Charles James Lever.

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formation — albeit he may deem the matter trivial — give the contents
as Cashel wrote them :

" Deae Me. Kennyfeck, — Make my excuses to Mrs. Kennyfeck
and the Demoiselles Gary and Olivia, if I deprive them of your
society this morning at breakfast, for I shall want your counsel and
assistance in the settlement of some difficult affairs. I have been
shamefully backward in paying my respectful addresses to the ladies
of your family ; but to-day, if they will permit, I intend to afford
myself that pleasure. It is as a friend, and not as my counsel learned
in law, I ask your presence with me in my library at ten o'clock.
Till then, '• Believe me yours,

"E. C."

Now, of this very common-place document, a few blackened,
crumpled, frail fragments were all that remained ; and these, even to
the searching dark eyes of Miss Kennyfeck, revealed very little. In-
deed, had they not been written in Cashel's hand, she would have
thrown them away at once, as unworthy of fiu-ther thought. This
fact, and the word " Olivia," which she discovered after much scru-
tiny, excited all her zeal, and she laboured now like an antiquarian
who believes he has gained the clue to some mysterious inscription.
She gathered up the two or three filmy black bits of paper which yet
lay within the fender, and placing them before her, studied them long
and carefully. The word " settlement" was clear as print.


" * Olivia' and ' settlement' in tlie same paper," thought she.; " what
can this mean ?"

" Come here, Mamma — Aunt Fanny — look at tliis for a moment,"
said she, eagerly ; and the two ladies approached at her bidding.

" What is that word ?" said she to Mrs. Kennyfeck ; " is it not
* Olivia ?' Don't you see the end of the ' 1 ' has been burned away,
but the rest is quite plain ?"

" So it is — upon my life! — and in Cashel's hand, too!" exclaimed
Mrs. Kennyfeck.

" And what is that ?" asked Miss Kennyfeck, triumphantly, point-
ing to another word.

Aunt Fanny, with her spectacles on, bent down, and examined it

" ' Battlement.' That is ' battlement ' as clear as day," said she.

" "What nonsense, Aunt — it is ' settlement.' Look at what you
call a ' b '— it is an ' s.' "

" Gary's quite right. The word is ' settlement,' " said Mrs. Kenny-
feck, in a voice tremulous with joy.

" And there ! — I hope you can read !" exclaimed Mrs. Kennyfeck,
" even without your spectacles — ' paying ' — ' addresses.' "

" Show it to me, Cary," said her mother, eagerly. " I declare I
can read it perfectly. Is it possible ? — can this be indeed true ?"

" Of course it is, Mamma. Will you tell me by what other coin-
cidence you could find Olivia's name coupled with the words ' settle-
ment ' and ' addresses ' in the same note ?"

"It is very suspicious, certainly," said Aunt Fanny.

" I think it very convincing, Aunt — not suspicious," said Miss
Kennyfeck, proudly. " Here is something about ' friend,' and
another word I can't make out." ■ ^r

" That's something about a ' saw,' my love," said Aunt Fanny.

" How absurd. Aunt ; the word is ' law.' I have it. See — here is
the name — it is the conclusion of the note, and ran, doubtless, thus :
'Tour present friend, and future son-in-law, — R. C? "

Mrs. Kennyfeck leaned forward, and kissed her daughter's cheek
with a degree of fervour she very rarely gave way to ; and then, lying
back in her chair, pressed her handkerchief to her face, while she,
doubtless, revelled in a little excursion of fancy, not the less brilliant
because tempered with anxiety.

If the moment was one of maternal ecstasy for Mrs. Kennyfeck,
it was no less one of triumphant joy to her daughter. It was she
who revealed the secret meaning ; her skill and ingenuity had given
light to the dark mystery, and consistency to its incoherence. AVhat
domination could be too great for such services ? It was then, like a
legitimate sovereign ^ssuming the reins of government, she said:

A PJicpnix


" I beg, Aunt Fanny, that you will not spoil the game this time,
as most unquestionably you did before."

"Let us see that there is one to be spoiled, my dear," rejoined
Aunt Fanny, snappishly.

" You are really too provoking, Fanny," said Mrs. Kennyfeclc, re-
moving her handkerchief from two very red eyelids. " You never
are satisfied when you see us happy. Gary has shown you enough to

convince any one "

" Auy one disposed to conviction, ]\ramma," broke in Miss Ken-
nyfeck, haughtily. " Hush, here's Olivia."

" Mr. Meek is reading the Fost, Ma," said the young lady, enter-
ing ; " and he has got the other papers in his pocket, but he says
there's really nothing of any interest in them."

