The House by the Church-Yard
by J. Sheridan Le Fanu
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'I thank you, Sir, no; 'tis a little too early for me.' And so with the usual ceremonies, Mr. Lowe departed, the governor of the Brass Castle walking beside his horse, as far as the iron gate, to do him honour; and as he rode away towards Lucan, Mr. Dangerfield followed him with a snowy smirk.

Then briskly, after his wont, the knight of the shining spectacles made his natty toilet; and in a few minutes his cocked hat was seen gliding along the hedge toward Chapelizod.

He glanced up at Sturk's window—it was a habit now—so soon as he came in sight, but all looked as usual. So he mounted the steps, and asked to see Mrs. Sturk.

'My dear Madam,' said he, after due courtesies interchanged, 'I've but a few minutes; my horse waits yonder at the Phoenix, and I'm away to town. How does your patient to-day?'

'Oh, mighty well—wonderful—that is considering how cold the weather is. The doctor says he's lower, indeed, but I don't mind that, for he must be lower while the cold continues; I always say that; and I judge very much by the eye; don't you, Mr. Dangerfield? by his looks, you know; they can't deceive me, and I assure you—'

'Your house is quiet; are the children out, Ma'am?'

'Oh, yes, with Mag in the park.'

'Perhaps, Ma'am, you'd let me see him?'

'See him?'

'Yes, look on him, Ma'am, only for a moment you know.'

She looked very much surprised, and perhaps a little curious and frightened.

'I hope you haven't heard he's worse, Mr. Dangerfield. Oh, Sir, sure you haven't?'

'No, Madam, on my honour, except from yourself, I've heard nothing of him to-day; but I'd like to see him, and speak a word to you, with your permission.'

So Mrs. Sturk led the way up stairs, whispering as she ascended; for she had always the fancy in her head that her Barney was in a sweet light sleep, from which he was on no account to be awakened, forgetting, or not clearly knowing, that all the ordnance in the barrack-yard over the way had not voice enough to call him up from that dread slumber.

'You may go down, my dear,' said Mr. Dangerfield to the little girl, who rose silently from the chair as they entered; 'with your permission, Mistress Sturk—I say, child, you may run down,' and he smiled a playful, sinister smile, with a little wave of his finger toward the door. So she courtesied and vanished obediently.

Then he drew the curtain, and looked on Doctor Sturk. There lay the hero of the tragedy, his smashed head strapped together with sticking-plaster, and a great white fold of fine linen, like a fantastic turban, surmounting his grim yellow features.

Then he slipped his fingers under the coverlet, and took his hand; a strange greeting that! But it was his pulse he wanted, and when he had felt it for a while—

'Psha!' said he in a whisper—for the semblance of sleep affected everyone alike—'his pulse is just gone. Now, Madam, listen to me. There's not a soul in Chapelizod but yourself who does not know his wounds are mortal—he's dying, Ma'am.'

'Oh—oh—o—o—oh, Mr. Dangerfield, you don't—you don't think so,' wildly cried the poor little lady, growing quite white with terror and agony.

'Now, pray, my dear Mistress Sturk, compose yourself, and hear me out: 'Tis my belief he has a chance; but none, absolutely no chance, Madam, unless my advice be taken. There's not an evening, Ma'am, I meet Doctor Toole at the club, but I hear the same report—a little lower—always the same—lower—sinking—and no hope.'

Here Mrs. Sturk broke out again.

'Now, Madam,' I protest you'll make me regret my visit, unless you please to command yourself. While the doctors who are about him have got him in hands, there's neither hope for his life, nor for his recovering, for one moment, the use of his speech. Pray, Madam, hear me. They state as much themselves. Now, Madam, I say, we must have a chance for his life, and if that fails, a chance for his speech. The latter, Madam, is of more consequence than, perhaps, you are aware.'

Poor little Mrs. Sturk was looking very pale, and breathing very hard, with her hand pressed to her heart.

'I've done what I could, you know, to see my way through his affairs, and I've succeeded in keeping his creditors quiet.'

At this point poor Mrs. Sturk broke out—

'Oh! may the Father of the fatherless, if such they are to be bless and reward—oh—oh—ho—ho, Mr. Dangerfield—oh—oh-oh—Sir.'

'Now, pray, Madam, oblige me and be tranquil. I say, Madam, his affairs, I suspect, are by no means in so bad a case as we at first supposed, and he has got, or I'm mistaken, large sums out, but where, neither I nor you can tell. Give him five minutes' speech, and it may be worth a thousand pounds to you—well, not to you, if you will, but to his children. And again, Madam, 'tis of the utmost importance that he should be able to state who was the villain who struck him—Charles—a—Charles—Mr. Nutter—you know, Madam.'

'Oh! that dreadful—dreadful man—may Heaven forgive him. Oh, my Barney! look at him there—he'd forgive him if he could speak. You would, my blessed Barney—you would.'

'To be sure he would. But see, Ma'am, the importance of having his evidence to settle the fact. Well, I know that he would not like to hang anybody. But suppose, Ma'am, Charles Nutter is innocent, don't you think he'd like to acquit him? ay, you do. Well, Ma'am, 'tis due to the public, you see, and to his children that he should have a chance of recovering his speech, and to common humanity that he should have a chance for his life—eh? and neither will the doctors who have him in hands allow him. Now, Madam, there's a simple operation, called trepanning, you have heard of it, which would afford him such a chance, but fearing its failure they won't try it, although they allege that without it he must die, d'ye see?—ay, die he must, without a cast for his life if you won't try it.'

And so, by harping on the alternatives, and demonstrating the prudence, humanity, and duty of action, and the inevitably fatal consequences of the other course, he wrought upon her at last to write a note to Surgeon Dillon to come out on the evening following, and to perform the operation. The dreadful word 'to-day,' the poor little woman could not abide. She pleaded for a respite, and so, half-distracted, fixed to-morrow.

'I hope, my dear Madam, you've some little confidence in me. I think I have shown an interest, and I've striven to be of use.'

'Oh, Sir, Mr. Dangerfield, you've been too good, our guardian angel; but for you, Sir, we should not have had a roof over our heads, or a bed to lie on; oh! may—'

'Well, Ma'am, you please to speak too highly of my small services; but I would plead them, humble as they are, as a claim on your confidence, and having decided upon this wise and necessary course, pray do not say a word about it to anybody but myself. I will go to town, and arrange for the doctor's visit, and you'll soon, I hope, have real grounds for gratitude, not to me, Ma'am, but to Heaven.'



Before going to town, Mr. Dangerfield, riding over the bridge and up the Palmerstown-road, dismounted at Belmont door-steps, and asked for the general. He was out. Then for Miss Rebecca Chattesworth. Yes, she was in the withdrawing-room. And so, light, white, and wiry, he ascended the stairs swiftly.

'Mr. Dangerfield,' cried Dominick, throwing open the door; and that elderly and ill-starred wooer glided in thereat.

'Madam, your most humble servant.'

'Oh! Mr. Dangerfield? You're very welcome, Sir,' said Aunt Becky, with a grand courtesy, and extending her thin jewelled hand, which he took gallantly, with another bow, and a smile, and a flash from his spectacles.

Aunt Becky laid down her volume of Richardson. She was quite alone, except for her little monkey—Goblin—with a silver hoop about his waist, and a chain thereto attached; two King Charles's dogs, whose barking subsided after a while; and one gray parrot on a perch in the bow-window, who happily was not in a very chatty mood just then. So the human animals were able to edge in a sentence easily enough. And Mr. Dangerfield said—

'I'm happy in having found you, Madam; for whatever be my disappointments else, to Miss Rebecca Chattesworth at least I owe a debt of gratitude, which, despairing to repay it, I can only acknowledge; and leaving unacknowledged, I should have departed from Ireland most unhappily.'

'What a fop! what a fop,' said the parrot.

'You rate my poor wishes too highly, Mr. Dangerfield. I over-estimated, myself, my influence with the young lady; but why speak of your departure, Sir, so soon? A little time may yet work a change.'

'You lie, you dog! you lie, you lie, you lie,' said the parrot.

'Madam,' said he with a shake of his head, ''tis hoping against hope. Time will add to my wrinkles without softening her aversion. I utterly despair. While there remained one spark of hope I should never have dreamed of leaving Chapelizod.'

Here there was a considerable pause, during which the parrot occasionally repeated, 'You lie, you lie—you dog—you lie.'

'Of course, Sir, if the chance be not worth waiting for, you do well to be gone wherever your business or your pleasures, Sir, invite you,' said Aunt Becky, a little loftily.

'What a fop!' said the parrot. 'You lie, you dog!'

'Neither business, Madam, nor pleasures invite me. My situation here has been most distressing. So long as hope cheered me, I little regarded what might be said or thought; but I tell you honestly that hope is extinguished; and it has grown to me intolerable longer to remain in sight of that treasure for which I cannot cease to wish, and which I never can possess. I've grown, Madam, to detest the place.'

Aunt Becky, with her head very high, adjusted in silence, the two China mandarins on the mantelpiece—first, one very carefully, then the other. And there was a pause, during which one of the lap-dogs screamed; and the monkey, who had boxed his ears, jumped, with a ringing of his chain, chattering, on the back of the arm-chair in which the grim suitor sat. Mr. Dangerfield would have given the brute a slap in the face, but that he knew how that would affect Miss Rebecca Chattesworth.

'So, Madam,' said he, standing up abruptly, 'I am here to thank you most gratefully for the countenance given to my poor suit, which, here and now, at last and for ever, I forego. I shall leave for England so soon as my business will allow; and as I made no secret of my suit, so I shall make none of the reasons of my departure. I'm an outspoken man, Madam; and as the world knew my hopes, I shall offer them no false excuses for my departure; but lift my hat, and bow to fortune—a defeated man.'

'Avez-vous dine mon petit coquin?' said the parrot.

'Well, Sir, I will not altogether deny you have reason for what you design; and it may be, 'tis as well to bring the matter to a close, though your resolution has taken me by surprise. She hath shown herself so perverse in this respect, that I allow I see no present likelihood of a change; and indeed I do not quite understand my niece; and, very like, she does not comprehend herself.'

