BILLY HEFFERNAN MAKES DR. KIELY A PRESENT, "AS A FRIEND OF PHIL LAHY'S."
MAT DONOVAN was right. Maurice Kearney's kitchen next morning seemed to have been turned into a hospital for incurables. But Dr. Kiely was an early riser, and had sent away most of the patients, with prayers and blessings on their lips, before the family had assembled in the breakfast room. One poor man was so ill, it was necessary to carry him into the out-house where the workmen slept, and lay him upon one of the beds. After examining him, the doctor glanced round the apartment. There were several rude bedsteads, and two or three wisps of straw upon the ground, with something in the shape of bedclothes flung in a heap upon them. A bit of broken looking-glass stuck to the wall attracted his attention, and on going towards it he saw that the wall above and below and on either side of it was plastered with tallow, with bits of burnt wick stuck in it — proof positive that a candlestick was an unknown luxury to Mr. Kearney's workmen once they retired to their dormitory.
"I wonder they don't burn down the house," muttered the doctor.
As many pairs of brogues as ever were seen in a kish at a fair, were scattered about in all directions, some new and some old, some patched and some ripped and broken beyond all hope of mending; while not a few were grey or green with the mould of time. More pairs of dirty stockings were flung about, too, than would be agreeable either to the visual or olfactory organs of most people. A few suits of clothes hung from pegs over a corn bin at the farthest end of the room — the gilt buttons and drab silk ribbons at the knees of Jim Dunn's Sunday breeches looking so intensely new and brilliant, that people were tempted to come close to them and feel them with their fingers, as something very rare and curious. And the skin of the fat sheep — the leg of which Dr. Kiely praised so highly at dinner the day before — dangled from a beam over his head; that being a safe and convenient place to keep it from the dogs. All this and more the doctor took in at a glance; and feeling the air of the place heavy and unwholesome, he pointed to the window, which was at the back, opposite the door, and ordered Tom Maher to open it.
Tom Maher looked very much surprised, and felt all round the sash, thereby disturbing a whole legion of spiders — making them run wildly over the walls and the window — and carrying away divers layers of cobwebs upon his fingers.
"Begor, sir," said Tom Maher, as he tried to shake the cobwebs from his hand, which they covered like an old glove, "it don't open. I remember now wan uv the hinges was broke, an' 'twas nailed up, as the horses was althered into the new stable."
"What has the new stable to do with this place?" the doctor asked.
"Sure this was the ould stable, sir," Tom answered. "An' when the new one was built we came to sleep here."
"Yes, I see," returned the doctor. "Horses, of course, require to be better lodged than men. Who sleeps on that heap in the corner?"
"That's Barney. Where is he? I have not seen him."
"He went to see his mother yisterday, sir, and didn't come back yet."
The doctor turned up the covering of one of the beds, and stooping down seemed to smell the musty straw. He shook his head, as he took a last survey of the "den," as he called it, and walked out, leaving Tom Maher to look after the poor sick man.
Dr. Kiely strode into the parlour without even bowing to the ladies, which greatly astonished Mary, for the doctor was usually a model of politeness.
"I am really shocked," he exclaimed, turning to Maurice Kearney, "to see the way you treat your workmen and servants. It is disgraceful. If I had the making of the laws I'd punish such conduct."
Maurice Kearney opened his eyes and rubbed his head as if the doctor's words were utterly incomprehensible to him; while Mrs. Kearney looked the very picture of amazement and consternation. Mary, too, seemed quite frightened, not so much by the doctor's words as by his look and the tone of his voice.
"My workmen never complained of their treatment," said Maurice Kearney, when he had collected his wits. "They are well fed, and I let them have their own way except in the harvest, or when we are in a hurry to get down the seed. And show me the man that pays better wages. You're after being told lies."
"I'm after being told nothing," returned the doctor. "I allude to what I have seen with my own eyes. It is shocking. Seven or eight men huddled together in one of your out-offices, lying upon rotten straw, and covered with old blankets and quilts that I verily believe were never washed. The place looks as if it were never swept out, and not as much as a current of fresh air to carry away its impurities. I wonder how you have escaped fever and pestilence."
