," I said, "for it's only just published."
"And to put down my name as a subscriber for twenty copies. If you want money—"
"They don't," I said, "Conroy is financing them."
"Conroy has some sound ideas," said Malcolmson.
"You approve of the paper, then?" said McNeice.
"I like straight talk," said Malcolmson.
"We aim at that," said O'Donovan.
"I'm dead sick of politics and speech making," said Malcolmson. "What I want is to have a slap at the damned rebels."
"Mr. O'Donovan's point of view," I said, "is almost the same as yours. What he wants—"
"I'm glad to hear it," said Malcolmson, "and I need only say that when the time comes, gentlemen, and it won't be long now if things go on as they are going—you'll find me ready. What Ireland wants—"
Malcolmson paused. I waited expectantly. It is always interesting to hear what Ireland wants. Many people have theories on the subject, and hardly any one agrees with any one else.
"What Ireland wants," said Malcolmson dramatically, "is another Oliver Cromwell."
He drew himself up and puffed out his chest as he spoke. He must, I think, have rather fancied himself in the part of a twentieth century Puritan horse soldier. I looked round at O'Donovan to see how he was taking the suggestion. Oliver Cromwell I supposed, could not possibly be one of his favourite heroes. But I had misjudged O'Donovan. His sympathy with rebels of all nations was evidently stronger than his dislike of the typical Englishman. After all, Cromwell, however objectionable his religious views may have been, did kill a king. O'Donovan smiled quite pleasantly at Malcolmson. I dare say that even the idea of a new massacre of Drogheda was agreeable enough to him, provided the inhabitants of the town were the people to whom he denied the title of Nationalists and Malcolmson wanted to have a slap at because they were rebels.
Then McNeice got us all back to practical business in a way that would have delighted Cahoon. McNeice, though he does live in Dublin, has good Belfast blood in his veins. He likes his heroics to be put on a business basis. The immediate and most pressing problem, he reminded us, was to secure as large a circulation as possible for The Loyalist.
"You get the paper into the people's hands," he said to Malcolmson, "and we'll get the ideas into their heads."
Malcolmson, who is certainly prepared to make sacrifices in a good cause, offered to hire a man with a motorcycle to distribute the paper from house to house over a wide district.
"I know the exact man we want," he said. "He knows every house in County Antrim, and the people like him. He's been distributing Bibles and selling illuminated texts among the farmers and labourers for years. He's what's called a colporteur. That," he turned to O'Donovan with his explanation, "is a kind of Scripture reader, you know."
If any one in the world except Malcolmson had suggested the employment of a Scripture reader for the distribution of The Loyalist, I should have applauded a remarkable piece of cynicism. But Malcolmson was in simple earnest.
"Will you be able to get him?" I said. "The society which employs him may perhaps—"
"Oh, that will be all right," said Malcolmson. "There can't be any objection. But if there is—I happen to be a member of the committee of the society. I'm one"—he sunk his voice modestly—"of the largest subscribers."
I am inclined to forget sometimes that Malcolmson takes a leading part in Church affairs. At the last meeting of the General Synod of the Church of Ireland he said that the distribution of the Bible among the people of Ireland was the surest means of quenching the desire for Home Rule. Free copies of The Loyalist for the people who already have Bibles and a force of artillery are, so to speak, his reserves.
The 12th of July, was, of course, indicated by nature itself as a day in every way suitable for a great Unionist demonstration. Babberly and Lady Moyne were not the people to neglect an opportunity. They organized a demonstration. Then somebody—I think it must have been McNeice in the pages of The Loyalist—suggested that the thing should be called a review and not a demonstration. Malcolmson took the idea up warmly and forced Babberly's hand. English journalists of the Conservative kind—journalists of every kind swarmed over Belfast for a week beforehand—were delighted and trumpetted the thing as a review. Liberal journalists lost their tempers—the clever ones losing theirs most hopelessly—and abused the Orangemen in finely pointed paradoxical epigrams, which I dare say excited the admiration of sentimental Nationalists in Chelsea, but had not the smallest effect of any kind on the people of Belfast. They, just then, had no leisure time to spend in reading epigrams, and never at any time appreciated paradox. An English statesman of great ability announced to the world at large that a demonstration was one thing, and a review was quite a different thing. He went no further than to point out the fact that there was a distinction between the two things; but everybody understood that a demonstration was, in his opinion, quite harmless, whereas a review might end in getting somebody into trouble.
The Nationalist leaders—"those fellows" as McNeice called them—issued a kind of manifesto. It was a document which breathed the spirit of moderate constitutionalism, and spoke the words of grave, serious patriotism. It made a strong appeal to the people of Belfast not to injure the cause of liberty, law and order by rash and ill-considered action. It said that no Nationalist wanted to see Babberly and Lord Moyne put into prison; but that most Nationalists had been made to sleep on plank beds for utterances much less seditious than this advertisement of a review. O'Donovan and McNeice tore this manifesto to pieces with jubilant scorn in the next number of The Loyalist.
