Justin H. (Justin Huntly) McCarthy.

The fair Irish maid online

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whistles, cat-calls, and kindred noise-compelling
instruments, and played upon them with all the
strength of their lungs, till the air reeled and sickened
with the hideous cacophony. Maddened by this


infernal music, the heady battle would continue,
violence intensifying violence, brutality accumulat-
ing, savagery increasing, in the fever of the fight.
Coats were torn off, shirts rent to ribbons, wigs
tossed high in air. On all sides noses were bleeding,
eyes were blackened, lips were split, and knuckles
barked, and the bedlam of battle persisted so long as
the act endured.

But the moment that the last word of the act was
spoken, the moment, rather, that the unfortunate
actor or actress had made what appeared to be his
or her last pantomimic gesture, and that the green
curtain rumbled down dividing the mimic sorrows
of the stage from the real passion of the pit, at that
moment, as if by magic, all signs of hostility ceased.
Tin whistles were silenced, brandished bludgeons
and lifted canes were lowered, antagonists paused
in the very instant of putting in an ugly left, damaged
garments were recaptured and were hurriedly re-
sumed, missing wigs hastily sought for, places re-
occupied, and something of the ordinary demeanor of
a well-bred pit restored. At the same time the sated
spectators in boxes and balcony resumed their
sanity and their seats and their customary decorous
manner. An ordinary observer who might happen
to enter the theater at that moment, unless he were
keen to notice the heated countenances of the pitites
and here and there a man holding a blood-stained
handkerchief to his countenance, might not be aware
that anything out of the common was toward.



"QO the high jinks go on," Mr. Bowley observed.
O "Why, even the presence of the Prince Regent
to-night has done nothing to allay the feud."

Mr. Shadd tickled his chin thoughtfully with the
top of his pencil. "What amazes me," he said,
"is why old Heritage goes on with it."

Bowley nodded agreement with Mr. Shadd's
amazement. "He swears he will never give way,"
he said, "and that he doesn't care how much it

Mr. Shadd's look of thoughtfulness deepened.
"It certainly is odd," he said, "for on the first night
old Heritage seemed in a mortal funk, and I thought
he would undoubtedly throw up the sponge the next

Mr. Bowley laughed and was about to complete
a sentence to the effect that Mr. Heritage was a rum
customer, when a warning glance from Mr. Shadd
stayed him. Mr. Shadd was seated so that he could
see the door, and he saw the handle turn. Now
the door opened and Mr. Heritage appeared in the
opening. Behind him, faint and far off, like ances-


tral voices prophesying war, came a fresh breath of
the distant fury. Mr. Heritage himself did not
appear to be at all distressed. He greeted his vis-
itors with a certain amount of cordiality, for Shadd,
of The Whistle, and Bowley, of The Scourge,
were men to be reckoned with, and, under the troub-
led conditions, he had given them the run of the
theater. In reply to their queries he replied that he
was no whit distressed by the persistence of the
riots. He damned the rogues freely and fully
enough, but he insisted that nothing would induce
him to give way an inch before the clamors of the

"In the cause of justice," he protested, "in the
higher interests of the drama, I am prepared to

As he spoke he aired the nobility of Laocoon
grappling with the serpent. "A masterpiece shall
not be cried down by ignorance and insensibility
so long as I can afford to defend it."

"Come, come, Mr. Heritage," Shadd commented
with a sneer. "On your honor, sir, as between
man and man, is 'The Buried City' a masterpiece ?"

"You have seen it, sir," Mr. Heritage answered
stiffly; "you can judge for yourself."

"That is all I have done," Shadd answered
with unwonted and reluctant truthfulness. "Your
damned pit has never allowed me to hear a word of
it. But regarding it purely as a pantomime, hang
me if I can make head or tail of it."
33 1


"It's a rigmarole," Bowley shouted, quite uncon-
scious that he was making an ass of himself. "That's
what I call it, a rigmarole."

Mr. Heritage drew himself up and regarded the
two journalists with the look which he felt would be
appropriate to Caesar at the moment when he de-
cided to cross the Rubicon or Hannibal when he
decided to cross the Alps.

"Opinions differ, gentlemen," he said, coldly.
" I have my opinion, and I stand by it, and no noisy
mob shall bluster me out of it."

Bowley dimpled his pasty face with a hideous
grin, and made a gesture as of applauding the heroic
manager with his fat, damp, dirty hands.