Mrs. Kearney crossed herself at the mention of the fever, and muttered that 'twas "their own fault," as they could get fresh straw if they liked.
"You astonish me," continued the doctor "It should be your business to see to it. It would be better if you turned them into your barn to sleep upon the ground than leave them in such a nasty den as that."
"Whatever you'd do for them," rejoined Mrs. Kearney, "they wouldn't thank you."
"I don't think that is the fact," the doctor replied. "But you should not look for thanks for simply doing your duty. Have you never thought of this?" he asked, turning to Hugh.
"Well, I have," he replied, "but I see so many things that require amendment, I left this as I found it."
"Oh, yes; you would be a reformer on a great scale. But it would be much better to attend to small things and be practical. It must have a bad effect morally as well as physically. Let the poor people about you feel that you respect them. They may have their faults; but Heaven knows the wonder is that there is any good at all left in them."
"Well," said Mrs. Kearney, who began to show symptoms of shedding tears, "I'll get the place cleaned out and white washed. And I'll give them sheets and blankets, and make one of the girls keep it in proper order for the poor men; for what time have they to attend to it after their day's work? I'm very much obliged to you, doctor, for calling our attention to it."
"I promised to see old Somerfield again on my way home," said the doctor, somewhat mollified, as he glanced at his watch. "So I think we had better walk down immediately after breakfast," he added, turning to Mary, "to see this poor girl that you and Grace are so interested in."
"Oh, yes," said Grace, "we'll all go. I'd like to have one more walk through Knocknagow, and see poor Norah Lahy again."
They found Norah sitting in her straw chair as usual. Dr. Kiely had seen her once before, and he remembered how nervous and frightened she was when he placed the stethoscope to her chest. But now she was quite calm, and looked at Mary and Grace with a smile while he was listening to her breathing. A deeper sadness fell upon her face for a moment as she fixed her eyes upon Grace; and Grace knew that Norah Lahy felt that she would never see her again in this world. The doctor spoke kindly to her, and said he would send her medicine by Mr. Kearney's man, which he hoped would do her good, and desired her mother to keep up her spirits and have everything about her as cheerful as possible. Honor declared when he was gone that he made her feel "twenty years younger"; and Norah thought he "made her better," and said he was a good man.
Then Phil broke in with a full and true account of the doctor's speech at the great Repeal Meeting, and how he was the finest looking man on the platform, dressed in the green-and-gold uniform of the 'Eighty-two Club. All of which Honor drank in with eager delight, feeling confident that the man who made a speech at a Repeal Meeting in a green-and-gold uniform would surely cure her darling.
Billy Heffernan emerged from his antediluvian domicile, and, accosting Dr. Kiely, ventured to present him with an archaeological treasure, in the shape of a bronze bodkin found in his own turbary.
"Will you sell it?" the doctor asked eagerly. " I'll buy it from you."
"I won't sell id, sir," he answered. "I don't want any thing for id."
Why, what use can it be to you?" the doctor asked, looking quite disappointed. "Perhaps it is worth more than you think."
I knew you wor always on the look-out for a thing uv that soart, sir; an' I made up my mind to give id to you for nothin'; as a friend of Phil Lahy's," added Billy after some hesitation.
The doctor looked inquiringly at Mary; and, with her face half turned away, lest Billy should suspect she was talking about him, Mary explained the real state of the case.
"Ha," said the doctor; and he seemed to fall into a reverie for a minute or two. " I accept your present," he said at last. "I am very much obliged to you, and I'll always be glad to do whatever is in my power for you or your friends."
"Thank'ee, sir," said Billy Heffernan.
"I never got a fee that gave me so much pleasure," said the doctor, as they walked on after Mr. Lowe and Grace, who were a little in advance of them.
"I never saw anything like his affection for Norah," returned Mary. "It is wonderful."
"The Irish peasant is a being of sentiment," said the doctor. "The millions of money they have sent from America to their relations at home is a wonderful proof of the strength of their domestic affections."
Indeed, yes," returned Mary. "Mrs. Lahy is just after telling me that her brother, who has often sent her money, is now offering to bring out her son and provide for him. In fact, I do not know a single family about here who have not got money from America."
"I was sorry to see so many houses pulled down since I was here last," the doctor remarked. "If it goes on, Ireland is lost."
