Charles James Lever.

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sailed the luckless Kennyfeck as the "author of all evil;" Frobisher,
discontented that no handicap could be " got up," to remunerate him
for the weariness of his exile ; Upton, suffering under the ^paugs of
rejection ; Sir Andrew, reduced to a skeleton by the treatment
against his unhappy opiate, being condemned, as " Jim" phrased it,
to "two heavy sweats without body-clothes, and a drench every
day ;" Meek grown peevish at the little prospect of making anything
of Cashel politically ; and Cashel himself hipped* and bored by all in
turn, and wearied of being the head of a house where the only plea-
santry existed in the servants' haU— and they were all rogues and
thieves who made it.

It might be easily supposed these were not the ingredients which
would amalgamate into any agreeable union, and that even a sugges-
tion to that end would meet but few supporters.

jS'ot so ; the very thought of doing " anything" was a relief: each
felt, perhaps, his share of shame at the general ennui, and longed for


whatever gave a chance of repelling it. It was as in certain political
condition's in seasons of general stagnation — men are willing even to
risk a revolution rather than continue in a state of unpromising

Linton, whose own plans required that the others should be full
of occupation of one kind or other, was the first to give the impulse,
by reminding Miss Meek that her sovereignty had, up to this time,
been a dead letter.

" You have positively done nothing," said he, " since your acces-
sion. Here we are, all ready to do your bidding, only waiting] for
the shadow of a wish on your part. There is no obstacle anywhere ;
pray let us commence a series of sucli right royal festivities as shall
cause the envy of every other sovereign in Christendom."

" I'm sure I wish for nothing better ; but nobody minds me," said
she, pouting.

"What shall be the opening, then?" said Linton, taking a sheet
of paper, and seating himself, in all form, to write, " A masque-
rade ?"

" By all means ! A masquerade !" exclaimed a dozen voices ; and
at once a large circle gathered round the table where he sat.

" Does the country afibrd materials for one ?" asked Jennings.

" Oh dear, yes !" sighed Meek ; " you could gather a great many
important people bere by a little management."

" I'll tell Macnevin, wba commands at Limerick, to send ye every
officer wha isn't under arrest," said Sir Andrew.

A speech received with great favour by various young ladies un-
known to the reader.

Every one who knew anything of the three neighbouring counties
was at once summoned to form part of a select committee to name
those who ought to be invited. The Chief Justice was acquainted
with the principal persons, from his having gone circuit ; but then
those he mentioned were rarely of the stamp to add lustre or bril-
liancy to a fancy baU ; indeed, as Linton whispered, " The old Judge
liad either hanged or transported all the pleasant fellows."

The Infantry men from Limerick were familiar with every pretty
girl of that famed capital and its environs for some miles round ; and
as exclusiveness was not to be the rule, a very imposing list was soon
drawn up.

Then came the question of receiving so large a party, and each vied
with his neighbour in generous sacrifices of accommodation; even
Downie vouchsafed to say that the noise would be terrible, " but one
ought to submit to anything to give pleasure to his friends."

The theatre should be the ball-room ; the two drawing-rooms and
the library would ofler space for the company to promenade ; the
buflet stand in the dining-room ; and supper be served in the great


conservatory, [which, witli its trellised vines all studded with lights
disposed as stars, would have a new and beautiful effect.

Sir Andrew promised two military bands, and unmarried officers a

Devoted offers of assistance poured in from every side. Foraging
parties were "told off," to shoot snipe and woodcocks without ceas-
ing ; and Frobisher was to ply with a four-in-hand — of Cashel's
horses — to and from Limerick every day, carrying everybody and
everything that was wanting.

All the servants of the guests, as well as of the house, were to be
attired in a costume which, after some discussion, was decided to be

Unlimited facilities were to be at the disposal of all, for whatever
they pleased to order. Mrs. AVhitc sat down to write to Paris for an
envoy of moss-roses and camelias, with a postscript from Upton oa
the subject of red partridges andfoieffras.

Jennings dictated a despatch to Mayence for two cases of Stein-
berger ; and Howie took notes of all for a series of papers, which in
four different styles were to appear in four periodicals simultaneously.

As each guest was at full liberty to invite some half-dozen friends,
there was quite an excitement in comparing lists with each other, and
speculations innumerable as to the dress and character they would
appear in, for all were mysterious upon that head.

