BOB LLOYD IN DANGER. MAT DONOVAN'S OPINION OF "DESAVING" PEOPLE IN THE WAY OF COURTSHIP.
THE last straggler had left the field, and hurried on after the fifes and drums. The Miss Hanlys had shaken hands with Mr. Lowe and the doctor, and driven up the hill, disappearing round the angle of the road like a vanishing rainbow, or anything else very bright and beautiful, from the doctor's gaze. Maurice Kearney was pointing out the wonderful straightness of the new ditch to Mr. Bob Lloyd, and telling him how Mat Donovan had marked out the line for it with his plough. And Mr. Lloyd, stooping forward and shutting one eye, had looked along the new ditch between the ears of his grey hunter, and said, "Ay, faith." Mr. Lowe had turned into the avenue gate to overtake Mary and Grace when Grace, who looked round to see whether the pony would take it into his head to play one of his practical jokes and return to the gate backwards, uttered an exclamation and stood still, with sparkling eyes and flushed cheek. Then Grace ran forward a few yards and stopped again; and then retreated backwards, holding out her hand to feel for Mary, and keeping her eyes fixed upon a carriage that had just topped the hill and was coming slowly towards them. Having found Mary without the help of her eyes, she grasped her by the arm, holding on as if some unseen force were pulling her away, and panting like a startled greyhound. For a minute or so she seemed uncertain as to the occupants of the carriage; but all doubt was soon removed, and, regardless of consequences or appearances, Grace sprang forward and flew up the hill as if she had wings. The old coachman, allowing his solemn face to relax into a smile, reined in his horses, and in another instant Grace was in the carriage.
It is Dr. Kiely," exclaimed Mary. " It is her father." And Mary looked so excited, that a new idea got into Mr. Lowe's head; and when he saw a tall man of noble presence alight from the carriage holding his little daughter by the hand, Mr. Lowe felt sure that Dr. Kiely was the rival he had most to dread. He remembered how Miss Kearney had described him as the "finest man she ever saw"; and he could see by her look that she almost worshipped him.
"Oh, he has Eva with him," she exclaimed again, and hurried quickly back to the gate, as Richard handed a graceful girl with very long golden ringlets out of the carriage.
When the greetings and introductions were over and Dr. Kiely did not fail to shake hands with Mr. Lloyd, whom he had met before the party all walked through the lawn, the carriage going round to the back entrance; but Maurice Kearney observed that Mr. Bob Lloyd remained outside the gate, as motionless as any equestrian statue.
"Come, Mr. Lloyd, and have pot-luck with us," said Maurice Kearney, going back and pulling the gate open.
Mr. Lloyd rode in like a man in a dream, till he came to the hall-door.
"Take Mr. Lloyd's horse to the stable," said Mr. Kearney to Tom Maher. "Come in, Mr. Lloyd."
Grace never let go her father's hand all this time; but she glanced at Eva occasionally as if she feared some harm might happen to her, and thought the "poor child" required looking after. Mary was obliged to come down from her room to remind her of the necessity of preparing for dinner, and Grace returned with her; but instead of taking off her bonnet, she sat on a chair near the window, looking quite bewildered.
"What on earth has come over you, Grace?" Mary asked. "You have never once opened your lips since they arrived."
To which Grace replied by rushing at her sister, and flinging her arms round her neck. Eva stooped down and gently submitted to a choking.
"You have lost your senses," said Mary, laughing.
"Here now, Mary," returned Grace, in a business-like manner, "sit down and write a note which I will dictate."
"To whom?" Mary asked.
"To Castleview. Papa likes a dance, and I can't see that we can get on quite well by ourselves. So ask them to spend the evening."
"Very well," returned Mary; "I suppose I'm to include Lory?"
"Yes, of course."
"Who is Lory?" Eva inquired, as she tried to re-arrange her curls.
"Oh, he's one of my admirers," Grace replied.
"Shall I say, by way of inducement, that we have Mr. Lloyd?"
