Charles James Lever.

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

. (page 9 of 48)
Online LibraryCharles James LeverLord Kilgobbin : a tale of Ireland in our own time → online text (page 9 of 48)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


" I don't know, and I don't care."

" I'll bring down an Anacreon with me, and see if the Greek
cousin can spell her way through an ode."

" And I distinctly declare you shall do no such thing."

" Oh dear, oh dear, what an unamiable trait is envy ! By the
way, was that your frock-coat I wore yesterday at the races ?"

" I think you know it was ; at least you remembered it when you
tore the sleeve."

" True, most true ; that torn sleeve was the reason the rascal
would only let me have fifteen shillings on it."

" And you mean to say you pawned my coat ?"

*' I left it in the temporary care of a relative, Dick; but it is a
redeemable mortgage, and don't fret about it."

" Ever the same ! "

"No, Dick, that means worse and worse! Now, I am in the
process of reformation. The natural selection, however, where
honesty is in the scries, is a slow proceeding, and the organic changes
are very complicated. As I know, hov/evcr, you attach value to the
efiect you produce in that coat, I'll go and recover it. I shall not
need Terence or Juvenal till we come back, and I'll leave them in
the avuncular hands till then."

" I wonder you're not ashamed of these miserable straits."



WHAT THE PAPERS SAID OF IT. 77

" I am very much ashamed of the world that imposes them on
me. I'm thoroughly ashamed of that public in lacquered leather that
sees me walking in broken boots. I'm heartily ashamed of that well-
fed, well-dressed, sleek society, that never so much as asked whether
the intellectual-looking man in the shabby hat, who looked so lovingly
at the spiced beef in the window, had dined yet, or was he fasting
for a wager?"

" There, don't carry away that newspaper; I want to read over
that pleasant paragraph again ? "



CHAPTER XII.

THE JOURNEY TO THE COUNTRY.

The two friends were deposited at the Moate station at a few minutes
after midnight, and their available resources amounting to something
short of two shillings, and the fare of a car and horse to Kilgobbin
being more than three times that amount, they decided to devote
their small balance to pui-poses of refreshment, and then set out for
the castle on foot.

"It is a fine moonlight ; I know all the short cuts, and I want
a bit of walking besides," said Kearney; and though Joe was of a
self-indulgent temperament, and would like to have gone to bed after
his supper and trusted to the chapter of accidents to reach Kilgobbin
by a conveyance some time, any time, he had to yield his consent and
set out on the road.

" The fellow who comes with the letter-bag will fetch over our
portmanteau," said Dick, as they started.

" I wish you'd give him directions to take charge of me too,"
said Joe, who felt very indisposed to a long walk.

"I like you,'" said Dick, sneeringly; "you are alwaj^s telling
me that you are the sort of fellow for a new colony, life in the bush,
and the rest of it, and when it comes to a question of a few miles'
tramp on a bright night in June, you try to skulk it in every possible
way. You're a great humbug. Master Joe."

" And you a very small humbug, and there lies the diflerence
between us. The combinations in your mind are so few, that, as in
a game of only three cards, there is no skill in the playing ; while in
my nature, as in that game called tarocco, there are half a dozen
packs mixed up together, and the address required to play them is
considerable."



78 LORD KILGOBBIN.

" You have a very satisfactory estimate of your own abilities, Joe."

" And why not ? If a clever fellow didn't know he was clever,
the opinion of the world on his superiority would probably turn his
brain."

" And what do you say if his own vanity should do it ?"

" There is really no way of explaining to a fellow like you "

"What do you mean by a fellow like me?" broke in Dick,
somewhat angrily.

" I mean this, that I'd as soon set to work to explain the theory
of exchequer bonds to an Esquimaux, as to make an unimaginative
man understand something purely speculative. What you, and scores
of fellows like you, denominate vanity, is only another form of
hopefulness. You and your brethren — for you are a large family —
do not know what it is to Hope 1 that is, you have no idea of what it
is to build on the foundation of certain qualities you recognize in
yourself, and to say that * if I can go so far with such a gift, such
another will help me on so much farther.' "

*' I tell you one thing I do hope, which is, that the next time I
set out a twelve miles' walk, I'll have a companion less imbued with
self- admiration."

" And you might and might not find him pleasanter company.
Cannot you see, old fellow, that the veiy things you object to in me
are what are wanting in you ? they are, so to say, the complements
of your own temperament."

" Have you a cigar ? "

" Two — take them both. I'd rather talk than smoke just now."