A Roman Catholic bishop issued a kind of pastoral to his flock urging them to remain at home on the 12th of July, and above all things not to attempt a counter demonstration in Belfast. It was a nice pastoral, very Christian in tone, but quite unnecessary. No sane Roman Catholic, unless he wanted a martyr's crown, would have dreamed of demonstrating anywhere north of the Boyne on that particular day.
The newspapers were very interesting at this time, and I took in so many of them that I had not time to do anything except read them. I had not even time to read them all, but Marion used to go through the ones I could not read. With a view to writing an essay—to be published in calmer times—on "Different Points of View" we cut out and pasted into a book some of the finer phrases. We put them in parallel columns. "Truculent corner boys," for instance, faced "Grim, silent warriors." "Men in whom the spirit of the martial psalms still survives," stood over against "Ruffians whose sole idea of religion is to curse the Pope." "Sons of unconquerable colonists, men of our own race and blood," was balanced by "hooligans with a taste for rioting so long as rioting can be indulged in with no danger to their own skins." We were interrupted in this pleasant work by the arrival of a letter from Lady Moyne. She summoned me—invited would be quite the wrong word—to Castle Affey. I went, of course.
Babberly was there. He and Lady Moyne were shut up in the library along with Lady Moyne's exhausted secretary. They were writing letters which she typed. I saw Moyne himself before I saw them.
"I'm afraid," he said, "I'm very much afraid that some of our people are inclined to go too far. Malcolmson, for instance. I can't understand Malcolmson. After all the man's a gentleman."
"But," I said, "Malcolmson wants to fight. He always said so."
"Quite so, quite so. We all said so. I've said so myself; but it was always on the distinct understanding—"
"That it would never come to that. I've heard Babberly say so."
"But—damn it all, Kilmore!—it doesn't do to push things to these extremes. The whole business has been mismanaged. The people have got out of hand; and there's Malcolmson, a man who's dined at my table a score of times, actually egging them on. Now, what do you think we ought to do?"
"The Government is threatening you, I suppose?"
"It's growling," said Moyne. "Not that I care what the Government does to me. It can't do much. But I do not want her ladyship mixed up in anything unpleasant. It won't do, you know. People don't like it. I don't mind for myself, of course. But still it's very unpleasant. Men I know keep writing to me. You know the sort of thing I mean."
I did. The members of the English aristocracy still preserve a curious sentiment which they call "loyalty." It is quite a different thing from the "loyalty" of Crossan, for instance, or McNeice. I fully understood that there were men in clubs in London who would look coldly at poor Moyne (men of such importance that their wives' treatment of Lady Moyne would matter even to her) if he were discovered to be heading an actual rising of Ulster Protestants. I promised to do what I could to get Moyne out of his difficulty.
I found that Babberly and Lady Moyne had worked out a very feasible plan without any help from me.
"That fellow Malcolmson has rushed things," said Babberly, "and there's an abominable rag called The Loyalist—"
"By the way," I said, "I hear that the Nationalists at their last meeting in Dublin joined in singing 'God Save the King.'"
I wanted to hear what Babberly thought of this. I was disappointed. The fact did not seem to interest him.
"I don't know who edits the thing," he went on, still referring to The Loyalist.
"Conroy is behind it," I said. "I happen to know that."
"But surely," said Lady Moyne, "Mr. Conroy cannot want to encourage violence. He has just as much to lose as any of us—more than most of us—by any kind of outbreak of the democracy."
"Lady Moyne has suggested to Malcolmson," said Babberly, "that he should agree to call this 12th of July business a March Past."
"Is that any improvement on Review?" I asked.
"Of course," said Lady Moyne, "the Government doesn't want to be driven to take steps against us. There would be horrible rioting afterwards if they struck Moyne's name off the Privy Council or did anything like that. It would be just as unpleasant for them as it would be for us, more so in fact."
"Your idea," I said, "is to give the Government a loophole of escape."
"Malcolmson has agreed all right," said Babberly, "and if only that wretched little paper—did you say Conroy was in it?"
"I'll write to Mr. Conroy at once," said Lady Moyne. "I'm sure his connection with a paper of that kind is simply a mistake."
She turned to the table and began to write her letter. The secretary in a distant corner of the room was still typing out a long pronouncement which Babberly intended to forward to The Times. A minute or two later Lady Moyne turned to me with one of her brightest smiles.
"We want you to be with us on the 12th," she said.
In England or Scotland a countess who gives an invitation for "the 12th" is understood to mean the 12th of August, and her guest must be ready to shoot grouse. In North-Eastern Ulster "the 12th" meant the 12th of July, and the party, in this case at all events, was likely to end in the shooting of policemen.
"At the Review?" I said, "I mean to say the March Past? But I never go to political meetings. I'm no good at all as a speaker."