"Well, I think not, It would look as if we regarded that fact as a great matter. I'll send Adonis with the note, and he can just mention Mr. Lloyd incidentally. And, by-the-by, don't be too sure of Mr. Lloyd. Here is his man Jer in pursuit of him, and you know what Richard told us about him."
Mr. Lloyd was soon seen, without his hat, in the garden.
"Well, Jer?" said he.
"Aren't we goin' to the County Carlow?" returned Jer. "Afther gettin' the new traces for the tandem an' all."
"Ay, faith," replied his master. "To-morrow."
"Well, sure you may as well come away home so," rejoined Jer.
"I'm staying for dinner with Mr. Kearney," returned his master.
Jer looked at him in silence for a minute. "God help you," he muttered, with a pitying shake of the head. "You never had a stim uv sinse, since you wor the hoighth o' that." And Jer held his hand two feet from the ground.
"No danger, Jer," said Bob Lloyd, walking back to the house with a good-humoured smile.
"No danger," Jer muttered to himself, as he glanced at Miss Kearney in the window. "How mild an' innocent she looks. An' she's always quite an' studdy, an' stays at home, an' keeps her mind to herse'f. But thim's the dangerous wans," added Jer, with a look of deep wisdom, "an' 'tisn't the little cockers that's always runnin' about waggin' their tails and givin' tongue from mornin' till night. But id can't be helped, an' he can't say that he wasn't warned, at any rate." And Jer returned to Mount Tempe full of sad forebodings, and almost regretting his promise to Tom Otway to go down to the County Carlow to have a look at his cousin.
The dinner was equal to anything that Mrs. Kearney had ever seen even in "her own father's house." It imparted an Epicurean pout to Dr. Kiely's under lip, and threw a sort of "dim religious light" over the spirits of the whole company, which checked everything approaching to levity till the dishes were removed. Grace's laugh was hushed, and even the brilliancy of her eyes toned down. In fact, her face merely reflected her father's, and she even unconsciously imitated his movements, until after a graceful flourish of the hand she leant back in her chair and attempted to stick her thumb in an imaginary waistcoat which reminded her that she was not six feet high and the finest gentleman in all the world. But then she was his daughter, and maintained her dignified deportment accordingly.
Dr. Kiely had the gift of drawing people out; and the true politeness to exercise it impartially. Mr. Lowe acquitted himself so entirely to his own satisfaction, that his prejudice against his new acquaintance vanished like mist before the sun. A question or two about his professional studies gave Richard an opportunity of airing a whole vocabulary of hard words, which quite frightened his mother so stupendous, she thought, must be his learning. Even Mr. Bob Lloyd talked so well that Grace was impressed with quite a high opinion of his good sense; and wondered why he looked so seldom towards her side of the table. Hugh alone was left in the background; and she thought it too bad that her papa should treat him as if he were a mere boor. But she soon noticed that Hugh and her papa exchanged looks now and then, and seemed to understand each other very well; which was quite a "mystery" to her, but just then she could not turn her mind to unravelling it.