Mr. Dangerfield almost smiled one of his grim disconcerting smiles, and a cynical light played over his face; and the black monkey behind him grinned and hugged himself like his familiar. The disappointed gentleman thought he understood Miss Gertrude pretty well.

'I thought,' said Aunt Becky; 'I suspected—did you—a certain young gentleman in this neighbourhood—'

'As having found his way to the young lady's good graces?' asked Dangerfield.

'Yes; and I conjecture you know whom I mean,' said Aunt Rebecca.

'Who—pray, Madam?' he demanded.

'Why, Lieutenant Puddock,' said Aunt Becky, again adjusting the china on the chimneypiece.

'Eh?—truly?—that did not strike me,' replied Dangerfield.

He had a disconcerting way of saying the most ordinary things, and there was a sort of latent meaning, like a half-heard echo, underrunning the surface of his talk, which sometimes made people undefinably uncomfortable; and Aunt Becky looked a little stately and flushed; but in a minute more the conversation proceeded.

'I have many regrets, Miss Chattesworth, in leaving this place. The loss of your society—don't mistake me, I never flatter—is a chief one. Some of your views and plans interested me much. I shall see my Lord Castlemallard sooner than I should had my wishes prospered; and I will do all in my power to engage him to give the site for the building, and stones from the quarry free; and I hope, though no longer a resident here, you will permit me to contribute fifty pounds towards the undertaking.'

'Sir, I wish there were more gentlemen of your public spirit and Christian benevolence,' cried Aunt Becky, very cordially; 'and I have heard of all your goodness to that unhappy family of Doctor Sturk's—poor wretched man!'

'A bagatelle, Madam,' said Dangerfield, shaking his head and waving his hand slightly; 'but I hope to do them, or at least the public, a service of some importance, by bringing conviction home to the assassin who struck him down, and that in terms so clear and authentic, as will leave no room for doubt in the minds of any; and to this end I'm resolved to stick at no trifling sacrifice, and, rather than fail, I'll drain my purse.'

'Mon petit coquin!' prattled the parrot in the bow-window.

'And, Madam,' said he, after he had risen to take his leave, 'as I before said, I'm a plain man. I mean, so soon as I can wind my business up, to leave this place and country—I would to-night, if I could; but less, I fear, than some days—perhaps a week will not suffice. When I'm gone, Madam, I beg you'll exercise no reserve respecting the cause of my somewhat abrupt departure; I could easily make a pretext of something else; but the truth, Madam, is easiest as well as best to be told; I protracted my stay so long as hope continued. Now my suit is ended. I can no longer endure the place. The remembrance of your kindness only, sweetens the bitterness of my regret, and that I shall bear with me so long, Madam, as life remains.'

And saying this, as Mr. Richardson writes, 'he bowed upon her passive hand,' and Miss Rebecca made him a grand and gracious courtesy.

As he retreated, whom should Dominick announce but Captain Cluffe and Lieutenant Puddock. And there was an odd smile on Mr. Dangerfield's visage, as he slightly acknowledged them in passing, which Aunt Rebecca somehow did not like.

So Aunt Becky's levee went on; and as Homer, in our school-boy ear, sang the mournful truth, that 'as are the generations of the forest leaves so are the succession of men,' the Dangerfield efflorescence had no sooner disappeared, and that dry leaf whisked away down the stairs, than Cluffe and Puddock budded forth and bloomed in his place, in the sunshine of Aunt Rebecca's splendid presence.

Cluffe, in virtue of his rank and pretensions, marched in the van, and, as Aunt Becky received him, little Puddock's round eyes swept the room in search, perhaps, of some absent object.

'The general's not here,' said Aunt Becky loftily and severely, interpreting Puddock's wandering glance in that way. 'Your visit, perhaps, is for him—you'll find him in his study, with the orderly.'

'My visit, Madam,' said Puddock, with a slight blush, 'was intended for you, Madam—not for the general, whom I had the honour of seeing this morning on parade.'

'Oh! for me? I thank you,' said Aunt Rebecca, with a rather dry acknowledgment. And so she turned and chatted with Cluffe, who, not being at liberty to talk upon his usual theme—his poor, unhappy friend, Puddock, and his disgraces—was eloquent upon the monkey, and sweet upon the lap-dogs, and laughed till he grew purple at the humours of the parrot, and swore, as gentlemen then swore, 'twas a conjuror, a wonder, and as good as a play. While this entertaining conversation was going on, there came a horrid screech and a long succession of yelps from the court-yard.

'Good gracious mercy,' cried Aunt Rebecca, sailing rapidly to the window, ''tis Flora's voice. Sweet creature, have they killed you—my angel; what is it?—where are you, sweetheart?—where can she be? Oh, dear—oh, dear!'—and she looked this way and that in her distraction.

But the squeak subsided, and Flora was not to be seen; and Aunt Becky's presence of mind returned, and she said—

'Captain Cluffe, 'tis a great liberty; but you're humane—and, besides, I know that you would readily do me a kindness.' That emphasis was shot at poor Puddock. 'And may I pray you to try on the steps if you can see the dear animal, anywhere—you know Flora?'

'Know her?—oh dear, yes,' cried Cluffe with alacrity, who, however, did not, but relied on her answering to her name, which he bawled lustily from the door-steps and about the court-yard, with many terms of endearment, intended for Aunt Becky's ear, in the drawing-room.

Little Puddock, who was hurt at that lady's continued severity, was desirous of speaking; for he liked Aunt Becky, and his heart swelled within him at her injustice; but though he hemmed once or twice, somehow the exordium was not ready, and his feelings could not find a tongue.

Aunt Becky looked steadfastly from the window for a while, and then sailed majestically toward the door, which the little ensign, with an humble and somewhat frightened countenance, hastened to open.

'Pray, Sir, don't let me trouble you,' said Aunt Becky, in her high, cold way.

'Madam, 'tis no trouble—it would be a happiness to me, Madam, to serve you in any way you would permit; but 'tis a trouble to me, Madam, indeed, that you leave the room, and a greater trouble,' said little Puddock, waxing fluent as he proceeded, 'that I have incurred your displeasure—indeed, Madam, I know not how—your goodness to me, Madam, in my sickness, I never can forget.'

'You can forget, Sir—you have forgot. Though, indeed, Sir, there was little to remember, I—I'm glad you thought me kind, Sir. I—I wish you well, Sir,' said Aunt Becky. She was looking down and a little pale, and in her accents something hurried and almost sad. 'And as for my displeasure, Sir, who said I was displeased? And if I were, what could my displeasure be to you? No, Sir,' she went on almost fiercely, and with a little stamp on the floor, 'you don't care; and why should you?—you've proved it—you don't, Lieutenant Puddock, and you never did.'

And, without waiting for an answer, Aunt Becky flashed out of the room, and up stairs to her chamber, the door of which she slammed fiercely; and Gertrude, who was writing a letter in her own chamber, heard her turn the key hastily in the lock.

When Cluffe, who for some time continued to exercise his lungs in persuasive invitations to Flora, at last gave over the pursuit, and returned to the drawing-room, to suggest that the goddess in question had probably retreated to the kitchen, he was a good deal chagrined to find the drawing-room 'untreasured of its mistress.'

Puddock looked a good deal put out, and his explanation was none of the clearest; and he could not at all say that the lady was coming back.

'I think, Lieutenant Puddock,' said Cluffe, who was much displeased, and had come to regard Aunt Rebecca very much as under his especial protection, 'it might have been better we hadn't called here. I—you see—you're not—you see it yourself—you've offended Miss Rebecca Chattesworth somehow, and I'm afraid you've not mended matters while I was down stairs bawling after that cursed—that—the—little dog, you know. And—and for my part, I'm devilish sorry I came, Sir.'

This was said after a wait of nearly ten minutes, which appeared at least twice as long.

'I'm sorry, Sir, I embarrassed you with the disadvantage of my company,' answered little Puddock, with dignity.

'Why, 'tisn't that, you know,' rejoined Cluffe, in a patronising 'my good-fellow' sort of way; 'you know I always liked your company devilish well. But where's the good of putting one's self in the way of being thought de trop—don't you see—by other people—and annoyed in this way—and—you—you don't know the world, Puddock—you'd much better leave yourself in any hands, d'ye see; and so, I suppose, we may as well be off now—'tis no use waiting longer.'

And discontentedly and lingeringly the gallant captain, followed by Puddock, withdrew himself—pausing to caress the wolf-dog at the corner of the court-yard, and loitering as long as it was decent in the avenue.

All this time Miss Gertrude Chattesworth, like her more mature relative, was in the quiet precincts of her chamber. She, too, had locked her door, and, with throbbing temples and pale face, was writing a letter, from which I take the liberty of printing a few scarcely coherent passages.

* * * * *

'I saw you on Sunday—for near two hours—may Heaven forgive me, thinking of little else than you. And, oh! what would I not have given to speak, were it but ten words to you? When is my miserable probation to end? Why is this perverse mystery persisted in? I sometimes lose all hope in my destiny, and well-nigh all trust in you. I feel that I am a deceiver, and cannot bear it. I assure you, on my sacred honour, I believe there is nothing gained by all this—oh! forgive the word—deception. How or when is it to terminate?—what do you purpose?—why does the clerk's absence from the town cause you so much uneasiness—is there any danger you have not disclosed? A friend told me that you were making preparations to leave Chapelizod and return to England. I think I was on the point of fainting when I heard it. I almost regret I did not, as the secret would thus have been discovered, and my emancipation accomplished. How have you acquired this strange influence over me, to make me so deceive those in whom I should most naturally confide? I am persuaded they believe I really recoil from you. And what is this new business of Doctor Sturk? I am distracted with uncertainties and fears. I hear so little, and imperfectly from you, I cannot tell from your dark hints whether some new danger lurks in those unlooked-for quarters. I know not what magic binds me so to you, to endure the misery of this strange deceitful mystery—but you are all mystery; and yet be not—you cannot be—my evil genius. You will not condemn me longer to a wretchedness that must destroy me. I conjure you, declare yourself. What have we to fear? I will brave all—anything rather than darkness, suspense, and the consciousness of a continual dissimulation. Declare yourself, I implore of you, and be my angel of light and deliverance.'