"Oh, it doesn't matter about your speaking. We should love to hear you, of course. But if you'd really rather not—!"
I think Lady Moyne was relieved when I assured her that I really would rather not.
"But you'll be on the platform," she said. "We want you very much indeed."
"I don't see," I said, "that I'll be the least use to you."
"The point is," said Babberly, "that you're a Liberal."
"Oh, you mustn't say that," said Lady Moyne. "That's only foolish gossip. I'm perfectly certain that Lord Kilmore never was—"
"Never," I said. "But then I never was a Conservative either."
"That's just it," said Lady Moyne. "Don't you see?"
"The point is," said Babberly, "that if you are on the platform it will be quite clear—I mean to say as it's generally understood that you're inclined to Liberalism—"
I began to understand a little. Last time I was at Castle Affey Lady Moyne made a great point of my associating myself with her party in opposing Home Rule. The fact that I was a Liberal (though not in any offensive sense of the word) gave weight to the opposition; and I might help to make the other Liberals (who were Liberals in the most offensive possible sense) take the threats of Babberly seriously. This time I was to sit on the platform side by side with Malcolmson and Cahoon, because, being a Liberal, or rather suspected of being inclined to Liberalism, my presence might induce the other Liberals, who were Liberals indeed, not to take Babberly's remarks at their face value. That is the drawback to the kind of detached position which I occupy. I am liable to be used for such various purposes that I get confused. However, I ought, no doubt, to be very thankful that I am useful in any way.
"If you think, my dear Lady Moyne," I said, "that my presence at the March Past will be of the slightest service to you—"
"It will," she said. "It will, indeed, of the very greatest service, and Moyne will be delighted."
I was thinking of Moyne when I made the promise. I do not mean to say that I should have undertaken to perch myself like a fool on a wooden platform in the middle of a mob simply out of friendship for Moyne. I would not have done it unless Lady Moyne had looked at me with a particular expression in her eyes, unless I had hoped that she would give my hand a little squeeze of intimate friendship when I was bidding her good night. Still I did think of Moyne too, and was quite genuinely pleased that I was able to help him out of a difficult position.
I found him later on roaming about among the cucumber frames in a desolate corner of the garden. A man who was digging potatoes directed me to that curious retreat.
"It's all right, Moyne," I said. "We've got the whole thing settled most satisfactorily. You needn't be afraid of any disagreeable public scandal."
"Thank God!" said Moyne, fervently. "How did you manage it?"
"I can't take any credit for the arrangement," I said. "Lady Moyne and Babberly had it all cut and dried before they consulted me at all."
"What are they going to do?"
"Well, in the first place they've got Malcolmson and the rest of that lot to stop calling the thing a Review. It's to be officially known for the future as a March Past."
"Who is to march past what?" said Moyne.
"I forgot to ask that," I said, "but I rather fancy the audience is to march past you."
"I don't see," said Moyne, "that there's much difference between calling it a March Past and calling it a Review. They're both military terms; and what I object to is being associated with—"
"Lady Moyne seemed to think," I said, "that it made all the difference in the world; and that the Government would grasp at the olive branch."
"I suppose it will be all right," said Moyne doubtfully.
"The next part of the plan," I said, "is that I am to be on the platform."
"You'll rather hate that, won't you, Kilmore?"
"I shall detest it."
"And I don't see what good it will do."
"Nor do I; but Lady Moyne and Babberly both say that as I'm a Liberal—"
"Surely to God you're not that!" said Moyne.
"No, I'm not. But I'm suspected of being inclined that way. Therefore my being on the platform will prove to the world that you're not nearly so much of a Unionist as you've been trying to make out."
"But I am," said Moyne.
"I know that, of course; but Lady Moyne wants to persuade people that you're not, just for the present, till this fuss about the Review wears off."
"I suppose it will be all right," said Moyne, again.
It was all right. An announcement was made in all the leading papers that no one had ever intended to hold a Review on the 12th of July, but that the Unionist leaders had expressed their unalterable determination to have a March Past. The Liberal papers said that this abandonment of the principal item on their programme showed more distinctly than ever that the Ulster Unionists were merely swaggering cowards who retreated before the firm front showed by the Government in face of their arrogant claims. The Unionist papers said that Belfast by insisting on the essential thing while displaying a magnanimous disregard for the accidental nomenclature, had demonstrated once and for ever the impossibility of passing the Home Rule Bill.
A few days later my name appeared amongst those of other gentlemen who intended to take seats on the platform in Belfast. The Unionist papers welcomed the entry into public life of a peer of my well-known intellectual powers and widely recognized moderation. The Liberal papers said that the emptiness of Ulster's opposition to Home Rule might be gauged by the fact that it had welcomed the support of a dilettante lordling.
