Justin H. (Justin Huntly) McCarthy.

The fair Irish maid online

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Grania was silent for a moment; then she asked,
slowly, " But if you don't make a fortune, would you
be leaving me to die an old maid ?"

"I shall make the fortune, never fear it," Dennis
replied, briskly. "Haven't I got the play in my
pocket that any London manager will be crazy to
set on his stage ?"

"Is it 'The Buried City'?" Grania asked.

And Dennis answered, "What else would it be
but 'The Buried City'?"

Crania's face glowed as she spoke. "The city
that lies down there under the waters of the bay,
the city where the princess sits asleep on her golden
throne, with the water washing about her and the
fishes butting their blunt noses against her face and
folded hands and her knees. There she will sit till
her lover leaps from his ship to the bottom of the
sea and kisses the salt from her lips as she wakes
and says, 'Dennis, I love you.'"


She drew a little nearer to him as she spoke, her
kind eyes bright with sweet fire, and her extended
hands seemed to seek for his hands. But Dennis
did not move toward her; rather he seemed almost
to shrink away. It was the traditional awe of the
great lady that restrained him; also it was the fierce
pride in him that forbade him to take favor or grace
from her till he could do so with the sense of
equality that success alone could confer.

"You may say that to me if you will," Dennis
said, clumsily, "when I come back with my guineas
from London. For I shall come back with them,
never fear. I know that my play is good, but my
play isn't the only string to my bow. I've made up
a bit of a tune these last days, which shall be my
royal march to victory. Would it please you to hear
it? I call it 'The Soul of Erin.'"

Crania's eyes still shone kindness, though the
sweet face had waned. She understood her lover,
guessed, without admitting it, at the awe, realized
and half approved the pride. She might have wished
him to forget the one and the other in that hour, but
since he could not she was ready to forgive. She
smiled at him as if life could offer nothing better just
then than the sound of a bit of a tune. " Dearly I'd
love to hear it," she said, and settled herself com-
fortably on the grass.



DENNIS picked up his fiddle and bow, that he
had laid on the grass beside him at the be-
ginning of his talk with Grania. He handled the
instrument tenderly, as one that understood and
loved its power; he nursed it lovingly as he tuned
the strings. Grania watched him with her heart in
her mouth. Her thoughts were all in such a whirl
that she found it hard to disentangle them, to follow
one clean clue of emotion to a natural conclusion.
She was sorry, tragically sorry, that Dennis was
going away. For long enough, as she had said, she
had known his secret, for long enough she had been
waiting for him to speak. To her in her simplicity
the life that it was in her lover's power to offer her
seemed exceeding sweet and pleasant. To a child
that had never known anything but poverty the life
that Dennis lived, the life that the wife of Dennis
would live, was kind in its promises of peace and
comfort. Grania was too shrewd not to realize that
the comfort and the peace were relative. She was
well aware that the life of my lord and my lady at the
Hall, for all that they were straitened in means
9 1


for their station, was lived according to a very differ-
ent standard of peace and of comfort, and she had
heard, though she did not know this of her own
knowledge, that there were few gentlefolk elsewhere
who were as superior in ease to the Cloynes as the
Cloynes were to Dennis Tirowen. But the impor-
tant thing was that Grania did not love Lord Cloyne,
would not have loved him had he been a free man
and able to approach her in honor, instead of with
offers that had to be repelled at the point of a pitch-
fork, and that she did love Dennis with all her heart.
So her spirit was a little wistful to think that she
was so willing to accept what Dennis had decided
not to offer. On the other hand, she could not help
admiring the courage of the man in going out thus
into the wide, strange world for her sake, the pride
that wished to approach her on terms of something
like equality; the boy of the Tirowens coming back
from beyond seas to lay the laurels of victory at the
feet of the daughter of the O'Haras; the high resolve
that led him to stake his all on the hazard.

And while she waited and wondered Dennis was
busy tuning his fiddle, and now all was ready to his
pleasure, and he lifted the instrument to his shoulder
and poised the bow in the air. Then, after a few
cautious sweeps to convince himself that all was as
it should be, Dennis surrendered himself to the spell
of his inspiration, and began to play, directing his
fingers with all the strength of his soul.