"There were only two houses pulled down here," said Mary, "and the people gave up possession voluntarily."
"As for giving up possession, they do so because they see no hope before them. But I allude to a place a couple of miles further on."
"Oh, that's the place cleared by Sam Somerfield. He has not a single tenant now — nothing but sheep and cows."
"What a comfortable, substantial little farm-house that is," said the doctor, stopping to admire it. "What a pity it is that the people have not security, to encourage them to build such houses as that."
"Every one remarks Tom Hogan's place," returned Mary.
"And very little encouragement Tom Hogan got," said Hugh, who had come to meet them. "His rent is up to two pounds an acre now; and if all I hear be true, he must quit."
"Does he owe much rent?"
"Not a shilling. But those three farms lower down are about to be given up by the tenants, who say they may as well go first as last. The three are to be joined into one, and as Tom Hogan's runs between two of them, I fear he is doomed."
"Is it part of Sir Garrett Butler's property?"
"It is. Notwithstanding all we heard of his kindness of heart and his simplicity, things go on just in the old way since he came in for the property. He leaves it all to the agent; and, so long as he sends him whatever money he requires, Sir Garrett seems not to care for his tenants or trouble his head about them. We are very awkwardly circumstanced ourselves. He refuses to renew my father's lease upon some frivolous pretext or other. It is hard to say how it may end. Conceal it as we will," Hugh added, clenching his hand, "it is serfdom. It is rumoured now that the greater part of the property must be sold to pay off the old debts; and the uncertainty is horrible."
Mary looked frightened, and, on observing it, Hugh changed the subject. "Is not that," he asked, "a model peasant's cottage?"
"Oh, yes; I know Mat Donovan's," replied Dr. Kiely.
"Here is Mat himself coming from the forge with his plough-irons," said Mary. "You, too, Mr. Lowe," she added, "are admiring Mat's house."
"Yes; Miss Grace is drawing a pretty picture of love in a cottage for me. But why have not all the rest such neat houses as this?"
"Ask Mat Donovan himself," said Hugh.
"He deserves great credit," Mr. Lowe remarked.
"I on'y kep' id as I found id, sir," said Mat. "'Twas my grandfather done all."
"But why didn't your neighbours' grandfathers do the same?"
"Well, sir," replied Mat, "I b'lieve 'twas all owin' to the freehould."
"How the freehold?" Dr. Kiely asked.
"Well, you see, sir," Mat commenced in his somewhat roundabout way, and laying down his plough-irons, "he was comin' home from the fair of Kilthubber — 'twas the Michaelmas fair, 'tis of'en I heard him tellin' the story when I was a little boy — ridin' a young coult belongin' to Mr. Kearney's father, an' happening to meet my grandmother on the road at the Cross uv Dunmore, he axed her to get up behind him' an' he'd give her a lift home. She was a good-looking lump uv a girl at the time, but my grandfather never had any notion uv her, an' 'd as soon think uv flyin' as uv gettin' married, he bein' a wild soart uv a young fellow wudout house or home, or anything to throuble him. Anyway she tucked up her cloak an' got up on the ditch, an' come uv a bounce on the coult's back behind my grandfather; an' no sooner was she settled on his back, than away wud the coult! An' as he had on'y a halther on him, the divil a stop my grandfather could stop him; an' every wan thought the two uv 'em would be kilt at the turn near the quarry, as the wall wasn't built at that time. But, whin my grandfather see that pullin' the ould halther was no use, he let him have his own way, an', instead uv tryin' to stop him, laid into him wud a hazel stick he happened to have in his hand. My grandfather was always for a hazel stick, because, as he said, there was no stick handier to knock a man down if occasion required id wudout hurtin' him; an', though he was as given for a fight as any man, my grandfather was ever an' always for batin' a man wudout hurtin' him, an' till the day uv his death no wan ever see a bit uv lead melted into a stick uv his, or even a ferl uv any account on id. Thim was quare times," added Mat, shaking his head, "whin people'd whale at wan another wudout rhyme or reason at fair or market."
"Well, but what about the runaway horse?" Dr. Kiely asked; for Mat seemed lost in thought upon those extraordinary times he had referred to.
