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Justin H. (Justin Huntly) McCarthy.

The fair Irish maid online

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Grania knew it very well. She had had the story
from Mr. Fenny and from Captain Loveless; she
had never been jealous of Lady Doubble. She
nodded, and Dennis went on.

" But I was in the right of it when I said what I
said about" he hesitated for a moment, and then
continued, clumsily "about what you said. You
knew what I told you, and you knew that I told you
my true thoughts, and you had no right to try and
trap me like that."

Grania laughed a little good-humored laugh, the
laugh of a girl that, being wiser than he was, could
also afford to be kinder.

"You are indeed the noble Roman," she said,
"and it served me right for being so unmaidenly,
for I thought you would never have the face to deny
me once I spoke like that before all the people. But
I had miscalculated the greatness of your heart, my
Dennis."

Still she was laughing, but she was not laughing
at him, nor laughing at herself, at least not in any
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THE FAIR IRISH MAID

unkindly fashion. She was amused, and she showed
that she was amused, nothing more.

"It was my pride," Dennis answered, "my pride,
that still forbids me to do what I am longing to do."

"And what may that be ?" Grania asked, seeing
that Dennis kept his peace.

"To clasp you in my arms," Dennis answered,
fiercely, "and call you to be my wife. But I can't
do it, Grania, I can't do it. I can't marry you while
you have got all that mountain of money behind
you. I'll marry no woman that I can't keep in
comfort with the work of my two hands and the
help of my wits."

"And do you think you could do that same,"
Grania asked, "if I was as poor as I was on the day
when we parted at Cloyne ?"

"Devil doubt it," Dennis answered, confidently.
"Why, I have a tidy bit of money put away at this
present, out of what Mr. Heritage has paid me, and
he has promised me a round sum down for another
play that I am to write him. Grania, my girl, if you
were only what you were on the day when we parted
at Cloyne it is the proud man I'd be to lay my little
all at your feet, and it is the happy pair we would
make when you had given me 'yes* for an answer."

Grania looked at him with a puckered forehead
and tightly compressed lips. It would be foolish
of her to deny to herself that she liked her fine for-
tune; but it would be more foolish still to deny that
she liked Dennis better than all the fine fortunes in
348



MR. POINTDEXTER'S "HEY, PRESTO!"

the world. She did not waste time in asking herself
why she liked him so well. There was the unchang-
ing fact which nothing could alter. It seemed to
her that there was only one thing to be done, and she
tightened her mind to do it.

"Dennis," she said, and her voice was soft as she
spoke, as the soft west wind of Ireland, and sweet as
the breath of Irish meadows, "are you sure you love
me ?"

Dennis looked back at her, and there was a light
on his face that glorified it, smoothing out the sullen-
ness and the obstinacy and the insane pride.

"Sure," he said, and he said nothing more; and
there w r as no need to say anything more, for him or
for her. Grania smiled a happy smile. Then she
crossed the room and opened the door and called to
Mr. Pointdexter, who was waiting in the distance
with the tranquil air of a man who was prepared to
wait for a century.

"Dear Mr. Pointdexter/' she called, "will you
please come in ?"

Mr. Pointdexter came in and closed the door be-
hind him and stood in front of it, looking at the pair
with a gaze that meant anything or nothing, as you
chose to interpret it. "Well ?" he said.

"Mr. Pointdexter," said Grania, "Dennis and I
understand each other."

"At last?" Mr. Pointdexter questioned, dryly.
Grania shook her head.

"Dennis and I have always understood each
349



THE FAIR IRISH MAID

other/' she answered, "but we have both of us
learned something since we left the kingdom of
Kerry. I am going to marry Dennis and Dennis is
going to marry me."

"The one proposition," said Mr. Pointdexter,
calmly, "would seem to suggest the other. I am
glad to hear it. But I understood that there was a
little difficulty."

"There was a little difficulty," Grania admitted.
"But we have got over it. I am not going to be
rich any more. I am going to give all my money
away, every penny of it. You must arrange that
for me."

"I must arrange that for you!" Mr. Pointdexter
echoed, with the necessary grammatical alteration.
He seemed amused, as far as it was ever possible to
make a sure guess at Mr. Pointdexter's feelings.

"Yes," said Grania, firmly, while Dennis gazed at
her in rapt admiration. "It cannot be difficult to
do, even with as much money as mine. Then I will
marry Dennis, and Dennis will make money for us
both."

"That is very pretty," Mr. Pointdexter said,
quietly. Then he turned to Dennis. "You are
quite willing," he asked, "that this girl should make
this sacrifice for your sake ?"

"It isn't a sacrifice," Grania interpolated. Mr.
Pointdexter took no heed of her, but waited for
Dennis's answer.

"I am willing," Dennis answered, slowly, "if



MR. POINTDEXTER'S "HEY, PRESTO!"

Crania cares enough for me to make it. I will make
a home for my wife, if it be no better than a cottage.
I will not live in a corner of my wife's castle."

"Now you see, Mr. Pointdexter," said Grania,
"that it is all settled, and there is no need to discuss
the matter any more." She stretched out her arms
with a smile. "I feel freer already," she declared.

"I am afraid there is still need for discussion,"
Mr. Pointdexter said, calmly. "The plan you pro-
pose is delightfully poetic, but I am afraid that it
can't be done."

