Charles James Lever.

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skilled in this world's ways, she would gladly aid me — it wovdd be like
drawing the game between us ; but she is rash, headlong, and pas-
sionate. I doubt if even her fears would control her. And, yet, I
might work well upon these ! I have the will, and the way, both !
The event shall decide whether I employ them." With these thoughts
passing in his mind he reached the house, and entering unobserved,
since they were all at breakfast, repaired to his own room.

He immediately sat down and wrote a few lines to Lord Kilgoff, in-
quiring with solicitude after his health, and craving the favour of
being permitted to wait upon him. This done, he amused himself by
inventing a number of little political " gossipries" for the old Peer —
those small nothings which form the sweepings of clubs and the
whisperings of under-secretaries' offices ; the pleasant trifles which
every one repeats, but no one believes.

" My Lord will see Mr. Linton whenever he pleases," was the
answer of the valet ; and Linton lost no time in availing himself of
the permission.

" His Lordship is at breakfast ?" said he to the servant, as he
walked along.

" Yes, Sir."

"And her Ladyship ?"

" My Lady breakfasts below stairs. Sir."

" As it ought to be ; he is alone," thought Linton, who in his pre-
sent incertitude of purpose had no desire to meet her.

" If you'll have the goodness to wait a moment, Sir, I'll tell my
Lord you are here," said the man, as he ushered Linton into a hand-
some drawing-room, which various scattered objects denoted to be her

As Linton looked over the table, where books, drawings, and em-
broidery were negligently thrown, his eye caught many an object he
had known long, long before ; and there came over him, ere he knew
it, a strange feeling of melancholy. The past rushed vividly to his
mind — that time when, sharing with her all his ambitions and his
hopes, he had lived in a kind of fairy world. He turned over the
leaves of her sketeh-book — she had done little of late — an unfinished
bit, here and there, was all he found ; and lie sat gazing at the earlier
drawings, every one of which he remembered. There was one of an


old piue-tree scathed by lightning, at the top, but spreading out, be-
neath, into a light and feathery foliage, beneath which they had often
sat together. A date in pencil had been written at the foot, but was
now erased, leaving only enough to discover where it had been.
Linton's breathing grew hurried, and his pale cheek paler, as with his
head resting on his hands he sat, bent over this. " I was happier,
then," said he, with a sigh that seemed to rise from his very heart—
" far happier ! But would it have lasted ! that is the question. "Would
mere love have compensated for thwarted ambition, delusive hope,
and poverty ? How should I have borne continued reverses ?"

The door opened, and Lady Kilgoff entered ; not seeing him, nor
expecting any one in the apartment, she was humming an opera air,
when suddenly she perceived him. " Mr. Linton here ? This is a
surprise indeed !" exclaimed she, as, drawing herself proudly up, she
seemed to question the reason of his presence.

" I beg you will forgive an intrusion which was not of my seeking.
I came to pay my respects to Lord Kilgoff, and his servant showed me
into this chamber until his Lordship should be ready to receive me."

""Won't you be seated, Sir?" said she, with an accent which it
would be difficult to say whether it implied an invitation or the opposite.

Eew men had more self-possession than Linton, fewer still knew
better how to construe a mere accent, look, or a gesture, and yet, he
stood now, uncertain and undecided how to act. Meanwhile Lady
Kilgoff, arranging the frame of her embroidery, took her seat near the

" Penelope must have worked in Berlin wool, I'm certain," said
Linton, as he approached where she aat. " These wonderful tissues
seem never to finish."

" In that lies their great merit," replied she, smiling ; " it is some-
times useful to have an occupation whose monotony disposes to
thought, even when the thoughts themselves are not all pleasurable."

"I should have fancied that monotony would dispose to brooding,"
said he, slowly.

" Perhaps it may, now and then," said she, carelessly. " Life, like
climate, should not be all sunshine ;" and then, as if wishing to change
the theme, she added, " You have been absent a day or two ?"

" Tes ; an unexpected piece of fortune has befallen me. I find
myself the heir of a considerable property, just as I have reached that
point in life when wealth has no charm for me ! There was a time
when but, no matter ; regrets are half-brother to cowardice."

" We can no more help one than the other, occasionally," said she, ,
with a faint sigh ; and both were silent for some time.

*' Is not that tulip somewhat too florid ?" said he, stooping over
her embroidery.

" That tulip is a poppy, Mr. Linton."