Our meeting on the 12th of July was held in the Botanic Gardens, and nobody marched past anything. A platform, not unlike the Grand Stand at a country race meeting, was built on the top of a long slope of grass. At the bottom of the slope was a level space, devoted at ordinary times to tennis-courts. Beyond that the ground sloped up again. The botanists who owned the gardens must, I imagine, have regretted that our meeting was a splendid success. I did not see their grounds afterwards, but there cannot possibly have been much grass left. The poor tennis-players must have been cut off from their game for the rest of the summer. The space in front of the platform was packed with men, and the air was heavy with the peculiarly pungent smell of orange peel. I cannot imagine how any one in the crowd managed to peel an orange. The men seemed to be so tightly packed as to make the smallest movement impossible. Possibly the oranges were deliberately peeled beforehand by the organizers of the meeting with a view to creating the proper atmosphere for the meeting. There certainly is a connection between the smell of oranges and political enthusiasm. I felt a wave of strong feeling come over me the moment I climbed to my seat; and as no one had at that time made a speech, it can only have been the oranges which affected me. I wish some philosopher would work out a theory of oranges. The blossom of the tree is used at weddings as a symbol of enduring love, perhaps as an aid to affection. The mature fruit pervades political meetings, which are all called together with a view to promoting strife and general ill feeling. What would happen if any one came to a meeting crowned with the blossoms? What would become of a bride if she were decked with the fruit? Is there any connection whatever between the fruit and the lily? It is certainly associated with political action of the most violent kind.
Poor Moyne, who took the chair, wore one of the lilies, a very small one, in the lapel of his coat. Lady Moyne carried a large bouquet of them. Babberly wore one. So did Malcolmson. Our Dean would have worn one if he could; but it is impossible to fix a flower becomingly into the button-hole of a clerical coat. We began by singing a hymn. The Dean declaimed the first two lines of it, and then the bands took up the tune. Considering that there must have been at least forty bands present, all playing, I think we got through the hymn remarkably well. We certainly made an impressive amount of noise. I think it was Babberly who suggested the hymn. He had an idea that it would impress the English Nonconformists. I do not think it did; but, so far as our meeting was concerned, that did not matter. We were not singing it—any of us, except Babberly—with a view to impressing other people. We were singing with the feeling in our breasts, that we were actually marching to battle under the divine protection. The reporters of the Unionist papers made the most of the prevailing emotion. They sent off telegrams of the most flamboyant kind about our Puritan forefathers.
Poor Moyne, who is a deeply religious man, did not sing the hymn. He has a theory that hymns and politics ought not to be mixed. I heard him arguing the position afterwards with the Dean who maintained that the question of Home Rule was not a political one. Political questions are those, so he argued, with regard to which there is a possibility of difference of opinion among honest men. But all honest men are opposed to Home Rule, which is therefore not a political question.
My seat was in the very front of the platform, and when we had finished the hymn I noticed that the smell of perspiration was beginning to overpower the oranges. It is my misfortune to have an unusually acute sense of smell. No one afflicted with such an infirmity ought to take any part in the politics of a modern democratic state.
Moyne introduced Babberly to the audience, and everybody cheered, although no one heard a word he said. Moyne has not a good voice at any time, and his objection to the hymn had made him nervous.
Babberly was not nervous, and he has a very good voice. I imagine that at least half the audience heard what he said, and the other half knew he was saying the right things because the first half cheered him at frequent intervals.
He began, of course, by saying that our forefathers bled and died for the cause which we were determined to support. This, so far as my forefathers and Moyne's are concerned, is horribly untrue. The ancestors of both of us commanded regiments of the volunteers who achieved the only Home Rule Parliament which ever sat in Ireland. My own great grandfather afterwards exchanged his right to legislate in Dublin for the peerage which I now enjoy. But Moyne and I were no doubt in a minority in that assembly. Babberly's forefathers may possibly have bled and died for the Union; but I do not think he can be sure about this. His father lived in Leeds, and nobody, not even Babberly himself, knows anything about his grandfather.
When the audience had stopped cheering Babberly's forefathers, he went on to tell us that Belfast had the largest shipbuilding yard, the largest tobacco factory, the largest linen mill, and the second largest School of Art Needlework in the United Kingdom. These facts were treated by everybody as convincing reasons for the rejection of the Home Rule Bill, and a man, who was squeezed very tight against the platform just below me, cursed the Pope several times with singular vindictiveness.
Babberly's next statement was that he defied the present Government to drive us out of the British Empire, which we had taken a great deal of trouble in times past to build up. This was, of course, a perfectly safe defiance to utter; for no one that I ever heard of had proposed to drive Babberly, or me, or Moyne out of the Empire.
Then we got to the core of Babberly's speech. Some fool, it appeared, wanted to impeach Babberly, and Babberly said that he wanted to be impeached. I am a little hazy about the exact consequences of a successful impeachment. There has not been one for a long time; but I have an idea that the victim of the process is called before the House of Lords and beheaded. How far recent legislation may have curtailed the powers of the House of Lords in the matter I do not know; but even under our new constitution impeachment must remain a very serious matter. It was, we all felt, most heroic of Babberly to face this kind of undefined doom in the way he did.
