Charles James Lever.

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the night were often heard in the Upper Town : and when-
ever a shriek of agony arose, or the heartrending cry for
help, prudent citizens would close the window and say, " It
is some of the Irish in the Lower Town," a comprehensive
statement that needed no commentary.

Towards this pleasant locality I now hastened, with a kind
of instinctive sense that I had some claims on the sanctuary.
It chanced that an emigrant ship which had arrived that
evening was just disembarking its passengers ; mingling with
the throng of which, I entered the filthy and narrow lanes of
this Alsatia. The new arrivals were all Irish, and, as usnaL
were heralded by parties of the resident population, eagerly
canvassing them for this or that lodging-house. Had not
my own troubles been enough for me, I should have felt in-
terested in the strange contrast between the simple peasant
first stepping on a foreign shore, and the shrewd roguery of
him who proposed guidance, and who doubtless had himself
once been as unsuspecting and artless as those he now
cajoled and endeavoured to dupe.

I soon saw that single individuals were accounted of little
consequence ; the claim of the various lodging-houses was as
family hotels, perhaps ; so that I mixed myself up with a
group of some eight or ten, whose voices sounded pleasantly,
for, in the dark, I had no other indication to suggest a pre-

I was not long in establishing a footing, so far as talking
went, with one of this party an old, very old man, whose
greatest anxiety was to know, first, if " there was any Ingins
where we were going ? " and secondly, if I had ever heard
of his grandson, Dan Culliuane ? The first doubt I solved
for him frankly and freely, that an Indian wouldn't dare to
show his nose where we were walking ; and as to the second,
I hesitated, promising to refer to " my tablets " when I
came to the light, for I thought the name was familiar
to me.

" He was a shoemaker by trade," said the old man, " and
a better never left Ireland ; he was 'prentice to ould Finucane
in Ennis, and might have done well, if he hadn't the turn
for Americay."

" But he'll do better here, rely upon it," said I, inviting
some further disclosures ; " I'm certain he's not disappointed
with having come out."

"No, indeed; glory be to God! he's doing finely; and


'twas that persuaded my son Joe to sell the little place and
come here and a wonderful long way it is! "

After expending a few generalities on sea voyages in gene-
ral, with a cursory glance at naval architecture, from Noah's
" square" stern, down to the modern " round " innovation,
we again returned to Dan, for whom I already conceived a
strong interest.

" And is it far to New Orleans from this?" said the old
man, who, I perceived, was struck by the air of sagacity in
my discourse.

" New Orleans ! why that's in the States, a thousand miles
away ! "

"Oh! murther, mnrther ! " cried the old fellow, wringing
his hands ; " and ain't we in the States ? "

" No," said I ; " this is Canada."

" Joe ! Joe ! " cried he, pulling his son by the collar, " listen
to this, acushla. Oh, murther, murther! we're kilt and
destroyed intirely ! "

" What is it, father?" said a tall, powerfully built man,
who spoke in a low but resolute voice ; " what ails you ? "

" Tell him, darlint tell him ! " said the old man, not able
to utter his griefs.

" It seems," said I, " that you believed yourselves in the
States ; now this is not so. This is British America
Lower Canada."

"Isn't it 'Quaybec?'" said he, standing full in front
of me.

" It is Quebec ; but still that is Canada."

" And it's ten thousand miles from Dan ! " said the old
fellow, whose cries were almost suffocating him.

" Whisht, father, and let me talk," said the son ; " do you
know New Orleans ? "

" Perfectly every street of it," said I, with an effrontery
the darkness aided considerably.

" And how far is't from here ? "

" Something like thirteen or fourteen hundred miles, at a
rough guess."

"Ph, th' eternal villain ! if I had him by the neck ! " cried
Joe, as he struck the ground a blow with his blackthorn
which certainly would not have improved the human face
divine; "he towld me they were a few miles asunder an
easy day's walk ! "

"Who said so?" asked I.

" The chap on Eden Quay, in Dublin, where we took our


"Don't be down-hearted anyway," said I; "distance is
nothing here ; we think no more of a hundred miles than you
do in Ireland of a walk before breakfast. If it's any comfort
to you, I'm going the same way myself." This very consola-
tory assurance, which I learned then for the fh'st time also,
did not appear to Gfive the full confidence I expected, for Joe
made no answer, but, with head dropped and clasped hands,
continued to mutter some words in Irish, that, so far as sound
went, had not the " clink " of blessings.