"Begor, sir," he resumed, "the horse got enough uv id, an' stopped uv his own accord at the back gate, an' my grandmother slipped down fair an' asy, an' went home. But my poor grandfather was done for," added Mat, sadly.
"How?" the doctor asked.
"She took such a hoult uv him, sir, when the horse made off; he never had an 'asy mind afther, till they wor married," returned Mat solemnly.
"Take care, Mr. Lowe," said Dr. Kiely laughing, "how you venture to take a Tipperary girl on horseback behind you, lest she should take such a hoult of you as would rob you of your peace of mind. But come to the freehold, Mat. Did he get this house and garden with the wife?"
"Neither uv 'em had house or home, sir," returned Mat. "An' there was a lough uv wather between the two roads where you see the haggart there' now. Sure you see the quare shape uv id, wide in the middle, an' narrow at each end. An' where the house an' yard is was a soart uv a quarry. So my grandfather built a cabin on the dhry part, an' in coorse uv time he made a couple uv dhrains, an' began film' up the lough wud road stuff an' bog mowld, an' clay from the quarry, an' planted quicks about id, till by degrees he turned id into a little haggart, where he could have a few hundred uv cabbage, an' a ridge or two uv preates. At last the agent thought to put him under rent, but he refused; an' id came out that the two estates joined at the cross uv the road there, an' no wan could tell which uv the landlords the little spot belonged to. So my grandfather was let alone. An' wan day a gentleman happened to tell him that he had a freehould while grass grows or wather runs, in spite uv law or landlord; an' he got so proud an' had such courage that he never stopped till he made the place what you see id. An' that's how it was that the freehould made Mat Donovan's house an' haggart what every one says it is, the purtiest house an' haggart in the county Tipperary, for a poor labourin' man's."
"It is a remarkable illustration," said the doctor, "of the saying, 'Give a man a rock with security, and he'll turn it into a garden.' It is a striking argument in favour of a Peasant Proprietary."
"I often thought so," said Hugh.
"I hope we may live to see the day, Mat," Dr. Kiely observed, "when freeholds will be more numerous than they are in Ireland."
"Sure you don't think the English Parliament would do that for us, sir?"
"I'd rather have it done by an Irish Parliament," replied the doctor. "But it is getting late," he added, looking at his watch, "and I must call at Woodlands."
The hour of parting came all too soon. Richard and Mr. Lowe had driven off in the tax-cart. Dr. Kiely and Eva were already seated in the carriage; while Grace had run back to comfort Ellie and Willie, who were sobbing violently upon the stairs. Mrs. Kearney wiped the tears from her cheeks; and, though Mary smiled, it was plain that tears were threatening to suffuse those mild blue eyes, as Grace kissed Ellie, and told her somewhat reproachfully not to cry, for didn't she know they'd soon meet again at the convent. And, in the meantime, wasn't she leaving her the jay? But the allusion to the convent, however comforting to Ellie, had a precisely contrary effect upon her brother, and changed his blubbering into a loud roar.
"Come, Grace," said her father, "we have no time to lose." She had her foot upon the step, when she stopped, looking quite sad, with her lips compressed, and her eyes bent on the ground. They were all surprised; and her father asked what was the matter. But Grace made no reply. Turning round she walked slowly to Hugh, who was standing with folded arms beside the door, and held out her hand to him. She had forgotten him. She had said good-bye, over and over; to every one else, but never thought of Hugh. And now he looked at her as if he did not know what she meant.
"Good-bye, Hugh," said she.
"Oh, good-bye," he replied with a start, taking her extended hand. And there was something in his tone that made Mary look at him with surprise. She observed, how ever, that he laughed as he led Grace back to the carriage, and handed her in.
They are gone — Grace, Richard, Mr. Lowe, and all. And Mary does feel lonely; and feels, too, that she must try hard to keep up her spirits, or they will inevitably break down. Well, that intelligence in her sister Anne's letter has removed one indefinite uneasiness from her heart at all events. The way is clear before her now, and not clouded by hope — a hope from which she shrank as from a sin, and strove to banish from her heart; but which would, nevertheless, return again and again to disturb and trouble her. Thank God! that is all over now.