As she listened she found the music good. In the


beginning delight danced on its chords, the delight
of the Dawn of the World, the joy of the ancient
gods, the happiness of the heroes in battle, of the
hunters on the track. In a little the primal delight
was drowned in a wave of sadness, like the fabled
city beneath the waters of the bay, to emerge again
in mirth and splendor, and again to be submerged.
So the wild strain shifted, but still at the end of all
the sorrow remained delight. It seemed to the girl
as she sat and heard that the bow of the player as he
swept over the strings was playing upon her heart,
and that her single heart was the heart of all her race.
The magic music appeared to her to have all Ireland
for its theme, the Ireland which she knew so Well,
with its burden of misery and its tribute of tears, and
the Ireland of which she dreamed with the glory of
its past and the greater glory of its future. All her
homeland was in those wailing notes. The falling
of soft rain, the lowing of kine, the carol of the black-
bird on the thorn-tree, the leap of the fish in the
purling river, the cry of the cuckoo, the ripple of
waves about a boat, the heart-ache of the west wind
softly singing its melancholy song, the mists that
girded the summits of mysterious hills, the sharp,
sweet smell of the burning peat, and the blue-gray
veils of peat-smoke all these dear common sights
and sounds and scents were in it, all these and many
more that lived with the living music too swiftly even
for her nimble fancy to image. All these things she
seemed to hear and see and smell as Dennis plied


his bow. Swiftly the themes of the tune shifted,
alternated, flying like the shuttle from dusk to dawn
and from dawn to night. As the strings shrilled
to a fiercer measure her fancy conjured up the
images of the island's youth Finn, the mighty
hunter, with his Feni at his heels; Meave, the queen,
with her mane of yellow hair; Cuchulin, the uncon-
querable. Slowly the strain slipped down into the
holy peace of the monasteries, echoing the call of
the saints and the sweet voices of the scholars.
Slowly it waned from the ancient days, through ages
dizzy with the drums of war, renewing the battle-
shouts of the Norsemen and the clash of Saxon
steel and the march of Norman knights. Slowly it
sobbed over the blood-stained centuries, wailing its
way to the tragedy of Ninety-eight; a snatch of
"Croppies, Lie Down" screaming hideously and in-
sistently between the valiant clamor of the rebel

The girl's eyes were shining with tears when
Dennis lowered his bow and looked at her anx-
iously, his forehead wet with sweat. "Well," he
said, proudly, "what do you think of it ? Is it not
good ?"

"It is beautiful," she answered, "very beautiful.
Well may you call it 'The Soul of Erin,'" she said.
"As I listened I seemed to see the old Gods of the
Mist, and the Golden Kings, and the Knights of the
Red Branch, and the faces of the faithful

Dennis's face flushed with pleasure. "You


understand, Crania, you understand," he said,

Grania went on. "And I seemed to hear the
tramp of the enemies and the noise of the weary
wars, and the running of Boyne River, and the sad-
ness of the * Wearing of the Green,' and the piping
of pipers, and the jigging of feet, and the laughter
of fairies. Well may you call it 'The Soul of Erin.'"

Dennis glowed at her praise. "I should have
the world at my feet with that same," he said, and
did not say it boastfully, but as one that quickly
states some unquestionable fact.

But Grania shook her head and looked wistful.
"The world does not always welcome beautiful
things," she said, sadly, "and though you seem to
have snared the very soul of our country into your
tune, I have it in my mind that they are not
very fond of our country over yonder, and care
little for the soul of her."

"I'll make them care," Dennis affirmed, sturdily.
"There's the air shall play me to my fortune, and
bring me home with pockets full of guineas to build
a fine house and yourself the queen of it."

Grania gave a little sigh, and then smiled.
"Please God!" she said, cheerfully. "And I like
you finely, Dennis, for going like a brave man to
the battle." She rose from the grass and came
quite close to him, looking into his eyes and speak-
ing very softly. "Dennis," she said, "you may
give me a kiss."



Dennis made for a moment as if he would clasp
her in his embrace; then his extended arms fell to
his sides; he moved back a step and looked awk-
ward. "I'm fearing," he said, "the touch of your
lips would melt all the strength in me as sugar
melts in hot punch."

