Justin H. (Justin Huntly) McCarthy.

The fair Irish maid online

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leisurely dignity becoming to his years and his pro-
fession. Inside the Tower, secure from observa-
tion, they could watch the advance of the party
from the Hall.




THE party from the Hall came leisurely up the
hill. They had dined early; they had dined
well, and the cool of the evening was soothing after
a liberal indulgence in meats and wines. My Lord
Cloyne kept a good table in spite of his straitened
means, and he strove to be Lucullus with the
Doubbles for his guests. Lady Doubble, a trifle
flushed and vastly vivacious, strolled side by side
with Curtius Loveless, whose sallies and gallantries
seemed to afford her the highest gratification. Lady
Cloyne was escorted by Mr. Rubie, and seemed to
listen with attentive ear and interested mien to that
worthy gentleman's profound opinions and preg-
nant postulations. In reality she was not paying
the least attention to what he said, but was occupy-
ing her mind with speculations as to how Marcus
and she should spend the banker's money, if
which, indeed, she could scarcely bring herself to
believe the banker were really fool enough to be
willing to waste good money on a foolish and useless
Round Tower.

My lord walked with Sir William, and artfully


contrived to carry on a conversation upon archae-
ology and antiquarianism generally, as if he really
knew something about the subjects. What he did
know, or, rather, what he appeared to know, he had
garnered from a hurried consultation of the neces-
sary volumes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, which
formed part of the late lord's library. Such as the
knowledge he had thus culled might be, it served
his lordship's turn, for it enabled him to give his
companion a succession of little judicious spurs and
goads which urged him to the delivery of lengthy
and elaborate dissertations on his favorite themes.
These harangues bored my lord excessively, but he
considered lovingly the coming guineas, and carried
a smiling face.

The little party, therefore, seemed all in the best
spirits and on the best terms with each other when
they finished their climb and came to a halt on the
summit of the hill. With a wave of his cane my
lord indicated the Round Tower. It was for all
the world as if he were formally presenting Sir
William Doubble to the ancient monument he had
traveled thus far to see.

Sir William's countenance glowed with satis-
faction as he surveyed the Tower, and he turned
to his host in a rapture of enthusiasm. "My lord,"
he declared, with the eagerness which he always
displayed when there arose any opportunity for
adding to the madness of Muswell Hill, "you have
not exaggerated the value of your treasure. It is a


splendid specimen, and I am delighted to think
that it is destined to enrich my collection."

My lord in his heart thought the egregious banker
a very foolish personage, but he was far too wary to
show any sign of contempt for a folly which prom-
ised to put some hundreds of pounds into his own
pockets. He suggested that the banker should in-
spect the Round Tower from within, and the banker,
accepting the invitation with alacrity, was about to
skip as nimbly as he could up the rude run of steps
that now made the entrance to the Tower accessible.
But he got no farther in his progress than the placing
of one foot upon the first step of the stairway, for at
that moment Grania suddenly emerged from the
darkness of the interior of the Tower, and, standing
on the top of the steps, looked down upon the
little company from the Hall.

Sir William gave a little start at the sudden
appearance of youthful beauty in a manner so
unexpected. The faintest shade of an annoyed
frown darkened for a moment the amiability of
my lord's face, only to disappear as swiftly as it
had come. Lady Cloyne and Lady Doubble lifted
their long-handled eye-glasses and stared at the girl,
the first with a disdainful familiarity, the second
with a frank, if slightly resentful, admiration. Mr.
Rubie felt curiously agitated at seeing Grania again,
and disapproved of the agitation. As for Captain
Curtius, he stared as if he had never seen a pretty
girl before. Indeed, he assured himself that he


had never before seen one so beautiful, and he had
seen many in his day.

Grania came quietly down the steps as Sir
William hurriedly renounced his attempt to ascend,
and faced the company from the Hall composedly.
Behind her, in the darkness of the Tower, Mr.
Pointdexter lingered, unnoticed or unheeded. Gra-
nia saluted Lady Cloyne, who returned the saluta-
tion coldly, and then addressed herself to my lord.

"I hear," she said, "that your lordship has the
intention of selling this Tower."

Lord Cloyne nodded briskly, and made a gesture
in the direction of Sir William Doubble.

