Justin H. (Justin Huntly) McCarthy.

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since the death of Charles the Ninth, and well-nigh
countryless save when the struggle with Napoleon
had reminded him that if he was a Jacobite he was-
also an Englishman the late Lord Ashford enter-
tained no company in St. James's Square. He
always dined alone in the great room, always drank
in solitude his loyal toasts, "The King Over the
Water" and "The Little Gentleman in Black
Velvet," and was found one night by his frightened
servants sitting very quiet at the head of his table
with a broken wine-glass in his hand. He had
drunk his last toast, he had entertained his last


guest. He left behind him his fame as a con-
noisseur, and his wonderful collections, and his
great wealth. The great wealth soon vanished
through the fingers of his heir, and the great col-
lections would have followed suit if it had not been
for the advent of My Lord Cloyne. Then the
family portraits, that had come so near to seeing no
more feasts, suddenly found themselves presiding
again over joyous and crowded banquets, and their
grave countenances seemed to soften and to smile
under the influence of the long unfamiliar lights,
the long unfamiliar laughter, the long unfamiliar
flow of wine and wit. But Mr. Fenny always in-
sisted that the portraits looked their pleasantest on
such an evening as this, of one of Crania's little
dinner parties, for then they were able with less
distraction to please themselves with staring at
Crania's beauty.

To-night the portraits looking down upon Crania
in her beauty looked also amiably enough on My
Lord Cloyne, as if they were aware that he had
saved them in their stations, and were accordingly
grateful. They looked down upon My Lady
Cloyne, still amazingly handsome; upon Lady
Doubble, very brisk and vivacious, as a woman
may well be that sits at a small table with no less
than three of her lovers.

At these small informal feasts of Crania's she was
never at the pains to preserve an equality of propor-
tion between her male guests and her female guests,


so the lords and ladies of the past, if the feast had
been carried out as Grania had originally planned
it, would have had no more women to stare at. But
at the last moment, after the resurrection of Dennis,
Grania had despatched messages here and there to
certain of her fashionable friends who might be
disengaged, inviting them to come to dinner and
meet a countryman of hers who was going to aston-
ish London. Invitations to Ashford House were
regarded as almost as obeyable as a royal command,
so most of Crania's missives hit the gold, and her
table to-night was more crowded and her banquet a
more elaborate business than she had intended.
The names of these newcomers do not concern this
chronicle, and even Mr. Redacre has only men-
tioned a few of them. The ancient portraits looked
upon them as steadily as they looked upon the others.
But this narrative is only concerned with those
familiar personages whom the portraits regarded.
Yet such interest as they showed did not seem to
suffer. They looked down upon Captain the Hon-
orable Curtius Loveless, very gallant and bland,
very careful to adore his hostess without for a mo-
ment allowing adoration to overpass the limits of
discretion and become impertinence. They looked
down upon Mr. Rubie, earnest and sturdy, full of
sympathy with the painted gentlemen with the
black bars of disfigurement across their persons
Cromwell and William of Orange were Mr. Rubie's
two great heroes of the past, as Mr. Burke and Mr.


FOX were his heroes of the present and very alertly
aware and resentful of Captain Loveless's adoration.
They looked down upon Mr. Peregrine Fenny, very
fine and bright, his eyes twinkling with suppressed
merriment at a comedy to which he alone of the
guests possessed a partial clue. They looked down
also and there ought to have been wonder in their
look upon a stranger to their fellowship, to their
traditions, their prejudices, upon a young man that
was handsome and handsomely clad, but that
for all his fine clothes came to their aristocratic
gaze plainly of a class that had never been privileged
to sit at table with gentlefolk at Ashford House be-
fore. Fellows of yeoman stock had proved ere now
that they had their place in English history, but that
place was at the heels of their liege lords when they
went a-fighting, at home or abroad, and never at the
side of those liege lords when they met at board and
passed the wine. In many a well-fought field
abroad, in many a well-fought field at home, the son
of the soil had done well for those he served at
Crecy and at Poictiers, for the White Rose or the
Red, at Agincourt and Orleans, for king or for
Parliament, for the Son of the Man or for the brewer,
for Monmouth, or for James. But the privilege to
be killed for a cause did not carry with it the
privilege to sit at meat with the captains of that
cause, and to be smiled on by their womankind.
This is why, to the whimsical mind, the family
portraits on the walls of the dining-room at Ash-


ford House seemed to look askance at Mr. Dennis
Tirowen, to discover his lack of gentility in spite of
his fine clothes, and to sneer at him superciliously.

