Charles James Lever.

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■vrhen I arose, and he was on the very brink of starting for Duukee-
ran ; he seemed agitated and excited, and, after a few words of in-
quiry about my health, he said :

" ' Tliat letter, Mary, have you written it ? "Well, burn it. Throw
it into the fire, at once.'

" I did so ; but I cannot conceal from you the deep interest he has
taken in your fortunes — a feeling which the dread of ofiendiug has
possibly sentenced him to cherish in secret. At least, so I read his
change of intention."

" I had hoped he knew me better," said Cash el, in whose voice a
feeling of disappointment might be traced. " It is the misfortune
of men like myself to make the most unfavourable impression, where
alone they are anxious for the opposite. Now, it may seem very
uncourteous, but I am less than indifferent what the fair company
yonder think of me ; and yet, I would give much to stand high in
Mr. Corrigan's esteem."

" And you do so, believe me," cried she, her eagerness moved by
the evident despondency of his manner ; " he speaks of you with, all
the interest of a father."

" Do not say so," cried Cashel, in a voice tremulous with anxiety ;
" do not say so, if you mean not to encourage hopes I scarcely dare
to cherish,"

His look and manner, even more than his words, startled her ; and
she stared at liim, uncertain what reply to make.

" I never knew a father, nor have I ever tasted a mother's aftec-
tion. I have been one of w^liom Fortune makes a plaything, as if to
show how much worldly prosperity can consort with a desolate con-
dition, and a heart for which none have sympathy. I liad hoped,
however, to attach others to me. I had joined in pursuits that were
not mine, to endeavour to render myself companionable. I fell in
with habits that were uncongenial, and tastes that I ever disliked ;
but without success. I might be ' the dupe,' but never ' the friend.'
I could have borne much — I did bear much — to win something that
resembled cordiality and esteem ; but all in vain ! When I lived
the wild life of a Columbian sailor, I deemed that such men as I now
associate with must be the very types of chivalry, and I longed to be
of them and among them. Still, the reproach lies not at their door.
Thei/, stepped not out of their sphere to act a part — I, did ; mine
was all the sycophancy of imitation. The miserable cant of fashion
formed all my code. But for this, I might have won good men's
esteem — but for this, I might have learned what duties attach to
fortune and station such as mine ; and now I see the only one, from
whom I hoped to gain the knowledge, about to leave me!"

" This despondency is ill-judging and unfair," said Mary, in a
kind tone. " Tou did, perliaps, choose your friends unwisely, but



you judge them unjustly too. Tliey, never dreamed of friendsliip iu
their intercourse with you ; they, only thought of that companion-
ship which men of the same age and fortune expect to meet iu each
other. If less worldly-wise, or more generous than themselves, they
deemed that they once had paid for their skill and cleverness ; and
so should you. Eemember, that you put a value upon their inti-
macy which it never laid claim to, and that they were less false than
were you self-deceived."

" Be it so," said Cashel, hastily. " I care little where the delusion
began. I meant honestly, and if they played not on the square with
me, the fault be theirs ; but that is not what I would speak of, nor
what brought me here to-day. I came to throw my last stake for
happiness." He paused, and took her hand in his. '* I came," said
he — and his lips trembled as he spoke — " I came, to ask you to be
•my wife !"

Mary withdrew her hand, which he had scarcely dared to press,
and leaned upon the chimney-piece without speaking. It rarely
happens that such an announcement is made to a young lady quite
unexpectedly ; such was, however, the case here : for nothing wag
she less prepared ! Cashel, it is true, had long ceased to be indif-
ferent to her; the evenings of his visits at the cottage were sure to
be her very happiest ; his absences made dreary blanks. The inarti-
ficial traits of his character had at first inspired interest ; his gene-
rous nature, and his manly leaning to right, had created esteem of
him. There were passages of romantic interest in his former life
which seemed so well to suit his bold and dashing independence ; and
there was also an implicit deference, an almost humility, in the
obedience he tendered to her grandfather, which spoke much for
one whom sudden wealth and prosperity might be supposed to have
corrupted. Yet, all this while, had she never thought of what im-
pression she herself was making.

" I have but one duty," said she at last, in a faint whisper.

" ]\Iight I not share it with you, Mary?" said he, again taking
her hand between his own ; " you would not grudge me some part of
his affection ?"

" Who crossed the window there ?" cried she, starting ; " did you

liot see a figure pass ?"

