Justin H. (Justin Huntly) McCarthy.

The fair Irish maid online

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into a minister's ear.

"I want to know Ireland," he said seriously, "to
absorb Ireland, to exhaust Ireland. I mean to be
the one man in the House of Commons that knows
all about Ireland."

Grania looked at the stolid face, whose solidity
was now slightly shaken by the earnestness of his
purpose. He was scarcely less of a marvel to her
5 53


than she was to him. There were many types of
men in the kingdom of Kerry, from my Lord Cloyne
to Larry, but there was never one of them that bore
the least resemblance to the serious and pompous
personage who seemed convinced that it was his
mission to set the world in order. There was no
shadow of a smile upon her face as she asked him
quietly, "Is that all you are after ?"

Mr. Rubie nodded agreement. It seemed, after
all, a little thing for a man of his power and

"So," he continued confidently, "I have come over
to collect all the statistics I can about the country."
Grania looked at him thoughtfully, clasping her
hands about her knees. The word was not a
familiar one to her. "What do you mean by sta-
tistics ?" she asked.

Mr. Rubie stared at her in amazement. What,
he asked himself, could a young woman have been
doing with her life to be unaware of the very mean-
ing of statistics, to say nothing of their vast range
and economical value ? He consented graciously to
explain. "Oh, you know, acreage, mileage, crops,
population, crime, emigration, religions, factions,
and so on and so on." His explanation trailed off,
because he felt vaguely and uncomfortably conscious
of a certain quizzical expression on Crania's face
and a certain mocking light in Crania's eyes,
which decidedly disconcerted him.
Grania leaned a little nearer to him and smiled.


"If you like," she said, "I can give you some statis-
tics about Ireland."

Mr. Rubie, who had unwillingly shrunk a little
before that quizzical expression which he believed
he had detected, expanded again under the influ-
ence of this offer. After all, the young lady might
prove more sensible than she seemed. She cer-
tainly was lovelier than any of the young ladies he
used to meet in the houses of the philanthropists and
politicians of the Clapham School. But that was
no reason for regretting that her views of life ap-
peared so hopelessly impractical. Perhaps, after
all, he might get some valuable facts from the girl.
"Can you ?" he cried, briskly. "That will be very
obliging of you."

" I can give you some of the real statistics," she
said, "the statistics that mean things." She paused
for a moment, to let her words sink into the mind of
her listener and to note the ripples of satisfaction
they raised on that round face. Then she asked,
softly, "Do you know what a merrow is ?"

Mr. Rubie shook his head. He was one of those
persons who do not like to have to admit that there
was anything they did not know, but in this instance
he was wholly at a loss. A merrow might be some
article of commerce or a member of a secret society
or some piece of wearing apparel, for all that he
could tell. "I fear I do not," he admitted, shaking
his head.

Crania expounded unto him, and as she spoke her


voice had a lilt in it as if she were singing a song.
"A merrow is a sea-maiden, a mermaid, a beautiful
creature half woman, half fish, that swims in the
still water among the cliff-caves and sings songs that
make men mad. I have heard her a thousand times."

Mr. Rubie was perplexed. He did not quite know
whether to be amused or indignant. This was not
the kind of answer he had expected when he avowed
his thirst for knowledge. Yet the girl did not seem
to be laughing. Her face was grave and her eyes
were shining and she seemed to find a pleasure in
her words. " I am afraid I do not follow you," he
said, rather stiffly.

Grania did not seem to heed what he said. She
went on with her theme, and her voice still had in it
the ripple of singing. " Then there is the banshee
it is most important that you should know all about
the banshee, the gray, wan woman that waits on a
great house and wails for the death of its darlings."

Mr. Rubie looked and was extremely puzzled.
He smoothed his chin dubiously. "Very interest-
ing, I'm sure," he said, very politely, but his polite-
ness had no effect in staying the stream of Crania's

"And then there is the leprechaun," she went on,
"with his green coat and his red cap, that can make
your fortune if you catch him. And the pooka, the
goblin that goes like a horse and rides across your
path to your undoing. And all the rest of the little
people, the only Irish you can't drive out of Ireland."


