Charles James Lever.

Lord Kilgobbin : a tale of Ireland in our own time online

. (page 23 of 48)
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though they saluted her respectfully, could not refrain from scruti-
nizing her appearance and watching her as she went. "With that air
of haughty self-possession which well became her — for it was no
affectation — she swept proudly along, resolutely determined not to
utter a word, or even risk a question as to the way.

Twice she turned to see if her pony were coming, and then
resumed her road. From the excited air and rapid gestures of the
police, as they hurried from place to place, she could guess that up
to this Donogan had not been captured. Still, it seemed hopeless
that concealment in such a place could be accomplished.

As she gained the little stream that divided the village, she stood
for a moment uncertain, when a countrywoman, as it were divining
her difficulty, said, "If you'll cross over the bridge, my lady, the
path will bring you out on the high road."

As Nina turned to thank her, the woman looked up from her task
of washing in the river, and made a gesture with her hand towards
the bog. Slight as the action was, it appealed to that Southern
intelligence that reads a sign even faster than a word. Nina saw that
the woman meant to say Donogan had escaped, and once more she
said, " Thank you — from my heart I thank you ! "

Just as she emerged upon the high-road, her pony and carriage
came up. A sergeant of police was, however, in waiting beside it,
who, saluting her respectfully, said, " There was no disrespect meant
to you, Miss, by our search of the carriage — our duty obliged us to
do it. AVe have a warrant to apprehend the man that was seen with
you this morning, and it's only that we know who you are, and where
you come from, prevents us from asking you to come before our chief."

He presented his arm to assist her to her place as he spoke ; but
she declined the help, and, without even noticing him in any vay,
arranged her rugs and wraps around her, took the reins, and,
motioning Larry to his place, drove on.

"Is my drawing safe — have all my brushes and pencils been put
in ? " asked she after a while. But already Larry had taken his
leave, and she could see him as he flitted across the bog to catch
her by some short-cut.

That strange contradiction by which a woman can journey alone


and in safety tlirougli the midst of a country only short of open
insurrection, filled her mind as she went, and thinking of it in every
shape and fashion occupied her for miles of the way. The desolation,
far as the eye could reach, was complete — there was not a habitation,
not a human thing, to be seen. The dark brown desert faded away
in the distance into low-lying clouds, the only break to the dull
uniformity being some stray " clamp," as it is called, of turf, left by
the owners from some accident of season or bad weather, and which
loomed out now against the sky like a vast fortress.

This long, long day — for so without any weariness she felt it -
was now in the afternoon, and already long shadows of these turf-
mounds stretched their giant limbs across the waste. Nina, who
had eaten nothing since at early morning, felt faint and huugr}'.
She halted her pony, and taking out some bread and a bottle of milk,
proceeded to make a frugal luncheon. The complete loneliness, the
perfect silence, in which even the rattling of the harness as the pony
shook himself made itself felt, gave something of solemnity to the
moment, as the young girl sat there and gazed half terrified around her.

As she looked, she thought she saw something pass from one
turf-clamp to the other, and, watching closely, she could distinctly
detect a figure crouching near the ground, and, after some minutes,
emerging into the open space, again to be hid by some vast turf-
mound. There, now — there could not be a doubt — it was a man,
and he was waving his handkerchief as a signal. It was Donogan
himself — she could recognize him well. Clearing the long drains at
a bound, and with a speed that vouched for perfect training, he came
rapidly forward, and, leaping the wide trench, alighted at last on the
road beside her.

" I have watched 3'ou for an hour, and, but for this lucky halt, I
should not have overtaken you after all," cried he, as he wiped his
brow and stood panting beside her.

"Do you know that they are in pursuit of you?" cried she,

" I know it all. I learned it before I reached the village, and in
time — only in time — to make a circuit and reach the bog. Once
there, I defy the best of them."

" They have what they call a warrant to search for you."

" I know that, too," cried he. " No, no ! " said he, passionately,
as she offered him a drink. " Let me have it from the cup you have
drank from. It may be the last favour I shall ever ask you — don't
refuse me this !"

She touched the glass slightly with her lips, and handed it to him
with a smile.


" "What peril would I not brave for this ! " cried be, with a wild

" Can you not venture to return with me?" said sbe, iu some
confusion, for tbe bold gleam of his gaze now half abashed her.