" But whar is Maister Cashel all this time ?" said Sir Andrew ;
" methinks it wud na be vara polite na to hae bis opinion upon a'
this, sync he must gie the siller for it."

" He's playing chess with Lady Kilgoff in the boudoir," said

" Tell Kenuyfeck," said Frobisher ; " that's quite enough ! Cashel
calls everything where money enters, business, and hates it, in conse-

" Oh dear ! I'm precisely of his mind, then," sighed Meek, caress-
ing his whiskers.

" Kilgofl' will not remain, you'll see," said Upton. " He is not
pleased with my Lady's taste for close intimacy."

" The Kennyfecks are going to-morrow or next day," said another,

" So they have been every day - this last week ; but if some of you
gentlemen will only be gallant enough to give a good reason for re-
maining, they'll not stir." This was spoken by Lady Janet in her
tartest of voices, and with a steady stare at Upton, who stroked his
moustaches in very palpable confusion, " Tes, Sir Harvey," con-
tinued she, " I'm perfectly serious, and Mr. Linton, I perceive, agrees
Avith me."

"As he always docs, Lady Janet, when he desires to be in the
right," said Linton, bowing.


"Aw — I, aw — I didn't think it was so easy in that quarter, aw!"
said Jennings, in a low semi-confidential tone.

'• I'll insure you for a fair premium, Jennings, if you have any fancy
that wav."

" Aw, I don't know — concern looks hazardous — ha, ha, ha ! — don't
you think so?" But as nobody joined in his laughter. He resumed,
in a lower voice, " There's Upton's very spoony indeed about one of

" It's the aunt," said Linton ; " a very fine woman, too ; what the
French call a ^ beaute severe ;' but classical, quite classical."

" Confounded old harridan !" muttered Upton between his teeth ;
"I'd not take her with Kothschild's bank at ber disposal."

All this little chit-chat was a tiling got up by Linton, while station-
ing himself in a position to watch Cashel and Lady Ivilgolf, who sat,
at a chess-table, in an adjoining room. It needed not Linton's eagle
glance to perceive that neither was attentive to the game, hnt that
they were engaged in deep and earnest conversation. Lady KilgofF's
back was towards him, but Eoland's face he could see clearly, and
watch the signs of anger and impatience it displayed.

" A little more noise and confusion here," thought Linton, " and
they'll forget that they're not a hundred miles away ;" and acting on
this, he set about arranging the company in various groups ; and
while he disposed a circle of very fast-talking old ladies, to discuss
rank and privileges, in one corner, he employed some others in de-
vising a character quadrille, over which Mrs. "White was to preside ;
and then, seating a young lady at the piano, one of those determined
performers who run a steeple-chase through waltz, polka, and mazurka,
for hours uninterruptedly, he saw that he had manufactured a very
pretty chaos " oft-hand."

While hvirrying hither and thither, directing, instructing, and ad-
vising every one, he contrived also, and as it were by mere accident,
to draw across the doorway of the boudoir the heavy velvet curtain
that performed the function of a door. The company were far too
busied in their various occupations to remark this ; far less was it
perceived by Lady Kilgoft" or Eoland. JN^obody knew better than
Linton how to perform the part of flywheel to that complicated
engine called society ; he could regulate its pace to whatever speed
he pleased ; and upon this occasion he pushed the velocity to the
utmost ; and, by dint of that miraculous magnetism by which men of
warm imagination and quick fancy inspire their less susceptible
neighbours, he spread the contagion of his own merry humour, and
converted the drawing-room into a scene of almost riotous gaiety.

" They want no more leadership now," sai.d he, and slipped from
the room and hastened towards the library, whei'e sat Lord Kilgoff,
surrounded by folios of Grotius and Pufteudorf — less, indeed, for


perusal and study, than as if inhaling the spirit of diplomatic craft
from their presence.

" Nay, ray Lord, this is too much," said he, entering with a smile ;
" some relaxation is really necessary. Pray come and dissipate a
little with us in the drawing-room."

"Don't lose my place, however," said he, smiling far more gra-
ciously than his wont. " I was just considering that assertion of
Grotius, wherein he lays it down that ' a river is always ohjectionable
as a national boundary.' I dissent completely from the doctrine. A
river has all the significance of a natural frontier. It is the line of
demarcation drawn from the commencement of the world between
diiferent tracts, and at once suggests separation."