" He knows Dan," said the old man to his son, in a whisper,
which, low as it was, my quick ears detected.

" What does he know about him ? " exclaimed the son,
savagely ; for the memory of one deception was too strong
upon him to make him lightly credulous.

" I knew a very smart young man a very promising
young fellow indeed, at New Orleans," said I, " of the name
you speak of Dan Cullinane."

" What part of Ireland did he come from? " asked Joe.

" The man I mean was from Clare, somewhere in the neigh-
bourhood of Ennis."

" That's it ! " said the old man.

" Whisht ! " said the son, whose caution was not so easily
satisfied; and turning to me, added, "What was he by trade?"

"He was a shoemaker, and an excellent one ; indeed, I've
no hesitation in saying, one of the best in New Orleans."

" What was the street he lived in ? "

Here was a puzzler ! for, as my reader knows, I was at the
end of my information, and had not the slightest knowledge of
New Orleans or its localities. The little scrap of newspaper
I had picked up on Anticosti was the only thing having any
reference to that city I ever possessed in my life. But, true
to my theory, to let nothing go to loss, I remembered this
now, and with an easy confidence said, " I cannot recall the
street, but it is just as you turn out of the street where
the Picayune newspaper-office stands."

"Right! all right, by the father of Moses! " cried Joe,
stretching out a brawny hand, and shaking mine with the
cordiality of friendship. Then stepping forward to where
the rest of the party were walking with two most loquacious
guides, he said, "Molly ! here's a boy knows Dan ! Biddy !
come here, and hear about Dan ! "

Two young girls, in long cloth cloaks, turned hastily round,
and drew near, as they exclaimed in a breath, " Oh, tell us
about Dan, sir! "

" 'Tis betther wait till we're in a house," said the old man,


who was, however greedy for news, not a little desirous of
a fire and something to eat. " Sure you'll come with us,
and take yer share of what's going," said he to me ; an invi-
tation which, ere I could reply to, was reiterated by the whole

"Do you know where we're going here ? " asked Joe of
me, as we continued our way through mazes of gloomy lanes
that grew gradually less and less frequented.

" No," said I, in a whisper, " but 'tis best bo on our guard
here we are in a bad neighbourhood."

" Well, there's three boys there," said he, pointing to his
sons, who walked in front, " that will pay for all they get.
Will you ax the fellows how far we're to go yet, for they
don't mind me."

" Are we near this same lodging-house ? " said I, bluntly, to
the guides, and using French, to show that I was no un-
fledged arrival from beyond the seas.

" Ahi ! " cried one, " a gaillard from the battery."

"Where from, a la gueule de loup, young mounsier ? "
said the other, familiarly catching me by the lapel of my coat.

" Because I am not afraid of his teeth," said I, with an
easy effrontery my heart gave a flat lie to.

" Vrai ? " said he, with a laugh of horrible meaning.

" Vrai ! " repeated I, with a sinking courage, but a very
bold voice.

" I wish we were in better company," whispered I to Joe ;
" what directions did you give these fellows ? "

" To show us the best lodging-house for the night, and
that we'd pay well for it."

" Ah ! " thought I, " that explains something."

" Here we are, mounseers," said one, as, stopping at the
door of a two-storied house, he knocked with his knuckles
on the panel.

" Nous h'llons, slick, en suite, here," said the other, hold-
ing out his hand.

" They arc going ! " whispered I ; " they want to be paid,
and we are well rid of them."

" It would be manners to wait and see if they'll let us in,"
said Joe, who did not fancy this summary departure, while
he fumbled in his pocket for a suitable coin.

"Vite! quick! sharp time!" cried one of the fellows,
who, as the sound of voices was heard from within, seemed
impatient to be off; and so, snatching rather than taking the
shilling which still lingered in Joe's reluctant fingers, he
wheeled about and fled, followed rapidly by the other.


" Qui va ! " cried a sharp voice from within, as I knocked
for the second time on the door-panel with a stone.

" Friends," said I, " we want a lodging and something to

The door was at once opened, and, by the light of a lantern,
we saw the figure of an old woman, whose eyes, bleared and
bloodshot, glared at us fixedly.

"'Tis a lodgen' yezwant?" said she, in an accent that
showed her to be Irish. " And who brought yez here ? "

" Two young fellows we met on the quay," said Joe ; " one
called the other ' Tony.' "

" Ay, indeed ! " muttered the hag; " I was sure of it; his
own son ! his own son ! "

These words she repeated in a tone of profound sorrow,
and for a time seemed quite unmindful of our presence.