"I think Livy should be told, Mamma," whispered Miss Kenny-
feck to her mother.

" I quite agree with you, Gary," said Mrs. Kennyfeck ; " I never
was a friend to any secrecy in fiimilies. Your father, indeed, I grieve
to say, does not participate in my sentiments ; but much may be ex-
cused in him, from the habits of his profession, and, I will also say,
from the class in life he sprang from." Here Mrs. Kennyfeck, who
had spoken like one delivering an oracle, stopped to drop a tear over
the sad mesalliance which had condemned her to become the wife of
an attorney. " Olivia, my dear, circumstances have disclosed the
nature of the interview which Mr. Kennyfeck would not confide to
us. It is one in which you are deeply concerned, my dear. Have
you any suspicion to what I allude?"

Olivia assumed her very sweetest look of innocence, but made no

" jNfamma wants you to be candid enough to say, if there is any-
thing in the way of particular attention you may have received lately,
which should corroborate the impressions we entertain."

Miss Kennyfeck delivered these words so categorically, that her
sister well knew how, in the event of refusal, a searching cross-exami-
nation was reserved for her.

Olivia looked down, and a very slight embarrassment might be
detected in the qmckened heaving of iier chest.

" Tell us, my darling," said Aunt Fanny, "if — if any one has, in a
manner so to say — you understand — eh ?"

" Keep tlie blushes, Livy, for anotlier time ; they look beautiful
with orange flowers in tlie hair," said her sister ; " but be candid
with us."

" If you mean attentions, Mamma "

"We mean attentions, 'and something more,' as Lord Lyndhurst
says," interposed Miss Kennyfeck, who felt that she was the proper
person to conduct the inquiry.

TOL. ir. E


" I cannot positively say, Mamma, that we are engaged, but 1
believe that if you and Pa made no obstacles — if, in fact, you are
satisfied that his rank and fortune are sufficient for your expectations,
as I own they are, for mine "

" AVhat humility !" exclaimed IMiss Kennyfeck, holding up her

" Hush, Gary. — Go on, Livy," said her mother.

" I have no more to say, Mamma. Sir Harvey told me "

" Sir Harvey !" cried Mrs. Kennj^eck.

" Sir Harvey Upton !" echoed Miss Kennyfeck.

" The man with the hair all over his face !" exclaimed Aunt Fanny,
whose western habits had not accustomed her to moustaches.

Olivia stared from one to the other in mingled fear and astonish-
ment. She suddenly saw that she had been betrayed into a confes-
sion to which they did not possess the slightest clue ; she also per-
ceived that the tidings, for which she anticipated a most joyous wel-
come, were received with coldness and almost disdain.

"He is a Baronet, Mamma, witb very great expectations," said
she, proudly ; for really, it was a large " bird" to bag, in the begin-
ning of the season, too !

"Very possibly," said Mrs. Kennyfeck, looking to her elder
daughter witli that silent eloquence which the Court occasionally
bestows upon the Crown Counsel, meaning to say : " Have you any-
thing to reply to that ?"

" Mamma is aware that Sir Harvey is a Baronet, and a Captain of
Hussars, and Jonas Upton of Sumraerton is his luicle, who may, or
may not, leave him his large estates — a circumstance, most probably,
mainly dependent on the alliance he may form in marriage."

"Yes, indeed! my dear," broke in Aunt Tanny; "and when the
old man finds out that 'tis only an Attorney's daughter "

" Fanny, do you mean to drive me distracted !" screamed Mrs,
Kennyfeck; "arc my children to be taught to be ashamed of their
father ?"

" 'Tis a lesson they might know by heart, this time of day, my
dear," said the inexorable Fanny, who put up her spectacles, and
smoothed down her apron — unmistakable signs that she was pre-
paring for battle.

" You needn't ' beat to quarters,' Aunt, as Captain Luttredge
says ; there is no one going to fire into you," said Miss Kennyfeck.
" The question at present is, how is Olivia to free herself from an
unhappy connexion "

" An unhappy connexion!" exclaimed Livy, in amazement.

" Listen to your sister, and don't interrupt hei*," said Mrs. Kenny-

" I spoke advisedly, Livy," resumed tlui elder, " when I called your


connexion with Sir Harvey Upton, unhappy. We have just learned
that far higher views are opening to you — that no less a person than
Mr. Cashel "

" Impossible, Mamma ! he never notices me in the least. Our ac-
quaintance is scarcely more than a cold act of recognition when we

" Though love is hot sometimes, soon it grows cold," muttered
Aunt Fanny, who believed she was quoting to the letter.

" There never was love in the case at all. Aunt," said Olivia.

