The Celt and Saxon
by George Meredith
MADE IN A CELTIC
CHAPTER II. MR.
CHAPTER IV. THE
CHAPTER V. AT
CHAPTER VI. A
AND THE CAMBRIAN
CHAPTER VII. THE
CAPTAIN CON AND
CHAPTER IX. THE
CHAPTER X. THE
CHAPTER XIV. OF
CHAPTER XV. THE
CHAPTER XVI. OF
THE GREAT MR.
BULL AND THE
CELTIC AND SAXON
VIEW OF HIM: AND
CHAPTER I. WHEREIN AN EXCURSION IS
MADE IN A CELTIC MIND
A young Irish gentleman of the numerous clan O'Donnells, and a
Patrick, hardly a distinction of him until we know him, had bound
himself, by purchase of a railway-ticket, to travel direct to the
borders of North Wales, on a visit to a notable landowner of those
marches, the Squire Adister, whose family-seat was where the hills
begin to lift and spy into the heart of black mountains. Examining
his ticket with an apparent curiosity, the son of a greener island
debated whether it would not be better for him to follow his
inclinations, now that he had gone so far as to pay for the journey,
and stay. But his inclinations were also subject to question, upon
his considering that he had expended pounds English for the privilege
of making the journey in this very train. He asked himself earnestly
what was the nature of the power which forced him to do it—a bad
genius or a good: and it seemed to him a sort of answer, inasmuch as
it silenced the contending parties, that he had been the victim of an
impetus. True; still his present position involved a certain outlay
of money simply, not at all his bondage to the instrument it had
procured for him, and that was true; nevertheless, to buy a ticket to
shy it away is an incident so uncommon, that if we can but pause to
dwell on the singularity of the act, we are unlikely to abjure our
fellowship with them who would not be guilty of it; and therefore, by
the aid of his reflections and a remainder of the impetus, Mr. Patrick
O'Donnell stepped into a carriage of the train like any ordinary
English traveller, between whom and his destination there is an
agreement to meet if they can.
It is an experience of hesitating minds, be they Saxon or others,
that when we have submitted our persons to the charge of public
companies, immediately, as if the renouncing of our independence into
their hands had given us a taste of a will of our own, we are eager
for the performance of their contract to do what we are only half
inclined to; the train cannot go fast enough to please us, though we
could excuse it for breaking down; stoppages at stations are
impertinences, and the delivery of us at last on the platform is an
astonishment, for it is not we who have done it—we have not even
desired it. To be imperfectly in accord with the velocity
precipitating us upon a certain point, is to be going without our
heads, which have so much the habit of supposing it must be whither we
intend, when we go in a determined manner, that a, doubt of it
distracts the understanding—decapitates us; suddenly to alight,
moreover, and find ourselves dropped at the heels of flying Time, like
an unconsidered bundle, is anything but a reconstruction of the
edifice. The natural revelry of the blood in speed suffers a violent
shock, not to speak of our notion of being left behind, quite isolated
and unsound. Or, if you insist, the condition shall be said to belong
exclusively to Celtic nature, seeing that it had been drawn directly
from a scion of one of those tribes.
Young Patrick jumped from the train as headless as good St. Denis.
He was a juvenile thinker, and to discover himself here, where he
both wished and wished not to be, now deeming the negative sternly in
the ascendant, flicked his imagination with awe of the influence of
the railway service upon the destinies of man. Settling a mental
debate about a backward flight, he drove across the land so foreign to
his eyes and affections, and breasted a strong tide of wishes that it
were in a contrary direction. He would rather have looked upon the
desert under a sand-storm, or upon a London suburb yet he looked
thirstingly. Each variation of landscape of the curved highway
offered him in a moment decisive features: he fitted them to a story
he knew: the whole circle was animated by a couple of pale mounted
figures beneath no happy light. For this was the air once breathed by
Adiante Adister, his elder brother Philip's love and lost love: here
she had been to Philip flame along the hill-ridges, his rose-world in
the dust-world, the saintly in his earthly. And how had she rewarded
him for that reverential love of her? She had forborne to kill him.
The bitter sylph of the mountain lures men to climb till she winds
them in vapour and leaves them groping, innocent of the red crags
below. The delicate thing had not picked his bones: Patrick admitted
it; he had seen his brother hale and stout not long back. But oh! she
was merciless, she was a witch. If ever queen-witch was, she was the
For a personal proof, now: he had her all round him in a strange
district though he had never cast eye on her. Yonder bare hill she
came racing up with a plume in the wind: she was over the long brown
moor, look where he would: and vividly was she beside the hurrying
beck where it made edges and chattered white. He had not seen, he
could not imagine her face: angelic dashed with demon beauty, was his
idea of the woman, and there is little of a portrait in that; but he
was of a world where the elemental is more individual than the
concrete, and unconceived of sight she was a recognised presence for
the green-island brain of a youth whose manner of hating was to
conjure her spirit from the air and let fly his own in pursuit of her.
It has to be stated that the object of the youngster's expedition
to Earlsfont was perfectly simple in his mind, however much it went
against his nature to perform. it. He came for the purpose of
obtaining Miss Adister's Continental address; to gather what he could
of her from her relatives, and then forthwith to proceed in search of
her, that he might plead with her on behalf of his brother Philip,
after a four years' division of the lovers. Could anything be
simpler? He had familiarised himself with the thought of his advocacy
during those four years. His reluctance to come would have been
accountable to the Adisters by a sentiment of shame at his family's
dealings with theirs: in fact, a military captain of the O'Donnells
had in old days played the adventurer and charmed a maid of a certain
age into yielding her hand to him; and the lady was the squire of
Earlsfont's only sister: she possessed funded property. Shortly after
the union, as one that has achieved the goal of enterprise, the
gallant officer retired from the service nor did north- western
England put much to his credit the declaration of his wife's
pronouncing him to be the best of husbands. She naturally said it of
him in eulogy; his own relatives accepted it in some contempt, mixed
with a relish of his hospitality: his wife's were constant in citing
his gain by the marriage. Could he possibly have been less than that?
they exclaimed. An excellent husband, who might easily have been less
than that, he was the most devoted of cousins, and the liberal
expenditure of his native eloquence for the furtherance of Philip's
love-suit was the principal cause of the misfortune, if misfortune it
could subsequently be called to lose an Adiante.
The Adister family were not gifted to read into the heart of a
young man of a fanciful turn. Patrick had not a thought of shame
devolving on him from a kinsman that had shot at a mark and hit it.
Who sees the shame of taking an apple from a garden of the
Hesperides? And as England cultivates those golden, if sometimes
wrinkled, fruits, it would have seemed to him, in thinking about it,
an entirely lucky thing for the finder; while a question of blood
would have fired his veins to rival heat of self-assertion, very
loftily towering: there were Kings in Ireland: cry for one of them in
Uladh and you will hear his name, and he has descendants yet! But the
youth was not disposed unnecessarily to blazon his princeliness. He
kept it in modest reserve, as common gentlemen keep their physical
strength. His reluctance to look on Earlsfont sprang from the same
source as unacknowledged craving to see the place, which had
precipitated him thus far upon his road: he had a horror of scenes
where a faithless girl had betrayed her lover. Love was his visionary
temple, and his idea of love was the solitary light in it, painfully
susceptible to coldair currents from the stories of love abroad over
the world. Faithlessness he conceived to be obnoxious to nature; it
stained the earth and was excommunicated; there could be no pardon of
the crime, barely any for repentance. He conceived it in the
feminine; for men are not those holy creatures whose conduct strikes
on the soul with direct edge: a faithless man is but a general villain
or funny monster, a subject rejected of poets, taking no hue in the
flat chronicle of history: but a faithless woman, how shall we speak
of her! Women, sacredly endowed with beauty and the wonderful
vibrating note about the very mention of them, are criminal to
hideousness when they betray. Cry, False! on them, and there is an
instant echo of bleeding males in many circles, like the poor
quavering flute-howl of transformed beasts, which at some remembering
touch bewail their higher state. Those women are sovereignly
attractive, too, loathsomely. Therein you may detect the fiend.
Our moralist had for some time been glancing at a broad, handsome
old country mansion on the top of a wooded hill backed by a swarm of
mountain heads all purple-dark under clouds flying thick to shallow,
as from a brush of sepia. The dim silver of half-lighted lakewater
shot along below the terrace. He knew the kind of sky, having oftener
seen that than any other, and he knew the house before it was named to
him and he had flung a discolouring thought across it. He
contemplated it placably and studiously, perhaps because the
shower-folding armies of the fields above likened its shadowed
stillness to that of his Irish home. There had this woman lived! At
the name of Earlsfont she became this witch, snake, deception.
Earlsfont was the title and summary of her black story: the
reverberation of the word shook up all the chapters to pour out their
CHAPTER II. MR. ADISTER
Mr. Patrick O'Donnell drove up to the gates of Earlsfont
notwithstanding these emotions, upon which light matter it is the
habit of men of his blood too much to brood; though it is for our
better future to have a capacity for them, and the insensible race is
But if he did so when alone, the second man residing in the Celt
put that fellow by and at once assumed the social character on his
being requested to follow his card into Mr. Adister's library. He
took his impression of the hall that had heard her voice, the stairs
she had descended, the door she had passed through, and the globes she
had perchance laid hand on, and the old mappemonde, and the
severely-shining orderly regiment of books breathing of her whether
she had opened them or not, as he bowed to his host, and in reply to,
'So, sir! I am glad to see you,' said swimmingly that Earlsfont was
the first house he had visited in this country: and the scenery
reminded him of his part of Ireland: and on landing at Holyhead he had
gone off straight to the metropolis by appointment to meet his brother
Philip, just returned from Canada a full captain, who heartily
despatched his compliments and respects, and hoped to hear of perfect
health in this quarter of the world. And Captain Con the same, and he
was very flourishing.
Patrick's opening speech concluded on the sound of a short laugh
coming from Mr. Adister.
It struck the young Irishman's ear as injurious and scornful in
relation to Captain Con; but the remark ensuing calmed him:
'He has no children.'
'No, sir; Captain Con wasn't born to increase the number of our
clan,' Patrick rejoined; and thought: By heaven! I get a likeness of
her out of you, with a dash of the mother mayhap somewhere. This was
his Puck- manner of pulling a girdle round about from what was
foremost in his head to the secret of his host's quiet observation;
for, guessing that such features as he beheld would be slumped on a
handsome family, he was led by the splendid severity of their lines to
perceive an illimitable pride in the man likely to punish him in his
offspring, who would inherit that as well; so, as is the way with the
livelier races, whether they seize first or second the matter or the
spirit of what they hear, the vivid indulgence of his own ideas helped
him to catch the right meaning by the tail, and he was enlightened
upon a domestic unhappiness, although Mr. Adister had not spoken
miserably. The 'dash of the mother' was thrown in to make Adiante,
softer, and leave a loophole for her relenting.
The master of Earlsfont stood for a promise of beauty in his issue,
requiring to be softened at the mouth and along the brows, even in
men. He was tall, and had clear Greek outlines: the lips were locked
metal, thin as edges of steel, and his eyes, when he directed them on
the person he addressed or the person speaking, were as little varied
by motion of the lids as eyeballs of a stone bust. If they expressed
more, because they were not sculptured eyes, it was the expression of
his high and frigid nature rather than any of the diversities
pertaining to sentiment and shades of meaning.
'You have had the bequest of an estate,' Mr. Adister said, to
compliment him by touching on his affairs.
'A small one; not a quarter of a county,' said Patrick.
''Tis a tramp of discovery, sir, to where bog ends and cultivation
'Bequeathed to you exclusively over the head of your elder brother,
Patrick nodded assent. 'But my purse is Philip's, and my house,
and my horses.'
'Not bequeathed by a member of your family?'
'By a distant cousin, chancing to have been one of my godmothers.'
'Women do these things,' Mr. Adister said, not in perfect
approbation of their doings.
'And I think too, it might have gone to the elder,' Patrick replied
to his tone.
'It is not your intention to be an idle gentleman?'
'No, nor a vagrant Irishman, sir.'
'You propose to sit down over there?'
'When I've more brains to be of service to them and the land, I
Mr. Adister pulled the arm of his chair. 'The professions are
crammed. An Irish gentleman owning land might do worse. I am in
favour of some degree of military training for all gentlemen. You
Patrick's look was, 'Give me a chance'; and Mr. Adister continued:
'Good runs are to be had here; you shall try them. You are something
of a shot, I suppose. We hear of gentlemen now who neither hunt nor
shoot. You fence?'
'That's to say, I've had lessons in the art.'
'I am not aware that there is now an art of fencing taught in
'Nor am I,' said Patrick; 'though there's no knowing what goes on
in the cabins.'
Mr. Adister appeared to acquiesce. Observations of sly import went
by him like the whispering wind.
'Your priests should know,' he said.
To this Patrick thought it well not to reply. After a pause
between them, he referred to the fencing.
'I was taught by a Parisian master of the art, sir.'
'You have been to Paris?'
'I was educated in Paris.'
'How? Ah!' Mr. Adister corrected himself in the higher notes of
recollection. 'I think I have heard something of a Jesuit seminary.'
'The Fathers did me the service to knock all I know into me, and
call it education, by courtesy,' said Patrick, basking in the
unobscured frown of his host.
'Then you are accustomed to speak French?' The interrogation was
put to extract some balm from the circumstance.
Patrick tried his art of fence with the absurdity by saying: 'All
but like a native.'
'These Jesuits taught you the use of the foils?'
'They allowed me the privilege of learning, sir.'
After meditation, Mr. Adister said: 'You don't dance?' He said it
speculating on the' kind of gentleman produced in Paris by the
disciples of Loyola.
'Pardon me, sir, you hit on another of my accomplishments.'
'These Jesuits encourage dancing?'
'The square dance—short of the embracing: the valse is under
Mr. Adister peered into his brows profoundly for a glimpse of the
devilry in that exclusion of the valse.
What object had those people in encouraging the young fellow to be
a perfect fencer and dancer, so that he should be of the school of the
polite world, and yet subservient to them?
'Thanks to the Jesuits, then, you are almost a Parisian,' he
remarked; provoking the retort
'Thanks to them, I've stored a little, and Paris is to me as pure a
place as four whitewashed walls:' Patrick added: 'without a shadow of
a monk on them.' Perhaps it was thrown in for the comfort of mundane
ears afflicted sorely, and no point of principle pertained to the slur
on a monk.
Mr. Adister could have exclaimed, That shadow of the monk! had he
been in an exclamatory mood. He said: 'They have not made a monk of
Patrick was minded to explain how that the Jesuits are a religious
order exercising worldly weapons. The lack of precise words
admonished him of the virtue of silence, and he retreated—with a
quiet negative: 'They have not.'
'Then, you are no Jesuit?' he was asked.
Thinking it scarcely required a response, he shrugged.
'You would not change your religion, sir?' said Mr. Adister in
Patrick thought he would have to rise: he half fancied himself
summoned to change his religion or depart from the house.
'Not I,' said he.
'Not for the title of Prince?' he was further pressed, and he
'I don't happen to have an ambition for the title of Prince.'
'Or any title!' interjected Mr. Adister, 'or whatever the devil can
offer!—or,' he spoke more pointedly, 'for what fools call a brilliant
'My religion?' Patrick now treated the question seriously and
raised his head: 'I'd not suffer myself to be asked twice.'
The sceptical northern-blue eyes of his host dwelt on him with
their full repellent stare.
The young Catholic gentleman expected he might hear a frenetic
zealot roar out: Be off!
He was not immediately reassured by the words 'Dead or alive, then,
you have a father!'
The spectacle of a state of excitement without a show of feeling
was novel to Patrick. He began to see that he was not implicated in a
wrath that referred to some great offender, and Mr. Adister soon
confirmed his view by saying: 'You are no disgrace to your begetting,
With that he quitted his chair, and hospitably proposed to conduct
his guest over the house and grounds.
CHAPTER III. CAROLINE
Men of the Adister family having taken to themselves brides of a
very dusty pedigree from the Principality, there were curious rough
heirlooms to be seen about the house, shields on the armoury walls and
hunting- horns, and drinking-horns, and spears, and chain-belts
bearing clasps of heads of beasts; old gold ornaments, torques,
blue-stone necklaces, under glass-cases, were in the library; huge
rings that must have given the wearers fearful fists; a shirt of
coarse linen with a pale brown spot on the breast, like a fallen
beech-leaf; and many sealed parchment-skins, very precious, for an
inspection of which, as Patrick was bidden to understand, History
humbly knocked at the Earlsfont hall-doors; and the proud muse made
her transcripts of them kneeling. He would have been affected by
these wonders had any relic of Adiante appeased his thirst. Or had
there been one mention of her, it would have disengaged him from the
incessant speculations regarding the daughter of the house, of whom
not a word was uttered. No portrait of her was shown. Why was she
absent from her home so long? where was she? How could her name be
started? And was it she who was the sinner in her father's mind? But
the idolatrous love between Adiante and her father was once a legend:
they could not have been cut asunder. She had offered up her love of
Philip as a sacrifice to it: Patrick recollected that, and now with a
softer gloom on his brooding he released her from the burden of his
grand charge of unfaithfulness to the truest of lovers, by
acknowledging that he was in the presence of the sole rival of his
brother. Glorious girl that she was, her betrayal of Philip had
nothing of a woman's base caprice to make it infamous: she had
sacrificed him to her reading of duty; and that was duty to her
father; and the point of duty was in this instance rather a sacred
one. He heard voices murmur that she might be praised. He
remonstrated with them, assuring them, as one who knew, that a woman's
first duty is her duty to her lover; her parents are her second
thought. Her lover, in the consideration of a real soul among the
shifty creatures, is her husband; and have we not the word of heaven
directing her to submit herself to him who is her husband before all
others? That peerless Adiante had previously erred in the upper
sphere where she received her condemnation, but such a sphere is
ladder and ladder and silver ladder high above your hair-splitting
pates, you children of earth, and it is not for you to act on the
verdict in decrying her: rather 'tis for you to raise hymns of worship
to a saint.
Thus did the ingenious Patrick change his ground and gain his
argument with the celerity of one who wins a game by playing it
without an adversary. Mr. Adister had sprung a new sense in him on
the subject of the renunciation of the religion. No thought of a
possible apostasy had ever occurred to the youth, and as he was aware
that the difference of their faith had been the main cause of the
division of Adiante and Philip, he could at least consent to think
well of her down here, that is, on our flat surface of earth. Up
there, among the immortals, he was compelled to shake his head at her
still, and more than sadly in certain moods of exaltation,
reprovingly; though she interested him beyond all her sisterhood
above, it had to be confessed.
They traversed a banqueting-hall hung with portraits, to two or
three of which the master of Earlsfont carelessly pointed, for his
guest to be interested in them or not as he might please. A
reception-hall flung folding-doors on a grand drawing-room, where the
fires in the grates went through the ceremony of warming nobody, and
made a show of keeping the house alive. A modern steel cuirass,
helmet and plume at a corner of the armoury reminded Mr. Adister to
say that he had worn the uniform in his day. He cast an odd look at
the old shell containing him when he was a brilliant youth. Patrick
was marched on to Colonel Arthur's rooms, and to Captain David's, the
sailor. Their father talked of his two sons. They appeared to satisfy
him. If that was the case, they could hardly have thrown off their
religion. Already Patrick had a dread of naming the daughter. An
idea struck him that she might be the person who had been guilty of it
over there on the Continent. What if she had done it, upon a review
of her treatment of her lover, and gone into a convent to wait for
Philip to come and claim her?—saying, 'Philip, I've put the knife to
my father's love of me; love me double'; and so she just half swoons,
enough to show how the dear angel looks in her sleep: a trick of
kindness these heavenly women have, that we heathen may get a peep of
their secret rose-enfolded selves; and dream 's no word, nor drunken,
for the blessed mischief it works with us.
Supposing it so, it accounted for everything: for her absence, and
her father's abstention from a mention of her, and the pretty good
sort of welcome Patrick had received; for as yet it was unknown that
she did it all for an O'Donnell.
These being his reflections, he at once accepted a view of her that
so agreeably quieted his perplexity, and he leapt out of his tangle
into the happy open spaces where the romantic things of life are as
natural as the sun that rises and sets. There you imagine what you
will; you live what you imagine. An Adiante meets her lover another
Adiante, the phantom likeness of her, similar to the finger-tips,
hovers to a meeting with some one whose heart shakes your manful frame
at but a thought of it. But this other Adiante is altogether a
secondary conception, barely descried, and chased by you that she may
interpret the mystical nature of the happiness of those two,
close-linked to eternity, in advance. You would learn it, if she
would expound it; you are ready to learn it, for the sake of
knowledge; and if you link yourself to her and do as those two are
doing, it is chiefly in a spirit of imitation, in sympathy with the
darting couple ahead . . . .
Meanwhile he conversed, and seemed, to a gentleman unaware of the
vaporous activities of his brain, a young fellow of a certain
'We have not much to teach you in: horseflesh,' Mr. Adister said,
quitting the stables to proceed to the gardens.
'We must look alive to keep up our breed, sir,' said Patrick.
'We're breeding too fine: and soon we shan't be able to horse our
troopers. I call that the land for horses where the cavalry's
well-mounted on a native breed.'
'You have your brother's notions of cavalry, have you!'
'I leave it to Philip to boast what cavalry can do on the field.
He knows: but he knows that troopers must be mounted: and we're
fineing more and more from bone: with the sales to foreigners! and
the only chance of their not beating us is that they'll be so good as
follow our bad example. Prussia's well horsed, and for the work it's
intended to do, the Austrian light cavalry's a model. So I'm told.
I'll see for myself. Then we sit our horses too heavy. The Saxon
trooper runs headlong to flesh. 'Tis the beer that fattens and swells
him. Properly to speak, we've no light cavalry. The French are
studying it, and when they take to studying, they come to the fore.
I'll pay a visit to their breeding establishments. We've no studying
here, and not a scrap of system that I see. All the country seems
armed for bullying the facts, till the periodical panic arrives, and
then it 's for lying flat and roaring— and we'll drop the curtain, if
'You say we,' returned Mr. Adister. 'I hear you launched at us
English by the captain, your cousin, who has apparently yet to learn
that we are one people.'
'We 're held together and a trifle intermixed; I fancy it's we with
him and with me when we're talking of army or navy,' said Patrick.
'But Captain Con's a bit of a politician: a poor business, when
there's nothing to be done.'
'A very poor business!' Mr. Adister rejoined,
'If you'd have the goodness to kindle his enthusiasm, he'd be for
the first person plural, with his cap in the air,' said Patrick.
'I detest enthusiasm.
'You're not obliged to adore it to give it a wakener.
'Pray, what does that mean?'
Patrick cast about to reply to the formal challenge for an
He began on it as it surged up to him: 'Well, sir, the country
that's got hold of us, if we 're not to get loose. We don't count
many millions in Europe, and there's no shame in submitting to force
majeure, if a stand was once made; and we're mixed up, 'tis true, well
or ill; and we're stronger, both of us, united than tearing to strips:
and so, there, for the past! so long as we can set our eyes upon
something to admire, instead of a bundle squatting fat on a pile of
possessions and vowing she won't budge; and taking kicks from a big
foot across the Atlantic, and shaking bayonets out of her mob-cap for
a little one's cock of the eye at her: and she's all for the
fleshpots, and calls the rest of mankind fools because they're not the
same: and so long as she can trim her ribands and have her hot toast
and tea, with a suspicion of a dram in it, she doesn't mind how heavy
she sits: nor that 's not the point, nor 's the land question, nor the
potato crop, if only she wore the right sort of face to look at, with
a bit of brightness about it, to show an idea inside striking alight
from the day that's not yet nodding at us, as the tops of big
mountains do: or if she were only braced and gallant, and cried,
Ready, though I haven't much outlook! We'd be satisfied with her for
a handsome figure. I don't know whether we wouldn't be satisfied with
her for politeness in her manners. We'd like her better for a spice
of devotion to alight higher up in politics and religion. But the key
of the difficulty's a sparkle of enthusiasm. It's part business, and
the greater part sentiment. We want a rousing in the heart of us; or
else we'd be pleased with her for sitting so as not to overlap us
entirely: we'd feel more at home, and behold her more respectfully.
We'd see the policy of an honourable union, and be joined to you by
more than a telegraphic cable. That's Captain Con, I think, and many
Patrick finished his airy sketch of the Irish case in a key
signifying that he might be one among the many, but unobtrusive.
'Stick to horses!' observed Mr. Adister.
It was pronounced as the termination to sheer maundering.
Patrick talked on the uppermost topic for the remainder of their
He noticed that his host occasionally allowed himself to say, 'You
Irish': and he reflected that the saying, 'You English,' had been
hinted as an offence.
He forgot to think that he had possibly provoked this alienation in
a scornfully proud spirit. The language of metaphor was to Mr.
Adister fool's froth. He conceded the use of it to the Irish and the
Welsh as a right that stamped them for what they were by adopting it;
and they might look on a country as a 'she,' if it amused them: so
long as they were not recalcitrant, they were to be tolerated, they
were a part of us; doubtless the nether part, yet not the less a part
for which we are bound to exercise a specially considerate care, or
else we suffer, for we are sensitive there: this is justice but the
indications by fiddle-faddle verbiage of anything objectionable to the
whole in the part aroused an irritability that speedily endued him
with the sense of sanity opposing lunacy; when, not having a wide
command of the undecorated plain speech which enjoyed his approval, he
withdrew into the entrenchments of contempt.
Patrick heard enough to let him understand why the lord of
Earlsfont and Captain Con were not on the best of terms. Once or
twice he had a twinge or suspicion of a sting from the tone of his
host, though he was not political and was of a mood to pity the poor
gentleman's melancholy state of solitariness, with all his children
absent, his wife dead, only a niece, a young lady of twenty, to lend
an air of grace and warmth to his home.
She was a Caroline, and as he had never taken a liking to a
Caroline, he classed her in the tribe of Carolines. To a Kathleen, an
Eveleen, a Nora, or a Bessy, or an Alicia, he would have bowed more
cordially on his introduction to her, for these were names with
portraits and vistas beyond, that shook leaves of recollection of the
happiest of life—the sweet things dreamed undesiringly in opening
youth. A Caroline awakened no soft association of fancies, no
mysterious heaven and earth. The others had variously tinted skies
above them; their features wooed the dream, led it on as the wooded
glen leads the eye till we are deep in richness. Nor would he have
throbbed had one of any of his favourite names appeared in the place
of Caroline Adister. They had not moved his heart, they had only
stirred the sources of wonder. An Eveleen had carried him farthest to
imagine the splendours of an Adiante, and the announcement of the
coming of an Eveleen would perchance have sped a little wild fire, to
which what the world calls curiosity is frozenly akin, through his
Mr. Adister had spoken of his niece Caroline. A lacquey, receiving
orders from his master, mentioned Miss Adister. There was but one
Miss Adister for Patrick. Against reason, he was raised to anticipate
the possible beholding of her, and Caroline's entrance into the
drawing-room brought him to the ground. Disappointment is a poor term
for the descent from an immoderate height, but the acknowledgment that
we have shot up irrationally reconciles even unphilosophical youth to
the necessity of the fall, though we must continue sensible of a
shock. She was the Miss Adister; and how, and why? No one else
accompanied them on their march to the dinner-table. Patrick pursued
his double task of hunting his thousand speculations and conversing
fluently, so that it is not astonishing if, when he retired to his
room, the impression made on him by this young Caroline was
inefficient to distinguish her from the horde of her baptismal
sisters. And she had a pleasant face: he was able to see that, and
some individuality in the look of it, the next morning; and then he
remembered the niceness of her manners. He supposed her to have been
educated where the interfusion of a natural liveliness with a veiling
retenue gives the title of lady. She had enjoyed the advantage of
having an estimable French lady for her governess, she informed him,
as they sauntered together on the terrace.
'A Protestant, of course,' Patrick spoke as he thought.
'Madame Dugue is a Catholic of Catholics, and the most honourable
'That I'll believe; and wasn't for proselytisms,' said he.
'Oh, no: she was faithful to her trust.'
'Save for the grand example!'
'That,' said Caroline, 'one could strive to imitate without
embracing her faith.'
'There's my mind clear as print!' Patrick exclaimed. 'The Faith of
my fathers! and any pattern you like for my conduct, if it's a good
Caroline hesitated before she said: 'You have noticed my Uncle
Adister's prepossession; I mean, his extreme sensitiveness on that
'He blazed on me, and he seemed to end by a sort of approval.'
She sighed. 'He has had cause for great unhappiness.'
'Is it the colonel, or the captain? Forgive me!'
Her head shook.
'Is it she? Is it his daughter? I must ask!'
'You have not heard?'
Oh! then, I guessed it,' cried Patrick, with a flash of pride in
his arrowy sagacity. 'Not a word have I heard, but I thought it out
for myself; because I love my brother, I fancy. And now, if you'll be
so good, Miss Caroline, let me beg, it's just the address, or the
city, or the country—where she is, can you tell me?—just
whereabouts! You're surprised: but I want her address, to be off, to
see her; I'm anxious to speak to her. It's anywhere she may be in a
ring, only show me the ring, I'll find her, for I've a load; and
there's nothing like that for sending you straight, though it's in the
dark; it acts like an instinct. But you know the clear address, and
won't let me be running blindfold. She's on the Continent and has
been a long time, and it was the capital of Austria, which is a
Catholic country, and they've Irish blood in the service there, or
they had. I could drop on my knees to you!'
The declaration was fortunately hushed by a supplicating ardour, or
Mr. Adister would have looked more surprised than his niece. He
stepped out of the library window as they were passing, and, evidently
with a mind occupied by his own affairs, held up an opened letter for
Caroline's perusal. She took a view of the handwriting.
'Any others?' she said.
'You will consider that one enough for the day,' was his answer.
Patrick descended the terrace and strolled by the waterside,
grieved at their having bad news, and vexed with himself for being a
stranger, unable to console them.
Half an hour later they were all three riding to the market-town,
where Mr. Adister paid a fruitless call on his lawyer.
'And never is at home! never was known to be at home when wanted!'
he said, springing back to the saddle.
Caroline murmured some soothing words. They had a perverse effect.
'His partner! yes, his partner is at home, but I do not
communicate upon personal business with his partner; and by and by
there will be, I suppose, a third partner. I might as well deposit my
family history in the hands of a club. His partner is always visible.
It is my belief that Camminy has taken a partner that he may act the
independent gentleman at his leisure. I, meantime, must continue to
be the mark for these letters. I shall expect soon to hear myself
abused as the positive cause of the loss of a Crown!'
'Mr. Camminy will probably appear at the dinner hour,' said
'Claret attracts him: I wish I could say as much of duty,' rejoined
Patrick managed to restrain a bubbling remark on the respective
charms of claret and duty, tempting though the occasion was for him to
throw in a conversational word or two.
He was rewarded for listening devoutly.
Mr. Adister burst out again: 'And why not come over here to settle
this transaction herself?—provided that I am spared the presence of
her Schinderhannes! She could very well come. I have now received
three letters bearing on this matter within as many months. Down to
the sale of her hereditary jewels! I profess no astonishment. The
jewels may well go too, if Crydney and Welvas are to go. Disrooted
body and soul! —for a moonshine title!—a gaming-table foreign
knave!—Known for a knave!—A young gentlewoman?—a wild Welsh . . .
Caroline put her horse to a canter, and the exclamations ended,
leaving Patrick to shuffle them together and read the riddle they
presented, and toss them to the wind, that they might be blown back on
him by the powers of air in an intelligible form.
CHAPTER IV. THE PRINCESS
Dinner, and a little piano-music and a song closed an evening that
was not dull to Patrick in spite of prolonged silences. The quiet
course of things within the house appeared to him to have a listening
ear for big events outside. He dreaded a single step in the wrong
direction, and therefore forbore to hang on any of his conjectures;
for he might perchance be unjust to the blessedest heroine on the
surface of the earth—a truly awful thought! Yet her name would no
longer bear the speaking of it to himself. It conjured up a smoky
moon under confounding eclipse.
Who was Schinderhannes?
Mr. Adister had said, her Schinderhannes.
Patrick merely wished to be informed who the man was, and whether
he had a title, and was much of a knave: and particularly Patrick
would have liked to be informed of the fellow's religion. But asking
was not easy.
It was not possible. And there was a barrel of powder to lay a
fiery head on, for a pillow!
To confess that he had not the courage to inquire was as good as an
acknowledgment that he knew too much for an innocent questioner. And
what did he know? His brother Philip's fair angel forbade him to open
the door upon what he knew. He took a peep through fancy's keyhole,
and delighted himself to think that he had seen nothing.
After a turbulent night with Schinderhannes, who let him go no
earlier than the opening of a December day, Patrick hied away to one
of the dusky nooks by the lake for a bracing plunge. He attributed to
his desire for it the strange deadness of the atmosphere, and his
incapacity to get an idea out of anything he looked on: he had not a
sensation of cold till the stinging element gripped him. It is the
finest school for the cure of dreamers; two minutes of stout watery
battle, with the enemy close all round, laughing, but not the less
inveterate, convinced him that, in winter at least, we have only to
jump out of our clothes to feel the reality of things in a trice. The
dip was sharpening; he could say that his prescription was good for
him; his craving to get an idea ceased with it absolutely, and he
stood in far better trim to meet his redoubtable adversary of
overnight; but the rascal was a bandit and had robbed him of his
purse; that was a positive fact; his vision had gone; he felt himself
poor and empty and rejoicing in the keenness of his hunger for
breakfast, singularly lean. A youth despoiled of his Vision and made
sensible by the activity of his physical state that he is a common
machine, is eager for meat, for excess of whatsoever you may offer
him; he is on the highroad of recklessness, and had it been the bottle
instead of Caroline's coffee-cup, Patrick would soon have received a
priming for a delivery of views upon the sex, and upon love, and the
fools known as lovers, acrid enough to win the applause of cynics.
Boasting was the best relief that a young man not without modesty
could find. Mr. Adister complimented him on the robustness of his
habits, and Patrick 'would like to hear of the temptation that could
keep him from his morning swim.'
Caroline's needle-thrust was provoked:
'Would not Arctic weather deter you, Mr. O'Donnell?' He hummed, and
her eyes filled with the sparkle.
'Short of Arctic,' he had to say. 'But a gallop, after an Arctic
bath, would soon spin the blood-upon an Esquimaux dog, of course,' he
pursued, to anticipate his critic's remark on the absence of horses,
with a bow.
She smiled, accepting the mental alertness he fastened on her.
We must perforce be critics of these tear-away wits; which are,
moreover, so threadbare to conceal the character! Caroline led him to
vaunt his riding and his shooting, and a certain time passed before
she perceived that though he responded naturally to her first sly
attacks, his gross exaggerations upon them had not been the triumph of
absurdity she supposed herself to have evoked.
Her wish was to divert her uncle. Patrick discerned the intention
and aided her.
'As for entertainment,' he said, in answer to Mr. Adister's
courteous regrets that he would have to be a prisoner in the house
until his legal adviser thought proper to appear, 'I'll be perfectly
happy if Miss Caroline will give me as much of her company as she can
spare. It 's amusing to be shot at too, by a lady who 's a good
marksman! And birds and hares are always willing to wait for us; they
keep better alive. I forgot to say that I can sing.'
'Then I was in the presence of a connoisseur last night,' said
Caroline. Mr. Adister consulted his watch and the mantelpiece clock
for a minute of difference between them, remarking that he was a
prisoner indeed, and for the whole day, unless Camminy should decide
to come. 'There is the library,' he said, 'if you care for books; the
best books on agriculture will be found there. You can make your
choice in the stables, if you would like to explore the country. I am
detained here by a man who seems to think my business of less
importance than his pleasures. And it is not my business; it is very
much the reverse but I am compelled to undertake it as my own, when I
abhor the business. It is hard for me to speak of it, much more to
act a part in it.'
'Perhaps,' Caroline interposed hurriedly, 'Mr. O'Donnell would not
be unwilling to begin the day with some duets?'
Patrick eagerly put on his shame-face to accept her invitation,
protesting that his boldness was entirely due to his delight in music.
'But I've heard,' said he, 'that the best fortification for the
exercise of the a voice is hearty eating, so I 'll pay court again to
that game- pie. I'm one with the pigs for truffles.'
His host thanked him for spreading the contagion of good appetite,
and followed his example. Robust habits and heartiness were signs
with him of a conscience at peace, and he thought the Jesuits
particularly forbearing in the amount of harm they had done to this
young man. So they were still at table when Mr. Camminy was announced
and ushered in.
The man of law murmured an excuse or two; he knew his client's eye,
and how to thaw it.
'No, Miss Adister, I have not breakfasted,' he said, taking the
chair placed for him. 'I was all day yesterday at Windlemont, engaged
in assisting to settle the succession. Where estates are not
'The expectations of the family are undisciplined and certain not
to be satisfied,' Mr. Adister carried on the broken sentence. 'That
house will fall! However, you have lost no time this morning.—Mr.
Mr. Camminy bowed busily somewhere in the direction between Patrick
and the sideboard.
'Our lawyers have us inside out, like our physicians,' Mr. Adister
resumed, talking to blunt his impatience for a private discussion with
'Surgery's a little in their practice too, we think in Ireland,'
Mr. Camminy assented: 'No doubt.' He was hungry, and enjoyed the
look of the table, but the look of his client chilled the prospect,
considered in its genial appearance as a feast of stages; having
luminous extension; so, to ease his client's mind, he ventured to say:
'I thought it might be urgent.'
'It is urgent,' was the answer.
'Ah: foreign? domestic?'
A frown replied.
Caroline, in haste to have her duties over, that she might escape
the dreaded outburst, pressed another cup of tea on Mr. Camminy and
groaned to see him fill his plate. She tried to start a topic with
'The princess is well, I hope?' Mr. Camminy asked in the voice of
discretion. 'It concerns her Highness?'
'It concerns my daughter and her inheritance from her mad
grandmother!' Mr. Adister rejoined loudly; and he continued like a
retreating thunder: 'A princess with a title as empty as a skull! At
best a princess of swamps, and swine that fight for acorns, and men
that fight for swine!'
Patrick caught a glance from Caroline, and the pair rose together.
'They did that in our mountains a couple of thousand years ago,'
said Mr. Camminy, 'and the cause was not so bad, to judge by this ham.
Men must fight: the law is only a quieter field for them.'
'And a fatter for the ravens,' Patrick joined in softly, as if
carrying on a song.
'Have at us, Mr. O'Donnell! I'm ashamed of my appetite, Miss
Adister, but the morning's drive must be my excuse, and I'm bounden to
you for not forcing me to detain you. Yes, I can finish breakfast at
my leisure, and talk of business, which is never particularly
interesting to ladies— though,' Mr. Camminy turned to her uncle, 'I
know Miss Adister has a head for it.'
Patrick hummed a bar or two of an air, to hint of his being
fanatico per la musica, as a pretext for their departure.
'If you'll deign to give me a lesson,' said he, as Caroline came
away from pressing her lips to her uncle's forehead.
'I may discover that I am about to receive one,' said she.
They quitted the room together.
Mr. Camminy had seen another Miss Adister duetting with a young
Irishman and an O'Donnell, with lamentable results to that union of
voices, and he permitted himself to be a little astonished at his
respected client's defective memory or indifference to the admonition
of identical circumstances.
