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199



THE FAIR IRISH MAID

and fondly, up the great stairway and out of their
horrified sight. But they knew that she had con-
ducted her impossible guest into the gold drawing-
room, where she had passed her afternoon, for they
could hear the sound of the door as she closed it
behind her. Then John leaned toward Thomas,
and Thomas declined toward John, and the mag-
nificent fellows conversed in awed whispers.

Grania was as ignorant of as she was indifferent to
the resplendent witnesses of her escapade. Her brain
whirled with wonder, her heart drummed with joy;
she had found her lover again, a miracle had given
him back to her. It was regrettable for the lovers
of the unexpected that there was no one of their
number present in St. James's Square on that snowy
evening to witness the sight of a young and beautiful
girl, all besilked and bejeweled, racing bareheaded
through the snow to fling herself, with little choking
cries of joy, into the arms of one that seemed to be a
singularly dilapidated specimen of the vagrant
musician and beggar. But the inclemency of the
weather had kept the square clean of visitors, and
the meeting between Grania and Dennis was seen
only by themselves. Little was said, that little
chiefly by Grania, and consisting of peremptory
commands to the vagabond that he must imme-
diately accompany her to the shelter of Ashford
House. So "The Fair Irish Maid" drew with her
her beloved prisoner, though that prisoner seemed not
a little reluctant to obey and not a little sullen under

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MOODY FOOD

the sweet compulsion. What would not my Lord
Coleraine or Mr. Redacre or Captain Morris or
Mr. Averill have given to see that sight!

Mr. Bowley, of The Scourge, and Mr. Shadd, of
The Whistle, would also have given much to see that
sight, but in a sense they as good as saw it, though
it cost them money to show as much. For honest
John was a friend of Mr. Bowley' s and honest
Thomas was a friend of Mr. Shadd's, and the worthy
pair of menials had gained many a guinea from the
worthy pair of journalists for the scraps they were
able to carry from the banquets of fashion to be
hashed and spiced and served up piping hot in the
columns of the popular journals. Bowley did his
cooking one way; Shadd his in another; both
pleased and piqued their public; neither wasted
the guineas they gave to the gentlemen's gentlemen
and ladies' ladies, and their kind. Bowley and
Shadd, John and Thomas, were in luck's way this
night.

If Grania had had time to think any other
thoughts than those of joy and thankfulness be-
yond all power of human speech to interpret at
having found her lover again, she would have been
startled and shocked into a sorrow no less wordless
by the change she needs now must see in him.
Outside there in the shadowed, snow-smoothed
square she realized nothing more, understood noth-
ing more, than that her lost was found, that her lover
had come back to her from the dominion of Giant
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THE FAIR IRISH MAID

Despair. But in the clear candlelight of the great
room she perceived the plight in which he had
come. His clothes were ragged and soiled and
squalid. The boots upon his feet seemed to hang
together fortuitously, mere fragments of ancient
leather through which the naked, mud-stained
flesh showed piteously. Crania's heart ached as
she saw, and she longed to stoop down over those
poor smirched feet and wash them with her tears
and dry them with her hair. The miserable hat
which he now held in his hand would have seemed
shabby in the hand of a beggar, too full of holes to
be of any service if extended for the solicitation of
alms. The gifts of the generous would have gone
through it like sand through a sieve. He seemed to
be wearing no body linen at all, for the shapeless
old coat that might have once been a brave blue,
and that was now mottled and stained to all man-
ner of sickly shades, was buttoned close about his
throat, and there was no hint of even the dingiest
white about his wrists. Gaunt ruin grinned from
every rent and tear, from every seam and smear of
those shameful garments. It was evident that the
wearer had long since abandoned any effort of a
dying pride to preserve a semblance of cleanliness
in his miserable tatters.

But it was not the change in his attire, shocking

and startling though it was, that seemed the most

shocking and startling alteration in Dennis Tirowen.

