Charles James Lever.

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who, although he will not visit me, will not, I'm sure^ deny me the
pleasure of showing his tasteful grounds to my friends."


" My old friend would be but too proud of such a visitor," said
Tiemay, bowing low to Lady Kilgoff.

"Mr. Cashel has not confessed all our object, Mr. Tiemay," said
she, assuming her most gracious manner. " Om' visit has in pro-
spect the hope of making Miss Leicester's acquaintance ; as I know
you are the intimate friend of the family, will you kindly say if this
be a suitable hour, or, indeed, if our presence here* at all would not
be deemed an intrusion?"

The Doctor coloured deeply, and his eye sparkled with pleasure,
for, strange enough as it may appear, while sneering at the dissipa-
tions of the great house, he felt a degree of indignant anger at the
thought of Mary sitting alone and neglected, with gaieties around
her on every side.

" It was a most thoughtful kindness of your Ladyship," replied he,
" for my friend is too old and too infirm to seek society, and, so, the
poor child has no other companionship than two old men, only fit to
weary each other."

"Tou make me hope that our mission will succeed, Sir," said
Lady Kilgoff, still employing her most fascinating look and voice
" we may reckon you as an ally, I trust."

" I am your Ladyship's most devoted," said the old man, courte-
ously ; " how can I be of service ?"

" Our object is to induce Miss Leicester to pass some days with
us," said she ; " we are plotting various amusements that might in-
terest her— private theatricals among the rest."

" Here she comes, my Lady," said Tiemay, with animation; "I
am proud to be the means of introducing her."

Just at this instant Mary Leicester had caught sight of the party,
and uncertain whether to advance or retire, was standing for a mo-
ment undecided, when Tiernay called out,

" Stay a minute. Miss Mary ; Lady Kilgoff is anxious to make
your acquaintance."

" This is a very informal mode of opening an intimacy. Miss
Leicester," said Lady Kilgoff; "pray lej; it have the merit of sin-
cerity, for I have long desired to know one of whom I have heard so

Mary replied courteously to the speech, and looked pleasedly to-
wards Cashel, to whom she justly attributed the compliment in-

As the two ladies moved on side by side, engaged in conversation,
Tiemay slackened his pace slightly, and in a voice of low but earnest
import, said,

" Will Mr. Cashel consider it an intrusion if I take this oppor-
tunity of speaking to him on a matter of business ?"



" !N'ot in the least, Doctor," said Cashel, gaily ; " but it's right I
should mention that I am most lamentably ignorant of everything
that deserves that name. JMy agent has always saved me from the
confession, but the truth will out at last."

" So much the worse, Sir — for others, as well as for yourself," re-
plied Tieruay, bluntly. " The trust a large fortune imposes but

I shall forget myself, if I touch on such a theme. My business is
this, Sir — and, in mercy to you, I'll make it very brief JMy old
frieud, ^Ir. Corrigan, deems it expedient to leave this country, and,
in consequence, to dispose of the interest he possesses in these
grounds, so long embellished by his taste and culture. He is well
aware that much of what he has expended here has not added sub-
stantial value to the property ; that, purely ornamental, it has, in
great part, repaid himself by the many years of enjoyment it has
afforded him. Still he hopes — or rather, I do for him — for, to speak
candidly. Sir, he has neither courage nor hardihood for these kind of
transactions — I hope. Sir, that you, desirous of uniting this farm to
the large demesne — as I understand to be the case — will not deem
this an unfitting occasion to treat liberally with one whose position
is no longer what it once was. I must take care, Mr. Cashel, that I
say nothing which looks like solicitation here ; the confidence m}' friend
has placed in me would be ill requited by such an error."

"Is there no means of securing Mr. Corrigan's residence here?"
said Cashel. " Can I not accommodate his wishes in some other
way, and which should not deprive me of a neighbour I prize so

" I fear not. The circumstances which induce him to go abroad
are imperative."

" "Would it not be better to reflect on this ?" said Cashel. " I do
not seek to pry into concerns which are not mine ; but I would
earnestly ask if some other arrangement be not possible ?"

Ticrnay shook his head dubiously.

" If tliis be so, then I can oppose no longer. It only remains for
Mr. Corrigan to put his own value on the property, and I accept it."

" Nay, Sir ; this generosity will but raise new difficulties. Tou
are about to deal with a man as high-hearted as yourself, and with
the punctilious delicacy that a narrow fortune suggests, besides."

