The House by the Church-Yard
by J. Sheridan Le Fanu
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There certainly was a monologue to which he frequently afterwards treated the Aldermen of Skinner's Alley, and other convivial bodies, at supper, the doctor's gestures were made with knife and fork in hand, and it was spoken in a rich brogue and tones sometimes of thrilling pathos, anon of sharp and vehement indignation, and again of childlike endearment, amidst pounding and jingling of glasses, and screams of laughter from the company. Indeed the lord mayor, a fat slob of a fellow, though not much given to undue merriment, laughed his ribs into such a state of breathless torture, that he implored of Toole, with a wave of his hand—he could not speak—to give him breathing time, which that voluble performer disregarding, his lordship had to rise twice, and get to the window, or, as he afterwards said, he should have lost his life; and when the performance was ended, his fat cheeks were covered with tears, his mouth hung down, his head wagged slowly from side to side, and with short gasping 'oohs,' and 'oohs,' his hands pressed to his pudgy ribs, he looked so pale and breathless, that although they said nothing, several of his comrades stared hard at him, and thought him in rather a queer state.

Shortly after this little surprise, I suppose by way of ratifying the secret treaty of silence, Father Roach gave the officers and Toole a grand Lent dinner of fish, with no less than nineteen different plats, baked, boiled, stewed, in fact, a very splendid feast; and Puddock talked of some of those dishes more than twenty years afterwards.



No wonder, then, if Father Roach, when Loftus, in the innocence of his heart, announced his song and its theme, was thoroughly uneasy, and would have given a good deal that he had not helped that simple youth into his difficulty. But things must now take their course. So amid a decorous silence, Dan Loftus lifted up his voice, and sang. That voice was a high small pipe, with a very nervous quaver in it. He leaned back in his chair, and little more than the whites of his upturned eyes were visible; and beating time upon the table with one hand, claw-wise, and with two or three queer, little thrills and roulades, which re-appeared with great precision in each verse, he delivered himself thus, in what I suspect was an old psalm tune:—

'Now Lent is come, let us refrain From carnal creatures, quick or slain; Let's fast and macerate the flesh, Impound and keep it in distress.'

Here there came a wonderful, unspellable choking sound, partly through the mouth, partly through the nose, from several of the officers; and old General Chattesworth, who was frowning hard upon his dessert-plate, cried, 'Order, gentlemen,' in a stern, but very tremulous undertone. Lord Castlemallard, leaning upon his elbow, was staring with a grave and dreamy curiosity at the songster, and neither he nor his lordship heard the interruption, and on went the pleasant ditty; and as the musician regularly repeated the last two lines like a clerk in a piece of psalmody, the young wags, to save themselves from bursting outright, joined in the chorus, while verse after verse waxed more uproarious and hilarious, and gave a singular relief to Loftus's thin, high, quavering solo:—

(Loftus, solo.)

'But to forbear from flesh, fowl, fish, And eat potatoes in a dish, Done o'er with amber, or a mess Of ringos in a Spanish dress

(Chorus of Officers.)

'Done o'er with amber, or a mess Of ringos in a Spanish dress.'

''Tis a good song,' murmured Doctor Walsingham in Lord Castlemallard's ear—'I know the verses well—the ingenious and pious Howel penned them in the reign of King James the First.'

'Ha! thank you, Sir,' said his lordship.

(Loftus, solo.)

'Or to refrain from all high dishes, But feed our thoughts with wanton wishes, Making the soul, like a light wench, Wear patches of concupiscence.

(Chorus of Officers.)

'Making the soul, like a light wench, Wear patches of concupiscence

(Loftus, solo.)

'This is not to keep Lent aright, But play the juggling hypocrite; For we must starve the inward man, And feed the outward too on bran.

(Chorus of Officers.)

'For we must starve the inward man, And feed the outward too on bran.'

I believe no song was ever received with heartier bursts of laughter and applause. Puddock indeed was grave, being a good deal interested in the dishes sung by the poet. So, for the sake of its moral point, was Dr. Walsingham, who, with brows gathered together judicially, kept time with head and hand, murmuring 'true, true—good, Sir, good,' from time to time, as the sentiment liked him.

But honest Father Roach was confoundedly put out by the performance. He sat with his blue double chin buried in his breast, his mouth pursed up tightly, a red scowl all over his face, his quick, little, angry, suspicious eyes peeping cornerwise, now this way, now that, not knowing how to take what seemed to him like a deliberate conspiracy to roast him for the entertainment of the company, who followed the concluding verse with a universal roaring chorus, which went off into a storm of laughter, in which Father Roach made an absurd attempt to join. But it was only a gunpowder glare, swallowed in an instant in darkness, and down came the black portcullis of his scowl with a chop, while clearing his voice, and directing his red face and vicious little eyes straight on simple Dan Loftus he said, rising very erect and square from an unusually ceremonious bow—

'I don't know, Mr. Loftus, exactly what you mean by a "ring-goat in a Spanish dress"' (the priest had just smuggled over a wonderful bit of ecclesiastical toggery from Salamanca): 'and—a—person wearing patches, you said of—of—patches of concupiscence, I think.' (Father Roach's housekeeper unfortunately wore patches, though, it is right to add, she was altogether virtuous, and by no means young); 'but I'm bound to suppose, by the amusement our friends seem to derive from it, Sir, that a ring-goat, whatever it means, is a good joke, as well as a good-natured one.'

'But, by your leave, Sir,' emphatically interposed Puddock, on whose ear the ecclesiastic's blunder grated like a discord, 'Mr. Loftus sang nothing about a goat, though kid is not a bad thing: he said, "ringos," meaning, I conclude, eringoeous, a delicious preserve or confection. Have you never eaten them, either preserved or candied—a—why I—a—I happen to have a receipt—a—and if you permit me, Sir—a capital receipt. When I was a boy, I made some once at home, Sir; and, by Jupiter, my brother, Sam, eat of them till he was quite sick—I remember, so sick, by Jupiter, my poor mother and old Dorcas had to sit up all night with him—a—and—I was going to say, if you will allow me, Sir, I shall be very happy to send the receipt to your housekeeper.'

'You'll not like it, Sir,' said Devereux, mischievously: 'but there really is a capital one—quite of another kind—a lenten dish—fish, you know, Puddock—the one you described yesterday; but Mr. Loftus has, I think, a still better way.'

'Have you, Sir?' asked Puddock, who had a keen appetite for knowledge.

'I don't know, Captain Puddock,' murmured Loftus, bewildered.

'What is it?' remarked his reverence, shortly.

'A roast roach,' answered Puddock, looking quite innocently in that theologian's fiery face.

'Thank you,' said Father Roach, with an expression of countenance which polite little Puddock did not in the least understand.

'And how do you roast him—we know Loftus's receipt,' persisted Devereux, with remarkable cruelty.

'Just like a lump,' said Puddock, briskly.

'And how is that?' enquired Devereux.

'Flay the lump—splat him—divide him,' answered Puddock, with great volubility; 'and cut each side into two pieces; season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg, and baste with clarified butter; dish him with slices of oranges, barberries, grapes, gooseberries, and butter; and you will find that he eats deliriously either with farced pain or gammon pain.'

This rhapsody, delivered with the rapidity and emphasis of Puddock's earnest lisp, was accompanied with very general tokens of merriment from the company, and the priest, who half suspected him of having invented it, was on the point of falling foul of him, when Lord Castlemallard rose to take leave, and the general forthwith vacated the chair, and so the party broke up, fell into groups, and the greater part sauntered off to the Phoenix, where, in the club-room, they, with less restraint, and some new recruits, carried on the pleasures of the evening, which pleasures, as will sometimes happen, ended in something rather serious.



Loftus had by this time climbed to the savage lair of his garret, overstrewn with tattered papers and books; and Father Roach, in the sanctuary of his little parlour, was growling over the bones of a devilled-turkey, and about to soothe his fretted soul in a generous libation of hot whiskey punch. Indeed, he was of an appeasable nature, and on the whole a very good fellow.

Dr. Toole, whom the young fellows found along with Nutter over the draught-board in the club-room, forsook his game to devour the story of Loftus's Lenten Hymn, and poor Father Roach's penance, rubbed his hands, and slapped his thigh, and crowed and shouted with ecstasy. O'Flaherty, who called for punch, and was unfortunately prone to grow melancholy and pugnacious over his liquor, was now in a saturnine vein of sentiment, discoursing of the charms of his peerless mistress, the Lady Magnolia Macnamara—for he was not one of those maudlin shepherds, who pipe their loves in lonely glens and other sequestered places, but rather loved to exhibit his bare scars, and roar his tender torments for the edification of the market-place.

While he was descanting on the attributes of that bewitching 'crature,' Puddock, not two yards off, was describing, with scarcely less unction, the perfections of 'pig roast with the hair on:' and the two made a medley like 'The Roast Beef of Old England,' and 'The Last Rose of Summer,' arranged in alternate stanzas. O'Flaherty suddenly stopped short, and said a little sternly to Lieutenant Puddock—

'Does it very much signify, Sir (or as O'Flaherty pronounced it "Sorr,") whether the animal has hair upon it or not?'