"How I should like to be able to call such noble old trees as those my own," Grace observed.
Eva admired the trees, too, and the undulating lawn, and the woods around, but she could not see what good it would do her to be able to call them her own.
"It must be that Mr. Kearney was right last night when he said the old gentleman would be out with his hounds to-morrow or after. There is the horn sounding," said Mr. Lowe.
Yes, I can see the pack, and the huntsman mounted before the door, from where I am," returned Richard Kearney, who had walked on a little further than the rest.
They were in the avenue at Woodlands, waiting for Dr. Kiely, who had walked on to see his patient, leaving his carriage at a turn in the avenue not far from the house; though not in view of it. Richard and Mr. Lowe walked in from the road, and were now chatting with the ladies in the carriage.
"I wonder, if he be recovered, why papa is delaying so long," said Grace. "Can you see papa coming, Richard?"
"No, he's not coming," returned Richard. "There's some thing going on I can't make out. The doctor is standing with several others near the hounds; but I see no one mounted but the huntsman."
"I'll walk down and see," said Mr. Lowe. "And perhaps I ought to bid Mr. Somerfield good-bye after accepting of his hospitality."
Dr. Kiely was astonished to find his patient in a chair on the lawn, propped up with pillows. His son, a tall, cadaverous-looking man with grizzled hair and beard, stood on one side of the chair, and a saintly looking though some what spruce young clergyman at the other. Two graceful young ladies stood a little apart, looking very sad and interesting, but not altogether oblivious of the handsome young clergyman's presence.
"Blow, Rody, blow," muttered the poor old invalid. And the horn sounded, and the woods gave back the echo.
"O sweet Woodlands, must I leave you?" exclaimed the old foxhunter in tones of the deepest grief.
"You're going to a better place," said the clergyman, impressively.
"Yoix! Tallyho!" cried the invalid, faintly. "Blow, Rody, blow."
"Don't ax me, sir," returned the huntsman, after putting the horn to his lips and taking it away again; "my heart is ready to burst."
"O sweet Woodlands, must I leave you? " his master exclaimed again.
"My dear sir," the clergyman repeated, stooping over him and placing his gloved hand gently upon his shoulder, "my dear sir, you are going to a better place."
The invalid turned round and looked earnestly into the young clergyman's face, as if he had until then been unconscious of his presence.
"You're going to a better place; trust me, you're going to a better place," the clergyman repeated fervently.
"Ah!" replied the old foxhunter, with a sorrowful shake of his head, and looking earnestly into the parson's face — "Ah! by G— , I doubt you!"
The parson's look of consternation brought a grim smile into the hard features of Mr. Sam Somerfield, as he adjusted his father's night-cap, which was displaced by the effort to turn round to look at his spiritual director.
The dying foxhunter seemed to drop suddenly into a doze, from which a low fretful whine from one of the hounds caused him to awake with a start. "Poor Bluebell; poor Bluebell," he murmured. The hound named wagged her tail, and coming close to him, looked wistfully into his face. The whole pack followed Bluebell, waving their tails, and with their trustful eyes appeared to claim recognition, too, from their old master. But his head drooped, and he seemed falling asleep again. He roused himself, however, and gazed once more upon the fine landscape before him, and again called upon the huntsman to sound the horn. The huntsman put it to his lips, and his chest heaved as he laboured for breath; but no sound awoke the echoes again.
"God knows I can't, sir," he cried at last, bursting into tears. The huntsman's emotion moved the two young ladies to tears, and they came nearer to their grandfather's chair, and looked anxiously into his face. Dr. Kiely laid his finger on the old man's wrist, and turned to whisper something to his son, who was still standing by the chair. But the doctor drew back, as if the eye of a murderer were upon him. Mr. Sam Somerfield's face was ashy pale and his lips livid, while a baleful light glared from under his shaggy brows, which were dragged together in puckered folds. His daughters, too, were terrified, and wondered what could have brought that shocking expression into their father's face. But guided by his eyes they turned round and saw that Mr. Lowe was standing near them: then they understood that terrible look.
The young girls gazed upon the woods and groves and undulating meadows, just as their grandfather had done. And the expression in the bright eye of youth and in the dimmed eye of age was the same.
