Charles James Lever.

The Knight Of Gwynne, Vol. I (of II) online

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Says Freney, 'We 've some time to spare,
This stage we 've rather hasten'd.'
So he eat four eggs and a penny rowl,
And he mix'd of whiskey such a bowl!
The drink he shared with the beast, by my sowl,
For Jack was always dacent.

"'You might tighten the girths,' Jack Freney cried,
'For I 've soon a heavy road to ride.'
'Twas the truth he tould, for he never lied;
The way was dark and rainy.
'Good-by,' says he, 'I 'll soon be far,
And many a mile from Mullingar.'
So he kiss'd the girl behind the bar,
'T is the divil you wor, Jack Freney!"

"Sorra lie in that, any way," said the robber, as he repeated the last
line over once more, with evident self-satisfaction.

"Who comes there?" cried he, sternly, as the heavy bolts were shot back,
and the massive door opened.

"Why don't you say, 'Stand and deliver'?" said the turnkey, with a laugh
as harsh and grating as the creak of the rusty hinges.

"And many a time I did to a better man," said Freney.

"You may leave us now," said Daly, to the turnkey.

"Mr. Daly, your sarvant," said the robber, saluting him; "you 're the
only man in Ireland I wanted to see."

"I wish our meeting had been anywhere else," said Daly, sorrowfully, as
he took his seat on a stool opposite the bed where Freney sat.

"Well, well, so it is, sir; it's just what every one prophesied this
many a day, - as if there was much cunning in saying that I 'd be hanged
some time or other; why, if they wanted to surprise me, they 'd have
tould me I 'd never be taken. You heard how it was, I suppose?"

Daly nodded, and Freney went on: -

"The English horse wouldn't rise to the rail; if I was on the chestnut
mare or Black Billy, I would n't be where I am now."

"I have several things to ask you about, Freney; but first, how I can
serve you? You must have counsel in this business."

"No, sir, I thank you; it's only throwing good money after bad. I'll
plead guilty, - it will save time with us all."

"But you give yourself no chance, man."

"Faix, I spoiled my chance long ago, Mr. Daly. Do you know, sir," - here
he spoke in a low, determined tone, - "there's not a mail in Ireland I
did n't stop at one time or other. There's few country gentlemen I have
n't lightened of their guineas; the court wouldn't hold the witnesses
against me if I were to stand my trial."

"With all that, you must still employ a lawyer; these fellows are as
crafty in _their_ walk as ever you were in _yours_. Who will you have?
Name the man, and leave the rest to me."

Freney seemed to deliberate for a few moments, and he threw his
eyes down at the heavy irons on his legs, and he gazed at the strong
stanchions of the windows, and then said, in a low voice, -

"There's a chap called Hosey M'Garry, in a cellar in Charles Street:
he's an ould man with one eye, and not a tooth in his head; but he's the
only man that could sarve me now."

"Hosey M'Garry," repeated Daly, "Charles Street," as he wrote down the
address with his pencil: "a strange name and residence for a lawyer."

"I did n't say he was, sir," said Freney, laughing.

"And who and what is he, then?"

"The only man, now alive, that can make a cowld chisel to cut iron
without noise."

[Illustration: 440]

"Ah! that's what you're thinking of; you'd rather trust to the flaws of
the iron than of the indictment. Perhaps you are not far wrong, after

"If I was in the court below without the fetters," said Freney, eagerly,
"I could climb the wall with a holdfast and a chisel, and get down the
same way on the other side; once there, Mr. Daly, I 'd sing the ould
ballad, -

"For the divil a man of ye all I fear,
I 'll be far away before morning."

"And how are these tools to reach you here? If they admit any of your
friends, won't they search them first?"

"So they will, barrin' it was a gentleman," replied Freney, while his
eyes twinkled with a peculiarly cunning lustre.

"So, then, you rely on _me_ for this piece of service?" said Daly, after
a pause.

"Troth, you're the only gentleman of my acquaintance," said Freney,

"Well, I suppose I must not give you a bad impression of the order; I
'll do it."

"I knew you would," rejoined Freney, calmly. "You might bring two files
at the same time, and a phial of sweet oil to keep down the noise. Hush!
here's Gavin coming to turn you out, - he said ten minutes."

"Well, then, you shall see me to-morrow, Freney, and I 'll endeavor to
see your friend in the mean time." This was said as the turnkey stood at
the open door.