" Do you, then. Doctor, who know both of us, be arbitrator. Let
it not be a thing for parchments and lawyers' clerks. Let it be an
honourable understanding between two gentlemen, and so, no more
of it."

" If the world were made up of men like yourself and my old
friend, this would be, doubtless, the readiest and the best solution of
the difficulty," said Tieruay ; " but what would be said if we con-


sented to such an arrangement ? "What would not be said ? Ay,
faith, there's not a scandalous rumour that malice could forge would
not be rife upon us."

"And do you think such calumnies have any terror for we?"
cried Cashel.

" When you've lived to wy age, Sir, you'll reason differently."

"It shall be all as you wish, then," said Cashel. "But stay!"
cried he, after a moment's thought ; " there is a difficulty I had
almost forgotten. I must look that it may not interfere with our
plans. When can I see you again ? Would it suit you to come and
breakfast with me to-morrow ? I'll have my man of business, and
we'll arrange everything."

" Agreed, Sir ; I'll not fail. I like your promptitude. A favour
is a double benefit when speedily granted."

" Now I shall ask one from you, Doctor. If I can persuade my
kind friends here to visit us, will you, too, be of the party some-
times ?"

" Not a bit of it. Why should I, Sir, expose you to the insolent
criticism my unpolished manners and rude address would bring upon
you — or myself to the disdain that fashionable folk would show me ?
I am proud — too proud, perhaps — at the confidence you would repose
in my honour ; I don't wish to blush for my breeding by way of re-
compense. There, Sir — there is one yonder in every way worthy all
the distinction rank and wealth can give her. I feel happy to think
that she is to move amongst those who, if they cannot prize her
worth, will at least appreciate her fascinations."

" Will Mr. Corrigan consent ?"

" He must — he shall," broke in Tiernay ; " I'll insist upon it. But
come along with me into the cottage, while the ladies are cementing
their acquaintance ; we'll see him, and talk him over,"

So saying, he led Cashel into the little library, where, deep sunk
in his thoughts, the old man w^as seated, with an open book before
him, but of which he had not read a line.

" Con !" cried Tiernay, " Mr. Cashel has come to bring you and
Miss Mary up to the Hall, to dinner. There, Sir, look at the face he
puts on ; an excuse in every wrinkle of it."

" But, my dear friend — my worthy Doctor — you know per-
fectly "

" I'll know perfectly that you must go — no help for it. I have
told Mr. Cashel that you'd make fifty apologies — pretend age — ill-
health — want of habit, and so on : the valid reason being that you
think his company a set of raffs, and "

" Oh, Tiernay, I beg you'll not ascribe "such sentiments to ;«e."

" AVell, I thought so myself, t'other day — ay, half an hour ago ; but


there is a lady voutler, walking up aud down the grass-plot, has made
me change my mind ; come out and see her, man, and then sav as
many 'Xo's' as you please." And, half-dragging, half-leading the
old man out, Tiernay went on :

" Tou'll see, Mr. Cashel, how polite he'll grow when he sees the
bright eyes and the fair cheek. Tou'll not hear of any more refusals
then, I promise you."

Meanwhile, so far had Lady KilgofF advanced in the favourable
opinion of Miss Leicester, that the young girl was already eager to
accept the proffered invitation. Old Mr. Corrigan, however, could
not be induced to leave his home, and so it was arranged that Lady
Kilgoff should drive over on the following day to fetch her ; with
which understanding they parted, each looking forward with pleasure
to their next meeting.


Gone ! and in secret, too !

Amid all the plans for pleasure which engaged the attention of the
great house, two subjects now divided the interest between them.
One was the expected arrival of the beautiful Miss Leicester — " Mr.
Cashel's babe in the wood," as Lady Janet called her — the other, the
reading of a little one-act piece, which Mr. Linton had written for
the company. Althougli botli were, in their several ways, "events,"
the degree of interest they excited was very disproportioned to their
intrinsic consequence, and can only be explained by dwelling on the
various intrigues and schemes bv Aviaich that little world was agitated.

Lady Janet, whose natural spitefalness was a most catholic feeling,
began to fear that Lady Kilgoff had acquired such an influence over
Cashel, that she could mould him to any course she pleased — even a
marriage. She suspected, therefore, that this rustic beauty had been
selected by her Ladyship as one very unlikely to compete with herself
in Eoland's regard, and that she was thus securing a lasting ascen-
dancy over him.