" "What a natural mistake, after all !" said he. " How many human
tulips who, not only look like, but are, downright poppies ! Is not
this house intolerably stupid ?"

" I'm ashamed to own I think it pleasant," said she, smiling.

" Tou were more fastidious once, if my memory serves me aright,"
said he, meaningly.

"Perhaps so," said she, carelessly. "I begin to fancy that odd
people are more amusing than clever ones ; and, certainly, they enter-
tain without an effort, and that is an immense gain."

" Do you think so ? I should have supposed the very effort would
have claimed some merit, showing that the desire to please had
prompted it."

" My Lord will see Mr. Linton at present," said the servant.

Linton nodded, and the man withdrew.

" How long ago is it since you made this sketch ?" said he, open-
ing the book, as if accidentally, at the page with the pine-tree.

She turned, and although her bent-down head concealed her
features, Linton saw the crimson flush spread over the neck as she
answered, " About three years ago."

" Scarcely so much," said he. " If I mistake not, I wrote the date
myself beneath it ; but it has worn out."

" You will excuse my reminding you, Mr. Linton, that Lord Kilgoff
has not regained his habitual patience, and will be very irritable if
you defer a pleasure such as a visit from you always affords him."

" Happy conjuncture," said he, smiling, " that can make my presence
desired, in one quarter, when my absence is wished for, in another."
And with a low, respectful bow, he left the room.

AVhatever the object of the hint. Lady Kilgoft' had not exaggerated
his Lordship's deficiency in the Job-like element, and Linton found
him, on entering, interrogating the servant as to whether he " had
conveyed his message properly, and what answer he had received."

" That will do. Leave the room," said he. Then turning to
Linton, " I have waited twelve minutes, Sir — nearly thirteen — since
my servant informed you I would receive you."

" I am exceedingly sorry, my Lord, to have occasioned you even a
moment of impatience. I was mentioning to Lady Kilgoff a circum-
stance of recent good fortune to myself, and I grieve that my egotism
should have mastered my sense of propriety."

" Twelve minutes, or thirteen, either, may seem a very unimportant
fraction of time to men of mere pleasure, but to those whose weightier
cares impose graver thoughts, is a very considerable inroad. Sir."

" I know it, my Lord. I feel it deeply, and I beg you to excuse me."

"Life is too short, at least in its active period, to squander twelve
minutes, Mr. Linton ; and however you, in your station, and with


your pursuits, may deem otherwise, I would wisli to observe that
persons in mine think differently." -

Linton looked a perfect statue of contrition, nor did he utter
anotlier word. Perhaps he felt that continuing the discussion would
be but an indifferent mode of compensating for the injury already in-

" And now, Mr. Linton, I conclude that it was not without a
reason you sought an interview at this unusual hour?"

" The old story, my Lord ; and as I came to ask a favour, I selected
the fetit lever as the most appropriate hour."

" Indeed ! you surprise me< much how an individual so much for-
gotten as Lord Kilgoff can possibly be of service to that most pro-
mising gentleman Mr. Linton!"

Linton never beeded the sarcastic discontent of the speech, but
went on :

" Yes, my Lord, you find me as you have so often found me, a

" I've nothing to bestow, Sir."

" Tou can do all that I could ask, or even wish for, my Lord.
My ambition is not very unmeasured ; my greatest desire is to have
the opportunity of frequent intercourse with you, and the benefit of
that practical wisdom for which your Lordship's conversation is dis-
tinguished at home and abroad."

" INIy valet is not going to leave me," said the old man, with an
insolence of look that tallied with the rude speech.

'' My Lord ! "

" Nay, nay, you must not be offended ; I was rather jesting on my
own barrenness of patronage than upon your proposal."

Linton saw by the slight advantage he had gained that the bold
course was the more promising, and continued :

" You wni soon have a great deal of business on your hands, my
Lord, and so, I will economise your time and your patience. You
have not heard, I am aware, that DoUington has been recalled. The
mission at Florence is to give away, and I am here to ask for the
Secretaryship. I know well that the appointment is a Foreign-office
one ; but Blackwell, who gives me the present information, says, ' If
you liave interest witb KilgofF push it now : his recommendation
will, I know, be attended to.' He then goes on to say that DoUing-
ton is most anxious to know if you would take his house ofi" his
hands. He has been furnishing and arranging the interior most ex-
pensively, never dreaming of a recal."

