Charles James Lever.

Roland Cashel (Volume 2) online

. (page 12 of 32)
Online LibraryCharles James LeverRoland Cashel (Volume 2) → online text (page 12 of 32)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


'all right.'

" Part of the estate entailed on the baronetcy ; encumbrances, a
trifle. " I am, waiting your reply, dear Madam,

" Very respectfully yours,

" Haevet Upton,

" Hussars,"

" Shall we write, Gary ?" whispered Mrs. Kennyfeck, in the very
faintest of tones.

" Better not. Mamma; a verbal 'happy to see Sir Harvey,' safer,"
was the answer.

]Mrs. Kennyfeck yielded to the sager counsel, and the servant de-
parted with the message.

" We may leave the matter entirely with Livy, Mamma," said her
sister, half sarcastically ; " I opine that innocence, upon the present
occasion, will carry the day."

" I am glad of it," said Mrs. Kennyfeck ; " I am fatigued and out
of spirits : I'd rather not receive visitors."

" A white frock and a little sentiment — a sprig of jessamine and a
bit of poetry !" said Miss K., as she arranged her hair at the glass ;
" only don't overdo it, Livy."

" I'd much rather you'd not go !" said Olivia, languidly.

" Of course, my dear ; we are perfectly aware of that, but we have
our duties also. Mamma must take care that Aunt Eauny does nofc



]04 HOLAM) CASHEL.

'give you away' before you're asked for; and I must see what tlie
result of Papa's interview with Cashel may be, lest you should make
a bad market while a good bid is being offered."

" Clever creature !" murmured Mrs. Kenny feck, as she rose to
leave the room.

" It will seem so odd, Mamma, that I'm to receive him, alone !"

" Not at all, Livy ; we are packing up to go off: there are the
trunks and cap-cases all strewn about. You can be engaged with
Frances, and send her to summon us when Sir Harvey comes," said
Miss Kenny feck.

" Just so, my dear ; and then you'll entreat of him to sit down —
all as if you had heard nothing of his note ; you'll be quite lively and
natural in your manner."

" Ah, Mamma, remember what Talleyrand said to the Emperor :
' Give me the instructions. Sire, but leave the knavery to myself.'
My sweet sister is quite diplomatic enough to re-echo it."

Livy looked reproachfully at her, but said nothing.

" If I discover, my dear, that the higli prize is on your ticket, I'll
wear a handkerchief round my neck. Without you see this emblem,
don't discard your Baronet."

" Mamma, is this quite fair?" said Olivia. " Gary speaks as if my
heart had no possible concern in the matter."

" Quite the reverse, my dear ; but bear in mind that you have only
one heart, and it would not be altogetlier discreet to give it away to
two parties. Gary is always right, my love, in morals as in every-
thing else !"

" And how am I to behave. Mamma," said Olivia, with more cou-
rage than before, " if I am neither to refuse nor accept Sir Harvey's
proposals ?"

" Did you never flirt, Livy dearest ? Doesn't every partner with
whom you dance twice of the same evening make advances that are
neither repelled nor received ? The silliest boarding-school miss that
ever blushed before her Italian teacher knows how to treat such dif-
ficulties, if they deserve the name. But we are delaying too long.
Mamma! to your post, while I, in the library, establish a strict
blockade over Papa."

"With these words Miss Kenny feck waved her hand affectedly in
adieu, and led her mother from the room ; while Olivia, after a
second's pause, arose and arrayed more smoothly the silky tresses of
her hair before the glass.

We have once already, in this veracious narrative, been ungallant
enough to peep at this young lady, and coolly watch her strategy
before the enemy. We will not repeat the offence, nor linger to
mark how, as she walked the room, she stopped from time to time
before tlie mirror to gaze on charms which expectancy had already



EOLA-N^D CASIIEL. 105

heightened ; in fact, we will quit the chamber with Mr3. Kenny feck
and her elder daughter, and a3 the choice is permitted which to
follow, we select the latter.