This was the last thing which Babberly said in his speech. He talked a great deal more, but he did not say anything else which it is possible to write down. I do not think I have ever heard any public speaker equal to Babberly in eloquence. He gave one incontestable proof of his power as an orator that day in Belfast. He must have spoken for very nearly an hour, and yet no one noticed that he was not saying anything for the greater part of the time. I did not notice it, and probably should never have found it out if I had not tried afterwards to write down what he said.
After Babberly came the Dean. I suffer a great deal from the Dean's sermons on Sundays; but I thoroughly enjoyed his speech. He is not Babberly's rival in eloquence; but he has a knack of saying the kind of things which people listen to. He began by telling us what he would do if he found himself in command of the forces of Ulster at the beginning of a great war. "Lord Moyne," he said, "should organize my transport and commissariat."
I cannot imagine any job at which Moyne would be more certain to fail totally. But the Dean justified himself.
"I have stopped in Lord Moyne's house," he said, "and I know how well he manages the food supply of a large establishment. My friend Mr. Babberly should draw up the plan of campaign. His cautious intellect should devise the schemes for circumventing the wiles and stratagems of the enemy. He should map out the ambuscades into which the opposing troops should fall. You have listened to Mr. Babberly to-day. You will agree with me about his fitness for the work to which I should put him."
I had listened to Babberly and I did not agree with the Dean. But I formed one of a very small minority. Moyne began to look uneasy. It seemed to me that he did not much like this military metaphor of the Dean's. I imagine that he would have been still more uncomfortable if he had been obliged to take an active part in a campaign planned by Babberly.
"For the command of a forlorn hope," said the Dean, "for the leading of a desperate charge, for the midnight dash across the frontier—"
Some one in the audience suggested the Boyne as the boundary of the frontier.
"I should select Colonel Malcolmson."
The audience highly approved of his choice. It seemed to me that the people did not quite grasp the fact that the Dean was speaking only metaphorically. Some thought of the same kind struck Moyne. He fidgetted uneasily, Babberly made an effort to stop the Dean, but that was impossible.
"For settling the terms of peace with the beaten enemy—"
"We'll beat them," said several people in the crowd.
"I should call upon my good friend Lord Kilmore."
This gave me a severe shock. For a moment I thought of standing up and refusing to act as military ambassador of the Ulster army. Then I recollected that if Moyne managed the transport and Babberly planned the campaign it was exceedingly unlikely that there would be any beaten enemy. I kept my seat and watched Babberly whispering earnestly to Lady Moyne.
Malcolmson followed the Dean. Moyne leaned over to me and expressed a hope that Malcolmson was not going to commit us to anything outrageous. From the look of Malcolmson's eye as he rose I judged that Moyne's hope was a vain one.
"The Dean," said Malcolmson, "has spoken to you about the campaign. I ask you, are you prepared to undertake one?"
"Good Heavens!" said Moyne.
Babberly squeezed his way past Lady Moyne.
"This won't do," he said to Moyne, "Malcolmson mustn't go too far."
"The Dean," said Malcolmson, "has told us where to find our commanders. Looking round upon this vast assembly of determined men I can tell the Dean where to look for the rank and file of the army."
"You'll have to stop him," said Babberly.
I dare say the thought of the impeachment which was hanging over his head made him nervous.
"I can't," said Lord Moyne.
"I ask those present here," said Malcolmson, "who, when the supreme moment comes are prepared to step forward into the ranks, to hold up their hands and swear."
Malcolmson did not make it quite clear what oaths we were to employ. But his audience appeared to understand him. Thousands of hands were held up and there was a kind of loud, fierce growl, which I took to be the swearing. Lord Moyne turned to me.
"What am I to do, Kilmore?"
"I don't know," I said.
Malcolmson and the ten or twelve thousand men in front of him were still growling like a very angry thunderstorm at a distance. The thing was exceedingly impressive. Then some one started the hymn again. I never heard a hymn sung in such a way before. If the explosions of large guns could be tuned to the notes of an octave the effect of firing them off, fully loaded with cannon balls, would be very much the same. Malcolmson, beating time very slowly with his hand from the front of the platform, controlled this human artillery. Lady Moyne came to me and shouted in my ear. It was necessary to shout on account of the terrific noise made by Malcolmson's hymn.
"As soon as he sits down you'll have to get up and say something."
"I can't," I yelled. "I'm no good at all as a public speaker."
The beginning of Lady Moyne's next shout I could not hear at all. Only the last words reached me.
"—on account of your being a Liberal, you know."
For the first time since I have known her I refused to do what Lady Moyne asked me. Very likely I should have given in at last and made an indescribable fool of myself; but before she succeeded in persuading me, Malcolmson's hymn stopped. Malcolmson himself, apparently satisfied with his performance, sat down.