But Mr. Lloyd soon took to sighing so deeply, and with so melancholy an expression of face, that Mrs. Kearney became quite distressed 'twas so like her poor Uncle Dan after the marriage of his first love, for whose sake he remained all his life a bachelor, and took to writing poetry and playing the fiddle. Mr. Lloyd, she thought, must surely have been crossed in love, and her heart melted in compassion for him. She thanked goodness she had never made any one unhappy in that way. Though, to be sure, their neighbour, Mr. Sweeny, who was "rolling in riches," fell in love with her when she was only nineteen, and offered to marry her "without a penny." And though her father thought it would be a most fortunate match for her, and even her Uncle Dan said she ought not to be too hasty in refusing, and poor Mr. Sweeny was "so fond of her"; still she couldn't bear the thought of marrying him on account of his nose. Not that the nose, though somewhat long, was by any means an ugly nose. But it was a cold nose! That's what did the mischief. Mr. Sweeny arrived unexpectedly at Ballydunmore one winter's night it was the night after Twelfth Night, for all the world and the light happening to be blown out in the hall, Mr. Sweeny, in an evil hour for himself, attempted to kiss her, and the contact of his nose with her glowing cheek, sent a cold shiver to her heart, and quenched the incipient combustion that was beginning to take place there, from the mingling of her own good nature with her Uncle Dan's approval; and which would inevitably have burst into a flame, were it not for that unlucky icicle of a nose. It was all in vain that she tried to reason with herself that the coldness of the nose was merely accidental, and the result of the cold rain and sleet, which the east wind had been blowing straight in Mr. Sweeny's face since he had left his own house. Unhappily reason is a mere bellows without a valve in such cases. No matter how hard you work with it, it won't help in the least to get up a blaze. And in spite of all she could do, the rosy-cheeked Miss O'Carroll of Ballydunmore found herself singing, involuntarily, twenty times a day
"You're too old and you're too cold,
And I won't have you, I won't have you,"
greatly to her own distress. And after those little snatches of melody she would accuse herself of "ingratitude," and the valveless bellows would be brought into requisition, but to very little purpose. Yet there was no knowing how it might have ended, as Mrs. Kearney was wont to say with a sigh, if young Maurice Kearney, of Ballinaclash, had not dropped in with her Uncle Dan on their way to the fair of Limerick, and stepped for the night. It was rumoured at the time but there was no positive evidence of the fact that a similar proceeding to that of the night after Twelfth Night took place on this occasion also; but with a precisely opposite result. And the truth of this rumour was strongly confirmed by Mrs. Kearney's avowal afterwards that Maurice's impudence in those days "went beyond anything."
Mrs. Kearney thought of all this as she watched the heaving of Bob Lloyd's chest, and his languishing looks across the table across the table, of course, because his face happened to be turned in that direction, and not with any reference either to the golden ringlets or the wavy tresses of dark brown, with their accompaniments, that happened to be straight before him. And as Mr. Lloyd continued to get worse, Mrs. Kearney felt quite unhappy, and said to herself that she did not "envy her, whoever she was," who could cause such suffering as that, particularly in the case of such a "fine, gentlemanly-looking man" as Mr. Lloyd.
Once in the drawing-room Grace emancipated herself from the spell that so subdued her during dinner, and instead of reflecting the mellow light of the star of her idolatry, sparkled and scintillated with her own peculiar brightness. Even Mr. Lloyd followed her movements with a plaintive smile; as a mourner over a grave might be startled into a momentary forgetfulness of his sorrow by the flitting of a humming bird, like a winged gem among the tombs. Mary was far more animated than Mr. Lowe had ever seen her before. But Eva was shy, and looked as if she would hide herself behind the golden ringlets which made Hugh whisper in Grace's ear while he called her attention to her sister
"My Mary of the curling hair,
The laughing teeth, and bashful air."
Whereupon Grace started up from her seat with her hands upon her knees, and then sat down again, as if she could scarcely resist flying across the room and repeating the strangling process over again.
The entrance of the Miss Hanlys in their new flounced dresses created quite a sensation, and even Grace acknowledged that Kathleen was gloriously handsome. In fact, the little improvised party was as perfect in every detail as if it had been planned and pondered over for weeks and months before; and even Dr. Kiely, who was somewhat fastidious, was charmed. And when Miss Rose Hanly ran her fingers over the keys of the piano, and the dancing commenced, it would be difficult to say whether the actual performers or the lookers-on were most delighted always excepting Mr. Lory Hanly, whose ecstasy, in either capacity, like Maurice Kearney's impudence when he went a-wooing to Ballydunmore, "went beyond anything."
