The House by the Church-Yard
by J. Sheridan Le Fanu
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'And where do you think he is? Do you think it's business?'

'Of course 'tis business, Ma'am.'

'And—and—oh, doctor!—you really think he's safe?'

'Of course, Madam, he's safe—what's to ail him?'

And Toole rummaged amongst the old medicine phials on the chimneypiece, turning their labels round and round, but neither seeing them nor thinking about them, and only muttering to himself with, I'm sorry to say, a curse here and there.

'You see, my dear Ma'am, you must keep yourself as quiet as you can, or physic's thrown away upon you; you really must,' said Toole.

'But doctor,' pleaded the poor lady, 'you don't know—I—I'm terrified—I—I—I'll never be the same again,' and she burst into hysterical crying.

'Now, really, Madam—confound it—my dear, good lady—you see—this will never do'—he was uncorking and smelling at the bottles in search of 'the drops'—'and—and—here they are—and isn't it better, Ma'am, you should be well and hearty—here drink this—when—when he comes back—don't you see—than—a—a—'

'But—oh, I wish I could tell you. She said—she said—the—the—oh, you don't know—'

'She—who? Who said what?' cried Toole, lending his ear, for he never refused a story.

'Oh! Doctor, he's gone—I'll never—never—I know I'll never see him again. Tell me he's not gone—tell me I'll see him again.'

'Hang it, can't she stick to one thing at a time—the poor woman's half out of her wits,' said Toole, provoked; 'I'll wager a dozen of claret there's more on her mind than she's told to anyone.'

Before he could bring her round to the subject again, the doctor was called down to Lowe; so he took his leave for the present; and after his talk with the magistrate, he did not care to go up again to poor little Mrs. Nutter; and Moggy was as white as ashes standing by, for Mr. Lowe had just made her swear to her little story about the shoes; and Toole walked home to the village with a heavy heart, and a good deal out of humour.

Toole knew that a warrant would be issued next day against Nutter. The case against him was black enough. Still, even supposing he had struck those trenchant blows over Sturk's head, it did not follow that it was without provocation or in cold blood. It looked, however, altogether so unpromising, that he would have been almost relieved to hear that Nutter's body had been found drowned in the river.

Still there was a chance that he made good his retreat. If he had not paid his fare in Charon's packet-boat, he might, at least, have crossed the channel in the Trevor or Hillsborough to Holyhead. Then, deuce was in it, if he did not make a fair run for it, and earth himself snugly somewhere. 'Twas lighter work then than now. 'The old saying at London, among servants,' writes that good-natured theatrical wag, Tate Wilkinson, 'was, "I wish you were at York!" which the wronged cook has now changed for, "I wish you were at Jamaica." Scotland was then imagined by the cockney as a dreary place, distant almost as the West Indies; now'(reader, pray note the marvel) 'an agreeable party may, with the utmost ease, dine early in the week in Grosvenor Square, and without discomposure set down at table on Saturday or Sunday in the new town of Edinburgh!' From which we learn that miracles of celerity were already accomplishing themselves, and that the existing generation contemplated their triumphs complacently. But even upon these we have improved, and nowadays, our whole social organisation is subservient to detection. Cut your telegraph wires, substitute sail boats for steam, and your old fair and easy forty-miles-a-day stage-coaches for the train and the rail, disband your City police and detective organisation, and make the transit of a letter between London and Dublin a matter of from five days to nearly as many weeks, and compute how much easier it was then than now for an adventurous highwayman, an absconding debtor, or a pair of fugitive lovers, to make good their retreat. Slow, undoubtedly, was the flight—they did not run, they walked away; but so was pursuit, and altogether, without authentic lights and official helps—a matter of post-chaises and perplexity, cross-roads and rumour, foundering in a wild waste of conjecture, or swallowed in the quag of some country inn-yard, where nothing was to be heard, and out of which there would be no relay of posters to pull you until nine o'clock next morning.

As Toole debouched from Martin's-row, on his return, into the comparative amplitude of the main street of Chapelizod, he glanced curiously up to Sturk's bed-room windows. There were none of the white signals of death there. So he ascended the door step, and paid a visit—of curiosity, I must say—and looked on the snorting image of his old foe, and the bandaged head, spell-bound and dreamless, that had machinated so much busy mischief against his own medical sovereignty and the rural administration of Nutter.

As Toole touched his pulse, and saw him swallow a spoonful of chicken broth, and parried poor Mrs. Sturk's eager quivering pleadings for his life with kind though cautious evasions, he rightly judged that the figure that lay there was more than half in the land of ghosts already—that the enchanter who met him in the Butcher's Wood, and whose wand had traced those parallel indentures in his skull, had not only exorcised for ever the unquiet spirit of intrigue, but wound up the tale of his days. It was true that he was never more to step from that bed, and that his little children would, ere many days, be brought there by kindly, horror-loving maids, to look their last on 'the poor master,' and kiss awfully his cold stern mouth before the coffin lid was screwed down, and the white-robed image of their father hidden away for ever from their sight.



And just on Monday morning, in the midst of this hurly-burly of conjecture, who should arrive, of all the people in the world, and re-establish himself in his old quarters, but Dick Devereux. The gallant captain was more splendid and handsome than ever. But both his spirits and his habits had suffered. He had quarrelled with his aunt, and she was his bread and butter—ay, buttered on both sides. How lightly these young fellows quarrel with the foolish old worshippers who lay their gold, frankincense, and myrrh, at the feet of the handsome thankless idols. They think it all independence and high spirit, whereas we know it is nothing but a little egotistical tyranny, that unconsciously calculates even in the heyday of its indulgence upon the punctual return of the penitent old worshipper, with his or her votive offerings.

Perhaps the gipsy had thought better of it, and was already sorry he had not kept the peace. At all events, though his toilet and wardrobe were splendid—for fine fellows in his plight deny themselves nothing—yet morally he was seedy, and in temper soured. His duns had found him out, and pursued him in wrath and alarm to England, and pestered him very seriously indeed. He owed money beside to several of his brother officers, and it was not pleasant to face them without a guinea. An evil propensity, at which, as you remember, General Chattesworth hinted, had grown amid his distresses, and the sting of self-reproach exasperated him. Then there was his old love for Lilias Walsingham, and the pang of rejection, and the hope of a strong passion sometimes leaping high and bright, and sometimes nickering into ghastly shadows and darkness.

Indeed, he was by no means so companionable just now as in happier times, and was sometimes confoundedly morose and snappish—for, as you perceive, things had not gone well with him latterly. Still he was now and then tolerably like his old self.

Toole, passing by, saw him in the window. Devereux smiled and nodded, and the doctor stopped short at the railings, and grinned up in return, and threw out his arms to express surprise, and then snapped his fingers, and cut a little caper, as though he would say—'Now, you're come back—we'll have fun and fiddling again.' And forthwith he began to bawl his enquiries and salutations. But Devereux called him up peremptorily, for he wanted to hear the news—especially all about the Walsinghams. And up came Toole, and they had a great shaking of hands, and the doctor opened his budget and rattled away.

Of Sturk's tragedy and Nutter's disappearance he had already heard. And he now heard some of the club gossip, and all about Dangerfield's proposal for Gertrude Chattesworth, and how the old people were favourable, and the young lady averse—and how Dangerfield was content to leave the question in abeyance, and did not seem to care a jackstraw what the townspeople said or thought—and then he came to the Walsinghams, and Devereux for the first time really listened. The doctor was very well—just as usual; and wondering what had become of his old crony, Dan Loftus, from whom he had not heard for several months; and Miss Lily was not very well—a delicacy here (and he tapped his capacious chest), like her poor mother. 'Pell and I consulted about her, and agreed she was to keep within doors.' And then he went on, for he had a suspicion of the real state of relations between him and Lily, and narrated the occurrence rather with a view to collect evidence from his looks and manner, than from any simpler motive; and, said he, 'Only think, that confounded wench, Nan—you know—Nan Glynn,' And he related her and her mother's visit to Miss Lily, and a subsequent call made upon the rector himself—all, it must be confessed, very much as it really happened. And Devereux first grew so pale as almost to frighten Toole, and then broke into a savage fury—and did not spare hard words, oaths, or maledictions. Then off went Toole, when things grew quieter, upon some other theme, giggling and punning, spouting scandal and all sorts of news—and Devereux was looking full at him with large stern eyes, not hearing a word more. His soul was cursing old Mrs. Glynn, of Palmerstown—that mother of lies and what not—and remonstrating with old Dr. Walsingham—and protesting wildly against everything.

General Chattesworth, who returned two or three weeks after, was not half pleased to see Devereux. He had heard a good deal about him and his doings over the water, and did not like them. He had always had a misgiving that if Devereux remained in the corps, sooner or later he would be obliged to come to a hard reckoning with him. And the handsome captain had not been three weeks in Chapelizod, when more than the general suspected that he was in nowise improved. So General Chattesworth did not often see or talk with him; and when he did, was rather reserved and lofty with him. His appointment on the staff was in abeyance—in fact, the vacancy on which it was expectant had not definitely occurred—and all things were at sixes and sevens with poor Dick Devereux.

That evening, strange to say, Sturk was still living; and Toole reported him exactly in the same condition. But what did that signify? 'Twas all one. The man was dead—as dead to all intents and purposes that moment as he would be that day twelvemonths, or that day hundred years.

Dr. Walsingham, who had just been to see poor Mrs. Sturk—now grown into the habit of hoping, and sustained by the intense quiet fuss of the sick room—stopped for a moment at the door of the Phoenix, to answer the cronies there assembled, who had seen him emerge from the murdered man's house.

'He is in a profound lethargy,' said the worthy divine. ''Tis a subsidence—his life, Sir, stealing away like the fluid from the clepsydra—less and less left every hour—a little time will measure all out.'

'What the plague's a clepsydra?' asked Cluffe of Toole, as they walked side by side into the club-room.