There is a vast deal more, but this sample is quite enough; and when the letter was finished, she signed it— 'Your most unhappy and too-faithful, 'GERTRUDE'.

And having sealed it, she leaned her anxious head upon her hand, and sighed heavily.

She knew very well by what means to send it; and the letter awaited at his house him for whom it was intended on his return that evening.



AT that time there had appeared in Dublin an erratic genius in the medical craft, a young surgeon, 'Black Dillon,' they called him, the glory and disgrace of his calling; such as are from time to time raised up to abase the pride of intellect, and terrify the dabblers in vice. A prodigious mind, illuminating darkness, and shivering obstacles at a blow, with an electric force—possessing the power of a demigod, and the lusts of a swine. Without order, without industry; defying all usages and morality; lost for weeks together in the catacombs of vice; and emerging to re-assert in an hour the supremacy of his intellect; without principles or shame; laden with debt; and shattered and poisoned with his vices; a branded and admired man.

In the presence of this outcast genius and prodigy of vice, stood Mr. Dangerfield. There were two other gentlemen in the same small room, one of whom was doggedly smoking, with his hat on, over the fire; the other snoring in a crazy arm-chair, on the back of which hung his wig. The window was small and dirty; the air muddy with tobacco-smoke, and inflamed with whiskey. Singing and the clang of glasses was resounding from the next room, together with peals of coarse laughter, and from that on the other side, the high tones and hard swearing, and the emphatic slapping of a heavy hand upon the table, indicating a rising quarrel, were heard. From one door through another, across the narrow floor on which Mr. Dangerfield stood, every now and then lounged some neglected, dirty, dissipated looking inmate of these unwholesome precincts. In fact, Surgeon Dillon's present residence was in that diversorium pecatorum, the Four Courts Marshalsea in Molesworth-court. As these gentlemen shuffled or swaggered through, they generally nodded, winked, grunted, or otherwise saluted the medical gentleman, and stared at his visitor. For as the writer of the Harleian tract—I forget its name—pleasantly observes:—'In gaol they are no proud men, but will be quickly acquainted without ceremony.'

Mr. Dangerfield stood erect; all his appointments were natty, and his dress, though quiet, rich in material, and there was that air of reserve, and decision, and command about him, which suggests money, an article held much in esteem in that retreat. He had a way of seeing every thing in a moment without either staring or stealing glances, and nobody suspected him of making a scrutiny. In the young surgeon he saw an object in strong contrast with himself. He was lean and ungainly, shy and savage, dressed in a long greasy silk morning gown, blotched with wine and punch over the breast. He wore his own black hair gathered into a knot behind, and in a neglected dusty state, as if it had not been disturbed since he rolled out of his bed. This being placed his large, red, unclean hands, with fingers spread, like a gentleman playing the harpsichord, upon the table, as he stood at the side opposite to Mr. Dangerfield, and he looked with a haggard, surly stare on his visitor, through his great dark, deep-set prominent eyes, streaming fire, the one feature that transfixed the attention of all who saw him. He had a great brutal mouth, and his nose was pimply and inflamed, for Bacchus has his fires as well as Cupid, only he applies them differently. How polished showed Mr. Dangerfield's chin opposed to the three days' beard of Black Dillon! how delicate his features compared with the lurid proboscis, and huge, sensual, sarcastic mouth of the gentleman in the dirty morning-gown and shapeless slippers, who confronted him with his glare, an image of degradation and power!

'Tuppince, Docthor Dillon,' said a short, fat, dirty nymph, without stays or hoop, setting down a 'naggin o' whiskey' between the medical man and his visitor.

The doctor, to do him justice, for a second or two looked confoundedly put out, and his eyes blazed fiercer as his face flushed.

'Three halfpence outside, and twopence here, Sir,' said he with an awkward grin, throwing the money on the table; 'that's the way our shepherd deglubat oves, Sir; she's brought it too soon, but no matter.'

It was not one o'clock, in fact.

'They will make mistakes, Sir; but you will not suffer their blunders long, I warrant,' said Dangerfield, lightly. 'Pray, Sir, can we have a room for a moment to ourselves?'

'We can, Sir, 'tis a liberal house; we can have any thing; liberty itself, Sir—for an adequate sum,' replied Mr. Dillon.

Whatever the sum was, the room was had, and the surgeon, who had palpably left his 'naggin' uneasily in company with the gentleman in the hat, and him without a wig, eyed Dangerfield curiously, thinking that possibly his grand-aunt Molly had left him the fifty guineas she was rumoured to have sewed up in her stays.

'There's a great deal of diversion, Sir, in five hundred guineas, said Mr. Dangerfield, and the spectacles dashed pleasantly upon the doctor.

'Ye may say that,' answered the grinning surgeon, with a quiet oath of expectation.

''Tis a handsome fee, Sir, and you may have it.'

'Five hundred guineas!'

'Ah, you've heard, Sir, perhaps, of the attempted murder in the park, on Doctor Sturk, of the Artillery; for which Mr. Nutter now lies in prison?' said Mr. Dangerfield.

'That I have, Sir.'

'Well, you shall have the money, Sir, if you perform a simple operation.'

''Tis not to hang him you want me?' said the doctor, with a gloomy sneer.

'Hang him!—ha, ha—no, Sir, Doctor Sturk still lives, but insensible. He must be brought to consciousness, and speech. Now, the trepan is the only way to effect it; and I'll be frank with you: Doctor Pell has been with him half a dozen times, and he says the operation would be instantaneously fatal. I don't believe him. So also says Sir Hugh Skelton, to whom I wrote in London—I don't believe him, either. At all events, the man is dying, and can't last very many days longer, so there's nothing risked. His wife wishes the operation; here's her note; and I'll give you five hundred guineas and—what are you here for?'

'Only eighteen, unless some more has come in this morning,' answered the doctor.

'And your liberty, Sir, that on the spot, if you undertake the operation, and the fee so soon as you have done it.'

The doctor's face blazed with a grin of exultation; he squared his shoulders and shook himself a little; and after a little silence, he demanded—

'Can you describe the case, Sir, as you stated it to Sir Hugh Skelton?'

'Surely, Sir, but I rely for it and the terms, upon the description of a village doctor, named Toole; an ignoramus, I fear.'

And with this preface he concisely repeated the technical description which he had compiled from various club conversations of Dr. Toole's, to which no person imagined he had been listening so closely.

'If that's the case, Sir, 'twill kill him.'

'Kill or cure, Sir, 'tis the only chance,' rejoined Dangerfield.

'What sort is the wife, Sir?' asked Black Dillon, with a very odd look, while his eye still rested on the short note that poor Mrs. Sturk had penned.

'A nervous little woman of some two or three and forty,' answered the spectacles.

The queer look subsided. He put the note in his pocket, and looked puzzled, and then he asked—'

'Is he any way related to you, Sir?'

'None in life, Sir. But that does not affect, I take it, the medical question.'

'No, it does not affect the medical question—nothing can,' observed the surgeon, in a sulky, sardonic way.

'Of course not,' answered the oracle of the silver spectacles, and both remained silent for a while.

'You want to have him speak? Well, suppose there's a hundred chances to one the trepan kills him on the spot—what then?' demanded the surgeon, uncomfortably.

Dangerfield pondered, also uncomfortably for a minute, but answered nothing; on the contrary, he demanded—

'And what then, Sir?'

'But here, in this case,' said Black Dillon, 'there's no chance at all, do you see, there's no chance, good, bad, or indifferent; none at all.'

'But I believe there is,' replied Dangerfield, decisively.

'You believe, but I know.'

'See, Sir,' said Dangerfield, darkening, and speaking with a strange snarl; 'I know what I'm about. I've a desire, Sir, that he should speak, if 'twere only two minutes of conscious articulate life, and then death—'tis not a pin's point to me how soon. Left to himself he must die; therefore, to shrink from the operation on which depends the discovery both of his actual murderer and of his money, Sir, otherwise lost to his family, is—is a damned affectation! I think it—so do you, Sir; and I offer five hundred guineas as your fee, and Mrs. Sturk's letter to bear you harmless.'

Then there was a pause. Dangerfield knew the man's character as well as his skill. There were things said about him darker than we have hinted at.

The surgeon looked very queer and gloomy down upon the table, and scratched his head, and he mumbled gruffly—

'You see—you know—'tis a large fee, to be sure; but then—'

'Come, Sir,' said Dangerfield, looking as though he'd pull him by the ear; 'it is a large fee, and you'll get no more—you should not stick at trifles, when there's—a—a—justice and humanity—and, to be brief, Sir—yes or no?'

'Yes,' answered the doctor; 'but how's the fee secured?'

'Hey! I'd forgot. Right, Sir—you shall be satisfied.'

And he took a pen, and wrote on the back of a letter—

* * * * *

'SIR—Considering the hopeless condition in which Dr. Sturk now lies, and the vast importance of restoring him, Dr. Sturk, of the R.I.A., to the power of speech, even for a few minutes, I beg to second Mrs. Sturk's request to you; and when you shall have performed the critical operation she desires, I hereby promise, whether it succeed or fail, to give you a fee of five hundred guineas. PAUL DANGERFIELD. 'The Brass Castle, Chapelizod.'

And he dated it, and handed it to the surgeon, who read it through, and then looked with a gruff hesitation at the writer.

'Oh, you've only to enquire—anyone who knows Chapelizod will tell you who I am; and you'll want something—eh?—to take you out of this—how much?'

'Only seven guineas. There's a little score here, and some fees. Eighteen will cover everything, unless something has come in this morning.'

So they went to 'the Hatch,' and made enquiries, and all being well, Mr. Dangerfield dealt liberally with the surgeon, who promised to be in attendance at Dr. Sturk's house in Chapelizod, at seven o'clock next evening.

'And pray, Dr. Dillon, come in a coach,' said Dangerfield, 'and in costume—you understand. They've been accustomed, you know, to see Pell and other doctors who make a parade.'

And with these injunctions they parted; and the surgeon, whose luggage was trifling, jumped into a coach with it, and jingled home to his den and his liberty.