When, however, the "poetry of motion" was suspended, and poetry proper, in the shape of Moore's Melodies, introduced, Dr. Kiely began to resume his sway over the company, as he called Mr. Lowe's attention to the beauties of each song, occasionally repeating a stanza in such a mellow tone and measured cadence, that Mr. Lloyd called out at last, "Give it all to us, doctor," to the great amusement of every one, for these were the first words uttered by Mr. Lloyd since he took to sighing at the dinner-table. And when Lory, who was concealed behind the window curtains with only one eye visible, which he kept steadily fixed upon Grace blurted out with that "terrible throat" of his, "You took the words out of my mouth, Mr. Lloyd; I was just going to ask him myself" there was a burst of laughter that broke the spell under which the doctor was fast bringing them like some powerful necromancer.
Hugh thought how fortunate it was that Miss Lloyd was not present, as the voice from behind the curtain would inevitably have necessitated the burning of feathers under her nose.
Grace suggested that Mr. Hanly himself ought to favour them with a recitation; and, with the agility of a harlequin, Lory sprang from his hiding-place upon a chair for, as he afterwards confessed, he'd do anything she'd ask him. Mrs. Kearney took advantage of the clap with which he was received to bolt out of the room, with her two hands over her ears, as if she were flying from a shower of brickbats.
Doctor Kiely complimented Lory upon his rendering of "The Spanish Champion," and prophesied that Mr. Hanly would one day be a great orator; by which compliment Grace was as gratified as Lory himself. Indeed, she knew his appreciation of herself was a proof that Lory had something in him.
"Well, Grace," said her father, "are we to have any more songs? It would not be fair to trespass too much on Miss Hanly, so I think you ought to sing that beautiful little song of Edward Walsh's for us."
Grace searched for her own music book music and words copied by herself, as she was wont to remark carelessly to her new acquaintance and Mr. Lloyd was roused again when she came to the words
"My girl has ringlets rich and rare,
By Nature's finger wove"
and evinced such admiration of her singing, that Grace requested a song from Mr. Lloyd himself. And Mr. Lloyd complied so readily and acquitted himself so well that the ladies all exchanged looks of wonder. The song was "Norah Creina," and Grace saw plainly enough that she was the lady of "the beaming eye" and the "wit refined"; but which of the other ladies was Mr. Lloyd's "gentle, artless Norah Creina," was not so evident, as they all sat close together at the opposite side of the room, and she could not be sure for which of them the singer's melting glances were intended.
"That's an admirable song," said Dr. Kiely; "and I never heard it better sung in my life. In fact, I think most of Moore's songs are best sung by men. The ladies don't attend sufficiently to the sentiment; they think only of the music."
"That does not apply to Miss Grace's singing," Mr. Lowe observed.
"Oh, you are thinking of the 'cold-hearted Saxon,'" said Mary, laughing, "when she sang the 'Coulin' for you the other evening."
"What about the 'cold-hearted Saxon?' "Dr. Kiely asked.
"Mr. Lowe heard Mr. Flaherty play the air at a wedding," returned Mary, "and Grace sang Moore's words to it for him, and he says the bitter hatred she threw into her look and voice, as she fixed her eyes on himself at those words, quite frightened him."
"Oh, 'twas dreadful!" exclaimed Mr. Lowe.
Grace laughed, and ran off to Ellie and Willie, who had induced Lory to join them at a game of forfeits in a corner of the room.
Rose Hanly and Eva fell in too, and after a while Hugh and Mr. Lloyd joined in the game; and Mr. Lloyd "loved his love with an A because she was an angel," but solemnly declared he could find no reason for hating her with an A, or any other letter, and preferred forfeiting his buckhorn handled knife to attempting such an impossibility. But he soon had the satisfaction of seeing Hugh "get down" as well as himself; and before long every one had to pay a forfeit except Grace, who volunteered to decree what the owners of the "very fine things " and the "superfine things" were "to do." The releasing of the forfeits created much merriment; but while Lory was acquitting himself to admiration in a hornpipe, Mr. Lloyd pushed his chair close to Richard Kearney, who was making the most of the golden hours that were flying on angel's wings over him and Kathleen, and whispered
"Dick, what the devil am I to do?"
"Why?" the doctor asked.
"I never made a rhyme in my life," replied Mr. Lloyd.