" Attend to me, Livy," said her sister, who seemed impatient at
this digression. " It is sufficient — it ought at least to be sufficient —
for you, that we know Mr. Eoland Cashel's intentions. It is for i/ou
to establish a coolness with Sir Harvey. There is no difficulty in the
task. I could not presume to instruct ^ou in any matter of this kind
nor will I."

" Take a friend's advice, Livy dear, and don't throw out dirty water
till you're sure of clean."

" "What, Aunt ?" asked Olivia, who really was puzzled by the figu-
rative eloquence of her relative.

"Pshaw!" said Miss Kennyfeck, equally angry at the counsel and
the vulgarity of the expression it was couched in. " Livy, attend to
we," said she again. " Mr. Cashel has sent for Papa this morning to
make a formal Hush! here is Pa himself." And Mr. Kenny-
feck's heavy tread was heard approaching the door.

Mr. Kennyfeck' s sudden entrance not only closed the discussion,
but left the debaters in the difficulty of having no concerted line of
conduct respecting the new arrival ; and although Mrs. Kennyfeck's
eyebrows were worked with a telegraphic activity, and Miss Kenny-
feck's pantomimic replies as promptly returned, it was clear to see
that neither comprehended the other. Kauitz lays it down as an
axiom that " when two wings of an army are in presence of an enemy,
and without means of rapid and certain communication, it is always
better to act on the defensive than to attack, without some evident
weak point of the adversary encourages a forward movement." It is
more than probable that neither Mrs. Kennyfeck nor her fair daughter
had studied the authority in question, yet, with a tact quite instinctive,
they proceeded to act upon it.

" You are back early, Mr, Kennyfeck," said his wife, with a tone
of half indifference.

Mr. Kennyfeck looked at his watch, and said it wanted twenty
minutes to twelve.

"Has Mr. Linton returned. Pa?" asked Miss Kennyfeck.

" I believe not. I have not heard that he has."

" It would be little loss if he never did !" said Aunt Panny, as she

E 2


bit the end of an obstinate thread that would not enter the eye of her

" Oh, Aunt Fanny!" exclaimed Olivia, in a deprecating tone. '

" 'Pon my word, my dear, them's my sentiments — whatever yours is."

" Mr. Cashel certainly thinks difFereutly," said Miss Kenuyfeck,
glad to introduce the name uppermost in all their thoughts.

"I thiuli of late there has been something like a coldness between
them — you see them very rarely together. Did Mr. Cashel mention
his name to you this morning, Mr. Kennyfeck ?" said his wife; and
by this sudden question revealing that they knew, at least, where he
had been.

" Mere passingly, incidentally," said Mr. Kennyfeck, evidently
amazed that his small mystery had been penetrated ; then, after a
slight pause, he added, very probably with a sly malice to pique
curiosity, " Mr. Cashel is desirous of Mr. Linton's counsel on a step
he meditates takins:."

" Indeed, Sir ; and has he much confidence in Mr. Lintou's judg-
ment ?"

" In this instance, it is likely he will follow the dictates of his own,
Mrs. Kennyfeck," said the Attorney, solemnly.

This fencing was too much for JMrs. Kennyfeck, in whom the Job-
like element was always at zero. It was an insult, too, to her under-
standing, that Mr. Kennyfeck should skirmish in this fashion with
her; and so, drawing herself proudly up, she said:

" Mr. Kennyfeck, I would wish to ask you, if you have, even upon
one single occasion, discovered that my knowledge of the world, my
tact, or my intelligence, were inferior to your own ?"

"Never, Madam; I'm sure I never dis^puted the "

" No, Sir, you never dared to contest the fact, though you may
have endeavoured to escape from its application. I believe. Sir, the
only instance of deficient judgment I can be accused of, you, at least,
ought not to reproach me with. ' My family' " — this was a word
Mrs. Kennyfeck used to enunciate with an emphasis that always
impressed her husband very little provocation might possibly have
made her say, " Our house" — " my family, indeed, may refuse to
forgive me" — she stopped, wiped her eyes, and then, with what
seemed an heroic victory over her feelings, went on — " but the
welfare of my children. Sir, may well be conceived dear to one who
would not league to them the unhappy descent she has herself

Mrs. Kennyfeck paused again. It appeared as though, do what
she would, there was no escaping from the theme of her mesalliance
when once she had touched it. It was very birdlime iu its adhe-

" When, therefore, Mr. Kennyfeck, the occasion presents itself of


resuming, through my children — for, alas ! it is lost to me in my ovvn
person — the station I have forfeited, I do think that I should at least
be consulted, that my advice should be asked, and my guidance re-
quired. Don't you think so too, Sir?"

