Charles James Lever.

Sir Brook Fossbrooke (Volume 3) online

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grounds, but it may be as you say. Since I have
turned miner, Trafford," added he, laughing, " I am
always well content if I discover a grain of silver in
a bushel of dross, and let us take the world in the
same patient way."

" When do you intend to go to the Priory ? "

" I thought of going this evening. I meant to
devote the morning to these maps and drawings, so


that I might master all the details before I should
show them to my friends at night."

" Couldn't that be deferred ? I mean, is there any-
thing against your going over at once ? I'll own to
you I am very uneasy lest some incorrect version of
this affair with Sewell should get abroad. Even
without any malevolence there is plenty of mischief
done by mere blundering, and I would rather antici-
pate than follow such disclosures."

"I perceive,"' said Sir Brook, musingly, as with
longing eyes he looked over the coloured plans and
charts which strewed the table, and had for him all
the charm of a romance.

" Then," resumed Trafford, " Lucy should have my
mother's letter. It might be that she ought to reply
to it at once."

" Yes, I perceive," mused Sir Brook again.

" I'm sure, besides, it would be very politic in you
to keep up the good relations you have so cleverly
established with the Chief; he holds so much to every
show of attention, and is so flattered by every mark
of polite consideration for him."

" And for all these good reasons," said Sir Brook,
slowly, " you would say, we should set out at once.
Arriving there, let us say, for luncheon, and being
begged to stay and dine — which we certainly should
— we might remain tiU, not impossibly, midnight."

Perhaps it was the pleasure of such a prospect sent


the blood to Trafford's face, for lie blushed very deep-
ly as he said, " I don't think, sir, I have much fault
to find with your arrangement."

" And yet the real reason for the plan remains un-
stated," said Fossbrooke, looking him steadfastly in
the face, " so true is what the Spanish proverb says,
' Love has more perfidies than war.' Why not frank-
ly say you are impatient to see your sweetheart, sir ?
I would to heaven the case were my own, and I'd not
be afraid nor ashamed to avow it ; but I yield to the
plea, and let us be off there at once."



The following paragraph appeared in the Irish, and
was speedily copied into some of the English papers:
" An intrigue, which involves the character of more
than one individual of rank, and whose object was
to compel the Chief Baron of her Majesty's Exche-
quer in Ireland to resign his seat on the Bench, has
at length been discovered, and, it is said, will soon
be made matter of Parliamentary explanation. We
hope, for the reputation of our public men, that the
details which have reached us of the transaction may
not be substantiated ; but the matter is one which de-
mands, and must have, the fullest and most searching

" So, sir," said the old Chief to Haire, who had
read this passage to him aloud as they sat at break-
fast, "they. would make political capital of my case,
and, without any thought for me or for my feelings,
convert the conduct displayed towards me into a


means of attacking a fallen party. AVliat says Sir
Brook Fossbrooke to this ? or how would he act ^veve
he in my place ? "

" Just as you mean to act now/' said Fossbrooke,

" And how may that be, sir ? "

" By refusing all assistance to such party warfare ;
at least, my Lord Chief Baron, it is thus that I read
your character."

" You do me justice, sir ; and it is my misfortune
that I have not earher had the inestimable benefit of
your friendship. I trust," added he, haughtily, " I
have too much pride to be made the mere tool of a
party squabble ; and, fortunately, I have the means
to show this. Here, sir, is a letter I have just re-
ceived from the Prime Minister. Eead it — read it
aloud, Haire, and my son will like to hear its con-
tents also."

"Do^VN'iXG Street, Tuesday evenijig.

" My dear Lokd Chief Baron, — It is with much
pleasure I have to communicate to you, that my col-
leagues unanimously agree with me in the propriety
of submitting your name to the Queen for the Peer-
age. Your long and distinguished services, and jour
great abilities, will confer honour on any station; and
your high character will give additional lustre to
those quaUties which have marked you out for her
Majesty's choice. I am both proud and delighted,


my lord, that it has fallen to my lot to be the bearer
of these tidings to you ; and with every assurance of
my great respect and esteem, I am, most sincerely

" Ellerton."

" At last," cried Haire — " at last ! But I always
knew that it would come."

"And w^hat answer have you returned?" cried
Lendrick, eagerly.

'* Such an answer as will gladden your heart, Tom.
I have declined the proflfered distinction."

" Declined it ! Great God ! and why ? " cried

"Because I have passed that period in which I
could accommodate myself to a new station, and
show the world that I was not inferior to my acquired
dignity. This for my first reason ; and for my second,
I have a son whose humility would only be afflicted
if such greatness were forced upon him. Ay, Tom, I
have thought of all it would cost you, my poor fellow,
and I have spared you."