"What on earth am I to do?" said Moyne.
"You can write to the papers, to-morrow," I said.
"But now?" said Moyne, "now."
"The only thing I can think of," I said, "is to start them singing 'God Save the King.' That will commit them more or less—at least it may."
Moyne rose to his feet and asked all the bands present to play "God Save the King." Babberly backed him and the bands struck up.
Considering that the audience had just pledged themselves with inarticulate oaths and most terrifying psalmody to march in Malcolmson's army, their enthusiasm for the King was striking. They sang the National Anthem quite as whole-heartedly as they had sung the hymn. They are a very curious people, these fellow-countrymen of mine.
Moyne cheered up a little when we got back to the club.
"That was a capital idea of yours, Kilmore," he said. "I don't see how they can very well accuse us of being rebels after the way we sang the National Anthem."
"I wonder if they'll impeach Babberly," I said.
"Oh, that's only a Labour Member," said Moyne. "He doesn't really mean it. Those fellows never do."
"Do you think our people really meant it to-day?" I said.
"Meant what? God Save the King? Of course they did."
"I was thinking of the hymn," I said.
"I hope to God," said Moyne, "they didn't mean that."
This is a curious view of hymn-singing for a religious man to take.
I cannot make out why everybody thinks I am a Liberal. Lady Moyne was the first who mentioned to me this slur on my character. Babberly evidently believed it. Then, shortly after the Belfast meeting, I had a letter, marked "Private and Confidential," from Sir Samuel Clithering. Although Clithering is not a member of the Government, he is in close touch with several very important Ministers. Under ordinary circumstances I should not mention Clithering's name in telling the story of his letter. I know him to be a conscientious, scrupulously honourable man, and I should hate to give him pain. Under ordinary circumstances, that is, if things had gone in Ulster in the way things usually do go, Clithering would have felt it necessary to assert publicly in the papers that he did not write the letter. This would have been very disagreeable for him because he does not like telling lies; and the unpleasantness would certainly be aggravated by the fact that nobody would believe him. So many important and exciting things, however, have happened in Ulster since I got the letter that I do not think Clithering will now want to deny that he wrote it. I have, therefore, no hesitation in mentioning his name.
This letter was written in the best politico-diplomatic style. I had to read it nine times before I could find out what it was about. When I did find out I made a translation of it into the English of ordinary life, so as to make quite sure of not acting beyond my instructions. I was first of all complimented on not being a party politician. This, coming from one of the Government wire-pullers, meant, of course, that I was in his opinion a strong Liberal. I have noticed for years that the only party politicians in these islands are the people who are active on the other side; and that party politics are the other side's programme. My correspondent evidently agreed with Lady Moyne and Babberly that as I was not a Conservative, I must be a supporter of the Government.
Having made this quite unwarranted assumption, the letter went on to suggest that I should ask Conroy if he would like a peerage. The point was not made quite clear, but I gathered that Conroy could have any kind of title that he liked, up to an earldom. I know, of course, that peerages are given in exchange for subscriptions to party funds, by the party, whichever it may be, which receives the subscriptions. I did not know before that peerages were ever given with a view to inducing the happy recipient not to subscribe to the funds of the other party. But in Conroy's case this must have been the motive which lay behind the offer. He had certainly given Lady Moyne a handsome cheque. He was financing McNeice's little paper in the most liberal way. He had, I suspected, supplied Crossan with the motor car in which he went about the country tuning up the Orange Lodges. It seemed quite likely it was his money with which Rose's young man bought the gold brooch which had attracted Marion's attention. Conroy was undoubtedly subsidizing Ulster Unionism very generously. I suppose it must have been worth while to stop this flow of money. Hence the suggestion that Conroy might be given a peerage. This, at least, was the explanation of the letter which I adopted at the time. I have since had reason to suppose that the Government knew more than I did about the way Conroy was spending his money, and was nervous about something more important than Babberly's occasional demonstrations.
My first impulse was to burn the letter and tell my correspondent that I was not a politician of any sort, and did not care for doing this kind of work. Then my curiosity got the better of my sense of honour. A man cannot, I think, be both an historian and a gentleman. It is an essential part of the character of a gentleman that he should dislike prying into other people's secrets. The business of the historian, on the other hand, is to rake about if necessary through dust-bins, until he finds out the reasons, generally disreputable, why things are done. A gentleman displays a dignified superiority to the vice of curiosity. For the historian curiosity is a virtue. I am, I find, more of an historian than a gentleman. I wanted very much to find out how Conroy would take the offer of a peerage. I also wanted to understand thoroughly why the offer was made.
Some weeks were to pass before I learned the Government's real reason for wanting to detach Conroy from the Unionist cause; but luck favoured me in the matter of sounding Conroy himself. I had a letter from him in which he said that he was coming to our neighbourhood for a few days. I immediately asked him to stay with me.
Then I tried, very foolishly, to make my nephew Godfrey feel uncomfortable.