"Oh, any nonsense will do," returned the doctor, turning again to Kathleen.
"But, sense or nonsense," rejoined Bob Lloyd, "I can't do it unless you get me out of it while they're not minding us. And I'll do as much for you, Dick, another time."
"Well," said the doctor, rather crossly, "here is a rhyme for you:
"The man that's rich may ride in stages
Stages, wages, rages, cages wait, let me see,"
Dr. Kiely had just been talking of one of his aristocratic patients who had travelled by slow stages from Dublin in order to be under his care; and this suggested the line which Dr. Richard Kearney repeated for his friend, Bob Lloyd. But to complete the couplet was not so easy.
"Well, Dick?" said Mr. Lloyd, holding his ear close to him.
"The man that's rich may ride in stages
"What's to come after that?"
"'But the man that's poor'"
the doctor continued.
"'But the man that's poor'"
repeated Bob Lloyd.
"Must walk, by jacus"
added the doctor, impatiently.
"Say it all together for me, Dick," said Mr. Lloyd.
"The man that's rich may ride in stages,,
But the man that's poor must walk, by jacus"
"Now have you it?"
"Wait a minute," returned Bob. " Is this it?
"The man that rich may ride in stages.
But the man that's poor must walk, by jacus."
"That's it. Remember it now, and don't bother us any more about it," rejoined the doctor, stroking his moustache and throwing his arm on the back of Kathleen's chair.
"Well, Mr. Lloyd, now for your rhyme," said Grace, when Lory had finished his hornpipe, and regained possession of his necktie, which Rose snatched from him again, and, after folding it carefully, chopped him under the chin, and tied it on in that great bow-knot which Grace thought so ridiculous.
Silence for Mr. Lloyd's impromptu," Dr. Kiely called out; and all eyes were at once turned upon Mr. Lloyd, who hemmed, and looked round upon his audience with a confident smile.
Silence!" Dr. Kiely repeated.
"The man that's rich "
Mr. Lloyd began in a steady sonorous voice, and suddenly becoming very serious
"The man that's rich may ride in stages,
But the man that's poor by jacus, he must walk!"
And Mr. Lloyd resumed his smiling look again, and gazed round upon the company as if quite sure of their applause. For a moment there was a dead silence, interrupted only by one or two slight coughs. Pocket-handkerchiefs were in requisition, and there was some biting of lips; but Grace could not stand it. She threw herself upon Hugh's shoulder, and screamed with laughter, which exploded again and again, whenever she ventured to glance at the poet, who continued to look round upon the company with a beaming smile of triumph.
"Will you decide a very important question, Dr. Kiely," said Mary, "which these ladies have been debating for some time back?"
"What is it?" he asked.
"They are talking about flirting," returned Mary. "Eva says it is a shocking practice, that nothing could justify. It is nothing less, in her opinion, than downright deceit. But Rose says she likes it, and can see no harm in the world in it. 'Tis quite fair, she thinks, to humbug the gentlemen, and she has no objection to be humbugged in return. She is just after saying that if Eva's notions were acted upon, not a soul would she have to pay her a compliment from one end of the year to another, but Mr. Johnny Wilson, who, it appears, is always quite in earnest."
"Well, and what is Miss Kathleen's opinion?"
"Oh, she seems to think the gentlemen should be always in earnest, but the ladies need not be so at all. And now I want you to pronounce judgment on the case."
"Oh, it is too serious, too important a subject," returned the doctor, "to decide upon without due deliberation. I think "
"Poor old Mr. Somerfield is very bad," exclaimed Mrs. Kearney, who had just entered the room. "They are after sending for you, Mat Donovan says."
"Indeed! Do they want me immediately?"
"I don't know," replied Mrs. Kearney. "I'll call in Mat." "Well, Mat, what is this about old Mr. Somerfield?" the doctor asked, when Mat was ushered in.
