Charles James Lever.

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

. (page 33 of 48)
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" No ; it's Tom Price, the dispensary doctor ; and, as Miss Betty
withdrew her subscription last year, they say he swore he'd pay her
off for it."

" I know Tom, and I'll see to that," said Kearney. " Are the
affidavits sworn ? "

" No. They are di'awn out ; McEvoy is copying them now ; but
they'll be ready by three o'clock."

"I'll have Eogan to swear that the boy must be removed at
once. We'll take him over with us ; and once at Kilgobbin, they'll
want a regiment of soldiers if they mean to take him. It is nigh
twelve o'clock, now, is it not ? "

" It is on the stroke of two, sir."

"Is it possible ? I believe I overslept myself in the strange bed.
Be alive now, Dick, and take the 2.40 train to town. Call on
McKeown, and find out where Miss Betty is stopping ; break this
business to her gently, — for with all that damnable temper, she has
a fine womanly heart — tell her the poor boy was not to blame at all ;
that he went over to see her, and knew nothing of the place being let
out or hired ; and tell her, besides, that the blackguards that beat
him were not her own people at all, but villains from another barony
that old Gill brought over to work on short wages. Mind that you
say that, or we'll have more law, and more trouble — notices to quit,
and the devil knows what. I know Miss Betty well, and she'd not
leave a man on a townland if they raised a finger against one of her
name ! There now, you know what to do : go and do it ! "


To Lear the systematic aucl peremptory mauuer iu whicli the old
man detailed all bis dircctious, one would have pronounced liim a
model of orderly arrangement and rule. Having despatched Dick to
town, however, he began to bethink him of all the matters on which he
W'as desirous to learn Miss O'Shea's mind. Had she really leased the
Barn to this man Gill : and if so, for what term ? And was her
quarrel with her nephew of so serious a nature that she might
hesitate as to taking his side here, — at least, till she knew he was iu
the right ; and then, was he in the right ? That was, though the
last, the most vital consideration of all.

" I'd have thought of all these if the boy had not flurried me so.
These hot-headed fellows have never room in their foolish brains for
.anything like consecutive thought; they can just entertain the one
idea, and till they dismiss that, they cannot admit another. Now,
he'll come back by the next train, and bring me the answer to one of
my queries, if even that?" sighed he, as he went on with his

"All this blessed business," muttered he to himself, " comes of
this blundering interference with the laud laws. Paddy hears that
they have given him some new rights and privileges, and no mock-
modesty of his own will let him lose any of them, and so he claims
everything. Old experience had taught him that with a bold heart
and a blunderbuss he need not pay much rent ; but Mr. Gladstone —
long life to him — had said, ' We must do something for you.' Now
what could that be ? He'd scarcely go so far as to give them out
Minie rifles or Chassepots, though arms of precision, as they call
them, would have put many a poor fellow out of pain — as Bob
JMagrath said when he limped into the public-house with a ball
in his back — 'It's only a "healing measure," don't make a fuss
about it.' "

" Mr. Flood wants to see your honour when you're dressed," said
the waiter, interrupting his soliloquy.

" Where is he ? "

" Walking up and down, sir, forencnt the door."

" Will ye say I'm coming down ? I'm just finishing a letter to
the Lord Lieutenant," said Kilgobbin, with a sly look to the man,
who returned the glance with its rival, and then left the room.

"Will you not come in and sit down?" said Kearney, as ho
cordially shook Flood's hand.

"I have only five minutes to stay, and with your leave, Mr.
Kearney, we'll pass it hci-e ; " and taking the other's arm, he pro-
■ceeded to walk up and down before the door of the inn.

"You know Ireland well — few men better, I ana told — and you


have no need, therefore, to be told how the rumoured dislikes of
party, the reported jealousies and rancours of this set to that,
influence the world here. It will be a fine thing, therefore, to show
these people here that the Liberal, Mr. Kearney, and that bigoted old
Tory, Tom Flood, were to be seen walking together, and in close
confab. It will show them, at all events, that neither of us wants to
make party capital out of this scrimmage, and that he who wants to
aflfront one of us, cannot, on that ground, at least, count upon the
other. Just look at the crowd that is watching us already ! There's
a fellow neglecting the sale of his pig to stare at us, and that young
woman has stopped gartering her stocking for the last two minutes in
sheer curiosity about us."