In a moment Grania was close to him again,
with her hands on his shoulders and her lips near
to his. Her cheeks flamed with sweet shame, but
she was resolved that he should not part from
her like this. She spoke imperiously. "When a
girl asks for a kiss the boy has got to give it," she
cried. She halted, as if frightened at the word she
spoke; then, half weeping, half laughing, she com-
manded, "Kiss me this instant, you villain!"

For a wonderful moment their lips met and their
arms clasped, and the world was forgotten in the
marvel of the first kiss of fond lovers. Then
swiftly came back to Dennis the consciousness of
his great resolve. He released himself from Crania's
clinging arms, caught up his fiddle, and stood apart,
staring in . fierce passion at the girl's loveliness.
Then like one that flies from the mightiest tempta-
tion he sprang down the slope of the hill. "Good-
by, Grania," he cried, "good-by!" He waved her
one last salute, and then, turning, ran at full speed,
without once looking back, through the ruins to-
ward the highway that was to guide him to fortune.



MY lord's tale to Rubie was true. He had got
a potential purchaser for the Round Tower.
That potential purchaser was, as Mr. Rubie had
been told, My Lord Cloyne's very good friend, Sir
William Doubble, the great London banker, whose
wife, Lady Doubble, was the very good friend of
My Lady Cloyne, and thereafter or it may be
earlier, or more likely both earlier and thereafter
the very good friend of My Lord Cloyne and of
My Lord Cloyne's brother, the honorable Cur-
tius Loveless. The business of the buying of the
Round Tower had had its beginning in some clatter
and chatter at White's, where the honorable Curtius
Loveless, somewhile invalided home from the war
in America and now newly convalescent, was taking
his ease. In the course of the chatter and clatter
the Honorable Curtius Loveless had somehow or
other happened to mention the great white-pillar
building on the Kerry coast, that stood on ground
belonging to his brother's estate, and Sir William,
hearing, had pricked up his ears. He plied the
young soldier with sudden and staggering questions,


which at once amazed and amused Curtius, who
was scarcely familiar with Sir William Doubble's
hobby. Yes, the Round Tower was there, had been
there for ever so long, since the days of Crom-
well, perhaps, or even earlier Mr. Curtius Love-
less's ideas of archaeology were of the crudest it
was very certainly his brother Cloyne's property,
and also, no less certainly, it was his to do as he
pleased with, being in no sense in the nature of an
heirloom. Sir William's blood boiled with desire
as he listened to the young gentleman's artless
prattle. He had, as it were, discovered a new world
to conquer. As a consequence of this chance con-
versation it came to pass that Sir William and
Lady Doubble decided to pay a visit to Ireland
under the careful escort of Curtius Loveless, and
to be for a few days the guests of Lord and Lady
Cloyne at the Hall. Thus Sir William would be
able to inspect the Round Tower, the Honorable
Curtius Loveless would get change of air for the
betterment of his health, and Lady Doubble, while
proving herself a devoted wife by accompanying
her husband to the wilds of Ireland, would also
be able to prove the charity of her disposition
by looking after the Honorable Curtius Love-

Lady Doubble and her husband that was the

order in which they were usually thought of were

people of note in the social world of London. Lady

Doubble was a woman whom nature had endowed



with many appetites. She never felt the sting of
any appetite without instantly seeking to gratify its
demand, and as she was wealthy, comely, and still
looked young, much younger than her years, she had
generally no difficulty in gaining the desired gratifi-
cation. She had wealth in both hands, as it were;
her Pactolus ran in two ruddy streams. A rich
banker's wife, she was also a rich banker's daughter,
and when she married Sir William Doubble she
brought with her a fortune. She brought it with her
and she kept it with her.

There was a kind of generalship in the woman
that scanned the future warily and made plans long
ahead. She entered upon matrimony as upon a
campaign wherein she hoped with good confidence
to march to victory, but wherein also she wished to
insure safety in case of a necessary retreat. Her
money was settled on herself very surely, very
tightly. Thus, if ever, by any unlucky and un-
likely chance, Sir William were to find out anything
that Lady Doubble did not wish him to find out, and
should prove quarrelsome in the knowledge, Lady
Doubble had the satisfaction of certainty as to her
own comfort. Not that she entertained any serious
fear of such a contingency. In the first place, she
was very careful, very methodical in the adjustment
of her passions, very shrewd and guileful in her
wildest flightiness. In the second place, Sir William
was not of an inquisitive disposition, nor was his
temperament choleric, and he was, it would seem,


as little likely to interfere with his wife's tastes as
she to interfere with his.