" I am almost sorry for it, though it gives me the tobacco."

" Are we on your father's property yet ?"

" Yes ; part of that village we came through belongs to us, and
all this bog here is ours."

" Why don't you reclaim it? labour costs a mere nothing in this
country. Why don't you drain those tracts, and treat the soil with
lime ? I'd live on potatoes, I'd make my family live on potatoes, and
my sou, and my grandson, for three generations, but I'd win this land
back to culture and productiveness."

" The fee-simple of the soil wouldn't pay the cost. It would be
cheaper to save the money and buy an estate."

" That is one, and a very narrow view of it; but imagine the
glory of restoring a lost tract to a nation, welcoming back the
prodigal, and installing him in his place amongst his brethren. This
was all forest once. Under the shade of the mighty oaks here those
gallant O'Caharneys your ancestors followed the chase, or rested at
noontide, or skedaddled in double-quick before those smart English



THE JOURNEY TO THE COUNTRY. 79

of the Pale, who, I must say, treated your forbears with ' scant
courtesy."

" We held our own against them for many a year."

" Only when it became so small it was not worth taking. Is not
your father a "Whig ? "

" He's a Liberal, but he troubles himself little about parties."

" He's a stout Catholic, though, isn't he ?"

'* He is a very devout believer in his Church," said Dick, with
the tone of one who did not desire to continue the theme.

" Then why does he stop at Whiggery ? why not go in for
nationalism and all the rest of it ?"

" And what's all the rest of it ? "

" Great Ireland — no first flower of the earth or gem of the sea
humbug — but Ireland great in prosperity, her harbours full of ships,
the woollen trade, her ancient staple, revived : all that vast unused
water-power, greater than all the steam of Manchester and Birming-
ham tenfold, at full work; the linen manufacture developed and
promoted "

" And the Union repealed ?"

" Of course ; that should be first of all. Not that I object to
the Union, as many do, on the grounds of English ignorance as to
Ireland. My dislike is, that, for the sake of carrying through certain
measures necessary to Lish interests, I must sit and discuss ques-
tions which have no possible concern for me, and touch me no more
than the debates in the Cortes, or the Reichskammer at Vienna.
What do you or I care for who rules India, or who owns Turkey ?
What interest of mine is it whether Great Britain has five ironclads
or fifty, or whether the Yankees take Canada, and the Russians
Caboul?"

" You're a Fenian, and I am not."

" I suppose you'd call yourself an Englishman ?"

" I'm an English subject, and I owe my allegiance to England."

" Perhaps for that matter, I owe some too; but I owe a great
many things that I don't distress myself about paying."

" Whatever your sentiments are on these matters — and, Joe, I
ara not disposed to think you have any very fixed ones — pray do me
the favour to keep them to yourself while under my father's roof. I
can almost promise you he'll obtrude none of his peculiar opinions
on you, and I hope you will treat 1dm with a like delicacy."

"What will your folks talk, then? I can't suppose they care
for books, art, or the drama. There is no society, so there can be
no gossip. If that yonder be the cabin of one of your tenants, I'll
certainly not start the question of farming."



80 LOED KILGOBBIN.

" There are poor on every estate," said Dick, curtly,.

" Now what sort of a rent does that fellow pay — five pounds a
year?"

" More likely fivc-and-twenty or thirty shillings."

" By Jove, I'd like to set up house in that fashion, and make love
to some delicately-nurtured miss, win her affections, and bring her
home to such a spot. Wouldn't that be a touchstone of aifection,
Dick ? "

" If I could believe you were in earnest, I'd throw you neck and
heels into that bog-hole."

"Oh, if you would !" cried he ; and there was a ring of truth-
fulness in his voice now there could be no mistaking.

Half- ashamed of the emotion his idle speech had called up and
uncertain how best to treat the emergency, Kearney said nothing,
and Atlee walked on for miles without a word.

" You can see the house now. It tops the trees yonder," said
Dick.

" That is Kilgobbin Castle, then ? " said Joe, slowly.

"There's not much of castle left about it. There is a square
block of a tower, and you can trace the moat and some remains of
outworks."

" Shall I make you a confession, Dick ? I envy you all that !
I envy you what smacks of a race, a name, an ancestry, a lineage.
It's a great thing to be able to 'take up the running,' as the folks
say, instead of making all the race yourself; and there's one
inestimable advantage in it, it rescues you from all indecent haste
about asserting your station. You feel yourself to be a somebody
and you've not hurried to proclaim it. There now, my boy, if you'd
have said only half as much as that on the score of your fomily, I'd
have called you an arrant snob. So much for consistency."

