Charles James Lever.

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

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every tree, every bush, every shady nook, and every running stream is
dear to me. I cannot serve my own kith and kin, but must seek my
bread from the stranger ! This is our glorious civilization. I should
like to hear in what consists its marvellous advantage."

And then he began to think of those men of whom he had often
heard — gentlemen and men of refinement — who had gone out to
Australia, and who, in all the drudgery of daily labour — herding
cattle on the plains or conducting droves of horses long miles of way —
still managed to retain the habits of their better days, and, by the
instinct of the breeding, which had become a nature, to keep intact
in their hearts the thoughts and the sympathies and the affections,
that made them gentlemen,

" If my dear aunt only knew me, as I know myself, she would let
me stay here and serve her as the humblest labourer on her land. 1
can see no indignitv in being poor and faring hardly. I have known

20



306 LORD KILGOBBIN.

coarse food and coarse clothing, and I never found that they either
damped my courage or soured my temper."

It might not seem exactly the appropriate moment to have
bethought him of the solace of companionship in such poverty, but
somehow his thoughts did take that Hight, and, unwarrantable as was
the notion, he fancied himself returning at nightfall to his lowly cabin,
and a certain girlish figure, whom our reader knows as Kate Kearney,
standing watching for his coming.

There was no one to be seen about as he approached the house.
The hall-door, however, lay open. He entered and passed on to the
little breakfast-parlour on the left. The furniture was the same as
before, but a coarse fustian jacket was thrown on the back of a chair,
and a clay pipe and a paper of tobacco stood on the table. While he
was examining these objects with some attention, a very ragged urchin,
of some ten or eleven years, entered the room with a furtive step, and
stood watching him. From this fellow all that he could hear was
that Miss Betty was gone away, and that Peter was at the Ivilbeggan
Market, and though he tried various questions, no other answers than
these were to be obtained. Gorman now tried to sec the drawing-
room and the library, but these, as well as the dining-room, were all
locked. He next essayed the bed-rooms, but with the same unsuccess.
At length he turned to his own well-known corner — the well remem-
bered little " green room " — which he loved to think his own. This,
too, was locked, but Gorman remembered that by pressing the door
underneath with his walking-stick he could lift the bolt from the old-
fashioned receptacle that held it and open the door. Curious to have
a last look at a spot dear by so many memories, he tried the old
artifice and succeeded.

He had still on his watch-chain the little key of an old marquetrie
cabinet, where he was wont to write, and now he was detennined to
write a last letter to his aunt from the old spot, and send her his
good-by from the very corner where he had often come to wish her
" good-night."

He opened the window and walked out on the little wooden
balcony, from which the view extended over the lawn and the broad
belt of wood that fenced the demesne. The Sliebh Bloom Mountain
shone in the distance, and in the calm of an evening sunlight the
whole picture had something in its silence and peacefulness of almost
rapturous charm.

Who is there amongst us that has not felt, in walking through
the room of some uninhabited house, with every appliance of human
icomfort strewn about, ease and luxury within, wavy trees and sloping
lawn or eddying waters without — who, in seeing all these, has not



" HOW IT BEFELL." 307

questioned himself as to why this should be deserted ? and why is
there none to taste and feel all the blessedness of such a lot as life
here should offer ? Is not the world full of these places ? is not the
puzzle of this query of all lands and of all peoples ? That ever-
present delusion of what we should do — what be if we were aught
other than ourselves — how happy, how contented, how unrepining,
and how good — ay, even our moral nature comes in to the compact —
this delusion, I say, besets most of us through life, and we never
weary of believing how cruelly fate has treated us, and how unjust
destiny has been to a variety of good gifts and graces which are
doomed to die unrecognized and unrequited.

I will not go to the length of saying that Gorman O'Shea's
reflections went thus far, though they did go to the extent of
wondering why his aunt had left this lovely spot, and asked himself,
again and again, where she could possibly have found anything to
replace it.

" My dearest aunt," wrote he, " in my own old room at the dear
old desk, and on the spot knitted to my heart by happiest memories,
I sit down to send you my last good-by ere I leave Ireland for ever.

"It is in no mood of passing fretfulness or impatience that I
resolve to go and seek my fortune in Australia. As I feel now,
believing you are displeased with me, I have no heart to go further
into the question of my own selfish interests, nor say why I resolve
to give up soldiering, and why I turn to a new existence. Had I
been to you what I have hitherto been, had I the assurance that I
possessed the old claim on your love which made me regard you as a
dear mother, I should tell you of eveiy step that has led me to this
determination, and how carefully and anxiously I tried to study what
might be the turning-point of my life."