"That is so," he agreed, "and this is the gentle-
man that proposes to buy it."

"It has ever been the rule," Grania retorted, "on
the Cloyne estate when any portion of the land is to
be sold to sell it to the highest bidder."

Lord Cloyne nodded again. "Very true, Miss
O'Hara," he said, politely, "and the rule would be
observed now if there were the slightest likelihood
of any one being desirous to compete with Sir
William Doubble here for the possession of the
Round Tower."

He spoke as if his words ended a conversation
that was at once needless and "meaningless, but
Crania's next words staggered him.

" It is not so very unlikely," Grania said, quietly.
" I, myself, am wishful to buy theTower if the Tower
is for sale."



Lord Cloyne could scarcely have been more sur-
prised if Grania had announced her intention of
assuming the title of Queen of England. As he had
not the slightest doubt of the girl's sanity, he sus-
pected some kind of practical joke and my lord de-
tested practical joking. His surprise was so great
that he showed it, which was unusual for him.
Lady Cloyne, who had been busily explaining
Grania to Lady Doubble in a half-audible whisper,
now tittered. Sir William looked vexed and puzzled.
Mr. Rubie wondered if the girl had taken leave of
her senses, and Captain Curtius edged nearer to
get a better view. He had only been dimly con-
scious of Crania's existence; he had never seen her
since she was a child, for Captain Curtius was wont
to congratulate himself that his life had not to be
lived in Ireland. Now he was inflamed with ad-
miration of the girl's beauty, and envied his brother
his opportunities, and wondered what use he had
made of them. In the mean time that brother, for
once at a loss, was striving as politely as possible
to suggest to Grania that she should go away and
not talk nonsense.

Grania smiled. "I suppose you think me in-
sane," she said, good-humoredly, "but, indeed, I
am quite rational and quite in earnest." She
glanced over her shoulder toward the doorway of the
Tower, wherein Mr. Pointdexter now was framed.
"This gentleman will explain," she said.

Mr. Pointdexter slowly descended from the


Tower to the turf. He saluted the two ladies with a
rigid courtesy, and then addressed himself to Lord
Cloyne. Briefly and pithily he put that astonished
nobleman in possession of the facts which had con-
verted Grania from poverty to wealth. My lord and
his companions heard and were amazed. My lord
questioned shrewdly, but after a few minutes felt
that there was no room to doubt the accuracy of the
lawyer's narrative. Mr. Pointdexter had with him
in his little bag sufficient documentary evidence
to satisfy the most skeptical. There was the copy of
O'Hara's will, there were unlimited letters of credit
on Dublin and London banks. Lord Cloyne sur-
rendered all doubts. He certainly was not unwilling
to be convinced, for the proviso in the will which
appointed him and his wife as the wardens of the
newly enriched girl frankly delighted him. As for
Lady Cloyne, she immediately quitted Mr. Rubie to
precipitate herself in a paroxysm of enthusiastic
congratulations upon Grania, who had never hither-
to received more than the most distant civilities of
recognition and salutation from the great lady.

Grania was inwardly amused at this vehement
effusiveness and outwardly pleased at the extrava-
gant display. Had Lady Cloyne suddenly discov-
ered a long-lost and dearly loved relative she could
not have made a greater fuss over the girl, but be-
cause she was a clever woman and by no means
wanting in shrewdness she contrived to leaven her
enthusiasm with a certain frank worldliness which


made it seem less impossible. She admitted with
a cheery candor that as Crania's position had now
entirely changed it was only natural and fitting that
Lady Cloyne's attitude and course of conduct
should change with it. She vowed that she had
always liked Grania, but that the liking could not
possibly take any pronounced form as long as
Grania was merely a girl who lived in a peasant's
cabin and dressed like a peasant girl. Grania, on
her side, was prepared to accept the lady's overtures
in the spirit in which they were made. She was
desirous in the first instance to follow the wishes
of the uncle whom she had never seen but whose
belated remembrance of her had caused such a
change in her fortunes. In the second place, she
was well aware of the advantage it would be to her
to accept the offered friendship of the Cloynes and
to make her entrance into the social world in their
company. So that matter was settled without fur-
ther ado.