Mr. Rubie felt that it was time to assert himself if
he was to retain any of his sense of the dignity of a
self-respecting Member of Parliament engaged
upon a self-appointed mission. "You are making
game of me," he said, emphatically.

Grania swung back in an instant to her every-day
way of speech and shook her head vigorously.
"Making game of you! Bless you! no, I am telling
you true things. You want to know all about the
Irish, and I am telling you of the things that the
Irish see, that the Irish believe in, that the Irish
understand better than you understand your facts
and your figures."

Rubie protested in a shocked voice. "Really,
Miss O'Hara, I fear these are not the facts I left
London to seek."

" But these are the facts you left London to find,"
Grania replied, vehemently, "if you have only the
eye that can see and the ear that can hear. The
fairies, the wonder-world, the Land of Youth. If
you go away knowing nothing of them and what
they mean to us you have only wasted your time.
Better have remained at home talking nonsense in

Mr. Rubie could scarcely believe his ears when
he heard such blasphemy. "Good God! madam,"
he cried, "you don't mean to tell me that you be-
lieve in fairies and mermaids and goblins like

Grania grinned at him mischievously. "What


harm if I do ?" she asked. "They are more real to
me than laws of Parliament or Acts of Union.
There are times when they seem to me the only
real things in the world, they and what they mean
to me."

Mr. Rubie looked at her thoughtfully for some
moments without speaking, rubbing his chin the
while. Then he said, slowly, "I wonder what Mr.
Burke or Mr. Fox would have said to such an
astonishing statement."

Grania did not seem to be much impressed by
Mr. Rubie's speculation. "From what I've heard
tell of the pair of them," she said, " I believe they
would have understood it better than you seem to do.
On, man in the blue coat and the buff waistcoat, do
try to see that there are things undreamed of in your
philosophy that are no less than the breath of life
to others. There is more of God's real truth in a
fairy tale told by a turf fire than in all the debates
at Westminster."



MR. RUBIE, as he watched the girl's animated
face and listened to the girl's animated words,
began to find that his situation was very enjoyable
indeed, if a trifle unusual and perplexing to a
methodical economist of plain habit of life and
mind. He had certainly come to Ireland with the
settled intention of amassing a quantity of fact
which should prove invaluable to him in the course
of Irish debate in Parliament, and might afterward
form the substance of a handsome volume of per-
sonal impressions and philosophical reflections
upon the country. But he certainly had not, when
he set out prosaically upon his travels, any idea
that his experiences would include such a meeting
and such a talk as this present. Here he was, a
grave and sober member of Parliament, with an
established position in the House, with Treasury
Bench ambitions and a profound belief in the
authority of statistics, seated on an Irish hillside
under the shadow of an Irish ruin and talking
familiarly with a beautiful girl that was dressed
like a peasant, a girl whom he had never seen or


heard of before that hour, about fairies and gnomes
and goblins and the like.

Mr. Rubie had not talked of fairies, he had not
given goblins a thought since his earliest childhood.
Even as a child he had been practical, inclined
rather to records of voyages and explorations, and
the advantages commercial and territorial that they
brought to England, than of those voyages which
poets and dreamers make in their enchanted
shallops over the moonlit waters of fantasy to the
Fortunate Islands and the kingdoms of romance.
It is probable that if such a conversation could have
arisen in his own country, if any of the many
estimable young ladies he was wont to encounter
in the refined society of Clapham Common had
attempted to turn the talk to fairy-land, he would
have resisted it more stubbornly and scornfully.
But he was compelled to admit, against his better
judgment, but, oddly enough, not altogether against
his wish, that there was something in the atmos-
phere around him the smell of the grass and the
smell of the sea, and the faint smell of burning turf
blown toward his nostrils by the mild December
wind from the distant village that seemed to exer-
cise a narcotic influence upon his mind and make
it ready to accept the seemingly incredible, unready
to protest against the fantastical propositions of