His body that was huddled about by those poor

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MOODY FOOD

clouts, his body that had always worn so valiant
a carriage and showed so stalwart, now seemed to
stoop beneath the burden of misfortune. From his
rounded shoulders his head, that he had always held
so high, now drooped in a pitiful way that suggested
profound dejection and discouragement. His arms
hung listlessly by his sides, as if they had lost
all strength to lift themselves in defense or to push a
passage through the world. His face was wan and
drawn, and pinched with ugly lines traced on it
where hunger and thirst had bitten, and uglier lines
the ciphers of debauch. His hair was disordered
and overlong and ragged of edge. It looked as if
it had long since forgotten all knowledge of the
barber's shears. The nails of his long musician's
fingers were untended and unpleasing; his hands
were grimy, back and palm. His eyes that had
been of old so swift and bright and defiant were
now weary, lusterless and apathetic, bloodshot and
dull. The man, as he stood in the brilliant room,
with his shambling carriage, limp limbs and gro-
tesque caricature of human raiment, was a tragic
contrast to the high-spirited youth who had set out
from the kingdom of Kerry, fiddle under arm and
masterpiece in pocket, with so much confidence to
seek his fortune only a few short months before.
Then he was going to conquer London, to eclipse
the triumphs of Mr. Moore, to gather in handfuls
of golden guineas, to see the world in worship at
his feet. Now, as he shivered there in his rags in
203



THE FAIR IRISH MAID

the warm drawing-room, a piteous ruin, it was
plain that he had failed in the struggle, it was plain
that however the struggle had been carried on,
with what expense of energy, with what device of
strategy, the result to him had been catastrophe,
all his rose-colored hopes drowned and damned in
black, overmastering disaster.

But it was not at the first blush, and only after
a little while, that Grania was able to realize the
plight to which the passing of so short a space had
had the power to reduce her lover. For the mo-
ment she only comprehended that he was there,
Dennis Tirowen, Dennis of the Sweet Mouth, her
Dennis, that she had found him, that he was alive,
and that the aching anxiety of the past months
had come to an end. She clung to him closely
naming his name again and again in a tender
ecstasy of delight, as if the mere sound of those
sweet syllables repeated over and over again ex-
pressed to the full all the sorrow of which she had
drunk so deep and all the joy which she was now
so eager to taste. At once fiercely and tenderly
she blessed him with caresses, to which very strange-
ly the man seemed almost unwilling to respond,
though he murmured her name softly from time to
time.

At length Grania released Dennis from her arms

and looking steadily upon him, understood the

bitter pass to which he had come, saw with clear,

sad vision against the glowing background of the

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MOODY FOOD

stately golden room the sorry figure of the poor
musician with his drenched and tattered garments,
his degraded bearing, his unkempt locks, and his
wan, worn features. It was miserably plain that
he was hungry; it was miserably plain that he was
cold. His soiled hands, his stubbled cheeks and
chin were raw-red with the rigor of the night, his
clothes were soaked with snow. A fierce pity surged
through Crania's heart as her clear gaze showed her
mercilessly the miserable truth. She could not bear
to think that her lover had come to this, that he had
been suffering such cruel buffets, while she had been
so favored by fortune, and that he had suffered
alone, when, at a word, at a sign, she would have so
gladly come to his aid.

What indeed were to her his rags, his squalor ?
She clung to him, loving, caressing, and he suffered
her tenderness listlessly, looking wistfully about him
like a scared animal in a strange place. She ques-
tioned him eagerly now that she had him to herself,
staring passionately into his face and striving to fix
his wandering, furtive gaze with her steadfast, eager
eyes.

"Oh, Dennis, Dennis," she cried, "it is the happy
woman I am to hold you in my arms. What have
you been doing all this weary while ? Why have
you kept silence ? Why have you kept hidden from
me that have been hunting you so hotly ? And, oh,
my dear, why are you like this, and on such a
night?"

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THE FAIR IRISH MAID

The man seemed to struggle with the heaviness
of his mood. He was acting as a man might who
had lost consciousness and was being slowly re-
called to knowledge of the living world. He tried
to speak, and failed; then tried again, and suc-
ceeded.

"My little Grania," he said, with a groan, "things
have gone ill with me since we parted. I was to
make my fortune, wasn't I ? Well, these rags are
my fortune/'

He indicated his dismal apparel with a gesture
that for all its intended humility had something in
it too of vainglory strangely ill-fitting. In his
voice, too, even while he made confession, there was
a note of sullen defiance against which Grania shut
her ears.

"My poor, dear love," she pleaded. "Tell me
all about it. What is the meaning of it all ?"

The man gave an ugly shudder, and there was an
ugly bitterness in his voice as he answered. "Sure,
fortune played leapfrog with me, just to jump into
your arms it seems. I was going to win the world
and lay it at your feet, no less, and now it's you
that are the great lady and I the beggar at your
gate."