Kearney laughed heartily as he nodded assent.

" You follow me, don't you ?" asked Flood. " Well then, grant
me the favour I'm about to ask, and it will show me that you see all
these things as I do. This row may turn out more seriously than we
thought for. That scoundrel Gill is in a high fever to-day — I would
not say that just out of spite the fellow would not die. Who knows
if it may not become a great case at the assizes ; and if so, Kearney,
let us have public opinion with us. There are scores of men who
will wait to hear what you and I say of this business. There are
hundreds more who will expect us to disagree. Let us prove to
them that this is no feud between Orange and Green ; this is nothing
of dispute between Whig and Tory, or Protestant and Papist ; but a
free fight, where, more shame to them, fifty fell upon one. Now
■what you must grant me is leave to send this boy back to Kilgobbin
in my own carriage, and with my own liveries. There is not a
peasant cutting turf on the bog will not reason out his own con-
clusions when he sees it. Don't refuse me, for I have set my heart
on it."

" I'm not thinking of refusing. I was only wondering to myself
what my daughter Kitty will say when she sees me sitting behind the
blue and orange liveries."

" You may send me back with the green flag over me the next
day I dine with you," cried Flood, and the compact was ratified.

" It is more than half-past already," said Flood. " We arc to
have a full bench at three ; so be ready to give your bail, and I'll
have the carriage at the corner of the street, and you shall set off with
the boy at once."

"I must say," said Kearney, "whatever bo your Tory faults,
kkewarmness is not one of them ! You stand to me like an old friend,
in all this trouble."

*' Maybe it's time to begin to forget old grudges. Kearney, I


believe in my heart neither of us is as bad as the other thinks him.
Are you aware that they are getting affidavits to refuse the bail ? "

" I know it all ; but I have sent a man to McEvoy about a case
that will take all his morning ; and he'll bo too late with bis

" By the time he is ready, you and your charge will bo snug in
Kilgobbin ; and another thing, Kearney — for I have thought of the
whole matter — you'll take out with you that little vermin Price, the
doctor, and treat him well. He'll be as indiscreet as you wish, and
be sure to give him the opportunity. There, now, give me your most
affectionate grasp of the hand, for there's an attentive public v/atching



Young O'Shea made the journey from Kilbeggan to Kilgobbin Castle
in total unconsciousness. The symptoms had now taken the foim
■which doctors call concussion ; and though to a first brief question
he was able to reply reasonably and well, the effort seemed so
exhausting that to all subsequent queries he appeared utterly
indifferent ; nor did he even by look acknowledge that he heard them.

Perfect and unbroken quiet was enjoined as his best, if not his
only, remedy ; and Kate gave up her own room for the sick man, as
that most remote from all possible disturbance, and away from all tho
bustle of the house. The doctors consulted on his case in the
fashion that a country physician of eminence condescends to consult
with a small local practitioner. Dr. Rogan pronounced his opinion,
prophetically declared the patient in danger, and prescribed his
remedies, while Price, agreeing with everything, and even slavishly
abject in his manner of concurrence, went about amongst the underlings
of the household saying, " There's two fractures of the frontal bone.
It's trepanned he ought to be ; and when there's an inquest on the
body, I'll declare I said so."

Though nearly all the care of providing for the sick man's
nursing fell to Kate Kearney, she fulfilled the duty without attracting
any notice whatever, or appearing to feel as if any extra demand were
made upon her time or her attention ; so much so, that a careless
observer might have thought her far more interested in providing for
the reception of the aunt than in cares for the nephew.

Dick Kearney had written to say that Miss Betty was so over-


•whelmed with affliction at young Gorman's mishap that she had
taken to bed, and could not be expected to be able to travel for
several days. She insisted, however, on two telegrams daily to
report on the boy's case, and asked which of the great Dublin
celebrities of physic should be sent down to see him.

"They're all alike to me," said Kilgobbin ; "but if I was to
choose, I think I'd say Dr. Chute."

This was so for unlucky, since Dr. Chute had then been dead
about forty years ; scarcely a junior of the profession having so much
as heard his name.

"We really want no one," said Rogan. "We are doing most
favourably in eveiy respect. If one of the young ladies would sit
and read to him, but not converse, it would be a service. He made
the request himself this morning, and I promised to repeat it."