" Are we to get in at all ? " said the old man, in an accent
of impatience.

" What a hurry yer in ; and maybe 'tis wishing yerself out
again ye'd be, after ye wor in ! "

"I think we'd better try somewhere else," whispered Joe
to me ; " I don't like the look of this place." Before I could
reply to this, a loud yell burst forth from the end of the
street, accompanied by the tramp of many people, who seemed
to move in a kind of regulated step.

" Here they are ! Here they come ! " cried the old woman ;
" step in quick, or ye'll be too late ! " and she dragged the
young girls forward by the cloak, into the hall ; we followed
without further question. Then placing the lantern on the
floor, she drew a heavy chain across the door, and dropped
her cloak over the light, saying in a low tremulous voice,
" Them's the ' Tapageers ! ' "

The crowd now came closer, and we perceived that they
were singing in chorus a song, of which the air at least was

The barbarous rhyme of one rude verse, as they sung it in
passing, still lingers in my memory :

" No bloody agint here we see

Ready to rack, distrain, and saze us,
Whate'er we ax, we have it free,

And take at hand, whatever plaze us.

Tow, row, row,
Will yez show me now,
The polis that'll dare to face us ! "

"There they go! 'tis well ye wor safe! " said the old hag,


as the sounds died away, and all became silent in the street

" Who, or what are they ? " said I ; my curiosity being
stimulated by fear.

" Them's the ' Tapageers ! ' The chaps that never spared
man or woman in their rounds. 'Tis bad enough, the place
is ; but they make it far worse ! "

" Can we stop here for the night ? " said Joe, growing
impatient at the colloquy.

"And what for wud ye stop here?" asked the crone, as
she held up the lantern the better to see him who made the

" We want our supper, and a place to sleep," said the old
man ; " and we're able and willin' to pay for both."

" 'Tis a nice place ye kem for either! " said she; and she
leaned back against the wall, and laughed with a fiend-like
malice, that made my blood chill.

"Then I suppose we must go somewhere else," said Joe;
" come, boys, 'tis no use losing our time here ! "

" God speed you ! " said she, preparing to undo the chain
that fastened the door. " Ye have bould hearts, any way !
There they go ! d'ye hear them ? " This was said in a half-
whisper, as the wild yells of the " Tapageers " arose without ;
and soon after, the noise and tumult of a scuffle ; at least
we could hear the crashing of sticks, and the shouting of
a fray ; from which, too, piercing cries for help burst forth.

"What are ye doin' ? are ye mad? are ye out of your
sinses ? " cried the hag, as Joe endeavoured to wrest open
the chain the secret of which he did not understand.

" They're murdering some one without there ! " said he.
" Let me free, or I'll kick down your old door, this minute ! "

" Kick away, honey !" said the hag; "as strongmen as
yourself tried that a'ready; and d'ye hear, it's done now!
it's over!" These terrible words were in allusion to a low
kind of sobbing sound, which grew fainter and fainter, and
then ceased altogether.

" They're taking the body away," whispered she, after a
pause of death-like stillness.

" Where to ? " said I, half breathless with terror.

" To the river ! the stream runs fast, and the corpse will
be down below Goose Island ay, in the Gulf, 'fore morn-

The two young girls, unable longer to control their feel-
ings, here burst out a crying; and the old man, pulling out a
rosary, turned to the wall, and began his prayers.


" 'Tis a bloody place ; glory be to God ! " said Joe, at last,
with a sigh, and clasped his hands before him, like one unable
to decide on what course to follow.

I saw, now, that all were so paralyzed by fear, that it
devolved upon me to act for the rest ; so, summoning my best
courage, I said, "Will you allow us to stay here for the night ?
since we are strangers, and do not know where to seek shelter."
She shook her head, not so much with the air of refusing my
request, as to convey that I had asked for something scarce
worth the granting.

" We only want a shelter for the night "

"And a bit to eat," broke in the old man, turning round
from his prayers. " Sanctificatur in sec'la if it was only a
bit of beliy bacon, and Tower of Ivory, purtect us with a
pot of praties, and Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John "

" Is he a friar ? " said the hag to me, eagerly j " does he
belong to an ' ordher ? ' '

" No," said I ; " he's only a good Catholic."