'Every thing, Thir, in thith particular retheipt,' answered Puddock, a little loftily.

'But,' said Nutter, who, though no great talker, would make an effort to prevent a quarrel, and at the same time winking to Puddock in token that O'Flaherty was just a little 'hearty,' and so to let him alone; 'what signifies pigs' hair, compared with human tresses?'

'Compared with human tresses?' interrupted O'Flaherty, with stern deliberation, and fixing his eyes steadily and rather unpleasantly upon Nutter (I think he saw that wink and perhaps did not understand its import.)

'Ay, Sir, and Mrs. Magnolia Macnamara has as rich a head of hair as you could wish to see,' says Nutter, thinking he was drawing him off very cleverly.

'As I could wish to see?' repeated O'Flaherty grimly.

'As you could desire to see, Sir,' reiterated Nutter, firmly, for he was not easily put down; and they looked for several seconds in silence a little menacingly, though puzzled, at one another.

But O'Flaherty, after a short pause, seemed to forget Nutter, and returned to his celestial theme.

'Be the powers, Sir, that young leedy has the most beautiful dimple in her chin I ever set eyes on!'

'Have you ever put a marrow fat pea in it, Sir?' enquired Devereux, simply, with all the beautiful rashness of youth.

'No, Sorr,' replied O'Flaherty, in a deep tone, and with a very dangerous glare; 'and I'd like to see the man who, in my presence, id preshum to teeke that libertee.'

'What a glorious name Magnolia is!' interposed little Toole in great haste; for it was a practice among these worthies to avert quarrels—very serious affairs in these jolly days—by making timely little diversions, and it is wonderful, at a critical moment, what may be done by suddenly presenting a trifle; a pin's point, sometimes—at least, a marvellously small one—will draw off innocuously, the accumulating electricity of a pair of bloated scowling thunder-clouds.

'It was her noble godmother, when the family resided at Castlemara, in the county of Roscommon, the Lady Carrick-o'-Gunniol, who conferred it,' said O'Flaherty, grandly, 'upon her god-daughter, as who had a better right—I say, who had a better right?' and he smote his hand upon the table, and looked round inviting contradiction. 'My godmothers, in my baptism—that's catechism—and all the town of Chapelizod won't put that down—the Holy Church Catechism—while Hyacinth O'Flaherty, of Coolnaquirk, Lieutenant Fireworker, wears a sword.'

'Nobly said, lieutenant!' exclaimed Toole, with a sly wink over his shoulder.

'And what about that leedy's neeme, Sir?' demanded the enamoured fireworker.

'By Jove, Sir, it is quite true, Lady Carrick-o'-Gunniol was her godmother:' and Toole ran off into the story of how that relationship was brought about; narrating it, however, with great caution and mildness, extracting all the satire, and giving it quite a dignified and creditable character, for the Lieutenant Fireworker smelt so confoundedly of powder that the little doctor, though he never flinched when occasion demanded, did not care to give him an open. Those who had heard the same story from the mischievous merry little doctor before, were I dare say, amused at the grand and complimentary turn he gave it now.

The fact was, that poor Magnolia's name came to her in no very gracious way. Young Lady Carrick-o'-Gunniol was a bit of a wag, and was planting a magnolia—one of the first of those botanical rarities seen in Ireland—when good-natured, vapouring, vulgar Mrs. Macnamara's note, who wished to secure a peeress for her daughter's spiritual guardian, arrived. Her ladyship pencilled on the back of the note, 'Pray call the dear babe Magnolia,' and forthwith forgot all about it. But Madam Macnamara was charmed, and the autograph remained afterwards for two generations among the archives of the family; and, with great smiles and much complacency, she told Lord Carrick-o'-Gunniol all about it, just outside the grand jury-room, where she met him during the assize week; and, being a man of a weak and considerate nature, rather kind, and very courteous—although his smile was very near exploding into a laugh, as he gave the good lady snuff out of his own box—he was yet very much concerned and vexed, and asked his lady, when he went home, how she could have induced old Mrs. Macnamara to give that absurd name to her poor infant; whereat her ladyship, who had not thought of it since, was highly diverted; and being assured that the babe was actually christened, and past recovery Magnolia Macnamara, laughed very merrily, kissed her lord, who was shaking his head gravely, and then popped her hood on, kissed him again, and, laughing still, ran out to look at her magnolia, which, by way of reprisal, he henceforth, notwithstanding her entreaties, always called her 'Macnamara;' until, to her infinite delight, he came out with it, as it sometimes happens, at a wrong time, and asked old Mac—a large, mild man—then extant, Madame herself, nurse, infant Magnolia, and all, who had arrived at the castle, to walk out and see Lady Carrick-o'-Gunniol's 'Macnamara,' and perceived not the slip, such is the force of habit, though the family stared, and Lady C. laughed in an uncalled-for-way, at a sudden recollection of a tumble she once had, when a child, over a flower-bed; and broke out repeatedly, to my lord's chagrin and bewilderment, as they walked towards the exotic.

When Toole ended his little family anecdote, which, you may be sure, he took care to render as palatable to Magnolia's knight as possible, by not very scrupulous excisions and interpolations he wound all up, without allowing an instant for criticism or question, by saying briskly, though incoherently.

'And so, what do you say, lieutenant, to a Welsh rabbit for supper?'

The lieutenant nodded a stolid assent.

'Will you have one, Nutter?' cried Toole.

'No,' said Nutter.

'And why not?' says Toole.

'Why, I believe Tom Rooke's song in praise of oysters,' answered Nutter, 'especially the verse—

'"The youth will ne'er live to scratch a gray head, On a supper who goes of Welsh rabbit to bed."'

How came it to pass that Nutter hardly opened his lips this evening—on which, as the men who knew him longest all remarked, he was unprecedentedly talkative—without instantaneously becoming the mark at which O'Flaherty directed his fiercest and most suspicious scowls? And now that I know the allusion which the pugnacious lieutenant apprehended, I cannot but admire the fatality with which, without the smallest design, a very serious misunderstanding was brought about.

'As to youths living to scratch gray heads or not, Sir,' said the young officer, in most menacing tones; 'I don't see what concern persons of your age can have in that. But I'll take leave to tell you, Sir, that a gentleman, whether he be a "youth" as you say, or aged, as you are, who endayvours to make himself diverting at the expense of others, runs a murdhering good risk, Sir, of getting himself scratched where he'll like it least.'

Little Nutter, though grave and generally taciturn, had a spirit of his own, and no notion whatever of knocking under to a bully. It is true, he had not the faintest notion why he was singled out for the young gentleman's impertinence; but neither did he mean to enquire. His mahogany features darkened for a moment to logwood, and his eyes showed their whites fiercely.

'We are not accustomed, Sir, in this part of the world, to your Connaught notions of politeness; we meet here for social—a—a—sociality, Sir; and the long and the short of it is, young gentleman, if you don't change your key, you'll find two can play at that game—and—and, I tell you, Sir, there will be wigs on the green, Sir.'

Here several voices interposed.

'Silence, gentlemen, and let me speak, or I'll assault him,' bellowed O'Flaherty, who, to do him justice, at this moment looked capable of anything. 'I believe, Sir,' he continued, addressing Nutter, who confronted him like a little game-cock, 'it is not usual for one gentleman who renders himself offensive to another to oblige him to proceed to the length of manually malthrating his person.'

'Hey! eh?' said Nutter, drawing his mouth tight on one side with an ugly expression, and clenching his hands in his breeches pockets.

'Manually malthrating his person, Sir,' repeated O'Flaherty, 'by striking, kicking, or whipping any part or mimber of his body; or offering a milder assault, such as a pull by the chin, or a finger-tap upon the nose. It is usual, Sir, for the purpose of avoiding ungentlemanlike noise, inconvenience, and confusion, that one gentleman should request of another to suppose himself affronted in the manner, whatever it may be, most intolerable to his feelings, which request I now, Sir, teeke the libertee of preferring to you; and when you have engaged the services of a friend, I trust that Lieutenant Puddock, who lodges in the same house with me, will, in consideration of my being an officer of the same honourable corps, a sthranger in this part of the counthry, and, above all, a gentleman who can show paydagree like himself [here a low bow to Puddock, who returned it]; that Lieutenant Puddock will be so feelin' and so kind as to receive him on my behalf, and acting as my friend to manage all the particulars for settling, as easily as may be, this most unprovoked affair.'

With which words he made another bow, and a pause of enquiry directed to Puddock, who lisped with dignity—

'Sir, the duty is, for many reasons, painful; but I—I can't refuse, Sir, and I accept the trust.'

So O'Flaherty shook his hand, with another bow; bowed silently and loftily round the room, and disappeared, and a general buzz and a clack of tongues arose.