This evening Lily Walsingham was early tired and very weak, Sally thought, and more glad than usual to lie down in her bed; and there her old and loving nurse fancied that she looked a little strange, and that her thoughts sometimes wandered.

She lay very quietly for a good while, and suddenly, with a beautiful look, and in a clear, glad voice, she said—


And old Sally said—

'There's no one, dear Miss Lily, but me.'

But she was looking earnestly, and, with a wrapt smile, only said—


She thought she saw her, I believe.

Are these always illusions? Or is it only that, as the twilight deepens, and the shapes of earth melt into night, the stars of heaven, changeless and serene, reveal themselves, and shine out to the darkened eyes of mortals?

As Aunt Becky sat that night in the drawing-room with her niece, a maid, with a whisper, placed a little note in Miss Gertrude's hand. There was a little pause.

'Oh! aunt—oh!' and she looked so terrified. 'Oh! aunt,' and she threw her arms round her aunt's neck, and began crying wildly. 'Poor Lily's gone—there's the note.'

Then arose the wild wailing of unavailing grief, and sobs, mixed with early recollections of childhood, and all poor Lily's sweet traits poured out.

Old Aunt Rebecca took the note. Her stoicism was the point on which she piqued herself most. She looked very pale, and she told her niece to be composed; for Aunt Becky had a theory that feelings ought to be commanded, and that it only needed effort and resolution. So she read the note, holding her head very high, but the muscles of her face were quivering.

'Oh! Gertrude, if ever there was an angel—and the poor desolate old man——'

The theory broke down, and old Aunt Rebecca cried and sat down, and cried heartily, and went and put her thin arms round her niece, and kissed her, and cried, and cried, and kissed her again.

'She was such—such a darling—oh! Gertrude dear, we must never quarrel any more.'

Death had come so near, and all things less than itself were rebuked in that sublime presence; and Lily Walsingham was gone; and she who was so lately their gay companion, all at once so awfully angelic in the unearthly light of death.

'Who'd ha' thought it was so near, Ma'am,' said the maid; 'the poor little thing! Though to be sure, Ma'am, a winding sheet came three times in the candle last night, and I turns it round and picks it off, that way, with my nail, unknownst to Mrs. Heany, for fear she'd be frettin' about the little boy that's lyin' at home in the small-pox; and indeed I thought 'twas for him it was; but man proposes, and God disposes—and death forgets none, the Lord be praised—and everyone has their hour, old and young, Ma'am; and as I was sayin', they had no notion or expectation up at the Elms, Ma'am, she was so bad, the heavens be her bed this night. 'Twas all in an instant like, Miss, she made as if she'd sit up, bein' leanin' on pillows—and so she put out them purty little hands of hers, with a smile, and that was all—the purty crature—everyone's sorry afther her. The man was cryin' in the hall that brought the note.'

The poor came to the door, and made their rude and kindly lamentations—they were all quite sincere—'His reverence was very good, but he couldn't have the thought, you know.' It was quite true—'everyone was sorry.' The brave Magnolia's eyes were red, when she looked out of the window next morning, and jolly little Doctor Toole said at the club—

'Ah, Sir, she was a bright little thing—a born lady—such a beauty—and the best little creature. The town might well be proud of her, in every way, Sir.' And he fell a blubbering; and old Major O'Neill, who was a quiet and silent officer, cried in a reserved way, looking into the fire, with his elbow on the mantelpiece. And Toole said, 'I don't know how I'll pass that house.'

And many felt the same. Little Lily was there no more—and the Elms were changed—the light and the grace were gone—and they were only dark old trees now.

And everyone felt a great desire to find some way—any way—to show their respect and affection for their good old rector. And I'm sure he understood it—for liking and reverence, one way or another, will tell their story. The hushed enquiries at the door, and little offers of useless services made by stealth through the servants, and such like foolish kindnesses at such a time—the evidence of a great but helpless sympathy—are sweet as angelic music.

And who should arrive at night, with all his trunks, or at least a considerable number of them, and his books and rattletraps, but honest, simple Dan Loftus. The news was true about his young charge. He had died of fever at Malaga, and Dick Devereux was at last a step, and a long one—nearer to the title. So Dan was back again in his old garret. Travel had not educated him in the world's ways. In them he was the same queer, helpless tyro. And his costume, though he had a few handsome articles—for, travelling with a sprig of nobility, he thought it but right and seemed to dress accordingly—was on that account, perhaps, only more grotesque than ever. But he had acquired mountains of that lore in which he and good Doctor Walsingham delighted. He had transcribed old epitaphs and translated interminable extracts from archives, and bought five Irish manuscripts, all highly illustrative of that history on which he and the doctor were so pleasantly engaged. It was too late that night to go up to the Elms; but he longed to unpack his trunkful of manuscripts, and to expound to his beloved doctor the treasures he had amassed.

And over his solitary tea-cup and his book the sorrowful news from the Elms reached him, and all his historical castles in the air were shivered. In the morning, before the town was stirring, he crossed the bridge, and knocked softly at the familiar hall-door. Honest old John Tracy opened it, and Dan shook hands with him, and both cried for a while quietly.

'How is the honoured master?' at last said Loftus.

'He's there in the study, Sir. Thank God, you're come, Sir. I'm sure he'd like to see you—I'll ask him.'

Dan went into the drawing-room. He looked out at the flowers, and then at the harpsichord, and on her little walnut table, where her work-basket lay, and her thimble, and the little coral necklace—a childish treasure that she used to wear when she was quite a little thing. It was like a dream; and everything seemed to say—'Poor little Lily!'

So old John came in, and 'Sir,' said he, 'the master will be glad to see you.' And Dan Loftus found himself in the study; and the good doctor and he wrung one another's hands for a long time.

'Oh, Dan—Dan—she's gone—little Lily.'

'You'll see her again, Sir—oh, you'll see her again.'

'Oh, Dan! Dan! Till the heavens be no more they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep. Oh, Dan, a day's so long—how am I to get over the time?'

'The loving Lord, Sir, will find a way.'

'But, oh! was there no pitying angel to stay the blow—to plead for a few years more of life? I deserved it—oh, Dan, yes!—I know it—I deserved it. But, oh! could not the avenger have pierced me, without smiting my innocent darling?'

'Oh! she was taken in love, not in judgment, Sir—my pastor—but in love. It was the voice of the Redeemer that called her.'

And honest Dan repeated, through his sobs, a verse of that 'Song of Songs,' which little Lily had loved so well—

'My well-beloved spake, and said unto me: Arise, my love, my fair one, and come thy way.'

The old man bowed his sorrowful head listening.

'You never saw anything so beautiful,' said he after a while. 'I think, Dan, I could look at her for ever. I don't think it was partiality, but it seems to me there never was—I never saw a creature like her.'

'Oh, noble! noble!' sobbed poor Dan.

The doctor took him by the arm, and so into the solemn room.

'I think you'd like to see her, Dan?'

'I would—I would indeed, Sir.'

And there was little Lily, never so like the lily before. Poor old Sally had laid early spring flowers on the white coverlet. A snow-drop lay by her pale little finger and thumb, just like a flower that has fallen from a child's hand it its sleep. He looked, at her—the white angelic apparition—a smile, or a light upon the face.

'Oh, my darling, my young darling, gone—"He is not a man as I am, that I should answer him."'

But poor Dan, loudly crying, repeated the noble words of Paul, that have spoken down to us through the sorrows of nigh two thousand years—

'For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive, and remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first.'

And so there was a little pause, and the old man said—

'It was very good of you to come to me, my good young friend, in my helplessness and shipwreck, for the Lord hath hid himself from me; but he speaks to his desolate creature, my good Dan, through your gracious lips. My faith!—I thought I had faith till it was brought to the test, and then it failed! But my good friend, Loftus, was sent to help me—to strengthen the feeble knees.'

And Dan answered, crying bitterly, and clasping the rector's hand in both of his—

'Oh, my master, all that ever I knew of good, I learned from you, my pastor, my benefactor.'

So, with a long, last look, Dan followed the old man to the study, and they talked long there together, and then went out into the lonely garden, and paced its walks side by side, up and down.



'On the night when this great sorrow visited the Elms, Captain Richard Devereux, who had heard nothing of it, was strangely saddened and disturbed in mind. They say that a distant death is sometimes felt like the shadow and chill of a passing iceberg; and if this ominous feeling crosses a mind already saddened and embittered, it overcasts it with a feeling akin to despair.

Mrs. Irons knocked at his door, and with the eagerness of a messenger of news, opened it without awaiting his answer.

'Oh, captain, jewel, do you know what? There's poor Miss Lily Walsingham; and what do you think but she's dead—the poor little thing; gone to-night, Sir—not half an hour ago.'

He staggered a little, and put his hand toward his sword, like a man struck by a robber, and looked at her with a blank stare. She thought he was out of his mind, and was frightened.

''Tis only me, Sir, Mrs. Irons.'

'A—thank you;' and he walked towards the chimney, and then towards the door, like a man looking for something; and on a sudden clasping his forehead in his hands, he cried a wild and terrible appeal to the Maker and Judge of all things.

''Tis impossible—oh, no—oh, no—it's not true.'

He was in the open air, he could not tell how, and across the bridge, and before the Elms—a dream—the dark Elms—dark everything.

'Oh, no—it can't be—oh, no—oh, no;' and he went on saying as he stared on the old house, dark against the sky, 'Oh, no—oh, no.'

Two or three times he would have gone over to the hall-door to make enquiry, but he sickened at the thought. He clung to that hope, which was yet not a hope, and he turned and walked quickly down the river's side by the Inchicore-road. But the anguish of suspense soon drew him back again; and now his speech was changed, and he said—

'Yes, she's gone—she's gone—oh, she's gone—she's certainly gone.'

He found himself at the drawing-room window that looked into the little garden at the front of the house, and tapping at the window-pane. He remembered, all on a sudden—it was like waking—how strange was such a summons. A little after he saw a light crossing the hall, and he rang the door-bell. John Tracy opened the door. Yes, it was all true.