"No. That would bo to compromise others as well as m3'self.
I must gain Dublin how I can. There I shall be safe against all
pursuit. I have come back for nothing but disappointment," added
he, sorrowfully. " This country is not ready to rise — they are too
many-minded for a common eftbrt. The men like Wolfe Tone are
not to be found amongst us now, and to win freedom you must dare
the felony."

" Is it not dangerous to delay so long here ? " asked she, looking
around her with anxiety.

"So it is — and I will go. Will you keep this for me?" said
he, placing a thick and much-worn pocket-book in her hands.
"There are papers there would risk far better heads than mine ; and if
I should be taken, these must not be discovered. It may be, Nina —
oh, forgive me if I say your name ! but it is such joy to me to utter
it once — it may be that you should chance to hear some word whose
warning might save me. If so, and if you would deign to write to
me, you'll find three, if not four, addresses, under any of which you
could safely write to me."

" I shall not forget. Good fortune be with you. Adieu ! "

She held out her hand ; but ho bent over it, and kissed it
rapturously ; and when he raised his head, his eyes were streaming,
and his checks deadly pale. " Adieu ! " said she, again.

He tried to speak, but no sound came from his lips ; and when,
after she had driven some distance away, she turned to look after
him, he was standing on the same spot in the road, his hat at his
foot, where it had fallen when he stooped to kiss her hand.



Kate Kearney was in the act of sending out scouts and messengers
to look out for Nina, whose long absence had begun to alarm her,
when she heard that she had returned and was in her room.

" What a fright you have given me, darling!" said Kate, as she
threw her arms about her, and kissed her afiectionately. " Do you
know how late you are ? "


*' No ; I only know how tired I am."

" What a long day of fatigue you must have gone through. Tell
me of it all."

" Tell me rather of yours. You have had the great Mr. Y^aipolo
here : is it not so ? "

" Yes; he is still here — he has graciously given us another day,
and will not leave till to-morrow night."

" By what good fortune have you heen so favoured as this ? "

" Ostensibly to finish a long conversation or conference with papa,
but really and truthfully I suspect to meet Mdlle. Kostalergi, whose
absence has piqued him."

" Yes ; piqued is the v^'ord. It is the extreme of the pain he is
capable of feeling. What has he said of it ? "

" Nothing beyond the polite regrets that courtesy could express,
and then adverted to something else."

" With an abruptness that betrayed preparation ? "

" Perhaps so."

" Not perhaps, but certainly so. A'anity such as his has no
variety. It repeats its moods over and over : but why do we talk of
him ? I have other things to tell you of. You know that man who
came here with Dick. That Mr. "

"I know — I know," cried the other, hurriedly, "what of

" He joined me this morning, on my way through the bog, and
drove with me to Cruhan."

" Indeed ! " muttered Kate, thoughtfully.

" A strange, wayward, impulsive sort of creature — unlike anyone
— interesting from his strong convictions "

" Did he convert you to any of his opinions, Nina ? "

" You mean, make a rebel of me. No ; for the simple reason
that I had none to surrender. I do not know what is wrong here,
nor what people would say was right."

" You are aware, then, who he is ? "

*' Of course I am. I was on the terrace that night when your
brother told you he was Donogan — the famous Fenian Donogan-
Tnc secret was not intended for me, but I kept it all. the same, and
I took an interest in the man from the time I heard it."

" You told him then that you knew who he was ? "

" To be sure I did, and we are fast friends already ; but let mo
go on with my narrative. Some excitement, some show of disturbance
at Cruhan persuaded him that what ho called — I don't know wliy — •
the Crowbar Brigade was at work, and that the people were about to
be turned adrift on the world by the landlord, and hearing a wild


shout from tlie village, lie insisted on going back to learn ■what it
might mean. He had not left me long, when your late steward,
Gill, came up with several policemen, to search for the convict
Donogau. They had a warrant to apprehend him, and some informa-
tion as to where he had been housed and sheltered."

" Here — with us ? "

" Here — with you ! Gill knew it all. This, then, was the reason
for that excitement we had seen in the village — the people had heard
the police were coming, but for what they knew not ; of course tho
only thought was for their own trouble."

" Has he escaped ? Is he safe ? "

" Safe so far, that I last saw him on the wide bog, some eight
miles away from any human habitation ; but where he is to turn to,
or who is to shelter him, I cannot say."

