Charles James Lever.

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were born ! I carried his bag down to Court the day
he defended Neal 0' Gorman for high treason, and I
was with him the morning he shot Luke Dillon at
Castle Knock ; and this I'll say and stand to, there's
not a man in Ireland, high or low, knows the Chief
Baron better than myself."

" It must be a great comfort to you both," said
Tom ; but his sister had laid her hand on his mouth
and made the words unintelligible.

"You'll say to Mr Mills, Nicholas," said she, in
her most coaxing way, " that I did not write, because
I preferred sending my message by you, who could
explain why I particularly wanted him this evening."

*' I'll go, Miss Lucy, resarving the point, as they
say in the law — resarving the point ! because I don't
give in that what you're doin' is right ; and when the
master comes home, I'm not goin' to defend it."


'' We must bear up under that calamity as well as
we can/' said the young man, insolently; but Mcbolas
never looked towards or seemed to hear him.

" A barn-a-brack is better than a sponge-cake, be-
cause if there's some of it left it doesn't get stale, and
one-and-sixpence will be enough ; and I suppose you
don't need a lamp ? "

" Well, Nicholas, I must say, I think it would be
better ; and two candles on the small table, and two
on the piano."

" Why don't you mention a fiddler ? " said he, bit-
terly. " If it's a ball, there ought to be music ? "

Unable to control himself longer, yoimg Lendrick
wrenched open the sash-door, and walked out into
the lawn.

" The devil such a family for temper from this to
Bantry!" said Nicholas; "and here's the company
comin' already, or I'm mistaken. There's a boat
makin' for the landing-place with two men in the

Lucy implored him once more to lose no time on
his errand, and hastened away to make some change
in her dress to receive the strangers. Meanwhile
Tom having seen the boat, walked down to the shore
to meet his friends.

Both Sir Brook and Trafford were enthusiastic in
their praises of the spot. Its natural beauty was
indeed great, but taste and culture had rendered it a


marvel of elegance and refinement. Not merely were
the trees grouped with reference to foliage and tint,
but the flower-beds were so arranged that the laws of
colour should be respected, and thus these plats of
perfume were not less luxuriously rich in odour than
they were captivating as pictures.

" It is all the governor's own doing," said Tom,
proudly, " and he is continually changing the disposi-
tion of the plants. He says variety is a law of the
natural world, and it is our duty to imitate it. Here
comes my sister, gentlemen."

As though set in a beautiful frame, the lovely girl
stood for an instant in the porch, where drooping
honeysuckles and the tangled branches of a vine
hung around her, and then came courteously to meet
and welcome them.

" I am in ecstasy with all I see here, Miss Len-
drick," said Sir Brook. " Old traveller that I am, I
scarcely know where I have ever seen such a combi-
nation of beauty."

" Papa will be delighted to hear this," said she, with
a pleasant smile ; " it is the flattery he loves best."

" I'm always saying we could keep up a salmon-
weir on the river for a tithe of what these carnations
and primroses cost us," said Tom.

" Why, sir, if you had been in Eden you'd have
made it a market-garden," said the old man.

" If the governor was a Duke of Devonshire all


these caprices might be pardonable ; but my theory-
is, roast-beef before roses."

While young Lendrick attached himself to Trafford,
and took him here and there to show him the grounds,
Sir Brook walked beside Lucy, who did the honours
of the place with a most charming courtesy.

" I am almost ashamed, sir," said she, as they
turned towards the house, " to have asked you to see
such humble objects as these to which we attach
value, for my brother tells me you are a great tra-
veller ; but it is just possible you have met in your
journeys others who, like us, lived so much out of the
world that they fancied they had the prettiest spot in
it for their own."

" You must not ask me what I think of all I have
seen here. Miss Lendrick, till my enthusiasm calms
down ; " and his look of admiration, so palpably ad-
dressed to herself, sent a flush to her cheek. "A
man's belongings are his history," said Sir Brook,
quickly turning the conversation into an easier chan-
nel : " show me his study, his stable, his garden ; let
me see his hat, his cane, the volume he thrusts into
his pocket, and I'll make you an indifferent good
guess about his daily doings."

" Tell me of papa's. Come here, Tom," cried she,
as the two young men came towards her, " and listen
to a bit of divination."