'Ho! pooh! one of those fabulous tumours of the epidermis mentioned by Pliny, you know, exploded ten centuries ago—ha, ha, ha!' and he winked and laughed derisively, and said, 'Sure you know Doctor Walsingham.'

And the gentlemen began spouting their theories about the murder and Nutter, in a desultory way; for they all knew the warrant was out against him.

'My opinion,' said Toole, knocking out the ashes of his pipe upon the hob; for he held his tongue while smoking, and very little at any other time; 'and I'll lay a guinea 'twill turn out as I say—the poor fellow's drowned himself. Few knew Nutter—I doubt if any one knew him as I did. Why he did not seem to feel anything, and you'd ha' swore nothing affected him, more than that hob, Sir; and all the time, there wasn't a more thin-skinned, atrabilious poor dog in all Ireland—but honest, Sir—thorough steel, Sir. All I say is, if he had a finger in that ugly pie, you know, as some will insist, I'll stake my head to a china orange, 'twas a fair front to front fight. By Jupiter, Sir, there wasn't one drop of cur's blood in poor Nutter. No, poor fellow; neither sneak nor assassin there—'

'They thought he drowned himself from his own garden—poor Nutter,' said Major O'Neill.

'Well, that he did not,' said Toole. 'That unlucky shoe, you know, tells a tale; but for all that, I'm clear of the opinion that drowned he is. We tracked the step, Lowe and I, to the bank, near the horse-track, in Barrack Street, just where the water deepens—there's usually five feet of water there, and that night there was little short of ten. Now, take it, that Nutter and Sturk had a tussle—and the thing happened, you know—and Sturk got the worst of it, and was, in fact, despatched, why, you know the kind of panic—and—and—the panic—you know—a poor dog, finding himself so situated, would be in—with the bitter, old quarrel between them—d'ye see? And this at the back of his vapours and blue-devils, for he was dumpish enough before, and would send a man like Nutter into a resolution of making away with himself; and that's how it happened, you may safely swear.'

'And what do you think, Mr. Dangerfield?' asked the major.

'Upon my life,' said Dangerfield, briskly, lowering his newspaper to his knee, with a sharp rustle, 'these are questions I don't like to meddle in. Certainly, he had considerable provocation, as I happen to know; and there was no love lost—that I know too. But I quite agree with Doctor Toole—if he was the man, I venture to say 'twas a fair fight. Suppose, first, an altercation, then a hasty blow—Sturk had his cane, and a deuced heavy one—he wasn't a fellow to go down without knowing the reason why; and if they find Nutter, dead or alive, I venture to say he'll show some marks of it about him.'

Cluffe wished the whole company, except himself, at the bottom of the Red Sea; for he was taking his revenge of Puddock, and had already lost a gammon and two hits. Little Puddock won by the force of the dice. He was not much of a player; and the sight of Dangerfield—that repulsive, impenetrable, moneyed man, who had 'overcome him like a summer cloud,' when the sky of his fortunes looked clearest and sunniest, always led him to Belmont, and the side of his lady-love.

If Cluffe's mind wandered in that direction, his reveries were rather comfortable. He had his own opinion about his progress with Aunt Rebecca, who had come to like his conversation, and talked with him a great deal about Puddock, and always with acerbity; Cluffe, who was a sort of patron of Puddock's, always, to do him justice, defended him respectfully. And Aunt Rebecca would listen very attentively, and then shake her head, and say, 'You're a great deal too good-natured, captain; and he'll never thank you for your pains, neverI can tell you.'

Well, Cluffe knew that the higher powers favoured Dangerfield; and that, beside his absurd sentiment, not to say passion, which could not but be provoking, Puddock's complicity in the abortive hostilities of poor Nutter and the gallant O'Flaherty rankled in Aunt Becky's heart. She was, indeed, usually appeasable and forgiving enough; but in this case her dislike seemed inveterate and vindictive; and she would say—

'Well, let's talk no more of him; 'tis easy finding a more agreeable subject: but you can't deny, captain, that 'twas an unworthy hypocrisy his pretending to sentiments against duelling to me, and then engaging as second in one on the very first opportunity that presented.'

Then Cluffe would argue his case, and plead his excuses, and fumbled over it a good while; not that he'd have cried a great deal if Puddock had been hanged; but, I'm afraid, chiefly because, being a fellow of more gaiety and accomplishment than quickness of invention, it was rather convenient, than otherwise, to have a topic, no matter what, supplied to him, and one that put him in an amiable point of view, and in a kind of graceful, intercessorial relation to the object of his highly prudent passion. And Cluffe thought how patiently she heard him, though he was conscious 'twas rather tedious, and one time very like another. But then, 'twasn't the talk, but the talker; and he was glad, at all risks, to help poor Puddock out of his disgrace, like a generous soul, as he was.



It was now more than a fortnight since Sturk's mishap in the Butcher's Wood, and he was still alive, but still under the spell of coma. He was sinking, but very slowly; yet it was enough to indicate the finality of that 'life in death.'

Dangerfield once or twice attacked Toole rather tartly about Sturk's case.

'Can nothing be done to make him speak? Five minutes' consciousness would unravel the mystery.'

Then Toole would shrug, and say, 'Pooh—pooh! my dear Sir, you know nothing.'

'Why, there's life!'

'Ay, the mechanical functions of life, but the brain's over-powered,' replied Toole, with a wise frown.

'Well, relieve it.'

'By Jupiter, Sir, you make me laugh,' cried Toole with a grin, throwing up his eyebrows. 'I take it, you think we doctors can work miracles.'

'Quite the reverse, Sir,' retorted Dangerfield, with a cold scoff. 'But you say he may possibly live six weeks more; and all that time the wick is smouldering, though the candle's short—can't you blow it in, and give us even one minute's light?'

'Ay, a smouldering wick and a candle if you please; but enclosed in a glass bottle, how the deuce are you to blow it?'

'Pish!' said the silver spectacles, with an icy flash from his glasses.

'Why, Sir, you'll excuse me—but you don't understand,' said Toole, a little loftily. 'There are two contused wounds along the scalp as long as that pencil—the whole line of each partially depressed, the depression all along being deep enough to lay your finger in. You can ask Irons, who dresses them when I'm out of the way.'

'I'd rather ask you, Sir,' replied Dangerfield, in turn a little high.

'Well, you can't apply the trepan, the surface is too extended, and all unsound, and won't bear it—'twould be simply killing him on the spot—don't you see? and there's no way else to relieve him.'

General Chattesworth had not yet returned. On his way home he had wandered aside, and visited the fashionable wells of Buxton, intending a three days' sojourn, to complete his bracing up for the winter. But the Pool of Siloam did not work pleasantly in the case of the robust general, who was attacked after his second dip with a smart fit of the gout in his left great-toe, where it went on charmingly, without any flickering upward, quite stationary and natural for three weeks.

About the end of which time the period of the annual ball given by the officers of the Royal Irish Artillery arrived. It was a great event in the town. To poor Mrs. Sturk, watching by her noble Barney, it seemed, of course, a marvellous insensibility and an outrage. But the world must follow its instinct and vocation, and attend to its business and amuse itself too, though noble Barneys lie a-dying here and there.

Aunt Becky and Gertrude drew up at the Elms, the rector's house, with everything very handsome about them, and two laced footmen, with flambeaux, and went in to see little Lily, on their way to the ball, and to show their dresses, which were very fine, indeed, and to promise to come next day and tell her all the news; for Lily, as I mentioned, was an invalid, and balls and flicflacs were not for her.

Little Lily smiled her bright girlish smile, and threw both her arms round grand Aunt Becky's neck.

'You good dear Aunt Becky, 'twas so kind and like you to come—you and Gertie. And oh, Geminie! what a grand pair of ladies!' and she made a little rustic courtesy, like Nell in the farce. 'And I never saw this before (a near peep at Gertrude's necklace), and Aunt Becky, what beautiful lace. And does not she look handsome, Gertie? I never saw her look so handsome. She'll be the finest figure there. There's no such delicate waist anywhere.' And she set her two slender little forefingers and thumbs together, as if spanning it. 'You've no chance beside her, Gertie; she'll set all the young fellows a-sighing and simpering.'

'You wicked little rogue! I'll beat you black and blue, for making fun of old Aunt Becky,' cried Miss Rebecca, and ran a little race at her, about two inches to a step; her fan raised in her finger and thumb, and a jolly smile twinkling in her face, for she knew it was true about her waist, and she liked to be quizzed by the daring little girl. Her diamonds were on too, and her last look in her mirror had given her a satisfactory assurance, and she always played with little Lily, when they met; everyone grew gay and girlish with her.

So they stayed a full quarter of an hour, and the footman coughing laboriously outside the window reminded Aunt Rebecca at last how time flew; and Lily was for sitting down and playing a minuet and a country dance, and making them rehearse their steps, and calling in old Sally to witness the spectacle before they went; and so she and Aunt Becky had another little sportive battle—they never met, and seldom parted, without one. How was it that when gay little Lily provoked these little mimic skirmishes Aunt Becky would look for a second or two an inexpressibly soft and loving look upon her, and become quite girlish and tender? I think there is a way to every heart, and some few have the gift to reach it unconsciously and always.

So away rustled the great ladies, leaving Lily excited, and she stood at the window, with flushed cheek, and her fingers on the sash, looking after them, and she came back with a little smile and tears in her eyes. She sat down, with a bright colour in her cheeks, and did play a country dance, and then a merry old Irish air, full of frolic and spirit, on the harpsichord; and gentle old Sally's face peeped in with a wistful smile, at the unwonted sounds.

'Come, sober old Sally, my sweetheart! I've taken a whim in my head, and you shall dress me, for to the ball I'll go.'

'Tut, tut, Miss Lily, darling,' said old Sally, with a smile and a shake of the head. 'What would the doctors say?'

'What they please, my darling.'

And up stood little Lily, with her bright colour and lustrous eyes.

'Angel bright!' said the old woman, looking in that beloved and lovely young face, and quite 'filling up,' as the saying is, 'there is not your peer on earth—no—not one among them all to compare with our Miss Lilias,' and she paused, smiling, and then she said—'But, my darling, sure you know you weren't outside the door this five weeks.'

