Paul Peppergrass.

Mary Lee, or, The Yankee in Ireland online

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saints in the coUinder, and all the gold in the Bank of
England to boot, if I'd ever as much as think of him,
barrin as I ought to do, and as it becomes my place to do.
I know he's kind to me, sir, and very kind to me "

" Quit the room, ma'am,'* commanded Uncle Jerry ;
" quit the room instantly ;" and snatching the spectacles
from his face, he motioned with them to the door. "Kind
to you, indeed ! I command you to quit the room."

"And yer house, too," replied Mrs. Motherly, raising
her apron to her eyes. 0, dear, 0, dear ! isn't it a poor
thing that an ould woman like me can't button her master's
leggins, or tie his cravat, but hell suspect her of thinking
of wliat she never dreamt of?"

" I suspect you !"

" Ay, just you, Mr. Guirkie ; for I believe in my heart
no one else could ever make up such a story. I don't
deny that I liked ye for a master in spite of all yer odd
ways, and that I tried to take care of you, when I seen
ye couldn't take care of yourself; but it's little I thought
ye'd conster my kindness in the way ye did."

" Listen," said Uncle Jerry, running his hands under
his skirts, and bending towards his housekeeper ; " may
I beg to be informed whether I am master in this house ;
and if so,why youdon'tquittheroomwhen Icommandyou.'*

" As for this cruel thratemerft, after so many years
slavin and workin for ye, night and day," continued the
weeping widow, without paying the least attention to her
master's request, " I forgive ye for it. I do, indeed, for-
give ye from my heart and soul."

" You're resolved, then, not to quit the room ; eh, have
you actually made up your mind not to leave ?"

" Och, hoch ! ye'd be dead in yer grave many a year
ago, Mr. Guirkie, only for the way I watched ye ; for yer
reverence, ye know yourself, the poor man has no more
wit nor a child " . ,,,,.,,,^

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*' Humph! I see you won't go, Mi-s. Motherly. Very
well, then," said Uncle Jerry ; " I shall. Let me pass."

As he rushed through the entrance hall, his slippers
clattering against his heels, and his spectacles swinging
from his lingers, the hall door opened, and Captain Peter-
iiliam entered whip in hand.

" So, ho ! what now ?'*

" Good morning, sir," responded Uncle Jerry, bowing


"You're excited, Mr. Guirkie, eh? What's the matter T

"Excited 1 can't I get excited in my own house, if I
l)lease. Captain Petersham, without being obliged to
account for it ?"

" Undoubtedly, sir, most undoubtedly. Why not ?"

" That is," said Uncle Jerry, correcting himself, " that
is, if Pm master of the house; but it seems I am not
My housekeeper, Mrs. Motherly, there, is master;" and
he glanced back at the parlour door.

"Ho, ho! it's only a lovere' quarrel, then.- Come,
come, Mr. Guirkie, you musn't get angry with Mrs.
Motherly ; if the good woman gi-ows jealous of you now
and then, you must try to conciliate her, you know, the
best way you can."

" Captain Petersham, your language is offensive," said
Uncle Jerry, "and I shan't put up with it any longer."

" And, Captain Petersham, you must clear my karacter
this very minute," sobbed Mrs. Motherly, coming up from
the parlour with her apron to her eyes, followed by Father
John, "Pm alone woman, sir, and have nothing but my
karacter to depend on."

" By the Lord Harry," exclaimed the captain, looking
from one to the other, " here's a pretty piece of work.
II 0, ho ! and Father Brennan, too. By George, sir, you're
the very man. You can settle the whole affair in a jiffy."

"How so?"

" Why, marry them at once, sir. Marry them instantly.
Nothing else will ever put a stop to their love quarrels."

Mr. Guirkie, on hearing this, could contain himself no
' ugcr. " Captain Petersham," he cried, " I shall not ask

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you to quit my house, for nobody ever did quit it yet at
my request, and nobody ever will, I suppose ; but, sir,
I'll leave you and your friends to occupy the premises.
For my part, I leave this neighbourhood to-morrow, and
seek for some place where I can live in peace/'

"Mr. Guirkie, are you mad ?* said Father John, stop-
ping him as he turned the handle of the hall door.

'' Gentlemen, dear, don't let him go out without his
cap," said Mrs. Motherly : " and them slippers of his, sure
they're no better than brown paper — ^he'll ketch his death
of cold. 0. Jiiema/ hiema/'^

'' Mr. Brennan, am I to consider myself a prisoner in
my own house ?" demanded Mr. Guirkie. • " Say yes or
no, sir, at once, and be done with it."