" When did this news come P" said Lord KUgoff, sitting down
and wiping his forehead, on which the perspiration now stood, firom

" Yesterday. Blackwell sent a cabinet messenger to me, but with



the strictest injunctions to secrecy. In fact, tbe rumour would call
so many suitors in the field, that the Toreign-office would be be-

" Tou can rely upon it, however ?"

" Unquestionably. Blackwell writes me that the thing is done.
Tou will receive the ofier immediately after the recess."

" Tou acted very properly, I must say — very properly, indeed, in
giving me this early notice of his Majesty's gracious intentions with
regard to me ; the more, as I shall have time to consider how far my
views upon questions of Foreign politics are in agreement with those
of the Government."

" Upon that point your Lordship's mind may be at rest. I gather
from Blackwell that you will receive the widest discretion. The
Secretary of State has named you as tTie man ; of course, interference
is out of the question."

*' Of course it would be, Sir, were I to accept the mission. Dol-
lington's house, I conclude, is a suitable one, and we'll think of it ;
and as to yourself, Linton, I really am at a loss what to say. Lady
Kilgoff — it is best to be candid — is prejudiced against you. She
thinks you satirical and sarcastic, as if" — and here he raised his head,
and threw forward his chin with most imposing dignity — " as if the
person who bore my name need fear such qualities anywhere ; but
besides this, it appears to one that your abilities are not diplomatic.
Tou have neither that natural reserve, nor that suave impressiveness
* the line' requires. Tou are a Club man, and will probably make a
very good House of Commons man ; but diplomacy, Mr. Linton —
diplomacy is a high, I had almost said a sacred, vocation ! To all the
prestige of family and ancient lineage must be added the most in-
sinuating graces of manner. Personal advantages should be com-
bined with a high cultivation, so that the Envoy may worthily mirror
forth the Majesty he represents. It would be an inestimable benefit
if the Eastern principle of ' caste' were observed in diplomacy, and
the office of Ambassador be limited to certain families ! Believe me.
Sir, you may say of such, ^Nascitiir nonfit^ "

As he spoke, his eyes flashed, and his cheek became flushed ; the
flutter of self-importance gave a fresh impulse to his circulation, and
he walked back and forward in a perfect ecstasy of delight.

" Alas, my Lord ! you have made me feel too deeply the presump-
tion of my request. I confess, till I had listened to your eloquent
exposition, I had formed other and very erroneous ideas upon this
subject. I see, now, that I am quite unsuited to the career. The
very fact that it becomes your Lordship, is evidence enough how un-
fitted it would prove to me."

" I will not say, tliat in Grreece, or perhaps with some Eepublican
Government, you might not be very eligible. AVe'll consider about it."


" No, no, my Lord ; I'll content myself wdtli more humble fortunes.
I suppose there is always a place for every capacity — and now, to a
matter purely personal to myself, and in which I hope I may count
upon your kind co-operation. I have thoughts of marriage, my
Lord, and as I am a stranger in this country, unconnected with it by
kindred or connexion, I would ask of you to give me that sanction
and currency which the honour of your Lordship's friendship confers.
The lady upon whom I have fixed my choice is without fortune, but
of a family which traces back to Koyalty, I fancy. This Irish pride
of lineage, then, requires that I, upon my side, should not be deficient
in such pretensions."

" I am not a Clarencieux, nor Norroy, Sir, to make out your ge-
nealogy," said the old Peer, with ineffable disdain.

Linton had more difficulty to control his laughter than his anger at
this impertinent absurdity. " I was not thinking of ' the tree,' my
Lord, but its last and most insignificant twig, myself; and, remem-
bering how many kindnesses I owed you, how uniformly your pa-
tronage had befriended me through life, I still reckon upon the feel-
ing to serve me once more."

" Be explicit. What do you ask ?" said he, leaning back and look-
ing like a Monarch whose will was half omnipotence.

" "What I should like, my Lord, is this — that you would permit me
to drive you over some morning to the gentleman's house, where,
presenting the family to your Lordship, I might, while enjoying the
sanction of your intimacy and friendship, also obtain your opinion
upon the merits of one with whom I would link my humble destinies.
I have said that the lady has no fortune ; but your Lordship has
shown the noble example of selecting'^for far higher and more enno-
bling qualities than wealth." This was said with a spice of that sub-
dued raillery of which Linton was a master ; and he saw, with delight,
how the old Peer winced under it.