'And is not that long enough, and too long, to shut me up, you cruel old woman? Come, come, Sally, girl, I'm resolved, and to the ball I'll go; don't be frightened. I'll cover my head, and send in for Aunt Becky, and only just peep in, muffled up, for ten minutes; and I'll go and come in the chair, and what harm can I take by it?'

Was it spirit? Did she want to show the folk that she did not shrink from meeting somebody; or that, though really ill, she ventured to peep in, through sheer liking for the scrape of the fiddle, and the fun, to show them that at least she was not heart-sick? Or was it the mysterious attraction, the wish to see him once more, just through her hood, far away, with an unseen side glance, and to build endless speculations, and weave the filmy web of hope, for who knows how long, out of these airy tints, a strange, sad smile, or deep, wild glance, just seen and fixed for ever in memory? She had given him up in words, but her heart had not given him up. Poor little Lily! She hoped all that was so bad in him would one day mend. He was a hero still—and, oh! she hoped, would be true to her. So Lily's love, she scarce knew how, lived on this hope—the wildest of all wild hopes—waiting on the reformation of a rake.

'But, darling Miss Lily, don't you know the poor master would break his heart if he thought you could do such a wild thing as to go out again 'the doctors' orders, at this time o' night, and into that hot place, and out again among the cold draughts.'

Little Lily paused.

''Tis only a step, Sally; do you honestly think it would vex him?'

'Vex him, darling? no, but break his heart. Why, he's never done asking about you, and—oh! its only joking you are, my darling, that's all.'

'No, Sally, dear love, I meant it,' said little Lily, sadly; 'but I suppose it was a wild thought, and I'm better at home.'

And she played a march that had somehow a dash of the pathetic in it, in a sort of reverie, and she said:

'Sally, do you know that?'

And Sally's gentle face grew reflective, and she said:

'Sure, Miss Lily, that's the tune—isn't it—the Artillery plays when they march out to the park?'

Lily nodded and smiled, and the tune moved on, conjuring up its pictured reverie. Those review days were grand things when little Lily was a child—magnanimous expenditure of hair and gunpowder was there. There sat General Chattesworth, behind his guns, which were now blazing away like fun, wearing his full uniform, point cravat and ruffles, and that dignified and somewhat stern aspect which he put on with the rest of his review-day costume, bestriding his cream-coloured charger, Bombardier, and his plume and powdered ails de pigeon, hardly distinguishable from the smoke which enveloped him, as a cloud does a demigod in an allegorical picture.

Chord after chord brought up all this moving pageant, unseen by Sally's dim old eyes, before the saddened gaze of little Lily, whose life was growing to a retrospect. She stood in the sunny street, again a little child, holding old Sally by the hand, on a soft summer day. The sentries presented arms, and the corps marched out resplendent. Old General Chattesworth, as proud as Lucifer, on Bombardier, who nods and champs, prancing and curvetting, to the admiration of the women; but at heart the mildest of quadrupeds, though passing, like an impostor as he was, for a devil incarnate; the band thundering melodiously that dashing plaintive march, and exhilarating and firing the souls of all Chapelizod. Up went the windows all along the street, the rabble-rout of boys yelled and huzzaed like mad. The maids popped their mob-caps out of the attics, and giggled, and hung out at the risk of their necks. The serving men ran out on the hall-door steps. The village roues emerged in haste from their public houses. The whole scene round and along from top to bottom, was grinning and agape. Nature seemed to brighten up at sight of them; and the sun himself came out all in his best, with an unparalleled effulgence.

Yes, the town was proud of its corps, and well it might. As gun after gun, with its complement of men and its lieutenant fireworkers, with a 'right wheel,' rolled out of the gate upon the broad street, not a soul could look upon the lengthening pageant of blue and scarlet, with its symmetrical diagonals of snowy belt and long-flapped white cartouche boxes, moving together with measured swing; its laced cocked-hats, leggings, and courtly white shorts and vests, and ruffles, and all its buttons and brasses flashing up to the sun, without allowing it was a fine spirited sight.

And Lily, beholding the phantom regiment, with mournful eyes, played their grand sad march proudly as they passed.

They looked so dashing and so grand; they were the tallest, shapeliest fellows. Faith, I can tell you, it was no such trifle, pulling along all those six and four pounders; and they needed to be athletic lads; and the officers were, with hardly an exception, martial, high-bred gentlemen, with aristocratic bearing, and some of them, without question, confoundedly handsome.

And always there was one light, tall shape; one dark handsome face, with darker, stranger eyes, and a nameless grace and interest, moving with the march of the gay pageant, before her mind's eye, to this harmonious and regretful music, which, as she played on, and her reverie deepened, grew slower and more sad, till old Sally's voice awoke the dreamer. The chords ceased, the vision melted, and poor little Lily smiled sadly and kindly on old Sally, and took her candle, and went up with her to her bed.



It was a mighty grand affair, this ball of the Royal Irish Artillery. General Chattesworth had arrived that morning, just in time to preside over the hospitalities—he could not contribute much to the dancing—and his advent, still a little lame, but looking, as his friends told him, ten years younger for his snug little fit of the gout at Buxton, reinstated Aunt Becky in her place of power, to the secret disappointment of Madame Strafford, who had set her heart on doing the honours, and rehearsed for weeks, over her toilet, and even in bed, her little speeches, airs, and graces.

Lord Castlemallard was there, of course—and the gay and splendid Lady Moira—whom I mention because General Chattesworth opened the ball in a minuet with her ladyship—hobbling with wonderful grace, and beaming with great ceremonious smiles through his honourable martyrdom. But there were more than a score of peers there beside, with their peeresses in tall feathers, diamonds, and monstrous hoops. And the lord lieutenant was very near coming—and a lord lieutenant in those days, with a parliament to open, and all the regalia of his office about him, was a far greater personage than, in our democratic age, the sovereign in person.

Captain Cluffe had gone down in a chair to Puddock's lodgings, to borrow a pair of magnificent knee-buckles. Puddock had a second pair, and Cluffe's own had not, he thought, quite recovered their good looks since that confounded ducking on the night of the serenade. The gallant captain, learning that Puddock and Devereux intended walking—it was only a step across to the barrack-yard—and finding that Puddock could not at the moment lay his hand upon the buckles, and not wishing to keep the chair longer—for he knew delay would inflame the fare, and did not like dispensing his shillings—

'Hey! walk? I like the fancy,' cried the gay captain, sending half-a-crown down stairs to his 'two-legged ponies,' as people pleasantly called them. 'I'd rather walk with you than jog along in a chair by myself, my gay fellows, any day.'

Most young fellows of spirit, at the eve of a ball, have their heads pretty full. There is always some one bright particular star to whom, even as they look on their own handsome features in the mirror, their adoration is paid.

Puddock's shoe-buckles flashed for Gertrude Chattesworth, as he turned out his toes. For her his cravat received its last careless touch—his ruffles shook themselves, and fell in rich elegance about his plump little hands. For her his diamond ring gleamed like a burning star from his white little finger; and for her the last fragrance was thrown over his pocket-handkerchief, and the last ogle thrown upon his looking-glass. All the interest of his elaborate toilet—the whole solemn process and detail—was but a worship of his divinity, at which he officiated. Much in the same way was Cluffe affected over his bedizenment in relation to his own lady-love; but in a calmer and more long-headed fashion. Devereux's toilet most of the young fellows held to be perfection; yet it seemed to trouble him less than all the rest. I believe it was the elegant and slender shape that would have set off anything, and that gave to his handsome costume and 'properties' an undefinable grace not their own. Indeed, as he leaned his elbow upon the window sash, looking carelessly across the river, he did not seem much to care what became of the labours of his toilet.

'I have not seen her since I came; and now I'm going to this stupid ball on the chance of meeting her there. And she'll not come—she avoids me—the chance of meeting her—and she'll not come. Well! if she be not kind to me, what care I for whom she be? And what great matter, after all, if she were there. She'd be, I suppose, on her high horse—and—and 'tis not a feather to me. Let her take her own way. What care I? If she's happy, why shouldn't I—why shouldn't I?'

Five minutes after:—

'Who the plague are these fellows in the Phoenix? How the brutes howl over their liquor!' said Devereux, as he and Puddock, at the door-steps, awaited Cluffe, who was fixing his buckles in the drawing-room.

'The Corporation of Tailors,' answered Puddock, a little loftily, for he was not inwardly pleased that the precincts of the 'Phoenix' should be profaned by their mechanical orgies.

Through the open bow window of the great oak parlour of the inn was heard the mighty voice of the president, who was now in the thick of his political toasts.

'Odds bud!' lisped little Puddock, 'what a stentorian voice!'

'Considering it issues from a tailor!' acquiesced Devereux, who thought he recognised the accents, and hated tailors, who plagued him with long bills and dangerous menaces.

'May the friends of the Marquis of Kildare be ever blessed with the tailor's thimble,' declaimed the portentous toast master. 'May the needle of distress be ever pointed at all mock patriots; and a hot needle and a burning thread to all sewers of sedition!' and then came an applauding roar.

'And may you ride into town on your own goose, with a hot needle behind you, you roaring pigmy!' added Devereux.

'The Irish cooks that can't relish French sauce!' enunciated the same grand voice, that floated, mellowed, over the field.

'Sauce, indeed!' said Puddock, with an indignant lisp, as Cluffe, having joined them, they set forward together; 'I saw some of them going in, Sir, and to look at their vulgar, unthinking countenances, you'd say they had not capacity to distinguish between the taste of a quail and a goose; but, by Jove! Sir, they have a dinner. You're a politician, Cluffe, and read the papers. You remember the bill of fare—don't you?—at the Lord Mayor's entertainment in London.'

Cluffe, whose mind was full of other matters, nodded his head with a grunt.