"Nay, I never promised a lecture. I offered a


confidence/' said he, in a half whisper ; but she went
on — " Sir Brook says that he reads people pretty
much as Cuvier pronounced on a mastodon by some
small minute detail that pertained to them. Here's
Tom's cigar-case," said she, taking it from his pocket;
" what do you infer from that, sir ? "

" That he smokes the most execrable tobacco."

" But can you say why ? " asked Tom, with a sly
twinkle of his eye.

" Probably for the same reason I do myself," said
Sir Brook, producing a very cheap cigar.

" Oh, that's a veritable Cuban compared to one of
mine," cried Tom ; " and by way of making my future
life miserable, here has been Mr Trafford filling my
pocket with real Havannahs, giving me a taste for
luxuries I ought never to have known of"

" Know everything, sir, go everywhere, see all that
the world can show you ; the wider a man's expe-
riences the larger his nature and the more open his
heart," said Fossbrooke, boldly.

"I like the theory," said Trafford to Miss Len-
drick ; " do you ? "

" Sir Brook never meant it for women, I fancy,"
said she, in a low tone ; but the old man overheard
her, and said, " You are right. The guide ought to
know every part of the mountain, the traveller need
only know the path."

" Here comes a guide who is satisfied with very


short excursions/' cried Tom, laughing ; " this is our
parson, Dr Mills."

The little mellow -looking, well -cared -for person
who now joined them was a perfect type of old-
bachelorhood, in its aspect of not unpleasant selfish-
ness. Everything about him was neat, orderly, and
appropriate ; and though you saw at a glance it was
all for himself and his own enjoyment it was pro-
vided, his good manners and courtesy were ever
ready to extend its benefits to others ; and a certain
genial look he wore, and a manner that nature had
gifted him with, did him right good service in life,
and made him pass for " an excellent fellow, though
not much of a parson."

He was of use now, if only that by his presence
Lucy felt more at ease, not to say that his violon-
cello, which always remained at the Nest, made
a pleasant accompaniment when she played, and
that he sang with much taste some of those lyrics
which are as much linked to Ireland by poetry as
by music.

" I wish he was our chaplain — by Jove, I do ! "
whispered Trafford to Lendrick; "he's the j oiliest
fellow of his cloth I have ever met."

" And such a cook," muttered the other.

" A cook ! "

" Ay, a cook. I'll make him ask us to dinner, and
you'll tell me if you ever ate fish as he gives it, or


tasted maccaroni as dressed by him. I have a salmon
for you, Doctor, a ten -pound fish. I wish it were
bigger ; but it is in splendid order."

" Did you set it ? " asked the parson, eagerly.

" What does he mean by set it ? " whispered Traf-

" Setting means plunging it in very hot water soon
after killing it, to preserve and harden the ' curd. '
Yes ; and I took your hint about the arbutus leaves
too. Doctor. I covered it all up with them."

" You are a teachable youth, and shall be rewarded.
Come and eat him to-morrow. Dare I hope that
these gentlemen are disengaged, and will honour my
poor parsonage? Will you favour me with your
company at five o'clock, sir ? "

Sir Brook bowed, and accepted the invitation with

" And you, sir ? "

" Only too happy," said Trafford.

" Lucy, my dear, you must be one of us."

''Oh, I could not; it is impossible. Doctor — you
know it is."

" I know nothing of the kind."

" Papa away — not to speak of his never encourag-
ing us to leave home," muttered she, in a whisper.

"I accept no excuses, Lucy; such a rare oppor-
tunity may not occur to me in a hurry. Mrs Bren-
nan, my housekeeper, will be so proud to see you,


that I'm not sure she'll not treat these gentlemen to
her brandy peaches — a delicacy, I feel bound to say,
she has never conceded to any one less than the
bishop of the diocese."

" Don't ask me, Doctor. I know that papa "

But he broke in, saying —

" 'You know I'm your priest, and your conscience is mine ;'

and besides, I really do want to see how the parson-
age wiU look with a lady at the top of the table :
who knows what it may lead to ?"

" Come, Lucy, that's the nearest thing to a proposal
I've heard for some time. You really must go now,"
said Tom.

"Papa wiU not like it," whispered she in his

"Then he'll have to settle the matter with me,
Lucy," said the Doctor, " for it was I who overruled

" Don't look to me. Miss Lendrick, to sustain you
in your refusal," said Sir Brook, as the young girl
turned towards him. " I have the strongest interest
in seeing the Doctor successful."