" He told you there was a jH-ice upon his head ? "

" Yes, some hundred pounds, I forget how much, but he asked
me yesterday if I did not feel tempted to give him up and earn the

Kate leaned her head upon her hand, and seemed lost in thought.

" They will scarcely dare to come and search for him here," said
she; and, after a pause, added, "And yet I suspect that the chief
constable, Mr. Curtis, owes, or thinks he owes us a grudge ; he
might not be sony to pass this slight upon papa." And she pondered
for some time over the thought.

"Do you think he can escape ? " asked Nina, eagerly.

"Who, Donogan?"

" Of course — Donogan."

"Yes, I suspect he will; these men have popular feeling with
them, even amongst many who do not share their opinions. Have
you lived long enough amongst us, Nina, to know that we all hate
the law ? lu some shape or other it represents to the Irish mind a

" You are Greeks without their acuteucss," said Nina.

"I'll not say that," said Kate, hastily. "It is true I know
nothing of your people, but I think I could aver that for a shrewd
calculation of the cost of a venture, for knowing when caution and
when daring will best succeed, the L-ish peasant has scarcely a
superior anywhere."

" I have heard much of his caution this very morning," said
Nina, superciliously.

" You might have heard far more of his I'ecklessness, if Donogan
cared to tell of it," said Kate, with irritation. "It is not English
squadrons and batteries he is called alone to face, ho has to meet


English gold, that tempts poverty, and English corruption, that
begets treachery and betrayal. The one stronghold of the Saxon
here is the informer, and mind, I, who tell you this, am no rebel. I
would rather live under English law, if English law would not ignore
Irish feeling, than I'd accept that heaven knows what of a govern-
ment Fenianism could give us."

" I care nothing for all this, I don't well know if I can follow it ;
but I do know that I'd like this man to escape. He gave me this
pocket-book, and told me to keep it safely. It contains some secrets
that would compromise people that none suspect, and it has besides
some three or four addresses to which I could write with safety if I
saw cause to warn him of any coming danger."

" And you mean to do this ? "

" Of course I do ; I feel an interest in this man. I like him. I
like his adventurous spirit. I like that ambitious daring to do or to
be something beyond the herd around him. I like that readiness he
shows to stake his life on an issue. His enthusiasm inflames his
whole nature. He vulgarizes such fine gentlemen as IMr. AValpole,
and such poor pretenders as Joe Atlee, and, indeed, your brother,

" I will suffer no detraction of Dick Kearney," said Kate,

" Give me a cup of tea, then, and I shall be more mannerly, for
I am quite exhausted, and I am afraid my temper is not proof against

"But you will come down to the drawing-room, they are all so
eager to see you," said Kate, caressingly.

" No ; I'll have my tea and go to bed, and I'll dream that
Mr. Donogan has been made King of Ireland, and made an offer to
share the throne with me."

"Your Majesty's tea shall be served at once," said Kate, as she
curtsied deeply and withdrew.


"o'shea's bakn."

There were many more pretentious houses than " O'Shea's Barn."
It would have been easy enough to discover larger rooms and finer
furniture, more numerous servants and more of display in all the
details of life ; but for an air of quiet comfort, for the certainty of


meeting with every material enjoyment that people of moderate
fortune aspire to, it stood unrivalled.

The rooms were airy and cheerful, with flowers in summer, as
they were well heated and well lighted in winter. The most massive-
looking hut luxurious old arm-chairs, that modern taste would have
repudiated for ugliness, abounded everjTvhcre ; and the four cumbrous
but comfortable seats that stood around the circular dinner-table —
and it was a matter of principle with Miss Betty that the company
should never be more numerous — only needed speech to have told of
traditions of conviviality for very nigh two centuries back.

As for a dinner at " the Barn," the whole countyside confessed
that they never knew how it was that Miss Betty's salmon v/as
" curdier " and her mountain mutton more tender, and her wood-
cocks racier and of higher flavour than any one else's. Her brown
sherry you might have equalled — she liked the colour and the heavy
taste — but I defy you to match that marvellous port which came in
with the cheese, and as little, in these days of light Bordeaux, that
stout-hearted Sneyd's claret, in its ancient decanter, whose delicately
fine neck seemed fashioned to retain the bouquet.