'Well, I'll take my oath,' pursued Puddock, 'you couldn't have made a better dinner at the Prince of Travendahl's table. Spanish olea, if you please—ragou royal, cardoons, tendrons, shellfish in marinade, ruffs and rees, wheat-ears, green morels, fat livers, combs and notts. 'Tis rather odd, Sir, to us who employ them, to learn that our tailors, while we're eating the dinners we do—our tailors, Sir, are absolutely gorging themselves with such things—with our money, by Jove!'

'Yours, Puddock, not mine,' said Devereux. 'I haven't paid a tailor these six years. But, hang it, let's get on.'

So, in they walked by the barrack-yard, lighted up now with a splendid red blaze of torches, and with different emotions, entered the already crowded ball-room.

Devereux looked round the room, among nodding plumes and flashing brilliants, and smirking old bucks, and simpering young ones, amidst the buzz of two or three hundred voices, and the thunder and braying of the band. There were scores of pretty faces there—blondes and brunettes—blue eyes and brown—and more spirit and animation, and, I think, more grace too, in dance and talk, than the phlegmatic affectation of modern days allows; and there were some bright eyes that, not seeming to look, yet recognised, with a little thrill at the heart, and a brighter flush, the brilliant, proud Devereux—so handsome, so impulsive, so unfathomable—with his gipsy tint, and great enthusiastic eyes, and strange melancholy, sub-acid smile. But to him the room was lifeless, and the hour was dull, and the music but a noise and a jingle.

'I knew quite well she wasn't here, and she never cared for me, and I—why should I trouble my head about her? She makes her cold an excuse. Well, maybe yet she'll wish to see Dick Devereux, and I far away. No matter. They've heard slanders of me, and believe them. Amen, say I. If they're so light of faith, and false in friendship to cast me off for a foul word or an idle story—curse it—I'm well rid of that false and foolish friendship, and can repay their coldness and aversion with a light heart, a bow, and a smile. One slander I'll refute—yes—and that done, I'll close this idle episode in my cursed epic, and never, never think of her again.'

But fancy will not be controlled by resolutions, though ne'er so wise and strong, and precisely as the captain vowed 'never'—away glided that wild, sad sprite across the moonlit river, and among the old black elms, and stood unbidden beside Lilias. Little Lily, as they used to call her five years ago; and Devereux, who seemed to look so intently and so strangely on the flash and whirl of the dancers, saw but an old fashioned drawing-room, with roses clustering by the windows, and heard the sweet rich voice, to him the music of Ariel, like a far-off dirge—a farewell—sometimes a forgiveness—and sometimes the old pleasant talk and merry little laugh, all old remembrances or vain dreams now.

But Devereux had business on his hands that night, and about eleven o'clock he had disappeared. 'Twas easy to go and come in such a crowd, and no one perceive it.

But Puddock was very happy and excited. Mervyn, whom he had once feared, was there, a mere spectator, however, to witness that night's signal triumph. He had never danced so much with Miss Gertrude before, that is to say, at a great ball like this at which there was a plenty of bucks with good blood and lots of money; and indeed, it seemed to favour the idea of his success that Aunt Rebecca acknowledged him only with a silent and by no means gracious courtesy.

She was talking to Toole about Lilias, and saying how much better she had looked that evening.

'She's not better, Ma'am; I'd rather she hadn't the bright flush you speak of, there's something, you see, not quite right in that left lung, and that bright tint, Madam, is hectic—she's not better, Madam, not that we don't hope to see her so—Heaven forbid—but 'tis an anxious case;' and Toole shook his head gravely.

When Aunt Becky was getting on her hood and mantle, she invariably fell into talk with some crony who had a story to tell, or a point to discuss. So as she stood listening to old Colonel Bligh's hard, reedy gabble, and popping in her decisive word now and then, Gertrude, equipped for the night air, and with little Puddock for her escort, glided out and took her place in the great state coach of the Chattesworths, and the door being shut, she made a little nod and a faint smile to her true knight, and said with the slightest possible shrug—

'How cold it is to-night; my aunt, I think, will be obliged for your assistance, Lieutenant Puddock; as for me, I must shut up my window and wish you good-night.'

And with another smile she accordingly shut up the window, and when his best bow was accomplished, she leaned back with a pale and stricken countenance, and a great sigh—such a one as caused Lady Macbeth's physician, long ago, to whisper, 'What a sigh is there! the heart is sorely charged.' The footmen were standing by the open door, through which Aunt Becky was to come, and there were half a dozen carriages crowded side by side, the lackeys being congregated, with links lighted, about the same place of exit; and things being so, there came a small sharp tapping at the far window of the carriage, and with a start Gertrude saw the identical mantle, and the three-cocked-hat with the peculiar corners, which had caused certain observers so much speculation on another night, and drawing close to the window, whereat this apparition presented itself, she let it down.

'I know, beloved Gertrude, what you would say,' he softly said; 'but be it frenzy or no, I cannot forbear; I am unalterable—be you the same.'

A white, slender hand glided in and seized hers, not resisting.

'Yes, Mordaunt, the same; but, oh! how miserable!' said Gertrude, and with just the slightest movement in the fingers of her small hand, hardly perceptible, and yet how fond a caress!

'I'm like a man who has lost his way among the catacombs—among the dead,' whispered this muffled figure, close to the window, still fervently holding her hand, 'and sees at last the distant gleam that shows him that his wanderings are to end. Yes, Gertrude, my beloved—yes, Gertrude, idol of my solitary love—the mystery is about to end—I'll end it. Be I what I may you know the worst, and have given me your love and troth—you are my affianced bride; rather than lose you, I would die; and I think, or I am walking in a dream, I've but to point my finger against two men, and all will be peace and light—light and peace—to me long strangers!'

At this moment Aunt Becky's voice was heard at the door, and the flash of the flambeaux glared on the window. He kissed the hand of the pale girl hurriedly, and the French cocked-hat and mantle vanished.

In came Aunt Rebecca in a fuss, and it must be said in no very gracious mood, and rather taciturn and sarcastic; and so away they rumbled over the old bridge towards Belmont.



Devereux, wrapped in his cloak, strode into the park, through Parson's-gate, up the steep hill, and turned towards Castleknock and the furze and hawthorn wood that interposes. The wide plain spread before him in solitude, with the thin vapours of night, lying over it like a film in the moonlight.

Two or three thorn trees stood out from the rest, a pale and solitary group, stooping eastward with the prevailing sweep of a hundred years or more of westerly winds. To this the gipsy captain glided, in a straight military line, his eye searching the distance; and, after a while, from the skirts of the wood, there moved to meet him a lonely female figure, with her light clothing fluttering in the cold air. At first she came hurriedly, but as they drew near, she came more slowly.

Devereux was angry, and, like an angry man, he broke out first with—

'So, your servant, Mistress Nan! Pretty lies you've been telling of me—you and your shrew of a mother. You thought you might go to the rector and say what you pleased, and I hear nothing.'

Nan Glynn was undefinably aware that he was very angry, and had hesitated and stood still before he began, and now she said imploringly—

'Sure, Masther Richard, it wasn't me.'

'Come, my lady, don't tell me. You and your mother—curse her!—went to the Elms in my absence—you and she—and said I had promised to marry you! There—yes or no. Didn't you? And could you or could she have uttered a more utterly damnable lie?'

''Twas she, Master Richard—troth an' faith. I never knew she was going to say the like—no more I didn't.'

'A likely story, truly, Miss Nan!' said the young rake, bitterly.

'Oh! Masther Richard! by this cross!—you won't believe me—'tis as true as you're standin' there—until she said it to Miss Lily—'

'Hold your tongue!' cried Devereux, so fiercely, that she thought him half wild; 'do you think 'tis a pin's point to me which of you first coined or uttered the lie? Listen to me; I'm a desperate man, and I'll take a course with you both you'll not like, unless you go to-morrow and see Dr. Walsingham yourself, and tell him the whole truth—yes, the truth—what the devil do I care?—speak that, and make the most of it. But tell him plainly that your story about my having promised to marry you—do you hear—was a lie, from first to last—a lie—a lie—without so much as a grain of truth mixed up in it. All a cursed—devil's—woman's invention. Now, mind ye, Miss Nan, if you don't, I'll bring you and your mother into court, or I'll have the truth out of you.'

'But there's no need to threaten, sure, you know, Masther Richard, I'd do anything for you—I would. I'd beg, or I'd rob, or I'd die for you, Masther Richard; and whatever you bid me, your poor wild Nan 'ill do.'

Devereux was touched, the tears were streaming down her pale cheeks, and she was shivering.

'You're cold, Nan; where's your cloak and riding hood?' he said, gently.

'I had to part them, Masther Richard.'

'You want money, Nan,' he said, and his heart smote him.

'I'm not cold when I'm near you, Masther Richard. I'd wait the whole night long for a chance of seeing you; but oh! ho—(she was crying as if her heart would break, looking in his face, and with her hands just a little stretched towards him), oh, Masther Richard, I'm nothing to you now—your poor wild Nan!'

Poor thing! Her mother had not given her the best education. I believe she was a bit of a thief, and she could tell fibs with fluency and precision. The woman was a sinner; but her wild, strong affections were true, and her heart was not in pelf.

'Now, don't cry—where's the good of crying—listen to me,' said Devereux.

'Sure I heerd you were sick, last week, Masther Richard,' she went on, not heeding, and with her cold fingers just touching his arm timidly—and the moon glittered on the tears that streamed down her poor imploring cheeks—'an' I'd like to be caring you; an' I think you look bad, Masther Richard.'

'No, Nan—I tell you, no—I'm very well, only poor, just now, Nan, or you should not want.'

'Sure I know, Masther Richard: it is not that. I know you'd be good to me if you had it: and it does not trouble me.'

'But see, Nan, you must speak to your friends, and say—'

'Sorra a friend I have—sorra a friend, Masther Richard; and I did not spake to the priest this year or more, and I darn't go near him,' said the poor Palmerstown lass that was once so merry.