The captain was looking very pale, John thought, but otherwise much as usual. He stared at the old servant for some seconds after he told him all, but said nothing, not even good-night, and turned away. Old John was crying; but he called after the captain to take care of the step at the gate: and as he shut the hall-door his eye caught, by the light of his candle, a scribbling in red chalk, on the white door-post, and he stooped to read it, and muttered, 'Them mischievous young blackguards!' and began rubbing it with the cuff of his coat, his cheek still wet with tears. For even our grief is volatile; or, rather, it is two tunes that are in our ears together, the requiem of the organ, and, with it, the faint hurdy-gurdy jig of our vulgar daily life; and now and then this latter uppermost.

It was not till he had got nearly across the bridge that Captain Devereux, as it were, waked up. It was no good waking. He broke forth into sheer fury. It is not my business to note down the horrors of this impious frenzy. It was near five o'clock when he came back to his lodgings; and then, not to rest. To sit down, to rise again, to walk round the room and round, and stop on a sudden at the window, leaning his elbows on the sash, with hands clenched together, and teeth set; and so those demoniac hours of night and solitude wore slowly away, and the cold gray stole over the east, and Devereux drank a deep draught of his fiery Lethe, and cast himself down on his bed, and fell at once into a deep, exhausted lethargy.

When his servant came to his bed-side at seven o'clock, he was lying motionless, with flushed cheeks, and he could not rouse him. Perhaps it was well, and saved him from brain-fever or madness.

But after such paroxysms comes often a reaction, a still, stony, awful despondency. It is only the oscillation between active and passive despair. Poor Leonora, after she had worked out her fit, tearing 'her raven hair,' and reviling heaven, was visited in sadder and tenderer guise by the vision of the past; but with that phantom went down in fear and isolation to the grave.

This morning several of the neighbours went into Dublin, for the bills were to be presented against Charles Nutter for a murderous assault, with intent to kill, made upon the person of Barnabas Sturk, Esq., Doctor of Medicine, and Surgeon to the Royal Irish Artillery. As the day wore on, the honest gossips of Chapelizod looked out anxiously for news. And everybody who met any one else asked him—'Any news about Nutter, eh?'—and then they would stop to speculate—and then one would wonder that Dr. Walsingham's man, Clinton, had not yet returned—and the other would look at his watch, and say 'twas one o'clock—and then both agreed that Spaight, at all events, must soon come—for he has appointed two o'clock for looking at that brood mare of Fagan's.

At last, sure enough, Spaight appeared. Toole, who had been detained by business in another quarter, had ridden into the town from Leixlip, and was now dismounted and talking with Major O'Neill upon the absorbing topic. These cronies saw Spaight at the turnpike, and as he showed his ticket, he talked with the man. Of course, the news was come. The turnpike-man knew it by this time; and off scampered Toole, and the major followed close at his heels, at double-quick. He made a dismal shake or two of his head, and lifted his hand as they drew near. Toole's heart misgave him.

'Well, how is it?—what's the news?' he panted.

'A true bill,' answered Spaight, with a solemn stare; 'a true bill, Sir.'

Toole uttered an oath of consternation, and taking the words out of Spaight's mouth, told the news to the major.

'Do you tell me so?' exclaimed the major. 'Bedad, Sir, I'm uncommon sorry.'

'A bad business, Sir,' observed Spaight.

'No worse,' said Toole. 'If they convict him on this, you know—in case Sturk dies, and die he will—they'll indict and convict him on the more serious charge,' and he winked gloomily, 'the evidence is all one.'

'That poor little Sally Nutter!' ejaculated the major. 'She's to be pitied, the crature!'

''Tis mighty slender evidence to take a man's life on,' said Toole, with some disgust. 'Be the law, Sir, the whole thing gives me a complete turn. Are you to dine with Colonel Strafford to-day?'

'I am, Sir,' said the major; 'an' it goes again' the colonel's grain to have a party at all just now, with the respect he has for the family up there,' and he nodded his head, pensively, toward the Elms. 'But he asked Lowe ten days ago, and Mr. Dangerfield, and two or three more; and you know he could not put them off on that ground—there being no relationship, you see—and, 'pon my oath, Sir, I'd rather not go myself, just now.'

That evening, at five o'clock, Colonel Stafford's dinner party assembled at the King's House. The colonel was a serene man, and hospitality—even had he been in the dumps—demands her sacrifices. He, therefore, did the honours as beseemed a genial and courteous old officer of the Royal Irish Artillery, who, if his conversation was not very remarkable in quality, and certainly not exorbitant in quantity, made up by listening a great deal, and supplying no end of civility, and an affluence of very pretty claret. Mr. Justice Lowe was there, and Mr. Dangerfield, and old Colonel Bligh, of the Magazine, and honest Major O'Neill, notwithstanding his low spirits. Perhaps they required keeping up; and claret like Colonel Stafford's is consoling.

The talk turned, of course, a good deal on Charles Nutter; and Mr. Dangerfield, who was in great force, and, indeed, in particularly pleasant spirits, except when unfortunate Nutter was actually under discussion—when he grew grave and properly saddened—told, in his clear, biting way, a curious rosary of Newgate stories—of highwaymen's disguises—of clever constables—of circumstantial evidence, marvellously elicited, and exquisitely put together—of monsters, long concealed, drawn from the deep by the finest tackle, into upper light, and dropped deftly into the landing-net of Justice. These curious anecdotes of Bow-street dexterity and Bagshot dodges—thrust and parry—mine and counter-mine—ending, for the most part, in the triumph of Bow-street, Justice crowned, and a Tyburn speech—tickled Lowe mightily, who quite enjoyed himself, and laughed more than his friend Colonel Stafford ever remembered to have heard him before, over some of the ingenious stratagems described so neatly by Dangerfield, and the gay irony with which he pointed his catastrophes. And Lowe actually, having obtained Colonel Stafford's leave, proposed that gallant officer's health in a bumper, and took occasion to mention their obligations to him for having afforded them the opportunity of enjoying Mr. Dangerfield's sprightly and instructive sallies; and hoped, with all his heart, that the neighbourhood was long to enjoy the advantage and pleasure of his residence among them. And Mr. Dangerfield replied gaily, that all that was needed to make such sweet scenery and charming company as the place commanded absolutely irresistible, was the sense of safety conferred by the presence of such a magistrate as Mr. Lowe, and the convivial inspiration of such wine as their gallant host provided; and that, for his part, being somewhat of an old boy, and having had enough of rambling, nothing would better please him than to spend the residue of his days amidst the lively quietude of their virtuous and hilarious neighbourhood; and some more to the like purpose, which pleased the good company highly, who all agreed that the white gentleman—fluent, easy, and pointed in his delivery—was a mighty fine speaker, indeed. Though there was a lurking consciousness in each, which none cared to publish, that there was, at times, an indefinable flavour of burlesque and irony in Mr. Dangerfield's compliments, which excited momentary suspicions and qualms, which the speaker waived off, however, easily with his jewelled fingers, and smiled mockingly away.

Lowe was mightily taken with him. There was little warmth or veneration in that hard justice's nature. But Mr. Dangerfield had a way with him that few men with any sort of taste for the knowledge of evil could resist; and the cold-eyed justice of the peace hung on his words with an attentive rapture, and felt that he was drinking deep and pleasant draughts from the sparkling fountains of knowledge; and was really sorry, and shook him admiringly by the hand, when Dangerfield, who had special business at home, rose up in his brisk way, and flashed a farewell over the company from his spectacles.

'If Mr. Dangerfield really means to stay here, he must apply for the commission of the peace,' said Mr. Lowe, so soon as the door shut. 'We must put it upon him. I protest I never met a man so fitted by nature and acquirements to make a perfectly useful magistrate. He and I, Sir, between us, we'd give a good account of this part of the county; and there's plenty of work, Sir, if 'twere only between this and Dublin; and, by George, Sir, he's a wonderful diverting fellow, full of anecdote. Wonderful place London, to be sure.'

'And a good man, too, in a quiet way,' said Colonel Strafford, who could state a fact. ''Tisn't every rich man has the heart to part with his money as he does; he has done many charities here, and especially he has been most bountiful to poor Sturk's family.'

'I know that,' said Lowe.

'And he sent a fifty pound note by the major there to poor Sally Nutter o' Monday last; he'll tell you.'

And thus it is, as the foul fiend, when he vanishes, leaves a smell of brimstone after him, a good man leaves a fragrance; and the company in the parlour enjoyed the aroma of Mr. Dangerfield's virtues, as he buttoned his white surtout over his breast, and dropped his vails into the palms of the carbuncled butler and fuddled footman in the hall.

It was a clear, frosty, starlit night. White and stern was the face which he turned upward for a moment to the sky. He paused for a second in the ray of candle-light that gleamed through Puddock's window-shutter, and glanced on the pale dial of his large gold watch. It was only half-past eight o'clock. He walked on, glancing back over his shoulder, along the Dublin road.

'The drunken beast. My mind misgives me he'll disappoint,' muttered the silver spectacles, gliding briskly onward.

When he reached the main street he peered curiously before him under the village tree, in quest of carriage lights.

'A lawless brute like that may be before his time as well as after.' So he walked briskly forward, and up Sturk's door-steps, and knocked.

'The Dublin doctor hasn't come, eh?'—he asked.

'No, Sir, he isn't come yet—'twas nine o'clock, the mistress told me.'

'Very good. Tell Mrs. Sturk, pray, that I, Mr. Dangerfield, you know, will call, as I promised, at nine o'clock precisely.'

And he turned again and walked briskly over the bridge, and away along the Inchicore road overhanging the river. All was silent there. Not a step but his own was stirring, and the road in places so overhung with old trees that it was difficult to see a yard before one.

He slackened his pace, and listened, like a man who keeps an assignation, and listened again, and laughed under his breath; and sure enough, before long, the clink of a footstep was heard approaching swiftly from the Dublin direction.

Mr. Dangerfield drew aside under the deep shadow of a high hawthorn hedge, overhung by trees; and watching intently, he saw a tall, lank figure, with a peculiar gait and stoop of its own, glide stealthily by. He smiled after it in the dark.

The tall figure was that of our old friend, Zekiel Irons, the clerk. A sable form, as beseemed his ecclesiastical calling—and now a white figure was gliding without noise swiftly after him.