If Trafford said nothing, the glance he gave her
more than backed the old man's speech, and she
turned away half vexed, half pleased, puzzled how
to act, and flattered at the same time by an amount
of attention so new to her and so strange. Still she


could not bring herself to promise she would go,
and wished them all good -night at last, without
a pledge.

" Of course she will," muttered Tom in the Doctor's
ear. " She's afraid of the governor ; but I know he'll
not be displeased — ^you may reckon on her."



From the day that Sir Brook made the acquaintance
of Tom Lendrick and his sister, he determined he
would " pitch his tent," as he called it, for some time
at Killaloe. They had, so to say, captivated the old
man. The young fellow, by his frank, open, manly
nature, his ardent love of sport in ev^y shape, his
invariable good-humour, and more than all these, by
the unaffected simplicity of his character, had strongly
interested him ; while Lucy had made a far deeper
impression by her gentleness, her refinement, an ele-
gance in deportment that no teaching ever gives,
and, along with these, a mind stored with thought
and reflectiveness. Let us, however, be just to each,
and own that her beauty and the marvellous fascina-
tion of her smile gave her, even in that old man's
eyes, an irresistible charm. It was a very long by-
gone, but he had once been in love, and the faint
flicker of the memory had yet survived in his heart.


It was just as likely Lucy bore no resemblance to her
he bad loved, but he fancied she did — he imagined
that she was her very image. That was the smile,
the glance, the tone, the gesture, which once had set
his heart a-throbbing, and the illusion threw around
her an immense fascination.

She liked him, too. Through all the strange in-
congruities of his character, his restless love of ad-
venture and excitement, there ran a gentle liking
for quiet pleasures. He loved scenery passionately,
and with a painter's taste for colour and form ; he
loved poetry, which he read with a wondrous charm
of voice and intonation. !N'or was it without its pecu-
liar power, this homage of an old old man, who ren-
dered her the attentive service of a devoted admirer.

There is a very subtle flattery in the obsequious
devotion of age to youth. It is, at least, an honest
worship, an unselfish offering, and in this way the
object of it niay well feel proud of its tribute.

From the Vicar, Dr Mills, Fossbrooke had learned
the chief events of Dr Lendrick's history, of his es-
trangement from his father, his fastidious retirement
from the world, and last of all his narrow fortime,
apparently now growing narrower, since within the
last year he had withdrawn his son from the Univer-
sity on the score of its expense.

A gold-medallist and a scholar, Dr Lendrick would
have eagerly coveted such honours for his son. It



was probably the one triiimpli in life be would have
set most store by, but Tom was one not made for
collegiate successes. He had abilities, but they were
not teachable qualities ; he could pick up a certain
amount of almost anything, — he could learn nothing.
He could carry away from a chance conversation an
amount of knowledge it had cost the talkers years to
acquire, and yet, set him down regularly to work
book- fashion, and either from want of energy, or con-
centration, or of that strong will which masters diffi-
culties, just as a full current carries all before it —
whichever of these was his defect — he arose from his
task wearied, worn, but unadvanced.

When, therefore, his father would speak, as he
sometimes did in confidence to the Vicar, in a tone
of depression about Tom's deficiencies, the honest
parson would feel perfectly lost in amazement at
what he meant. To his eyes Tom Lendrick was a
wonder, a prodigy. There was not a theme he could
not talk on, and talk well too. " It was but the other
day he told the chief engineer of the Shannon Com-
pany more about the geological formation of the river-
basin than all his staff knew. Ay, and what's
stranger," added the Vicar, "he understands the
whole Colenso controversy better than I do myself."
It is just possible that in the last panegyric there
was nothing of exaggeration or excess. " And with
aU that, sir, his father goes on brooding over his


neglected education, and foreshadowing tlie worst
results from his ignorance."

" He is a fine fellow/' said Fossbrooke, " but not to
be compared with his sister."

" Not for mere looks, perhaps, nor for a graceful
manner, and a winning address ; but who would think
of ranking Lucy's abilities with her brother's ?"

" Not I," said Fossbrooke boldly, " for I place hers
far and away above them."

A sly twinkle of the Parson's eye showed to what
class of advantages he ascribed the other's preference ;
but he said no more, and the controversy ended.

Every morning found Sir Brook at the Swan's Nest.
He was fond of gardening, and had consummate
taste in laying out ground, so that many pleasant
surprises had been prepared for Dr Lendrick's return.
He drew, too, with great skill, and Lucy made con-
siderable progress under his teaching ; and as they
grew more intimate, and she was not ashamed of the
confession that she delighted in the Georgics of Virgil,
they read whole hours together of those picturesque
descriptions of rural life and its occupations, which
are as true to nature at this hour as on the day they
were written.