CHAPTER V. AT THE PIANO, CHIEFLY
Barely had the door shut behind them when Patrick let his heart
out: 'The princess?' He had a famished look, and Caroline glided
along swiftly with her head bent, like one musing; his tone alarmed
her; she lent him her ear, that she might get some understanding of
his excitement, suddenly as it seemed to have come on him; but he was
all in his hungry interrogation, and as she reached her piano and
raised the lid, she saw it on tiptoe straining for her answer.
'I thought you were aware of my cousin's marriage.'
'Was I?' said Patrick, asking it of himself, for his conscience
would not acknowledge an absolute ignorance. 'No: I fought it, I
wouldn't have a blot on her be suspected. She's married! She's
married to one of their princes!—married for a title!—and changed
her religion! And Miss Adister, you're speaking of Adiante?'
'My cousin Adiante.'
'Well did I hate the name! I heard it first over in France. Our
people wrote to me of her; and it's a name to set you thinking: Is she
tender, or nothing like a woman,—a stone? And I put it to my best
friend there, Father Clement, who's a scholar, up in everything, and
he said it was a name with a pretty sound and an ill meaning—far from
tender; and a bad history too, for she was one of the forty-nine
Danaides who killed their husbands for the sake of their father and
was not likely to be the fiftieth, considering the name she bore. It
was for her father's sake she as good as killed her lover, and the two
Adiantes are like enough: they're as like as a pair of hands with
daggers. So that was my brother Philip's luck! She's married! It's
done; it's over, like death: no hope. And this time it's against her
father; it's against her faith. There's the end of Philip! I could
have prophesied it; I did; and when they broke, from her casting him
off—true to her name! thought I. She cast him off, and she couldn't
wait for him, and there's his heart broken. And I ready to glorify
her for a saint! And now she must have loved the man, or his title,
to change her religion. She gives him her soul! No praise to her for
that: but mercy! what a love it must be. Or else it's a spell. But
wasn't she rather one for flinging spells than melting? Except that
we're all of us hit at last, and generally by our own weapon. But she
loved Philip: she loved him down to shipwreck and drowning: she gave
battle for him, and against her father; all the place here and the
country's alive with their meetings and partings:—she can't have
married! She wouldn't change her religion for her lover: how can she
have done it for this prince? Why, it's to swear false oaths!—
unless it's possible for a woman to slip out of herself and be another
person after a death like that of a love like hers.'
Patrick stopped: the idea demanded a scrutiny.
'She's another person for me,' he said. 'Here's the worst I ever
imagined of her!—thousands of miles and pits of sulphur beyond the
worst and the very worst! I thought her fickle, I thought her
heartless, rather a black fairy, perched above us, not quite among the
stars of heaven. I had my ideas. But never that she was a creature
to jump herself down into a gulf and be lost for ever. She's gone,
extinguished —there she is, under the penitent's hoodcap with
eyeholes, before the faggots! and that's what she has married!—a
burning torment, and none of the joys of martyrdom. Oh! I'm not
awake. But I never dreamed of such a thing as this—not the hard,
bare, lump-of-earth-fact:—and that's the only thing to tell me I'm
not dreaming now.'
He subsided again; then deeply beseeching asked:
'Have you by chance a portrait of the gentleman, Miss Adister? Is
there one anywhere?'
Caroline stood at her piano, turning over the leaves of a
music-book, with a pressure on her eyelids. She was near upon being
thrilled in spite of an astonishment almost petrifying: and she could
nearly have smiled, so strange was his fraternal adoption, amounting
to a vivification—of his brother's passion. He seemed quite
naturally to impersonate Philip. She wondered, too, in the coolness
of her alien blood, whether he was a character, or merely an Irish
character. As to the unwontedness of the scene, Ireland was
chargeable with that; and Ireland also, a little at his expense as a
citizen of the polite world, relieved him of the extreme ridicule
attached to his phrases and images.
She replied: 'We have no portrait.'
'May I beg to know, have you seen him?' said Patrick. Caroline
shook her head.
'Is there no telling what he is like, Miss Adister?'
'He is not young.'
'An old man!'
She had not said that, and she wished to defend her cousin from the
charge of contracting such an alliance, but Patrick's face had
brightened out of a gloom of stupefaction; he assured her he was now
ready to try his voice with hers, only she was to excuse a touch of
hoarseness; he felt it slightly in his throat: and could he, she asked
him, wonder at it after his morning's bath?
He vindicated the saneness of the bath as well as he was able,
showing himself at least a good reader of music. On the whole, he
sang pleasantly, particularly French songs. She complimented him,
with an emphasis on the French. He said, yes, he fancied he did best
in French, and he had an idea of settling in France, if he found that
he could not live quietly in his own country.
'And becoming a Frenchman?'said Caroline.
'Why not?' said he. 'I 'm more at home with French people; they're
mostly of my creed; they're amiable, though they weren't quite kind to
poor Lally Tollendal. I like them. Yes, I love France, and when I'm
called upon to fix myself, as I suppose I shall be some day, I shan't
have the bother over there that I should find here.'
She spoke reproachfully: 'Have you no pride in the title of
'I 'm an Irishman.'
'We are one nation.'
'And it's one family where the dog is pulled by the collar.'
There was a retort on him: she saw, as it were, the box, but the
lid would not open to assist her to it, and she let it go by, thinking
in her patriotic derision, that to choose to be likened to the
unwilling dog of the family was evidence of a want of saving pride.
Besides, she could not trust to the glibness of her tongue in a
contest with a young gentleman to whom talking was as easy as
breathing, even if sometimes his volubility exposed him to attack. A
superior position was offered her by her being silent and critical.
She stationed herself on it: still she was grieved to think of him as
a renegade from his country, and she forced herself to say: 'Captain
O'Donnell talks in that manner.'
'Captain Con is constitutionally discontented because he's a bard
by nature, and without the right theme for his harp,' said Patrick.
'He has a notion of Erin as the unwilling bride of Mr. Bull, because
her lord is not off in heroics enough to please her, and neglects her,
and won't let her be mistress of her own household, and she can't
forget that he once had the bad trick of beating her: she sees the
marks. And you mayn't believe it, but the Captain's temper is to
praise and exalt. It is. Irony in him is only eulogy standing on its
head: a sort of an upside down; a perversion: that's our view of him
at home. All he desires is to have us on the march, and he'd be
perfectly happy marching, never mind the banner, though a bit of green
in it would put him in tune, of course. The banner of the Cid was
green, Miss Adister: or else it's his pennon that was. And there's a
quantity of our blood in Spain too. We've watered many lands.'
The poor young English lady's brain started wildly on the effort to
be with him, and to understand whether she listened to humour or
emotion: she reposed herself as well as she could in the contemplation
of an electrically-flashing maze, where every line ran losing itself
He added: 'Old Philip!' in a visible throb of pity for his brother;
after the scrupulous dubitation between the banner and the pennon of
It would have comforted her to laugh. She was closer upon tears,
and without any reason for them in her heart.
Such a position brings the hesitancy which says that the sitting is
at an end.
She feared, as she laid aside her music-books, that there would be
more to come about Adiante, but he spared her. He bowed to her
departing, and strolled off by himself.
CHAPTER VI. A CONSULTATION: WITH
OPINIONS UPON WELSHWOMEN AND THE CAMBRIAN RACE
Later in the day she heard that he was out scouring the country on
one of her uncle's horses. She had too many distressing matters to
think of for so singular a young man to have any other place than that
which is given to the fantastical in a troubled and serious mind. He
danced there like the whimsy sunbeam of a shaken water below. What
would be his opinion of Adiante if he knew of her determination to
sell the two fair estates she inherited from a grandmother whom she
had venerated; that she might furnish arms to her husband to carry out
an audacious enterprise likely to involve both of them in blood and
ruin? Would he not bound up aloft and quiver still more wildly? She
respected, quaint though it was, his imaginative heat of feeling for
Adiante sufficiently to associate him with her so far; and she lent
him in fancy her own bewilderment and grief at her cousin's conduct,
for the soothing that his exaggeration of them afforded her. She
could almost hear his outcry.
The business of the hour demanded more of her than a seeking for
refreshment. She had been invited to join the consultation of her
uncle with his lawyer. Mr. Adister tossed her another letter from
Vienna, of that morning's delivery. She read it with composure. It
became her task to pay no heed to his loss of patience, and induce him
to acquiesce in his legal adviser's view which was, to temporise
further, present an array of obstacles, and by all possible
suggestions induce the princess to come over to England, where her
father's influence with her would have a chance of being established
again; and it might then be hoped that she, who had never when under
sharp temptation acted disobediently to his wishes at home, and who
certainly would not have dreamed of contracting the abhorred alliance
had she been breathing the air of common sense peculiar to her native
land, would see the prudence, if not the solemn obligation, of
retaining to herself these family possessions. Caroline was urgent
with her uncle to act on such good counsel. She marvelled at his
opposition, though she detected the principal basis of it.
Mr. Adister had no ground of opposition but his own
intemperateness. The Welsh grandmother's legacy of her estates to his
girl, overlooking her brothers, Colonel Arthur and Captain David, had
excessively vexed him, despite the strong feeling he entertained for
Adiante; and not simply because of the blow he received in it
unexpectedly from that old lady, as the last and heaviest of the long
and open feud between them, but also, chiefly, that it outraged and
did permanent injury to his ideas of the proper balance of the sexes.
Between himself and Mrs. Winnion Rhys the condition of the balance
had been a point of vehement disputation, she insisting to have it
finer up to equality, and he that the naturally lighter scale should
continue to kick the beam. Behold now the consequence of the wilful
Welshwoman's insanest of legacies! The estates were left to Adiante
Adister for her sole use and benefit, making almost a man of her, and
an unshackled man, owing no dues to posterity. Those estates in the
hands of a woman are in the hands of her husband; and the husband a
gambler and a knave, they are in the hands of the Jews —or gone to
smoke. Let them go. A devilish malignity bequeathed them: let them
go back to their infernal origin. And when they were gone, his girl
would soon discover that there was no better place to come to than her
home; she would come without an asking, and alone, and without much
prospect of the intrusion of her infamous Hook-nose in pursuit of her
at Earlsfont. The money wasted, the wife would be at peace. Here she
would have leisure to repent of all the steps she had taken since that
fatal one of the acceptance of the invitation to the Embassy at
Vienna. Mr. Adister had warned her both against her going and against
the influence of her friend Lady Wenchester, our Ambassadress there,
another Welsh woman, with the weathervane head of her race. But the
girl would accept, and it was not for him to hold out. It appeared to
be written that the Welsh, particularly Welsh women, were destined to
worry him up to the end of his days. Their women were a composition
of wind and fire. They had no reason, nothing solid in their whole
nature. Englishmen allied to them had to learn that they were dealing
with broomstick witches and irresponsible sprites. Irishwomen were
models of propriety beside them: indeed Irishwomen might often be
patterns to their English sisterhood. Mr. Adister described the
Cambrian ladies as a kind of daughters of the Fata Morgana, only half
human, and deceptive down to treachery, unless you had them fast by
their spinning fancy. They called it being romantic. It was the
ante-chamber of madness. Mad, was the word for them. You pleased
them you knew not how, and just as little did you know how you
displeased them. And you were long hence to be taught that in a
certain past year, and a certain month, and on a certain day of the
month, not forgetting the hour of the day to the minute of the hour,
and attendant circumstances to swear loud witness to it, you had
mortally offended them. And you receive your blow: you are sure to
get it: the one passion of those women is for vengeance. They taste a
wound from the lightest touch, and they nurse the venom for you.
Possibly you may in their presence have had occasion to praise the
military virtues of the builder of Carnarvon Castle. You are by and
by pierced for it as hard as they can thrust. Or you have
incidentally compared Welsh mutton with Southdown:—you have not
highly esteemed their drunken Bards:—you have asked what the Welsh
have done in the world; you are supposed to have slighted some person
of their family—a tenth cousin!—anything turns their blood. Or you
have once looked straight at them without speaking, and you discover
years after that they have chosen to foist on you their idea of your
idea at the moment; and they have the astounding presumption to
account this misreading of your look to the extent of a full
justification, nothing short of righteous, for their treachery and
your punishment! O those Welshwomen!
The much-suffering lord of Earlsfont stretched forth his open hand,
palm upward, for a testifying instrument to the plain truth of his
catalogue of charges. He closed it tight and smote the table. 'Like
mother—and grandmother too—like daughter!' he said, and generalised
again to preserve his dignity: 'They're aflame in an instant. You may
see them quiet for years, but it smoulders. You dropped the spark,
and they time the explosion.'
Caroline said to Mr. Camminy: 'You are sure you can give us the
'All of it,' he replied, apologising for some show of restlessness.
'The fact is, Miss Adister, I married a lady from over the borders,
and though I have never had to complain of her yet, she may have a
finale in store. It's true that I love wild Wales.'
'And so do I' Caroline raised her eyes to imagined mountains.
'You will pardon me, Camminy,' said Mr. Adister.
The lawyer cracked his back to bow to the great gentleman so
magnanimously humiliating himself. 'Sir! Sir!' he said. 'Yes, Welsh
blood is queer blood, I own. They find it difficult to forgive; and
trifles offend; and they are unhappily just as secretive as they are
sensitive. The pangs we cause them, without our knowing it, must be
horrible. They are born, it would seem, with more than the common
allowance of kibes for treading on: a severe misfortune for them. Now
for their merits: they have poetry in them; they are valiant; they are
hospitable to teach the Arab a lesson: I do believe their life is
their friend's at need—seriously, they would lay it down for him: or
the wherewithal, their money, their property, excepting the
three-stringed harp of three generations back, worth now in current
value sixpence halfpenny as a curiosity, or three farthings for
firewood; that they'll keep against their own desire to heap on you
everything they have—if they love you, and you at the same time have
struck their imaginations. Offend them, however, and it's war,
declared or covert. And I must admit that their best friend can too
easily offend them. I have lost excellent clients, I have never
understood why; yet I respect the remains of their literature, I study
their language, I attend their gatherings and subscribe the expenses;
I consume Welsh mutton with relish; I enjoy the Triads, and can come
down on them with a quotation from Catwg the Wise: but it so chanced
that I trod on a kibe, and I had to pay the penalty. There's an
Arabian tale, Miss Adister, of a peaceful traveller who ate a date in
the desert and flung away the stone, which hit an invisible son of a
genie in the eye, and the poor traveller suffered for it. Well, you
commit these mortal injuries to the invisible among the Welsh. Some
of them are hurt if you call them Welsh. They scout it as the
original Saxon title for them. No, they are Cymry, Cambrians! They
have forgiven the Romans. Saxon and Norman are still their enemies.
If you stir their hearts you find it so. And, by the way, if King
Edward had not trampled them into the mire so thoroughly, we should
hear of it at times even now. Instead of penillions and englyns, there
would be days for fiery triplets. Say the worst of them, they are
soundheaded. They have a ready comprehension for great thoughts. The
Princess Nikolas, I remember, had a special fondness for the words of
Catwg the Wise.'
'Adiante,' had murmured Caroline, to correct his indiscretion.
She was too late.
'Nikolas!' Mr. Adister thundered. 'Hold back that name in this
house, title and all, if you speak of my daughter. I refuse admission
to it here. She has given up my name, and she must be known by the
one her feather-brained grandmother proposed for her, to satisfy her
pleasure in a fine sound. English Christian names are my preference.
I conceded Arthur to her without difficulty. She had a voice in
David, I recollect; with very little profit to either of the boys. I
had no voice in Adiante; but I stood at my girl's baptism, and Adiante
let her be. At least I saved the girl from the addition of Arianrod.
It was to have been Adiante Arianrod. Can you credit it?
Prince-pah! Nikolas? Have you a notion of the sort of prince that
makes an English lady of the best blood of England his princess?'
The lawyer had a precise notion of the sort of prince appearing to
Mr. Adister in the person of his foreign son-in-law. Prince Nikolas
had been described to him before, with graphic touches upon the
quality of the reputation he bore at the courts and in the
gambling-saloons of Europe. Dreading lest his client's angry heat
should precipitate him on the prince again, to the confusion of a
lady's ears, Mr. Camminy gave an emphatic and short affirmative.
'You know what he is like?' said Mr. Adister, with a face of
disgust reflected from the bare thought of the hideous likeness.
Mr. Camminy assured him that the description of the prince's
lineaments would not be new. It was, as he was aware, derived from a
miniature of her husband, transmitted by the princess, on its flight
out of her father's loathing hand to the hearthstone and under his
Assisted by Caroline, he managed to check the famous delineation of
the adventurer prince in which a not very worthy gentleman's chronic
fever of abomination made him really eloquent, quick to unburden
himself in the teeth of decorum.
'And my son-in-law! My son-in-law!' ejaculated Mr. Adister,
tossing his head higher, and so he stimulated his amazement and
abhorrence of the portrait he rather wondered at them for not desiring
to have sketched for their execration of it, alluringly foul as it
was: while they in concert drew him back to the discussion of his
daughter's business, reiterating prudent counsel, with a knowledge
that they had only to wait for the ebbing of his temper.
'Let her be informed, sir, that by coming to England she can settle
the business according to her wishes in one quarter of the time it
would take a Commission sent out to her—if we should be authorised to
send out one,' said Mr. Camminy. 'By committing the business to you,
I fancy I perceive your daughter's disposition to consider your
feelings: possibly to a reluctance to do the deed unsanctioned by her
father. It would appear so to a cool observer, notwithstanding her
inattention to your remonstrances.'
The reply was: 'Dine here and sleep here. I shall be having more
of these letters,' Mr. Adister added, profoundly sighing.
Caroline slipped away to mark a conclusion to the debate; and Mr.
Camminy saw his client redden fast and frown.
'Besides,' he spoke in a husky voice, descending upon a subject
hateful, 'she tells me to-day she is not in a state to travel! Do you
hear? Make what you can of it.'
The proud and injured gentleman had the aspect of one who receives
a blow that it is impossible for him to resent. He could not speak
the shame he felt: it was literally in his flesh. But the cause had
been sufficiently hinted to set the lawyer staring as men do when they
encounter situations of grisly humour, where certain of the passions
of man's developed nature are seen armed and furious against our mild
prevailing ancient mother nature; and the contrast is between our
utter wrath and her simple exposition of the circumstances and
consequences forming her laws. There are situations which pass beyond
the lightly stirred perceptive wits to the quiet court of the
intellect, to be received there as an addition to our acquaintance
with mankind. We know not of what substance to name them. Humour in
its intense strain has a seat somewhere about the mouth of tragedy,
giving it the enigmatical faint wry pull at a corner visible at times
upon the dreadful mask.
That Mr. Adister should be astonished at such a communication from
the princess, after a year of her marriage: and that he should take it
for a further outrage of his paternal sentiments, should actually
redden and be hoarse in alluding to it: the revelation of such points
in our human character set the humane old lawyer staring at the
reserve space within himself apart from his legal being, whereon he by
fits compared his own constitution with that of the individuals
revealed to him by their acts and confidential utterances. For him,
he decided that he would have rejoiced at the news.
Granting the prince a monster, however, as Mr. Adister unforcedly
considered him, it was not so cheering a piece of intelligence that
involved him yet closer with that man's rank blood: it curdled his
own. The marriage had shocked and stricken him, cleaving, in his love
for his daughter, a goodly tree and withering many flowers. Still the
marriage was but Adiante's gulf: he might be called father-in-law of
her spangled ruffian; son-in-law, the desperado-rascal would never be
called by him. But the result of the marriage dragged him bodily into
the gulf: he became one of four, numbering the beast twice among them.
The subtlety of his hatred so reckoned it; for he could not deny his
daughter in the father's child; he could not exclude its unhallowed
father in the mother's: and of this man's child he must know and own
himself the grandfather. If ever he saw the child, if drawn to it to
fondle it, some part of the little animal not his daughter's would
partake of his embrace. And if neither of his boys married, and his
girl gave birth to a son! darkness rolled upon that avenue of vision.
A trespasser and usurper-one of the demon's brood chased his very
name out of Earlsfont!
'Camminy, you must try to amuse yourself,' he said briskly.
'Anything you may be wanting at home shall be sent for. I must have
you here to make sure that I am acting under good advice. You can
take one of the keepers for an hour or two of shooting. I may join
you in the afternoon. You will find occupation for your gun in the
He wandered about the house, looking into several rooms, and only
partially at rest when he discovered Caroline in one, engaged upon
some of her aquarelle sketches. He asked where the young Irishman
'Are you in search of him?' said she. 'You like him, uncle? He is
out riding, they tell me.'
'The youngster is used to south-western showers in that climate of
his,' Mr. Adister replied. 'I dare say we could find the Jesuit in
him somewhere. There's the seed. His cousin Con O'Donnell has filled
him with stuff about Ireland and England: the man has no better to do
than to train a parrot. What do you think of him, my love?'
The judgement was not easily formed for expression. 'He is not
quite like what I remember of his brother Philip. He talks much more,
does he not? He seems more Irish than his brother. He is very
strange. His feelings are strong; he has not an idea of concealing
them. For a young man educated by the Jesuits, he is remarkably
'The Jesuits might be of service to me just now!' Mr. Adister
addressed his troubled soul, and spoke upon another conception of
them: 'How has he shown his feelings?'
Caroline answered quickly: 'His love of his brother. Anything that
concerns his brother moves him; it is like a touch on a musical
instrument. Perhaps I should say a native one.'
'Concerns his brother?' Mr. Adister inquired, and his look
requesting enlightenment told her she might speak.
'Adiante,' she said softly. She coloured.
Her uncle mused awhile in a half-somnolent gloom. 'He talks of
this at this present day?'
'It is not dead to him. He really appears to have hoped . . .
he is extraordinary. He had not heard before of her marriage. I was
a witness of the most singular scene this morning, at the piano. He
gathered it from what he had heard. He was overwhelmed by it. I
could not exaggerate. It was impossible to help being a little
touched, though it was curious, very strange.'
Her uncle's attentiveness incited her to describe the scene, and as
it visibly relieved his melancholy, she did it with a few vivid
indications of the quaint young Irishman's manner of speech. She
concluded: 'At last he begged to see a portrait of her husband.'
'Not of her?' said Mr. Adister abruptly.
'No; only of her husband.'
'Show him her portrait.'
A shade of surprise was on Caroline's forehead. 'Shall I?' She had
a dim momentary thought that the sight of the beautiful face would not
be good for Patrick.
'Yes; let him see the woman who could throw herself away on that
branded villain called a prince, abjuring her Church for a little
fouler than hangman to me and every gentleman alive. I desire that he
should see it. Submission to the demands of her husband's policy
required it of her, she says! Show it him when he returns; you have
her miniature in your keeping. And to-morrow take him to look at the
full-length of her before she left England and ceased to be a lady of
our country. I will order it to be placed in the armoury. Let him
see the miniature of her this day.'
Mr. Adister resolved at the same time that Patrick should have his
portrait of the prince for a set-off to the face of his daughter. He
craved the relief it would be to him to lay his colours on the prince
for the sparkling amazement of one whom, according to Caroline's
description, he could expect to feel with him acutely, which neither
his niece nor his lawyer had done: they never did when he painted the
prince. He was unstrung, heavily plunged in the matter of his chagrin
and grief: his unhealed wound had been scraped and strewn with salt by
his daughter's letter; he had a thirst for the kind of sympathy he
supposed he would find in the young Irishman's horror at the husband
of the incomparable beauty now past redemption degraded by her hideous
choice; lost to England and to her father and to common respect. For
none, having once had the picture of the man, could dissociate them;
they were like heaven and its reverse, everlastingly coupled in the
mind by their opposition of characters and aspects. Her father could
not, and he judged of others by himself. He had been all but utterly
solitary since her marriage, brooded on it until it saturated him; too
proud to speak of the thing in sadness, or claim condolence for this
wound inflicted on him by the daughter he had idolised other than
through the indirect method of causing people to wonder at her chosen
yoke-fellow. Their stupefaction refreshed him. Yet he was a
gentleman capable of apprehending simultaneously that he sinned
against his pride in the means he adopted to comfort his nature. But
the wound was a perpetual sickness needing soul-medicine. Proud as he
was, and unbending, he was not stronger than his malady, and he could
disguise, he could not contain, the cry of immoderate grief. Adiante
had been to him something beyond a creature beloved; she had with her
glorious beauty and great-heartedness been the sole object which had
ever inspirited his imagination. He could have thought no man, not
the most illustrious, worthy of her. And there she was, voluntarily
in the hands of a monster! 'Husband!' Mr. Adister broke away from
Caroline, muttering: 'Her husband's policy!'
She was used to his interjections; she sat thinking more of the
strange request to her to show Mr. O'Donnell the miniature of Adiante.
She had often thought that her uncle regretted his rejection of
Philip. It appeared so to her now, though not by any consecutive
process of reasoning. She went to fetch the miniature, and gazing on
it, she tried to guess at Mr. O'Donnell's thoughts when doing the
same; for who so inflammable as he? And who, woman or man, could
behold this lighted face, with the dark raised eyes and abounding
auburn tresses, where the contrast of colours was in itself thrilling,
and not admire, or more, half worship, or wholly worship? She pitied
the youth: she fancied that he would not continue so ingenuously true
to his brother's love of Adiante after seeing it; unless one might
hope that the light above beauty distinguishing its noble classic
lines, and the energy of radiance, like a morning of chivalrous
promise, in the eyes, would subdue him to distant admiration. These
were her flitting thoughts under the spell of her queenly cousin's
visage. She shut up the miniature-case, and waited to hand it to
young Mr. O'Donnell.
CHAPTER VII. THE MINIATURE
Patrick returned to Earlsfont very late; he had but ten minutes to
dress for dinner; a short allowance after a heated ride across miry
tracks, though he would have expended some of them, in spite of his
punctilious respect for the bell of the house entertaining him, if
Miss Adister had been anywhere on the stairs or corridors as he rushed
away to his room. He had things to tell; he had not been out over the
country for nothing.
Fortunately for his good social principles, the butler at Earlsfont
was a wary supervisor of his man; great guest or little guest;
Patrick's linen was prepared for him properly studded; he had only to
spring out of one suit into another; and still more fortunately the
urgency for a rapid execution of the manoeuvre prevented his noticing
a large square envelope posted against the looking-glass of his
toilette-table. He caught sight of it first when pulling down his
shirt-cuffs with an air of recovered ease, not to say genial triumph,
to think that the feat of grooming himself, washing, dressing and
stripping, the accustomed persuasive final sweep of the brush to his
hair-crop, was done before the bell had rung. His name was on the
envelope; and under his name, in smaller letters,
'Shall I?' said he, doing the thing he asked himself about doing
tearing open the paper cover of the portrait of her who had flitted in
his head for years unseen. And there she was, remote but present.
His underlip dropped; he had the look of those who bate breath and
swarm their wits to catch a sound. At last he remembered that the
summoning bell had been in his ears a long time back, without his
having been sensible of any meaning in it. He started to and fro.
The treasure he held declined to enter the breast-pocket of his coat,
and the other pockets he perhaps, if sentimentally, justly discarded
as being beneath the honour of serving for a temporary casket. He
locked it up, with a vow to come early to rest. Even then he had
thoughts whether it might be safe.
Who spoke, and what they uttered at the repast, and his own
remarks, he was unaware of. He turned right and left a brilliant
countenance that had the glitter of frost-light; it sparkled and was
unreceptive. No wonder Miss Adister deemed him wilder and stranger
than ever. She necessarily supposed the excess of his peculiarities
to be an effect of the portrait, and would have had him, according to
her ideas of a young man of some depth of feeling, dreamier. On the
contrary, he talked sheer commonplace. He had ridden to the spur of
the mountains, and had put up the mare, and groomed and fed her, not
permitting another hand to touch her: all very well, and his praises
of the mare likewise, but he had not a syllable for the sublime of the
mountains. He might have careered over midland flats for any
susceptibility that he betrayed to the grandeur of the scenery she
loved. Ultimately she fancied the miniature had been overlooked in
his hurry to dress, and that he was now merely excited by his lively
gallop to a certain degree of hard brightness noticeable in hunting
men at their dinner.
The elixir in Patrick carried him higher than mountain crests.
Adiante illumined an expanded world for him, miraculous, yet the real
one, only wanting such light to show its riches. She lifted it out of
darkness with swift throbs of her heavenliness as she swam to his
eyelids, vanished and dazzled anew, and made these gleams of her and
the dark intervals his dream of the winged earth on her flight from
splendour to splendour, secresy to secresy;—follow you that can, the
youth whose heart is an opened mine, whose head is an irradiated sky,
under the spell of imagined magical beauty. She was bugle, banner,
sunrise, of his inmost ambition and rapture.
And without a warning, she fled; her features were lost; his power
of imagining them wrestled with vapour; the effort contracted his
outlook. But if she left him blind of her, she left him with no
lessened bigness of heart. He frankly believed in her revelation of a
greater world and a livelier earth, a flying earth and a world
wealthier than grouped history in heroic marvels: he fell back on the
exultation of his having seen her, and on the hope for the speedy
coming of midnight, when the fountain of her in the miniature would be
seen and drunk of at his full leisure, and his glorious elation of
thrice man almost up to mounting spirit would be restored to make him
worthy of the vision.
Meanwhile Caroline had withdrawn and the lord of Earlsfont was
fretting at his theme. He had decided not to be a party in the sale
of either of his daughter's estates: let her choose other agents: if
the iniquity was committed, his hands would be clean of it. Mr.
Adister spoke by way of prelude to the sketch of 'this prince' whose
title was a lurid delusion. Patrick heard of a sexagenarian rake and
Danube adventurer, in person a description of falcon-Caliban,
containing his shagginess in a frogged hussar-jacket and crimson
pantaloons, with hook-nose, fox-eyes, grizzled billow of frowsy
moustache, and chin of a beast of prey. This fellow, habitually one
of the dogs lining the green tables of the foreign Baths, snapping for
gold all day and half the night, to spend their winnings in debauchery
and howl threats of suicide, never fulfilled early enough, when they
lost, claimed his princedom on the strength of his father's murder of
a reigning prince and sitting in his place for six months, till a
merited shot from another pretender sent him to his account. 'What do
you say to such a nest of assassins, and one of them, an outcast and
blackleg, asking an English gentleman to acknowledge him as a member
of his family! I have,' said Mr. Adister, 'direct information that
this gibbet-bird is conspiring to dethrone—they call it—the present
reigning prince, and the proceeds of my daughter's estates are, by her
desire—if she has not written under compulsion of the
scoundrel—intended to speed their blood-mongering. There goes a
Welshwoman's legacy to the sea, with a herd of swine with devils in
Mr. Camminy kept his head bent, his hand on his glass of port.
Patrick stared, and the working of his troubled brows gave the
unhappy gentleman such lean comfort as he was capable of taking.
Patrick in sooth was engaged in the hard attempt at the same time to
do two of the most difficult things which can be proposed to the
ingenuity of sensational youth: he was trying to excuse a respected
senior for conduct that he could not approve, while he did inward
battle to reconcile his feelings with the frightful addition to his
hoard of knowledge: in other words, he sought strenuously to mix the
sketch of the prince with the dregs of the elixir coming from the
portrait of Adiante; and now she sank into obscurity behind the
blackest of brushes, representing her incredible husband; and now by
force of some natural light she broke through the ugly mist and gave
her adored the sweet lines and colours of the features he had lost.
There was an ebb and flow of the struggle, until, able to say to
himself that he saw her clearly as though the portrait was in the palm
of his hand, the battle of the imagination ceased and she was fairer
for him than if her foot had continued pure of its erratic step:
fairer, owing to the eyes he saw with; he had shaken himself free of
the exacting senses which consent to the worship of women upon the
condition of their possessing all the precious and the miraculous
qualities; among others, the gift of an exquisite fragility that
cannot break; in short, upon terms flattering to the individual
devotee. Without knowing it he had done it and got some of the
upholding strength of those noblest of honest men who not merely give
souls to women—an extraordinary endowment of them—but also discourse
to them with their souls.
Patrick accepted Adiante's husband: the man was her husband.
Hideous (for there was no combating her father's painting of him), he
was almost interesting through his alliance:—an example of how much
earth the worshipper can swallow when he is quite sincere. Instead of
his going under eclipse, the beauty of his lady eclipsed her monster.
He believed in her right to choose according to her pleasure since
her lover was denied her. Sitting alone by his fire, he gazed at her
for hours and bled for Philip. There was a riddle to be answered in
her cutting herself away from Philip; he could not answer it; her face
was the vindication and the grief. The usual traverses besetting true
lovers were suggested to him, enemies and slanders and intercepted
letters. He rejected them in the presence of the beautiful
inscrutable. Small marvel that Philip had loved her. 'Poor fellow'
Patrick cried aloud, and drooped on a fit of tears.
The sleep he had was urgently dream-ridden to goals that eluded him
and broadened to fresh races and chases waving something to be won
which never was won, albeit untiringly pursued amid a series of
adventures, tragic episodes; wild enthusiasm. The whole of it was
featureless, a shifting agitation; yet he must have been endowed to
extricate a particular meaning applied to himself out of the mass of
tumbled events, and closely in relation to realities, for he quitted
his bed passionately regretting that he had not gone through a course
of drill and study of the military art. He remembered Mr. Adister's
having said that military training was good for all gentlemen.
'I could join the French Foreign Legion,' he thought.
Adiante was as beautiful by day as by night. He looked. The
riddle of her was more burdensome in the daylight.
He sighed, and on another surging of his admiration launched the
resolve that he would serve her blindly, without one question. How,
when, where, and the means and the aim, he did not think of. There
was she, and here was he, and heaven and a great heart would show the
Adiante at eighteen, the full length of her, fresh in her love of
Philip, was not the same person to him, she had not the same secret;
she was beautiful differently. By right he should have loved the
portrait best: but he had not seen it first; he had already lived
through a life of emotions with the miniature, and could besides clasp
the frame; and moreover he fondled an absurd notion that the miniature
would be entrusted to him for a time, and was almost a possession.
The pain of the thought of relinquishing it was the origin of this
foolishness. And again, if it be fair to prove him so deeply, true to
his brother though he was (admiration of a woman does thus influence
the tides of our blood to render the noblest of us guilty of some
unconscious wavering of our loyalty), Patrick dedicated the
full-length of Adiante to Philip, and reserved the other, her face and
neck, for himself.
Obediently to Mr. Adister's order, the portrait had been taken from
one of his private rooms and placed in the armoury, the veil covering
the canvas of late removed. Guns and spears and swords overhead and
about, the youthful figure of Adiante was ominously encompassed.
Caroline stood with Patrick before the portrait of her cousin; she
expected him to show a sign of appreciation. He asked her to tell him
the Church whose forms of faith the princess had embraced. She
answered that it was the Greek Church. 'The Greek,' said he, gazing
harder at the portrait. Presently she said: 'It was a perfect
likeness.' She named the famous artist who had painted it. Patrick's
'Ah' was unsatisfactory.
'We,' said she, 'think it a living image of her as she was then.'
He would not be instigated to speak.
'You do not admire it, Mr. O'Donnell?' she cried.
'Oh, but I do. That's how she looked when she was drawing on her
gloves with good will to go out to meet him. You can't see her there
and not be sure she had a heart. She part smiles; she keeps her mouth
shut, but there's the dimple, and it means a thought, like a bubble
bursting up from the heart in her breast. She's tall. She carries
herself like a great French lady, and nothing beats that. It's the
same colour, dark eyebrows and fair hair. And not thinking of her
pride. She thinks of her walk, and the end of it, where he's waiting.
The eyes are not the same.'
'The same?' said Caroline.
'As this.' He tapped on the left side. She did not understand it
'The bit of work done in Vienna,' said he.
She blushed. 'Do you admire that so much?'
'We consider it not to be compared to this.'
'Perhaps not. I like it better.'
'But why do you like that better?' said Caroline, deeming it his
Patrick put out a finger. 'The eyes there don't seem to say, "I'm
yours to make a hero of you." But look,' he drew forth from under his
waistcoat the miniature, 'what don't they say here! It's a bright day
for the Austrian capital that has her by the river Danube. Yours has
a landscape; I've made acquaintance with the country, I caught the
print of it on my ride yesterday; and those are your mountains. But
mine has her all to herself while she's thinking undisturbed in her
boudoir. I have her and her thoughts; that's next to her soul. I've
an idea it ought to be given to Philip.' He craned his head round to
woo some shadow of assent to the daring suggestion. 'Just to break
the shock 'twill be to my brother, Miss Adister. If I could hand him
this, and say, "Keep it, for you'll get nothing more of her; and
that's worth a kingdom."'
Caroline faltered: 'Your brother does not know?'
'Pity him. His blow 's to come. He can't or he 'd have spoken of
it to me. I was with him a couple of hours and he never mentioned a
word of it, nor did Captain Con. We talked of Ireland, and the
service, and some French cousins we have.'
'Ladies?' Caroline inquired by instinct.
'And charming,' said Patrick, 'real dear girls. Philip might have
one, if he would, and half my property, to make it right with her
parents. There'd be little use in proposing it. He was dead struck
when the shaft struck him. That's love! So I determined the night
after I'd shaken his hand I'd be off to Earlsfont and try my hardest
for him. It's hopeless now. Only he might have the miniature for his
bride. I can tell him a trifle to help him over his agony. She would
have had him, she would, Miss Adister, if she hadn't feared he'd be
talked of as Captain Con has been—about the neighbourhood, I mean,
because he,' Patrick added hurriedly, 'he married an heiress and sank
his ambition for distinction like a man who has finished his dinner.
I'm certain she would. I have it on authority.'
'What authority?' said Caroline coldly.
'Her own old nurse.'
'The one! I had it from her. And how she loves her darling Miss
Adiante! She won't hear of "princess." She hates that marriage. She
was all for my brother Philip. She calls him "Our handsome
lieutenant." She'll keep the poor fellow a subaltern all his life.'
'You went to Jenny's inn?'
'The Earlsfont Arms, I went to. And Mrs. Jenny at the door,
watching the rain. Destiny directed me. She caught the likeness to
Philip on a lift of her eye, and very soon we sat conversing like old
friends. We were soon playing at old cronies over past times. I saw
the way to bring her out, so I set to work, and she was up in defence
of her darling, ready to tell me anything to get me to think well of
her. And that was the main reason, she said, why Miss Adiante broke
with him and went abroad her dear child wouldn't have Mr. Philip
abused for fortune-hunting. As for the religion, they could each have
practised their own: her father would have consented to the fact, when
it came on him in that undeniable shape of two made one. She says,
Miss Adiante has a mighty soul; she has brave ideas. Miss Deenly, she
calls her. Ay, and so has Philip: though the worst is, they're likely
to drive him out of the army into politics and Parliament; and an
Irishman there is a barrow trolling a load of grievances. Ah, but she
would have kept him straight. Not a soldier alive knows the use of
cavalry better than my brother. He wanted just that English wife to
steady him and pour drops of universal fire into him; to keep him face
to face with the world, I mean; letting him be true to his country in
a fair degree, but not an old rainpipe and spout. She would have held
him to his profession. And, Oh dear! She's a friend worth having,
lost to Ireland. I see what she could have done there. Something
bigger than an island, too, has to be served in our days: that is, if
we don't forget our duty at home. Poor Paddy, and his pig, and his
bit of earth! If you knew what we feel for him! I'm a landlord, but
I'm one with my people about evictions. We Irish take strong root.