'Mr. Nutter—a—I hope things may be settled pleasantly,' said Puddock, looking as tall and weighty as he could; 'at present I—a—that is, at the moment, I—a—don't quite see—[the fact is, he had not a notion what the deuce it was all about]—but your friend will find me—your friend—a—at my lodgings up to one o'clock to-night, if necessary.'

And so Puddock's bow. For the moment an affair of this sort presented itself, all concerned therein became reserved and official, and the representatives merely of a ceremonious etiquette and a minutely-regulated ordeal of battle. So, as I said, Puddock bowed grandly and sublimely to Nutter, and then magnificently to the company, and made his exit.

There was a sort of a stun and a lull for several seconds. Something very decisive and serious had occurred. One or two countenances wore that stern and mysterious smile, which implies no hilarity, but a kind of reaction in presence of the astounding and the slightly horrible. There was a silence; the gentlemen kept their attitudes too, for some moments, and all eyes were directed toward the door. Then some turned to Charles Nutter, and then the momentary spell dissolved itself.



Nearly a dozen gentlemen broke out at once into voluble speech. Nutter was in a confounded passion; but being a man of few words, showed his wrath chiefly in his countenance, and stood with his legs apart and his arms stuffed straight into his coat pockets, his back to the fire-place, with his chest thrown daringly out, sniffing the air in a state of high tension, and as like as a respectable little fellow of five feet six could be to that giant who smelt the blood of the Irishman, and swore, with a 'Fee! Faw!! Fum!!!' he'd 'eat him for his supper that night.'

'None of the corps can represent you, Nutter, you know,' said Captain Cluffe. 'It may go hard enough with Puddock and O'Flaherty, as the matter stands; but, by Jove! if any of us appear on the other side, the general would make it a very serious affair, indeed.'

'Toole, can't you?' asked Devereux.

'Out of the question,' answered he, shutting his eyes, with a frown, and shaking his head. 'There's no man I'd do it sooner for, Nutter knows; but I can't—I've refused too often; besides, you'll want me professionally, you know; for Sturk must attend that Royal Hospital enquiry to-morrow all day—but hang it, where's the difficulty? Isn't there?—pooh!—why there must be lots of fellows at hand. Just—a—just think for a minute.'

'I don't care who,' said Nutter, with dry ferocity, 'so he can load a pistol.'

'Tom Forsythe would have done capitally, if he was at home,' said one.

'But he's not,' remarked Cluffe.

'Well,' said Toole, getting close up to Devereux, in a coaxing undertone, 'suppose we try Loftus.'

'Dan Loftus!' ejaculated Devereux.

'Dan Loftus,' repeated the little doctor, testily; 'remember, it's just eleven o'clock. He's no great things, to be sure; but what better can we get.'

'Allons, donc!' said Devereux, donning his cocked-hat, with a shrug, and the least little bit of a satirical smile, and out bustled the doctor beside him.

'Where the deuce did that broganeer, O'Flaherty, come from?' said Cluffe, confidentially, to old Major O'Neill.

'A Connaughtman,' answered the major, with a grim smile, for he was himself of that province and was, perhaps, a little bit proud of his countryman.

'Toole says he's well connected,' pursued Cluffe; 'but, by Jupiter! I never saw so-mere a Teague; and the most cross-grained devil of a cat-a-mountain.'

'I could not quite understand why he fastened on Mr. Nutter,' observed the major, with a mild smile.

'I'll rid the town of him,' rapped out Nutter, with an oath, leering at his own shoebuckle, and tapping the sole with asperity on the floor.

'If you are thinking of any unpleasant measures, gentlemen, I'd rather, if you please, know nothing of them,' said the sly, quiet major; 'for the general, you are aware, has expressed a strong opinion about such affairs; and as 'tis past my bed-hour, I'll wish you, gentlemen, a good-night,' and off went the major.

'Upon my life, if this Connaught rapparee is permitted to carry on his business of indiscriminate cut-throat here, he'll make the service very pleasant,' resumed Cluffe, who, though a brisk young fellow of eight-and-forty, had no special fancy for being shot. 'I say the general ought to take the matter into his own hands.'

'Not till I'm done with it,' growled Nutter.

'And send the young gentleman home to Connaught,' pursued Cluffe.

'I'll send him first to the other place,' said Nutter, in allusion to the Lord Protector's well-known alternative.

In the open street, under the sly old moon, red little Dr. Toole, in his great wig, and Gipsy Devereux, in quest of a squire for the good knight who stood panting for battle in the front parlour of the 'Phoenix,' saw a red glimmer in Loftus's dormant window.

'He's alive and stirring still,' said Devereux, approaching the hall door with a military nonchalance.

'Whisht!' said Toole, plucking him back by the sash: 'we must not make a noise—the house is asleep. I'll manage it—leave it to me.'

And he took up a handful of gravel, but not having got the range, he shied it all against old Tom Drought's bed-room window.

'Deuce take that old sneak,' whispered Toole vehemently, 'he's always in the way; the last man in the town I'd have—but no matter:' and up went a pebble, better directed, for this time it went right through Loftus's window, and a pleasant little shower of broken glass jingled down into the street.

'Confound you, Toole,' said Devereux, 'you'll rouse the town.

'Plague take the fellow's glass—it's as thin as paper,' sputtered Toole.

'Loftus, we want you,' said Toole, in a hard whispered shout, and making a speaking trumpet of his hands, as the wild head of the student, like nothing in life but a hen's nest, appeared above.

'Cock-Loftus, come down, d'ye hear?' urged Devereux.

'Dr. Toole and Lieutenant Devereux—I—I—dear me! yes. Gentlemen, your most obedient,' murmured Loftus vacantly, and knocking his head smartly on the top of the window frame, in recovering from a little bow. 'I'll be wi' ye, gentlemen, in a moment.' And the hen's nest vanished.

Toole and Devereux drew back a little into the shadow of the opposite buildings, for while they were waiting, a dusky apparition, supposed to be old Drought in his night-shirt, appeared at that gentleman's windows, saluting the ambassadors with mop and moe, in a very threatening and energetic way. Just as this demonstration subsided, the hall door opened wide—and indeed was left so—while our friend Loftus, in a wonderful tattered old silk coat, that looked quite indescribable by moonlight, the torn linings hanging down in loops inside the skirts, pale and discoloured, like the shreds of banners in a cathedral; his shirt loose at the neck, his breeches unbuttoned at the knees, and a gigantic, misshapen, and mouldy pair of slippers clinging and clattering about his feet, came down the steps, his light, round little eyes and queer, quiet face peering at them into the shade, and a smokified volume of divinity tucked under his arm, with his finger between the leaves to keep the place.

When Devereux saw him approaching, the whole thing—mission, service, man, and all—struck him in so absurd a point of view, that he burst out into an explosion of laughter, which only grew more vehement and uproarious the more earnestly and imploringly Toole tried to quiet him, pointing up with both hands, and all his fingers extended, to the windows of the sleeping townsfolk, and making horrible grimaces, shrugs, and ogles. But the young gentleman was not in the habit of denying himself innocent indulgences, and shaking himself loose of Toole, he walked down the dark side of the street in peals of laughter, making, ever and anon, little breathless remarks to himself, which his colleague could not hear, but which seemed to have the effect of setting him off again into new hemi-demi-semiquavers and roars of laughter, and left the doctor to himself, to conduct the negociation with Loftus.

'Well?' said Devereux, by this time recovering breath, as the little doctor, looking very red and glum, strutted up to him along the shady pavement.

'Well? well?—oh, ay, very well, to be sure. I'd like to know what the plague we're to do now,' grumbled Toole.

'Your precious armour-bearer refuses to act then?' asked Devereux.

'To be sure he does. He sees you walking down the street, ready to die o' laughing—at nothing, by Jove!' swore Toole, in deep disgust; 'and—and—och! hang it! it's all a confounded pack o' nonsense. Sir, if you could not keep grave for five minutes, you ought not to have come at all. But what need I care? It's Nutter's affair, not mine.'

'And well for him we failed. Did you ever see such a fish? He'd have shot himself or Nutter, to a certainty. But there's a chance yet: we forgot the Nightingale Club; they're still in the Phoenix.'

'Pooh, Sir! they're all tailors and green-grocers,' said Toole, in high dudgeon.

'There are two or three good names among them, however,' answered Devereux; and by this time they were on the threshold of the Phoenix.

'Larry,' he cried to the waiter, 'the Nightingale Club is there, is it not?' glancing at the great back parlour door.

'Be the powers! Captain, you may say that,' said Larry, with a wink, and a grin of exquisite glee.

'See, Larry,' said Toole, with importance, 'we're a little serious now; so just say if there's any of the gentlemen there; you—you understand, now; quite steady? D'ye see me?'

Larry winked—this time a grave wink—looked down at the floor, and up to the cornice, and—

'Well,' said he, 'to be candid with you, jest at this minute—half-an-hour ago, you see, it was different—the only gentleman I'd take on myself to recommend to you as perfectly sober is Mr. Macan, of Petticoat-lane.'