Nobody, it may be noted, was more gratified by
the arrangement than Captain Curtius. The beauty
of the girl had allured him from the first, stimulating
pursuit. Now other thoughts came, other hopes
kindled, and it was with a great show of eager-
ness that he pressed forward to be presented by
his sister-in-law to the fair heiress, who received
him very graciously. Captain Curtius was very
good-looking, and had a most gallant carriage.
There was no reason why Grania should not smile


upon him. Lady Doubble smiled also and thought

But if the general feeling of the little company on
the hillside was one of satisfaction, strong dissat-
isfaction asserted itself in the person of Sir William
Doubble. He broke in upon the conference between
the Cloynes and Grania and Mr. Pointdexter with
vehement demands that his lordship should carry
out the understanding come to between them and
sell him the Round Tower. Lord Cloyne pointed
out to the aggrieved banker that the situation was
wholly changed, that a new-comer had taken a hand
in the game and altered its conditions by announc-
ing an intention to enter the lists as a competitor
for the purchase of the Round Tower. My lord
pointed out how unfair it would be to him, Cloyne,
if he were not to be allowed to take advantage of
the sudden opportunity afforded him of getting a
better price for his property.

The arguments seemed to be lost upon the banker.
He insisted on what he asserted to be his rights, and
when Grania amiably but positively assured him
that she was determined to outbid any sum he might
be persuaded by his passion of collectorship to offer,
his zeal of acquisition overcame his decorum, and he
eventually so far forgot his urbanity as to remind
Grania that as a Catholic she had no power to buy
or hold property in Ireland as against a member of
the established Church. For a moment Crania's
face fell, for she knew well enough the extravagant


cruelties of the penal laws, but she recovered her
serenity when Mr. Pointdexter, coming forward,
blandly explained that though the law might in
effect act so, it did not prevent an American citizen
from buying any property that was offered for sale
in Ireland, and that he as an American citizen was
as cheerfully prepared to outbid the antiquary's
offers as Grania herself.

Thus frustrated, there was nothing for the anti-
quary to do but to abandon his claim, which he did
with a very ill grace indeed, and to quit the field,
which he did very quickly in the company of his
spouse, who went with him for the sensible purpose
of soothing his ruffled feelings. She was deter-
mined that there should be no quarrel with the
Cloynes over a silly old building, and she was quite
willing to be on friendly terms with the young wo-
man whose fortunes rivaled those of Aladdin. Mr.
Rubie, after stammering out a few awkward words
of congratulation to Grania, followed the Doubbles
in the company of Captain Curtius, and the Cloynes
were left to make their arrangements with their new
ward and her lawyer. While my Lady Cloyne was
volubly announcing her plans and proposals to the
quietly attentive American, my lord, with the smil-
ing statement that he left all such matters to his wife,
took advantage of the situation to get a few words
with Grania apart.

To do my lord justice he was never taken aback
and was never known to seem abashed. Another


man might have found the changed situation em-
barrassing and might have met it with awkward
expressions of regret or a sulky affectation of in-
difference. My lord did not bother himself so.
Mis face wore its pleasantest smile as he addressed
the girl.

"Let me offer you my heartiest congratulations,"
he said, "on this sudden change in your fortune.
My congratulations are honest, and I hope you will
believe that they come from the lips of a friend."

Grania made as if she would speak, but my lord
with a gracefully lifted hand checked her attempt
as he continued, still with the same air of courteous
good humor.

"Oh!" he protested, "I can guess what you were
going to say, that I have not shown myself a friend,
and that you do not feel friendly disposed toward
me; but I believe that if you reflect for even a few
minutes you will say nothing of the kind. You
know what we are, we men of the world; we are all
given to gallantry, and there never was a Loveless
yet who did not seek to excel in the sport. But
that is all past and done with as far as you are
concerned. I have apologized before, and, if you
want me to apologize again, I am ready to do it
with my hand on my heart and my knee on the

He made a suggestion of kneeling as he spoke,
though he did not kneel, and his smiling eyes
scanned the girl's face steadily. It would have been

10 133


hard for her, it would have been hard for any woman,
to resist the cheerful earnestness of my lord's man-
ner. He was not in the least sincere, but sincerity
asserted itself in every sound of his voice and on
every line of his frank and handsome features. His
carriage, as well as his speech, seemed to protest a
genuine desire for reconciliation, a general assurance
of amendment. As a matter of fact, my lord knew
that that way of his always had a good effect upon
those who experienced its influence for the first
time. He was really thinking of the value that a
reconciliation with the girl would mean to him.
St. James's Street seemed suddenly very near at
hand. He felt as if he had only to extend an arm
to touch the door of Watier's. He could almost see
the portly figure of the Prince Regent and glow
responsive to his welcoming smile.