When he had written thus far and his eyes had already grown
glassy with the tears which would force their way across them, a
heavy foot was heard on the stairs, the door was burst rudely open,
and Peter Gill stood before him.

No longer, however, the old peasant in shabby clothes and with
his look half-shy, half-sycophant, but vulgarly dressed in broad-cloth
and bright buttons, a tall hat on his head, and a crimson crava*
round his neck. His face was flushed, and his eye flashing and
insolent, so that O'Shea only feebly recognized him by his voice.

" You thought you'd be too quick for me, young man," said the
fellow, and the voice in its thickness showed he had been drinking,
" and thai you would do your bit of writing there before I'd be back,
but I was up to 3'ou."

"I really do not know what you mean," cried O'Shea, rising;



308 LORD KILGOBBIN.

" and as it is only too plain you Lave been drinking, I do not care to
ask you."

''Whether I was drinking or no is my own business; there's
none to call me to account now. I'm here in my own house, and I
order you to leave it, and if you don't go by the way you came in,
by my soul you'll go by that window ! " A loud bang of his stick on
the floor gave the emphasis to the last words, and whether it was the
action or the absurd figure of the man himself overcame O'Shea, he
burst out in a hearty laugh as he surveyed him. " I'll make it no
laugking matter to you," cried Gill, wild with passion, and, stepping
to the door, he cried out, " Come up, boys, every man of ye : come
up and see the chap that's trying to turn me out of my holding."

The sound of voices and the tramp of feet outside now drew
O'Shea to the window, and, passing out on the balcony, he saw a
considerable crowd of country people assembled beneath. They
were all armed with sticks, and had that look of mischief and daring
so unmistakable in a mob. As the young man stood looking at them,
some one pointed him out to the rest, and a wild yell, mingled with
hisses, now broke from the crowd. He was turning away from the
spot in disgust when he found that Gill had stationed himself at the
window, and barred the passage.

" The boys want another look at ye," said Gill, insolently; " go
back and show yourself: it is not every day they see an informer."

" Stand back, you old fool, and let me pass," cried O'Shea.

" Touch me if you dare ; only lay one finger on me in my own
house," said the fellow; and he grinned almost in his face as he spoke.

" Stand back," said Gorman, and, suiting the action to the word,
he raised his arm to make space for him to pass out. Gill, no sooner
did he feel the arm graze his chest, than he struck O'Shea across
the face ; and though the blow was that of an old man, the insult
was so maddening that O'Shea, seizing him by the arms, dragged
him out upon the balcony.

" He's going to throw the old man over," cried several of those
ocneath, and, amidst the tumult of voices, a number soon rushed up
the stairs and out on the balcony, where the old fellow was clinging
to O'Shea's legs in his despairing attempt to save himself. The
struggle scarcely lasted many seconds, for the rotten wood-work of
the balcony creaked and trembled, and at last gave way with a crash,
bringing the whole party to the ground together.

A score of sticks rained these blows on the luckless young man,
and each time that he tried to rise he was struck back and rolled
over by a blow or a kick, till at length he lay still and senseless ou
the sward, his face covered with blood and his clothes in ribbons.




The balcuuy creaked aud trembled, aud at last gave way.



" HOW IT BEFELL." 309

" Put bim in a cart, boys, and take bim oflf to tbo gaol," said tbe
attorney, McEvoy. " We'll be in a scrape about all tbis, if wc don't
make him in the wrong."

His audience fully appreciated tbe counsel, and wbile a few were
busied in carrying old Gill to tbe bouse — for a broken leg made bim
unable to reach it alone — the others placed O'Shea on some straw in
a cart, and set out with bim to Kilbeggan.

" It is not a trespass at all," said McEvoy. " I'll make it a
burglary and forcible entry, and if be recovers at all, I'll stake my
reputation I transport bim for seven years."

A hearty murmur of approval met tbe speech, and the procession,
■with tbe cart at their bead, moved on towards the town.



CHAPTER LV.

TWO J. P.'S.

It was tbe Tory magistrate, Mr. Flood — the same who had ransacked
"Walpole's correspondence — before whom the informations were sworn
against Gorman O'Shea, and the old justice of tbe peace was, in
secret, not sorry to see the question of land-tenure a source of dispute
and quarrel amongst the very party who were always inveighing
against tbe landlords.