" Here's Miss Kennyfeck, by Jove!" cried Jennings, as she crossed
the hall. " We have all been dying to see you ; pray come here and
give us your couusel." And he led lier into a small drawing-room,
where, around a table covered with prints and coloured drawings of
costume, a considerable number of the guests were assembled.

" For mercy sake, nothing out of the ' "Waverley Novels !' " said
the blonde lady. " I am wearied of seeing the Jewess Eebecca
wherever I go."

'■ Well, I'll be Diana Vernon, I know that," said Miss Meek ; " you
may all choose how you please."

" But you can't be, my love, if we have tlie ' Midsummer Night's
Dream,' " said Mrs. White.

" Why can't I, if Charley takes Osbaldiston ?" said she.

" Because they are not characters of the piece."

" Nobody cares for character in a masquerade !" said Linton.

" Or if they have any, they put a mask over it," said Lady Janet.

" I vote that we are all Tyrolese peasanths," lisped the fat and
dumpy Mrs. Malone. " It's a most picthuresque costhume."

" What will you be. Sir Andrew ?" cried another, as the old Gene-
ral passed the door in a dog-trot, witb Flint behind him.

" By me saul ! I theuk I'll be ' the Wanderin' Jew !' " cried ho,
Aviping the perspiration off his forehead.

" Tou bear that. Lady Janet?" said Linton, roguishly. "Sir
Andrew intends to live for ever."

" So that I don't, Sir, I can't complain," said she, with a tartness
quite electric.

" I incline to leave the choice of each free," said Miss Kennyfeck,
as she tossed over the drawings. " When you select a story, there
are always a certain number of characters nobody likes to take."

" I'll be Henri Quatre," said an Infantry Captain. " I wish you'd
be Gabrielle, Miss Kennyfeck ?"

" Thanks; but I've a fancy for that Cephalonian costume."

" Egad ! you can always pick up a ' Greek' or two, liere, to keep
you company," said a Hussar; but no one joined his laugh.

" I'll be Don Belianis!" said a tall, melancholy Subaltern.

" What were you at Bellingden's last year, Fillymore ?"

" I went as ' Chiffney ;' but they turned me out. The whole was
mediaeval, and tliey said I was all wrong."

" Try that turban, my dear Miss Kennyfeck," said Mrs. White,
who, suspecting the young lady wore false ringlets, made a vigorous
effort to expose the cheat.

'■By Jove! how becoming!" exclaimed Jennings. "Now, put



106 EOLAND CASHEL,

on the mantle — not over the right shoulder, but so — crossed a
little."

" You ought to have this scarf round your neck," said another ;
" blue and gold have such an excellent effect."

" I vote for your wearing that," said the Hussar, quite smitten
with her beauty. " Wliat do they call the dress ?"

" Costume of Leopoldine of Eschingen, who defended the ' Iron-
gate' against the Turks, in 1662."

'' Where was that ?" asked one.

" In somebody's avenue, I suppose," lisped out the tall Sub.

" No, no ; it's on some river or other. There's a cataract they call
the Irongate — I forget where."

" The Lethe, perhaps," said Miss Kennyfeck, slyly.

" Is not that a pace ! — by Jove ! Cashel's in a hurry. This way,"
said Jennings ; and they all rushed to the window in time to see
Eoland flit past at a full gallop.

Miss Kennyfeck did not wait for more ; but, throwing off the
turban and mantle, hastened out to catch her father, who, at the
same instant, was issuing from the library.

" Now, Pa," said she, slipping her arm within his, "how is it to
be ? Pray, now, don't affect the mysterious, but say at once — has he
proposed?"

" Who ? has who proposed ?"

" Mr. Cash el, of course. How could I mean any other ?"

"For you, my dear?" said he, for once venturing upon a bit of
raillery.

"Pshaw, Pa; for Olivia!"

