Charles James Lever.

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the army."


" There's diplomacy, for instance," said HefTernan not
minding the youth's remark j " your brother has influence
with the Foreign-office."

" I have no fancy for the career."

" Well, there are Government situations in abundance.
A man must do something in our work-a-day world, if only
to be companionable to those who do. Idleness begets
ennui and falling in love, and although the first only
wearies for the time, the latter lays its impress on all a
man's after-life, fills him with false notions of happiness,
instils wrong motives for exertion, and limits the exercise
of capacity to the small and valueless accomplishments
that find favour beside the work-table and the piano."

Forester received somewhat haughtily the unasked coun-
sels of Mr. Heffernan respecting his future mode of life,
nor was it improbable that he might himself have con-
veyed his opinion thereupon in words, had not the appear-
ance of the waiter to prepare the table for dinner inter-
posed a barrier.

11 At what hour shall I order the horses, sir?" asked the
man of Heffernan.

" Shall we say eight o'clock ? or is that too early ? "

" Not a minute too early for me," said Forester ; " lam
longing to leave this place, where I hope never again to
set foot."

" At eight, then, let them be at the door, and whenever
your cook is ready we




THE same post that brought the Knight the tidings of his
lost suit, conveyed the intelligence of his son's departure
for India, and although the latter event was one over
which if in his power he would have exercised no con-
trol, yet was it by far the more saddening of the two an-

Unable to apply any more consolatory counsels, his in-
variable reply to Lady Eleanor was, ' It was a point of
duty ; the boy could not have done otherwise ; I have too
often expressed my opinion to him about the ' devoirs ' of
a soldier to permit of his hesitating here.' And as for our
suit, Mr. Bicknell says the jury did not deliberate ten min-
utes on their verdict ; whatever right we might have on
our side, it was pretty clear we had no law. Poor Lionel
is spared the pain of knowing this at least." He sighed
heavily and was silent ; Lady Eleanor and Helen spoke
not either, and except their long-drawn breathings nothing
was heard in the room.

Lady Eleanor was the first to speak. " Might not
Lionel's evidence have given a very different colouring to
our cause if he had been there ? "

" It is hard to say ; I am not aware whether we failed
upon a point of fact or law ; Mr. Bicknell writes like a
man who felt his words were costly matters, and that he
should not put his client to unnecessaiy expense. He
limits himself to the simple announcement of the result,
and that the charge of the bench was very pointedly un-
favourable. He says something about a motion for a new
trial, and regrets Daly's having prevented his engaging Mr.
O'Halloran, and refers us to the newspapers for detail."

" I never heard a question of this O'Halloran," said
Lady Eleanor, "nor of Mr. Daly's opposition to him before."


"Nor did I either; though in all likelihood, if I had,
I should have been of Bagenal's mind myself. Employ-
ing such, men has always appeared to me on a par with
the barbarism of engaging the services of savage nations
in a war against civilized ones ; and the practice is de-
fended by the very same arguments if they are not with
you, they are against you."

" You are right, my dear father," said Helen, while her
countenance glowed with unusual animation ; " leave
such allies to the enemy if he will, no good cause shall
be stained by the scalping-knife and the tomahawk."

" Quite right, my dearest child," said he, fondly ; "no
defeat is so bad as such a victory."

" And where was Mr. Daly ? He does not seem to
have been at the trial?"

" No ; it would appear as if he were detained by some
pressing necessity in Dublin. This letter is in his hand-
writing ; let us see what he says."

Before the Knight could execute his intention, old Tate
appeared at the door, and announced the name of Mr.

" You must present our compliments," said Darcy,
hastily, " and say that a very particular engagement will
prevent our having the pleasure of receiving his visit
this evening."

" This is really intolerable," said Lady Eleanor, who,
never much disposed to look favourably on that gentle-
man, felt his present appearance anything but agreeable.

"You hear what your master says," said Helen to the
old man, who, never having in his whole life received a
similar order, felt proportionately astonished and confused.

" Tell Mr. Dempsey we are very sorry, but "

" For all that, he won't be denied," said Paul, himself
finishing the sentence, while, passing unceremoniously in
front of Tate, he walked boldly into the middle of the
room. His face was flushed, his forehead covered with
perspiration, and his clothes, stained with dust, showed
that he had come off a very long and fast walk. He
wiped his forehead with a flaring cotton handkerchief,
and then, with a long-drawn puff, threw himself back into
an arm-chair.