Mrs. Leicester Wliite, who saw, or believed she saw, herself neg-
lected by Eoland, took an indignant view of the matter, and threw
out dubious and shadowy suspicions about " who this young lady
might be, who seemed so opportunely to have sprung up in the
neighbourhood," and expressed, in confidence, her great surprise,
" how Lady Kilgoff could lend herself to such an arrangement."

Mrs. Kennyfeck was outraged at the entrance of a new competitor


into the field, where her daughter was no longer a "favourite." In
fact, the new visitor's arrival was heralded by no signs of welcome,
save from the young men of the party, who naturally were pleased to
hear that a very handsome and attractive girl was expected.

As for Aimt Fanny, her indignation knew no bounds ; indeed, ever
since she had set foot in the house her state had been one little short
of insanity. In her own very graphic phrase — " Slie was fit to be
tied at aU she saw." Now, when an elderly maiden lady thus com-
prehensively sums up the cause of her anger, without descending to
"a bill of particulars," the chances are, that some personal wrong —
Teal or imaginary — is more in fault than anything reprehensible in
the case she is so severe upon. So was it here : Aunt Panny literally
saw nothing, although she heard a great deal. Daily, hourly, were
the accusations of the whole Kennyfeck family directed against her
for the loss of Cashel. But for her, and her absurd credulity on the
statement of an anonymous letter, and there had been no yacht
voyage with Lady Kilgofi" — no shipwreck — no life in a cabin on the

coast — no In a word, all these events had either not happened at

all, or only occurred with Livy Kennyfeck for their heroine.

Roland's cold, almost distant politeness to the young ladies, was
marked enough to appear intentional ; nor could all the little by-play
of flirtation with others excite in him the slightest evidence of dis-
pleasure. If tlie family were outraged at this change, poor Livy her-
self bore up admirably ; and while playing a hundred little attractive
devices for Cashel, succeeded in making a very deep impression on
the well-whiskered Sir Harvey Upton, of the — tb. Indeed, as
Linton, who saw everything, shrewdly remarked — " She may not
pocket the ball she intended, but, rely on't, she'll make a ' hazard '

Of all that great company, but one alone found no place in her
heart for some secret wile ; this was Miss Meek, who, sadly disap-
pointed at the little influence of her royalty, had ceased to care much
for in-door aftairs, and spent her mornings '•' schooling" with Charley,
and her evenings listening to sporting talk whenever two or three
" fast men" got together in the drawing-room.

The evening that preceded Miss Leicester's intended arrival had
been fixed for the reading of Mr. Linton's comedy — a little dramatic
piece, which, whether he had stolen wholesale from the French, or
only borrowed in part, none knew ; but various were the rumours
that it would turn out to be a very satirical composition, with allu-
sions to many of those who were to sit in judgment over it. How
this supposition originated, or with whom, there is no saying, nor if
well-founded in any respect, for Linton had never shown his sketcli
to any one, nor alluded to it, save in the most vague manner.


Each, howerer, looked to see his neighbour " shown up ;" and
while one said, " "What a character could be made of old Sir Andrew,
with his vvdgarity, his deafness, and his gluttony !" another thought
that Downie Meek, in his oily smoothness, his sighings, and his
" dear me's," would be admirable — all the ladies averring that Lady
KilgoiF would be a perfect embodiment of Lady Teazle, as " Sir
Peter" suspected, and " Joseph" iutended her to be.

Fears for individual safety were merged in hopes of seeing others
assailed, and it was in something like a flutter of expectancy that the
party assembled in the drawing-room before dinner. Great was their
surprise to find that Mr. Linton did not make his appearance. Th^
dinner was announced, but he never came, and his place vacant at the
foot of the table was the continual suggester of every possible reason
for his absence. If Lady KilgofF coidd not divest herself of a certain
terror — vague and meaningless, it is true — the dread she felt pro-
ceeded from knowing him to be one whose every act had some deep
purpose ; while others were then canvassing his absence in easy
freedom, she took the first opportunity of asking Cashel whether he
were in the secret, or if it w^ere really true that Linton had not com-
municated, even with him, about his departure,

" I am no better informed than my friends here," said Eolaud ;
" and, to say truth, I have given myself little thought about the
matter. We have not, as you are aware, of late seen so much of each
other as we used once ; he has himself rather drawn ofi" me, and I have
left the interval between us to widen without much regret."

" Eemember, however, what I told you ; he can be a terrible

Cashel smiled calmly as he said, " I have consorted with men whose
vengeance never took longer to acquit than the time occupied in
drawing a knife from the sleeve or a pistol from the girdle. I care
very little for him whose weapon is mere subtlety."