"I never thought you were that kind of man, Mr.
Heritage," he said. "I always took you to be the
ideal man of business."

Mr. Bowley hoped that Mr. Heritage would wince
at his words, but to his disappointment Mr. Heritage
merely smiled smugly.

" So I am, sir, so I am," he insisted. " But in this
instance business and pleasure are twins."

"I don't quite see that, Mr. Heritage," Shadd
said with a sneer.

Mr. Heritage caughthim up briskly. "Don't you ?"
he cried proudly. " Every night we play to capacity."

Mr. Bowley looked reprovingly at the great man.
"But the scandal," he suggested.

Mr. Heritage answered him, briskly and briefly.
"Oh, damn the scandal!" he said.


Mr. Bowley and Mr. Shadd eyed the manager
with a curious interest. Here was a Heritage that
was new to them, a Heritage that to all appear-
ance was perfectly sane, and yet that really seemed
to be indifferent to riot so long as he championed a
deserving work of art. What could be the meaning
of it ? The problem perplexed them.

"What news from the seat of war ?" Mr. Shadd
asked carelessly, to cover his surprise.

"The curtain will be down in a few minutes,"
Mr. Heritage answered. "Of course not a word of
the act has been heard, as usual. Half the Fancy
are fighting it out in the pit under the very eyes of the
Prince Regent."

"I didn't see much of it to-night," Shadd ad-
mitted. "The moment that I saw that the presence
of His Royal Highness made no difference to the
rioters I came in here to write my account quietly
and get to bed early. How does His Royal High-
ness seem to take it ?"

Mr. Heritage smiled a broad smile. "Why,"
he said, "he laughs and claps as if he were at a cock-
fight." But he stopped laughing for a minute when
he saw Mr. Brummell in the Dandies' Omnibus.
Lord Byron is here, too, and Hook all the tribe,

While this edifying conversation was being carried

on there came to Mr. Heritage's ears a sound which

he had expected to hear. It came from behind the

picture of Talma and seemed to be a faint scratching



noise. It was plain to Mr. Heritage's accustomed
sense, though it did not attract the attention of either
Mr. Bowley or Mr. Shadd. It acted upon Mr.
Heritage as an imperative signal that summoned
him to be alone. Mr. Heritage lost no time in
making it plain to the pair of journalists that he was
more in need of their room than their company.
But he contrived to gild the pill, to temper the grief
of parting. He went to a desk that stood on a small
side table, unlocked it, and drew forth two small
paper packages, which he placed in his waistcoat
pockets. Then he locked the desk, and, turning,
addressed his unsavory guests again.

"My friends," he said, "His Royal Highness has
intimated to me that on the conclusion of the next
act he will probably do me the honor of visiting my
room and partaking of a little refreshment in the
company of the ladies and gentlemen who usually
frequent it. Under the circumstances, therefore, I
think it must be evident that I am compelled to
wish you good evening."

"I met His Royal Highness," Bowley observed,
"once at a turn-up at Sam Dango's. His Royal
Highness, who had been drinking, was good enough
to ask me to stand out of the way and be damned to

"I met His Royal Highness," said Shadd, "one

night at Luker's oyster-shop in the Haymarket. I

was there on business working up a case against

young Lord Lustleigh. His Royal Highness noticed



me, I know, for he whispered something to Hellgate
Barrymore, who was with him, and the pair laughed

The two journalists seemed to be much pleased
by their recollections, which, however, failed to im-
press Mr. Heritage.

"Wherever you may have met His Royal High-
ness," he said, dryly, "you are not going to meet him
here. Good-night, Shadd; good-night, Bowley."

As he spoke these words of farewell his fingers
traveled to his waistcoat pockets, and as he clasped
the two journalists successively by the hands he
dexterously transferred into the palm of each one of
the small packets that he had taken from his desk.
Mr. Bowley felt the pleasant pressure of coins, Mr.
Shadd felt the pleasant pressure of coins. The pair
murmured their farewells and rapidly departed by
the passage that conducted to the stage-door.

When they had gone Mr. Heritage crossed the
room toward the picture of Talma, and touched the
spring. The picture moved slowly back, and Gra-
nia O'Hara entered the room.



was looking pale, and even a little
care-worn, which seemed strange in one on
whose cheeks the blush of Irish roses had bloomed
so bravely. But her manner was gay as she smiled
on Mr. Heritage, who salaamed to her.