Perhaps the old man fancied that it was he who
had suggested this intense appreciation of the poet.
It is just possible that the young girl believed that
she had reclaimed a wild, erratic, eccentric nature, and

u« OP lu- Lia


brought him back to the love of simple pleasures and a
purer source of enjoyment. "Whichever way the truth
inclined, each was happy, each contented. And how
fond are we all, of every age, of playing the missionary,
of setting off into the savage districts of our neigh-
bours' natures and combating their false idols, their
superstitions and strange rites ! The least adventur-
ous and the least imaginative have these little out-
bursts of conversion, and all are more or less propa-

It was one morning, a bright and glorious one too,
that while Tom and Lucy were yet at breakfast Sir
Brook arrived and entered the breakfast-room.

" What a day for a grey hackle, in that dark pool
under the larch trees !" cried Tom, as he saw him.

" What a day for a long walk to Mount Laurel ! "
said Lucy. '' You said, t'other morning, you wanted
cloud effects on the upper lake. I'll show you splendid
ones to-day."

" I'U promise you a fuU basket before four o'clock,"
broke in Tom.

" I'U promise you a full sketch-book," said Lucy,
with one of her sweetest smiles.

" And I'm going to refuse both ; for I have a plan
of my own, and a plan not to be gainsaid."

" I know it. You want us to go to work on that
fish-pond. I'm certain it's that.'*

" No, Tom ; it's the catalogue — the weary catalogue


that he told me, as a punisliment for not being able
to find Machiavelli's Comedies last week, he'd make
me sit down to on the first lovely morning that came."

"Better that than those dreary Georgics which
remind one of school, and the third form. But
what's your plan, Sir Brook ? We have thought of
all the projects that can terrify us, and you look as
if it ought to be a terror."

" Mine is a plan for pleasure, and pleasure only ;
so pack up at once, and get ready. Trafford arrived
this morning."

"Where is he? I am so glad! Where's Trafford?"
cried Tom, delighted.

" I have despatched him with the Vicar and two
well- filled hampers to Holy Island, where I mean
that we shall all picnic. There's my plan."

" And a jolly plan, too ! I adhere uncondition-

"And you, Lucy, what do you say?" asked Sir
Brook, as the young girl stood with a look of some
indecision and embarrassment.

" I don't say that it's not a very pleasant project,
but "

" But what, Lucy ? Wliere's the but ? "

She whispered a few words in his ear, and he cried
out, " Isn't this too bad ? She tells me Nicholas does
not like all this gaiety ; that Nicholas disapproves of
our mode of life."


" No, Tom ; I only said Nicholas thinks that papa
would not like it."

" Couldn't we see Nicholas ? Couldn't we have a
commission to examine Nicholas 1 " asked Sir Brook,

" 111 not be on it, that's all I know ; for I should
finish by chucking the witness into the Shannon.
Come along, Lucy; don't let us lose this glorious
morning. I'll get some lines and hooks together.
Be sure you're ready when I come back."

As the door closed after him. Sir Brook drew near
to Lucy where she stood in an attitude of doubt and
hesitation. " I mustn't risk your good opinion of
me rashly. If you really dislike this excursion, I
^\all give it up," said he, in a low gentle voice.

" Dislike it ? No ; far from it. I suspect I would
enjoy it more than any of you. My reluctance was
simply on the ground that all this is so unlike the
life we have been leading hitherto. Papa will surely
disapprove of it. Oh, there comes Nicholas with a
letter 1 " cried she, opening the sash-window. " Give
it to me ; it is from papa."

She broke the seal hurriedly, and ran rapidly over
the lines. " Oh, yes ! I will go now, and go with
delight too. It is full of good news. He is to see
grandpapa, if not to-morrow, the day after. He
hopes all will be well. Papa knows your name. Sir
Brook. He says, ' Ask your friend Sir Brook if he


be any relative of a Sir Brook Fossbrooke wlio
rescued Captain Langton some forty years ago from
a Neapolitan prison. The print-sliops were filled
with his likeness when I was a boy.' Was he one
of your family ? " inquired she, looking up at him.