" Very true, my Lord ; I see your observation in all its justice. A
river, in the natural world, is like the distinguishing symbol of rank
in the social, and should ever be a barrier against unwarrantable in-

Lord Kilgoff smiled, tapped his snuiF-box, and nodded, as though
to say, " Continue." Linton understood the hint in this wise, and
went oil :

" And yet, my Lord, there is reason to fear that, with individuals
as with nations, these demarcations are losing their ^prestige.'' What
people call enlightenment and progress, now-a-days, is the mere ne-
gation of these principles."

" Every age has thrown some absurd theory to the surface. Sir,"
said Lord Kilgoff, proudly ; " Southcotians, Mormons, and Eadicals
among the rest. But truth, Sir, has always the ascendancy in the
long run. Facts cannot be sneered dowTi ; and the Pyrenees and the
English Peerage are facts, Mr. Linton, and similar facts, too !"

Linton looked like one who divided himself between rebuke and
conviction — submissive, but yet satisfied.

" Give me your arm, Linton ; I'm still very far from strong ; this
place disagrees with me. I fancy the air is rheumatic, and I am im-
patient to get away ; but the fact is, I have been lingering in the
hope of receiving some tidings from the Poreign-office, which I had
rather would reach me here, than at my own house."

" Precisely, my Lord ; the request then has the air — I mean, it
shows you have been sought after by the Minister, and solicited to
take office when not thinking of tlie matter yourself."

" Quite so ; I open the despatch, as it may be, at the breakfast-
table, jocularly observing that it looks official, eh ?"

" Exactly, my Lord ; you even surmise that it may prove an ap-
pointment you have solicited for one of your numerous proteges-—
something in the Colonies, or the ' troop,' without purchase, in the
Blues ?"


Lord Kilgoff laughed — for him, heartily — at Linton's concurrence
in his humour, and went on :

" And when I open it, Linton, and read the contents, eh ?"

Here he paused, as if asking what effect his astute friend would
ascribe to such pleasant tidings.

" I think I see your Lordship throw the heavy packet from you
with a ' Pshaw !' of disappointment ; while you mutter to your next
neighbour, ' I have been warding off this these two or three last
years, but there's no help for it ; the King insists upon my taking
the mission at Florence !' "

" I must say, IMr. Linton, your conjecture strikes me as strained
and unnatural. The appointment to represent my august master at
the court of Tuscany might be a Avorthy object of my ambition. I
cannot agree with the view you take of it."

Linton saw that he had " charged too far," and hastened to secure
his retreat.

" I spoke, my Lord, rather with reference to your regret at quitting
the scenes of your natural influence at home, of withdrawing from
this distracted country the high example of your presence, the wisdom
of your counsels, the munificence of your charity. These are sad ex-
ports at such a time as this !"

Lord Kilgoff sighed — he sighed heavily ; he knew Ireland had gone
through many trials and afilictions, but the dark future which Linton
pictured had never presented itself so full of gloom before. He
doubtless felt that, when he left the ship, she would not long survive
the breakers ; and, sunk in these reveries, he walked ajong at Linton's
side till they gained the picture-gallery, at one extremity of which
lay the boudoir we have spoken of.

" Poor things, my Lord !" said Linton, shrugging his shoulders as
he passed along, and casting a contemptuous glance at the apocryphal
Vandycks and Murillos around, and for whose authenticity he had
himself, in nearly every case, been the guarantee.

Lord Kilgoff gave a fleeting look at them, but said nothing ; and
Linton, to occupy time, went on :

"New men, like our friend here, should never aspire above the
Plemish school. Tour Cuyps, and Hobbemas, and Yanderveldes are
easily Tinderstood, and their excellences are soon learned. Even
Mieris and Gerard Dow are open to such connoisseurship ; but, to
feel the calm nobility of a Velasquez, the sublime dignity of a Van-
dyck, or the glorious intellectuality of a Titian portrait, a man must
be a born gentleman, in its most exalted signification. What a
perfect taste your collection at Kilgoff displays ! All Spanish or
Venetian, if I mistake not."

"Are we not like to disturb a tete-a-tete, Linton?" said Lord


Kilgoff, nudging liis friend's arm, and laughing slyly, as lie pointed
tbrou^li the large frame of plate-glass that formed a door to tlie

" Bv Jove !" said Linton, in a low whisper, " and so we were ! Tou
are always thoughtful, my Lord !"

" You know the adage, Linton, ' An old poacher makes the best
gamekeeper !' Ha, ha, ha !"