There was something so actually comic in the cool
assurance of the little man, that Darcy lost all sense of
annoyance at the interruption, while he surveyed him and
enjoyed the dignified coolness of Lady Eleanor's reception.

" That's the devil's own bit of a road," said Paul, as
he fanned himself with a music-book, " between this and
Coleraine. Whenever it's not going up a hill, it's down
one. Do you ever walk that way, ma'am ? "

" Very seldom indeed, sir."

" Faith, and I'd wager, when you do, that it gives you
a pain just here below the calf of the leg, and a stitch in
the small of the back."

Lady Eleanor took no notice of this remark, but ad-
dressed some observation to Helen, at which the young
girl smiled, and said, in a whisper,

" Oh, he will not stay long."

"I am afraid, Mr. Dempsey," said the Knight, "that
I must be uncourteous enough to say that we are unpre-
pared for a visitor this evening. Some letters of import-
ance have just arrived, and as they will demand all our
attention, you will, I am sure, excuse the frankness of
my telling you that we desire to be alone."

" So you shall in a few minutes more," said Paul,
coolly. " Let me have a glass of sherry and water, or, if
wine is not convenient, ditto of brandy, and I'm off. I
didn't come to stop. It was a letter that you forgot
at the post-office, marked 'with speed,' on the outside,
that brought me here ; for I was spending a few days
at Coleraine with old Hewson."

The kindness of this thoughtful act at once eradicated
every memory of the vulgarity that accompanied it, and
as the Knight took the letter from his hands, he hastened
to apologize for what he said by adding his thanks for
the service.

" I offered a fellow a shilling to bring it, but being
harvest-time he wouldn't come," said Dempsey. " Phew !
what a state the roads are in ! dust up to your ankles ! "

" Come now, pray help yourself to some wine and
water," said the Knight, "and while you do so, I'll ask
permission to open my letter."

" There's a short cut down by Port-na-happle mill, they


tell me, ma'am," said Dempsey, who now found a much
more complaisant listener than at first ; " but, to tell you
the truth, I don't think it would suit you or me ; there
are stone walls to climb over and ditches to cross. Miss
Helen, there, might get over them, she has a kind of a
thorough-bred stride of her own, but fencing destroys me

" It was a very great politeness to think of bringing us
the letter, and I trust your fatigues will not be injurious
to you," said Lady Eleanor, smiling faintly.

" Worse than the damage to a pair of very old shoes,
ma'am, I don't anticipate ; I begin to suspect they've taken
their last walk this evening."

While Mr. Dempsey contemplated the coverings of his
feet with a very sad expression, the Knight continued to
read the letter he held in his hand with an air of extreme

" Eleanor, my dear," said he, as he retired into the
deep recess of a window, " come here for a moment."

" I guessed there would be something of consequence
in that," said Dempsey, with a sly glance from Helen to
the two figures beside the window. "The envelope was.
a thin one, and I read ' War Office ' in the corner of the
inside cover."

Not heeding the delicacy of this announcement, but
only thinking of the fact, which she at once connected
with Lionel's fortunes, Helen turned an anxious and
searching glance towards the window, but the Knight
and Lady Eleanor had entered a small room adjoining,
and were already concealed from view.

" Was he ever in the militia, miss?" asked Dempsey,
with a gesture of his thumb to indicate of whom, he spoke.

" I believe not," said Helen, smiling at the pertinacity
of his curiosity.

"Well, well," resumed Dempsey, with a sigh, "I would
not wish him a hotter march than I had this day, and
little notion I had of the same tramp only ten minutes
before. I was reading the Saunders of Tuesday last,
with an account of that business done at Mayo between
O'Halloran and the young officer you know what I
mean ? "


"No, I have not heard it ; pray tell me," said she, with
an eagerness very different from her former manner.

*' It was a horsewhipping, miss, that a young fellow in
the Guards gave O'Halloran, just as he was coming out
of court ; something the Counsellor said about some-
body in the trial names never stay in my head, but I
remember it was a great trial at the Westport assizes,
and that O'Halloran came down special, and faith, so did
the young captain too ; and if the lawyer laid it on very
heavily within the court, the red-coat made up for it out-
side. But I believe I have the paper in my pocket, and,
if you like, I'll read it out for you."