She wrung her hands, as if in disappointment; and then,
taking up the lantern once more, said, "Come along! I'll
show yez where ye can stay."

We followed, I leading the others, up a narrow and rickety
stair, between two walls, streaming with damp, and patched
with mould. When she reached the landing, she searched
for a moment for a key, which having found, she opened the
door of a long low room, whose only furniture was a deal
table and a few chairs ; a candle stuck in a bottle, and some
drinking-vessels of tin, were on the table, and a piece of news-
paper containing some tobacco.

"There," said she, lighting the candle; "you may stay
here ; 'tis all I'm able to do for yez, is to give ye shelter."

" And nothing to eat ? " ejaculated the old man, sorrow-

" Hav'n't you a few potatoes ? " said Joe.

" I didn't taste food since yesterday morning," said the
hag ; " and that's what's to keep life in me to-morrow ! '' and
as she spoke, she held out a fragment of blackened sea-biscuit,
such as Kussian sailors call " rusk."

" Well, by coorse, there's no use in talking," said Joe, who
always seemed the first to see his way clearly. " 'Tis worse
for the girls, for we can take a draw of the pipe. Lucky for
us we have it ! "

Meanwhile, the two girls had taken off their cloaks, and
were busy gathering some loose sticks together, to make a
fire j a piece of practical wisdom I at once lent all aid to.


The hag, apparently moved by the ready compliance to
make the best of matters, went out, and returned with some
more wood, fragments of ship-timber, which she offered us,
saying, '"Tis all I can give yez. Good night to yez all ! "

" Well, father," said Joe, as soon as he had lighted his pipe,
and taken a seat by the fire, "ye wor tired enough of the
ship, but I think ye wish yerself back again there, now."

" I wish more nor that," said the old man, querulously ; " I
wish I never seen the same ship ; nor ever left ould Ireland ! "

This sentiment threw a gloom over the whole party, by
awakening not only memories of home and that far away
land, but also by the confession of a sense of disappointment,
which each was only able to struggle against, while unavowed.
The sorrow made them silent, and at last sleepy. At first,
the three "boys," great fellows of six feet high, stretched
themselves full-length on the floor, and snored away in con-
cert ; then the two girls, one with her head on the other's lap,
fell off; while the old man, sitting directly in front of the
fire, nodded backwards and forwards, waking up, every half-
hour or so, to light his pipe ; which done, he immediately fell
off into a doze once more ; leaving Joe and myself alone
waking and watchful.




JOE'S eyes were bent upon me, as I sat directly opposite him,
with a fixedness that I could easily see was occasioned by my
showy costume ; his glances ranged from my buckled shoes to
my white cravat, adorned with a splendid brooch of mock
amethyst ; nay, I almost fancied once that he was counting
the silver clocks on my silk stockings ! It was a look of most
undisguised astonishment, such a look as one bestows upon
some new and singular animal, of whose habits and instincts
we are lost in conjecture.

Now, I was " York, too," that is to say, I was Irish as
well as himself; and I well knew that there was no rank nor
condition of man for which the peasant in Ireland conceives
the same low estimate as the " Livery Servant." The class
is associated in his mind with chicanery, impudence, false-
hood, theft, and a score of similar good properties ; not to add,
that being occasionally, in great families, a native of England,
the Saxon element is united to the other " bitters " of the

Scarcely a " tenant " could be found that would not rather
face a mastiff than a footman, such is the proverbial dislike
to these human lilies, who neither toil nor spin. I^ow, I have
said I knew this well : I had been reared in the knowledge
and practice of this and many similar antipathies, so that I
at once took counsel with myself what I should do to escape
from the reproach of a mark so indelibly stamped upon me
by externals. " La famille Cullinane " suited me admirably,
they were precisely the kind of people I wanted ; my care,
therefore, was that they should reciprocate the want, and be
uttei'ly helpless without me. Thus reflecting, I could not help
saying to myself, how gladly would I have parted with all
these gauds for a homely, ay, or even a ragged suit of native
frieze. I remembered the cock on the dunghill, who would
have given his diamond for one single grain of corn : and I
felt that '^sop " was a grand political economist.