" Nothing of the kind, my dear. Such a subject has never been
alluded to between us."

" Poor thing ! she has been badly treated then, that's all ! It
would, however, have saved us all a world of misconception if you had
only said so at first ; you must own that."

" But you forget. Miss Kennyfeck, that I never supposed you en-
tertained this impression. Mr. Cashel's conversation with me re-
lated exclusively to the affairs of his property."

" Poor Livy !" said Miss Kennyfeck, letting go his arm and ascend-
ing the stairs. As Miss Kennyfeck drew near the door of the draw-
ing-room, she began to sing sufEciently loud to be heard by those
within, and thus, judiciously heralding her approach, she opened the
door and entered. Sir Harvey had been standing beside the chim-
ney-piece witli Olivia, but turned hastily round, his countenance
exhibiting that state of mingled doubt, fear, and satisfaction, which
vouched for the cleverness of the young lady's tactics. Nothing, in
truth, could have been more adroit than her management ; perform-
ing a feat which among naval men is known as " backing and fi.lling,"



EOLAND CASHEL. 107

she succeeded in manoeuvring for nigh an hour, without ever ad-
vancing or retiring. We should be unwilling to deny our reader the
value of a lesson, did we not feel how the fairer portion of our au-
dience would weary over a recital, in every detail of which they could
instruct our ignorance.

The late Lord Londonderry was famed for being able to occupy
" the House' ' for any given time without ever communicating a fact,
raising a question, solving a difficulty, or, what is harder than all,
committing himself. But how humbly does this dexterity appear
beside the young-lady-like tact, that, opposed by all the importunity
of a lover, can play the game in such wise, that after fifty-odd
minutes the " pieces" should stand upon the board precisely as they
did at the beginning !

" How do you. Sir Harvey ? "Why are you not on that Committee
of Costume in the little drawing-room, where the great question at
issue is between the time of the Crusades and the Swell Mob ?"

" I have been far more agreeably occupied, in a manner that my
feelings" — (here Olivia looked disappointed) — " my heart, I mean,"
said he — (and the young lady looked dignified) — " my feelings and
my heart, too," resumed he, horribly puzzled which tack to sail upon,
" assure me must nearly concern my future happiness."

" How pleasant !" said Cary, laughingly, as if she accepted the
speech as some high-flown compliment j " you are so fortunate to
know what to do on a dreary wet day like this,"

Olivia, whose eyes were bent upon her sister, changed colour more
than once. " The signal was flying" — " stop firing," just at the
moment when the enemy had all but " struck ;" in less figurative
phrase. Miss Kennyfeck's throat was encircled by the scarf which
she had forgotten to lay aside on leaving the drawing-room.

The object was too remarkable to escape notice, and Olivia's face
grew scarlet as she thought of her triumph. Miss Kennyfeck saw
this, but attributed the agitation to anything but its true cause.

" I'm in search of Mamma," said she ; and with a very peculiar
glance at Olivia, left the room.

Sir Harvey's visit lasted full twenty minutes longer, and although
no record has been preserved of what passed on the occasion, they
who met him descending the stairs all agreed in describing his ap-
pearance as most gloomy and despondent. As for Olivia, she saw
the door close after him with a something very like sorrow. There
was no love in the case, nor anything within a day's journey of it ;
but he was good-looking, fashionable, well-mannered, and mus-
tachioed. She would have been " My Lady," too ; and though this
is but a " brevet nobility" after all, it has all " the sound of the true
metal." She thought over all these things ; and she thought, besides,
how very sad he looked when she said " No ;" and, how much sadder,



108 KOLA.M) CASIIEL.

when askiDg the usual question about " Time, and proved devotion,
aud all that sort of thing," she said " No" again ; and how, saddest of
all, when she made the stereotyped little speech about "sisterly
affection, and seeing him happy with another!" Oh dear! oh dear !
is it not very wearisome and depressing to think that chess can have
some hundred thousand combinations, and love-making but its two
or three " gambits" — the " fool's-mate" the chief of them ? "We
have said she was sorry for what had occurred ; but slie consoled her-
self by remembering, it was not her fault that Sir Harvey was not as
rich as Cashel, and, nephew to a live uncle !