Suddenly, as he reached an open part of the road, a thin hand was laid on his shoulder, and, with a start, and a 'hollo,' he sprung round.

'Hey! why, you're as frightened as if you had seen Charles—Charles Nutter. Hey?—don't be uneasy. I heard from the parson yesterday morning you were to be with him to-night before nine o'clock, about that money you left in his hands, and I've chanced to meet you; and this I want you to understand, Charles Nutter is in gaol, and we must not let him get out—do you see? That business settled, we're at rest. So, Mr. Irons, you must not show the white feather. Be bold—speak out what you know—now's the time to strike. I'll put your evidence, as you reported it to me, into shape, and you come to me to-morrow morning at eight o'clock; and mind you, I'll reward you this time, and better than ever you've fared before. Go on. Or stay—I'll go before.'

And Mr. Dangerfield laughed one of his chilly laughs—and, with a nod to Irons, repeated—'eight o'clock'—and so walked on a little bit.

The clerk had not said a word. A perspiration broke forth on his forehead, and, wiping the drops away, he said—

'Lord have mercy upon us—Lord deliver us—Lord have mercy upon us,' like a man dying.

Mr. Dangerfield's bold proposition seemed quite to overpower and unman him.

The white figure turned short, facing the clerk, and said he—

'See you, Mr. Irons, I'm serious—there must be no shirking. If you undertake, you must go through; and, hark! in your ear—you shall have five hundred pounds. I put no constraint—say yes or no—if you don't like you needn't. Justice, I think, will be done even without your help. But till he's quiet—you understand—nothing sure. He has been dead and alive again—curse him; and till he's at rest, and on the surgeon's table—ha! ha!—we sha'n't feel quite comfortable.'

'Lord have mercy upon us!' muttered Irons, with a groan.

'Amen,' said Dangerfield, with a sneering imitation.

'There, 'tis enough—if you have nerve to speak truth and do justice, you may have the money. We're men of business—you and I. If not, I sha'n't trouble you any more. If you like it, come to me at eight o'clock in the morning; if not, why, stay away, and no harm's done.'

And with these words, Mr. Dangerfield turned on his heel once more, and started at a lively pace for Chapelizod.



The white figure glided duskily over the bridge. The river rushed beneath in Egyptian darkness. The air was still, and a thousand celestial eyes twinkled down brightly through the clear deep sky upon the actors in this true story. He kept the left side, so that the road lay between him and the Phoenix door, which gaped wide with a great hospitable grin, and crimsoned the night air with a glow of candle-light.

The white figure turned the corner, and glided onward in a straight, swift line—straight and swift as fate—to the door of Doctor Sturk.

He knocked softly at the hall-door, and swiftly stepped in and shut it.

'How's your master?'

'Jist the same way, plaze yer honour; jist sleepin'—still sleepin'—sleepin' always,' answered the maid.

'Has the Dublin doctor come?'


'The mistress—where's she?'

'In the room, Sir, with the masther.'

'Present my service to her—Mr. Dangerfield's compliments, you know—and say I await her permission to come up stairs.'

Presently the maid returned, with poor Mrs. Sturk's invitation to Mr. Dangerfield to walk up.

Up he went, leaving his white surtout and cocked hat in the hall, and entered the chamber where pale little Mrs. Sturk, who had been crying a great deal, sat in a dingy old tabby saque, by the light of a solitary mould-candle at the bed-side of the noble Barney.

The mutton-fat wanted snuffing; but its light danced and splintered brilliantly over Mr. Dangerfield's resplendent shoe-buckles, and up and down his cut-steel buttons, and also glimmered in a more phosphoric way upon his silver spectacles, as he bowed at the door, arrayed in a puce cut velvet coat, lined with pink, long embroidered satin waistcoat, fine lace ruffles and cravat, his well-shaped leg gleaming glossily in silk, and altogether, in his glimmering jewellery, and purple and fine linen, resembling Dives making a complimentary visit to the garret of Lazarus.

Poor little Mrs. Sturk felt her obligations mysteriously enlarged by so much magnificence, and wondered at the goodness of this white-headed angel in point, diamonds, and cut velvet, who had dropped from the upper regions upon the sad and homely floor of her Barney's sick chamber.

'Dr. Dillon not yet arrived, Madam? Well, 'tis precisely his hour; we shall have him soon. How does the patient? Ha! just as usual. How?—why there's a change, isn't there?'

'As how, Sir?' enquired Mrs. Sturk, with a scared look.

'Why, don't you see? But you mustn't be frightened; there's one coming in whom I have every confidence.'

'I don't see, Sir. What is it, Mr. Dangerfield? Oh, pray, Sir?'

'Why—a—nothing very particular, only he looks more languid than when I saw him last, and discoloured somewhat, and his face more sunk, I think—eh?'

'Oh, no, Sir—'tis this bad light—nothing more, indeed, Sir. This evening, I assure you, Mr. Dangerfield, at three o'clock, when the sun was shining, we were all remarking how well he looked. I never saw—you'd have said so—such a wonderful improvement.'

And she snuffed the candle, and held it up over Barney's grim features.

'Well, Madam, I hope we soon may find it. 'Twill be a blessed sight—eh?—when he sits up in that bed, Madam, as I trust he may this very night, and speak—eh?'

'Oh! my precious Barney!' and the poor little woman began to cry, and fell into a rhapsody of hopes, thanksgiving, anecdote and prayer.

In the meanwhile Dangerfield was feeling his pulse, with his watch in the hollow of his hand.

'And aren't they better—his pulse, Sir—they were stronger this morning by a great deal than last night—it was just at ten o'clock—don't you perceive, Sir?'

'H'm—well, I hope, Ma'am, we'll soon find all better. Now, have you got all things ready—you have, of course, a sheet well aired?'

'A sheet—I did not know 'twas wanted.'

'Hey, this will never do, my dear Madam—he'll be here and nothing ready; and you'll do well to send over to the mess-room for a lump of ice. 'Tis five minutes past nine. If you'll see to these things, I'll sit here, Madam, and take the best care of the patient—and, d'ye see, Mistress Sturk, 'twill be necessary that you take care that Toole hears nothing of Dr. Dillon's coming.'

It struck me, when originally reading the correspondence which is digested in these pages, as hardly credible that Doctor Sturk should have continued to live for so long a space in a state of coma. Upon this point, therefore, I took occasion to ask the most eminent surgeon of my acquaintance, who at once quieted my doubts by detailing a very remarkable case cited by Sir A. Cooper in his lectures, Vol. I., p. 172. It is that of a seaman, who was pressed on board one of his Majesty's ships, early in the revolutionary war; and while on board this vessel, fell from the yard-arm, and was taken up insensible, in which state he continued living for thirteen months and some days!

So with a little more talk, Mrs. Sturk, calling one of her maids, and leaving the little girl in charge of the nursery, ran down with noiseless steps and care-worn face to the kitchen, and Mr. Dangerfield was left alone in the chamber with the spell-bound sleeper on the bed.

In about ten seconds he rose sharply from his chair and listened: then very noiselessly he stepped to the door and listened again, and gently shut it.

Then Mr. Dangerfield moved to the window. There was a round hole in the shutter, and through it he glanced into the street, and was satisfied.

By this time he had his white-pocket-handkerchief in his hands. He folded it deftly across and across into a small square, and then the spectacles flashed coldly on the image of Dr. Sturk, and then on the door; and there was a pause.

'What's that?' he muttered sharply, and listened for a second or two.

It was only one of the children crying in the nursery. The sound subsided.

So with another long silent step, he stood by the capriole-legged old mahogany table, with the scallop shell containing a piece of soap and a washball, and the basin with its jug of water standing therein. Again he listened while you might count two, and dipped the handkerchief, so folded, into the water, and quietly squeezed it; and stood white and glittering by Sturk's bed-side.

People moved very noiselessly about that house, and scarcely a minute had passed when the door opened softly, and the fair Magnolia Macnamara popped in her glowing face and brilliant glance, and whispered.

'Are you there, Mrs. Sturk, dear?'

At the far side of the bed, Dangerfield, with his flashing spectacles and snowy aspect, and a sort of pant, rose up straight, and looked into her eyes, like a white bird of prey disturbed over its carrion.

She uttered a little scream—quite pale on a sudden—for she did not recognise the sinister phantom who glimmered at her over the prostrate Sturk.

But Dangerfield laughed his quiet hollow 'ha! ha! ha!' and said promptly,

'A strange old nurse I make, Miss Macnamara. But what can I do? Mrs. Sturk has left me in charge, and faith I believe our patient's looking mighty badly.'

He had observed Miss Mag glancing from him to the dumb figure in the bed with a puzzled kind of horror.

The fact is, Sturk's face had a leaden tint; he looked, evidently enough, even in that dim candle-light, a great deal worse than the curious Miss Mag was accustomed to see him.

'He's very low, to-night, and seems oppressed, and his pulse is failing; in fact, my dear young lady, he's plainly worse to-night than I like to tell poor Mrs. Sturk, you understand.'

'And his face looks so shiny and damp-like,' said Miss Mag, with a horrible sort of scrutiny.

'Exactly so, Miss, 'tis weakness,' observed Dangerfield.

'And you were wiping it with your pocket-handkerchief when I looked in,' continued Miss Mag.

'Was I—ha, ha—'tis wonderful how quick we learn a new business. I vow I begin to think I should make a very respectable nursetender.'

'And what the dickens brings him up here?' asked Miss Mag of herself; so soon as the first shock was over, the oddity of the situation struck her as she looked with perplexed and unpleasant sort of enquiry at Mr. Dangerfield.

Just then up came the meek little Mrs. Sturk, and the gentleman greeted her with a 'Well, Madam, I have not left his bedside since you went down; and I think he looks a little better—just a little—eh?'

'I trust and pray, Sir, that when the doctor—' began Mrs. Sturk, and stopped short, for Mr. Dangerfield frowned quickly, and pointed towards Miss Mag, who was now, after her wont, looking round the room for matter of interest.

'And is Pell comin' out to-night?' asked Miss Mag quickly.

'No, truly. Madam,' answered the gentleman: 'Dr. Pell's not comin'—is he, Mrs. Sturk?'