"Very true. Sir; your remark is just, except that the disparity
between our conditions does not give the instance the force of ex-
ample; nor am I certain the experiment wiU be always successful!"
The irritation under which the last words were uttered spread a
triumphant joy through Linton's heart, nor dare he trust himself to
speak, lest he should reveal it !

" Perhaps a letter, Mr. Linton, would answer your object ? It
appears to me that the condescension of a visit is a step too far in
advance. Tou are aware that, in a day or two, as his Majesty's
representative, etiquette would require that I should never make the
initiative in acquaintance."

" Pardon my interrupting, my Lord ; but that rule will only apply
to you at the seat of your mission. Here, you have no other dis-
tinction than of being the well-known leader of the Irish Peerage—



the great head of an illustrious body, who look up to you for guidance
and direction."

" You are right, perhaps. Sir — my station is what you have de-
scribed it. I trust you have not mentioned to Lady KilgofF any-
thing of your Foreign-office news ?"

" Of course not, my Lord. It will always remain with your dis-
cretion, when and how to make the communication."

" It appears to me, Sir, that her Ladyship has admitted many of
the inmates here to a degree of intimacy quite inconsistent with their
relative stations."

" Her Ladyship's youth and amiability of manner offer great
temptations to the inroads of obtrusiveness," said Linton, with the
air of one thinking aloud.

" I disagree with you, Sir, entirely. I was young myself, Sir, and,
I am told, not quite destitute of those attractions you speak of; but
I am not aware that any one ever took a liberty with me ! This must
be looked to. And now, your affair ? When is it to come off? Your
marriage, I mean ?"

" That is by no means so certain, my Lord," said Linton, who
smiled in spite of himself at the careless tone in which his Lordsliip
treated so very humble an event. " I may reckon on your Lordship's
assistance, however.''"

Lord Kilgoff waved his hand in token of acquiescence, and Linton
took a formal leave, almost bursting with laughter at the ridiculous
conceit he had himself contributed to create.

" Ay," muttered he, as he descended the stairs, " as a democrat, an
out-and-out democrat, I say, ' Long live an Hereditary Peerage !' I
know nothing can equal it, in,|naking the untitled classes the rulers."


So cunning, like the doubling of the hare,
Oft turns upon itself.


It was a rainy day — one of those downright pelting, pouring,
swooping wet days which Ireland is accustomed to, for nearly one-
half of every year. All out-of-door occupation was impossible ; tlie
most fidgety could only get as far as the stables, to smoke a cigar
and " chaff" horse-talk with the grooms ; while the more resigned
wandered from room to room, and place to place, in that restlessness
that defies common philosophy to subdue.



A wet day in a country-house is always a severe trial. Sociability
will not be coerced, and the greater the necessity for mutual assist-
ance, the less is the disposition to render it ; besides, they who habitu-
ally contribute least to the enjoyment of their fellows, have always
great resources of annoyance at such periods — as the most insignifi-
cant instrument in the orchestra can, at any moment, destroy the
harmony of the band.

Scarcely was breakfast over in Tubbermore, than the guests were
scattered in various directions, it was difficult to say where. Now
and then, some one would peep into the drawing-room or the library,
and, as if not seeing "the right man," shut the door noiselessly, and
depart. Of the younger men, many were sleeping off the debauch of
the previous evening, Downie Meek, who had a theory upon the
subject, always kept his bed while it rained. Sir Andrew had, un-
fortunately, mistaken a lotion containing laudanum for some con-
coction of bitters, and was obliged to be kept eternally walking up
and dovyn stairs, along corridors and passages, lest he should drop
asleep; his man, Flint, accompanying him with "the wakeful an-
nouncement" of "Hae a care. Sir Andrew, here's my Leddy," an
antidote to the narcotic worth all the Pharmacopoeia contained.

Lady Janet was meanwhile deep in the formation of a stomachic,
which, judging from the maid's face as she tasted it, must needs have
been of the pungent order. Mrs. White was letter-writing. Howie
was sketching heads of the company, under the title of " Beauties of
Ireland," for a weekly newspaper. Frobisher was instructing Miss
Meek in the science of making knee-caps for one of his horses ; and
so with the remainder, a few only were to ]^e seen below stairs ; of
these the " Chief" was fast asleep with the Quarterhj on his knee,
and a stray subaltern or two sat conning over the " Army List," and
gazing in stupid wonder at their own names in print ! And now we
come to the Kennyfecks, at whose door a servant stands knocking
for the second or third time. " Come in" is heard, and he enters.