'Why won't you listen to me, child? I won't have you this way. You must have your cloak and hood. 'Tis very cold; and, by Heavens, Nan, you shall never want while I have a guinea. But you see I'm poor now, curse it—I'm poor—I'm sorry, Nan, and I have only this one about me.'

'Oh, no, Masther Richard, keep it—maybe you'd want it yourself.'

'No, child, don't vex me—there—I'll have money in a week or two, and I'll send you some more, Nan—I'll not forget you.' He said this in a sadder tone; 'and, Nan, I'm a changed man. All's over, you know, and we'll see one another no more. You'll be happier, Nan, for the parting, so here, and now, Nan, we'll say good-bye.'

'Oh! no—no—no—not good-bye; you couldn't—couldn't—couldn't—your poor wild Nan.'

And she clung to his cloak, sobbing in wild supplication.

'Yes, Nan, good-bye, it must be—no other word.'

'An' oh, Masther Richard, is it in airnest? You wouldn't, oh! sure you wouldn't.'

'Now, Nan, there's a good girl; I must go. Remember your promise, and I'll not forget you, Nan—on my soul, I won't.'

'Well, well, mayn't I chance to see you, maybe? mayn't I look at you marching, Masther Richard, at a distance only? I wouldn't care so much, I think, if I could see you sometimes.'

'Now, there, Nan, you must not cry; you know 'tis all past and gone more than a year ago. 'Twas all d——d folly—all my fault; I'm sorry, Nan—I'm sorry; and I'm a changed man, and I'll lead a better life, and so do you, my poor girl.'

'But mayn't I see you? Not to spake to you, Masther Richard. Only sometimes to see you, far off, maybe.' Poor Nan was crying all the time she spoke.—'Well, well, I'll go, I will, indeed, Masther Richard; only let me kiss your hand—an' oh! no, no, don't say good-bye, an' I'll go—I'm gone now, an' maybe—just maybe, you might some time chance to wish to see your poor, wild Nan again—only to see her, an' I'll be thinking o' that.'

The old feeling—if anything so coarse deserved the name—was gone; but he pitied her with all his heart; and that heart, such as it was—though she did not know it—was bleeding for her.

He saw her, poor creature, hurrying away in her light clothing, through the sharp, moonlight chill, which, even in the wrapping of his thick cloak, he felt keenly enough. She looked over her shoulder—then stopped; perhaps, poor thing, she thought he was relenting, and then she began to hurry back again. They cling so desperately to the last chance. But that, you know, would never do. Another pleading—another parting—So he turned sharply and strode into the thickets of the close brushwood, among which the white mists of night were hanging. He thought, as he stepped resolutely and quickly on, with a stern face, and heavy heart, that he heard a wild sobbing cry in the distance, and that was poor Nan's farewell.

So Devereux glided on like a ghost, through the noiseless thicket, and scarcely knowing or caring where he went, emerged upon the broad open plateau, and skirting the Fifteen Acres, came, at last, to a halt upon the high ground overlooking the river—which ran, partly in long trains of silver sparkles, and partly in deep shadow beneath him. Here he stopped; and looked towards the village where he had passed many a pleasant hour—with a profound and remorseful foreboding that there were no more such pleasant hours for him; and his eye wandered among the scattered lights that still twinkled from the distant windows; and he fancied he knew, among them all, that which gleamed pale and dim through the distant elms—the star of his destiny; and he looked at it across the water—a greater gulf severed them—so near, and yet a star in distance—with a strange mixture of sadness and defiance, tenderness and fury.



When Devereux entered his drawing-room, and lighted his candles, he was in a black and bitter mood. He stood at the window for a while, and drummed on the pane, looking in the direction of the barrack, where all the fun was going on, but thinking, in a chaotic way, of things very different, and all toned with that strange sense of self-reproach and foreboding which, of late, had grown habitual with him—and not without just cause.

'This shall be the last. 'Twas dreadful, seeing that poor Nan; and I want it—I can swear, I really and honestly want it—only one glass to stay my heart. Everyone may drink in moderation—especially if he's heart-sick, and has no other comfort—one glass and no more—curse it.'

So one glass of brandy—I'm sorry to say, unmixed with water—the handsome misanthropist sipped and sipped, to the last drop; and then sat down before his fire, and struck, and poked, and stabbed at it in a bitter, personal sort of way, until here and there some blazes leaped up, and gave his eyes a dreamy sort of occupation; and he sat back, with his hands in his pockets, and his feet on the fender, gazing among the Plutonic peaks and caverns between the bars.

'I've had my allowance for to-night; to-morrow night, none at all. 'Tis an accursed habit: and I'll not allow it to creep upon me. No, I've never fought it fairly, as I mean to do now—'tis quite easy, if one has but the will to do it.'

So he sat before his fire, chewing the cud of bitter fancy only; and he recollected he had not quite filled his glass, and up he got with a swagger, and says he—

'We'll drink fair, if you please—one glass—one only—but that, hang it—a bumper.'

So he made a rough calculation.

'We'll say so much—here or there, 'tis no great matter. A thimble full won't drown me. Pshaw! that's too much. What am I to do with it?—hang it. Well, we can't help it—'tis the last.'

So whatever the quantity may have been, he drank it too, and grew more moody; and was suddenly called up from the black abyss by the entrance of little Puddock, rosy and triumphant, from the ball.

'Ha! Puddock! Then, the fun's over. I'm glad to see you. I've been tete-a-tete with my shadow—cursed bad company, Puddock. Where's Cluffe?'

'Gone home, I believe.'

'So much the better. You know Cluffe better than I, and there's a secret about him I never could find out. You have, maybe?'

'What's that?' lisped Puddock.

'What the deuce Cluffe's good for.'

'Oh! tut! We all know Cluffe's a very good fellow.'

Devereux looked from under his finely pencilled brows with a sad sort of smile at good little Puddock.

'Puddock,' says he, 'I'd like to have you write my epitaph.

Puddock looked at him with his round eyes a little puzzled, and then he said—

'You think, maybe, I've a turn for making verses; and you think also I like you, and there you're quite right.'

Devereux laughed, but kindly, and shook the fat little hand he proffered.

'I wish I were like you, Puddock. We've the knowledge of good and evil between us. The knowledge of good is all yours: you see nothing but the good that men have; you see it—and, I dare say, truly—where I can't. The darker knowledge is mine.'

Puddock, who thought he thoroughly understood King John, Shylock, and Richard III., was a good deal taken aback by Devereux's estimate of his penetration.

'Well, I don't think you know me, Devereux,' resumed he with a thoughtful lisp. 'I'm much mistaken, or I could sound the depths of a villain's soul as well as most men.'

'And if you did you'd find it full of noble qualities,' said Dick Devereux. 'What book is that?'

'The tragical history of Doctor Faustus,' answered Puddock. 'I left it here more than a week ago. Have you read it?'

'Faith, Puddock, I forgot it! Let's see what 'tis like,' said Devereux. 'Hey day!' And he read—

'Now, Faustus, let thine eyes with horror stare Into that vast perpetual torture-house; There are the furies tossing damned souls On burning forks; their bodies boil in lead; There are live quarters broiling on the coals That ne'er can die; this ever-burning chair Is for o'er-tortured souls to rest them in; These that are fed with sops of flaming fire Were gluttons, and loved only delicates, And laughed to see the poor starve at their gates.

'Tailors! by Jupiter! Serve'em right, the rogues. Tailors lining upon ragou royal, Spanish olea, Puddock—fat livers, and green morels in the Phoenix, the scoundrels, and laughing to see poor gentlemen of the Royal Irish Artillery starving at their gates—hang 'em.'

'Well! well! Listen to the Good Angel,' said Puddock, taking up the book and declaiming his best—

'O thou hast lost celestial happiness, Pleasures unspeakable, bliss without end. Hadst thou affected sweet divinity, Hell or the devil had no power on thee— Hadst thou kept on that way. Faustus, behold In what resplendent glory thou hadst sat, On yonder throne, like those bright shining spirits, And triumphed over hell! That hast thou lost; And now, poor soul, must thy good angel leave thee; The jaws of hell are open to receive thee.'

'Stop that; 'tis all cursed rant,' said Devereux. 'That is, the thing itself; you make the most it.'

'Why, truly,' said Puddock, 'there are better speeches in it. But 'tis very late; and parade, you know—I shall go to bed. And you—'

'No. I shall stay where I am.'

'Well, I wish you good-night, dear Devereux.'

'Good-night, Puddock'

And the plump little fellow was heard skipping down stairs, and the hall-door shut behind him. Devereux took the play that Puddock had just laid down, and read for a while with a dreary kind of interest. Then he got up, and, I'm sorry to say, drank another glass of the same strong waters.

'To-morrow I turn over a new leaf;' and he caught himself repeating Puddock's snatch of Macbeth, 'To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow.'

Devereux looked out, leaning on the window-sash. All was quiet now, as if the rattle of a carriage had never disturbed the serene cold night. The town had gone to bed, and you could hear the sigh of the river across the field. A sadder face the moon did not shine upon.

'That's a fine play, Faustus—Marlowe,' he said. Some of the lines he had read were booming funereally in his ear like a far-off bell. 'I wonder whether Marlowe had run a wild course, like some of us here—myself—and could not retrieve. That honest little mountebank, Puddock, does not understand a word of it. I wish I were like Puddock. Poor little fellow!'

So, after awhile, Devereux returned to his chair before the fire, and on his way again drank of the waters of Lethe, and sat down, not forgetting, but remorseful, over the fire.

'I'll drink no more to-night—there—curse me if I do.'

The fire was waxing low in the grate. 'To-morrow's a new day. Why, I never made a resolution about it before. I can keep it. 'Tis easily kept. To-morrow I begin.'

And with fists clenched in his pockets, he vowed his vow, with an oath into the fire; and ten minutes were not past and over when his eye wandered thirstily again to the flask on the middle of the table, and with a sardonic, flushed smile, he quoted the 'Good Angel's' words:—

'O, Faustus, lay that damned book aside, And gaze not on it lest it tempt thy soul.'

