Charles James Lever.

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

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and arrears of rent, and rheumatism, and flannel waistcoats, and
toothache have a considerable space, in Paradise ! " And there was
a grim comicality in his utterance of the word.

" She said no more than the truth of herself," broke in Kate.
" With all her queenly ways, she could face poverty bravely — I know

" So you can — any of you, if a man's making love to you. You
care little enough what you eat, and not much more what you wear,
if he tells you it becomes you ; but that's not the poverty that grinds
and crushes. It's what comes home in sickness ; it's what meets
you in insolent letters, in threats of this or menaces of that. But
what do you know about it, or why do I speak of it ? She's married
a man that could be hanged if the law caught him, and for no other
reason, that I see, than because he's a felon."

" I don't think you are fair to her, papa."

" Of course I'm not. Is it likely that at sixty I can be as great
a fool as I was at sixteen ? "

" So that means that you once thought in the same way that she
does ?"

*' I didn't say any such thing, miss," said he, angrily. " Did
you tell Miss Betty what's happened us ? "

" I just broke it to her, papa, and she made me run away and
read the note to you. Perhaps you'll come and speak to her ?"

"I will," said he, rising and preparing to leave the room. "I'd
rather hear I was a bankrupt this morning than that news ! " And
he mounted the stairs, sighing heavily as he went.

*' Isn't this fine news the morning has brought us, Miss Betty ! "
cried he, as he entered the room with a haggard look and hands
clasped before him. " Did you ever dream there was such disgrace
in store for us ?"

" This marriage you mean," said the old lady, drily.

" Of course I do — if you call it a marriage at all."

"I do call it a marriage — here's Father Tierney's certificate, a
copy made in his own handwriting. 'Daniel Donogan, M.P., of
Killamoyle, and Innismul, County Kilkenny, to Virginia Kostalergi,
of no place in particular, daughter of Prince Kostalergi, of the same
localities, contracted in holy matrimony this morning at six o'clock,



and witnessed likewise by Morris M'Cabe, vestry clerk — Mary Kesti-
nogue, her mark.' Do you want more than that ?"

" Do I want more ? Do I want a respectable wedding ? Do I
want a decent man — a gentleman — a man fit to maintain her ? Is
this tho way she ought to have behaved ? Is this what we thought
of her?"

"It is not, Mat Kearney — you say truth. I never believed so
well of her till now. I never believed before that she had anything
in her head but to catch one of those English puppies, with their
soft voices and their sneers about Ireland. I never saw her that she
wasn't trying to flatter them and to please them, and to sing them
down, as she called it herself — the very name fit for it ! And that
she had the high heart to take a man not only poor, but with a rope
round his neck, shows me how I wronged her. I could give her five
thousand this morning to make her a dowry, and to prove how I
honour her."

•' Can any one tell who he is ? What do we know of him ? "

"All Ireland knows of him; and, after all, Mat Kearney, she
has only done what her mother did before her."

" Poor Matty!" said Kearney, as he drew his hand across his

" Aye, aye ! Poor Matty, if you like ; but Matty was a beauty
run to seed, and, like the rest of them, she married. the first good-
looking vagabond she saw. Now, this girl w'as in the very height
and bloom of her beauty, and she took a fellow for other qualities
than his whiskers or his legs. They tell me he isn't even well-looking
— so that I have hopes of her."

" Well, well," said Kearney, "he has done you a good turn,
anyhow — he has got Sam Gill out of the country."

" And it's the one thing that I can't forgive him, Mat, just the
one thing that's fretting nie now. I was liviDg in hopes to see that
scoundrel Sam on the table, and Counsellor Holmes baiting him in a
cross-examination. I wanted to sec how the lawyer wouldn't leave
him a rag of character or a strip of truth to cover himself with.
How he'd tear off his evasions, and confront him with his own lies,
till he wouldn't know what he was saying or where he was sitting !
I wanted to hear the description he would give of him to the jury ;
and I'd go home to my dinner after that, and not wait for tho

" All the same, I'm glad we're rid of Sam."

" Of course you are. You're a man, and well-pleased when your
enemy runs away ; but, if you were a woman. Mat Kearney, you'd
rather he'd stand out boldly and meet you, and fight his battle to tho


end. But they haven't done witli me yet. I'll put that little black-
guard attorney, that said my letter was a lease, into Chancery ; and
it will go hard with me if I don't have him struck off the rolls.
There's a small legacy of five Imndred pounds left me the other day,
and, with the blessing of Providence, the Common Pleas shall have it.
Don't shake your head, Mat Kearney. I'm not robbing any one.
Your daughter will have enough and to spare "

" Oh, godmother," cried Kate, imploringly.

*' It wasn't I, my darling, that said the five hundred would be
better spent on wedding-clothes or house-linen. That delicate and
refined suggestion was your father's. It was his lordship made the

It was a fortunate accident at that conjuncture that a servant
should announce the arrival of Mr. Flood, the Tory J.P., who, hearing
of Donogan's escape, had driven over to confer with his brother-
magistrate. Lord Kilgobbin was not sorry to quit the field, where
he'd certainly earned few laurels, and hastened down to meet his



While the two justices and Curtis discussed the unhappy condition
of Ireland, and deplored the fact that the lawbreaker never appealed
in vain to the sympathies of a people whoso instincts were adverse to
discipline. Flood's estimate of Donogan went very far to reconcile
Kilgobbin to Nina's marriage.