'Dr. Pell!—oh, la—no, Sir. No, my dear.' And, after a pause, 'Oh, ho. I wish it was over,' she groaned, with her hand pressed to her side, looking with a kind of agony on Sturk.

'What over?' asked Miss Mag.

Just then a double-knock came to the hall-door, and Mr. Dangerfield signed sternly to Mrs. Sturk, who first stood up, with her eyes and mouth wide open, and then sat down, like a woman going to faint.

But the maid came up and told Miss Mag that her mother and Lieutenant O'Flaherty were waiting on the steps for her; and so, though loath to go unsatisfied, away she went, with a courtesy to Mr. Dangerfield and a kiss to Mrs. Sturk, who revived on hearing it was only her fat kindly neighbour from over the way, instead of Black Doctor Dillon, with his murderous case of instruments.

The gentleman in the silver spectacles accompanied her to the lobby, and offered his hand; but she dispensed with his attendance, and jumped down the stairs with one hand to the wall and the other on the banisters, nearly a flight at a time; and the cackle of voices rose from the hall door, which quickly shut, and the fair vision had vanished.

Dangerfield's silver spectacles gleamed phosphorically after her from under his lurid forehead. It was not a pleasant look, and his mouth was very grim. In another instant he was in the room again, and glanced at his watch.

''Tis half-past nine,' he said, in a quiet tone, but with a gleam of intense fury over his face, 'and that—that—doctor named nine.'

Dangerfield waited, and talked a little to Mrs. Sturk and the maid, who were now making preparations, in short sentences, by fits and starts of half-a-dozen words at a time. He had commenced his visit ceremoniously, but now he grew brusque, and took the command: and his tones were prompt and stern, and the women grew afraid of him.

Ten o'clock came. Dangerfield went down stairs, and looked from the drawing-room windows. He waxed more and more impatient. Down he went to the street. He did not care to walk towards the King's House, which lay on the road to Dublin; he did not choose to meet his boon companions again, but he stood for full ten minutes, with one of Dr. Sturk's military cloaks about him, under the village tree, directing the double-fire of his spectacles down the street, with an incensed steadiness, unrewarded, unrelieved. Not a glimmer of a link; not a distant rumble of a coach-wheel. It was a clear, frosty night, and one might hear a long way.

If any of the honest townsfolk had accidentally lighted upon that muffled, glaring image under the dark old elm, I think he would have mistaken it for a ghost, or something worse. The countenance at that moment was not prepossessing.

Mr. Dangerfield was not given to bluster, and never made a noise; but from his hollow jaws he sighed an icy curse towards Dublin, which had a keener edge than all the roaring blasphemies of Donnybrook together; and, with another shadow upon his white face, he re-entered the house.

'He'll not come to-night, Ma'am,' he said with a cold abruptness.

'Oh, thank Heaven!—that is—I'm so afraid—I mean about the operation.'

Dangerfield, with his hands in his pockets, said nothing. There was a sneer on his face, white and dark, somehow. That was all. Was he baffled, and was Dr. Sturk, after all, never to regain his speech?

At half-past ten o'clock, Mr. Dangerfield abandoned hope. Had it been Dr. Pell, indeed, it would have been otherwise. But Black Dillon had not a patient; his fame was in the hospitals. There was nothing to detain him but his vices, and five hundred pounds to draw him to Chapelizod. He had not come. He must be either brained in a row, or drunk under a table. So Mr. Dangerfield took leave of good Mrs. Sturk, having told her in case the doctor should come, to make him wait for his arrival before taking any measures, and directing that he should be sent for immediately.

So Mr. Dangerfield got into his white surtout silently in the hall, and shut the door quickly after him, and waited, a grim sentry, under the tree, with his face towards Dublin. Father Time had not blunted the white gentleman's perceptions, touched his ear with his numb fingers, or blown the smoke of his tobacco-pipe into his eyes. He was keen of eye, sharp of hearing; but neither sight nor sound rewarded him, and so he turned, after a few minutes, and glided away, like a white ghost, toward the Brass Castle.

In less than five minutes after, the thunder of a coach shook Dr. Sturk's windows, followed by a rousing peal on the hall-door, and Dr. Dillon, in dingy splendours, and a great draggled wig, with a gold-headed cane in his bony hand, stepped in; and, diffusing a reek of whiskey-punch, and with a case of instruments under his arm, pierced the maid, who opened the door, through, with his prominent black eyes, and frightened her with his fiery face, while he demanded to see Mrs. Sturk, and lounged, without ceremony, into the parlour; where he threw himself on the sofa, with one of his bony legs extended on it, and his great ugly hand under his wig scratching his head.



The buzz of a village, like the hum of a city, represents a very wonderful variety of human accent and feeling. It is marvellous how few families thrown together will suffice to furnish forth this dubia coena of sweets and bitters.

The roar of many waters—the ululatus of many-voiced humanity—marvellously monotonous, considering the infinite variety of its ingredients, booms on through the dark. The story-teller alone can take up the score of the mighty medley, and read at a glance what every fife and fiddle-stick is doing. That pompous thrum-thrum is the talk of the great white Marseilles paunch, pietate gravis; the whine comes from Lazarus, at the area rails; and the bass is old Dives, roaring at his butler; the piccolo is contributed by the studious school-boy, whistling over his Latin Grammar; that wild, long note is poor Mrs. Fondle's farewell of her dead boy; the ugly barytone, rising from the tap-room, is what Wandering Willie calls a sculduddery song—shut your ears, and pass on; and that clear soprano, in nursery, rings out a shower of innocent idiotisms over the half-stripped baby, and suspends the bawl upon its lips.

So, on this night, as usual, there rose up toward the stars a throbbing murmur from our village—a wild chaos of sound, which we must strive to analyse, extracting from the hurly-burly each separate tune it may concern us to hear.

Captain Devereux was in his lodging. He was comparatively tranquil now; but a savage and impious despair possessed him. Serene outwardly—he would not let the vulgar see his scars and sores; and was one of those proud spirits who build to themselves desolate places.

Little Puddock was the man with whom he had least reserve. Puddock was so kindly, and so true and secret, and cherished beside, so great an admiration for him, that he greeted him rather kindly at a moment when another visitor would have fared scurvily enough. Puddock was painfully struck with his pallor, his wild and haggard eye, and something stern and brooding in his handsome face, which was altogether new and shocking to him.

'I've been thinking, Puddock,' he said; 'and thought with me has grown strangely like despair—and that's all. Why, man, think—what is there for me?—all my best stakes I've lost already; and I'm fast losing myself. How different, Sir, is my fate from others? Worse men than I—every way incomparably worse—and d—— them, they prosper, while I go down the tide. 'Tisn't just!' And he swore a great oath. ''Tis enough to make a man blaspheme. I've done with life—I hate it. I'll volunteer. 'Tis my first thought in the morning, and my last at night, how well I'd like a bullet through my brain or heart. D—— the world, d—— feeling, d—— memory. I'm not a man that can always be putting prudential restraints upon myself. I've none of those plodding ways. The cursed fools that spoiled me in my childhood, and forsake me now, have all to answer for—I charge them with my ruin.' And he launched a curse at them (meaning his aunt) which startled the plump soul of honest little Puddock.

'You must not talk that way, Devereux,' he said, still a good deal more dismayed by his looks than his words. 'Why are you so troubled with vapours and blue devils?'

'Nowhy!' said Devereux, with a grim smile.

'My dear Devereux, I say, you mustn't talk in that wild way. You—you talk like a ruined man!'

'And I so comfortable!'

'Why, to be sure, Dick, you have had some little rubs, and, maybe, your follies and your vexations; but, hang it, you are young; you can't get experience—at least, so I've found it—without paying for it. You mayn't like it just now; but it's well worth the cost. Your worries and miscarriages, dear Richard, will make you steady.'

'Steady!' echoed Devereux, like a man thinking of something far away.

'Ay, Dick—you've sown your wild oats.'

On a sudden, says the captain, 'My dear little Puddock,' and he took him by the hand, with a sort of sarcastic flicker of a smile, and looked in his face almost contemptuously; but his eyes and his voice softened before the unconscious bonhomie of the true little gentleman. 'Puddock, Puddock, did it never strike you, my boy, that Hamlet never strives to speak a word of comfort to the forlorn old Dane? He felt it would not do. Every man that's worth a button knows his own case best; and I know the secrets of my own prison-house. Sown my wild oats! To be sure I have, Puddock, my boy; and the new leaf I've turned over is just this; I've begun to reap them; and they'll grow, my boy, and grow as long as grass grows; and—Macbeth has his dagger, you know, and I've my sickle—the handle towards my hand, that you can't see; and in the sweat of my brow, I must cut down and garner my sheaves; and as I sowed, so must I reap, and grind, and bake, the black and bitter grist of my curse. Don't talk nonsense, little Puddock. Wasn't it Gay that wrote the "Beggar's Opera?" Ay! Why don't you play Macheath? Gay!—Ay—a pleasant fellow, and his poems too. He writes—don't you remember—he writes,

'So comes a reckoning when the banquet's o'er— The dreadful reckoning, and men smile no more.'

'Puddock, throw up that window, the room's too hot—or stay never mind; read a book, Puddock, you like it, and I'll stroll a little along the path, and find you when I come back.'

'Why it's dark,' remonstrated his visitor.

'Dark? I dare say—yes, of course—very dark—but cool; the air is cool.'

He talked like a man who was thinking of something else; and Puddock thought how strangely handsome he looked, with that pale dash of horror, like King Saul when the evil spirit was upon him; and there was a terrible misgiving in his mind. The lines of the old ballad that Devereux used to sing with a sort of pathetic comicality were humming in his ear,—

'He walked by the river, the river so clear— The river that runs through Kilkenny; His name was Captain Wade, And he died for that fair maid.'

and so following. What could he mean by walking, at that hour, alone, by the river's brink? Puddock, with a sinking and flutter at his heart, unperceived, followed him down stairs, and was beside him in the street.

'The path by the river?' said Puddock.

'The river—the path? Yes, Sir, the path by the river. I thought I left you up stairs,' said Devereux, with an odd sort of sulky shrinking.