When Lord Kilgobbin arrived at Kilbeggan it was nigh midnight,
and as young O'Shea was at that moment a patient in the gaol
intirmary, and sound asleep, it was decided between Kearney and bis
son that they would leave him undisturbed till tbe following morning.

Late as it was, Kearney was so desirous to know the exact
narrative of events that he resolved on seeing Mr. Flood at once.
Though Dick Kearney remonstrated with his father, and reminded
bim that old Tom Flood, as be was called, was a bitter Tory, had
neither a civil word nor a kind thought for bis adversaries iu politics,
Kearney was determined not to be turned from bis purpose by any
personal consideration, and being assured by tbe innkeeper that he
was sure to find Mr. Flood in bis dining-room and over bis wine, be
set out for the snug cottage at the entrance of tbe town, where tbe
old justice of the peace resided.

Just as he had been told, Mr. Flood was still in tbe dinner-room,
and with his guest, Tony Adams, tbe Rector, seated with an array
of decanters between them.

" Kearney — Kearney ! " cried Flood, as be read the cara the



310 LORD KILGOBBIN.

servant liandctl him. ''Is it the fellow ■R-ho calls himself Lord
Kilgobbiu, I wonder ? "

" May be so," growled Adams, in a deep guttural, for he disliked
the effort of speech.

" I dou't know him, nor do I want to know him. He is one of
your half-and-half Liberals that, to my thinking, are worse than the
rebels themselves ! What is this here in pencil on the back of the
card ? ' Mr. K. begs to apologize for the hour of his intrusion, and
earnestly entreats a few minutes from Mr. Flood.' Show him in,
Philip, show him in ; and bring some fresh glasses."

Kearney made his excuses with a tact and politeness which spoke
of a time when he mixed freely with the world, and old Flood was so
astonished by the ease and good breeding of his visitor that his own
manner became at once courteous and urbane.

*• Make no apologies about the hour, Mr. Kearney," said he.
"An old bachelor's house is never very tight in discipline. Allow
me to introduce Mr. Adams, Mr. Kearney, the best preacher in
L'eland, and as good a judge of port wine as of theology."

The responsive grunt of the parson was drowned in the pleasant
laugh of the others, as Kearney sat down and filled his glass. In
a very few words he related the reason of his visit to the town,
and asked Mr. Flood to tell him what he knew of the late mis
adventure.

" Sworn information, drawn up by that worthy man, PatMcEvoy,
the greatest rascal in Europe, and I hope I don't hurt you by saying
it, Mr. Kearney. Sworn information of a burglarious entry, and an
aggravated assault on the premises and person of one Peter Gill, another
local blessing — bad luck to him. The aforesaid — if I spoke of him
before — Gorman O'Shea, having, suadcntc diaholo, smashed down
doors and windows, palisadings and palings, and broke open cabinets,
chests, cupboards, and other contrivances. In a word, he went into
another man's house, and when asked what he did there, he threw
the proprietor out of the window. There's the whole of it."

" Where was the house '? "

" 0"Sliea's Barn."

" But surely O'Shea's Barn, being the residence and property of
his aunt, there was no impropriety in his going there ?"

" The informant stales that the place was in the tenancy of this
said Gill, one of your own people, Mr. Kearney. I wish you luck of
him."

" I diso^vn him. Koot and branch : he is a disgrace to any side..
And where is Miss Betty O'Shea ? "

" In a convent or a monastery, they say. She has turned abbesb;



TWO J. r.'s. 311

or mouk; Lut, upon my couscieuce, from the little I've seen of her,
if a strong will and a plucky heart be the qualifications, she might be
the Pope ! "

" And are the young man's injuries serious ? Is he badly hurt ?
for they would not let me see him at the gaol."

" Serious, I believe they are. He is cut cruelly about the face
and head, and his body bruised all over. The finest peasantry have
a taste for kicking with strong brogues on them, Mr. Kearney, that
cannot be equalled."

" I wish with all my heart they'd kick the English out of
L'eland ! " cried Kearney, with a savage energy.

" Faith ! if they go on governing us in the present fashion, I do
not say I'll make any great objection. Eh, Adams ? "

" May be so ! " was the slow and very guttural reply, as the fat
man crossed his hands on his waistcoat.

" I'm sick of them all, Whigs and Tories," said Kearney.

" Is not every Irish gentleman sick of them, Mr. Kearney ?
Ain't you sick of being cheated and cajoled, and ain't ive sick of being
cheated and insulted ? They seek to conciliate ijoii by outraging us.
Don't you think we could settle our own differences better amongst
ourselves ? It was Philpot Curran said of the fleas in Manchester,
that if they'd all pull together, they'd have pulled him out of bed.
Now, Mr. Kearney, what if we all took to ' pulling together ? ' "

" We cannot get rid of the notion that we'd be out-jockeyed,"
said Kearney, slowly.