He looked at the girl's flushed face and her bright
eyes, and he listened to the enthusiasm with which


she defended the veritability of those many-shaped
dwellers in the dominions of dreams, and as he
looked and listened he felt less and less like the
formal politician that it was his pride to be, and more
and more like one that drifts into a dangerous mood
of acquiescence. Under the influence of such a
mood he might, were he taken unawares, be ready
to admit that a ballad might be as useful as a Blue
Book, a fairy tale as precious as a Parliamentary
Report. If the mood was unusual to Mr. Rubie
it certainly was far from unpleasant, and he per-
mitted himself to yield to it and would have been
glad if it had persisted, but it was not to persist.
Even at the moment, when Mr. Rubie was most
ready to recognize the sovereignty of Oberon and
the hierarchy of his imps, interruption came with a
new-comer who emerged from the ruins of the old

The new-comer was a young man of a good height,
a sturdy carriage, a handsome countenance, and a
pleasing appearance. Though he was habited little
better than a peasant, he had not the peasant's bear-
ing, with its time-enforced suggestion of servility.
On the contrary, this youth in his overworn, faded
raiment bore himself with an air of surly independ-
ence that was wholly untainted by any appearance
of a desire to curry favor. The frieze he was clad
in might be worn to the thread, but the body it
veiled bore itself with an assertion of equality with
all the world that was frankly arrogant and patently


native. Mr. Rubie noticed that the intruder
carried a fiddle under his arm, and took him to be
what he was not. He believed that he saw before
him one of those itinerant musicians of whom he
had heard from all those that professed to know
anything of Ireland, those fiddlers that drift from
village to village, from wedding to wedding, from
wake to wake, striving here to accentuate hilarity,
seeking there to dissimulate grief, and are content
to be paid for their pains with a little food, drink,
a few pence, and much applause.

Mr. Rubie found somewhat to his surprise that
he resented the interruption to his conversation
with a feeling of disapproval quite unworthy of a
disciple of Mr. Burke and Mr. Fox. Although he
regarded the conversation he had just been having
with Grania as undoubtedly nonsensical, he had
discovered to his amazement that there might be,
even for a promising Member of Parliament, a
certain amount of satisfaction to be derived from
the talking of nonsense. Certainly it would have
pleased him to continue talking nonsense on that
Irish hillside with that Irish girl for an indefinite
period of time, and he would not have exchanged
the grotesque information that Grania had given
him of the ways of fairy-land for the most impor-
tant communications on agriculture that he could
have received from the chairmen of a hundred Boards
of Guardians. He found now, on awakening, as it
were, from his dream, that he had felt surpris-


ingly young as he listened to Crania's legends.
Mr. Speaker and the Opposition and the Treasury
Bench and the philanthropists and the ladies of
Clapham Common had faded into vagueness, and
for the moment Mr. Rubie was a child again, a
child in the nursery, and enraptured by a nursery
rhyme. Now, suddenly, the spell was broken by
the appearance of this stalwart intruder whose
coming so much displeased Mr. Rubie.

If, however, Mr Rubie resented the coming of the
young man, the young man seemed to resent quite
as keenly the presence of Mr. Rubie. He stared at
him steadfastly with an air of unamiable surprise,
and then sent to Grania a questioning glance.
The girl had turned eagerly toward the young man
the moment that he made his appearance, and Mr.
Rubie noticed with a feeling of resentment as ex-
treme as it was unreasonable that the presence of
the young man gave the young woman a gratification
that she was at no pains to conceal. It did not take
the active young man a long time to ascend the hill-
slope from the ruins to the spot where Grania and
Mr. Rubie were standing, but it was long enough to
allow Mr. Rubie to experience and to cherish feelings
which if he had been aware of their existence in
another breast he would have described and con-
demned as jealousy. In himself he sought to
justify them as the natural emotion consequent
upon the interruption of an original and unconven-
tional conversation.



"Good-day to you, Grania," the young man said,
directly looking at the girl.

Rubie instantly noticed that the young man, for all
his humble appearance, spoke in an educated voice
whose tones were very melodious.

The girl greeted the youth joyously. "Good-day
to you, Dennis," she said, but the warmth of her
greeting did not succeed in dissipating the cloud of
gloom that had overshadowed the young man's
comely countenance from the first moment that he
had discovered the girl in talk with a stranger. He
was evidently a young man who gave no thought to
the concealing of any emotions he might entertain.

"Is it spoiling conversation I'm doing, coming
this way ?" he asked.