"Well," she said, "how is it going ?"

Mr. Heritage shrugged his shoulders. "Worse
than ever," he said with a cheerfulness that he
would certainly not have worn if the rioting had cost
him as much as one red penny. He was silent for a
moment while he aided Grania to disembarrass her-
self of her cloak, and handed her to a chair. Then
he asked her the question which he had asked her
every night since the second night of the perform-
ance of "The Buried City."

"You still mean to go on ?"

Grania was looking very dainty and fair in an
evening gown of a chastened gorgeousness that had
just been the most admired garment at the dinner
at the great house which she had quitted to come to
the Rotundo. She laughed at the manager's un-
necessary formality.



"My dear Mr. Heritage," she said, "we will go
on until we win and secure a hearing for 'The
Buried City/"

"It will take some time, I'm thinking," Mr.
Heritage said, gloomily. "The other side doesn't
seem to get a bit tired of the game, and they spend
money like water."

"They haven't got as much money as we have,"
Grania said, belligerently. Mr. Heritage liked to
hear her use the first person plural in this way. It
gave him for the time a personal interest in Crania's
millions, and so long as the partnership with the
pretty heiress existed he was running his theater for

"How is he taking it?" Grania asked. 'He'
meant Dennis Tirowen, whom Grania had not seen
since the wild night at Ashford House.

Mr. Heritage smiled. "He is as warlike as ever,
our dear author," Mr. Heritage answered. "Every
night he wants, when the noise begins, to take off his
coat and bear a hand in the battle. But I have per-
suaded him that the nobler part is to stand aloof in
Olympian disdain."

Grania could not help smiling. Her mind's eye
pictured Dennis being greatly taken by Mr. Heri-
tage's high-sounding phrases, and molding himself
Olympianly in obedience to the hint.

"He has no suspicion," she questioned, "that I
have anything to do with the business ?"

"Not the slightest," Mr. Heritage replied, and


would have said more; but at that moment the great
doors opened to admit the Prince Regent and the
mob of fashionable folk that were privileged to
follow on his heels to the sacred seclusion of Mr.
Heritage's private room. Another act had just
come to an end, and no noise was audible except the
noise of the eagerly speaking voices of the Prince's set.

His Royal Highness, the moment he caught sight
of Grania, advanced toward her with his most
impressive manner. Her presence there was in no
wise a surprise to him, for he had heard and been
diverted by the story of the scene at Ashford House,
and he assumed, not without amusement, that the
young lady still cherished a regard for her ill-man-
nered lover. Grania dipped the due curtsey, but
the Prince stopped her, taking her hand and lifting it
to his lips as he bowed over it. Around the room
the fashionable folk ranged themselves and watched
the scene with admiration. At least the most of
them admired, or seemed to admire, but My Lord
Byron smiled sourly, having, as was generally known,
no great regard for the Prince Regent.

"My dear Miss O'Hara," the Prince said, "I
should, no doubt, have occasion to congratulate you
on the merits of your compatriot's production, but
the rascals in the house won't let me hear a single
word of it."

Grania dipped another curtsey, disappearing this
time beneath the waters of formality. She rose to
the surface again, and smiled.


"I am sure," she said, "that Your Royal High-
ness's known taste and discrimination would lead
you to applaud the piece if you made its ac-
quaintance under happier conditions."

The Prince Regent looked ineffably gracious.
Always an eager feeder upon praise from every
offered platter, he liked best to be fed by the pretty
hand of a pretty woman.

"The town," he said, solemnly, "expresses much
surprise at the courage and pertinacity of our friend
Heritage in facing this continued demonstration."
He paused and looked knowing; then he con-
tinued. "A little bird whispers to me that a certain
charming young Irish lady, who shall be absolutely
nameless and guessless, supplies him with the sinews
of war."

Grania pierced the proposed veil of anonymity

"I come of a fighting line, Your Royal Highness,"
she said, simply.

His Royal Highness smiled. "To be sure," he
said. "We must not forget that you are the most
dangerous rebel in our dominions."

Suddenly a frown dissipated the smile on the
august countenance as His Highness caught sight of
a comely gentleman, exquisitely dressed, who, with
an air of admirable nonchalance, was at that mo-
ment entering Mr. Heritage's apartment. "Ah,"
he said in a vexed voice, "here comes that imperti-
nent fellow Brummell."