As the priest was about to reply, the clatter of horses'
feet was heard approaching, and next instant Kate Peter-
sham, mounted on "Moll Pitcher," came cantering into
the court-yard, and reining up at the door, jumped from
the saddle.

" Mr. Guirkie, a word with you," she said taking his
arm, and leading him back to the parlour ; " as for you,
Father John, I must see you before the trial comes on."


Mrs, 31otJierfy^ before quitting the House forever^ wishes to
leave some Directions about her blasters Flannels. — Mr.
Guirkie, in the mean time^ sheds Tears over the Portrait
of Marys Mother, — His first Love and his Last,

It was now approaching noon— the hour at which the
neighbouring justices of the peace usually assembled in
the little court house at Tamny, to hold their petit-ses-
sion once a fortnight. Already the little courtyard was

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298 MARY L££, OB

filled with men, women, and boys, (a thing of very rare
occurrence in that remote and peaceable district,)
eagerly talking in groups, here and there, about some-
thing in which they seemed to t^ke a more than ordinary
share of interest. Two or three policemen, whom Hard-
wrinkle had ordered from the next town, to take chaj'ge
of the barrack in the absence of its proper occupants, now
m search of his sister among the glens of Benraven, were
pacing up and down before the grated windows, anxiously
awaiting the arrival of the magistrates. To judge from
the smothered imprecations of some among the crowd,
and the more significant gesticulations of othere, one might
easily suspect there was mischief brewing. Here and
there a stalwart fellow might be seen hitching up his
pantaloons, and spitting on his shillelah, as he clutched
it in his brawny hand ; and now and then a boy would
jump to a seat on the low stone wall that enclosed the
courtyard, with pockets well stuffed and more than
usually heavy. The fear of the law, and the presence of
the police, small as the force was, had the natural effect
of preventing, for the present, actual breach of the peace;
but still it was easy to see that something serious was
likely to take place before the close of the proceedings.
One individual in particular seemed very busy amongst
the crowd, apparently giving orders and directions. This
was a woman of tall stature, wearing a gray cloak, with
the hood drawn over, but behind which, notwithstanding
its depth of shade, several white elf locks where plainly
visible. The reader will at once recognize in this per-
sonage our old acquaintance. Else Curley, of the Cairn.
Still erect and lithe as a sapling, though the snows of
eighty winters had passed over her head, she made her
way through the throng of men and women, with a step
as firm as when she trod the battle field on the heights
of Madeira, forty years before. Nor had she lost entirely,
either, that imposing presence, which in her younger days
must have stamped her as a remarkable woman. Age it
is true, had furrowed her skin, and pinched her cheeks

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with its iron fingere ; but the bold foreliead and the deep-
set gray eyes were there yet, to tell of her resolute and
•indomitable will. As she turned from side to side to
deliver her commands, the women and boys fell back and
gazed at her with fear, and the strongest men there shrank
from her touch, as they felt her hard bony hand upon
their shoulders.

Suddenly a horseman appeared in sight, cantering on
from the direction of Greenmount cottage; and instantly
the cry rose that Captain Petersham was coming. Then
the crowd began to sway to and fro, the boys to jump
from their seats on the low wall, and the policemen to
fihoulder their muskets. But they were doomed to be dis-
appointed ; for the hoi*seman, on nearer approach, proved
to be only one of the captain's grooms, who, ridhig up to
the gate, beckoned to a constable, and handing him a war-
rant, commanded him, in his master's name, to execute
it without delay.

The man seemed to hesitate for a moment after reading
the document.

*' The captain's orders are, tliat you proceed to Crohan
House instantly," said the groom, " and bring the boy
into court."

"Yes; but I don't feel at liberty to quit my post;"
replied the constable. " Our force is small."

"As you please," said the servant; "I have delivered
my orders;" and wlieeling round, without further parley,
he galloped back to Greenmount.

" Well, Thomas," demanded the captain, meeting the
groom at the door, "You handed the warrant to one of
the guard — has he gone to execute it ?"

"No, sir; he seems to have scruples about quitting
his post." /

" Scruples ! ho, ho ! Is that the way of it ? Scruples !
Look here, sir ; ride back, and tell him for me, if he
don't start within sixty seconds from the time you reacli
him, I'll have him in irons ten minutes after. Begone
now, and hurry back to report."