"Conroy," I said, "is coming here to stay with me next Tuesday."
"How splendid!" said Godfrey. "I say, Excellency, you will ask me up to dinner every night he's here, won't you?"
"I thought," I said, "that you wouldn't like to meet Conroy."
"Of course I'd like to meet him. He might give me a job of some kind or get me one. A man like that with millions of money must have plenty of jobs to give away."
When Godfrey speaks of a job he means a salary. Nearly everybody does.
"If I can only get the chance of making myself agreeable to him," said Godfrey, "I'm sure I'll be able to get something out of him."
"I'm surprised," I said, "at your wanting to meet him at all. After the post-card he wrote you—"
"Oh, I don't mind that in the least," said Godfrey. "I never take offence."
This is, indeed, one of Godfrey's chief vices. He never does take offence. It was Talleyrand, I think, who said that no man need ever get angry about anything said by a woman or a bishop. Godfrey improves on this philosophy. He never gets angry with any one except those whom he regards as his inferiors.
"It would be a good opportunity," said Godfrey, "for your second menagerie party. We've only had one this year. I expect it would amuse Conroy."
"I'm nearly sure it wouldn't."
"We'll have to do something in the way of entertaining while he's here," said Godfrey. "I suppose you'll have the Moynes over to dinner?"
I knew that the Moynes were in London, so I told Godfrey that he could write and ask them if he liked. I tried to be firm in my opposition to the garden-party, but Godfrey wore me down. It was fixed for Wednesday, and invitations were sent out. I discovered afterwards that Godfrey told his particular friends that they were to have the honour of meeting a real millionaire. In the case of the Pringles he went so far as to hint that Conroy was very likely to give him a lucrative post. On the strength of this expectation, Pringle, who is an easy man to deceive, allowed Godfrey to cash a cheque for L10.
Conroy arrived on Sunday afternoon, travelling, as a millionaire should, in a motor car. Godfrey dined with us that night, and made himself as agreeable as he could. Conroy had, apparently, forgotten all about the post-card. I did not get a minute alone with my guest that night and so could do nothing about the peerage. I thought of approaching him on the subject next morning after breakfast, though that is not a good hour for delicate negotiations. But even if I had been willing to attack him then, I hardly had the chance. Godfrey was up with us at half-past ten. He wanted to take Conroy on a personally conducted tour round the objects of interest in the neighbourhood. Conroy said he wanted to go to the house of a man called Crossan who lived somewhere near us, and would be very glad if Godfrey would act as guide. It is a remarkable proof of Godfrey's great respect for millionaires that he consented to show Conroy the way to Crossan's house. They went off together, and I saw no more of Conroy till dinner-time.
He deliberately avoided my garden-party, although Godfrey had explained to him the night before that my guests would be "quite the funniest lot of bounders to be found anywhere."
The Pringles must have been disappointed at not meeting Conroy. Miss Pringle, whose name I found out was Tottie, looked quite pretty in a pink dress, and smiled almost as nicely as she did when Bob Power took her to gather strawberries. Mrs. Pringle asked Godfrey to dine with them that night, and Tottie looked at him out of the corner of her eyes so as to show him that she would be pleased if he accepted the invitation. Pringle himself joined in pressing Godfrey. I suppose he must really have believed in the salary which Godfrey expected to get from Conroy.
Godfrey promised to dine with them. He explained his position to me afterwards.
"I needn't tell you, Excellency," he said, "that I don't want to go there. I shall get a rotten bad dinner and Mrs. Pringle is a rank outsider."
"Miss Pringle," I said, "seems a pleasant girl. She's certainly pretty."
"Poor little Tottie!" said Godfrey. "That sort of girl isn't bad fun sometimes; but I wouldn't put up with boiled mutton just for the sake of a kiss or two from her. The fact is—"
"Your banking account," I said.
"That's it," said Godfrey. "Pringle's directors have been writing rather nasty letters lately. It's perfectly all right, of course, and I told him so; but all the same it's better to accept his invitation."
Godfrey is the most unmitigated blackguard I've ever met.
"I hardly see Tottie Pringle as the next Lady Kilmore," said Godfrey; "but, of course, that's the game."
I do not believe it. Tottie Pringle—I do not for a moment believe that she ever allowed Godfrey to kiss her—does not look the kind of girl who—
"You'll make my excuses to Conroy, won't you, Excellency? Tell him—"
"What is the exact amount of the over-draft?" I said; "he'll probably want to know."
"Better not say anything about that," said Godfrey. "Tell him I had a business engagement."