" No, I saw no one— I thought of none save you."

" I am too much frightened to speak. I saw some one stop before

the window and make a gesture, as if threatening— I saw it in tjie


Cashel immediately hurried from the room, and passing out,
searched through the shrubberies on either side of the cottage,
but without success. On examining closely, however, he could detect
the trace of recent footsteps on the wet grass, but lost the direction



Llie feminine of "Yes '


on the gravel- walk ; aud it was in a frame of mind far from tranquil
that he re-enterd the room.

" Tou saw no one ?" said she eagerly.
"Not one."

" Nor any appearance of footsteps ?"

" Yes, I did, or fancied I did, detect such before the window ; but
why should this alarm you, or turn your mind from what we spoke

of? Let me once more "

" Xot now — not now, I beg of you ; a secret misgiving is over me,
and I am not generally a coward ; but I have not collectedness to
speak to you as I ought. I would not wish to be unkind, nor would
I yet deceive you. This cannot be."
" Cannot be, Mary ?"

" Do not ask me more now. You are too generous to give pain ;
spare me, then, the suffering of inflicting it on you. I will tell you
my reasons ; you shall own them to be sufficient."

" "When are we to meet again ?" said Eoland, as he moved slowly
towards the door.

" There it is again !" cried she, in a voice of actual terror ; and
Cashel opened the window and sprang out ; but even the slight delay
in unfastening the sash prevented his overtaking the intruder, who-
ever he might be, while, in the abundance of evergeens about, search
was certain to prove fruitless.

" Good-by," said she, endeavouring to smile ; "you are too proud
and high of spirit, if I read you aright, to return ever to a theme
like this."

" I am 'humble enough to sue it out — a very suppliant," said he,

" I thought otherwise of you," said she, affecting a look of disap-

" Think of me how you will, so that you know I love you," cried
he, pressing his lips to her hand ; and then, half-maddened by the
conflict in his mind, he hastened out, and mounting his horse, rode
off; not, indeed, at the mad speed of his coming, but slowly, and
with bent-down head.

Let a man be ever so little of a coxcomb, the chances are that he
will always explain a refusal of this kind on any ground rather than
upon that of his own unwortliiness. It is either a case " of pre-
engaged affection," or some secret influence on the score of family
and fortune, and even this sophistry lends its balm to wounded self-
love. Cashel, unhappily for his peace of mind, had not studied in
this school, and went his way in deep despondency. Like many men
who indulge but seldom in self-examination, he never knew how much,
his affections were involved till his proffer of them was refused, j^ow,
for the first time, he felt that ; now recognised what store he placed



on her esteem, and liow naturally be had turned from the wearisome
dissipations of his own house to the cheerful liappiness of " the cot-
tage." Neither could he divest himself of the thought, that had
Mary known him in his early and his only true character, she might
not have refused him, and that he owed his failure to that mongrel
thing which wealth had made him.

" I never was intended for this kind of life," thought he. " I am
driven to absurdities and extravagancies to give it any character of
interest in my eyes, and then I feel ashamed of such triviality. To
live among the rich, a man should be born among them — should have
the habits, the tastes, and the traditions. These are to be imbibed
from infancy, but not acquired in manhood — at least, I will not begin
the study."

He turned homeward, still slowly. The bell was riugiug which
called the guests to dress for dinner as he reached a large open lawn
before the house, and for a moment he halted, muttering to himself,
" How would it be now, were I to turn my horse's head and never
re-enter that house ? How many are there, of all my ' dear friends,'
who would ever ask what befel me?"

Arrived at the door, he passed up-stairs to his dressing-room, upon
a table of which he perceived a very small note, sealed with Lady
Kilgofi''s initials. It was written in pencil, and merely contained
one line — " Come over to me, before dinner, for one minute. — L. K."

He had not seen her since the day before, when he had in vain
sought to overtake her in the wood ; and her absence from the din-
ner-table had seemed to him in pique at his breach of engagement.
"Was this an endeavour, then, to revive that strange relationship be-
tween them, which took every form save love-making, but was all the
more dangerous on that account ? Or, was it merely to take up
some common-place plan of amusement and pleasure — that mock
importance given to trifles which as frequently makes them cease to
be trifles ?

Half careless as to what the invitation portended, and still pon-
dering over his failure, he reached her door and knocked.

" Come in," said she ; and he entered.