" I am the man/^ said he, calmly and coldly.
"Langton was sentenced to the galleys for life for
having struck the Count d'Aconi across the face with
his glove ; and the Count was nephew to the King.
They had him at Capri working in chains, and I
landed with my yacht's crew and liberated him."

" What a daring thing to do ! "

" Not so daring as you fancy. The guard was sur-
prised, and fled. It was only when reinforced that
they showed fight. Our toughest enemies were the
galley-slaves, who, when they discovered that we
never meant to liberate them, attacked us with stones.
This scar on my temple is a memorial of the affair."

" And Langton, what became of him ? "

" He is now Lord Burrowfield. He gave me two
fingers to shake the last time I met him at the Tra-

" Oh, don't say that ! Oh, don't tell me of such
ingratitude ! "

" My dear child, people usually regard gratitude as
a debt, which, once acknowledged, is acquitted ; and
perhaps they . are right. It makes all intercourse
freer and less trammelled."


" Here comes Tom. May I tell him this story, or
will you tell him yourself ? "

" Not either, my dear Lucy. Your brother's blood
is over-hot as it is. Let him not have any prompt-
ings to such exploits as these."

*' But I may tell papa ? "

"Just as well not, Lucy. There were scores of
wild things attributed to me in those days. He may
possibly remember some of them, and begin to sus-
pect that his daughter might be in better company."

" How was it that you never told me of this ex-
ploit ? " asked she, looking not without admiration at
the hard stern features before her.

'' My dear child, egotism is the besetting sin of old
people, and even the most cautious lapse into it occa-
sionally. Set me once a-talking of myself, all my
prudence, all my reserve vanishes ; so that, as a meas-
ure of safety for my friends and myself too, I avoid
the theme when I can. There ! Tom is beckoning
to us. Let us go to him at once."

Holy Island, or Inishcaltra, to give it its Irish
name, is a wild spot, with little remarkable about it,
save the ruins of seven churches and a curious well
of fabulous depth. It was, however, a favourite spot
with the Vicar, whose taste in localities was some-
how always associated with some feature of festivity,
the great merit of the present spot being that you
could dine without any molestation from beggars. In


such estimation, indeed, did he hold the class, that
he seriously believed their craving importunity to be
one of the chief reasons of dyspepsia, and was pro-
foundly convinced that the presence of Lazarus at
his gate counterbalanced many of the goods which
fortune had bestowed upon Dives.

"Here we dine in real comfort," said he, as he
seated himself under the shelter of an ivy-covered
wall, with a wide reach of the lake at his feet.

" When I come back from California with that
million or two," said Tom, " I'll build a cottage here,
w^here we can all come and dine continually."

" Let us keep the anniversary of the present day
as a sort of foundation era," said the Vicar.

" I like everything that promises pleasure," said
Sir Brook, " but I like to stipulate that we do not
draw too long a bill on Fortune. Think how long a
year is. This time twelvemonth, for example, you,
my dear Doctor, may be a bishop, and not over in-
clined to these harmless levities. Tom there will be,
as he hints, gold -crushing, at the end of the earth.
Trafford, not improbably, ruling some rajah's king-
dom in the far East. Of your destiny, fair Lucy,
brightest of all, it is not for me to speak. Of my
own it is not worth speaking."

" Nolo episcopari," said the Yicar ; " pass me the

"You forget, perhaps, that is the phrase for


accepting the mitre," said Sir Brook, laughing.
" Bishops, like belles, say No when they mean Yes."

" And who told you that belles did ? " broke in
Lucy. " I am in a sad minority here, but I stand
up for my sex."

" I repeat a popular prejudice, fair lady."

" And Lucy will not have it that belles are as illo-
gical as bishops ? I see I was right in refusing the
bench," said the Vicar.

" What bright boon of Fortune is Trafford meditat-
ing the rejection of?" said Sir Brook ; and the young
fellow's cheek grew crimson as he tried to laugh off
the reply.

" Who made this salad ? " cried Tom.

" It was I ; who dares to question it ? " said Lucy.
'' The Doctor has helped himself twice to it, and that
test I take to be a certificate to character."

" I used to have some skill in dressing a salad, but
I have foregone the practice for many a day; my
culinary gift got me sent out of Austria in twenty-
four hours. Oh, it's nothifig that deserves the name
of a story," said Sir Brook, as the others looked at
him for an explanation. " It was as long ago as the

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Online LibraryCharles James LeverSir Brook Fossbrooke (Volume 1) → online text (page 3 of 17)