"May I ask why not ?" Grania said; and it must
be admitted that there was an unfamiliar note of
irritation in her questioning voice. Let it be re-
membered to her credit that she had been so used
since she came into her queendom to unquestioning
obedience to her trivialest whim, so confident always
to find grave Mr. Pointdexter blandly ready to ap-
prove her every impulse, that the unexpected change
nettled her.

"Certainly, my dear child," Mr. Pointdexter
answered, and Grania was not too surprised by his
first refusal of her wishes not to note the unusual
endearment of address. "I brought our young
friend here to make his apology. Now I find that it
is time to make mine. I am afraid that I have been
deceiving you, my dear."

Grania stared at him with wide eyes of wonder.
Mr. Pointdexter had always been enigmatical, but
now he was the very Sphinx. Dennis stared, too,



THE FAIR IRISH MAID

puzzled and worried. "The Buried City" seemed
to be very much buried now.

"I hope and think that you will forgive me," Mr.
Pointdexter continued, "for, indeed, I believe that
you have enjoyed yourself. But I must tell you that
you have no fortune to deal with in the manner that
you propose."

Grania listened dully, as one listens on a drowsy
day to unexpected thunder. "I have no fortune ?"
she gasped.

"No, and yes," Mr. Pointdexter answered. "I
told you the truth when I told you that your uncle
made a large fortune, and that he had bequeathed
it to you. But I did not tell you the truth when I
told you that your uncle was dead."

Grania felt for a moment as if the room were reel-
ing about her. Then with a strenuous effort she
recovered her senses.

"My uncle is alive ?" she said. Mr. Pointdexter
nodded his head very solemnly.

"Your uncle is alive," he repeated. "And I con-
fess that I am glad to be able to say as much. I am
Phelim O'Hara."

This time there was no hesitation in Crania's
action. She seemed to read on the strong, stern face
what the strong, stern man would like her to do, and
she did it. In a moment she was in his arms and
clasped in his firm embrace.

"Oh, Uncle Phelim!" she cried; and then looking
up into that stern, strong face, now suddenly softened
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MR. POINTDEXTER'S "HEY, PRESTO!"

to quite another kind of countenance, tender and
gentle, and filled with a fierce and melancholy
affection, she cried, "Why, why, why?"

With Grania in his arms and Dennis a gaping
auditor, Mr. Pointdexter, or, rather, Phelim O'Hara,
told his story. He told it very simply and straightly,
making no defense of his conduct, either in the past
or in the present, but just setting forth a plain tale in
plain words. He told how after the red ruin of
Ninety-eight he had made his way to America, and
how in the young Republic fortune that had frowned
upon him before, in love and in war, now smiled on
him in peace. Sixteen years after his flight across
the Atlantic he found himself the sole master of
enormous wealth. The story of how he amassed it
he promised to tell his hearers at another time. It
was a history by itself, that called for leisure to nar-
rate its wonders. Through all those sixteen years
of strange adventures and increasing store of gold
he had cherished in his heart nothing but bitter
memories of the woman he had once longed to wed,
of the brother he had once sought to slay. Then
on a sudden came sickness, great and grievous sick-
ness, and the strong man struggling for his life re-
ceived as he believed a summons to make amends
for his sins. He caused inquiries to be made in
Ireland, from which he learned that his brother's
widow and his own old love was dead and that her
child lived in poverty upon the Cloyne estate. Then
the wild idea came into his head of giving out that
353



THE FAIR IRISH MAID

he was dead, of visiting this unknown niece in the
seeming of a lawyer, and seeing how the girl would
carry herself when she found herself entrusted with
the command of countless money. At the time the
war with England was drawing to its close. He had
influence enough to be able to obtain permission, as
Mr. Pointdexter which was his own lawyer's name
to accompany to Europe the commissioners ap-
pointed for the settlement of terms of peace.

"The rest, my dear Grania," he said, "you al-
ready know. I have played the part of fairy god-
father to a very lovely Cinderella, and my child has
not been spoiled by opulence."

He turned to Dennis. "Frankly, my young
friend," he said, "you are much to be congratulated
upon having won the love of a girl who is willing to
fling aside a fabulous fortune for your sake. No
less frankly I must say that I do not think you are
worthy of such a sacrifice or of her. But there
must be the possibility of better things in you or she
would never have chosen you for her mate. Hence-
forth she will be to me as a daughter, and you shall
be to me as a son, and we will all live together in the
New World. You shall learn to make your way,
since that is your wish. Phelim O'Hara has made
a new will, and this time he bequeathes his fortune
to Dennis Tirowen and Grania, his wife, and the
children of their union. I will leave you for a while,
for I have matters to settle with Mr. Heritage, and I
make no doubt that you will have much to say to
354



MR. POINTDEXTER'S "HEY, PRESTO!"

each other. I hope that Crania will be sensible
enough to tell you how heavily you are indebted
to her love and to her loyalty. If she fails to do so
I will take that charge upon myself hereafter."

Dennis and Grania had much to say to each other,
so much that it seemed that only a few moments
had passed by when Mr. Phelim O'Hara returned to
the room to say that it was very late and that the car-
riage was waiting at the stage-door.



THE END



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