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"The scoundrel!" h^ continued, plucking off his sea
cap, and rubbing up his curly hair, as the servant rode
oft'; "the sneaking scoundrel ! Til thin off his constables*
for him ! By the Lord Harry, he'll not involve me in his
villanies, if I can help it. It's most atrocious. What I
send a fine, gallant young fellow like that to the hulks
or the gallows, because he loves his country more than
his king ? I'll be hanged if I do it, so long as I can thi-ow
an obstacle in the way."

" Captain,'' said a voice behind him, " if it's plazin' to
yer honour "

" Hilloal who's here? What 1 Mrs. Motherly — and still
in tears ? Come, come, go to your room, woman and
get reconciled. Away 1 You're as great a fool as your
master 1"

"Indeed, then, that's the truest word ye said yet,
captain ; for if I wasn't a greater fool, I wouldn't stay
with him. But there's an end to it now, any way.''

"End to what?"

"I'll leave him; that's all."

" Nonsense I"

"Indeed, then, I will, sir; I'll niver sleep another night
in this house. My heart's been a-breakin with him every
day these five years, but it's broken now, out and out.

wirastru^ wirastru! and this is the thanks I'm gettin
after workin and slavin for him early and late, night and
mornin, every hour since I first darkened his doors. But
sure it's all past and gone now, any way."

"Hold your peace, woman, and go to your room
instantly. Mr. Guirkie is too good for you. Away, and
thank God you have such a master."

" it's little yer honour knows about him. Captain.
Ay, ay, it's little you know about him, poor man. Och,
hoch, dear, if ye lived in the same house with him as I
did these five long years ! But no matter now, sure.
God forgive him as I forgive him ; and that he may live
long and die happy is all the harm I wish him. And now

1 wash my hands of him for evermore. I'll never ^"

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" Mrs. Motherly !"

" 0, it's no use, it's no use, captain. I can't stay, nor
' I ^Yon't stay. If ye went down on yer bended knees to
nie, I'll never close an eye under his roof. And now let
him find one that'll tie his cravat, and button his leg-
gings, and bathe his feet, ' as faithfully and constantly
as I did for these five long, weary years ; and if he does,
tlien all I have to say is, let him forget there ever was
born in this world such a woman as Nancy Motherly."

" Captain Petersham, have the goodness to step this
way," said Father Brennan, opening the parlour door,
and interrupting the conversation, much to the captain's

The disconsolate housekeeper entreated his honour to
wait and listen to her, but all in vain.

" Why, how now," exclaimed the latter, throwing his
portly person on the sofa, and glancing round the room ;
"all alone, eh? — where have they gone — Kate and
Mr. Guirkie?"

'' Hush ! don't speak so loud. They're all three inside

'' All three— who's the third r

" One you would never dream of seeing here — Roger

'*0, it's Roger, is it?"

" Yes ; the old man, it appears, came up this moniing
from the lighthouse to sell a picture to Mr. Guirkie.''

" A picture ?"

" Mary, you know, has quite a taste for painting, and
Eogcr's her salesman."

" Poor thing 1"

" Only for that, the family had suflfered long ago,"

" You astonish me ; are they really so very destitute ?"

" So I'm informed. Indeed from what I have seen and
know myself, I believe they must be reduced as low as
they can be, and live."

" God bless me !"

" Wliy, I thought Kate had told you of it"

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" No. She said something, I remember, of their being
poor, and all that, but never hinted at any danger of
their suffering. By the Lord Harry, sir, this can't be.
It shan^t be. The thought of Mary Lee in distress
actually frightens me."

" And then, she's so patient and gentle," said Father
John ; "never seen but with a smile on her face. Work-
ing at her easel through the long day, and often far into
the night, with old Drake sleeping by her side as she
plies her brush — working, working, without complaint
or murmur, to earn the bare necessaries of life for her
beloved uncle, and that good old man who has followed
them so faithfully, in their fallen fortunes."

" She's a delightful creature," exclaimed the captain.
" I wish to the Lord she could be induced to come and
stay with Kate at Castle Gregory. I would be a brother
to her as long as she lived."

" She never would consent to part with her uncle and
old Roger."

" Then, by the Lord Harry, let them all three come.
Castle Gregory's large enough. As for me, I suppose I
must remain an old bachelor, since there's no help for it.
Lee's an honest, kind-hearted, generous fellow himself,
as ever broke the world's bread ; and I should take it
as a favour if he came and took up his quarters with me
at the old castle. By George, I must call down in the
Water Hen to-morrow, and see him about it."

" Don't speak too fast, captain," said the priest. "Have
a little patience. There's a mystery now solving in that
room, which may baulk you, perhaps, of your generous


-" Yes. Shall I tell you what it is ? or have you time
to hear it? The couit sits at noon-r-does it not?"