" It is this over-confidence makes me fear for you," said she,
anxiously; "for, I say again, 3'ou do not know him."

" I wish I never had," said Cashel, with an earnestness of voice and
accent. " He has involved me in a hundred pursuits for which I feel
neither taste nor enjoyment. To him I owe it that pleasure is always
associated in my mind with mere debauch ; and the only generosity
he lias taught me has been the spendthrift waste of the gaming-

" Could you not find out something of him — when he went, and in
what direction ?" said she, anxiously. '" I cannot tell you why, but
my heart misgives me about his departure."

More in compliance with her scruples than that he deemed the
matter worth a thouglit, Cashel left the room to make inquiries from


the servants ; but all lie could learn was, that Mr. Linton arose before
daybreak and left the house on foot ; his own servant not knowing in
what direction, nor having heard anything of his master's previous

His intimacy with the family at the cottage left it possible that
they might know something of his movements, and Cashel accordingly
despatched a messenger thither to ask ; but with the same fruitless
result as every previous inquiry.

While Cashel was following up this search with a degree of interest
that increased as the diiSculty augmented, he little knew how watch-
fully his every word and gesture was noted down by one who stood
at his side. This was Mr. Phillis, who, while seeming to participate
in his master's astonishment, threw out from time to time certain
strange, vague hints, less suggestive of his own opinions, than as baits
to attract those of his master.

"Very odd, indeed. Sir — very strange — so regular a gentleman,
too — always rising at the same hour. His man says, he's Hke the
clock. To be sure," added he, after a pause, " his manner is changed
of late." ' ■

"How do you mean?" asked Cashel, hurriedly.

" He seems anxious. Sir — uneasy, as one might say."

" I have not perceived it."

" His man says "

"What care I for that," said Cashel, impatiently. "It is not to
pry into Mr. Linton's habits that I am here ; it is to assure myself
that no accident has happened to him, and that, if he stand in need
of my assistance, I shall not be neglecting him. Tell two of the
grooms to take horses, and ride down to Killaloe and Dunkeeran, and
ask at the inns there if he has been seen. Let them make inquiry,
too, along the road." With these directions, hastily given, he re-
turned to the drawing-room ; his mind far more interested in the
event than he knew how to account for.

"No tidings of Tom?" said Lord Charles Frobisher, lounging
carelessly in a well-cushioned chair.

Cashel made a sign in the negative.

" Well, it's always a satisfaction to his friends to know that he'll
not come to harm," said he, with an ambiguous smile.

" The country is much disturbed at this moment," said the Chief
Justice ; " the calendar was a very heavy one last Assize. I trust no
marauding party may have laid hold of him."

"Ah, yes; that would be very sad indeed," sighed Meek, "mis-
taking him for a spy."

" No great blunder, after all," said Lady Janet, almost loud enough
for other ears than her next neighbour's.


" If the night were moonlight," said Miss Meek, as she opened a
shutter and peeped out into the darkness, " I'd say he was trying
those fences we have laid out for the hurdle-race."

"By Jove, Jim, that is a shrewd thought!" said Lord Charles,
forgetting that he was addressing her by a familiar sobriquet he never
used before company.

" You have a bet with him, Charley ?" said Upton.

" Yes, we have all manner of bets on the race, and I'll have one with
you, if you like it — an even fifty that Tom turns up ' all right and no
accident,' after this bolt."

" Ah, my Lord, you're in the secret, then !" said Aunt Fanny,
whose experiences of sporting transactions, derived from " the "West,"
induced her to suspect that a wager contained a trap-fall.

A very cool stare was the only acknowledgment he deigned to
return to this speech, while Mrs. Kennyfeck looked unutterable re-
proaches at her unhappy relative.

" I call the present company to w-itness," said Sir Harvey Upton,
" that if Tom has come to an untimely end, he has bequeathed to me
his brown cob pony, ' Batter.' "

" I protest against the gift," said Miss Kennyfeck. " Mr. Linton
told me, if he were killed in the steeple-chase on Tuesday next, I
should have ' Batter.' "

" That was a special reservatiou. Miss Kennyfeck," said the Chief
Justice ; " so that if liis death did not occur in the manner specified,
the deed or gift became null and void."

" I only know," said ]Miss Meek, " that Mr. Linton said, as we
came back from the hurdle-field — ' Eemember, " Batter " is yours, if

— if ' " She hesitated and grew red, and then stopped speaking,

in evident shame and confusion.