"This gentleman wants to have a look at you, Freney," said the
jailer, - "as if he could n't see you for nothing, some Saturday morning

"Maybe he 'd not know me in a nightcap," replied Freney, laughing, while
he turned the lamplight full on Lionel Darcy's features.

"The very fellow that rode off with the horse!" exclaimed Lionel as he
saw him.

"Young O'Reilly!" said Freney. "What signifies that charge now? Won't it
satisfy you if they hang me for something else?"

"That's Captain Darcy, man," broke in Daly. "Is all your knowledge of
mankind of so little use to you that you cannot distinguish between a
born gentleman and an upstart?"

"By my oath," said the robber, aloud, "I 'm as glad as a ten-pound note
to know that it wasn't a half-bred one that showed the spirit you did!
Hurrah! there's hopes for ould Ireland yet, when the blood and bone is
still left in her! And wasn't it real luck that I saw you this night? If
I did n't, I 'd have done you a bad turn. One word, Mr. Daly, one word
in your ear."

The robber drew Daly towards him, and whispered eagerly for some

A violent exclamation burst from Daly as he listened, and then he cried
out, "What! are you sure of this? Don't deceive me, man!"

"May I never, but it's true."

"Why, then, not have told it before?"

"Because" - here he faltered - "because - faix, I 'll tell the truth - I
thought that young gentleman was Hickman's grandson, and I could n't
bring myself to do him a spite after what I had seen."

"The time is up, gentlemen," said the turnkey, who, out of the delicacy
of his official feeling, was slowly pacing the corridor up and down
while they talked together.

"If this be but true," muttered Daly to himself, "there's another cast
of the dice for it yet."

"I am sorry for that fellow," said Lionel, aloud; "he did me a good turn
once: I might have gone down the torrent, were it not for his aid."

"So you might, man," said Daly, speaking in a half-soliloquy; "he gives
the only chance of victory I've seen yet."

These words, so evidently inapplicable to Lionel's observations, were
a perfect enigma; but he did not dare to ask for any explanation, and
walked on in silence beside him.


If the climate of northern Ireland be habitually one of storm and
severity, it must be confessed that, in the rare but happy intervals of
better weather, the beauty of the coast scenery is unsurpassed. Indented
with little bays, whose sides are formed of immense cliffs of chalk,
or the more stately grandeur of that columnar basalt which extends for
miles on either side of the Causeway, the most vivid coloring unites
with forms the wildest and most fantastic; crag and precipice, sandy
beach and rocky shore, alternate in endless variety; while islands are
there, some, green and sheep-clad, others, dark and frowning, form the
home of nothing but the sea-gull.

It was on such an evening of calm as displayed the scene to its greatest
advantage, when a long column of burnished golden light floated over the
sea, tipping each crested wave, and darkened into deeper beauty between
them, that the Knight, Lady Eleanor, and Helen sat under the little
porch of their cottage and gazed upon the fair and gorgeous picture.

If the leafy grove or the dark wood seem sweeter to our senses when the
thrilling notes of the blackbird or the thrush sing in their solitude,
so the deepest silence, the most unbroken stillness, has a wonderful
effect of soothing to the mind beside the seashore we have so often seen
terrible in the fury of the storm. A gentle calm steals over us as
we listen to the long sweeping of the waves, heaving and breaking in
measured melody; and our thoughts, enticed by some dreaming ecstasy,
wander away over the boundless ocean, not to the far-off lands of other
climes alone, but into worlds of brighter and more beauteous mould.

They sat in silence, at first only occupied by the lovely scene that
stretched away before them, but at last each deeply immersed in his own
thoughts, - thoughts which, unconnected with the objects around, yet
by some strange mystery were tinctured by all their calm and tranquil
beauty. A fisherman was mending his net upon the little beach below,
and his children were playing around him, now running merrily along the
strand, now dabbling in the white foam left by the retreating waves;
the father looked up from time to time to watch them, but without
interrupting the low monotonous chant by which he lightened his labor.

Towards the little group at length their eyes were turned. "Yes," said
the Knight, as if interpreting what was passing in the minds of those at
his side, "that is about as near to human happiness as life affords. I
believe there would be very few abortive ambitions if men were content
to see their children occupy the same station as themselves; and yet,
when the time of one's own reverses arrives, how very little of true
happiness is lost by the change of fortune."