From these and similar mental meanderings I was brought
back by Joe ; who, after emptying the ashes from his pipe,


said, and with a peculiarly dry voice, " Ye'r in a service,
young man ? "

Now, although the words are few, and the speaker did not
intend that his manner should have given them any particular
significance, yet the tone, the cautious slowness of the enun-
ciation coupled with the stern steady stare at my " bravery,"
made them tingle on my ears, and send the blood rushing to
my cheeks with shame. It was like a sharp prick of the spur ;
and so it turned out.

"In a service ! " said I, with a look of offended dignity.
"No, I flatter myself not that low yet. What could have
made you suppose so ? Oh, I see ! " here I burst out
into a very well-assumed laugh; "that is excellent, to be
sure ! ha, ha, ha ! so it was these," and I stretched forth
my embroidered shins " it was these deceived you ! and a
very natural mistake, too. No, my worthy friend ; not but,
indeed, I might envy many in that same ignoble position."
I said this with a sudden change of voice, as though overcast
by some sad recollection.

" 'Twas indeed your dress," said Joe, with a modest defer-
ence in his manner, meant to be a full apology for his late
blunder. " Maybe 'tis the fashion here."

" No, Cullinane," said I, using a freedom which should
open the way to our relative future standing ; " no, not even
that ;" here I heaved a heavy sigh, and became silent. My
companion, abashed by his mistake, said nothing ; and so we
sat without interchanging a word for fall five minutes.

" I have had a struggle with myself, Cullinane," said I, at
last; "and I have conquered. Ay, I have gained the day in
a hard-fought battle against my sense of shame. I will be
frank with you, therefore. In this dress I appeared to-night
on the boards of the Quebec theatre."

" A play actor ! " exclaimed Joe, with a face very far from
expressing any high sense of the histrionic art.

" Not exactly," said I, " only a would-be one. I am a
gentleman by birth, family, and fortune ; but taking into my
head, in a foolish hour, that I should like the excitement of
an actor's life, I fled from home, quitted friends, relatives,
affluence, and ease, to follow a strolling company. At another
time I may relate to you all the disguises I assumed to escape
detection. Immense sums were offered for my apprehension
why do I say were f ay, Cullinane, are offered. I will not
deceive you. It is in your power this instant, by surrender-
ing me to my family, to earn five thousand dollars ! "

" Do ye think I'd be "


"No, I do not. In proof of my confidence in you, hear
my story. We travelled through the States at first by un-
frequented routes till we reached the north, when gaining
courage, I ventured to take a high range of characters, and,
I will own it, with, success. At last we came to Canada, in
which country, although the reward had not been announced,
my father had acquainted all the principal people with my
flight, entreating them to do their utmost to dissuade me
from a career so far below my rank and future prospects.
Among others, he wrote to an old friend and schoolfellow,
the Governor-General, requesting his aid in this affair. I
was always able, from other sources, to learn every step that
was taken with this object; so that I not only knew this,
but actually possessed a copy of my father's letter to Lord
Poynder, wherein this passage occurred ' Above all things,
my dear Poynder, no publicity ! no exposure ! remember the
position Cornelius will one day hold, and let him not be
ashamed when he may meet you in after-life. If the silly
boy can be induced, by his own sense of dignity, to abandon
this unworthy pursuit, so much, the better ; but coercion
would, I fear, give faint hope of eradicating the evil.' Now,
as I perceived that no actual force was to be employed against
me, I did not hesitate to appear in the part for which the
bills announced me. Have you ever read Shakspeare ?"

" No, sir," said Joe, respectfully.

" Well, no matter. I was to appear as ' Hamlet ' this is
the dress of that character little suspecting, indeed, how the
applause I was accustomed to receive was to be changed.
To be brief. In the very centre of the dress-circle was the
Governor himself; he came with his whole staff, but without
any previous intimation. No sooner had I made my entrance
on the scene scarcely had I begun that magnificent soliloquy,
' Show me the thief that stole my fame,' when his Excel-
lency commenced hissing ! Now, when the Governor- General
hisses, all the staff hiss ; then the President of the Council
and all his colleagues hiss ; then comes the bishop and the
inferior clergy, with the judges and the Attorney-General,
and so on : then all the loyal population of the house joined
in, with the exception of a few in the galleries, that hated
the British connexion, and who cried out, ' Three cheers for
Con Cregan and the independence of Canada ! ' In this way
went on the first act ; groans and yells and catcalls over-
topping all I tried to say, and screams for the manager to
come out issuing from every part of the house. At last out

Online LibraryCharles James Lever[Charles Lever's novels (Volume 5) → online text (page 18 of 50)