" I thank you with my whole heart," cried Len-
drick, and he pressed the old man's hand to his lips.

" And what says Lucy ? " said the Judge. " Are
you shocked at this epidemic of humility amongst
us, child ? Or does your woman's heart rebel against
all our craven fears about a higher station ? "


" I am content, sir ; and I don t think Tom, the
miner, will fret that he wears a leather cap instead
of a coronet."

" I have no patience with any of you," muttered
Haire. " The world will never believe you have re-
fused such a splendid offer. The correspondence will
not get abroad."

" I trust it will not, sir," said the Chief. " ^Miat
I have done I have done with regard to myself and
my own circumstances, neither meaning to be an ex-
ample nor a warning. The world has no more concern
with the matter than with what we shall have for
dinner to-day."

''And yet," said Sir Brook, with a dry ripple at
the angle of his mouth, '' I think it is a case where
one might forgive the indiscreet friend" — here he
glanced at Haire — "who incautiously gave the details
to a newspaper."

"Indiscreet or not, I'll do it," said Haire, resolutely.

" What, sir," cried the Chief, with mock sternness
of eye and manner — "what, sir, if I even forbade
you ? "

"Ay, even so. If you told me you'd shut your
door against me, and never see me here again, I'd
do it."

" Look at that man, Sir Brook," said the Judge,
with well-feigned indignation ; " he was my school-
fellow, my chum in college, my colleague at the Bar,


and my friend everywhere, and see how he turns on
me in my hour of adversity."

" If there be adversity it is of your own making,"
said Haire. " It is that you won't accept the prize
when you have won it."

" I see it all now," cried the Chief, laughing, " and
stupid enough of me not to see it before. Haire has
been a bully all his life ; he is the very terror of the
Hall ; he has bullied sergeants and silk gowns, judges
and masters in equity, and his heart is set upon
bullying a peer of the realm. Now, if I wiU not be-
come a lord, he loses this chance ; he stands to win
or lose on me. Out with it, Haire; make a clean
confession, and own, have I not hit the blot ? "

''Well," said Haire, with a sigh, "I have been
called sly, sarcastic, witty, and what not, but I never
thought to hear that I was a bully, or could be a
terror to any one."

The comic earnestness of this speech threw them
all into a roar of laughing, in which even Haire him-
self joined at last.

" Where is Lucy ? " cried the old Judge. " I want
her to testify how this man has tyrannised over

" Lucy has gone into the garden to read a letter
Trafford brought her." Sir Brook did not add that
Trafford had gone with her to assist in the interpre-


" I have told Lord EUerton," said the Chief, refer-
ring once more to the Minister's letter, " that I will
not lend myself in any way to the attack on the late
Government. The intrigue which they planned to-
wards me could not have ever succeeded if they had
not found a traitor in the garrison ; hut of him I will
speak no more. The old Greek adage was, ' Call no
man happy till he dies/ I would say, he is nearer
happiness when he has refused some object that has
been the goal of all his life, than he is ever like to be
under other circumstances."

Tom looked at his father with wistful eyes, as
though he owed him gratitude for the speech.

" When it is the second horse claims the cup,
Haire," cried the old Judge, with a burst of his in-
stinctive vanity, " it is because the first is disquali-
fied by previous victories. And now let us talk of
those whose happiness can be promoted ^dthout the
intrigues of a Cabinet or a debate in the House. Sir
Brook tells me that Lady Trafford has made her sub-
mission. She is at last willing to see that in an
alliance with us there is no need to call condescen-
sion to her aid."

*' Trafford's account is most satisfactory," said
Fossbrooke, " and I trust the letter of which he was
the bearer from his mother will amply corroborate
all he says."

" I like the young man," said the Judge, with that


sort of authoritative tone that seems to say, The
cause is decided — the verdict is given.

" There's always good stuff in a fellow when he is
not afraid of poverty," said Fossbrooke. '' There are
scores of men will rough it for a sporting tour on
the Prairies or a three months' lion-shooting on the
Gaboon ; but let me see the fellow bred to affluence,
and accustomed to luxury, who will relinquish both
and address himself to the hard work of life rather
than give up the affection of a girl he loves. That's
the man for rue."

" I have great trust in him," said Lendrick,

"All the Bench has pronounced but one," cried
the Chief. " What says our brother Haire ? "

" I'm no great judge of men. I'm no great judge of
anything," muttered Haire ; " but I don't think one
need be a sphinx to read that he is a right good fel-
low, and worthy of the dearest girl in Christendom."