Mr. Redacre asserts in his privately printed
"Memoirs" that it was on this occasion that Mr.
Brummell made use of the historical expression
with which his name is always associated. He
asserts that when His Royal Highness saw the Beau
entering Mr. Heritage's apartment and advancing
toward Grania, the Prince uttered some impatient
expression of disapproval and turned away from the
young lady with a frowning face. The Beau in all
the majesty of his most elaborate attire and all the
calm unconsciousness of the existence of those whom
he desired to ignore moved serenely up to Grania,
and, after paying her the most elaborate bow, stood
looking directly after the retreating figure of the
Prince, and in a tone of voice loud enough to be heard
by all that were near, including the Regent himself,
asked, "Who is your fat friend ?"

Mr. Redacre further asserts that the young lady's
native Irish sense of humor was so strong that, as she
afterward admitted, she could not for the life of her
prevent her face from smiling, and she was not, there-
fore, able to address to Mr. Brummell with the suffi-
cient gravity the reproof that he needed. In any
case, Miss O'Hara had a liking for Mr. Brummell,
and she had reason to believe that in the feud be-
tween him and the Regent he was not the original
offender. She always found him amusing, con-
sciously or unconsciously, and the serious devotion
which he offered to the religion of Dandyism did not
seem to her to be more unreasonable than any of


the other follies of the hour. To do this one thing
well was apparently all that lay in Mr. Brummeirs
power, and to the girl's energetic spirit it seemed
better to do something than nothing.

Therefore, as His Royal Highness had left her,
she saw no reason why she should not continue to
converse with Mr. Brummell. If it were true as
people whispered that his glorious reign was drifting
to a close, that the clutching fingers of care were
gripping his throat through all the folds of that
nobly tied cravat, all the more reason for her to be
gracious. If her affability cost her the Prince's
favor she did not care a rap. She would always be
loyal to those she liked, and she liked Mr. Brummell
a thousand times better than she liked the vice-king
of Carlton House. So she listened and laughed
while Mr. Brummell talked, and talked well, for he
was on his mettle and flushed with his successful
impertinence, when suddenly her attention and his
attention were distracted by an unexpected incident.

The Prince had turned to re-enter the theater, and
was actually about to pass through the door, when
his progress was arrested. A man hurriedly entered
the room by the entrance that led from the front of
the house, and, looking eagerly around him, asked in
a loud and anxious voice if His Royal Highness was
present. Many of those in the room recognized the
new-comer as a high official from the Foreign Office,
and in another moment the Prince Regent, informed
by half a dozen obliging gentlemen of what was

23 341


happening, turned back and was immediately joined
by the new arrival. The rest of the company stood
discreetly apart out of earshot while the new-comer
spoke rapidly and excitedly to the Prince, whose
sudden change of color and unwonted seriousness
of expression showed that something momentous
was being communicated to him.

That the communication was momentous the
company were to learn in a few seconds. When the
man had done speaking the Prince stood for a
moment in silence, and then turning to the others,
said: "Ladies and gentlemen, news of the utmost
gravity has just reached me. Napoleon has escaped
from Elba!"

The news came with staggering force on all
present. His Royal Highness instantly took his
departure, followed by most of the company, Lord
Byron murmuring sardonically as he took his leave
of Grania that this new display of activity on Na-
poleon's part had entirely spoiled the effect of his
poem on the fall of the Corsican.

In a few moments Grania was left alone, for while
the smart company was scattering Mr. Heritage
made his way to the stage, where the curtain had not
long been raised upon the last act. The storm in
the pit was raging with all its familiar violence when
Mr. Heritage, very flustered and excited, made his
appearance among the players and advanced to the
footlights. Though he appealed for silence, his
voice could not dominate the din, and for a while he


stood gesticulating wildly, an inaudible and slightly
ridiculous figure. He succeeded, however, after a
while in making it clear to those in the front row of
the pit that he had important news from abroad to
communicate, and these passing the word to others
behind them, gradually a silence was obtained.