"Pray do," said Helen, whose anxiety was now intense.

" Well, here goes," said Mr. Dempsey; " but with your
permission I'll just wet my lips again. That's elegant
sherry ! "

Having sipped and tasted often enough to try the
young lady's patience to its last limit, he unfolded the
paper, and read aloud,

"'When Counsellor O'Halloran had concluded his elo-
quent speech in the trial of Darcy v. Hickman for a full
report of which see our early columns a young gentle-
man, pushing his way through the circle of congratulating
friends, accosted him with the most insulting and oppro-
brious epithets, and, failing, to elicit from the learned gen-
tleman a reciprocity' that means, miss, that O'Halloran
didn't show fight 'struck him repeatedly across the
shoulders, and even the face, with a horsewhip. He was
immediately committed under a bench warrant, but was
liberated almost at once. Perhaps our readers may un-
derstand these proceedings more clearly when we inform
them that Captain Forester, the aggressor in this case, is
a near relative of our Irish Secretary, Lord Castlereagh.'
That's very neatly put, miss, isn't it ?" said Mr. Demp-
sey, with a sly twinkle of the eye ; " it's as much as to say
that the Castle chaps may do what they please. But it won't
end there, depend upon it; the Counsellor will see it out."

Helen paid little attention to the observation, for,
having taken up the paper as Mr. Dempsey laid it down,
she was deeply engaged in the report of the trial and
O'Halloran's speech.


" Wasn't that a touching-up the old Knight of Gvvynno
got ? " said Dempsey, as, with his glass to his eye, ho
peered over her shoulder at the newspaper. " Faith,
O'Halloran flayed him alive ! He's the boy can do it ! "

Helen scarce seemed to breathe, as, with a heart almost
bursting with indignant anger, she read the lines before her.

" Strike him! " cried she, at length, unable longer to
control the passion that worked within her; "had he
trampled him beneath his feet, it had not been too much ? "

The little man started and stared with amazement at
the young girl, as, with flashing eyes and flushed cheek,
she arose from her seat, and tearing the paper into frag-
ments, stamped upon them with her foot.

" Blood alive, miss, don't destroy the paper! I only
got a loan of it from Mrs. Kennedy, of the post-office ;
she slipped it out of the cover, though it was addressed
to Lord O'Neil. Oh, dear! oh dear! it's a nice article
no\v ! "

These words were uttered in the very depth of despair,
as kneeling down on the carpet, Mr. Dempsey attempted
to collect and arrange the scattered fragments.

" It's no use in life! Here's the Widow Wallace's pills
in the middle of the Counsellor's speech ! and the last
day's drawing of the lottery mixed up with that elegant
account of old Darcy's

A hand which, if of the gentlest mould, now made a
gesture to enforce silence, arrested Mr. Dempsey's words,
and at the same moment the Knight entered with Lady
Eleanor. Darcy started as he gazed on the excited looks
and the air of defiance, of his daughter, and, for a second,
a deep flush suffused his features, as with an angry frown
he asked of Dempsey, "What does this mean, sir? "

" D n me if I know what it means ! " exclaimed Paul,
in utter despair at the confusion of his own faculties.
" My brain is in a whirl."

" It was a little political dispute between Mr. Dempsey
and myself, sir," said Helen, with a faint smile. " He
was reading for me an article from the newspaper, whose
views were so very opposite to mine, and his advocacy
of them so very animated, that in short, we both became
warm. "


'' Yes, that's it," cried Dernpsey, glad to accept any
explanation of a case in which he had no precise idea
wherein lay the difficulty "that's it; I'll take my oath
it was."

" Ho is a fierce Unionist," said Helen, speaking rapidly
to cover her increasing confusion, " and has all the con-
ventional cant by heart, ' old-fashioned opinions,' ' musty
prejudices,' and so on."

" I did not suspect you were so eager a politician, my
dear Helen," said the Knight, as, half-chidingly, he threw
his eyes towards the scattered fragments of the torn

The young girl blushed till her neck became crimson ;
shame, at the imputation of having so far given way to
passion ; sorrow, at the reproof, whose injustice she did
not dare to expose ; and regret, at the necessity of dissi-
mulation, all overwhelming her at the same moment.