Grania was willing to forgive, and so Grania for-
gave. She had too brisk a sense of humor to cher-
ish the memory of an offense to commit which
came as natural to a man of Lord Cloyne's kind as
to breathe. She smiled her readiness to forget, and
my lord made her a grateful bow. Then Lady
Cloyne smiled down upon them, with Mr. Point-
dexter in tow. All was settled. Grania was to
come at once to the Hall and become a member of
the Cloyne household. The next steps in her
career as a great lady would be decided later. In
quick response to Crania's expression of anxiety as
to the welfare of her old nurse, Lady Cloyne prom-


ised that ease and comfort should henceforth be
assured to her. The preliminary lines of the treaty
between the high contracting parties thus laid down,
the company quitted the hilltop and walked to the



RANIA could never quite recall in after life the
exact sequence of events of those first astound-
ing hours or the sensations that those events caused
her. It was all so sudden, so swift, so amazing, so
like being blended with the delicate impossibilities
of a fairy tale being borne on the plumy wings of
some Arabian adventure. To-day, as it were, and
yesterday, and all the yesterdays that she could
remember, she had been poor. She had looked for-
ward without fear as without hope to a life of pover-
ty only a little less abject in that she placed a wo-
man's confidence in Dennis's braggadocio. And
lo, to-day again ! But she was suddenly translated,
and the present was a splendid promise and the
future was to go its way upon a path that was all
gold and roses. At first she was like the sleeper
awakened in the Oriental fantasy, and could not by
any means prevail upon herself to credit her as-
tounding shift of fortune. Was it really she who
now owned the Round Tower, bought from my
Lord Cloyne at a reasonable advance upon Sir
William Doubble's price ? Was it really she who


was an heiress and dwelling at the great Hall and on
terms of equality with its great ladies ? It was only
the repeated assurances of Mr. Pointdexter, the
persistent assiduities of the Cloynes, and the heavy
amiabilities of Sir William Doubble, now partially
reconciled to the loss of the Round Tower by the
promise of a new client and enormous deposits, it
was only these combined evidences and aids to con-
viction that dissipated her doubts and allowed her
to lift up her heart in serenity and security.

What a wonderful, many-colored phantasmagoria
it was to look back upon after the lapse of a few
days, after the lapse of a few weeks! First of all,
there was her installation at the Hall, and her in-
vestment in such of the garments of fashion as could
be hurriedly adapted to her need from the somewhat
slender wardrobe of my Lady Cloyne and the
brimmed capacity of the traveling trunks of my
Lady Doubble. Her beautiful body was for the
first time clothed as its slender loveliness deserved.
Delicate linen touched her flesh, the suavity of
bravely colored silks and ancient lace framed and
emphasized the radiancy of her youth and the rich-
ness of her beauty. She knew the joy of delicious
silk stockings, clinging to the slim leg as tightly as a
second skin; the joy of cool, clean lavender-scented
smocks, the joy of pretty petticoats and companion-
able stays, the joy of costly gowns, of feathers in the
hair, of jewels on neck and wrist and finger. After
the first shock of surprise she accepted the meta-


morphosis readily enough, was supple under the
touches of dexterous ladies' maids, was newly de-
lighted with each addition to her charms. How
glorious was the exposure to a mighty mirror, the
beholding in that sheet of glass of the sweet changes
which veil upon veil of rich attire wrought in her
outward show. Yet she was very quiet throughout
that first bewildering ordeal, showing no unnecessary
joy, taking her staggering transmutation with a seem-
ing calm that surprised Lady Cloyne and amused
Lady Doubble, both of whom had been used to fine
clothes all their lives and would scarcely have been
surprised if the peasant girl, as they styled or thought
her, had sung or skipped for joy at her change.