A telegram, however, announced that Sir St. Xavier Brennan
would arrive the same evening, and as Sir X. was physician in chief
to the nuns of the Bleeding Heart, there could be little doubt whose
othodoxy had chosen him.

He came at nightfall — a fat, comely-looking, somewhat unctuous
gentleman, with excellent teeth and saow-white hands, symmetrical
and dimpled like a woman's. He saw the patient, questioned him
slightly, and divined without waiting for it what the answer should
be ; he was deUghted with Rogan, pleased with Price, but he grew
actually enthusiastic over those charming nurses, Nina and Kate.

" With such sisters of charity to tend me, I'd consent to pass my
life as an invalid," cried he.

Indeed, to listen to him, it would seem that, whether from the
salubrity of the air, the peaceful quietude of the spot, the watchful
kindness and attention of the surrounders, or a certain general air —
an actual atmosphere of benevolence and contentment around — there
was no pleasure of life could equal the delight of being laid up at

" I have a message for you from my old friend Miss O'Shea,"
said he to Kate the first moment he had the opportunity of speaking
with her alone. "It is not necessary to tell you that I neither know,
nor desire to know, its import. Her words were these : ' Tell my
godchild to forgive me if she still has any memory for some very rude
words I once spoke. Tell her that I have been sorely punished for
them since, and that till I know I bave her pardon, I have no courage
to cross her doors.' This was my message, and I was to bring back
your answer."

" Tell her," cried Kate, warmly, " I have no place in my memory
but for the kindnesses she has bestowed on me, and that I ask ntf


better boon from fortune than to be allowctl to love her, and to be
worthy of her love."

" I will repeat every word you have told me ; and I am proud to
be bearer of such a speech. May I presume, upon the casual con-
fidence I have thus acquired, to add one word for myself; and it is
as the doctor I would speak."

" Speak freely. What is it ? "

" It is this, then: you young ladies keep your watches in turn
in the sick room. The patient is unfit for much excitement, and, as
I dare not take the liberty of imposing a line of conduct on Made-
moiselle Kostalergi, I have resolved to run the hazard with you!
Let hers be the task of entertaining him : let her be the reader —
and he loves being read to — and the talker, and the narrator of
whatever goes on. To you be the part of quiet w'atchfulness and
care, to bathe the heated brovr, or the burning hand, to hold the cold
cup to the parched lips, to adjust the pillow, to temper the light, and
renew the air of the sick-room, but to speak seldom, if at all. Do
you understand me ? "

"Perfectly; and you are wise and acute in your distribution of
labour ; each of us has her fitting station."

" I dared not have said this much to her ; my doctor's instinct
told me I might be frank with you."

"You are safe in speaking to me," said she, calmly.

" Perhaps I ought to say that I give these suggestions without
any concert with my patient. I have not only abstained from con-
sulting, but "

" Forgive my interrupting you, Sir X. It was quite unnecessary
to tell me this."

" You are not displeased with me, dear lady?" said he, in his
softest of accents.

"No ; but do not say anything which might make me so."

The doctor bowed reverentially, crossed his white hands on bis
waistcoat, and looked like a saint ready for martyrdom.

Kate frankly held out her hand in token of perfect cordiality and
her honest smile suited the action well.

" Tell Miss Betty that our sick chai'gc shall not be neglected,
but that we want her here herself to help us."

" I shall report your message word for word," said he, as ho

As the doctor drove back to Dublin, he wont over a variety of
things in his thoughts. There were serious disturbances in the pro-
vinces ; those ugly outrages which forerun long winter niglits, and
make tlie last days of October dreary and sad-coloured. Disorder


and lawlessness were abroad ; and that want of something remedial
to be done which, like the thirst in fever, is fostered and fed by partial
indulgence. Then he had some puzzling cases in hospital, and one
or two in private practice, which harassed him ; for some had reached
that critical stage where a false move would be fatal, and it was far
from clear which path should be taken. Then there was that matter
of Miss O'Shea herself, who, if her nephew were to die, would most
likely endow that hospital in connection with the Bleeding Heart,
and of which he was himself the founder, and that this fate was by
no means improbable, Sir X. persuaded himself, as he counted over
all the different stages of peril that stood between him and conva-
lescence. " We have now the concussion, with reasonable prospect
of meningitis ; then there may come on erysipelas from the scalp
wounds, and high fever, with all its dangers ; next there may be a
low tji^hoid state, with high nervous excitement ; and through all
these the passing risks of the wrong food or drink, the imprudent
revelations, or the mistaken stimulants. Heigho ! " said he at last ;
" we come through storm and shipwreck, forlorn hopes, and burning
villages, and we succumb to ten drops too much of a dark brown
liquor, or the improvident rashness that reads out a note to us
incautiously !