Grania laid a swift hand on his mouth. "Hush!
love," she whispered, "you mustn't talk like that.
What does it matter which of us has got the silly
shillings and guineas so long as we have each other
again at last."

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MOODY FOOD

Dennis shook his head wearily. The sullen look
on his face had faded to one of extreme fatigue.
He shivered, and she saw how his gaze was fixed
upon the glowing hearth. Taking Dennis by the
arm she drew him, unresisting, toward the fire and
made him plump himself down in the most com-
fortable of the many comfortable chairs that neigh-
bored the blaze. "Warm yourself, Dennis darling/'
she commanded, "and don't talk for a while, till I
have found something to comfort you." Dennis,
huddled among the cushions, and extending his
grimy fingers greedily toward the glowing hearth,
seemed to yield passively to her sweet imperiousness.
She watched him for a moment, so changed, so
pathetic, so abject, with eyes that threatened to
brim with tears.

But Grania was never a one for weeping if there
were anything better to do, and here she recognized
matter more imperative. She rang the bell, and
when the servant came it may have been John, it
may have been Thomas, Mr. Redacre does not en-
lighten us she told him to bring a bottle of port
and some sandwiches. True to the traditions of his
tribe, John or Thomas heard the order with
unchanged countenance; looked, without seeming
to look, at the queer, squalid figure crouching in his
rags over the fire, and quitted the room in good
order. What he said to Thomas, if he were John
or what he said to John, if he were Thomas may
readily be imagined. Whatever he said he said it
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THE FAIR IRISH MAID

with commendable brevity before conveying to the
butler Crania's order and its cause. In a very few
minutes the port and the sandwiches rested on a
table in the great room, Dennis and Grania were
alone again, and below stairs the parliament of the
servants' hall was in full session.

During the short interval in which the order for
food and drink was being obeyed Dennis said
nothing, but sat hunched forward, still staring at
the fire and the flames, while the heat from the
hearth, acting upon his snow-sodden garments, drew
from them a mist of steam. Grania, watching him
lovingly, respected his silence. She saw nothing
repulsive in the shabby wretch that cowered there,
his rags mocking the damask; she chose rather to
consider that his presence graced the room, bringing
with it, as it did into her world of artifice and in-
trigue, the spirit whose presence had so long been
missing, the spirit of love. Crania's heart yearned
over her soiled and battered lover; if any thought
of all the fine gentlemen she knew, all the fine gen-
tlemen who toasted her and wooed her, came into
her mind, it was to the disadvantage of the gang
of dandies and their kind, and to the advantage of
the poor waif and stray from Kerry. Her flowing
sorrow for him had in it no bitter water of scorn.
He was her man, was just her thought; he was her
man come back to her. What could it matter how
he came ? He could be no dearer to her if he out-
vied Mr. Brummell in the exquisite fastidiousness
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MOODY FOOD

of his attire; how could he be less dear though he
were garbed after a fashion that would discredit a
rag-picker. There were tears in her heart if she
suffered none to shine in her eyes, and the pure
fountain of her pity flowed only in love for Dennis.



I WON'T MARRY YOU, MY PRETTY MAID

A 5 the door closed behind the servant who had
brought the wine and food that Grania had
ordered, and even as Grania was in the act of pour-
ing out a glass of port, Dennis, that had kept so still
for a few minutes, shifted from his crouching posi-
tion over the fire and turned his face toward her.
Firelight was on it, candlelight was on it, and even
Crania's affection could not deny that the expression
they revealed was far from pleasing. There was a
snarling air about the mouth, where the drawn-back
lips displayed the teeth almost threateningly; there
was a quarrelsome look in the eyes that had sud-
denly brightened at the sight of food and drink.
He made her think for an instant of some fierce,
voracious animal that was hungry for its prey. What
had he done, she wondered, what had he suffered,
what had he endured to bring him to this pass ?
She shivered in the warm room, feeling suddenly
cold with his cold, and famished with his famine,
grimly understanding what hunger and cold might
do to break down a man. Before she could ad-
vance toward him, ministering wine, he spoke, and
the sound of his voice was bitter as a taunt,
Zip



I WON'T MARRY YOU

"Won't your fine servants think it strange of
you," he sneered, "sheltering and cherishing a poor
wretch like me ?"

The words were unworthy of his utterance, of
her hearing, but she forgave him; rather she took
his state of mind for granted, and found that there
was nothing for her to forgive. She carried some
sandwiches to him on a plate.