As Sir Harvey's " Lady" — Heaven forgive me, I had almost writ-
ten " "Wife" — she would have been the envy of a very large circle of
her Dublin acquaintance ; and then she knew that these Dragoon
people have a way of making their money go so much further than
civilians ; and in all that regards horses, equipage, and 'outward
show, the smartest " mufti" is a seedy affair beside the frogs of the
new regulation pelisse ! Slie actually began to feel misgivings about
lier choice.

A high drag at the Howth races, a crowd of whiskered fellows of
" ours," and the band of the regiment in Merrion-squai-e, came home
to her " dear Dublin" imagination witli irresistible fascination. In
her mind's eye, she had already cut the " Bar," and been coldly dis-
tant with the Infantry. It was a little reverie of small triumphs,
but the sum of them mounted up to something considerable.

" Is he gone, Livy ?" said Gary, as, entering noiselessly, she stole
behind her sister's cliair.

" Tes, dear, he is gone!" said she, sighing slightly.

" My poor forlorn damsel, don't take his absence so much to heart !
" You're certain to see him at dinner !"

" He said he'd leave this afternoon," said she, gravely, " that he
couldn't bear to meet me after what had passed."

" And what has passed, child ?"

" Tou know, of course, Gary ; I refused him !"

" Eefused him ! — refused him ! — what possessed you to do so ?"

" This!" said Olivia, gasping with terror at the unknown danger ;
and she caught hold of the fringe of her sister's scarf.

Miss Kennyfeck started, and put her liand to her neck, and sud-
denly letting it fall again, she leaned against the wall for support.

" This was a mistake, Livy," said she, in a voice barely above a
whisper ; " I was trying on some costumes below stairs, and they
tied this round my neck, where I utterly forgot it."

" And there is nothing " She could not go on, but hanging

her head, burst into tears.

" My poor dear Livy, don't give way so ; the fault, I know, was
all mine. Let me try if I cannot repair it. Have you positively
refused him ?"



ROLAND CASHEL. 109

She nodded, but could not speak.

" Did you say that there was no hope — that your sentiments could
never change ?"

" I did."

" Come, that's not so bad ; men never believe that. Tou didn't
say that your affections were engaged ?"

"No."

" There's a dear child," said she, kissing her neck ; " I knew you'd
not be guilty of such folly. And how did you part, Livy — coldly, or
in aifectiouate sorrow?"

'• Coldly ; we did not shake hands."

" That's right ; all as it ought to be. It is a sad blunder, but I
hope not irreparable. Cheer up, child ; depend upon it my scarf is
not so fatal as Aunt Fanny's blessing."

" Ah, then, my dear, I don't see much difference in the end," said
that redoubtable lady herself, who issued from a small conservatory
off the drawing-room, where she had lain in wait for the last half
hour. " I heard it, my dears, and a nice hash you made of it between
you, with your signals and telescopes" — we believe she meant tele-
graphs — " you threw out the dirty water, now, in earnest !" And so
saying, she proceeded to disentangle herself from a prickly creeper,
which had a most pertinacious hold of what Linton called her " scalp-
lock."