" Hang the court ! Go on with the mystery."

" Well, Roger has been selling pictures to our friend,
Mr. Guirkie, it appears, for the last six months or more,
and, queer enough, never imagined for a moment the

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purchaser had the least suspicion of the artist — having
passed himself off as a picture dealer from Derry; while,
on the other hand, Mr. Guirkie was well aware of the
secret, and all the time kept buying her pieces, and
indulging his good, kind heart by paying double prices."

"Ho, ho ! I understand. Roger was unwilling to expose
the poverty of the family, and therefore went under an
assumed name."

" Precisely. Well, this morning, it seems, he started
from the lighthouse to sell a picture, as usual. When
he reached here, he felt rather shy about coming in, lest
he might happen to meet somebody who had seen Lim
before, and would recognize him. So, sitting down under
the window, to wait for an opportunity of seeing Mr.
Guirkie alone, and feeling somewhat fatigued, perhaps,
after his long jouniey, he fell fast asleep. In that posi-
tion Mr. Guirkie discovered him, with the picture care-
fully concealed under the breast of his coat, just as Kate
entered the parlour. You heard the shriek he gave
when the portrait met his eye, I suppose."

" Shriek — no, I heard no shriek. Portrait 1 why, what
does that mean ?"

" It means that he recognized the likeness, and in so
doing, almost lost his senses. But wait, you shall hear.
In the first place, it happened to be a copy Mary had
taken of her mother's portrait, which Roger carried off,
cither by mistake, or because he could find no other

" Yes, very well— go on," said the captain, impa-
tiently ; " it don't matter which."

"And this very portrait now reveals the whole mystery."

" The mystery 1 There, you're at it again. Mystery !
Good Heavens, sir, can't you tell me what mystery you
mean ? Excuse me, Mr. Brennan ; but you know how
deeply interested I feel in every thing that regards this
girl — and then you're so tedious."

" Have patience a little longer and I'll explain," said
the priest, smiling. " You are already aware that Mr.

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Giiirkie has been for the last five years in the habit of
visiting, once a week, the oki churchyard of Eathmullen,
and that nobody could tell his reason or motive for so

'•Certainly, every one in the parish knows that — well?"

" And you remember to have heard Mr. Guirkie tell
how he saw a young lady quitting the churchyard several
times, as he entered ?"

'' Yes."

"And that he thought, or fancied he thought, the
figure of that lady strongly resembled Mary Lee. Well,
it now turns out, that our dear old friend and Mary have
been all along visiting the same grave/'

" Hah ! the same grave !"

" Yes, the grave of her-^mother !"

"You surprise me! her mother! Are not the Lees
strangers here ?'

"Yes. But you recollect the circumstances of the
wreck of the Saldana, and how the body of a woman,
wearing a gold crucifix on her neck, with the name of
Harriet Talbot engi'aved on the back, was cast ashore,
and interred in Eathmullen churchyard. That woman
was Mary Lee's mother ?"

" Good Heavens ! Mary Lee's mother?"

" Yes, sir, Mary's mother 7'

"Humph! and so that accounts for those strange
rumours we heard of the white lady and gentleman, seen
so often quitting the churchyard and sailing down the
Swilly on moonlit nights. But what business had Mr.
Guirkie at her mother's grave, eh ?"

" That's the secret," replied the priest.

" The secret ! confusion 1 to the — But no matter — .
no matter ; have your own way, have your own way. 1
shall ask no more questions. I suppose you'll tell it
some time — when it suits you. By George, sir, you're
the most circum "

"Captain, dear," said Mrs. Motherly, opening the
door gently and cutting the word in two, " I want "

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"Want! What the fury do you want?" thundered
the provoked captain.

" Only one word, yer honour, afore I go. It's about
the master's flannels. I'm afeerd "

"Confound your master's flannels! To blazes with
them ; what have I to do with your master's flannels ?"
he exclaimed furiously ; " begone this instant !"

" I'll not keep ye one minute, yer honour. I'm only
afraid Mr. Guirkie'U ketch his death o' cold."

" Woman, quit the room !"

" Away, away, Mrs. Motherly," said the priest, inter-
posing good-naturedly, and closing the door; "I shall
become your intercessor with Mr. Guirkie as soon as
possible ; but don't quit the house, by any means, till I
see you again."

"What now?" cried Kate, stepping from the little
room in which she had been closeted all this time with
Mr. Guirkie, and laying her hand on the captain's shoulder.
" What now ? Brother, how is this ? out of temper, eh ?
What's the matter?"