" We Avtod'," cried the other, " that we should be outnumbered,
and that is worse. Eh, Adams ? "

" Ay ! " sighed Adams, who did not desire to be appealed to by
either side.

" Now we're alone here, and no eavesdropper near us, tell me
fairly, Kearney, are you better because we are brought down in the
world ? Ai'e you richer— are you greater — are you happier ? "

" I believe we are, Mr. Flood, and I'll tell you why I say so."

" I'll be shot if I hear you, that's all. Fill your glass. That's
old port that John Beresford tasted in the Custom House Docks
seventy odd years ago, and you are the only Whig living that ever
di'ank a drop of it ! "

" I am proud to be the first exception, and I go so far as to
believe — I shall not be the last ! "

" I'll send a few bottles over to that boy in the infirmary. It
cannot but be good for him," said Flood.

'* Take care, for heaven's sake : if he be threatened witk
inflammation. Do nothing without the doctor's leave."



812 LORD KILGOBBIN.

" I wouder wliy the people who are so afraid of inflammation, aro
so foud of rebellion," said he, sarcastically,

" Perhaps I could tell you that too "

"No — do not — do not, I beseech you; reading the Whig
llinisters' speeches has given me such a disgust to all explanations,
I'd rather concede anything than hear how it could be defended !
Apparently Mr. Disraeli is of my mind also, for he won't support
Paul Hartigan's motion."

" What was Hartigan's motion ? "

" For the papers, or the correspondence, or whatever they called
it, that passed between Dancsbury and Dan Donogan."

" But there was none."

" Is that all you know of it ? They were as thick as two thieves.
It was ' Dear Dane ' and ' Dear Dan ' between them. ' Stop the
shooting. We want a light calendar at the summer assizes,' says
one. ' You shall have forty thousand pounds yearly for a Catholic
college, if the House will let us.' ' Thank you for nothing for the
Catholic college,' says Dan. ' We want our own parliament, and
our own militia : free pardon for political offences.' What would
you say to a bill to make landlord-shooting manslaughter, Mr.
Kearney ? "

" Justifiable homicide, Mr. Bright called it years ago ; but the
judges didn't see it."

" This Danesbury 'muddle,' for that is the name they give it,
will be hushed up, for he has got some Tory connections, and tho
lords arc never hard on one of their * order,' so I hear. Hartigau is
to be let have his talk out in the House, and as he is said to be
violent and indiscreet, the Prime Minister will only reply to the
violence, and the indiscretion, and he will conclude by saying that the
noble Viceroy has begged her Majesty to release him of the charge
of the Irish Government, and though tho Cabinet have urgently
entz-eated him to remain and carry out the wise policy of conciliation
so happily begun in Ireland, he is rooted in his resolve, and he will
not stay ; and there will be cheers ; and when he adds that Mr. Cecil
W^alpole, having shown his great talents for intrigue, will be sent back
to the fitting sphere, — his old profession of diplomacy, — there will bo
laughter, for as the Minister seldom jokes, the House will imagine
this to be a slip, and then, with every one in good humour — but
Paul Hartigau, who will have to withdraw his motion — the light
honourable gentleman will sit down, well pleased at his afternoon's
work."

Kearney could not but laugh at the sketch of a debate given with
all the mimicry of tone and mock solemnity of an old debater, and



TAVO J. p.'s. 81S

the two men now became, by the bond of their gcuiality, like old
acquaintances.

" Ah, Mr. Kearney, I v/on't say we'd do it better on College
Green, but we'd do it more kindly, more courteously, and, above all,
we'd be less hypocritical in our inquiries. I believe we try to cheat
the devil in Ireland just as much as our neighbours. But we don't
pretend that we are archbishops all the time we're doing it. There's
where we differ from the English."

" And who is to govern us," cried Kearney, " if we have no Lord-
Lieutenant ? "

" The Privy Council, the Lords Justices, or maybe the Board of
Works, who knows ? When you are going over to Holyhead in the
packet, do you ever ask if the man at the wheel is decent, or a born
idiot, and liable to fits ? Not a bit of it. You know that there are
other people to look to this, and you trust, besides, that they'll land
you all safe."