Dressed for dinner with unusual taste and splendour, he had never
seen her look so beautiful. For some time back she had observed an
almost studied simplicity of dress, rarely wearing an ornament, and
distinguishing herself rather by a half Puritanism of style. The
sudden change to all the blaze of diamonds and the softening in-
fluence of deep folds of lace, gave a brilliancy to her appearance
quite magical ; nor was Cashel's breeding proof against a stare of
amazement aud admiration.

A deeper flush on her cheek acknowledged how she felt his con-
fusion, and hasteniug to relieve it, she said.


" I liave but a moment to speak to you. It is almost seven o'clock.
You were at ' the cottage' to-day ?"

" Tes," said Eoland, his cheek growing scarlet as he spoke.
" And, doubtless, your visit had some object of importance. lN"ay,
no confessions. This is not curiosity on my part, but to let you know
that you were followed. Scarcely had you left this, when Linton set
out also, making a circuit by the wood, but at a speed which must
have soon overtaken you. He returned some time before you, at the
same speed, and entered by the back gate of the stables. From this
window I could see him each time."

" Indeed !" said Eoland, remembering the figure Mary had seen
before the window.

" Tou know my opinion of this man already. He never moves
without a plan ; and a plan, with him, is ever a treachery."

" He avoids me strangely ; we rarely meet now ; never by any
chance alone. And even before others there is a forced gaiety in his
manner, that all his artifice cannot pass off for real."
" Have you thwarted liim in anything ?"
" Not that I know of."

" Have you refused him any favour that he sought for ?"
" Never."

" Is he your debtor for what he ought, but never means, to pay ?"
" Not even that. What I may have given him has been always
without any reserve or thought of restitution."

" Are your affections directed towards the same object ?"
As she said this, the ease in which she commenced gradually left
lier, and her cheek grew flushed ere she finished.

" I cannot tell. There are no confidences between us ; besides, a
very bankrupt in love could not envy my solvency. Mine is a heart
that cannot threaten dangerous rivalry."

" Tou cannot be certain of that !" said she, as if thinking aloud.
Fortunately, Cashel did not hear the words, but stood in deep
reverie for some seconds.

" There ! the second bell has rung ; I must leave you. My Lord
comes down to dinner to-day. It is by his orders that I am thus
showily dressed. Linton has been filling his mind with stories of
some Embassy he is to have, and we are already rehearsing ' our
Excellencies !' I have but time to say. Be on your guard ; Linton is
no common enemy; nor does it need an injury to make him one."

" It is very rude of me, I know, to interrupt so interesting a tete-
a-tete, but Mr. Cashel's cook has feelings also at stake."

These words were spoken by Lord Kilgoff*, who, in a tone of no
small irritation, now joined them.

" I was speaking of your mission, my Lord."


" "Wliicb you forgot, of course, was not to be mentioned — even to
so sincere a well-wisher as Mr. Cashel."

" In any case, my Lord, it remains safe in my keeping."

" Yery possibly. Sir; but, it is a poor earnest Lady Kilgoff gives
of ber fitness as the wdfe of a ' Diplomatist.' "

Casbel gave bis ana to Lady Kilgoff witbout speaking, and bis
Lordsbip followed tbem slowly towards tbe dining-room. Linton
stood at tbe door as tbey entered, and bis wan features grew flusbed
as tlic baugbty beauty moved past bim witb tbe very coldest of re-

"Wbat an admirable taste is your Lordsbip's!" said be to tbe old
Peer ; " Lady Kilgoff's diamonds are disposed witb an elegance tbat
bespeaks tbe guiding skill of a consummate artist."

" Ha! you perceive it, tben !" said be, smiling. " I own to you,
tbe festooning tbe robe witb bouquets of brilliants was a fancy of
mine, and bas, I tbink, a very pretty effect."

" Storr told me tbat be bad not one person in bis employment
could equal your Lordsbip in tbe barmonious arrangement of gems.
He mentioned a bracelet, if I remember arigbt, made from your own
designs, as tbe most beautifully cbaste ornament be bad ever seen."

" Ton must pronounce for yourself. Sir," said tbe old Lord, witb a
smile of elated vanity ; and so, taking Linton's arm, lie approacbed
wbere Lady Kilgoff was seated in a group of ladies.

" AFill you oblige me, Madam," said be, witb a courteous bow,
*' by sb owing Mr. Linton your ruby and opal bracelet, wbicb I bad
tbe poor merit of designing ?"