" What you have said gave me pleasure, I'll own that."

" I suppose it was you planted those trees there. It was a nice
thought, and makes the transition from the bleak bog to the cultivated
land more easy and graceful. Now I see the castle well. It's a fiue
portly mass against tho morning sky, and I perceive you fly a flag
over it."

" When the lord is at home."

" Ay, and by the way, do you give him his title while talking to
him here ? "

"The tenants do, and the neighbours and strangers do as they
please about it."

"Docs he like it himself?"

" If I WIS to guess, I should perhaps say he does like it. Here



THE JOURNEY TO THE COUNTRY., 81

we are now. Inside this low gate you are within the demesne, and I
may bid you welcome to Kilgobbin. We shall build a lodge here one
of these days. There's a good stretch, however, yet to the castle.
We call it two miles, and it's not far short of it."

" What a glorious morning. There is an ecstasy in scenting
these nice fresh woods in the clear sunrise, and seeing those modest
daffodils make their morning toilet."

" That's a fancy of Kate's. There is a border of such wild
flowers all the way to the house."

" And those rills of clear water that flank the road, are they of
iier designing ? "

" That they are. There was a cutting made for a railroad line
about four miles from this, and they came upon a sox*t of pudding-
stone formation, made up chiefly of white pebbles. Kate heard of it,
purchased the whole mass, and had these channels paved with them
from the gate to the castle, and that's the reason this water has its
crystal clearness."

" She's worthy of Shakspeare's sweet epithet, the ' daintest Kate
in Christendom.' Here's her health ! " and he stooped down, and
filling his palm with the running water, drank it off.

" I see it's not yet five o'clock. We'll steal quietly off to bed,
and have three or four hours sleep before we show ourselves."



CHAPTER Xin.

A SICK ROOM.

Cecil Walpole occupied the state room and the state bed at
Kilgobbin Castle ; but the pain of a very serious wound had left him
very little faculty to know what honour was rendered him, or of what
watchful solicitude he was the object. The fever, brought on by his
wound, had obliterated in his mind all memory of where he was ; and
it was only now, — that is, on the same morning that the young men
had arrived at the castle — that he was able to converse without much
difficulty, and enjoy the companionship of Lockwood, who had come
over to see him and scarcely quitted his bedside since the disaster.

**It seems going on all right," said Lockwood, as he lifted the
iced cloths to look at the smashed limb, which lay swollen and livid
on a pillow outside the clothes.

" It's not pretty to look at, Hany ; but the doctor says ' we shall
save it ' — his phrase for not cutting it ofl"."

6



82 . LORD KILGOBBIN.

" They've taken up two fellows ou suspicion, and I believe they
were of the party here that night."

" I don't much care about that. It was a fair fight, and I suspect
I did not get the worst of it. What really does grieve me is to think
how ingloriously one gets a wound that in real war would have been
a title of honour."

" If I had to give a V. C. for this aflair, it would be to that fine
girl I'd give it, and not to you, Cecil."

" So should I. There is no question whatever as to our
respective shares in the achievement."

" And she is so modest and unafl'ected about it all, and when
she was showing me the position and the alcove, she never ceased to
lay stress on the safety she enjoyed during the conflict."

" Then she said nothing about standing in front of me after I was
wounded ? "

"Not a word. She said a great deal about your coolness and
indifi'erence to danger, but nothing about her own."

" Well, I suppose it's almost a shame to ovm it — not that I could
have done anything to prevent it — but she did step down one step of
the stair and actually cover me fi'om fire."

" She's the finest girl in Europe," said Lockwood, warmly.

*' And if it was not the contrast with her cousin, I'd almost say
one of the handsomest," said Cecil.

" The Greek is splendid, I admit that, though she'll not speak —
she'll scarcely notice me."

"How is that?"

" I can't imagine, except it might have been an awkward speech
I made when we were talking over the row. I said, ' Where were
you ? what were you doing all this time ? ' "

" And what answer did she make you ? "

" None ; not a word. She drew herself proudly up, and opened
her eyes so large and full upon me, that I felt I must have appeared
some sort of monster to be so stared at."

" I've seen her do that."

"It was very grand and very beautiful; but I'll be shot if I'd
like to stand under it again. From that time to this she has never
deigned me more than a mere salutation."