The blinds are drawn, which adding to the gloom of the day, the
vast apartment is in semi-darkness, and it is sonie time before you
can descry the figures. On a sofa sits Mrs. Kennyfeck in a kind of
travelling-dress, with her bonnet beside her ; fragments of ribbons
tiud stray articles of dress litter the sofa and the table, several trunks
are strewn about, and a maid and a man are performing a 'pas de deux
on an " imperial," which, in its efforts to close at the lock, is giving
way simultaneously at the hinges. Miss Kennyfeck stands at the
chimney burning notes and letters, of which, as she glances from
time to time, her features betray the tenor ; and lastly, Olivia is lying
on a sofa, her face concealed between her hands, and only the quick
palpitation of her bosom showing that her agitation is not lulled in


" What does lie say ? I can't Lear him with all that stamping,"
said Mrs. Kennyfeck ; and her voice was not of the dulcet order.

" He says the post-horses have come, Mamma ; and wishes to know
when he's to come round with the carriage."

" When I give orders for it ; not till then," said she, imperiously ;
and the man, abashed in such a presence, departed.

" There, Pearse, leave it so ; I cannot bear that noise any longer.
Prances, you needn't wait; I'll send for you if I want you;" and
the servants withdrew.

" He's at least two hours away, now," said she, addressing her
eldest daughter.

" Very nearly. It wanted only a few minutes to eleven when Mr.
Cashel sent for him."

" I hope, Caroline, that he will remember what is due, not to him-
self — I cannot say that — but to me, on this occasion. It is impos-
sible that Cashel can avoid the acknowledgment of his attentions ;
nothing but your father's incompetence could permit of his escape."

" It's too late, Mamma — altogether too late. When Aunt
Fanny "

" Don't speak of her — don't even mention her name in my pre-
sence," cried Mrs. Kennyfeck, with an accent of bitter anguish.

" I was merely going to observe, Mamma, that her conduct has in-
volved us in such ridicule, that reparation of the mischief is out of
the question."

" I wish we were away ; I cannot bear to stay another day here,"
said Olivia, with a deep sigh.

"If Aunt "

" Don't call her your ^nt, Caroline ; I forbid it ; she is no sister
of mine ; she has been the evil genius of our family all her life long.
But for her and her wiles I had never been married to your father !
Just fancy what a position you might have had now, but for that
Gruel mishap."

The problem, to judge from Miss Kennyfeck's face, seemed diffi-
cult to solve ; but she prudently held her peace.

" Tou may rest assured they know it all below stairs. That odious
Lady Janet has told it in every dressing-room already."

"And Linton, Mamma," said Caroline, whose sisterly feelings
were merged in most impartial justice — " only fancy Linton imi-
tating Aunt Fanny's benediction with uplifted hands and eyes. I
almost think I see him before me, and hear the insolent shouts of
laughter on every side." ^

" Give me the aromatic vinegar !" cried Mrs. Kennyfeck, with an
accent like suffocation.

" I think there's some one at the door. Come in," cried Miss
Kennyfeck ; and a very smartly-dressed groom entered with a note.


"Is there any answer to this?" said Mrs. Kenny feck, listlessly,
who thought it one of the habitual invitations to some excursion in
a carriage or on horseback.

" Yes, my Lady," said the servant, bowing.

The title sounded pleasantly, and Mrs. K.'s features relaxed aa
she broke the seal.

Ah, Mrs. Kennyfeck, [indolently and carelessly as you hold that
small epistle in your fingers, it cost him who wrote it many a
puzzling thought, and many a fair sheet of foolscap. Critics assure
us that style is no criterion of the labour of composition, and that
Johnson's rounded periods ran flippantly ofi" the pen, while the
seemingly careless sentences of Rousseau cost days and nights of
toil. The note was from Sir Harvey TJpton, and neither by its
caligraphy nor grammar shed lustre on the literary genius of his
corps. It went thus :

" Mt Deae Madam, —
" The beauty and fascinations of your daughters — ^but more espe-
cially of the second — have conspired to inspire me with sentiments of
respectful admiration, which may speedily become something warmer
shoiild I obtain the gratifying sensation of your approbation.

" Family, fortune, and future expectations, will, I fancy, be found

Online LibraryCharles James LeverRoland Cashel (Volume 2) → online text (page 11 of 32)