Grania shook her head emphatically. "Never
fear," she protested. " I was just talking of nothing
whatever with this gentleman, that is Mr. Rubie
by name, an English Member of Parliament, and a
guest of My Lord Cloyne." She turned to the
Member of Parliament and introduced the new-
comer. "This," she said, "is Mr. Dennis Tirowen,
my very dear friend." She turned again to the
youth and continued: "Mr. Rubie is making a
study of Ireland. He is pleased to profess an in-
terest in the welfare of our country, and I have been
giving him some particulars which will, as I hope, en-
lighten him, and, through him, his countrymen."
All this was said without the least suggestion of a
malicious smile on the fair face.


Mr. Rubie, thus directly referred to, made one
bow to the maid and another to the man, and felt
himself called upon to say something at once just
and happy that should sum up his present impres-
sions of Ireland. Unfortunately, however, his mind
was so confused by the course of recent events that
the man who aspired to command the House of
Commons could find nothing better to say than a
murmured " Indeed, indeed." He felt the helpless
inadequacy of the words as soon as he had uttered
them, and he endeavored to assume an air of mag-
nificent sagacity blended with comprehensive benev-

The young man did not seem to be at all favor-
ably impressed by Mr. Rubie. He still regarded
him with a steady air of unflinching disapproval,
and the lines around his handsome mouth were de-
cidedly aggressive when he opened it to speak.
"That is very condescending of you, sir," he said,
and he said it with a surliness of manner that irri-
tated the politician, who felt that he had been
traveling very far indeed along the path of affability
in forcing his voice and his features into a show of
liking for the interloper for so Mr. Rubie regarded
Tirowen which their owner was very far from
feeling. The affability vanished instantly.

"Not at all," Mr. Rubie asserted, stiffly. "My

interest is simple and straightforward. I wish, as a

representative Englishman, to learn all that is to be

learned about Ireland. I come without precon-



ceived views, and, as I hope, without prejudices, in
the pursuit of what I believe to be my duty." He
turned, as he spoke, to Grania, and made her an-
other bow. "With your permission," he said, "I
will take my leave, Miss O'Hara."

Grania saw that the good man was offended;
Grania extended a detaining hand. If she had
seemed charming before in fairy mood, she seemed,
if possible, still more charming now with her pretty
air of regal graciousness. "Don't think of it," she
entreated. "You'll be wanting to finish your
sketch, and Dennis and I have the whole of the
kingdom of Kerry to walk in and talk in."

In spite of the suavity of Crania's manner, Mr.
Rubie was not to be persuaded to remain. He saw
that the young man was anxious to be rid of him,
which would have affected him but little in spurring
his departure, would, rather, thanks to the sturdy
pugnacity of his disposition, have urged him to re-
main and see which would prove to be the best man
in the lady's favor, but Mr. Rubie also saw, with
vision sharpened by the stress of unexpected
emotions, that the girl was plainly anxious for the
company of the young man, and that if he did
decide to remain in the neighborhood of the Round
Tower and continue to use his pencil the young lady
would incontinently wander into the other world of
some distant field or headland. As he was, to his
surprise, already eager to please this Milesian
enchantress, he put a good face upon his disappoint-


ment and his discomfiture. "Indeed, I will not
suffer you to move," he protested. "I am very
little of a draftsman, and my poor sketch is al-
ready as good as I can make it. I have the honor
to wish you good-day." Again he bowed to Grania,
and as he did so he found, to his vexation, that he
was recalling and renewing a long-forgotten mood
of early boyhood when it had needed all his fortitude
to accept some disappointment and refrain from
tears. Checking an unwelcome and resented sigh,
he turned to Dennis with a cold inclination of the
head. It was such a salutation as antagonist gives
to antagonist before an encounter in the arena of
debate, or say, rather, in the arena of arms. " Good-
day, sir," he said.

Dennis gave him back a sour "Good-day," and
Mr. Rubie, without further parley, proceeded to
retrace his steps to the Hall.