" And are you good fri%nds with the other girl ? "

" The best in the world. I don't see much of her, for she's
always abroad, over the farm, or among the tenants : but when we
meet we are very cordial and friendly."

" And the father, what is he like ? "

" My lord is a glorious old fellow, full of hospitable plans and



A SICK ROOM. 83

pleasant projects ; but terribly distressed to think that this unlucky
incident should prejudice you against Ireland. Indeed, he gave mo
to understand that there must have been some mistake or miscon-
ception in the matter, for the castle had never been attacked before ;
and he insists on saying that if you will stop here — I think he said
ten years — you'll not see another such occurrence."

"It's rather a hard way to test the problem though."

" What's more, he included me in the experiment."

" And this title ? Does he assume it, or expect it to be
recognized ? "

" I can scarcely tell you. The Greek girl * my lords ' him
occasionally ; his daughter, never. The servants always do so ; and
I take it that people use their own discretion about it."

" Or do it in a sort of indolent courtesy, as they call Marsala,
sherry, but take care at the same time to pass the decanter. I believe
you telegraphed to his Excellency ? "

" Yes ; and he means to come over next week."

" Any news of Lady Maude ? "

'* Only that she comes with him, and I'm son-y for it."

"So am I — deuced sorry ! In a gossiping town like Dublin
there will be surely some story afloat about these handsome girls
here. She saw the Greek, too, at the Duke of Eigati's ball at Rome,
and she never forgets a name or a face. A pleasant trait in a wife."

" Of course the best plan will be to get removed, and be safely
installed in our old quarters at the Castle before they arrive."

" We must hear what the doctor says."

"He'll say no, naturally, for he'll not like to lose his patient.
He will have to convey you to town, and we'll try and make him
believe it will be the making of him. Don't you agree with me, Cecil,
it's the thing to do ? "

" I have not thought it over yet. I will to-day. By the way, I
know it's the thing to do," repeated he, with an air of determination.
" There will be all manner of reports, scandals, and falsehoods to no
end about this business here ; and when Lady Maude learns, as she
is sure to learn, that the ' Greek girl ' is in the story, I cannot
measure the mischief that may come of it."

" Break off the match, eh ?"

" That is certainly ' on the cards.' "

" I suspect even that wouldn't break your heart."

" I don't say it would, but it would prove very inconvenient in
many ways. Dancsbury has great claims on his party. He came
here as Viceroy dead against his will, and, depend upon it, he made
his terms. Then if these people go out, and tho Tories want to



84 LOUD KILGOBBm.

outbid them, Danesbury could take — ay, and would take — office under
them."

" I cauuot follow all that. All I know is, I like the old boy
himself, though ho is a bit pompous now and then, and fancies he's
Emperor of Russia."

** I wish his niece didn't imagine she was an Imperial princess."

" That she does ! I think she is the haughtiest girl I ever met.
To be sure she was a great beauty."

" Was, Harry ! What do you mean by * was ' ? Lady Maude is
not eight-aud-twenty."

" Ain't she, though ? Will you have a ten -pound note on it that
she's not over thirty-one j and I can tell you who could decide the
wager?"

"A delicate thought! — a fellow betting on the age of the girl
he's going to marry ! "

"Ten o'clock! — nearly half-past ten!" said Lockwood, rising
from his chair. I must go and have some breakfast. I meant to
have been down in time to-day, and breakfasted with the old fellow
and his daughter ; for coming late brings me to a tete-a-tete with the
Greek damsel, and it isn't jolly, I assure you."

" Don't you speak ? "

" Never a word ! She's generally reading a newspaper when I
go in. She lays it down ; but after remarking that she fears I'll
find the coffee cold, she goes on with her breakfast, kisses her Maltese
terrier, asks him a few questions about his health, and whether he
would like to be in a warmer climate, and then sails away."

*' And how she walks ! "

"Is she bored here?"

" She says not."

*' She can scarcely like these peo^ple : they're not the sort of
thing slic has ever been used to."

" Slie tells me she likes them : they certainly like her."

'* AYell," said Lockwood, with a sigh, " she's the most beautifal
woman, certainly, I've ever seen ; and, at this moment, I'd rather
eat a crust with a glass of beer under a hedge than I'd go down and
sit at breakfast with her.'

"I'll be shot if I'll not tell her that speech the first day I'm
down again."

*' So you may, for by that time I shall have seen her for the last
time." And with this he strolled out of the room and down the
stairs towards the breakfast-parlour.