" Ah, my Lord ! I have heard as much of you. But who can

they be ?"

" We shall soon see, for it is always better in these cases to incur
the rudeness of interruption than the meanness ol espminage •" and
so saying. Lord Kilgoft" opened the door and entered. Although in
so doing the noise he made might easily have attracted notice, the
chess-players, either deep in their preoccupation, or habituated to the
uproar of the drawing-room, paid no attention, so that it was only as
he exclaimed " Lady Kilgoff!" tliat both started, and beheld him, as,
pale with passion, he stood supporting himself on the back of a chair.

" Pray don't stir. Sir ; be seated, I beg," said lie, addressing Cashel,
in a voice that shook with anger ; " my interruption of your game was
pure accident."

" No apologies, my Lord ; we are both but indifferent players," said
Cashel, smiling, but yet very far from at ease.

" Tour seclusion at least bespeaks the interest you feel in the game.

Mr. Linton and I can vouch " (Here his Lordship turned to call

his witness, but he had left the court, or, more properly speaking, had
never entered it.)

" Linton here ?" said Lady Kilgoff, in a voice which, though scarce a
whisper, was actually thrilling in the intensity of its meaning.

" I hope, Sir, when you have lived somewhat more in the world, you
will learn that the first duty of a host is not to compromise a guest."

" I am most willing to be taught by your Lordship's better know-
ledge ; but if I am to benefit by the lesson in the present case, it must
be more clearly expressed," said Cashel, calmly.

" As for you, Madam," said Lord Kilgoft', I cannot compliment you
on tlie progress you have made in acquiring the habits and instincts
of 'your order.' "

"My Lord !" exclaimed she; and then, with a countenance wherein
rebuke and entreaty were blended, she stopped.

" I am aware, Sir, what eclat young gentlemen now-a-days derive
from the supposed preference of individuals of exalted rank ; and I
would hope that your vanity may be most in fault, here."

" My Lord, one word — only one," said Cashel, eagerly ; " I am sadly
afflicted with the infirmity of hot temper, which never gives way more
surely, nor more suddenly, than when accused wrongfully. Such is

J. n.

e Cli <j 3 ti i'ioL)' ei' b


your Lordship doing at present. I would entreat you not to say wliat
a very little calm reflection will call upon you to retract."

*' This concerns me, Sir, most of all," said Lady Kilgofi", rising and
drawing herself proudly up. '' These unworthy suspicions had never
occurred to you, had they not been prompted ; but you might have
believed that when I sacrificed all I have done, for that rank of which
so incessantly you remind me, that I would not rashly hazard the
position for which I paid so dearly. — Let us leave this now, my Lord ;
Mr. Cashel can scarcely desire a presence that has so ungratefully re-
warded his hospitality, and I, at least, shall be spared the mortifica-
tion of meeting one who has been a witness to such an outrage."

" This is not to end here, Su'," said Lord Kilgoff", iu a whisper to
Cashel, who, more intent upon the words Lady Kilgoff had just
uttered, carelessly answered,

" As you will."

" Good-by, Mr. Cashel," said she, holding out her hand ; " I wish
I was leaving a better souvenir behind me than the memory of this
last scene."

" I will never remember it, Madam," said Cashel ; " but I would
beg that you may not let an incident so trivial, so perfectly devoid of
everything like importance, hasten your going. Nothing save male-
volence and calumny could suggest any other impression, and I would
beseech you not to favour, by such a step as a hasty departure, the
malace that scandal-lovers may circulate."

" This is matter for ony consideration, Sir," said Lord Kilgoff,
haughtily ; while, drawing Lady Kilgoff 's arm within his own, he
made a vigorous attempt to move away with dignity.


Is lie not too old for such gambols? — Sir Raymond.

Cashel was in no mood to join his company after such a scene, and
hastening up-stairs, he entered his dressing-room. What was his sur-
prise to see that Linton was seated iu an easy-chair before the fire,
enjoying a cigar and a new novel, with all the cool negligence of his
unruffled nature.

" At last !" cried he, as Cashel entered. " I have been waiting here
most impatiently to know how you got through it."

"Through what! — how — what do you mean ?"

" That affair with Kilgoft'. I slipped away when I saw that he
ivould enter the boudoir, after having coughed and sneezed like a



grampus, in the hope of attracting your attention ; but you ^vere so
confoundedly engrossed by my Lady's agreeabihty— so excessively
tender "

" Linton, I must stop you at once. I may barter some of my own
self-respect for quietness' sake, and let you talk this wav of one but
you shall not do so of another."