Godfrey's necessity gave me my opportunity. I had Conroy all to myself after dinner, and I sounded him very cautiously about the title. The business turned out to be much more difficult than I expected. At first Conroy was singularly obtuse. He did not seem to understand what I was hinting at. There was really no excuse for him. Our surroundings were very well suited for delicate negotiations. I had given him a bottle of champagne at dinner. I had some excellent port on the table afterwards. My dining-room is a handsome apartment, a kind of large hall with a vaulted roof. The light of the candles on the table mingled in a pleasantly mysterious way with the twilight of the summer evening. The long windows lay wide open and a heavy scent of lilies crept into the room. The lamp on the sideboard behind me lit up the impressive portrait of my great grandfather in the uniform of a captain of volunteers, the Irish volunteers of 1780. Any one, I should have supposed, would have walked delicately among hints and suggestions in such an atmosphere, among such surroundings. But Conroy would not. I was forced at last to speak rather more plainly than I had intended to. Then Conroy turned on me.
"What does your Government think I should want the darned thing for?" he said.
"Oh, I don't know. I suppose the usual reasons."
"What are they?" said Conroy, "for I'm damned if I know."
"Well," I said, "when you put it that way I don't know that I can exactly explain. But most people like it. I like it myself, although I'm pretty well used to it. I imagine it would be much nicer when you came to it quite fresh. If you happen to be going over to London, you know, it's rather pleasant to have the fellow who runs the sleeping-car bustling the other people out of the way and calling you 'my lord.'"
Conroy sat in grim silence.
"There's more than that in it," I said. "That's only an example, quite a small example of the kind of thing I mean. But those little things count, you know. And, of course, the extra tip that the fellow expects in the morning wouldn't matter to you."
Conroy still declined to make any answer. I began to feel hot and flurried.
"There are other points, too," I went on. "For instance a quite pretty girl called Tottie Pringle wants to marry my nephew Godfrey—at least he says she does—simply because he'll be Lord Kilmore when I'm dead. You've met my nephew Godfrey, so you'll realize that she can't possibly have any other motive."
"What," said Conroy, "does your Government expect me to do in return for making me attractive to Tottie Pringle?"
"It's not my Government," I said. "I'm not mixed up with it or responsible for it in any way."
"I always understood," said Conroy, "that you are a Liberal."
"Everybody understands that," I said, "and it's no use my contradicting it. As for what the Government wants you to do, I haven't been actually told; but I fancy you'd be expected to stop giving subscriptions to Lady Moyne."
"Is that all?"
"That's all I can think of. But, of course, there may be other things."
"I reckon," said Conroy, "that your Government can't be quite fool enough to mind much about what Lady Moyne does with my money. The pennies she drops into the slot so as to make Babberly talk won't hurt them any."
This was very much my own opinion. If I were a member of the government—I rather think I actually was, a few weeks later—Babberly would merely stimulate me.
"You can tell your Government from me—" said Conroy.
"It's not my Government."
"Well tell that Government from me, that when I want a title I'll put down the full market price. At present I'm not taking any."
Next day Conroy went off with Crossan in his motor car. He did not come back. I got a telegram from him later in the afternoon asking me to forward his luggage to Belfast. I forget the excuse he made for treating me in this very free and easy way; but there was an excuse, I know, probably quite a long one, for the telegram filled three sheets of the paper which the post-office uses for these messages.
Conroy's sudden departure was a bitter sorrow and disappointment to Godfrey. He came up to dinner that night with three new pearl studs in the front of his shirt.
"What I can't understand," he said, "is why a man like Conroy should spend his time with your upper servants; people like Crossan, whom I shouldn't dream of shaking hands with."
"I'm afraid," I said, "that he's not going to give you that job you hoped for."
"He may," said Godfrey. "I think he liked me right enough. If only he could be got to believe that Power is robbing him right and left."
"But is he?"
"He's doing what practically comes to the same thing. Once Conroy finds out—and he will some day—I should think I'd have a middling good chance of getting his secretaryship. He must have a gentleman for that job, otherwise he'd never be able to get along at all. I don't suppose he knows how to do things a bit. He evidently doesn't know how to behave. Look at the way he's gone on with Crossan since he's been here. Now if I were his secretary—"
Godfrey mumbled on. He evidently has hopes of ousting Bob Power. He may possibly succeed in doing so. Godfrey has all the cunning characteristic of the criminal lunatic.
Three days later he got his chance of dealing with Bob Power. The Finola anchored in our bay again and Bob Power was in command of her.
Bob Power spent the afternoon with us. Strictly speaking, I ought to say he spent the afternoon with Marion. I only saw him at tea-time. He let me understand then that he would like to stay and dine with us. I felt that I ought to be vexed at the prospect of losing another quiet evening. Conroy had cost me two evenings. My visit to Castle Affey, my political March Past, and my expedition to Dublin had robbed me of nine others. I could ill afford to spare a twelfth to Bob Power. Yet I felt unreasonably pleased when he promised to dine with us. There is a certain flavour of the sea about Bob, a sense of boisterous good fellowship, a joyous irresponsibility, which would have been attractive to me at any time, and were singularly pleasant after my political experiences. I was not at all so well pleased when a note arrived from Godfrey in which he asked whether he too could dine with us.