Whatever the ancient portraits seemed to think
or whatever their originals very probably would
have thought of the appearance in their society of
such a one as Dennis Tirowen, it is certain that his
presence caused very mixed emotions among the
company who were seated at Crania's table that
night. With the exception of Mr. Fenny, that was
Crania's accomplice in her innocent little plot, only
Lord Cloyne and Mr. Rubie had consciously seen
Dennis before. My lord knew little more of Dennis
than he had admitted to Mr. Rubie in the course of
his conversation at the foot of the Round Tower, on
the memorable day of the change in Crania's con-
dition. Mr. Rubie knew what my lord had told
him, with such additional knowledge as his very
brief and scarcely agreeable interview with the man
that carried a fiddle had afforded. Both were now
very certainly surprised to find Dennis Tirowen in
town, a welcome guest at Ashford House and dressed
for all the world like a gentleman. Mr. Rubie
scented a mystification, and resented it. Why
should a Kerry farmer, he asked himself sourly, be
suddenly transformed into a London dandy, unless
at Miss O'Hara's pleasure and at Miss O'Hara's
cost. Jealousy gnawed at his vitals; but though he
was not aware of the fact, he did not suffer alone.

Lord Cloyne and his lady accepted Dennis on


Crania's presentation with imperturbable affability.
They too felt sure that Grania was paying the way
of the young Kerry farmer. They would have cared
little if Grania had been a different kind of woman.
Had she been as wanton as fashionable, her enter-
tainment of a rustic lover would have been no more
than a laughable natural serio-comic pastoral such
as any fine lady had a right to indulge in if it pleased
her whim. But my lord and lady knew Crania's
impeccable virtue, and in consequence feared the

Captain Curtius showed no signs of care at the
presence of the stranger, but his temper raged behind
the shelter of his smiling face. He was skilled to
read the thoughts of women, and he guessed at once
that Crania's thoughts of the newcomer were very
kind if not the kindest. He had for so long be-
lieved himself to be steering a safe course to a likely
haven that this sudden menace to his prospects
for he knew it to be a menace startled and amazed
him. He showed no signs, however, of either per-
turbation or annoyance, but greeted Mr. Tirowen
with a charming show of amiability and caught an
opportunity to whisper in Crania's ear some words
in praise of Dennis's appearance. His words
pleased Grania, and her pleasure enraged the speak-
er, but he kept his irritation to himself. He was a
good player at all the games of life, and could en-
counter a run of ill-luck with tireless patience and
a smiling face. Up to this moment he had feared


no ill-luck in the cunning course of his wooing of
the Irish heiress. He had seen no rival who was for
a moment to be feared; he knew that Grania was
more than inclined to like him, even that she did
positively like him. Captain Curtius was skilful
in the wiles which win a man the liking of women,
but he knew that the wiles are not the same for all
birds, and he baited his snare for Grania with that
air of comradeship, of brotherliness, which had thus
far served him so well. But now, as it seemed, just
when everything was going so well, his precious
plan was menaced by the irruption of this wild
fellow from Ireland, about whom Lord Cloyne was
able to give him a little whispered information just
before dinner. Captain Curtius, comparing him-
self with Dennis, was not alarmed by the com-
parison, but he was annoyed at having to make it,
and he watched and waited for the chance to do
the intruder an ill turn.

Mr. Pointdexter, beholding Dennis for the first
time and well aware of Miss O'Hara's interest in
him, studied the young man closely, without appear-
ing to pay him more than the most casual attention.
No hint of what Mr. Pointdexter may have thought
of the poet showed itself on his impassive counte-
nance, but he had been careful on being presented to
Dennis in the drawing-room to greet him with a
display of amiability which was unusual in the
lawyer, and for which Grania rewarded him with
a grateful glance.