And honest rent paid over to absentees, through an agent, if you
think of it, seems like flinging the money that's the sweat of the
brow into a stone conduit to roll away to a giant maw hungry as the
sea. It's the bleeding to death of our land! Transactions from hand
to hand of warm human flesh-nothing else will do: I mean, for men of
our blood. Ah! she would have kept my brother temperate in his
notions and his plans. And why absentees, Miss Adister? Because
we've no centre of home life: the core has been taken out of us; our
country has no hearth-fire. I'm for union; only there should be
justice, and a little knowledge to make allowance for the natural
cravings of a different kind of people. Well, then, and I suppose
that inter-marriages are good for both. But here comes a man, the
boldest and handsomest of his race, and he offers himself to the
handsomest and sweetest of yours, and she leans to him, and the family
won't have him. For he's an Irishman and a Catholic. Who is it then
opposed the proper union of the two islands? Not Philip. He did his
best; and if he does worse now he's not entirely to blame. The
misfortune is, that when he learns the total loss of her on that rock-
promontory, he'll be dashing himself upon rocks sure to shiver him.
There's my fear. If I might take him this . . . ?' Patrick pleaded
with the miniature raised like the figure of his interrogation.
Caroline's inward smile threw a soft light of humour over her
features at the simple cunning of his wind-up to the lecture on his
country's case, which led her to perceive a similar cunning simplicity
in his identification of it with Philip's. It startled her to
surprise, for the reason that she'd been reviewing his freakish hops
from Philip to Ireland and to Adiante, and wondering in a different
kind of surprise, how and by what profitless ingenuity he contrived to
weave them together. Nor was she unmoved, notwithstanding her fancied
perception of his Jesuitry: his look and his voice were persuasive;
his love of his brother was deep; his change of sentiment toward
Adiante after the tale told him by her old nurse Jenny, stood for
proof of a generous manliness.
Before she had replied, her uncle entered the armoury, and Patrick
was pleading still, and she felt herself to be a piece of damask, a
very fiery dye.
To disentangle herself, she said on an impulse, desperately
'Mr. O'Donnell begs to have the miniature for his brother.'
Patrick swung instantly to Mr. Adister. 'I presumed to ask for it,
sir, to carry it to Philip. He is ignorant about the princess as yet;
he would like to have a bit of the wreck. I shan't be a pleasant
messenger to him. I should be glad to take him something. It could
be returned after a time. She was a great deal to Philip—three parts
of his life. He has nothing of her to call his own.'
'That!' said Mr. Adister. He turned to the virgin Adiante, sat
down and shut his eyes, fetching a breath. He looked vacantly at
'When you find a man purely destructive, you think him a devil,
don't you?' he said.
'A good first cousin to one,' Patrick replied, watchful for a hint
to seize the connection.
'If you think of hunting to-day, we have not many minutes to spare
before we mount. The meet is at eleven, five miles distant. Go and
choose your horse. Caroline will drive there.'
Patrick consulted her on a glance for counsel. 'I shall be glad to
join you, sir, for to-morrow I must be off to my brother.'
'Take it,' Mr. Adister waved his hand hastily. He gazed at his
idol of untouched eighteen. 'Keep it safe,' he said, discarding the
sight of the princess. 'Old houses are doomed to burnings, and a
devil in the family may bring us to ashes. And some day . . . !' he
could not continue his thought upon what he might be destined to wish
for, and ran it on to, 'Some day I shall be happy to welcome your
brother, when it pleases him to visit me.'
Patrick bowed, oppressed by the mighty gift. 'I haven't the word
to thank you with, sir.'
Mr. Adister did not wait for it.
'I owe this to you, Miss Adister,' said Patrick.
Her voice shook: 'My uncle loves those who loved her.'
He could see she was trembling. When he was alone his ardour of
gratefulness enabled him to see into her uncle's breast: the
inflexible frigidity; lasting regrets and remorse; the compassion for
Philip in kinship of grief and loss; the angry dignity; the stately
He saw too, for he was clear-eyed when his feelings were not
over-active, the narrow pedestal whereon the stiff figure of a man of
iron pride must accommodate itself to stand in despite of tempests
without and within; and how the statue rocks there, how much more
pitiably than the common sons of earth who have the broad common field
to fall down on and our good mother's milk to set them on their legs
CHAPTER VIII. CAPTAIN CON AND MRS.
Riding homeward from the hunt at the leisurely trot of men who have
steamed their mounts pretty well, Mr. Adister questioned Patrick
familiarly about his family, and his estate, and his brother's
prospects in the army, and whither he intended first to direct his
travels: questions which Patrick understood to be kindly put for the
sake of promoting conversation with a companion of unripe age by a
gentleman who had wholesomely excited his blood to run. They were
answered, except the last one. Patrick had no immediate destination
'Leave Europe behind you,' said Mr. Adister warming, to advise him,
and checking the trot of his horse. 'Try South America.' The lordly
gentleman plotted out a scheme of colonisation and conquest in that
region with the coolness of a practised freebooter. 'No young man is
worth a job,' he said, 'who does not mean to be a leader, and as
leader to have dominion. Here we are fettered by ancestry and
antecedents. Had I to recommence without those encumbrances, I would
try my fortune yonder. I stood condemned to waste my youth in idle
parades, and hunting the bear and buffalo. The estate you have
inherited is not binding on you. You can realise it, and begin by
taking over two or three hundred picked Irish and English—have both
races capable of handling spade and musket; purchasing some thousands
of acres to establish a legal footing there.
'You increase your colony from the mother country in the ratio of
your prosperity, until your power is respected, and there is a
necessity for the extension of your territory. When you are feared
you will be on your mettle. They will favour you with provocation. I
should not doubt the result, supposing myself to have under my sole
command a trained body of men of English blood—and Irish.'
'Owners of the soil,' rejoined Patrick, much marvelling.
'Undoubtedly, owners of the soil, but owing you service.'
'They fight sir'
'It is hardly to be specified in the calculation, knowing them.
Soldiery who have served their term, particularly old artillerymen,
would be my choice: young fellows and boys among them. Women would
have to be taken. Half-breeds are the ruin of colonists. Our men are
born for conquest. We were conquerors here, and it is want of action
and going physically forward that makes us a rusty people. There
are—Mr. Adister's intonation told of his proposing a wretched
alternative,—'the Pacific Islands, but they will soon be snapped up
by the European and North American Governments, and a single one of
them does not offer space. It would require money and a navy.' He
mused. 'South America is the quarter I should decide for, as a young
man. You are a judge of horses; you ride well; you would have
splendid pastures over there; you might raise a famous breed. The air
is fine; it would suit our English stock. We are on ground, Mr.
O'Donnell, which my forefathers contested sharply and did not yield.'
'The owners of the soil had to do that,' said Patrick. 'I can show
the same in my country, with a difference.'
'Considerably to your benefit.'
'Everything has been crushed there barring the contrary opinion.'
'I could expect such a remark from a rebel.'
'I'm only interpreting the people, sir.'
'Jump out of that tinder-box as soon as you can.'
'When I was in South America, it astonished me that no Englishman
had cast an eye on so inviting a land. Australia is not comparable
with it. And where colonisations have begun without system, and
without hard fighting to teach the settlers to value good leadership
and respect their chiefs, they tumble into Republics.'
Patrick would have liked to fling a word in about the Englishman's
cast of his eye upon inviting lands, but the trot was resumed, the
lord of Earlsfont having delivered his mind, and a minute made it
happily too late for the sarcastic bolt. Glad that his tongue had
been kept from wagging, he trotted along beside his host in the dusky
evening over the once contested land where the gentleman's forefathers
had done their deeds and firmly fixed their descendants. A remainder
of dull red fire prolonged the half-day above the mountain strongholds
of the former owners of the soil, upon which prince and bard and
priest, and grappling natives never wanting for fierceness, roared
to-arms in the beacon-flames from ridge to peak: and down they poured,
and back they were pushed by the inveterate coloniser—stationing at
threatened points his old 'artillerymen' of those days and so it ends,
that bard and priest and prince; holy poetry, and divine prescription,
and a righteous holding; are as naught against him. They go, like
yonder embers of the winter sunset before advancing night: and to
morrow the beacon-heaps are ashes, the conqueror's foot stamps on
them, the wind scatters them; strangest of all, you hear victorious
lawlessness appealing solemnly to God the law.
Patrick was too young to philosophise upon his ideas; or else the
series of pictures projected by the troops of sensations running
through him were not of a solidity to support any structure of
philosophy. He reverted, though rather in name than in spirit, to the
abstractions, justice, consistency, right. They were too hard to
think of, so he abandoned the puzzle of fitting them to men's acts and
their consciences, and he put them aside as mere titles employed for
the uses of a police and a tribunal to lend an appearance of
legitimacy to the decrees of them that have got the upper hand. An
insurrectionary rising of his breast on behalf of his country was the
consequence. He kept it down by turning the whole hubbub within him
to the practical contemplation of a visionary South America as the
region for him and a fighting tenantry. With a woman, to crown her
queen there, the prospect was fair. But where dwelt the woman
possessing majesty suitable to such a dream in her heart or her head?
The best he had known in Ireland and in France, preferred the charms
of society to bold adventure.
All the same, thought he, it's queer counsel, that we should set to
work by buying a bit of land to win a clean footing to rob our
neighbours: and his brains took another shot at Mr. Adister, this time
without penetrating. He could very well have seen the matter he
disliked in a man that he disliked; but the father of Adiante had
touched him with the gift of the miniature.
Patrick was not asked to postpone his departure from Earlsfont, nor
was he invited to come again. Mr. Adister drove him to the station in
the early morning, and gave him a single nod from the phaeton-box for
a good- bye. Had not Caroline assured him at the leave-taking between
them that he had done her uncle great good by his visit, the blank of
the usual ceremonial phrases would have caused him to fancy himself an
intruder courteously dismissed, never more to enter the grand old
Hall. He was further comforted by hearing the stationmaster's
exclamation of astonishment and pleasure at the sight of the squire
'in his place' handling the reins, which had not been witnessed for
many a day and so it appeared that the recent guest had been
exceptionally complimented. 'But why not a warm word, instead of
turning me off to decipher a bit of Egyptian on baked brick,' he
thought, incurably Celtic as he was.
From the moment when he beheld Mr. Adister's phaeton mounting a
hill that took the first leap for the Cambrian highlands, up to his
arrival in London, scarcely one of his 'ideas' darted out before
Patrick, as they were in the habit of doing, like the enchanted bares
of fairyland, tempting him to pursue, and changing into the form of
woman ever, at some turn of the chase. For as he had travelled down
to Earlsfont in the state of ignorance and hopefulness, bearing the
liquid brains of that young condition, so did his acquisition of a
particular fact destructive of hope solidify them about it as he
travelled back: in other words, they were digesting what they had
taken in. Imagination would not have stirred for a thousand fleeting
hares: and principally, it may be, because he was conscious that no
form of woman would anywhere come of them. Woman was married; she had
the ring on her finger! He could at his option look on her in the
miniature, he could think of her as being in the city where she had
been painted; but he could not conjure her out of space; she was
nowhere in the ambient air. Secretly she was a feeling that lay half
slumbering very deep down within him, and he kept the secret, choosing
to be poor rather than call her forth. He was in truth digesting with
difficulty, as must be the case when it is allotted to the brains to
absorb what the soul abhors.
'Poor old Philip!' was his perpetual refrain. 'Philip, the girl
you loved is married; and here's her portrait taken in her last blush;
and the man who has her hasn't a share in that!' Thus, throwing in
the ghost of a sigh for sympathy, it seemed to Patrick that the
intelligence would have to be communicated. Bang is better, thought
he, for bad news than snapping fire and feinting, when you're bound
half to kill a fellow, and a manly fellow.
Determined that bang it should be, he hurried from the terminus to
Philip's hotel, where he had left him, and was thence despatched to
the house of Captain Con O'Donnell, where he created a joyful
confusion, slightly dashed with rigour on the part of the regnant
lady; which is not to be wondered at, considering that both the
gentlemen attending her, Philip and her husband, quitted her table
with shouts at the announcement of his name, and her husband hauled
him in unwashed before her, crying that the lost was found, the errant
returned, the Prodigal Pat recovered by his kinsman! and she had to
submit to the introduction of the disturber: and a bedchamber had to
be thought of for the unexpected guest, and the dinner to be delayed
in middle course, and her husband corrected between the discussions
concerning the bedchamber, and either the guest permitted to appear at
her table in sooty day-garb, or else a great gap commanded in the
service of her dishes, vexatious extreme for a lady composed of
orderliness. She acknowledged Patrick's profound salute and his
excuses with just so many degrees in the inclining of her head as the
polite deem a duty to themselves when the ruffling world has
'Con!' she called to her chattering husband, 'we are in England, if
'To be sure, madam,' said the captain, 'and so 's Patrick, thanks
to the stars. We fancied him gone, kidnapped, burned, made a meal of
and swallowed up, under the earth or the water; for he forgot to give
us his address in town; he stood before us for an hour or so, and then
the fellow vanished. We've waited for him gaping. With your
permission I'll venture an opinion that he'll go and dabble his hands
and sit with us as he is, for the once, as it happens.'
'Let it be so,' she rejoined, not pacified beneath her dignity.
She named the bedchamber to a footman.
'And I'll accompany the boy to hurry him on,' said the captain,
hurrying Patrick on as he spoke, till he had him out of the
dining-room, when he whispered: 'Out with your key, and if we can
scramble you into your evening-suit quick we shall heal the breach in
the dinner. You dip your hands and face, I'll have out the dress.
You've the right style for her, my boy: and mind, she is an excellent
good woman, worthy of all respect: but formality's the flattery she
likes: a good bow and short speech. Here we are, and the room's
lighted. Off to the basin, give me the key; and here's hot water in
tripping Mary's hands. The portmanteau opens easy. Quick! the
door's shut on rosy Mary. The race is for domestic peace, my boy. I
sacrifice everything I can for it, in decency. 'Tis the secret of my
Patrick's transformation was rapid enough to satisfy the impatient
captain, who said: 'You'll tell her you couldn't sit down in her
presence undressed. I married her at forty, you know, when a woman
has reached her perfect development, and leans a trifle more to
ceremonies than to substance. And where have you been the while?'
'I'll tell you by and by,' said Patrick.
'Tell me now, and don't be smirking at the glass; your necktie's as
neat as a lady's company-smile, equal at both ends, and warranted not
to relax before the evening 's over. And mind you don't set me off
talking over- much downstairs. I talk in her presence like the usher
of the Court to the judge. 'Tis the secret of my happiness.'
'Where are those rascally dress-boots of mine?' cried Patrick.
Captain Con pitched the contents of the portmanteau right and left.
'Never mind the boots, my boy. Your legs will be under the table
during dinner, and we'll institute a rummage up here between that and
the procession to the drawing-room, where you'll be examined head to
foot, devil a doubt of it. But say, where have you been? She'll be
asking, and we're in a mess already, and may as well have a place to
name to her, somewhere, to excuse the gash you've made in her dinner.
Here they are, both of 'm, rolled in a dirty shirt!'
Patrick seized the boots and tugged them on, saying 'Earlsfont,
'You've been visiting Earlsfont? Whack! but that's the saving of
us! Talk to her of her brother he sends her his love. Talk to her of
the ancestral hall—it stands as it was on the day of its foundation.
Just wait about five minutes to let her punish us, before you out
with it. 'Twill come best from you. What did you go down there for?
But don't stand answering questions; come along. Don't heed her
countenance at the going in: we've got the talisman. As to the
dressing, it's a perfect trick of harlequinade, and she'll own it
after a dose of Earlsfont. And, by the way, she's not Mrs. Con,
remember; she's Mrs. Adister O'Donnell: and that's best rolled out to
Mistress. She's a worthy woman, but she was married at forty, and I
had to take her shaped as she was, for moulding her at all was out of
the question, and the soft parts of me had to be the sufferers, to
effect a conjunction, for where one won't and can't, poor t' other
must, or the union's a mockery. She was cast in bronze at her birth,
if she wasn't cut in bog-root. Anyhow, you'll study her. Consider
her for my sake. Madam, it should be—madam, call her, addressing
her, madam. She hasn't a taste for jokes, and she chastises
absurdities, and England's the foremost country of the globe, indirect
communication with heaven, and only to be connected with such a
country by the tail of it is a special distinction and a comfort for
us; we're that part of the kite!—but, Patrick, she's a charitable
soul; she's a virtuous woman and an affectionate wife, and doesn't
frown to see me turn off to my place of worship while she drum-majors
it away to her own; she entertains Father Boyle heartily, like the
good woman she is to good men; and unfortunate females too have a
friend in her, a real friend—that they have; and that 's a wonder in
a woman chaste as ice. I do respect her; and I'd like to see the man
to favour me with an opportunity of proving it on him! So you'll not
forget, my boy; and prepare for a cold bath the first five minutes.
Out with Earlsfont early after that. All these things are trifles to
an unmarried man. I have to attend to 'm, I have to be politic and
give her elbow-room for her natural angles. 'Tis the secret of my
Priming his kinsman thus up to the door of the diningroom, Captain
Con thrust him in.
Mistress Adister O'Donnell's head rounded as by slow attraction to
the clock. Her disciplined husband signified an equal mixture of
contrition and astonishment at the passing of time. He fell to work
upon his plate in obedience to the immediate policy dictated to him.
The unbending English lady contrasted with her husband so signally
that the oddly united couple appeared yoked in a common harness for a
perpetual display of the opposition of the races. She resembled her
brother, the lord of Earlsfont, in her remarkable height and her calm
air of authority and self-sustainment. From beneath a head-dress
built of white curls and costly lace, half enclosing her high narrow
forehead, a pale, thin, straight bridge of nose descended prominently
over her sunken cheeks to thin locked lips. Her aspect suggested the
repose of a winter landscape, enjoyable in pictures, or on skates,
otherwise nipping. . . . Mental directness, of no greater breadth than
her principal feature, was the character it expressed; and candour of
spirit shone through the transparency she was, if that mild taper
could be said to shine in proof of a vitality rarely notified to the
outer world by the opening of her mouth; chiefly then, though not
malevolently to command: as the portal of some snow-bound monastery
opens to the outcast, bidding it be known that the light across the
wolds was not deceptive and a glimmer of light subsists among the
silent within. The life sufficed to her. She was like a marble
effigy seated upright, requiring but to be laid at her length for
transport to the cover of the tomb.
Now Captain Con was by nature ruddy as an Indian summer flushed in
all its leaves. The corners of his face had everywhere a frank
ambush, or child's hiding-place, for languages and laughter. He could
worm with a smile quite his own the humour out of men possessing any;
and even under rigorous law, and it could not be disputed that there
was rigour in the beneficent laws imposed upon him by his wife, his
genius for humour and passion for sly independence came up and curled
away like the smoke of the illicit still, wherein the fanciful discern
fine sprites indulging in luxurious grimaces at a government
long-nosed to no purpose. Perhaps, as Patrick said of him to Caroline
Adister, he was a bard without a theme. He certainly was a man of
speech, and the having fearfully to contain himself for the greater
number of the hours of the day, for the preservation of the domestic
felicity he had learnt to value, fathered the sentiment of revolt in
By this time, long after five minutes had elapsed, the frost
presiding at the table was fast withering Captain Con; and he was
irritable to hear why Patrick had gone off to Earlsfont, and what he
had done there, and the adventures he had tasted on the road; anything
for warmth. His efforts to fish the word out of Patrick produced
deeper crevasses in the conversation, and he cried to himself: Hats
and crape-bands! mightily struck by an idea that he and his cousins
were a party of hired mourners over the meat they consumed. Patrick
was endeavouring to spare his brother a mention of Earlsfont before
they had private talk together. He answered neither to a dip of the
hook nor to a pull.
'The desert where you 've come from 's good,' said the captain,
Mrs. Adister O'Donnell ejaculated: 'Wine!' for a heavy comment upon
one of his topics, and crushed it.
Philip saw that Patrick had no desire to spread, and did not
'Good horses in the stable too,' said the captain.
Patrick addressed Mrs. Adister: 'I have hardly excused myself to
Her head was aloft in dumb apostrophe of wearifulness over another
of her husband's topics.
'Do not excuse yourself at all,' she said.
The captain shivered. He overhauled his plotting soul publicly:
'Why don't you out with it yourself!' and it was wonderful why he had
not done so, save that he was prone to petty conspiracy, and had
thought reasonably that the revelation would be damp, gunpowder,
coming from him. And for when he added: 'The boy's fresh from
Earlsfont; he went down to look at the brav old house of the Adisters,
and was nobly welcomed and entertained, and made a vast impression,'
his wife sedately remarked to Patrick, 'You have seen my brother
'And brings a message of his love to you, my dear,' the Captain bit
his nail harder.
'You have a message for me?' she asked; and Patrick replied: 'The
captain is giving a free translation. I was down there, and I took
the liberty of calling on Mr. Adister, and I had a very kind
reception. We hunted, we had a good day with the hounds. I think I
remember hearing that you go there at Christmas, madam.'
'Our last Christmas at Earlsfont was a sad meeting for the family.
My brother Edward is well?'
'I had the happiness to be told that I had been of a little service
in cheering him.'
'I can believe it,' said Mrs. Adister, letting her eyes dwell on
the young man; and he was moved by the silvery tremulousness of her
She resumed: 'You have the art of dressing in a surprisingly short
'There!' exclaimed Captain Con: for no man can hear the words which
prove him a prophet without showing excitement. 'Didn't I say so?
Patrick's a hero for love or war, my dear. He stood neat and trim
from the silk socks to the sprig of necktie in six minutes by my
watch. And that's witness to me that you may count on him for what
the great Napoleon called two-o'clock-in-the-morning courage; not too
common even in his immortal army:—when it's pitch black and frosty
cold, and you're buried within in a dream of home, and the trumpet
springs you to your legs in a trice, boots and trowsers, coat and
sword-belt and shako, and one twirl to the whiskers, and away before a
second snap of the fingers to where the great big bursting end of all
things for you lies crouching like a Java-Tiger—a ferocious beast
painted undertaker's colour—for a leap at you in particular out of
the dark;—never waiting an instant to ask what's the matter and
pretend you don't know. That's rare, Philip; that's bravery; Napoleon
knew the thing; and Patrick has it; my hand's on the boy's back for
The captain was permitted to discourse as he pleased: his wife was
wholly given to the recent visitor to Earlsfont, whom she informed
that Caroline was the youngest daughter of General Adister, her second
brother, and an excellent maiden, her dear Edward's mainstay in his
grief. At last she rose, and was escorted to the door by all present.
But Captain Con rather shame-facedly explained to Patrick that it was
a sham departure; they had to follow without a single spin to the
claretjug: he closed the door merely to state his position; how at
half-past ten he would be a free man, according to the convention, to
which his wife honourably adhered, so he had to do likewise, as
regarded his share of it. Thereupon he apologised to the brothers,
bitterly regretting that, with good wine in the cellar, his could be
no house for claret; and promising them they should sit in their
shirts and stretch their legs, and toast the old country and open
their hearts, no later than the minute pointing to the time for his
Mrs. Adister accepted her husband's proffered arm unhesitatingly at
the appointed stroke of the clock. She said: 'Yes,' in agreement with
him, as if she had never heard him previously enunciate the formula,
upon his pious vociferation that there should be no trifling with her
hours of rest.
'You can find your way to my cabin,' he said to Philip over his
shoulder, full of solicitude for the steps of the admirable lady now
As soon as the brothers were alone, Philip laid his hand on
Patrick, asking him, 'What does it mean?'
Patrick fired his cannon-shot: 'She's married!' Consulting his
feelings immediately after, he hated himself for his bluntness.
Philip tossed his head. 'But why did you go down there?'
'I went,' said Patrick, 'well, I went . . . . I thought you
looked wretched, and I went with an idea of learning where she was,
and seeing if I couldn't do something. It's too late now; all's
'My dear boy, I've worse than that to think of.'
'You don't mind it?'
'That's old news, Patrick.'
'You don't care for her any more, Philip?'
'You wouldn't have me caring for a married woman?'
'She has a perfect beast for a husband.'
'I'm sorry she didn't make a better choice.'
'He's a prince.'
'So I hear.'
'Ah! And what worse, Philip, can you be having to think of?'
'Affairs,' Philip replied, and made his way to the cabin of Captain
Con, followed in wonderment by Patrick, who would hardly have been his
dupe to suppose him indifferent and his love of Adiante dead, had not
the thought flashed on him a prospect of retaining the miniature for
his own, or for long in his custody.
CHAPTER IX. THE CAPTAIN'S CABIN
Patrick left his brother at the second flight of stairs to run and
fling on a shooting-jacket, into which he stuffed his treasure, after
one peep that eclipsed his little dream of being allowed to keep it;
and so he saw through Philip.
The captain's cabin was the crown of his house-top, a builder's
addition to the roof, where the detestable deeds he revelled in,
calling them liberty, could be practised, according to the convention,
and no one save rosy Mary, in her sense of smell, when she came upon
her morning business to clean and sweep, be any the wiser of them,
because, as it is known to the whole world, smoke ascends, and he was
up among the chimneys. Here, he would say to his friends and
fellow-sinners, you can unfold, unbosom, explode, do all you like,
except caper, and there 's a small square of lead between the tiles
outside for that, if the spirit of the jig comes upon you with
violence, as I have had it on me, and eased myself mightily there, to
my own music; and the capital of the British Empire below me. Here we
take our indemnity for subjection to the tyrannical female ear, and
talk like copious rivers meandering at their own sweet will. Here we
roll like dogs in carrion, and no one to sniff at our coats. Here we
sing treason, here we flout reason, night is out season at half-past
This introductory ode to Freedom was his throwing off of steam, the
foretaste of what he contained. He rejoined his cousins, chirping
variations on it, and attired in a green silken suit of airy Ottoman
volume, full of incitement to the legs and arms to swing and set him
up for a Sultan. 'Now Phil, now Pat,' he cried, after tenderly
pulling the door to and making sure it was shut, 'any tale you've a
mind for— infamous and audacious! You're licensed by the gods up
here, and may laugh at them too, and their mothers and grandmothers,
if the fit seizes ye, and the heartier it is the greater the
exemption. We're pots that knock the lid and must pour out or boil
over and destroy the furniture. My praties are ready for peelin', if
ever they were in this world! Chuck wigs from sconces, and off with
your buckram. Decency's a dirty petticoat in the Garden of Innocence.
Naked we stand, boys! we're not afraid of nature. You're in the
annexe of Erin, Pat, and devil a constable at the keyhole; no rats;
I'll say that for the Government, though it's a despotism with an iron
bridle on the tongue outside to a foot of the door. Arctic to freeze
the boldest bud of liberty! I'd like a French chanson from ye, Pat,
to put us in tune, with a right revolutionary hurling chorus, that
pitches Kings' heads into the basket like autumn apples. Or one of
your hymns in Gaelic sung ferociously to sound as horrid to the Saxon,
the wretch. His reign 's not for ever; he can't enter here. You're
in the stronghold defying him. And now cigars, boys, pipes; there are
the boxes, there are the bowls. I can't smoke till I have done
steaming. I'll sit awhile silently for the operation. Christendom
hasn't such a man as your cousin Con for feeling himself a
pig-possessed all the blessed day, acting the part of somebody else,
till it takes me a quarter of an hour of my enfranchisement and
restoration of my natural man to know myself again. For the moment,
I'm froth, scum, horrid boiling hissing dew of the agony of
transformation; I am; I'm that pig disgorging the spirit of wickedness
from his poor stomach.'
The captain drooped to represent the state of the self-relieving
victim of the evil one; but fearful lest either of his cousins should
usurp the chair and thwart his chance of delivering himself, he
rattled away sympathetically with his posture in melancholy: 'Ay,
we're poor creatures; pigs and prophets, princes and people, victors
and vanquished, we 're waves of the sea, rolling over and over, and
calling it life! There's no life save the eternal. Father Boyle's got
the truth. Flesh is less than grass, my sons; 'tis the shadow that
crosses the grass. I love the grass. I could sit and watch
grassblades for hours. I love an old turf mound, where the grey grass
nods and seems to know the wind and have a whisper with it, of ancient
times maybe and most like; about the big chief lying underneath in the
last must of his bones that a breath of air would scatter. They just
keep their skeleton shape as they are; for the turf mound protects
them from troubles: 'tis the nurse to that delicate old infant!—Waves
of the sea, did I say? We're wash in a hog- trough for Father Saturn
to devour; big chief and suckling babe, we all go into it, calling it
life! And what hope have we of reading the mystery? All we can see
is the straining of the old fellow's hams to push his old snout deeper
into the gobble, and the ridiculous curl of a tail totally devoid of
expression! You'll observe that gluttons have no feature; they're
jaws and hindquarters; which is the beginning and end of 'm; and so
you may say to Time for his dealing with us: so let it be a lesson to
you not to bother your wits, but leave the puzzle to the priest. He
understands it, and why? because he was told. There 's harmony in his
elocution, and there's none in the modern drivel about where we're
going and what we came out of. No wonder they call it an age of
despair, when you see the big wigs filing up and down the
thoroughfares with a great advertisement board on their shoulders,
proclaiming no information to the multitude, but a blank note of
interrogation addressed to Providence, as if an answer from above
would be vouchsafed to their impudence! They haven't the first
principles of good manners. And some of 'm in a rage bawl the answer
for themselves. Hear that! No, Phil; No, Pat, no: devotion's good
policy.—You're not drinking! Are you both of ye asleep? why do ye
leave me to drone away like this, when it 's conversation I want, as
in the days of our first parents, before the fig-leaf?—and you might
have that for scroll and figure on the social banner of the
hypocritical Saxon, who's a gormandising animal behind his decency,
and nearer to the Arch-devourer Time than anything I can imagine:
except that with a little exertion you can elude him. The whisky
you've got between you 's virgin of the excise. I'll pay double for
freepeaty any day. Or are you for claret, my lads? No? I'm
fortified up here to stand a siege in my old round tower, like the son
of Eremon that I am. Lavra Con! Con speaks at last! I don't ask you,
Pat, whether you remember Maen, who was born dumb, and had for his
tutors Ferkelne the bard and Crafting the harper, at pleasant Dinree:
he was grandson of Leary Lore who was basely murdered by his brother
Cova, and Cova spared the dumb boy, thinking a man without a tongue
harmless, as fools do: being one of their savings-bank tricks, to be
repaid them, their heirs, executors, administrators, and assigns at
compound interest, have no fear. So one day Maen had an insult put on
him; and 'twas this for certain: a ruffian fellow of the Court swore
he couldn't mention the name of his father; and in a thundering fury
Maen burst his tongue-tie, and the Court shouted Lavra Maen: and he
had to go into exile, where he married in the middle of delicious
love-adventures the beautiful Moira through the cunning of Craftine
the harper. There's been no harper in my instance but plenty of
ruffians to swear I'm too comfortable to think of my country.' The
captain holloaed. 'Do they hear that? Lord! but wouldn't our old
Celtic fill the world with poetry if only we were a free people to
give our minds to 't, instead of to the itch on our backs from the
Saxon horsehair shirt we're forced to wear. For, Pat, as you know,
we're a loving people, we're a loyal people, we burn to be
enthusiastic, but when our skins are eternally irritated, how can we
sing? In a freer Erin I'd be the bard of the land, never doubt it.
What am I here but a discontented idle lout crooning over the empty
glories of our isle of Saints! You feel them, Pat. Phil's all for
his British army, his capabilities of British light cavalry. Write me
the history of the Enniskillens. I'll read it. Aha, my boy, when
they 're off at the charge! And you'll oblige me with the tale of
Fontenoy. Why, Phil has an opportunity stretching forth a hand to him
now more than halfway that comes to a young Irishman but once in a
century: backed by the entire body of the priesthood of Ireland too!
and if only he was a quarter as full of the old country as you and I,
his hair would stand up in fire for the splendid gallop at our head
that's proposed to him. His country's gathered up like a crested
billow to roll him into Parliament; and I say, let him be there, he 's
the very man to hurl his gauntlet, and tell 'm, Parliament, so long as
you are parliamentary, which means the speaking of our minds, but if
you won't have it, then-and it 's on your heads before Europe and the
two Americas. We're dying like a nun that 'd be out of her cloister,
we're panting like the wife who hears of her husband coming home to
her from the field of honour, for that young man. And there he is; or
there he seems to be; but he's dead: and the fisherman off the west
coast after dreaming of a magical haul, gets more fish than
disappointment in comparison with us when we cast the net for Philip.
Bring tears of vexation at the emptiness we pull back for our pains.
Oh, Phil! and to think of your youth! We had you then. At least we
had your heart. And we should have had the length and strength of
you, only for a woman fatal to us as the daughter of Rhys ap Tudor,
the beautiful Nesta:—and beautiful she was to match the mother of the
curses trooping over to Ireland under Strongbow, that I'll grant you.
But she reined you in when you were a real warhorse ramping and
snorting flame from your nostrils, challenging any other to a race for
Ireland; ay, a Cuchullin you were, Philip, Culann's chain-bound: but
she unmanned you. She soaked the woman into you and squeezed the hero
out of you. All for Adiante! or a country left to slavery! that's the
tale. And what are you now? A paltry captain of hussars on the
General's staff! One O'Donnell in a thousand! And what is she?—you
needn't frown, Phil; I'm her relative by marriage, and she 's a lady.
More than that, she shot a dart or two into my breast in those days,
she did, I'll own it: I had the catch of the breath that warns us of
convulsions. She was the morning star for beauty, between night and
day, and the best colour of both. Welshmen and Irishmen and Englishmen
tumbled into the pit, which seeing her was, and there we jostled for a
glimpse quite companionably; we were too hungry for quarrelling; and
to say, I was one of 'm, is a title to subsequent friendship. True;
only mark me, Philip, and you, Patrick: they say she has married a
prince, and I say no; she's took to herself a husband in her cradle;
she's married ambition. I tell you, and this prince of hers is only a
step she has taken, and if he chases her first mate from her bosom,
he'll prove himself cleverer than she, and I dare him to the trial.
For she's that fiery dragon, a beautiful woman with brains—which
Helen of Troy hadn't, combustible as we know her to have been: but
brains are bombshells in comparison with your old-fashioned
pine-brands for kindling men and cities. Ambition's the husband of
Adiante Adister, and all who come nigh her are steps to her aim. She
never consulted her father about Prince Nikolas; she had begun her
march and she didn't mean to be arrested. She simply announced her
approaching union; and as she couldn't have a scion of one of the
Royal House of Europe, she put her foot on Prince Nikolas. And he 's
not to fancy he 's in for a peaceful existence; he's a stone in a
sling, and probably mistaken the rocking that's to launch him through
the air for a condition of remarkable ease, perfectly remarkable in
its lullaby motion; ha! well, and I've not heard of ambition that
didn't kill its votary: somehow it will; 'tis sure to. There she
The prophetic captain pointed at the spot. He then said: 'And now
I'm for my pipe, and the blackest clay of the party, with your
permission. I'll just go to the window to see if the stars are out
overhead. They're my blessed guardian angels.'
There was a pause. Philip broke from a brown study to glance at
his brother. Patrick made a queer face.
'Fun and good-fellowship to-night, Con,' said Philip, as the
captain sadly reported no star visible.
'Have I ever flown a signal to the contrary?' retorted the captain.
'No politics, and I 'll thank you,' said Philip: 'none of your
early recollections. Be jovial.'
'You should have seen me here the other night about a month ago; I
smuggled up an old countrywoman of ours, with the connivance of rosy
Mary,' said Captain Con, suffused in the merriest of grins. 'She
sells apples at a stall at a corner of a street hard by, and I saw her
sitting pulling at her old pipe in the cold October fog morning and
evening for comfort, and was overwhelmed with compassion and fraternal
sentiment; and so I invited her to be at the door of the house at
half-past ten, just to have a roll with her in Irish mud, and mend her
torn soul with a stitch or two of rejoicing. She told me stories; and
one was pretty good, of a relative of hers, or somebody's—I should
say, a century old, but she told it with a becoming air of
appropriation that made it family history, for she's come down in the
world, and this fellow had a stain of red upon him, and wanted
cleaning; and, "What!" says the good father, "Mika! you did it in
cold blood?" And says Mika, "Not I, your Riverence. I got myself
into a passion 'fore I let loose." I believe she smoked this
identical pipe. She acknowledged the merits of my whisky, as poets do
hearing fine verses, never clapping hands, but with the expressiveness
of grave absorption. That's the way to make good things a part of
you. She was a treat. I got her out and off at midnight, rosy Mary
sneaking her down, and the old girl quiet as a mouse for the fun's
sake. The whole intrigue was exquisitely managed.'
'You run great risks,' Philip observed.
'I do,' said the captain.
He called on the brothers to admire the 'martial and fumial'
decorations of his round tower, buzzing over the display of
implements, while Patrick examined guns and Philip unsheathed swords.
An ancient clay pipe from the bed of the Thames and one from the bed
of the Boyne were laid side by side, and strange to relate, the Irish
pipe and English immediately, by the mere fact of their being
proximate, entered into rivalry; they all but leapt upon one another.
The captain judicially decided the case against the English pipe, as
a newer pipe of grosser manufacture, not so curious by any means.
'This,' Philip held up the reputed Irish pipe, and scanned as he
twirled it on his thumb, 'This was dropped in Boyne Water by one of
William's troopers. It is an Orange pipe. I take it to be of English
'If I thought that, I'd stamp my heel on the humbug the neighbour
minute,' said Captain Con. 'Where's the sign of English marks?'
'The pipes resemble one another,' said Philip, 'like tails of
Shannon- bred retrievers.'
'Maybe they 're both Irish, then?' the captain caught at analogy to
rescue his favourite from reproach.
'Both of them are Saxon.'
'Not a bit of it!'
'Look at the clay.'
'I look, and I tell you, Philip, it's of a piece with your
lukewarmness for the country, or you wouldn't talk like that.'
'There is no record of pipe manufactories in Ireland at the period
'There is: and the jealousy of rulers caused them to be destroyed
by decrees, if you want historical evidence.'
'Your opposition to the Saxon would rob him of his pipe, Con!'
'Let him go to the deuce with as many pipes as he can carry; but he
shan't have this one.'
'Not a toss-up of difference is to be seen in the pair.'
'Use your eyes. The Irish bowl is broken, and the English has an
inch longer stem!'
'O the Irish bowl is broken!' Philip sang.
'You've the heart of a renegade-foreigner not to see it!' cried the
Patrick intervened saying: 'I suspect they're Dutch.'
'Well, and that 's possible.' Captain Con scrutinised them to calm
his temper: 'there's a Dutchiness in the shape.'
He offered Philip the compromise of 'Dutch' rather plaintively, but
it was not accepted, and the pipes would have mingled their fragments
on the hearthstone if Patrick had not stayed his arm, saying: 'Don't
'And I won't,' the captain shook his hand gratefully.
'But will Philip O'Donnell tell me that Ireland should lie down
with England on the terms of a traveller obliged to take a bedfellow?
Come! He hasn't an answer. Put it to him, and you pose him. But he
'll not stir, though he admits the antagonism. And Ireland is asked
to lie down with England on a couch blessed by the priest! Not she.