" Hang it, man, she is an older friend than yourself. I have known
her these seven years — as little more than a child."

" Tour friendship would seem a costly blessing, if you understand
its duties always in this fashion."

" I hope it will admit of a little frankness, at all events," said he,
affecting a laugh. " It will be too bad if you both fall out with me
for watching over your interests."

"I don't understand you."

" I will be plaia enough. I have seen for many a day back what
has been going on. I perceived the very commencement of the mis-
chief, when probably neither she nor you dreamed of it ; and, resign-
ing all the esteem that years had cemented betvs^een us, I spoke to
her. Ay, Eoland, I told her what would happen. I said, that quali-
ties like yours could not be brought every day into contrast with
those of poor Kilgoff without most unhappy comparisons. I ex-
plained to her, that if she did form an attachment to you, it could not
be one of those passing flirtations that an easy code of fashion admits
and sanctions ; that you were a fellow Avhose generous nature could
never descend to such heartless levity, and that there was no sacrij&ce
of position and prospect you would hesitate to make for a woman that
loved you ; and I asked her flatly, would she bring such ruin upon
you ? The greater fool myself; I ought to have known better. She
not only refused to listen to me, but actually resented my attempted
kindness by actual injury. I don't want to speak for myself here, so
I'll hasten on. It was all but a cut between us, for months before
we met here. You may remember, in Dublin, we rarely even spoke
to each other ; we, who once had been like brother and sister !

" "Well, before she was a week here, I saw that the danger I had
dreaded so long, was hourly becoming more imminent. Ton, very
possibly, had not a serious thought upon the matter, but sJie had
actually fallen in love ! I suppose you must have played hero, at that
shipwreck, in some very chivalrous fashion ; however it was, my Lady
had lost her heart, precisely at the same time that his Lordship had
lost his head — leaving you, I conjecture, in a very awkward dilemma.
Seeing there was no time to lose, and resolving to sacrilice myself to
save her, I made one more effort. I'll not weary you with a narrative
of my eloquence, nor repeat any of the ten-thousand-and-one reasons
I gave, for her shunning your society, and, if need were, leaving your
house. The whole ended as I ought to have foreseen it would — in an


open breacli between us ; she, candidly avowing that she would be my
deadly enemy through life, and even procure a personal rupture be-
tween you and me, if pushed to it, by my ' impertinent importunity,'
BO she called it. I own to you I was completely dumfounded by this.
I knew that she had courage for anything, and that, if she did care for
a man, there would be a recklessness in the course she would follow
that would defy guidance or direction, and so I abstained from any
further interference; and, as you may have remarked yourself, I
actually estranged myself from you."

" I did remark that," said Cashel, gravely.

" "Well, to-night, when by mere accident IvilgoiT and I had saun-
tered into the gallery and came upon you in the boudoir, I own
franklj^ I was not sorry for it ; unpleasant as such scenes are, they
are better — a hundred thousand times better — than the sad conse-
quences they anticipate ; and even should anything take place per-
sonally, I'd rather see you stand Kilgoff's fire at 'twelve paces,' than
be exposed to the flash of my Lady's eye at ' one.' "

" Your friendly zeal," said Cashel, with a very peculiar emphasis
on the words, " would seem to have got the upper hand of your
habitually sharp perception ; there was nothing to fear in any part of
my intimacy with Lady Kilgoff. I have been but too short a time
conversant with fashionable life to forget more vulgar habits, and,
among them, that which forbids a man to pay his addresses to the
wife of another. I need not vindicate her Ladyship ; that she has
taken a warm, I shame not to say an affectionate, interest in my for-
tunes, may have been imprudent. I know not what your code admits
of or rejects, but, her kindness demands all my gratitude, and, if need
be, the defence that a man of honour slioidd always be ready to offer
for the cause of truth."

" Don't you perceive, Cashel, that all you are saying only proves
what I have beeu asserting — that, while you are actually ignorant of
your danger, the peril is but the greater ? I repeat it to you, how-
ever intact your heart may be, Iters is in your keeping. I know this ;
nay, I say it advisedly — don't shake your head and look so confident
— I repeat it, I know this to be the case."

" You hnoio it ?" said Cashel, as though Linton's words had startled

Online LibraryCharles James LeverRoland Cashel (Volume 2) → online text (page 14 of 32)