In that silence Mr. Heritage told his news. Na-
poleon had escaped from Elba! The astonishing
tidings entirely killed the spirit of riot as if with the
single stroke of an ax. The play, and its friends
and its enemies, were swamped and swallowed up
and forgotten in the thought of the terrible event that
had taken place and the terrible events that must
follow it. With one accord, and as if at a given, long-
expected signal, the whole of the audience rose and
left the theater, without wasting a thought on the
last act, which was acted for a while under unusual
conditions of audibility to an empty house, and
presently cut short peremptorily by Mr. Heritage.
Anticipation and the pages of the Annual Recorder
teach that with the escape from Elba the Rotundo
riots came to an end. There was no time for small
controversies in the face of the great catastrophe
that threatened the safety of Europe for a hundred
days, and that was only diverted on the field of


GRANIA was not long left alone. In a little
while the great doors opened, and Mr. Point-
dexter entered, bringing with him Dennis Tirowen,
firmly held by the arm. Dennis looked rather like
a captive under the wardership of the iron-faced
lawyer. He seemed at once angry and ill at ease,
and he looked sheepishly at Grania, who smiled
very amiably at him, though she was not a little
taken by surprise at his sudden appearance.

"I have brought here," said Mr. Pointdexter,
solemnly, "a young gentleman, who in my opinion
and, as I believe, also in his own, feels that he has
something very special to say to you in the way of
an apology."

He released Dennis's arm as he spoke and left
Dennis standing in a corner of the room, seemingly
rueful and ill-tempered, while he advanced toward

"My dear young lady," he said, and his voice was

most unfamiliarly gentle as he spoke, "it is high

time that you and this young gentleman came to

some definite understanding. There is no time like



the present. I shall wait in the corridor if you
should chance to want me."

He made her a formal bow and withdrew, leaving
Grania and Dennis face to face.

Grania looked steadily at Dennis, and the faintest
dimple of a smile lurked at the corners of her mouth.
But her eyes were grave and curious, and they
examined Dennis carefully. He certainly showed
to better advantage than the last time she saw him,
swaying and lurching out of the Gold Room at
Ashford House on the triumphant arm of Lady
Doubble. His face was anxious, even care-worn,
but it was clean from the stain of drink. Just at the
moment it wore a decidedly sulky expression as he
stood there uncertain what to say. Grania spoke as
if nothing had happened amiss between them.

"You have been having a stormy time, my poor
Dennis," she said; "but I think this news will bring
calm with it."

"The calm is worse than the storm," the young
man cried, angrily. " Just think of it. Because a
political adventurer escapes from prison those idiots
go away and abandon my play. Friends or foes,
they are all the same; it has no longer any interest
for them. They are only thinking of that damned

" I am afraid, dear Dennis," Grania said, suavely,
"that even I must admit that the escape of the
Emperor is a matter of more immediate moment to
the world than your beautiful play."


"It shouldn't be," the young man protested,
vehemently. "It shouldn't be. Is there no such
thing as art ? May not a great poem be of more
value to the world than the crimes of a soldier of
fortune ?"

"Of course art is a real thing," Grania answered,
quietly. "And of course, a great poem may be of
more value to the world than a great conqueror. It
is possible indeed that hereafter this year may be
remembered in history chiefly as the year which saw
the birth of 'The Buried City.' But to those that
are living in it the fact that Bonaparte has escaped
from Elba and that he may again conquer Europe
seems to them in their short-sightedness a more
vital event."

Grania was not speaking satirically; there was no
sting in her tongue; she was feeling very kindly to
Dennis, and very sorry for Dennis, but she had
learned much since the day of her parting from him
over in Kerry, so many thousand years ago! The
only thing she had not learned in that great gap of
time was to cease to be in love with him.

But Dennis did not understand Grania. He shot
a lowering glance at her. "You are making fun of
me," he grumbled.

Grania shook her head. "I am doing nothing
of the kind," she vowed. " I want to talk to you
very seriously, and I mean to talk to you very seri-
ously. This is the second time we have met since
the day when you set out to seek your fortune, and


I stayed at home, and my fortune came to seek me.
Tell me, Dennis, honestly, as between maid and
man, don't you think that you made a bit of a
fool of yourself the last time we met ?"

Dennis squared his shoulders and faced her.
"No," he said, doggedly, "no, and again no. Of
course I was a blockhead to get drunk and to spin
speeches and pick quarrels, and to go off with that
woman but you know I didn't go far."

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Online LibraryJustin H. (Justin Huntly) McCarthyThe fair Irish maid → online text (page 19 of 20)