"Ah," said the younger girl, as her sister's eyes met hers "it is a sweet place."
Turn, round, young ladies, and look through that arched gateway to yon sloping hillside, speckled with white sheep, upon which the sun shines so brightly. There were many happy homes along that green slope not many years ago. There is not one now. You remember the last of them — the old farm-house in the trees, with its cluster of corn-stacks; and the square orchard, that looked so pretty in the spring-time; and the narrow boreen leading to the road between tangled wild roses and woodbines! You remember the children who peered shyly at you from under their brown arms when you rode by upon your pretty ponies! You remember what a rage your papa was in when the man who lived there refused to give up the old lease; and how he swore when the old lease had expired, and the "scoundrel" — that was the word — refused to go until the sheriff and the police and military drove him away!
To be sure, his father, and grandfather, and great-grand father had lived there before him. He paid your papa fifty gold guineas every year, and was willing to pay half as many more if he were allowed to toil on there to the end of his days; though old people remembered when that productive little farm was covered with furze and briers, with patches of green rushes here and there in the marshy places. Well, he should go; and the children — but what do you care for such things? We merely meant to remind you that, to that poor man and his wife and children, their place, too, was "a sweet place."
"I suppose," thought Mr. Sam Somerfield, "he came here purposely to watch till the breath is out of him, in order that I may be hunted without an hour's delay." Then fixing his eyes upon the old man with a look in which pity and hatred seemed blended, he continued, "What right had he to take such a lease? He cared only for himself. Why wasn't it my life he got it for? He might have died, and died an old man, twenty years ago. And I wish to heaven he did die twenty years ago, before my heart was rooted in it."
An old blind hound, lying on a mat near the door, raised his head, and uttered a long dismal howl. The whole pack took up the cry; and, as it passed like a wail of sorrow over the hills, the old foxhunter fell back in his chair — dead.
The huntsman threw himself from his horse; and, with the help of two or three other servants, carried his old master into the house.
"O papa, poor grandpapa is gone!" the young girls exclaimed, flinging their arms round their father's neck.
He bent down as they clung to him, looking quite helpless and stupefied. But, when he saw the horse from which the huntsman had dismounted, walk to a square stone near the end of the house, and stand quietly beside it, and thought that "old Somerfield" would never mount his hunter from that stone again, the tears ran down his hard, yellow cheeks, and fell upon his children's hair.
The doctor and Mr. Lowe walked back to the carriage in silence, much affected by what they had seen.
"Do you think her handsome?" Richard asked.
"Not very," was Mr. Lowe's languid reply. "I could never admire girls like her. The girl that called you to see her father the other day is by far a prettier girl."
"Yes, Nancy Hogan is decidedly handsome. Yet Hugh thinks Bessy quite captivating. Curious how tastes will differ."
They had stopped to send Tom Maher into old Phil Morris's for a light, and Bessy came to the door with her sewing.
"Grace is wondering why we have stopped," said the doctor. "She will break her neck trying to look round at us. But I'll blow a cloud," he added, as Tom Maher presented him with a bit of burning stick, "that will enlighten her."
Grace had her head out of the carriage, but it was not of them she was thinking at all. She caught the outline of a man's figure on the hill above the fort, and guessed it was Hugh, watching the carriage as long as they were within view.
"Ah! it came from his heart," said she with a sigh.
"What are you saying?" Eva asked.
"Nothing," was the careless reply. She was thinking of Hugh's "Good-bye."
And Hugh did watch the carriage as long as it was in sight; but then he had come up the hill to look at the hoggets. And as his eye rested upon the little house among the old whitethorns, he wished he had another excuse to follow the winding footpath, and have a chat with old Phil Morris about the year of the Hill, and listen to his speculations on the chances of having "anything droll" in the country before he died. And as Hugh thought of the old "Croppy," he saw in fancy his bright little granddaughter, as she flitted like a fire-fly about the house, when he used to run in for shelter from the rain, some years before. And as he went on admiring Bessy Morris retrospectively, he happened to put his finger and thumb into his waistcoat pocket, and feeling something soft and silky, took it out and looked at it in great surprise. It was a long shining lock of hair. After thinking for a moment, he laughed; but that soft light which his sister Mary sometimes noticed came into his dark eyes. And Mr. Hugh Kearney began now to call up a vision in the future, as a moment before he had called up one of the past. So long as he goes on looking "before and after" in this fashion he is safe enough. But if one day he should find "the fancy true," how will it be? He tore off the blank leaf of a letter, and after counting back wards on his fingers, "Monday, Sunday, Saturday," wrote the day of the month and the year upon it.