'Is he in business?' asked Toole.

'Does he keep a shop?' said Devereux.

'A shop! two shops;—a great man in the chandlery line,' responded Larry.

'H'm! not precisely the thing we want, though,' says Toole.

'There are some of them, surely, that don't keep shops,' said Devereux, a little impatiently.

'Millions!' said Larry.

'Come, say their names.'

'Only one of them came this evening, Mr. Doolan, of Stonnybatther—he's a retired merchant.'

'That will do,' said Toole, under his breath, to Devereux. Devereux nodded.

'Just, I say, tap him on the shoulder, and tell him that Dr. Toole, you know, of this town, with many compliments and excuses, begs one word with him,' said the doctor.

'Hoo! Docthur dear, he was the first of them down, and was carried out to his coach insensible jist when Mr. Crozier of Christ Church began, "Come Roger and listen;" he's in his bed in Stonnybatther a good hour and a half ago.'

'A retired merchant,' says Devereux; 'well, Toole, what do you advise now?'

'By Jove, I think one of us must go into town. 'Twill never do to leave poor Nutter in the lurch; and between ourselves, that O'Flaherty's a—a blood-thirsty idiot, by Jove—and ought to be put down.'

'Let's see Nutter—you or I must go—we'll take one of these songster's "noddies."'

A 'noddy' give me leave to remark, was the one-horse hack vehicle of Dublin and the country round, which has since given place to the jaunting car, which is, in its turn, half superseded by the cab.

And Devereux, followed by Toole, entered the front parlour again. But without their help, the matter was arranging itself, and a second, of whom they knew nothing, was about to emerge.



When Dr. Toole grumbled at his disappointment, he was not at all aware how nearly his interview with Loftus had knocked the entire affair on the head. He had no idea how much that worthy person was horrified by his proposition; and Toole walked off in a huff, without bidding him good-night, and making a remark in which the words 'old woman' occurred pretty audibly. But Loftus remained under the glimpses of the moon in perturbation and sore perplexity. It was so late he scarcely dared disturb Dr. Walsingham or General Chattesworth. But there came the half-stifled cadence of a song—not bacchanalian, but sentimental—something about Daphne and a swain—struggling through the window-shutters next the green hall-door close by, and Dan instantly bethought himself of Father Roach. So knocking stoutly at the window, he caused the melody to subside and the shutter to open. When the priest, looking out, saw Dan Loftus in his deshabille, I believe he thought for a moment it was something from the neighbouring churchyard.

However, his reverence came out and stood on the steps, enveloped in a hospital aroma of broiled bones, lemons, and alcohol, and shaking his visitor affectionately by the hand—for he bore no malice, and the Lenten ditty he quite forgave as being no worse in modern parlance than an unhappy 'fluke'—was about to pull him into the parlour, where there was ensconced, he told him, 'a noble friend of his.' This was 'Pat Mahony, from beyond Killarney, just arrived—a man of parts and conversation, and a lovely singer.'

But Dan resisted, and told his tale in an earnest whisper in the hall. The priest made his mouth into a round queer little O, through which he sucked a long breath, elevating his brows, and rolling his eyes slowly about.

'A jewel! And Nutter, of all the men on the face of the airth—though I often heerd he was a fine shot, and a sweet little fencer in his youth, an' game, too—oh, be the powers! you can see that still—game to the back-bone—and—whisht a bit now—who's the other?'

'Lieutenant O'Flaherty.'

(A low whistle from his reverence). 'That's a boy that comes from a fighting county—Galway. I wish you saw them at an election time. Why, there's no end of divarsion—the divarsion of stopping them, of course, I mean (observing a sudden alteration in Loftus's countenance). An' you, av coorse, want to stop it? And so, av coorse, do I, my dear. Well, then, wait a bit, now—we must have our eyes open. Don't be in a hurry—let us be harrumless as sarpints, but wise as doves. Now, 'tis a fine thing, no doubt, to put an end to a jewel by active intherfarence, though I have known cases, my dear child, where suppressing a simple jewel has been the cause of half a dozen breaking out afterwards in the same neighbourhood, and on the very same quarrel, d'ye mind—though, of coorse, that's no reason here or there, my dear boy! But take it that a jewel is breaking down and coming to the ground of itself (here a hugely cunning wink), in an aisy, natural, accommodating way, the only effect of intherfarence is to bolster it up, d'ye see, so just considher how things are, my dear. Lave it all to me, and mind my words, it can't take place without a second. The officers have refused, so has Toole, you won't undertake it, and it's too late to go into town. I defy it to come to anything. Jest be said be me, Dan Loftus, and let sleeping dogs lie. Here I am, an old experienced observer, that's up to their tricks, with my eye upon them. Go you to bed—lave them to me—and they're checkmated without so much as seeing how we bring it to pass.'

Dan hesitated.

'Arrah! go to your bed, Dan Loftus, dear. It's past eleven o'clock—they're nonplussed already; and lave me—me that understands it—to manage the rest.'

'Well, Sir, I do confide it altogether to you. I know I might, through ignorance, do a mischief.'

And so they bid a mutual good-night, and Loftus scaled his garret stair and snuffed his candle, and plunged again into the business of two thousand years ago.

'Here's a purty business,' says the priest, extending both his palms, with a face of warlike importance, and shutting the door behind him with what he called 'a cow's kick;' 'a jewel, my dear Pat, no less; bloody work I'm afeared.'

Mr. Mahony, who had lighted a pipe during his entertainer's absence, withdrew the fragrant tube from his lips, and opened his capacious mouth with a look of pleasant expectation, for he, like other gentlemen of his day—and, must we confess, not a few jolly clerics of my creed, as well as of honest Father Roach's—regarded the ordeal of battle, and all its belongings, simply as the highest branch of sporting. Not that the worthy father avowed any such sentiment; on the contrary, his voice and his eyes, if not his hands, were always raised against the sanguinary practice; and scarce a duel occurred within a reasonable distance unattended by his reverence, in the capacity, as he said, of 'an unauthorised, but airnest, though, he feared, unavailing peacemaker.' There he used to spout little maxims of reconciliation, and Christian brotherhood and forbearance; exhorting to forget and forgive; wringing his hands at each successive discharge; and it must be said, too, in fairness, playing the part of a good Samaritan towards the wounded, to whom his green hall-door was ever open, and for whom the oil of his consolation and the wine of his best bin never refused to flow.

'Pat, my child,' said his reverence, 'that Nutter's a divil of a fellow—at least he was, by all accounts; he'll be bad enough, I'm afeared, and hard enough to manage, if everything goes smooth; but if he's kept waiting there, fuming and boiling over, do ye mind, without a natural vent for his feelings, or a friend, do ye see, at his side to—to resthrain him, and bring about, if possible, a friendly mutual understanding—why, my dear child, he'll get into that state of exasperation an' violence, he'll have half a dozen jewels on his hands before morning.'

'Augh! 'tid be a murther to baulk them for want of a friend,' answered Mr. Mahony, standing up like a warrior, and laying the pipe of peace upon the chimney. 'Will I go down, Father Denis, and offer my sarvices?'

'With a view to a reconciliation, mind,' said his reverence, raising his finger, closing his eyes, and shaking his florid face impressively.

'Och, bother! don't I know—of coorse, reconciliation;' and he was buttoning his garments where, being a little 'in flesh,' as well as tall, he had loosed them. 'Where are the gentlemen now, and who will I ask for?'

'I'll show you the light from the steps. Ask for Dr. Toole; and he's certainly there; and if he's not, for Mr. Nutter; and just say you came from my house, where you—a—pooh! accidentally heard, through Mr. Loftus, do ye mind, there was a difficulty in finding a friend to—a—strive to make up matters between thim.'

By this time they stood upon the door-steps; and Mr. Mahony had clapt on his hat with a pugnacious cock o' one side; and following, with a sporting and mischievous leer, the direction of the priest's hand, that indicated the open door of the Phoenix, through which a hospitable light was issuing.

'There's where you'll find the gentlemen, in the front parlour,' says the priest. 'You remember Dr. Toole, and he'll remember you. An' mind, dear, it's to make it up you're goin'.' Mr. Mahony was already under weigh, at a brisk stride, and with a keen relish for the business. 'And the blessing of the peacemaker go with you, my child!' added his reverence, lifting his hands and his eyes towards the heavens, 'An' upon my fainy!' looking shrewdly at the stars, and talking to himself, 'they'll have a fine morning for the business, if, unfortunately'—and here he re-ascended his door-steps with a melancholy shrug—'if unfortunately, Pat Mahony should fail.'

When Mr. Pat Mahony saw occasion for playing the gentleman, he certainly did come out remarkably strong in the part. It was done in a noble, florid, glowing style, according to his private ideal of the complete fine gentleman. Such bows, such pointing of the toes, such graceful flourishes of the three-cocked hat—such immensely engaging smiles and wonderful by-play, such an apparition, in short, of perfect elegance-valour, and courtesy, were never seen before in the front parlour of the Phoenix.