"I don't think we need trouble ourselves about
that, dear one," she said, gently. She made him
eat a couple of the sandwiches, which he did wolf-
ishly, and yet with the kind of difficulty natural to
one that has fasted overlong. Then she gave him
a glass of wine and waited until he had drunk it in
two fierce, feverish gulps. Then she spoke again.
"Now tell me all about it, darling."

He reached out his hand for more food, and ate
it. He reached out his hand for more drink, and
drank it. Then he answered, with a defiance that
was meant to be heroic, and that somehow seemed
histrionic. "The tale of a failure is easily told.
I'm not the first fool that thought the world was his
for the winning and found himself in the gutter."
He gave another scornful, sweeping gesture over
his sordid accoutrements. So might a fallen king
call attention to his soiled ermine.

Grania saw and would not see. If it were pos-
sible she felt more tender for his tragic-comic woe.
"But why didn't you write to me, my love?"
she murmured. "Was it kind of you to leave
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THE FAIR IRISH MAID

me with the hunger in my heart all this sad
while ?"

Dennis turned his head away and stared at the
fire. He felt that he resembled Napoleon at Elba,
felt that he, too, had lost an empire. "I told you,"
he said, gloomily, "that I was going to be still until
I had won my victory. I thought, God help me! I
would be soon in the winning it. But I hadn't
landed on English soil before my troubles began."

There was a world of indignant pathos in his
voice. Grania gave him another glass of port,
which he drank more slowly than its predecessors.
Then she questioned him tenderly. "How was
that, Dennis darling ?"

Dennis made a grimace. "Everything went
against me from the beginning," he complained.
"There was bad company on board the very boat
that I took, though it seemed pleasant enough when
I made acquaintance with it. Sure, it began with a
glass of punch, and it passed to a hand at cards, and
by this and by that, before we touched land I had
made a big hole in the bag of money that was to
keep me going for a year."

Grania gave a little cry. For all she was an
O'Hara to begin with, for all that she had lived so
queenly this length of time and seen money scat-
tered so lavishly, she shared the peasant's sense of
sorrow for a wasted hoard. "Oh, Dennis darling,"
she wailed, "however did you come to let that
happen ?"

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I WON'T MARRY YOU

Dennis, hugging his grief, but visibly thawed by
the warmth and the wine, wore the air of one that
was the fool of fortune. "They were card sharpers,
no less," he confessed, sheepishly; "but what could
I do. I shook my fist in their faces, and they laughed
in mine, and so we parted. And there was I in a
strange land, alone and forlorn. I tramped to Lon-
don oh, the weary walk it was! and fell among
thieves by the way, in a tavern I put up at, that
lightened me of the most of the little I had left.
When I stormed in the morning the landlord was
for pushing me out of doors and I was for knocking
him down, and then they sent for the constable, and
I, being a stranger in a strange land, took to my
heels. And so, by this and by that I came, in good
time or in bad time, to London, heavier of heart,
emptier of purse, but still coming to London. I
thought that when I would be entering London I
would be entering heaven, in a way of speaking.
But it proved to be entering hell."

Crania was close beside him now, seated on the
elbow of his chair with one arm about his neck and
one hand stroking the tangle of his wet, matted hair.
"My poor dear!" she sighed.

Dennis, now that he had found his voice, seemed
willing enough to use it, as if the sound of it pleased
him, as if he found a kind of pleasure in the telling
of his pains. He continued his narrative. "After
wandering about for Heaven knows how long," he
said, " I found a bit of a lodging off a place they call

15 213



THE FAIR IRISH MAID

Holborn, and I set to work for I wasn't so broken-
spirited then to make my fortune, save the mark."

Grania caressed him lovingly. "My dear, my
dear!" she murmured.

Dennis scarcely seemed to feel the touch of her
hand upon his hair, scarcely seemed to hear the
sweet music of her speech, as he went on with his
tale. " I made fair copies of my play, my poor play,
my * Buried City/ and I sent one to each of the
managers. I called myself by an English name to
evade their prejudice John Smith was the name I
pitched upon and I craved the favor of an early
answer. But do you think that e'er a word the
villains ever answered ? Devil a bit."

Grania glowed with anger against such ingrati-
tude. "The shame of it!" she protested.