" Aunt Fanny's blessing, indeed !" said she, for her temper knew
no bounds when she saw the enemy silenced. " 'Tis little harm that
would have done, if ye didn't take to screaming about it; as if any
man could bear that ! Tou drove him away, my dear, just the way
your own mother did poor Major Cohlhayne — with hard crving — till
he said ' he'd as soon go to a wake as take tay in the house.' And
sure enough she had to take up with your poor father, after ! Just
so. I never knew luck come of signals and signs. When the good
tiling's before you, help yourself. My poor father used to say, ' Don't
pass " the spirits" because there's claret at the head of the table ;
who knows if it'll ever come down to you ?' And there you are,
now ! aud glad enough you'd be to take tliat curate I saw in Dublin
with the smooth face ! this minute. I don't blame you, as much as
your poor foolish mother. She has you, as she reared you. Bad
luck to you for a plant !" cried she, as the ingenious creeper insinuated
itself among the meshes of her Limerick lace collar. " Gary, just
take this out for me ;" but Cary was gone, aud her sister with her.
Nor did Aunt Fanny know how long her eloquence had been purely
soliloquy.

She looked around her for a moment at the deserted battle-field,
and then slowly retired.



110 BOLAKD CASHEL.



CHAPTEE XYI.

" No" is the feminine of " Yes !"

Hungarian Pboverb.

Bad as tlie weather is — and certainly even in Ireland a more
drenching, driving-down, pouring rain never fell — we must ask of our
readers to follow Cashel, who at a slapping gallop rode on, over grass
and tillage, now, careering lightly over the smooth sward, now, swel-
tering along heavily through deep ground, regardless of the pelting
storm, and scarcely noticing the strong fences which, at every instant,
tried the stride and strength of his noble horse.

If his speed was headlong, his seat was easy, and his hand as
steady as if lounging along some publifi promenade ; his features,
however, were flushed, partly from the beating rain, but more from a
feverish excitement that showed itself in his flashing eye and closely
compressed lip. More than once, in crossing a difiicult leap, his
horse nearly fell, and although half on the ground, and only recover-
ing by a scramble, he seemed not to heed the accident. At last he
arrived at the tall oak paling which fenced the grounds of the cot-
tage, and where it was his wont to halt and fasten his horse. Now,
however, he rode fiercely at it, clearing the high leap with a tre-
mendous spring, and alighting on the trimly-kept grass-plat before
the door.

A slight faint shriek was heard as the horse dashed past the win-
dow, and, pale with terror, Mary Leicester stood in the porch.

Cashel had meanwhile dismounted, and given his horse to the old
gardener.

" Not hurt, Mr. Cashel ?" said she, trying to seem composed, while
she trembled in every limb.

" Not in the least. I never intended to have alarmed you, how-
ever."

" Then it was no run-away ?" said she, essaying a smile.

" I'm ashamed to say I have not that excuse for so rudely tramp-
ling over your neat sward. "Will Mr. Corrigan forgive me ?"

" Of course he will, if he even ever knows that he has anything to
forgive ; but it so happens, that he has gone into the village to-day
— an excursion he has not made for nigh a year. He wished to con-
sult our friend the Doctor on some matter of importance, and I half
suspect he may liave stayed to share his dinner."

As Miss Leicester continued to make this explanation, they had
reached the drawing-room, which, to Cashel's amazement, exhibited
tokens of intended departure. Patches here and there on the walls



KOLAND CASHEL. Ill

showed where pictures had stood. The book-shelves were empty, the
tables displayed none of those little trifling objects which denote
daily life and its occupations, and his eye wandered over the sad-
looking scene till it came back to her, as she stood reading his glances,
and seeming to re-echo the sentiment they conveyed.

" All this would seem to speak of leave-taking," said Cashel, in a
voice that agitation made thick and guttural.

" It is so," said she, with a sigh ; " we are going away."

" Going away!" Simple as the words are, we have no sadder
sounds in our language. They have the sorrowful cadence that be-
speaks desertion. They ring through the heart like a knell over
long-past happiness. They are the requiem over " friends no more,"
and of times that never can come back again.

" Going away !" How dreary does it sound ; as if life had no fixed
destination in future, but that we were to drift over its bleak ocean,
the " waifs" of what we once had been.