'Mr. Mahony, by jingo!' ejaculated Toole, in an accent of thankfulness amounting nearly to rapture. Nutter seemed relieved, too, and advanced to be presented to the man who, instinct told him, was to be his friend. Cluffe, a man of fashion of the military school, eyed the elegant stranger with undisguised disgust and wonder, and Devereux with that sub-acid smile with which men will sometimes quietly relish absurdity.

Mr. Mahony, 'discoursin' a country neighbour outside the half-way-house at Muckafubble, or enjoying an easy tete-a-tete with Father Roach, was a very inferior person, indeed, to Patrick Mahony, Esq., the full-blown diplomatist and pink of gentility astonishing the front parlour of the Phoenix.

There, Mr. Mahony's periods were fluent and florid, and the words chosen occasionally rather for their grandeur and melody than for their exact connexion with the context or bearing upon his meaning. The consequence was a certain gorgeous haziness and bewilderment, which made the task of translating his harangues rather troublesome and conjectural.

Having effected the introduction, and made known the object of his visit, Nutter and he withdrew to a small chamber behind the bar, where Nutter, returning some of his bows, and having listened without deriving any very clear ideas to two consecutive addresses from his companion, took the matter in hand himself, and said he—

'I beg, Sir, to relieve you at once from the trouble of trying to arrange this affair amicably. I have been grossly insulted, he's not going to apologise, and nothing but a meeting will satisfy me. He's a mere murderer. I have not the faintest notion why he wants to kill me; but being reduced to this situation, I hold myself obliged, if I can, to rid the town of him finally.'

'Shake hands, Sir,' cried Mahony, forgetting his rhetoric in his enthusiasm; 'be the hole in the wall, Sir, I honour you.'



When Puddock, having taken a short turn or two in the air, by way of tranquillising his mind, mounted his lodging stairs, he found Lieutenant O'Flaherty, not at all more sober than he had last seen him, in the front drawing-room, which apartment was richly perfumed with powerful exhalations of rum punch.

'Dhrink this, Puddock—dhrink it,' said O'Flaherty, filling a large glass in equal quantities with rum and water; 'dhrink it, my sinsare friend; it will studdy you, it will, upon my honour, Puddock!'

'But—a—thank you, Sir, I am anxious to understand exactly'—said Puddock. Here he was interrupted by a frightful grin and a 'ha!' from O'Flaherty, who darted to the door, and seizing his little withered French servant, who was entering, swung him about the room by his coat collar.

'So, Sorr, you've been prating again, have you, you desateful, idle old dhrunken miscreant; you did it on purpose, you blundherin' old hyena; it's the third jewel you got your masther into; and if I lose my life, divil a penny iv your wages ye'll ever get—that's one comfort. Yes, Sorr! this is the third time you have caused me to brew my hands in human blood; I dono' if it's malice, or only blundherin'. Oh!' he cried, with a still fiercer shake, 'it's I that wishes I could be sure 'twas malice, I'd skiver you, heels and elbows, on my sword, and roast you alive on that fire. Is not it a hard thing, my darlin' Puddock, I can't find out.' He was still holding the little valet by the collar, and stretching out his right hand to Puddock. 'But I am always the sport of misfortunes—small and great. If there was an ould woman to be handed in to supper—or a man to be murthered by mistake—or an ugly girl to be danced with, whose turn was it, ever and always to do the business, but poor Hyacinth O'Flaherty's—(tears). I could tell you, Puddock,' he continued, forgetting his wrath, and letting his prisoner go, in his eager pathos—the Frenchman made his escape in a twinkling—'I was the only man in our regiment that tuck the mazles in Cork, when it was goin' among the children, bad luck to them—I that was near dyin' of it when I was an infant; and I was the only officer in the regiment, when we were at Athlone, that was prevented going to the race ball—and I would not for a hundred pounds. I was to dance the first minuet, and the first country dance, with that beautiful creature, Miss Rose Cox. I was makin' a glass of brandy punch—not feelin' quite myself—and I dhressed and all, in our room, when Ensign Higgins, a most thoughtless young man, said something disrespectful about a beautiful mole she had on her chin; bedad, Sir, he called it a wart, if you plase! and feelin' it sthrongly, I let the jug of scaldin' wather drop on my knees; I wish you felt it, my darlin' Puddock. I was scalded in half a crack from a fut above my knees down to the last joint of my two big toes; and I raly thought my sinses were leving me. I lost the ball by it. Oh, ho, wirresthrue! poor Hyacinth O'Flaherty!' and thereupon he wept.

'You thee, Lieutenant O'Flaherty,' lisped Puddock, growing impatient, 'we can't say how soon Mr. Nutter's friend may apply for an interview, and—a—I must confeth I don't yet quite understand the point of difference between you and him, and therefore—'

'A where the devil's that blackguard little French wazel gone to?' exclaimed O'Flaherty, for the first time perceiving that his captive had escaped. 'Kokang Modate! Do you hear me, Kokang Modate!' he shouted.

'But really, Sir, you must be so good as to place before me, before me, Sir, clearly, the—the cause of this unhappy dispute, the exact offenth, Thir, for otherwithe—'

'Cause, to be sure! and plenty iv cause. I never fought a jewel yet, Puddock, my friend—and this will be the ninth—without cause. They said, I'm tould, in Cork, I was quarrelsome; they lied; I'm not quarrelsome; I only want pace, and quiet, and justice; I hate a quarrelsome man. I tell you, Puddock, if I only knew where to find a quarrelsome man, be the powers I'd go fifty miles out of my way to pull him be the nose. They lied, Puddock, my dear boy, an' I'd give twenty pounds this minute I had them on this flure, to tell them how damnably they lied!'

'No doubt, Thir,' said Puddock, 'but if you pleathe I really mutht have a dithtinct answer to my—'

'Get out o' that, Sorr,' thundered O'Flaherty, with an awful stamp on the floor, as the 'coquin maudit,' O'Flaherty's only bit of French, such as it was, in obedience to that form of invocation, appeared nervously at the threshold, 'or I'll fling the contints of the r-r-oo-oo-oom at your head, (exit Monsieur, again). Be gannies! if I thought it was he that done it, I'd jirk his old bones through the top of the window. Will I call him back and give him his desarts, will I, Puddock! Oh, ho, hone! my darlin' Puddock, everything turns agin me; what'll I do, Puddock, jewel, or what's to become o' me?' and he shed some more tears, and drank off the greater part of the beverage which he had prepared for Puddock.

'I believe, Sir, that this is the sixth time I've ventured to ask a distinct statement from your lips, of the cauthe of your dithagreement with Mr. Nutter, which I plainly tell you, Thir, I don't at prethent underthtand, said Puddock, loftily and firmly enough.

'To be sure, my darlin' Puddock,' replied O'Flaherty, 'it was that cursed little French whipper-snapper, with his monkeyfied intherruptions; be the powers, Puddock, if you knew half the mischief that same little baste has got me into, you would not wondher if I murthered him. It was he was the cause of my jewel with my cousin, Art Considine, and I wanting to be the very pink of politeness to him. I wrote him a note when he came to Athlone, afther two years in France, and jist out o' compliment to him, I unluckily put in a word of French: come an' dine, says I, and we'll have a dish of chat. I knew u-n p-l-a-t (spelling it), was a dish, an' says I to Jerome, that pigimy (so he pronounced it) you seen here at the door, that's his damnable name, what's chat in French—c-h-a-t—spelling it to him; "sha," says he; "sha?" says I, "spell it, if you plase," says I; "c-h-a-t," says he, the stupid old viper. Well, I took the trouble to write it out, "un plat de chat;" "is that right?" says I, showing it to him. "It is, my lord," says he, looking at me as if I had two heads. I never knew the manin' of it for more than a month afther I shot poor Art through the two calves. An' he that fought two jewels before, all about cats, one of them with a Scotch gentleman that he gave the lie to, for saying that French cooks had a way of stewing cats you could not tell them from hares; and the other immadiately afther, with Lieutenant Rugge, of the Royal Navy, that got one stewed for fun, and afther my Cousin Art dined off it, like a man, showed him the tail and the claws. It's well he did not die of it, and no wondher he resented my invitation, though upon my honour, as a soldier and a gentleman, may I be stewed alive myself in a pot, Puddock my dear, if I had the laste notion of offering him the smallest affront!'

'I begin to despair, Sir,' exclaimed Puddock, 'of receiving the information without which 'tis vain for me to try to be useful to you; once more, may I entreat to know what is the affront of which you complain?'

'You don't know; raly and truly now, you don't know?' said O'Flaherty, fixing a solemn tipsy leer on him.

'I tell you no, Thir,' rejoined Puddock.

'And do you mean to tell me you did not hear that vulgar dog Nutter's unmanly jokes?'