In his very different way and with his very different
tastes Sir William was as practical as Lady Doubble.
He had married his wife because she pleased him;
but had she been fairer than she was he would not
have favored her if she had not been a banker's
daughter. It was the time-honored tradition in the
house of Doubble that as kingdoms only seek to
marry kingdoms so the bank only married with
other banks, and the time-honored tradition was
invariably respected. Sir William could have af-
forded, if he had pleased, to bid for a duke's daughter;
he could have afforded also to play the Cophetua
part and elevate a beggar-girl to his ledger, but such
eccentricities were not to his mind, though his mind
was inclined to other and less commendable eccen-
tricities. It was a law of life for him that the
magnates of finance should wed among their own
caste, and, acting in obedience to this law, and
questing for a spouse within the limits it laid down,
the woman for Sir William's money was Emily
Goring with her money.

Equally Sir William with his money was the man
for Emily Goring' s money. She found the match as
suitable as he did, and what the pair approved
in theory proved satisfactory in practice. Emily
Doubble liked fashionable society, and had com-
manded the attentions of much of its best for a good
many years. She was hard on forty, but she did not


look much more than thirty, for the forethought
which characterized in all her actions had made her
take unusual pains to preserve her looks. To this
end she groomed herself scrupulously, washed more
and exercised more than most of the fine ladies she
knew, and if she denied herself no pleasure that
tempted her, she had a system of compensating
recuperation that carried her safely through ex-
periments and experiences that would have wrecked
the constitutions of the majority of her fair con-
temporaries. For her the purpose of life was to
enjoy herself as much as possible. But she was wise
enough to realize that for the prolongation of enjoy-
ment the element of intermittent temperance was
essential, and therefore she was intermittently and re-
luctantly, but for the time being resolutely, temperate.
Sir William carried himself excellently in his part
of the matrimonial enterprise. He was neither
patently cynical nor covertly suspicious. He took
all that Emily had to give him, but for the rest he
minded his own business, and, to do him no more
than historical justice, he minded it uncommonly
well. His Emily knew very clearly that a flagrant
failure in decorum would find him a severe judge,
but up to the threshold of flagrancy he was like to be
leniency incarnate. He liked to be well fed, well
kept, well housed, well wived, and Emily Doubble,
thanks to her upbringing, welded the gifts of a house-
wife with the instincts of a wanton; wherefore Sir
William's mansions were well served. For the rest
8 101


the pair went their own ways in complacent tran-
quillity. Lady Doubble's pleasure lay in the saloons
of fashion, where she was ever welcome, where she
played deep, ate and drank valiantly, and made such
assignations as soothed her when her nerves were
overstrung. Sir William's hobby, after business
hours, was the indulgence of a somewhat singular
form of the collector's art, a form which had earned
him not a little notoriety in those limited circles where
collectors and collections are seriously discussed.

If Sir William was in the first place a banker, he
was only in the third place, as it were, the husband
of his Emily. He was in the second place an anti-
quary, and his whimsical ambition, as Lord Cloyne
had told Mr. Rubie, was nothing less magnificent
than the collection of monuments. Other men might
gather about them pictures, statues, busts, cameos,
coins, china, medals, bronzes, books, engravings,
etchings, manuscripts, miniatures, snuff-boxes, rings
Sir William's hobby rode a wilder course. It was
his dream to display on the acres of his great estate
at Muswell Hill specimens genuine specimens, to
be sure, and no paltry copies, however costly to con-
struct of the religious or semi-religious edifices
with which mankind has milestoned its march
across a wheeling world and striven to eternize the
memory of its varying faiths.

Sir William's vast wealth favored his pursuit and
populated his park with oddities. Thanks to his
influence with the Ottoman merchants, he had been


permitted by firman to pilfer a shrine of Apollo
from Corinthian soil. His friendship with the
British Resident in Florence had allowed him to
denude Italy of a small but fairly perfect temple of
Diana. By the favor of the East India Company
he had transported a Hindu fane from Calcutta to
London, and a mosque from one of the Mohamme-
dan provinces. He had lately acquired a Druidic
monument from a bankrupt farmer in Kent, which
he declared and believed to be older than Kit's Coy
House and more interesting than Stonehenge.