" I am unfortunate enougb not to bave it bere," replied sbe, witb
a confusion wbicb made tbe blood mount to ber temples.

" I am grieved, Madam, it sbould not enjoy tbe honour of your
preference," said Lord Kilgoff, witb an air of pique. "Will you
order your maid to fetch it ?"

" I've not got it, my Lord," said sbe, colouring still deeper.

" Not got it, Madam ! you do not mean to imply "

" Only tbat it is slightly broken — a few stones have fallen out,
and I have sent it to be repaired."

" To be repaired, Madam ! and witbout my knowledge ! To whom,

" That man in Dublin ; I forget bis name."

" Your Ladysliip means Leonard, I presume," interposed Linton,
witb an air of courtesy, while, plainer than any words, bis glance
said, " My revenge is coming !"

" Leonard !" exclaimed Lord Kilgoft", with a look of hon*or.
" Give Leonard that bracelet ! the mould of which I refused to tbe
Princess of Ilohenbolliugen, and wbicb I made Storr destroy in my
own presence !"


" You perceive, my Lord," cried Lady Janet, " lier Ladyship is
less exclusive than you are."

*' And generous enough to admire what may belong to another,"
added Linton, but in a tone only audible by Lady Kilgoff.

" We have got a few minutes before dinner. Madam. I must beg
you will employ them in writing to Mr. Leonard to return the bracelet
at once. Say it was a mistake on your part — an inadvertence — and
done without my knowledge. Caution the man, too, about appro-
priating any portion of the design, and remind him that articles of
vei'iu are protected by the act of copyright."

" We had better delay the postboy, my Lord," said Linton ; " he
starts at seven precisely."

" Do so, Sir."

" Dinner !" cried the butler, flinging wide the folding- doors.

" Could we delay that pleasant summons a few minutes, Mr.
Cashel?" said Lord Kilgoff.

" It will not be necessary on my account. Sir ; I'll write to-
morrow." And this she said with an air of haughty defiance that
never failed to subdue the old Peer's petulance ; and then, accepting
Cashel's arm, moved on without a word.

"Where is it? that's the question!" whispered Mrs. White to
Lady Janet.

" Take vou two to one it's not at Leonard's," said Fi'obisher.

f Give you an even fifty Linton knows all about it," replied Upton.

" And ten to two that he'll never tell !" chimed in Miss Meek ;
and so they took their places at the table.


I could an I would, Sir Harry.

Old Play.

While the gay company at Tubbermore dined sumptuously, and
enjoyed the luxuries of a splendid table with no other alloy to their
pleasure than the ennui of people whose fastidiousness has grown
into malady, Mr. Corrigan sat in council at the cottage with his
ancient aUy, the Doctor. There was an appearance of constraint
over each — very unusual with men who had been friends from boy-
hood ; and in their long pauses, and short, abrupt sentences, might
be read the absence of that confiding spirit which had bound them
so many years like brothers.

It may be in the reader's recollection that, while Corrigan was
pledged to secrecy by Linton respecting his revelations of Cashel,


Tiernay was equally bound by Eoland not to divulge any of his
plans for the old man's benefit. Perhaps it was the first time in the
life of either that such a reserve had been practised. Certainly, it
weighed heavily upon both ; and more than once they were coming
to the fatal resolve to break their vows, and then some sudden
thoufi-ht — some unknown dread of disconcerting the intentions of
those who trusted them — would cross tlieir mind, and after a mo-
mentary struggle, a half cough, and muttered " Well ! well !" they
would relapse into silence, each far too occupied by himself to note
tlie other's embarrassment.

It was after a long time and much thought that Coi'rigan per-
ceived, however pledged to Linton not to speak of Cashel's conduct
respecting' the cottage, that he was in no wise bound to secrecy re-
garding the proposal for Mary Leicester's hand ; and this was, in-
deed, the topic on which he was most desirous of the Doctor's

" I have a secret for you, Tiernay," said the old man, at length ;
" and it is one which will surprise you. I have had an ofter tliis
morning for Mary ! Ay ; just so. You often told me that nothing
but this life of isolation and retirement would have left her with me
so long ; but the thought of losing her — the tangible, actual dread —
never presented itself before this day !"

" "Who is it ?" said Tiernay, shortly, but not without evident
agitation of manner.

" One who has never enjoyed much of your favour, Tiernay, and
whom I suspect you have judged with less than your habitual fair-

" I know the man. Linton ?" '

" It was Linton."