'Jokes!' repeated Puddock, in large perplexity, 'why I've been here in this town for more than five years, and I never heard in all that time that Nutter once made a joke—and upon my life, I don't think he could make a joke, Sir, if he tried—I don't, indeed, Lieutenant O'Flaherty, upon my honour!'

And rat it, Sir, how can I help it?' cried O'Flaherty, relapsing into pathos.

'Help what?' demanded Puddock.

O'Flaherty took him by the hand, and gazing on his face with a maudlin, lacklustre tenderness, said:—

'Absalom was caught by the hair of his head—he was, Puddock—long hair or short hair, or (a hiccough) no hair at all, isn't it nature's doing, I ask you my darlin' Puddock, isn't it?' He was shedding tears again very fast. 'There was Cicero and Julius Caesar, wor both as bald as that,' and he thrust a shining sugar basin, bottom upward, into Puddock's face. 'I'm not bald; I tell you I'm not—no, my darlin' Puddock, I'm not—poor Hyacinth O'Flaherty is not bald,' shaking Puddock by both hands.

'That's very plain, Sir, but I don't see your drift,' he replied.

'I want to tell you, Puddock, dear, if you'll only have a minute's patience. The door can't fasten, divil bother it; come into the next room;' and toppling a little in his walk, he led him solemnly into his bed-room—the door of which he locked—somewhat to Puddock's disquietude, who began to think him insane. Here having informed Puddock that Nutter was driving at the one point the whole evening, as any one that knew the secret would have seen; and having solemnly imposed the seal of secrecy upon his second, and essayed a wild and broken discourse upon the difference between total baldness and partial loss of hair, he disclosed to him the grand mystery of his existence, by lifting from the summit of his head a circular piece of wig, which in those days they called I believe, a 'topping,' leaving a bare shining disc exposed, about the size of a large pat of butter.

'Upon my life, Thir, it'th a very fine piethe of work,' says Puddock, who viewed the wiglet with the eye of a stage-property man, and held it by a top lock near the candle. 'The very finetht piethe of work of the kind I ever thaw. 'Tith thertainly French. Oh, yeth—we can't do such thingth here. By Jove, Thir, what a wig that man would make for Cato!'

'An' he must be a mane crature—I say, a mane crature,' pursued O'Flaherty, 'for there was not a soul in the town but Jerome, the—the treacherous ape, that knew it. It's he that dhresses my head every morning behind the bed-curtain there, with the door locked. And Nutter could never have found it out—who was to tell him, unless that ojus French damon, that's never done talkin' about it;' and O'Flaherty strode heavily up and down the room with his hands in his breeches' pockets, muttering savage invectives, pitching his head from side to side, and whisking round at the turns in a way to show how strongly he was wrought upon.

'Come in, Sorr!' thundered O'Flaherty, unlocking the door, in reply to a knock, and expecting to see his 'ojus French damon.' But it was a tall fattish stranger, rather flashily dressed, but a little soiled, with a black wig, and a rollicking red face, showing a good deal of chin and jaw.

O'Flaherty made his grandest bow, quite forgetting the exposure at the top of his head; and Puddock stood rather shocked, with the candle in one hand and O'Flaherty's scalp in the other.

'You come, Sir, I presume, from Mr. Nutter,' said O'Flaherty, with lofty courtesy. This, Sir, is my friend, Lieutenant Puddock of the Royal Irish Artillery, who does me the honour to support me with his advice and—'

As he moved his hand towards Puddock, he saw his scalp dangling between that gentleman's finger and thumb, and became suddenly mute. He clapped his hand upon his bare skull, and made an agitated pluck at that article, but missed, and disappeared, with an imprecation in Irish, behind the bed curtains.

'If you will be so obliging, Sir, as to precede me into that room,' lisped Puddock, with grave dignity, and waving O'Flaherty's scalp slightly towards the door—for Puddock never stooped to hide anything, and being a gentleman, pure and simple, was not ashamed or afraid to avow his deeds, words, and situations; 'I shall do myself the honour to follow.'

'Gi' me that,' was heard in a vehement whisper from behind the curtains. Puddock understood it, and restored the treasure.

The secret conference in the drawing-room was not tedious, nor indeed very secret, for anyone acquainted with the diplomatic slang in which such affairs were conducted might have learned in the lobby, or indeed in the hall, so mighty was the voice of the stranger, that there was no chance of any settlement without a meeting which was fixed to take place at twelve o'clock next day on the Fifteen Acres.



Old Sally always attended her young mistress while she prepared for bed—not that Lilias required help, for she had the spirit of neatness and a joyous, gentle alacrity, and only troubled the good old creature enough to prevent her thinking herself grown old and useless.

Sally, in her quiet way, was garrulous, and she had all sorts of old-world tales of wonder and adventure, to which Lilias often went pleasantly to sleep; for there was no danger while old Sally sat knitting there by the fire, and the sound of the rector's mounting upon his chairs, as was his wont, and taking down and putting up his books in the study beneath, though muffled and faint, gave evidence that that good and loving influence was awake and busy.

Old Sally was telling her young mistress, who sometimes listened with a smile, and sometimes lost a good five minutes together of her gentle prattle, how the young gentleman, Mr. Mervyn, had taken that awful old haunted habitation, the Tiled House 'beyant at Ballyfermot,' and was going to stay there, and wondered no one had told him of the mysterious dangers of that desolate mansion.

It stood by a lonely bend of the narrow road. Lilias had often looked upon the short, straight, grass-grown avenue with an awful curiosity at the old house which she had learned in childhood to fear as the abode of shadowy tenants and unearthly dangers.

'There are people, Sally, nowadays, who call themselves free-thinkers, and don't believe in anything—even in ghosts,' said Lilias.

'A then the place he's stopping in now, Miss Lily, 'ill soon cure him of free-thinking, if the half they say about it's true,' answered Sally.

'But I don't say, mind, he's a free-thinker, for I don't know anything of Mr. Mervyn; but if he be not, he must be very brave, or very good, indeed. I know, Sally, I should be horribly afraid, indeed, to sleep in it myself,' answered Lilias, with a cosy little shudder, as the aerial image of the old house for a moment stood before her, with its peculiar malign, sacred, and skulking aspect, as if it had drawn back in shame and guilt under the melancholy old elms among the tall hemlock and nettles.

'And now, Sally, I'm safe in bed. Stir the fire, my old darling.' For although it was the first week in May, the night was frosty. 'And tell me all about the Tiled House again, and frighten me out of my wits.'

So good old Sally, whose faith in such matters was a religion, went off over the well-known ground in a gentle little amble—sometimes subsiding into a walk as she approached some special horror, and pulling up altogether—that is to say, suspending her knitting, and looking with a mysterious nod at her young mistress in the four-poster, or lowering her voice to a sort of whisper when the crisis came.

So she told her how when the neighbours hired the orchard that ran up to the windows at the back of the house, the dogs they kept there used to howl so wildly and wolfishly all night among the trees, and prowl under the walls of the house so dejectedly, that they were fain to open the door and let them in at last; and, indeed, small need was there for dogs; for no one, young or old, dared go near the orchard after night-fall. No, the burnished golden pippins that peeped through the leaves in the western rays of evening, and made the mouths of the Ballyfermot school-boys water, glowed undisturbed in the morning sunbeams, and secure in the mysterious tutelage of the night smiled coyly on their predatory longings. And this was no fanciful reserve and avoidance. Mick Daly, when he had the orchard, used to sleep in the loft over the kitchen; and he swore that within five or six weeks, while he lodged there, he twice saw the same thing, and that was a lady in a hood and a loose dress, her head drooping, and her finger on her lip, walking in silence among the crooked stems, with a little child by the hand, who ran smiling and skipping beside her. And the Widow Cresswell once met them at night-fall, on the path through the orchard to the back-door, and she did not know what it was until she saw the men looking at one another as she told it.

'It's often she told it to me,' said old Sally; 'and how she came on them all of a sudden at the turn of the path, just by the thick clump of alder trees; and how she stopped, thinking it was some lady that had a right to be there; and how they went by as swift as the shadow of a cloud, though she only seemed to be walking slow enough, and the little child pulling by her arm, this way and that way, and took no notice of her, nor even raised her head, though she stopped and courtesied. And old Dalton, don't you remember old Dalton, Miss Lily?'

'I think I do, the old man who limped, and wore the old black wig?'

'Yes, indeed, acushla, so he did. See how well she remembers! That was by a kick of one of the earl's horses—he was groom there,' resumed Sally. 'He used to be troubled with hearing the very sounds his master used to make to bring him and old Oliver to the door, when he came back late. It was only on very dark nights when there was no moon. They used to hear all on a sudden, the whimpering and scraping of dogs at the hall door, and the sound of the whistle, and the light stroke across the window with the lash of the whip, just like as if the earl himself—may his poor soul find rest—was there. First the wind 'id stop, like you'd be holding your breath, then came these sounds they knew so well, and when they made no sign of stirring or opening the door, the wind 'id begin again with such a hoo-hoo-o-o-high, you'd think it was laughing, and crying, and hooting all at once.'