" Out of Ireland, you'll see that man has stuff in him to rise to
eminence and station. All the qualities of which home manufacture
would only make a rebel, will combine to form a man of infinite
resource and energy in America. Have you never imagined, Mr.
Kearney, that, if a man were to employ the muscular energy to make
iiis way through a drawing-room that he would use to force his
passage through a mob, the efi'ort would be misplaced, and the man
himself a nuisance ? Our old institutions, with ail their faults, have
certain ordinary characteristics that answer to good-breeding and
good-manners — reverence for authority, respect for the gradations of
rank, dislike to civil convulsion and such like. We do not sit tamely
by when all these are threatened with overthrow ; but there aro
countries where there are fewer of these traditions, and men like
Donogan find their place there."


While they debated such points as these within doors, Dick
Kearney and Atlee sat on the steps of the hall door, and smoked
their cigars.

" I must say, Joe," said Dick, " that you-r accustomed acuteness
cuts but a very poor figure in the present case. It was no later than
last night you told me that Nina was madly in love with you. Do you
remember, as we went upstairs to bed, what you said on the landing ?
* That girl is my own. I may marry her to-morrow or this day
three months.' "

"And I was right."

" So right were you that she is at this moment the wife of another."

" And cannot you see why ?"

"I sujDpose I can; she preferred him to you, and I scarcely
blame her."

"No such thing; there was no thought of preference in the
matter. If you were not one of those fellows who mistake an illus-
tration, and see everything in a figure but the parallel, I should say
that I had trained too finely. Now had she been thoroughbred, I
was all right ; as a cocktail I was all wrong."

" I own I cannot follow you."

" Well, the woman was angry, and she married that fellow out of

" Out of pique ?"

" I repeat it. It was a pure case of temper. I would not ask
her to sing. I even found fault with the way she gave the rebel
ballad. I told her there was an old ladj- — Americanly speaking — at
the corner of College Green, who enunciated the words better, and
then I sat down to whist, and would not even vouchsafe a glance in
return for those looks of alternate rage or languishmeut she threw
across the table. She was frantic. I saw it. There was nothing
she wouldn't have done. I vow she'd have married even yon at that
moment. And with all that, she'd not have done it if she'd been
' clean-bred.' Come, come, don't flare up, and look as if 3'ou'd strike
me. On the mother's side she was a Kearney, and all the blood of
loyalty in her veins ; but there must have been something wrong
with the Prince of Delos. Dido was very angry, but her breeding
saved her; she didn't take a Head Centre because she quarrelled
with ^neas."

" You are, without exception, the most conceited "

" No, not ass — don't say ass, for I'm nothing of the kind.
Conceited, if you like, or rather if your natural politeness insists on
saying it, and cannot distinguish between the vanity of a puppy and
the self-consciousness of real power ; but come, tell me of something

THE END. 469

pleasautcr than all this personal discussion — how did Mademoiselle
conYey her tidings? have you seen her note ? was it* transport ?'
was it high-pitched, or apologetic ?"

" Kate read it to me, and I thought it reasonable enough. She
had done a daring thing, and she knew it ; she hoped the best, and
in any case she was not fainthearted."
" Any mention of me ?"
" Not a word — your name does not occur."

" I thought not ; she had not pluck for that. Poor girl, the blow
is heavier than I meant it."

" She speaks of Walpole ; she encloses a few lines to him, and
tells my sister where she will find a small packet of trinkets and such
like he had given her."

" Natural enough all that. There was no earthly reuson why
she shouldn't be able to talk of Walpole as easily as of Colenso or
the cattle plague ; but you see she could not trust herself to approach
my name."

"You'll provoke me to kick you, Atlee."

" In that case I shall sit where I am. But I was going to
remark that as I shall start for town by the next train, and intend to
meet Walpole, if your sister desires it, I shall have much pleasure in
taking charge of that note to his address."

" All right, I'll tell her. I see that she and Miss Betty are
about to drive over to O'Shea's barn, and I'll give your message at

While Dick hastened away on his errand, Joe Atlee sat alone,
musing and thoughtful. I have no reason to presume my reader
cares for his reflections, nor to know the meaning of a strange smile,
half-scornful and half sad, that played upon his face. At last he
rose slowly, and stood looking up at the grim old Castle, and its
quaint blending of ancient strength and modern deformity. " Life
here, I take it, will go on pretty much as before. All the acts of
this drama will resemble each other, but my own little melodrama
must open soon. I wonder what sort of house there will be for Joe
Atlee's benefit ?"

Atlee was right. Kilgobbin Castle fell back to the ways in which
our first chapter found it, and other interests — especially those of
Kate's approaching marriage — soon effaced the memory of Nina's
flight and runaway match. By that happy law by which the waves of
events follow and obliterate each other, the present glided back into
the past, and the past faded till its colours grew uncertain.

On the second evening after Nina's departure, Atlee stood on the
pier of Iviugston as the packet drew up at the Jetty. Walpole saw


hiDi, and waved his baud in friendly greeting. "What news from
Kilgobbiu ? " cried he, as he landed.

" Nothing very rose-coloured," said Atlee, as he handed the note.

" Is this true ? " said Walpolc, as a slight tremor shook his

" All true."

" Isn't it Irish ? — Irish the whole of it."

" So they said down there, and, stranger than all, they seemed
rather proud of it."


W. II. SMITH i SON, Printers, 186, Strand, W.Ct



Santa Barbara


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