Wipe out our grievances, and then we'll begin to talk of policy.
Good Lord!—love? The love of Ireland for the conquering country will
be the celebrated ceremony in the concluding chapter previous to the
inauguration of the millennium. Thousands of us are in a starving
state at home this winter, Patrick. And it's not the fault of
England?—landlordism 's not? Who caused the ruin of all Ireland's
industries? You might as well say that it 's the fault of the poor
beggar to go limping and hungry because his cruel master struck him a
blow to cripple him. We don't want half and half doctoring, and it's
too late in the day for half and half oratory. We want freedom, and
we'll have it, and we won't leave it to the Saxon to think about
giving it. And if your brother Philip won't accept this blazing fine
offer, then I will, and you'll behold me in a new attitude. The fellow
yawns! You don't know me yet, Philip. They tell us over here we
ought to be satisfied. Fall upon our list of wrongs, and they set to
work yawning. You can only move them by popping at them over hedges
and roaring on platforms. They're incapable of understanding a
complaint a yard beyond their noses. The Englishman has an island
mind, and when he's out of it he's at sea.'
'Mad, you mean,' said Philip.
'I repeat my words, Captain Philip O'Donnell, late of the staff of
the General commanding in Canada.'
'The Irishman too has an island mind, and when he's out of it he's
at sea, and unable to manage his craft,' said Philip.
'You'll find more craft in him when he's buffeted than you reckoned
on,' his cousin flung back. 'And if that isn't the speech of a
traitor sold to the enemy, and now throwing off the mask, traitors
never did mischief in Ireland! Why, what can you discover to admire
in these people? Isn't their army such a combination of colours in
the uniforms, with their yellow facings on red jackets, I never saw
out of a doll-shop, and never saw there. And their Horse Guards,
weedy to a man! fit for a doll-shop they are, by my faith! And their
Foot Guards: Have ye met the fellows marching? with their feet turned
out, flat as my laundress's irons, and the muscles of their calves
depending on the joints to get 'm along, for elasticity never gave
those bones of theirs a springing touch; and their bearskins heeling
behind on their polls; like pot-house churls daring the dursn't to
come on. Of course they can fight. Who said no? But they 're not
the only ones: and they 'll miss their ranks before they can march
like our Irish lads. The look of their men in line is for all the
world to us what lack-lustre is to the eye. The drill they 've had
hasn't driven Hodge out of them, it has only stiffened the dolt; and
dolt won't do any longer; the military machine requires intelligence
in all ranks now. Ay, the time for the Celt is dawning: I see it, and
I don't often spy a spark where there isn't soon a blaze. Solidity
and stupidity have had their innings: a precious long innings it has
been; and now they're shoved aside like clods of earth from the risin
flower. Off with our shackles! We've only to determine it to be
free, and we'll bloom again; and I'll be the first to speak the word
and mount the colours. Follow me! Will ye join in the toast to the
emblem of Erin— the shamrock, Phil and Pat?'
'Oh, certainly,' said Philip. 'What 's that row going on?' Patrick
also called attention to the singular noise in the room. 'I fancy the
time for the Celt is not dawning, but setting,' said Philip, with a
sharp smile; and Patrick wore an artful look.
A corner of the room was guilty of the incessant alarum. Captain
Con gazed in that direction incredulously and with remonstrance. 'The
tinkler it is!' he sighed. 'But it can't be midnight yet?' Watches
were examined. Time stood at half-past the midnight. He groaned: 'I
must go. I haven't heard the tinkler for months. It signifies she's
cold in her bed. The thing called circulation's unknown to her save
by the aid of outward application, and I 'm the warming pan, as
legitimately I should be, I'm her husband and her Harvey in one.
Goodbye to my hop and skip. I ought by rights to have been down
beside her at midnight. She's the worthiest woman alive, and I don't
shirk my duty. Be quiet!' he bellowed at the alarum; 'I 'm coming.
Don't be in such a fright, my dear,' he admonished it as his wife,
politely. 'Your hand'll take an hour to warm if you keep it out on
the spring that sets the creature going.' He turned and informed his
company: 'Her hand'll take an hour to warm. Dear! how she runs ahead:
d' ye hear? That's the female tongue, and once off it won't stop.
And this contrivance for fetching me from my tower to her bed was my
own suggestion, in a fit of generosity! Ireland all over! I must
hurry and wash my hair, for she can't bear a perfume to kill a stink;
she carries her charitable heart that far. Good-night, I'll be
thinking of ye while I'm warming her. Sit still, I can't wait; 'tis
the secret of my happiness.' He fled. Patrick struck his knee on
hearing the expected ballad-burden recur.
CHAPTER X. THE BROTHERS
'Con has learnt one secret,' said Philip, quitting his chair.
Patrick went up to him, and, 'Give us a hug,' he said, and the hug
They were of an equal height, tall young men, alert, nervously
braced from head to foot, with the differences between soldier and
civilian marked by the succintly military bearing of the elder
brother, whose movements were precise and prompt, and whose frame was
leopardlike in indolence. Beside him Patrick seemed cubbish, though
beside another he would not have appeared so. His features were not
so brilliantly regular, but were a fanciful sketch of the same design,
showing a wider pattern of the long square head and the forehead, a
wavering at the dip of the nose, livelier nostrils: the nostrils
dilated and contracted, and were exceeding alive. His eyelids had to
do with the look of his eyes, and were often seen cutting the ball.
Philip's eyes were large on the pent of his brows, open, liquid, and
quick with the fire in him. Eyes of that quality are the visible
mind, animated both to speak it and to render it what comes within
their scope. They were full, unshaded direct, the man himself, in
action. Patrick's mouth had to be studied for an additional index to
the character. To symbolise them, they were as a sword-blade lying
Men would have thought Patrick the slippery one of the two: women
would have inclined to confide in him the more thoroughly; they bring
feeling to the test, and do not so much read a print as read the
imprinting on themselves; and the report that a certain one of us is
true as steel, must be unanimous at a propitious hour to assure them
completely that the steel is not two-edged in the fully formed nature
of a man whom they have not tried. They are more at home with the
unformed, which lends itself to feeling and imagination. Besides
Patrick came nearer to them; he showed sensibility. They have it, and
they deem it auspicious of goodness, or of the gentleness acceptable
as an equivalent. Not the less was Philip the one to inspire the
deeper and the wilder passion.
'So you've been down there?' said Philip. 'Tell us of your
welcome. Never mind why you went: I think I see. You're the Patrick
of fourteen, who tramped across Connaught for young Dermot to have a
sight of you before he died, poor lad. How did Mr. Adister receive
Patrick described the first interview.
Philip mused over it. 'Yes, those are some of his ideas: gentlemen
are to excel in the knightly exercises. He used to fence excellently,
and he was a good horseman. The Jesuit seminary would have been hard
for him to swallow once. The house is a fine old house: lonely, I
Patrick spoke of Caroline Adister and pursued his narrative.
Philip was lost in thought. At the conclusion, relating to South
America, he raised his head and said: 'Not so foolish as it struck
you, Patrick. You and I might do that,—without the design upon the
original owner of the soil! Irishmen are better out of Europe, unless
they enter one of the Continental services.'
'What is it Con O'Donnell proposes to you?' Patrick asked him
'To be a speaking trumpet in Parliament. And to put it first among
the objections, I haven't an independence; not above two hundred a
'I'll make it a thousand,' said Patrick, 'that is, if my people can
'Secondly, I don't want to give up my profession. Thirdly,
fourthly, fifthly, once there, I should be boiling with the rest. I
never could go half way. This idea of a commencement gives me a view
of the finish. Would you care to try it?'
'If I'm no wiser after two or three years of the world I mean to
make a better acquaintance with,' Patrick replied. 'Over there at
home one catches the fever, you know. They have my feelings, and part
of my judgement, and whether that's the weaker part I can't at present
decide. My taste is for quiet farming and breeding.'
'Friendship, as far as possible; union, if the terms are fair,'
said Philip. 'It's only the name of union now; supposing it a
concession that is asked of them; say, sacrifice; it might be made for
the sake of what our people would do to strengthen the nation. But
they won't try to understand our people. Their laws, and their rules,
their systems are forced on a race of an opposite temper, who would
get on well enough, and thrive, if they were properly consulted.
Ireland 's the sore place of England, and I'm sorry for it. We ought
to be a solid square, with Europe in this pickle. So I say, sitting
here. What should I be saying in Parliament?'
'Is Con at all likely, do you think, Philip?'
'He might: and become the burlesque Irishman of the House. There
must be one, and the lot would be safe to fall on him.'
'Isn't he serious about it?'
'Quite, I fancy; and that will be the fun. A serious fellow
talking nonsense with lively illustrations, is just the man for House
of Commons clown. Your humorous rogue is not half so taking. Con
would be the porpoise in a fish tank there, inscrutably busy on his
errand and watched for his tumblings. Better I than he; and I should
make a worse of it—at least for myself.'
'Wouldn't the secret of his happiness interfere?'
'If he has the secret inside his common sense. The bulk of it I
suspect to be, that he enjoys his luxuries and is ashamed of his
laziness; and so the secret pulls both ways. One day a fit of pride
may have him, or one of his warm impulses, and if he's taken in the
tide of it, I shall grieve for the secret.'
'You like his wife, Philip?'
'I respect her. They came together,—I suppose, because they were
near together, like the two islands, in spite of the rolling waves
between. I would not willingly see the union disturbed. He warms her,
and she houses him. And he has to control the hot blood that does the
warming, and she to moderate the severity of her principles, which are
an essential part of the housing. Oh! shiver politics, Patrice. I
wish I had been bred in France: a couple of years with your Pere
Clement, and I could have met Irishmen and felt to them as an
Irishman, whether they were disaffected or not. I wish I did. When I
landed the other day, I thought myself passably cured, and could have
said that rhetoric is the fire-water of our country, and claptrap the
springboard to send us diving into it. I like my comrades-in-arms, I
like the character of British officers, and the men too—I get on well
with them. I declare to you, Patrice, I burn to live in brotherhood
with them, not a rift of division at heart! I never show them that
there is one. But our early training has us; it comes on us again;
three or four days with Con have stirred me; I don't let him see it,
but they always do: these tales of starvations and shootings, all the
old work just as when I left, act on me like a smell of powder. I was
dipped in "Ireland for the Irish"; and a contented Irishman scarcely
seems my countryman.'
'I suppose it 's like what I hear of as digesting with difficulty,'
Patrick referred to the state described by his brother.
'And not the most agreeable of food,' Philip added.
'It would be the secret of our happiness to discover how to make
the best of it, if we had to pay penance for the discovery by living
in an Esquimaux shanty,' said Patrick.
'With a frozen fish of admirable principles for wife,' said Philip.
'Ah, you give me shudders!'
'And it's her guest who talks of her in that style! and I hope to
be thought a gentleman!' Philip pulled himself up. 'We may be all in
the wrong. The way to begin to think so, is to do them an injury and
forget it. The sensation's not unpleasant when it's other than a
question of good taste. But politics to bed, Patrice. My chief is
right—soldiers have nothing to do with them. What are you fiddling
at in your coat there?'
'Something for you, my dear Philip.' Patrick brought out the
miniature. He held it for his brother to look. 'It was the only thing
I could get. Mr. Adister sends it. The young lady, Miss Caroline,
seconded me. They think more of the big portrait: I don't. And it 's
to be kept carefully, in case of the other one getting damaged.
That's only fair.'
Philip drank in the face upon a swift shot of his eyes.
'Mr. Adister sends it?' His tone implied wonder at such a change in
'And an invitation to you to visit him when you please.'
'That he might do,' said Philip: it was a lesser thing than to send
her likeness to him.
Patrick could not help dropping his voice: 'Isn't it very like?'
For answer the miniature had to be inspected closely.
Philip was a Spartan for keeping his feelings under.
'Yes,' he said, after an interval quick with fiery touches on the
history of that face and his life. 'Older, of course. They are the
features, of course. The likeness is not bad. I suppose it resembles
her as she is now, or was when it was painted. You 're an odd fellow
to have asked for it.'
'I thought you would wish to have it, Philip.'
'You're a good boy, Patrice. Light those candles we'll go to bed.
I want a cool head for such brains as I have, and bumping the pillow
all night is not exactly wholesome. We'll cross the Channel in a few
days, and see the nest, and the mother, and the girls.'
'Not St. George's Channel. Mother would rather you would go to
France and visit the De Reuils. She and the girls hope you will keep
out of Ireland for a time: it's hot. Judge if they're anxious, when
it's to stop them from seeing you, Philip!'
'Good-night, dear boy.' Philip checked the departing Patrick. 'You
can leave that.' He made a sign for the miniature to be left on the
Patrick laid it there. His brother had not touched it, and he
could have defended himself for having forgotten to leave it, on the
plea that it might prevent his brother from having his proper share of
sleep; and also, that Philip had no great pleasure in the possession
of it. The two pleas, however, did not make one harmonious apology,
and he went straight to the door in an odd silence, with the step of a
decorous office-clerk, keeping his shoulders turned on Philip to
conceal his look of destitution.
CHAPTER XI. INTRODUCING A NEW
Letters and telegrams and morning journals lay on the
breakfast-table, awaiting the members of the household with
combustible matter. Bad news from Ireland came upon ominous news from
India. Philip had ten words of mandate from his commanding officer,
and they signified action, uncertain where. He was the soldier at
once, buckled tight and buttoned up over his private sentiments.
Vienna shot a line to Mrs. Adister O'Donnell. She communicated
it:'The Princess Nikolas has a son!' Captain Con tossed his newspaper
to the floor, crying:
'To-day the city'll be a chimney on fire, with the blacks in
everybody's faces; but I must go down. It's hen and chicks with the
director of a City Company. I must go.'
Did you say, madam?' Patrick inquired. 'A son,' said Mrs. Adister.
'And the military holloaing for reinforcements,' exclaimed Con.
'That's what it comes to,' was Philip's answer. 'Precautionary
'You can make them provocative.' 'Will you beg for India?' 'I shall
hear in an hour.' 'Have we got men?'
'Always the question with us.'
'What a country!' sighed the captain. 'I'd compose ye a song of
old Drowsylid, except that it does no good to be singing it at the
only time when you can show her the consequences of her sluggery. A
country of compromise goes to pieces at the first cannon-shot of the
advance, and while she's fighting on it's her poor business to be
putting herself together again: So she makes a mess of the beginning,
to a certainty. If it weren't that she had the army of Neptune about
'The worst is she may some day start awake to discover that her
protecting deity 's been napping too.—A boy or girl did you say, my
His wife replied: 'A son.'
'Ah! more births.' The captain appeared to be computing. 'But this
one's out of England: and it's a prince I suppose they'll call him:
and princes don't count in the population for more than finishing
touches, like the crossing of t's and dotting of i's, though true
they're the costliest, like some flowers and feathers, and they add to
the lump on Barney's back. But who has any compassion for a burdened
donkey? unless when you see him standing immortal meek! Well, and a
child of some sort must have been expected? Because it's no miracle
after marriage: worse luck for the crowded earth!'
'Things may not be expected which are profoundly distasteful,' Mrs.
'True,' said her sympathetic husband. ''Tis like reading the list
of the dead after a battle where you've not had the best of it—each
name 's a startling new blow. I'd offer to run to Earlsfont, but
here's my company you would have me join for the directoring of it,
you know, my dear, to ballast me, as you pretty clearly hinted; and
all 's in the city to-day like a loaf with bad yeast, thick as lead,
and sour to boot. And a howl and growl coming off the wilds of Old
Ireland! We're smitten to-day in our hearts and our pockets, and it
's a question where we ought to feel it most, for the sake of our
'Do you not observe that your cousins are not eating?' said his
wife, adding, to Patrick: 'I entertain the opinion that a sound
breakfast- appetite testifies to the proper vigour of men.'
'Better than a doctor's pass: and to their habits likewise,'
Captain Con winked at his guests, begging them to steal ten minutes
out of the fray for the inward fortification of them.
Eggs in the shell, and masses of eggs, bacon delicately thin and
curling like Apollo's locks at his temples, and cutlets, caviar,
anchovies in the state of oil, were pressed with the captain's fervid
illustrations upon the brothers, both meditatively nibbling toast and
indifferent to the similes he drew and applied to life from the little
fish which had their sharpness corrected but not cancelled by the
improved liquid they swam in. 'Like an Irishman in clover,' he said
to his wife to pay her a compliment and coax an acknowledgement: 'just
the flavour of the salt of him.'
Her mind was on her brother Edward, and she could not look
sweet-oily, as her husband wooed her to do, with impulse to act the
thing he was imagining.
'And there is to-morrow's dinner-party to the Mattocks: I cannot
travel to Earlsfont,' she said.
'Patrick is a disengaged young verderer, and knows the route, and
has a welcome face there, and he might go, if you're for having it
performed by word of mouth. But, trust me, my dear, bad news is best
communicated by telegraph, which gives us no stupid articles and
particles to quarrel with. "Boy born Vienna doctor smiling nurse
laughing." That tells it all, straight to the understanding, without
any sickly circumlocutory stuff; and there's nothing more offensive to
us when we're hurt at intelligence. For the same reason, Colonel
Arthur couldn't go, since you'll want him to meet the Mattocks?'
Captain Con's underlip shone with a roguish thinness.
'Arthur must be here,' said Mrs. Adister. 'I cannot bring myself
to write it. I disapprove of telegrams.'
She was asking to be assisted, so her husband said:
'Take Patrick for a secretary. Dictate. He has a bold free hand
and'll supply all the fiorituri and arabesques necessary to the
She gazed at Patrick as if to intimate that he might be enlisted,
and said: 'It will be to Caroline. She will break it to her uncle.'
'Right, madam, on the part of a lady I 've never known to be wrong!
And so, my dear, I must take leave of you, to hurry down to the
tormented intestines of that poor racked city, where the winds of
panic are violently engaged in occupying the vacuum created by
knocking over what the disaster left standing; and it 'll much
resemble a colliery accident there, I suspect, and a rescue of dead
bodies. Adieu, my dear.' He pressed his lips on her thin fingers.
Patrick placed himself at Mrs. Adister's disposal as her secretary.
She nodded a gracious acceptance of him.
'I recommended the telegraph because it's my wife's own style, and
comes better from wires,' said the captain, as they were putting on
their overcoats in the hall. 'You must know the family. "Deeds not
words" would serve for their motto. She hates writing, and doesn't
much love talking. Pat 'll lengthen her sentences for her. She's
fond of Adiante, and she sympathises with her brother Edward made a
grandfather through the instrumentality of that foreign hooknose; and
Patrick must turn the two dagger sentiments to a sort of love-knot and
there's the task he'll have to work out in his letter to Miss
Caroline. It's fun about Colonel Arthur not going. He's to meet the
burning Miss Mattock, who has gold on her crown and a lot on her
treasury, Phil, my boy! but I'm bound in honour not to propose it.
And a nice girl, a prize; afresh healthy girl; and brains: the very
girl! But she's jotted down for the Adisters, if Colonel Arthur can
look lower than his nose and wag his tongue a bit. She's one to be a
mother of stout ones that won't run up big doctors' bills or ask
assistance in growing. Her name's plain Jane, and she 's a girl to
breed conquerors; and the same you may say of her brother John, who 's
a mighty fit man, good at most things, though he counts his fortune in
millions, which I've heard is lighter for a beggar to perform than in
pounds, but he can count seven, and beat any of us easy by showing
them millions! We might do something for them at home with a million
or two, Phil. It all came from the wedding of a railway contractor,
who sprang from the wedding of a spade and a clod—and probably called
himself Mattock at his birth, no shame to him.'
'You're for the city,' said Philip, after they had walked down the
'Not I,' said Con. 'Let them play Vesuvius down there. I've got
another in me: and I can't stop their eruption, and they wouldn't
relish mine. I know a little of Dick Martin, who called on the people
to resist, and housed the man Liffey after his firing the shot, and
I'm off to Peter M'Christy, his brother-in-law. I'll see Distell too.
I must know if it signifies the trigger, or I'm agitated about
nothing. Dr. Forbery'll be able to tell how far they mean going for a
"For we march in ranks to the laurelled banks,
On the bright horizon shining,
Though the fields between run red on the green,
And many a wife goes pining."
Will you come, Phil?'
'I 'm under orders.'
'You won't engage yourself by coming.'
'I'm in for the pull if I join hands.'
'And why not?—inside the law, of course.'
'While your Barney skirmishes outside!'
'And when the poor fellow's cranium's cracking to fling his cap in
the air, and physician and politician are agreed it's good for him to
do it, or he'll go mad and be a dangerous lunatic! Phil, it must be a
blow now and then for these people over here, else there's no teaching
their imaginations you're in earnest; for they've got heads that open
only to hard raps, these English; and where injustice rules, and you'd
spread a light of justice, a certain lot of us must give up the
ghost—naturally on both sides. Law's law, and life's life, so long
as you admit that the law is bad; and in that case, it's big misery
and chronic disease to let it be and at worst a jump and tumble into
the next world, of a score or two of us if we have a wrestle with him.
But shake the old villain; hang on him and shake him. Bother his
wig, if he calls himself Law. That 's how we dust the corruption out
of him for a bite or two in return. Such is humanity, Phil: and you
must allow for the roundabout way of moving to get into the straight
road at last. And I see what you're for saying: a roundabout eye
won't find it! You're wrong where there are dozens of corners. Logic
like yours, my boy, would have you go on picking at the Gordian Knot
till it became a jackasses' race between you and the rope which was to
fall to pieces last.—There 's my old girl at the stall, poor soul!
Philip had signalled a cabman to stop. He stood facing his cousin
with a close-lipped smile that summarised his opinion and made it
'I have no time for an introduction to her this morning,' he said.
'You won't drop in on Distell to hear the latest brewing? And, by
the by, Phil, tell us, could you give us a hint for packing five or
six hundred rifles and a couple of pieces of cannon?'
Philip stared; he bent a lowering frown on his cousin, with a
twitch at his mouth.
'Oh! easy!' Con answered the look; 'it's for another place and
harder to get at.'
He was eyed suspiciously and he vowed the military weapons were for
another destination entirely, the opposite Pole.
'No, you wouldn't be in for a crazy villainy like that!' said
'No, nor wink to it,' said Con. 'But it's a question about packing
cannon and small arms; and you might be useful in dropping a hint or
two. The matter's innocent. It's not even a substitution of one form
of Government for another: only a change of despots, I suspect. And
here's Mr. John Mattock himself, who'll corroborate me, as far as we
can let you into the secret before we've consulted together. And he's
an Englishman and a member of Parliament, and a Liberal though a
landlord, a thorough stout Briton and bulldog for the national
integrity, not likely to play at arms and ammunition where his
country's prosperity 's concerned. How d' ye do, Mr. Mattock—and
opportunely, since it's my cousin, Captain Philip O'Donnell,
aide-de-camp to Sir Charles, fresh from Canada, of whom you've heard,
I'd like to make you acquainted with, previous to your meeting at my
wife's table tomorrow evening.'
Philip bowed to a man whose notion of the ceremony was to nod.
Con took him two steps aside and did all the talking. Mr. Mattock
listened attentively the first half-minute, after which it could be
perceived that the orator was besieging a post, or in other words a
Saxon's mind made up on a point of common sense. His appearance was
redolently marine; his pilot coat, flying necktie and wideish
trowsers, a general airiness of style on a solid frame, spoke of the
element his blue eyes had dipped their fancy in, from hereditary
inclination. The colour of a sandpit was given him by hair and
whiskers of yellow-red on a ruddy face. No one could express a
negative more emphatically without wording it, though he neither
frowned nor gesticulated to that effect.
'Ah!' said Con, abruptly coming to an end after an eloquent appeal.
'And I think I'm of your opinion: and the sea no longer dashes at the
rock, but makes itself a mirror to the same. She'll keep her money
and nurse her babe, and not be trying risky adventures to turn him
into a reigning prince. Only this: you'll have to persuade her the
thing is impossible. She'll not take it from any of us. She looks on
you as Wisdom in the uniform of a great commander, and if you say a
thing can be done it 's done.'
'The reverse too, I hope,' said Mr. Mattock, nodding and passing on
'That I am not so sure of,' Con remarked to himself. 'There's a
change in a man through a change in his position! Six months or so
back, Phil, that man came from Vienna, the devoted slave of the
Princess Nikolas. He'd been there on his father's business about one
of the Danube railways, and he was ready to fill the place of the
prince at the head of his phantom body of horse and foot and
elsewhere. We talked of his selling her estates for the purchase of
arms and the enemy—as many as she had money for. We discussed it as
a matter of business. She had bewitched him: and would again, I don't
doubt, if she were here to repeat the dose. But in the interim his
father dies, he inherits; and he enters Parliament, and now, mind you,
the man who solemnly calculated her chances and speculates on the
transmission of rifled arms of the best manufacture and latest
invention by his yacht and with his loads of rails, under the noses of
the authorities, like a master rebel, and a chivalrous gentleman to
boot, pooh poohs the whole affair. You saw him. Grave as an owl, the
dead contrary of his former self!'
'I thought I heard you approve him,' said Philip.
'And I do. But the poor girl has ordered her estates to be sold to
cast the die, and I 'm taking the view of her disappointment, for she
believes he can do anything; and if I know the witch, her sole comfort
lying in the straw is the prospect of a bloody venture for a throne.
The truth is, to my thinking, it's the only thing she has to help her
to stomach her husband.'
'But it's rank idiocy to suppose she can smuggle cannon!' cried
'But that man Mattock's not an idiot and he thought she could. And
it 's proof he was under a spell. She can work one.'
'The country hasn't a port.'
'Round the Euxine and up the Danube, with the British flag at the
stern. I could rather enjoy the adventure. And her prince is called
for. He's promised a good reception when he drops down the river,
they say. A bit of a scrimmage on the landing-pier may be, and the
first field or two, and then he sits himself, and he waits his turn.
The people change their sovereigns as rapidly as a London purse. Two
pieces of artillery and two or three hundred men and a trumpet alter
the face of the land there. Sometimes a trumpet blown by impudence
does it alone. They're enthusiastic for any new prince. He's their
Weekly Journal or Monthly Magazine. Let them make acquaintance with
Adiante Adister, I'd not swear she wouldn't lay fast hold of them.'
Philip signalled to his driver, and Captain Con sang out his
dinner-hour for a reminder to punctuality, thoughtful of the feelings
of his wife.
CHAPTER XII. MISS MATTOCK
Mrs. Adister O'Donnell, in common with her family, had an extreme
dislike of the task of composing epistles, due to the circumstance
that she was unable, unaided, to conceive an idea disconnected with
the main theme of her communication, and regarded, as an art of
conjuring, the use of words independent of ideas. Her native
superiority caused her to despise the art, but the necessity for
employing it at intervals subjected her to fits of admiration of the
conjurer, it being then evident that a serviceable piece of work,
beyond her capacity to do, was lightly performed by another. The
lady's practical intelligence admitted the service, and at the same
time her addiction to the practical provoked disdain of so flimsy a
genius, which was identified by her with the genius of the Irish race.
If Irishmen had not been notoriously fighters, famous for their
chivalry, she would have looked on them as a kind of footmen hired to
talk and write, whose volubility might be encouraged and their
affectionateness deserved by liberal wages. The promptitude of Irish
blood to deliver the war-cry either upon a glove flung down or taken
up, raised them to a first place in her esteem: and she was a peaceful
woman abhorring sanguinary contention; but it was in her own blood to
love such a disposition against her principles.
She led Patrick to her private room, where they both took seats and
he selected a pen. Mr. Patrick supposed that his business would be to
listen and put her words to paper; a mechanical occupation permitting
the indulgence of personal phantasies; and he was flying high on them
until the extraordinary delicacy of the mind seeking to deliver itself
forced him to prick up all his apprehensiveness. She wished to convey
that she was pleased with the news from Vienna, and desired her
gratification to be imparted to her niece Caroline, yet not so as to
be opposed to the peculiar feelings of her brother Edward, which had
her fullest sympathy; and yet Caroline must by no means be requested
to alter a sentence referring to Adiante, for that would commit her
and the writer jointly to an insincerity.
'It must be the whole truth, madam,' said Patrick, and he wrote:
'My dear Caroline,' to get the start. At once a magnificently clear
course for the complicated letter was distinguished by him. 'Can I
write on and read it to you afterward? I have the view,' he said.
Mrs. Adister waved to him to write on.
Patrick followed his 'My dear Caroline' with greetings very warm,
founded on a report of her flourishing good looks. The decision of
Government to send reinforcements to Ireland was mentioned as a
prelude to the information from Vienna of the birth of a son to the
Princess Nikolas: and then; having conjoined the two entirely
heterogeneous pieces of intelligence, the composer adroitly interfused
them by a careless transposition of the prelude and the burden that
enabled him to play ad libitum on regrets and rejoicings; by which
device the lord of Earlsfont might be offered condolences while the
lady could express her strong contentment, inasmuch as he deplored the
state of affairs in the sister island, and she was glad of a crisis
concluding a term of suspense thus the foreign-born baby was denounced
and welcomed, the circumstances lamented and the mother congratulated,
in a breath, all under cover of the happiest misunderstanding, as
effective as the cabalism of Prospero's wand among the Neapolitan
mariners, by the skilful Irish development on a grand scale of the
rhetorical figure anastrophe, or a turning about and about.
He read it out to her, enjoying his composition and pleased with
his reconcilement of differences. 'So you say what you feel yourself,
madam, and allow for the feelings on the other side,' he remarked.
'Shall I fold it?
There was a smoothness in the letter particularly agreeable to her
troubled wits, but with an awful taste. She hesitated to assent: it
seemed like a drug that she was offered.
Patrick sketched a series of hooked noses on the blotter. He heard
a lady's name announced at the door, and glancing up from his work he
beheld a fiery vision.
Mrs. Adister addressed her affectionately: 'My dear Jane!' Patrick
was introduced to Miss Mattock.
His first impression was that the young lady could wrestle with him
and render it doubtful of his keeping his legs. He was next engaged
in imagining that she would certainly burn and be a light in the dark.
Afterwards he discovered her feelings to be delicate, her looks
pleasant. Thereupon came one of the most singular sensations he had
ever known: he felt that he was unable to see the way to please her.
She confirmed it by her remarks and manner of speaking. Apparently
she was conducting a business.
'You're right, my dear Mrs. Adister, I'm on my way to the Laundry,
and I called to get Captain Con to drive there with me and worry the
manageress about the linen they turn out: for gentlemen are
complaining of their shirt-fronts, and if we get a bad name with them
it will ruin us. Women will listen to a man. I hear he has gone down
to the city. I must go and do it alone. Our accounts are
flourishing, I'm glad to say, though we cannot yet afford to pay for a
secretary, and we want one. John and I verified them last night.
We're aiming at steam, you know. In three or four years we may found
a steam laundry on our accumulated capital. If only we can establish
it on a scale to let us give employment to at least as many women as
we have working now! That is what I want to hear of. But if we wait
for a great rival steam laundry to start ahead of us, we shall be
beaten and have to depend on the charitable sentiments of rich people
to support the Institution. And that won't do. So it's a serious
question with us to think of taking the initiative: for steam must
come. It 's a scandal every day that it doesn't while we have coal.
I'm for grand measures. At the same time we must not be imprudent:
turning off hands, even temporarily, that have to feed infants, would
be quite against my policy.'
Her age struck Patrick as being about twenty-three.
'Could my nephew Arthur be of any use to you?' said Mrs. Adister.
'Colonel Adister?' Miss Mattock shook her head. 'No.'
'Arthur can be very energetic when he takes up a thing.' 'Can he?
But, Mrs. Adister, you are looking a little troubled. Sometimes you
confide in me. You are so good to us with your subscriptions that I
always feel in your debt.'
Patrick glanced at his hostess for a signal to rise and depart.
She gave none, but at once unfolded her perplexity, and requested
Miss Mattock to peruse the composition of Mr. Patrick O'Donnell and
deliver an opinion upon it.
The young lady took the letter without noticing its author. She
read it through, handed it back, and sat with her opinion evidently
'What do you think of it?' she was asked.
'Rank jesuitry,' she replied.
'I feared so!' sighed Mrs. Adister. 'Yet it says everything I wish
to have said. It spares my brother and it does not belie me. The
effect of a letter is often most important. I cannot but consider
this letter very ingenious. But the moment I hear it is jesuitical I
forswear it. But then my dilemma remains. I cannot consent to give
pain to my brother Edward: nor will I speak an untruth, though it be
to save him from a wound. I am indeed troubled. Mr. Patrick, I
cannot consent to despatch a jesuitical letter. You are sure of your
impression, my dear Jane?'
'Perfectly,' said Miss Mattock.
Patrick leaned to her. 'But if the idea in the mind of the person
supposed to be writing the letter is accurately expressed? Does it
matter, if we call it jesuitical, if the emotion at work behind it
happens to be a trifle so, according to your definition?'
She rejoined: 'I should say, distinctly it matters.'
'Then you'd not express the emotions at all?'
He flashed a comical look of astonishment as he spoke. She was not
to be diverted; she settled into antagonism.
'I should write what I felt.'
'But it might be like discharging a bullet.'
'If your writing in that way wounded the receiver.'
'Of course I should endeavour not to wound!'
'And there the bit of jesuitry begins. And it's innocent while it
's no worse than an effort to do a disagreeable thing as delicately as
She shrugged as delicately as she could:
'We cannot possibly please everybody in life.'
'No: only we may spare them a shock: mayn't we?'
'Sophistries of any description, I detest.'
'But sometimes you smile to please, don't you?'
'Do you detect falseness in that?' she answered, after the demurest
'No: but isn't there a soupcon of sophistry in it?'
'I should say that it comes under the title of common civility.'
'And on occasion a little extra civility is permitted!'
'Perhaps: when we are not seeking a personal advantage.'
'On behalf of the Steam Laundry?'
Miss Mattock grew restless: she was too serious in defending her
position to submit to laugh, and his goodhumoured face forbade her
'Well, perhaps, for that is in the interest of others.'
'In the interests of poor and helpless females. And I agree with
you with all my heart. But you would not be so considerate for the
sore feelings of a father hearing what he hates to hear as to write a
roundabout word to soften bad news to him?'
She sought refuge in the reply that nothing excused jesuitry.
'Except the necessities of civilisation,' said Patrick.
'Politeness is one thing,' she remarked pointedly.
'And domestic politeness is quite as needful as popular, you'll
admit. And what more have we done in the letter than to be guilty of
that? And people declare it's rarer: as if we were to be shut up in
families to tread on one another's corns! Dear me! and after a time
we should be having rank jesuitry advertised as the specific balsam
for an unhappy domesticated population treading with hard heels from
desperate habit and not the slightest intention to wound.'
'My dear Jane,' Mrs. Adister interposed while the young lady sat
between mildly staring and blinking, 'you have, though still of a
tender age, so excellent a head that I could trust to your counsel
blindfolded. It is really deep concern for my brother. I am also
strongly in sympathy with my niece, the princess, that beautiful
Adiante: and my conscience declines to let me say that I am not.'
'We might perhaps presume to beg for Miss Mattock's assistance in
the composition of a second letter more to her taste,' Patrick said
The effect was prompt: she sprang from her seat.
'Dear Mrs. Adister! I leave it to you. I am certain you and Mr.
O'Donnell know best. It's too difficult and delicate for me. I am
horribly blunt. Forgive me if I seemed to pretend to casuistry. I am
sure I had no such meaning. I said what I thought. I always do. I
never meant that it was not a very clever letter; and if it does
exactly what you require it should be satisfactory. To-morrow evening
John and I dine with you, and I look forward to plenty of controversy
and amusement. At present I have only a head for work.'
'I wish I had that,' said Patrick devoutly.
She dropped her eyes on him, but without letting him perceive that
he was a step nearer to the point of pleasing her.
CHAPTER XIII. THE DINNER-PARTY
Miss Mattock ventured on a prediction in her mind:
She was sure the letter would go. And there was not much to
signify if it did. But the curious fatality that a person of such a
native uprightness as Mrs. Adister should have been drawn in among
Irishmen, set her thoughts upon the composer of the letter, and upon
the contrast of his ingenuous look with the powerful cast of his head.
She fancied a certain danger about him; of what kind she could not
quite distinguish, for it had no reference to woman's heart, and he
was too young to be much of a politician, and he was not in the
priesthood. His transparency was of a totally different order from
Captain Con's, which proclaimed itself genuine by the inability to
conceal a shoal of subterfuges. The younger cousin's features carried
a something invisible behind them, and she was just perceptive enough
to spy it, and it excited her suspicions. Irishmen both she and her
brother had to learn to like, owing to their bad repute for stability:
they are, moreover, Papists: they are not given to ideas: that one of
the working for the future has not struck them. In fine, they are not
solid, not law-supporting, not disposed to be (humbly be it said)
beneficent, like the good English. These were her views, and as she
held it a weakness to have to confess that Irishmen are socially more
fascinating than the good English, she was on her guard against them.
Of course the letter had gone. She heard of it before the
commencement of the dinner, after Mrs. Adister had introduced Captain
Philip O'Donnell to her, and while she was exchanging a word or two
with Colonel Adister, who stood ready to conduct her to the table. If
he addressed any remarks to the lady under his charge, Miss Mattock
did not hear him; and she listened—who shall say why? His unlike
likeness to his brother had struck her. Patrick opposite was flowing
in speech. But Captain Philip O'Donnell's taciturnity seemed no
uncivil gloom: it wore nothing of that look of being beneath the
table, which some of our good English are guilty of at their social
festivities, or of towering aloof a Matterhorn above it, in the style
of Colonel Adister. Her discourse with the latter amused her passing
reflections. They started a subject, and he punctuated her
observations, or she his, and so they speedily ran to earth.
'I think,' says she, 'you were in Egypt this time last winter.'
He supplies her with a comma: 'Rather later.'
Then he carries on the line. 'Dull enough, if you don't have the
right sort of travelling crew in your boat.'
'Naturally,' she puts her semicolon, ominous of the full stop.
'I fancy you have never been in Egypt?'
There it is; for the tone betrays no curiosity about Egypt and her
Nile, and he is led to suppose that she has a distaste for foreign
Condescending to attempt to please, which he has reason to wish to
succeed in doing, the task of pursuing conversational intercourse
devolves upon him
'I missed Parlatti last spring. What opinion have you formed of
'I know her only by name at present.'
'Ah, I fancy you are indifferent to Opera.'
'Not at all; I enjoy it. I was as busy then as I am now.'
'Meetings? Dorcas, so forth.'
'Not Dorcas, I assure you. You might join if you would.'
'Your most obliged.'