As for Grania, she appeared to be quite contented
with the appearance and demeanor of her lover.
In her place as hostess she watched Dennis from
afar with an expression in which approval of his
bearing, under conditions so unfamiliar and un-
expected, mingled with a humorous appreciation of
the little comedy which her sudden impulse had
improvised. It did not occur to her that her in-
terest in Dennis would be no secret to any keen
observer, and if it had it would not have altered
her action in the least. She was too glad to have
Dennis back again, restored to her from the un-
known, to care if her gladness was evident to others.
So she allowed her admiration to show itself un-
checked, quite content to let others see it if they
chose, so long as Dennis was aware of it and
was encouraged by it to face his unusual or-

There could be no doubt that the appearance of
the young man, affecting those present in different
degrees of attraction or the reverse, had made a
profound impression upon the susceptible mind of
Lady Doubble. As the antiquarian banker was not
present, Lady Doubble had no need to exercise any
restraint over her feelings, and she allowed her ad-
miration for the stranger to manifest itself in many
expressing and approving glances after the first
moment when she caught sight of him. Lady
Doubble had a wide range of taste and a receptive
heart, and she was always ready at any moment


to find a place in it for any commendable gentle-
man, but not for a long time had she felt so much
enthusiasm as she experienced in studying the
handsome face and fine figure of Dennis as he
showed himself in Crania's golden room decked
out in his borrowed splendor. To do her justice,
if Dennis had come into her presence clad in the
shabby clothes he had so lately discarded she
would have been scarcely, if at all, less willing to
admire him and make her admiration patent. But
Dennis figged out in the brilliant plumage vouch-
safed to him by Mr. Fenny was able to display him-
self to the best possible advantage, and Lady
Doubble ogled him in a rapture. She had insisted
in the drawing-room on his being presented to her
at once, and immediately made a dead set at

Dennis, desperately struggling with the shyness
inevitable to such a spirit in such a situation, found
himself pretty soon at ease with the lady. She was
still young, she was still good-looking, and she made
him flagrantly aware that she appreciated his own
good looks. There is always something compli-
mentary in being made violent love to by a pretty
woman, and, though Dennis had no experience of the
type of wooer that Lady Doubble represented, he
was not unwilling to take a hand in the game. An
Irishman, and above all an Irishman that is by way
of being a poet, can generally manage to say
gracious words to a gracious woman, and when the


lava of Lady Doubble's admiration had thawed the
last icicle of Dennis's reserve the two began to get
on together very well indeed. Curtius Loveless
looked on and smiled. He was too old a friend of
Lady Doubble's not to understand all the manoeuvers
of her intrigues. Mr. Fenny, that had been, and,
indeed, still was, one of Lady Doubble's favorites,
also looked on and also smiled. Grania for her
part was amused and not annoyed. It would never
have occurred to her to object to her lover carrying
himself gallantly toward an admiring woman. She
was perfectly aware of Lady Doubble's wishes and
hopes, but she had every confidence in Dennis and
no fear for the results.

Lady Doubble's attentions during the progress of
the meal had had a great effect in putting Dennis
at his ease in this his first appearance in fine com-
pany and in spiriting him with the self-confidence
that was necessary to carry him to success. But its
extravagancies had another effect that was not so
fortunate. His quick and impressionable nature,
responding loudly to any stimulus, began, as it were,
to reciprocate the extravagance of his companion,
and when his original diffidence had shifted into
assurance the assurance increased to a somewhat
aggressive self-assertion. At the beginning, while
his shyness was still thick upon him, he had carried
himself with reticence and discretion, and the
modesty of his bearing commended itself to the
most critical of his spectators. But under Lady

17 245


Doubble's influence he began to change for the
worse. Having learned to talk freely, he now began
to talk noisily, to laugh more loudly than he should,
to gesticulate with unnecessary vehemence.