Now, of all men living, never was there one more inept to read
riddles tlian poor Mr. Kennyfeck, and while he averred that he per-
fectly concurred in his wife's opinion, he had not the faintest glim-
mering of a notion what that opinion implied.

" Don't you think. Sir, also, it would be better to use a little can-
dour with your family ?"

" Yes, Pa, we know all about it," said Miss Kennyfeck, nodding

" Ay, indeed, we had it in black and white — that is, if we can call
a bit of burnt "

"Aunt Fanny, what are you about ?" cried Miss Kennyfeck, in a
voice of real terror, for she was shocked at the meanness she did not
scruple to stoop to.

" Yes, Mr. Kennyfeck," reiterated his wife, "we know all! If,
liowever, you still persist in maintaining that mysterious aspect
you have assumed with your family, I must say, Sir, it is perfectly

" It is unnecessary, too. Papa," cried Miss Kennyfeck.

"And it's unfair to that young creature," chimed in Aunt Panny,
with a gesture towards Olivia, who sat, en tableau for injured inno-
cence, next a window.

Possibly, if any could have read Mr. Kennyfeck's sentiments at
that instant, they would have recognised the sufierings of a true
martvr. To his own heart he muttered,

" This is very hard ; it is being called upon to reply to a case with-
out a copy of the affidavits."

At length, Avith a courage that he did not believe he was capable
of, he said :

" I am confused, Mrs. Kennyfeck ; I am overwhelmed ; I may
submit a plea of surprise — that is, I would move the Court, I mean
— in fact, I must beg you will permit me to adjourn this case."

And with these words, and in an agitation very unusual with him,
he hastened from the room. Scarcely had the door closed after him,
than he reopened it, and putting in his head, said,

" I should have told you, Mrs. Kennyfeck, that Mr. Cashel intends
to pay a visit here to-day."

And so saying, he shut the door and departed.

" At last. Sir !" exclaimed Mrs. Kennyfeck, in a voice of exulta-
tion, " you have been obliged to confess so much at least ; but, rely
on it, girls, your father is acting under Cashel's dictation, or he
never would dare to tamper in this manner with we."



Say what you will, good friend, I do persist,

I had him " covered," when you shook my wrist.

The Duel.

In a handsome drawing-room, wliere the light was judiciously tem-
pered by the slight folds of rose-coloured curtains, while the air
breathed the faint delicious perfume of some hot-house flowers, sat
Olivia Keunyfeck alone. She was most simply, but becomingly
dressed, and in her hair, worn in smooth bands on either cheek, a
little sprig of Greek myrtle, with its bright red berries, was inter-
woven, which served to show to even greater advantage the delicate
fairness of a skin tinged with the very faintest blush. There was a
soft pensive character in her beauty, which seemed to harmonise per-
fectly with the silent room and its scattered objects of art. The very
exclusion of all view appeared to add to the effect ; as thougli sug-
gesting how much of in-door happiness was contained within those
four walls ; neither asking for, nor wanting, the " wide cold world"
without. She was reading — at least she held a book in her hand — a
gorgeously bound little volume it was — nor did the dark ribbon of
velvet fringed with gold that marked her place fail to contrast well
with the snowy Avhiteuess of the wrist it fell upon.

Her attitude, as she lay, rather thau sat, in a deep arm-chair, was
faultless in its grace ; and, even to the tiny foot which rested on a
little Blenheim spaniel, as he lay sleeping on the hearth-rug, had a
certain air of homelike ease that made the scene a picture, and to a
suggestive mind might have given it a story. And yet, for all the
sleepy softness of those half-drooped lids, for all that voluptuous ease
of every lineament and limb, the heart within was watchful and
waking. JS^ot a sound upon the stairs, not a voice, nor a footstep,
that did not make its pulses beat faster and fuller.

Two o'clock struck, and the great bell rang out which called the
guests to luncheon, a meal at which Cashel never appeared ; and now
Olivia listened to the sounds of merry laughter tliat floated along the
corridors, and faded away in the distance, as group after group passed
down stairs, and at last, all was silent again. Where was he ? Why
did he not come ? she asked herself again and again. Her mamma
and sister had purposely stayed away from luncheon to receive him ;
for so it was arranged, that she herself should first see Cashel alone,
and afterwards be joined by the others — and yet he came not !