That first night in the Hall, what a night that was
of revelation in marvels! The richly furnished
rooms, the stately staircases, the largeness and the
luxury of the life that was displayed on all sides
appealed instantly to the child's sense of well-being.
To Lady Doubble the establishment at Cloyne
Hall seemed a modest enough affair; her keen sight
could discern a thousand telltale things that
shrieked aloud the poverty of the Cloynes and the
difficulty that they had to keep up the show of
ease. But Grania did not discern these things, and
influences that were lost upon Lady Doubble were
not lost upon the girl the influence of beautiful old
furniture in a beautiful old dwelling, of an atmos-
phere created by generations of residence, of the
tone that time had slowly given to a dwelling, the


tone and touches that made it a work of art. In
the picture-gallery she did not heed as Lady Doub-
ble heeded the cracked frames and faded gilding
of the frames; she recognized by instinct that the
portraits of the Cloynes and their kinsfolk, men
and women, were true things, admirable creations,
calling to her with that voice of command to which
kindness of any kind always found her responsive
and obedient. The bewildering magnificence of
it all took Crania's breath away, and if she had
been only by a little less witful than she was, she
would have betrayed herself a thousand times in
as many seconds. But while she inwardly mar-
veled she was outwardly calm. She took the minis-
trations of the great ladies, and of their subalterns,
the ladies' maids, with a composed indifference
which seemed baffling to the subalterns and ad-
mirable to the superior officers. In less than a
quarter of a day Grania O'Hara sloughed off the
skin of her poverty and arose invested by the splen-
dor of her wealth, with no shamefacedness, no
hesitation to mark the transition between the chrys-
alis and the butterfly. When she sailed into the
banqueting-room of the Hall for supper on the
evening of the day which had begun with the battle
of the Round Tower, she seemed astonishingly
self-composed in the eyes of the two ladies that
were acting, and were mighty pleased to act, as
her fairy godmothers. As for the gentlemen, it is
free to admit that all four thought her perfection.



IT was decided by the Cloynes, after long and
serious consultation with Mr. Pointdexter, that
Grania should not be carried at once to London,
but should proceed thither by the stepping-stones
of Dublin and of Paris. In the capital of her
native land Grania should receive the earliest rites
of initiation into the mysteries of society and learn
the easier rules of its game. In Paris, where the
restored Bourbon held his court and welcomed
English visitors to his kingdom, the girl might
study the stately politeness and splendid etiquette
of that old order of things now eagerly reasserting
itself after an exile of a quarter of a century. Also,
she might acquire a wardrobe worthy of her wealth,
her beauty, and her youth, so that when at last she
arrived in London she would be fitly equipped for
its subjugation.

If the Cloynes and Mr. Pointdexter were unani-
mous in agreement as to these plans for polishing
their precious stone, they were also unanimous in
declaring that Grania already wanted very little
indeed to make her a great lady. With these


schemes for her immediate future Grania was quite
content. She had never been in a city in her life,
and would have gone to Dublin or to Damascus
with an equal ignorance and an equal eagerness.
She had always longed to see the world of which
she knew so little, but as the realization of her
wishes seemed impossible, she had kept her longing
to herself, like a sensible young woman, and made the
best of what Heaven had given. Now that Heaven
had been pleased to increase its bounty, she ex-
tended her hands in rapture toward the unknown
kingdoms and the wonders and the pleasures that
they promised her.

Yet neither the satisfaction nor the -desires of her
new life had any power to push her lover from his
first place in her thoughts and in her heart. Her
one regret in her new splendor was that Dennis
should be absent in its dawn. Her chief desire was
to call him to her side. This she could not do at
once, for Dennis had gone away from her giving no
address to which she could write. He had promised
to write to her as soon as he had settled; but the days
came and the days went and brought their tale of
great changes into Crania's life, yet brought no
message from the absent man. Grania would have
rejoiced to share the good news and the good fortune
with Dennis at once. She hated the delay which
kept them apart when they should be together.

After a while, when the silence continued, Gra-
nia began to grow anxious, and while she and


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Online LibraryJustin H. (Justin Huntly) McCarthyThe fair Irish maid → online text (page 8 of 20)