" The mischiefs the matter. Between Father's Bren-.
nan's mystery, and Mrs. Motherly 's importunity, and
those confounded constables, I'm almost crazy."

" Well, well, brother Tom, you're so impatient, you
know, and so impetuous. Hush, now! not a word.
Listen — I have something to tell you."


" About Uncle Jerry."

" Well, what of him ? Has he had a fit ? is he dying ?
is he dead?"

"No, not exactly that — but, there's a — mystery — in it."

"Mystery! — d — ^n the mystery! — ^there's it's again!
Mystery, well, if this isn't enough to provoke — away !
stand off ! I'll be humbugged no longer. Let me pass
— ^I must see him instantly — away ! begone 1"

" You shall not, captain," cried Kate endeavouring to
Drevent him ; " you shall not."

"By the Lord Harry, I shall, though."

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" Nay, nay — it's a very delicate affair, brother ; and
indeed he'll never forgive you if you do — you know Iiony
bashful and sensitive he is/'

" Is he still insensible ?" inquired Father John.

"Quite so/' responded Kate; "he has not moved a
muscle since he saw the picture."

"Insensible!" repeated the captain; "then, Kate, be
it delicate or indelicate, I'll see ray old friend, tliiiik
what you please about it;" and freeing himself from liis
sister's grasp, he advanced "and opened the door of the
adjoining room..

The first object which met his view, was Mr. Guirkie
himself, seated at a table on which lay, what appeared
to be, a framed picture soma eight or ten inches square.
His forehead rested on his hands, and his eyes seemed
riveted to the canvass. Indeed, so absorbed was ho,
that the noise which the captain made in forcing open
the door seemed not to disturb him in the least. When
Kate saw her brother gazing so intently at Mr. Guirkie,
she suddenly ceased speaking, and gently passing him
by, took her place behind Uncle Jerry's chair. All
was silence now. Old Roger stood leaning his back
against the wall, looking down pensively on the floor ;
Kate, like a guardian angel, took her stand by the side
of her unconscious friend; the priest laid his hands
against the door casing and peeped in; and the bois-
terous, burly captain, so noisy but a moment before,
remained on the threshold silent and motionless as a

" Look !" said the priest, whispering over the captain's
shoulder, and pointing to the picture.


" Don't you see something drop— drop ? — listen? You
can almost hear them falling on the canvass."



" God bless me ! I don't like to see him weep. Shall
I wake him up ?"

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"No, no," said Kate; "let him weep on."
" But, Kate, what portrait is that — eh T
"The likeness of a long-lost friend — Mary Lee's

" Long-lost friend — Mary Lee's mother."
"Yes; the only woman he ever loved. Old Roger,
here will tell you all about it, some time when he has
more leisure."

"Its only now I could recognize him, yer honour,"
said Roger, "though I seen him many a time this
twelvemonth past. Years, you know, make a great
change in us."

" Kate, I must try to rouse him," said the captain ;
"I cannot bear to see those tears falling there so silently
on the canvass — it's very unpleasant."

"Not yet — not yet," remonstrated Kate, motioning
back the captain with her hand; "let the faithful soul
indulge his rapturous reverie. These are not tears of
anguish, brother, but of love. 0, think of the love of
that heart, after an absence of twenty years. Surely,
surely, such love is not of earth, but of heaven : so pure,
so gentle, so enduring. A wanderer over the wide world,
seeking solace for a widowed heart, he returns to his
native land, and after years of patient search, discovers
Jier lowly tomb at last among the ruins of Ratbmullen
Abbey. Week after week, for six long years, has he
visited that tomb. Every stain which the mildew had
left on the humble slab that bears her name he has obli-
terated, and every letter the moss of years had filled up
he has lovingly renewed- 0, tell me not. Father John,"
continued Kate, her cheeks flushed with the emotions of
her heart, " tell me not, that the pure, gentle, blessed
love of the olden time has all died out from the hearts of
men. No, no, no — God is love, and God never dies.
Noble, generous, faithful heart 1" cried the enraptured
girl, bui*sting hereelf into tears; and falling at Uncle
Jerry's feet, she removed his hand from his forehead and
kissed it with enthusiastic alfection. "0 that I had

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but studied this book more carefully ! how much more I
should have learned of the beautiful and the good. How
cold and insipid are all printed words, compared wit)*
the blessed teachings of a heart like thine. Mary Lee,
Mary Lee, angel or woman, whatever thou art, would to

Online LibraryPaul PeppergrassMary Lee, or, The Yankee in Ireland → online text (page 24 of 30)