" And he actually made tliis proposition ?" said Tiernay, with an
expression of the most unbounded surprise in his features.
" To me, myself, in this room, he made it."

" He asked you what her fortune would be ?" said Tiernay, gruffly.
" He did not ; he told me of his own. He said, that by a recent
event he had become possessed of sufficient property to make him
indifferent to the fortune of whoever he might marry. He spoke
sensibly and well of liis future career, of tlie plans he had conceived,
and the rules he made for his own guidance; he spoke warmly of her
witli w lioni he wished to share his fortunes ; and lastly, he alluded in
kind terms to myself, dependent as I am upon her care, and living as
I do upon her affection. In a word, if there was not the ardour of a
passionate lover, there was what I augur better from — the sentiments
of one who had long reflected on his own position in life, who knew
the world well, and could be no mean guide amid its dangers and


'• Have you told Mary of this ?"

" I Lave not. My answer to Linton was : ' Let me have time to
think over this proposal ; give me some hours of thought before I
even speak to my granddaughter;' and he acceded at once."

" Good Heavens !" exclaimed Tiernay, rising and pacing the room.
" How inadequate are we two old men — removed from intercourse
with the world, neither players nor lookers-on at the game of life —
to cope with one like him, and see what he purposes to himself by
this alliance ! As for his affection, as for his power to feel her worth,
to estimate the gentle virtues of her spotless nature, I cannot, I will
not believe it."

" And for that very reason are you unfit to judge him. Your pre-
judices, ever against him, are rendered stronger, because you cannot
divine motives black enough to suit your theory ; you give the benefit
of all your doubts against himself."

" I know him to be a gambler in its worst sense. Not one who
plays even for the gratification of those alternating vacillations of
hope and fear which jaded, worn-out natures resort to as the recom-
pense for blunted emotions and blasted ambitions, but a gambler for
gain ! — that foul amalgam of the miser and the knave. I've seen
him play the sycophant, too, like one who studied long his part, and
knew it thoroughly. No, no, Con, it is not one like this must be
husband of Mary !"

" I tell you again, Tiernay, you suffer jowr prejudices to outrun all
your prudence. The very fiict that he asks in marriage a portionless
girl, without influence from family, and without the advantage of
station, should outweigh all your doubts twice told."

" This does but puzzle me — nothing more," said Tiernay, doggedly.
" Were it Cashel, that high-hearted, generous youth, who made this
offer "

" I must stop you, Tiernay ; you are as much at fiiult in your over-
estimate of one, as in your disparagement of the otJie?'. Cashel is
not what you deem him. Ask me not how I know it. I cannot — I
dare not tell you ; it is enough that I do know it, and know it by
the evidence of my own eyes."

"Then they have deceived you, that's all," said Tiernay, roughly ;
" for I tell you, and I speak now of what my own knowledge can
sustain, that he is the very soul of generosity — a generosity that
would imply recklessness, if not guided by the shrinking delicacy of
an almost girlish spirit."

" Tiernay, Tiernay, you are wrong, I say," cried Corrigan, pas-

" And I say it is i/07c who are in error," said Tiernay. " It was

but this morning I held in my hands " He stopped, stammered,

and was silent '


" "Well," cried Corrigan, " go on ; not that, indeed, you could con-
vince me against wliat my eyes Lave assured, for here, upon tliis
table, I beheld "

"Out with it, man! Tell what jugglery has been practised on
you, for I see you have been duped."

" Hush ! here's Mary !" cried Corrigan, who, scarcely able to con-
trol himself, now walked the room in great agitation.

" You were talking so loud,"" said Mary, " that I guessed you were
quarrelling about politics, and so I came to make peace."

" "We were not, Mary ; but Tiernay is in one of his wrong-head

" And your grandfather in the silliest of his foolish ones !" ex-
claimed Tiernay, as, snatching up his hat, he left the cottage.


Like battle trumps
The chaos of their tongues did dro-prn reflection.


It might be thought that in a household so fuU of contrarieties as
Tubbermore, any new plan of pleasure would have met but a meagre
success. Here, were tlie Kilgofts, upon one side, full of some secret
importance, and already speaking of the uncertainty of passing the
spring in Ireland. There, were the Kennyfecks, utterly disorganised
by intestine troubles — mother, aunt, and daughters at open war, and
only of one mind for some few minutes of each day, when they as-

Online LibraryCharles James LeverRoland Cashel (Volume 2) → online text (page 13 of 32)