RANIA did not have cause to mark the de-
clension of Dennis. In the first place because
she was in no mood to mark anything to his or any
man's disadvantage in that hour. Her heart was
dancing mad with happiness, her mouth was singing
mad with mirth. If Dennis were, indeed, drifting
perilously toward the uncharted seas of ebriety,
shall it be denied that Grania was a little intoxicated
too, and with a headier influence than wine ? The
girl was, as it might be said, wonder-drunk; her
spirits were wild and merry, and if she rejoiced in
the return of the prodigal she rejoiced also in the
comic effects of that return upon the company that
were privileged to witness it and eat veal. She
could guess well enough what every one at the table
was thinking every one, that is, with the exception
of Mr. Pointdexter, whose thoughts were never
lightly legible. It diverted her to dwell upon the
irritation, the mystification, the consternation that
were concealed by the smooth faces around her
the Cloynes, Captain Curtius, Mr. Rubie, Lady
Doubble she could interpret with ease the effect


that the appearance of Dennis had upon them, and
the interpretation amused her. It amused her so
much that it served to distract her attention from
the waxing hilarity of Dennis. If she noticed at all
that he grew in gaiety, she was no more than con-
tent, for she came of a breed of women that like
their lovers to be jovial and show a bold front.

Yet she must perforce have discerned the over-
growth of Dennis's mirth but for an intervening
circumstance. As the dinner drew to its close the
butler came to Crania's chair and whispered to her
that Mr. Heritage had arrived. Now, Grania did
not wish to ask Mr. Heritage to join the party in
the dining-room, as she desired to have some private
talk with him before bringing him and Dennis to-
gether. Therefore she sent word that she would be
obliged if Mr. Heritage would attend her in the
Silver Saloon. A few minutes later she caught
Lady Cloyne's eye, and Lady Cloyne, reading her
purpose, rose, and the ladies left the gentlemen to
their wine. Grania established Lady Cloyne and
Lady Doubble with her other women guests in the
Gold Room, explained her necessity of leaving
them for a few minutes, and went to join Mr.

Mr. Heritage rose as Grania entered and ad-
vanced to meet her. Grania saw that he carried a
roll of paper in his hand.

"Madam," he cried, triumphantly, "I have found
the play."



" Sir," Crania cried, more triumphantly still, " I
have found the author."

To ease the astonishment painted on the mana-
ger's face, Grania told him what had happened, or,
rather, told him a version of what had happened.
She said nothing of her lover's trials, of his poverty,
of his rags. She merely said that he had been
abroad and unable on account of his health to com-
municate with his friends, but that he was now
in London, where he intended to remain for the

Mr. Heritage expressed his satisfaction at the
news and congratulated Grania in this fortunate and
timely solution of the problem that had distressed
her. He on his side had been lucky enough to find
the play after a very brief search among his papers
at the theater. At that moment he held in his hand
the manuscript of "The Buried City."

Grania looked at him and at the manuscript he
brandished eagerly. Had he examined it? she
asked; had he formed an opinion as to its merits ?

Mr. Heritage, it seemed, had done both. He had
read the play very carefully, and as the result of his
study he had formed a very decided opinion upon
it. That opinion was apparently highly favorable
to "The Buried City" as a poetical composition,
and even as a piece intended for dramatic repre-

Crania's cheeks glowed with pleasure as she heard
him speak thus, but her elation was suddenly tem-


pered by a rapid change in Mr. Heritage's manner.
The manager appeared constrained; it was evident
that he had less pleasant words to say. Pressed by
Grania to explain himself, he declared, after some
little hesitation, that the difficulty that lay in the way
of his producing the play at the Rotundo, much as
he would like to do so, was that "The Buried City"
would be a very expensive piece to put on the stage.
If it were not done full justice to in the matter of
costumes and scenery, its chances of success would
be gravely imperiled. If it were done full justice to
in the matter of costumes and scenery it would in-
volve a risk too great for Mr. Heritage to permit
himself to take.

Grania listened quietly while the manager told his
tale, asked a few questions which proved she had a
practical mind even in dealing with matters that
were unfamiliar to her, and then made Mr. Heritage
a straightforward proposal. She would find all the
money for the most lavish production imaginable of
"The Buried City" and for the payment of certain
generous sums to the author, who was, of course, to
know nothing of Crania's interest in the under-
taking. She would further undertake to guarantee
Mr. Heritage against any loss in connection with
the production of the piece, which he was to keep on
the boards for a certain time, whether the public
came or stayed away.