And then pouring out a dram, he looked on it, and said, with the 'Evil Angel'—

'Go forward, Faustus, in that famous art, Wherein all Nature's treasure is contained: Be thou on earth as Jove is in the sky, Lord and commander of the elements.'

And then, with a solitary sneer, he sipped it. And after awhile he drank one glass more—they were the small glasses then in vogue—and shoved it back, with—

'There; that's the last.'

And then, perhaps, there was one other 'last;' and after that 'the very last.' Hang it! it must be the last, and so on, I suppose. And Devereux was pale, and looked wild and sulky on parade next morning.



Poor Mrs. Nutter continued in a state of distracted and flighty tribulation, not knowing what to make of it, nor, indeed, knowing the worst; for the neighbours did not tell her half they might, nor drop a hint of the dreadful suspicion that dogged her absent helpmate.

She was sometimes up rummaging among the drawers, and fidgeting about the house, without any clear purpose, but oftener lying on her bed, with her clothes on, crying. When she got hold of a friend, she disburthened her soul, and called on him or her for endless consolations and assurances, which, for the most part, she herself prescribed. There were, of course, fits of despair as well as starts of hope; and bright ideas, accounting for everything, and then clouds of blackness, and tornadoes of lamentation.

Father Roach, a good-natured apostle, whose digestion suffered when anyone he liked was in trouble, paid her a visit; and being somehow confounded with Dr. Toole, was shown up to her bed-room, where the poor little woman lay crying under the coverlet. On discovering where he was, the good father was disposed to flinch, and get down stairs, in tenderness to his 'character,' and thinking what a story 'them villians o' the world'id make iv it down at the club there.' But on second thoughts, poor little Sally being neither young nor comely, he ventured, and sat down by the bed, veiled behind a strip of curtain, and poured his mellifluous consolations into her open ears.

And poor Sally became eloquent in return. And Father Roach dried his eyes, although she could not see him behind the curtain, and called her 'my daughter,' and 'dear lady,' and tendered such comforts as his housekeeping afforded. 'Had she bacon in the house?' or 'maybe she'd like a fat fowl?' 'She could not eat?' 'Why then she could make elegant broth of it, and dhrink it, an' he'd keep another fattenin' until Nutter himself come back.'

'And then, my honey, you an' himself'll come down and dine wid ould Father Austin; an' we'll have a grand evenin' of it entirely, laughin' over the remimbrance iv these blackguard troubles, acuishla! Or maybe you'd accept iv a couple o' bottles of claret or canaries? I see—you don't want for wine.'

So there was just one more offer the honest fellow had to make, and he opened with assurances 'twas only between himself an' her—an' not a sowl on airth 'id ever hear a word about it—and he asked her pardon, but he thought she might chance to want a guinea or two, just till Nutter came back, and he brought a couple in his waistcoat pocket.

Poor Father Roach was hard-up just then. Indeed, the being hard-up was a chronic affection with him. Two horses were not to be kept for nothing. Nor for the same moderate figure was it possible to maintain an asylum for unfortunates and outlaws—pleasant fellows enough, but endowed with great appetites and an unquenchable taste for consolation in fluid forms.

A clerical provision in Father Roach's day, and church, was not by any means what we have seen it since. At all events he was not often troubled with the possession of money, and when half-a-dozen good weddings brought him in fifty or a hundred pounds, the holy man was constrained forthwith to make distribution of his assets among a score of sour, and sometimes dangerous tradespeople. I mention this in no disparagement of Father Roach, quite the contrary. In making the tender of his two guineas—which, however, Sally declined—the worthy cleric was offering the widow's mite; not like some lucky dogs who might throw away a thousand or two and be nothing the worse; and you may be sure the poor fellow was very glad to find she did not want it.

'Rather hard measure, it strikes me,' said Dangerfield, in the club, 'to put him in the Hue-and-Cry.'

But there he was, sure enough, 'Charles Nutter, Esq., formerly of the Mills, near Knockmaroon, in the county of Dublin;' and a full description of the dress he wore, as well as of his height, complexion, features—and all this his poor little wife, still inhabiting the Mills, and quite unconscious that any man, woman, or child, who could prosecute him to conviction, for a murderous assault on Dr. Sturk, should have L50 reward.

'News in to-day, by Jove,' said Toole, bustling solemnly into the club; 'by the packet that arrived at one o'clock, a man taken, answering Nutter's description exactly, just going aboard of a Jamaica brig at Gravesend, and giving no account of himself. He's to be sent over to Dublin for identification.'

And when that was thoroughly discussed two or three times over, they fell to talking of other subjects, and among the rest of Devereux, and wondered what his plans were; and, there being no brother officers by, whether he meant to keep his commission, and various speculations as to the exact cause of the coldness shown him by General Chattesworth. Dick Spaight thought it might be that he had not asked Miss Gertrude in marriage.

But this was pooh-poohed. 'Besides, they knew at Belmont,' said Toole, who was an authority upon the domestic politics of that family, and rather proud of being so, 'just as well as I did that Gipsy Dick was in love with Miss Lilias; and I lay you fifty he'd marry her to-morrow if she'd have him.'

Toole was always a little bit more intimate with people behind their backs, so he called Devereux 'Gipsy Dick.'

'She's ailing, I hear,' said old Slowe.

'She is, indeed, Sir,' answered the doctor, with a grave shake of the head.

'Nothing of moment, I hope?' he asked.

'Why, you see it may be; she had a bad cough last winter, and this year she took it earlier, and it has fallen very much on her lungs; and you see, we can't say, Sir, what turn it may take, and I'm very sorry she should be so sick and ailing—she's the prettiest creature, and the best little soul; and I don't know, on my conscience, what the poor old parson would do if anything happened her, you know. But I trust, Sir, with care, you know, 'twill turn out well.'

The season for trout-fishing was long past and gone, and there were no more pleasant rambles for Dangerfield and Irons along the flowery banks of the devious Liffey. Their rods and nets hung up, awaiting the return of genial spring; and the churlish stream, abandoned to its wintry mood, darkled and roared savagely under the windows of the Brass Castle.

One dismal morning, as Dangerfield's energetic step carried him briskly through the town, the iron gate of the church-yard, and the door of the church itself standing open, he turned in, glancing upward as he passed at Sturk's bed-room windows, as all the neighbours did, to see whether General Death's white banners were floating there, and his tedious siege ended—as end it must—and the garrison borne silently away in his custody to the prison house.

Up the aisle marched Dangerfield, not abating his pace, but with a swift and bracing clatter, like a man taking a frosty constitutional walk.

Irons was moping softly about in the neighbourhood of the reading-desk, and about to mark the places of psalms and chapters in the great church Bible and Prayer-book, and sidelong he beheld his crony of the angle marching, with a grim confidence and swiftness, up the aisle.

'I say, where's Martin?' said Dangerfield, cheerfully.

'He's gone away, Sir.'

'Hey! then you've no one with you?'

'No, Sir.'

Dangerfield walked straight on, up the step of the communion-table, and shoving open the little balustraded door, he made a gay stride or two across the holy precinct, and with a quick right-about face, came to a halt, the white, scoffing face, for exercise never flushed it, and the cold, broad sheen of the spectacles, looked odd in the clerk's eyes, facing the church-door, from beside the table of the sacrament, displayed, as it were, in the very frame—foreground, background, and all—in which he was wont to behold the thoughtful, simple, holy face of the rector.

'Alone among the dead; and not afraid?' croaked the white face pleasantly.

The clerk seemed always to writhe and sweat silently under the banter of his comrade of the landing-net, and he answered, without lifting his head, in a constrained and dogged sort of way, like a man who expects something unpleasant—

'Alone? yes, Sir, there's none here but ourselves.'

And his face flushed, and the veins on his forehead stood out, as will happen with a man who tugs at a weight that is too much for him.

'I saw you steal a glance at Charles when he came into the church here, and it strikes me I was at the moment thinking of the same thing as you, to wit, will he require any special service at our hands? Well, he does! and you or I must do it. He'll give a thousand pounds, mind ye; and that's something in the way of fellows like you and me; and whatever else he may have done, Charles has never broke his word in a money matter. And, hark'ee, can't you thumb over that Bible and Prayer-book on the table here as well as there? Do so. Well—'

And he went on in a lower key, still looking full front at the church-door, and a quick glance now and then upon Irons, across the communion-table.

''Tis nothing at all—don't you see—what are you afraid of? It can't change events—'tis only a question of to-day or to-morrow—a whim—a maggot—hey? You can manage it this way, mark ye.'

He had his pocket-handkerchief by the two corners before him, like an apron, and he folded it neatly and quickly into four.

'Don't you see—and a little water. You're a neat hand, you know; and if you're interrupted, 'tis only to blow your nose in't—ha, ha, ha!—and clap it in your pocket; and you may as well have the money—hey? Good-morning.'

And when he had got half-way down the aisle, he called back to Irons, in a loud, frank voice—

'And Martin's not here—could you say where he is?'

But he did not await the answer, and glided with quick steps from the porch, with a side leer over the wavy green mounds and tombstones. He had not been three minutes in the church, and across the street he went, to the shop over the way, and asked briskly where Martin, the sexton, was. Well, they did not know.

'Ho! Martin,' he cried across the street, seeing that functionary just about to turn the corner by Sturk's hall-door steps; 'a word with you. I've been looking for you. See, you must take a foot-rule, and make all the measurements of that pew, you know; don't mistake a hair's breadth, d'ye mind, for you must be ready to swear to it; and bring a note of it to me, at home, to-day, at one o'clock, and you shall have a crown-piece.'

From which the reader will perceive—as all the world might, if they had happened to see him enter the church just now—that his object in the visit was to see and speak with Martin; and that the little bit of banter with Irons, the clerk, was all by-play, and parenthesis, and beside the main business, and, of course, of no sort of consequence.

Mr. Irons, like most men of his rank in life, was not much in the habit of exact thinking. His ruminations, therefore, were rather confused, but, perhaps, they might be translated in substance, into something like this—

'Why the —— can't he let them alone that's willing to let him alone? I wish he was in his own fiery home, and better people at rest. I can't mark them places—I don't know whether I'm on my head or heels.'