'Why, Devereux, I may as well walk with you, if you don't object,' lisped Puddock.

'But I do object, Sir,' cried Devereux, suddenly, in a fierce high key, turning upon his little comrade. 'What d'ye mean, Sir? You think I mean to—to drown myself—ha, ha, ha! or what the devil's running in your head? I'm not a madman, Sir, nor you a mad-doctor. Go home, Sir—or go to—to where you will, Sir; only go your own way, and leave me mine.'

'Ah, Devereux, you're very quick with me,' said Puddock, placing his plump little hand on Devereux's arm, and looking very gently and gravely in his face.

Devereux laid his hand upon Puddock's collar with an agitated sort of sneer. But he recollected himself, and that diabolical gloom faded from his face, and he looked more like himself, and slid his cold hand silently into little Puddock's; and so they stood for a while, by the door-step, to the admiration of Mrs. Irons—whom Devereux's high tones had called to her window.

'Puddock, I don't think I'm well, and I don't know quite what I've been saying. I ask your pardon. You've always been very good to me, Puddock. I believe—I believe you're the only friend I have, and—Puddock, you won't leave me.'

So up stairs they went together; and Mrs. Irons, from what she had overheard, considered herself justified in saying, that 'Captain Devereux was for drowning himself in the Liffey, and would have done so only for Lieutenant Puddock.' And so the report was set a-going round the garrulous town of Chapelizod.

As Mr. Dangerfield glided rapidly along the silent road towards the Brass Castle, the little gate of his now leafless flower-garden being already in sight, he saw a dark figure awaiting him under the bushes which overhung it. It was Mr. Irons, who came forward, without speaking, and lifted his hat respectfully, perhaps abjectly, and paused for recognition.

'Hey! Irons?' said Mr. Dangerfield.

'At your service, Sir.'

'Well, and what says his worship?' asked the gentleman, playfully.

'I wanted to tell your honour that it won't make no odds, and I'll do it.'

'Of course. You're right. It does make no odds. He'll hang whatever you do; and I tell you 'tis well he should, and only right you should speak the truth, too—'twill make assurance doubly sure.'

'At eight o'clock in the morning, Sir, I'll attend you,' said Irons, with a sort of shiver.

'Good! and I'll jot down your evidence, and we'll drive over to Mr. Lowe's, to Lucan, and you shall swear before him. And, you understand—I don't forget what I promised—you'll be a happier man every way for having done your duty; and here's half-a-crown to spend in the Salmon House.'

Irons only moaned, and then said—

'That's all, Sir. But I couldn't feel easy till it was off my mind.'

'At eight o'clock I shall expect you. Good-night, Irons.'

And with his hands in his pockets he watched Irons off the ground. His visage darkened as for a while his steady gaze was turned toward Dublin. He was not quite so comfortable as he might have been.

Meanwhile Black Dillon, at Mrs. Sturk's request, had stalked up stairs to the patient's bed-side.

'Had not I best send at once for Mr. Dangerfield?' she enquired.

'No occasion, Ma'am,' replied the eminent but slightly fuddled 'Saw-bones,' spitting beside him on the floor 'until I see whether I'll operate to-night. What's in that jug, Ma'am? Chicken-broth? That'll do. Give him a spoonful. See—he swallows free enough;' and then Black Dillon plucked up his eyelids with a roughness that terrified the reverential and loving Mrs. Sturk, and examined the distorted pupils.

'You see the cast in that eye, Ma'am; there's the pressure on the brain.'

Dillon was lecturing her upon the case as he proceeded, from habit, just as he did the students in the hospital.

'No convulsions, Ma'am?'

'Oh, no, Sir, thank Heaven; nothing in the least—only quiet sleep, Sir; just like that.'

'Sleep, indeed—that's no sleep, Ma'am. Boo-hooh! I couldn't bawl that way in his face, Ma'am, without disturbing him, Ma'am, if it was. Now we'll get him up a bit—there, that's right—aisy. He was lying, Ma'am, I understand, on his back, when they found him in the park, Ma'am—so Mr. Dangerfield says—ay. Well, slip the cap off—backward—backward, you fool; that'll do. Who plastered his head, Ma'am?'

'Doctor Toole, Sir.'

'Toole—Toole—h'm—I see—hey—hi—tut! 'tis the devil's pair of fractures, Ma'am. See—nearer—d'ye see, there's two converging lines—d'ye see, Ma'am?' and he indicated their directions with the silver handle of an instrument he held in his hand, 'and serrated at the edges, I'll be bound.'

And he plucked off two or three strips of plaster with a quick whisk, which made poor little Mrs. Sturk wince and cry, 'Oh, dear, Sir!'

'Threpan, indeed!' murmured Black Dillon, with a coarse sneer, 'did they run the scalpel anywhere over the occiput, Ma'am?'

'I—I—truly, Sir—I'm not sure,' answered Mrs. Sturk, who did not perfectly understand a word he said.

The doctor's hair had not been cut behind. Poor Mrs. Sturk, expecting his recovery every day, would not have permitted the sacrilege, and his dishevelled cue lay upon his shoulders. With his straight surgical scissors Black Dillon snipped off this sacred appendage before the good lady knew what he was about, and cropped the back of his head down to the closest stubble.

'Will you send, if you please, Ma'am, for Doctor—Doctor—Thingumee?'

'Doctor Toole?' enquired Mrs. Sturk.

'Doctor Toole, Ma'am; yes,' answered the surgeon.

He himself went down to the coach at the hall-door, and in a few minutes returned with a case, and something in a cloth. From the cloth he took an apparatus, like the cushioned back of a chair, with straps and buckles attached to it, and a sort of socket, the back of which was open, being intended to receive the head in.

'Now, Ma'am, we'll prop him up comfortable with this, if you please.'

And having got it into place, and lowered by a screw, the cushions intended to receive his head, and got the lethargic trunk and skull of the Artillery doctor well-placed for his purpose, he took out a roll of sticking-plaster and a great piece of lint, and laid them on the table, and unlocked his box, which was a large one, and took out several instruments, silver-mounted, straight and crooked, with awful adaptations to unknown butcheries and tortures, and then out came another—the veritable trepan—resembling the homely bit-and-brace, but slender, sinister, and quaint, with a murderous sort of elegance.

'You may as well order in half-a-dozen clean towels, if you please, Ma'am.'

'Oh! Doctor, you're not going to have an operation to-night, gasped Mrs. Sturk, her face quite white and damp, and her clasped hands trembling.

'Twenty to one, Ma'am,' he replied with a slight hiccup, 'we'll have nothing of the kind; but have them here, Ma'am, and some warm water for fear of accidents—though maybe 'tis only for a dhrop of punch we'll be wanting it,' and his huge, thirsty mouth grinned facetiously; and just then Dr. Toole entered the room. He was confoundedly surprised when he found Black Dillon there. Though bent on meeting him with hauteur and proper reserve, on account of his damnable character, he was yet cowed by his superior knowledge, so that Tom Toole's address was strangely chequered with pomposity and alarm.

Dillon's credentials there was, indeed, no disputing, so they sent for Moore, the barber; and, while he was coming, they put the women out of the room, and sat in consultation.



The ladies were not much the wiser, though, I confess, they were not far removed from the door. The great men inside talked indistinctly and technically, and once Doctor Dillon was so unfeeling as to crack a joke—they could not distinctly hear what—and hee-haw brutally over it. And poor little Mrs. Sturk was taken with a great palpitation, and looked as white as a ghost, and was, indeed, so obviously at the point of swooning that her women would have removed her to the nursery, and placed her on the bed, but that such a procedure would have obliged them to leave the door of their sick master's room, just then a point of too lively interest to be deserted. So they consoled their mistress, and supported her with such strong moral cordials as compassionate persons in their rank and circumstances are prompt to administer.

'Oh! Ma'am, jewel, don't be takin' it to heart that way—though, dear knows, 'tis no way surprisin' you would; for may I never sin if ever I seen such a murtherin' steel gimblet as the red-faced docthor—I mane the Dublin man—has out on the table beside the poor masther—'tid frighten the hangman to look at it—an' six towels, too! Why, Ma'am dear, if 'twas what they wor goin' to slaughter a bullock they wouldn't ax more nor that.'

'Oh! don't. Oh! Katty, Katty—don't, oh don't'

'An' why wouldn't I, my darlin' misthress, tell you what's doin', the way you would not be dhruv out o' your senses intirely if you had no notion, Ma'am dear, iv what they're goin' to do to him?'

At this moment the door opened, and Doctor Dillon's carbuncled visage and glowing eyes appeared.

'Is there a steady woman there—not a child, you know, Ma'am? A—you'll do (to Katty). Come in here, if you please, and we'll tell you what you're to do.'

So, being nothing loath, she made her courtesy and glided in.

'Oh! doctor,' gasped poor Mrs. Sturk, holding by the hem of his garment, 'do you think it will kill him?'

'No, Ma'am—not to-night, at any rate,' he answered, drawing back; but still she held him.

'Oh! doctor, you think it will kill him?'

'No, Ma'am—there's always some danger.'

'Danger of what, Sir?'

'Fungus, Ma'am—if he gets over the chance of inflammation. But, on the other hand, Ma'am, we may do him a power of good; and see, Ma'am, 'twill be best for you to go down or into the nursery, and we'll call you, Ma'am, if need be—that is, if he's better, Ma'am, as we hope.'

'Oh! Mr. Moore, it's you,' sobbed the poor woman, holding fast by the sleeve of the barber, who that moment, with many reverences and 'your servant, Ma'am,' had mounted to the lobby with the look of awestruck curiosity, in his long, honest face, which the solemn circumstance of his visit warranted.

'You're the man we sent for?' demanded Dillon, gruffly.

''Tis good Mr. Moore,' cried trembling little Mrs. Sturk, deprecating and wheedling him instinctively to make him of her side, and lead him to take part with her and resist all violence to her husband—flesh of her flesh, and bone of her bone.

'Why don't you spake, Sor-r-r? Are you the barber we sent for or no? What ails you, man?' demanded the savage Doctor Dillon, in a suppressed roar.

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