I was standin' at Phil Morris's gate, sir," Mat returned, "as I went home a piece uv the way wud a couple uv girls from the dance a cousin of mine, an' another young woman; an' just as I was afther bidden' 'em good night at ould Phil's gate, I hear a horse comin' powdherin' along the road, an' when he come up I knew 'twas Rody the huntsman, an' called to him, an' axed him where he was goin' at that hour uv the night. 'The ould masther that's afther gettin' a fit,' says he, 'an' I'm goin' for Docthor Kiely.' 'Begor thin,' says I, 'you're turnin' your back to him, for he's over at Misther Kearney's,' says I. ' Do you tell me so?' says Rody, 'I'll go back an' tell Mr. Sam.' So he wheeled round an' galloped back again; an' I said to myse'f I'd step over the short-cut an' tell you, fearin' that you might be in bed."
"Thank you, Mat; you have done quite right. I suppose if I am required at once he will be here soon."
"He often got that fit before," said Maurice Kearney. "He'll be out with the hounds to-morrow or after, as well as ever. Sam wouldn't be so easily frightened about him only that his life is the only hold he has on the place. Do you think Sir Garrett will leave it to him when the old fellow drops?"
"I really don't know," replied Mr. Lowe, to whom the question was addressed.
"Wait, Mat," said Dr. Kiely, who liked to draw Mat Donovan out whenever the opportunity presented itself. "I want to have your opinion upon a subject those ladies are discussing."
"What's that, sir?" Mat asked, casting one of his "deludering" looks across the room.
"Well, some of them say it is very wrong for young men to be flattering and deceiving young women; while Miss Rose Hanly says it is rather pleasant and she sees no harm in it."
"In the way of coortship, sir?" Mat inquired.
"Yes, in the way of courtship," replied the doctor, laughing.
"Begor, sir," returned Mat, rubbing his chin contemplatively, " I b'lieve 'tis like puttin' the small whate in the bags."
"How is that?"
"Somethin' that Father Hannigan said to a friend uv mine, sir," Mat replied. "An' faith he'll have a harder dish to wash now wud Father M'Mahon, for he's afther runnin' away wud a wife, an' Father M'Mahon is mighty hard agin' that soart uv work."
"I suppose 'tis Tom Cuddehy?" said Mr. Kearney.
'Tis, sir," replied Mat. "But there's every excuse for him, as she was an ould sweetheart, an' her match was made wud a young buck from the mountains that she didn't care a straw about, though he's milkin' twenty cows."
"But what did Father Hannigan say about putting small wheat in the bags?" Dr. Kiely asked.
"'Tis what every wan do, sir," replied Mat. "The small whate that runs through the screen is put in the middle uv the bag, a few fistfuls in each, an' all is passed off on the merchant, accordin' to the sample. But the merchant knows 'tis there as well as the man that put id in id."
"Well," said the doctor, "what has that to do with deceiving young women 'by way of courtship'?"
"Well, you see, sir, Tom Cuddehy scrupled id wan time, and tuck id into his head that it was a sin, an' tould id to Father Hannigan when he went to confession. An' sure Father Hannigan was in a hoult, an' didn't know what to say, for he knew the whole world used to put the small whate in the bags. But for all, he didn't like to say 'twas right, for fear he might be encouragin' fraud, as he said. But, on the other hand, if he said 'twas wrong, he should tell Tom to make restitution for all the small whate he passed off on the merchant all his life. So he was fairly puzzled. But afther thinkin' for a start, he says to Tom: 'Well, Tom, sure enough there's nothing like fair an' honest dealin',' says he. 'An' 'tis wrong to desave any man, Tom even a corn merchant. But do your best, and they'll be up to you,' says Father Hannigan. An' begor, sir," added Mat, with another glance across the room, "I'm thinkin' 'tis the same way in regard to desavin' the young women. Do your best, and they'll be up to you."
Dr. Kiely leant back in his chair, and laughed loud and long. Every one else laughed, too, except Mr. Lloyd, who looked quite lost in astonishment, and averred that "the divil a better thing than that he ever heard in his life."