And he smacked the quarto Prayer-book down upon the folio Bible with a sonorous bang, and glided out, furious, frightened, and taciturn, to the Salmon House.

He came upon Dangerfield again only half-a-dozen steps from the turn into the street. He had just dismissed Martin, and was looking into a note in his pocket-book, and either did not see, or pretended not to see, the clerk. But some one else saw and recognised Mr. Irons; and, as he passed, directed upon him a quick, searching glance. It was Mr. Mervyn, who happened to pass that way. Irons and Dangerfield, and the church-yard—there was a flash of association in the group and the background which accorded with an old suspicion. Dangerfield, indeed, was innocently reading a leaf in his red and gilt leather pocket-book, as I have said. But Irons's eyes met the glance of Mervyn, and contracted oddly, and altogether there gleamed out something indefinable in his look. It was only for a second—a glance and an intuition; and from that moment it was one of Mervyn's immovable convictions, that Mr. Dangerfield knew something of Irons's secret. It was a sort of intermittent suspicion before—now it was a monstrous, but fixed belief.

So Mr. Irons glided swiftly on to the Salmon House, where, in a dark corner, he drank something comfortable; and stalked back again to the holy pile, with his head aching, and the world round him like a wild and evil dream.



In Aunt Becky's mind, the time could not be far off when the odd sort of relations existing between the Belmont family and Mr. Dangerfield must be defined. The Croesus himself, indeed, was very indulgent. He was assiduous and respectful; but he wisely abstained from pressing for an immediate decision, and trusted to reflection and to Aunt Becky's good offices; and knew that his gold would operate by its own slow, but sure, gravitation.

At one time he had made up his mind to be peremptory—and politely to demand an unequivocal 'yes,' or 'no.' But a letter reached him from London; it was from a great physician there. Whatever was in it, the effect was to relieve his mind of an anxiety. He never, indeed, looked anxious, or moped like an ordinary man in blue-devils. But his servants knew when anything weighed upon his spirits, by his fierce, short, maniacal temper. But with the seal of that letter the spell broke, the evil spirit departed for a while, and the old jocose, laconic irony came back, and glittered whitely in the tall chair by the fire, and sipped its claret after dinner, and sometimes smoked its long pipe and grinned into the embers of the grate. At Belmont, there had been a skirmish over the broiled drum-sticks at supper, and the ladies had withdrawn in towering passions to their nightly devotions and repose.

Gertrude had of late grown more like herself, but was quite resolute against the Dangerfield alliance, which Aunt Becky fought for, the more desperately that in their private confidences under the poplar trees she had given the rich cynic of the silver spectacles good assurance of success.

Puddock drank tea at Belmont—nectar in Olympus—that evening. Was ever lieutenant so devoutly romantic? He had grown more fanatical and abject in his worship. He spoke less, and lisped in very low tones. He sighed often, and sometimes mightily; and ogled unhappily, and smiled lackadaisically. The beautiful damsel was, in her high, cold way, kind to the guest, and employed him about the room on little commissions, and listened to his speeches without hearing them, and rewarded them now and then with the gleam of a smile, which made his gallant little heart flutter up to his solitaire, and his honest powdered head giddy.

'I marvel, brother,' ejaculated Aunt Becky, suddenly, appearing in the parlour, where the general had made himself comfortable over his novel, and opening her address with a smart stamp on the floor. The veteran's heart made a little jump, and he looked up over his gold spectacles.

'I marvel, brother, what you can mean, desire, or intend, by all this ogling, sighing, and love-making; 'tis surely a strange way of forwarding Mr. Dangerfield's affair.'

He might have blustered a little, as he sometimes did, for she had startled him, and her manner was irritating; but she had caught him in a sentimental passage between Lovelace and Miss Harlowe, which always moved him—and he showed no fight at all; but his innocent little light blue eyes looked up wonderingly and quite gently at her.

'Who—I? What ogling, Sister Becky?'

'You! tut! That foolish, ungrateful person, Lieutenant Puddock; what can you propose to yourself, brother, in bringing Lieutenant Puddock here? I hate him.'

'Why, what about Puddock—what has he done?' asked the general, with round eyes still, and closing his book on his finger.

'What has he done! Why, he's at your daughter's feet,' cried Aunt Becky, with scarlet cheeks, and flashing eyes; 'and she—artful gipsy, has brought him there by positively making love to him.'

'Sweet upon Toodie (the general's old pet name for Gertrude); why, half the young fellows are—you know—pooh, pooh,' and the general stood up with his back to the fire—looking uneasy; for, like many other men, he thought a woman's eyes saw further in such a case than his.

'Do you wish the young hussy—do you—to marry Lieutenant Puddock? I should not wonder! Why, of course, her fortune you and she may give away to whom you like; but remember, she's young, and has been much admired, brother; and may make a great match; and in our day, young ladies were under direction, and did not marry without apprising their parents or natural guardians. Here's Mr. Dangerfield, who proposes great settlements. Why won't she have him? For my part, I think we're little better than cheats; and I mean to write to-morrow morning and tell the poor gentleman that you and I have been bamboozling him to a purpose, and meant all along to marry the vixen to a poor lieutenant in your corps. Speak truth, and shame the devil, brother; for my part, I'm sick of the affair; I'm sick of deception, ingratitude, and odious fools.

Aunt Becky had vanished in a little whirlwind, leaving the general with his back to the fire, looking blank and uncomfortable. And from his little silver tankard he poured out a glassful of his mulled claret, not thinking, and smelled to it deliberately, as he used to do when he was tasting a new wine, and looked through it, and set the glass down, forgetting he was to drink it, for his thoughts were elsewhere.

On reaching her bed-room, which she did with impetuous haste, Aunt Becky shut the door with a passionate slam, and said, with a sort of choke and a sob, 'There's nought but ingratitude on earth—the odious, odious, odious person!'

And when, ten minutes after, her maid came in, she found Aunt Rebecca but little advanced in her preparations for bed; and her summons at the door was answered by a fierce and shrilly nose-trumpeting, and a stern 'Come in, hussy—are you deaf, child?' And when she came in, Aunt Becky was grim, and fussy, and her eyes red.

Miss Gertrude was that night arrived just on that dim and delicious plateau—that debatable land upon which the last waking reverie and the first dream of slumber mingle together in airy dance and shifting colours—when, on a sudden, she was recalled to a consciousness of her grave bed-posts, and damask curtains, by the voice of her aunt.

Sitting up, she gazed on the redoubted Aunt Becky through the lace of her bonnet de nuit, for some seconds, in a mystified and incredulous way.

Mistress Rebecca Chattesworth, on the other hand, had drawn the curtains, and stood, candle in hand, arrayed in her night-dress, like a ghost, only she had on a pink and green quilted dressing-gown loosely over it.

She was tall and erect, of course; but she looked softened and strange; and when she spoke, it was in quite a gentle, humble sort of way, which was perfectly strange to her niece.

'Don't be frightened, sweetheart,' said she, and she leaned over and with her arm round her neck, kissed her. 'I came to say a word, and just to ask you a question. I wish, indeed I do—Heaven knows, to do my duty; and, my dear child, will you tell me the whole truth—will you tell me truly?—You will, when I ask it as a kindness.'

There was a little pause, and Gertrude looked with a pale gaze upon her aunt.

'Are you,' said Aunt Becky—'do you, Gertrude—do you like Lieutenant Puddock?'

'Lieutenant Puddock!' repeated the girl, with the look and gesture of a person in whose ear something strange has buzzed.

'Because, if you really are in love with him, Gertie; and that he likes you; and that, in short—' Aunt Becky was speaking very rapidly, but stopped suddenly.

'In love with Lieutenant Puddock!' was all that Miss Gertrude said.

'Now, do tell me, Gertrude, if it be so—tell me, dear love. I know 'tis a hard thing to say,' and Aunt Becky considerately began to fiddle with the ribbon at the back of her niece's nightcap, so that she need not look in her face; 'but, Gertie, tell me truly, do you like him; and—and—why, if it be so, I will mention Mr. Dangerfield's suit no more. There now—there's all I want to say.'

'Lieutenant Puddock!' repeated young Madam in the nightcap; and by this time the film of slumber was gone; and the suspicion struck her somehow in altogether so comical a way that she could not help laughing in her aunt's sad, earnest face.

'Fat, funny little Lieutenant Puddock!—was ever so diverting a disgrace? Oh! dear aunt, what have I done to deserve so prodigious a suspicion?'

It was plain, from her heightened colour, that her aunt did not choose to be laughed at.

'What have you done?' said she, quite briskly; 'why—what have you done?' and Aunt Becky had to consider just for a second or two, staring straight at the young lady through the crimson damask curtains. 'You have—you—you—why, what have you done? and she covered her confusion by stooping down to adjust the heel of her slipper.

'Oh! it's delightful—plump little Lieutenant Puddock!' and the graver her aunt looked the more irrepressibly she laughed; till that lady, evidently much offended, took the young gentlewoman pretty roundly to task.

'Well! I'll tell you what you have done,' said she, almost fiercely. 'As absurd as he is, you have been twice as sweet upon him as he upon you; and you have done your endeavour to fill his brain with the notion that you are in love with him, young lady; and if you're not, you have acted, I promise you, a most unscrupulous and unpardonable part by a most honourable and well-bred gentleman—for that character I believe he bears. Yes—you may laugh, Madam, how you please; but he's allowed, I say, to be as honest, as true, as fine a gentleman as—as—'

'As ever surprised a weaver,' said the young lady, laughing till she almost cried. In fact, she was showing in a new light, and becoming quite a funny character upon this theme. And, indeed, this sort of convulsion of laughing seemed so unaccountable on natural grounds to Aunt Rebecca, that her irritation subsided into perplexity, and she began to suspect that her extravagant merriment might mean possibly something which she did not quite understand.