"My dearest father!" said Helen, as in a transport of delight she threw
her arms around him, "how happy your words make me! You are, then,

"Do I not look so, my sweet Helen? And your mother, too, when have you
seen her so well? - when do you remember her walking, as she did to-day,
to the top of the great cliff of Dunluce?"

"With no other ill consequence," said Lady Eleanor, smiling, "than a
most acute attack of vanity; for I begin to fancy myself quite young

"Well, Mamma, don't forget we have a visit to pay, some of these days,
to Ballintray, - that's the name of the place, I think, Miss Daly resides

"Yes, we really must not neglect it. There was a delicacy in her note of
welcome to us here, judging that we might not be prepared for a personal
visit, which prepossesses me in her favor. You promised to make our
acknowledgments, but I believe you forgot all about it."

"No, not that," said the Knight, hesitatingly; "but in the midst of so
many things to do and think about, I deferred it from day to day."

"Shall we go to-morrow, then?" cried Helen, eagerly.

"I think it were better if your father went first, lest the way should
prove too long for us. I am so proud of my pedestrianism, Helen, I'll
not risk any failure."

"Be it so," said the Knight, quietly. "And now of this other matter
Bagenal presses so strongly upon us. I feel the greatest repugnance
to assume any name but that I have always borne, and, I hope, not
disgraced; he says we shall be objects of impertinent curiosity here to
the neighborhood."

"Ruins to dispute the honors of lionship with Dunluce," said Lady
Eleanor, smiling faintly.

"Just so; that might, however, be borne patiently; they will soon
leave off talking of us when we give them little matter for speculative
gossip. Besides, we are so far away from anything that could be called

"But he suggests some other reasons, if I mistake not," said Lady

"He does, but so darkly and mysteriously that I cannot even guess his
drift. Here is his letter." And the Knight took several papers from
his pocket, from among which he selected one, whose large and blotted
writing unmistakably pronounced it Bagenal Daly's. "Yes, here it is:
'Bicknell says that Hickman's people are fully persuaded that you have
left Ireland with the intention of never returning; that this impression
should be maintained, because it will induce them to be less guarded
than if they believed you were still here, directing any legal
proceeding. The only case, therefore, he will prepare for trial will be
one respecting the leases falsely signed. The bond and its details must
be unravelled by time; here also your incognito is all-essential, - it
need only be for a short time, and on scruples of delicacy so easily got
over: your grandfather called himself Gwynne, and wrote it also.'
That is quite true, Eleanor, so he did; his letters are signed Matthew
Gwynne, Knight of - - - - . I remember the signature well."

"I think, with Mr. Daly," said Lady Eleanor, "it will save us a world of
observant impertinence; this place is tranquil and solitary enough just
now, but in summer the coast and the Causeway have many visitors, and
although 'the Corvy' is out of the common track, if our names be bruited
about, we shall not escape that least graceful of all attentions, the
tender commiseration of mere acquaintances."

"Mamma is right," said Helen; "we should be hunted out by every tourist
to report on how we bore our reverses, and tormented with anonymous
condolences in prose, and short stanzas on the beauty of resignation."

"Well, and, my dear Helen, perhaps the lessons might not be so very
inapplicable," said the Knight, smiling affectionately.

"But very inefficient, sir," replied Helen, with a toss of her head;
"I'm not a bit resigned."

"Helen, dearest," interposed Lady Eleanor, rebukingly.

"Not a bit, Mamma; I am happy, - happier than I ever knew myself before,
if you like that phrase better, - because we are together, because this
life realizes to me all I ever dreamed of, - that quiet and tranquil
pleasure people might, but somehow never please to, taste of; but if you
ask me am I resigned to see you and my dear father in a station so much
beneath your expectations and your habits, I cannot say that I am."

"Then, my dear girl, you accuse us of bearing our misfortunes badly,
if we cannot partake of your enjoyments on account of our own vain

"No, no, Papa, don't mistake me; if I grieve over the altered fortunes
that limit your sphere of usefulness as well as of pleasure, it is
because I know how well you understood the privileges and demands of
your high station, and how little a life so humble as this is can exact
of qualities that were not given to be wasted in obscurity."