"I wonder what sort she will be in a few years more?" he thought, looking again at the shining tress which he had playfully cut from Grace's head the morning of Ned Brophy's wedding. Then, à la the Dean of St. Patrick's, he wrote the words, "Only a girl's hair," and, folding it up carefully, placed it in his pocket-book, and returned home without thinking again of the old rebel and his fascinating grand-daughter, who at that moment was just after being made miserable by a good-natured friend, who had walked three miles for the sole purpose of telling her that she was "in a show" on account of the dragoon's visit.
Poor Mrs. Kearney was so nervous and depressed that day that she left even the dinner to Mary's sole superintendence. But Mrs. Kearney always wished to have a natural and rational reason for her sighs and tears, whenever she felt disposed or constrained to indulge in them. And on this occasion the cause of her trouble was her favourite son, who was a "very soft boy," and, like her poor Uncle Dan, required egg-flip very often to set him all right of a morning; and to think that he hadn't a soul to look after him in "that Dublin," was enough to break her heart. Honest Maurice, who, like the Vicar of Wakefield, found pleasure in happy human faces, rushed in desperation into the pantry, and cutting several substantial slices from the remains of that glorious leg of mutton which Dr. Kiely praised so highly, placed them in a small basket with as much bread as there was room for, and walking off to the kiln-field, peremptorily ordered Mat Donovan to let the horses rest, and "sit down and eat that" — deriving much comfort and peace of mind from Mat's performance as he dutifully obeyed the injunction and set to work in a very business-like manner.
Mary took her sister's letter and read, for the twentieth time; " Gretta H — has just returned from Paris. Arthur O'Connor is ordained. She saw him in his vestments, and says he is the handsomest priest she ever saw."
"Thank goodness," thought Mary, "no tongue can ever wound me again on that score."
"What is the matter with you, Mary?" Ellie asked.
"If you saw yourself! I thought you were Aunt Hannah."
"Oh, my goodness," exclaimed Mary, in affected alarm. "Am I a faded old maid already?"
"Well, you had her look," returned Ellie. "And Aunt Hannah was crossed in love."
"And do you suppose that I, too, have been crossed in love?
"Well, I was thinking how Grace used to be at you about Mr. Lowe."
"I am very sorry after Mr. Lowe," returned Mary. "Are not you?"
"Not much. It is Grace I am sorry after."
"You'll have Grace with you in the convent."
"But will I be let bring my goldfinch?"
"Oh, I fear that would not be allowed."
"Well, I'll give him back to Tommy Lahy to keep for me till I come home. I'd be afraid you would not take care of him."
"Oh, yes, I'll take care of him. And don't you know Tommy will be soon going to America? His uncle is very rich, and his mother says Tommy will be a great man yet."
"Oh, I'm sorry Tommy Lahy is going to America," said Ellie. "And what will his poor mother and Norah do?"
"That's true," returned Mary. " It will be a sore trial to them; but it will be for his good, and they will make the sacrifice."
But Mary could not help smiling, when she remembered that the very climax of Honor Lahy's trouble seemed to be the thought, that Tommy would surely take to climbing to the top of "them masts," which, she understood, were standing in the middle of the ship, and would of course be a perpetual temptation to him. "The best chance he'd have," Honor added, "would be to stay at the top of it always, an' keep quiet, an' not to be peltin' himself down, the Lord save us! like a bag from the top loft of the mill, takin' the sight uv your eyes from you, an' bringin' your heart into your mouth." And as the comparatively reassuring picture presented itself of Tommy keeping quiet on the top of the main-mast while crossing the Atlantic, Honor brightened up and said, "she'd trust all to the mercy of God." Mary smiled as she thought of this. Then she began to think of Norah; and Ellie would look in her face in vain for the slightest resemblance to Aunt Hannah, who was crossed in love.