'Well, niece, when you have quite done laughing at nothing, you will, perhaps, be so good as to hear me. I put it to you now, young lady, as your relation and your friend, once for all, upon your sacred honour—remember you're a Chattesworth—upon the honour of a Chattesworth' (a favourite family form of adjuration on serious occasions with Aunt Rebecca), 'do you like Lieutenant Puddock?'

It was now Miss Gertrude's turn to be nettled, and to remind her visitor, by a sudden flush in her cheek and a flash from her eyes, that she was, indeed, a Chattesworth; and with more disdain than, perhaps, was quite called for, she repelled the soft suspicion.

'I protest, Madam,' said Miss Gertrude, ''tis too bad. Truly, Madam, it is vastly vexatious to have to answer so strange and affronting a question. If you ever took the trouble, aunt, to listen to, or look at, Lieutenant Puddock, you might—'

'Well, niece,' quoth Aunt Becky, interrupting, with a little toss of her head, 'young ladies weren't quite so hard to please in my time, and I can't see or hear that he's so much worse than others.'

'I'd sooner die than have him,' said Miss Gertie, peremptorily.

'Then, I suppose, if ever, and whenever he asks you the question himself, you'll have no hesitation in telling him so?' said Aunt Becky, with becoming solemnity.

'Laughable, ridiculous, comical, and absurd, as I always thought and believed Lieutenant Puddock to be, I yet believe the asking such a question of me to be a stretch of absurdity, from which his breeding, for he is a gentleman, will restrain him. Besides, Madam, you can't possibly be aware of the subjects on which he has invariably discoursed whenever he happened to sit by me—plays and players, and candied fruit. Really, Madam, it is too absurd to have to enter upon one's defence against so incredible an imagination.'

Aunt Rebecca looked steadily for a few seconds in her niece's face, then drew a long breath, and leaning over, kissed her again on the forehead, and with a grave little nod, and looking on her again for a short space, without saying a word more, she turned suddenly and left the room.

Miss Gertrude's vexation again gave way to merriment; and her aunt, as she walked sad and stately up stairs, heard one peal of merry laughter after another ring through her niece's bed-room. She had not laughed so much for three years before; and this short visit cost her, I am sure, two hours' good sleep at least.



And now there was news all over the town, to keep all the tongues there in motion.

News—news—great news!—terrible news! Peter Fogarty, Mr. Tresham's boy, had it that morning from his cousin, Jim Redmond, whose aunt lived at Ringsend, and kept the little shop over against the 'Plume of Feathers,' where you might have your pick and choice of all sorts of nice and useful things—bacon, brass snuff-boxes, penny ballads, eggs, candles, cheese, tobacco-pipes, pinchbeck buckles for knee and instep, soap, sausages, and who knows what beside.

No one quite believed it—it was a tradition at third hand, and Peter Fogarty's cousin, Jim Redmond's aunt, was easy of faith;—Jim, it was presumed, not very accurate in narration, and Peter, not much better. Though, however, it was not actually 'intelligence,' it was a startling thesis. And though some raised their brows and smiled darkly, and shook their heads, the whole town certainly pricked their ears at it. And not a man met another without 'Well! anything more? You've heard the report, Sir—eh?'

It was not till Doctor Toole came out of town, early that day, that the sensation began in earnest.

'There could be no doubt about it—'twas a wonderful strange thing certainly. After so long a time—and so well preserved too.'

'What was it—what is it?'

'Why, Charles Nutter's corpse is found, Sir!'


'So Toole says. Hollo! Toole—Doctor Toole—I say. Here's Mr. Slowe hasn't heard about poor Nutter.'

'Ho! neighbour Slowe—give you good-day, Sir—not heard it? By Jove, Sir—poor Nutter!—'tis true—his body's found—picked up this morning, just at sunrise, by two Dunleary fishermen, off Bullock. Justice Lowe has seen it—and Spaight saw it too. I've just been speaking with him, not an hour ago, in Thomas Street. It lies at Ringsend—and an inquest in the morning.'

And so on in Doctor Toole's manner, until he saw Dr. Walsingham, the good rector, pausing in his leisurely walk just outside the row of houses that fronted the turnpike, in one of which were the lodgings of Dick Devereux.

The good Doctor Toole wondered what brought his reverence there, for he had an inkling of something going on. So he bustled off to him, and told his story with the stern solemnity befitting such a theme, and that pallid, half-suppressed smile with which an exciting horror is sometimes related. And the good rector had many ejaculations of consternation and sympathy, and not a few enquiries to utter. And at last, when the theme was quite exhausted, he told Toole, who still lingered on, that he was going to pay his respects to Captain Devereux.

'Oh!' said cunning little Toole, 'you need not, for I told him the whole matter.'

'Very like, Sir,' answered the doctor; 'but 'tis on another matter I wish to see him.'

'Oh!—ho!—certainly—very good, Sir. I beg pardon—and—and—he's just done his breakfast—a late dog, Sir—ha! ha! Your servant, Doctor Walsingham.'

Devereux puzzled his comrade Puddock more than ever. Sometimes he would descend with his blue devils into the abyss, and sit there all the evening in a dismal sulk. Sometimes he was gayer even than his old gay self; and sometimes in a bitter vein, talking enigmatical ironies, with his strange smile; and sometimes he was dangerous and furious, just as the weather changes, without rhyme or reason. Maybe he was angry with himself, and thought it was with others; and was proud, sorry, and defiant, and let his moods, one after another, possess him as they came.

They were his young days—beautiful and wicked—days of clear, rich tints, and sanguine throbbings, and gloria mundi—when we fancy the spirit perfect, and the body needs no redemption—when, fresh from the fountains of life, death is but a dream, and we walk the earth like heathen gods and goddesses, in celestial egotism and beauty. Oh, fair youth!—gone for ever. The parting from thee was a sadness and a violence—sadder, I think, than death itself. We look behind us, and sigh after thee, as on the pensive glories of a sunset, and our march is toward the darkness. It is twilight with us now, and will soon be starlight, and the hour and place of slumber, till the reveille sounds, and the day of wonder opens. Oh, grant us a good hour, and take us to Thy mercy! But to the last those young days will be remembered and worth remembering; for be we what else we may, young mortals we shall never be again.

Of course Dick Devereux was now no visitor at the Elms. All that for the present was over. Neither did he see Lilias; for little Lily was now a close prisoner with doctors, in full uniform, with shouldered canes, mounting guard at the doors. 'Twas a hard winter, and she needed care and nursing. And Devereux chafed and fretted; and, in truth, 'twas hard to bear this spite of fortune—to be so near, and yet so far—quite out of sight and hearing.

A word or two from General Chattesworth in Doctor Walsingham's ear, as they walked to and fro before the white front of Belmont, had decided the rector on making this little call; for he had now mounted the stair of Devereux's lodging, and standing on the carpet outside, knocked, with a grave, sad face on his door panel, glancing absently through the lobby window, and whistling inaudibly the while.

The doctor was gentle and modest, and entirely kindly. He held good Master Feltham's doctrine about reproofs. 'A man,' says he, 'had better be convinced in private than be made guilty by a proclamation. Open rebukes are for Magistrates, and Courts of Justice! for Stelled Chambers and for Scarlets, in the thronged Hall Private are for friends; where all the witnesses of the offender's blushes are blinde and deaf and dumb. We should do by them as Joseph thought to have done by Mary, seeke to cover blemishes with secrecy. Public reproofe is like striking of a Deere in the Herd; it not only wounds him to the loss of enabling blood, but betrays him to the Hound, his Enemy, and makes him by his fellows be pusht out of company.'

So on due invitation from within, the good parson entered, and the handsome captain in all his splendours—when you saw him after a little absence 'twas always with a sort of admiring surprise—you had forgot how very handsome he was—this handsome slender fellow, with his dark face and large, unfathomable violet eyes, so wild and wicked, and yet so soft, stood up surprised, with a look of welcome quickly clouded and crossed by a gleam of defiance.

They bowed, and shook hands, however, and bowed again, and each was the other's 'servant;' and being seated, they talked de generalibus; for the good parson would not come like an executioner and take his prisoner by the throat, but altogether in the spirit of the shepherd, content to walk a long way about, and wait till he came up with the truant, and entreating him kindly, not dragging or beating him back to the flock, but leading and carrying by turns, and so awaiting his opportunity. But Devereux was in one of his moods. He thought the doctor no friend to his suit, and was bitter, and formal, and violent.



'I'm very glad, Sir, to have a few quiet minutes with you,' said the doctor, making then a little pause; and Devereux thought he was going to re-open the matter of his suit. 'For I've had no answer to my last letter, and I want to know all you can tell me of that most promising young man, Daniel Loftus, and his most curious works.'

'Dan Loftus is dead and—' (I'm sorry to say he added something else); 'and his works have followed him, Sir,' said the strange captain, savagely; for he could not conceive what business the doctor had to think about him, when Captain Devereux's concerns were properly to be discussed. So though he had reason to believe he was quite well, and in Malaga with his 'honourable' and sickly cousin, he killed him off-hand, and disposed summarily of his works.

There was an absolute silence of some seconds after this scandalous explosion; and Devereux said—'In truth, Sir, I don't know. They hold him capable of taking charge of my wise cousin—hang him!—so I dare say he can take care of himself; and I don't see what the plague ill's to happen him.'

The doctor's honest eyes opened, and his face flushed a little. But reading makes a full man, not a quick one; and so while he was fashioning his answer, the iron cooled. Indeed he never spoke in anger. When on sudden provocation he carried his head higher and flushed a little, they supposed he was angry; but if he was, this was all he showed of the old Adam, and he held his peace.

So now the doctor looked down upon the table-cloth, for Devereux's breakfast china and silver were still upon the table, and he marshalled some crumbs he found there, sadly, with his finger, in a row first, and then in a circle, and then, goodness knows how; and he sighed profoundly over his work.

Devereux was in his mood. He was proud—he had no notion of apologising. But looking another way, and with his head rather high, he hoped Miss Lilias was better.

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