"If what? tell us the condition ; you are bound to be candid,"
said several voices together.

" I'll tell i/oii, but I'll not tell any one else," said the young girl,
turning to Lady Kilgoff ; and at the same instant she whispered in
her ear, " If I were to be married to Mr. Cashel."

'•Well," said her Ladyship, laughing, "and was the bribe suf-

" I should think not !" replied she, with a scornful toss of the head,
ae she walked back to her seat.

" I winna say," said Sir Andrew, " but I ha' a bit claim mysel to
that bonnie snuff-box he ca'd a Louis-Quatorzc ; if ye mind, leddies,
I asked him to mak' me a present o' it, and he replied — ' In my weell.
Sir Andrew ; I'll leave it ye in my weell.' "

" I foresee there will be abundance of litigation," said the Chief
Justice, " for the claims are both numerous and conflicting."


" You'll not be troubled with the next of kin, I beliere," said Lady
Janet, in her most spiteful of voices,

"I say, my Lord Chief Justice," said Frobisher, "let me have a
travelling opinion from you, on a legal point. "Wouldn't Linton's
heirs, or representatives, or whatever they're called, be bound to
'book up ' if Eamskin is beaten in the handicap ?"

" The law expressly declares such transactions without its pale, my
Lord," said the Judge, rebukingly.

" Well, I can only say," interrupted Upton, "that when we were
in canromnents at Sickmabund, Jack Taris ' of ours ' had a heavy
stake in a game of piquet with the Major, and just as he was going
to count bis point, he gave a tremendous yell, and jumped up from
the tablfe. It was a cobra capella had bitten him in the calf of the
leg. Everything was done for him at once, but all in vain ; he
swelled up to the size of four, and died in about two hours. It was
rather hard on old Cox, the Major, who had two hundred pounds on
it, and a capital hand ,• and so he made a representation to the Mess,
showing that he had seven cards to his point, with a quint in hearts ;
that, taking in the ace of clubs, he should count a quatorze, and,
therefore, unquestionably win the game. The thing was clear as day,
and so they awarded him the stakes. Cox behaved very handsomely,
too ; for he said, " If Faris's widow likes to play the game out, I'll
give her the opportunity when we get back to England, and back
myself, two to one.' "

" The Chevalier Bayard himself could not have done more," said
Miss Kennyfeek, with admirable gravity.

" I must say," resumed the dragoon, " we thought it handsome, for
old Cox was always hard up for money."

" And what is to become of oiir theatricals, if Mr. Linton should
have been so ill-natured as to drown himself?" said Mrs. AVhite, in
a most disconsolate tone ; for she had already made terrible havoc in
her wardrobe to accomplish a Turkish costume.

" Such a disappointment as it will be," sighed Olivia Kennyfeek,
who had speculated on a last effort upon Cashel in a Mexican dress,
where, certes, superfluity should not be the fault.

" You can always make some compensation for the disappoint-
ment," said Lady Kilgoff, " by a fancy ball."

"Oh, delightful! the very thing!" exclaimed several together.
" AVhen shall it be, JMi*. Cashel ?"

" I am entirely at your orders," said he, bowing courteously.

" Shall we say Tuesday, then ?"

" Not Tuesday ; we have the race on that morning," said Erobisher ;

and some of us, at least, will be too tired for a ball afterwards."

" AVel], "Wednesday ; is AVednesday open ?"


"TVednesday was fixed for a boat excursion to Holy Island," said

" Tou can't have Thursday, then," exclaimed Lady Janet ; " that
is the only evening we ever have our rubber. I'll not give you

" Friday we are to have some people at dinner," said Cashel ; " and
Saturday was to have been some piece of electioneering festivity for
Linton's constituents."

"What matter now," said Mrs. White; "perhaps the poor dear
man is in a better place ; a very sad thought," sighed she, "but such
things are happening every day."

" Ah, yes, very sad," responded Meek, who never failed to perform
echo to any one's lamentation.

"Ah, indeed!" chimed in Aunt Fanny, "cut off like a daisy."
And she -n-iped her eyes and looked solemn, for she believed she was
quoting Scripture.

At last it was decided that the ball should come off on the earliest
evening possible, irrespective of all other arrangements ; and now the
company formed in a great circle, discussing dresses and characters

Online LibraryCharles James LeverRoland Cashel (Volume 2) → online text (page 3 of 32)