Tlie half-hour chimed, and Olivia looked up at the Frencli clock
upon the mantelpiece with amazement. Surely there had been more


than thirty minutes since she heard it last ; and the little Cupid on
the top, who, with full-stretched bow and fixed eye, seemed bent on
mischief — siUy fool ! like herself, there was no mark to shoot at !
She sighed ; it was not a deep sigh, nor a sad one ; nor was it the
wearisome expression of listlessness ; nor was it the tribute paid to
some half-called-up memory. It was none of these ; though perhaps
each entered into it as an ingredient. But what right have we to
analyse its meaning, or ask how much of hope or fear it contained ? —
what portion of regret for one she was about to desert ? — what shame
for the faithlessness ? Ay, what shame !

Coquetry is no virtue ; but most certainly it is not the wholesale
corrupter some morahsts would make it. Miss OKvia Kennyfeck had
been taught it from her earliest years, — from those pleasant days,
when, dressed like some fairy queen, she descended from the nursery
to stand beside Pa's chair on company days, at dessert, and be stared
at, and kissed, and '' dear-loved" by some scores of people, whose
enthusiasm for childish beauty had all the warmth that springs from
turtle and truffles, iced punch and Lafitte. She had been taught it
by the French governess, who told her to be " aimable." The very
dancing-master cried out, " Grace — more grace, if you please. Miss
Olivia," at every step of her minuet ; and the riding-master's eternal
exhortation was, " Sit as if the whole world was watching you. Miss."

These teachings go further and deeper into the heart than we sus-
pect. " The wish to please" — pure and amiable as the feeling can be
— lies on the frontier of a dangerous land — the " wish to conquer."
That passion once engendered in the heart, no room remains for any

To return to Miss Olivia Kennyfeck — for most ungallantly we are
forgetting she is alone all this while. Her education had but one
end and object — to obtain a good position by marriage. The precept
had been instilled into her mind in a thousand different ways, and
not only self-interest, but pride, emulation, and vanity had been en-
listed in its support. So constantly was the theme presented to her,
such day-by-day discussion of the prizes and blanks drawn by others
in the wheel connubial, that she really felt little or no interest in any
other topic.

And yet, with all that misdirection of mind, that perverse insist-
ance on wrong, there was still in her heart a void, a want, that
neither vanity nor selfishness could fill. It might be, perhaps, to be
found out by one who should make it the storehouse of high and
generous impulses, of ennobling duties and tender afliections ; or, just
as likely, lie like some fruitful but unknown tract — barren, waste,
and profitless !

Three o'clock came ! And now the house resounded with the buzz
of voices and the hurried movement of feet. Carriages and horses,


too, assembled before the door, and all the pleasant bustle of those
bent on pleasure filled the air. Olivia arose, and, screened by the
curtain, watched the scene beneath. For the first time she perceived
that Lady KilgofF was in a riding-dress. Slie stood in the midst of
a group before the door, amid which Olivia's eyes peered with rest-
less activity.

No, Cashel was not there ! She almost said the comforting words
aloud ; but at the same instant a cry of " Here he is — here he
comes !" broke from those beneath, and every head was turned towards
the road to the stables, along which Cashel w^as seen cantering a snow-
white Arab of great beauty. As he came nearer it could be seen
that he was seated on a side-saddle, while he managed the well-
trained creature with the most graceful address.

"Are you quite certain I may venture, Mr. Cashel?" said Lady
Kilgoff, as he pulled up in front of her ; " remember, that I am
neither so fearless nor so skilful as our fair Queen beside me, who,
I must own, is far more worthy of 'Hassan Bey' than I am."

" I'll pledge my life on his good conduct," said Roland, springing
from his back ; " I've ridden him for an hour, and he is gentleness

" He's over-trained for my fancy," said Miss Meek. " He's like
one of the creatures you see in Franconi's, walking up a ladder to
catch a handkerchief."

Lady Janet whispered something in her ear, at which she started
and smiled, but evidently in ignorance of its meaning.

" What is that very wicked thing that Lady Janet has just told
you?" said Lady Kilgoff, as she advanced to mount her horse.

" It was k propos of the handkerchief. She said, ' Probably you
were going to throw yours at Mr. Cashel' — I'm sure I don't know

Fortunately none but Lady Kilgoff and Cashel heard this speech,
but both blushed deeply.

While this was enacting below, Olivia, who marked every gesture
and every look eagerly, could not hear what passed. She could only
see the respectful attention bestowed by Cashel oii every wish of his
fair guest ; how, having seated her, he draped in graceful folds the
long velvet habit, in which, and with a white hat and drooping fea-
ther, she resembled one of the court of Louis Quiuze.

At last she turned her horse's head, and rode him slowly along be-
fore the house, evidently timid and afraid of the high-mettled animal.

Online LibraryCharles James LeverRoland Cashel (Volume 2) → online text (page 6 of 32)