" Those young ladies thought to mystify me," said he aloud,
after a long reverie. " I was not to know which of them was in love
with the sick boy. I could make nothing of the Greek, I own, for,
except a half-stealthy regard for myself, she confessed to nothing,
and the other was nearly as inscrutable. It was only the little warmth
at last that betrayed her. I hurt her pride, and as she winced, I
said, ' There's the sore spot — there's mischief there ! ' How the
people grope their way through life who have never studied physic
nor learned physiology is a puzzle to me ! With all its aid and
guidance I find humanity quite hard enough to understand every day
I live."

Even in his few hours' visit — in which he remarked everything,
from the dress of the man who waited at dinner, to the sherry decanter
with the smashed stopper, the weak " Gladstone" that did duty as
claret, and the cotton lace which Nina sported as "point d'Alen9on,"
and numberless other shifts, such as people make who like to play
false money with Fortune — all these he saw, and he saw that a
certain jealous rivalry existed between the two girls ; but whether
either of them, or both, cared for young O'Shea, he could not declare ;
and, strange as it may seem, his inability to determine this, weighed
upon him with all the sense of a defeat.





Leaving the sick man to the temler care of those ladies whose
division of lahour we have just hinted at, we turn to other interests,
and to one of our characters, who, though to all seeming neglected,
has Bot lapsed from our memoiy.

Joe Atlee had heen despatched on a very confidential mission by
Lord Dauesbuiy. Not only was he to repossess himself of certain
papers he had never heard of, from a man he had never seen, hut ho
was also to impress this unknown individual with the immense sense
of fidelity to another who no longer had any power to reward him,
and besides this, to persuade him, being a Greek, that the favour of
a great ambassador of England was better than rubles of gold and
vases of malachite.

Modern history has shown us what a great aid to success in life
is the contribution of a " light heart," and Joe Atlee certainly brought
this element of victory along with him on his journey.

His instructions were assuredly of the roughest. To impress
Lord Danesbury favourably on the score of his acutcness he must
not press for details, seek for explanations, and, above all, he must
ask no questions. Li fact, to accomplish that victoiy which ho
amhitioned for his cleverness, and on which his Excellency should
say, " Atlee saw it at once — Atlee caught the whole thing at a
glance," Joe must be satisfied with the least definite directions that
ever were issued, and the most confused statement of duties and
diificulties that ever puzzled a human intelligence. Indeed as he
himself summed up his instructions in his own room, they went no
further than this : — That there was a Greek, who, with a number of
other names, was occasionally called Speridionides — a great scoundrel,
and with every good reason for not being come at — who was to bo
found somewhere in Stamboul — probably at the bazaar at nightfall.
He was to be bullied, or bribed, or wheedled, or menaced, to give up
some letters which Lord Danesbmy had once written to him, and to
pledge himself to complete secrecy as to their contents ever after.
From this Greek, whose perfect confidence Atlee was to obtain, he
was to learn whether Kulbash Pasha, Lord Danesbury's sworn friend
and ally, was not lapsing from his English alliance, and inclining
towards Prussian connections. To Kulbash himself Atlee had letters,
accrediting him as the trusted and confidential agent of Lord Danes-


UiiiT', and with the Pasha, Joe was instructed to treat with an air
and bearing of unlimited trustfulness. He was also to mention that
his Excellency was eager to be back at his old post as ambassador,
that he loved the country, the climate, his old colleagues in the
Sultan's service, and all the interests and questions that made up
their political life.

Last of all, Atlee was to ascertain every point on wliich any
successor to Lord Danesbury was likely to be mistaken, and how a
misconception might be ingeniously widened into a grave blunder :
and by what means such incidents should be properly commented on
by the local papers, and unfavourable comparisons drawn between the
author of these measures and " the great and enlightened statesman"
who had so lately left them.