All these contrasting buildings, at a cost that
would have been intolerable to any but the most
opulent of financiers, he had plucked ruthlessly,
but with scrupulous care, from the spots to which
they belonged, from the environment which was
essential to their interest. Skilled workmen dis-
membered them, carefully numbered the fragments
with red paint, carefully packed them ^when num-
bered, and escorted them over land or sea to the
Muswell Hill open-air museum, where they were un-
packed and fitted together under the delighted eyes
of the antiquarian banker.

No child fiddling with its first box of bricks nay,
to range in a bolder simile, no Egyptian Isis gather-
ing together the scattered bones of her son was half
so eager and exultant as Sir William piecing to-
gether his transplanted treasures. He glowed as
the degraded edifices took shape in their unfamiliar,
uncongenial surroundings. He rubbed his hands


over the incongruous juxtaposition of Aztec and
Saracenic architecture; it pleased him to behold in
his suburban spaces the wigwam of a Blackfoot
Indian witch-doctor encamped beside a Buddhist
shrine, and a wayside oratory from Andalusia cheek
by jowl with some obscene idol from the Solomon
Islands. Such were the relaxations of the great
and good man; absorbed in these whimsies, his
leisure from business was untroubled by speculations
as to the whereabouts or the conduct of Lady Emily.
A man with such a mania has not time nor thought
for jealousy.

To the Cloynes, in their straits, Lady Doubble
was little less than a godsend. She was well-bred
enough to meet any one, but had she been as ill-
mannered as a fishwife her wealth would have
buttered the dish. The splendid Cloynes when they
lent their splendor to London could give Lady
Doubble what she desired, the best of good com-
pany, the entry to great houses, a more than merely
bowing acquaintance with the excessively great.
Lady Doubble could feed, insidiously, the lean
exchequer of the Cloynes, could give great parties
at which the Cloynes presided and for which the
Cloynes took the social credit, could entertain the
Cloynes and all the friends that the Cloynes wished
to pleasure at vast banquets at Berkeley Square.

It was small wonder, therefore, that the Cloynes,
in response to the somewhat staggering letter which
Curtius wrote to his brother after the conversation


in the club, were only too delighted to extend the
hospitality of Cloyne Hall to the fantastic banker
and the fantastic banker's gallantish wife, and that
my Lord Cloyne awaited with some pleasurable
impatience the arrival of the pair from Dublin, under
the escort of brother Curtius, whose expenses, inci-
dentally, the banker paid, and paid willingly.

It was not surprising that Lady Doubble found
Captain Loveless's society agreeable, for he was
just the kind of man to attract her. Captain the
Honorable Curtius Loveless was a fine example of
a type that will always persist and flourish so long
as man retains his resemblance to the primordial
ape. When humanity's ancestors swung pre-
hensile from tree-boughs and chattered in the
branches there was such a one as Curtius Loveless
among the simians; so long as mankind still abides
by the canon of Pheidias and carries such a body
as is worn by, say, Theseus, so long will a Curtius
Loveless continue to adorn the tale. He had the
right male merits of strength, of courage; and
there, from the point of view of any student of hu-
manity, his catalogue of virtues came abruptly to
a close. The rest of him was no less frankly
animal than that imagined ape, his infinitely remote
ancestor. He had no principles, but he was not
unprincipled upon principle, like many of the rakes
of the age; it never occurred to him that there was
anything he ought to do if he did not want to do
it, or anything he ought not to do if he did want


to do it. He just went his way, too entirely un-
imaginative and unemotional to conceive that there
was or could be any other way of living than his
own way of life for those that were lucky enough
to be able to live it. He knew, of course, that there
were beggars in the world, and people who made
their living by their hands or their wits, but he
knew, also, that they did not count. The world,
the real world, was for him and his kind, but
especially for him. It would have been impossible
for the eloquence of a Bossuet, nay, more, of a
Baptist, to have persuaded Curtius Loveless that
a world was conceivable which was not mainly con-
cerned with eating and drinking, with horse-racing
and card-playing, with the love of woman in its
loosest and most liberal sense, with the wearing of

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Online LibraryJustin H. (Justin Huntly) McCarthyThe fair Irish maid → online text (page 6 of 20)