Mr. Heritage, after a few seconds' consideration,
indulged in for form's sake, accepted this amazing


and advantageous proposal. To do him justice, he
would not have entertained the proposition if he
had thought "The Buried City" a bad piece. But
he thought it quite a good piece. It was out of the
common; but Mr. Heritage had intelligence enough,
in the first place, to recognize that this was not
necessarily in itself a defect, and in the second place,
to rejoice at the opportunity thus unexpectedly
afforded him of being able to produce an uncom-
mon play on the boards of the Rotundo, and thus
gain all the credit of an act of intellectual daring at
no expense whatever to himself. So he assured
Grania that he would carry out her wishes most
carefully, that he would make Mr. Tirowen the most
favorable offers for the right to produce his piece,
and that he would keep the fact of his collusion with
Grania the most profound secret. These prelimi-
naries being agreed to between the two high contract-
ing parties, Mr. Heritage accepted his hostess's
invitation to accompany her to the Gold Room and
drink there his promised cup of coffee.



MR. HERITAGE had scarcely settled himself
comfortably to his coffee and the companion-
ship of the ladies a companionship in which he
ever believed himself destined to excel when the
noise of ascending feet upon the stair and the buzz
of mounting voices announced that the gentlemen
had left the dining-room and their wine. In an-
other minute they entered the room in very differ-
ing conditions of spirit. To consider only those
essential to the narrative, Mr. Pointdexter and Mr.
Rubie were, as was their wont, as cool and sober
as when they had sat down to table. My lord and
his brother, as was their wont, had drunk deeply,
but carried their liquor gallantly and showed no
marked signs of their potations. Indeed, there was
only one of the company that seemed distinctly
changed since the beginning of the banquet, and
that one unfortunately was Dennis Tirowen. The
poor devil was really more to be pitied than blamed
for what had happened.

After the ladies had quitted the table, Dennis,
deprived of the support of Lady Double, felt some-


thing of his early embarrassment returning to him
when he found himself alone with the men. To
repress this embarrassment he rapidly responded
to the offers of wine with which he was plied by
Captain Curtius, who meant to be mischievous.
My Lord Cloyne looked on and smiled faintly, not
disapproving. He resented the presence of this
Kerry bumpkin for so he styled him and was
willing enough to see him degraded in the eyes of
his hostess. As for Mr. Fenny, he perceived a
divided duty. He knew that Grania would wish
him to act well toward her queer friend, but on the
other hand he had his own interests to consider, and
his own interests ran with those of Captain Curtius,
and were intimately associated with a promised
thousand pounds. Wherefore he made no serious
effort to keep Dennis sober.

Mr. Rubie drank little; Mr. Pointdexter drank
little; my lord drank much and carried it well.
Dennis was in dangerous case. He had intended
when he came to Ashford House to be very wary
with respect to the wine-cup, but his intentions had
steadily melted away under the influence of good
cheer and a show of good-fellowship, and as his
eyes brightened and his cheeks flushed he became
momentarily more demonstrative and more asser-
tive. If he had been gay enough when Grania and
the ladies had quitted the room, he grew gayer
thereafter, and was no less than rotten ripe when
the time came to leave the dining-room.


As soon as the gentlemen entered the room
Grania rose, and, advancing toward Dennis, laid
her hand gently upon his arm. She noticed that
his cheeks were flushed and that his eyes sparkled,
but such were too much the customary signs by
which fine gentlemen were wont in those days to
convey to a hostess their approval of their cheer
to strike Grania as peculiar. It was the mode to
drink much at meals; it did not occur to Grania
to expect that Dennis would do other than his fellows
did; if she had thought about the matter at all she
would have expected him neither to abstain nor to

"Dennis," she said, exultantly, "Mr. Heritage is
here. Mr. Heritage is most anxious to speak with

As a matter of fact, Dennis had more or less for-
gotten about Mr. Heritage. His wine-kindled
spirits, flattered by the reception his sallies had been
accorded in the dining-room, led him to accept
himself already as an approved social success, and
he saw himself mounting in the course of a sin-
gle evening the throne of Mr. Moore without any
troublesome need of presenting credentials. It had
been his intention on returning to the drawing-
room to regain the neighborhood of Lady Doubble
and to renew the interrupted conversation that he
had found so attractive below-stairs. It was not

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Online LibraryJustin H. (Justin Huntly) McCarthyThe fair Irish maid → online text (page 14 of 20)