A period perfectly rounded. At the same time Miss Mattock
exchanged a smile with her hostess, of whose benignant designs in
handing her to the entertaining officer she was not conscious. She
felt bound to look happy to gratify an excellent lady presiding over
the duller half of a table of eighteen. She turned slightly to
Captain O'Donnell. He had committed himself to speech at last,
without tilting his shoulders to exclude the company by devoting
himself to his partner, and as he faced the table Miss Mattock's
inclination to listen attracted him. He cast his eyes on her: a quiet
look, neither languid nor frigid seeming to her both open and
uninviting. She had the oddest little shiver, due to she knew not
what. A scrutiny she could have borne, and she might have read a
signification; but the look of those mild clear eyes which appeared to
say nothing save that there was fire behind them, hit on some
perplexity, or created it; for she was aware of his unhappy passion
for the beautiful Miss Adister; the whole story had been poured into
her ears; she had been moved by it. Possibly she had expected the
eyes of such a lover to betray melancholy, and his power of containing
the expression where the sentiment is imagined to be most transparent
may have surprised her, thrilling her as melancholy orbs would not
Captain Con could have thumped his platter with vexation. His
wife's diplomacy in giving the heiress to Colonel Adister for the
evening had received his cordial support while he manoeuvred cleverly
to place Philip on the other side of her; and now not a step did the
senseless fellow take, though she offered him his chance, dead sick of
her man on the right; not a word did he have in ordinary civility; he
was a burning disgrace to the chivalry of Erin. She would certainly
be snapped up by a man merely yawning to take the bite. And there's
another opportunity gone for the old country!—one's family to boot!
Those two were in the middle of the table, and it is beyond mortal,
beyond Irish, capacity, from one end of a table of eighteen to whip up
the whole body of them into a lively unanimous froth, like a dish of
cream fetched out of thickness to the airiest lightness. Politics, in
the form of a firebrand or apple of Discord, might knead them together
and cut them in batches, only he had pledged his word to his wife to
shun politics as the plague, considering Mr. Mattock's presence. And
yet it was tempting: the recent Irish news had stung him; he could say
sharp things from the heart, give neat thrusts; and they were fairly
divided and well matched. There was himself, a giant; and there was
an unrecognised bard of his country, no other than himself too; and
there was a profound politician, profoundly hidden at present, like
powder in a mine—the same person. And opposite to him was Mr. John
Mattock, a worthy antagonist, delightful to rouse, for he carried big
guns and took the noise of them for the shattering of the enemy, and
this champion could be pricked on to a point of assertion sure to fire
the phlegm in Philip; and then young Patrick might be trusted to warm
to the work. Three heroes out skirmishing on our side. Then it begins
to grow hot, and seeing them at it in earnest, Forbery glows and
couches his gun, the heaviest weight of the Irish light brigade.
Gallant deeds! and now Mr. Marbury Dyke opens on Forbery's flank to
support Mattock hardpressed, and this artillery of English Rockney
resounds, with a similar object: the ladies to look on and award the
crown of victory, Saxon though they be, excepting Rockney's wife, a
sure deserter to the camp of the brave, should fortune frown on them,
for a punishment to Rockney for his carrying off to himself a flower
of the Green Island and holding inveterate against her native land in
his black ingratitude. Oh! but eloquence upon a good cause will win
you the hearts of all women, Saxon or other, never doubt of it. And
Jane Mattock there, imbibing forced doses of Arthur Adister, will find
her patriotism dissolving in the natural human current; and she and
Philip have a pretty wrangle, and like one another none the worse for
not agreeing: patriotically speaking, she's really unrooted by that
half-thawed colonel, a creature snow-bound up to his chin; and already
she's leaping to be transplanted. Jane is one of the first to give
her vote for the Irish party, in spite of her love for her brother
John: in common justice, she says, and because she hopes for complete
union between the two islands. And thereupon we debate upon union.
On the whole, yes: union, on the understanding that we have justice,
before you think of setting to work to sow the land with
affection:—and that 's a crop in a clear soil will spring up harvest-
thick in a single summer night across St. George's Channel,
Indeed a goodly vision of strife and peace: but, politics
forbidden, it was entirely a dream, seeing that politics alone, and a
vast amount of blowing even on the topic of politics, will stir these
English to enter the arena and try a fall. You cannot, until you say
ten times more than you began by meaning, and have heated yourself to
fancy you mean more still, get them into any state of fluency at all.
Forbery's anecdote now and then serves its turn, but these English
won't take it up as a start for fresh pastures; they lend their ears
and laugh a finale to it; you see them dwelling on the relish, chewing
the cud, by way of mental note for their friends to-morrow, as if they
were kettles come here merely for boiling purposes, to make tea
elsewhere, and putting a damper on the fire that does the business for
them. They laugh, but they laugh extinguishingly, and not a bit to
spread a general conflagration and illumination.
The case appeared hopeless to Captain Con, bearing an eye on
Philip. He surveyed his inanimate eights right and left, and folded
his combative ardour around him, as the soldier's martial cloak when
he takes his rest on the field. Mrs. Marbury Dyke, the lady under his
wing, honoured wife of the chairman of his imagined that a sigh
escaped him, and said in sympathy: 'Is the bad news from India
He feared it was not bright, and called to Philip for the latest.
'Nothing that you have not had already in the newspapers,' Philip
replied, distinctly from afar, but very bluntly, as through a trumpet.
Miss Mattock was attentive. She had a look as good as handsome
when she kindled.
The captain persevered to draw his cousin out.
'Your chief has his orders?'
'There's a rumour to that effect.'
'The fellow's training for diplomacy,' Con groaned.
Philip spoke to Miss Mattock: he was questioned and he answered,
and answered dead as a newspaper telegraphic paragraph, presenting
simply the corpse of the fact, and there an end. He was a rival of
Arthur Adister for military brevity.
'Your nephew is quite the diplomatist,' said Mrs. Dyke, admiring
'Cousin, ma'am. Nephews I might drive to any market to make the
most of them. Cousins pretend they're better than pigs, and diverge
bounding from the road at the hint of the stick. You can't get them
to grunt more than is exactly agreeable to them.'
'My belief is that if our cause is just our flag will triumph,'
Miss Grace Barrow, Jane Mattock's fellow-worker and particular friend,
observed to Dr. Forbery.
'You may be enjoying an original blessing that we in Ireland missed
in the cradle,' said he.
She emphasised: 'I speak of the just cause; it must succeed.'
'The stainless flag'll be in the ascendant in the long run,' he
'Is it the flag of Great Britain you're speaking of, Forbery?' the
'There's a harp or two in it,' he responded pacifically.
Mrs. Dyke was not pleased with the tone. 'And never will be out of
it!' she thumped her interjection.
'Or where 's your music?' said the captain, twinkling for an
adversary among the males, too distant or too dull to distinguish a
note of challenge. 'You'd be having to mount your drum and fife in
their places, ma'am.'
She saw no fear of the necessity.
'But the fife's a pretty instrument,' he suggested, and with a
candour that seduced the unwary lady to think dubiously whether she
quite liked the fife. Miss Barrow pronounced it cheerful.
'Oh, and martial!' he exclaimed, happy to have caught Rockney's
deliberate gaze. 'The effect of it, I'm told in the provinces is
astonishing for promoting enlistment. Hear it any morning in your
London parks, at the head of a marching regiment of your giant
foot-Guards. Three bangs of the drum, like the famous mountain, and
the fife announces himself to be born, and they follow him, left leg
and right leg and bearskin. And what if he's a small one and a trifle
squeaky; so 's a prince when the attendant dignitaries receive him
submissively and hear him informing the nation of his advent. It 's
the idea that 's grand.'
'The idea is everything in military affairs,' a solemn dupe, a Mr.
Rumford, partly bald, of benevolent aspect, and looking more copious
than his flow, observed to the lady beside him. 'The flag is only an
She protested against the barbarism of war, and he agreed with her,
but thought it must be: it had always been: he deplored the fatality.
Nevertheless, he esteemed our soldiers, our sailors too. A city man
himself and a man of peace, he cordially esteemed and hailed the
victories of a military body whose idea was Duty instead of Ambition.
'One thing,' said Mrs. Dyke, evading the ambiguous fife, 'patriotic
as I am, I hope, one thing I confess; I never have yet brought myself
to venerate thoroughly our Royal Standard. I dare say it is because I
do not understand it.'
A strong fraternal impulse moved Mr. Rumford to lean forward and
show her the face of one who had long been harassed by the same
incapacity to digest that one thing. He guessed it at once, without a
doubt of the accuracy of the shot. Ever since he was a child the
difficulty had haunted him; and as no one hitherto had even
comprehended his dilemma, he beamed like a man preparing to embrace a
'The Unicorn!' he exclaimed.
'It is the Unicorn!' she sighed. 'The Lion is noble.'
'The Unicorn, if I may speak by my own feelings, certainly does not
inspire attachment, that is to say, the sense of devotion, which we
should always be led to see in national symbols,' Mr. Rumford resumed,
and he looked humorously rueful while speaking with some earnestness;
to show that he knew the subject to be of the minor sort, though it
was not enough to trip and jar a loyal enthusiasm in the strictly
'The Saxon should carry his White Horse, I suppose,' Dr. Forbery
'But how do we account for the horn on his forehead?' Mr. Rumford
'Two would have been better for the harmony of the Unicorn's
appearance,' Captain Con remarked, desirous to play a floundering
fish, and tender to the known simple goodness of the ingenuous man.
'What do you say, Forbery? The poor brute had a fall on his pate and
his horn grew of it, and it 's to prove that he has got something in
his head, and is dangerous both fore and aft, which is not the case
with other horses, who're usually wicked at the heels alone. That's
it, be sure, or near it. And his horn's there to file the subject
nation's grievances for the Lion to peruse at his leisure. And his
colour's prophetic of the Horse to come, that rides over all.'
'Lion and Unicorn signify the conquest of the two hemispheres,
Matter and Mind,' said Dr. Forbery. 'The Lion there's no mistake
about. The Unicorn sets you thinking. So it's a splendid Standard,
and means the more for not being perfectly intelligible at a glance.'
'But if the Lion, as they've whispered of late, Forbery, happens to
be stuffed with straw or with what's worse, with sawdust, a fellow
bearing a pointed horn at close quarters might do him mortal harm; and
it must be a situation trying to the patience of them both. The Lion
seems to say "No prancing!" as if he knew his peril; and the Unicorn
to threaten a playful dig at his flank, as if he understood where he's
Mr. Rumford drank some champagne and murmured with a shrug to the
acquiescent lady beside him: 'Irishmen!' implying that the race could
not be brought to treat serious themes as befitted the seriousness of
the sentiments they stir in their bosoms. He was personally a little
hurt, having unfolded a shy secret of his feelings, which were keenly
patriotic in a phlegmatic frame, and he retired within himself,
assuring the lady that he accepted our standard in its integrity; his
objection was not really an objection; it was, he explained to her, a
ridiculous desire to have a perfect comprehension of the idea in the
symbol. But where there was no seriousness everything was made
absurd. He could, he said, laugh as well as others on the proper
occasion. As for the Lion being stuffed, he warned England's enemies
for their own sakes not to be deluded by any such patent calumny. The
strong can afford to be magnanimous and forbearing. Only let not that
be mistaken for weakness. A wag of his tail would suffice.
The lady agreed. But women are volatile. She was the next moment
laughing at something she had heard with the largest part of her ear,
and she thought the worthy gentleman too simple, though she knew him
for one who had amassed wealth. Captain Con and Dr. Forbery had
driven the Unicorn to shelter, and were now baiting the Lion. The
tremendous import of that wag of his tail among the nations was
burlesqued by them, and it came into collision with Mr. Rumford's
legendary forefinger threat. She excused herself for laughing:
'They are so preposterous!'
'Yes, yes, I can laugh,' said he, soberly performing the act: and
Mr. Rumford covered the wound his delicate sensations had experienced
under an apology for Captain Con, that would redound to the credit of
his artfulness were it not notorious our sensations are the creatures
and born doctors of art in discovering unguents for healing their
bruises. 'O'Donnell has a shrewd head for business. He is sound at
heart. There is not a drop of gout in his wine.'
The lady laughed again, as we do when we are fairly swung by the
tide, and underneath her convulsion she quietly mused on the
preference she would give to the simple English citizen for soundness.
'What can they be discussing down there?' Miss Mattock said to
Philip, enviously as poor Londoners in November when they receive
letters from the sapphire Riviera.
'I will venture to guess at nonsense,' he answered.
'Nothing political, then.'
'That scarcely follows; but a host at his own table may be trusted
to shelve politics.'
'I should not object.'
'One would go a long way to see the exhibition.'
'But why cannot men be temperate in their political arguments?'
'The questions raised are too close about the roots of us.'
'That sounds very pessimist.'
'More duels come from politics than from any other source.'
'I fear it is true. Then women might set you an example.'
'By avoiding it?'
'I think you have been out of England for some time.'
'I have been in America.'
'We are not exactly on the pattern of the Americans.' Philip hinted
a bow. He praised the Republican people.
'Yes, but in our own way we are working out our own problems over
here,' said she. 'We have infinitely more to contend with: old
institutions, monstrous prejudices, and a slower-minded people, I dare
say: much slower, I admit. We are not shining to advantage at
present. Still, that is not the fault of English women.'
'Are they so spirited?'
Spirited was hardly the word Miss Mattock would have chosen to
designate the spirit in them. She hummed a second or two,
deliberating; it flashed through her during the pause that he had been
guilty of irony, and she reddened: and remembering a foregoing strange
sensation she reddened more. She had been in her girlhood a martyr to
this malady of youth; it had tied her to the stake and enveloped her
in flames for no accountable reason, causing her to suffer cruelly and
feel humiliated. She knew the pangs of it in public, and in private
as well. And she had not conquered it yet. She was angered to find
herself such a merely physical victim of the rushing blood: which
condition of her senses did not immediately restore her natural
'They mean nobly,' she said, to fill an extending gap in the
conversation under a blush; and conscious of an ultra-swollen phrase,
she snatched at it nervously to correct it: 'They are becoming alive
to the necessity for action.' But she was talking to a soldier! 'I
mean, their heads are opening.' It sounded ludicrous. 'They are
educating themselves differently.' Were they? 'They wish to take
their part in the work of the world.' That was nearer the proper tone,
though it had a ring of claptrap rhetoric hateful to her: she had read
it and shrunk from it in reports of otherwise laudable meetings.
'Well, spirited, yes. I think they are. I believe they are. One
has need to hope so.'
Philip offered a polite affirmative, evidently formal.
Not a sign had he shown of noticing her state of scarlet. His
grave liquid eyes were unalterable. She might have been grateful, but
the reflection that she had made a step to unlock the antechamber of
her dearest deepest matters to an ordinary military officer, whose
notions of women were probably those of his professional brethren,
impelled her to transfer his polished decorousness to the burden of
his masculine antagonism-plainly visible. She brought the dialogue to
a close. Colonel Adister sidled an eye at a three-quarter view of her
face. 'I fancy you're feeling the heat of the room,' he said.
Jane acknowledged a sensibility to some degree of warmth.
The colonel was her devoted squire on the instant for any practical
service. His appeal to his aunt concerning one of the windows was
answered by her appeal to Jane's countenance for a disposition to rise
and leave the gentlemen. Captain Con, holding the door for the
passage of his wife and her train of ladies, received the injunction:
'Ten,' from her, and remarked: 'Minutes,' as he shut it. The
shortness of the period of grace proposed dejection to him on the one
hand, and on the other a stimulated activity to squeeze it for its
juices without any delay. Winding past Dr. Forbery to the vacated
seat of the hostess he frowned forbiddingly.
'It's I, is it!' cried the doctor. Was it ever he that endangered
the peace and placability of social gatherings! He sat down prepared
rather for a bout with Captain Con than with their common opponents,
notwithstanding that he had accurately read the mock thunder of his
CHAPTER XIV. OF ROCKNEY
Battles have been won and the streams of History diverted to new
channels in the space of ten minutes. Ladies have been won, a fresh
posterity founded, and grand financial schemes devised, revolts
arranged, a yoke shaken off, in less of mortal time. Excepting an
inspired Epic song and an original Theory of the Heavens, almost
anything noteworthy may be accomplished while old Father Scythe is
taking a trot round a courtyard; and those reservations should allow
the splendid conception to pass for the performance, when we bring to
mind that the conception is the essential part of it, as a bard poorly
known to fame was constantly urging. Captain Con had blown his Epic
bubbles, not to speak of his projected tuneful narrative of the
adventures of the great Cuchullin, and his Preaching of St. Patrick,
and other national triumphs. He could own, however, that the world
had a right to the inspection of the Epic books before it awarded him
his crown. The celestial Theory likewise would have to be worked out
to the last figure by the illustrious astronomers to whom he modestly
ranked himself second as a benefactor of his kind, revering him. So
that, whatever we may think in our own hearts, Epic and Theory have to
remain the exception. Battles indeed have been fought, but when you
survey the field in preparation for them you are summoned to observe
the preluding courtesies of civilised warfare in a manner becoming a
chivalrous gentleman. It never was the merely flinging of your leg
across a frontier, not even with the abrupt Napoleon. You have
besides to drill your men; and you have often to rouse your foe with a
ringing slap, if he's a sleepy one or shamming sleepiness. As here,
for example: and that of itself devours more minutes than ten.
Rockney and Mattock could be roused; but these English, slow to
kindle, can't subside in a twinkling; they are for preaching on when
they have once begun; betray the past engagement, and the ladies are
chilled, and your wife puts you the pungent question: 'Did you avoid
politics, Con?' in the awful solitude of domestic life after a party.
Now, if only there had been freedom of discourse during the dinner
hour, the ten disembarrassed minutes allotted to close it would have
afforded time sufficient for hearty finishing blows and a soothing
word or so to dear old innocent Mr. Rumford, and perhaps a kindly clap
of the shoulder to John Mattock, no bad fellow at bottom. Rockney too
was no bad fellow in his way. He wanted no more than a beating and a
thrashing. He was a journalist, a hard-headed rascal, none of your
good old-fashioned order of regimental scribes who take their cue from
their colonel, and march this way and that, right about face, with as
little impediment of principles to hamper their twists and turns as
the straw he tosses aloft at midnight to spy the drift of the wind
to-morrow. Quite the contrary; Rockney was his own colonel; he
pretended to think independently, and tried to be the statesman of a
leading article, and showed his intention to stem the current of
liberty, and was entirely deficient in sympathy with the oppressed, a
fanatical advocate of force; he was an inveterate Saxon, good-hearted
and in great need of a drubbing. Certain lines Rockney had written of
late about Irish affairs recurred to Captain Con, and the political
fires leaped in him; he sparkled and said: 'Let me beg you to pass the
claret over to Mr. Rockney, Mr. Rumford; I warrant it for the
circulating medium of amity, if he'll try it.'
"Tis the Comet Margaux,' said Dr. Forbery, topping anything Rockney
might have had to say, and anything would have served. The latter
clasped the decanter, poured and drank in silence.
''Tis the doctor's antidote, and best for being antedated,' Captain
Con rapped his friend's knuckles.
'As long as you're contented with not dating in double numbers,'
retorted the doctor, absolutely scattering the precious minutes to the
winds, for he hated a provocation.
'There's a golden mean, is there!'
'There is; there's a way between magnums of good wine and gout, and
it's generally discovered too late.'
'At the physician's door, then! where the golden mean is generally
discovered to be his fee. I've heard of poor souls packed off by him
without an obolus to cross the ferry. Stripped they were in all
'You remind me of a fellow in Dublin who called on me for medical
advice, and found he'd forgotten his purse. He offered to execute a
deed to bequeath me his body, naked and not ashamed.'
'You'd a right to cut him up at once, Forbery. Any Jury 'd have
pronounced him guilty of giving up the ghost before he called.'
'I let him go, body and all. I never saw him again.'
'The fellow was not a lunatic. As for your golden mean, there's a
saying: Prevention is better than cure: and another that caps it:
Drink deep or taste not.'
'That's the Pierian Spring.'
'And what is the wine on my table, sir?'
'Exhaustless if your verses come of it.'
'And pure, you may say of the verses and the fount.'
'And neither heady nor over-composed; with a blush like Diana
confessing her love for the young shepherd: it's one of your own
'Oh!' Con could have roared his own comparisons out of hearing. He
was angry with Forbery for his obstructive dulness and would not taste
the sneaking compliment. What could Forbery mean by paying
compliments and spoiling a game! The ten minutes were dancing away
like harmless wood- nymphs when the Satyr slumbers. His eyes ranged
over his guests despondently, and fixed in desperation on Mr. Rumford,
whom his magnanimous nature would have spared but for the sharp
necessity to sacrifice him.
The wine in Rumford at any rate let loose his original nature, if
it failed to unlock the animal in these other unexcitable Saxons.
'By the way, now I think of it, Mr. Rumford, the interpretation of
your Royal Standard, which perplexes you so much, strikes me as easy
if you 'll examine the powerfully different colours of the two beasts
Mr. Rumford protested that he had abandoned his inquiry: it was a
piece of foolishness: he had no feeling in it whatever, none.
The man was a perfect snail's horn for coyness.
The circumstances did not permit of his being suffered to slip
away: and his complexion showed that he might already be classed among
'Your Lion:—Mr. Rumford, you should know, is discomposed, as a
thoughtful patriot, by the inexplicable presence of the Unicorn in the
Royal Standard, and would be glad to account for his one horn and the
sickly appearance of the beast. I'm prepared to say he's there to
represent the fair one half of the population.
Your Lion, my dear sir, may have nothing in his head, but his
tawniness tells us he imbibes good sound stuff, worthy of the
reputation of a noble brewery. Whereas your, Unicorn, true to the
character of the numberless hosts he stands for, is manifestly a
consumer of doctor's drugs. And there you have the symbolism of your
country. Right or left of the shield, I forget which, and it is of no
importance to the point—you have Grandgosier or Great Turk in all his
majesty, mane and tail; and on the other hand, you behold, as the
showman says, Dyspepsia. And the pair are intended to indicate that
you may see yourselves complete by looking at them separately; and so
your Royal Standard is your national mirror; and when you gaze on it
fondly you're playing the part of a certain Mr. Narcissus, who got
liker to the Lion than to the Unicorn in the act. Now will that
'Quite as you please, quite as you please,' Mr. Rumford replied.
'One loves the banner of one's country—that is all.' He rubbed his
hands. 'I for one am proud of it.'
'Far be it from me to blame you, my dear sir. Or there's the
alternative of taking him to stand for your sole great festival
holiday, and worshipping him as the personification of your Derbyshire
A glittering look was in Captain Con's eye to catch Rockney if he
would but rise to it.
That doughty Saxon had been half listening, half chatting to Mr.
Mattock, and wore on his drawn eyelids and slightly drawn upper lip a
look of lambent pugnacity awake to the challenge, indifferent to the
antagonist, and disdainful of the occasion.
'We have too little of your enthusiasm for the flag,' Philip said
to Mr. Rumford to soothe him, in a form of apology for his relative.
'Surely no! not in England?' said Mr. Rumford, tempted to open his
heart, for he could be a bellicose gentleman by deputy of the flag.
He recollected that the speaker was a cousin of Captain Con's, and
withdrew into his wound for safety. 'Here and there, perhaps; not
when we are roused; we want rousing, we greatly prefer to live at
peace with the world, if the world will let us.'
'Not at any price?' Philip fancied his tone too quakerly.
'Indeed I am not one of that party!' said Mr. Rumford, beginning to
glow; but he feared a snare, and his wound drew him in again.
'When are you ever at peace!' quoth his host, shocked by the
inconsiderate punctuality of Mrs. Adister O'Donnell's household, for
here was the coffee coming round, and Mattock and Rockney escaping
without a scratch. 'There's hardly a day in the year when your
scarlet mercenaries are not popping at niggers.'
Rockney had the flick on the cheek to his manhood now, it might be
'Our what?' asked Mr. Rumford, honestly unable to digest the
'Paid soldiery, hirelings, executioners, whom you call volunteers,
by a charming euphemism, and send abroad to do the work of war while
you propound the doctrines of peace at home.'
Rockney's forehead was exquisitely eruptive, red and swelling.
Mattock lurched on his chair. The wine was in them, and the captain
commended the spiriting of it, as Prospero his Ariel.
Who should intervene at this instant but the wretched Philip,
pricked on the point of honour as a soldier! Are we inevitably to be
thwarted by our own people?
'I suppose we all work for pay,' said he. 'It seems to me a cry of
the streets to call us by hard names. The question is what we fight
He spoke with a witless moderation that was most irritating,
considering the latest news from the old country.
'You fight to subjugate, to enslave,' said Con, 'that's what you're
doing, and at the same time your journals are venting their fine irony
at the Austrians and the Russians and the Prussians for tearing Poland
to strips with their bloody beaks.'
'We obey our orders, and leave you to settle the political
business,' Philip replied.
Forbery declined the fray. Patrick was eagerly watchful and dumb.
Rockney finished his coffee with a rap of the cup in the saucer, an
appeal for the close of the sitting; and as Dr. Forbery responded to
it by pushing back his chair, he did likewise, and the other made a
The disappointed hero of a fight unfought had to give the signal
for rising. Double the number of the ten minutes had elapsed. He
sprang up, hearing Rockney say: 'Captain Con O'Donnell is a politician
or nothing,' and as he was the most placable of men concerning his
personality, he took it lightly, with half a groan that it had not
come earlier, and said, 'He thinks and he feels, poor fellow!'
All hope of a general action was over.
'That shall pass for the epitaph of the living,' said Rockney.
It was too late to catch at a trifle to strain it to a tussle. Con
was obliged to subjoin: 'Inscribe it on the dungeon-door of tyranny.'
But the note was peaceful.
He expressed a wish that the fog had cleared for him to see the
stars of heaven before he went to bed, informing Mr. Mattock that a
long look in among them was often his prayer at night, and winter a
holy season to him, for the reason of its showing them bigger and
'I can tell my wife with a conscience we've had a quiet evening,
and you're a witness to it,' he said to Patrick. That consolation
'You know the secret of your happiness,' Patrick answered.
'Know you one of the secrets of a young man's fortune in life, and
give us a thrilling song at the piano, my son,' said Con: 'though we
don't happen to have much choice of virgins for ye to-night. Irish or
French. Irish are popular. They don't mind having us musically. And
if we'd go on joking to the end we should content them, if only by
justifying their opinion that we're born buffoons.'
His happy conscience enabled him to court his wife with assiduity
and winsomeness, and the ladies were once more elated by seeing how
chivalrously lover-like an Irish gentleman can be after years of
Patrick was asked to sing. Miss Mattock accompanied him at the
piano. Then he took her place on the music-stool, and she sang, and
with an electrifying splendour of tone and style.
'But it's the very heart of an Italian you sing with!' he cried.
'It will surprise you perhaps to hear that I prefer German music,'
'But where—who had the honour of boasting you his pupil?'
She mentioned a famous master. Patrick had heard of him in Paris.
He begged for another song and she complied, accepting the one he
selected as the favourite of his brother Philip's, though she said:
'That one?' with a superior air. It was a mellifluous love-song from
a popular Opera somewhat out of date. 'Well, it's in Italian!' she
summed up her impressions of the sickly words while scanning them for
delivery. She had no great admiration of the sentimental Sicilian
composer, she confessed, yet she sang as if possessed by him. Had
she, Patrick thought, been bent upon charming Philip, she could not
have thrown more fire into the notes. And when she had done, after
thrilling the room, there was a gesture in her dismissal of the leaves
displaying critical loftiness. Patrick noticed it and said, with the
thrill of her voice lingering in him: 'What is it you do like? I
should so like to know.'
She was answering when Captain Con came up to the piano and
remarked in an undertone to Patrick: 'How is it you hit on the song
Adiante Adister used to sing?'
Miss Mattock glanced at Philip. He had applauded her mechanically,
and it was not that circumstance which caused the second rush of
scarlet over her face. This time she could track it definitely to its
origin. A lover's favourite song is one that has been sung by his
love. She detected herself now in the full apprehension of the fact
before she had sung a bar: it had been a very dim fancy: and she
denounced herself guilty of the knowledge that she was giving pain by
singing the stuff fervidly, in the same breath that accused her of
never feeling things at the right moment vividly. The reminiscences
of those pale intuitions made them always affectingly vivid.
But what vanity in our emotional state in a great jarring world
where we are excused for continuing to seek our individual happiness
only if we ally it and subordinate it to the well being of our
fellows! The interjection was her customary specific for the cure of
these little tricks of her blood. Leaving her friend Miss Barrow at
the piano, she took a chair in a corner and said; 'Now, Mr. O'Donnell,
you will hear the music that moves me.'
'But it's not to be singing,' said Patrick. 'And how can you sing
so gloriously what you don't care for? It puzzles me completely.'
She assured him she was no enigma: she hushed to him to hear.
He dropped his underlip, keeping on the conversation with his eyes
until he was caught by the masterly playing of a sonata by the chief
of the poets of sound.
He was caught by it, but he took the close of the introductory
section, an allegro con brio, for the end, and she had to hush at him
again, and could not resist smiling at her lullaby to the prattler.
Patrick smiled in response. Exchanges of smiles upon an early
acquaintance between two young people are peeps through the doorway of
intimacy. She lost sight of the Jesuit. Under the influence of good
music, too, a not unfavourable inclination towards the person sitting
beside us and sharing that sweetness, will soften general
prejudices—if he was Irish, he was boyishly Irish, not like his
inscrutable brother; a better, or hopefuller edition of Captain Con;
one with whom something could be done to steady him, direct him,
improve him. He might be taught to appreciate Beethoven and work for
his fellows. 'Now does not that touch you more deeply than the
Italian?' said she, delicately mouthing: 'I, mio tradito amor!'
'Touch, I don't know,' he was honest enough to reply. 'It's you
that haven't given it a fair chance I'd like to hear it again.
There's a forest on fire in it.'
'There is,' she exclaimed. 'I have often felt it, but never seen
it. You exactly describe it. How true!'
'But any music I could listen to all day and all the night,' said
'And be as proud of yourself the next morning?'
Patrick was rather at sea. What could she mean?
Mrs. Adister O'Donnell stepped over to them, with the object of
installing Colonel Adister in Patrick's place.
The object was possibly perceived. Mrs. Adister was allowed no
time to set the manoeuvre in motion.
'Mr. O'Donnell is a great enthusiast for music, and could listen to
it all day and all night, he tells me,' said Miss Mattock. 'Would he
not sicken of it in a week, Mrs. Adister?'
'But why should I?' cried Patrick. 'It's a gift of heaven.'
'And, like other gifts of heaven, to the idle it would turn to
'I can't believe it.'
'Work, and you will believe it.'
'But, Miss Mattock, I want to work; I'm empty-handed. It 's true I
want to travel and see a bit of the world to help me in my work by and
by. I'm ready to try anything I can do, though.'
'Has it ever struck you that you might try to help the poor?'
'Arthur is really anxious, and only doubts his ability,' said Mrs.
'The doubt throws a shadow on the wish,' said Miss Mattock. 'And
can one picture Colonel Adister the secretary of a Laundry
Institution, receiving directions from Grace and me! We should have
to release him long before the six months' term, when we have resolved
to incur the expense of a salaried secretary.'
Mrs. Adister turned her head to the colonel, who was then looking
down the features of Mrs. Rockney.
Patrick said: 'I'm ready, for a year, Miss Mattock.'
She answered him, half jocosely: 'A whole year of free service?
Reflect on what you are undertaking.'
'It's writing and accounts, no worse?'
'Writing and accounts all day, and music in the evening only now
'I can do it: I will, if you'll have me.'
'Do you hear Mr. O'Donnell, Mrs. Adister?'
Captain Con fluttered up to his wife, and heard the story from Miss
He fancied he saw a thread of good luck for Philip in it. 'Our
house could be Patrick's home capitally,' he suggested to his wife.
She was not a whit less hospitable, only hinting that she thought the
refusal of the post was due to Arthur.
'And if he accepts, imagine him on a stool, my dear madam; he
couldn't sit it!'
Miss Mattock laughed. 'No, that is not to be thought of seriously.
And with Mr. O'Donnell it would be probationary for the first
fortnight or month. Does he know anything about steam?'
'The rudimentary idea,' said Patrick.
'That's good for a beginning,' said the captain; and he added:
'Miss Mattock, I'm proud if one of my family can be reckoned worthy of
assisting in your noble work.'
She replied: 'I warn everybody that they shall be taken at their
word if they volunteer their services.'
She was bidden to know by the captain that the word of an Irish
gentleman was his bond. 'And not later than to-morrow evening I'll
land him at your office. Besides, he'll find countrywomen of his
among you, and there's that to enliven him. You say they work well,
She deliberated. 'Yes, on the whole; when they take to their work.
Intelligently certainly compared with our English. We do not get the
best of them in London. For that matter, we do not get the best of
the English—not the women of the north. We have to put up with the
rejected of other and better-paying departments of work. It breaks my
heart sometimes to see how near they are to doing well, but for such a
little want of ballast.'
'If they're Irish,' said Patrick, excited by the breaking of her
heart, 'a whisper of cajolery in season is often the secret.'
Captain Con backed him for diplomacy. 'You'll learn he has a head,
'I am myself naturally blunt, and prefer the straightforward
method,' said she.
Patrick nodded. 'But where there's an obstruction in the road,
it's permissible to turn a corner.'
'Take 'em in flank when you can't break their centre,' said Con.
'Well, you shall really try whether you can endure the work for a
short time if you are in earnest,' Miss Mattock addressed the
'But I am,' he said.
'We are too poor at present to refuse the smallest help.'
'And mine is about the smallest.'
'I did not mean that, Mr. O'Donnell.'
'But you'll have me?'
Captain Con applauded the final words between them. They had the
genial ring, though she accepted the wrong young man for but a shadow
of the right sort of engagement.
This being settled, by the sudden combination of enthusiastic Irish
impulse and benevolent English scheming, she very considerately
resigned herself to Mrs. Adister's lead and submitted herself to a
further jolting in the unprogressive conversational coach with Colonel
Adister, whose fault as a driver was not in avoiding beaten ways, but
whipping wooden horses.
Evidently those two were little adapted to make the journey of life
together, though they were remarkably fine likenesses of a pair in the
dead midway of the journey, Captain Con reflected, and he could have
jumped at the thought of Patrick's cleverness: it was the one bright
thing of the evening. There was a clear gain in it somewhere. And if
there was none, Jane Mattock was a good soul worth saving. Why not
all the benefaction on our side, and a figo for rewards! Devotees or
adventurers, he was ready in imagination to see his cousins play the
part of either, as the cross-roads offered, the heavens appeared to
decree. We turn to the right or the left, and this way we're voluntary
drudges, and that way we're lucky dogs; it's all according to the
turn, the fate of it. But never forget that old Ireland is weeping!
O never forget that old Ireland is weeping
The bitter salt tears of the mother bereft!
He hummed the spontaneous lines. He was accused of singing to
himself, and a song was vigorously demanded of him by the ladies.
He shook his head. 'I can't,' he sighed. 'I was plucking the
drowned body of a song out of the waters to give it decent burial.
And if I sing I shall be charged with casting a firebrand at Mr.
Rockney assured him that he could listen to anything in verse.
'Observe the sneer:—for our verses are smoke,' said Con.
Miss Mattock pressed him to sing.
But he had saddened his mind about old Ireland: the Irish news
weighed heavily on him, unrelieved by a tussle with Rockney. If he
sang, it would be an Irish song, and he would break down in it, he
said; and he hinted at an objection of his wife's to spirited Irish
songs of the sort which carry the sons of Erin bounding over the
fences of tyranny and the brook of tears. And perhaps Mr. Rockney
might hear a tale in verse as hard to bear as he sometimes found Irish
prose!—Miss Mattock perceived that his depression was genuine, not
less than his desire to please her. 'Then it shall be on another
occasion,' she said.
'Oh! on another occasion I'm the lark to the sky, my dear lady.'
Her carriage was announced. She gave Patrick a look, with a smile,
for it was to be a curious experiment. He put on the proper gravity
of a young man commissioned, without a dimple of a smile. Philip
bowed to her stiffly, as we bow to a commanding officer who has
insulted us and will hear of it. But for that, Con would have
manoeuvred against his wife to send him downstairs at the lady's
heels. The fellow was a perfect riddle, hard to read as the zebra
lines on the skin of a wild jackass— if Providence intended any
meaning when she traced them! and it's a moot point: as it is whether
some of our poets have meaning and are not composers of zebra. 'No
one knows but them above!' he said aloud, apparently to his wife.
'What can you be signifying?' she asked him. She had deputed
Colonel Arthur to conduct Miss Mattock and Miss Barrow to their
carriage, and she supposed the sentence might have a mysterious
reference to the plan she had formed; therefore it might be a
punishable offence. Her small round eyes were wide-open, her head was
up and high.
She was easily appeased, too easily.
'The question of rain, madam,' he replied to her repetition of his
words. 'I dare say that was what I had in my mind, hearing Mr. Mattock
and Mr. Rockney agree to walk in company to their clubs.'
He proposed to them that they should delay the march on a visit to
his cabin near the clouds. They were forced to decline his invitation
to the gentle lion's mouth; as did Mr. Rumford, very briskly and
thankfully. Mr. Rockney was taken away by Mr. and Mrs. Marbury Dyke.
So the party separated, and the Englishmen were together, and the
Irishmen together; and hardly a syllable relating to the Englishmen
did the Irishmen say, beyond an allusion to an accident to John
Mattock's yacht off the Irish west-coast last autumn; but the Irishmen
were subjected to some remarks by the Englishmen, wherein their
qualities as individuals and specimens of a race were critically and
neatly packed. Common sense is necessarily critical in its collision
with vapours, and the conscious possessors of an exclusive common
sense are called on to deliver a summary verdict, nor is it an unjust
one either, if the verdict be taken simply for an estimate of what is
presented upon the plain surface of to-day. Irishmen are queer
fellows, never satisfied, thirsting for a shindy. Some of them get
along pretty well in America. The air of their Ireland intoxicates
them. They require the strong hand: fair legislation, but no show of
weakness. Once let them imagine you are afraid of them, and they see
perfect independence in their grasp. And what would be the spectacle
if they were to cut themselves loose from England? The big ship might
be inconvenienced by the loss of the tender; the tender would fall
adrift on the Atlantic, with pilot and captain at sword and pistol,
the crew playing Donnybrook freely. Their cooler heads are shrewd
enough to see the folly, but it catches the Irish fancy to rush to the
extreme, and we have allowed it to be supposed that it frightens us.
There is the capital blunder, fons et origo.
Their leaders now pretend to work upon the Great Scale; they demand
everything on the spot upon their own interpretation of equity.
Concessions, hazy speeches, and the puling nonsense of our present
Government, have encouraged them so far and got us into the mess.
Treat them as policemen treat highwaymen: give them the law: and the
law must be tightened, like the hold on a rogue by his collar, if they
kick at it. Rockney was for sharp measures in repression, fair
legislation in due course.
'Fair legislation upon your own interpretation of fair,' said
Mattock, whose party opposed Rockney's. 'As to repression, you would
have missed that instructive scene this evening at Con O'Donnell's
table, if you had done him the kindness to pick up his glove. It 's
wisest to let them exhaust their energies upon one another. Hold off,
and they're soon at work.'
'What kind of director of a City Company does he make?' said
Mattock bethought him that, on the whole, strange to say, Con
O'Donnell comported himself decorously as a director, generally
speaking on the reasonable side, not without shrewdness: he seemed to
be sobered by the money question.
'That wife of his is the salvation of him,' Rockney said, to
account for the Captain's shrewdness. 'She manages him cleverly. He
knows the length of his line. She's a woman of principle, and barring
the marriage, good sense too. His wife keeps him quiet, or we should
be hearing of him. Forbery 's a more dangerous man. There's no
intentional mischief in Con O'Donnell; it's only effervescence. I saw
his game, and declined to uncork him. He talks of a niece of his
wife's: have you ever seen her?—married to some Servian or Roumanian
Mattock answered: 'Yes.'