" I am not angry, my sweet girl," said the Kr.ight, as
he drew his arm around her, and spoke in a low, fond
accent. " I may be sorry sincerely sorry at the social
condition that has suffered political feeling to approach
our homes and our firesides, and thus agitate hearts as
gentle as yours by these rude themes. For your senti-
ments on these subjects I can scarcely be a severe critic,
for I believe they are all my own."

" Let us forget it all," said Helen, eagerly, for she saw
that Mr. Dempsey, having collected once more the torn
scraps, was busy in arranging them into something like
order. In fact, his senses were gradually recovering from
the mystification into which they had been thrown, and he
was anxious to vindicate himself before the party. "All
the magnanimity, however, must not be mine," continued
she, " and until that odious paper is consumed, I'll sign
no treaty of peace." So saying, and before Dempsey
could interfere to prevent it, she snatched up the frag-
ments, and threw them into the fire. "Now, Mr. Demp-
sey, we are friends again," said she, laughing.

"The Lord grant it!" ejaculated Paul, who really felt
no ambition for so energetic an enemy. " I'll never tell a
bit of news in your company again, so long as my name
is Paul Dempsey. Every officer of the guards may horse-


whip the Irish bar 1 was forgetting not a syllable


The Knight, fortunately, did not hear the last few words,
for ho was busily engaged in reading the letter he still
held in his hands ; at length he said,

" Mr. Dempsey has conferred one great favour on us by
bringing us this letter, and as its contents are of a nature
not to admit of any delay "

"He will increase the obligation by taking his leave,"
added Paul, rising, and, for once in his life, really well
pleased at an opportunity of retiring.

' I did not say that," said Darcy, smiling.

"No, no, Mr. Dempsey," added Lady Eleanor, with
more than her wonted cordiality ; " you will, I hope,
remain for tea."

" No, ma'am, I thank you ; I have a little engagement
I made a promise, If I get safe out of the house without
some infernal blunder or other, it's only the mercy of
Providence." And with this burst of honest feeling, Paul
snatched up his hat, and without waiting for the ceremony
of leave-taking, rushed out of the room, and was soon
seen crossing the wide common at a brisk pace.

" Our little friend has lost his reason," said the Knight,
laughing. " What have you been doing to him, Helen ? "

A gesture to express innocence of all interference was
the only reply, and the party became suddenly silent.

"Has Helen seen that letter?" said Lady Eleanor,
faintly ; and Darcy handed the epistle to his daughter.
" Head it aloud, my dear," continued Lady Eleanor, "for,
up to this, my impressions are so confused, I know not
which is reality, which mere apprehension."

Helen's eyes glanced to the top of the letter, and saw
the words, "War-office;" she then proceeded to read:
" ' Sir, In reply to the application made to the Com-
mander-in-Chief of the Forces in your behalf, expressing
your desire for an active employment, I have the honour
to iuform you, that his Royal Highness having graciously
taken into consideration the eminent services rendered by
you in former years, and the distinguished character of
that corps which, raised by your exertions, still bears
your name, has desired me to convey his approval of your


claim, and his desire, should a favourable opportunity
present itself, of complying with your wish. I have the
honour to remain, your most humble and obedient servant,


" ' Private Secretary.' "

On an enclosed slip of paper was the single line in
pencil: "H. G. begs to intimate to Colonel Darcy the
propriety of attending the next levee of H. R. H., which
will take place on the 14th."

" Now, you, who read riddles, my dearest Helen, ex-
plain this one to us. I made no application of the kind
alluded to, nor am I aware of any one having ever done
so for me. The thought never once occurred to me, that
his Majesty or his Royal Highness would accept the ser-
vices of an old and shattered hulk, while many a glorious
three-decker lies ready to be launched from the stocks. I
could not have presumed to ask such a favour, nor do I
well know how to acknowledge it."

"But is there anything so very strange," said Helen,
proudly, " that those highly placed by station should be as
highly gifted by nature, and that his Royal Highness,
having heard of your unmerited calumnies, should have
seen that this was the fitting moment to remember the
services you have rendered the Crown ? I have heard
that there are several posts of high trust and honour con-
ferred on those who, like yourself, have won distinction in
the service."

" Helen is right," said Lady Eleanor, drawing a long
breath, and as if released of a weighty load of doubt and
uncertainty; "this is the real explanation; the phrases of
official life may give it another colouring to our eyes, but
such, I feel assured, is the true solution."