" Well summed up, sir ; and now call in the pri-

Fossbrooke slipped from the room, but was speedily
back again. " His sentence has been already pro- .
nounced outside, my lord, and he only begs for a
speedy execution."

" It is always more merciful," said the Chief, with
mock solemnity; " but could we not have Tom over
here ? I want to have you all around me."

THE E^^) OF ALL. 321

" I'll telegraph to him to come," said Fossbrooke.
" I was thinking of it all the morning."

About three weeks after this, Chief Baron Lendrick
opened the Commission at Limerick, and received
from the grand jury of the county a most compli-
mentary address on his reappearance upon the
Bench, to which he made a suitable and dignified
reply. Even the newspapers which had so often
censured the tenacity with which he held to office,
and inveighed against the spectacle of an old and
feeble man in the discharge of laborious and severe
duties, were now obliged to own that his speech was
vigorous and eloquent ; and though allusion had been
faintly made in the address to the high honour to
which the Crown had desired to advance him and
the splendid reward which was placed within his
reach, yet, with a marked delicacy, had he forborne
from any reference to this passage other than his
thankfulness at being so far restored to health that
he could come back a^ain to those functions, the dis-
charge of which formed the pride and the happiness
of his life.

" Never," said the journal which was once his most
bitter opponent, " has the Chief Baron exhibited his
unquestionable powers of thought and expression
more favourably than on this occasion. There were
no artifices of rhetoric, no tricks of phrase, none of
those conceits by which so often he used to mar the

VOL. m. X


wisdom of his very finest displays ; he was natural
for once, and they who listened to him might well
have regretted that it was not in this mood he had
always spoken. Si sic omnia — and the press had
never registered his defects nor railed at his vanities.
" The celebrated Sir Brook Fossbrooke, so notori-
ous in the palmy days of the Eegency, sat on the
bench beside his lordship, and received a very flat-
tering share of the cheers which greeted the party as
they drove away to Killaloe, to be present at the
wedding of Miss Lendrick, which takes place to-

Much-valued reader, has it ever occurred to you,
towards the close of a long, possibly not very inter-
esting, discourse, to experience a sort of irreverent
impatience when the preacher, appearing to take what
rowing men call " second wind," starts off afresh,
and seems to threaten you with fully the equal of
what he has already given ? At such a moment it is
far from unlikely that all the best teachings of that
sermon are not producing upon you their full effect
of edification, and that, even as you sat, you medi-
tated ignoble thoughts of stealing away.

I am far from desiring to expose either you or my-
self to this painful position. I want to part good
friends with you ; and if there may have been any-
thing in my discourse worth carrying away, I would


not willingly associate it with weariness at the last.
And yet I am very loath to say good-bye. Authors
are, par excellence, button-holders, and they cannot
relinquish their grasp on the victim whose lapel they
have caught. Now I would like to tell you of that
wedding at the Swan's Nest. You'd read it if in
the * Morning Post,' but Tm afraid you'd skip it
from me. I'd like to recount the events of that
breakfast, the present Sir Brook made the bride, and
the charming little speech ^ith which the Chief pro-
posed her health. I'd like to describe to you the
uproar and joyous confusion when Tom, whose cos-
tome bore little trace of a wedding garment, fought
his way through the servants into the breakfast-

And I'd like to grow moral and descriptive, and a
bit pathetic perhaps, over the parting between Lucy
and her father ; and, last of aU, I'd like to add a few
words about him who gives his name to this story,
and tell how he set off once more on his wanderings,
no one well knowing whither bent, but how, on
reaching Boulogne, he saw from the steamer's deck,
as he landed, the portly figure of Lady Lendrick
walking beside her beautiful daughter-in-law, SeweU
bringing up the rear, with a little child holding his
hand on either side — a sweet picture, combining, to
Boulogne appreciation, the united charm of fashion,
beauty, and domestic fehcity; and finally, how, steal-


ing by back streets to tlie hotel where these people
stopped, he deposited to their address a somewhat
weighty packet, which made them all very happy, or
at least very merry, that evening as they opened it,
and induced Sewell to order a bottle of Cliqnot, if
not, as he said, " to drink the old buck's health," at
least to wish him many returns of the same good dis-
positions of that morning.

If, however, you are disposed to accept the will
for the deed, I need say no more. They who have
deserved some share of happiness in this tale are
likely to have it. , They who have little merited will
have to meet a world which, neither over cruel nor
over generous, has a rough justice that generally
gives people their deserts.



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