Here old Sally's tale and her knitting ceased for a moment, as if she were listening to the wind outside the haunted precincts of the Tiled house; and she took up her parable again.

'The very night he met his death in England, old Oliver, the butler, was listening to Dalton—for Dalton was a scholar—reading the letter that came to him through the post that day, telling him to get things ready, for his troubles wor nearly over and he expected to be with them again in a few days, and maybe almost as soon as the letter; and sure enough, while he was reading, there comes a frightful rattle at the window, like some one all in a tremble, trying to shake it open, and the earl's voice, as they both conceited, cries from outside, "Let me in, let me in, let me in!" "It's him," says the butler. "'Tis so, bedad," says Dalton, and they both looked at the windy, and at one another—and then back again—overjoyed, in a soart of a way, and frightened all at onst. Old Oliver was bad with the rheumatiz. So away goes Dalton to the hall-door, and he calls "who's there?" and no answer. "Maybe," says Dalton, to himself, "'tis what he's rid round to the back-door;" so to the back-door with him, and there he shouts again—and no answer, and not a sound outside—and he began to feel quare, and to the hall door with him back again. "Who's there? do you hear? who's there?" he shouts, and receives no answer still. "I'll open the door at any rate," says he, "maybe it's what he's made his escape," for they knew all about his troubles, and wants to get in without noise, so praying all the time—for his mind misgave him it might not be all right—he shifts the bars and unlocks the door; but neither man, woman, nor child, nor horse, nor any living shape was standing there, only something or another slipt into the house close by his leg; it might be a dog, or something that way, he could not tell, for he only seen it for a moment with the corner of his eye, and it went in just like as if it belonged to the place. He could not see which way it went, up or down, but the house was never a happy one, or a quiet house after; and Dalton bangs the hall-door, and he took a sort of a turn and a trembling, and back with him to Oliver, the butler, looking as white as the blank leaf of his master's letter, that was between his finger and thumb. "What is it? what is it?" says the butler, catching his crutch like a waypon, fastening his eyes on Dalton's white face, and growing almost as pale himself. "The master's dead," says Dalton—and so he was, signs on it.

'After the turn she got by what she seen in the orchard, when she came to know the truth of what it was, Jinny Cresswell, you may be sure, did not stay there an hour longer than she could help: and she began to take notice of things she did not mind before—such as when she went into the big bed-room over the hall, that the lord used to sleep in, whenever she went in at one door the other door used to be pulled to very quick, as if some one avoiding her was getting out in haste; but the thing that frightened her most was just this—that sometimes she used to find a long straight mark from the head to the foot of her bed, as if 'twas made by something heavy lying there, and the place where it was used to feel warm—as if—whoever it was—they only left it as she came into the room.

'But the worst of all was poor Kitty Haplin, the young woman that died of what she seen. Her mother said it was how she was kept awake all the night with the walking about of some one in the next room, tumbling about boxes, and pulling over drawers, and talking and sighing to himself, and she, poor thing, wishing to go asleep, and wondering who it could be, when in he comes, a fine man, in a sort of loose silk morning-dress, an' no wig, but a velvet cap on, and to the windy with him quiet and aisy, and she makes a turn in the bed to let him know there was some one there, thinking he'd go away, but instead of that, over he comes to the side of the bed, looking very bad, and says something to her—but his speech was thick and choakin' like a dummy's that id be trying to spake—and she grew very frightened, and says she, 'I ask your honour's pardon, Sir, but I can't hear you right,' and with that he stretches up his neck nigh out of his cravat, turning his face up towards the ceiling, and—grace between us and harm!—his throat was cut across, and wide open; she seen no more, but dropped in a dead faint in the bed, and back to her mother with her in the morning, and she never swallied bit or sup more, only she just sat by the fire holding her mother's hand, crying and trembling, and peepin' over her shoulder, and starting with every sound, till she took the fever and died, poor thing, not five weeks after.'

And so on, and on, and on flowed the stream of old Sally's narrative, while Lilias dropped into dreamless sleep, and then the story-teller stole away to her own tidy bed-room and innocent slumbers.



I'm sure she believed every word she related, for old Sally was veracious. But all this was worth just so much as such talk commonly is—marvels, fabulae, what our ancestors called winter's tales—which gathered details from every narrator, and dilated in the act of narration. Still it was not quite for nothing that the house was held to be haunted. Under all this smoke there smouldered just a little spark of truth—an authenticated mystery, for the solution of which some of my readers may possibly suggest a theory, though I confess I can't.

Miss Rebecca Chattesworth, in a letter dated late in the autumn of 1753, gives a minute and curious relation of occurrences in the Tiled House, which, it is plain, although at starting she protests against all such fooleries, she has heard with a peculiar sort of interest, and relates it certainly with an awful sort of particularity.

I was for printing the entire letter, which is really very singular as well as characteristic. But my publisher meets me with his veto; and I believe he is right. The worthy old lady's letter is, perhaps, too long; and I must rest content with a few hungry notes of its tenor.

That year, and somewhere about the 24th October, there broke out a strange dispute between Mr. Alderman Harper, of High Street, Dublin, and my Lord Castlemallard, who, in virtue of his cousinship to the young heir's mother, had undertaken for him the management of the tiny estate on which the Tiled or Tyled House—for I find it spelt both ways—stood.

This Alderman Harper had agreed for a lease of the house for his daughter, who was married to a gentleman named Prosser. He furnished it, and put up hangings, and otherwise went to considerable expense. Mr. and Mrs. Prosser came there sometime in June, and after having parted with a good many servants in the interval, she made up her mind that she could not live in the house, and her father waited on Lord Castlemallard, and told him plainly that he would not take out the lease because the house was subjected to annoyances which he could not explain. In plain terms, he said it was haunted, and that no servants would live there more than a few weeks, and that after what his son-in-law's family had suffered there, not only should he be excused from taking a lease of it, but that the house itself ought to be pulled down as a nuisance and the habitual haunt of something worse than human malefactors.

Lord Castlemallard filed a bill in the Equity side of the Exchequer to compel Mr. Alderman Harper to perform his contract, by taking out the lease. But the Alderman drew an answer, supported by no less than seven long affidavits, copies of all which were furnished to his lordship, and with the desired effect; for rather than compel him to place them upon the file of the court, his lordship struck, and consented to release him.

I am sorry the cause did not proceed at least far enough to place upon the files of the court the very authentic and unaccountable story which Miss Rebecca relates.

The annoyances described did not begin till the end of August, when, one evening, Mrs. Prosser, quite alone, was sitting in the twilight at the back parlour window, which was open, looking out into the orchard, and plainly saw a hand stealthily placed upon the stone window-sill outside, as if by some one beneath the window, at her right side, intending to climb up. There was nothing but the hand, which was rather short but handsomely formed, and white and plump, laid on the edge of the window-sill; and it was not a very young hand, but one aged, somewhere about forty, as she conjectured. It was only a few weeks before that the horrible robbery at Clondalkin had taken place, and the lady fancied that the hand was that of one of the miscreants who was now about to scale the windows of the Tiled House. She uttered a loud scream and an ejaculation of terror, and at the same moment the hand was quietly withdrawn.

Search was made in the orchard, but no indications of any person's having been under the window, beneath which, ranged along the wall, stood a great column of flower-pots, which it seemed must have prevented any one's coming within reach of it.

The same night there came a hasty tapping, every now and then, at the window of the kitchen. The women grew frightened, and the servant-man, taking firearms with him, opened the back-door, but discovered nothing. As he shut it, however, he said, 'a thump came on it,' and a pressure as of somebody striving to force his way in, which frightened him; and though the tapping went on upon the kitchen window panes, he made no further explorations.

About six o'clock on the Saturday evening following, the cook, 'an honest, sober woman, now aged nigh sixty years,' being alone in the kitchen, saw, on looking up, it is supposed, the same fat but aristocratic-looking hand, laid with its palm against the glass, near the side of the window, and this time moving slowly up and down, pressed all the while against the glass, as if feeling carefully for some inequality in its surface. She cried out, and said something like a prayer on seeing it. But it was not withdrawn for several seconds after.

After this, for a great many nights, there came at first a low, and afterwards an angry rapping, as it seemed with a set of clenched knuckles at the back-door. And the servant-man would not open it, but called to know who was there; and there came no answer, only a sound as if the palm of the hand was placed against it, and drawn slowly from side to side with a sort of soft, groping motion.

All this time, sitting in the back parlour, which, for the time, they used as a drawing-room, Mr. and Mrs. Prosser were disturbed by rappings at the window, sometimes very low and furtive, like a clandestine signal, and at others sudden, and so loud as to threaten the breaking of the pane.

This was all at the back of the house, which looked upon the orchard as you know. But on a Tuesday night, at about half-past nine, there came precisely the same rapping at the hall-door, and went on, to the great annoyance of the master and terror of his wife, at intervals, for nearly two hours.