'Is she such a beauty?'
Again Mattock answered: 'Yes,' after affecting thoughtfulness.
'They seem to marry oddly in that family.'
Mattock let fly a short laugh at the remark, which had the ring of
some current phrase. 'They do,' he said.
Next morning Jane Mattock spoke to her brother of her recruit. He
entirely trusted to her discretion; the idea of a young Irish
secretary was rather comical, nevertheless. He had his joke about it,
requesting to have a sight of the secretary's books at the expiry of
the week, which was the length of time he granted this ardent
volunteer for evaporating and vanishing.
'If it releases poor Grace for a week, it will be useful to us,'
Jane said. 'Women are educated so shamefully that we have not yet
found one we can rely on as a competent person. And Mr.
O'Donnell—did you notice him? I told you I met him a day or two
back—seems willing to be of use. It cannot hurt him to try. Grace
has too much on her hands.'
'She has a dozen persons.'
'They are zealous when they are led.'
'Beware of letting them suspect that they are led.'
'They are anxious to help the poor if they can discover how.'
'Good men, I don't doubt,' said John Mattock. 'Any proposals from
'Not of late. Captain O'Donnell, the brother of our secretary, is
handsomer, but we do not think him so trustworthy. Did you observe
him at all?—he sat by me. He has a conspirator's head.'
'What is that?' her brother asked her.
'Only a notion of mine.'
She was directed to furnish a compendious report of the sayings,
doings, and behaviour of the Irish secretary in the evening.
'If I find him there,' she said.
Her brother was of opinion that Mr. Patrick O'Donnell would be as
good as his word, and might be expected to appear there while the
CHAPTER XV. THE MATTOCK FAMILY
That evening's report of the demeanour of the young Irish secretary
in harness was not so exhilarating as John Mattock had expected, and
he inclined to think his sister guilty of casting her protecting veil
over the youth. It appeared that Mr. O'Donnell had been studious of
his duties, had spoken upon no other topic, had asked pertinent
questions, shown no flippancy, indulged in no extravagances. He
seemed, Jane said, eager to master details. A certain eagerness of
her own in speaking of it sharpened her clear features as if they were
cutting through derision. She stated it to propitiate her brother, as
it might have done but for the veracious picture of Patrick in the
word 'eager,' which pricked the scepticism of a practical man. He
locked his mouth, looking at her with a twinkle she refused to notice.
'Determined to master details' he could have accepted. One may be
determined to find a needle in a dust-heap; one does not with any
stiffness of purpose go at a dust-heap eagerly. Hungry men have eaten
husks; they have not betrayed eagerness for such dry stuff. Patrick's
voracity after details exhibited a doubtfully genuine appetite, and
John deferred his amusement until the termination of the week or month
when his dear good Jane would visit the office to behold a vacated
seat, or be assailed by the customary proposal. Irishmen were not
likely to be far behind curates in besieging an heiress. For that
matter, Jane was her own mistress and could very well take care of
herself; he had confidence in her wisdom.
He was besides of an unsuspicious and an unexacting temperament.
The things he would strongly object to he did not specify to himself
because he was untroubled by any forethought of them. Business,
political, commercial and marine, left few vacancies in his mind other
than for the pleasures he could command and enjoy. He surveyed his
England with a ruddy countenance, and saw the country in the
reflection. His England saw much of itself in him. Behind each there
was more, behind the country a great deal more, than could be
displayed by a glass. The salient features wore a resemblance.
Prosperity and heartiness; a ready hand on, and over, a full purse; a
recognised ability of the second-rate order; a stout hold of patent
principles; inherited and embraced, to make the day secure and supply
a somniferous pillow for the night; occasional fits of anxiety about
affairs, followed by an illuminating conviction that the world is a
changing one and our construction not of granite, nevertheless that a
justifiable faith in the ship, joined to a constant study of the
chart, will pull us through, as it has done before, despite all
assaults and underminings of the common enemy and the particular;
these, with the humorous indifference of familiarity and
constitutional annoyances, excepting when they grew acute and called
for drugs, and with friendliness to the race of man of both colours,
in the belief that our Creator originally composed in black and white,
together with a liking for matters on their present footing in slow
motion, partly under his conductorship, were the prominent
characteristics of the grandson of the founder of the house, who had
built it from a spade.
The story of the building was notorious; popular books for the
inciting of young Englishmen to dig to fortune had a place for it
among the chapters, where we read of the kind of man, and the means by
which the country has executed its later giant strides of advancement.
The first John Mattock was a representative of his time; he moved
when the country was moving, and in the right direction, finding
himself at the auspicious moment upon a line of rail. Elsewhere he
would have moved, we may suppose, for the spade-like virtues bear
their fruits; persistent and thrifty, solid and square, will fetch
some sort of yield out of any soil; but he would not have gone far.
The Lord, to whom an old man of a mind totally Hebrew ascribed the
plenitude of material success, the Lord and he would have reared a
garden in the desert; in proximity to an oasis, still on the sands,
against obstacles. An accumulation of upwards of four hundred
thousand pounds required, as the moral of the popular books does not
sufficiently indicate, a moving country, an ardent sphere, to produce
the sum: and since, where so much was done, we are bound to conceive
others at work as well as he, it seems to follow that the exemplar
outstripping them vastly must have profited by situation at the start,
which is a lucky accident; and an accident is an indigestible lump in
a moral tale, real though the story be. It was not mentioned in the
popular books; nor did those worthy guides to the pursuit of wealth
contain any reminder of old John Mattock's dependence upon the
conjoint labour of his fellows to push him to his elevation. As
little did they think of foretelling a day, generations hence, when
the empty heirs of his fellows might prefer a modest claim (confused
in statement) to compensation against the estate he bequeathed: for
such prophecy as that would have hinted at a tenderness for the mass
to the detriment of the individual, and such tenderness as that is an
element of our religion, not the drift of our teaching.
He grumbled at the heavy taxation of his estate during life: yearly
this oppressed old man paid thousands of pounds to the Government. It
was poor encouragement to shoulder and elbow your way from a hovel to
He paid the money, dying sour; a splendid example of energy on the
road, a forbidding one at the terminus. And here the moral of the
popular books turned aside from him to snatch at humanity for an
instance of our frailness and dealt in portentous shadows:—we are, it
should be known, not the great creatures we assume ourselves to be.
Six months before his death he appeared in the garb of a navvy,
humbly soliciting employment at his own house-door. There he appealed
to the white calves of his footmen for a day's work, upon the plea
that he had never been a democrat.
The scene had been described with humanely-moralising pathos in the
various books of stories of Men who have come to Fortune, and it had
for a length of seasons an annual position in the foremost rank (on
the line, facing the door) in our exhibition of the chosen artists,
where, as our popular words should do, it struck the spectator's eye
and his brain simultaneously with pugilistic force: a reference to the
picture in the catalogue furnishing a recapitulation of the incident.
'I've worked a good bit in my time, gentlemen, and I baint done
yet':—SEE PROFESSOR SUMMIT'S 'MEN WHO HAVE COME TO FORTUNE.' There
is, we perceive at a glance, a contrast in the bowed master of the
Mansion applying to his menials for a day's work at the rate of pay to
able-bodied men:—which he is not, but the deception is not
disingenuous. The contrast flashed with the rapid exchange of two
prizefighters in a ring, very popularly. The fustian suit and string
below the knee, on the one side, and the purple plush breeches and
twinkling airy calves (fascinating his attention as he makes his
humble request to his own, these domestic knights) to right and left
of the doorway and in front, hit straight out of the canvas. And as
quickly as you perceive the contrast you swallow the moral. The
dreaded thing is down in a trice, to do what salutary work it may
within you. That it passed into the blood of England's middle-class
population, and set many heads philosophically shaking, and filled the
sails of many a sermon, is known to those who lived in days when Art
and the classes patronising our Native Art existed happily upon the
terms of venerable School-Dame and studious pupils, before the sickly
era displacing Exhibitions full of meaning for tricks of colour,
monstrous atmospherical vagaries that teach nothing, strange
experiments on the complexion of the human face divine—the feminine
hyper-aethereally. Like the first John Mattock, it was formerly of,
and yet by dint of sturdy energy, above the people. They learnt from
it; they flocked to it thirsting and retired from it thoughtful, with
some belief of having drunk of nature in art, as you will see the
countless troops of urchins about the one cow of London, in the Great
City's Green Park.
A bequest to the nation of the best of these pictures of Old John,
by a very old Yorkshire collector, makes it milk for all time, a
perpetual contrast, and a rebuke. Compared with the portrait of Jane
Mattock in her fiery aureole of hair on the walls of the
breakfast-room, it marks that fatal period of degeneracy for us, which
our critics of Literature as well as Art are one voice in denouncing,
when the complex overwhelms the simple, and excess of signification is
attempted, instead of letting plain nature speak her uncorrupted
tongue to the contemplative mind. Degeneracy is the critical history
of the Arts. Jane's hair was of a reddish gold-inwoven cast that
would, in her grandfather's epoch, have shone unambiguously as
carrots. The girl of his day thus adorned by Nature, would have been
shown wearing her ridiculous crown with some decent sulkiness; and we
should not have had her so unsparingly crowned; the truth would have
been told in a dexterous concealment—a rope of it wound up for a bed
of the tortoise-shell comb behind, and a pair of tight cornucopias at
the temples. What does our modern artist do but flare it to right and
left, lift it wavily over her forehead, revel in the oriental
superabundance, and really seem to swear we shall admire it, against
our traditions of the vegetable, as a poetical splendour. The head of
the heiress is in a Jovian shower. Marigolds are in her hand. The
whole square of canvas is like a meadow on the borders of June. It
Her brother also is presented: a fine portrait of him, with clipped
red locks, in blue array, smiling, wearing the rose of briny breezes,
a telescope under his left arm, his right forefinger on a map, a view
of Spitzbergen through a cabin-window: for John had notions about the
north- west passage, he had spent a winter in the ice, and if an
amateur, was not the less a true sailor.
With his brass-buttoned blue coat, and his high coloured cheeks,
and his convict hair—a layer of brickdust—and his air of princely
wealth, and the icebergs and hummocks about him, he looks for
adventure without a thought of his heroism—the country all over.
There he stands, a lover of the sea, and a scientific seaman and
engineer to boot, practical in every line of his face, defying mankind
to suspect that he cherishes a grain of romance. On the wall, just
above his shoulder, is a sketch of a Viking putting the lighted brand
to his ship in mid sea, and you are to understand that his time is
come and so should a Viking die: further, if you will, the subject is
a modern Viking, ready for the responsibilities of the title.
Sketches of our ancient wooden walls and our iron and plated defences
line the panellings. These degenerate artists do work hard for their
The portrait of John's father, dated a generation back, is just the
man and little else, phantomly the man. His brown coat struggles out
of the obscurity of the background, but it is chiefly background
clothing him. His features are distinguishable and delicate: you would
suppose him appearing to you under the beams of a common candle, or
cottage coalfire —ferruginously opaque. The object of the artist
(apart from the triumph of tone on the canvas) is to introduce him as
an elegant and faded gentleman, rather retiring into darkness than
emerging. He is the ghost of the painter's impasto. Yet this is Ezra
Mattock, who multipled the inheritance of the hundreds of thousands
into millions, and died, after covering Europe, Asia, and the Americas
with iron rails, one of the few Christians that can hold up their
heads beside the banking Jew as magnates in the lists of gold. The
portrait is clearly no frontispiece of his qualities. He married an
accomplished and charitable lady, and she did not spoil the stock in
refining it. His life passed quietly; his death shook the country:
for though it had been known that he had been one of our potentates,
how mightily he was one had not entered into the calculations of the
public until the will of the late Ezra Mattock, cited in our prints,
received comments from various newspaper articles. A chuckle of
collateral satisfaction ran through the empire. All England and her
dependencies felt the state of cousinship with the fruits of energy;
and it was an agreeable sentiment, coming opportunely, as it did, at
the tail of articles that had been discussing a curious manifestation
of late—to-wit, the awakening energy of the foreigner—a prodigious
apparition on our horizon. Others were energetic too! We were not,
the sermon ran, to imagine we were without rivals in the field. We
were possessed of certain positive advantages; we had coal, iron, and
an industrious population, but we were, it was to be feared, by no
means a thrifty race, and there was reason for doubt whether in the
matter of industry we were quite up to the mark of our forefathers.
No deterioration of the stock was apprehended, still the nation must
be accused of a lack of vigilance. We must look round us, and accept
the facts as they stood. So accustomed had we become to the
predominance of our position that it was difficult at first to realise
a position of rivalry that threatened our manufacturing interests in
their hitherto undisputed lead in the world's markets. The tale of
our exports for the last five years conveys at once its moral and its
warning. Statistics were then cited.
As when the gloomy pedagogue has concluded his exhortation,
statistics birched the land. They were started at our dinner-tables,
and scourged the social converse. Not less than in the articles, they
were perhaps livelier than in the preface; they were distressing
nevertheless; they led invariably to the question of our decadence.
Carthage was named; a great mercantile community absolutely
obliterated! Senatorial men were led to propose in their
thoughtfullest tones that we should turn our attention to Art. Why
should we not learn to excel in Art? We excelled in Poetry. Our
Poets were cited: not that there was a notion that poems would pay as
an export but to show that if we excel in one of the Arts we may in
others of them. The poetry was not cited, nor was it necessary, the
object being to inflate the balloon of paradox with a light-flying
gas, and prove a poem-producing people to be of their nature born
artists; if they did but know it. The explosion of a particular trade
points to your taking up another. Energy is adapted to flourish
equally in every branch of labour.
It is the genius of the will, commanding all the crossroads. A
country breeding hugely must prove its energy likewise in the
departments of the mind, or it will ultimately be unable to feed its
young—nay, to feast its aldermen! Let us be up and alive.—Such was
the exhortation of a profound depression. Outside these dismal
assemblies, in the streets, an ancient song of raven recurrence
croaked of 'Old England a-going down the hill'; for there is a link of
electricity between the street-boy and the leading article in days
when the Poles exchange salutations.
Mr. Ezra's legacy of his millions to son and daughter broke like a
golden evening on the borders of the raincloud. Things could not be
so bad when a plain untitled English gentleman bequeathed in the
simplest manner possible such giant heaps, a very Pelion upon Ossa, of
wealth to his children. The minds of the readers of journals were now
directed to think of the hoarded treasures of this favoured country.
They might approximately be counted, but even if counted they would
be past conception, like the sidereal system. The contemplation of a
million stupefies: consider the figures of millions and millions!
Articles were written on Lombard Street, the world's gold-mine, our
granary of energy, surpassing all actual and fabulous gold-mines ever
spoken of: Aladdin's magician would find his purse contracting and
squeaking in the comparison. Then, too, the store of jewels held by
certain private families called for remark and an allusion to Sindbad
the sailor, whose eyes were to dilate wider than they did in the
valley of diamonds. Why, we could, if we pleased, lie by and pass two
or three decades as jolly cricketers and scullers, and resume the race
for wealth with the rest of mankind, hardly sensible of the holiday in
our pockets though we were the last people to do it, we were the sole
people that had the option. Our Fortunatus' cap was put to better
purposes, but to have the cap, and not to be emasculated by the
possession, might excuse a little reasonable pride in ourselves.
Thus did Optimism and Pessimism have their turn, like the two great
parties in the State, and the subsiding see-saw restored a proper
balance, much to the nation's comfort. Unhappily, it was remembered,
there are spectators of its method of getting to an equipoise out of
the agitation of extremes. The peep at our treasures to regain
composure had, we fear, given the foreigner glimpses, and whetted the
appetite of our masses. No sooner are we at peace than these are
heard uttering low howls, and those are seen enviously glaring. The
spectre, Panic, that ever dogs the optimistic feast, warns us of a
sack under our beds, and robbers about to try a barely-bolted door. .
. Then do we, who have so sweetly sung our senses to sleep, start up,
in their grip, rush to the doctor and the blacksmith, rig alarums,
proclaim ourselves intestinally torn, defenceless, a prey to foes
within and without. It is discovered to be no worse than an
alderman's dream, but the pessimist frenzy of the night has tossed a
quieting sop to the Radical, and summoned the volunteers to a review.
Laudatory articles upon the soldierly 'march past' of our volunteers
permit of a spell of soft repose, deeper than prudent, at the end of
it, India and Ireland consenting.
So much for a passing outline of John Bull—the shadow on the wall
of John Mattock. The unostentatious millionaire's legacy to his two
children affected Mr. Bull thrillingly, pretty nearly as it has here
been dotted in lining. That is historical. Could he believe in the
existence of a son of his, a master of millions, who had never sighed
(and he had only to sigh) to die a peer, or a baronet, or simple
Knight? The downright hard-nailed coffin fact was there; the
wealthiest man in the country had flown away to Shadowland a common
Mr.! You see the straight deduction from the circumstances:—we are,
say what you will, a Republican people! Newspaper articles on the
watch sympathetically for Mr. Bull's latest view of himself, preached
on the theme of our peculiar Republicanism. Soon after he was
observed fondling the Crown Insignia. His bards flung out their breezy
columns, reverentially monarchial. The Republican was informed that
they were despised as a blatant minority. A maudlin fit of worship of
our nobility had hold of him next, and English aristocracy received
the paean. Lectures were addressed to democrats; our House of Lords
was pledged solemnly in reams of print. We were told that 'blood' may
always be betted on to win the race; blood that is blue will beat the
red hollow. Who could pretend to despise the honour of admission to
the ranks of the proudest peerage the world has known! Is not a great
territorial aristocracy the strongest guarantee of national stability?
The loudness of the interrogation, like the thunder of Jove,
precluded thought of an answer.
Mr. Bull, though he is not of lucid memory, kept an eye on the
owner of those millions. His bards were awake to his anxiety, and
celebrated John Mattock's doings with a trump and flourish somewhat
displeasing to a quietly-disposed commoner. John's entry into
Parliament as a Liberal was taken for a sign of steersman who knew
where the tide ran. But your Liberals are sometimes Radicals in their
youth, and his choice of parties might not be so much sagacity as an
instance of unripe lightheadedness. A young conservative millionaire
is less disturbing. The very wealthy young peer is never wanton in
his politics, which seems to admonish us that the heir of vast wealth
should have it imposed on him to accept a peerage, and be locked up as
it were. A coronet steadies the brain. You may let out your heels at
the social laws, you are almost expected to do it, but you are to
shake that young pate of yours restively under such a splendid
encumbrance. Private reports of John, however, gave him credit for
sound opinions: he was moderate, merely progressive. When it was
added that the man had the habit of taking counsel with his sister, he
was at once considered as fast and safe, not because of any public
knowledge of the character of Jane Mattock. We pay this homage to the
settled common sense of women. Distinctly does she discountenance
leaps in the dark, wild driving, and the freaks of Radicalism.
John, as it happened, had not so grave a respect for the sex as for
the individual Jane. He thought women capable of acts of foolishness;
his bright-faced sister he could thoroughly trust for prudent conduct.
He gave her a good portion of his heart in confidence, and all of it
in affection. There were matters which he excluded from confidence,
even from intimate communication with himself. These he could not
reveal; nor could she perfectly open her heart to him, for the same
reason. They both had an established ideal of their personal
qualities, not far above the positive, since they were neither of them
pretentious, yet it was a trifle higher and fairer than the working
pattern; and albeit they were sincere enough, quite sincere in their
mutual intercourse, they had, by what each knew at times of the
thumping organ within them, cause for doubting that they were as
transparent as the other supposed; and they were separately aware of
an inward smile at one another's partial deception; which did not
thwart their honest power of working up to the respected ideal. The
stroke of the deeper self-knowledge rarely shook them; they were able
to live with full sensations in the animated picture they were to the
eyes best loved by them. This in fact was their life. Anything beside
it was a dream, and we do not speak of our dreams—not of every dream.
Especially do we reserve our speech concerning the dream in which we
had a revelation of the proud frame deprived of a guiding will, flung
rudderless on the waves. Ah that abject! The dismantled ship has the
grandeur of the tempest about it, but the soul swayed by passion is
ignominiously bare-poled, detected, hooted by its old assumption. If
instinct plays fantastical tricks when we are sleeping, let it be ever
behind a curtain. We can be held guilty only if we court exposure.
The ideal of English gentleman and gentlewoman is closely Roman in
the self- repression it exacts, and that it should be but occasionally
difficult to them shows an affinity with the type. Do you perchance,
O continental observers of the race, call it hypocritical? It is
their nature disciplined to the regimental step of civilisation.
Socially these island men and women of a certain middle rank are
veterans of an army, and some of the latest enrolled are the stoutest
defenders of the flag.
Brother and sister preserved their little secrets of character
apart. They could not be expected to unfold what they declined
personally to examine. But they were not so successful with the lady
governing the household, their widowed maternal aunt, Mrs. Lackstraw,
a woman of decisive penetration, and an insubordinate recruit of the
army aforesaid. To her they were without a mask; John was passion's
slave, Jane the most romantic of Eve's daughters. She pointed to
incidents of their youth; her vision was acutely retrospective. The
wealth of her nephew and niece caused such a view of them to be, as
she remarked, anxious past endurance. She had grounds for fearing
that John, who might step to an alliance with any one of the proudest
houses in the Kingdom, would marry a beggar-maid. As for Jane, she
was the natural prey of a threadbare poet. Mrs. Lackstraw heard of
Mr. Patrick O'Donnell, and demanded the right to inspect him. She
doubted such perfect disinterestedness in any young man as that he
should slave at account-keeping to that Laundry without a prospect of
rich remuneration, and the tale of his going down to the city for a
couple of hours each day to learn the art of keeping books was of very
dubious import in a cousin of Captain Con O'Donnell. 'Let me see your
prodigy,' she said, with the emphasis on each word. Patrick was
presented at her table. She had steeled herself against an Irish
tongue. He spoke little, appeared simple, professed no enthusiasm for
the Laundry. And he paid no compliments to Jane: of the two he was
more interested by the elder lady, whose farm and dairy in Surrey he
heard her tell of with a shining glance, observing that he liked thick
cream: there was a touch of home in it. The innocent sensuality in
the candid avowal of his tastes inspired confidence. Mrs. Lackstraw
fished for some account of his home. He was open to flow on the
subject; he dashed a few sketches of mother and sisters, dowerless
girls, fresh as trout in the stream, and of his own poor estate, and
the peasantry, with whom he was on friendly terms. He was an absentee
for his education. Sweet water, pure milk, potatoes and bread, were
the things he coveted in plenty for his people and himself, he said,
calling forth an echo from Mrs. Lackstraw, and an invitation to come
down to her farm in the Spring. 'That is, Mr. O'Donnell, if you are
still in London.'
'Oh, I'm bound apprentice for a year,' said he.
He was asked whether he did not find it tiresome work.
'A trifle so,' he confessed.
Then why did he pursue it, the question was put.
He was not alive for his own pleasure, and would like to feel he
was doing a bit of good, was the answer.
Could one, Mrs. Lackstraw asked herself, have faith in this young
Irishman? He possessed an estate. His brogue rather added to his air
of truthfulness. His easy manners and the occasional streak of
correct French in his dialogue cast a shadow on it. Yet he might be
an ingenuous creature precisely because of the suspicion roused by his
quaint unworldliness that he might be a terrible actor. Why not?—his
heart was evidently much more interested in her pursuits than in her
niece's. The juvenility of him was catching, if it was indeed the
man, and not one of the actor's properties. Mrs. Lackstraw thought it
prudent to hint at the latter idea to Jane while she decided in her
generosity to embrace the former. Oh! if all Irishmen shared his
taste for sweet water, pure milk and wholesome bread, what a true
Union we should have! She had always insisted on those three things
as most to be desired on earth for the masses, and she reminded Jane
of it as a curious fact. Jane acquiesced, having always considered it
a curious fact that her aunt should combine the relish of a country
life with the intensest social ambition— a passion so sensitive as to
make the name her husband had inflicted on her a pain and a burden.
The name of Mattock gave her horrors. She spoke of it openly to
prove that Jane must marry a title and John become a peer. Never was
there such a name to smell of the soil. She declared her incapacity
to die happy until the two had buried Mattock. Her own one fatal step
condemned her, owing to the opinion she held upon the sacredness of
marriage, as Lackstraw on her tombstone, and to Lackstraw above the
earthly martyr would go bearing the designation which marked her to be
claimed by him. But for John and Jane the index of Providence pointed
a brighter passage through life. They had only to conquer the
weakness native to them—the dreadful tendency downward. They had, in
the spiritual sense, frail hearts. The girl had been secretive about
the early activity of hers, though her aunt knew of two or three
adventures wanting in nothing save boldness to have put an end to her
independence and her prospects:—hence this Laundry business! a clear
sign of some internal disappointment. The boy, however, had betrayed
himself in his mother's days, when it required all her influence and
his father's authority, with proof positive of the woman's
unworthiness, to rescue him from immediate disaster.
Mrs. Lackstraw's confidences on the theme of the family she watched
over were extended to Patrick during their strolls among the ducks and
fowls and pheasants at her farm. She dealt them out in exclamations,
as much as telling him that now they knew him they trusted him,
notwithstanding the unaccountable part he played as honorary secretary
to that Laundry. The confidences, he was aware, were common property
of the visitors one after another, but he had the knowledge of his
being trusted as not every Irishman would have been. A service of six
months to the secretaryship established his reputation as the strange
bird of a queer species: not much less quiet, honest, methodical, than
an Englishman, and still impulsive, Irish still; a very strange bird.
The disposition of the English to love the children of Erin, when
not fretted by them, was shown in the treatment Patrick received from
the Mattock family. It is a love resembling the affection of the
stage-box for a set of favourite performers, and Patrick, a Celt who
had schooled his wits to observe and meditate, understood his position
with them as one of the gallant and amusing race, as well as the
reason why he had won their private esteem. They are not willingly
suspicious: it agitates their minds to be so; and they are most easily
lulled by the flattery of seeing their special virtues grafted on an
alien stock: for in this admiration of virtues that are so necessary
to the stalwart growth of man, they become just sensible of a minor
deficiency; the tree, if we jump out of it to examine its appearance,
should not be all trunk. Six months of ungrudging unremunerated
service, showing devotion to the good cause and perfect candour from
first to last, was English, and a poetic touch beyond: so that John
Mattock, if he had finished the sentence instead of lopping it with an
interjection, would have said: 'These Irish fellows, when they're
genuine and first rate!—are pretty well the pick of the land.'
Perhaps his pause on the interjection expressed a doubt of our
getting them genuine. Mr. O'Donnell was a sort of exceptional
Irishman, not devoid of practical ability in a small way—he did his
duties of secretary fairly well; apparently sincere—he had refrained
from courting Jane; an odd creature enough, what with his mixture of
impulsiveness and discretion; likeable, pleasant to entertain and talk
to; not one of your lunatics concerning his country—he could listen
to an Englishman's opinion on that head, listen composedly to Rockney,
merely seeming to take notes; and Rockney was, as Captain Con termed
him, Press Dragoon about Ireland, a trying doctor for a child of the
On the whole, John Mattock could shake his hand heartily when he
was leaving our shores. Patrick was released by Miss Grace Barrow's
discovery at last of a lady capable of filling his place: a
circumstance that he did not pretend to regret. He relinquished his
post and stood aside with the air of a disciplined soldier. This was
at the expiration of seven months and two weeks of service. Only
after he had gone, upon her receiving his first letter from the
Continent, did Jane distinguish in herself the warmth of friendliness
she felt for him, and know that of all around her she, reproaching
every one who had hinted a doubt, had been the most suspicious of his
pure simplicity. It was the vice of her condition to be suspicious of
the honesty of men. She thought of her looks as less attractive than
they were; of her wealth she had reason to think that the scent
transformed our sad sex into dogs under various disguises.
Remembering her chill once on hearing Patrick in a green lane where
they botanised among spring flowers call himself her Irish cousin, as
if he had advanced a step and betrayed the hoof, she called him her
Irish cousin now in good earnest. Her nation was retrospectively
enthusiastic. The cordiality of her letter of reply to the wandering
Patrick astonished him on the part of so cool a young lady; and
Captain Con, when he heard Miss Mattock speak of Patrick to his wife,
came to the conclusion that the leery lad had gone a far way toward
doing the trick for himself, though Jane said his correspondence was
full of the deeds of his brother in India. She quite sparkled in
speaking of this boy.
She and the captain had an interchange of sparklings over absent
Patrick, at a discovery made by Miss Colesworth, the lady replacing
him, in a nook of the amateur secretary's official desk, under heaps
of pamphlets and slips, French and English and Irish journals, not at
all bearing upon the business of the Laundry. It was a blotting-pad
stuffed with Patrick's jottings. Jane brought it to Con as to the
proper keeper of the reliquary. He persuaded her to join him in
examining it, and together they bent their heads, turning leaf by
leaf, facing, laughing, pursuing the search for more, sometimes freely
Her inspection of the contents had previously been shy; she had
just enough to tell her they were funny. Dozens of scraps, insides of
torn envelopes, invitation-cards, ends of bills received from home,
whatever was handy to him at the moment, had done service for the
overflow of Mr. Secretary's private notes and reflections; the
blotting-paper as well; though that was devoted chiefly to sketches of
the human countenance, the same being almost entirely of the fair.
Jane fancied she spied herself among the number. Con saw the
likeness, but not considering it a complimentary one, he whisked over
the leaf. Grace Barrow was unmistakeable. Her dimpled cushion
features, and very intent eyes gazing out of the knolls and dingles,
were given without caricature. Miss Colesworth appeared on the last
page, a half-length holding a big key, demure between curls. The key
was explained by a cage on a stool, and a bird flying out. She had
unlocked the cage for Patrick.
'He never seemed anxious to be released while he was at work,' said
Jane, after she and the captain had spelt the symbolling in turns.
'And never thirsted to fly till he flew, I warrant him,' said Con.
A repeated sketch of some beauty confused them both; neither of
them could guess the proud owner of those lineaments. Con proclaimed
it to be merely one of the lad's recollections, perhaps a French face.
He thought he might have seen a face rather resembling it, but could
not call to mind whose face it was.
'I dare say it's just a youngster's dream on a stool at a desk, as
poets write sonnets in their youth to nobody, till they're pierced by
somebody, and then there's a difference in their handwriting,' he
said, vexed with Patrick for squandering his opportunity to leave a
compliment to the heiress behind him.
Jane flipped the leaves back to the lady with stormy hair.
'But you'll have the whole book, and hand it to him when he
returns; it 'll come best from you,' said Con. 'The man on horseback,
out of uniform, 's brother Philip, of course. And man and horse are
done to the life. Pray, take it, Miss Mattock. I should lose it to a
certainty; I should; I can't be trusted. You'll take it!'
He pressed her so warmly to retain the bundle in her custody that
she carried it away.
Strange to say the things she had laughed at had been the things
which struck her feelings and sympathies. Patrick's notes here and
there recalled conversations he had more listened to than taken part
in between herself and Grace Barrow. Who could help laughing at his
ideas about women! But if they were crude, they were shrewd—or so
she thought them; and the jejuneness was, to her mind, chiefly in the
dressing of them. Grace agreed with her, for Grace had as good a right
to inspect the papers as she, and a glance had shown that there was
nothing of peculiar personal import in his notes: he did not brood on
Here was one which tickled the ladies and formed a text for
'Women must take the fate of market-fruit till they earn their own
pennies, and then they 'll regulate the market. It is a tussle for
money with them as with us, meaning power. They'd do it as little by
oratory as they have done by millinery, for their oratory, just like
their millinery, appeals to a sentiment, and to a weaker; and nothing
solid comes of a sentiment. Power is built on work.'
To this was appended: 'The better for mankind in the developing
process, ay, and a bad day for us, boys, when study masks the charming
eyes in gig-lamps, and there is no pretty flying before us.
Good-night to Cupid, I fear. May be I am not seeing far enough, and
am asking for the devil to have the loveliest women as of old. Retro
The youthful eye on their sex, the Irish voice, and the perceptible
moral earnestness in the background, made up a quaint mixture.
CHAPTER XVI. OF THE GREAT MR. BULL
AND THE CELTIC AND SAXON VIEW OF HIM: AND SOMETHING OF RICHARD ROCKNEY
Meanwhile India, our lubber giant, had ceased to kick a leg, and
Ireland, our fever-invalid, wore the aspect of an opiate slumber. The
volcano we couch on was quiet, the gritty morsel unabsorbed within us
at an armistice with the gastric juices. Once more the
personification of the country's prosperity had returned to the
humming state of roundness. Trade whipped him merrily, and he spun.
A fuller sketch of the figure of this remarkable emanation of us
and object of our worship, Bull, is required that we may breathe the
atmosphere of a story dealing with such very different views of the
idol, and learn to tolerate plain-speaking about him.
Fancy yourself delayed by stress of weather at an inn or an
excursion, and snapped up by some gossip drone of the district, who
hearing whither you are bound, recounts the history and nature of the
place, to your ultimate advantage, though you groan for the outer
downpour to abate.— Of Bull, then: our image, before the world: our
lord and tyrant, ourself in short—the lower part of us. Coldly
worshipped on the whole, he can create an enthusiasm when his
roast-beef influence mounts up to peaceful skies and the domestic
English world spins with him. What he does not like will then be the
forbidding law of a most governable people, what he does like the
consenting. If it is declared that argument will be inefficacious to
move him, he is adored in the form of post. A hint of his willingness
in any direction, causes a perilous rush of his devotees. Nor is there
reason to suppose we have drawn the fanatical subserviency from the
example of our subject India. We may deem it native; perhaps of its
origin Aryan, but we have made it our own. Some have been so
venturesome as to trace the lordliness of Bull to the protecting
smiles of the good Neptune, whose arms are about him to encourage the
development of a wanton eccentricity. Certain weeds of the human
bosom are prompt to flourish where safeness would seem to be
guaranteed. Men, for instance, of stoutly independent incomes are
prone to the same sort of wilfulness as Bull's, the salve abject
submission to it which we behold in his tidal bodies of supporters.
Neptune has done something. One thinks he has done much, at a rumour
of his inefficiency to do the utmost. Spy you insecurity?—a
possibility of invasion? Then indeed the colossal creature,
inaccessible to every argument, is open to any suggestion: the
oak-like is a reed, the bull a deer. But as there is no attack on his
shores, there is no proof that they are invulnerable. Neptune is
appealed to and replies by mouth of the latest passenger across the
Channel on a windy night:—Take heart, son John! They will have poor
stomachs for blows who intrude upon you. The testification to the
Sea-God's watchfulness restores his darling who is immediately as
horny to argument as before. Neptune shall have his share of the
Ideal of his country Bull has none—he hates the word; it smells of
heresy, opposition to his image. It is an exercise of imagination to
accept an ideal, and his digestive organs reject it, after the manner
of the most beautiful likeness of him conjurable to the mind—that
flowering stomach, the sea-anemone, which opens to anything and
speedily casts out what it cannot consume. He is a positive shape, a
practical corporation, and the best he can see is the mirror held up
to him by his bards of the Press and his jester Frank Guffaw. There,
begirt by laughing ocean- waves, manifestly blest, he glorifies his
handsome roundness, like that other Foam-Born, whom the decorative
Graces robed in vestments not so wonderful as printed sheets. Rounder
at each inspection, he preaches to mankind from the text of a finger
curved upon the pattern spectacles. Your Frenchmen are
revolutionising, wagering on tentative politics; your Germans
ploughing in philosophy, thumbing classics, composing music of a novel
order: both are marching, evolutionising, learning how to kill.
Ridiculous Germans! capricious Frenchmen! We want nothing new in
musical composition and abstract speculation of an indecent mythology,
or political contrivances and schemes of Government, and we do not
want war. Peace is the Goddess we court for the hand of her daughter
Plenty, and we have won that jolly girl, and you are welcome to the
marriage- feast; but avaunt new-fangled theories and howlings: old
tunes, tried systems, for us, my worthy friends.
Roundness admiring the growth of its globe may address majestic
invitation to the leaner kine. It can exhibit to the world that Peace
is a most desirable mother-in-law; and it is tempted to dream of
capping the pinnacle of wisdom when it squats on a fundamental truth.
Bull's perusal of the Horatian carpe diem is acute as that of the
cattle in fat meads; he walks like lusty Autumn carrying his garner to
drum on, for a sign of his diligent wisdom in seizing the day. He can
read the page fronting him; and let it be of dining, drinking,
toasting, he will vociferously confute the wiseacre bookworms who
would have us believe there is no such thing as a present hour for
In sad fact, the member for England is often intoxicate. Often do
we have him whirling his rotundity like a Mussulman dervish inflated
by the spirit to agitate the shanks, until pangs of a commercial
crisis awaken him to perceive an infructuous past and an unsown
future, without one bit of tracery on its black breast other than that
which his apprehensions project. As for a present hour, it swims, it
vanishes, thinner than the phantom banquets of recollection. What has
he done for the growth of his globe of brains?—the lesser, but in our
rightful posture the upper, and justly the directing globe, through
whose directions we do, by feeding on the past to sow the future,
create a sensible present composed of both— the present of the good
using of our powers. What can he show in the Arts? What in Arms?
His bards—O faithless! but they are men—his bards accuse him of
sheer cattle-contentedness in the mead, of sterility of brain,
drowsihood, mid-noddyism, downright carcase-dulness. They question
him to deafen him of our defences, our intellectual eminence, our
material achievements, our poetry, our science; they sneer at his
trust in Neptune, doubt the scaly invulnerability of the God. They
point over to the foreigner, the clean-stepping, braced,
self-confident foreigner, good at arms, good at the arts, and
eclipsing us in industriousness manual and mental, and some dare to
say, in splendour of verse=-our supreme accomplishment.
Then with one big fellow, the collapse of pursiness, he abandons
his pedestal of universal critic; prostrate he falls to the foreigner;
he is down, he is roaring; he is washing his hands of English
performances, lends ear to foreign airs, patronises foreign actors,
browses on reports from camps of foreign armies. He drops his head
like a smitten ox to all great foreign names, moaning 'Shakespeare!'
internally for a sustaining apostrophe. He well-nigh loves his poets,
can almost understand what poetry means. If it does not pay, it
brings him fame, respectfulness in times of reverse. Brains, he is
reduced to apprehend, brains are the generators of the conquering
energies. He is now for brains at all costs, he has gained a
conception of them. He is ready to knock knighthood on the heads of
men of brains—even literary brains. They shall be knights, an
ornamental body. To make them peers, and a legislative, has not
struck him, for he has not yet imagined them a stable body. They
require petting, to persuade them to flourish and bring him esteem.
This is Mr. Bull, our image before the world, whose pranks are
passed as though the vivid display of them had no bad effect on the
nation. Doubtless the perpetual mirror, the slavish mirror, is to
blame, but his nakedness does not shrink from the mirror, he likes it
and he is proud of it. Beneath these exhibitions the sober strong
spirit of the country, unfortunately not a prescient one, nor an
attractively loveable, albeit of a righteous benevolence, labours on,
doing the hourly duties for the sake of conscience, little for
prospective security, little to win affection. Behold it as the
donkey of a tipsy costermonger, obedient to go without the gift of
expression. Its behaviour is honourable under a discerning heaven,
and there is ever something pathetic in a toilful speechlessness; but
it is of dogged attitude in the face of men. Salt is in it to keep
our fleshly grass from putrefaction; poets might proclaim its virtues.