DENNIS TIROWEN was the son of a peasant
farmer in a small way of farming, one Hugh
Tirowen, a fellow with a big body that housed a
small mind. This same Hugh was himself a de-
scendant of a line of gentlemen farmers in a large
way that had gradually run to seed, as it were, and
degenerated from a petty principality to a garth.
The century of calamity that had ravaged Ireland
since the disaster of Boyne River had greatly reduced
the possessions of the Tirowens. The greed of the
intruders and the severity of the penal laws had
steadily reduced the broad acres that had made their
dominion to a very small part of their original ex-
tent. There still remained, however, at the time
when Dennis Tirowen's father was a young man, in
the fall of the eighteenth century, enough of the
original estate to make a very desirable holding for
a man of moderate desires and moderate abilities.
There came a point in the elder Tirowen's fortune
when he had to decide between sacrificing the rem-
nant of the land of his ancestors or sacrificing his
conscience and his faith. He chose, as others like


him had here and there chosen in the harassed
south and west to sacrifice his conscience and his
faith, and he thereby obtained a secure tenure of
the diminished domain which otherwise he had no
right to hold in law and of which he might at any
moment be deprived. The Cloynes, who were
dominant in that part of Kerry, had no such liking
for the humble Tirowens that they showed for the
fallen greatness of the O'Haras, and their claws
would have closed upon the last poor leavings of
Tirowen land if their intention had not been met
and defeated by what the more steadfast of the
oppressed regarded as the apostasy of Hugh Tiro-

Hugh Tirowen, a man of a sullen natural, soured
by a long tradition of unmerited misfortune, con-
fided to no one the course of the mental and moral
struggle which ended in his public declaration of his
change of creed, and no one ever knew how far he
justified the change to himself or was afterward
contented with the change. Love of the land would
count for much, maybe love of the son would count
for more, his son Dennis, for whose welfare he might
justify his deed. Having made the change, he was
scrupulously careful to fulfil all the outward obliga-
tions due to the ascendant faith, and he was regarded
by his fellows in that faith, with that lukewarm de-
gree of approval usually accorded to a convert who
gains something more than spiritual advantages
by his conversion.

6 69


But there were those during his lifetime who said
and believed that the elder Tirowen's conscience
was not at ease. It was said and believed that at
times his heart was heavy within him for the cause
he had abandoned. There were strange stories
told in whispers behind lifted hands of how the man
would sometimes rise early in the morning and
creep unobserved to within seeing distance of one of
those lonely spots where fearful and faithful congre-
gations assembled in defiance of the law before the
little movable wooden shed that had to serve the
persecuted for a chapel to celebrate and participate
in the mysteries of their religion. Some one, it was
said, once saw the haggard, ghastly face of Tirowen
staring through a bush at the edge of a little hollow
place in which a number of people were kneeling
before a proscribed priest. The beholder thought it
seemed at first that Tirowen was spying upon the
worshipers with a view to denouncing them to
authority, but another glance at the man's working
face, wet forehead, and staring eyes was enough to
convince him that there was no such danger. All
he could read on that writhen countenance was a
look of inextinguishable remorse. Very certainly
no denunciation of the secret meeting followed.

Though Tirowen's conversion allowed him to
hold in law the land which was his by right, it did
not bring any special prosperity in its train. Hugh
Tirowen did well enough, indeed well enough to be
able to send his son Dennis to Dublin and give him


what he called the education of a gentleman. Den-
nis was entered at Trinity College as a member of
the state religion, although it had always been plain
that such religious inclinations as the young man
had, and they were neither very strong nor very
strenuously avowed, were in favor of the ancient
faith. The old man never made any attempt to
guide his son's spiritual inclinations nor to check in
the slightest degree any tendency in his mind toward
the prohibited creed. But he was believed to be
glad when his son was in Dublin, and it was un-
necessary for him to share in his father's display of
sympathy to the ruling dogma.

In Dublin Dennis Tirowen showed himself little
inclined to follow the prescribed lines of education
and conventional laws of conduct. He did not
associate himself with the sincerely studious, whose
passion, if passion it may be called, seems to be the
acquirement of knowledge for acquirement's sake.
On the other hand, he did not ally himself with those
wilder spirits of whom there were so many within
the walls of old Trinity, to whom learning was a
bogy to be -avoided as long as there was a bowl of
punch to brew, a horse to ride, or a girl to kiss.

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Online LibraryJustin H. (Justin Huntly) McCarthyThe fair Irish maid → online text (page 4 of 20)