After this, for several days and nights, they had no annoyance whatsoever, and began to think that nuisance had expended itself. But on the night of the 13th September, Jane Easterbrook, an English maid, having gone into the pantry for the small silver bowl in which her mistress's posset was served, happening to look up at the little window of only four panes, observed through an auger-hole which was drilled through the window frame, for the admission of a bolt to secure the shutter, a white pudgy finger—first the tip, and then the two first joints introduced, and turned about this way and that, crooked against the inside, as if in search of a fastening which its owner designed to push aside. When the maid got back into the kitchen we are told 'she fell into "a swounde," and was all the next day very weak.'

Mr. Prosser being, I've heard, a hard-headed and conceited sort of fellow, scouted the ghost, and sneered at the fears of his family. He was privately of opinion that the whole affair was a practical joke or a fraud, and waited an opportunity of catching the rogue flagrante delicto. He did not long keep this theory to himself, but let it out by degrees with no stint of oaths and threats, believing that some domestic traitor held the thread of the conspiracy.

Indeed it was time something were done; for not only his servants, but good Mrs. Prosser herself, had grown to look unhappy and anxious. They kept at home from the hour of sunset, and would not venture about the house after night-fall, except in couples.

The knocking had ceased for about a week; when one night, Mrs. Prosser being in the nursery, her husband, who was in the parlour, heard it begin very softly at the hall-door. The air was quite still, which favoured his hearing distinctly. This was the first time there had been any disturbance at that side of the house, and the character of the summons was changed.

Mr. Prosser, leaving the parlour-door open, it seems, went quietly into the hall. The sound was that of beating on the outside of the stout door, softly and regularly, 'with the flat of the hand.' He was going to open it suddenly, but changed his mind; and went back very quietly, and on to the head of the kitchen stair, where was a 'strong closet' over the pantry, in which he kept his firearms, swords, and canes.

Here he called his man-servant, whom he believed to be honest, and, with a pair of loaded pistols in his own coat-pockets, and giving another pair to him, he went as lightly as he could, followed by the man, and with a stout walking-cane in his hand, forward to the door.

Everything went as Mr. Prosser wished. The besieger of his house, so far from taking fright at their approach, grew more impatient; and the sort of patting which had aroused his attention at first assumed the rhythm and emphasis of a series of double-knocks.

Mr. Prosser, angry, opened the door with his right arm across, cane in hand. Looking, he saw nothing; but his arm was jerked up oddly, as it might be with the hollow of a hand, and something passed under it, with a kind of gentle squeeze. The servant neither saw nor felt anything, and did not know why his master looked back so hastily, cutting with his cane, and shutting the door with so sudden a slam.

From that time Mr. Prosser discontinued his angry talk and swearing about it, and seemed nearly as averse from the subject as the rest of his family. He grew, in fact, very uncomfortable, feeling an inward persuasion that when, in answer to the summons, he had opened the hall-door, he had actually given admission to the besieger.

He said nothing to Mrs. Prosser, but went up earlier to his bed-room, 'where he read a while in his Bible, and said his prayers.' I hope the particular relation of this circumstance does not indicate its singularity. He lay awake a good while, it appears; and, as he supposed, about a quarter past twelve he heard the soft palm of a hand patting on the outside of the bed-room door, and then brushed slowly along it.

Up bounced Mr. Prosser, very much frightened, and locked the door, crying, 'Who's there?' but receiving no answer but the same brushing sound of a soft hand drawn over the panels, which he knew only too well.

In the morning the housemaid was terrified by the impression of a hand in the dust of the 'little parlour' table, where they had been unpacking delft and other things the day before. The print of the naked foot in the sea-sand did not frighten Robinson Crusoe half so much. They were by this time all nervous, and some of them half-crazed, about the hand.

Mr. Prosser went to examine the mark, and made light of it but as he swore afterwards, rather to quiet his servants than from any comfortable feeling about it in his own mind; however, he had them all, one by one, into the room, and made each place his or her hand, palm downward, on the same table, thus taking a similar impression from every person in the house, including himself and his wife; and his 'affidavit' deposed that the formation of the hand so impressed differed altogether from those of the living inhabitants of the house, and corresponded with that of the hand seen by Mrs. Prosser and by the cook.

Whoever or whatever the owner of that hand might be, they all felt this subtle demonstration to mean that it was declared he was no longer out of doors, but had established himself in the house.

And now Mrs. Prosser began to be troubled with strange and horrible dreams, some of which as set out in detail, in Aunt Rebecca's long letter, are really very appalling nightmares. But one night, as Mr. Prosser closed his bed-chamber-door, he was struck somewhat by the utter silence of the room, there being no sound of breathing, which seemed unaccountable to him, as he knew his wife was in bed, and his ears were particularly sharp.

There was a candle burning on a small table at the foot of the bed, beside the one he held in one hand, a heavy ledger, connected with his father-in-law's business being under his arm. He drew the curtain at the side of the bed, and saw Mrs. Prosser lying, as for a few seconds he mortally feared, dead, her face being motionless, white, and covered with a cold dew; and on the pillow, close beside her head, and just within the curtains, was, as he first thought, a toad—but really the same fattish hand, the wrist resting on the pillow, and the fingers extended towards her temple.

Mr. Prosser, with a horrified jerk, pitched the ledger right at the curtains, behind which the owner of the hand might be supposed to stand. The hand was instantaneously and smoothly snatched away, the curtains made a great wave, and Mr. Prosser got round the bed in time to see the closet-door, which was at the other side, pulled to by the same white, puffy hand, as he believed.

He drew the door open with a fling, and stared in: but the closet was empty, except for the clothes hanging from the pegs on the wall, and the dressing-table and looking-glass facing the windows. He shut it sharply, and locked it, and felt for a minute, he says, 'as if he were like to lose his wits;' then, ringing at the bell, he brought the servants, and with much ado they recovered Mrs. Prosser from a sort of 'trance,' in which, he says, from her looks, she seemed to have suffered 'the pains of death:' and Aunt Rebecca adds, 'from what she told me of her visions, with her own lips, he might have added, "and of hell also."'

But the occurrence which seems to have determined the crisis was the strange sickness of their eldest child, a little boy aged between two and three years. He lay awake, seemingly in paroxysms of terror, and the doctors who were called in, set down the symptoms to incipient water on the brain. Mrs. Prosser used to sit up with the nurse by the nursery fire, much troubled in mind about the condition of her child.

His bed was placed sideways along the wall, with its head against the door of a press or cupboard, which, however, did not shut quite close. There was a little valance, about a foot deep, round the top of the child's bed, and this descended within some ten or twelve inches of the pillow on which it lay.

They observed that the little creature was quieter whenever they took it up and held it on their laps. They had just replaced him, as he seemed to have grown quite sleepy and tranquil, but he was not five minutes in his bed when he began to scream in one of his frenzies of terror; at the same moment the nurse, for the first time, detected, and Mrs. Prosser equally plainly saw, following the direction of her eyes, the real cause of the child's sufferings.

Protruding through the aperture of the press, and shrouded in the shade of the valance, they plainly saw the white fat hand, palm downwards, presented towards the head of the child. The mother uttered a scream, and snatched the child from its little bed, and she and the nurse ran down to the lady's sleeping-room, where Mr. Prosser was in bed, shutting the door as they entered; and they had hardly done so, when a gentle tap came to it from the outside.

There is a great deal more, but this will suffice. The singularity of the narrative seems to me to be this, that it describes the ghost of a hand, and no more. The person to whom that hand belonged never once appeared: nor was it a hand separated from a body, but only a hand so manifested and introduced that its owner was always, by some crafty accident, hidden from view.

In the year 1819, at a college breakfast, I met a Mr. Prosser—a thin, grave, but rather chatty old gentleman, with very white hair drawn back into a pigtail—and he told us all, with a concise particularity, a story of his cousin, James Prosser, who, when an infant, had slept for some time in what his mother said was a haunted nursery in an old house near Chapelizod, and who, whenever he was ill, over-fatigued, or in anywise feverish, suffered all through his life as he had done from a time he could scarce remember, from a vision of a certain gentleman, fat and pale, every curl of whose wig, every button and fold of whose laced clothes, and every feature and line of whose sensual, benignant, and unwholesome face, was as minutely engraven upon his memory as the dress and lineaments of his own grandfather's portrait, which hung before him every day at breakfast, dinner, and supper.

Mr. Prosser mentioned this as an instance of a curiously monotonous, individualised, and persistent nightmare, and hinted the extreme horror and anxiety with which his cousin, of whom he spoke in the past tense as 'poor Jemmie,' was at any time induced to mention it.

I hope the reader will pardon me for loitering so long in the Tiled House, but this sort of lore has always had a charm for me; and people, you know, especially old people, will talk of what most interests themselves, too often forgetting that others may have had more than enough of it.

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