They will not; they are averse. The only voice it has is the Puritan
bray, upon which one must philosophise asinically to unveil the charm.
So the world is pleased to let it be obscured by the paunch of Bull.
We have, however, isolated groups, individuals in all classes, by no
means delighting in his representation of them. When such is felt to
be the case among a sufficient number, his bards blow him away as a
vapour; we hear that he is a piece of our English humour—we enjoy
grotesques and never should agree to paint ourselves handsome: our
subtle conceit insists on the reverse. Nevertheless, no sooner are
the hours auspicious to fatness than Bull is back on us; he is our
family goat, ancestral ghost, the genius of our comfortable
sluggishness. And he is at times a mad Bull: a foaming, lashing,
trampling, horn-driving, excessive, very parlous Bull. It is in his
history that frenzies catch him, when to be yoked to him is to suffer
frightful shakings, not to mention a shattering of our timbers. It is
but in days of the rousing of the under-spirit of the country, days of
storm imprudent to pray the advent of, that we are well rid of him for
a while. In the interim he does mischief, serious mischief; he does
worse than when, a juvenile, he paid the Dannegelt for peace.
Englishmen of feeling do not relish him. For men with Irish and
Cambrian blood in their veins the rubicund grotesque, with his
unimpressionable front and his noisy benevolence of the pocket, his
fits of horned ferocity and lapses of hardheartedness, is a shame and
a loathing. You attach small importance to images and symbols; yet if
they seem representative, and they sicken numbers of us, they are
important. The hat we wear, though it is not a part of the head,
stamps the character of our appearance and has a positive influence on
our bearing. Symbolical decorations will stimulate the vacant-minded
to act up to them, they encircle and solidify the mass; they are a
sword of division between Celts and Saxons if they are abhorrent to
one section. And the Celtic brotherhood are not invariably fools in
their sensitiveness. They serve you on the field of Mars, and on
other fields to which the world has given glory. These execrate him
as the full-grown Golden Calf of heathenish worship. And they are so
restive because they are so patriotic. Think a little upon the ideas
of unpatriotic Celts regarding him. You have heard them. You tell us
they are you: accurately, they affirm, succinctly they see you in his
crescent outlines, tame bulk, spasms of alarm and foot on the weaker;
his imperviousness to whatsoever does not confront the sensual eye of
him with a cake or a fist, his religious veneration of his habitual
indulgences, his peculiar forms of nightmare. They swear to his
perfect personification of your moods, your Saxon moods, which their
inconsiderate spleen would have us take for unmixedly Saxon. They are
unjust, but many of them speak with a sense of the foot on their
necks, and they are of a blood demanding a worshipworthy idea. And
they dislike Bull's bellow of disrespect for their religion, much
bruited in the meadows during his periods of Arcadia. They dislike
it, cannot forget the sound: it hangs on the afflicted drum of the ear
when they are in another land, perhaps when the old devotion to their
priest has expired. For this, as well as for material reasons, they
hug the hatred they packed up among their bundles of necessaries and
relics, in the flight from home, and they instruct their children to
keep it burning. They transmit the sentiment of the loathing of Bull,
as assuredly they would be incapable of doing, even with the will,
were a splendid fire-eyed motherly Britannia the figure sitting in the
minds of men for our image —a palpitating figure, alive to change,
penetrable to thought, and not a stolid concrete of our traditional
old yeoman characteristic. Verily he lives for the present, all for
the present, will be taught in sorrow that there is no life for him
but of past and future: his delusion of the existence of a present
hour for man will not outlast the season of his eating and drinking
abundantly in security. He will perceive that it was no more than the
spark shot out from the clash of those two meeting forces; and
penitently will he gaze back on that misleading spark-the spectral
planet it bids wink to his unreceptive stars—acknowledging him the
bare machine for those two to drive, no instrument of enjoyment. He
lives by reading rearward and seeing vanward. He has no actual life
save in power of imagination. He has to learn this fact, the great
lesson of all men. Furthermore there may be a future closed to him if
he has thrown too extreme a task of repairing on that bare machine of
his. The sight of a broken-down plough is mournful, but the one thing
to do with it is to remove it from the field.
Among the patriotic of stout English substance, who blew in the
trumpet of the country, and were not bards of Bull to celebrate his
firmness and vindicate his shiftings, Richard Rockney takes front
rank. A journalist altogether given up to his craft, considering the
audience he had gained, he was a man of forethought besides being a
trenchant writer, and he was profoundly, not less than eminently, the
lover of Great Britain. He had a manner of utterance quite in the tone
of the familiar of the antechamber for proof of his knowing himself to
be this person. He did not so much write articles upon the health of
his mistress as deliver Orphic sentences. He was in one her
physician, her spiritual director, her man-at-arms. Public allusions
to her were greeted with his emphatic assent in a measured pitch of
the voice, or an instantaneous flourish of the rapier; and the
flourish was no vain show. He meant hard steel to defend the pill he
had prescribed for her constitutional state, and the monition for her
soul's welfare. Nor did he pretend to special privileges in assuming
his militant stand, but simply that he had studied her case, was
intimate with her resources, and loved her hotly, not to say
inspiredly. Love her as well, you had his cordial hand; as wisely,
then all his weapons to back you. There were occasions when
distinguished officials and Parliamentary speakers received the
impetus of Rockney's approval and not hesitatingly he stepped behind
them to bestow it. The act, in whatever fashion it may have been
esteemed by the objects propelled, was a sign of his willingness to
let the shadow of any man adopting his course obscure him, and of the
simplicity of his attachment. If a bitter experience showed that
frequently, indeed generally, they travelled scarce a tottering
stagger farther than they were precipitated, the wretched consolation
afforded by a side glance at a more enlightened passion, solitary in
its depth, was Rockney's. Others perchance might equal his love, none
the wisdom of it; actually none the vigilant circumspection, the
shaping forethought. That clear knowledge of the right thing for the
country was grasped but by fits by others. Enough to profit them this
way and yonder as one best can! You know the newspaper Press is a
mighty engine. Still he had no delight in shuffling a puppetry; he
would have preferred automatic figures. His calls for them resounded
through the wilderness of the wooden.
Any solid conviction of a capable head of a certainty impressed
upon the world, and thus his changes of view were not attributed to a
fluctuating devotion; they passed out of the range of criticism upon
inconsistency, notwithstanding that the commencement of his
journalistic career smelt of sources entirely opposed to the
conclusions upon which it broadened. One secret of the belief in his
love of his country was the readiness of Rockney's pen to support our
nobler patriotic impulses, his relish of the bluff besides. His eye
was on our commerce, on our courts of Law, on our streets and alleys,
our army and navy, our colonies, the vaster than the island England,
and still he would be busy picking up needles and threads in the
island. Deeds of valour were noted by him, lapses of cowardice: how
one man stood against a host for law or humanity, how crowds looked on
at the beating of a woman, how a good fight was maintained in some sly
ring between two of equal brawn: and manufacturers were warned of the
consequences of their iniquities, Government was lashed for sleeping
upon shaky ordinances, colonists were gibbeted for the maltreating of
natives: the ring and fervour of the notes on daily events told of
Rockney's hand upon the national heart—with a faint, an enforced,
reluctant indication of our not being the men we were.
But after all, the main secret was his art of writing round
English, instead of laborious Latinised periods: and the secret of the
art was his meaning what he said. It was the personal throb. The
fire of a mind was translucent in Press columns where our public had
been accustomed to the rhetoric of primed scribes. He did away with
the Biscay billow of the leading article—Bull's favourite
prose—bardic construction of sentences that roll to the antithetical
climax, whose foamy top is offered and gulped as equivalent to an
idea. Writing of such a kind as Rockney's was new to a land where the
political opinions of Joint Stock Companies had rattled Jovian
thunders obedient to the nod of Bull. Though not alone in working the
change, he was the foremost. And he was not devoid of style.
Fervidness is the core of style. He was a tough opponent for his
betters in education, struck forcibly, dexterously, was always alert
for debate. An encounter between Swift and Johnson, were it
imaginable, would present us probably the most prodigious Gigantomachy
in literary polemics. It is not imaginable among comparative pygmies.
But Rockney's combat with his fellow-politicians of the Press partook
of the Swiftian against the Johnsonian in form. He was a steam ram
that drove straight at the bulky broadside of the enemy.
Premiers of parties might be Captains of the State for Rockney:
Rockney was the premier's pilot, or woe to him. Woe to the country as
well, if Rockney's directions for steering were unheeded. He was a
man of forethought, the lover of Great Britain: he shouted his
directions in the voice of the lover of his mistress, urged to rebuke,
sometimes to command, the captain by the prophetic intimations of a
holier alliance, a more illumined prescience. Reefs here, shallows
there, yonder a foul course: this is the way for you! The refusal of
the captain to go this way caused Rockney sincerely to discredit the
sobriety of his intellect. It was a drunken captain. Or how if a
traitorous? We point out the danger to him, and if he will run the
country on to it, we proclaim him guilty either of inebriety or of
treason—the alternatives are named: one or the other has him. Simple
unfitness can scarcely be conceived of a captain having our common
senses and a warranted pilot at his elbow.
Had not Rockney been given to a high expression of opinion, plain
in fervour, he would often have been exposed bare to hostile shafts.
Style cast her aegis over him. He wore an armour in which he could
walk, run and leap-a natural style. The ardour of his temperament
suffused the directness of his intelligence to produce it, and the two
qualities made his weakness and strength. Feeling the nerve of
strength, the weakness was masked to him, while his opponents were
equally insensible to the weakness under the force of his blows. Thus
there was nothing to teach him, or reveal him, except Time, whose
trick is to turn corners of unanticipated sharpness, and leave the
directly seeing and ardent to dash at walls.
How rigidly should the man of forethought govern himself, question
himself! how constantly wrestle with himself! And if he be a writer
ebullient by the hour, how snappishly suspect himself, that he may
feel in conscience worthy of a hearing and have perpetually a
conscience in his charge! For on what is his forethought founded?
Does he try the ring of it with our changed conditions? Bus a man of
forethought who has to be one of our geysers ebullient by the hour
must live days of fever. His apprehensions distemper his blood; the
scrawl of them on the dark of the undeveloped dazzles his brain. He
sees in time little else; his very sincereness twists him awry. Such
a man has the stuff of the born journalist, and journalism is the food
of the age. Ask him, however, midway in his running, what he thinks
of quick breathing: he will answer that to be a shepherd on the downs
is to be more a man. As to the gobbling age, it really thinks better
of him than he of it.
After a term of prolonged preachification he is compelled to lash
that he may less despise the age. He has to do it for his own sake.
O gobbling age! swallowing all, digesting nought, us too you have
swallowed, O insensate mechanism! and we will let you know you have a
stomach. Furiously we disagree with you. We are in you to lead you or
work you pangs!
Rockney could not be a mild sermoniser commenting on events.
Rather no journalism at all for him! He thought the office of the
ordinary daily preacher cowlike. His gadfly stung him to warn,
dictate, prognosticate; he was the oracle and martyr of superior
vision: and as in affairs of business and the weighing of men he was
of singularly cool sagacity, hard on the downright, open to the
humours of the distinct discrimination of things in their roughness,
the knowledge of the firmly-based materialism of his nature caused
him. thoroughly to trust to his voice when he delivered it in
ardour—circumstance coming to be of daily recurrence. Great love
creates forethoughtfulness, without-which incessant journalism is a
gabble. He was sure of his love, but who gave ear to his prescience?
Few: the echo of the country now and then, the Government not often.
And, dear me! those jog-trot sermonisers, mere commentators upon
events, manage somehow to keep up the sale of their journals:
advertisements do not flow and ebb with them as under the influence of
a capricious moon. Ah, what a public! Serve it honourably, you are
in peril of collapsing: show it nothing but the likeness of its dull
animal face, you are steadily inflated. These reflections within us!
Might not one almost say that the retreat for the prophet is the
wilderness, far from the hustled editor's desk; and annual should be
the uplifting of his voice instead of diurnal, if only to spare his
blood the distemper? A fund of gout was in Rockney's, and he had begun
to churn it. Between gouty blood and luminous brain the strife had
set in which does not conduce to unwavering sobriety of mind, though
ideas remain closely consecutive and the utterance resonant.
Never had he been an adulator of Bull. His defects as well as his
advantages as a politician preserved to him this virtue. Insisting on
a future, he could not do homage to the belying simulacrum of the
present. In the season of prosperity Rockney lashed the old fellow
with the crisis he was breeding for us; and when prostration ensued no
English tongue was loftier in preaching dignity and the means of
recovery. Our monumental image of the Misuse of Peace he pointed out
unceasingly as at a despot constructed by freemen out of the meanest
in their natures to mock the gift of liberty. His articles of
foregone years were an extraordinary record of events or conditions
foreseen: seductive in the review of them by a writer who has to be
still foreseeing: nevertheless, that none of them were bardic of Bull,
and that our sound man would have acted wisely in heeding some of the
prescriptions, constituted their essential merit, consolatory to think
of, though painful. The country has gone the wrong road, but it may
yet cross over to the right one, when it perceives that we were
Compared with the bolts discharged at Bull by Rockney's artillery,
Captain Con O'Donnell's were popgun-pellets. Only Rockney fired to
chasten, Con O'Donnell for a diversion, to appease an animus. The
revolutionist in English journalism was too devoutly patriotic to
belabour even a pantomime mask that was taken as representative of us
for the disdainful fun of it. Behind the plethoric lamp, now blown
with the fleshpots, now gasping puffs of panic, he saw the well-minded
valorous people, issue of glorious grandsires; a nation under a
monstrous defacement, stupefied by the contemplation of the mask: his
vision was of the great of old, the possibly great in the graver
strife ahead, respecters of life, despisers of death, the real English
whereas an alienated Celtic satirist, through his vivid fancy and his
disesteem, saw the country incarnate in Bull, at most a roguish
screw-kneed clown to be whipped out of him. Celt and Saxon are much
inmixed with us, but the prevalence of Saxon blood is evinced by the
public disregard of any Celtic conception of the honourable and the
loveable; so that the Celt anxious to admire is rebutted, and the
hatred of a Celt, quick as he is to catch at images, has a figure of
hugeous animalism supplied to his malign contempt. Rockney's historic
England, and the living heroic England to slip from that dull hide in
a time of trial, whether of war or social suffering, he cannot see,
nor a people hardening to Spartan lineaments in the fire, iron men to
meet disaster, worshippers of a discerned God of Laws, and just men
too, thinking to do justice; he has Bull on the eye, the alternately
braggart and poltroon, sweating in labour that he may gorge the
fruits, graceless to a scoffer. And this is the creature to whose
tail he is tied! Hereditary hatred is approved by critical disgust.
Some spirited brilliancy, some persistent generosity (other than the
guzzle's flash of it), might soften him; something sweeter than the
slow animal well-meaningness his placable brethren point his attention
to. It is not seen, and though he can understand the perils of a
severance, he prefers to rub the rawness of his wound and be ready to
pitch his cap in the air for it, out of sheer bloodloathing of a
connection that offers him nothing to admire, nothing to hug to his
heart. Both below and above the blind mass of discontent in his
island, the repressed sentiment of admiration-or passion of fealty and
thirst to give himself to a visible brighter—is an element of the
division: meditative young Patrick O'Donnell early in his reflections
had noted that:—and it is partly a result of our daily habit of
tossing the straw to the monetary world and doting on ourselves in the
mirror, until our habitual doings are viewed in a bemused complacency
by us, and the scum- surface of the country is flashed about as its
vital being. A man of forethought using the Press to spur Parliament
to fitly represent the people, and writing on his daily topics with
strenuous original vigour, even though, like Rockney, he sets the
teeth of the Celt gnashing at him, goes a step nearer to the bourne of
pacification than Press and Parliament reflecting the popular opinion
that law must be passed to temper Ireland's eruptiveness; for that man
can be admired, and the Celt, in combating him, will like an able and
gallant enemy better than a grudgingly just, lumbersome, dull, politic
friend. The material points in a division are always the stronger,
but the sentimental are here very strong. Pass the laws; they may put
an extinguisher on the Irish Vesuvian; yet to be loved you must be a
little perceptibly admirable. You may be so self-satisfied as to
dispense with an ideal: your yoke- fellow is not; it is his particular
form of strength to require one for his proper blooming, and he does
bloom beautifully in the rays he courts.
Ah then, seek to be loved, and banish Bull. Believe in a future
and banish that gross obscuration of you. Decline to let that
old-yeoman- turned alderman stand any longer for the national man.
Speaking to the brain of the country, one is sure of the power of a
resolute sign from it to dismiss the brainless. Banish him your
revels and your debatings, prohibit him your Christmas, lend no ear
either to his panics or his testiness, especially none to his rages;
do not report him at all, and he will soon subside into his domestic,
varied by pothouse, privacy. The brain should lead, if there be a
brain. Once free of him, you will know that for half a century you
have appeared bottom upward to mankind. And you have wondered at the
absence of love for you under so astounding a presentation. Even in a
Bull, beneficent as he can dream of being, when his notions are in a
similar state of inversion, should be sheepish in hope for love.
He too, whom you call the Welshman, and deride for his delight in
songful gatherings, harps to wild Wales, his Cambrian highlands, and
not to England. You have not yet, though he is orderly and
serviceable, allured his imagination to the idea of England. Despite
the passion for his mountains and the boon of your raising of the
interdict (within a hundred years) upon his pastors to harangue him in
his native tongue, he gladly ships himself across the waters traversed
by his Prince Madoc of tradition, and becomes contentedly a
transatlantic citizen, a member of strange sects—he so inveterate in
faithfulness to the hoar and the legendary!—Anything rather than
Anglican. The Cymry bear you no hatred; their affection likewise is
undefined. But there is reason to think that America has caught the
imagination of the Cambrian Celt: names of Welshmen are numerous in
the small army of the States of the Union; and where men take
soldier-service they are usually fixed, they and their children. Here
is one, not very deeply injured within a century, of ardent
temperament, given to be songful and loving; he leaves you and forgets
you. Be certain that the material grounds of division are not all.
To pronounce it his childishness provokes the retort upon your
presented shape. He cannot admire it. Gaelic Scots wind the same
note of repulsion.
And your poets are in a like predicament. Your poets are the most
persuasive of springs to a lively general patriotism. They are in the
Celtic dilemma of standing at variance with Bull; they return him his
hearty antipathy, are unable to be epical or lyrical of him, are
condemned to expend their genius upon the abstract, the quaint, the
picturesque. Nature they read spiritually or sensually, always
shrinkingly apart from him. They swell to a resemblance of their
patron if they stoop to woo his purse. He has, on hearing how that
poets bring praise to nations, as in fact he can now understand his
Shakespeare to have done, been seen to thump the midriff and rally
them for their shyness of it, telling them he doubts them true poets
while they abstain from singing him to the world-him, and the things
refreshing the centre of him. Ineffectual is that encouragement.
Were he in the fire, melting to the iron man, the backbone of him, it
would be different. At his pleasures he is anti-hymnic, repellent to
song. He has perceived the virtues of Peace, without the brother eye
for the need of virtuousness to make good use of them and inspire the
poet. His own enrolled unrhythmical bardic troops (humorous
mercenaries when Celts) do his trumpeting best, and offend not the
This interlude, or rather inter-drone, repulsive to write, can
hardly be excluded from a theme dramatising Celtic views, and treating
of a blood, to which the idea of country must shine resplendently if
we would have it running at full tide through the arteries. Preserve
your worship, if the object fills your optics. Better worship that
than nothing, as it is better for flames to be blown out than not to
ascend, otherwise it will wreak circular mischief instead of
illumining. You are requested simply to recollect that there is
another beside you who sees the object obliquely, and then you will
not be surprised by his irreverence. What if, in the end, you were
conducted to a like point of view? Self-worship, it has been said, is
preferable to no trimming of the faculty, but worship does not
necessarily cease with the extinction of this of the voraciously
carnal. An ideal of country, of Great Britain, is conceivable that
will be to the taste of Celt and Saxon in common, to wave as a
standard over their fraternal marching. Let Bull boo his drumliest at
such talk: it is, I protest, the thing we want and can have. He is the
obstruction, not the country; and against him, not against the
country, the shots are aimed which seem so malignant. Him the gay
manipulators propitiate who look at him through Literature and the
Press, and across the pulpit-cushions, like airy Macheath at Society,
as carrion to batten on. May plumpness be their portion, and they
never hanged for it! But the flattering, tickling, pleasantly
pinching of Bull is one of those offices which the simple starveling
piper regards with afresh access of appetite for the well-picked bone
of his virtue. That ghastly apparition of the fleshly present is
revealed to him as a dead whale, having the harpoon of the inevitable
slayer of the merely fleshly in his oils. To humour him, and be his
piper for his gifts, is to descend to a carnival deep underneath.
While he reigns, thinks this poor starveling, Rome burns, or the
explosive powders are being secretly laid. He and his thousand
Macheaths are dancing the country the giddy pace, and there will, the
wretch dreads, be many a crater of scoria in the island, before he
stretches his inanimate length, his parasites upon him. The theme is
chosen and must be treated as a piper involved in his virtue conceives
it: that is, realistically; not with Bull's notion of the realism of
the butcher's shop and the pendent legs of mutton and blocks of beef
painted raw and glaring in their streaks, but with the realism of the
active brain and heart conjoined. The reasons for the division of
Celt and Saxon, what they think and say of one another, often without
knowing that they are divided, and the wherefore of our abusing of
ourselves, brave England, our England of the ancient fortitude and the
future incarnation, can afford to hear. Why not in a tale? It is he,
your all for animal pleasure in the holiday he devours and cannot
enjoy, whose example teaches you to shun the plaguey tale that carries
fright: and so you find him sour at business and sick of his
relaxings, hating both because he harnesses himself in turn bestially
to each, growling at the smallest admixture of them, when, if he would
but chirp a little over his work, and allow his pleasures to inspire a
dose of thoughtfulness, he would be happier, and—who knows?-become a
brighter fellow, one to be rescued from the pole-axe.
Now the rain is over, your carriage is at the door, the country
smiles and the wet highway waves a beckoning hand. We have worn
through a cloud with cloudy discourses, but we are in a land of
shifting weathers, 'coelum crebris imbribus ac nebulis foedum,' not
every chapter can be sunshine.
CHAPTER XVII. CROSSING THE RUBICON
Rough weather on the Irish sea discharged a pallid file of
passengers from the boat at Holyhead just as the morning sun struck
wave and mountain with one of the sudden sparkling changes which our
South-welters have in their folds to tell us after a tumultuous night
that we have only been worried by Puck. The scene of frayed waters
all rosy-golden, and golden-banded heathery height, with the tinted
sand, breaking to flights of blue, was resplendent for those of our
recent sea-farers who could lift an eye to enjoy it. Freshness,
illumination, then salt air, vivid distances, were a bath for every
sense of life. You could believe the breast of the mountain to be
heaving, the billows to be kissing fingers to him, the rollers
shattered up the cliff to have run to extinction to scale him. He
seemed in his clear-edged mass King of this brave new boundless world
built in a minute out of the wreck of the old.
An hour back the vessel was labouring through rueful chasms under
darkness, and then did the tricksy Southwest administer grisly slaps
to right and left, whizzing spray across the starboard beam, and
drenching the locks of a young lady who sat cloaked and hooded in
frieze to teach her wilfulness a lesson, because she would keep her
place on deck from beginning to end of the voyage. Her faith in the
capacity of Irish frieze to turn a deluge of the deeps driven by an
Atlantic gale was shaken by the time she sighted harbour, especially
when she shed showers by flapping a batlike wing of the cloak, and had
a slight shudder to find herself trickling within.
'Dear! and I'm wet to the skin,' she confided the fact to herself
'You would not be advised,' a gentleman beside her said after a
delicate pause to let her impulsive naturalism of utterance fly by
'And aren't you the same and worse? And not liking it either, I
fear, Sir!' she replied, for despite a manful smile his complexion was
tell- tale. 'But there 's no harm in salt. But you should have gone
down to the cabin with Father Boyle and you would have been sure of
not catching cold. But, Oh! the beautiful . . . look at it! And
it's my first view of England. Well, then, I'll say it's a beautiful
Her companion looked up at the lighted sky, and down at the pools
in tarpaulin at his feet. He repressed a disposition to shudder, and
with the anticipated ecstasy of soon jumping out of wet clothes into
dry, he said: 'I should like to be on the top of that hill now.'
The young lady's eyes flew to the top.
'They say he looks on Ireland; I love him; and his name is Caer
Gybi; and it was one of our Saints gave him the name, I 've read in
books. I'll be there before noon.'
'You want to have a last gaze over to Erin?'
'No, it's to walk and feel the breeze. But I do, though.'
'Won't you require a little rest?'
'Sure and I've had it sitting here all night!' said she.
He laughed: the reason for the variation of exercise was
Father Boyle came climbing up the ladder, uncertain of his legs; he
rolled and snatched and tottered on his way to them, and accepted the
gentleman's help of an arm, saying: 'Thank ye, thank ye, and good
morning, Mr. Colesworth. And my poor child! what sort of a night has
it been above, Kathleen?'
He said it rather twinkling, and she retorted:
'What sort of a night has it been below, Father Boyle?' Her twinkle
was livelier than his, compassionate in archness.
'Purgatory past is good for contemplation, my dear. 'Tis past, and
there's the comfort! You did well to be out of that herring-barrel,
Mr. Colesworth. I hadn't the courage, or I would have burst from it
to take a ducking with felicity. I haven't thrown up my soul; that's
the most I can say. I thought myself nigh on it once or twice. And
an amazing kind steward it was, or I'd have counted the man for some
one else. Surely 'tis a glorious morning?'
Mr. Colesworth responded heartily in praise of the morning. He was
beginning to fancy that he felt the warmth of spring sunshine on his
back. He flung up his head and sniffed the air, and was very like a
horse fretful for the canter; so like as to give Miss Kathleen an idea
of the comparison. She could have rallied him; her laughing eyes
showed the readiness, but she forbore, she drank the scene. Her face,
with the threaded locks about forehead and cheeks, and the dark, the
blue, the rosy red of her lips, her eyes, her hair, was just such a
south-western sky as April drove above her, the same in colour and
quickness; and much of her spirit was the same, enough to stand for a
resemblance. But who describes the spirit? No one at the gates of
the field of youth. When Time goes reaping he will gather us a sheaf,
out of which the picture springs.
'There's our last lurch, glory to the breakwater!' exclaimed Father
Boyle, as the boat pitched finally outside the harbour fence, where a
soft calm swell received them with the greeting of civilised
sea-nymphs. 'The captain'll have a quieter passage across. You may
spy him on the pier. We'll be meeting him on the landing.'
'If he's not in bed, from watching the stars all night,' said Miss
'He must have had a fifty-lynx power of sight for that, my dear.'
'They did appear, though, and wonderfully bright,' she said. 'I
saw them come out and go in. It's not all cloud when the high wind
'You talk like a song, Kathleen.'
'Couldn't I rattle a throat if I were at home, Father!'
'Ah! we're in the enemy's country now.'
Miss Kathleen said she would go below to get the handbags from the
Mr. Colesworth's brows had a little darkened over the Rev.
Gentleman's last remark. He took two or three impatient steps up and
down with his head bent. 'Pardon me; I hoped we had come to a better
understanding,' he said. 'Is it quite fair to the country and to Miss
O'Donnell to impress on her before she knows us that England is the
'Habit, Mr. Colesworth, habit! we've got accustomed to the
perspective and speak accordingly. There's a breach visible.'
'I thought you agreed with me that good efforts are being made on
our side to mend the breach.'
'Sir, you have a noble minority at work, no doubt; and I take you
for one of the noblest, as not objecting to stand next to alone.'
'I really thought, judging from our conversation at Mrs.
O'Donnell's that evening, that you were going to hold out a hand and
lead your flock to the right sort of fellowship with us.'
'To submission to the laws, Mr. Colesworth; 'tis my duty to do it
as pastor and citizen.'
'No, to more than that, sir. You spoke with friendly warmth.'
'The atmosphere was genial, if you remember the whisky and the
fumes of our tobacco at one o'clock!'
'I shall recollect the evening with the utmost pleasure. You were
kind enough to instruct me in a good many things I shall be sure to
profit by. I wish I could have spent more time in Ireland. As it is,
I like Irishmen so well that if the whole land were in revolt I should
never call it the enemy's country.'
'Excellently spoken, Mr. Colesworth,' said the priest. 'We 'll
hope your writings may do service to mend the breach. For there is
one, as you know, and more 's the pity; there's one, and it's wide and
deep. As my friend Captain Con O'Donnell says, it's plain to the
naked eye as a pair of particularly fat laundry drawers hung out to
dry and ballooned in extension—if mayhap you've ever seen the sight
of them in that state:— just held together by a narrow neck of thread
or button, and stretching away like a corpulent frog in the act of
swimming on the wind. His comparison touches the sentiment of
Mr. Colesworth had not ever seen such a pair of laundry drawers
inflated to symbolise the breach between Ireland and England; nor
probably, if he had, would the sentiment of national disunion have
struck his mind: it was difficult to him in the description. He
considered his Rev. friend to be something of a slippery fish, while
Father Boyle's opinion of him likewise referred him to an elemental
substance, of slow movement-earth, in short: for he continued to look
argumentative after all had been said.
Or perhaps he threw a coveting eye on sweet Miss Kathleen and had
his own idea of mending a stitch of the breach in a quite domestic
way. If so, the Holy Father would have a word to say, let alone
Kathleen. The maids of his Church do not espouse her foes. For the
men it is another matter: that is as the case may be. Temporarily we
are in cordial intercourse, Mr. Colesworth.
Miss Kathleen returned to deck carrying her bags. The gentleman
had to descend, and subsequently an amiable dissension arose on the
part of the young lady and Mr. Colesworth. She, however, yielded one
of her bags, and he, though doubly laden, was happy. All very
transparent to pastoral observation, but why should they not be left
to their chirruping youthfulness? The captain was not in view, and
Father Boyle wanted to go to bed for refreshment, and Kathleen was an
airy gossamer, with a boy running after it, not by any means likely to
catch it, or to keep it if he did. Proceed and trip along, you young
At the hotel they heard that Captain Con O'Donnell was a snug
sleeper upstairs. This, the captain himself very soon informed them,
had not been the kernel of the truth. He had fancied they would not
cross the Channel on so rattlesome a night, or Kathleen would have had
an Irish kiss to greet her landing in England. But the cousinly
salute was little delayed, news of the family in Ireland and England
was exchanged, and then Mr. Colesworth and the captain bowed to an
introduction; and the captain, at mention of his name, immediately
cried out that Mr. Colesworth might perchance be a relative of the
highly intelligent admirable lady who had undertaken the
secretaryship, and by her vast ability got the entire management, of
Miss Mattock's benevolent institution, and was conducting it with such
success that it was fast becoming a grief to the generous heart of the
foundress of the same to find it not only self-paying, but on the road
to a fortune, inasmuch as it was already an article in the decrees of
fashion among the nobility and gentry of both sexes in the metropolis
to have their linen and laces washed at the Mattock laundry.
Mr. Colesworth said he was the brother of the lady in question, he
had also the pleasure of an acquaintance with Miss Mattock. He was
vehemently congratulated on the relationship, which bore witness, the
captain armed, to a certain hereditary share of brains greatly to be
envied: brother of Miss Colesworth, a title of distinction in itself!
He was congratulated not less cordially for his being so fortunate as
to know Miss Mattock, one of a million.
Captain Con retained the hand of Father Boyle and squeezed it
during his eulogies, at the same time dispensing nods and winks and
sunny sparkles upon Kathleen. Mr. Colesworth went upstairs to his
room not unflattered. The flattery enveloped him in the pleasant sense
of a somehow now established companionship for the day with a pleasant
person from whom he did not wish to separate.
'You made the gentleman's acquaintance, my dear . . . ?' said
Kathleen answered: 'He made friends with our Patrick on the
Continent, I think it was in Germany, and came to us to study the old
country, bearing a letter from Patrick. He means to be one of their
writers on the newspapers. He studies everything; he has written
books. He called on us coming and called on us going and we came over
together,' said Miss Kathleen. 'But tell me: our Philip?'
'Books!' Con exclaimed. 'It's hard to discover a man in these days
who hasn't written books. Oh! Philip! Ease your heart about Philip.
They're nursing him, round. He was invalided at the right moment for
him, no fear. I gave him his chance of the last vacant seat up to the
last hour, and now the die is cast and this time I 'm off to it. Poor
Philip—yes, yes! we 're sorry to see him flat all his length, we
love him; he's a gallant soldier; alive to his duty; and that bludgeon
sun of India knocked him down, and that fall from his horse finished
the business, and there he lies. But he'll get up, and he might have
accepted the seat and spared me my probation: he's not married, I am,
I have a wife, and Master Philip divides me against my domestic self,
he does. But let that be: I serve duty too. Not a word to our friend
up yonder. It's a secret with a time-fuse warranted to explode safe
enough when the minutes are up, and make a powerful row when it does.
It is all right over there, Father Boyle, I suppose?'
'A walk over! a pure ceremonial,' said the priest, and he yawned
'You're for a nap to recompose you, my dear friend,' remarked the
'But you haven't confided anything of it to Mrs. Adister?'
'Not a syllable; no. That's to come. There's my contest! I had
urgent business in Ireland, and she 's a good woman, always willing to
let me go. I count on her kindness, there 's no mightier compliment
to one's wife. She'll know it when it's history. She's fond of
history. Ay, she hates fiction, and so I'm proud to tell her I offer
her none. She likes a trifling surprise too, and there she has it.
Oh! we can whip up the business to a nice little bowl of
froth-flummery. But it's when the Parliamentary voting is on comes
the connubial pull. She's a good woman, a dear good soul, but she's a
savage patriot; and Philip might have saved his kinsman if he had
liked. He had only to say the word: I could have done all the
business for him, and no contest to follow by my fireside. He's on his
couch—Mars convalescent: a more dreadful attraction to the ladies
than in his crimson plumes! If the fellow doesn't let slip his
opportunity! with his points of honour and being an Irish Bayard.
Why Bayard in the nineteenth century's a Bedlamite, Irish or no. So
I tell him. There he is; you'll see him, Kathleen: and one of them as
big an heiress as any in England. Philip's no fool, you'll find.'
'Then he's coming all right, is he?' said Kathleen.
'He 's a soldier, and a good one, but he 's nothing more, and as
for patriotic inflammation, doesn't know the sensation.'
'Oh! but he's coming round, and you'll go and stroke down mother
with that,' Kathleen cried. 'Her heart's been heavy, with Patrick
wandering and Philip on his back. I'll soon be dressed for
Away she went.
'She's got an appetite, and looks like a strapped bit of steel
after the night's tumbling,' said the captain, seeing her trip aloft.
'I'm young as that too, or not far off it. Stay, I'll order
breakfast for four in a quiet corner where we can converse—which, by
the way, won't be possible in the presence of that gaping oyster of a
fellow, who looks as if he were waiting the return of the tide.'
Father Boyle interposed his hand.
'Not for . . .' he tried to add 'four.' The attempt at a
formation of the word produced a cavernous yawn a volume of the
distressful deep to the beholder.
'Of course,' Captain Con assented. He proposed bed and a sedative
therein, declaring that his experience overnight could pronounce it
good, and that it should be hot. So he led his tired old friend to
the bedroom, asked dozens of questions, flurried a withdrawal of them,
suggested the answers, talked of his Rubicon, praised his wife,
delivered a moan on her behalf, and after assisting to half disrobe
the scarce animate figure, which lent itself like an artist's
lay-model to the operation, departed on his mission of the sedative.
At the breakfast for three he was able to tell Kathleen that the
worthy Father was warm, and on his way to complete restoration.
'Full fathom five the Father lies, in the ocean of sleep, by this
time,' said Con. 'And 'tis a curious fact that every man in that
condition seems enviable to men on their legs. And similarly with
death; we'd rather not, because of a qualm, but the picture of the
finish of the leap across is a taking one. These chops are done as if
Nature had mellowed their juiciness.'
'They are so nice,' Kathleen said.
'You deserve them, if ever girl in this world!'
'I sat on deck all night, and Mr. Colesworth would keep me
'He could hardly do less, having the chance. But that
notwithstanding, I'm under an obligation to your cavalier. And how
did you find Ireland, sir? You've made acquaintance with my cousin,
young Mr. Patrick O'Donnell, I rejoice to hear.'
'Yes, through his hearing or seeing my name and suspecting I had a
sister,' said Mr. Colesworth, who was no longer in the resemblance of
a gaping oyster on the borders of the ebb. 'The country is not
'So the doctor thinks his patient is doing favourably! And you
cottoned to Patrick? And I don't wonder. Where was it?'
'We met in Trieste. He was about to start by one of the Austrian
boats for the East.'
'Not disturbed! no! with a rotten potato inside it paralysing
digestion!' exclaimed Con. 'Now Patrick had been having a peep at
Vienna, hadn't he?'
'He had; he was fresh from Vienna when I met him. As to Ireland,
the harvest was only middling good last year.'
'And that's the bit of luck we depend on. A cloud too much, and
it's drowned! Had he seen, do you know, anybody in Vienna?—you were
not long together at Trieste?'
Mr. Colesworth had sufficient quickness to perceive that the two
questions could be answered as one, and saying: 'He was disappointed,'
revealed that he and Patrick had been long enough together to come to
terms of intimacy.
'To be sure, he gave you a letter of introduction to his family!'
said Con. 'And permit me to add, that Patrick's choice of a friend is
mine on trust. The lady he was for seeing, Mr. Colesworth, was just
then embarking on an adventure of a romantic character, particularly
well suited to her nature, and the end of it was a trifle sanguinary,
and she suffered a disappointment also, though not perhaps on that
'I heard of it in England last year,' said Mr. Colesworth. 'Did
she come through it safely?'
'Without any personal disfigurement: and is in England now, under
her father's roof, meditating fresh adventures.'
Kathleen cried: 'Ye 're talking of the lady who was Miss Adister—I
can guess—Ah!' She humped her shoulders and sent a shudder up her
'But she's a grand creature, Mr. Colesworth, and you ought to know
her,' said Con. 'That is, if you'd like to have an idea of a young
Catherine or a Semiramisminus an army and a country. There's nothing
she's not capable of aiming at. And there's pretty well nothing and
nobody she wouldn't make use of. She has great notions of the power
of the British Press and the British purse—each in turn as a key to
the other. Now for an egg, Kathleen.'
'I think I'll eat an egg,' Kathleen replied.
'Bless the honey heart of the girl! Life's in you, my dear, and
calls for fuel. I'm glad to see that Mr. Colesworth too can take a
sight at the Sea-God after a night of him. It augurs magnificently
for a future career. And let me tell you that the Pen demands it of
us. The first of the requisites is a stout stomach—before a
furnished head! I'd not pass a man to be anything of a writer who
couldn't step ashore from a tempest and consume his Titan breakfast.'