" I should like to think it so," said Daroy, feelingly ;
" it would be a great source of pride to me at this moment,
when my fortunes are lower than ever they were lower
than ever I anticipated they might be to know that my
benefactor was the Monarch. In any case I must lose no
time in acknowledging this mark of favour. It is now
the fourth of the month ; to be in London by the fourteenth,
I should leave this to-morrow."


" It is better to do so," said Lady Eleanor, with an ut-
terance from which a great effort had banished all agitation;
" Helen and I are safe and well here, and as happy as we
can be when away from you and Lionel."

"Poor Lionel;," said the Knight, tenderly, " what good
news for him it would be were they to give me some Staff
appointment I might have him near us. Come, Eleanor,"
added he, with more gaiety of manner, " I feel a kind of
presentiment of good tidings. But we are forgetting
Bagenal Daly all this time ; perhaps this letter of his may
throw some light on the matter."

Darcy now broke the seal of Daly's note, which, even
for him, was one of the briefest. This was so far fortunate,
since his writing was in his very worst style, blotted and
half erased in many places, scarcely legible anywhere. It
Avas only by assembling a "committee of the whole house"
that the Darcys were enabled to decipher even a portion
of this unhappy document. As well as it could be ren-
dered, it ran somewhat thus :

"The verdict is against us; old Bretson never forgave
you carrying away the medal from him in Trinity some
fifty years back ; he charged dead against you ; I always
said he would. Summum jits, summa injuria The Chief
Justice the greatest wrong ! and the jury the fellows who
lived under you, in your own town, and their fathers and
grandfathers ! at least, as many of the rascals as had
such. Never mind, Bicknell has moved for a new trial;
they have gained the 'Habere' this time, and so has
O'Halloran you heard of the thrashing- "

Here two tremendous patches of ink left some words
that followed quite unreadable.

"What can this mean ?" said Darcy, repeating the pas-
sage over three or four times, while Helen made no effort
to enlighten him in the difficulty. Baffled in all his at-
tempts, he read on: '"I saw him in his way through Dub-
lin last night.' Who can he possibly mean?" said Darcy,
laying down the letter, and pondering for several minutes.

"O'Halloran, perhaps," said Lady Eleanor, in vain seek-
ing a better elucidation.

" Oh, not him, of course!" cried Darcy; "he goes on to
say, that 'he is a devilish high-spirited young fellow, and


for an Englishman a warm-blooded animal.' Really this
is too provoking; at such a time as this he might have
taken pains to be a little clearer," exclaimed Darcj.

The letter concluded with some mysterious hints about
intelligence that a few days might disclose, but from what
quarter, or on what subject, nothing was said, and it was
actually with a sense of relief Darcy read the words,
" Yours ever, Bagenal Daly," at the foot of the letter, and
thus spared himself the torment of further doubts aud

" Helen was restrained from at once conveying the so-
lution of the mystery by recollecting the energy she had
displayed in her scene with Mr. Dempsey, and of which the
shame still lingered on her flushed cheek.

"He adds something here nbout writing by the next
post," said Lady Eleanor.

" But before that arrives I shall be away," said the
Knight; and the train of thought thus evoked soon erased
all memory of other matters. And now the little group
gathei'ed together to discuss the coming journey, and talk
over all the plans by which anxiety was to be beguiled and
hope cherished till they met again.

"Miss Daly will not be a very importunate visitor," said
Lady Eleanor, dryly, "judging at least from the past ; she
has made one call here since we came, and then only to
leave her card."

" And if Helen does not cultivate a more conciliating
manner, I scarce think that Mr. Dempsey will venture on
coming either," said the Knight, laughing.

" I can readily forgive all the neglect," said Helen,
haughtily, " in compensation for the tranquillity."

"And yet, my dear Helen," said Darcy, "there is a
danger in that same compact. We should watch carefully
to see whether, in the isolation of a life apart from others,
we are not really indulging the most refined selfishness,
and dignifying with the name of philosophy a solitude we
love for the indulgence of our own egotism. If we are
to have our hearts stirred and our sympathies strongly
moved, let the themes be great ones, but above all things
let us avoid magnifying the petty incidents of daily occur-
rence into much consequence : this is what the life of


monasteries and convents teaches, and a worse lesson there

Online LibraryCharles James Lever[Charles Lever's novels (Volume 13) → online text (page 8 of 35)