As he stood at the door he heard the sound of voices laughing
and talking pleasantly. He entered, and Nina arose as he came



A SICK ROOM. 85

foi-ward, and said, "Let me present my cousin — Mr. PJcliard
Kearney, Major Lockwood ; his friend, Mr. Atlee."

The two young men stood up — Kearney stiff and haughty, and
Atlco with a sort of easy assurance that seemed to suit his good-
looking hut certainly snobhish style. As for Lockwood, he was too
much a gentleman to have more than one manner, and he received
these two men as he would have received any other two of any rank
anywhere.

" These gentlemen have been showing me some strange versions
of our little incident here in the Dublin papers," said Niua to Lock-
wood. " I scarcely thought we should become so famous."

" I suppose they don't stickle much for truth," said Lockwood,
as he broke his egg, in leisurely fashion.

" They were scarcely able to provide a special correspondent for
the event," said Atlee ; " but I take it they give the main facts
pretty accurately and fairly."

" Indeed ! " said Lockwood, more struck by the manner than by
the words of the speaker. " They mention, then, that my friend
received a bad fracture of the forearm."

" No, I don't think they do ; at least, so far as I have seen.
They speak of a night attack on Kilgobbin Castle, made by an armed
party of six or seven men with faces blackened, and their complete
repulse through the heroic conduct of a young lady."

" The main facts, then, include no mention of poor Walpole and
his misfortune ?"

" I don't think that we mere Irish attach any great importance
to a broken arm, whether it came of a cricket-ball or gun ; but we
do interest ourselves deeply when an Irish girl displays feats of
heroism and courage that men find it hard to rival."

"It was very fine," said Lockwood, gravely.

" Fine ! I should think it was fine ! " burst out Atlee. " It was
so fine that, had the deed been done on the other side of this narrow
sea, the nation would not have been satisfied till your Poet Laureate
had commemorated it in verse."

"Have they discovered any traces of the fellows?" said
Lockwood, who declined to follow the discussion into this channel.

" My father has gone over to Moate to-day," said Kearney, now
speaking for the first time, " to hear the examination of two fellows
who have been taken up on suspicion."

" You have plenty of this sort of thing in your country," said
Atlee to Nina.

" Where do you mean when you say my country ? "

" I mean Greece."



86 LORD KILGOBBm.

** But I have not seen Greece since I was a child, so high ; I
have lived always in Italy."

" Well, Italy has Calahria and the Terra del Lavoro."

" And how much do we in Kome know about cither ? "

*' About as much," said Lockwood, " as Belgravia does of the
Bog of Allen."

" You'll return to your friends in civilized life with almost the
fame of au African traveller. Major Lockwood," said Atlee, pertly.

"If Africa can boast such hospitality, I certainly rather envy
than compassionate Doctor Livingstone," said he, politely.

" Somebody," said Kearney, drily, " calls hospitality the breeding
of the savage."

" But I deny that we are savage," cried Atlee. " I contend for
it that all our civilization is higher, and that class for class we are in
a more advanced culture than the English ; that your chawbacon is
not as intelligent a being as our bogtrotter ; that your petty shop-
keeper is inferior to ours ; that throughout our middle classes there
is not only a higher morality but a higher refinement than with you."

" I read in one of the most accredited journals of England the
other day that Ireland had never produced a poet, could not even
show a second-rate humourist," said Kearney.

" Swift and Sterne were third-rate, or, perhaps, English," said
Atlee.

" These are themes I'll not attempt to discuss," said Lockwood;
*' but I know one thing, it takes three times as much military force
to govern the smaller island."

" That is to say, to govern the country alter your fashion; but
leave it to ourselves. Pack your portmanteaus and go away, and
then see if we'll need this parade of horse, foot, and dragoons ; these
batteries of guns and these brigades of peelers."

" You'd be the first to beg us to come back again."

" Doubtless, as the Greeks are begging the Turks. Eh,
Mademoiselle ; can you fancy throwing yourself at the feet of a
Pasha and asking leave to be his slave?"

" The only Greek slave I ever heard of," said Lockwood, " was
in marble and made by an American."

" Come into the drawing-room and I'll sing you something," said
Nina, rising.

" Which will be far nicer and pleasanter than all this discussion,"
said Joe.

" And if you'll permit me," said Lockwood, " we'll leave the
drawing-room door open and let poor Walpolc hear the music."



Online LibraryCharles James LeverLord Kilgobbin : a tale of Ireland in our own time → online text (page 9 of 48)