'We are qualifying for the literary craft, Miss O'Donnell,' said
'It's for a walk in the wind up Caer Gybi, and along the coast I
mean to go,' said Kathleen.
'This morning?' the captain asked her.
She saw his dilemma in his doubtful look.
'When I've done. While you're discussing matters with Father
Boyle. I—know you're burning to. Sure it's yourself knows as well as
anybody, Captain Con, that I can walk a day long and take care of my
steps. I've walked the better half of Donegal alone, and this morning
I'll have a protector.'
Captain Con eyed the protector, approved of him, disapproved of
himself, thought of Kathleen as a daughter of Erin—a privileged and
inviolate order of woman in the minds of his countrymen—and wriggling
internally over a remainder scruple said: 'Mr. Colesworth mayhap has
to write a bit in the morning.'
'I'm unattached at present,' the latter said. 'I am neither a
correspondent nor a reporter, and if I were, the event would be
'That remark, sir, shows you to be eminently a stranger to the
official duties,' observed the captain. 'Journalism is a maw, and the
journalist has to cram it, and like anything else which perpetually
distends for matter, it must be filled, for you can't leave it gaping,
so when nature and circumstance won't combine to produce the stuff, we
have recourse to the creative arts. 'Tis the necessity of the
'The profession will not impose that necessity upon me,' remarked
the young practitioner.
'Outside the wheels of the machine, sir, we indulge our
hallucination of immunity. I've been one in the whirr of them,
relating what I hadn't quite heard, and capitulating what I didn't
think at all, in spite of the cry of my conscience—a poor infant
below the waters, casting up ejaculatory bubbles of protestation. And
if it is my reproach that I left it to the perils of drowning, it's my
pride that I continued to transmit air enough to carry on the
struggle. Not every journalist can say as much. The Press is the
voice of the mass, and our private opinion is detected as a discord by
the mighty beast, and won't be endured by him.'
'It's better not to think of him quite as a beast,' said Mr.
'Infinitely better: and I like your "guile," sir: But wait and tell
me what you think of him after tossing him his meat for a certain
number of years. There's Rockney. Do you know Rockney? He's the
biggest single gun they've got, and he's mad for this country, but ask
him about the public, you'll hear the menagerie-keeper's opinion of
the brute that mauled his loins.'
'Rockney,' said Mr. Colesworth, 'has the tone of a man disappointed
of the dictatorship.'
'Then you do know Rockney!' shouted Captain Con. 'That's the man
in a neat bit of drawing. He's a grand piece of ordnance. But wait
for him too, and tell me by and by. If it isn't a woman, you'll find,
that primes him, ay, and points him, and what's more, discharges him,
I'm not Irish born. Poor fellow! I pity him. He had a sweet Irish
lady for his wife, and lost her last year, and has been raging astray
politically ever since. I suppose it's hardly the poor creature's
fault. None the less, you know, we have to fight him. And now he 's
nibbling at a bait—it 's fun: the lady I mentioned, with a turn for
adventure and enterprise: it's rare fun: he 's nibbling, he'll be
hooked. You must make her acquaintance, Mr. Colesworth, and hold your
own against her, if you can. She's a niece of my wife's and I'll
introduce you. I shall find her in London, or at our lodgings at a
Surrey farm we've taken to nurse my cousin Captain Philip O'Donnell
invalided from Indian awful climate!— on my return, when I hope to
renew the acquaintance. She has beauty, she has brains. Resist her,
and you 'll make a decent stand against Lucifer. And supposing she
rolls you up and pitches you over, her noticing you is a pretty
compliment to your pen. That 'll be consoling.'
Mr. Colesworth fancied, he said, that he was proof against feminine
blandishments in the direction of his writings.
He spoke as one indicating a thread to suggest a cable. The
captain applauded the fancy as a pleasing delusion of the young sprigs
Upon this, Mr. Colesworth, with all respect for French
intelligence, denied the conclusiveness of French generalisations,
which ascribed to women universal occult dominion, and traced all
great affairs to small intrigues.
The captain's eyes twinkled on him, thinking how readily he would
back smart Miss Kathleen to do the trick, if need were.
He said to her before she started: 'Don't forget he may be a clever
fellow with that pen of his, and useful to our party.'
'I'll not forget,' said she.
For the good of his party, then, Captain Con permitted her to take
the walk up Caer Gybi alone with Mr. Colesworth: a memorable walk in
the recollections of the scribe, because of the wonderful likeness of
the young lady to the breezy weather and the sparkles over the deep,
the cloud that frowned, the cloud that glowed, the green of the earth
greening out from under wings of shadow, the mountain ranges holding
hands about an immensity of space. It was one of our giant days to
his emotions, and particularly memorable to him through the
circumstance that it insisted on a record in verse, and he was unused
to the fetters of metre: and although the verse was never seen by man,
his attempt at it confused his ideas of his expressive powers. Oddly
too, while scourging the lines with criticism, he had a fondness for
them: they stamped a radiant day in his mind, beyond the resources of
rhetoric to have done it equally.
This was the day of Captain Con's crossing the Rubicon between the
secret of his happiness and a Parliamentary career.
CHAPTER XVIII. CAPTAIN CON'S LETTER
Women may be able to tell you why the nursing of a military invalid
awakens tenderer anxieties in their bosoms than those called forth by
the drab civilian. If we are under sentence of death we are all of us
pathetic of course; but stretched upon the debateable couch of
sickness we are not so touching as the coloured coat: it has the
distinction belonging to colour. It smites a deeper nerve, or more
than one; and this, too, where there is no imaginary subjection to the
charms of military glory, in minds to which the game of war is lurid
as the plumes of the arch-slayer.
Jane Mattock assisting Mrs. Adister O'Donnell to restore Captain
Philip was very singularly affected, like a person shut off on a
sudden from her former theories and feelings. Theoretically she
despised the soldier's work as much as she shrank abhorrently from
bloodshed. She regarded him and his trappings as an ensign of our old
barbarism, and could peruse platitudes upon that theme with
enthusiasm. The soldier personally, she was accustomed to consider an
inferior intelligence: a sort of schoolboy when young, and
schoolmaster when mature a visibly limited creature, not a member of
our broader world. Without dismissing any of these views she found
them put aside for the reception of others of an opposite character;
and in her soul she would have ascribed it to her cares of nursing
that she had become thoughtful, doubtful, hopeful, even prayerful,
surcharged with zeal, to help to save a good sword for the country.
If in a world still barbarous we must have soldiers, here was one
whom it would be grievous to lose. He had fallen for the country; and
there was a moving story of how he had fallen. She inclined to think
more highly of him for having courted exposure on a miserable frontier
war where but a poor sheaf of glory could be gathered. And he seemed
to estimate his professional duties apart from an aim at the laurels.
A conception of the possibility of a man's being both a soldier and
morally a hero edged its way into her understanding. It stood
edgeways within, desirous of avoiding a challenge to show every
The cares of nursing were Jane's almost undividedly, except for the
aid she had from her friend Grace Barrow and from Miss Colesworth.
Mrs. Adister O'Donnell was a nurse in name only. 'She'll be seen by
Philip like as if she were a nightmare apparition of his undertaker's
wraith,' Captain Con said to Jane, when recommending his cousin to her
charitable nature, after he had taken lodgings at a farmhouse near
Mrs. Lackstraw's model farm Woodside on the hills. 'Barring the
dress,' as he added, some such impression of her frigid mournfulness
might have struck a recumbent invalid. Jane acknowledged it, and at
first induced her aunt to join her in the daily walk of half a mile to
sit with him. Mrs. Lackstraw was a very busy lady at her farm; she
was often summoned to London by her intuition of John's wish to have
her presiding at table for the entertainment of his numerous guests;
she confessed that she supervised the art of nursing better than she
practised it, and supervision can be done at a distance if the
subordinate is properly attentive to the rules we lay down, as Jane
appeared to be. So Jane was left to him. She loved the country;
Springtide in the country set her singing; her walk to her patient at
Lappett's farm and homeward was an aethereal rapture for a heart
rocking easy in fulness. There was nothing to trouble it, no hint of
wild winds and heavy seas, not even the familiar insinuation from the
vigilant monitress, her aunt, to bid her be on her guard, beware of
what it is that great heiresses are courted for, steel her heart
against serpent speeches, see well to have the woman's precious word
No at the sentinel's post, and alert there. Mrs. Lackstraw, the most
vigilant and plain-spoken of her sex, had forborne to utter the usual
warnings which were to preserve Miss Mattock for her future Earl or
Duke and the reason why she forbore was a double one; a soldier and
Papist could never be thought perilous to a young woman scorning the
sons of Mars and slaves of sacerdotalism. The picture of Jane
bestowing her hand on a Roman Catholic in military uniform, refused to
be raised before the mind. Charitableness, humaneness, the fact that
she was an admirable nurse and liked to exercise her natural gift,
perfectly accounted for Jane's trips to Lappett's farm, and the
jellies and fresh dairy dainties and neat little dishes she was
constantly despatching to the place. A suggestion of possible danger
might prove more dangerous than silence, by rendering it attractive.
Besides, Jane talked of poor Captain Philip as Patrick O'Donnell's
brother, whom she was bound to serve in return for Patrick's many
services to her; and of how unlike Patrick he was. Mrs. Lackstraw had
been apprehensive about her fancy for Patrick. Therefore if Captain
Philip was unlike him, and strictly a Catholic, according to report,
the suspicion of danger dispersed, and she was allowed to enjoy the
pleasures of the metropolis as frequently as she chose. The nursing
of a man of Letters, or of the neighbour to him, a beggar in rags,
would not have been so tolerated. Thus we perceive that wits actively
awake inside the ring-fence of prepossessions they have erected may
lull themselves with their wakefulness. Who would have thought!—is
the cry when the strongest bulwark of the fence is broken through.
Jane least of any would have thought what was coming to pass. The
pale square-browed young officer, so little Irish and winning in his
brevity of speech, did and said nothing to alarm her or strike the
smallest light. Grace Barrow noticed certain little changes of mood
in Jane she could scarcely have had a distinct suspicion at the time.
After a recent observation of him, on an evening stroll from
Lappett's to Woodside, she pronounced him interesting, but hard. 'He
has an interesting head . . . I should not like to offend him.' They
agreed as to his unlikeness to fluid Patrick; both eulogistic of the
absent brother; and Jane, who could be playful in privacy with
friends, clapped a brogue on her tongue to discourse of Patrick and
apostrophise him: 'Oh! Pat, Pat, my dear cousin Pat! why are you so
long away from your desponding Jane? I 'll take to poetry and write
songs, if you don't come home soon. You've put seas between us, and
are behaving to me as an enemy. I know you 'll bring home a foreign
Princess to break the heart of your faithful. But I'll always praise
you for a dear boy, Pat, and wish you happy, and beg the good
gentleman your brother to give me a diploma as nurse to your first-
born. There now!'
She finished smiling brightly, and Grace was a trifle astonished,
for her friend's humour was not as a rule dramatic.
'You really have caught a twang of it from your friend Captain Con;
only you don't rattle the eighteenth letter of the alphabet in the
middle of words.'
'I've tried, and can't persuade my tongue to do it "first off," as
boys say, and my invalid has no brogue whatever to keep me in
practice,' Jane replied. 'One wonders what he thinks of as he lies
there by the window. He doesn't confide it to his hospital nurse.'
'Yes, he would treat her courteously, just in that military style,'
said Grace, realising the hospital attendance.
'It 's the style I like best:—no perpetual personal thankings and
allusions to the trouble he gives!' Jane exclaimed. 'He shows perfect
good sense, and I like that in all things, as you know. A red-haired
young woman chooses to wait on him and bring him flowers—he's brother
to Patrick in his love of wild flowers, at all events!—and he takes
it naturally and simply. These officers bear illness well. I suppose
it 's the drill.'
'Still I think it a horrid profession, dear.'
Grace felt obliged to insist on that: and her 'I think,' though it
was not stressed, tickled Jane's dormant ear to some drowsy
'I think too much honour is paid to it, certainly. But soldiers,
of all men, one would expect to be overwhelmed by a feeling of
weakness. He has never complained; not once. I doubt if he would
have complained if Mrs. Adister had been waiting on him all the while,
or not a soul. I can imagine him lying on the battle-field night
after night quietly, resolving not to groan.'
'Too great a power of self-repression sometimes argues the want of
any emotional nature,' said Grace.
Jane shook her head. She knew a story of him contradicting that.
The story had not recurred to her since she had undertaken her
service. It coloured the remainder of an evening walk home through the
beechwoods and over the common with Grace, and her walk across the
same tracks early in the morning, after Grace had gone to London.
Miss Colesworth was coming to her next week, with her brother if he
had arrived in England. Jane remembered having once been curious about
this adventurous man of Letters who lived by the work of his pen. She
remembered comparing him to one who was compelled to swim perpetually
without a ship to give him rest or land in view. He had made a little
money by a book, and was expending it on travels—rather imprudently,
she fancied Emma Colesworth to be thinking. He talked well, but for
the present she was happier in her prospect of nearly a week of
loneliness. The day was one of sunshine, windless, odorous: one of
the rare placid days of April when the pettish month assumes a
matronly air of summer and wears it till the end of the day. The
beech twigs were strongly embrowned, the larches shot up green spires
by the borders of woods and on mounds within, deep ditchbanks unrolled
profuse tangles of new blades, and sharp eyes might light on a late
white violet overlooked by the children; primroses ran along the
banks. Jane had a maxim that flowers should be spared to live their
life, especially flowers of the wilds; she had reared herself on our
poets; hence Mrs. Lackstraw's dread of the arrival of one of the
minstrel order: and the girl, who could deliberately cut a bouquet
from the garden, if requested, would refuse to pluck a wildflower.
But now they cried out to her to be plucked in hosts, they claimed
the sacrifice, and it seemed to her no violation of her sentiment to
gather handfuls making a bunch that would have done honour to the
procession of the children's May-day—a day she excused for the
slaughter because her idol and prophet among the poets, wild nature's
interpreter, was that day on the side of the children. How like a
bath of freshness would the thick faintly-fragrant mass shine to her
patient! Only to look at it was medicine! She believed, in her
lively healthfulness, that the look would give him a spring to health,
and she hurried forward to have them in water-the next sacred
obligation to the leaving of them untouched.
She had reared herself on our poets. If much brooding on them will
sometimes create a sentimentalism of the sentiment they inspire, that
also, after our manner of developing, leads to finer civilisation; and
as her very delicate feelings were not always tyrants over her clear
and accurate judgement, they rather tended to stamp her character than
lead her into foolishness. Blunt of speech, quick in sensibility,
imaginative, yet idealistic, she had the complex character of diverse
brain and nerve, and was often a problem to the chief person
interested in it. She thought so decisively, felt so shrinkingly;
spoke so flatly, brooded so softly! Such natures, in the painful
effort to reconcile apparent antagonism and read themselves, forget
that they are not full grown. Longer than others are they young: but
meanwhile they are of an age when we are driven abroad to seek and
shape our destinies.
Passing through the garden-gate of Lappett's farm she made her way
to the south-western face of the house to beg a bowl of water of the
farmer's wife, and had the sweet surprise of seeing her patient lying
under swallows' eaves on a chair her brother had been commissioned to
send from London for coming uses. He was near the farm-wife's
kitchen, but to windward of the cooking-reek, pleasantly warmed,
sufficiently shaded, and alone, with open letter on the rug covering
his legs. He whistled to Jane's dog Wayland, a retriever, having
Newfoundland relationships, of smithy redness and ruggedness; it was
the whistle that startled her to turn and see him as she was in the
act of handing Mrs. Lappett her primroses.
'Out? I feared it would be a week. Is it quite prudent?' Jane
said, toning down her delight.
He answered with the half-smile that refers these questions to the
settled fact. Air had always brought him round; now he could feel he
was embarked for recovery: and he told her how the farmer and one of
his men had lent a shoulder to present him to his old and surest
physician— rather like a crippled ghost. M. Adister was upstairs in
bed with one of her headaches. Captain Con, then, was attending her,
Jane supposed: She spoke of him as the most devoted of husbands.
A slight hardening of Philip's brows, well-known to her by this
time, caused her to interrogate his eyes. They were fixed on her in
his manner of gazing with strong directness. She read the contrary
opinion, and some hieroglyphic matter besides.
'We all respect him for his single-hearted care of her,' she said.
'I have a great liking for him. His tirades about the Saxon tyrant
are not worth mentioning, they mean nothing. He would be one of the
first to rush to the standard if there were danger; I know he would.
He is truly chivalrous, I am sure.'
Philip's broad look at her had not swerved. The bowl of primroses
placed beside him on a chair by the farmer's dame diverted it for a
'You gathered them?' he said.
Jane drank his look at the flowers.
'Yes, on my way,' she replied. 'We can none of us live for ever;
and fresh water every day will keep them alive a good long time. They
had it from the clouds yesterday. Do they not seem a bath of country
happiness!' Evidently they did their service in pleasing him.
Seeing his fingers grope on the rug, she handed him his open
He selected the second, passing under his inspection, and asked her
to read it.
She took the letter, wondering a little that it should be in
Captain Con's handwriting.
'I am to read it through?' she said, after a run over some lines.
He nodded. She thought it a sign of his friendliness in sharing
family secrets with her, and read:
'MY DEAR PHILIP,—Not a word of these contents, which will be
delivered seasonably to the lady chiefly concerned, by the proper
person. She hears this morning I 'm off on a hasty visit to Ireland,
as I have been preparing her of late to expect I must, and yours the
blame, if any, though I will be the last to fling it at you. I meet
Father B. and pretty Kitty before I cross. Judging by the wind this
morning, the passage will furnish good schooling for a spell of the
hustings. But if I am in the nature of things unable to command the
waves, trust me for holding a mob in leash; and they are tolerably
alike. My spirits are up. Now the die is cast. My election to the
vacancy must be reckoned beforehand. I promise you a sounding report
from the Kincora Herald. They will not say of me after that (and read
only the speeches reported in the local paper) "what is the man but an
Irish adventurer!" He is a lover of his country, Philip O'Donnell,
and one of millions, we will hope. And that stigmatic title of long
standing, more than anything earthly, drove him to the step-to the
ruin of his domestic felicity perhaps. But we are past sighing.
'Think you, when he crossed the tide, Caius Julius Caesar sighed?
'No, nor thought of his life, nor his wife, but of the thing to be
done. Laugh, my boy! I know what I am about when I set my mind on a
powerful example. As the chameleon gets his colour, we get our
character from the objects we contemplate . . .'
Jane glanced over the edge of the letter sheet rosily at Philip.
His dryness in hitting the laughable point diverted her, and her
mind became suffused with a series of pictures of the chameleon
captain planted in view of the Roman to become a copy of him, so that
she did not peruse the terminating lines with her wakefullest
'The liege lady of my heart will be the earliest to hail her hero
triumphant, or cherish him beaten—which is not in the prospect. Let
Ireland be true to Ireland. We will talk of the consolidation of the
Union by and by. You are for that, you say, when certain things are
done; and you are where I leave you, on the highway, though seeming to
go at a funeral pace to certain ceremonies leading to the union of the
two countries in the solidest fashion, to their mutual benefit, after
a shining example. Con sleeps with a corner of the eye open, and you
are not the only soldier who is a strategist, and a tactician too,
aware of when it is best to be out of the way. Now adieu and pax
vobiscum. Reap the rich harvest of your fall to earth. I leave you
in the charge of the kindest of nurses, next to the wife of my bosom
the best of women. Appreciate her, sir, or perish in my esteem. She
is one whom not to love is to be guilty of an offence deserving
capital punishment, and a bastinado to season the culprit for his
execution. Have I not often informed her myself that a flower from
her hand means more than treasures from the hands of others. Expect
me absent for a week. The harangues will not be closely reported. I
stand by the truth, which is my love of the land of my birth. A wife
must come second to that if she would be first in her husband's
consideration. Hurrah me on, Philip, now it is action, and let me
fancy I hear you shouting it.'
The drop of the letter to the signature fluttered affectionately on
a number of cordial adjectives, like the airy bird to his home in the
CHAPTER XIX. MARS CONVALESCENT
Jane's face was clear as the sky when she handed the letter back to
Philip. In doing so, it struck her that the prolonged directness of
his look was peculiar: she attributed it to some effect of the fresh
Spring atmosphere on a weakened frame. She was guessing at his
reasons for showing her the letter, and they appeared possibly
'An election to Parliament! Perhaps Mrs. Adister should have a
hint of it, to soften the shock I fear it may be: but we must wait
till her headache has passed,' she said.
'You read to the end?' said Philip.
'Yes, Captain Con always amuses me, and I am bound to confess I
have no positive disrelish of his compliments. But this may prove a
desperate step. The secret of his happiness is in extreme jeopardy.
Nothing would stop him, I suppose?'
Philip signified that it was too late. He was moreover of opinion,
and stated it in his briefest, that it would be advisable to leave the
unfolding of the present secret to the captain.
Jane wondered why the letter had been shown. Her patient might be
annoyed and needing sympathy?
'After all,' she said, 'Captain Con may turn out to be a very good
sort of member of Parliament in his way.'
Philip's eyebrows lifted, and he let fall a breath, eloquent of his
'My brother says he is a serviceable director of the Company they
are associated in.'
'He finds himself among reasonable men, and he is a chameleon.'
'Parliament may steady him.'
'It is too much of a platform for Con's head.'
'Yes, there is more of poet than politician,' said she. 'That is a
danger. But he calls himself our friend; I think he really has a
liking for John and me.'
'For you he has a real love,' said Philip.
'Well, then, he may listen to us at times; he may be trusted not to
wound us. I am unmitigatedly for the one country—no divisions. We
want all our strength in these days of monstrous armies directed by
banditti Councils. England is the nation of the Christian example to
nations. Oh! surely it is her aim. At least she strives to be that.
I think it, and I see the many faults we have.'
Her patient's eyelids were down.
She proposed to send her name up to Mrs. Adister.
On her return from the poor lady racked with headache and lying
little conscious of her husband's powder-barrel under the bed, Jane
found her patient being worried by his official nurse, a
farm-labourer's wife, a bundle of a woman, whose lumbering assiduities
he fenced with reiterated humourous negatives to every one of her
propositions, until she prefaced the last two or three of the list
with a 'Deary me!' addressed consolatorily to herself. She went
through the same forms each day, at the usual hours of the day, and
Jane, though she would have felt the apathetic doltishness of the
woman less, felt how hard it must be for him to bear.
'Your sister will be with you soon,' she said. 'I am glad, and yet
I hope you will not allow her to put me aside altogether?'
'You shall do as you wish,' said Philip.
'Is she like Patrick? Her name is Kathleen, I know.'
'She is a raw Irish girl, of good Irish training, but Irish.'
'I hope she will be pleased with England. Like Patrick in face, I
'We think her a good-looking girl.'
'Does she play? sing?'
'Some of our ballads.'
'She will delight my brother. John loves Irish ballads.'
A silence of long duration fell between them. She fancied he would
like to sleep, and gently rose to slip away, that she might consult
with Mrs. Lappett about putting up some tentcover. He asked her if
she was going. 'Not home,' she said. His hand moved, but stopped. It
seemed to have meant to detain her. She looked at a white fleece that
came across the sun, desiring to conjure it to stay and shadow him.
It sailed by. She raised her parasol.
His eyelids were shut, and she thought him asleep. Meditating on
her unanswered question of Miss Kathleen's likeness to Patrick, Jane
imagined a possibly greater likeness to her patient, and that he did
not speak of his family's exclamations on the subject because of
Kathleen's being so good-looking a girl. For if good-looking, a
sister must resemble these handsome features here, quiescent to
inspection in their marble outlines as a corse. So might he lie on
the battle-field, with no one to watch over him!
While she watched, sitting close beside him to shield his head from
the sunbeams, her heart began to throb before she well knew the secret
of it. She had sight of a tear that grew big under the lashes of each
of his eyelids, and rolled heavily. Her own eyes overflowed.
The fit of weeping was momentary, April's, a novelty with her. She
accused her silly visions of having softened her. A hasty smoothing
to right and left removed the traces; they were unseen; and when she
ventured to look at him again there was no sign of fresh drops
falling. His eyelids kept shut.
The arrival of her diurnal basket of provisions offered a
refreshing intervention of the commonplace. Bright air had sharpened
his appetite: he said he had been sure it would, and anticipated
cheating the doctor of a part of the sentence which condemned him to
lie on his back up to the middle of June, a log. Jane was hungry too,
and they feasted together gaily, talking of Kathleen on her journey,
her strange impressions and her way of proclaiming them, and of
Patrick and where he might be now; ultimately of Captain Con and Mrs.
'He has broken faith with her,' Philip said sternly. 'She will
have the right to tell him so. He never can be anything but a comic
politician. Still he was bound to consult his wife previous to
stepping before the public. He knows that he married a fortune.'
'A good fortune,' said Jane.
Philip acquiesced. 'She is an excellent woman, a model of
uprightness; she has done him all the good in the world, and here is
he deceiving her, lying—there is no other word: and one lie leads to
another. When he married a fortune he was a successful adventurer.
The compact was understood. His duty as a man of honour is to be
true to his bond and serve the lady. Falseness to his position won't
wash him clean of the title.'
Jane pleaded for Captain Con. 'He is chivalrously attentive to
'You have read his letter,' Philip replied.
He crushed her charitable apologies with references to the letter.
'We are not certain that Mrs. Adister will object,' said she.
'Do you see her reading a speech of her husband's?' he remarked.
Presently with something like a moan:
'And I am her guest!'
'Oh! pray, do not think Mrs. Adister will ever allow you to feel
the lightest shadow . . .' said Jane.
'No; that makes it worse.'
Had this been the burden of his thoughts when those two solitary
tears forced their passage?
Hardly: not even in his physical weakness would he consent to weep
for such a cause.
'I forgot to mention that Mrs. Adister has a letter from her
husband telling her he has been called over to Ireland on urgent
business,' she said.
Philip answered: 'He is punctilious.'
'I wish indeed he had been more candid,' Jane assented to the
'In Ireland he is agreeably surprised by the flattering proposal of
a vacant seat, and not having an instant to debate on it, assumes the
consent of the heavenliest wife in Christendom.'
Philip delivered the speech with a partial imitation of Captain Con
addressing his wife on his return as the elected among the pure Irish
party. The effort wearied him.
She supposed he was regretting his cousin's public prominence in
the ranks of the malcontents. 'He will listen to you,' she said,
while she smiled at his unwonted display of mimicry.
'A bad mentor for him. Antics are harmless, though they get us
laughed at,' said Philip.
'You may restrain him from excesses.'
'Were I in that position, you would consider me guilty of greater
than any poor Con is likely to commit.'
'Surely you are not for disunion?'
'The reverse. I am for union on juster terms, that will hold it
'But what are the terms?'
He must have desired to paint himself as black to her as possible.
He stated the terms, which were hardly less than the affrighting ones
blown across the Irish sea by that fierce party. He held them to be
just, simply sensible terms. True, he spoke of the granting them as a
sure method to rally all Ireland to an ardent love of the British
flag. But he praised names of Irish leaders whom she had heard Mr.
Rockney denounce for disloyal insolence: he could find excuses for
them and their dupes— poor creatures, verily! And his utterances had
a shocking emphasis. Then she was not wrong in her idea of the
conspirator's head, her first impression of him!
She could not quit the theme: doing that would have been to be
indifferent: something urged her to it.
'Are they really your opinions?'
He seemed relieved by declaring that they were.
'Patrick is quite free of them,' said she.
'We will hope that the Irish fever will spare Patrick. He was at a
Jesuit college in France when he was wax. Now he's taking the world.'
'With so little of the Jesuit in him!'
'Little of the worst: a good deal of the best.'
'What is the best?'
'Their training to study. They train you to concentrate the brain
upon the object of study. And they train you to accept service: they
fit you for absolute service: they shape you for your duties in the
world; and so long as they don't smelt a man's private conscience,
they are model masters. Happily Patrick has held his own. Not the
Jesuits would have a chance of keeping a grasp on Patrick! He'll
always be a natural boy and a thoughtful man.'
Jane's features implied a gentle shudder.
'I shake a scarlet cloak to you?' said Philip.
She was directed by his words to think of the scarlet coat. 'I
reflect a little on the substance of things as well,' she said.
'Would not Patrick's counsels have an influence?'
'Hitherto our Patrick has never presumed to counsel his elder
'But an officer wearing . . .'
'The uniform! That would have to be stripped off. There'd be an
end to any professional career.'
'You would not regret it?'
'No sorrow is like a soldier's bidding farewell to flag and
comrades. Happily politics and I have no business together. If the
country favours me with active service I'm satisfied for myself. You
asked me for my opinions: I was bound to give them. Generally I let
Could she have had the temerity? Jane marvelled at herself.
She doubted that the weighty pair of tears had dropped for the
country. Captain Con would have shed them over Erin, and many of them.
Captain Philip's tone was too plain and positive: he would be a most
practical unhistrionic rebel.
'You would countenance a revolt?' she said, striking at that
extreme to elicit the favourable answer her tones angled for. And it
'Not in arms.' He tried an explanation by likening the dissension
to a wrangle in a civilised family over an unjust division of
And here, as he was marking the case with some nicety and
difficulty, an itinerant barrel-organ crashed its tragic tale of music
put to torture at the gate. It yelled of London to Jane, throttled
the spirits of the woods, threw a smoke over the country sky, befouled
the pure air she loved.
The instrument was one of the number which are packed to suit all
English tastes and may be taken for a rough sample of the jumble of
them, where a danceless quadrille-tune succeeds a suicidal Operatic
melody and is followed by the weariful hymn, whose last drawl pert
polka kicks aside. Thus does the poor Savoyard compel a rich people to
pay for their wealth. Not without pathos in the abstract perhaps do
the wretched machines pursue their revolutions of their factory life,
as incapable of conceiving as of bestowing pleasure: a bald cry for
pennies through the barest pretence to be agreeable but Jane found it
hard to be tolerant of them out of London, and this one affecting her
invalid and Mrs. Adister must be dismissed. Wayland was growling; he
had to be held by the collar. He spied an objectionable animal. A
jerky monkey was attached to the organ; and his coat was red, his kepi
was blue; his tailor had rigged him as a military gentleman. Jane
called to the farm-wife. Philip assured her he was not annoyed. Jane
observed him listening, and by degrees she distinguished a maundering
of the Italian song she had one day sung to Patrick in his brother's
'I remember your singing that the week before I went to India,'
said Philip, and her scarlet blush flooded her face.
'Can you endure the noise?' she asked him.
'Con would say it shrieks "murder." But I used to like it once.'
Mrs. Lappett came answering to the call. Her children were seen up
the garden setting to one another with squared aprons, responsive to a
'Bless me, miss, we think it so cheerful!' cried Mrs. Lappett, and
glanced at her young ones harmonious and out of mischief.
'Very well,' said Jane, always considerate for children. She had
forgotten the racked Mrs. Adister.
Now the hymn of Puritanical gloom-the peacemaker with Providence
performing devotional exercises in black bile. The leaps of the
children were dashed. A sallow two or three minutes composed their
motions, and then they jumped again to the step for lively legs. The
similarity to the regimental band heading soldiers on the march from
Church might have struck Philip.
'I wonder when I shall see Patrick!' he said, quickened in spite of
himself by the sham sounds of music to desire changes and surprises.
Jane was wondering whether he could be a man still to brood
tearfully over his old love.
She echoed him. 'And I! Soon, I hope.'
The appearance of Mrs. Adister with features which were the acutest
critical summary of the discord caused toll to be paid instantly, and
they beheld a flashing of white teeth and heard Italian accents. The
monkey saluted militarily, but with painful suggestions of his
foregone drilling in the ceremony.
'We are safe nowhere from these intrusions,' Mrs. Adister said;
'not on these hills!—and it must be a trial for the wretched men to
climb them, that thing on their backs.'
'They are as accustomed to it as mountain smugglers bearing packs
of contraband,' said Philip.
'Con would have argued him out of hearing before he ground a second
note,' she resumed. 'I have no idea when Con returns from his
unexpected visit to Ireland.'
'Within a fortnight, madam.'
'Let me believe it! You have heard from him? But you are in the
air! exposed! My head makes me stupid. It is now five o'clock. The
air begins to chill. Con will never forgive me if you catch a cold,
and I would not incur his blame.'
The eyes of Jane and Philip shot an exchange.
'Anything you command, madam,' said Philip.
He looked up and breathed his heaven of fresh air. Jane pitied,
she could not interpose to thwart his act of resignation. The farmer,
home for tea, and a footman, took him between them, crutched, while
Mrs. Adister said to Jane: 'The doctor's orders are positive:—if he
is to be a man once more, he must rest his back and not use his legs
for months. He was near to being a permanent cripple from that fall.
My brother Edward had one like it in his youth. Soldiers are
'I think Mr. Adister had his fall when hunting, was it not?' said
'Hunting, my dear.'
That was rather different from a fall on duty before the enemy,
incurred by severe exhaustion after sunstroke! . . .
Jane took her leave of Philip beside his couch of imprisonment in
his room, promising to return in the early morning. He embraced her
old dog Wayland tenderly. Hard men have sometimes a warm affection
Walking homeward she likewise gave Wayland a hug. She called him
'dear old fellow,' and questioned him of his fondness for her, warning
him not to be faithless ever to the mistress who loved him. Was not
her old Wayland as good a protector as the footman Mrs. Adister
pressed her to have at her heels? That he was!
Captain Con's behaviour grieved her. And it certainly revived an
ancient accusation against his countrymen. If he cared for her so
much, why had he not placed confidence in her and commissioned her to
speak of his election to his wife? Irishmen will never be quite
sincere!—But why had his cousin exposed him to one whom he greatly
esteemed? However angry he might be with Con O'Donnell in his
disapproval of the captain's conduct, it was not very considerate to
show the poor man to her in his natural colours. Those words: 'The
consolidation of the Union:' sprang up. She had a dim remembrance of
words ensuing: 'ceremonies going at a funeral pace . . . on the
highway to the solidest kind of union:'—Yes, he wrote: 'I leave you
to . . .' And Captain Philip showed her the letter:
She perceived motives beginning to stir. He must have had his
intention: and now as to his character!—Jane was of the order of
young women possessing active minds instead of figured paste-board
fronts, who see what there is to be seen about them and know what may
be known instead of decorously waiting for the astonishment of
revelations. As soon as she had asked herself the nature of the
design of so honourable a man as Captain Philip in showing her his
cousin's letter, her blood spun round and round, waving the reply as a
torch; and the question of his character confirmed it.
But could he be imagined seeking to put her on her guard? There
may be modesty in men well aware of their personal attractions: they
can credit individual women with powers of resistance. He was not
vain to the degree which stupefies the sense of there being weight or
wisdom in others. And he was honour's own. By these lights of his
character she read the act. His intention was . . . and even while
she saw it accurately, the moment of keen perception was overclouded
by her innate distrust of her claim to feminine charms. For why
should he wish her to understand that he was no fortune-hunter and
treated heiresses with greater reserve than ordinary women! How could
it matter to him?
She saw the tears roll. Tears of men sink plummet-deep; they find
their level. The tears of such a man have more of blood than of water
in them.—What was she doing when they fell? She was shading his head
from the sun. What, then, if those tears came of the repressed desire
to thank her with some little warmth? He was honour's own, and
warmhearted Patrick talked of him as a friend whose heart was, his
friend's. Thrilling to kindness, and, poor soul! helpless to escape
it, he felt. perhaps that he had never thanked her, and could not. He
lay there, weak and tongue-tied: hence those two bright volumes of his
condition of weakness.
So the pursuit of the mystery ended, as it had commenced, in
confusion, but of a milder sort and partially transparent at one or
two of the gates she had touched. A mind capable of seeing was
twisted by a nature that would not allow of open eyes; yet the laden
emotions of her nature brought her round by another channel to the
stage neighbouring sight, where facts, dimly recognised for such—as
they may be in truth, are accepted under their disguises, because
disguise of them is needed by the bashful spirit which accuses itself
of audaciousness in presuming to speculate. Had she asked herself the
reason of her extended speculation, her foot would not have stopped
more abruptly on the edge of a torrent than she on that strange road
of vapours and flying lights. She did not; she sang, she sent her
voice through the woods and took the splendid ring of it for an
assurance of her peculiarly unshackled state. She loved this liberty.
Of the men who had 'done her the honour,' not one had moved her to
regret the refusal. She lived in the hope of simply doing good, and
could only give her hand to a man able to direct and help her; one who
would bear to be matched with her brother. Who was he? Not
discoverable; not likely to be.
Therefore she had her freedom, an absolutely unflushed freedom,
happier than poor Grace Barrow's. Rumour spoke of Emma Colesworth
having a wing clipped. How is it that sensible women can be so
susceptible? For, thought Jane, the moment a woman is what is called
in love, she can give her heart no longer to the innocent things about
her; she is cut away from Nature: that pure well-water is tasteless to
her. To me it is wine!
The drinking of the pure well-water as wine is among the fatal
signs of fire in the cup, showing Nature at work rather to enchain the
victim than bid her daughter go. Jane of course meant the poet's
'Nature.' She did not reflect that the strong glow of poetic
imagination is wanted to hallow a passionate devotion to the inanimate
for this evokes the spiritual; and passionateness of any kind in
narrower brains should be a proclamation to us of sanguine freshets
not coming from a spiritual source. But the heart betraying deluded
her. She fancied she had not ever been so wedded to Nature as on that
walk through the bursting beechwoods, that sweet lonely walk, perfect
in loneliness, where even a thought of a presence was thrust away as a
desecration and images of souls in thought were shadowy.
Her lust of freedom gave her the towering holiday. She took the
delirium in her own pure fashion, in a love of the bankside flowers
and the downy edges of the young beech-buds fresh on the sprays. And
it was no unreal love, though too intent and forcible to win the
spirit from the object. She paid for this indulgence of her mood by
losing the spirit entirely. At night she was a spent rocket. What had
gone she could not tell: her very soul she almost feared. Her
glorious walk through the wood seemed burnt out. She struck a light
to try her poet on the shelf of the elect of earth by her bed, and she
read, and read flatness. Not his the fault! She revered him too
deeply to lay it on him. Whose was it? She had a vision of the gulfs
Could it be possible that human persons were subject to the spells
of persons with tastes, aims, practices, pursuits alien to theirs? It
was a riddle taxing her to solve it for the resistance to a monstrous
iniquity of injustice, degrading her conception of our humanity. She
attacked it in the abstract, as a volunteer champion of our offended
race. And Oh! it could not be. The battle was won without a blow.
Thereupon came glimpses of the gulfs of bondage, delicious, rose-
enfolded, foreign; they were chapters of soft romance, appearing
interminable, an endless mystery, an insatiable thirst for the
mystery. She heard crashes of the opera-melody, and despising it even
more than the wretched engine of the harshness, she was led by it,
tyrannically led a captive, like the organ-monkey, until perforce she
usurped the note, sounded the cloying tune through her frame, passed
into the vulgar sugariness, lost herself.
And saying to herself: This is what moves them! she was moved.
One thrill of appreciation drew her on the tide, and once drawn from
shore she became submerged. Why am I not beautiful, was her thought.
Those voluptuous modulations of melting airs are the natural clothing
of beautiful women. Beautiful women may believe themselves beloved.
They are privileged to believe, they are born with the faith.