In a word, Atlee saw that he was to personate the character of a
most unsuspecting, confiding young gentleman, who possessed a
certain natural aptitude for aflairs of importance, and that amount of
discretion such as suited him to be employed confidentially ; and to
perform this part he addressed himself.

The Pasha liked him so much that he invited him to be his guest
while he remained at Constantinople, and soon satisfied that he was
a guileless youth fresh to the world and its ways, he talked veiy
freely before him, and affecting to discuss mere possibilities, actually
sketched events and consequences whieh Atlee shrewdly guessed to
be all within the range of casualties.

Lord Danesbuiy's post at Constantinople had not been filled up,
except by the appointment of a Charge-d'Aflaires ; it being one of the
approved modes of snubbing a government to accredit a person of
inferior rank to its court. Lord Danesbury detested this man with a
hate that only official life comprehends, the mingled rancour, jealousy,
and malice suggested by a successor, being a combination only known
to men who serve their countiy.

" Find out what Brumsey is doing ; he is said to be doing wrong.
He knows nothing of Turkey. Learn his blunders, and let me know

This was the easiest of all Atlee's missions, for Brumsey was the
weakest and most transparent of all imbecile Whigs. A junior
diplomatist of small faculties and great ambitions, he wanted to do
something, not being clear as to what, which should startle his chiefs,
and make " the Office " exclaim : " See what Sam Brumsey has been
doing ! Hasn't Brumsey hit the nail on the head ! Brumsey's last des-
patch is the finest state paper since the days of Canning ! " Now no
one knew the short range of this man's intellectual tether better than
Lord Danesbury — since Brumsey had been his own private secretary

324 LORD KiLGonrix.

oucc, ami tlie two men hated each otlier as only a haughty suiierior
ami a craveu dependant know how to hate.

The old ambassador was right. Russian craft had dug many
a pitfall for the English diplomatist, and Brumsey had fallen into
every one of them. Acting on secret information — all ingeniously
prepurcd to entrap him — Brumsey had discovered a secret demand
made by llussia to enable one of the Imperial family to make the tour
of the Black Sea with a ship-of-war. Though it might be matter of
controversy whether Turkey herself could, without the assent of the
other Powers to the Treaty of Paris, give her permission, Brumsey
was too elated by his discovery to hesitate about this, but at once
communicated to the Grand Vizier a formal declaration of the
displeasure with which England would witness such an infraction of a
solemn engagement.

As no such project had ever been entertained, no such demand
ever made, Kulbash Pasha not only laughed heartily at the mock
thunder of the Englishman, but at the energy with which a small
official always opens fire, and in the jocularity of his Turkish nature —
for they are jocular, these children of the Koran — he told the whole
incident to Atlee.

"Your old master, Mr. Atlee," said he, "would scarcely have
read us so sharp a lesson as that ; but," he added, " we always
hear stronger language from the man who couldn't station a gun-boat
at Pera than from the ambassador who could call up the Mediterrancau
squadron from Malta."

If Atlee's first letter to Lord Danesbury admitted of a certain
disappointment as regarded Speridionides, it made ample compensa-
tion by the keen sketch it conveyed of how matters stood at the Porto,
the uncertain fate of Kulbash Pasha's policy, and the scarcely credible
blunder of Brumsey.

To tell the English ambassador how much he was regretted and
how much needed, how the partisans of England felt themselves
deserted and abandoned by his withdrawal, and how gravely the best
interests of Turkey itself were compromised for want of that states-
manlike intelligence that had up to this guided the counsels of the
Divan : all these formed only a part of Atlee's task, for he wrote
letters and leaders, in this sense, to all the great journals of London,
Paris, and Vienna : so that when The Times and the Font asked the
English people whether they were satisfied that the benefit of the
Crimean war should be fritttrcd away by an incompetent youth in the
position of a man of high ability, the Dehats commented on the want
of support France sufl'ered at the Porte by the inferior agency of
Euglaudj and the Xcue Frcssc of Vienna more openly declared that


if EngLaud had determined to annex Turkey and govern it as a crown

Online LibraryCharles James LeverLord Kilgobbin : a tale of Ireland in our own time → online text (page 33 of 48)