The most exquisite compliment that a courtier ever uttered could
not have given Miss Betty the same pleasure as to hear one of her
guests request a second slice off " the haunch." This was, indeed,
a flattery that appealed to her finest sensibilities, and, as she herself
carved, she knew how to reward that appreciative man with fat.

Never was the virtue of hospitality more self-rewarding than in
her case ; and the discriminating individual who ate mth gusto, and
who never associated the wrong condiment with his food, found
favour in her eyes, and was sure of re-invitation.

Fortune had rewarded her with one man of correct taste and
exquisite palate as a diner-out. This was the parish priest, the Rev.
Luke Delany, who had been educated abroad, and whose natural
gifts had been improved by French and ItaUan experiences. He was
a small little meek man, with closely-cut black hair and eyes of the
darkest : scrupulously neat in dress, and, by his ruffles and buckled
shoes at dinner, affecting something of the abbe in his appearance.
To such as associated the Catholic priest with coarse manners, vulgar
expressions, or violent sentiments. Father Luke, with his low voice,
his well-chosen words, and his universal moderation, was a standing
rebuke ; and many an English tourist who met him came away with
the impression of the gross calumny that associated this man's order
with under-bred habits and disloyal ambitions. He spoke little, but
he was an admirable listener, and there was a sweet encouragement
in the bland nod of his head, and a racy appieciatiou iu the bright

" o' shea's barn." 223

twinklo of his humorous eye, that the prosiest talker found irre-

There vcere times, indeed, — stirring intervals of political excite-
ment — when Miss Betty would have liked more hardihood and daring
in her ghostly counsellor ; hut heaven help the man who would have
ventured on the open avowal of such opinion or uttered a word in
disparagement of Father Luke.

It was in that snug dinner-room I have glanced at that a party
of four sat over their wine. They had dined admirably, a bright
wood-fire blazed on the hearth, and the scene was the emblem of
comfort and quiet conviviality. Opposite Miss O'Shea sat Father
Delany, and on either side of her her nephew Gorman and Mr. Ralph
Miller, in whose honour the present dinner was given.

The Romish bishop of the diocese had vouchsafed a guarded and
cautious approval of Mr. Miller's views, and secretly instructed
Father Delany to learn as much more as he conveniently could of
the learned gentleman's intentions before committing himself to a
pledge of hearty support.

" I will give him a good dinner," said Miss O'Shea, " and some
of the '45 claret, and if you cannot get his sentiments out of him
after that, I wash my hands of him."

Father Delany accepted his share of the task, and assuredly Miss
Betty did not fail on her part.

The conversation had turned principally on the coming election,
and Mr. Miller gave a flourishing account of his success as a
canvasser, and even went the length of doubting if any opposition
would be oSered to him.

" Ain"t you and young Kearney going on the same ticket?"
asked Gorman, who was too new to Ireland to understand the nice
distinctions of party.

" Pardon me," said Miller, " we differ essentially. We want a
government in Ireland — the Nationalists want none. We desire order
by means of timely concessions and judicious boons to the people.
They want disorder — the display of gross injustice — content to wait
for a scramble, and see what can come of it."

" Mr. Miller's friends, besides," interposed Father Luke, " would
defend the Church and protect the Holy Father," — and this was said
with a half interrogation.

Miller coughed twice, and said, " Unquestionably. "We have
shown our hand already — look Vv'hat we have done with the
Established Church."

"You need not be proud of it," cried Miss Betty. "If you
wanted to get rid of the crows why didn't you pull down the rookery ? "


"At least they don't caw so loud as they used," said tlie priest,
smiling ; and Miller exchanged delighted glances with him for his

" I want to he rid of them, root and branch," said Miss Betty.

"If you will vouchsafe us, ma'am, a little patience. Rome was
not built in a day. The next victoiy of our Church must he won by
the downfall of the English establishment. Ain't I right, Father

" I am not quite clear about that," said the priest, cautiously.
" Equality is not the safe road to supremacy."

" What was that row over towards Croghan Castle this morning? "
asked Gorman, who was getting wearied with a discussion he could
not follow. "I saw the constabulary going in force there this

" They were in pursuit of the celebrated Dan Donogan," said
Father Luke. " They say he was seen at Moate."