"My sweet child," said the Knight, fondly, "it is a very dangerous
practice to blend up affection with principle; depend upon it, the
former will always coerce the latter, and bend it to its will; and as
for those good gifts you speak of, had I really as many of them as your
fond heart would endow me with, believe me there is no station so humble
as not to admit of their exercise. There never yet was a walk in life
without its sphere of duties; now I intend that not only are we to be
happy here, but that we should contribute to the well-being of those
about us."

There was a pause after the Knight had done speaking, during which he
busied himself in turning over some letters, the seals of which were
still unbroken; he knew the handwriting on most of them, and yet
hesitated about inflicting on himself the pain of reading allusions to
that condition he had once occupied. "Yes," muttered he to himself, "we
are always flattering ourselves of how essential we are to our friends,
our party, and so forth; and yet, when any events occur which despoil us
of our brief importance, we see the whole business of the world go on as
currently as ever. What a foretaste this gives one of death! So it is,
the stream of life flows on, whether the bubble on its surface float or

"That's Lord Netherby's hand, is it not?" said Lady Eleanor, as she
lifted a letter which had fallen to the ground.

"Yes," said Darcy, carelessly; "written probably soon after his return
to England. I have no doubt it contains a most courtly acknowledgment of
our poor hospitality, and an assurance of undying regard."

"If it be of that tenor, I have no curiosity to read it," said Lady
Eleanor, handing the letter to the Knight.

"Helen would like to study so great a master of epistolary flatteries,"
said the Knight, smiling; "and provided she will keep the whole for her
private reading, I am willing to indulge her."

"I accept the favor with thanks," said Helen, receiving the letter;
"you know I plead guilty to liking our noble relative. I 'm not skilled
enough to distinguish between an article trebly gilded and one of pure
gold, and his Lordship, to my eyes, looked as like the true metal as
possible: he said so many pretty things to Mamma, and so many fine
things of you and Lionel - "

"And paid so many compliments to the fair Helen herself," interposed the

"With so much of good tact - "

"And good taste, Helen," added Lady Eleanor, smiling; "why not say

"Well, I see I shall have to defend myself as well as my champion, so I
'll even go and read my letter."

And so saying, she arose, and sauntered down to the shore; under the
shelter of a tall rock, from whence the view extended for miles along,
she sat down. "What a contrast!" said she, as she broke the seal, "a
courtier's letter in such a scene as this!"

Lord Netherby's letter was, as the Knight suspected, written soon after
his return to England, expressing, in his own most courtly phrase,
the delightful memory he retained of his visit to Ireland. Gracefully
contrasting the brilliant excitement of that brief period with the more
staid quietude of the life to which he returned, he lightly suggested
that none other than one native to the soil could support an existence
so overflowing with pleasurable emotions. With all the artifice of
a courtier, he recalled certain little incidents, too small, as mere
matters of memory, to find a resting-place in the mind, but all of them
indicative of the deep impression made, upon him who remarked them.

He spoke also of the delight with which his Royal Highness the Prince
listened to his narrative of life in Ireland. "In truth," wrote his
Lordship, "I do not believe that the exigencies of his station ever cost
him more than when he reflected on the impossibility of his witnessing
such perfection in the life of a country house as I feebly endeavored to
convey to him. Again and again has he asked me to repeat the tale of the
hunt - the brilliant ball the night of your arrival - and I have earned a
character for story-telling of which Kelly and Sheridan are beginning to
feel jealous, by the mere retail of your anecdotes. Lionel's return
is anxiously looked for by all here, and the Prince has more than once
expressed himself impatient to see him back again. My sweet favorite
Helen, too, - when is she to be presented? There will be a court in the
early part of next month, of which I shall not fail to apprise you, most
earnestly entreating that my cousin Eleanor will not think the journey
too far which shall bring her once again among those scenes she so
gracefully adorned, and where her triumphs will be renewed in the
admiration of her lovely daughter. I need not tell you that my house
in town is entirely at her disposal, either as _my_ guests, or, if you
prefer it, I shall be _theirs_, whenever I am not in waiting."

Here the writer detailed, with an eloquence all his own, the advantage
to Helen of making her _entrée_ into life under circumstances so
favorable, remarking, with that conventional philosophy just then the
popular cant of the day, that the enthusiasm of the world was never
long-lived, and that even his beautiful cousin Helen should not be above
profiting by the favorable reception the kindly disposition of the court
was sure to procure for her. This was said in a tone of half-serious
banter, but at the same time the invitation was reiterated with an
evident desire for its acceptance.