Dennis went on, apparently indifferent to every-
thing except the record of his wrongs. "I waited
at the stage-doors till my legs ached, me that was
the most tireless walker in Kerry, but never could
get speech with one of the rogues. And I tried the
men that publish music, but none of them would
so much as listen to me when they found tha't I
couldn't afford to have my tune printed. And my
shoes wore out, and my clothes wore out, and my
money wore out, and my heart wore out."

Grania could scarcely restrain her tears as she lis-
tened to this dreary story. " But how have you lived,
darling ?" she asked, anxiously. Her swift wit inter-
preted and intensified all the griefs that he related,
214



I WON'T MARRY YOU

and in sharp contrast to them she set up, almost in
self-accusation, the wonder of her own condition.

The frown on the face of Dennis deepened.
"How have I lived, is it?" he asked, bitterly.
" How have I lived ? Listen to me and I will tell
you. One day I was drifting home to my lodgings,
hungry, and cold, and wet with the wicked rain.
I had my fiddle under my arm, and as I passed a
tavern some fellows that stood at the door called to
me to play them a tune. I was ashamed to do it,
but I was empty and chill, and I did, and they gave
me some pence my first earnings and they gave
me some drink, which warmed me, and, as I began,
so I went on. I play outside taverns for pennies and
I sleep in a garret with my fiddle in my arms, my
fiddle that keeps my body and soul together."

Grania drew his head close to her bosom and held
it there. "Oh, Dennis, Dennis!" she cried. "You
wring my heart. But did you never hear of what
happened to me ?"

Dennis gave a mocking laugh that sounded
strangely unpleasant rumbling hollowly from his
gaunt cheeks. "Oh, I heard of that sure enough,"
he said. "It got into the papers, and it made a
talk even so low down as the taverns where I served."

Grania twisted and bent where she sat so that
without leaving hold of him she could look into his
face. " Then why didn't you write to me, darling ? "
she said. "Wasn't my luck your luck? Wouldn't
we share and share alike ?"
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THE FAIR IRISH MAID

Dennis met her tender gaze angrily. "Is it the
beggar-man you would be wishing to see me, and me
with my pride ? Hadn't I come to London to make
a home for you, that was waiting for me in Ireland ?
And if I failed and stayed poor, and it pleased God
to make you rich, I was never the man to seek alms
of a woman, least of all the woman I was wishful to
make my wife."

Grania clung closer to him, crushing her silks
against his rags. "You can make me your wife
now, Dennis/* she whispered. "You shall forget
all your tribulations, and you shall be as happy as
the days are long."

Dennis answered her appeal more angrily still.
"What kind of sense are you talking, Grania, my
girl?" he cried. "Never would I wed the girl of
my heart if I couldn't afford to keep her decently.
Never would I consent to live on the bounty of my
wife. Do you think I have no pride, Grania ? Do
you think my spirit is broken entirely by this wicked
city?"

Grania shook her head. "Never ask me such
a question, my dear," she murmured, fondly.
"But sure it is no sin or shame for two lovers to
share a slice of luck that God has been pleased to
cut for them from the pudding of good fortune ?"

Dennis made a gesture expressive of flagrant im-
patience. "You are only a woman," he said, sour-
ly; "you wouldn't understand. I don't blame
you; but you wouldn't understand my pride."
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I WON'T MARRY YOU

Grania lifted herself a little away from his shoul-
der and stared at him amazed. "Do you mean to
tell me," she asked, "that you won't marry me,
Dennis marry me at once ?"

Dennis answered doggedly. "Of course I mean
to tell you that. I will never marry you, Grania,
until I can afford to keep you as a decent man's
wife should be kept."

"But think of it, Dennis, think of it!" Grania
pleaded. "Here am I as rich as Croesus, and with
no greater pleasure in my wealth than to put it all
into your pockets."

Dennis shook his head, and his face was mulish
in its obstinacy. "You are kindness itself, Grania,"
he said, "but it's no use arguing. Never a penny
of your money would I touch, never will I put the
ring upon your finger, till I have the right, as I mean
the right, to ask you to be my wife."

Grania gazed at him, saw the stubborn purpose
in his eyes. "You mean it, Dennis ?" she asked.

"I mean it, Grania," Dennis answered, steadily,
and there was a kind of dignity in his determination
that helped to redeem it in the girl's esteem.

"You are in the wrong," she said, and sighed.
" Heaven help us ! you are in the wrong. You would
have me take your money without question "

Dennis interrupted her. "Because I am a man.
There is the beginning and end of the matter. It's
no use, Grania; I know what I must do."


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