There was a single knock at the hall-door, and the old huntsman's voice was heard asking for Dr. Kiely. And in reply to the doctor the huntsman said, with the tears in his eyes, that the old master was never so bad before, and that Mr. Sam begged that Dr. Kiely would not "lose a minute."
The gentlemen all came out to the hall to see the doctor off, and, when the doctor was off, the gentlemen walked into the parlour as if by preconcert, and each commenced brewing a tumbler of whiskey punch in silence; to which beverage Mr. Lowe had become so reconciled by this time that he never drank wine, except a little at dinner to please Mrs. Kearney.
"Ah! Dick!" Bob Lloyd exclaimed, in a heart-broken tone.
"What's the matter?" the doctor asked, tasting his punch, and adding another squeeze of lemon.
"They're all fine girls," returned Mr. Lloyd. "Your sister is more like a queen than a woman."
"More like a queen than a woman?" the doctor repeated. "Hugh, the decanter."
"Ay, faith," rejoined Mr. Lloyd. "And Kathleen is a dazzler, and no mistake."
The doctor swallowed the glass of punch he had just ladled out at a gulp, as if drinking the dazzler's health.
"But," continued Bob Lloyd with a shake of his head that seemed to say that wonders would never cease "but the little one flogs all!"
"Faith, she does!" Lory blurted out, holding his glass to his lips untasted, as he stared at Mr. Lloyd, who was standing with his elbow on the chimney-piece.
Hugh looked up, too, with surprise; for Mr. Lloyd had all the marks and tokens of a man desperately in love, and Hugh could scarcely imagine how a mere child could be the cause of so severe a fit for he as well as Lory thought the "little one" that "flogged all," could be no other than Grace.
"What little one?" he asked.
Mr. Lloyd replied by putting the tip of his fore-finger to his temple, and twisting it round, and round, and round, letting the hand down lower and lower, till he could go no further without stooping.
"Oh, I see," said the doctor. "You have got entangled in Eva's golden ringlets."
"There's nothing I'd rather look at than a nice head of hair," returned Mr. Lloyd, with another deep sigh; which was echoed from the opposite side of the fire-place, where Mr. Henry Lowe sat brooding over the thought that this was the "last night," and wondering would they have another set of quadrilles. The doctor, too, sighed heavily, and thought what lovely arms Kathleen had for the "dazzler" had the cruelty to come in ball costume. And Lory Hanly, as he swallowed his punch, looked all round at the three sighing swains, and said to himself that he "wouldn't let it go with any of them." By which Lory meant that he was himself as bad a case as the best of them. In fact, Hugh seemed the only whole-hearted individual among them; for which we do not mean to insinuate for a moment that he was at all to be envied.
Grace came in to ask the gentlemen to come to the drawing-room. They jumped to their feet with extraordinary alacrity; but every one stopped to finish his punch, standing, except Mr. Lowe, who left his tumbler more than half full on the chimney-piece. (It was emptied by Kit Cummins, in the kitchen, before it was entirely cold she having run up to try whether Dr. Kiely could do anything for the "Burgundy in her back"; by which it is to be supposed Kit meant lumbago. And Mat Donovan remarked that the doctor would be wanted to cure every ailment ever known, "from a bone-lock to a galloping consumption," before he'd be let sit down to his breakfast next morning.)
"Dick," said Bob Lloyd, as they were crossing the hall, "stop a minute."
"What's the matter?" the doctor asked.
"I'm a gone coon," replied Mr. Lloyd. "Go ahead." And he waved his hand solemnly towards the drawing-room door.
"Why, aren't you coming in yourself?" said the doctor.
"Ay, faith," returned Mr. Lloyd. "Go ahead, Dick." And they walked into the drawing-room, like a pair of innocent lambs to the slaughter.
We could sit in a corner of that old room for another hour or two, without feeling at all tired. But we must say goodnight and all the more reluctantly, because it may be many a long day before we meet so many happy hearts under Maurice Kearney's roof again.