" That's true," said Kearney, and he drained his glass ; " and
now tell me one thing more. How will it go with young O'Shea
about this scrimmage, will it be serious ? "

" Curtis, the chief constable, says it will be an ugly affair enough.
They'll swear hard, and they'll try to make out a title to the land
through the action of trespass : and if, as I hear, the young fellow is
a scamp and a bad lot "

" Neither one nor the other," broke in Kearney ; "as fine a boy
and as thorough a gentleman as there is in L.-elaud."

" And a bit of a Fenian, too," slowly interposed Flood.

" Not that I know ; I'm not sure that he follows the distinctions
of party here ; he is little acquainted with Ireland.

" Ho, ho ! a Yankee sympathizer ? "

"Not even that; an Austrian soldier, a young lieutenant of
Lancers over here for his leave."

" And why couldn't he shoot, or course, or kiss the girls, or play
at football, and not be burning his fingers with the new land laws ?
There's plenty of ways to amuse yourself in Ireland without throwing
a man out of window ; eh, Adams ? "

And Adams bowed his assent, but did not utter a word.

" You are not going to open more wine '? " remonstrated Kearney,
eagerly.

" It's done. Smell that, Mr. Kearney," cried Flood, as he held
out a fresh-drawn cork at the end of the screw. " Talk to me of
clove-pinks, and violets and carnations after that ? I don't know
whether you have any prayers in your church against being led into
temptation."



814 LORD KILGOEBIN.

" Haven't we ! " siglied the other.

" Then all I say is, heaven help the people at Oporto ; they'll have
more to answer for even than most men."

It was nigh dawn when they parted, Kearney muttering to himself
as he sauntered hack to the inn, " If port like that is the drink of the
Tories, they must be good fellows with all their prejudices."

** I'll be shot if I don't like that rebel," said Flood as he went
to bed.



CHAPTER LVI.

BEFORE THE DOOE.

Though Lord Kilgohbin, when he awoke somewhat late in the after-
noon, did not exactly complain of headache, he was free to admit
that his faculties were slightly clouded, and that his memory was not
to the desired extent retentive of all that passed on the preceding
night. Indeed, beyond the fact — which he reiterated with great
energy — that " old Flood, Tory though he was, was a good fellow, an
excellent fellow, and had a marvellous bin of port wine," his son Dick
was totally unable to get any information from him. " Bigot, if you
like, or Blue Protestant, and all the rest of it ; but a fine hearty old
soul, and an Irishman to the heart's core ! " This was the sum of
information which a two hours' close cross-examination elicited ; and
Dick was sulkily about to leave the room in blank disappointment,
when the old man suddenly amazed him by asking — "And do you
tell mo that you have been lounging about the to\\Ti all the morning,
and have learned nothing ? Were you down to the gaol ? Have you
seen O'Shea ? What's hin account of it ? Who began the row ?
Has he any bones broken ? Do you know anything at all ? " cried
he, as the blank look of the astonished youth seemed to imply utter
ignorance, as well as dismay.

" First of all," said Dick, drawing a long breath, " I have not
seen O'Shea ; nobody is admitted to sec him. His injuries about the
head are so severe the doctors are in dread of erysipelas."

" What if he had ? Have not every one of us had the erysipelas
some time or other; and, barring the itching, what's the great harm?"

" The doctors declare that if it come, they will not answer for
his life."

*' They know best, and I'm afraid they know why also. Oh dear,
oh dear ! if there's anything the world makes no progress in, it's the
science of medicine. Everybody now dies of what we all used to



BEFORE THE DOOR. 315

have whcu I was a boy ! Sore-throats, small-pox, colic, are all fatal
Biuce they've found oat Greek names for them, and with their old
vulgar titles they killed nobody."

" Gorman is certainly in a bad way, and Dr. Rogan says it will
be some days before he could pronounce him out of danger."

" Can he be removed ? Can we take him back with us to Kil-
gobbin ? "

*' That is utterly out of the question ; he cannot be stirred, and
requires the most absolute rest and quiet. Besides that, there is
another difficulty, — I don't know if they would permit us to take him
away."

" What ! do you mean, refuse our bail ? "

" They have got affidavits to show old Gill's life's in danger ; he
is in high fever to-day, and raving furiously, and if he should die,
McEvoy declares that they'll be able to send bills for manslaughter,
at least, before the grand jury."

*' There's more of it ! " cried Kilgobbin, with a long whistle.
"Is it Eogan swears the fellow is in danger ? "



Online LibraryCharles James LeverLord Kilgobbin : a tale of Ireland in our own time → online text (page 32 of 48)