" They say more than that," said Miss Betty. " They say that
he is stopping at Kilgobbin Castle ! "

" I suppose to conduct young Kearney's election," said Miller,

"And why should they hunt him down?" asked Gorman.
"What has he done?"

" He's a Fenian — a Head-centre — a man who wants to revolu-
tionize Leland," replied Miller.

"And destroy the Church," chimed in the priest.

"Humph!" muttered Gorman, who seemed to imply. Is this
all you can lay to his charge? "Has he escaped?" asked he,

"Up to this he has," said Miller. "I was talking to the
constabulary chief this afternoon, and he told me that the fellow is
sure to be apprehended. Ho has taken to the open bog, and there
are eighteen in full cry after him. There is a search-warrant too
arrived, and they mean to look him up at Kilgobbin Castle."

" To search Kilgobbin Castle, do you mean ?" asked Gorman.

" Just so. It will be, as I perceive you think it, a great offence
to Mr. Kearney, and it is not impossible that his temper may provoke
him to resist it."

" The mere rumour may materially assist his son's election,"
said the priest, slyly.

" Only with the party who have no votes. Father Luke," rejoined
Miller. " That precarious popularity of the mob is about the most
dangerous enemy a man can have in Ireland."

" You are right, sir," said the priest, blandly. " The real favour

"o'shea's barn." 225

of tliis people is only bestowed ou liim who has gained the confidence
of the clergy."

" If that be true," cried Gorman, " upon my oath I think yo^
are worse off here than in Austria. There, at least, we are beginning
to think without the permission of the Church."

" Let us have none of your atheism here, young man," broke in
his aunt, angrily. " Such sentiments have never been heard in this
room before."

" If I apprehend Lieut. Gorman aright," interposed Father Luke,
*' he only refers to the late movement of the Austrian Empire with
reference to the Concordat, on which, amongst religious men, there
are two opinions."

" Xo, no, you mistake me altogether," rejoined Gorman.
" What I mean was, that a man can read, and talk, and think in
Austria without the leave of the priest ; that he can marry, and if he
like, he can die without his assistance."

" Gorman, you are a beast," said the old lady, " and if you lived
here you would be a Fenian."

"You're wrong too, aunt," replied he. " I'd crush those fellows
to-moiTOW if I was in power here."

" Mayhap the game is not so easy as you deem it," interposed

" Certainly it is not so easy when played as you do it here. You
deal with your law-breakers only by the rule of legality : that is to
say, you respect all the regulations of the game towards the men who
play false. You have your cumbrous details, and your lawyers, and
judges, and juries, and you cannot even proclaim a county in a state
of siege without a bill in your blessed Parliament, and a basketful of
balderdash about the liberty of the subject. Is it any wonder rebellion
is a regular trade with you, and that men who don't like work, or
business habits, take to it as a livelihood ? "

" But have you never heard Curran's saying, young gentleman ?
* You cannot bring an indictment against a nation,' " said Miller.

"I'd trouble myself little with indictments," replied Gorman.
" I'd break down the confederacy by spies ; I'd seize the fellows I
knew to be guilty, and hang them."

" Without evidence, without trial ?"

" Very little of a trial, when I had once satisfied myself of the

" Are you so certain that no innocent men might be brought to
the scaffold ? " asked the priest, mildly.

" No, I am not. I take it, as the world goes, very few of us go
through life without some injustice or another. I'd do my best not



to hang the fellows who didn't deserve it, bat I own I'd be much
more concerned about the millions who w\auted to live peaceably than
the few hundred rapscallions that were bent on troubling them."

"I must say, sir," said the priest, " I am much more gratified
to know that you are a Lieutenant of Lancers in Austria than a
British Minister in Downing Street."

" I have little doubt myself," said the other, laughing, " that I
am more iu my place ; but of this I am sure, that if wo were as
mealy-mouthed with our Croats and Slovacks as you are with your
Fenians, Austria would soon go to pieces."

" There is, however, a higher price on that man Donogan's head
than Austria ever offered for a traitor," said Miller.

" I know how you esteem money here," said Gorman, laughing.
'•When all else fails you, you fall back upon it."

" Why did I know nothing of these sentiments, young man, before

Online LibraryCharles James LeverLord Kilgobbin : a tale of Ireland in our own time → online text (page 23 of 48)