" Going away !" cried Cashel ; " but surely you have not heard "

He stopped himself; another word, and his secret had been revealed
— the secret he had so imperatively enjoined Tiernay to keep ; for it
was his intention to have left Ireland for ever ere Mr. Corrigan
should have learned the debt of gratitude he owed him. It is true,
indeed, that one night of sleepless reflection had suggested another
counsel, but had not altered his desire that the mystery should be
preserved.

He was confused, therefore, at the peril he had so narrowly escaped,
and for a moment was silent ; at length he resumed, in a tone of as-
sumed ease :

" ' Going away !' sounds to one like me, who have lived a life of
wandering, so like pleasure, that I always associate it with new
scenes of enjoyment ; I think all the sorrow is reserved for those who
remain behind — the deserted."

'' So it may," said she, " with those who, like yourself, have roamed
the world in the excitement of ardent youth, glorying in enterprise,
thirsting for adventure ; but there are others, ourselves, for instance,
whose humble fortunes have linked them with one class of scenes and
objects till they have grown part of our very natures ; so that we
only know the world as it is associated with things familiar to daily
use. There are, doubtless, plants of more gorgeous foliage and fairer
flowers in other countries, but loe shall never learn to look at them
as we do upon these that speak to us of home, of spring and summer,
when they gladdened tis, of autumn and winter, when our culture
cared for them. There are sunsets more rich and glowing, but if we
see them, it will be to think of that sinking orb which sent its last
rays over that wide river, and lit up in a golden glory this little
chamber. There's not a charm the fairest clime can own but will



112 EOLAND CASUEL.

liave its highest merit iu recalling some humble scene that tells of
' home.' "

" I never could leave a spot so dear to me as this were !" cried
Cashel, \vho watched with ecstasy the impassioned beauty of her fea-
tures.

" Do not say ^/mf," said she, seriously. " "We can all of us do
wliat we ought, however it may try our courage. Tes, I say courage,"
said she, smiling, " since I fancy it is a property you have a due re-
spect for. If we leave scenes so dear to us as these, it is because we
feel it a duty ; and a duty fulfilled is a buckler against most sorrows.
But we are wandering into a very sad theme — at least, to judge from
your grave looks. What news have j'ou of your gay company ?"

" I see but little of them," said Cashel, abruptly.

" What a strange host ! — and how do they amuse themselves ?"

" As they fancy, I believe. I only know I never interfere with
tliem, and they are kind enough to reciprocate the civility ; and so we
get on admirably."

" I must say this scarcely speaks well for either party," said she,
laughing.

" I fear not ; but it is true, notwithstanding."

" Tou have a most accomplished friend, I believe?"

" Linton. Do vou mean Linton r"

" Tes. He must be an excellent counsellor in all difficulties."

Cashel did not look as if he concurred in the sentiment, but he said
notliing; and Mary, half fearing that she had unwittingly given pain,
was silent also. She was the first to speak.

" Do you know, Mr. Cashel, how I passed the morning ? You'd
scarcely guess. It was in writing a long letter ; so long, indeed, that
I began to fear, like many efibrts of over-zeal, it might defeat itself,
and never get read ; and that letter was — to youP

" To me ! where is it, then ?"

" There !" said she, pointing to some charred leaves beneath the
grtite. " I see your curiosity, and I have no pretension to trifle with
it. But last night, late, Papa dictated to me a long sermon on your
account, premising that the impertinence was from one you should
never see again, and one who, however indiscreet in his friendship,
was assuredly sincere in it. Were the document in existence, I
should probably not have to utter so many apologies ; for, on the
whole, it was very flattering to you."

" And why is it not so ?" cried Cashel, eagerly.

" I cannot tell you why."

" Do you mean that you do not wish to tell, or do not know the
reason?"

" I do not know the reason," said she, firmly. " I was ill, slightly
ill, this morning, and could not breakfast with Papa. It was late



Online LibraryCharles James LeverRoland Cashel (Volume 2) → online text (page 12 of 32)