As the letter drew near its conclusion, the lines became more closely
written, as though some circumstances hitherto forgotten had suddenly
occurred to the writer; and so it proved.

"I was about, my dear Knight, to write myself, with what truth I will
not say, your 'most affectionate friend, Netherby,' when I received a
letter which requires some mention at my hands. It is, indeed, one
of the most extraordinary documents I have ever perused; nothing
very wonderful in that, when I tell you from whom it comes, - your old
sweetheart, Julia Wallincourt, or, as you will better remember her,
Julia d'Esterre; she is still very beautiful, and just as capricious,
just as _maligne_, as when she endeavored, by every artifice of her
coquetry, to make you jilt my cousin Eleanor. There 's no doubt of
it, Darcy, this woman loved you! at least, as much as she could love
anything, except the pleasure of torturing her fellow-creatures. Well,
it would seem that a younger son of hers, popularly known as Dick
Forester, paid you a visit in Ireland, and, no very unnatural
occurrence, fell desperately in love with your daughter, - not so Helen
with him. She probably regarded him as one of that class upon which
London has so stamped its impress of habit and manner that all
individualism is lost in the quiet observance of certain proprieties.
He must have been a rare contrast to the high-souled enthusiasm and
waywardness of her own brother! Certain it is she refused him; and he,
taking the thing much more to heart than a young Guardsman usually does
a similar catastrophe, hastened home, and endeavored to interest his
mother in his suit. Lady Julia had an old vengeance to exact, and, like
a true woman, could not forego it; she not only positively refused all
intercession on her part, but went what you and I will probably feel
to be a very unnecessary length, and actually declared she never would
consent to such an alliance. We used to remember (some years ago), at
Eton, of a certain Dido who never forgave, and we are told how, for many
years after, the _lethalis arundo lateri adhosit_; but assuredly the
poet was speaking less of the woes of an individual than of the sorrows
of fine ladies in all ages. Unfortunately, the similitude between her
ladyship and Dido ends here; the classic fair one exhibited, as we are
told, the most delicate fondness for the son of her lover. But, to grow
serious, Lady Wallincourt's conduct must have been peremptory and harsh;
she actually went the length of writing to the Duke of York to request
an exchange for her son into a regiment serving in India: whether
Forester obtained some clew to this manouvre or not, he anticipated the
stroke by selling out and leaving the army altogether; whither he is
gone, or what has become of him since, no one can tell. Such, my dear
Knight, is the emergency in which Lady Wallincourt addresses her letter
to me, - a letter so peculiarly her own, so full of reproaches against
you, and vindication of herself, that I actually scruple to transmit to
you this palpable evidence of still enduring affection.

"Were you both thirty years younger, I should claim great credit to my
morality for the forbearance. Let that pass, however, and let me rather
ask you if you know, or have heard anything, of this wayward boy?
Personally, I am unacquainted with him; but his friends agree in saying
that he is high-spirited, honorable, and brave; and it would be a great
pity that his affection for a young lady, and his anger with an old one,
should mar all the prospects of his life. Could you, by any means, find
a clew to him? I do not, of course, ask you to interfere in person, lest
it might seem that you encouraged an attachment which you have far more
reason to discountenance for your daughter than has Lady Wallincourt for
her son; however, your doing so would go far to reconcile the young man
to his mother by showing that, if there was a difficulty on one side, a
still greater obstacle existed on the other."

Requesting a speedy answer, and begging that the whole might be in
strict confidence between them, the letter concluded.

"I do not doubt, my dear Knight," said the postscript, "that you
will see in all this a reason the more for coming up to town. Helen's
appearance at the Drawing-Room would be the best, if not the only,
rebuke Lady Wallin-court's insolence could receive. By all means, come.

"Another complication! Lady W., on first hearing of her son's duel, and
the kind treatment he met with after being wounded, wrote a letter of
grateful acknowledgments, which she enclosed to her son, neither knowing
nor caring for the address of his benefactor. When she did hear it at
length, she was excessively angry that she had been, as she terms it,

Online LibraryCharles James LeverThe Knight Of Gwynne, Vol. I (of II) → online text (page 33 of 34)